“He remembered us in our low estate, His love endures forever and freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever.
– Psalm 136:23-24
The Psalms are a wonderful way to start each day. In fact, that has been my routine for many years now—I sit down and eat breakfast as I read a psalm and meditate on what God has for me. Usually, it is an opportunity to recognize God’s majesty and adjust my normally self-centered perspective.
On this particular morning, though, the psalm I read was not making an impact. Yes, the first few lines were amazing as I reflected on the Lord’s goodness and power. But the psalm became repetitious as it quickly turned into a recitation of Israel’s history, and each line was followed by the phrase, “His love endures forever.” I admittedly scanned over the majority of the psalm looking for crumbs, then went on to read something else.
However, later in the morning, as I was minding my own business at work, a thought of thanks to the Lord came to mind. Immediately, the Holy Spirit repeated in response, “Your love, Lord, endures forever.” The purpose of my breakfast reading that day suddenly became crystal clear.
You see, when I was in college as a freshman at Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, I was part of the University Choral. I could not tell you the exact date in 1976 or 1977, but I remember the events. Our director took us from the rehearsal room into the grand sanctuary of Raley Chapel. He divided us into two choirs and positioned each choir from the bottom to the top on the long flights of stairs leading from the front of the auditorium up to the balcony in the back. There we sang, with one choir leading on one side, and the other choir echoing from the other side. It was an impressive experiment as the beautiful choral sounds rang out across the room.
Musically, what our director was allowing us to experience was antiphonal singing. Antiphony incorporates alternate, and often responsive, singing by a choir split into two parts. Psalm 136, the psalm that I gave up on at breakfast, is an example of an antiphony. One choir would sing a line about something God had done for Israel, and the other choir would respond, “His love endures forever!”
After rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah divided the singers into two great choirs and had them station themselves across from each other on the north and south. They sang responsively and the joy of that antiphony was heard for miles (Nehemiah 12:31-43). In Ephesians, Paul tells believers to “be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:18-19). In my mind, he is teaching them an antiphony of praise between believers. Some of you may remember worship services that included a “responsive” reading from the back of the Baptist Hymnal. The pastor would read a phrase, and the congregation would respond antiphonally.
Many times during each day, the Holy Spirit will remind me of the good things that God has done and is doing in my life. I am sure He does that for you as well. On that day at the office, He reminded me that I should respond to those good things with my own antiphon, “Your love, Lord, endures forever.”
When I think about the beautiful, godly wife, or the wonderful children and grandchildren with whom I have been blessed, my heart should echo, “Lord, Your love endures forever.” Or when I feel grateful for a safe drive to work or a gorgeous sunset, my spirit should respond, “Your love endures forever.” And certainly when I contemplate God’s undeserved forgiveness and salvation—“Your love, Lord, endures forever.”
You can have an antiphonal attitude of your own today. Simply allow your mind and heart to echo the goodness of God. His love truly does endure forever.
Pray: Heavenly Father, You are genuinely good and loving and merciful. Would you bring to my mind today those things for which I should be grateful and awestruck? Then teach me to respond with joy and gladness, “Your love and grace, O Lord, endure forever!” Amen.
First Baptist Broken Arrow