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Bible Search
This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) - Psalm 136
Singing the Songs of Zion
This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)
Psalm 136
 
One of my all-time favorite female vocalists is Natalie Cole.  By the way, her father, Nat King Cole, is one of my all-time favorite male vocalists.  He died when Natalie was just 15 years of age.
 
Natalie worked hard to stay out of her father's shadow, and didn't start singing seriously until her senior year at the University of Massachusetts. After graduating in 1972 with a degree in child psychology, she started singing at small venues and met the record producers Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy in 1974. 
 
They put together her very first record deal with Capitol Records, which was also her dad’s label.  The product of the deal was her first album called Inseparable.  While they were working on the album, producer Larkin Arnold listened to what they’d done and told them he didn't hear a hit single on the whole album.
 
So Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy went back to their hotel that night and wrote a song called “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) that became one of Cole's biggest hits.
   
It was the first of five consecutive #1 R&B hits for Natalie Cole and won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance, the first time someone other than Aretha Franklin won the award, which was first given in 1968.
Younger listeners will probably recognize the tune more for it’s use in eHarmony commercials where it is used to suggest that using their service will bring forth a love that will last a lifetime.
 
Listen to the lyrics:
 
This will be an everlasting love
This will be the one I've waited for
This will be the first time anyone has loved me

I'm so glad you found me in time
And I'm so glad that you've rectified my mind
This will be an everlasting love on me

Loving you is some kind of wonderful
Because you show me just how much you care
You've given me the thrill of a lifetime
And made me believe you've got more thrills to spare,  This will be an everlasting love, oh yes it will

You've brought a lot of sunshine into my life
You've filled me with happiness I never knew
You gave me more joy than I ever dreamed of
And no one, no one can take the place of you,
 
So long as I'm living, true love I'll be giving
To you I'll be serving 'cause you're so deserving
Hey, you're so deserving, you're so deserving.
 
As with most good love songs, I couldn’t help but think how most of those lyrics could be applied to our relationship with the Lord. 
 
 
 
Is it not true that His love is an everlasting love?  And aren’t you thankful He found you in time and rectified your mind?  And does He not consistently and faithfully show you just how much He cares for you?  He has filled us with joy and sunshine and happiness that we never knew existed and given us the thrill of a lifetime with more thrills to come!
 
And is it not right to say that as long as we live we will serve and love Him because, after all He’s done for us, He is so deserving of our love and service. 
 
That is exactly the tone of what we find in the 136th Psalm.  Sometimes it’s called a “Hallelujah Psalm”.  It contains no petitions, no request, no complaints, and no problems.
 
Instead it just simple contains a list of moments where God has moved and worked in history.  And as those moments are mentioned, they are answered by a response of “His love endures forever.” Historians believe it very likely that someone would lead the worship by reading the first line of each verse, and the congregation would respond by saying, “His love endures forever."
 
Notice the psalm begins with
 
1. A Call to Praise
 
Verses 1-3
 
If you ever need a reason to praise God, try these:  He is good!  He is the God of gods!  And He is the Lord of lords!
 
There are plenty of “gods” and “lords” around us, but there is only one true God who rules the universe and to that great God belongs our best and deepest and highest praise.
 
And I don’t want us to rush by that thought too quickly.  I’m afraid we’ve become so accustomed to hearing how great God is that maybe we don’t appreciate that as we should. 
 
But He really is the Supreme Being of the Universe and all that He does is good.  It is impossible to overestimate the value of these truths:
 
Think about it like this:  If He were not supreme, we would not worship him.  If He were not good, we couldn’t trust him.
 
But because he is both good and the ultimate Lord, we not only trust him, we also bow before him in praise and worship!
 
And it is appropriate to respond to that by saying, “His love endures forever.” That is a reminder that all we have to do is look around us to see how God has displayed His love on behalf of His children.
 
By the way, the Hebrew word translated “love” refers to loyal love or faithful love.  To be Scripturally accurate, we should call it “covenant love.” It’s love that lasts because it is based on an unbreakable commitment. It’s the love of a husband for his wife or the love of mother for her children. God’s love is eternal because his covenant is eternal. He cannot not love his people!
 
But the meaning goes beyond that. God’s love endures.
 
It outlasts all the problems of life.
It transcends the troubles we face every day.
It goes on when our life comes to an end.
God cannot not love his people and He can’t quit loving His people! 
 
Charles Spurgeon said it this way:
 
    “No saint shall fall finally or fatally. Sorrow may bring us to the earth, and death may bring us to the grave, but lower we cannot sink, and out of the lowest of all we shall arise to the highest of all.”
 
When we stand by the grave of a loved one, we have to know the truth. Where is he? Where is she? Is death the end or is there something else?
 
What gives us the confidence to face death with our heads held high? How can we cross the Jordan to reach the other side? We can because “His love endures forever.” That’s it! That’s our hope!
 
We die, but “His love endures forever.” We fail, but “His love endures forever.” We stumble and fall, but “His love endures forever.” 
 
Second, notice
 
2. The Cause for Praise 
 
Beginning at verse 5, the rest of Psalm 136 is a historical survey of God’s faithfulness dating all the way back to creation and traveling forward through Israel’s entry into the Promised Land (vv. 10-26).
- Creation
 
verses 5-9       
 
Notice how these verses follow the general pattern of Genesis 1. Verse 5 parallels Genesis 1:1. Verse 6 goes with Genesis 1:2. Verses 7-9 closely follow Genesis 1:14-18. I love the consistency of Scripture. 
 
Notice also that the universe and everything in it is made “by his understanding.”   That rules out evolution and the “big bang” and chance and fate. 
 
Listen:  the universe came into being because God willed it to be.  He designed it.  He initiated it.  He spoke it into existence. That’s what we read in Genesis 1.  That’s what we find here in Psalm 136 and wit’s what we read in Hebrews 11:3:
 
“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
 
The entire universe came into being by a plan that comes from the hand and mind of Almighty God. Nothing was made by chance. Nothing “evolved” into being by a random mutation. God’s “wisdom” is what stands behind the universe as we see it.  And if you are foolish enough to leave God out, then you’ve eliminated the most basic and fundamental truth about the universe and its creation!
 
Now it just seems to me if the universe is a reflection of God’s “wisdom”, then no one can understand the universe properly without knowing God.
In order to understand human origins and the true history of the universe, we must begin with God’s wisdom as He has revealed it to us in his word.
Start there and you start on firm ground. Start anywhere else and you sink into the quicksand of humanistic unbelief and foolishness.
 
We all wrestle with these three great questions:            
 
    Where did I come from?
    Why am I here?
    Where am I going?
 
The first is the most fundamental. Until you answer it, you cannot answer the last two properly. If you believe it doesn’t matter where you came from or where you’re going, then all you’ve got left is the short little span of time you spend on planet earth.
 
Why not just eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we will die? Why get involved in anything outside ourselves if this life is all there is? But if we were made in God’s image, if he loves us so much that he sent his Son to die for us, then nothing matters more than knowing God deeply, personally, and intimately.
 
The song then moves to
 
- The Exodus
 
verses 10-15
 
These verses recall the amazing series of miracles whereby God freed his people from Egyptian bondage.  And just in case you’re wondering, God has no trouble defeating his enemies.
He also has no trouble parting the Red Sea. He only asks that his people acknowledge that he did it–and not them!
 
We should praise the Lord not only that we are delivered but that our enemies are scattered, confounded, and utterly defeated because . . . His love endures forever!
 
- The Wilderness
 
verse 16
 
The psalmist sums up forty years of wandering in one verse.  So many things happened during those forty years: manna and quail, water from the rock, Balaam and his talking donkey, Moses on Mt. Sinai, the golden calf, Kadesh Barnea, the 12 spies, bitter water, bleached bones in the desert, complaining, and the continual challenges to Moses’ leadership.  Through it all, God led his people to the Promised Land.                                              
 
Note that God led his people “through” the desert, not around it. To get to the Promised Land, they had to go through the desert. So it will be for all of us. God leads his children along to heaven, but they have no easy road as they make their journey.
 
There are many detours, many switchbacks, many delays, and more than a few seeming dead ends, but God works in and through it all to see that they finally arrive because . . . His love endures forever!
 
 
 
 
- The Conquest
 
verses 16-22      
 
You can find the story of Sihon and Og in Numbers 21. When Israel desired free passage through the land of the Amorites, Sihon the king refused the Israelites and then attacked them. He was soundly defeated and Israel ended up occupying all the cities of the Amorites. As they marched up the road, Og king of Bashan marched out with his whole army to do battle. He too was totally defeated.
 
Numbers 21:35 tells us, “So they struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army, leaving them no survivors. And they took possession of his land”.
 
What an encouragement these verses are because they remind of us God’s faithfulness in spite of our repeated failures. It would have been easy for the Jews to think, “Our sin has made God forget us. We have no hope, no future. We’ve blown everything.” But despite their sin and foolish unbelief, God never gave up on his people.
 
Let every child of God take great hope. Your past does not determine your future. You may have failed again and again and again, but there is still mercy for those who trust in the Lord. Who knows but that tomorrow you may yet see God win a great victory in your life because  . . . His love endures forever!
 
- Throughout History
 
verses 23-25
 
These verses contain three great truths about God:
 
    1. He remembered us (v. 23).
    2. He freed us (v. 24).
    3. He feeds us (v. 25).
 
He remembered us by sending Jesus to save us.
He freed us from our sins.
He feeds us every single day.
 
What God did for ancient Israel, he does for his people everywhere, all the time, in every situation because . . . His love endures forever!
 
3. The Conclusion of Praise
 
Psalm 136 ends with a general call to praise God at all times found there in
 
Verse 26
 
With that in mind, let me draw some conclusion. 
 
First, history is not about us, it’s about God.
 
This may seem elementary, but it is in fact a profound truth.  And I know this will come as a surprise to many of you, but you are not the center of history.  God is!
 
And don’t misunderstand.  What happens to you is important and it matters, but the real point of life is to glorify God in all things.
 
 
 
 
To see his hand at work.
To believe him in the darkest moments.
To give him thanks for every victory.
To lean upon his Word.
To grow more like him day by day.
To live so that others find it easy to believe in him.
 
That’s why the psalmist connects the concrete facts of history with a triumphant cry of praise. If we miss this, or if we downplay this, or if we think that God is somehow “optional” to our lives, then we have missed the very purpose of our existence.
 
There may be some of you here who were raised in homes and religions that required the memorization of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.  If so, you’ll remember it asks,
 
What is the chief end of man?  And the answer is “To glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
 
I would affirm that.  But I would also add it’s not always easy to accomplish.  In the few short verses of this Psalm, the psalmist covers centuries of time.   And if we could back up and travel with them through every step of the journey, then we’d know that not every step was easy.  God’s plan was not always easily evident at every point along the way.
 
When the Jews were groaning in Egypt under Pharaoh’s whip, we could understand why they might have felt abandoned by the Almighty. Still later they complained against the Lord after they had been delivered and said how much they missed Egypt.
 
 
 
And if we aren’t careful, we’ll become shortsighted regarding God’s plan and forget how good He’s been to us!
 
We pray for deliverance and then complain when it comes. We were born wishing for something better. But in this Psalm, we are reminded in every single verse that God’s ways and our ways are not the same.
 
Generally we will only see God’s plan in retrospect. As we look back, we say, “Oh, I see it now.” But when we are in the furnace, we see nothing but the flames.
 
That’s why we need to sing this song.  His love is an everlasting love.  He is some kind of wonderful!  We need Psalm 136 to remind ourselves, because we are so prone to forget it, that God works across the centuries to establish his purposes on the earth. Just because we don’t see it on Thursday at 6:37 AM doesn’t mean it’s not there.
 
It just means we don’t see it.
That’s all.
 
We aren’t the center of the universe-God is. Best that we should meditate on that fact now because we’ll certainly need to remember it before this year is over.
 
Here’s the second thing: Our faith rests on facts.
 
The long recital of Israel’s history teaches us that our faith rests upon the concrete acts of God in human history.
When Paul made his defense before King Agrippa in Acts 26, he concluded his statement regarding the death and resurrection of Christ with these words:
 
    “I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner" (v. 26).
 
He means something like this. “O king, you don’t have to take my word for it. Check it out for yourself. The facts are there for anyone to see.”
 
That’s why the best answer to give to a skeptic is simply, “Read the Bible and make up your own mind.” Listen:  I’m not afraid for the critics to read the Bible.  I encourage them to do it.  The Bible can state it’s own case.  It can stand on its own merits. 
 
We have nothing to fear from the critics of the Christian faith because our faith is founded on the great realities of the Bible–a literal creation by the hand of God, the existence of Israel, the miracles of the Old Testament, the prophecies of the Messiah, and towering above everything else, the miraculous birth, the sinless life, the sacrificial death, and the victorious resurrection of Jesus Christ and his triumphant ascension into heaven. These things were not done in a corner.
 
And then we need to
 
3. Remember the big picture:  His love endures forever.
 
After Natalie Cole recorded “This Will Be”, her career took flight.  Through the 1970s, she turned out four gold and two platinum records.
 
In 1976, Cole married producer Marvin Yancy who was also the co-composer of “This Will Be”. An ordained Baptist minister, Yancy reintroduced religion to Cole, who became a devout Baptist during their union. The couple welcomed their son, Robert Adam Yancy, into the world in 1977.  It appeared that in fact, there love was an everlasting love. 
 
But they wound up divorcing in 1980 just one year after Cole was awarded her very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
 
Her career hit a lull in the early 1980s due to her drug abuse.  Her addiction became so prominent in her life that on more than one occasion it nearly killed her. She overcame her addiction after checking into rehab in 1983, began recording and was back on the charts by the mid-'80s.
 
Cole remarried in 1989, to record producer Andre Fisher. The couple divorced in 1995. She wed her third husband, Bishop Kenneth Dupree, in 2001. The marriage was short-lived, however, ending in 2005.
 
In 2008, Cole was diagnosed with hepatitis C, a disease of the liver. Because of the strain hepatitis C takes on your body, Cole's kidneys began to fail. She was lucky enough to receive a kidney transplant in 2009 at USC.
 
Natalie Cole died from congestive heart failure on December 31, 2015 in Los Angeles. She was 65. I tell you her story to remind you there is only one everlasting love and it is not of this world.
 
 
 
It is His love that endures forever.  I encourage you to say it over to yourself. Repeat the phrase. Memorize it.
 
 When you feel yourself tempted to despair, ponder this thought: His love endures forever.
 
When you want to give up, write this thought down and stick it on your dashboard: His love endures forever. Tell your husband: His loves endures forever. Tell your wife: His loves endures forever. Tell your children:  His love endures forever. 
 
When the devil himself starts whispering in your ear about what a loser you are, you tell old Slewfoot to hit the road because His love endures forever. When you have had all you can take, when the world seems to collapse around you, stand up, lift your head, and shout to the skies: His love endures forever!
 
No matter where you’re going this week, His love endures forever.
No matter what your problems, His love endures forever.
No matter how you feel about it, His love endures forever.
No matter where you’re going this week, His love endures forever.
 
I’m not trying to minimize the problems of life or what you’re going through.  I’m simply trying to maximize God and put it all in perspective for you.  We all have our share of fears and worries and failures. 
 
We don’t know whether the stock market is going up or down.  We have no assurance of our health or even our life.  The economy is in the pits.  We are faced with an incredibly important and at the same time, frustrating election year.  And I have no clue what will happen in the Middle East or even here at home. 
 
I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet.  But I am certain of this much, and on this I will take my stand: His love endures forever.
 
Because God is God, that will be just as true in six months as it is today. Because God cannot change, his love for us will never change. Keep that in mind as you face the uncertainties before you.
 
Perhaps things will go well for you in the coming days.  I hope they do. Perhaps you will experience amazing answers to prayer and your life will be free from troubles and cares.  May that be your good fortune.
 
But if you experience some hard times, if you struggle to make ends meet, if you feel you have lost your way, if your friends seem to turn against you, if the sky tumbles in around you, come back to Psalm 136  and read it out loud.
 
Fix your mind on the Lord Jesus, and no matter what else happens, stake your claim right here and rejoice evermore because . . .
 
His love endures forever!
 
Let’s pray.
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