GOD’S LOVING-KINDNESS TO HIS CHOSEN
compiled by Michael Jeshurun
“Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee!” [Psalm 63:3]
“Life is dear, but God’s love is dearer. To dwell with God is better than life at its best; life at ease, in a palace, in health, in honour, in wealth, in pleasure; yea, a thousand lives are not equal to the eternal life which abides in Jehovah’s smile. In him we truly live, and move, and have our being; the withdrawal of the light of his countenance is as the shadow of death to us: hence we cannot but long after the Lord’s gracious appearing. Life is to many men a doubtful good: lovingkindness is an unquestioned boon: life is but transient, mercy is everlasting: life is shared in by the lowest animals, but the lovingkindness of the Lord is the peculiar portion of the chosen.” – C.H. Spurgeon
“Thy lovingkindness is better than life; or, better than lives, as the Hebrew hath it (chaiim). Divine favour is better than life; it is better than life with all its revenues, with all its appurtenances, as honours, riches, pleasures, applause, etc.; yea, it is better than many lives put together. Now you know at what a high rate men value their lives; they will bleed, sweat, vomit, purge, part with an estate, yea, with a limb, yea, limbs, to preserve their lives. As he cried out, “Give me any deformity, any torment, any misery, so you spare my life.” Now, though life be so dear and precious to a man, yet a deserted soul prizes the returnings of divine favour upon him above life, yea, above many lives. Many men have been weary of their lives, as is evident in Scripture and history; but no man was ever yet found that was weary of the love and favour of God. No man sets so high a price upon the sun as he that hath long lain in a dark dungeon, etc.” – Thomas Brooks.
“God’s mercy is better than lives. What lives? Those which for themselves men have chosen. One hath chosen for himself a life of business, another a country life, another a life of usury, another a military life; one this, another that. Divers are the lives, but better is Thy life than our lives. Better is that which thou givest to men amended, than that which perverse men choose? One life thou givest, which should be preferred to all our lives, whatsoever in the world we might have chosen.” – Augustine.
“This lovingkindness of the Lord is never removed from His children. To our reason it may appear to be so, yet it never is. Since the believer be in Christ, nothing can separate him from the love of God (Rom. 8:39). God has solemnly engaged Himself by covenant, and our sins cannot make it void. God has sworn that if His children keep not His commandments He will “visit their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes.” Yet He adds, “Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break” (Ps. 89:31-34). Observe the change of number from “their” and “them” to “Him.” The lovingkindness of God toward His people is centered in Christ. Because His exercise of lovingkindness is a covenant engagement it is repeatedly linked to His “truth” (Ps. 40:11; 138:2), showing that it proceeds to us by promise. Therefore we should never despair.
“For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Loan that hath mercy on thee” (Isa. 54:10). No, that covenant has been ratified by the blood of its Mediator, by which blood the enmity (occasioned by sin) has been removed and perfect reconciliation effected. God knows the thoughts which He entertains for those embraced in His covenant and who have been reconciled to Him; namely, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil” (Jer. 29:11). Therefore we are assured, “The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me” (Ps. 42:8). What a word that is! Not merely that the Lord will give or bestow, but command His lovingkindness. It is given by decree, bestowed by royal engagement, as He also commands “deliverances” (Ps. 44:4), “the blessing, life for evermore” (Ps. 133:3), which announces that nothing can possibly hinder these bestowments.
What ought our response to be? First, “Be ye therefore followers (“imitators”) of God, as dear children; and walk in love” (Eph. 5:1-2). “Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness” (Col. 3:12). Thus it was with David: “Thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in Thy truth” (Ps. 26:3). He delighted to ponder it. It refreshed his soul to do so, and it molded his conduct. The more we are occupied with God’s goodness, the more careful we will be about our obedience. The constraints of God’s love and grace are more powerful to the regenerate than the terrors of His Law. “How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings” (Ps. 36:7). Second, a sense of this divine perfection strengthens our faith, and promotes confidence in God.
Third, it should stimulate the spirit of worship. “Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee” (Ps. 63:3; cf. 138:2). Fourth, it should be our cordial when depressed. “Let . . . Thy merciful kindness (same Hebrew word) be for my comfort” (Ps. 119:76). It was so with Christ in His anguish (Ps. 69:17). Fifth, it should be our plea in prayer, “Quicken me, O LORD, according to try lovingkindness” (Ps. 119:159). David applied to that divine attribute for new strength and increased vigor. Sixth, we should appeal to it when we have fallen by the wayside. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness” (Ps. 51:1). Deal with me according to the gentlest of Thy attributes, make my case an exemplification of Thy tenderness. Seventh, it should be a petition in our evening devotions. “Cause me to hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning” (Ps. 143:8). Arouse me with my soul in tune therewith, let my waking thoughts be of Thy goodness.” – A.W. Pink