“Love the Lord, all His faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to Him, but the proud He pays back in full” Psalm 31:23, NIV
Psalm 31:23 encourages believers to love the Lord and to be faithful to Him. Are we doing a good job of that? Have we watered down the word Love today?
“I love that car.”
“I love your house.”
“I love those boots.”
It seems as though we love everything and everybody but the Lord. Furthermore, we’ve watered down the word “love” so much. We no longer understand the true meaning behind the concept. The Hebrew word translated “love” in this verse is ‘ahab’ which means “to have affection for” (see Strong’s H157).
We don’t have affection for a car, house, or boots. What we mean in those cases is that we like them a lot. Yet, we are called to more than merely “like” God. We are called to have affection for God, to truly love the Lord. As a matter of fact, we are called to love God with “all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength” (Mark 12:33). Our love should compel us to put God first in everything, in all our decisions. Our hearts, understanding, and strength should be tied up in our love for Him.
When you love someone, you don’t want to hurt them nor disappoint them. True love is proactive. True love seeks out ways in which to demonstrate the affection we say we have. Thus, God’s “faithful people” should proactively love Him. We should be quick to obey Him. We should be ready to repent when we don’t obey Him. And our love for God should spread to us loving His people. Our love for God’s people is a true indicator of our love for God: “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also,” (1 John 4:20-21).
Jesus touched on this when He told His followers, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Yes, loving God includes loving people.
Loving the Lord has its privileges. He “preserves” those who love Him and are true to Him. Just like preservatives in food, God keeps us fresh and fruitful. God takes care of us. He guards us and keeps His eyes on us. He fights battles for us and works all things together for our good (see Romans 8:28).
A Warning about Pride
There’s a warning in this verse, though. The writer warns us about being proud. The proud love themselves instead of loving God. They think about and seek glory for themselves instead of seeking to glorify the Lord. The writer says God will “payback” the proud doer in full. The reward, the payment here, isn’t a good thing. The arrogant will reap what they’ve sown. They will suffer the consequences of their actions, of their pride. Let’s not walk proudly. Let’s walk humbly, relying upon the Lord and loving Him.
We are encouraged today to love the Lord and to be faithful to Him. We don’t have to worry about the consequences of loving God. Indeed, we can rest in confidence that He will preserve those who love Him.