Weds 8th March - Psalm 103
1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
Meditation on Psalm 103
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To his feet your tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore his praises sing.
Praise the everlasting King!
This is the first verse of a well-known hymn that was written in 1834. Together, with the other verses, the words are taken from Psalm 103.
Four psalms that begin and end with ’Praise the LORD…’
Four psalms that are salvation / history psalms.
This week’s psalm is full of praise – starts off with a personal statement and ends with a call to all creatures, great and small.
There is no prayer or request.
Its focus is on the LORD and His relationship to me and to His people.
As a starting point, just pause and think about the descriptions of the LORD in verses 2-6.
- His benefits
- His forgiveness
- His healing
- His love
- His compassion
- His generosity – the good things He gives us
- His righteousness
- His justice
What a contrast to Psalm 102 where the psalmist is pouring out his soul in a lament. We don’t know who the psalmist is but he is obviously going through a rough time.
In Psalm 103 David is thinking all the LORD’s benefits and how re-invigorating they are, which he likens to the vigour of youth being restored to match the unflagging strength of the eagle.
‘Lest we forget’ we say at the annual Festival of Remembrance.
‘Lest we forget’ we may say as we take the bread and the wine when we come to the Lord’s Supper.
In verses 7-19 we read of the love of the LORD in His relationship with us His people.
Verse 7: David takes us back to Moses and the people of Israel who gave Moses such a hard time. Yet, as Moses longed to see the glory of the LORD, the LORD passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” (Exodus 34:6-7a)
Verses 8-10: The LORD’s compassion towards us is incredible.
Again, we pause and take in His thoughts toward us, each of which denotes an action of the will and of the heart.
- Slow to anger
- Abounding in love
Followed by four actions which take some deep thinking to accept.
- He will not always accuse
- He will not harbour His anger forever
- He does not treat us as our sins deserve
- He does not repay us according to our iniquities
Have you ever wondered why the Lord bothers with any one of us?
In 1758 Robert Robinson wrote a hymn, the first line of which says, ‘Come Thou fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace.’
Towards the end of that hymn we have these lines:
‘O to grace how great a debtor, daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it; seal it for thy courts above.’
How wonderful that He never gives up on any one of us.
Verses 11-12: Here is the unbounded love of the LORD.
There was a hymn, written by Wiliam Rees, that was sung during the Welsh revival of 1904.
Here’s the first verse.
‘Here is love, vast as the ocean, lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of life, our Ransom, shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember? Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.’
Come back to these two verses in the psalm.
- His love is so great – it cannot be measured.
- His forgiveness and removal of our sins is limitless – they cannot be measured.
Pause again – where have your sins and mine gone? The devil enjoys reminding us of them on numerous occasions.
But they are gone: He – the Lord Jesus - has removed our sins from us. They are gone. As the chorus by Helen Griggs says:
‘Gone, gone, gone, gone, yes, my sins are gone,
Now my soul is free and in my heart’s a song;
Buried in the deepest sea, yes, that’s good enough for me –
I shall live eternally, praise God, my sins are gone.’
Verses 13-18: These verses remind us of our frailty but also of the LORD’s love.
The psalmist uses the illustration of the relationship between father and children and then uses it as an example of how the LORD loves us who fear Him.
As Michael Willcock writes: Illustrating the Lord’s concern for our helplessness is the domestic picture of a loving father and his children. It is a picture not to be altered, still les abandoned, when modern opinion-makers find it quaint, unrealistic or even offensive. Such a father knows his children intimately. Although he has high ideals for them, he makes allowance for their weakness and their immaturity.’
The psalmist uses a different picture when he reminds us that ‘we are dust’ and the LORD knows that. We are not here forever. Like grass, we come and go.
But, yet again, the psalmist lifts us up by reminding us that ‘from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear Him.’
And, what is more, this goes on down through the generations for, as one generation passes, so another one comes along. How important it is that we pass that baton on to the next generation.
Verse 19: The psalmist reminds us that the LORD is King. His throne is in heaven where He is seated at the right hand of the Father and He is the ruler over all.
As Paul reminds us that ‘at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.’ (Philippians 2:10-11)
Verses 20-22: We finish where we started; back to the personal ‘Praise the LORD my soul’, having first called on all creatures on earth and in the heavens to praise the LORD.
What a day that will be when we stand in glory and praise Him throughout all eternity.