7 I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD
And the praises of the LORD,
According to all that the LORD has bestowed on us,
And the great goodness toward the house of Israel,
Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies,
According to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.
8 For He said, “Surely they are My people,
Children who will not lie.”
So He became their Savior.
9 In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the Angel of His Presence saved them;
In His love and in His pity He redeemed them;
And He bore them and carried them
All the days of old.
10 But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit;
So He turned Himself against them as an enemy,
And He fought against them.
My children are teenagers now, and although they no longer fall down or skin their knees as often as before, I nonetheless feel compassion every time they get hurt physically or emotionally. When my son is persecuted by a bully, or when a boyfriend wrongs my daughter, or when either of them feels unworthy or unloved, I suffer right along with them, and then I offer them love and hope. I try to lift their spirits with praise and friendship–and with ice cream and cookies when appropriate. I pray that neither of my children rebel against me or their mother, that they will not grieve us the way I know that many children often do grieve their parents.
I don’t think we can imagine what it must have been like for the Lord when He did so much for the children of Israel and yet they rebelled against Him. He defeated their enemies whenever they asked, He prevented their destruction many times, and He even brought them from slavery to a land of promise. But Israel rebelled against Him and turned to other gods, turned to selfishness and pride, turned to sin and death. God had suffered right along with His children, felt their pain, and He knew their desire and need for redemption. But even though He had brought them to a beautiful and bountiful place, they departed from righteousness and holiness to serve wickedness and sin.
In today’s verses, we get that whole history in a nutshell. God chose Israel as His own special people, He redeemed them from slavery, He sheltered them and brought them to Canaan, and then they rebelled against Him, and so He let the Assyrians and the Babylonians fight against His children and take Israel and Judah into slavery. But in His lovingkindness, God did not utterly slay Israel, He did not wipe out His beloved race. Rather, in His mercy, He saved a remnant for Himself, and He sent them into discipline and trial so that they would understand how to seek the Lord their God. And once again, in His love and in His pity, He would redeem them from slavery and bring them home to Himself.
Yes, God’s pain must have been very great as He watched Israel forsake Him even when He never left them. Like any good parent, we can be sure God was greatly hurt by His rebellious children throwing His blessings back in His face. Now try to imagine that pain magnified a hundred times. Why? Because God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to redeem us all, and yet we even rebel against that greatest of mercies!
Jesus came to us and was literally afflicted with the same troubles and temptations that afflict us. He faced the same hungers, the same needs, the same finiteness of life, the same trials at the hand of the devil. In fact, as the known Son of God, Jesus faced much MORE than either you or I will likely face in our lifetimes. And yet He became the Presence that saved us, the love and pity of God personified to bring us salvation. God redeems and saves us, hopes and restores us, and yet we grieve Him still.
Like the ancient Jews, we turn against our Father and live in pride and idolatry. We take the precious gift of salvation through Christ and we throw it away. We speak “Yes, Lord” on one day and “No, Lord” on the next. Because God loves us so much, when we are afflicted He is afflicted, and we break His loving heart every time we sin.
I wish I were a better child of God than I am. I pray every day for better obedience. I pray that God would cleanse my heart of secret faults–those sins I commit without thought or compulsion, things that rise straight from my flesh into wrong action. I don’t want to grieve the Lord any longer. I don’t want to fight against the Lord, and I certainly don’t want Him to fight against me.
Let us be the people God wants us to be–His precious treasure, His beloved sons and daughters, a people holy and set apart for His will, a people who will not lie nor steal nor grieve Him any more. Let us praise our Lord God, and mention His lovingkindness every day. Let us live up to the salvation He has bestowed upon us, and let us return to the loving arms that bore us out of slavery and into life.
Holy Father God, I will pray again and again for You to lead my life. Be with me here, Lord, as I seek Your will and Your love and Your truth. Because of Your Son, I know that Your Spirit is with me always, and I do not wish to grieve You any more. Let Your Holy Spirit so guide my life that I reflect the gospel of Christ into the eyes and hearts of all who see me. Let me be used for Your will and Yours alone, so that You will never fight against me as an enemy. Instead, Lord God, let me always know Your unending love and mercy. Amen.