There are times when I'm reading the Bible and a word catches my eye, and I just can't move on. I'm stuck, staring at a word, wondering at its implications, distracted by its scale. It happened to me yesterday.
There I am, breezily reading a familiar and encouraging psalm, and whammo -- I'm suddenly taken aback. I reach a word that feels so bursting with significance, I can't continue. It was Psalm 103, which begins with a long list of wonderful promises. Promises to forgive all our iniquity, heal all our diseases, redeem our life from the pit, crown us with steadfast love and mercy, and satisfy us with good things! Promises of God working righteousness and justice for the oppressed, making known His acts to His people, and of being merciful and gracious toward us! And then it says, "...and abounding in steadfast love" (ESV).
It was the word abounding that got me. That's a word not often used these days. (When did you last use it in a conversation?) As I read that word in Psalm 103:8, I couldn't help but wonder, how much love is that?
In my imagination, the word abounding speaks of a mountain stream teeming with salmon, layer upon layer of them, all eagerly and aggressively leaping and squeezing around each other ever onward toward their goal; it speaks of a bountiful harvest pouring out of every vessel, none large enough to contain the vast heaps of grain collected; it speaks of a lavish banquet with table after table in room after room stacked with abundant supplies of delicious foods of every imaginable variety! The very definition of abounding is so completely full that it overflows!
And when the word is used to describe God's love, it speaks of numerous and extravagant promises that are all yes and amen in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20), of life-changing, kingdom-advancing miracles that are beyond what we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20), and of awe-inspiring closeness to the living God according to the riches of His grace which He joyfully lavishes upon us (Eph. 1:3-8)!
Quite honestly, finite words fail to convey the infinite reality of God's love. My mind can't fully absorb how vast it truly is. But as I read Psalm 103 yesterday, the simple word abounding was enough to capture my imagination and leave me in wonder at how bountifully BIG God's love is for any who reach out to Him! Go ahead, ask Him to show you how big it is.
© 2014 by Ken Peters
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