We were studying Psalm 103, and we were discussing verse 17, which reads:
But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD’S love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children— Psa. 103:17 (NIV)
And Gretchen—small, quiet Gretchen—asked the question, “But doesn’t God love everybody?”
Good question. I stumbled through an answer, I think, but it wasn’t a very good one. And then I thought about it, and we revisited that verse and that question in the weeks ahead.
The answer is, Yes, God does love everyone.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV)
But Psalm 103:17 is not denying that God loves everyone. It’s saying something different. It says God’s love is with those who fear him. The difference is between God’s attitude and actions on the one hand—they are for the whole world—and who feels the effect of his attitudes and actions on the other hand—only those who fear, who believe in him, who live in obedience to him.
A couple has two grandchildren. Grandma & Grandpa love both grandchildren very much.
They invite them over to their house.
They bake cookies for them.
They buy them presents.
They send them cards.
In that sense Grandma & Grandpa love both grandchildren.
The granddaughter always goes when she’s invited. There she eats the cookies. She always opens the gifts, and she reads and re-reads the cards.
The grandson never goes over. So he never eats the cookies. Their gifts to him remain unopened. And he tosses the cards in the trash. In fact, he has little regard for his grandparents.
In this sense, though Grandma & Grandpa love both grandchildren, their love is with only the granddaughter. She’s the only one that experiences the benefits of their love.
In a similar way, God loves everyone, but because of their refusal of him, those who don't love and fear God do not experience the blessings and gifts of his love.