Everything comes with a condition — except this

Here's a promise about unfailing love — but do we qualify, and if so, what is the catch?

Everything comes with a condition — except this

Ian Greig — 3 min read

Now let Your unfailing love comfort me, just as You promised me, Your servant.  Psalm 119:76 NIV

Everything is transient

There’s something about the phrase ‘unfailing love’ that doesn’t quite come across to most of us. We’re too used to love that does fail for one reason or another.

We live in a world where everything is conditional. It’s conditional onwhether we can pay, whether we hold the right passport and conform to the expectation of race, gender, age etc. A recent industrial tribunal concerned a project manager who had a good interview but did not win the post with the NHS (of all people) even though he was clearly more than well-qualified. That was the problem — he was more experienced and better qualified than the leaders of the team he would be working with. And they were all women. They wanted someone like them, but not as good.

So a promise about unfailing love raises the question of whether we qualify, and if we do, what will emerge as the catch. Because that’s what we are accustomed to. The world of unfailing love exists but it is in the heavenly realm, and we don’t have a lot of experience of that yet.

The reason why God’s love is unfailing

The Hebrew word for unfailing love is hesēd and it is translated in the Bible in various ways like ‘faithful love’ and ‘mercy’. It’s a common word because it relates to the idea of a covenant commitment. In the Old Testament the relationship between God and His people was all about covenant — a kind of partnership. That’s why this kind of love from God could be called “unfailing”.

The psalmist speaks of the comfort and reassurance of being held by this unfailing love. It’s a safe place because it is the expression of a promise.

The Jewish poet who wrote this would have instinctively seen themselves as part of God’s historic promise, belonging to God in a master-servant relationship.

But can we, with a very different background, take comfort in the promise?

Yes, we can. God is merciful and that is how He regards us, whether we know Him or not. Just dwelling on these words is the beginning of opening up to Him. To experience this fully as the promise it is, comes through Jesus, God’s Son. He was the one who called out to people that He could help them turn from their independent and selfish ways, and know the reign of God’s Spirit in their lives. If we can turn to Him, believing who He is and trusting what He has done for us — we have an even better promise. We, too, have a covenant with God, this time a much better one through Jesus. So the promise for us is every bit as good — and much easier to receive.

God is love, He is for us and this verse sums up the way He sees His relationship with us.

Now let Your unfailing love comfort me, just as You promised me, Your servant.  Psalm 119:76 NIV

Will we turn to Him afresh and reciprocate?