Show us your faithful love, Lord, and give us your salvation. I will listen to what God will say; surely the Lord will declare peace to his people, his faithful ones, and not let them go back to foolish ways. His salvation is very near those who fear him, so that glory may dwell in our land. Faithful love and truth will join together; righteousness and peace will embrace. Truth will spring up from the earth, and righteousness will look down from heaven. Also, the Lord will provide what is good, and our land will yield its crops. Righteousness will go before him to prepare the way for his steps.
Psalm 85:7-13 (CSB)
“How many times have I told you?”
“Why should I believe you when you’ve said the same thing before?”
“Don’t you remember how nice I was to you today? And then you do this?”
“I’m done! I mean it. This is it. I can’t take anymore.”
I’ve said these words. I’ve said them so many times I couldn’t begin to keep track of their frequency, much less their effectiveness. For all their use, you might assume they must do the job. Those searing sentences must cut their recipients to the quick, poking them right in the conscience, right in the deepest part of their hearts. Clearly my word-arrows strike their targets and initiate repentance and change.
Right? Because if I keep saying these things, it must be because doing so accomplishes something important. Not so much.
Over the past few years, I’ve realized that I am guilty of loving conditionally. As my daughter has grown older and my marriage has grown stronger, I’ve been forced to face head-on some of the challenges I bring to my most dear relationships — and one of the biggest is the ball of strings I have tied to my love.
Looking in the mirror is hard, friends. It’s hard when my jeans are tight or my face is broken out, and it’s hard when my sin nature is shining bright through the cracks. It’s hard when I see the expectations I place on people I call beloved, when I see the score sheet I keep against the very people on my team, and it’s hard when I realize how far short my love falls from the love our Father gives us so freely.
In Psalm 85, the author begs God for forgiveness, for another chance, for one more redemption story. He’s remembering all the times God has forgiven His people completely, and he’s believing that God will do it once again. He promises that He will, and our God is faithful, as the psalmist says.
He will forgive us every time, and no matter what, He will love us with an unfailing love.
Today, I am thankful for God’s faithful love and the example He gives us in loving unconditionally. When I read through the Old Testament and into the Psalms, I can’t help but shake my head at the Israelites — those fickle, faithless Israelites, who I might have more in common with than I want to admit. Yet God never shakes His head at me. He never shouts in exasperation, “How many times have I told you?” and He never, ever says, “I’m done.”
Thank You, God, for Your faithful love. Teach me to love faithfully too.
Are you placing strings on your love? To whom do you need to offer grace or forgiveness? Do you need to accept God’s faithful love? It’s right here for you, no strings attached.
– by Mary Carver, as published in the (in)courage Devotional Bible and the Summer (in) the Psalms Devotional Journal.
Are you journeying through the Psalms with us this summer? If you haven’t started yet, it’s not too late! Join us.
Grab your Summer (in) the Psalms Devotional Journal for just $7.99! It includes forty selections from Psalms, twenty corresponding devotions from the (in)courage Devotional Bible, and reflection questions to use alongside the daily readings.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
I look back over the things I said to my children, and I know that my words attached conditions on my love. I had expectations and when those expectations weren’t met, I know my words could be cutting. I too often assigned my humanness to God. If I had these conditions, surely God must have those conditions on loving me? Not so!! Like you, I read through the Old Testament, and to me it’s a testament of just how patient and long-suffering God’s love is for us. Time and time again, the Israelites make promises and no sooner have they promised, they are messing up again. But, God…in His unfailing love, forgives them every time they get to the end of themselves and finally repent. He forgives seventy times seven and then some. Oh that I would be more like my Heavenly Father – to not hold grudges and have conditions on my love. I try, but I know I’ll fail. Yet, God continues to love and forgive me in hopes that I would extend the same mercy and grace to others. Convicting, yet hopeful post!
Mary, I’m glad I don’t remember all the hurtful things I said to my 3 girls when they were growing up. I do remember enough that the recollections make me feel ashamed. I am 67 and I’m still learning to love everyone unconditionally. It is way easier to forgive and accept, though, when we already know we are forgiven and accepted. I’m sure you’re learning things every day and, meanwhile, you are loved unconditionally even if you stumble. God is so good!
Beth Williams says
I praise God daily for His forgiveness. We all mess up constantly. I am no exception. I can start out the day doing good & then something happens & I say something I shouldn’t or get upset with someone. One of my biggest problems is judgement. I am quick to look at people & judge them for what they wear, how they look, etc. Last Sunday I had to pray the devil away cause I was judging people in church. I said to myself Hey, at least they are here hearing the word of God. Reading through the Old testament you wonder if God ever got frustrated with the Israelites. If He did He never ever showed it. He poured out unconditional love on everyone. Skin color, sex, good or bad nothing mattered to Him. He would rather hang out with sinners than the “religious” of the day. I am thankful at the end of the day that I can pray, confess my sins & be forgiven. I need to go & forgive like He does. Loving everyone unconditionally like He does.
Psalm 1 is a favorite.
My favorite is Psalm 139 because it’s a reminder how fearfully & wonderfully we’re made! <3
Thank you for this wonderful reminder! I find myself asking for forgiveness daily as I catch myself doing or thinking things that are not loving or kind and I can just picture satan and his demons smiling! It makes me sick with myself until I stop and pray and talk with our loving Father or Jesus and read my Bible and ask for forgiveness, again. What a wonderful savior we serve! He always forgives and loves us. Thank you for this and saying what we need to hear, always go to Him. He loves us!
I love Psalm 23 — every time I see different Bible versions, I read a few of them to understand the message even more fully. In November 2001, when we landed on the ground in Siberia to adopt our son, I recited it out loud so I was more able to overcome my fears and anxieties at that moment.
Stefanie cutler says
Psalm 1 has been my favorite as of late. It is a great reminder to keep my mind on God’s word.
Diane Draveski says
My favorite Psalm is the old standby Psalm 23. It is also my 90 year old moms favorite. Mom and I have had many trials during the years my dad died suddenly and then mom fell and broke her hip. Psalm 23 is comforting, soothing and healing for us. In fact I traced mom’s hand in my In courage bible on Psalm 23 to remember her and our peaceful Psalm forever. Our Heavenly Father never leaves us broken and alone he soothes our souls and comforts our pain.