He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me (Psalm 144:2).

FYI: This is a very personal psalm from David. Saul had hunted David for years in order to kill him. David even had to live among the Philistines, Israel’s archenemy, to hide from the king (1 Samuel 27:1-12).

Many people think that God is always portrayed as angry and hostile in the Old Testament. They point to the judgments and curses He gives as evidence that He is vengeful. In fact, it’s been said, “The God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath; the God of the New Testament is a God of love.” It’s as if there are two different gods. But there is only one God, and He is not a chameleon who changes with evolving events. Who He is in Genesis is who He is Revelation. In all cases, God is faithful and trustworthy, though at different times He displays different aspects of His character.

David knew God’s love very well. For years the Israelite was hounded by his enemies. Yet whether he was hiding from Saul or sitting on the throne of Israel, David knew God loved him. When his enemies got close to killing him, he knew the “loving God” was his stronghold to deliver him and protect him. God was David’s refuge (defense) from all his enemies. He would keep David safe and give him the power (offense) to win battles.

This loving God displayed a major principle throughout the Old Testament. I call it “mercy always precedes judgment.” When you read the judgments and curses God gave, look at what comes before them. For many years (sometimes hundreds of years) prior, God sent His prophets who often performed miracles to encourage the Israelites to turn back to Him. But they repeatedly refused. His judgment came only after His love was rejected. Even then He was and is consistently the God of love.

Question for Today: When have you experienced God’s love?

Prayer: Oh loving God, I don’t deserve Your love, but You’ve consistently shown me how much You care for me. I’m so grateful. Thank You.

Dick Purnell, Experiencing God by His Names: Discovering the Power of Who He Is (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 2015).

I have just completed a series of lessons on the theme of Loving God. They are available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions, as well as part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription service. For a medium-sized church, lesson subscriptions are only $10 per teacher per year.