Summer with the Psalms Psalm 90, 33 August 29, 2021
Despite the impression many people have of the Old Testament as the story of God’s wrath and judgement on the people of Israel, if we look closely at the whole picture perhaps we can agree with the psalmists who see that the entire story of God’s relationship to the world is more like a love affair. Love, and more commonly stated as steadfast love, is the root of God’s relation to us all. First, God creates out of love. Then, God teaches out of love. Then, God expects fidelity because God loves. When the one God loves is unfaithful, God punishes (sort of like the parent who disciplines a child, saying, “I am only doing this because I love you.). In time, God forgives because God loves. God promises God’s eternal love to this world over and over again in the psalms. As Christians, we hold fast to the truth of John, 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him will have life eternal.” God’s love exhibited in forgiveness makes a relationship with God even possible. That forgiveness comes to us freely as a gift from God, and for Christians, is based on the sacrificial act of Christ on the cross.
Throughout the Old Testament, there clearly is punishment, wrath and judgement against Israel and Judah because of their waywardness, their prostituting themselves with other love interests that are not God. There is even punishment on other nations because they refuse to fall in love with God. This love affair is no secret. This love affair is not romantic love, although it is not unusual for the psalmists or the prophets to describe the relationship between Israel and God as that of a wife and a husband. The marriage metaphor continues in the New Testament as well, with the church being described as the bride of Christ. Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians—”A husband is the head of his wife like Christ is the head of the church….”, and continuing with the admonition to husbands: “love your wives just like Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.”