Even though these verses have an ancient historical context, they are spoken to you today. Such verses are timeless and universal in that way, if we interpret them properly. Great for a sermon or Bible study series or your personal edification.
These verses are about God’s love and grace towards you, which never changes, not your love for him, which fluctuates from hour to hour.
Paul said all the promises that God has made in the Old Testament belong to us:
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. (2 Cor. 1:20)
These verses come from the New International Version (NIV) or English Standard Version (ESV). If you would like to see other translations or the verses in context, you may go to Biblegateway.com and type in the references.
Look for the bold italics for the key words.
“Grace” is often translated as “favor” in the Old Testament. It means God’s undeserved, unmerited, unearned favor on you, which flows out of his love for you.
“Love” is translated a few times as “mercy” or “set affection upon.”
David was just anointed king after Saul. He found out that the men of Jabesh-gilead had honored Saul and his sons with burial, so he decided to honor them.
5 David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh-gilead and said to them, “May you be blessed by the LORD, because you showed this loyalty to Saul your lord and buried him. 6 Now may the LORD show steadfast love and faithfulness to you. And I will do good to you because you have done this thing. (2 Sam. 2:5-6, ESV)
24 She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him; 25 and because the LORD loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah. (2 Sam. 12:24-25)
In the above verse, Jedidiah means “loved by the Lord.” Jesus said someone greater than Solomon is here – Jesus himself (Matt. 12:42). Since we belong to him, we too share in God’s love.
After the ark was brought to Jerusalem and placed in the tent or temporary tabernacle, David appointed Asaph and the worshippers to give thanks for the Lord’s enduring love in a long song. One verse says:
34 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (1 Chron. 16:34)
Then David appointed priests to offer sacrifices in the tabernacle and two praise leaders to offer the refrain.
41 With them [the priests] were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and designated by name to give thanks to the LORD, “for his love endures forever.” (1 Chron. 16:41)
Nathan says for the Lord:
10 “‘I declare to you that the LORD will build a house for you: 11 When your days are over and you go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 12 He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. 13 I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. 14 I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever.” (1 Chron. 17:10-14 cf. 2 Sam. 7:15-16)
In the preceding verse, this promise of a descendant whose throne would be established forever can only be ultimately fulfilled in Christ, who is a direct descendant of David (Luke 3:23-31). This promise was founded on God’s steadfast and covenant love which will never be taken from him. As believers and participants in the New Covenant that was established by Christ, God’s love will never be taken from us, either (Rom. 3:25; 5:1-11; 8:31-39).
As David was getting old, he wrote a psalm recalling the battles with the surrounding nations and with Saul. Telling of God’s great works even in his created universe, he ends the psalm by citing God’s love for him and his descendants – forever.
51 Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.” (2 Sam. 22:51, ESV; cf. Ps. 18:50)
As noted, ultimately this promise was fulfilled in Christ (Matt. 1:6-17). “Christ” means the “Messiah” or “Anointed One.”
Solomon ordered the ark to be brought into the temple (David had brought it to Jerusalem). The priests and Levites joined in the celebration with song and music. The glory of the Lord filled the temple so tangibly that the priests could not perform their service.
13 Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the temple of God. (2 Chron. 5:13-14)
Solomon had also built the permanent temple in Jerusalem. All of Israel dedicated the temple to the Lord whose covenant of love has been offered to his servants. Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord, spread out his hands in prayer, and said:
23 “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 24 You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.” (1 Kings 8:23-24; cf. 2 Chron. 6:14-15)
Solomon ends his prayer of dedication by declaring the Lord’s love to his father David.
40 “Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 41 Now arise, O LORD God, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. May your priests, O LORD God, be clothed with salvation, may your saints rejoice in your goodness. 42 O LORD God, do not reject your anointed one. Remember the great love promised to David your servant.” (2 Chron. 6:40-42)
When Solomon finished his prayer, the glory and fire of God filled the temple.
1 … the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 2 The priests could not enter the temple of the LORD because the glory of the LORD filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of the LORD above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “He is good; his love endures forever.” (2 Chron. 7:1-3)
Solomon then sacrificed animals in obedience to the Sinai covenant (Lev. 1-7), while the priests and Levites took their position and offered praise with musical instruments, speaking about the enduring love of God.
6 The priests took their positions, as did the Levites with the LORD’s musical instruments, which King David had made for praising the LORD and which were used when he gave thanks, saying, “His love endures forever.” Opposite the Levites, the priests blew their trumpets, and all the Israelites were standing. (2 Chron. 7:6)
God’s love is the foundation of Solomon’s temple, and it should be our foundation too. Both the individual believer in Christ is a temple (1 Cor. 6:18-20) and so is the church as a whole (1 Cor. 3:10-17). The individual and the church are filled with the Spirit of God (Acts 2:4; 1 Cor. 3:16).
The queen of Sheba had heard reports of Solomon’s great wisdom, but she did not believe them. She traveled the trade routes leading a large caravan transporting costly spices, gold and precious stones. She came to test his mind, to ask him the hardest questions of their days. He answered wisely. She proclaimed:
9 “Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:9; cf. 2 Chron. 9:8)
Hiram the king of Tyre, which was much closer to Israel, writes to Solomon and says that the Lord loves his people.
11 Hiram king of Tyre replied by letter to Solomon: “Because the LORD loves his people, he has made you their king.” (2 Chron. 2:11)
22 Hazael king of Aram oppressed Israel throughout the reign of Jehoahaz. 23 But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion and showed concern for them because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. To this day he has been unwilling to destroy them or banish them from his presence. (2 Kings 13:22-23)
Praise would be the deliverance for Israel when armies attacked Israel.
20 Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
“Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever.”
22 As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated (2 Chron. 20:20-22).
Ezra, a scholar in the law of Moses, arrived in Jerusalem to teach the people, with the full permission of king Artaxerxes, who wrote a letter for him. Ezra praised God for the king’s support, thanking the Lord for his steadfast love.
27 Blessed be the LORD, the God of our fathers, who put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the LORD that is in Jerusalem, 28 and who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the LORD my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me. (Ezra 7:27-28, ESV)
When God opens the door, it is because of his love and hand on you. He can move on the hearts of kings. Nothing can stop his will in your life, ultimately. His unwavering, steadfast, and unfailing love overpowers all opposition.
Ezra thanks the Lord for giving the remnant permission from the king to set up the temple of God and to repair its ruins and to protect them in Judea and Jerusalem.
9 For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protection in Judea and Jerusalem. (Ezra 9:9, ESV)
Walls and rebuilding offer protection, but there is no greater and stronger protection than God’s unwavering, steadfast love that surrounds all those who put their trust in the Lord.
Nehemiah prays and confesses his sin before presenting his case before Artaxerxes:
5 Then I said: “O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands (Neh. 1:5)
Realizing God’s love is the source of forgiveness is the first step. After that, confession is easy.
Rehearsing their history, the Israelites confess their sins:
17 “They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them, 18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies.” (Neh. 9:17-18)
Yes, the God of the Old Covenant is the same as the God of the New Covenant. He is slow to anger and forgiving, gracious and compassionate, abounding in love, even when his ancient people sinned with the golden calf and committed blasphemies against God.
The Israelites continue in their prayer of confession and rehearsing their history. Yet in God’s
30 “For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you admonished them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you handed them over to the neighboring peoples. 31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God. (Neh. 9:30-31)
But the Israelites at last ask God to deliver them from their hardships because he keeps his covenant of love.
32 “Now therefore, O our God, the great, mighty and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes—the hardship that has come upon us, upon our kings and leaders, upon our priests and prophets, upon our fathers and all your people, from the days of the kings of Assyria until today.” (Neh. 9:30-32)
God had not abandoned a remnant. His covenant of love ensured that he would not.
Nehemiah prays that God would remember him for his dedication in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and instituting reforms:
22 “Remember me for this also, O my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love.” (Neh. 13:22)
ARTICLES IN SERIES
God’s Love and Grace in the History Books