How do we make sense of this world we live in? How do we explain the hatred between people groups to our children and grandchildren? How do we explain that our God is good in the midst of hatred, racial and political tensions, cancer, poverty, mental illness, violence, bullying, sexual immorality, and so much negativity in our country and world today? Of course, there are no easy answers, but in such a time as this, I am comforted by the God who has remained steadfast to His people despite their rebellion and unfaithfulness. Are we not often times just as rebellious and unfaithful a people as the Israelites were thousands of years ago?
Last week in our blog, Monet discussed the God of justice and even gave an appropriate illustration from one of Martin Luther King’s letters in defense of nonviolent protests and the hope that God’s justice will someday prevail. This week’s readings of the Psalms take us from Psalms 106-123. The theme throughout Psalms 106-118 points us to a merciful, steadfast, loving and faithful God.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 106:1; Psalm 107:1; Psalm 118:1, 29)
I can’t help but sing this phrase every time I read it, and it is threaded throughout this portion of the psalter. I know it can seem trite to say to someone who is suffering, but Psalms 106-109 are Psalms of Lament where the authors are crying out to God in the midst of suffering. Psalm 106 recaptures the rebellion and unfaithfulness of the Israelites and the steadfast love a faithful God continued to show to His people. How comforting to know He will remain faithful, even if we screw things up.
Several of the psalms are songs of praise ushering the above phrase. Psalm 118 is a wonderful summation of this grouping of psalms and the main points I am clinging to this week from it are:
- Give thanks (vs. 1, 28, 29)
- God is good (vs. 1, 29)
- His steadfast love endures forever (vs. 1-4, 29)
- The Lord is on my side & I take refuge in Him (vs. 6, 8-9)
- The Lord is my strength and my song (vs. 14)
- The Lord is my salvation (vs. 14)
- The Lord disciplines those he loves, but has saved me (vs. 18)
- This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it (vs. 24)
Each one of these truths could be unpacked in an entire blog. Don’t you just love how 29 verses can be packed with examples of how to worship and give thanks, where to seek refuge in times of trouble, God’s steadfast and everlasting love, His justice and discipline, and the hope and joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the coming king?
I almost missed the reference to Jesus in this psalm, but a phrase in the midst seemed familiar to me.
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” ~Psalm 118:22-23
The psalmist is most likely comparing Israel or someone who suffered to this cornerstone. The cornerstone was a critical piece to a building’s foundation or capstone of an arch. The powers during the time of the Old Testament rejected Israel, but God had chosen Israel to be the cornerstone of His plan of redemption. This phrase is found throughout the gospels in the NT and also in 1 Peter 2:7 where Jesus was compared to the cornerstone and the “wise builders” were the powerful figures that rejected Jesus (Ref: ESV Study Bible, 2008). The OT is continually pointing us to the NT and to the hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ.
As I end today, I am reminded and comforted by my God who is good and Whose steadfast love endures forever and who is marked by a patience I cannot fathom. He was patient with the Israelites over and over again, He was and is still patient with me, and He is patient with this sinful world we live in.
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” ~2 Peter 3:9
I am in awe of this element of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness. His patience and desire to see ALL come to repentance. He desires us all to sing together:
“Praise the Lord, ALL nations! Extol Him, ALL peoples! For great is His steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” ~Psalm 117
Has God been patient with you? Praise Him, give thanks, and share of His goodness and steadfast love in your life with someone today!
Reference: ESV Study Bible, English Standard Version. (2008). Crossway Bibles: Wheaton, Illinois.