Loyal Love

Think about the loves of your life. Perhaps they include a spouse, a partner, a sibling, your college, a sports team, a parent, a child, a friend, or even your church. We were created to enjoy many levels of love. The love a parent has for a child is not comparable to the love they have for a favorite co-worker. The love for a spouse is deeper and richer than the love for a friend, in most cases. And each of these levels of love come with a corresponding level of loyalty. I am loyal to my university, but that is nowhere near the loyalty I feel toward my family.

Did you ever stop to consider God’s love and loyalty toward you? Most God-fearing followers seek to be loyal to the God they love, but did you realize that God feels that same loyalty toward his people?

Take David, for example. God was fiercely loyal to David:

Psalm 89 (Common English Bible)

I discovered my servant David.
    I anointed him with my holy oil.
21 My hand will sustain him—
    yes, my arm will strengthen him!
22 No enemy will oppress him;
    no wicked person will make him suffer.
23 I will crush all his foes in front of him.
    I will strike down all those who hate him.

24 My faithfulness and my loyal love will be with him.
    He will be strengthened by my name.
25 I will set his hand on the sea.
    I will set his strong hand on the rivers.
26 He will cry out to me:
    “You are my father,
    my God, the rock of my salvation.”
27 Yes, I’ll make him the one born first—
    I’ll make him the high king of all earth’s kings.
28 I will always guard my loyal love toward him.
    My covenant with him will last forever.
29 I will establish his dynasty for all time.
    His throne will last as long as heaven does.

Now comes the big “but.” God clearly requires that his loyalty be met with obedience. Even in his faithfulness to David, he would not tolerate disobedience in the next generation:

30 But if his children ever abandon my Instruction,
    stop following my rules—
31         if they treat my statutes like dirt,
        stop keeping my commandments—
32     then I will punish their sin with a stick,
        and I will punish their wrongdoing with a severe beating.

But this warning comes with an explanation of the extent of his love. His punishment will not erase the covenant. His reaction to wrongdoing will not cancel out what he has sworn to do, which is to bestow loyal love to David:

33 But even then I won’t withdraw my loyal love from him.
    I won’t betray my faithfulness.
34     I won’t break my covenant.
    I won’t renege on what crossed my lips.
35 By my own holiness I’ve sworn one thing:
    I will not lie to David.
36     His dynasty will last forever.
    His throne will be like the sun, always before me.

Jesus was born of David’s lineage, and so we know that this promise was kept, even though David himself broke the commandments. Jesus is like the sun, always before God, and like the moon, a faithful witness in the sky that reminds us of God’s unshakeable love for us all.
37     It will be securely established forever;
    like the moon, a faithful witness in the sky

Go back now and re-read the psalm. Where you see David’s name, replace it with your own. God makes the same commitment of loyal love to you today. Thanks be to God!

Loyal Love by Michelle Robertson

When You’re Worried

A gold star to everyone who can name the movie that this song comes from:

When you’re worried, and you can’t sleep,

just count your blessings instead of sheep

And you’ll fall asleep, counting your blessings!

If you said “White Christmas” (which not only refers to the snow, but the casting) you get a star.

This song is sung by Bing Crosby to Rosemary Clooney on a beautiful set created to look like a Vermont ski lodge. Rosemary’s character can’t fall asleep, so she goes in search of a snack. I like this girl. She meets Bing in the dining room, who offers her cold buttermilk, liverwurst sandwiches, and a song by a glowing fire pit. As much as I like snacks, I would have settled for just the song.

Covid fatigue has rendered a lot of us sleepless. And when we do fall asleep, many of us find ourselves awake again in a few hours. What is the best remedy, besides a snack? I mean if we give into that, COVID 19 will end up referring to how many pounds we have gained in this pandemic.

The answer is obvious…count your blessings.

Once upon a time there was a guy named Ethan the Ezrahite who wrote a maskil. A maskil, of course, is a technical term to designate the manner of composition or performance of a particular song. So this psalm was intended to be sung, perhaps around a fire for people who couldn’t fall asleep. In keeping with our theme, perhaps we could add some scat singing to this.

Ethan begins by counting his blessings:

Psalm 89 (New Revised Standard Version)

A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;
    with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;
    your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

When you’re worried and you can’t sleep, these are blessings that you can count on as well.

God’s steadfast love.

God’s faithfulness to all generations.

God’s grace is forever.

His heaven and his faithfulness are firm.

You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to my servant David:
‘I will establish your descendants forever,
    and build your throne for all generations.’”

The reminder that God made a covenant with David is the biggest blessing. Through David’s lineage, Jesus was born. He came to bring light into our darkness, hope into our despair, and eternal life into our earthly misery. When he comes again to establish his throne, every knee will bow, and pain and suffering will be no more.

So tonight, if you can’t sleep, just count your blessings! God’s love will sustain us all.

Counting Blessings by Michelle Robertson