Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, Your justice like the great deep. O LORD, You preserve both man and beast. How priceless is Your unfailing love!
Once again, in Psalm 36:5-7, justice, righteousness, love, and faithfulness appear together. Setting things right to meet a standard inherently involves love and faithfulness.
According to theologian Christopher Wright, “Justice is essentially relational and covenantal.”1 The words “unfailing love” refer to God’s “abiding loyalty to His covenant, His unshakeable will to keep His gracious promise.”2 The New Dictionary of Biblical Theology also associates the term “unfailing / steadfast love” with covenant.3
I’ve used the term covenant at other points in this Redefining Justice series and realized this morning it may be helpful to clarify what I mean. I’ve run out of time today, so come back tomorrow if you’re wondering.
For now, suffice it to say the psalmist can confidently declare that the Lord’s love and faithfulness reach to the skies, that His righteousness and justice are vast, because of his own relationship with the Lord and because of his nation’s history.
Time and time again, the Lord rescued the Israelites from oppression and injustice. Freeing them from the rule of Egypt, where Pharaoh “put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor…and made them work ruthlessly,” is a perfect example.4
And when the Israelites became the oppressors, failing to live out the righteousness and justice to which God called them, He punished them as well.
God chafes at injustice. His love “reaches to the heavens, [His] faithfulness to the skies. [His] righteousness is like the mighty mountains, [His] justice like the great deep.” In His unfailing love, the Lord preserves all His creation.
1. Christopher J.H. Wright, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 258-59
2. Wright, 258.
3. Eds. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 2000), 420.