Monday, May 20, 2019

As a father has compassion

Preaching Psalm 103 yesterday, the big thing that struck me was the contrast between the frailty of humanity and the eternity of God:
As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children's children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The contrast is clear: God is from everlasting to everlasting, man is barely from one day to the next.  He is the enduring Lord, they are a flash in the pan at best.  We might ask, with another Psalm, what is man, that God should be mindful of him?

But according to Psalm 103, the response of God to humanity is not disdain.  One might reasonably expect this.  That is how the gods of the classical pantheons tended to view humans, and of course Aristotle thought that god would be completely unaware of such trifles as human beings - too caught up in his own perfection to be bothered.  (It would in fact constitute a loss of perfection for god to cease contemplating his own perfect self and take note of something so mundane as a human being).

Not the God of Israel.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
And in the full biblical witness to revelation, we see what that compassion means.  The Psalmist notes that God the creator "knows our frame" - he knows how we're made.  Of course he does, as creator.  But it's more than that.  In his compassion, God the Son has actually taken on that frame, and lived it from the inside out.  He has not just felt for us in our brevity and weakness, from a distance.  He is not condescending (in a negative way); he has condescended, to be one of us.  His compassion has extended so far, the distance from heaven and earth (the same distance which, according to the Psalm, marks the span of his great love).

What a great God we have, that for us he should become a feeble man!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful encouragement for this Monday morning - thank you Daniel.