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What Is God Like?

This devotional will help you sort through your images of who you think God may be and who God really is.

Woman reading the Bible
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But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.– Psalm 86:15

When you approach God in prayer, what are the “givens” you believe about Him? That He hears you, forgives you and loves you with a steadfast love? That’s how the psalmist describes God. But do you sometimes secretly picture Him as an unmerciful judge, wondering if He really will forgive this sin—the one you find yourself repeatedly battling?

Or does God seem like an absentee parent who is unresponsive to your needs rather than a loving Father who understands your pain? When you’ve blown it again, do you sense that God has a scowl of disappointment on His face rather than open, welcoming arms?

Sometimes without realizing it, we project upon God images of our own making—a demanding taskmaster for whom we never can do enough, an exacting parent we can never quite please, a short-tempered boss we easily anger. Yet, this is not the God of the Bible, the God of David, and this is not the real God.

Listen to David’s description of the God he knew so intimately: “You are . . . abounding in love to all who call to you” (verse 5). God is not an unmerciful, cruel master but a “forgiving and good” Heavenly Father.

He is not skimpy with His love, and He does not play favorites. He is not a God who gives love conditionally. No, this God—our God—is overflowing with love. Even when He was poor, weak, needy and in trouble, David proclaimed, “Great is your love toward me” (verse 13).

Who is this God we serve? This is no impotent God: “You are great and do marvelous deeds” (verse 10). This is no uncaring, unaware, neglectful God who tells us, “Get over it.” Rather, He is a “compassionate and gracious God” (verse 15) who comforts us in our tears.

He is not a temperamental, grumpy, quick-to-anger God, but one who is “slow to anger” (verse 15). He is not an unpredictable, fickle, unreliable God, but one “abounding in . . . faithfulness” (verse 15). There is no God like Him!

When you find yourself hesitant to come before God or to wholly trust Him, consider what image of God you’re holding onto. Is it the real God of Scripture or an impostor? Worship the real God, in spirit and in truth.


  1. What false images of God do you have that keep you from coming boldly before His throne?
  2. How has a parent shaped your image of God, positively or negatively? How have other relationships in your life shaped your image of God?
  3. Choose one character trait of God’s that is listed in this psalm and meditate on it today. What new insights do you gain?

Related Readings

Psalms 103:1–22; 145:1–21

Lamentations 3:22–23
John 4:24

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