Tuesday, October 10, 2023

2023.10.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 103

Read Psalm 103

Questions from the Scripture text: What or whom is the Psalmist commanding to bless the Lord (Psalm 103:1)? With how much of what is within him is he to obey this command? How many times does he give himself this command (Psalm 103:2a)? What is he not to forget (verse 2b)? What is the first benefit not to forgive (Psalm 103:3a)? What is the second (verse 3b)? The third (Psalm 103:4a)? The fourth (Psalm 103:4b)? What is one of the tender mercies of God (Psalm 103:5a)? What effect does it have (verse 5b)? What does the Lord do for the oppressed (Psalm 103:6)? What has He done for His people (Psalm 103:7)? What four aspects of His character does He highlight in Psalm 103:8? Of what does this make the Psalmist confident, with respect to the Lord’s anger (Psalm 103:9)? With respect to our sins and punishment (Psalm 103:10)? What point is Psalm 103:11 making about the greatness of God’s mercy? What point is Psalm 103:12 making about the completeness of His forgiveness? How does the Lord pity those who fear Him (Psalm 103:13)? What does He remember about us (Psalm 103:14)? What is the length and effect of a man’s life like (Psalm 103:15-16)? What two things in Psalm 103:17 have exactly the opposite length and effect? What are three characteristics of those who are recipients of this mercy and righteousness (Psalm 103:17-18)? Where is the Lord’s throne (Psalm 103:19), and how does this relate to man’s composition (cf. Psalm 103:14)? Upon whom does Psalm 103:20 call to praise Him? What does Psalm 103:21 call them? What do they have in common with the people from Psalm 103:17-18? Upon whom does Psalm 103:22a-b call to praise Him? Upon whom does the last line of the Psalm call to praise Him?

For what do our souls exist? Psalm 103 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that our souls exist for praising the God Who makes us objects of His steadfast love and tender mercy.  

The Psalm teaches us, at its beginning (Psalm 103:1Psalm 103:2a) and end (Psalm 103:22c), to command our own souls to bless the LORD. And, to that purpose, it calls upon us to remember all of His benefits (Psalm 103:2b). These benefits include the healing of all of our diseases (Psalm 103:3b), the redeeming of our lives from destruction (Psalm 103:4a), crowning us with steadfast love and compassion (verse 4b), satisfying our mouths with good things (Psalm 103:5a), and renewing our youth (verse 5b). How the Lord has loved us! And loving Him comes in response to His loving us (cf. 1 John 4:19). 

Ultimately, however, every other blessing of His love must come to us by way of the forgiveness of our sins (Psalm 103:3a). We are unworthy of the least benefit. But this unworthiness is overcome by the fact that the Lord loves to display the greatness of His compassion, His grace, His patience, and His mercy (Psalm 103:9). Believers are prime occasions for the display of these characteristics. Weak creatures, such as we are, need deliverance (Psalm 103:6). And sinners, such as we are, have need of higher-than-heavens unthwartable love (Psalm 103:11) and geographically immeasurable guilt removal (Psalm 103:12).

Every single blessing we receive shouts that God has not dealt with us according to our sins but according to His salvation—not according to our character but according to His. And so, let us not fail to praise and thank Him for even the least blessing. Unto people such as we are, the least blessing is an extension of the greatest grace!

So, He shows His gracious character not only in the fact/reality of our forgiveness, but in accommodating our great weakness (Psalm 103:14-16), in His great patience, long-suffering, mercy, and compassion (Psalm 103:13).

But man isn’t the only creature dwarfed by the God Whose praise is their purpose. Despite their comparative strength to us (Psalm 103:20a), the angels acknowledge that God is God and they are not, for they do His Word (verse 20b), heed His Word (verse 20c), comprise armies of servants (Psalm 103:21a-b), and do His pleasure (verse 21b). Indeed, all His works, everywhere, know that God is God, that it is His dominion, and so they praise Him (Psalm 103:22a-b).

So, it is the height of arrogance and wickedness whenever man, who is but dust—and who must return to that dust for his sin!—thinks that he is something. But our merciful God is a Forgiver of sinners (Psalm 103:8-12), even to the extent that when He forgives us, He transforms us—His mercy and righteousness produce in us our fear of Him (Psalm 103:17b), our living as those who are bound to Him by covenant (v18a), and our focus upon both understanding and doing whatever He commands (Psalm 103:18b). 

Praise be to God, Who exercises almighty power and bottomless mercy in bringing us back to the place where we live in hearty acknowledgement of the fact that He is God and we are not! And when He has done—and is doing—that work in us, we join the chorus of all creation from the mightiest angel to the lowliest creature. Do I have an eternal soul that He has redeemed? Then let me bless Him with it!

What ‘small’ blessings of yours could be frequent reminders of infinite grace? What evidences of God’s forgiving, transforming work do you see in your life? Under what circumstances, and how often, are you admonishing your own soul to give Him His due praise? When/how do you do so?

Sample prayer:  O Lord, we bless You with our very souls. You, Who forgive all our iniquities. You, Who heal all our diseases. You, Who redeem our life from destruction. You, Who crown us with steadfast love and tender mercies. You are merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is Your mercy to us who fear You. Come, and be praised in the assembly of Your servants, we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP103B “Bless the LORD, My Soul” or TPH103C “Come, My Soul, and Bless the LORD”

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