25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless, 26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd. (Psalms 18)

The picture we see of God in the Bible is that of an unchanging God, who is constant in his love and commitment to us. And if that be true, these verses written by David in Psalms 18 appear to offer a picture of God that changes with our behavior. So, is God a reactive God? Let us look at these verses closely.

To begin with we see from the preceding verses that this section is one that speaks of God’s actions in dealing with us. It speaks of how in response to man’s cry for help, God comes down in power to save him.

6 In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. 7 The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. 8 Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. 9 He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet.

It also speaks of how God rewards man according to his righteousness.

22 All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees. 23 I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. 24 The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

The various moods or actions of God should not be confused with the intrinsic nature of God which does not indeed change. A father’s love for his child will not change, but there are times when gifts are given but also withheld; times when love is shown but times when discipline is also implemented. While God’s love for us will never change, his actions toward us will, depending on how we respond to him. For one who calls out to God in faith and with an expectation of being helped, God’s deliverance will be apparent. For one who painfully denies himself and follows the Lord, reward is natural. With that background, the reactive nature of God becomes clear.

To the faithful God shows himself faithful. What does it mean to say that God shows himself faithful? It implies that every promise of God will find fulfillment. No good thing will be withheld from the pilgrim’s life. When a pilgrim finds God not showing himself faithful, he needs to ask if his lifestyle does reflect the faithfulness that God expects from him. God not ‘showing’ himself faithful does not mean that he is not faithful by nature; far from it! It does not mean that he cannot accomplish what he wants; neither does it indicate a dilution of his love and commitment to man.

David goes on to say that to the blameless, he shows himself blameless. Again, it is a reflection of the reaction of God, not his nature. Far too often, the pilgrim lives half-heartedly for God and then expects to see a perfect output in his relationship with God. The blame game follows. Likewise a failure to see the purity of God or the fullness of God is not because God is not pure, rather we cloud ourselves with impurity so that God’s nature and his fullness are hidden from us. All we end up experiencing is a lame version of God, who does not  appear to come good on his word, who constantly disciplines us and who appears a shrewd and distant God.

God’s nature is unchanging, and in his character and word are found the fullness of life; but to experience all of it is another matter. Lest our responses to God be heartfelt, we may never experience much of that richness.

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