Verses 10–22

The great things God for Israel, when he first formed them into a people, and set up his kingdom among them, are here mentioned, as often elsewhere in the psalms, as instances both of the power of God and of the particular kindness he had for Israel. See Ps. 135:8 1. He brought them out of Egypt, Ps. 136:10-12. That was a mercy which endured long to them, and our redemption by Christ, which was typified by that, does indeed endure for ever, for it is an eternal redemption. Of all the plagues of Egypt, none is mentioned but the death of the first-born, because that was the conquering plague; by that God, who in all the plagues distinguished the Israelites from the Egyptians, brought them at last from among them, not by a wile, but with a strong hand and an arm stretched out to reach far and do great things. These miracles of mercy, as they proved Moses’s commission to give law to Israel, so they laid Israel under lasting obligations to obey that law, Exod. 20:2. 2. He forced them a way through the Red Sea, which obstructed them at their first setting out. By the power he has to control the common course of nature he divided the sea into two parts, between which he opened a path, and made Israel to pass between the parts, now that they were to enter into covenant with him; see Jer. 34:18. He not only divided the sea, but gave his people courage to go through it when it was divided, which was an instance of God’s power over men’s hearts, as the former of his power over the waters. And, to make it a miracle of justice as well as mercy, the same Red Sea that was a lane to the Israelites was a grave to their pursuers. There he shook off Pharaoh and his host. 3. He conducted them through a vast howling wilderness (Ps. 136:16); there he led them and fed them. Their camp was victualled and fortified by a constant series of miracles for forty years; though they loitered and wandered there, they were not lost. And in this the mercy of God, and the constancy of that mercy, were the more observable because they often provoked him in the wilderness and grieved him in the desert. 4. He destroyed kings before them, to make room for them (Ps. 136:17, 18), not deposed and banished them, but smote and slew them, in which appeared his wrath against them, but his mercy, his never-failing mercy, to Israel. And that which magnified it was that they were great kings and famous kings, yet God subdued them as easily as if they had been the least, and weakest, and meanest, of the children of men. They were wicked kings, and then their grandeur and lustre would not secure them from the justice of God. The more great and famous they were the more did God’s mercy to Israel appear in giving such kings for them. Sihon and Og are particularly mentioned, because they were the first two that were conquered on the other side Jordan, Ps. 136:19, 20. It is good to enter into the detail of God’s favours and not to view them in the gross, and in each instance to observe, and own, that God’s mercy endureth for ever. 5. He put them in possession of a good land, Ps. 136:21, 22. He whose the earth is, and the fulness thereof, the world and those that dwell therein, took land from one people and gave it to another, as pleased him. The iniquity of the Amorites was now full, and therefore it was taken from them. Israel was his servant, and, though they had been provoking in the wilderness, yet he intended to have some service out of them, for to them pertained the service of God. As he said to the Egyptians, Let my people go, so to the Canaanites, Let my people in, that they may serve me. In this God’s mercy to them endureth for ever, because it was a figure of the heavenly Canaan, the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.