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! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Psalm 36.5-9.
What are the key attributes of our wonderful Lord? Love paired with faithfulness and righteousness paired with justice … a love knows no bounds and is utterly reliable; a “love that will not let me go”; goodness and a merciful fairness that will ensure that I am blessed with everything he ever intended for me. The Message catches the force of the first two verses of this morning’s reading perfectly when it paraphrases them thus: “God’s love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, his purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; Not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks.”
Like fledgling chicks scuttling under the wings of a mother bird, so anyone and everyone can find safety and security in a God such as this. But not just safety — joy and satisfaction too. When the psalmist says that those who belong to this wonderful God “feast on the abundance of your house” he may be referring to the best bits (“abundance” in the Hebrew is literally “fat portions”) of the animals that were sacrificed in the temple (God’s “house”) — the bits that were reserved for God himself (Leviticus 3.16). In other words, says the psalmist, God is so generous towards his people that he even shares his own choice food with them!
And he gives them drink from the river of his delights. I have two friends who own a lovely country-house hotel in the Scottish Borders. It is called the Edenwater House because, through its grounds, there runs a lovely stream called the Eden Water. And that is the exact Hebrew expression used in this verse. The river of delights is nachal eden — the Eden water; for eden means “pleasure” or “delight”. Even now, the psalmist is saying, before ever paradise is restored, God gives his people drinks from the river that Adam and Eve could drink from freely before the Fall. As The Message puts it: “You fill our tankards with Eden spring water.”
It cannot be otherwise, says the psalmist, because the very nature of God is to impart life and light. He bursts with life. It pours out of him and cascades over everyone who gets near him. He is the very source of light. He shines with it; so that I cannot get near God without seeing the light and basking in it.
How can I not turn to him in worship this morning as the psalmist reminds me of all that I have and enjoy in him as I dwell in his very own Edenwater House.