“What’s Love Got to Do with It (the book of Psalms)?” Everything

It is common for students of the Bible – including believers – to minimize the importance of love in the Old Testament. This is unfortunate and incorrect because the love of God is an essential teaching that permeates both parts of the Bible. This essay will focus on the Psalter – the “little Bible” of Martin Luther – to argue that the love of God is foundational in this book. In other words, to the question, “what’s love got to do with the book of Psalms?” – the only Biblical answer is “everything!” Without the love of God (Hb. ḥesed – usually translated steadfast or unfailing love) the Psalter makes no sense. Because without the love of God one has no right to pray, and no permanent reason for praise. It is only when the believer perceives that the God of the Psalter (and of the whole Bible) is a God of unfailing love who creates, forgives, and redeems that real intercourse with Him is possible.

This essay will argue that the importance of God’s ḥesed in the Psalter goes beyond the numbers – the term is found 127 times out of the 245 times in Old Testament and occurs in 54 psalms out of 150. Without the love of God there can be no lament, thanksgiving, or even meaningful instruction. More importantly, without ḥesed there is no basis and hope for the covenant with David. And it is this love of God in the Psalter that makes possible not only proper devotion on the part of the believer, but also authentic love (Ps. 31:23).