The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. (NLT)
I once confessed to my then spiritual director that I had an uneasy relationship with God and that I tended to doubt his love for me. This person commented that my idea of God seemed to be someone lurking behind a door waiting to clobber me with a baseball bat when I entered the room.
And of course that is horrible nonsense. This Psalm, as well as numerous other Bible passages, tells us God wields no baseball bats. True, he has to act against human rebellion. True, if we reject him all our lives we face the consequences. But God is not intent on beating us up. He is for us.
Jesus has fixed the problem of how sin is to be punished and how sinners can be spared. Trusting in the necessity and efficacy of what he has done enables us to enjoy friendship with God. Justice has been done on the cross so mercy is freely offered.
How sad if we see God as primarily one who is angry and vengeful. He is certainly not a heavenly “softie”, but his inclination is always towards inviting us to himself. He does not have a perpetual frown on his face, his lips are not forever pursed in prim disapproval of what we get up to.
If our conception of God is wrong, then everything else in our belief system is distorted. Get God wrong, and all else will be wrong. God has shown enough of his loving grace through the Scriptures and supremely through Jesus to show us what he is like. He waits to embrace me, not belt me with a baseball bat.