Beckett: God’s Steadfast Love Endures Forever

Psalm 136:1-9:
Give thanks to Yahweh, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods, for His steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for His steadfast love endures forever;
to Him who alone does great wonders, for His steadfast love endures forever;
to Him who by understanding made the heavens, for His steadfast love endures forever;
to Him who spread out the earth above the waters, for His steadfast love endures forever;
to Him who made the great lights, for His steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day, for His steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night, for His steadfast love endures forever.

The psalmist gives thanks to God for His creative character. For the psalmist, God’s goodness sets the stage for His creative character, for which we are to give thanks. God had no inner necessity to create. God created because He is good. God loves to create and He loves what He creates.

Also, for the psalmist, we are to understand creation coming from an authority that belongs to God alone—the God of all gods (the only God) and the Lord of all lords. God alone has the power to create. To describe this creative God, the psalmist remains in the heavens (the stars and celestial bodies) as he recalls God’s creative character.

He created the earth, the “great lights” above it (the stars), the sun to govern the earth in the day, and the moon to govern the earth in the night. The basis of all these great wonders of God—God’s goodness, authority, and creative character—is His chesed, that is, His “steadfast love,” “covenant faithfulness,” “loving-kindness,” “mercy.”

Since Creator is the basis of who God is, God’s chesed, then, is the basis for which He does all things. Whichever way one translates chesed, this can always be understood as God’s long-suffering patience for His people. Eventually, the people of Israel had to pay for their apostasy—their spiritual infidelity against God. Thus, they suffered exile in Babylon. God promised He would return them to their land, which He did through Ezra and Nehemiah.

Nehemiah attributes his vocational duty to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem to “the hand of my God that had been upon me for good” (Nehemiah 2:18). God’s goodness was with Nehemiah. When Horonite, Tobiah, and Geshem opposed him, Nehemiah trusted “the God of heaven will make us prosper” (2:20). The God who created the heavens and the earth has long-suffering patience to bring His people near to Him.

This God of ours also has long-suffering patience to bring unbelievers to Himself, for God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Thus, when people ask, “Why does God permit suffering,” along with the proper answer, “God only knows,” we can also add, “Because His steadfast love endures forever.”

That is, God delays His wrath upon the wicked because His greatest desire is that all people become saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not that He punishes evildoers. Of course, not all people will be saved, and God certainly knows this; nonetheless, His desire is to have as many evildoers come to knowledge of Him through Jesus Christ, repent, have their sins be forgiven, be baptised, and thereby enter into eternal life.

Since God has such patience for our wicked enemies, how much more patience He has for you and me when we sin with our sinful habits. Sins often weigh on the Christian’s conscience. This is not surprising since only Christians are aware that they are sinners before an Almighty God. Yet since God is graciously patient with evildoers to know Him and repent, how much more patient God is with His baptised children!

You and I can never disappoint God when we sin, then. Yes, we are 100% sinner in this life, yet in God’s eyes we are always 100% saint—100% blameless for our sins because Christ’s own long-suffering of our sins upon Him on the cross has satisfied God’s wrath and redeemed us from all our sins. Fear not, for God’s steadfast love endures forever.

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