Do me a favor and please read Psalm 118.
This psalm, for me, is littered with New Testament images and bits of other scripture. Why? Because we have this psalm used throughout the New Testament. This psalm was a typical song that was sung during festivals (it ends our “Hallel” songs that went from Psalm 113-118) so when Jesus triumphantly went in to Jerusalem during that Passion week…this song was sung (Matthew 21:9). And as we read, and clearly stated in the opening 4 verses as well as throughout the psalm and then the final verse as well, this psalm is about the enduring love of God.
What does that mean? What does it mean to have a love that “endures” forever? It means it doesn’t end and yet it doesn’t begin either. It simply always was and always will be. So in this case, God’s love eternally exists and that alone should give us pause and hope. But let us not stop there. Because if God’s love eternally exists, if God’s love endures forever, then there are some massive implications that we must understand.
- God’s love cannot, and will not, dwindle. NO MATTER WHAT. Because if it always was then it always will be.
- God’s love will not be removed or changed. Even as we read in this psalm that the Lord “chastened” the psalmist severely for something they did (vs 18) God’s wrath did not put him to death. On the contrary, God’s love provided salvation (vs 21) as well as it opened up the door of righteousness. So no matter what we do God’s love doesn’t change directions from us. In other words, I cannot push God’s love from me. I may not FEEL loved but that’s my feeling and not in reality a truth.
- God’s Love Responds. If God’s love has always been – then God’s love was in creation AS WELL AS in response to the sins of his people. There simply is no way to separate God from his love. No wonder we see it throughout the NT! Christ IS the living love of God because Christ comes BECAUSE OF God’s love for his people.
The struggle we often have, however, is that we want to put caveats on God’s love. To proclaim that God’s love endures forever then we must realize that that is a love that is bigger and wider than me. The psalmist encourages Israel to declare this (vs 2), then they say the “house of Aaron” needs to declare it (vs 3), and then finally “all those who fear the Lord” must declare it as well (vs 4). So we go from God’s chosen people (Israelites) then they narrow the embrace of God’s love to the priests (so we get smaller) but then we bust through the chosen people and the priests and encourage anyone and everyone who fears the Lord to declare his enduring love. WHICH MEANS God’s love is bigger than me, bigger than my church, bigger than my community, bigger than my state, bigger than my country, bigger than my nation, bigger than my continent, bigger than this world, and encompasses all of us as well as all the aliens who live in other galaxies and earth-like planets (if there are any). I do not have a hold of God’s enduring love. Neither does my church or my denomination or tradition and DEFINITELY not the United States where I live.
We need to stop putting a cap or lid on God’s love. We need to stop saying that this sin keeps people away from God. We need to stop ranking sins, ranking people, or judging anyone and everyone based off of who they are or what they’ve done. Because it’s not about us. It’s about God. It’s about what he has done, will do, and continues to do. It’s about him and his work, his love, his life-giving, salvation granting, righteousness-granting work. We even see this in verse 18 and 19 rather beautifully. The psalmist declares that they have done something atrocious and horrible and the Lord punished them (that is, we receive the consequences of our actions) but the Lord doesn’t snuff out their life because of it. Not only does he not take out their life but God opens up the door of righteousness for this sinner. So this unrighteous person is able to walk THROUGH and INTO the gate of righteousness because of God. That is, God himself opens that door and allows the sinner to enter.
Does that sound familiar? It should. The whole Old Testament reflects this constant life-saving work, patience, and love of God and then the whole New Testament is one giant reflection of it. And it’s all summed up in 1 person: Jesus.
This whole psalm is about God and what he does for his people. That no matter what you have done, where you have been, or what you deserve…love is what you receive. Salvation is granted unto you, righteousness is bestowed upon you, life is given to you, and it is the Lord who saves you.
The Lord’s love endures forever? Absolutely. But it’s much more than enduring…it’s all-powerful, ever-consuming, and always forgiving. No wonder they sang about his love as a body of believers!