Is the God of the Old Testament…?
Let your steadfast love come to me, O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise (Psalm 119:41).
The psalmist wants love and has no qualms about asking for it directly.
I recently heard on NPR’s “Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” about an interaction between an 8th grade boy and New Jersey governor Chris Christie. The boy asked for advice in his upcoming student body election. The governor’s response may seem obvious, “Don’t be afraid to ask people to vote for you,” but gets to the heart of the issue. The psalmist here apparently lives by a similar philosophy, “Don’t be afraid to ask God to love you.”
The love that psalmist is asking for is hesed-love. I describe it in God Behaving Badly, “hesed is the best kind of love one could imagine. It is the love of a devoted parent to a child from infancy to adulthood and beyond. It is the love of a committed spouse to her or his partner over decades of marriage” (p. 38). You can understand why the psalmist would ask for this from God.
But the psalmist isn’t satisfied with that, he asks for salvation also. But why does he need to ask for salvation if God has already promised it? Yes, that’s a good question, thanks for bring it up. Apparently the promised salvation hasn’t fully arrived yet, so the psalmist is reminding God and making his desire clear. The psalmist is also acknowledging that his focus is on God, for love, for salvation, for everything.
I tend to ask God for specific things like healed vocal chords (mine are currently damaged), a good class (I taught at church yesterday), a safe trip (we’ve been driving as a family a lot this summer), but not intangible things like love. That should probably change.
This is the first verse in the Vav section of the psalm (119:41-48), the 6th of 22, where every verse begins with the Hebrew letter Vav.
God, give us your hesed-love in abundance.
How comfortable do you feel asking God for intangible things like love?
Image from http://nj1015.com/town-hall-event-is-excused-absence-says-chris-christie/ (this boy is the wrong one, he’s an 11 year-old who asked to be excused from school).