Do You Know the Meaning of "God's Steadfast Love?"

Psalm 89:1-2 (NRSV)
I will sing of Your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim Your faithfulness to all generations. I declare that Your steadfast love is established forever; Your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

There is a great deal wrong with our society and within each person (since social ills begin within the individual heart). As a believer who lives in an extremely secular (and sinful) society (California), I could spend my days focused upon how much is wrong with all around me, bemoaning my fate and wondering what shoe will fall next. Or, I can choose with the psalmist to focus instead upon the Creator and Master of all, trusting that God is going to work out and win out in the long haul.

Father God's love is steadfast. The Hebrew word checed translated thus is interesting. Vine's expounded on its meaning:

    "In general, one may identify three basic meanings of the word, which always interact: 'strength,' 'steadfastness,' and 'love.' Any understanding of the word that fails to suggest all three inevitably loses some of its richness. 'Love' by itself easily becomes sentimentalized or universalized apart from the covenant. Yet 'strength' or 'steadfastness' suggests only the fulfillment of a legal or other obligation.

The word refers primarily to mutual and reciprocal rights and obligations between the parties of a relationship (especially Yahweh and Israel). But checed< is not only a matter of obligation; it is also of generosity. It is not only a matter of loyalty, but also of mercy. The weaker party seeks the protection and blessing of the patron and protector, but he may not lay absolute claim to it. The stronger party remains committed to his promise, but retains his freedom, especially with regard to the manner in which he will implement those promises. Checed implies personal involvement and commitment in a relationship beyond the rule of law."

It is interesting, this steadfast love. It cannot exist outside of a relationship and yet it also is not dependent upon relationship to exist or to define it. God's steadfast love exists because He has an object of His love—me. And yet, what I bring to this relationship doesn't affect or define God's love toward me. His love is generous and abounding, defined solely by God's own holy character. It is a love that requires me to be in relationship with Him, but which isn't restricted by how much or how little I actively participate in that relationship.

Why wouldn't I sing about this?

God continues to love me through my foibles, through my sins and mistakes, and through my human weakness. He continues to meet me every morning with a new day and a love that cannot and will not fail me. As a Christian, the joy that I have should come from both His Spirit within me and the result of His love toward me. And this joy should result in song!

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Copyright by Robin L. O'Hare.
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