His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
I have sat before women with tears streaming down their face confessing the truth of God’s sovereignty, but questioning His love in the face of death, despair, disappointment and disillusionment. Whether it’s the loss of a baby, the end of a marriage, the loss of financial security, the end of a desired career path, or the loss of a loved one, believers can at times wonder if God loves them in the midst of crushing circumstances. During these times it is necessary to immerse ourselves in the word of God, most especially the psalms. Particularly relevant for meditating on God’s love is Psalm 136.
God’s Covenant Love in Creation
Notably, the author of Psalm 136 begins with a call for a grateful acknowledgement to the Lord of lords and God of gods for His goodness and covenant love. This psalm was to be sung antiphonally with one group answering to the other as they stood opposite each other. Hearing the refrain, “for his steadfast love endures forever” twenty-six times would have driven the point home to their hearts that the God who condescended to them by way of covenant did so because of His great love for them. In fact, all of creation was a testimony of God’s covenant love, goodness and wisdom for His people. Because He “alone does great wonders” (v. 4), “by understanding made the heavens” (v. 5), “spread out the earth above the waters” (v. 6), “made the great lights” (v. 7), “the sun to rule by day” (v. 8), and “the moon and stars to rule over the night” (v. 9), we should thank Him and can trust Him. His goodness and steadfast love endures forever.
In the New Testament we learn that Jesus is the climactic revelation of God’s covenant love for His people. In Christ the Lord of the covenant and the servant of the covenant meet. He comes as Lord to extend grace, peace and mercy, and He comes as the servant to perfectly obey the law of God and atone for our sins on the cross. He “became to us wisdom from God” (1 Cor. 1:30) and “all things were created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:17). As we look to the creation our eyes should behold the goodness and love that the Lord has for His people. And we should gratefully acknowledge the great wonders of our Father’s world, not by worshiping them, but by accepting them as gifts to both enjoy and steward.
Today, dear believer, if you are overwhelmed in the face of death or disillusionment, let God’s creation remind you that He loves you with a steadfast love that will always endure. The Creator of all things knows the sins you have committed, as well as the sins that you have endured at the hands of others. He knows your suffering and pain. He knows your temptation to grow weary in serving Him. And He loves you.
God’s Covenant Love in Redemption
Not only in creation, but also in redemption the Lord God displays His goodness and love for His people. In the Old Testament the climactic redemptive event was the Exodus. The one living and true God of Israel displayed His power over the gods of Egypt and delivered His people from the oppression and slavery they experienced under Pharaoh. He proved His love for His people when He “struck down the firstborn of Egypt” (v. 10), “brought Israel out from among them” (v. 11), “divided the Red Sea in two” (v. 13), and “made Israel pass through the midst of it” (v. 14). He continued to display His covenant love and goodness to them as He “led his people through the wilderness” (v. 16) for forty long years. Even His discipline of Israel during the wilderness years displayed His love for His people.
He further displayed His covenant love and goodness to His people when He “struck down great kings” (v. 17), and “gave their land as a heritage” (v. 21) to His chosen people. Also, when He remembered the affliction of His people, rescued them from their enemies, and rained down food from heaven, the Lord exhibited His great love for His people. In response, Israel was to gratefully acknowledge His providential care and provision of them, and proclaim His steadfast love.
As believers on this side of the cross we point to the great Exodus event in the New Testament as evidence of God’s love. John 3:16 has become so familiar to many of us that we can fail to grasp how amazing it is that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” God’s love shone brightest when He sent His only Son, our Redeemer, to live a life of perfect obedience on our behalf and die a cursed death in our place. All those who repent of their sins and trust in Christ alone for their salvation can be certain that God loves them. Dear believer, if tears are pouring down your cheeks today, and you are questioning God’s love for you, look no further than God’s creation and redemption, both of which testify of His steadfast love that endures forever.
Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is a Reformed author, wife, homeschooling mom, Bible study teacher, and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina, and is a member of Christ Covenant Church (PCA). To learn more, please visit www.sarahivill.com.