Psalms for Troubled Times – Psalm 103

Count your Blessings

As we draw towards the close of this wilderness journey, the psalmist looks back, and begins to catalogue the blessings he has enjoyed – a worthwhile exercise for anyone.

  1. Our Iniquities forgiven.
  2. Our Diseases healed.
  3. Our Life redeemed from eternal destruction.
  4. Our Head crowned with lovingkindness & tender mercies.
  5. Our Mouth satisfied with good things.
  6. Our Youthfulness renewed like the eagle’s.
  7. The Oppressed receive justice.
  8. God’s Ways are made known

The psalmist then pauses … and we ought to as well. Have we known the blessings of these things? Then let’s conclude that:

‘The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy’ (v8).

As the psalmist thinks of all these blessings, he marvels that the Lord does not act according to what we deserve. 

  1. He will not always chide.
  2. He does not deal with us after our sins.

Rather, 

He is merciful, forgiving & compassionate, and three helpful similes are used to express the extent of these blessings:

  1. As high as the heavens are above the earth … so great is His mercy towards those that fear Him.
  2. As far as the east is from the west … so far has He removes our transgressions from us.
  3. As a father has compassion on his children … so the Lord has compassion on those that fear Him.

‘For he knows … that we are dust. As for man … he flourishes … and is gone’ (v14-16)

How different the Lord’s mercy, which is …

‘ from everlasting to everlasting’

And the Lord’s righteousness, which is …

‘unto children’s children’.

These blessings, however, are not for everyone, automatically. Three criteria are given if we are to come to enjoy these timeless blessings ourselves: 

  1. Fear – we must bow in reverence and repentance, recognising our sin and unworthiness before a holy God.
  2. Faith – we must put our trust in His Word, believing the terms of the covenant set out by the Lord God are enough. He says: ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved’ (Acts 16:31).
  3. Form – we must show the reality of our faith through simple obedience of the Word of God – ‘if ye love me, keep my commandments’ (John 14:15). It’s only good form.

Finally, we consider the Lord’s throne in the heavens, from which …

‘ His kingdom rules over all’.

And so, what is our response? For the psalmist, the only appropriate response is worship, and he concludes the psalm calling upon all to give to the Lord that which He is due, whether the high angelic beings that stand in the presence of the Lord specifically; or the hosts of heaven generally; or all of creation universally; or even, just lowly me …

‘Bless the Lord, O my soul’.

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