Psalm 136:25

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 25. Who giveth food to all flesh. Common providence, which cares for all living things, deserves our most devout thanks. If we think of heavenly food, by which all saints are supplied, our praises rise to a still greater height; but meanwhile the universal goodness of God in feeding all his creatures is as worthy of praise as his special favours to the elect nation. Because the Lord feeds all life therefore we expect him to take special care of his own family.

For his mercy endureth for ever. Reaching downward even to beasts and reptiles, it is, indeed, a boundless mercy, which knows no limit because of the meanness of its object.

"All things living he doth feed,
His full hand supplies their need;
For his mercy shall endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure."

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 25. Who giveth food to all flesh, etc. The very air we breathe in, the bread we eat, our common blessings, be they never so mean, we have them all from grace, and all from the tender mercy of the Lord. Psalms 136:25 , you have there the story of the notable effects of God's mercy, and he concludes it thus: "Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth for ever." Mark, the Psalmist doth not only ascribe those mighty victories, those glorious instances of his love and power, to his unchangeable mercy, but he traces our daily bread to the same cause. In eminent deliverances of the church we will acknowledge mercy; yea, but we should do it in every bit of meat we eat; for the same reason is rendered all along. What is the reason his people smote Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og the king of Bashan, and that they were rescued so often out of danger? "For his mercy endureth for ever." And what is the reason he giveth food to all flesh? "For his mercy endureth for ever." It is not only mercy which gives us Christ, and salvation by Christ, and all those glorious deliverances and triumphs over the enemies of the church; but it is mercy which furnishes our tables, it is mercy that we taste with our mouths and wear at our backs. It is notable, our Lord Jesus, when there were but five barley loaves and two fishes ( John 6:11 ), "He lift up his eyes and gave thanks." Though our provision be never so homely and slender, yet God's grace and mercy must be acknowledged. -- Thomas Manton.

Verse 25. Who giveth food to all flesh. We might fancy that they who have so much to sing of in regard to themselves, so much done for their own souls, would have little care for others. We might fear that they would be found selfish. But not so; the love of God felt by a man makes the man feel as God does toward men; and as God's love is ever going forth to others, so is the heart of the man of God. We see how it is even as to patriotism -- a man's most intense patriotic feelings do not necessarily make him indifferent to the good of other countries, but rather make him wish all countries to be like his own; so it is, much more certainly and truly, with the Lord's people in their enjoyment of blessing. Their heart expands towards others; they would fain have all men share in what they enjoy. They therefore cannot close their song without having this other clause - - Praise him who is the giver of bread to all flesh. Not to Israel only does he give blessing. Israel had their manna; but, at the same time, the earth at large has its food. So in spiritual things. Israel's God is he who giveth Himself as the Bread of Life to the world. Perhaps at this point the Psalmist's eye may be supposed to see earth in its state of blessedness, after Israel is for the last time redeemed from all enemies, and become "life from the dead" to the world -- when Christ reigns and dispenses the bread of life to the New Earth, as widely as he gave common food -- "the feast of fat things to all nations", ( Isaiah 25:6 ); for his mercy will not rest till this is accomplished. --Andrew A. Bonar.

Verse 25. Who giveth food to all flesh. In the close the Psalmist speaks of the paternal providence of God as extending not only to all mankind, but to every living creature, suggesting that we have no reason to feel surprise at his sustaining the character of a kind and provident father to his own people, when he condescends to care for the cattle, and the asses of the field, and the crow, and the sparrow. Men are much better than brute beasts, and there is a great difference between some men and others, though not in merit, yet as regards the privilege of the divine adoption, and the Psalmist is to be considered as reasoning from the less to the greater and enhancing the incomparably superior mercy which God shows to his own children. --John Calvin.

Verse 25. Who giveth food to all flesh. Of Edward Taylor, better known as "Father Taylor", the Sailor Preacher of Boston, it is said that his prayers were more like the utterances of an Oriental, abounding in imagery, than a son of these colder western climes. The Sunday before he was to sail for Europe, he was entreating the Lord to care well for his church during his absence. All at once he stopped and ejaculated, "What have I done? Distrust the providence of heaven! A God that gives a whale a ton of herrings for a breakfast, will he not care for my children?" and then went on, closing his prayer in a more confiding strain. --C.H. Spurgeon, in "Eccentric Preachers", 1880.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 25. Divine housekeeping.

  1. The Royal Commissariat.
  2. Its spiritual counterpart: God's august providing for our immortal nature.
  3. The queenly grace that hath the keeping of the keys: "for his mercy", etc.

--W.B.H.