God is faithful. We’ve all heard these words.
We’ve read them, said them, and sung them. And we’ve felt them.
God’s faithfulness is a palatable experience of his love. It’s his love tasted and seen in our history. It’s the mechanics of his love wired to fulfill his promises for our good. In fact, God’s faithfulness and his steadfast love are so closely intertwined that in Psalm 33 they’re basically the same.
The word of the Lord is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. (Psalm 33:4–5)
Verse 4 tells us, “All his work is done in faithfulness.” All his work, says the psalmist. Everything God does is done in faithfulness. Every move God makes in this universe is about what he’s said he’d be for his people. And it’s so pervasive that we’re told in verse 5, “The earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord.”
The two statements, “All his work . . .” and “The earth is full . . .” make the same point in two different ways with one thing clear: God’s faithfulness is everywhere. It’s boundless and unending.
And perhaps uncomfortable.
God’s Kind of Love
See, a lot of times when folks talk about God’s love they mean something different from what the Bible shows us. Let’s call it pop-love. It’s the kind that’s manageable, not mighty — the kind that makes me feel special, not God look great. Most people want love, for sure, but love in their terms, not God’s.
Don’t miss the greater message of this psalm, captured in verses 4–5.
The uprightness of God’s word parallels his love for righteousness and justice. This refers to God’s sovereign authority and it’s inseparable from the love part.
Actually, if we continue reading Psalm 33 we won’t see anything about love again until verse 18. But what do we see? We see that God speaks worlds into being. We see that his mere breath fills the heavens, that whatever he says happens, that whatever he plans comes to be. We see that he sees everything, that he fashions the hearts of men and watches every move we make (verses 6–17). We see his power.
The psalmist lifts his pen to celebrate God’s love and he talks about God’s power. And he knows what he’s doing. As unsettling as this power might be for some, the psalmist is convinced that this is precisely what makes the love so good.
Without power, love is only sentiment. It’s nice, don’t get me wrong, and it can probably produce some positive feelings, but we need more from our Maker. Positive feelings don’t free us from condemnation, nor can they raise anything from the dead. If God’s goodwill toward his people really counts it must be sovereignly willed. It doesn’t matter how good he feels about us if he can’t really do anything about it.
The aim of Psalm 33 is to say that he can — that he does.
All that power is the power of his love — and the love of his power. The power that spoke the stars into existence is the power that Jesus trusted when he bowed his head and spoke, “It is finished.” Jesus knew that he who frustrates the plans of the peoples will also frustrate the plans of death. The Father’s faithfulness to him, even in the shadow of death, was sovereign faithfulness. And so it must be with us. That’s the only kind there is.