God's Eternal Love

by Kenneth J. Price

One of the clearest pictures we have of the love of God for His people Israel is expressed from the heart of David at the death of his son Absalom. "O my son Absalom -- my son, my son Absalom -- if only I had died in your place! O Absalom, my son, my son! ... The king covered his face, and the king cried out with a loud voice, 'O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!'" (II Samuel 18:33; 19:4)

This is a picture of God's love for His people, for did He not delcare to Pharaoh through His servant Moses: "Israel is my son, my first-born" (Exodus 4:22)? And if we were stunned personally by the recent manner of death of Israel's leader, and if the world also was stunned, how must the heavenly Father feel for His people Israel in their anguish?

There are many facets of God's love, all clearly shown in the Scriptures, that can be enumerated for our benefit.

1. God's love is an abiding love.

Absalom stole the hearts of the people, brought into being an army for the purpose of destroying his father, and planned to take his throne for himself, yet King David never lost his deep love and affection for his son. This is a true picture of God's love for His 'son', His people -- an abiding love that is not dependent upon their response to Him. Amazing!

The prophet Zephaniah speaks of that abiding love: "The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will quiet you in his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." The great God, in the midst of His people, in all His majesty and power, inspires His people with peace and hope. Treasures of boundless might are stored up in Him, and He dwells among His people; His Word gives us that confidence of faith that our great God abides evermore the same.

2. God's love is a constraining love.

God's love for His people is a constraining love as the prophet Hosea teaches: "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son ... I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms ... I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them" (11:1,3,4).

God draws us to Himself and especially His people Israel – to come and enjoy the fruits of that love which He wants to shower upon all, drawing us "with gentle cords, with bands of love."

3. God's love is an everlasting love.

"The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: 'Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you" (Jeremiah 31:3). And because of the Lord's everlasting love for His people, they will no longer be a wilderness, but a garden of the Lord, walled round by His wonderful grace, and continually visited by His love, and guarded by His Divine power (see Jeremiah 31:4-14).

Indeed, ultimately "my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, says the LORD."

4. God's love is a sovereign love.

"The LORD did not set his love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because he would keep the oath which he swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 7:7,8).

And because He could swear by none greater, the Lord swore by Himself of this love for them. "For when God made a promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no one greater, he swore by himself, saying, 'Surely I will bless you and multiply you'" (Letter to the Hebrews 6:13,14).

5. God's love is an unfailing love.

We read in the prophet Isaiah (49:15,16) of God's love, not only for His people Israel, but also for His city Jerusalem, Zion. God has identified himself with both -- city and people -- with a display of His unfailing love. We may prove ourselves forgetful, but God -- NEVER!

"Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me."

6. God's love is a great love.

At this time in world history, let us not fail God in following Samuel's example as he said to his people: "Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you ..." (I Samuel 12:23).

Samuel was displeased with the people that they had requested a king to reign over them as the nations, and he had referred the matter to the Lord. He was told to go ahead and do as the people demanded, "for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them" (I Samuel 8:7).

So Samuel granted their request as the Lord directed him, but he would not "sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray" for them, and he would continue to teach them "the good and right way" .

We too need that spirit of intercession and deep concern that men will come to the knowledge of the truth and enjoy the love of God as it is displayed in His Messiah. "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with the Messiah ... and raised us up together, and made us to sit in the heavenly places in Messiah Jesus" (Letter to the Ephesians 2:4-6).