Psalm 136:23

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 23. Who remembered us in our low estate. Personal mercies awake the sweetest song -- "he remembered us." Our prayer is, "Lord, remember me", and this is our encouragement -- he has remembered us. For the Lord even to think of us is a wealth of mercy. Ours was a sorry estate, -- an estate of bankruptcy and mendicancy. Israel rested in its heritage, but we were still in bondage, groaning in captivity: the Lord seemed to have forgotten us, and left us in our sorrow; but it was not so for long: he turned again in his compassion, bethinking himself of his afflicted children. Our state was once so low as to be at hell's mouth; since then it has been low in poverty, bereavement, despondency, sickness, and heart sorrow, and we fear, also, sinfully low in faith, and love, and every other grace; and yet the Lord has not forgotten us as a dead thing out of mind; but he has tenderly remembered us still. We thought ourselves too small and too worthless for his memory to burden itself about us, yet he remembered us.

For his mercy endureth for ever. Yes, this is one of the best proofs of the immutability of his mercy, for if he could have changed towards any, it would certainly have been towards us who have brought ourselves low, kept ourselves low, and prepared ourselves to sink yet lower. It is memorable mercy to remember us in our low estate: in our highest joys we will exalt Jehovah's name, since of this we are sure, -- he will not now desert us - -

For his mercy full and free
Lasteth to eternity.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 23. Who remembered us. We should echo in our thankfulness the first intimation that God gives in his providence of an approaching mercy. If you do but hear when the king is on his road towards your town you raise your bells to ring him in, and stay not till he be entered the gates. The birds rise betimes in the morning, and are saluting the rising sun with their sweet notes in the air. Thus should we strike up our harps in praising God at the first appearance of a mercy. --William Gurnall.

Verse 23. Who remembered us. The word "remembered" is a pregnant word, it bears twins twice told, it is big of a sixfold sense, as so many degrees of mercy in it.

  1. To remember signifies to think upon, in opposition to forgetfulness. We may dwell in man's thoughts and not be the better for it, but we cannot be in God's remembering thoughts but we shall be the better for it.
  2. To remember (as the second degree of the mercy) signifies to take notice of a thing, in opposition to neglect; so it is used in Exodus 20:8 : "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy": take notice, that is, neglect it not, "remember" to keep holy the Sabbath day. So God "remembered" us in our low estates: how? Why, he did not barely think upon us, but he did observe and take notice of us, and considered what our case was. But,
  3. It signifies (as the third degree of mercy), to lay to heart, to pity and compassionate persons in such a case. What am I better for anybody's thinking of me, if he do not take notice of me, so as to pity me in my low estate? So God doth, as in Jeremiah 31:20 .
  4. To remember, signifies yet more (as the fourth degree of mercy) to be well pleased with a person in such a case, to accept of a person in such a case; so the word is used in Psalms 20:3 : "The Lord remember all thy offerings, and accept thy burnt sacrifice"; remember, that is, accept.
  5. To remember signifies (as the fifth degree of mercy) to hear and to grant a request; so it is used in 1 Samuel 1:19-20 , 27: "God remembered Hannah", and the next word is, "He gave her what she asked."
  6. To remember signifies (as the sixth degree of mercy) to help and succour, or to redeem and deliver from that which we were appointed to, from the low estate; and so it is in Galatians 2:10 : "Only they would that we should remember the poor." Remembering the poor is not barely a thought, but a relieving thought; therefore saith the Psalmist in the following verse, "who hath redeemed us from our enemies": this was the remembrance of God, redemption from enemies.

I might draw considerations (for thanksgiving) from the Author of the mercy, God; a God that was offended by us, a God that needed us not, and a God that gains nothing by us; and yet this God remembered us in our low estate; that should engage us. I might also draw obligations from the objects, and that is us that were not only an undeserving but an ill deserving, and are not a suitable returning people. I might draw arguments from the mercy, itself, -- that God remembered us ... and I might draw arguments from the season, "in our low estate", and from the excellency of the duty of thanksgiving; 'tis a comely thing; it makes us like the angels, whose whole employment and liturgy is to give and live praise to God. And from this also I might enlarge the discoveries of the obligation, that his mercy endureth for ever.

For his mercy endureth for ever. There is no reason to be given for grace but grace; there is no reason to be given for mercy but mercy: who remembered us: "for his mercy endureth for ever." --Ralph Venning (1620-1673), in "Mercies Memorial."

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 23. Prayer of the dying thief turned into a song.

Verse 23-24. The gracious remembrance and the glorious redemption. --C.A.D.