Advent: God With Us

 Psalm 89: 1-4, 19-26 

A Maskil of Ethan the Ezrahite.

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

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

Then you spoke in a vision to your faithful one, and said:
   ‘I have set the crown on one who is mighty,
   I have exalted one chosen from the people.
I have found my servant David;
   with my holy oil I have anointed him;
my hand shall always remain with him;
   my arm also shall strengthen him.
The enemy shall not outwit him,
   the wicked shall not humble him.
I will crush his foes before him
   and strike down those who hate him.
My faithfulness and steadfast love shall be with him;
   and in my name his horn shall be exalted.
I will set his hand on the sea
   and his right hand on the rivers.
He shall cry to me, “You are my Father,
   my God, and the Rock of my salvation!”

Today is the anniversary of the birth of our first child Catherine, or Cate as we call her. I distinctly remember the few moments when I looked into her face and held her little body in my arms for the first time. I was overwhelmed by the feelings of love that I felt pouring out of me. It was as if some place in my heart or mind or soul was suddenly available to me and out of those depths a love that I had not felt before came bubbling up like an artesian well. I had not done anything to prime it. I did not force it. It was not manufactured. 

When I think of the steadfast love of the LORD, the hesed of God that the Psalmist sings of in Psalm 89, at least part of what I think that love must be like is some of what I was feeling as a parent looking at my beloved child. This wasn’t just the love of emotion or the flaring of passion—that kind of love is at the mercy of how I am feeling or even what I had to eat last night. No, this kind of love is rooted in a rigorous commitment to faithfulness in order to reach its fullness. Faithfulness becomes empty fanaticism if it is just a dogged determination to hang on to dogma or loyalty to an affiliation or to another. Love without the commitment to the long-term growth and flourishing of the object of my affection is worth little more than the words on a hallmark card. There is a difference in the depth of love that is experienced on a wedding day vs. the depth of love that can be witnessed to after 20 plus years of marriage and mistakes and faithfully tending to the work of being in relationship with one another. 

The steadfast love of God is the foundational commitment for the covenant with the Israelites and with King David. This steadfast love of God didn’t just lead God to make a covenant with God’s people, but it is also the driving force in God continuing to deliver God’s people from different kinds of struggles and disasters—like leading them out of slavery in Egypt. The Steadfast love of God promises that God will deliver God’s people. And that deliverance doesn’t happen through kings and politicians and the powers of this world—they are too busy serving their own purposes. That deliverance won’t happen through great armies and guns and bombs and nuclear warheads—death and destruction is not and cannot be the bearer of life. It will not happen through reliance on our own selves and our own inward looking that places our trust ultimately in our control and our power and our resources and our abilities. The Steadfast love of God is what will deliver God’s people. 

Love and faithfulness or steadfastness can be a powerful force when married together. They can even change the world. Indeed they did when the love of God, so clearly revealed in the face of Jesus, made its way into this world in a new way. Imagine that–the love of God, married together with the faithfulness of God to the whole world. Thanks be to God for the steadfast love of God that is still at work transforming our lives even now. 


Matt DuVall  

Matt DuVall is the Director of Development for Mercer’s McAfee School of Theology. A graduate of Mercer University (’01) and the McAfee School of Theology (’04), Matt is currently the Director of Development for the School of Theology. He has served churches in Georgia and Kentucky, most recently in Rome, GA. Matt is married to Caroline and they have two amazing daughters.