The Scope of God’s Steadfast Love (Psalm 103:17-19)
But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children's children, ¹⁸to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. ¹⁹The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
Have you ever experienced a striking contrast between two things? Maybe you have seen bright yellow canola plants against the backdrop of a big blue sky. Or maybe you have left the coziness of your abode to feel the smack of sub-zero wind against your face (which is more like it for us Minnesotans). Life is full of these types of contrasts, and we think nothing of them every day. But today’s verses usher in a contrast that cannot be overlooked. Here, Yahweh’s everlasting covenant love stands in contrast to the fleeting days of fragile people. In fact, the passing nature of our lives serves to highlight the everlasting reach of the LORD’s covenant faithfulness on those who fear Him.
What kind of people are those who fear the LORD? David tells us in verse 18 that they are “those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.” Surely David is drawing from Deuteronomy 7:9-11, where Moses is reminding God’s people to “do the commandments” of the LORD because of His great promise to keep covenant love with them.
In Psalm 103, David shows us the height of Yahweh’s covenant love: “as far and the heavens are above the earth” (v. 11). And he shows us the length of Yahweh’s steadfast love: “from everlasting to everlasting” (v. 17). But he also shows us the breadth and depth of Yahweh’s steadfast love in the form of “righteousness to children’s children” (v. 18), which extends down to “a thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:9).
How would the generations know Yahweh’s steadfast love and righteousness? As His Word was on their hearts and they faithfully impressed it upon the hearts of the next generation (Deuteronomy 6:6-7), God’s people continued in the blessings of His covenant. And yet, they often faltered at fearing God and keeping God’s commands. Their languishing made their children long for a new covenant with better promises. They longed for the fruition of God’s steadfast love in Christ.
Christ alone would perfectly “keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments,” radiating God’s righteousness to children’s children (Hebrews 1:3). Christ alone would mediate between the faltering of God’s people and the faithfulness of God’s steadfast love, through His own blood. Christ alone would swing wide the doors to “comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” so that all the saints “may be filled with all the fullness of God” when Christ “dwells in [their] hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:17-19).
As we put our trust in Christ and experience the fullness of His steadfast love, His life in us should break forth in fearing, loving, and obeying God’s Word like never before. What a beautiful picture of God’s heavenly rule in the hearts of His people (v. 19). What a legacy to leave for our children’s children!
In what ways might you run after and reverence things other than God and, in effect, “do the commandments” of those idols?
As you recognize your fragility in contrast to God’s forever love in Christ, what sins do you need to confess? In what areas should you ask for His help to reverence Him more?
What heights, lengths, breadths, and depths of God’s steadfast love in Christ should you ponder and praise Him for right now? How can you include your own children or the children you serve in this so that they might “magnify the LORD” with you (Psalm 34:3)?