Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘hesed’

The Bible’s Theme Song

What kind of song does God prefer?  “Worship wars” have waged long and hot over the style of songs God’s people prefer.  Maybe we should be asking what kind of songs God himself prefers.

In the hymnbook of the Old Testament, the Psalms, one song appears over and over again:   Note 

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for His faithful love endures forever.”  (Psalm 86:5; 100:5; 106:1; 136; and many more.)

This was the song sung on these notable occasions:

–The dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Corinthians 5:13)

–The choir leading God’s people out meet attacking armies.  What a story!  As soon as they started to sing, God cause the enemies to attack one another, leaving only a sea of dead bodies and booty for the Israelites to clean up when they reached the scene.  (2 Chronicles 20:21-26)

–When the foundation of the second temple was laid after God’s people returned from exile (Ezra 3:11)

–When God brings His people back from exile and restores their fortunes and their land.  (Jeremiah 33:11)

This song is based on God’s self-description to Moses on the mountain, and it’s echoed also throughout the Bible:

The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The LORD!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty…. (Exodus 34:6-7a)

Whatever tune or instrumentation they may have used, God loved their song! Note

God’s Self-Introduction

If God came to you in person and introduced Himself, what do you think he would say?  Incredibly, this actually happened to Moses, and those words re-echo through the pages of Scripture.

On Mount Sinai, Moses had seen powerful signs of God’s presence, including thunder, earthquake, fire, trumpet blasts, and more.  But still not satisfied, he begged God for the privilege of seeing His own glory.  God did not allow Moses to see His face but he did let him see his “back” as He passed by.  This was accompanied by a full introduction to His name and character:

The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The LORD!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty.
I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren;
the entire family is affected—
even children in the third and fourth generations.”

This foundational description of God’s character is cited at least seven more times throughout the Old Testament.  It is the way He wants us to remember Him.  (Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalms 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13, Jonah 4:2) 

God’s primary nature is love:  compassion, unfailing love, faithfulness, forgiveness, mercy, patience.  But He is not a big teddy bear in the sky!  He is also holy and cannot tolerate sin and rebellion.  For more about God’s love and patience, Israel’s rebellion and then God’s response, read Psalm 78.  It’s quite a story! 

A Lord’s Love

Recently I’ve enjoyed movies of Dorothy Sayers’ stories featuring Lord Peter Wimsey.  Of course, the mystery angle intrigues me, but I am more deeply touched by Lord Peter’s patient and persistent courtship of Harriet Vane.  She does her best to discourage him, point out all her own faults and inadequacies, and flee from him.  But Peter is not put off.  He proposes to her again and again, taking her “no” with equanimity but not finality, assuring her of his unconditional love, acceptance and admiration in spite of what she thinks of herself.  He is respectful, friendly, kind, helpful, and brilliant, and she can always depend on him to help her out of a jam.  In fact, in the first of this series he rescues her from hanging for a murder (of a lover) that she did not commit. 

I wonder if Sayers, a Christian, intended any allusion here to our Lord’s courtship of us.  He has rescued us from the consequences of our sin (which we have committed!) and pursues us with a dogged devotion, a kind and persistent love in spite of all our inadequacies, our unsavory past, our independent spirit and our stubbornness.  He is a Gentleman, though, and will not force us. 

By the way, I love the end of the third novel where Harriet finally gives up her stubborn independence and responds to this amazing love, promising to marry Peter.  Whew!  You can almost hear the sigh of relief from yourself and from all the characters in the story. 

However, backing up to the moment of that last proposal—Peter says that he has a feeling that whatever Harriet says will be final.  Are we in danger of saying a final “no” to the Lord?  Do we dare keep putting Him off?  What if he takes us at our word?

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