Written by Paul J. Bucknell on October, 12, 2021
The Deep Spring of God’s Ongoing Love (Psalm 118)
The Unceasing Love of God
God’s ongoing love reaches deep into the lives of His people to eliminate fear and worry.
An examination of how the truth of Romans 8:28 likely springs from the Psalmist’s experience recorded in Psalm 118 and presents insights into how to counsel each other. I provide an example of how to apply this to our marriages.
“His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
( Psalm 118:1, 2, 3, 4, 29 NASB)
Recently, fear seems to be running rampant throughout our society and families. As fear increases, so does the resulting pain. It’s easy for Christians to quickly state, “Romans 8:28” to quiet the fear in others.
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28)
But it doesn’t always help. Sometimes the sufferer shoots back, “That’s easy for you to say! You don’t….” They are hurt, and a verse cliche doesn’t bring the comfort they need.
This happens when we speak too quickly, offering an easy answer but neglect to show understanding and tenderness toward them when they are hurting.
Think of a wound. It’s tender and sore. The wound, through its pain, prompts us to be gentle and careful. Pain in others should also inspire our care for them.
The Value of Truth
When we quote a verse and neglect to express its truth, another problem arises. The words slide off, like water off a duck’s back. The needed encouragement becomes lost.
Besides a quiet presence and a listening ear, we can also share a past or present difficulty, highlighting how God used words like Romans 8:28 to comfort our soul. This approach enables the wounded one to hop over the evil one’s accusing message, “Oh, he doesn’t understand” and instead gives opportunity to massage the truth of God’s words into his soul.
What is the truth in Romans 8:28 that we would like to mention? Why has this verse been used so often?
The Old and New Testaments
I’ve been having a great time reading through the Old Testament of late, and I love discovering twin truths, New Testament words that reflect, spring from, and expand on an Old Testament concept or passage.
The New Testament is not a different book, though it is the New Covenant. It more vividly reflects the light of God’s work through Christ. And so often, when reading the Old, we will discover rich New Testament truths, maybe like when we stumble upon a spring that feeds into a river.
Psalm 118 and Romans 8
Psalm 118 is one of those Old Testament springs that feed into the broader river of God’s love, as seen in the New Testament. God re-echoes Psalm 118 in Romans 8:28, and Romans chapter 8 restates the whole of Psalm 118.
My point is not to adamantly state Romans 8 gleaned its truths solely from Psalm 118, but I would not be surprised if it were. More importantly, it’s good to point out the similarities so that we can better identify the truth that comforts our souls. We need to clearly identify that tender nurturing love so that we can more appropriately and descriptively use our experiences and gentle words to comfort other believers.
Psalm 118 and God’s Love
Five times one terse, powerful statement is proclaimed in Psalm 118. You don’t have to search for it! The Psalmist announces it to various groups, four times in the first four verses, that God’s love is true for them too.
“His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
Isn’t that one of our problems? “Oh God loves them; look how He treats them.” But by identifying various groups, people cannot consider themselves an exception—the Psalmist wonderfully includes them. “His love is forever” is true for all of us that have come to know of His love, for our whole lives.
2 Oh let Israel say, “His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
3 Oh let the house of Aaron say,
“His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
4 Oh let those who fear the Lord say,
“His lovingkindness is everlasting.” (Psalm 118:2-4)
If you think the Psalmist’s statement is superficial, like some quickly stated Romans 8:28, read on through Psalm 118. The Psalmist shares life-threatening situations where fear of the greatest kinds overshadowed his life. Again, my point is not to exposit these words but to identify the multiple trials Paul mentions in the latter part of Romans 8 as possible springs from the greatest pains and fears seen in Psalm 118.
In case you missed it, please note that the prophecy of Jesus Christ (Ps 118:18-27) ends with a prophecy on His suffering on the cross as a sacrifice for His people’s sins,
“Bind the festival sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar” (118:27).
Because God’s love is everlasting, He sent His only Son to die for our sins (Isaiah 53). It’s our faith in Christ the Son and His work on the cross that makes God’s full acceptance of us in Christ forever. Furthermore, we see the depth of His love in His willingness to have the righteous one suffer for us. In Romans 8:28 and adjacent verses, Paul unreservedly joins the Psalmist in announcing, “His love is forever.”
Tender words but powerful truth
By using the word forever, both Paul and the Psalmist affirm that no matter what troubles God’s people go through, they can be confident God’s love, mercy, lovingkindness—whatever word you translate as “lovingkindness” into; it’s always present. His love is forever, everlasting, ongoing, not stopping, unceasing, etc.
“If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom 8:31-32)
In other words, there is no difficulty that we might face that His glowing love flinches, even for a moment. There is no evil—and even the evil that evolves into oppressive darkness—that can smudge, darken, or stamp out God’s love.
This is why the truth of God’s abiding love is such a powerful truth. When we hear a tempting voice suggest, “Would a loving God allow this?” know for sure that you have an answer. This is why the Psalmist in Psalm 118 lists so many aggravated difficulties but still ends up with the same answer and truth he began with, “His lovingkindness is everlasting.”
You are my God, and I give thanks to You;
You are my God, I extol You.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting. (Psalm 118:28-29).
The Psalmist doesn’t end up sheltering himself in God’s love like, “Oh, I guess God loves me.” But instead, he exults in a vibrant, rich praise of God’s ongoing love. “You are my God, and I give thanks to You!”
The apostle in Romans 8:28 similarly taps into the same essential truth, echoing God’s eternal love and mercy across the valleys of time. Let me close with an example.
Two of our children were suffering from the much-feared covid. One is more concerning because of breathing difficulties. This virus is known to ravage the lungs, especially with those already having such issues. During my nightly prayer time with my wife, Linda, she shared how she was anxious about our child.
I have the same concern but do Moms care more? I don’t know how to describe it, but it sure seems like they care more from an emotional point of view.
But I didn’t want to slap Romans 8:28 in as a quick measure of comfort. It’s not the branding of love, but the truth of God’s love that I wanted to pass on.
God led me to share with her how I teach others about anxiety, by thinking of the worst thing that could happen. She instantly said—evidence that it was on her mind—that our child could die. We both knew this. But I went on and explained how this truth of God’s love would triumph even if our beloved child died, even as many others have lost their loved ones in the Lord.
I went on further assuaging her fears and worries. God will not allow death unless all His work through the said child is done. That is the case with any of us, He will take His people home—but that is a good thing. But if God’s purposes are not yet completed, then the child will live on and accomplish those things. Our prayers assure this because our confidence is in God.
In other words, it’s not sickness that controls our child’s future, but God’s tremendous plan for all of His people. The Lord leads, protects, heals, shields, and aids all those “those who fear the Lord” (Ps 118:4). God’s love can’t be jostled, hidden, or overshadowed, even for a moment.
God’s eternal love for His people is a truth that reveals itself even in the most difficult of circumstances as both the Psalmist in Psalm 118 and Paul in Romans 8:28 relate and rejoice in.
May this spring of delight in God’s eternal love enrich our lives. This is the confidence of God’s people, His unwavering love to lead us through life’s most treacherous, unexplainable, and unwanted circumstances. I might lose all, but I still have the love of God—forever.
Discussion Questions on Love and Fear
- What phrase is repeated five times in Psalm 118?
- List at least two truths from this one phrase.
- What groups does the Psalmist call to burst out stating this clause (Ps 118:1-4)?
- Read through Psalm 118 and list at least two difficult circumstances the Psalmist went through.
- Which phrase from Psalm 118 speaks clearly about Jesus suffering on the cross?
- What was Jesus’ attitude towards this injustice as testified in Psalm 118?
- How does the author counsel those who want to quickly state, “Romans 8:28” to those who are suffering?
- How do you respond to those suffering?
- What have you learned from this five-times quoted statement in Psalm 118 to help comfort those going through times of suffering?
Paul Bucknell’s Other References to Psalm 118, Romans 8:28, and love
(Ps 118:18). I know, O LORD, that Thy judgments are righteous, and that in ... Philippians 4:4 and Psalm 32:11 —Rejoice in the Lord! NT …
Stepping Into God’s Love is an expository sermon on Philippians 1:9-11 relating four stages of love that Paul was praying for those in Philippi and that God ...
“The LORD appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness”” (Jer ...
If we fear God’s judgment, then we do not adequately understand His love. Our love is present because God first loved us. Note how these two other verses affirm …
This is clearly stated in Psalm 118:26, “Hosanna! ... Psalm 118 was the last of the Hallel Psalms song during Passover (113-118).
We should note that Psalm 118:22-24 are verses that speak to the rejection of Christ. God was preparing a sacrifice. Christ would first be covered with ...
(Psalm 118:27). “No worship is pleasing to God which is purely inward, abstract and mystical; it must express itself in concrete acts of service performed ...
Why did Jesus have to suffer to be a faithful king and priest (Psalm 118:27; 1 Cor 5:7)?; How does what Jesus said in John 18:36 help us …
Romans: Laying a Solid Foundation. The Bible Teacher’s Commentary. Paul J. Bucknell. Commentary on Romans 8:26-39Conquerors through Christ. Paul J. Bucknell.
Election and Predestination: Study on Romans 8:29-30. Do you have problems with the doctrines of election and predestination? You are not alone!
‘The Spirit Helps Us In Our Weakness’ (Romans 8:26-27) is the first of three parts to the BFF Romans 8:26-39 Living Commentary: Conquerors through Christ ...
Romans 8:31-39 “The Lord Proves His Love for Us in Christ” is the last of four parts to the BFF Romans 8:26-39 Living Commentary on Romans: Conquerors ...
Romans 8:26-39 Bible Study: Bought and Protected by the Lord reveals the great eternal salvation plan of God saving us and displaying His glorious grace and ...