A Lifetime Full of Favour
But this morning, my mind was engaged by the first part of the verse—the one I never quote!
“For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.” The alternate reading for the last part of the phrase is “…and his favor is life” but I’m going to go with what the English Standard Version considers the best of the two options.
I was interested in what other passages of Scripture had to say about God’s “anger.” The results of my foray into other verses was, oddly enough, encouraging. Psalm 103:8-14 is a beautiful reminder that while sin brings consequences it also invites grace. “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” This last phrase reminds me that of Jesus it was said that he would not break a bruised reed or put out a smoldering wick (Matthew 12:20), so I can be sure He won't grind me to dust either! Isaiah 54:7, 8 follows up on this by saying: “‘For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,’ says the Lord, your Redeemer.”
The phrases “steadfast love” and “everlasting love” join nicely with “…his favor is for a lifetime” in Psalm 30. A moment is nothing compared to whatever a lifetime turns out to be. Good times will be much longer than bad ones. What an encouragement that is!
He doesn’t give us what our rebellion against Him deserves. That the definition of grace, God's undeserved favor towards us. He is slow to bring upon us the rebuke we so often merit because of that rebellion. And when He does rebuke those who fear Him (and are therefore repentant), that rebuke is only short-lived. The mercy, compassion, love, and grace of God goes on and on and on.
Psalm 63 sums up the response of one who knows all about this lifelong favour received from the hands of God and knows what to do with it: “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me” (vss 3-8).
As I sit here I don’t remember the rebukes, though I know there have been lots. I DO remember the favour of the Lord throughout a life lived to this moment. And I simply can’t help but be grateful! How about you?