The Kind Love of the *LORD

The Great *Hallel

Psalm 136

An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 136

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Gordon Churchyard

Words in boxes are from the Bible. Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the *Hebrew Bible.

The notes explain some of the words with a *star by them. A word list at the end explains the other words that have a *star by them.

The translated Bible text has yet to go through Advanced Checking.

 

Jesus said, "This is how God loved the world" (John 3:16).

Psalm 136

v1   Thank the *LORD, because he is good!
  Thank him because his kind love will always continue.

v2   Thank God, (who is) the greatest of the gods.
  Thank him because his kind love will always continue.

v3   Thank the *Lord, (who is) the greatest *lord.
  Thank him because his kind love will always continue.

v4 - v9 (Thank the *LORD because):
    only he does great *miracles
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    he made the skies with understanding
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    he put the earth on the waters
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    he made the great lights
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    (he made) the sun to rule the day
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    (he made) the moon and stars to rule the night
  (and) his kind love will always continue.

v10 - v16 (Thank the *LORD because):
    he destroyed the *firstborn in Egypt
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    he brought Israel out from (Egypt)
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    (he did this) with a strong hand and a powerful arm
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    he cut the Red Sea into two parts
  (and) because his kind love will always continue
    he brought Israel through the middle of it
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    he pushed Pharaoh (the king of Egypt) and his army into the Red Sea
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    he led his people through the *desert
  (and) because his kind love will always continue.

v17 - v22 (Thank the *LORD because):
    he destroyed great kings
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    he killed very strong kings
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    (he killed) Sihon, king of the Amorites
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    (he killed) Og, the king of Bashan
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    he gave their land as a gift
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    (he gave it) as a gift to his servant Israel
  (and) because his kind love will always continue.

v23 - v25   (Thank the *LORD because):
    he remembered us when we were very sad
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    he made us free from our enemies
  (and) because his kind love will always continue;
    he gives food to everything that he has made
  (and) because his kind love will always continue.

v26   Thank the God of *heaven!
  Because his kind love will always continue.

The Story of Psalm 136

In this psalm, one group says something and another group answers. Perhaps it was the psalm they used in Ezra 3:11. There it says, "They answered each other, *praising and thanking the *LORD. They said, 'He is good. His kind love will always continue to Israel'."

The *Jews called this psalm "the great hallel". Other hallels are Psalms 113-118 and 135. They are psalms that *praise the *LORD, (or tell the *LORD that he is really great). But this psalm is different from the other psalms. One group of people tell part of the story of what God has done. Then the other people repeat a chorus (some words that are the same each time). The chorus says, "Because his kind love will always continue". "Kind love" is a very special Bible word. The *Jews wrote the psalms in their own language, Hebrew. The Hebrew word we translated "kind love" is "hesed". Really, there is no English word that can translate "hesed". "Kind love" is the best we can do. It comes from the old English Bible that translated it "lovingkindness". People have written a lot about "hesed". But we must remember that it means at least two things:

    God does not have to love us but he still loves us;

    God will always love us.

Look again at the psalm. Really, verses 1-3 should come before every verse! That is why we put "Thank the *LORD because" before each part of the psalm. It is there to help us to remember this.

What Psalm 136 means

There are 5 parts in this psalm:

    verses 1-3 and 26 tell us to thank the *LORD;

    verses 4-9 tell us that God made earth, sky, sun, moon and stars;

    verses 10-16 tell us how God saved the *Jews from Egypt;

    verses 17-22 tell us how God took his people from Egypt to Canaan;

    verses 23-25 tell us that God gives us all that we need.

In verses 1 and 3 we have the words *LORD and *Lord. They are not the same word in Hebrew. *LORD is the *covenant name for God. A *covenant is when people agree. Here, God agrees to love his people and to give them help. His people agree to love and obey God. *Lord is a word for someone with authority. In Hebrew, "the *Lord who is the greatest *lord" is "*Lord of *lords".

In verse 4, miracles are things that only God can do. Only he could make the earth, the moon, the stars and the sun.

The firstborn in verse 10 means the first child (or animal) to be born to its parents.

The *desert in verse 16 is the wild country between Egypt and Palestine. The old name for Palestine was Canaan. God gave this land as a gift to his people, verses 21 and 22. But they still had to fight to get into it.

The enemies in verse 24 made them sad in verse 23.

Something to do

Read the psalm as they did in Ezra 3:11. Get two groups of people. Everybody reads verses 1, 2 and 3 (and also verse 26 at the end). Then, the first group reads the first part of verses 4-25. The second group answers them.

Word List

covenant ~ two people have agreed what each should do (here, God and his people). Look in Psalm 120 about the covenant.

desert ~ a dry place with much sand.

firstborn ~ the first child that a man and woman have.

hallel ~ say that someone is great.

heaven ~ the home of God.

Jew ~ a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.

LORD ~ the *covenant name for God (in a *covenant you agree with someone).

miracles ~ great things that only God can do.

praise ~ to say how great someone is; or, words that say how great someone is.

 

1999-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words).

December 2002

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