Psalm 103 perfectly captures the essence of God’s fatherly nature.
King David must have been feeling blessed, because twice in two verses he says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul” (Psalm 103:1-2), and blessed he was, and so are those who have trusted in Christ. The psalmist reminds us to “forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:2c-3). Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, David writes that it is God “who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy” (Psalm 103:3). God withholds what we deserve (His wrath) because of Christ, so that’s mercy. Our iniquities are forgotten but not His benefits…that’s grace. The ultimate healing is spiritual, when we receive Jesus’ own righteousness imputed on our behalf (2 Cor 5:21). If you are forgiven, then your soul is blessed!
The Apostle Paul tells us to “never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom 12:19). In that light, David reassures us that “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed” (Psalm 103:6), so it is God Who will make all things right, not us, but it will be in His own time and way. We’re simply told to “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all” (Rom 12:17), so we leave justice up to God. Remember that at one time, we ourselves were ungodly, wicked enemies of God (Rom 5:6-10), but “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (Psalm 103:8), for all who have trusted in Christ.
The psalmist includes the fact that not only does God forgive and forget our sins, but “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10). Of course, we’ll still receive the consequences of our actions, but the sin in doing them is absolved. It is because of God’s great mercy that David can say, that just “as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him” (Psalm 103:11). To use a physical analogy, David says that “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). Since east and west don’t meet as do north and south (at the equator), this means our sins are sent out to a point where they’re never seen again or heard about again. It is only when we try to resurrect our old, dead, and forgiven sins that they’re brought back up, but God does not dig up the past of what’s been buried. He is not like we are.
The psalmist describes God as having a fatherly nature when he writes about God’s tender compassion toward His children. For example, David writes, “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13). He is compassionate toward us because “he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14), or remembers how we’re built. Mankind’s “days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field” (Psalm 103:15), so our lives, when compared to the eternal God, are just like “the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (Psalm 103:16), however there is hope beyond the grave since “the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children” (Psalm 103:17). He is the God of the Living and not the dead (Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38).
Bless the Lord
The psalmist concludes the psalm in the same way that he started it. He writes, “Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word” (Psalm 103:20), and again, “Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will” (Psalm 103:21). And for the third and fourth time, David writes, “Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul” (Psalm 103:22). You get the idea. Bless the name of the Lord for all His wonderful blessings, and there are many. This praise psalm is just what we need when things get hard.
The phrase, “Bless the Lord” is mentioned more than anything else in this psalm, and we can see why after reading psalm 103. God is good to His children. He does not give them what they deserve, and we call that mercy. Then He gives them what they don’t deserve, and that’s called grace (Eph 2:8-9). God as a Father is a fitting image for this since He remembers that our frame is fragile, being but dust…He knows our sins and is quick to forgive us when we confess them (1 John 1:9). To confess means to agree with God about our sins. Then God blesses us with everlasting life through Jesus Christ. The Lord testified, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this” (John 10:25-26)? I hope you do believe this. Only those who God brings to repentance and faith in Christ will be saved, and there is no other way (Acts 4:12), so come to Christ today and be saved….and do it while it is still called “today” (2 Cor 6:2).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is a Pastor and Prison Minister in the State of Kansas. Jack is also a writer at Christian Quotes and Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.