Those Who Don’t Know God Reject His Love
Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. – Psalm 36:1-2 (ESV)
Years ago in the Deep South, a Baptist church was struggling over whether or not to allow a black gentleman to join their church. He had been their janitor for years and decided he wanted to be part of the church family. A special vote of the congregation was called for as the church pondered the issue of integration. Finally, the vote was announced and the janitor lost his bid to be a member.
Late that evening, the old gentleman was sitting in his porch swing thinking about how he had been rejected by the church. He said, “Lord, I don’t understand them folks. I tried to join their church……but they voted me out.” About that time, the Lord spoke from Heaven and said, “Don’t worry about it, my child. I have been trying to get into that church for years. They won’t let me in, either!!” (Source Unknown)
Psalm 36 tells us about who God is, but first, it tells us who man is. The psalmist, David, wanting to contrast the heart of man with the heart of God, begins by giving us a window into the heart of the wicked person who doesn’t know God. The word translated as “wicked” actually means ungodly and refers to all unbelievers, all who try to live life without God. Pastor Jim reminded us that these people don’t receive the love God is wanting them to experience from Him.
Why is it hard for someone who “flatters” themself to receive the love of God? Is it ever hard for you to receive God’s love? Why or why not?
Thank God for opening your heart to realize that He loves you. Ask God to open the eyes and hearts of people close to you who are still rejecting Jesus’ love.
Those Who Know God Receive His Love
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. – Psalm 36:5-7 (ESV)
Davon Huss writes: On a Sunday school picnic in the heat of summer, I was going around the children with a 4-gallon can of cool drink and ladling out portions to the thirsty. I came to a small boy who had a busy morning. He was red in the face, sweating profusely, and obviously quite hot. He was clearly thirsty. There I was with 4 gallons of cooling drink and a desire to get rid of it speedily. Nothing would have given me greater pleasure than to give my young friend all he could drink. But he had no cup. He had no way of receiving what I was offering freely. Fortunately, someone was able to come and give a cup and the lad did not die of thirst in the midst of plenty. But the cup he eventually held out in no way merited the gift. The cup was indispensable. Without it, he could not receive the cooling drink. But the cup was no more than the means by which he received it.
Those who know God are able to receive God’s love. The Hebrew word for “love”, hesed, carries the sense of faithful or loyal love. The ESV adds the word “steadfast” to convey God’s love being a loyal love. Our hearts crave a loyal love that doesn’t abandon or give up on us because we mess up or let someone down. When God saves us, He gives us a heart that is open to receive the love of God.
When did you first begin to believe that God loved you? How has your depth of understanding of God’s love grown since you first became a follower of Christ?
Praise God for His faithful and unconditional love. Ask God to continue to grow your understanding of how much He loves you and to grow your love for Him.
God’s Love Can Reach You, No Matter Where You Are.
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord. – Psalm 36:5-6 (ESV)
John Wesley never forgot a terrible night of his childhood. He was only six years old at the time, and he had awakened in the family’s old rectory to find it ablaze from top to bottom. Everyone else had been dragged from the building, but by some extraordinary oversight, he had been forgotten. At the very last moment, just before the roof fell in with a crash, a neighbor climbed on another’s shoulders and pulled the terrified child from a window. Later that scene was drawn for Wesley, and he kept the picture until the day of his death. He wrote under it this verse in the third chapter of Zechariah: “Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?”
Wesley’s experience of being literally saved from fire was unusual, but all of God’s people experience it in a far more important sense. Jesus Christ has rescued us from the fires of hell. We too are encouraged to do so for others. Jude 23 reads, “Save others snatching them out of the fire.” (Dennis Davidson)
In Psalm 36, David writes that God’s love reaches the heavens, and His faithfulness reaches the clouds. There is nowhere that God’s love can’t reach. God’s righteousness, love, and faithfulness rise up into and above the skies, but His judgments run deep. The ocean depths are deep, not only in physical depth but also in their hiddenness. To this day the most unexplored places on earth are the ocean depths. God is able to save us no matter where we are in between.
Where is the farthest place you have ever traveled? Can you remember sensing God’s presence while you were there?
Praise God for the majesty of the heavens and the depths of the oceans and what they tell you about His love. Pray for your friends and family who seem far from God to be drawn close to God by the love of God.
God’s Love Will Protect You, No Matter What You Face.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. – Psalm 36:7-9 (ESV)
The movie Mighty Ducks was the story of a pee-wee hockey team. Their goalie, whose name was Goldberg, was afraid of the puck and anytime it would come at him he would run away. So the coach duct-taped him to the goal and had the rest of the team shoot at him at will. Once he learned that his equipment protected him from the puck, he was no longer afraid of it.
Once we’ve experienced God’s protection, we know we can trust Him. God’s love invites us to take refuge under His protective wings, as baby chicks hide under their mother’s wings. David also uses a “river of your delights” analogy to describe God’s protection and provision for His children. To appreciate the river metaphor, you have to remember that David was writing to people who lived in a desert. For them, a flowing river was incredibly wonderful. It meant life and refreshment. You could have all that you needed to drink. You could cool off by bathing in it. You could irrigate your crops with it. The word “delights” is “Eden” in Hebrew, so it may be a reference to the original Garden, with the four rivers flowing from it.
How have you seen God protect you lately? How have you seen God provide for you lately?
Praise God the times you’ve sensed His protection lately. Thank God for the ways you’ve seen Him provide for you lately. Ask Him to provide and protect you in any areas where you have worries.
God’s Love Will Guide You, No Matter Where You Go
Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart! Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away. – Psalm 36:10-11 (ESV)
A missionary couple once brought some African pastors to the United States for a big meeting. During their free time, these pastors wanted to go shopping. Even though they were in a small town, the missionary knew there was a chance one of them might have some difficulty finding their way around or get lost. So the missionary gave each pastor his phone number in case of an emergency. In less than an hour, the missionary’s phone rang and one of the pastors said, “I am lost.” The missionary replied, “Lay the phone down, go to the street corner, find out the names of the two streets, and come back and tell me.” In a few minutes the African pastor returned and reported, “I am at the corner of ‘Walk’ and ‘Don’t Walk.’” (Source Unknown)
The psalmist reminded his readers that no matter where they went God would be their guide. David’s prayer is for those who know God. Even though we who have come to know God through Jesus Christ have experienced His grace and love, we need God’s continued direction for our lives. In verse 11, David asks that the Lord protect him from the path of the proud and wicked, who would try to bring him down to their level.
There isn’t anywhere you can go where God will not be with you and continue to love you. Recall a time in your life when unbelievers tried to pull you away from God. How did you see God’s faithful love guiding you through that season?
Thank God for loving you through the spiritually tough seasons of your life. Ask God to protect you from anyone in your life that is trying to pull you away from Him.