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3. The Love of God

Read Psalm 36 v. 5-12

Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.

Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.

How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.

O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart.

Let not the foot of pride come against me, and let not the hand of the wicked remove me.

There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise.

Key Verse:

“How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God!” Psalm 36 v. 7

God is loving. In fact, the apostle John goes even further than this in his first epistle. He says simply that “God is love”. God’s love for His people is not the sort that is here today and gone tomorrow. Scores of times in the Old Testament we come across a word which the RSV translates “steadfast love”, in the King James Version (AV) it is usually translated “loving- kindness”, “kindness”, or “mercy”. It is the unchanging love which is guaranteed by God’s covenant or promise, a covenant which He will never break.

“His steadfast love endures for ever”,

sang the Psalmist (Psalm 136).

And in the New Testament Paul exclaims,

“Nothing ‘shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord'” (Rom. 8 v. 39).

How does God show His love for those who belong to Him? As always, when we want to know what God is like, we can find plenty of examples in the history of Israel. How do people show their love, especially a father towards his child? He will give food, clothes, and a home, and provide for all his other needs. He will want to be with him and talk with him. He will make sure he learns things he needs to know. He will protect him from dangers. He will want him to grow up to be good, not evil. He will therefore discipline him, sometimes praising and encouraging, chastising when necessary. All these things God did for the Israelites.

God is like a father, who loves, teaches, cares for and punishes his children.

After He had rescued them from slavery in Egypt, they were in the desert for forty long years. During all that time God gave them food from heaven, the miraculous manna. In His love He continued to do this even though they were often ungrateful and disobedient. He finally gave them a home of their own in the land of Canaan. Then and afterwards He spoke to them, sometimes directly, more often through His prophets. was always ready also to listen when they spoke to Him. He told them to construct the Tabernacle and later the Temple, symbols of the fact that He was with them.

He protected them from dangers. Moses reminded them of one instance of this in

Deut. 23 v. 4, 5: “They hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor…to curse you. Nevertheless the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee”.

Above all, He wanted them to be people who were upright, fair, honest, and generous, people whose characters were like His own. So He taught them, encouraged them, punished them, forgave them. It was His aim that they should be holy, like Himself God has not changed. Those who belong to Him through faith in the Lord Jesus, He loves with an everlasting love. He takes care of far more than their bodily needs. He blesses them

“with every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1 v. 3).

His Holy Spirit lives within believers now, and in eternity they will be for ever with God (Rev. 21 v. 3). The Lord Jesus promised that He would prepare a home for them (John 14 v. 2, 3). God allows no danger to cause eternal harm to them. Even death merely brings them immediately into the presence of the Lord Jesus (2 Cor. 5 v. 8). If they need chastisement, even that is a sign of His love,

“for whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth” (Heb. 12 v. 6).

It is God’s great aim to make His people more and more like His Son, the Lord Jesus (Rom. 8 v. 29). With such proofs of God’s love for them, how they should love Him in return!

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