Todays readings.. Leviticus 1&2, Psalm 103, 1 Corinthians 11
Psalm 103 is a very ‘popular’ Psalm because of its emphasis on the love and mercy of the LORD. It is very encouraging for those who struggle to feel ‘right’ before God – and isn’t that all of us at some stage(s) of our lives! We feel in our hearts the urgent need, despite our failures, to feel God is ‘on our side’ – even ‘by our side.’
There is one factor that is repeated in the Psalm that must not be overlooked, otherwise the Divine message of encouragement this Psalm conveys will be distorted. “Bless the LORD, O my soul” is how the Psalm (which is ascribed to David) begins; “…. Forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.” [v.2-4]
The Psalm then takes our thoughts to Moses – “He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.” [v.7] that “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” [v.8] The book of Exodus, which we have just completed reading gave us many examples of this. David certainly experienced this and he states, “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.”[v.10-11]
Those final words must not be overlooked! The next verse says, as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us”.- and so, you can go east as far as you like – but you never come to the west! The next verse repeats the qualifications given in v.11 “…. So the LORD shows compassion on those who fear him.”
Verse 17 repeats this for the third time, “the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him. Solomon comments on the strength of a “three-fold cord” [Eccl. 4 v.12], how much more a divinely inspired statement!
The word “fear” in the sense of being in awe of the LORD occurs no less than 26 times in the Psalms – it does not mean to be scared of God – but to be in awe in sensing his greatness and that he is present everywhere through his spirit. (Acts 17 v,27,28) Let us sense how immeasurable great God must be!
Look back at Psalm 36, note David’s words, “For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright in heart” [v.9,10]
We have more reason than ever, with the human discoveries of recent years, to contemplate the immeasurable greatness of the power that brought them all into being – that power is our Heavenly Father – and we address God in that way because we have taken on the name of his son, Jesus Christ. What a wonder this is!