Love and Justice in Parallel

What is the longest book in the Bible? Psalms. What is the longest chapter in the Bible? OK, Psalms are not chapters, but individual units; however, Psalm 119 has 176 verses. With such a long Psalm right in the middle of the Bible, there are many things to notice, far more than I grasp in any single reading. Here is a thought that hit me today from late in the Psalm

Psalm 119:149

Hear my voice according to your steadfast love;
O Lord, according to your justice give me life.

Verse 149 catches me for the poetic parallelism. This is a chiastic structure, the four parts of the verse arranged as A, B, B’, A’. “Hear my voice” is a parallel with “give me life.” Clearly David thinks that, as God hears his voice, the result will be life for him.

The center parallels, the B part, are what grabbed me. “According to your steadfast love” is parallel with “according to your justice.” Do you think of those two as synonymous parallel thoughts? Do you attach the justice and the love of God as if they say anything like the same thing? Biblically you should.

In our culture, we love the love of God. We sometimes cringe at the justice of God. WE boldly proclaim the love of God, but we try to hide the justice of God behind our backs like a kid hiding something he does not want mom to see. And when we do this, we are missing the truth of God. The Love of God is a depiction of the perfectly good character of God. Similarly, the justice of God is a depiction of the perfectly good character of God. A God who is not interested in justice is not loving. A God who is not loving will not do justice. May we pray that God will help us see that his justice, his judgment, his proper punishment of sin and his love, his kindness, and his mercy are all part of the same holiness that make us love the Lord.

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