- God Is Always with His People
- God Knows His People and They Know Him
- God Loves His People
- God Is Faithful to His People
- God Shows Grace to His People
This section looks at some basic factors underlying God’s interaction with his people. They show that God’s relationship with his people is not an aloof, impersonal one – far from it. God is always with his people and they can actually know him. Complementary to this is God’s great love and steadfast faithfulness towards his people – two characteristics which are often coupled together in the Bible. Undergirding all God’s interaction with his people is his truly amazing grace.
- God and Jesus Christ are with their people
- God and Jesus Christ are always with their people . . .
- . . . God’s people are always with God – living in his presence
- God is with his people wherever they go . . .
- . . . God also goes before his people
- God is with his people in trouble
- Being with his people in trouble, God sees them through it
- God and Jesus Christ in fact live in their people . . .
- . . . and God’s people live in him and Jesus Christ
- God’s people are with Jesus Christ even in death
- Note: Examples of people being successful because God was with them
“The best of all is: God is with us.” – John Wesley
Note that the final clause appears to either: further be speaking of God’s presence amongst his people; or meaning that God is proclaimed as King by them (cf. GNT, NLT).
2Chr 15:2, 9 … and he [Azariah] went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The Lord is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. ▤ … 9And he [Asa] gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and those from Ephraim, Manasseh, and Simeon who were residing with them, for great numbers had deserted to him from Israel when they saw that the Lord his God was with him. ▤
Isa 57:15 For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite. ▤
Note that to have a “contrite” spirit is to be deeply remorseful and repentant of sin. One who has a “lowly spirit” is humble – here quite possibly a reference to being so in response to one’s own sin.
1Cor 14:24-25 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you. ▤
2Cor 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. ▤
God’s people being his “temple” is indicative of God’s presence amongst them.
a Or brothers and sisters
b Or listen to my appeal
Quite possibly this refers to the giving of the Holy Spirit (cf. vv. 16-17) at Pentecost and Jesus’ presence through the Spirit’s indwelling. Alternatively Jesus’ appearance to the disciples after his resurrection or even his second coming may be in view.
This is a blessing or prayer, speaking of Jesus Christ’s presence with his people (cf. 2Tim 4:22 ↓).
c The Greek for you is plural
- Prayer that Christ’s grace, God’s love and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit will be with believers:
These things can be considered aspects or results of the presence of Jesus Christ, God and the Holy Spirit with their people.
Here God says of David that his “hand” – indicative of his power in particular – “shall always remain with him” (NRSV; cf. GNT). This indicates that God would always be with him – “I will always be there” (CEV).
d Some Hebrew manuscripts (compare Septuagint) our refuge
God has always been his people’s home and refuge, indicative of him always being with them.
The reference to God as his “shepherd” points to God’s presence with Joseph, caring for him and guiding him – all his life.
David is saying that he continually kept himself aware of God’s presence (cf. GNT), indicative of the fact that God was always at his side.
Here and in 139:18b immediately below, the psalmists speaks of always being with God.
A parallel can be made with the son being spoken of as always being with his father and God’s people always being with their heavenly Father.
e Or a dwelling place
f Revocalization of verse 27 yields He subdues the ancient gods, and shatters the forces of old
Note that this and most of the following verses do not refer to God’s people as “always” dwelling or being with God (as per the above subheading). However they do show that God’s people dwell with him and even suggest that this is always the case.
The latter part of the verse speaks of resting securely under God’s protection (cf. v. 2).
This and the following verses refer to God’s people living in his presence.
This speaks of God’s people being firmly set in his “presence” (CEV, NLT, NRSV).
- Blessed are those who God brings near to live in presence:
Note Psalm 148:14 also speaks of God’s people being near him – “He has raised up a horn for his people, praise for all his saints, for the people of Israel who are near to him. Praise the Lord!”
The fulfillment of this promise made to Jacob, is testified to by him in the following reference – Genesis 35:3.
The “cloud of the Lord” signified the Lord’s presence (cf. vv. 34-35), with the people in all their travels, guiding them along the way (cf. vv. 36-37; Ex 13:21-22 ⇓).
Deut 31:3, 8 The Lord your God himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them, and Joshua will go over at your head, as the Lord has spoken. ▤ … 8It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. ▤
Not only did God promise to go before them, but also to protect them from behind – to be their “rear guard”.
“He who opens the breach” refers to the Lord – who will be “at their head”. The verse speaks of God regathering his people from exile.
Judg 4:14-15a And Deborah said to Barak, “Up! For this is the day in which the Lord has given Sisera into your hand. Does not the Lord go out before you?” So Barak went down from Mount Tabor with 10,000 men following him. 15And the Lord routed Sisera and all his chariots and all his army before Barak by the edge of the sword. ▤
Verse 15a demonstrates that the Lord had indeed gone ahead of Barak to deliver the enemy into his hands, as Deborah had declared (v. 14).
Ex 13:21-22 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people. ▤
g Masoretic Text; Dead Sea Scroll, Septuagint level the mountains
The reference is to God going before the Persian king Cyrus, breaking down any obstacles, as he used Cyrus to do his work. This can be applied to God going before his people.
- The Israelites knew God was among them and would drive out nations before them when the ark went into the Jordan before them and cut off its water:
Josh 3:10-11, 13, 15-16 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth
h is passing over before you into the Jordan. ▤ … 13And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” ▤ … 15and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), 16the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap very far away, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. ▤
h Hebrew the ark of the covenant, the Lord of all the earth
- [Reasons to not be afraid:] God Is Always with His People
i Or well proved
Gen 39:20-22 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. 21But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. ▤
2Chr 20:17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the Lord will be with you. ▤
Ezra 9:9 For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protectionj in Judea and Jerusalem. ▤
j Hebrew a wall
Even though they were slaves, Ezra could say: “God has not left us.” (NCV™)
Ps 14:4-5 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the Lord? 5There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. ▤
Amidst attacks by evildoers (v. 4; cf. 2Chr 20:17 ↑), God is present with his people (v. 5) – protecting them and bringing terror to their enemies.
Ezek 11:16 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Though I removed them far off among the nations, and though I scattered them among the countries, yet I have been a sanctuary to them for a whilek in the countries where they have gone.’ ▤
k Or in small measure
Although the people had been sent far away from the sanctuary in Jerusalem which signified God’s presence with his people, he himself was a sanctuary for them in their exile, which indicates that he was “present with them” (GNT, cf. CEV).
- In persecution, God’s people are not forsaken by him:
Most likely this is referring to not being abandoned by God (cf. CEV, NCV, NLT), in persecution.
Ps 46:4-7 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 6The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah ▤
Isa 8:9-10 Be broken,l you peoples, and be shattered;m give ear, all you far countries; strap on your armor and be shattered; strap on your armor and be shattered. 10Take counsel together, but it will come to nothing; speak a word, but it will not stand, for God is with us.n ▤
l Or Be evil
m Or dismayed
n The Hebrew for God is with us is Immanuel
Despite the hostility of enemy nations, Israel would not succumb for God was with them.
Isa 43:2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. ▤
Jer 20:10-11 For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” say all my close friends, watching for my fall. “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we can overcome him and take our revenge on him.” 11But the Lord is with me as a dread warrior; therefore my persecutors will stumble; they will not overcome me. They will be greatly shamed, for they will not succeed. Their eternal dishonor will never be forgotten. ▤
Ezek 34:29-30 And I will provide for them renowned plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations. 30And they shall know that I am the Lord their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord God. ▤
The GNT and NLT use “even” in relation to the horsemen – i.e. “even the enemy horsemen” (GNT) – implying that horsemen were generally a superior force. Because the Lord would be with his people, they would overcome stronger enemies.
Acts 7:9-10 And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him 10and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. ▤
Acts 18:9-10 And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, 10for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.” ▤
2Tim 4:16-17 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. ▤
“I will not be shaken” points to God’s protection.
- 1Jn 3:24a ⇓; 1Jn 4:13, 15-16 ⇓
- . . . Having the Holy Spirit indicates that God lives in a person
- . . . God and Jesus Christ are with those who obey – they in God and he in them
Verses that speak of God and/or Jesus Christ living in their people (or vice versa) largely have in view the spiritual union of God and Jesus Christ with their people. This union is in part at least based on God’s people having his Holy Spirit (cf. 1Jn 3:24 ↓; 1Jn 4:13 ⇓).
o Greek him
p Greek he
Whoever acknowledges and accepts (cf. CEV, GNT) Jesus Christ “has” God also. This appears to refer to God’s and Jesus Christ’s presence in their people (cf. ZBC).
Here “all” may mean all things, rather than being limited to all Christians, although the latter would still likely be primarily in view.
See also the introductory comments on the above cross references.
Through the believer’s spiritual union with Christ, they are “in God” (cf. 1Jn 5:20 ↓) in a spiritual sense by virtue of Christ’s relationship with the Father.
1Jn 2:5-6 … but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. ▤
Note that it is debatable as to whether John is speaking here of knowing and abiding in God (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT) or Jesus Christ.
q Greek him
r Greek he
1Jn 4:13, 15-16 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. ▤ … 15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. ▤
Each of these three verses gives a different reason as to how we can know that we live in God and he in us.
1Jn 5:20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. ▤
Jesus is speaking here to one of the other criminals being crucified next to him.
Acts 7:59-60 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep. ▤
With the reference to being “asleep”, this may in part be speaking of believers who die being with Jesus Christ following their death. However some translations specifically refer to Jesus Christ’s return (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT), i.e. their focus is on whether we are alive or dead when he returns.
Rev 14:3-4 … and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, … ▤
The 144,000 probably symbolize the faithful believers who had come out of “the great tribulation” (7:14) and at this point are most likely in heaven after dying, though not all commentators would agree. Note that the expression “not defiled themselves with women” (v. 4) most likely refers to either abstaining from sexual immortality or from defiling relationships with the world.
- Jesus Christ is the Lord of believers even after they die:
Rom 14:6-9 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s. 9For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. ▤
Paul’s assertion that believers do not die to themselves alone (v. 7b) but rather to the Lord (v. 8a), appears to mean that even on the other side of death, they belong to Christ (v. 8b) who remains their Lord (v. 9). As such the passage also points to them being with him in death.
Gen 39:2-4, 23 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. ▤ … 23The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed. ▤
1Sam 10:6-7 Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7Now when these signs meet you, do what your hand finds to do, for God is with you. ▤
This implies that because God was with Saul, he would be successful in whatever he did. It also may be implying that as God was with him, God would lead him in his course of action – “do whatever God leads you to do” (GNT).
- God’s promise to Isaac that he would be with him and bless him:
Gen 26:2-3 And the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. 3Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. ▤
- God and Jesus Christ know their people
- God knows all his people’s needs and troubles
- God and Jesus Christ enable their people to know them
- So God’s people know him . . .
- . . . and God’s people know Jesus Christ
- God’s people are friends of him and Jesus Christ
- God’s people have fellowship with him and Jesus Christ
God and Jesus Christ of course know everybody, which is what may be primarily in view in some of the verses below even though they do all refer to God or Jesus Christ knowing their followers (either individual ones or all of them). However, at least a number of the following verses suggest that their “knowing” believers has an additional intimacy or a more personal facet. (See the comments below on Exodus 33:17 and 1 Corinthians 8:3.)
The expression “I know you by name” (cf. John 10:3 ↓) indicates: an intimate knowledge – “I know you very well” (GNT, NCV); and a personal relationship – “I know you personally” (AMP); “you are my friend” (NLT, cf. CEV).
David acknowledged that there was nothing he could tell God about himself and his situation that God did not already know.
s Greek him
Here and in Galatians 4:9a below, the phrase “known by God” may be speaking of God knowing his own people in a unique way, in his personal, intimate relationship with them. However it could instead be referring simply to them being recognized by God as one of his own (cf. 2Tim 2:19 ↓).
Gal 4:9 But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? ▤
“The Lord knows those who are his” could be referring to God knowing his people in an intimate, relational sense. However it may instead mean: “The Lord knows who his people are.” (CEV) The latter probably better fits the OT verse that it is quoting, Numbers 16:5. If this latter meaning is the case, then the verse is not so applicable to this subsection. Note that “God’s firm foundation” is usually interpreted to be referring to either his truth as a whole or to the church.
John 10:3, 14, 27 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. ▤ … 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, ▤ … 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. ▤
Matt 6:8, 31-32 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. ▤ … 31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. ▤
Ex 2:23-25 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25God saw the people of Israel—and God knew. ▤
Isa 40:27-28 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God”? 28Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. ▤
The idea that our “way” and “right” (v. 27) – including our needs and troubles – are hidden from God is absurd in the light of who God is (v. 28).
God knew the persecution that Jeremiah suffered.
Jer 18:23 Yet you, O Lord, know all their plotting to kill me. Forgive not their iniquity, nor blot out their sin from your sight. Let them be overthrown before you; deal with them in the time of your anger. ▤
Lam 3:59-61 You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord; judge my cause. 60You have seen all their vengeance, all their plots against me. 61“You have heard their taunts, O Lord, all their plots against me. ▤
Rev 2:9, 13 ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slandert of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. ▤ … 13“‘I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faithu even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. ▤
t Greek blasphemy
u Or your faith in me
In v. 13a, “where Satan’s throne is” refers to Pergamum as a center of pagan worship, and is indicative of a place hostile to Christians. Jesus Christ knew these very difficult circumstances in which these Christians lived.
Rev 3:8 I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. ▤
Jesus Christ knew that the church in Philadelphia had “little strength” (NCV™, NIV®) amidst trying circumstances.
Deut 2:7 For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.” ▤
The implication in this and the following verses is that God not only knows about his people’s circumstances, he also cares about them and acts accordingly.
God “knew (recognized, understood, and had regard for)” (AMP) Israel during her desert ordeal.
A number of commentators understand this to be primarily referring to the renewed Israel of the end times. The last clause suggests that not only did God see the affliction of his people, he would now acknowledge it and act accordingly.
Matt 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. ▤
John 17:1-3, 6, 26 When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. ▤ … 6“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. ▤ … 26I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” ▤
Eternal life involves knowing God and Jesus Christ (v. 3) in an ongoing, progressive, intimate relationship. As the one who gives eternal life (v. 2), it is Jesus Christ who enables us to have this personal knowledge of God. The references to manifesting and making known God’s “name” (vv. 6, 26), speak of manifesting and making known God – “I have revealed Your very Self, Your real Self” (AMP).
Gal 1:15-16 But when he who had set me apart before I was born,v and who called me by his grace, 16was pleased to reveal his Son tow me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;x … ▤
v Greek set me apart from my mother’s womb
w Greek in
x Greek with flesh and blood
Eph 1:16-17 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, … ▤
Isa 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. ▤
The clause “that you may know and believe me” may be speaking of knowing God and believing him (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NIrV, NLT) – hence the verse’s inclusion here. However, in speaking of Israel being his “witnesses” that he is God, it may instead be speaking of knowing (and believing) that he is God. Alternatively, both concepts could be involved, which may well be the case in Jeremiah 24:7 immediately below.
- Jesus’ promise to his disciples that he would come and manifest himself to them:
John 14:18-23 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. ▤
This could be referring to either: the giving of the Holy Spirit (cf. vv. 16-17) at Pentecost, with believers’ experience of Jesus’ presence through the Spirit’s indwelling; Jesus’ appearance to the disciples after his resurrection; or Jesus’ second coming.
Heb 8:10-12 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more. ▤
Note that v. 12 points out that knowing God under the new covenant is due in no small part to his forgiveness.
Hos 2:19-20 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. ▤
Gal 4:8-9 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. 9But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? ▤
The final clause may well be speaking of coming to “know God better and better” (NLT, cf. GNT) – rather than just growing in knowledge about God.
“Abba” is an intimate term, and so highlights the intimacy of believers with God, indicative of them knowing him.
Here Job attests to his personal encounter with God. Any such encounter leads to greater personal knowledge of God.
Jesus illustrates the intimate knowledge that he and his people have of each other by drawing a parallel with the close relationship between a shepherd and his sheep. The clause “they know his voice” (v. 4) can be applied to his people knowing Jesus Christ’s leading (through the Holy Spirit) and perhaps also his teachings – including his claims that enable his people to recognize who he is.
Phil 3:8-10 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, … ▤
y Or what I have entrusted to him; Greek my deposit
Here Paul appears to be saying that he knows the one in whom he has believed (cf. CEV, NRSV), rather than simply that he knows who it is that he has believed. It is not clear whether Paul is referring here to Jesus Christ or God; what he says is applicable to both.
The expression “him who is from the beginning” refers to Jesus Christ.
Eph 4:11-13 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdsz and teachers,a 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood,b to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, … ▤
z Or pastors
a Or the shepherd-teachers
b Greek to a full-grown man
The phrase “the knowledge of the Son of God” appears to speak of – or at least be applicable to – both knowing Christ personally and knowing what the Bible teaches about him (cf. ESB).
- God’s people know the Holy Spirit:
c Hebrew my autumn days
Here Job refers to experiencing “God’s intimate friendship” (NIV®) and its blessings.
d Or The secret counsel
The “friend who sticks closer than a brother” is probably not intended as a reference to God, but it has often been applied to him, and appropriately so.
Despite this being applicable to God’s people generally, note that the context shows that regrettably this had been a very shallow declaration by the people.
The reference is probably primarily to 2 Chronicles 20:7 – “Abraham your friend” – but also note Isaiah 41:8 above.
John 15:12-15 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15No longer do I call you servants,e for the servantf does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. ▤
e Greek bondservants
f Greek bondservant; also verse 20
The “command” (v. 14) primarily in view is to love each other as Jesus had loved them (v. 12). The thought behind Jesus’ statement in v. 14 may then be that Jesus’ friends are those who are like-minded and act as he does. Such friends share common goals, and as such Jesus takes them into his confidence, sharing with them all he has learned from God (v. 15).
Note that Deborah may in essence be asking God to give those who are his friends a life of much blessing (cf. BKC), or perhaps more simply that they would be strong (cf. NCV).
The expression “the fellowship of his Son” would appear to involve fellowship with Jesus Christ (cf. AMP, GNT, NASB, NIV, NLT), as well as with other Christians.
We experience a deep fellowship and bonding with others when we endure difficult times together with them. In the same way we experience such fellowship with Christ when we share in his sufferings – “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (NIV®; cf. KNKJ) – suffering for his cause as he did.
“I will walk among you” points to the close relationship and fellowship that God would have with his people as he lived among them (cf. v. 11) – “I will walk in and with and among you” (AMP).
The phrases “sojourn in your tent” and “dwell on your holy hill” are suggestive of fellowship or communion with God (cf. ZBC).
The last clause quite possibly alludes to fellowship with God and Jesus Christ, as part of their abiding presence – as does the latter part of Revelation 3:20 below.
- God loves his people
- God loves his people greatly
- God’s love is with his people forever
- God shows his love for his people in delivering them . . .
- . . . and God shows his love for his people in protecting them
- God shows his love in his kindness and blessings to his people
- Jesus Christ loves God’s people – as he showed when he gave his life for them
- Note: God delights and rejoices in his people
- [God’s] Love
God loves the whole world but his love for his people has an additional intimacy or a more personal facet (as was noted in the previous section regarding his knowing them). There is also far more latitude for God to express his love in his dealings with those who are in a right or true relationship with him.
Ex 20:5-6 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing steadfast love to thousandsg of those who love me and keep my commandments. ▤
g Or to the thousandth generation
h Septuagint; Hebrew peoples
i Hebrew your
j The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
What is said here of David (cf. Isa 55:3 ↓) is applicable to all God’s people.
As implied by the second clause, in the first clause the psalmist speaks of God directing his love towards him (cf. NIrV, NLT).
The second part of the verse suggests that God surrounds his people with his love and mercy (cf. NLT), even blessing them with manifestations of his love and mercy (cf. GNT).
God’s love for all his people is “steadfast” and “sure”.
k Some manuscripts from the Father
l Or brothers and sisters. The plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) refers to siblings in a family. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, adelphoi may refer either to men or to both men and women who are siblings (brothers and sisters) in God’s family, the church
- God treasures his people:
1Ki 3:6 And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. ▤
Ps 103:11-12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. ▤
Dan 10:19 And he said, “O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And as he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.” ▤
Here an angel is addressing Daniel.
This shows the incomprehensible depth of God’s love for his people, by comparing it with his love for Jesus Christ.
This is generally understood to be referring to God filling his people with his love for them – as opposed to giving them his love so as to enable them to love. The term “poured” depicts the abundance of God’s love for his people.
Eph 2:4-5 Butm God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— ▤
m Or And
The term “beloved” (cf. Col 3:12 ↓) means “dearly loved” (NIV®).
Jude in effect prays that his readers would experience a multiple measure of God’s love.
- God’s people are “the apple of his eye”:
n Or he sent me after glory
The covenant God made with Israel was a covenant based on love – and he would keep it for “a thousand generations”, suggesting forever (cf. NIrV).
o Or Only
p Or steadfast love
q Or shall return to dwell
r Hebrew for length of days
The alternative rendering in the second text note offers “steadfast love” instead of “mercy”.
Ps 89:28, 30-33 My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firms for him. ▤ … 30If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules,t 31if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, 32then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, 33but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness. ▤
s Or will remain faithful
t Or my just decrees
Ps 103:17-18 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, 18to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. ▤
Ps 136:1-2, 26 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. 2Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. ▤ … 26Give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures forever. ▤
The refrain “his love endures forever” is repeated in each of this psalm’s 26 verses (cf. vv. 3, 10-16, 23-24 ⇓). It is likewise used as a refrain in 118:1-4.
Isa 54:8, 10 In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer. ▤ … 10For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. ▤
u Syriac, Targum; Hebrew Because of the steadfast love of the Lord, we are not cut off
- Nothing can separate God’s people from his and Jesus Christ’s love:
Rom 8:35-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ▤
Deut 7:8 … but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. ▤
v Or Distinguish me by
Ps 31:7-8 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, 8and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place. ▤
Here “salvation” is primarily that which God provided for “the house of Israel” – showing his love and faithfulness to his people.
Ps 136:3, 10-16, 23-24 Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; ▤ … 10to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt, for his steadfast love endures forever; 11and brought Israel out from among them, for his steadfast love endures forever; 12with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for his steadfast love endures forever; 13to him who divided the Red Sea in two, for his steadfast love endures forever; 14and made Israel pass through the midst of it, for his steadfast love endures forever; 15but overthreww Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, for his steadfast love endures forever; 16to him who led his people through the wilderness, for his steadfast love endures forever; ▤ … 23It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures forever; 24and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures forever; … ▤
w Hebrew shook off
Regarding v. 10, the striking down of “the firstborn of Egypt” (v. 10a) was a critical act in God’s redemption of his people from Egypt, and so reflected his love for them (v. 10b).
Isa 43:3-4 For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. 4Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. ▤
The second half of v. 4 is referring to what was said in v. 3. It is implying that in exchange for allowing his people (the Jewish exiles) to return home, God would allow the Persians to usurp the countries mentioned in v. 3b.
x Or he did not afflict
Lam 3:22, 32 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;y his mercies never come to an end; ▤ … 32but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; … ▤
y Syriac, Targum; Hebrew Because of the steadfast love of the Lord, we are not cut off
Particularly if the rendering in the text note is to be preferred, these verses illustrate that God shows his love for his people in delivering them.
The clause “quiet you by his love” appears to speak of the calm (cf. NLT) and rest (cf. NCV) produced by God’s love and salvation (the latter being referred to earlier in the verse). However there is some doubt about the Hebrew text (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NASB).
Deut 33:3, 12 Yes, he loved his people,z all his holy ones were in hisa hand; so they followedb in your steps, receiving direction from you, ▤ … 12Of Benjamin he said, “The beloved of the Lord dwells in safety. The High Godc surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders.” ▤
z Septuagint; Hebrew peoples
a Hebrew your
b The meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain
c Septuagint; Hebrew dwells in safety by him. He
The clause “all his holy ones were in his hand” (v. 3) speaks of God’s protection and care of his people (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV). The expression “dwells between his shoulders” (v. 12) refers to God’s people resting amidst God’s strength.
Ezra 9:9 For we are slaves. Yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his steadfast love before the kings of Persia, to grant us some reviving to set up the house of our God, to repair its ruins, and to give us protectiond in Judea and Jerusalem. ▤
d Hebrew a wall
Because of God’s steadfast love for them, his people (like the king here) “will not be overwhelmed” (NCV™).
e Many Hebrew manuscripts, Dead Sea Scroll, Jerome, Syriac, Aquila; most Hebrew manuscripts subdues my people
God’s steadfast love appears to be in view in the subsequent protective images applied to him.
- In his steadfast love, God leads his people:
Note that Hosea 11:4 in the following subsection also speaks of God’s love in leading his people.
Gen 39:20-21 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. 21But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. ▤
2Chr 9:8 Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on his throne as king for the Lord your God! Because your God loved Israel and would establish them forever, he has made you king over them, that you may execute justice and righteousness. ▤
Ps 103:11-12 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. ▤
Ps 106:44-46 Nevertheless, he looked upon their distress, when he heard their cry. 45For their sake he remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love. 46He caused them to be pitied by all those who held them captive. ▤
Out of his great love God diminished the punishment that his people had deserved.
Ps 136:17, 21-22 … to him who struck down great kings, for his steadfast love endures forever; ▤ … 21and gave their land as a heritage, for his steadfast love endures forever; 22a heritage to Israel his servant, for his steadfast love endures forever. ▤
God brought down great kings (v. 17) and gave their land – the promised land of Canaan – as an inheritance to his people Israel (vv. 21-22), illustrating his enduring love for them.
f Or humaneness; Hebrew man
g Or before him in love, having predestined us
- God’s love and great blessings for Israel under the first covenant:
Deut 7:12-14 And because you listen to these rules and keep and do them, the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the steadfast love that he swore to your fathers. 13He will love you, bless you, and multiply you. He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock, in the land that he swore to your fathers to give you. 14You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock. ▤
John 15:9-10 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. ▤
In v. 9 Jesus remarkably likens his love for his people with God’s ultimate love for him.
2Thes 2:13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruitsh to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. ▤
h Some manuscripts chose you from the beginning
Rev 3:9 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. ▤
In v. 13 Jesus alludes to himself laying down his life for his followers, demonstrating a love of which there is none greater amongst people.
The love that Christ expressed in dying for all, compelled Paul to live for him.
Eph 5:2, 25 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. ▤ … 25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, … ▤
Jesus Christ encapsulated or epitomized love in laying down his life for us.
Deut 30:9-10 The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. ▤
In conjunction with his delighting in his people, God also delights in their well-being.
Isa 62:4-5 You shall no more be termed Forsaken,i and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,j but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,k and your land Married;l for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. 5For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. ▤
i Hebrew Azubah
j Hebrew Shemamah
k Hebrew Hephzibah
l Hebrew Beulah
A renewed Israel of the future is most likely in view here – and below in 65:19 and Zephaniah 3:17.
- God delights in his people’s obedience:
1Sam 15:22 And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. ▤
- God is completely faithful to his people
- God is faithful even if his people are unfaithful and do wrong
- God shows his faithfulness in helping and blessing his people
- God faithfully keeps his promises to his people
- God faithfully maintains his covenants with his people forever
- Note: God remembers his people
- [God’s] Faithfulness
m Syriac, Targum; Hebrew Because of the steadfast love of the Lord, we are not cut off
1Thes 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. ▤
- Promise of faithfulness and steadfast love:
This promise of faithfulness and steadfast love – which are often paired together in the OT – is made to the Davidic Messiah, but is applicable to all of God’s people.
Rom 3:3-4 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” ▤
Neh 9:17-19, 33 They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. 18Even when they had made for themselves a goldenn calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, 19you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. ▤ … 33Yet you have been righteous in all that has come upon us, for you have dealt faithfully and we have acted wickedly. ▤
n Hebrew metal
In vv. 17, 19 God’s faithfulness to his unfaithful people (v. 33) is highlighted by the fact that he “did not forsake them” (vv. 17, 19).
Lev 26:43-44 But the land shall be abandoned by them and enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them, and they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they spurned my rules and their soul abhorred my statutes. 44Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God. ▤
2Ki 13:22-23 Now Hazael king of Syria oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. 23But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion on them, and he turned toward them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, nor has he cast them from his presence until now. ▤
Despite the sin and unfaithfulness of the people (cf. v. 11) – which lead to their oppression by the Syrians (v. 22) – God faithfully persisted in keeping his covenant (cf. God faithfully maintains his covenants with his people forever . . ., below) and so did not destroy them.
Jer 31:37 Thus says the Lord: “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the Lord.” ▤
o Hebrew their land
Most other modern translations follow the interpretation reflected in the alternative rendering in the ESV text note (cf. AMP, CEV, GNT, NASB, NCV, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV). As such this verse attests to God’s faithfulness to Israel in spite of their guilt and unfaithfulness.
The reference is to Jesus Christ. Like his Father, Jesus is faithful even when his people are faithless.
- Despite what David’s descendants might do, God would maintain his faithfulness to David:
Ps 89:30-33 If his children forsake my law and do not walk according to my rules,
p 31if they violate my statutes and do not keep my commandments, 32then I will punish their transgression with the rod and their iniquity with stripes, 33but I will not remove from him my steadfast love or be false to my faithfulness. ▤
p Or my just decrees
Gen 24:27 … and said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led me in the way to the house of my master’s kinsmen.” ▤
Abraham’s servant is speaking of God leading him to find a wife for Abraham’s son Isaac, thus showing his faithfulness to Abraham.
Gen 32:10 I am not worthy of the least of all the deeds of steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps. ▤
The term “two camps” refers to Jacob’s large household (including servants) and numerous flocks, herds and camels – all of which Jacob had just (v. 7) divided into two groups.
Ps 85:10-12 Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. 11Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. 12Yes, the Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. ▤
This attests to God’s faithfulness – along with his love and righteousness – in his care of his people.
In his faithfulness God will protect his people.
Here “salvation” is primarily that which God provided for “the house of Israel” – showing his faithfulness to his people.
q Syriac, Targum; Hebrew Because of the steadfast love of the Lord, we are not cut off
Zec 8:7-8 Thus says the Lord of hosts: behold, I will save my people from the east country and from the west country, 8and I will bring them to dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness. ▤
This may be speaking of God being faithful (and righteous) to his people following on their return to the land, rather than in his earlier actions (vv. 7-8a). But even if this is the case, this is well complimented by God’s saving them and returning them home (vv. 7-8a), exemplifying his faithfulness.
1Cor 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. ▤
1Thes 5:23-24 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. ▤
Isa 49:7 Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers: “Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall prostrate themselves; because of the Lord, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.” ▤
This speaks of God’s faithfulness to his Messiah, in exalting him.
- God promises to be faithful to his people:
- God does not lie nor change his mind – he keeps his promises
- So, God was faithful to his covenants and promises with Abraham and Israel
Note that most of the promises referred to in the following verses are ones associated with covenants that God had made with his people.
Josh 23:14-15 And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good thingsr that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one of them has failed. 15But just as all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you have been fulfilled for you, so the Lord will bring upon you all the evil things, until he has destroyed you from off this good land that the Lord your God has given you, … ▤
r Or words; also twice in verse 15
In v. 15 Joshua refers to God’s promised judgment for the people if they broke his covenant with them. Just as he keeps his promises of blessings to his people, God also keeps his promises of judgment.
Deut 7:8 … but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. ▤
Ps 105:42-45 For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant. 43So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing. 44And he gave them the lands of the nations, and they took possession of the fruit of the peoples’ toil, 45that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws. Praise the Lord! ▤
The “holy promise” (v. 42) was that of the land of Canaan (cf. vv. 8-11), referred to here as “the lands of the nations” (v. 44).
This reflects that God’s promises have been “thoroughly tested” (NIV®) and proven true.
s Hebrew of your fruit of the womb
t These two lines are supplied by one Hebrew manuscript, Septuagint, Syriac (compare Dead Sea Scroll)
Note that here faithfulness is part of what God swore or promised, a promise which Micah asserts God will fulfill.
- God is able to keep his promises:
God’s faithful keeping of his covenants with his people is one of the most prominent OT attestations to God’s faithfulness.
Gen 9:11-16 I establish my covenant with you [Noah and his sons], that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” 12And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” ▤
God has faithfully kept this covenant – made with those who were his people, but for all humankind and all creatures – to this day.
Judg 2:1 Now the angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, … ▤
Here the angel of the Lord speaks on behalf of God.
Ps 89:28, 34-37 My steadfast love I will keep for him forever, and my covenant will stand firmu for him. ▤ … 34I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips. 35Once for all I have sworn by my holiness; I will not lie to David. 36His offspring shall endure forever, his throne as long as the sun before me. 37Like the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah ▤
u Or will remain faithful
Verse 37 speaks of the moon faithfully remaining in the sky as being reflective of God faithfully keeping his covenant with David forever.
Ps 105:8-11 He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, 9the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac, 10which he confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, 11saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.” ▤
Jer 33:20-21 Thus says the Lord: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, 21then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers. ▤
Just as God will keep the cycle of day and night continuing till the end of days, so will he faithfully keep his covenants with David (cf. Ps 89:28, 34-37 ↑) and with the Levitical priests.
Betrothal was a binding contract – a covenant – entered into prior to marriage. In saying that he will betroth Israel to himself forever, God speaks of faithfully maintaining this covenant with her forever.
Isa 49:14-16 But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.” 15“Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. 16Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. ▤
With the last clause (vv. 16b) God is in effect saying to Jerusalem and its people: “You are always in my thoughts!” (CEV)
Zeph 2:7 The seacoast shall become the possession of the remnant of the house of Judah, on which they shall graze, and in the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening. For the Lord their God will be mindful of them and restore their fortunes. ▤
1Sam 1:19-20 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her. 20And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the Lord.”v ▤
v Samuel sounds like the Hebrew for heard of God
- God remembers his covenants:
- God and Jesus Christ show abundant grace toward their people
- By grace God’s people are given spiritual blessings and gifts
- By grace God’s people are entrusted with his work . . .
- . . . By grace God’s people are enabled to do his work
- By grace God’s people are strengthened
- By grace God’s people avoid sin
- Further notes on grace in the lives of God’s people
- Along with being merciful, God is gracious
- Salvation by Grace, through Jesus Christ
- “In” Jesus Christ God’s people are given God’s grace
What God does for his people is based on his “grace” – his free and undeserved favour. God’s wonderful grace in the believer’s salvation is discussed largely in Salvation by Grace, through Jesus Christ. The first subsection here also includes references to it, but this section as a whole primarily deals with the ongoing role of God’s grace in his people’s lives.
Rom 5:15-17, 20-21 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. ▤ … 20Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ▤
Verse 15 contrasts the sin of Adam, which led to many dying, with the grace of Jesus Christ, which led to many receiving God’s grace and the accompanying gift of righteousness. In saying that “much more” the latter “abounded” to many, Paul appears to be pointing to it being more emphatic and overwhelming. This greater forcefulness is illustrated in the following verse (v. 16), which describes how the judgment followed only one sin whereas the gift that came by grace surmounted many sins. The result of the latter is also more triumphant – it being the irrevocable justification which offsets the judgment. Verses 17, 20-21 further show how “much more” (v. 17) effusive is the effect of God’s grace than that of sin.
2Cor 9:8, 14 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiencyw in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. ▤ … 14while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. ▤
w Or all contentment
Eph 2:6-7 … and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. ▤
- God is “the God of all grace”:
The ascription of God has “the God of all grace” speaks of God as the one who “imparts all blessing and favor” (AMP), the ultimate source of all spiritual blessings. It also points to his grace as being incalculable and limitless.
John 1:14, 16 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ▤ … 16And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. ▤
The term “fullness” (v. 16) refers to Christ being “full of grace and truth” (v. 14; cf. NCV), and thus refers to “the fullness of his grace” (GNT, NIV). The phrase “grace upon grace” speaks of “one gracious blessing after another” (NLT).
Rom 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. ▤
The phrase “the grace given me” appears to refer to the wisdom and authority given to Paul by God’s grace (cf. v. 6 ↓).
In v. 5b Paul quite possibly has spiritual gifts in view, particularly as he deals with them in detail later in the letter.
Eph 4:7-8, 11 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” ▤ … 11And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherdsx and teachers,y … ▤
x Or pastors
y Or the shepherd-teachers
“God’s varied grace” here points to the different spiritual gifts one receives from God, manifestations of his grace.
- God graciously blesses his people:
The use of “gracious” (or “graciously”) in the OT does not have precisely the same sense as “grace” in the NT. Nevertheless this verse reflects the fact that God in his grace blesses us, to the extent that we can in turn bless others.
Although the following passages all involve Paul speaking largely of his own circumstances, the principle of God’s people being entrusted with his work by his grace is applicable to all believers.
The mention of Paul receiving “grace” is most likely referring to God’s grace shown to him in choosing him for his task (cf. CEV, GNT, NLT). But it could also refer to or include the grace which God bestowed on Paul in equipping him for the task.
Rom 15:15-16 But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God 16to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. ▤
1Cor 15:9-10a For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. ▤
By grace Paul was made an apostle, with the accompanying critical ministry of extending God’s kingdom. Note that the first part of v. 10a gives a sobering principle that can be applied generally to all aspects of our lives – i.e. we are what we are only by the grace of God.
Gal 1:15-16 But when he who had set me apart before I was born,z and who called me by his grace, 16was pleased to reveal his Son toa me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone;b … ▤
z Greek set me apart from my mother’s womb
a Greek in
b Greek with flesh and blood
The fact that Paul was set apart by God before he was born illustrates God’s grace, along with him being called by grace (v. 15). Note that Paul is likely talking – primarily at least – of being set apart for and called to his apostolic work (cf. GNT, NCV), but instead his conversion could be in view. Possibly Paul is not intending to distinguish between the two.
Gal 2:7, 9 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised ▤ … 9and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. ▤
The grace given to Paul (v. 9a) refers to him being entrusted with preaching the gospel to the Gentiles (v. 7; cf. v. 9b).
Eph 3:2-3, 7-9 … assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. ▤ … 7Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages inc God who created all things, … ▤
c Or by
There is some doubt as to how “grace” is used in v. 2. Amongst the possibilities are that it refers to God’s grace: in commissioning Paul for this work; in making known the mystery of Christ to Paul (cf. v. 3); in the message itself; and in imparting the message to the Ephesians or the Gentiles in general. The first two options – which are closely related – are reflected in the use of “grace” in vv. 7-9. Both options pertain to this subsection. The fourth option pertains to the following subsection. Note that the latter part of v. 7 may be speaking of the expression of God’s grace in Paul becoming a servant of the gospel being effected by God’s power, in changing Paul and/or equipping him for the work. However God’s power in Paul’s ongoing ministry may primarily be in view (cf. BKC).
This may well be implying that the apostles were able to give such powerful testimony because of God’s grace.
In committing Paul and Barnabas to God’s grace (cf. Acts 15:40 ↓), the believers acknowledged that it would only be by God’s grace that they would be able to complete the work – which they now had done.
1Cor 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. ▤
2Cor 8:1-2, 6-7 We want you to know, brothers,d about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. ▤ … 6Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for youe—see that you excel in this act of grace also. ▤
d Or brothers and sisters
e Some manuscripts in your love for us
Particularly in light of vv. 1-2, in vv. 6-7 “grace” probably is primarily likewise referring to the grace of God manifested in generous giving towards supplying the needs of God’s people (cf. 2Cor 9:8, 12-14 ↓). Note that such acts are a service (cf. 2Cor 9:13 ↓) to others, an aspect of God’s work for believers to do.
f Or all contentment
2Cor 9:13-14 By their approval of this service, theyg will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. ▤
g Or you
The “surpassing grace of God upon you” (v. 14) is that manifested in their “service” (v. 13) of giving.
Phil 1:7 It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,h both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. ▤
h Or you all have fellowship with me in grace
Particularly in light of Paul’s reference earlier in v. 5 to their partnership with him in spreading the gospel, it appears that here “grace” refers to that which God gave Paul and the Philippians in regard to defending and confirming the gospel – either in being commissioned to do so (as per the theme of the previous subsection) or in being enabled to do so.
2Thes 1:11-12 To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, 12so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. ▤
As noted earlier, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are a manifestation of God’s grace, equipping believers for God’s work, such as serving others.
The title “the God of all grace” suggests that it is by God’s grace that he restores his people and confirms, strengthens, and establishes them in the faith.
2Cor 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ▤
Christ’s grace was sufficient for Paul in his weakness for the more he was aware of his weaknesses, the more he was open to depending on Christ’s power – in which by Christ’s grace he was truly made strong.
- The word of God’s grace builds them up:
The use of the expression “the word of his grace” speaks of “the commands and counsels and promises of His unmerited favor” (AMP).
We are not under the law but “under grace” – the new regime where, in addition to being gained by God’s grace, our righteousness is maintained by God’s grace.
Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, … ▤
Heb 4:15-16 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ▤
James 4:4-6 You adulterous people!i Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” ▤
i Greek You adulteresses!
God’s people are to shun friendship with the world (vv. 4-5), which is contrary to God (v. 4) and so an aspect of sin. This is not easily done, but God gives his humble people grace that is greater than such a difficulty (v. 6a; cf. AMP, GNT, NLT).
- Due to his mercy, graciousness and compassion: God is long-suffering; . . .
- . . . and God is forgiving
- . . . and live in God’s grace
By his grace, in conjunction with the salvation in which it was manifested, God has given us “eternal comfort and good hope”.
This benediction or blessing of the presence of Jesus Christ’s grace suggests that Christ continues to minister to believers through his grace. (A similar comment can be made regarding the following two references.)
John assures his readers that God and Jesus Christ’s grace – along with their mercy and peace – will “be with us who live in truth and love” (NLT).
j Some manuscripts all the saints
- The hope of the grace to come:
k Greek girding up the loins of your mind