THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD Lesson #16
The Lovingkindness of God Psalm 36:7-10
Lovingkindness, like holiness, immutability, infinity, and justice is an attribute of God, a characteristic of his Being that is essential to his Being. Without lovingkindness, God would not be God. If you look up this word “lovingkindness” in a concordance, you will see that it is a word that is used exclusively with reference to God. In our English Bible it is never applied to any of his creatures. That fact arouses my curiosity. What is the meaning of this word “lovingkindness”? It is the kindness of God arising from and directed by his love for his elect. This word, “lovingkindness”, is used thirty times in the Bible. All thirty times, it is found in the Old Testament. And twenty-three of those thirty references are found in the Psalms of David. That fact suggests that God’s lovingkindness inspires faith, hope, prayer, and worship in the hearts of his people.
Arthur Pink said God’s lovingkindness is “His paternal favor to his people, his tender affection toward them.”
The puritan, Thomas Manton, described God’s lovingkindness as, “His disposition to do good upon his own motives, or his self-inclination to do good to his creatures, especially to his people, his native willingness to employ what goodness is in him for the good of his creatures.
It is the lovingkindness of God that encourages poor sinners to draw near to God, put their trust in him, and seek from him the mercy they need. "How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings." The justice of God gives men what they deserve. The lovingkindness of God gives men what they need. We should make the prayer of David our own prayer continually - “Show thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee” (Psa. 17:7). God’s lovingkindness is marvellous indeed. I am amazed that God, who is so infinitely above us, so inconceivably glorious, so ineffably holy, should not only allow such sinful worms as we are to live n his universe, but also show us such marvellous lovingkindness as to set his heart upon us, give his Son to redeem us send his Spirit to dwell within us, and patiently bear with all our infirmities and sins, promising never to remove his lovingkindness from us.
GOD’S LOVINGKINDNESS IS REVEALED TO US IN ALL HIS WORKS OF GRACE. The lovingkindness of God is the source and cause of our salvation. The covenant of God’s grace runs like this - “I will betroth thee unto me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness; and thou shalt know the LORD” (Hos. 2:19-20). Predestination and election are works of God’s lovingkindness (Eph. 1:4-5). Our redemption by Christ is a manifestation of God’s lovingkindness (I John 4:9). The gracious operations of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and conversion are the results of God’s eternal lovingkindness toward his elect (Jer. 31:3). Because of his lovingkindness toward us, almighty God has entered into an everlasting marriage contract with us and caused us to enter into an indissolvable marriage contract with him (Hos. 2:16; Isa. 62:1-5).
The Lovingkindness of our God is immutable. It never varies. It never changes. It is never removed from his children. Sometimes it appears to us that God has removed his lovingkindness, and our circumstances cause us to cry out with David, “LORD, where are thy former lovingkindness?” (Psa. 89:49). But our heavenly Father never ceases to exercise his lovingkindness toward his own elect. Neither the temptations of satan nor our many sins can make void the lovingkindness of our great God. God’s lovingkindness is in Christ (Psa. 40:11). Because we are in Christ nothing can ever separate us from his great lovingkindness (Rom. 8:39). God’s lovingkindness is linked to his truth, proceeding upon the promise of his Word which cannot be broken (Psa. 138:2). God’s lovingkindness is made sure to all his elect by his own holy decree in the covenant of grace (Psa. 89:31-34). And God has sworn that neither his covenant nor the kindness of his love shall ever depart from his own (Isa. 54:10). Because he promised it in the covenant from eternity, and because that covenant has been ratified by the blood of Christ, we have no cause for despair. “The LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me” (Psa. 42:8).
GOD’S LOVINGKINDNESS REVEALED IN CHRIST INVITES AND ENCOURAGES SINNERS TO TRUST IN HIM. Read David’s words of praise again: "How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings." It is true that God is holy, righteous, just, and true. But “he delighteth in mercy.” His lovingkindness is one of the “sure mercies of David” which God has promised to all who come to him by faith in Christ (Isa. 55:3-7). It is the lovingkindness of God revealed in the gospel of our crucified Substitute that draws sinners to the Savior (John 12:32).
GOD’S LOVINGKINDNESS IS A SOURCE OF CONSTANT HELP TO HIS BELIEVING PEOPLE. David said, “Thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth” (Psa. 26:3). His meditation upon God’s lovingkindness taught David how to walk in accordance with God’s revealed truth. And God’s lovingkindness teaches us how to walk in his truth.
The believer’s rule of life is not the law of God, with its threats of judgment and wrath, but the love of God revealed in Christ and experienced in our souls. The law was never given to be a ruler of life for the godly, but as a terrifying restraint for the ungodly (1 Tim. 1:5-10). Believer’s are motivated, governed, and ruled by the love of God in Christ (2 Cor. 5:14; 1 John 3:23). Our rule of life is the whole revealed will of God in the Scriptures as exemplified by our Lord Jesus Christ (John 13:15; 1 Pet. 2:21).
God’s lovingkindness is the pattern by which we are to mold our conduct to one another. The Apostle’s admonition is - "Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour" (Eph. 4:32-5:1). Again the Holy Spirit directs us to "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering" (Colossians 3:12).
God’s lovingkindness promotes and strengthens faith and confidence in him. "How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart" (Psa. 36:7-10).
God’s lovingkindness inspires worship and praise. The sweet singer of Israel sang, "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee" (Psa. 63:1-3).
God’s tried, troubled and afflicted children in this world look to his great lovingkindness for comfort. In times of trouble and trial we cry, "Let, I pray thee, thy merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to thy word unto thy servant" (Psa. 119:76).
God’s lovingkindness is an argument to use with him in prayer to urge our plea for his mercy. Isaiah did. "I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses" (Isa. 63:7). David prayed the same way. "Quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness" ( Psa. 119:159).
God’s lovingkindness is our hope when we have fallen into sin. When David was smitten in his heart with the guilt of his sin, he cast himself upon the lovingkindness of the Lord and found forgiveness. "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions" (Psa. 51:1).
God’s lovingkindness is our daily guide. Let us pray daily for grace to know and live according to God’s lovingkindness revealed in Christ. "Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me. Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness" (Psa. 143:8-10). Those who seek to mold and govern their lives by God’s lovingkindness will be well-governed. Their lives have been cast by the right mold.
"How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings. They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light. O continue thy lovingkindness unto them that know thee; and thy righteousness to the upright in heart."