I would like to marry two concepts I find in this chapter. First, that God’s love is active. It is a verb, not a noun. And second, that God loves us even while knowing exactly who and what we are. His intimate knowledge of our wickedness does not change His love for us. In fact, if anything, I think it fires Him up to love us (that is, to fiercely act for our best good) even more.
Let’s take that second idea first: God knows exactly who and what we are. Here’s a clue from Deuteronomy 31: "And the Lord said to Moses, 'You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them.'" (vs 16) What does this mean? Long before the Israelites entered the Promised Land and began to chase after false gods, God knew that’s what they were going to do. He knew that they were wicked and faithless and disloyal. He knew that all the reminders of the evidence of His faithfulness wouldn’t ultimately make a difference. They would cut themselves in worshiping Baal. They would sacrifice their children to Molech.
What I find fascinating is that this knowledge didn’t cause God to give up on the Israelites, nor did it stop His working with them. Immediately after telling Moses that they would turn away from Him, He said this: "'Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them. When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their ancestors, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant. And when many disasters and calamities come on them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath.'" (vs 19-21)
Wow! Even knowing that they would leave Him and forsake Him, God is still working to provide the people with an easy reminder of everything He has done for them. He knew that they would learn this song and obviously not forget it (vs 21). And once they had been devastated by the curses that would come to them from ignoring God’s law, the song would remind them about God, and they would return to Him. Incidentally, because love is a verb, the fact that disaster and despair would come upon the Israelites when they ignored God was loving. This was designed to discipline them, to teach them that the only good we can know is in God. And it was most definitely a loving thing to help, nudge, or even shove the Israelites toward that understanding!
For some reason, it gives me great comfort to know that God knows about all my wickedness. He knows about the evil that is lurking in my heart—even if I don’t know about it yet. And because He is such a great Lover, all of my ugly wickedness doesn’t turn Him away or turn Him off. Instead, He redoubles His efforts to get my attention and bring me back home to Him. He sees all my naughtiness and loves me—truly loves me—still. Amen.