His steadfast love, His covenantal, loyal, merciful love, His committed love, His complete forgiveness of all our sins is so staggering and so vast that it can only be explained by two illustrations of infinity. These are the most perfect illustrations you could find in human language, which isn’t surprising since the Holy Spirit is the Author.
But look at how He explains this kind of mercy, this kind of salvation. Psalm 103.11, here’s the first illustration of infinity: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His covenant love, His committed love toward those who fear Him.”
“As high as the heavens are above the earth.” How high is that? Well, people in biblical times wouldn’t have understood; probably thought they could count the stars. NASA has told us where they think the edge of the universe is, and they suggest this: if you go 186,000 miles a second, which is the speed of light, you could reach the end of the known universe in 225 trillion years.
He loves us with a committed and covenant love that is infinite, has no bounds – God doesn’t have to use that kind of hyperbole – is so stunning and so staggering that you might wonder if it’s actually true. But God wants to illustrate His love for us in an infinite way.
He does it again with another perfect illustration of infinity: “As far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” How far is the east from the west? That also is infinite. A line going in two opposite directions, going into infinity.
And yet our ingratitude for this kind of covenant love and this kind of forgiveness that takes our sins into infinity is shameful. Our ingratitude and stubborn sinfulness would exhaust the patience of anyone, except the One who loves us infinitely and forgives us infinitely. No wonder Micah says in 7.18-19, “Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression?”
Why such love? Why such infinite forgiveness? Psalm 103.13, “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.” He loves us like this because He’s our Father. “He has compassion on us as a father has compassion on his children. So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him,” those who worship Him, true worshipers.
He gets it. He knows our frame; He knows our human structure. He’s mindful that we started out as dust and we go right back to dust; He understands that. He knows the feebleness of our will. He knows the strength of our sinful impulses. He knows the violence of our selfishness. He knows the readiness of our disobedience. He knows the easy disruption of our prayer, the fragile character of our joy. He knows all that.
“He knows, that we are just like grass; like a flower of the field, we flourish. The wind passes over, it is gone, its place knows it no more” We are here and gone. We’re so fragile.
He is infinite, and we are this little pile of dust that blows away. He understands our meager strength, but He’s not like us. “And He extends to us steadfast love,” says v.17, “that is from everlasting to everlasting.” Another statement of infinity.
What is meant by, “He loves us, His covenantal love is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children”- meaning “on to generation after generation His saving righteousness”? What does it mean, “His steadfast love or His committed love is from everlasting to everlasting”?
What it means is that as long as God has existed, He has had covenant love for His people. That’s right. It didn’t start when you believed. There was never a moment in the mind of God when He didn’t love His own, never. In eternity past, before anything existed but the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God had full covenant love extended toward those who had not yet been created.
From electing love to glorifying love, you are loved by God. You were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world. He loved you in Christ before time began, and He will love you in Christ when time is over. The committed love of God for His people is as eternal as God is. There’s no time with God. He doesn’t learn anything. He doesn’t arrive on a new idea. He doesn’t come up with new people to redeem. He has always loved His own as long as He has existed.
God’s love is passionate; God’s love is emotional – it is parental; it is protective; it is vast; it is constant; it is omnipotent, infinite; it is active; it is beneficent; and it is infinite to the point that it will never change. He has always loved you; He always will love you.
Who does He love? Those who worship Him, true worshipers who fear Him, manifesting the truthfulness of their worship by, “keeping His covenant and remembering to do His commandments – or His precepts – “to do them” – those who are the faithful and the obedient.
We are saved by grace, but our salvation is manifest by our obedience, isn’t it? We could never hope to trace back into eternity and grasp the glorious perfections of God. We could never pursue those glorious perfections forward into eternity future. But we can and must unceasingly praise and worship and bless the Lord who has always everlastingly loved us.
Honestly: nothing more clearly demonstrates our remaining sin than the ease with which we forget such staggering love and blessing. God loves to “Infinity and Beyond!”