Devotional May 13, 2020
Just a quick note of encouragement this morning. In the middle of all sorts of uncertainty, God is the one we can hold on to because He is unmoving, unchanging, and eternal. There are so many other attributes that we can look to for comfort as well. Today I want to spend a moment considering His steadfast love.
The first thing we need to think about here is what the word steadfast means. The dictionary defines steadfast as “resolutely or dutifully firm or unmoving.” Psalm 36 is a great reference point in understanding just what God’s steadfast love looks like. Since the original language of Psalm 36 was Hebrew, it can be helpful to look at what the word steadfast means today, but also the original intention of the word by the author. The Hebrew word used in Psalm 36:5,7, and 10 that is translated steadfast love is the word hesed. It is translated in different ways depending on its usage. Among the ways it can be translated are; kindness, lovingkindness, mercy, steadfast love, unfailing love, and loyalty. So what we see in the word hesed is a love that is immovable no matter what.
When we look at Psalm 36:5-10 we see a few characteristics that define God’s steadfast love for us. The first is found in verses 5-6 “Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds, Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD.” Psalm 36:5-6 What we are told here by the author of the Psalm is that God’s steadfast love is endless, it is boundless, there are no limits to it. This is expressed in the phrase “extends to the heavens.” This is the author expressing the vastness and unending nature of the steadfast love of the Lord. He then goes on to express the size and scope of other attributes of God’s character in these same verses.
It is also important to note that all these examples of God’s steadfast love are intended to stand in sharp contrast to the way of the wicked man as outlined in verses 1-4. The author speaks of someone who does not fear God, who allows transgression to speak to his heart as opposed to listening to the Lord, who is prideful and self-important, who lies and deceives with his words, and who plots evil instead of rejecting evil. The author then takes the time to point out different aspects of God’s steadfast love to those who trust in Him.
The second aspect of God’s steadfast love that we read about in Psalm 36 is found in verses 7-9. “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.” Psalm 36:7-9 Here, the word precious is used to describe God’s steadfast love. It is then followed by several examples of how and why His steadfast love can be considered precious. First, it is a hiding place. Since God’s love is steadfast/immovable, it is a safe space for His children to run to at all times, especially in times of trouble. Second, the steadfast love of God is precious because it reminds us of God’s provision. Since we can always depend on His steadfast love, then we can also trust that He provides for His beloved children. He is the giver of all good things and we can trust in His provision. The food and drink David speaks of here aren’t necessarily literal food and drink provisions. This doesn’t mean you won’t go through periods of hunger or thirst physically in this life. But just as Jesus referred to spiritual food and water that satisfy beyond our physical needs, David also is speaking in those terms. Finally, God’s steadfast love gives us life. It was because of His love that He sent His Son Jesus. It is because of His love for us that Jesus went to the cross. It is because of His love for us that He freely offers forgiveness of sins and eternal life, because of the fact that Jesus took our place and our punishment on that cross.
The third thing we see about God’s steadfast love in Psalm 36 is its dependability. “Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise.” Psalm 36:10-12 David turns now to a request. This is a request in form only, for David is using the request not to question whether or not God’s steadfast love will continue, but to remind himself to continue to trust in God’s steadfast love in the face of opposition. He uses this writing strategy often in the Psalms. In this case, he knows that God’s love is steadfast, immovable, unending, even the source of his life, and yet he is asking the Lord to continue to offer His steadfast love. The question and plea serves as a reminder to him that even when faced with obstacles and enemies, even when he can’t see or recognize God’s love in action, he can come to the Lord and bring his request and know God’s answer. He has spoken of the unending nature of God’s love, His faithfulness, His righteousness, and His provision. Now David is coming to God with his request, knowing that because of those things just mentioned, God will answer and can be depended upon to continue to provide His steadfast love through all circumstances.
So as you go through your day today, if you are feeling overwhelmed, downtrodden, frustrated with your circumstances, remember the words of David in Psalm 36. Remember that we can ask God to continue to provide His steadfast love in our lives, and know and trust that the answer isn’t just yes He will continue, the answer is that He has never stopped nor will He ever stop! Praise the Lord for His steadfast love!