We Love Him Because of Who He is Not Because of What He Gives
(Read Psalm 9)
Our devotion was later this week due to an overdue vacation. We’re back with our studies on the Psalms. (The next devotion will be published on our usual date of Saturday morning 8/23).
I read Psalm 9 today as if I had seen it for the first time. The Bible tends to do that to me frequently. It’s as if new words were injected into the Scripture when I wasn’t looking. “I don’t remember that phrase being there,” I often think.
“I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done.
I will be filled with joy because of you.
I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.”
There is such profound adoration in this passage, it reminded me of our ongoing relationship with our God. Wow, I thought after reading this again and again. It is not a relationship on merit or successful trials. Psalm 9 is not based on a relationship of you did this so I’ll do this. It is simply based on a relationship of love.
“The 5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman is a book every spouse should read. It is actually a book that anyone in a serious relationship should read. According to Dr. Chapman, the 5 love languages that humans speak and desire include: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Psalm 9 made me think about the principles in the “5 Love Languages”. God pretty much checks all the boxes in one way or another in our lives. God affirms us when we need it, he provides amazing and life changing quality time in our lives, he provides us with necessary gifts of talent, affection, relationships, and physical touch, and he allows people to serve us at different times in our lives when we most need it.
“Praising” God with all our heart and telling others “all of the marvelous things” he has done is not a payback, it’s an affirmation, it’s also a gift of love. Singing “praises” in God’s name in the form of worship, is an act of service. Charles Spurgeon said that, “a half-heart is no heart.” Imagine if God only loved us with a half a heart. Would he have come to earth in human form as a poor peasant carpenter, endure ridicule, torture, and humiliation for something he didn’t deserve? Would he put himself on the cross to realize unspeakable pain and agony? Would he subject himself to an interminable amount of wrath for our sake? Not likely.
“But the Lord reigns forever,
executing judgment from his throne.
He will judge the world with justice
and rule the nations with fairness.
The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.”
There are laws of justice in our world and God’s righteous justice. The judicial system in this country is flawed and while better than most, needs lots of help. God’s justice is perfect. Under God’s righteousness, we will be judged fairly and equally. As a creator and like a loving parent, his responsibility is not first to be our friend but to protect us and help us learn. God judges the wicked for being enemies of him more so than being our enemies. He will punish evil. As sinners, we certainly don’t deserve this equitable treatment from God, its because of his boundless love for us as his children that we receive it.
God will never abandon those who know his name. Even when we fall short, when we face great troubles, when we face great tasks, or when we feel He is not answering our prayers, we can always find refuge in knowing God’s name. If we know his name, we know his character. We know who he is.
When we focus on love, it magnifies more love. Love doesn’t sweat the details or keep score. Love comforts, trusts, and builds.
“It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
1 Corinthians 13:7
“Arise, O Lord!
Do not let mere mortals defy you!
Judge the nations!
Make them tremble in fear, O Lord.
Let the nations know they are merely human.”
Most people attribute this Psalm to King David. While David was praying to God for help against his enemies, realize that he was also humble enough to know that everything God does is for God’s glory, not David’s. So God won’t answer our prayers for our glory either. When you read this Psalm, try not to read “nations” as a geo-political entity. Look at the word as a plural form for humankind. We ask our most Holy, highest and perfect God to be who he is, to “arise” or rise above our human frailty. Rather than asking for vindictive punishment, consider that David was acting as a prophet foretelling the evil that will become of us for our sins. David reminds us that individually and collectively we don’t measure up — until we know God’s name.
The people I know who are non-believers don’t understand who God is. They have heard his name, but don’t know what His name means. Who is God? God is purpose, identity, hope, foundation, guidelines, direction, and future sealed in love. How does that make us feel?
- God’s love is abundantly present everywhere we go. Do we look for it, or look past it? Do we look for benefits or the thought and love behind the benefits?
- How do you show your love to the most important people in your life? Read verses 1 and 2 of this Psalm and 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.
- Have you ever shared your views of God with someone you love? If this world had a “nation” of other believers who truly loved and revered God, what would it look like?
- Envision someone’s gift of love, act of service, or encouragement to you as a reflection of God’s love. Meditate and pray on this. How can you demonstrate your gratitude of this love to others? To God?
- Consider the 5 love languages according to Dr. Chapman: words of affirmation,
quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Reflect about which gift(s) your loving partner sends you and which gift(s) you send back? Are you giving them what they need? If not, consider remolding yourself to show your utmost love to them with your whole heart.
- When you read news headlines or watch the news, do you see love exhibited in a positive way? When I see kindness, hope, joy, and love, I see God. When I see an act of cruelty or a display of evil, I don’t see God. Don’t get caught up in the world’s traps. Be a light of good. Pray for someone you know who is struggling. Reach out to them. Show them that you’re acting as a vessel for God. Show them who God is.
Where else in your life can you live out the teachings of Christ? Look for next week’s Devotion.