Saints who knew God’s steadfastness
The holy people of the psalmist’s era had their share of difficulty, but they knew that they could absolutely count on the steadfastness of God’s love.
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for He is gracious,
for His steadfast love endures for ever.
- This powerful ‘soundbite of truth’ about God’s nature occurs more than 40 times, in the Books of Chronicles and Jeremiah as well as the psalms.
- Steadfast love translates a Hebrew word roughly pronounced ‘heseed’. It combines the sense of God’s love and care with the obligation of covenant (“let the redeemed”, v2 is another statement of covenant) because we are His. Our worldview emphasises individuality. The Jewish worldview emphasised covenant, ‘being in it together’ and the protection of ‘belonging’ to God as one of His redeemed, set-apart children.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say this,
- Like yesterday’s Psalm 43 reading, this is an encouragement to praise God for His goodness, whatever the circumstances may be saying to us. The situation of difficulty says one thing; we choose to say something different, which is objective truth.
those He redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
3 And gathered out of the lands
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.
4 Some went astray in desert wastes
and found no path to a city to dwell in.
5 Hungry and thirsty,
their soul was fainting within them.
6 So they cried to the Lord in their trouble
and He delivered them from their distress.
- The result of choosing and relying on God, who is entirely truthful and and merciful.
7 He set their feet on the right way
till they came to a city to dwell in.
8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his goodness
and the wonders He does for his children.
- The psalmist recalls those who have gone before us, who walked a difficult ‘desert path’ at times but kept their trust in God and His faithfulness to bring them through. What they learned, we can benefit from.
Applying it: Imitate the saints – who praised God in all circumstances (Psalm 107:1-8)
Faith in God is faith from knowing God, and knowing God is knowing His nature – faithful, unchanging, merciful and loving without scoring us on what we deserve.
The expression of this gives rise to this refrain we find repeated again and again in the psalms: “O give thanks to the Lord, whose hesēd – covenant love – endures for ever. True faith praises God for who He is, not just for what we may perceive as answered prayers or other blessings. When the answer appears top come slowly, is God’s nature any different? Faith knows that God is the same, just as merciful, just as attentive to us and therefore worthy of praise and adoration, however we may be feeling or whatever we may be experiencing at any one moment.
The enemy will sow thoughts in our minds of how God has abandoned us, because we are undeserving, because God is fickle and sometimes harsh, because we are powerless. All of these are lies, of course – it is how he works. Satan never speaks the truth, but he makes what he says sound like truth. And we defeat those lies, the doubts and the enemy’s scheme by telling God that we KNOW His nature and hold fast to our covenant with Him in Jesus. Very different from a religious remedy of finding what we need to do, this is imitating the saints of the ages and joining them in choosing an attitude of faith and praise.