O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the bodies of your servants
to the birds of the heavens for food,
the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth.
They have poured out their blood like water
all around Jerusalem,
and there was no one to bury them.
We have become a taunt to our neighbors,
mocked and derided by those around us.
How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealousy burn like fire?
Pour out your anger on the nations
that do not know you,
and on the kingdoms
that do not call upon your name!
For they have devoured Jacob
and laid waste his habitation. Psalm 79:1-7 ESV
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
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. Psalm 103:8-14 ESV
There’s a story about King Lear, who once asked his three daughters how much they loved him. He was going to divide his kingdom between his daughters, and he decided to give the largest share to the daughter who told him she loved him the most. His older two daughters were able to give flowery, flattering speeches about how much they loved their father, and that pleased the king very much. His youngest daughter, Cordelia, couldn’t express her love in words, and she struggled to say that to her father. King Lear became very angry with her. He decided not to give her a share of his kingdom at all, and went on for a long time being angry with and not forgiving his youngest daughter.
When God’s judgment fell on Jerusalem, the people knew that he was very angry with them. In this psalm, the psalmist poured out everything that had happened. He told how the temple had been defiled and the city destroyed. He talked about all the people who had died, so many that there was no one to bury them. In his despair he called out to God, “How long?” He wondered if God would be angry with them forever and never forgive their sins. He wondered if they were still God’s people and if God would punish their enemies who had caused them so much pain.
We might sometimes feel the weight of our sins, and know that we deserve God’s anger and punishment, and we worry that God will be angry with us forever. But God sent Jesus to be our Savior, and he took all the punishment for our sins when he died on the cross. Because of what Jesus did, we don’t ever have to worry about God’s anger. He loves us and forgives our sins every day. Because of Jesus, we have a loving Heavenly Father who will always call us his children, until the day he brings us to his heavenly kingdom to live forever.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for all the love and forgiveness you’ve given us in Jesus. In His Name, Amen.
Shakespeare, William King Lear