Psalm 136:10 states in the King James Version (which is in the public domain): "To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever..."
Swaggart tries to argue that God's smiting of the Egyptian firstborn
was a case of God's mercy towards the Egyptians: that God was doing this
drastic deed to encourage the Egyptians to repent. Swaggart notes that
God could have smitten the Egyptians in one swoop, but he contends that
God acted as God did to encourage the Egyptians to repent. I heard Tim
Keller say something similar, not specifically in reference to Psalm
136:10, but rather concerning the Exodus.
Do I buy this? Well, on
the issue of Psalm 136:10, I am not convinced by Swaggart's view that
the verse concerns God's mercy towards the Egyptians. I think that the
verse is saying that God's smiting of the Egyptians, Israel's
oppressors, was a case of God's mercy (lovingkindness, or covenant
obligation) towards Israel. Psalm 136:15, after all, refers to
God's overthrow of the Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea (or Sea of
Reeds) as an example of God's mercy. I doubt that God was showing those
Egyptians any kindness when he was overthrowing them in the sea, since
God was killing them in that case, not giving them a chance to repent.
The point in v 15, I think, is that God was demonstrating kindness, or
covenant obligation, to Israel by protecting her from and defeating her enemies.
about the claim that the Exodus was a case of God trying to encourage
the Egyptians to repent, of God demonstrating love even to the
Egyptians? I don't know. I don't find that explicitly in the
Exodus story. Exodus 9:14-16 states: "For I will at this time send all
my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people;
that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. For
now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people
with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. And in very
deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power;
and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth." And, after
the death of the Egyptian firstborn, the Pharaoh does ask Moses for a
blessing, which may indicate that the Pharaoh now acknowledges the power
of Israel's God (Exodus 12:32). But did God in the Exodus story have
some missionary motivation behind the Exodus, a desire to bring the
Egyptians into a relationship with him, or to encourage the Egyptians to
worship him as God on a permanent basis? I'm not sure. Maybe what we
see in the Exodus story is some nationalistic message that the God of
Israel is supreme, and God is rubbing Egypt's nose in that, without
really expecting Egypt or encouraging Egypt to enter into a relationship
But back to Psalm 136. Psalm 136:25 states: "Who giveth food to all flesh: for his mercy endureth
for ever." My Peake's commentary says that this verse "sounds strange
in a Ps. which exults in the slaughter of the heathen----but it is
easier to admit an inconsistency than to limit 'all flesh' to all
Jews." The commentary addresses the tension between nationalism and
universalism, in reference to Psalm 136.
Am I dying?
2 hours ago