The Attributes of God
by Arthur W. Pink
The Loving-kindness of God
We propose to engage the reader with another of His excellencies—of which
every Christian receives innumerable proofs. We turn to a consideration of
God's loving-kindness because our aim is to maintain a due proportion in
treating of the divine perfections, for all of us are apt to entertain
one-sided views of them. A balance must be preserved here (as everywhere),
as it appears in those two statements of the divine attributes, "God is
light" (1 John 1:5), "God is love" (1 John 4:8). The sterner, more
awe-inspiring aspects of the divine character are offset by the gentler,
more winsome ones. It is to our irreparable loss if we dwell exclusively on
God's sovereignty and majesty, or His holiness and justice; we need to
meditate frequently, though not exclusively, on His goodness and mercy.
Nothing short of a full-orbed view of the divine perfection revealed in Holy
Writ, should satisfy us.
Scripture speaks of "the multitude of His
lovingkindnesses," and who is capable of numbering them? (Isa 63:7). Said
the Psalmist, "How excellent is Your loving-kindness, O God!" (36:7).
No pen of man, no tongue of angel, can adequately express it. Familiar as
this blessed attribute of God's may be to people, it is something entirely
peculiar to divine revelation. None of the ancients ever dreamed of
investing his "gods" with such endearing perfection as this. None of the
objects worshiped by present-day heathen possess gentleness and tenderness;
very much the reverse is true, as the hideous features of their idols
exhibit. Philosophers regard it as a serious reflection upon the honor of
the Absolute to ascribe such qualities to it. But the Scriptures have
much to say about God's loving-kindness, or His paternal favor to His
people, His tender affection toward them.
The first time this divine perfection is mentioned in the
Word is in that wondrous manifestation of Deity to Moses, when Jehovah
proclaimed His "Name," that is, Himself as made known. "The Lord, the Lord
God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and
truth" (Exo 34:6), though much more frequently the Hebrew word, chesed,
is rendered "kindness" and "loving-kindness." In our English Bibles the
initial reference, as connected with God, is Psalm 17:7, where David prayed,
"Show Your marvelous loving-kindness, O You who save by your right hand
those who take refuge in you from their foes." Marvelous it is, that One so
infinitely above us, so inconceivably glorious, so ineffably holy, should
not only notice such worms of the earth, but also set His heart upon them,
give His Son for them, send His Spirit to indwell them, and so bear with all
their imperfections and waywardness as never to remove His loving-kindness
Consider some of the evidences and exercises of this
divine attribute unto the saints, "In love having predestinated us unto the
adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself" (Eph 1:4,5). As the
previous verse shows, that love was engaged in their behalf before this
world came into existence. "This is how God showed His love among us: He
sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him" (1
John 4:9), which was His amazing provision for us fallen creatures. "I have
loved you with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I
drawn you" (Jer 31:3), by the quickening operations of My Spirit, by the
invincible power of My grace, by creating in you a deep sense of need, by
attracting you by My winsomeness. "I will take you to be My wife forever. I
will take you to be My wife in righteousness, justice, love, and
compassion." (Hosea 2:19). Having made us willing in the day of His power to
give ourselves to Him, the Lord enters into an everlasting marriage contract
This loving-kindness of the Lord is never removed from
His children. To our reason it may appear to be so, yet it never is. Since
the believer is in Christ, nothing can separate him from the love of God
(Rom 8:39). God has solemnly engaged Himself by covenant, and our sins
cannot make it void. God has sworn that if His children keep not His
commandments He will "visit their transgression with the rod, and
their iniquity with stripes." Yet He adds, "Nevertheless My
loving-kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor allow my
faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break" (Psalm 89:31-34).
Observe the change of number from "their" and "them" to "Him." The
loving-kindness of God toward His people is centered in Christ. Because His
exercise of loving-kindness is a covenant engagement it is repeatedly linked
to His "truth" (Psalm 40:11; 138:2), showing that it proceeds to us by
promise. Therefore we should never despair.
"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be
removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you" (Isa 54:10). No, that
covenant has been ratified by the blood of its Mediator, by which blood the
enmity (occasioned by sin) has been removed, and perfect reconciliation
effected. God knows the thoughts which He entertains for those embraced in
His covenant and who have been reconciled to Him; namely, "thoughts of
peace, and not of evil" (Jer 29:11). Therefore we are assured, "The Lord
will command His loving-kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song
shall be with me" (Psalm 42:8). What a word that is! Not merely that the
Lord will give or bestow, but command His loving-kindness. It is given by
decree, bestowed by royal engagement, as He also commands "deliverances ...
the blessing, even life for evermore" (Psalm 44:4; 133:3), which announces
that nothing can possibly hinder these bestowments. What ought our response
First, "Be therefore imitators of God as dear children;
and walk in love" (Eph 5:1,2). "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and
dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,
gentleness and patience" (Col 3:12). Thus it was with David: "Your
loving-kindness is before my eyes: and I have walked in Your truth" (Psalm
26:3). He delighted to ponder it. It refreshed his soul to do so, and it
molded his conduct. The more we are occupied with God's goodness, the more
careful we will be about our obedience. The constraints of God's love and
grace are more powerful to the regenerate than the terrors of His Law. "How
excellent is Your loving-kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put
their trust under the shadow of Your wings" (Psalm 36:7).
Second, a sense of this divine perfection strengthens our
faith, and promotes confidence in God.
Third, it should stimulate the spirit of worship.
"Because Your loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You
(Psalm 63:3; cf 138:2).
Fourth, it should be our cordial when downcast. "Let ...
Your merciful kindness be for my comfort" (Psalm 119:76). It was so with
Christ in His anguish (Psalm 69:17).
Fifth, it should be our plea in prayer, "Quicken me, O
Lord, according to Your loving-kindness" (Psalm 119:159). David applied to
that divine attribute for new strength and increased vigor.
Sixth, we should appeal to it when we have fallen by the
wayside. "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness"
(Psalm 51:1). Deal with him according to the gentlest of Your attributes,
make my case an exemplification of Your tenderness.
Seventh, it should be a petition in our evening
devotions. "Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning" (Psalm
143:8). Arouse me with my soul in tune therewith, let my waking thoughts be
of Your goodness.