Crowned with Love and Mercy
Psalm 103:4, “…who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy…”
The Crown of the Christian
Often times in scripture a crown is synonymous with a person’s honor and functions as an outward expression of a particular glory that they bear (whether it be as king or queen or ruler or judge etc. Job 19:9,Prov.12:4,14:24,17:6). It is a token of greatness. So, what is the crown of God’s people? What is the Christian’s glory? What is our sign of honor? What is the display of our greatness? Psalm 103:4 tells us that it is the steadfast love and mercy of YHWH.
That is truly awesome to consider. Our splendor, our honor, our greatness is not anything we have done or achieved or secured by our own strength–rather, the crown of our glory is that we have been steadfastly loved by YHWH and have received His abundant mercy. The majesty of the Christian is that we were dead in sin, crippled with disease, and damned to the pit and yet–owing to nothing in ourselves–we have been redeemed, loved, given mercy, and satisfied with God Himself. The crown of our glory is that–despite our sinful state–we have been loved by YHWH God.
Disciples Loved by Christ
We hear a similar refrain on the lips of the Apostle John in his gospel. Throughout that book, John refers to himself only as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (or versions of this phrase). Why would he do that? I think the reason is that John (the only gospel writer actually present for the crucifixion of Christ, which was the zenith of God’s love on earth) was so indelibly marked by the weight and wonder of God’s love for Him in Christ that He was joyfully content to be known only as someone loved by Jesus. It is as if John shouts down the halls of history,
“If there’s anything you need to know about me, if there’s anything that matters concerning who I am, it is only this: Jesus loves me.”
In other words, the “crown” of John’s life–his glory, his identity–was the steadfast love of YHWH.
Crowned at the Cross
But, of course, in John’s writings–and throughout the New Testament–we come to realize that the steadfast love of YHWH is deeper and higher and wider than King David could have ever known as he penned Psalm 103; it is nothing less that the full self-giving of God Himself in His Son. What does it ultimately mean to be a sinner crowned with the steadfast love and mercy of God? It means that YHWH God has given us everything that can be given. It means that the Creator of the universe has held nothing back and has poured out His entire self in love and mercy over our heads. It means that infinite wrath is swallowed by infinite love, and we have been washed pure to the marrow of our soul by the blood of our Lord and our God. There is no crown so rich as this……..no crown worn by a human king–in his transient pomp and papier-mâché glory–can even begin to compare with the majesty and splendor of that crimson diadem worn by the children of God; the crown of steadfast love and mercy, the crown drawn from Immanuel’s own veins.
And mark this also, we wear the crown of steadfast love and mercy only because He wore the crown of our curse and our shame, the crown of our thorns. Oh, what wonders the Bible teaches us to say! That my God wore the crown of my thorns so that I might wear the crown of His love…which is, indeed, the crown of His glory. Thorns sank into the brow of my Lord and God so that love might be poured over my own……mercy was withheld from the flawless Son so that He might pour it out on His enemies and make them His friends…..what wonders He has shown us in Christ.
And we wear it not because we have earned it! Not because anything in us merits it! If that were the case then it would not be a crown of mercy. No, this crown, this glory, this splendor, placed on our heads at Calvary–we wear it because of HIS mercy, because of His grace alone. Which makes it all the more glorious.
Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul
Christian, our crown is the steadfast love and mercy of YHWH shown to us supremely in the crucified and risen Jesus Christ. The world wants to load our heads with rotten and rusted crowns. Culture holds up to us the crown of success, the crown of fame, the crown of influence, the crown of achievement…but all of these are diadems of dust and cannot survive the coming Day of the Lord. Our crown is different, our crown reveals our soul-poverty and points to the beauty and glory and supremacy of another, and only by showing His beauty does it therefore make us beautiful.
Our identity, Christian, is that we are loved by God in Christ for no other reason than that He is love. I think this is at least part of what we are to take away from Psalm 103:4. May we rest in it…when the temptation to snatch up another crown for our own glory comes, may we be given the grace to be satisfied in the infinitely valuable crown we already wear, the crown of steadfast love and mercy. Let all that is in us bless the Lord, we are disciples loved by Christ, and that is enough–more than enough.