Thoughts on Psalm 103
As I have grown older, and started forgetting things I began developing a mild fear of getting Alzheimers. Actually, it was more of a severe, all consuming fear. So turning to the all-knowing internet, I learned that doing memory exercises could help or slow development of dementia, according to recent studies. The exercises that were recommended were: crossword puzzles, and picture puzzles. Unfortunately for my brain cells, I have an intense dislike of crossword puzzles. They are a cruel, taunting kind of game, giving me the word that’s perfect for the space until I later try to do the across word and it JUST WON’T FIT. As far as picture puzzles, I like to WATCH my daughter put them together, but I just don’t like DOING them myself. I don’t think watching someone else do a puzzle counts as far as my brain cells are concerned.
So one day, after forgetting something completely ridiculous , I realized that I had to try something. As I mulled over my limited possibilities, God in his gentle mercy, reminded me of memorizing scripture. This was kind of exciting to me, because I thought I could “ kill two birds with one stone”---improve my memory, and grow spiritually. After rejecting the old standby of vacation bible school days (“ Jesus wept”, remember that one?), I stumbled upon Psalm 103. As I read it through, it was such a blessing, encouragement, and lesson on God’s love and compassion, I knew this was the psalm for me.
Baby steps. The first four lines imprinted easily on my mind. I thought with a burst of confidence that I should probably pick out the next psalm, since I would be needing it soon. But my grand beginning fizzled quickly, and I found myself again and again having to start over. Oh, what wisdom God has for a child like me. Over and over, I would start:
“Praise the Lord, O my soul;
all my inmost being praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all his benefits---
Who forgives all your sins,
And heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit…”
As I would stumble to a halt again, and restart again, I began to truly meditate on those words of praise and love and forgiveness. Each time I said them, their meaning seemed more intense, helping me to start my day and my prayers now with praise and to spend some time just being thankful.
“and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.”
Even on those days when I don’t feel compassionate towards humanity or loving toward my neighbor, God reminds me that I have been crowned with HIS love and compassion. He has made me able to love with HIS love and live out HIS compassion.
“The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel;”
Really, Lord, in this world of injustice and wrong? As if He hears my question, He reminds me of how He led Moses and the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, through the parting of Red sea, and brought them to the promised land.
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”
What a loving reminder of His forgiveness, repeated to me several times until I really start to believe it must be so.
“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.”
God knows how very hard it is at times for me to truly accept his complete and unending forgiveness and love. So He paints me a picture as one would for a child. As high as the heavens are, and as far as the east from the west--- it doesn’t get any higher or farther away than that.
His message of love continues-----
“ As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and it’s place remembers it no more.”
At first when I studied this, it was kind of depressing. I guess we all long to think that we are always remembered. As I contemplate not being on the earth a whole lot longer, I think,” but my kids will always remember me. And my grandkids will always remember me.” And that is true. But the generations after that will never know me, so that’s where memories of me in my earthly being will pretty much stop.
But wait, for the next words---
“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children--- with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.”
From EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING---it doesn’t get any more eternal than that.
“The Lord has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.”
Whether we always acknowledge it or recognize it, HE IS IN CHARGE.
How fitting that this beautiful psalm should end with words of praise.
“Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you servants who do his will.
Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord, O my soul.”
I hope this psalm will be a word of life to you, as it has been and continues to be for me.
Thanks for letting me share,