Amazing Love! How Can It Be?
by Brax Carvette, Blog Editor
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:8-12
Psalm 103 is like a spiritual .50 caliber bullet. It is powerful and will stop our Enemy. Let’s study it as David reminds us of who God is and God’s blessings for the believer.
What is God Like?
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” The greatest statement that God gives about himself in the Old Testament is that he is merciful and gracious, that he is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. When Moses asks God to show him his glory. God agrees, descends to meet Moses on a mountain and declares his name: “The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness’” (Exodus 34:6). Our God is a merciful and gracious God. He is slow to get angry and overflows in an-impossible-to-shake kind of love. This is what God proclaims about himself when he was asked to reveal his glory. This steadfast love that he has for us is displayed in full at the blazing center of God’s glory on the cross (John 17:1). And because of the work of Christ on the cross, this steadfast love will never depart from his children.
God Disciplines Us for Our Good
Though we have this impossible-to-shake kind of love, it seems as though God is angry with us. We must remember that "he will not always chide..." The Lord does discipline his children, yes. But it does not last forever! God has not purchased us so that he can chide us for all of eternity (1Thessalonians 5:9). Know, dear Christian, that the Lord's discipline of you is never because he doesn't love you. On the contrary, "The Lord reproves him whom He loves, as a Father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:12). His temporary discipline of you in this moment (or in a moment to come) is a sure sign of his love for you. He disciplines you for your good, so that you will look more like Jesus (Hebrews 12:7-10, James 1:2-3).
The Judge Doesn’t Give Us What We Deserve
"He does not deal with us according to our sins..." Simply amazing! The all-just Judge does not deal with us according to our sins! What mercy, what grace! When our sins were bound around our ankles and weighing us down to the lowest hell, Christ Jesus took us and raised us to sit at His Right Hand in heaven! If this isn’t astounding enough, if we search our Bibles, we see that God has told us that this very thing (not dealing with us according to our sins) looks impossible. Back in Exodus 34:7, as God is declaring his glory to Moses, God says that he keeps “steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty.”
If God will by no means clear the guilty, what is God’s motivation to not deal with us according to our sins? "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him..." God’s motivation for passing over our sins unpunished is love! We have been crucified with Jesus and raised to new life as a new creation and this new creation of his has been loved before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5). The greatness of God's love for you is like how high the heavens are above the earth. Indeed, one of the reasons that God has made the universe so massive is so that we would have a picture of the size of God’s love for us. Think of it, Christian! Think of the vastness of space, ever-expanding out of sight where stars and galaxies dwell. Know that its bigness is a picture of God's love for you. God will not simply move heaven and earth to love you, he creates heaven and earth to show you how much he loves you.
Planet-Sized Sin Removal
"As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us." We have seen the motivation of God passing over our sins, now we see the means—the how. God can pass over our sins because he has removed our sins from us. Sin is no longer entangled and rooted in our souls. Sin is no longer our DNA—it has been extracted completely. If we don’t believe that God has made a way to remove our sin from us, we will think that the love that Psalm 103 described is not for us—our sins are too many for that love to be for us. David seems to know our tendency to think that God couldn’t love us and say, “But does east and west ever meet? After God has removed our sins from us and called us ‘clean!’ (Matthew 8:3) is it possible for us to reach our sin again? ‘But I sin so often!’ you say, but did God limit himself in the removal of your sins to only the ones you committed in the past? Has he not removed all your sins-- past, present, and future? They're gone.” East and west will never meet. You are forgiven by the blood of Christ and will never be unclean in his holy sight (Ephesians 1:4).
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for this unfathomable love! Grant us grace to believe that you love us like you say you do in your Word.