And they sang responsively, praising and giving thanks to the LORD: “For He is good, for His mercy endures forever toward Israel.” Then all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.
The Bible records a number of moments of great joy and praise, and the time described in Ezra 3 is among the most poignant.
Cyrus, king of Persia, had decreed that the Jews could return and rebuild God’s temple that had been destroyed by the Babylonians. The small group that returned with Zerubbabel was fearful of the surrounding peoples (Ezra 3:3), and those among them who had seen the magnificence of the previous temple wept with disappointment (verse 12).
In this emotionally charged atmosphere, the public celebration of the laying of the foundation was powerfully joyful and filled with heartfelt praise.
The music seems to have involved two groups or choirs singing responsively. Perhaps one group sang, “For He is good,” and then the other group responded, “For His mercy endures forever toward Israel.”
Their great shout of praise highlighted one of the greatest moments of thanksgiving in history.
For more about God’s mercy and goodness and how we should respond, see “What Is Grace?”