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God's Abundant Goodness
Psalms 103 is a tremendous record about the goodness of God. Just the reading of it thrills the heart of anyone who loves God. The beauty with which this is set just from a human point of view, without even thinking of its spiritual impact, should set at peace the soul of any man or woman. For us as born-again believers there are tremendous spiritual truths tucked away in this Psalm that will elevate and enrich our lives as we consider them.
- PSALMS 103 - Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens;and his kingdom ruleth over all.Bless the Lord, ye his angels [messengers, ministers] that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.
To see the richness of this psalm, let’s look at it verse by verse.
- Verses 1 and 2: "Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."
David was essentially saying, "with my whole being, I want to bless the Lord and bless His holy name. And let me not forget all His benefits." And wouldn’t it be too overwhelming if verse 2 said, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and remember all His benefits?” Which one of us could possibly begin to remember and then enumerate all the blessings, all the benefits, that we have received from God through the years? None of us could. Therefore, in this tremendous psalm it does not speak of remembering all the benefits; it simply speaks of not forgetting them all. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” There are certainly sometimes that we can remember when He has benefited us. God has called us out of darkness into the marvelous light of the gospel of redemption and salvation that is in Christ Jesus; He has made His Word living and real to us. How tremendous it is to just not forget what we were at one time and what He has made us today. What joy it is to realize the grace of Christ with which God has taken and loved us with an everlasting love, putting His hand on us to somehow give us the life many of us would have considered impossible. We have had answers to prayer; we have had the privilege of ministering to people and seen God’s mighty deliverance performed in their lives; we have seen people’s lives changed when we have shared with them the message of the cross. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” Just think of a few of them and your heart will bubble with thanksgiving. The enthusiasm within your soul of knowing that God has wrought these things within your life will indeed inspire you to “bless His holy name." How blessed we are!
- Verse 3a: "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities [sins]..."
Now there are many people who believe the first part of this verse, but somehow when they get to the second part they begin to doubt...
- Verse 3b: "...who healeth all thy diseases."
Now logically, if any one person has a right to scratch out a part of a verse in the Bible or use it out of context, then every person has a right to scratch out or misuse whatever they choose. But, when one person deletes or negates one verse and someone else deletes another verse, and someone else uses verses out of context, we then no longer have the truth. It is as simple as that. This verse is just as true under the New Covenant as it was the Old, all of it. Just because one verse or passage does not agree with your or my theology does not invalidate it or make it any less true. It is not a question of whether God agrees with our theology; it is a question of whether or not we agree with God.
Verse 3 of Psalms 103 very plainly says, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all [without exception] thy diseases.” Does God forgive your sins? Well then, does God heal you?“ People may then question, "Why doesn’t God just heal everybody then?” Healing for all is God’s will. But when people refuse to accept their rightful and legal privileges--due to a variety of causes--the greatest cause being a negative society where people talk about, expect, and cope with negative things–they fail to be healed. To claim and manifest God’s healing we must believe on the positives of His Word, not the negatives of the world. When we would become immersed in that which God says is true and available in Christ we think and live accordingly, we find that God is still able to quiet down the nerves; God is still able to bring health and peace without antibiotics, sedatives,or alcohol.
- Verse 4a: "Who redeemeth thy life from destruction..."
God redeems us from the destruction that is constantly around to destroy us. Do you get the impact of this truth? That which surrounds us everyday, that which endeavors to kill us prematurely– God has redeemed our lives from that type of destruction. And He adds to this safeness the warmth and love which makes life enjoyable.
- Verses 4b and 5a: "...who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and [by His] tender mercies.Who satisfieth thy [your] mouth with good things..."
We are redeemed from a life of destruction, from a life of negatives–the frustrations, the fears, the anxieties. He redeems us from this. Then He crowns us with lovingkindness and tender mercies and satisfies our mouths with good things. This is a tremendous difference from what some people have in their mouths. Some have all negatives while others have positives. And when you meet the second type, the moment they shake your hand you sense their goodness and soundness.
- Verse 5: "Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s."
It is not talking about Ponce de Leon’ s fountain of youth in Florida here. If you are 75, you cannot believe to be 20. God set up the law of time. Therefore, once you are 21, you cannot go back to being 20 in the physical sense because that is a natural law. He established that law of time, but He also set the spiritual law. This is in the context of this tremendous psalm containing the wonderful spiritual truth, “...thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” This expression means that no matter how old you are you can constantly have youthful vigor and maintain that mental aliveness; you are not burdened down with the negatives of other people of the same age. Young people are vivacious; they feel as though they can conquer the world, as though they can trounce on any problem.
Until I saw what Bishop K.C. Pillai from India taught on the greatness of this renewing of youth like the eagle’s, this figure of speech didn’t make sense to me. What does the eagle have which renews its strength, and how does that relate to us? Well, this passage refers to an eagle found in the Orient. This kind of eagle will periodically soar to tremendous heights, and then suddenly, it will fold its wings under, head straight down, and bomb into the sea with as much speed as it can generate. When the eagle surfaces, it hasn’t any feathers on its back, so must float back to shore and crawl in among the bushes until its feathers have grown out. Isn’t that something!
God renews our youth like the eagle’s. He renews our youth by enabling us to get rid of all our ballast– all those old, dirty feathers, all those negatives, those fears, those worries, those anxieties, all of the things that have burdened us down.
This renewal like an eagle’s is a benefit we should not forget. “...Forget not all his benefits...” Think about how God has enabled us to drop off those things that at one time disturbed us and, in many cases, overcame us. It must be as the Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13 and 14: “...Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark...” Forgetting the things which are behind is the same general truth written in this psalm: “so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
- Verses 6 and 7: "The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel."
Isn’t that terrific! Have you read in the Old Testament how God worked with Moses? Aaron was given to Moses to be Moses’ mouthpiece. So God gave information to Moses, who in turn told Aaron, who in turn told Pharaoh and the children of Israel. “He [God] made known his ways unto Moses...” With a careful reading of the Old Testament, we note that God told Moses why He did certain things, what His purposes were, His intents. But God never fully explained Himself to the children of Israel. He made known His ways unto Moses, but all that the children of Israel ever saw were the acts of God. They believed God because of the acts they saw and not because God went around explaining His actions to them.
- Verses 8-10: "The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities."
Verse ten contains another figure of speech, exergasia. Here we have the same expression stated in two different ways which establishes the truth as unchangeable (Genesis 41:32: “And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.”). God does not deal with us according to our sins which also includes that He does not reward us according to our iniquities. That truth is established.
- Verses 11 and 12: "For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him [those who have respect for Him, who love Him, who reverence Him, who have awe for Him]. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions [sins, iniquities] from us."
How far is the east from the west? Do you know that the east never meets the west? That cannot be said of north and south. Saints, when we begin to see the greatness of that which is true of us in Christ and understand the way in which God dealt with us when He gave us remission and forgiveness of sins, then we cannot help but be thankful to be alive and to be a part of God’s love and wonderful power today. God is merciful beyond measure to those who have accepted His free gift of eternal life in Christ. During this age of grace in which you and I live, acceptance and trust of God's grace in Christ is how we reverence and respect God.
- Verses 13 - 16: "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth [loves] them that fear [reverence, awe,respect] him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more"
Thank God that He does remember that in the flesh we are dust. It would be miserable if He didn’t remember and understand us. Had God not known us, He never would have instituted the means by which Christ had come for redeeming us unto new life and victory. God knows our frame. He knows that we are like grass. He knows that the wind passes over and the place thereof remembers it no more. Praise God He has made us to be His forevermore.
- Verses 17 and 18: "But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant and to those that remember his commandments to do them."
Under the New Covenant the conditions for receiving "the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting" were met when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was obedient where we are not. We have been "freely given" eternal life, new life in Christ, blessed with all spiritual blessings forevermore. The accomplishments of our Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary opened the floodgates for God's blessing to poor out upon us by grace. For us today, "keeping the covenant" is always first and foremost a matter of accepting and trusting in the good news from God concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord. We were saved by faith and we walk by faith. Any genuine obedience to New Covenant commands is a byproduct of believing the promised gospel delivered through the Apostle Paul (The Promised Gospel). This promised gospel that not only communicates wonderful truths about God and Jesus Christ, but also those things concerning who we are in Christ and all that we have. For example, the first command given under the terms of the New Covenant is "reckon yourself to be dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God" (Romans 6:11). We are unified with Christ. God sees us how he sees Christ. Most Christians don't even understand what this foundational command means, let alone obey it. Believe who you are in Christ and present yourself to God as He says you are. It really is just that simple, liberating and awesome.
- Verse 19 and 20: "The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom [God's Kingdom] ruleth over all. Bless the Lord, ye his angels that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word."
God's kingdom rules over all. These verses in Psalms 103 foreshadow how God has redeemed us in Christ, how He has cast our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. Our "excelling in strength" comes when all those things which have held us back are "cast off" by putting on the new, by being mentally clothed in our new identity; with singleness of mind we set our sights on the things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God, and move forth by the greatness of those glad tidings (Colossians 3:1). This is how we who are Christians excel in strength. It is God's strength in us. The gospel infuses us with strength (Philippians 4:12, 13). The gospel of Christ is the Power of God (Romans 1:16 and 1 Corinthians 1:17, 18).
- Verses 21 and 22: "Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul."
When we know the greatness of God’s Word and of His works, when we know that this Word of God is accurate and life-giving, there is nothing to do but to say, “Bless the Lord for His incomparable greatness. I have not forgotten all His benefits to me. I thank Him for forgiving my shortcomings and for healing all my diseases. It is God who has crowned me with lovingkindness and tender mercies in place of the world’s destruction; it is God who has satisfied my mouth with good things and given me the renewed life of a youth." All God’s messengers, all God’s ministers, all God’s hosts, all God’s works in all places of God’s dominion praise His name. "Bless the Lord, O my soul.” What a positive, uplifting psalm. How thankful and blessed we are when we consider God as the great psalmist did.
Psalms 84:10a: "For better is one in day your courts than a thousand elsewhere"