Friday, April 16, 2010

God's Love Language

How many of you have heard the reference to God owning the cattle on a thousand hills?

For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:10)

It seems to be a favorite in the context of encouraging us that God has the resources to meet our needs and as a promise that He will do so.

Although I believe He does have the resources to meet our needs and has promised to do so, I don’t believe that’s what God is telling us through this verse.

Okay, in a backdoor way, it does infer that.

But have you ever read the entire Psalm in which this verse appears?

As awesome as our out-of-context inference is, this verse in context is even more so. At least, I think it is.

Let me show you.

God’s not telling us here that He owns all these cattle so that we know what He can give us. He’s telling us so that we know what He doesn’t need from us.

The context is sacrifice.

In the Old Testament under the original covenant, when people sinned, they would offer an animal sacrifice to God as atonement and the blood of that sacrifice covered their sin.

Israel, though, had a few ups and downs in their relationship with God. And in the down times, they tended to downplay sin by figuring they could just offer a sacrifice and be rid of the consequences, no big deal. They went through the required motions, but their hearts were insincere.

So God, in view of their rebellion, reminds His people that He is in no need of another animal, dead or alive. Not only is our highlighted verse taken out of context, it is also a fragment, an incomplete sentence. The rest of it comes first in verse nine: But I do not need the bulls from your barns, or the goats from your pens… (vs.10) for all the animals in the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills.

He’s saying – don’t give Me what I already have, don’t need, and isn’t yours to give anyway. To show true love, give Me what I want, need and can’t get anywhere else – your personal devotion and thanks.

Verse 14 says - Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High.

Not too long ago, I’d pictured decrees like this as coming from a High King on His throne as I cower, nose to the floor, trembling and afraid and maybe a little resentful for feeling put under the authority of a demanding, all-powerful God.

Make no mistake, He has all the authority in the Universe to approach us like that.

However, I believe it’s more like He draws near with a Lover’s invitation to His wayward bride.

Look at verse 2: From Mount Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines in glorious radiance.

How many of us have been lauded as the perfection of beauty by our earthly lovers?

The phrase drips with passion, adoration and love.

The Psalm ends with this, verse 23: But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”

Is not a bride’s top desire to honor her husband? God is telling us right here, the way to do that for Him is through giving thanks – having that attitude of gratitude. Also, He says that if we stick to His path, stay by His side, He will reveal the salvation of God. The word reveal suggests deeper intimacy, deeper trust, a closer communion with our Perfect Lover. Like sharing secrets, enjoying confidences, interacting on a soul-mate type of platform – to know and be fully known.

King David is a good one to study because he experienced this kind of relationship with God, and because he was far from perfect. He turned his back on his True Love more than once, but not more famously than in his sin with Bathsheba.

Funny how the very next Psalm, #51, speaks to this incident. David knows the principles of Psalm 50 and that helps him through the process of making right his relationship with God.

He says in verses 16 and 17: You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice You desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

He also says in verse 19: Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit-

It’s not that the sacrifice isn’t needed. But the right spirit is essential, or the sacrifice means nothing.

God is sharing His love language with us.

Let’s honor our Bridegroom with devotion and thankfulness today!

Have a great weekend, Dry Ground Family!

(photos by