Theme: God’s Attributes
In this week’s lessons we are given a stark description of the wicked, while the contrasting attributes of God reveal what God will do for those who belong to him.
Scripture: Psalm 36:1-12
The first of God’s attributes that David mentions is lovingkindness, which we considered yesterday.
2. Faithfulness. The second attribute is faithfulness. Maclaren rightly argues that this has to do with God’s verbal revelation, for only a God who has spoken promises to mankind can be thought of as faithful. This God has done. He has given numerous revelations and promises, and he has adhered unwaveringly to each one. Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote, “He never fails, nor forgets, not falters, nor forfeits his word…. To every word of threat or promise, prophecy or covenant, the Lord has exactly adhered, for he is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent.”7
Saying that God’s faithfulness is “to the skies” does not mean that it is to be found in heaven rather than on earth but that it is without any limits. It means that God is utterly and entirely faithful.
3. Righteousness. The third attribute is righteousness and by it David teaches that God is upright in all his ways. As Abraham before him well knew, “The Judge of all the earth does do right” (Gen. 18:25).
4. Justice. Justice concludes David’s four item list of attributes. He is not thinking here of the final judgment, when the wicked will be punished for their sins and the righteous will be vindicated on the basis of God’s righteousness, which we now know is provided for us in Jesus Christ. He is thinking of God’s justice in human affairs.
The wonderful thing about these attributes of God, says David, is that they are shown to all God’s creation. This does not mean that there is no distinction between the measure of love shown to the godly in their salvation and to the wicked who are not saved. There is a discriminating love which we refer to by the terms election and reprobation. But what David does want to say is that even the wicked, in spite of their rejection of God and his ways, experience a measure of love, faithfulness, righteousness and justice. In fact, David goes so far as to include “both man and beast.” The scope of such grace only renders the rebellion of the wicked even more odious.
The wicked know nothing of the lovingkindness of the God they reject, but those who find refuge in God experience this goodness personally. As he has listed four of God’s attributes, so now David lists four ways in which the righteous are blessed.
1. Satisfaction. David does not use the word satisfaction, but this is what he means when he speaks of the righteous feasting on the “abundance” of God’s house. What is “God’s house”? Some writers see this as a reference to the temple, which can indeed be called the house of God. But there is nothing in the context to suggest this. Others suppose it to be a reference to heaven, in line with Jesus’ saying, “In my Father’s house are many rooms” (John 14:2) or his stories about guests feasting in the king’s great hall. In my judgment, the “house” he speaks of here is the world in which we live and in which God’s blessings are poured out. The reason I say so is that this is a present feasting, not a future one. It describes a present and continuous enjoyment of God’s bounties.
Spurgeon has a wonderful little story at this point, telling of a father who moved his family from a rather small house to a large one. His youngest child was so overwhelmed with the new home that he ran from room to room, exclaiming about everything he saw, “Is this ours, father? Is this ours?” He had no trouble appropriating the father’s provision and was obviously fully satisfied by it.8
What does it mean for God to be faithful?
Explain the idea of God’s faithfulness being “to the skies.”
What is David thinking of when he speaks of feasting in God’s house?
Application: Is your life characterized by a delighting in the abundance of blessings that God gives?
7C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 1b, Psalms 27-57 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 159.8C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 1b, Psalms 27-57(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 166.