“Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints!” (Ps. 31:23)
The Christian doctrine of the love of God is grounded on the fact that “God is love” (1 John 4:16). To be loved and to love in return is the joy of Christian salvation. This love of God toward us is because God loves lost sinners (John 3:16) and because he acts by love always.
God is worthy to be loved
In the word ‘LORD’ (YAWH) we have revealed the glory and divinity of God as the divine Being and as the Creator. God’s holiness is so great that the angelic beings cannot look on his glory. His power is so awesome that nothing can stand in His way and live. He is to be feared, respected but he is also to be loved; ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength’ (Deut. 6:4-5). This was commanded least four times by Moses (cf., Deut. 10:12; 11:1; & 30:15) because the people were [& we are] slow to listen and quick to forget!
There is no god other than God the Almighty – one God in three Persons Father, Son and Holy Spirit; co-equal, and co-eternal without division or confusion of natures. The God of the Bible is ‘three in One’ and ‘One in Three’ and although the word ‘Trinity’ is not present in the Christian Scriptures the concept and doctrine is revealed there. God is worthy to be loved because He is our gracious and loving Savior.
So, if you regard him as, ‘my rock and my fortress’ (31:3) as did King David you will love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength because he has loved us first.
God is willing to be loved
The Psalmist (in Ps. 31) describes God’s care for him. He talks to God the LORD and he opens his heart to him seeking aid and protection. Thus, he makes personal intercessions and prayerful supplications (vv.1b, 2, 9, & 16). What is said sounds familiar and intimate; impertinently informal and also everyday like and it appears to involve a person with whom one is long acquainted, but so it is!
The Psalmist, because he is born again, has a believing and trusting relationship with God his Savior. We know that King David regarded God as his Father (cf., Ps. 27:10; 68:5: 89:26; 103:13). The English theologian and writer James I Packer, has said, “The revelation to the believer that God is his Father is in a sense the climax of the Bible.” This means that when salvation is known we become the adopted children of God (Gal. 4:6; 1 John 3:1-3).
to be loved
In this Psalm 31, we find a great lesson which is so wonderful and special that only those who believe can grasp its truth and experience its reality. This Psalm teaches that God wants to be loved: is that not remarkable? He wants sinners to love Him! The God who, ‘so loved the world’ wants to be loved by those who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. We are not only in his debt but we are also invited to give him our hearts. God found a way to redeem our souls that we might know what it is to love Him truly and always. The Apostle John says, ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins’ (1 John 4:10).
But perhaps the best proof of this point is found in the words of Jesus when he answered a question from a scribe in Mark 12 and said, (quoting from Deuteronomy 6:4), ‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment’
(v.30). Here we have laid before us the call to love God with all one’s being and, ‘There is no other commandment greater than these’ (Mk. 12:31b).
It is the duty of all people everywhere in all ages, to love God first and always and their neighbor as themselves. God wanted Israel to love Him. This is our duty too. This is our first and foremost duty but is it our desire and experience? Is it anything like Samuel Crossman’s (1624-83) in his hymn, ‘My song is love unknown’?
“Never was love, dear King,
Never was grief like Thine!
This is my Friend
In whose sweet praise
I all my days
Could gladly spend.”
Or as Philip Doddridge (1702-51),
Do not I love Thee, dearest Lord?
Behold my heart and see;
And cast each hated idol down,
That dares to rival Thee.
Thou know’st I love Thee, dearest Lord,
But Oh, I long to soar
Far from the sphere of mortal joys,
And learn to love Thee more!
That God wants to be loved will startle and surprise the non-Christian as it is the last thought on their mind and the last thing they are willing or wanting to do. But it is surely willingly embraced and pursued by all who know the joy of sins forgiven and peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ His Son.
Rev Ian S McNaughton is presently serving as the Vice-Chairman of Barnabas Fund in the UK.
Photo by Hugo Fergusson on Unsplash
For Other Articles by Rev Ian S McNaughton
“God is Love” (1 John 4:16)