Psalm 136:4

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 4. To him who alone doeth great wonders. Jehovah is the great Thaumaturge, the unrivalled Wonder worker. None can be likened unto him, he is alone in wonderland, the Creator and Worker of true marvels, compared with which all other remarkable things are as child's play. His works are all great in wonder even when they are not great in size; in fact, in the minute objects of the microscope we behold as great wonders as even the telescope can reveal. All the works of his unrivalled skill are wrought by him alone and unaided, and to him, therefore, must be undivided honour. None of the gods or the lords helped Jehovah in creation, or in the redemption of his people: his own right hand and his holy arm have wrought for him these great deeds. What have the gods of the heathen done? If the question be settled by doings, Jehovah is indeed "alone." It is exceedingly wonderful that men should worship gods who can do nothing, and forget the Lord who alone doeth great wonders. Even when the Lord uses men as his instruments, yet the wonder of the work is his alone; therefore let us not trust in men, or idolize them, or tremble before them. Praise is to be rendered to Jehovah, for his mercy endureth for ever. The mercy of the wonder is the wonder of the mercy; and the enduring nature of that mercy is the central wonder of that wonder. The Lord causes us often to sit down in amazement as we see what his mercy has wrought out and prepared for us: "wonders of grace to God belong", yea, great wonders and unsearchable. Oh the depth! Glory be to his name world without end!

Doing wondrous deeds alone,
Mercy sits upon his throne.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 4. To him who alone doeth great wonders. God hath preserved to himself the power of miracles, as his prerogative: for the devil does no miracles; the devil and his instruments do but hasten nature or hinder nature, antedate nature or postdate nature, bring things sooner to pass or retard them; and however they pretend to oppose nature, yet still it is but upon nature and by natural means that they work. Only God shakes the whole frame of nature in pieces, and in a miracle proceeds so, as if there were no creation yet accomplished, no course of nature yet established. Facit mirabilia magna solus, says David here. There are mirabilia parva, some lesser wonders, that the devil and his instruments, Pharaoh's sorcerers can do; but when it comes to mirabilias magna, great wonders, so great that they amount to the nature of a miracle, facit solus, God and God only does them. --Abraham Wright.

Verse 4. To him who alone doeth great wonders. Does he "alone" do great wonders? That means, he does so by himself, unaided, needing nothing from others, asking no help from his creatures. As the Nile from Nubia to the Mediterranean rolls on 1,300 miles in solitary grandeur, receiving not one tributary, but itself alone dispensing fertility and fatness wherever it comes; so our God "alone" does wonders. (See Deuteronomy 32:12 Psalms 72:18 , etc.) No prompter, no helper; spontaneously he goes forth to work, and all he works is worthy of God. Then we have no need of any other; we are independent of all others; all our springs are in him. --Andrew A. Bonar.

Verse 4. Who alone doeth great wonders. There are three things here declared of God; that he doeth wonders, that the wonders he doeth are great; that he only doeth them. --Augustine, in Neale and Littledale.

Verse 4. Who alone doeth great wonders. Whatsoever instruments the Lord is pleased to use in any of his wonderful works, he alone is the worker, and will not share the glory of the work with any creature. --David Dickson.

Verse 4. It becomes the great God to grant great things. To him who alone doeth great wonders. When you ask great things, you ask such as it becomes God to give, "whose mercy is great above the heavens!" Nothing under heaven can be too great for him to give. The greater things he bestows, the greater glory redounds to his Name. -- David Clarkson, 1622-1686.

Verse 4. Christians should not be ashamed of the mysteries and miracles of their religion. Sometimes of late years there has been manifested a disposition to recede from the defence of the supernatural in religion. This is a great mistake. Give up all that is miraculous in true religion and there is nothing left of power sufficient to move any heart to worship or adore; and without worship there is no piety. --William Swan Plumer.

Verse 4. The longer I live, O my God, the more do I wonder at all the works of thy hands. I see such admirable artifice in the very least and most despicable of all thy creatures, as doth every day more and more astonish my observation. I need not look so far as heaven for matter of marvel, though therein thou art infinitely glorious; while I have but a spider in my window, or a bee in my garden, or a worm under my foot: every one of these overcomes me with a just amazement: yet can I see no more than their very outsides; their inward form, which gives their being and operations, I cannot pierce into. The less I can know, O Lord, the more let me wonder; and the less I can satisfy myself with marvelling at thy works, the more let me adore the majesty and omnipotence of thee, that wroughtest them. --Joseph Hall.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 4.

  1. The Lord does great wonders of mercy.
  2. He does them unaided.
  3. He does them as none else can do.
  4. He should have unique praise.

Verse 4. The great lone Wonder worker.

  1. God was alone in the wonderwork of Creation: Genesis 1:1-31 .
  2. Alone in the wonderwork of Redemption: Isaiah 63:5 .
  3. Is alone in the wonderwork of Providence: Psalms 104:27-28 . 4. Alone in the wonderwork of Sanctification: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 . 5. Will be alone in the wonderwork of Universal Triumph: 1 Corinthians 15:25 . -- C.A.D.

Verse 4. The merciful in the wonderful. The wonderful in the merciful.