The Personal Love of God – Psalm 116:1

“I love the LORD, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.”

Psalm 116:1

I read a devotion this morning by Charles Stanley that focused on this verse and the beautiful reality that God hears us and cares about the small things in our lives, not just “big” prayer requests. And I’d like to spend some more time contemplating that dynamic in our relationship with the God of the universe.

Because He is great and mighty and glorious. As Hebrews 1:3 describes, “[Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” The entire universe, all the stars and planets and galaxies and more within it, it is all upheld with a word. It was all simply spoken into existence. The creation of it all and the intricacies of how everything would fit and work together, it wasn’t even hard. That is how powerful He is.

“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it” (Isaiah 46:8-11). All that God purposes will come to pass. He is the only God and no power or authority can even compare to Him. It is certain enough that when He speaks a word, it will without question come to pass exactly as He desires.

This is a great God. And reflecting on this, beholding His greatness, could intimidate us to wonder why He would listen to us. Why, when He rules over all things and coordinates plans and purposes on more than even a global scale – He coordinates creation on a universal scale – would He hear me and respond to miniscule details? In light of this, who are we? Small compared to the nation we live in, let alone the continent in which it is located or the planet we inhabit, the solar system and galaxy and beyond.

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”
Psalm 8:3-4

“So [Hagar] called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing,’
for she said, ‘Truly I have seen him who looks after me.’”
Genesis 16:13

“My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.”
Psalm 139:15-18

Hagar was merely a slave woman in a difficult situation. She had no power, no options, nothing to offer to the Lord. Yet God saw her. And responded to her need. He came to her, spoke to her, and she experienced Him as a God “who looks after me.” Not people in general. Me. Even in our mother’s womb, God saw us. Intricately weaving together our personal details. Involved on a personal level before we had a chance to do anything to deserve His notice. Writing each one of our days before one of them had occurred. Very aware of every moment. Thinking of us more than we can even fathom. And with us through it all.

Even in Isaiah 46, where those earlier verses were located, we find this very personal nature of God. Shortly before the verses written above declaring His authority to accomplish His purposes, the Lord makes the statement, “even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save” (Isaiah 46:4). And those verses themselves lead into this conclusion: “Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from righteousness: I will bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory” (Isaiah 46:12-13). For those who are stubborn and far from righteousness, God will bring His righteousness near and put His salvation in play. Righteousness brought near not to condemn (though He could rightly do so), but to save.

This sets up perfectly the clearest display of God’s personal nature. The sending of Jesus, the Son, to live, and die, and rise again for our salvation. Our hope could only come from God Himself, at great personal cost to Him. And for the sake of unrighteous sinners, He paid the price of our redemption. “‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:15-17).

This is the personal love of Almighty God. For you. For me. As we behold His might, may it sweep us away in awe that this is the God who sees us, the God who is Immanuel, God with us. This is the God who wants you to lift up your every care and burden, all of your anxieties however small they feel compared to Him, so He can fill you with the peace of knowing He cares for you and is working with His great power in every detail, faithful to sustain you and provide your every need (Philippians 4:5-7, 19; 1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 55:22). If you are His, if you look to His Son for the salvation so painfully and lovingly bought, surrendering to the Lord and receiving the love and mercy He freely offers, this is the relationship He joyfully restores. This is abundant, eternal life: knowing Him and the freedom this relationship brings.

“Lift up your eyes on high and see:
who created these?
He who brings out their host by number,
calling them all by name,
by the greatness of his might,
and because he is strong in power
not one is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob,
and speak, O Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the LORD,
and my right is disregarded by my God’?
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall grow faint and weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up on wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:26-31

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