In the Scottish Highlands, Christian families commonly sing their way through the Book of Psalms (the Scottish Metrical Version) at their morning and evening devotions. My own family also adopted this practice, and this week we arrived back again at Psalm 136.

This psalm recounts God’s multiple deliverances of His people and defeats of His enemies, each line concluding with, “For His mercy endures forever.” In the Scottish metrical version of the Psalm, that phrase alternates with: “For His grace fails never.” So, over 26 verses you sing “For his mercy endures forever” thirteen times, and “For His grace fails never” thirteen times. You could say it’s the Psalms’ version of “Amazing Grace.”

As an unbelieving teenager being raised in a Psalm-singing church, I often remember the congregation singing this Psalm (one of the pastor’s favorites) and thinking, “Man, this is so boring! Why all the repetition? Why can’t they just sing of grace and mercy once and be done with it?”

What a difference the actual experience of Christ’s grace and mercy makes!

Because, as we were singing through Psalm 136 this week, I found myself thinking, “I could sing of grace and mercy forever and ever…” When you’ve tasted Christ’s grace and mercy, it becomes the song of your heart and your life. And no matter how much you hear about it, speak about it or sing about it, it increasingly amazes and excites.

It certainly never bores. It’s sin that does that.

UPDATE: Just discovered Tim Keller on reading and praying through the Psalms.

  • David Bissett

    I agree! But what might you say to believers who appear bored by some of the forms of praise used in the local church (ie, hymns)? It breaks my heart to see some (particularly teens) singing great hymns with such glum faces and dispassionate voices… thanks for any further comment.