Today’s reading: Psalms 103-105.
“God is love. He didn’t need us. But he wanted us. And that is the most amazing thing.” Rick Warren
We hear so much about the anger of the God of the Old Testament. I’ll admit I had begun to subscribe to the idea myself, until I began this year-long project of blogging through the Bible. Then I kept coming across accounts of God’s love as I read through the Old Testament (see earlier post). Sometimes God directly declared his love for his people. Sometimes, as in Psalm 103, his people made it known.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him… Psalm 103:13-17
God shows his love by forgiving our sins. The LORD does not stay angry with us. He will not always accuse us about our sins. He does not treat us as our sins deserve, or pay us back according to our disobedience. Instead he mercifully made a way for our forgiveness: Jesus put himself between us and our sin.
God shows his love by healing our diseases. In one sense, sin is the disease that God heals. It is the root cause of so many of our ills. But God also works through his creation, our bodies, to fight off disease. He sometimes miraculously heals in response to prayer. He heals us through Christian health care workers and Christian scientists who have made important discoveries by his grace. Even when disease ends our lives, God still heals by giving us eternal life.
God shows his love by redeeming us. This is not just a New Testament idea. Even in the Old Testament the LORD is repeatedly described as a redeemer, bringing his loved ones “out of the pit.”
God shows his love by crowning us with compassion. He shows compassion toward us as a father showers compassion on his child. He gives us the good things we desire. He delivers justice. He clothes us in his righteousness. He removes our quilt from us as far as the east is from the west.
Psalm 103 says more than once that God gives his love to those who fear him. Does that mean that God doesn’t love those who don’t believe in him? This psalm doesn’t answer that question, but it does describe without doubt the love God demonstrates to those who do worship him and obey him.
Our Lord does nothing by halves, he will not stay his hand till he has gone to the uttermost with his people. Cleansing, healing, redemption, are not enough, he must needs make them kings and crown them, and the crown must be far more precious than if it were made of corruptible things, such as silver and gold; it is studded with gems of grace and lined with the velvet of lovingkindness; it is decked with the jewels of mercy, but made soft for the head to wear by a lining of tenderness. Who is like unto thee, O Lord! God himself crowns the princes of his family, for their best things come from him directly and distinctly; they do not earn the crown, for it is of mercy not of merit; they feel their own unworthiness of it, therefore he deals with tenderness; but he is resolved to bless them, and, therefore, he is ever crowning them, always surrounding their brows with coronets of mercy and compassion. Charles Spurgeon
Image by Nils Geylen on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0