“Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”
Psalm 73:25 (NIV)
A few years ago I did the wedding of a lovely young couple. It seemed very obvious to me that they had eyes only for each other. They composed their own vows—which I really appreciate. They made beautiful pledges to be faithful regardless of life’s alternatives. They promised to remain in the marriage until death parted them.
Love is indeed a marvellous thing and its various expressions warm the hearts of most, if not all, people. We enjoy seeing a couple in love regardless if they are 18 or 80. Do not all of us desire to be loved and to be the special love of one person in particular?
Sometimes one of our children will come and ask if, or how much, we love them. It is so pleasant to tell them we love them with all our heart. We enjoy letting our loved ones know they are treasured by us. The language of love has many voices and we speak in so many ways of our devotion to our family and friends.
Knowing all of this, our verse today might be puzzling to some people. The Psalmist seems to be saying that God is everything and family and friends are nothing. This thought runs counter to what we have just said above. How can we say to our family members we love them at the same time we say to God what our verse expresses.
Well, one answer is to remember that there is such a literary device as hyperbole. Hyperbole is stating something beyond what we mean to be emphatic. For example, Jesus used hyperbole when He said that if our hand offends we should cut it off, or if we look lustfully at someone we should gouge out our eye. Did He then pause in His sermon and pass around a sword for people to chop off their right hand? Did He wait for people to blind themselves? Hardly.
We are expected to love our family members and do good to them all the days of our life. We ought to love the people of God and spend time seeking to help them in their times of need. (Galatians 6:10)
Then what is going on here in this verse for today?
The Psalmist is expressing the enormous love he has for God. He has been jealous of the rich, he has been discouraged by his lack of earthly blessings, life has been such a struggle for him. Then he went into the house of God and learned about how much God had done for him in this life and the next. He understood that God loved him greatly.
So when a person realises they have an amazing relationship with God in spite of a lack of material things; when they understand how remarkable God truly is; when they recognize what God has in store for them in the future—then they can speak like this.
Are you able to speak in this manner about your Creator? Do you wish to have Him front and center in your life—whatever it costs in terms of this world’s goods? Can you say that you love God as the Psalmist suggests he does? Who has your best love?