O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
those he redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south….
Some were sick through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities endured affliction;
they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress;
he sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from destruction.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.
And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
and tell of his deeds with songs of joy. (NRSV)
I’ve always found it a bit curious that there are people who continually equate the God of the Old Testament as nothing but a vengeful and wrathful God. Certainly, there are passages dealing with God’s anger and his action out of that anger. Yet, everything God does is from a place of love. He has never been okay with sin because it damages and destroys people.
Which is why, when people are in need and they cry out to the Lord, he is there for them. Far more prevalent is the reality that the Old Testament is populated with references to God’s “steadfast love.” This is God’s covenant-keeping love. It is the kind of love that holds on and doesn’t let go. It’s the type of love that is gracious, merciful, and kind. It is the love the has compassion on the needy and does something about their plight.
In our psalm for today, even when there were people sick and in distress because of their own doing, their own sin, God saved them from their plight. That’s what God does – he is the expert on deliverance. God doesn’t shake his finger at us when we screw up and realize our fault; instead, he shows steadfast love. God doesn’t tell us “I told you so” or “that’s what you get for sinning.” Nope. God delivers, and he does it because of his steadfast love.
That’s why people all over the world have learned to sing the praises of the God of the Bible. It’s why folks from every walk of life and every kind of society have found God as the great lover of humanity. Their overflowing response to such a loving God is singing, praising, thanking, and offering their lives to him.
If you or someone you know struggles with seeing God as capricious, indifferent, or angry, then I strongly urge you to take in a steady and daily diet of the psalms over the course of the next month. I think you need an intervention of the God of the Psalms. Reading 5 psalms per day gets you through all 150 of them in a month. More than that, pray the psalms. Allow them to give you a new perspective on the world, your relationships, and yourself.
God of all that is good, your steadfast love has been shown to millions who find in you the desire of their hearts. May I see your overflowing goodness, your steadfast love, and your infinite mercy operating in this broken world and in my needy heart; through your Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns forever. Amen.