Where Is God’s Unfailing Love?

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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Lord, where is your unfailing love? You promised it to David with a faithful pledge.

Psalm 89:49

If you were to read only the first 37 verses of Psalm 89, you’d think it was an exuberant song of praise to God for anointing David as Israel’s glorious and permanent king (through his descendants). Yet, if you were to read only the next 14 verses, you’d consider Psalm 89 to be a sad lament that seems to question God’s faithfulness. As verse 49 reads, “Lord, where is your unfailing love? You promised it to David with a faithful pledge.” But now God’s anger with his “anointed king” has led to divine rejection (89:38). “You have ended his splendor and overturned his throne” (89:44). The writer of this Psalm surely yearns for God to remember his unfailing love and deliver Israel from devastation, but he fills the closing verses of his psalm not with requests for help but with laments and accusations. Then he adds the unexpected final verse: “Praise the LORD forever! Amen and amen!” (89:52).

Psalm 89 helps us to enter into the spirit of Advent. It reminds us of God’s promises to David, promises that seemed to be forgotten when Israel became subject to foreign rulers. It underscores the pain of God’s people as they experienced domination, suffering, and disgrace. Psalm 89 expresses the sad history and yearning of the Jews who still hoped that God would fulfill his promise to David by sending an anointed king to deliver Israel and reestablish God’s kingdom.

Though our life settings differ from that of the Jews in the time of Jesus and earlier, many of us can relate to the mix of celebration and lament in Psalm 89. We have been blessed richly by God’s grace in our lives. Yet some of what we had expected turned out poorly. Perhaps your “perfect job” became a nightmare. Or your teenage children rejected their faith and chose to live in a way that weighs heavily on your heart. Or your “secure” retirement income evaporated in the economic crisis. Or a loved one was diagnosed with serious cancer. Or . . . you name it. Like the writer of Psalm 89, we often find ourselves thanking God for his goodness and wondering where his goodness went. We yearn for God’s grace to reappear, so that we might be delivered from our difficulties. This yearning, whether in the hearts of Jews centuries ago, or in our hearts today, captures the core of Advent.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: In what ways have you experienced God’s abundant blessings? How has God not done what you expected? What are your deepest yearnings for God’s help?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, thank you for Psalm 89. It models for us exuberant praise. It encourages us to remember your goodness and to offer extensive thanks for all you have done.

Yet this psalm also reminds us of our disappointment in you, our questions, our aching cries for mercy. Even though we have been wondrously blessed by you, our lives have not gone as we had expected. Your faithful love to us seems somehow to have gotten lost in translation. Thank you for giving us this psalm, which invites us to pour out our hearts to you, both in praise and in lament.

In this season of Advent, may we become more aware of our yearning for you. May our hearts ache for more of your presence. Make yourself and your goodness known to us afresh, O Lord.

Though our lives are far from perfect, and though we sometimes wonder where you are and what you’re doing—or not doing—nevertheless, we acknowledge you as God. Thus we pray as in the closing verse of Psalm 89: “Praise the LORD forever! Amen and amen!”