Written by Susan Disston
Monday, 28 May 2012 00:00
I love water imagery. Like many hymns and spiritual songs written today, this psalm links water with God’s redemptive work. God’s love flows like a powerful river flows forth and runs downhill, over and around obstructions, carving its own path. God as redeemer is like that river. The imagery in this psalm helps us understand the nature of God’s love: abundant, ceaseless, unilateral, and eternal.
God’s love is there to be received, enjoyed, imbibed, and found as all in-compassing. As believers (the “upright” of v. 40), we stand mid-stream, so to speak, observing and partaking in God’s renewal of the land, the harvest, and the people dwelling in the bounty of his love. God redeemed his people so that they could receive God’s love and to be conduits of it to others. This is the essential nature of God’s love and the beauty of his character.
All the preceding is a wonderful reminder of the truths I believe and of imagery that I have pondered and found strengthening. But the beauty of God’s true character is easily misshapen by imagery provided by our culture. As one theologian (Volf) wrote, “Yet the most powerful and seductive images of God are not the ones we craft in the privacy of our hearts. They are the ones that seep into our minds as we watch TV, read books, go shopping at the mall, or socialize with our neighbors. Slowly and imperceptibly, the one true God begins acquiring the features of the gods of this world.” [Free of Charge, 22] Even if we choose not to partake of TV, read books, or visit the mall, many other daily types of activities provide “refashioned” gods that fit our desires and reshape the beauty of God’s true character.
This psalm challenges me with my need for refreshment: for longs drink at the living God’s flowing river and for time of meditations on God’s beauty in the midst of this culture I’m [we’re] living in. Ministry and service can become stale and routine when we stay away from the flowing water. Volf warned: “Even when we look in the right places with a ready heart, we still might miss the one true God.”
The psalm ends with its own warning and an invitation to delight in God’s love: “Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord.” Indeed, let us rejoice in our great God and his love.
Susan Disston is the assistant dean of curriculum and assessment and a resident adjunct faculty member. http://www.biblical.edu/index.php/adjunct-faculty-theology