Love that endures forever

Psalm 136

In 1978, Dan Fogelberg was laying on a hammock in Maui with his girlfriend, Maggie Slaymaker.  According to Fogelberg, “All seemed right with the world,” and a love song for Maggie “seemed to write itself”:

Longer than there’ve been fishes in the ocean

Higher than any bird ever flew

Longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens

I’ve been in love with you

Stronger than any mountain cathedral

Truer than any tree ever grew

Deeper than any forest primeval

I am in love with you

And the song goes on to promise:

Through the years, as the fire starts to mellow

Burning lines in the book of our lives

Though the binding cracks, and the pages start to yellow

I’ll be in love with you

The song speaks of endless love and was a popular song for weddings in the 1980s, but, as Fogelberg and Maggie found out, eternal love is easier to sing about than to live out.  Dan and Maggie were married in 1982, but they split apart in 1985—which leads to the question: How can we know any love will last?

Every year during the Seder Service at Passover, Jewish people sing or chant or read Psalm 136 (the Great Hallel), with the constantly repeated refrain, “His love endures forever!”

This is a psalm that is sung or recited frequently by Jewish people throughout the year and at times of rejoicing.  Interestingly though, Jewish teaching stresses that Psalm 136 is not to be read during the great Jewish holy days of Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, for those holy days recognize that our moral lives are being held before God, and every person’s fate is being decided upon by God.  Therefore those days call for solemnity rather than the rejoicing of Psalm 136.

From a Christian perspective, I find this fascinating, for the Passover meal (when this psalm has been sung for centuries) was Jesus’ “Last Supper” before He was arrested and crucified.

From a Christian perspective, it was on “Good Friday” (the day of Jesus’ crucifixion) when our moral lives were held before God and the fate of every person was decided.  When our moral lives were held before God, it was determined that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and it was determined that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  But the shocking and wonderful thing that happened on Good Friday is that the sin of the whole world was placed on Jesus, rescuing us from the guilt and death and destruction which we deserved.  That’s why the day of Jesus’ crucifixion is called “Good Friday”—because His horrible death was good for us!

Jesus’ death is the assurance that God’s love does, indeed, endure forever!

We can be certain that One who was willing to die for us will never stop loving us.  We can be sure that One who already took upon Himself all of our sin will never come up with some new reason to turn away from us.  We can be confident that One who died and rose again has already taken away every obstacle to “forever.”  His love, indeed, endures forever!

 

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