“[Jehovah’s] loyal love endures forever.”—PS. 136:1.
SONG 108 God’s Loyal Love
1. What encouragement does Jehovah give us?
JEHOVAH takes delight in loyal love. (Hos. 6:6) He warmly encourages his servants to do the same. By means of the prophet Micah, our God urges us “to love loyal love.” (Mic. 6:8, ftn.) Obviously, before we can do that, we need to know what loyal love is.
2. What are some characteristics of loyal love?
2 What is loyal love? The expression “loyal love” occurs some 230 times in the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. What is it? According to the “Glossary of Bible Terms” found in that translation, it refers to “love motivated by commitment, integrity, loyalty, and deep attachment. It is often used in connection with God’s love for humans, but it is also love shown between humans.” Jehovah is the supreme example of loyal love. In this article, we will discuss how Jehovah shows loyal love to humans. In the following article, we will discuss how we as God’s servants can imitate Jehovah by showing loyal love to one another.
JEHOVAH IS “ABUNDANT IN LOYAL LOVE”
3. How did Jehovah reveal himself to Moses?
3 Not long after Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, Jehovah revealed himself to Moses by declaring His name and qualities. He said: “Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abundant in loyal love and truth, showing loyal love to thousands, pardoning error and transgression and sin.” (Ex. 34:6, 7) With this heartwarming statement about His qualities, Jehovah revealed to Moses a unique characteristic of His loyal love. What is it?
4-5. (a) How did Jehovah describe himself? (b) What questions will we consider?
4 Jehovah described himself not merely as having loyal love but as being “abundant in loyal love.” That description is mentioned six more times in the Bible. (Num. 14:18; Neh. 9:17; Ps. 86:15; 103:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2) In all instances, that description refers only to Jehovah, never to humans. Is it not remarkable that Jehovah himself so strongly emphasized his quality of loyal love? No doubt, loyal love is important to him.* No wonder King David was moved to exclaim: “O Jehovah, your loyal love reaches to the heavens . . . How precious your loyal love is, O God! In the shadow of your wings, the sons of men take refuge.” (Ps. 36:5, 7) Like David, do we deeply appreciate God’s loyal love?
5 To deepen our understanding of loyal love, let us consider two questions: To whom does Jehovah show loyal love? And how can we benefit from Jehovah’s acts of loyal love?
TO WHOM DOES JEHOVAH SHOW LOYAL LOVE?
6. Jehovah shows loyal love to whom?
6 To whom does Jehovah show loyal love? The Bible mentions that we can love many things, such as “agriculture,” “wine and oil,” “discipline,” “knowledge,” “wisdom”—to name a few. (2 Chron. 26:10; Prov. 12:1; 21:17; 29:3) Loyal love, however, is never extended to things or concepts; it is shown only to people. But Jehovah does not show loyal love to just anyone. He shows it to those who are in a special relationship with him. Our God is loyal to his friends. He has a wonderful purpose for them, and he will not give up on them.
7. How has Jehovah shown love to mankind in general?
7 Jehovah has shown love to mankind in general. Jesus told a man named Nicodemus: “God loved the world [of mankind] so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—John 3:1, 16; Matt. 5:44, 45.
8-9. (a) Why does Jehovah show loyal love to his servants? (b) What will we consider next?
8 As mentioned earlier, Jehovah shows his loyal love only to those who have an approved relationship with him—his servants. This is evident from statements made by King David and by the prophet Daniel. For example, David said: “Continue showing your loyal love to those who know you.” “The loyal love of Jehovah is for all eternity toward those who fear him.” And Daniel declared: “O Jehovah the true God, [who] shows loyal love to those who love him and keep his commandments.” (Ps. 36:10; 103:17; Dan. 9:4) According to these inspired expressions, Jehovah shows loyal love to his servants because they know him, fear him, love him, and keep his commandments. Jehovah reserves his loyal love for his people, his true worshippers.
9 Before we began serving Jehovah, we received the love that God shows to mankind in general. (Ps. 104:14) However, as his worshippers, we also benefit from his loyal love. In fact, Jehovah assures his servants: “My loyal love will not be removed from you.” (Isa. 54:10) Indeed, as David himself experienced, “Jehovah will treat his loyal one in a special way.” (Ps. 4:3) How should we react to Jehovah’s special care for us? The psalmist noted: “Whoever is wise will observe these things and will carefully consider Jehovah’s acts of loyal love.” (Ps. 107:43) With that inspired advice in mind, let us consider three ways in which servants of Jehovah benefit from his acts of loyal love.
HOW CAN WE BENEFIT FROM JEHOVAH’S ACTS OF LOYAL LOVE?
10. How are we helped by God’s enduring loyal love? (Psalm 31:7)
10 God’s loyal love is enduring. This important aspect of loyal love is mentioned 26 times in Psalm 136. In the opening verse, we read: “Give thanks to Jehovah, for he is good; his loyal love endures forever.” (Ps. 136:1) In verses 2 to 26, we find the refrain “for his loyal love endures forever.” As we read the remaining verses of this psalm, we cannot help but be impressed by the many ways in which Jehovah shows his loyal love without letup. The refrain “for his loyal love endures forever” assures us that God’s love for his people is not fickle. How heartening it is to know that Jehovah does not quickly give up on his servants! Instead, he attaches himself to those who serve him and he sticks with them, especially in times of distress. How we benefit: Knowing that Jehovah sticks with us gives us the joy and the strength we need to cope with our distresses and to keep walking on the path to life.—Read Psalm 31:7.
11. According to Psalm 86:5, what moves Jehovah to be forgiving?
11 God’s loyal love moves him to be forgiving. When Jehovah observes a sinner who is repentant and who rejects his sinful course, loyal love moves Him to be forgiving. The psalmist David stated about Jehovah: “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor has he repaid us what our errors deserve.” (Ps. 103:8-11) David himself knew from painful experience how heavy the burden of a guilty conscience can be. But he also learned that Jehovah is “ready to forgive.” What moves Jehovah to be forgiving? The answer is recorded at Psalm 86:5. (Read.) Yes, as David said in prayer, Jehovah forgives because he abounds in loyal love for all those who call on him.
12-13. If we are weighed down with guilt over past mistakes, what will help us?
12 When we sin, it is appropriate—even healthy—to feel remorse. It can move us to repent and take steps to correct our mistakes. Some servants of God, though, have become overwhelmed by guilt because of past mistakes. Their self-condemning heart convinces them that Jehovah could never forgive them—no matter how repentant they are. If you deal with such feelings, learning about God’s willingness to extend loyal love to his servants will help you.
13 How we benefit: In spite of our imperfections, we can joyfully serve Jehovah with a clean conscience. This is possible because “the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) When you are discouraged about some imperfection, call to mind that Jehovah is willing, yes, eager to forgive a repentant sinner. Note the connection that David made between loyal love and forgiveness. He wrote: “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so great is his loyal love toward those who fear him. As far off as the sunrise is from the sunset, so far off from us he has put our transgressions.” (Ps. 103:11, 12) Indeed, Jehovah is willing to “forgive in a large way.”—Isa. 55:7.
14. How did David describe the way God’s loyal love protects us?
14 God’s loyal love provides spiritual protection. In prayer to Jehovah, David stated: “You are a hiding place for me; you will safeguard me from distress. You will surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance. . . . The one trusting in Jehovah is surrounded by His loyal love.” (Ps. 32:7, 10) Just as the walls surrounding an ancient city protected its citizens, so Jehovah’s acts of loyal love surround us, providing spiritual protection from dangers that could test our integrity. Further, Jehovah’s loyal love moves him to draw us to him.—Jer. 31:3.
15. What connection is there between Jehovah’s loyal love and a refuge and a stronghold?
15 David used another word picture to describe the protection that God’s people enjoy. He wrote: “God is my secure refuge, the God who shows loyal love to me.” David also stated about Jehovah: “He is my loyal love and my stronghold, my secure refuge and my rescuer, my shield and the One in whom I have taken shelter.” (Ps. 59:17; 144:2) Why did David connect Jehovah’s loyal love with a refuge and a stronghold? No matter where we live on earth, as long as we are his servants, Jehovah will provide us with all the protection we need to safeguard our precious relationship with him. That same assurance is found in Psalm 91. The writer of that psalm declared: “I will say to Jehovah: ‘You are my refuge and my stronghold.’”(Ps. 91:1-3, 9, 14) Moses used a similar word picture about a refuge. (Ps. 90:1, ftn.) Moreover, toward the end of his life, Moses called attention to a heartwarming detail. He wrote: “God is a refuge from ancient times, his everlasting arms are beneath you.” (Deut. 33:27) What does the phrase “his everlasting arms are beneath you” tell us about Jehovah?
16. In what two ways are we blessed? (Psalm 136:23)
16 When Jehovah is our Refuge, we feel secure. Still, there may be days when we are down and struggle to get up. At such times, what will Jehovah do for us? (Read Psalm 136:23.) He will put his arms beneath us, gently lift us up, and help us to get back on our feet. (Ps. 28:9; 94:18) How we benefit: Knowing that we can always count on God’s support helps us to remember that we are blessed in two ways. First, we have a secure place of refuge no matter where we live. Second, our loving heavenly Father deeply cares for us.
WHY GOD’S LOYAL LOVE GIVES US CONFIDENCE
17. Because of God’s loyal love, what confidence can we have? (Psalm 33:18-22)
17 As we have considered, when facing a trial, we can be sure that Jehovah will act in our behalf by giving us the support we need to keep our integrity. (2 Cor. 4:7-9) The prophet Jeremiah stated: “It is because of Jehovah’s loyal love that we have not come to our finish, for his mercies never end.” (Lam. 3:22) We can have confidence that Jehovah’s loyal love will indeed rest on us because, as the psalmist assured us, “the eye of Jehovah watches over those fearing him, those waiting for his loyal love.”—Read Psalm 33:18-22.
18-19. (a) What do we want to keep in mind? (b) What will we consider in the next article?
18 What do we want to keep in mind? Before we began serving Jehovah, we received the love that God shows to mankind in general. As his worshippers, however, we also benefit from his loyal love. Moved by that love, Jehovah embraces us with his protective arms. He will always keep us close to him and will fulfill his purpose regarding us. He wants us to succeed! (Ps. 46:1, 2, 7) Therefore, no matter what trial we may face, Jehovah will give us the strength we need in order to keep our integrity.
19 We have seen how Jehovah shows loyal love to his servants. In turn, he expects us to show loyal love to one another. How can we do that? The next article will consider this important subject.
SONG 136 “A Perfect Wage” From Jehovah
What is loyal love? To whom does Jehovah show loyal love, and how do those who receive it benefit from it? The answers to these questions will be considered in the first of two articles that discuss this outstanding quality.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Jehovah demonstrates his love to mankind as a whole, including his servants. The icons depicted above the group of people show some expressions of God’s love. Foremost is the opportunity to benefit from the ransom arrangement.
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Those who become servants of Jehovah and put faith in the ransom arrangement are treated by Jehovah in a special way. In addition to receiving the love that God shows to mankind in general, Jehovah’s servants receive expressions of God’s loyal love. Several of these are depicted by the icons.