Luke 18:16 reveals the LORD Jesus’ response to children: When “the disciples…shooed [children] off. Jesus called them back. “Let these children alone. Don’t get between them and me. These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: UNLESS YOU ACCEPT GOD’S KINGDOM IN THE SIMPLICITY OF A CHILD, YOU’LL NEVER GET IN.” (MSG)
THE SIMPLICITY OF A CHILD: Children have remarkable faith. They seem to have an enormous capacity to love, to evidence total dependence and trust. I remember how my son Danny on occasion put me in some awkward situations by claiming that he knew that his Dad could do anything—the simplicity of a child!
I am blessed to have 4 Great-Grandchildren living next to me, in the larger section of our home. The oldest, Mia, the fourth, is an adopted Ethiopian great-granddaughter, special and remarkable in many ways. When we had the house built in ‘94-’95, no one imagined that in my advanced age I would be blessed by all of them, including their parents, but usually by my amazing great-grandsons, Eli 9, Levi 8 and Makai 5, My faith has been strengthened and grown just by observing and interacting with them. For example their faith, trust and showing love, are so very evident. They are not concerned for what they will eat, where they will sleep, who will care for them, etc., etc.
Every once in a while they are left in my care and just their knowing I am there, (of course true for their confidence and dependence upon their Dad and Mom) is their security, no questions asked. Quite frequently they frolic in my living room, just because I am there, feeling totally welcome. They jump, run to and fro, roll around or do whatever amuses them.
If they do not find me in my section of the house, they will search and call out, ‘Pop-Pop where are you’? At my response they join me, in whatever I may be doing. It may be on my daily walk through the woods, or being busy somewhere in the yard or garden. Our interaction is nothing profound, sometimes just small-talk or imaginary things. Regardless of what I may be doing they are just content to be where I am. The simplicity of a child!
Needless to say I love them dearly and they respond to my loving them by loving me in return. Hugs, crawling onto my lap, sitting with me in bed— these little fellows readily show their ‘love’ with no pretense. It is simply who and what they are—their norm for life. There isn’t much that can compare with such childlike simplicity.
Can I possibly meet all their needs, or respond fully to their love for and trust of their Pop-Pop? No! I am not omnipotent—I am very limited in my physical ability. Can I know all they think or want me to do? No! I am not omniscient. Can I always be with them, as they sometimes expect? No! I am not omnipresent. But do I love them? Yes!!!
GOD LONGS FOR SUCH SIMPLICITY FROM YOU AND ME. No pretense, unswerving trust, total dependence, amazing confidence, enjoying our daily walk with Him, knowing that His love is constant and unconditional. He loves us with an unchanging love, never less, nor more. His love is inexhaustible. When Thomas Cromwell was shown a picture of himself for his approval, but without his many warts, he exclaimed, “Paint it warts and all!” To know and rest in the fact that God loves me and you, ‘warts’ and all (our many flaws), is beyond my comprehension.
This brings me to reflect on God’s amazing love seen in both the Old and New Testaments. In Psalm63:3-4, the Psalmist declares that God’s ‘lovingkindness’ is better than life. The psalmist David wanted others to know that His God is the God of ‘lovingkindness’. His love is demonstrated in His omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. That’s why John 3:16 is so remarkable—in spite of knowing and seeing the sinfulness of humankind, God’s love and compassion sent Jesus Christ to the Cross to redeem us and transfer us into His Kingdom. WOW!!! What love and kindness.
Psalm 136 reveals that God created in and because of His lovingkindness, as well as all the events covered in this Psalm. That being so we can safely conclude that the crown of His creation, man, described in Psalm 139 was created because of His amazing lovingkindness. What follows is my attempt to align Psalm 136 with Psalm 139 so God’s Lamb’s Book of Life disciples will know beyond doubt that all God has done and continues to do are all because He loves and has boundless ‘kindness’—compassion for mankind.
Psalm 136:1-3 God is acknowledged as SOVEREIGN GOD—Lord of lords and He is good, all due to His love. He is not in competition with anyone or anything. All is in His control. In Psalm 139:1-4 His goodness and sovereignty are underscored: “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all.” Amazing! God knows everything about you and me, and yet He loves us in spite of the many times we are so unlovable!!!
Psalm 136:4-9 He is acknowledged as CREATOR GOD motivated by love. Nothing exists that He did not create, “all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossian1:16)—and all because He loves and is Love. Psalm 139 covers the creation of man:” 13 You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance….” God knew before our birth every detail of our life and beyond, because He loves.
Psalm 136:10-15 He is known as GOD THE DELIVERER. Because He loves, and being Sovereign God, absolutely no circumstance is too hard for Him:”27 “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jeremiah 32). Psalm 139 illustrates: “7 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,10 Even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.” Again—because He loves and is compassionate.
Psalm 136:16-20 He is known as the SUSTAINER/PROTECTOR GOD. His amazing love put a hedge about Israel as they traversed enemy territory, and so Psalm 91:11, 14 pledges “He will give His angels charge concerning you….Because he has loved Me…I will deliver him….” Thus Psalm 139:16 “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written. THE DAYS THAT WERE ORDAINED FOR ME, when as yet there was not one of them.” 18 …. When I awake, I am still with You.” His constant PRESENCE is guaranteed—“I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Psalm 136: 21-25 He is identified as the FAITHFUL/PROVIDER GOD: Knowing “You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19).And Psalm 139? 17 “How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand….” Does God’s thoughts exclude anything concerning us? No! Why? Because of His love and compassion, His kindness.
Psalm 136:26 He is celebrated as the SUPREME RULER. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8). Psalm 139: 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night, 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.” All because He is the God of Love.
WHY SUCH DECLARATIONS? All of the above are given because He loves you and me! AND THAT’S WHY “13 He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Wow!!!
HIS LOVING DESIRE— is “9 that [we] may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 [to] walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father,”
WHY SUCH AMAZING CONCERN? Because: “16 FOR BY HIM ALL THINGS WERE CREATED, both in the heavens and on earth,… and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:13-14; 9-12; 15-17.
God loves us with an untiring love. He plans and allows only what is best for us so we will be ‘blameless’ on the day we appear before Him. Regardless of what you may be going through right now, TRUST HIM. “GOD IS BIGGER THAN ANY MOUNTAIN (trials) THAT I CAN OR CANNOT SEE.” “Bigger than all my fears; bigger than all my confusion; bigger than all my questions; bigger than all the shadows that fall on my back; bigger than anything; God is bigger than any mountain that I can or cannot see.” (Gordon Jensen).
In childlike simplicity, trust Him, enjoy Him and rest in His love. It is unconditional. Keep ‘short accounts—and when necessary, confess and repent’ (1 John 1:7-9). And do not forget Acts 1:8 and Matthew 28:18-20—in your daily goings, wherever it may take you, ‘disciple’ for the glory of God.
In God’s grace,
Philip M. Steyne