Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Reach of Divine Love

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens.
(Psalm 36:5 English Standard Version)
In the first stanza of this psalm, David described why the wicked to what they do (see The Heart of Transgression). But suddenly his focus shifts and he begins to sing of the steadfast love of the Lord. The Hebrew word for this love is hesed. It is the covenant love and mercy of God by which He has committed Himself to show kindness to His people. It is variously translated as “mercy,” “lovingkindness,” “faithful love,” and as in the ESV, “steadfast love.” In this psalm, it appears in verses 5, 7 and 10, each time opening a new stanza.

The second stanza describes the height and depth of this love: “LORD, Your faithful love reaches to heaven.” The love of God operates on behalf of those He loves according to His faithfulness, righteousness and judgments:
  • Faithfulness. (Hebrew, emunah), the trustworthiness of God to keep His word, the stability of God to keep His way, the steadiness of God to continue His works. It reaches “to the skies” (v. 5).
  • Righteousness. (Hebrew, tsedaqah), the rightness of God — He will always do with is right. It is “like the highest mountain” — rock solid (v. 6).
  • Judgments. (Hebrew, mishpat), the decisions and verdicts of God—they are always true. They are “like the deepest sea,” a wisdom that is richer, deeper, fuller than we can comprehend (v. 6). It is the justice of God that comes and sets things right.
The last line of verse 6 sums up this stanza: “O LORD, You preserve man and beast.” The Hebrew word for “preserve” is yasha, and speaks of salvation, liberation, deliverance and victory.

The steadfast love, faithfulness, righteousness and justice God has those who belong to Him is higher, deeper, greater than any adversity you will ever face.