(If you are stumbling across this for the first time, you may want to start at the beginning of the series and work your way through the links at the end of each post. Or check out the index for this entire series of posts. We’ve learned so much about the psalmists and their relationship with God. I hope today’s is no exception.)
God is Love
A popular modern approach to God as revealed in the Bible is to change God between the testaments. Folks look at the God of the Old Testament as a harsh, legalistic, sometimes mean, sometimes brutal, judging God. Then they come to the New Testament and say all that has changed. Now, God is a God of love. He doesn’t judge, He is never harsh. He just wants us to know how much He loves us.
However, that doesn’t mesh with the Psalmists view of God at all. Despite the brutal judgment God sometimes administered, the Psalmists were completely sure that God was a God of love. The psalmists mention God’s love 123 times. Consider just a few of the statements.
- God’s steadfast love is precious (Psalm 36:7).
- We enter His house through His steadfast love (Psalm 5:7).
- He delivers us for the sake of His steadfast love (Psalm 6:4).
- He is merciful and forgets our sins because of His steadfast love (Psalm 25:6-7).
- His steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts Him (Psalm 32:10).
- His steadfast love endures all day (Psalm 52:1).
- God answers our pleas because of His steadfast love (Psalm 69:16).
- His steadfast love holds us up when we think we’ll slip (Psalm 94:18).
- His steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 100:5).
This story of God’s love crescendoes in Psalm 136. Here the Psalmist repeats “For his steadfast love endures forever” 26 times. In fact, this was most certainly a liturgical psalm used in public assemblies and worship for the Jews. The priest or officiate would say the first line of each couplet and the congregation would shout the refrain–“For his steadfast love endures forever.” What an amazing experience that must have been, hearing the entire congregation praise God for his love as the stories of God’s love were repeated to them.
No doubt, the psalmists were sometimes happy, sometimes sad, sometimes hurt, sometimes angry, sometimes lonely, sometimes joyful, sometimes bitter. But they always knew God loved them.
How can we not pray to a God whose steadfast love for us endures forever, no matter who we are, where we come from, or what we’ve done?
Whatever you do today, don’t forget–God Loves You!
(I think we’re going to take a little break from this study of the Psalms. But keep your eyes open, in a few weeks we’ll get back to them and start learning to look at ourselves the way the Psalmists did.)