His covenant love endures forever

sunrise

When we are in the middle of something difficult, sometimes it is hard to know if God loves us. This may be especially true if we fell like we’ve been doing the right thing. I’ve been trying to live the right way, so why is this happening to me? we might think.

Psalm 118 is filled with warfare. The writer mentions distress (v.5), being surrounded by enemies (v.10) and his need for salvation (v. 21). What I never noticed before was that the Psalm begins and ends by talking about the “steadfast love” of the Lord. I’m no Hebrew scholar, but I do know that our English Bibles translate the Hebrew word “hesed” as steadfast love, everlasting love or lovingkindness. Hesed is covenant love. That is, it is God’s love for us when we are in a covenant relationship with him. People who are not yet in relationship with Him do not have access to hesed love in the same way.

The Psalm begins:

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! (v.1)
It ends with:
You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever! (vv.28-29)
But in the middle we see that the writer is going through lots of difficulties. Even if we don’t say it out loud, many times we believe that because we have a relationship with God we will never have troubles, go through spiritual warfare, or be pushed to our limits. But in Psalm 118, the warfare and troubles are happening within the context of covenant love, in other words, within the context of a relationship with God.
Our pastor, who did a lot of deliverance ministry, taught that we needed to know that God is love and power because in the middle of a spiritual battle, the enemy and problems can look very big. The writer of Psalm 118 was able to keep that in perspective even as he went through some difficult things.
In addition to remembering God’s hesed love and giving thanks, the writer responded in other important ways:
  1. He cried out to God. “Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.” (v.5)
  2. He took refuge in the Lord (vv.8-9).
  3. He used God’s spiritual weapons (vv.10-12).
  4. He allowed God to discipline him (v.18)
When we are “pushed hard” (v.13), our love and strength may run out, but thankfully the love of the Lord for his people endures forever.

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