Disclaimer: The following is only a brief personal pondering of Psalm 103. In no way does it speak of everything that Psalm 103 covers. It should not be considered equal to the words of the Bible.
As I read in the Psalms recently, I expected encouragement in words describing cries similar to my own. God gave encouragement…by turning my gaze away from my trials and toward His mercy. He knows what we need better than we do.
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
1 – ALL means that there is no part of me doubting my Lord’s promises, but that I am through and through speaking the truth about Him to my heart. And the truth is all good about Him!
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
2 – A key to trusting the Lord during trials is remembering His proven faithfulness in the past – both to myself and to others. Repeatedly, the Bible (God’s Word) commands remembering Him and His benefits. Not doing so is therefore sin. If I do remember, my obedience is rewarded far more than my God is served. His assurance floods my soul in return for my remembering. I have no reason for forgetting and every reason for remembering His goodness.
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
3-4 – The greatest comfort comes from remembering and being grateful for the pardon that only God can offer for sin. I have been and will be spared the greatest sorrow and pain by spending eternity with my Savior. All momentary afflictions are nothing compared to the life of sin and condemnation which my Savior has rescued me from. I have all reason to rejoice! Furthermore, for my filthy rags and ashes, God has given mercy and steadfast love. What more can I ask? I am most blessed, though most undeserving.
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
5 – I am put to shame for not being satisfied with my Savior’s gifts as mentioned above. He is a constant source of refreshment and comfort, yet I go through the day not thinking of Him as I ought and not depending on Him as I ought. How good it is to know, though, that He is all I need for abundant life and comfort and strength for all my afflictions. He satisfies…and no one else can.
The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
6 – My God is an active God. He is no statue or made-up tale. Nothing is more real than God…no one more true than He. Christ intercedes for me. God works for me and that much more than I could ever do for Him. He is concerned for the weak and lowly. He does not cast me away when I am afflicted, but it is in those times that I can especially realize the Lord’s working for me.
He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
7 – What a benevolent King He is! He has revealed His will to weak ones in the past, and He does not change. What earthly king would so lavishly reach out to the filthiest, poorest, most wretched peasant who is not even a part of his kingdom? Yet, such was and is done by my God, the God of the Bible. A peasant so described was I…no, I was a worm, and He has brought me in to feast at His table. How utterly dependent I am. How utterly grateful I must be!
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
8 – I’ve failed a million times. I will fail millions more. My God has been merciful for centuries. He will show mercy forever and beyond. Even when the judgment comes, He will still be known afterwards as merciful. Into His holy presence none could rightly enter. Yet He has eagerly welcomed so many, choosing to ascribe to them the righteousness of His Son. Even if His mercy and love were never evident in life on this earth, I would still have abundant reason to praise and rejoice. Let me not forget so great a mercy!
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
9 – There will come a day when, though many feel His wrath daily, many realize the unending joy for which they longed on earth finally theirs in much fuller measure than even they imagined. Present afflictions and sorrows last but for a moment, but the Lord’s joy will last forever. How much sweeter that joy will be when contrasted with sorrow!
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
10 – Though I am wronged by others, none ever has or ever will wrong me even close to the extent that I have wronged God. And yet, none (including myself) has or ever will show even close to the amount of mercy that God does. What right have I to hold on to any offenses and fault anyone for any injury, however major? None. None at all. When I am hurt, it must be a reminder to once again fall on my face before Christ in anguish over how I killed Him, and how the sin I still commit was paid for in such agony. And then I must get up, go on my way in overflowing gratefulness, and think nothing of how others treat me: only of how I treat Christ and others.
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
11 – I am, despite visible circumstances, fully engulfed in the love of God. Even the slightest breach of His affection would cause the ground beneath me to swallow me up or gravity to release its hold such that I would drift away into nothingness. I owe my whole existence, my entire sustenance, to the Lord. Oh why do I let myself be so blinded by dark nights that I do not see the light of His mercy filling up each day? My eyes! My eyes are the problem! My God is the solution! I must gaze upon Him more and more.
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
12 – I cannot fathom what this verse says. If I go west, I will never get to the end of West. If I go east, I will never get to the end of East. Perhaps it means that God will never put my sin on my account again because Christ paid for it once and for all. In no way does this diminish personal responsibility to daily confess my faults and seek to root out more of the ungodly desires still found in my flesh. What a great mystery are the truths of liberty and no license! What an awesome God He is Who chooses to absolve a great debt and lay the charge for sin no more on a soul’s account. How loving He is to forever remove the eternal consequence for my own heinous crimes against Him. No power or love compares to His.
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.
13 – A father’s love for a child is profound. It cannot be fully comprehended by myself, as I have not become a parent. If the Lord wills, I may be a parent someday, but even then I doubt that I will be able to fully comprehend the depth of the compassion of God. He is so merciful in putting descriptions in Scripture that lowly man can identify with, but it also shows how high and mysterious the Truth about Him is. There is no way I can understand His greatness and love. And I like it this way. It is a secure feeling to know that His purposes and plans can never be understood in order to be thwarted.
For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
14 – God knows I am dust. I don’t have to convince Him of it. He understands it more than I do, and therefore He deals with me accordingly. Words cannot express how lowly and yet trusting this Truth can cause a soul to feel. I owe everything to Him. I am literally nothing and utterly dependent on Him for life.
As for man, his days are as grass:
15a – Grass…it grows and grows, and gets cut down over and over again…and yet it praises it’s Maker. Grass endures all the seasons. It thirsts when there is no rain, gets burnt by intense heat, freezes when ice falls, and gets muddy when there is excessive rain. And still it repeatedly grows again fresh and green. If God so clothes the grass with endurance and hope, why am I not more trusting of Him? How pitiful it is that I trust less and praise less than the grass. And yet, God’s affection is directed toward me. His love is daily upon me. So I should earnestly entreat Him to make me love Him as I ought, because I have no ability to do so on my own.
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.
15b-16 – Flowers flourish beautifully, but not for long. Circumstances easily affect them. They do not bloom for long before a wind blows them away. They must not become too dear, for they are soon gone. I can indeed bloom as a beautiful flower where God plants me, but my worth must not be in the place I occupy or the role I fulfill. Those can vanish away at any time. My worth must be the One Who causes me to bloom, for when circumstances are dim again, the only joy to be found is in Him. If I have no habit of dwelling in His joy always, it will be harder to remember Him when life is tough. I must not set my affection on beauty or pleasure. Though there are beautiful spots in life, the splendor of such fades quickly. The time may come soon when beauty is scarce to be found save in the hope for deliverance when once torture and death have taken their toll and I am ushered into my heavenly home. I must walk with my God. Journals and writings may, as has been proved, provide instruction for future generations. But that must be no idol for me because God’s favor alone is that which matters. Be a flower in bloom for God, and be a flower wilted or blown away for God.
But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;
17 – Though I am like grass and a flower..frail and vanishing, I have the greatest security there ever was, is and ever will be. My God’s love takes care of everything. I will never be snatched out of His hand. Not only will He preserve me in the truest sense, but His Kingdom will know no end. It will keep on expanding despite obstacles and the martyrdom of it’s citizens. As long as the King lives, He can never be overcome in the slightest, and He will keep on drawing souls into His fold. So, though life on earth is a privilege, eternal life with Christ is a greater privilege. Such must be my attitude when life seems close to being snuffed out, both figuratively and literally.
To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
18 – Again, my memory is meant for the Lord. It is His work and goodness that should be my continual meditation. My treasure chest of His faithfulness to recite for the edification of others should always be overflowing. While I should seek to not heap up earthly possessions, the treasure of stories of God’s faithfulness should always be a collection I diligently expand. Knowing the Lord well is what breeds diligent heed to His commandments. I must prove my love for Him through joyfully submitting to Him.
The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
19 – God’s throne is established. How unlike an earthly establishment this is! When God establishes something, it is only destroyed by Him. As long as He maintains it, it will stand. Again, I can take comfort in the fact that all that matters will endure no matter what hardships or dangers may arise. Because God’s kingdom will never end, I know that I will never be destitute.
Bless the LORD, ye his angels, 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.
20-22 – Because the Lord is praised by multitudes who have not even been given His redeeming grace, I have reason more to praise Him. I have been given the most He ever gave to a person (and so has each of His children), yet I praise Him the least out of all His creation. This ought not to be. He has made me a princess…why do I so often still wallow as a worm in the dirt? Why does He often receive more glory from a real worm doing it’s job than from His daughter who puts personal pleasures on a higher priority than bringing Him pleasure every single moment of her existence? Forbid it that the fruit I offer to the Lord be less than that of a worm!
I have been given beyond much. I owe Him my all…only because I cannot give Him more than that.