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God’s Loyal Love

1 Chronicles 16:23 (ESV) … “Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day.”

David’s song is inspired by the ark. Eleven times in Chronicles the title ‘ark of God’ is used, so it follows that David wants to praise the God of the ark. Another thirteen times it is referred to as ‘the ark of the covenant’, and this is also a covenant song. The covenant is where the name of God and the works of God come together. In some ways God’s covenant can be seen as his greatest act, and the name ‘Yahweh’ is the covenant name of God. The God who is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, forgiving and just is a God who makes promises. The fact that he abounds in steadfast love and faithfulness makes those promises ‘precious and very great’ (2 Peter 1:4).

Here in the covenant are promises that are thoroughly reliable and trustworthy. We sometimes refer to someone doing something ‘out of character’, but the God of the Bible never acts out of character. From our perspective there will be times when we find it hard to see how God’s dealings with us square with his attributes, but the Bible assures us that, even when we don’t understand, we can trust. The Hebrew word translated ‘steadfast love’ (v. 34) speaks of covenant commitment. Others have suggested translating it as ‘loyal love’, ‘covenant love’ or ‘committed love’.

The fiancée of Scottish minister and hymn-writer George Matheson broke off their engagement because she didn’t think she could be happy with someone who was rapidly becoming blind. Later in life he tells us, ‘I had suffered a severe loss and was greatly depressed. As I sat there very sad and unhappy, the words flashed into my mind, and in a few minutes the four verses of the hymn were complete.’ The words he wrote begin with the line, ‘O love, that wilt not let me go’. That is the kind of love David is singing about in 1 Chronicles 16. It’s the kind of love Paul is singing about (or at least waxing lyrical about) when he tells the Roman Christians, ‘I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Rom. 8:38–39). [1]

[1] Thomson, A. (2011). Opening Up 1 Chronicles (pp. 70–71). Leominster: Day One Publications.

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