Knowing God—He Is Merciful

In the beginning of this Psalm we are challenged to “bless the LORD” as a response to our remembering the “benefits” of God.  As we read through the remainder of the Psalm, the mercy of God comes to the forefront.  Let us consider together the mercy of the God we worship.

The “precious truths” that are contained here should lift our souls in worship to the Lord.  Our hearts should overflow with worship as we “bless the LORD.”

First we see how His mercy is manifested to us.  David speaks of the reality and out pouring of God’s mercy as he states,

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” (Psalm 103:8)

The mercy of God is rooted in His great love wherewith He loves us, but it is also displayed in His forgiveness.  David most likely had Psalm 32 on his mind as he wrote these words.

He will not always chide [or contend / rebuke]: neither will He keep His anger [or hold a grudge] forever.” (Psalm 103:9)

God will not always contend with His people, or manifest His displeasure.  The implication is that He does rebuke His people when they have sinned, but there does come an end to His rebuke.  He mercifully forgives those who repent and He ceases from continuing to hold one’s sin against them.

God does not seek to bring us to ruin when we sin.  He desires to restore us to the fellowship with Him that our sin had hindered. The wrath of God comes to an end at the necessary time. In speaking of God’s mercy toward the Israelites the Psalmist  says,

“But He [God], being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned He His anger away, and did not stir up all His wrath. For He remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again.” (Psalm 78:38-39)

As the Israelites were in the wilderness they kept sinning, experiencing the judgment of God, then repenting and God continued to forgive. Over the course of history they turned away from God, He judges them, they repented and He forgave them.  In this we also see how patient the Lord is.

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103:10)

Notice that the mercy of God is undeserved.  If God gave us what we deserved then we all would die but He mercifully gives us what we NEED.

In verses 11-18 we can see how God’s mercy is measured.  The dimensions of God’s mercy are infinite.

“For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him.” (Psalm 103:11)

David speaks of the infinite height of God’s mercy or its vertical dimension.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

Then David speaks of the infinite width of God’s mercy or its horizontal dimension.

Consider the words of commentator John Phillips as he states, “So we take a point on earth and draw a line vertically into infinity.  We also draw a  line horizontally into infinity—“so far hath He removed our sins from us.”  There is a point on this planet where those two infinite lines intersect—the point is Calvary!  We draw all our lines from the cross.  The upright of the cross, driven like a stake into the ground, is where we begin our vertical line.  We extend it up into infinity.  The crossbar of the tree, flung wide as though to embrace the world, is where we begin our horizontal line into infinity.  That is how the Lord measures His mercy—in terms of the cross.” (Exploring Psalms Volume Two, pg. 128)

The dimensions of the mercy of God are such that it can meet the greatest need of mankind—our need for salvation.

“Like as a father pitieth [is compassionate toward] his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear Him.” (Psalm 103:13)

The dimension of God’s mercy is also seen in its depth. David illustrates it for us with a father’s natural love for his own children.  Our heavenly Father has shown the depth of His mercy in sending His Son to pay sins penalty.  Here we see the tenderness of a loving Father as He provides for the needs of His children. Such amazing love!

“For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:14)

God knows us (Psalm 139:1-6)!  He knows what we NEED and He responds by providing for them (Philippians 4:19).

The duration of the mercy of God is infinite as well.

“As for man, his days are as grass: 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.” (Psalm 103:15-16)

Consider man’s mercy.  David compares us to a dandelion which may seem full at one moment and then the next be completely empty.  The wind comes and removes its short-lived beauty and soon thereafter even the plant itself is no more.  Often this is the extent of our mercy just like the brevity of our own lives.

“But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him, and His righteousness unto children’s children; To such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them.” (Psalm 103:17-18)

Thankfully God’s mercy is infinitely different—His mercy does not end. In comparison to God, man doesn’t even live for hardly a moment.  The only reason that it may seem like a long time is because of perspective.  To us, who can’t fathom eternity, it is a lifetime and therefore that is all we know.  But God exists outside of time and His eternal greatness so far exceeds us that our moment of life hardly seems to exists.  Often this is the length of our mercy as well.

Charles Spurgeon wrote these words, “How vast the contrast between the fading flower and the everlasting God! How wonderful that His mercy should link our frailty with His eternity, and make us everlasting too!” (The Treasury of David)

As you meditate upon these precious truths of God’s mercy can you help but break out in praise to the Lord?

“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:” (Psalm 103:1-2)

Knowing God—Forget none of HIS Benefits

How well do you know HIM?  How well do you want to know HIM?

“And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,” (2 Peter 1:2)

Knowing God is one of our greatest privileges.  As we gain a greater understanding of Him it will transform our lives.  Only then will we be able to worship and serve Him Biblically.  Let us “know the TRUTH” and let the TRUTH set us free to live for Christ, like Christ.

In Psalm 103 David shares with us some precious truths about our great God which gives us many reasons to “bless the LORD.”

“Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name.” (Psalm 103:1)

How can a Christian bless God? It starts in knowing who God is and in turn responding to that knowledge.  Our response must be yielding our will to His will.  As we yield, we are submitting to His authority.  We are saying He is right and we will obey Him wholeheartedly or with “all that is within [us].”  In obedience, we are living out our worship to Him.  We are giving value to His way and therefore making Him THE priority.  This is “blessing the LORD.”

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:” (Psalm 103:2)

We are a blessing to God as we make a concerted effort to keep Him and His works in the forefront of our minds. When the Word of God is on the forefront of our minds it will produce right living.

Right thinking produces right living.

Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” (Psalm 119:11)

The word “forget” carries the idea of the memory softening over a period of time.  This happens when we stop making an effort to keep in our mind the truth of God.  It takes no effort to “forget” God’s truth but it takes much diligence in being in God’s Word and meditating upon it to remember these truths.  David challenges us to forget NONE of the ways of God—we are to remember ALL the “benefits” of God.

Notice also that they are “benefits.”  Everything about God is beneficial.  To those who walk in the ways of wickedness, God acts mercifully in bringing into their lives difficulties designed to help them by getting their attention in order turn from their wicked ways and turn to God.  This is a loving and merciful act of God.  Unfortunately these acts of God are often refused and God in turn responds by giving them what they want—a life without Him.

To those who walk in righteousness God mercifully brings difficulties into our lives in order to get our attention and draw us closer to Him. The “benefits” of God are of such infinite proportions that our finite minds cannot  fully comprehend.  The Word of God is filled with His “benefits.” Let us diligently seek to always be reminded of God’s “benefits” so as to not forget them and in turn live lives that “bless the LORD.”

Take a moment and read the remainder of the Psalm and consider the unparalleled greatness of God.

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth  all thy diseases;” (Psalm 103:3)

God “forgives & heals”—God forgives our “iniquities” or our sins which alleviates the guilt brought on by sin. The forgiveness of sin opens the door to fellowship with God.  Without forgiveness of sin there is no reconciliation, there can be no spiritual healing, there can be no peace.

Who redeemeth [delivers] thy life from destruction; Who crowneth [blesses] thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies [compassions]: (Psalm 103:4)

God “redeems & blesses”—Spiritual death is the consequence of sin and through Christ’s blood we have been “redeemed” or delivered from spiritual death as well as eternal death.  Christ as our great Substitute paid our penalty of death in our place.  This alone is a tremendous blessing. We are incapable of comprehending the magnitude of the spiritual blessings that we have been blessed with.  The Lord, by His grace and mercy, has blessed His children with such compassion in withholding from us deserved punishment.

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:5)

God “satisfies”—Dr. Jim Berg speaks of God being “more than enough.”  He is “more than enough” for every situation in life—He is all that we need. Consider why we are often dissatisfied. The reality is that when we have God we have everything that we need. We must learn to rest in Him and let Him be ALL that we need.

“ The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.” (Psalm 103:6)

God is “righteous”—His righteousness is clearly seen in how He deals with all of mankind.  He always does what is right—ALWAYS!

He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel.” (Psalm 103:7)

 God “makes Himself known”—The Bible tells us, “The heavens declare the glories of God” (Psalm 19:1).  God, through Creation and through His precious Word has made Himself known to us.  He has told us everything we need to know about Him—this is the transforming knowledge of God.  When we know God, personally, we are then transformed as we are changed into the image of His Son.

“The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” (Psalm 103:8)

God is “merciful”—Consider the punishment that God withholds from those whom He forgives.

God is “gracious”—Consider the undeserved, unearned, unmerited favor of God as He pours out His abounding grace upon us.

“And God is able to make ALL grace [divine help] abound [in excess] toward you; that ye, ALWAYS having ALL sufficiency [being satisfied] in ALL things, may abound to EVERY good work:” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

How great is the God that you and I get to worship?  Let us be diligent in “recalling to mind” His greatness and His gracious actions toward us and in turn “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name.”

“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope [confidence]. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him.” (Lamentations 3:21-25)

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32)