Need Encouragement Today? Let This Beautiful Psalm Lift Your Spirits!

David sings here of the One that the world had waited so long to see. He sees in faith that the entire universe and all that is in it belongs to God and that it all reveals his steadfast love for us. In today’s passage from Psalm 103, one of the most beautiful of the psalms, David expresses a deep faith in the infinite goodness of God. His heart is full of joyful praise for God. His joy arises from a deeply intimate relationship with God and gives us profound insights into the loving nature of God.

What has David discovered about God? He has come to the realization in faith that God is infinitely generous and has bestowed many benefits on us. The greatest benefit that God has bestowed on us is his forgiveness for our sins. His infinite generosity is revealed in the fact that even though we are sinners, “he heals all [our] diseases, and redeems us from the pit.” Indeed, “he crowns us with love and compassion..” (verses 3-4) This is the God that revealed himself to Moses, and who led the people of Israel out of the pit of slavery in Egypt. This is the One who promised redemption to Abraham and to his children, forever. David had come to know this personally in his own life. This is why he can sing with great joy about it, even though the Messiah who was promised had not yet come. As Christians, we too share in David’s joy and praise. Our joy is increased even more, for we have seen the coming of the Messiah. At this Advent time of the year, we are preparing to celebrate, once again, the birth of the Messiah, the One who is called the Prince of Peace, the Wonder Counselor. We are again challenged to meditate on his coming, on the promise that God has so generously fulfilled for the world in Jesus Christ.

David could proclaim with confidence that, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” Why? Because he had experienced God’s compassion personally. He knew the depth of his sins, what he had done to Bathsheba and her husband, Uriah, the Hittite. He knew that, in all righteousness, God could have struck him down and sent him to the pit. Yet, that was not his experience. Rather, he came to know even more the infinite compassion and forgiveness of God. Are we not also aware, as David was, that God is slow to anger, that he does not hold on to his anger forever with us. Have we not also experienced God’s abounding love, his gracious forgiveness. “He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (verses 10-12)

God is well aware of our frailties. He knows only too well that we are dust, that our lives are like the grass, here today and gone tomorrow. David, in faith knew that God’s love toward us is infinite and everlasting, that it has not changed from the beginning, to now, and that it will never change. The thing that David, and we are challenged to reflect on, then and now, and every day, is that God’s love is unbreakable toward those who fear him and keep true to the covenant relationship of love he has established with us. That love was revealed in its fullness in Jesus Christ. We no longer await the Messiah, as David did. We know that Immanuel, God is with us, has come into the world. His love for us has become visible and tangible to us in Christ Jesus.

Lord, we lift up our voices in joyous praise to you, just as David did so long ago in this beautiful psalm. We are awed at your kindness and your forgiving compassion toward us, and we pray that you strengthen us in faith, hope and love. In confidence and joy, we pray that you give us the graces we need to be your faithful and generous instruments of love toward all. We pray these things in your name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.