Just Yet Merciful


In chapters one and two of Lamentations, the prophet Jeremiah laments the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. — “How the Lord has covered Daughter Zion with the cloud of his anger!” (Lam. 2:1) — Some may ask how a loving God could display such wrath. Consider that a righteous, holy God must also be a just God. Though the people knew the Lord was righteous, they still rebelled against Him (Lam. 1:18). But, the account doesn’t end there. As we read on in Lamentations, we discover a God who is just yet merciful.

Why a Righteous, Holy God Must be Also be a Just God

Scripture links the righteousness of God with His justice as can be seen in this small sampling of verses:

For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice. (Ps. 11:7)

And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice. (Ps. 50:6)

May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice. (Ps. 72:2)

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne. (Ps. 89:14; 97:2)

Without a righteous standard “justice is perverted” (Hab. 1:4). Only a righteous God can truly be just. In themselves, people can’t claim to be righteous. We’re too driven by our selfish sin nature which leans toward doing what is right in our own eyes. We often don’t see the big picture and so we fail to always look at the end goal that we be holy as He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15). As a result, we may sometimes look at the justice of God and question His fairness. With a holy God, it’s not about being fair but righteous. His ways are so much higher than our ways (Ps. 36:6; Isa. 55:9) that it is difficult for us to always understand His ways.

God is Just Yet Merciful

As seen in the destruction of Jerusalem, sin has consequences. Don’t think for a moment, however, that God relishes in punishing people. In the third chapter of Lamentations we read, “He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone” (Lam. 3:33). His righteousness demands it. Yet, His great love and compassion extends mercy when we “return to the LORD” (Lam. 3:40).

Just Yet Merciful God - Mercies New Every Morning

Though Jeremiah lamented the destruction of Jerusalem (Lam. 1-2) and the effect on him personally (Lam. 3), He said, “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lam. 3:23-24)

God judged Israel for their sin but He did not totally consume them. As God, He would have been just in totally destroying them but He is also a merciful God. — “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.” (Lam. 3:32)

God is righteous and therefore just. Sin must be atoned. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). God, however, always makes a way so He remains just yet merciful. God’s justice would, through the Jewish lineage, be met on the cross wherein Jesus took the punishment we deserve. — “God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood – to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Rom. 3:25-26)

We have a just God who is also merciful because He is the sum total of all His many attributes, all of the time, without fail. Reflect on His various traits using the Our Great God from A to Z Discipleship Tool Download which uses the alphabet to describe who God is.


God is Love


God is LoveTo truly understand love, we need to look at characteristics of God’s love for God defines love.

— And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. (1 Jn. 4:16)

An Acrostic about God’s Love

Take some time to get to know God’s love by reflecting on the characteristics used in the acrostic below. Hover over the Scripture listed with each trait to read it. The more fully we get to know this love, the greater will be our reliance on it.

L – Limitless (Ps. 57:10; 36:5; Eph. 2:4; 3:18; 1 Jn. 3:1)

In terms of vastness or greatness, His love can’t be measured.

O – Other-Centered (Jn. 15:13; Rom. 5:8; 1 Jn. 3:16; 4:9-10)

In terms of focus, His love always seeks the best for others even to the point of sacrificing for them.

V – Virtuous (Rom. 12:9-10; 1 Cor. 13:3-8; Col. 3:14; 1 Jn. 4:18-19)

In terms of quality, His love is full of integrity and goodness and always has pure motives and intent.

E – Enduring (Ps. 100:5; 136:26; Lam. 3:22-23)

In terms of time, His love never ends and will always define Him.

God is indeed love but He is so much more. Check out the Our Great God from A to Z Discipleship Tool Download for alphabetical listings of God’s many attributes.


Rendering about God’s Enduring Love


God's Enduring LoveTwenty-six times in twenty-six verses, Psalm 136 repeats the phrase “His love endures forever.” I trust after reading the previous posts about this psalm that you have taken time to reflect on God’s enduring love and responded to His good, kind, faithful, merciful and gracious love with thanksgiving and praise.

Now let’s personalize it keeping the ministry in which you are involved in mind.

Read through Psalm 136 and you will notice that the psalmist kept it about God, beginning every verse with what God did. Look at your ministry from that perspective and you will be able to join the refrain — His love endures forever.

Here’s a ministry worker’s rendition, not near as poetic as the psalm and containing only ten of the refrains (His love endures forever), but you will get the idea:

Give thanks to the Lord of the harvest.
His love endures forever.

Whose wisdom provides a design for staffing to accomplish His purposes.
His love endures forever.

Whose guiding hand maps out the way to best meet the needs of people entrusted to our care.
His love endures forever.

And who humbles my soul so I feel free to delegate responsibilities to others.
His love endures forever.

To Him who helps me adapt when things aren’t going as planned.
His love endures forever.

Who gives grace to deal with petty issues.
His love endures forever.

To Him who answers prayers, often in powerful ways.
His love endures forever.

Whose Truth parts the waters in our hearts, drawing people into a relationship with Himself.
His love endures forever.

And who comforts our soul so we can encourage others.
His love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of hope and peace regardless of whatever comes our way.
His love endures forever.

Think through the specifics of what God is doing in your ministry and remember the role of His enduring love.


Responding to God’s Enduring Love


God's Enduring LoveIs it possible to reflect on God’s enduring love and not break out into expressions of gratitude? Psalm 136 begins and ends with “Give thanks” with reflections of God’s enduring love between.

Twenty-six times, in response to a phrase either about God’s character, creation, or work on behalf of His chosen ones, the psalmist repeats “His love endures forever.” Thanksgiving bookends these reflections.

Gratitude is the Logical Response to God’s Enduring Love

We may not always understand or fully appreciate everything there is to know about God’s character and ways but can know that at its core is His enduring love.

Examples from Psalm 136:

  • He is good (v. 1). – If He is a good God, why does He let bad things happen?
  • He is the God of gods and the Lord of lords (v. 2-4). – How can He be the One of whom there is none greater?
  • He alone does great wonders and created all things (v. 4-9). – How could He bring creation into being from nothing?

Hang on to His enduring love and despite your questions, you can “give thanks to the Lord” knowing that His love is bigger than your doubts and finite mind.

Along life’s way everything may not be pleasant or comfortable for us but we can rest in His enduring love.

Examples from Psalm 136:

  • Captivity, watching people die, traveling through the wilderness, and hard fought battles (v. 10-12, 23-24) to get to where they were going undoubtedly caused stress and anxiety.

Remember God’s enduring love in those difficult times of life and you can “give thanks to the Lord” for you will be comforted in knowing that He will never leave you or forsake you.

Sometimes things might not work out the way we thought they should or on our timetable but we can be confident in His enduring love.

Examples from Psalm 136:

  • Egyptian soldiers were behind them and the sea before, requiring God to divide the Red Sea so they could pass through (v. 13-15).
  • Prior to receiving their inheritance, they had to walk through the wilderness and engage in battles but each step of the way God provided for them so they had what they needed and won the battles (v. 16-22).

Trust in God’s enduring love when facing the impossible or waiting for Him to fulfill His promises and you can “give thanks to the Lord” in all circumstances knowing that He is always faithful even when we are faithless.

“Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.” (Ps. 136:26)


Reflecting on God’s Enduring Love


God's Enduring Love

Twenty-six times in just twenty-six verses we are reminded of God’s enduring love. Psalm 136 may have been written as a song where the worship leaders (i.e., the Levites) sang the first part of the verse and the people sang the refrain. Over and over they repeated,

       “His love endures forever.”

Meaning of God’s Enduring Love

The Hebrew word translated as “love” in the New International Version, checed, seems to wrap up God’s goodness, kindness, faithfulness, mercy, and graciousness in one word. These words well define God’s love, indicating that it is a loyal, steadfast love with the good of the recipients at its heart. Other versions translate the phrase as follows:

  • KJV – for his mercy endureth for ever.
  • NLT – His faithful love endures forever
  • NASB – For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
  • RSV – for his steadfast love endures for ever.

Demonstrations of God’s Enduring Love

The first two verses of Psalm 136 look at God’s character. Then the psalm goes on to deal with creation and His sovereignty over it. Next comes an account of God’s work on Israel’s behalf, ending with a general statement about God’s care for His created beings. The response to all of these truths is the same — “His love endures forever.”

God’s enduring love is integral to who He is, what He does, and how He relates.

At the core of not just His goodness but also His power, sovereignty, justice, and outstretched arm, is love. It motivates Him to work on behalf of His people and keep working on their behalf even “in our low estate” (v. 23).

I encourage you to take some time to read through Psalm 136 and reflect on God’s enduring love. Don’t gloss over the repeated phrase as redundant but rather, let it sink deep into your heart. As you go through your day, look at your life through the lens of God’s enduring love. If you do, you won’t be able to help but respond similarly to the psalmist — the topic for the next post, Responding to God’s Enduring Love

Also Read: Teaching About God’s Love

Reflect on God’s love but also remember His other attributes. Get help reflecting on the whole of who He is using the Our Great God from A to Z Discipleship Tool Download.


Valentine’s Day Is . . .

Grow in God's Love
(Click image to enlarge in Pinterest & repin.)


On Valentine’s Day we express love to others and that is good, often a romanticizing of love but sometimes just a friendly acknowledgement of people we care about.

Let’s compare these expressions of love to God’s love.

Valentine’s Day Is . . . But God’s Love Is . . .

Valentine’s Day is a special day to express love but God’s love is on-going, for all times.

God continues to consistently and abundantly demonstrate that love (Rom. 5:8-10). — Are we willing to maintain control over our actions and reactions so in all things and in all ways, we are communicating His love? Are we willing to let go of the hurts and injustices, keeping no records of the wrongs done to us (1 Cor. 13:5)?

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to send cards to people we like but God’s love is unconditional, available to all.

God knows all there is to know about us, both the good and bad, and loves us anyway (Ps. 139). — Are we willing to let go of our biases and judgmental attitudes and extend God’s grace?

Valentine’s Day is a token expression of how we feel about others but God’s love is sacrificial, giving of oneself.

God’s love drove Him to give His all in sending Jesus. He sacrificed His own life so we can be in a relationship with Him, also breaking down the barriers between people who are different from one another so they can live in community. — Are we willing to get beyond some discomfort or inconveniences to maintain that unity He died to bring?

We have a relational God who is love and expects us to love others as He loves (Jn. 15:12-13; Eph. 5:25-28; 1 Jn. 4:7-11). Use this holiday to express your love to those you care about but remember that it is going to take more than a special day for them to experience God’s love through you.