In 1835, a music publisher named Charles Bradlee created a tune to help children learn the alphabet. Utilizing a theme by Mozart, Bradlee copyrighted the tune that children all over the United States sing to learn their ABCs. Just like Charles Bradlee, the Israelites knew that one of the best ways to teach truth about God was through poem and song. Since most of ancient Israel was not able to read, songs were especially important.
In verses 3–5 of today’s reading, David outlines many of God’s gifts that Israel had experienced through the ages: forgiveness, healing, redemption, and renewal. These gifts flow from God’s nature. God is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (v. 8). The word for “love” here is difficult to capture in English. It means being devoted to someone in a covenant commitment. It is a kind of love that is for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.
Sometimes we may picture God as only loving and forgiving to the exclusion of other attributes He has. David does not do so here. He reminds us that God is also “slow to anger” and just (vv. 6, 8). “Slow to anger” reminds us that anger is at times God’s appropriate response rooted in His covenant love. His anger is in the context of a deep understanding of our frailty as humans. God “remembers that we are dust” (v. 14). This does not mean that we are unimportant, but rather that God is mindful of our limitations. The proper response is to join with the angels and heavenly hosts in joyful praise (vv. 20–21).
>> Forgetfulness is dangerous in our relationship with God. Singing is a wonderful way to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness. Spend some time in song or listening to praises today. Reflect on the many ways God has shown His love for you and how He is forever faithful.