“ Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.” -Psalm 36:5
God is faithful. So often in our culture, faithfulness is something that is hoped for. A woman hopes her spouse or boyfriend remains faithful to her, employers hope their employees are faithful to their company, and stores hope customers are faithful to their brand. These examples show the difficulty of describing God’s character. Illustrations fall short and examples break down. In trying to think of a good illustration of faithfulness, I kept thinking of animal stories. I enjoy a good animal story as much as the next gal, but it’s safe to say that’s a pretty lame comparison. Herein lies the beauty of God’s character.
As we look to the inerrant Word to learn who God is, we are reminded again and again that He is God and we are not. We don’t hope God is faithful, loving, just, sovereign, holy, or good. He IS perfectly faithful, loving, just, sovereign, holy, and good. None of God’s characteristics waver; hence the breakdown of illustrations and examples. Proverbs 20:16 says, “Many a man proclaims his own steadfast love, but a faithful man who can find?” A perfectly faithful man or woman in all aspects of life will not be found, but a perfectly faithful God already exists; He sits on the throne of heaven with perfect faithfulness that is described as extending to the heavens and the clouds (Psalm 36:5). His faithfulness is beyond compare.
What is faithfulness?
To know that God is faithful, biblically speaking, is to know Him as reliable, stable, and sure. Descriptions of God as our rock and strong tower are images used in Scripture to help us grasp His great faithfulness. Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe,” and Psalm 62:6 proclaims, “He only is my rock and salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.” His faithfulness is immoveable, and we are to rest in the sureness of its might.
In the Old Testament, God’s steadfast love and faithfulness are frequently paired together to help clarify God’s faithfulness. Exodus 34:6 states, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” and Psalm 89:15 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you” (emphasis added). These commonly paired attributes–steadfast love and faithfulness–show us God’s unwavering faithfulness in His love towards us. This is a sweet reflection worth noting.
God is faithful in countless and astounding ways. Let’s look at two ways the Lord is faithful.
God is faithful to Himself.
God is faithful to Himself. This can “feel” like an odd statement, but it’s a vital one. A.W. Pink, in The Attributes of God, explains it this way, “This quality (faithfulness) is essential to His being, without it He would not be God. For God to be unfaithful would be to act contrary to his nature, which were impossible…Faithfulness is one of the glorious perfections of his being.” If God were not faithful to Himself, He would not be God. As we read the Lord’s description of Himself in Exodus 34, “…a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,” we know this is an accurate description because He is faithful to Himself. He keeps His own Word and character. He is not capable of unfaithfulness. He always has been, is, and will remain faithful.
God is Faithful to Redeem.
The central message of the Bible is redemption. Starting in Genesis 3, the Lord makes us aware of His plan to reconcile sinners to Himself. In the crushing aftermath of Adam and Eve’s sin, God doesn’t leave us hopeless. A Savior is coming. In Genesis, God set apart a people through Abraham, and in Exodus, God used Moses to lead them toward the Promise Land. Though Israel made an abundance of sinful choices and unwise decisions, God remained faithful to His mission of redemption. He was set on bringing salvation, and nothing would stop Him. In the New Testament, Jesus comes to earth to provide redemption via the cross. Now, the church—by the power of the Holy Spirit—fights sin, grows in Christ-likeness, and sets her mind on sharing the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Take heart. The Gospel is going forth because He is faithful to redeem sinners.
How Does God’s Faithfulness Shape the Believer?
We can rest in our salvation.
A Christian can rest in her salvation because the Lord, “is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory…” (Jude 24). Our salvation lies in His faithful hands. Are you allowing God’s faithfulness to keep you, bring joy, and provide rest in your salvation? Or do you believe falsely that God will change His mind about you?
We can confidently combat sin.
As we seek to combat sin, we remember that “he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6). Remembering that the faithful Savior’s blood covers sin and is the means of sanctification helps guard us against self-condemnation. We take our sin seriously and repent—all the while rejoicing in His faithfulness to bring about the completion of our sanctification and glorification in Christ. We will never be perfectly faithful this side of eternity, but we will grow in our ability to be faithful. Faithfulness is one of God’s communicable attributes, an attribute the Holy Spirit will grow in our own lives as we pursue Christ. Do you become overly discouraged when faced with your sin? God’s faithfulness reminds us to rejoice in the Gospel even in the midst of the deepest sin struggles.
We can rest in the promises of Scripture.
Psalm 36:5 proclaims, “Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.” Because we know that God is faithful, we know that every promise in His Word is true. Are you spending time in the Word learning about God’s character and His promises?
There is no one like the God of the Bible. He is worth knowing. He is worth worshipping. He is eternally faithful.
Editor's Note: This originally published at Thinking & Theology.