Psalm 103 is a wonderful example of David’s worship. Worship rises from the soul of a person who has experienced God. This psalm is David’s response to blessings that were his as he walked in relationship with God.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with love and compassion; Who satisfies your desires with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle. Psalm 103:1-5
Oh, the blessing of forgiveness! I am so thankful God forgives! But there are times when, even after I have bowed my head and asked for God’s forgiveness, I feel a lingering discouragement. I hear this voice in my head saying, “God has forgiven you, but…”
One day, as I was reading David’s psalm, I realized these first few verses lay out the progression of forgiveness. David’s own weary, wounded soul found hope in God. As a result, he rejoiced God’s gracious benefits. Allow me to walk you through this progression of forgiveness one word at a time.
First, David said, “God Forgives.”
How complete is the forgiveness God offers? Think of the worst sin you ever committed. Is there one that still haunts you? Consider that sin in all its ugliness, with all the hurt that it brought into your life and the lives of others. Will God forgive that sin?
David said, “He forgives all your sins.” That includes that one sin or string of sins for which you bear so much shame. In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, God invites us to experience His forgiveness.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool. Isaiah 1:18
David continued his song of thanksgiving for God’s forgiveness by saying:
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:10-12
He forgives all our sins! He forgives all of mine and all of yours.
However, forgiveness is not free. When you are forgiven, somebody has to pay. God forgives because the penalty for your sins was paid by Jesus on the cross.
Peter, who watched Jesus die on that cross, wrote these words: “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 1 Peter: 2:24
That leads us to the next step in the progression of forgiveness.
He not only forgives. He heals! He heals all your diseases.
The word heal comes from the Hebrew word rapha that means to darn, to stich, to mend together and thus to heal. Is God a healer? Yes! But the greatest healing we need is from soul sickness resulting from sin.
When we sin, God not only forgives, He works to stitch together lives torn and tattered by sin’s consequences. He heals the wounded conscience. He mends broken souls.
All of us have souls damaged by sin. Yet in the progression of forgiveness, He not only forgives, He heals. I am not trying to take away from the fact that he heals physical diseases! But we often overlook the fact that spiritual sickness is far more serious, and the wounds are darker and deeper. Has your life been damaged by sin? There is good news. He forgives, and he heals! What about when the consequences of my sin complicate my circumstances leaving me feeling trapped and hopeless?
He redeems my life from the pit.
Have you ever been in a pit of your own making? We all have. Our sin often leaves us in the pit. But God never does! Are you in a pit as you read these words? Is it the pit of guilt? Is it the pit of discouragement or despair? Is it some hole of shame or some prison of loneliness?
David knew what it was to be hopelessly trapped in the pit of some predicament resulting from his sin. He knew what it was to be helpless to climb out of the pit by his own power. But on this day, as he sat down with harp in hand to write this psalm, he was rejoicing in the great blessing of forgiveness! Take heart. God forgives, and He heals! He redeems from the deepest, darkest, most dismal pit! But there is more!
He crowns you with love and compassion.
How could God love you? Have you ever wondered that? This morning I talked with a group of preschoolers sitting at the foot of a cross on our church property. I talked about God’s love. They sang Jesus Loves Me. When you are a child, you rarely question God’s love. But as time goes by, and we see more and more of the depravity of our own hearts, things change. How could God love a sinful person like me? If you are a Christian who wandered away from God into the far country of sin, you might wonder how you could ever return to God.
Jesus tells the story of a son who turned his back on the love of his father and wound up a pauper in a pig pen. He gave up hope of ever being forgiven. But he said, “I will arise and go to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight and am no longer worthy to be called your son.”
Is that the way you feel? Do you sense you are longer worthy to come home to God, and no longer worthy of forgiveness? But the prodigal did go home! He came home with the filth of the far country still clinging to his body. When he did, his father didn’t reject him. He put a ring on his finger, shoes on his feet and a robe on his back. In other words, he crowned him with love and compassion.
The word Hebrew, word translated crown, means to surround with a crown. It isn’t simply a picture of putting a crown on your head, but of wrapping you in it.
God offers you a forgiveness that heals and redeems your circumstances. He surrounds you with a crown of love and compassion.
As David continued to write, he penned these words:
Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. Psalm 103:13-14
Like the loving father Jesus told about, God forgives, and he heals! He redeems, and he crowns!
But He also satisfies.
Why do we sin? We sin because we seek to medicate some emptiness. Is it working for you? Has pornography filled your emptiness? Did adultery fill your emptiness? In fact, sin only makes us emptier, and thirstier. Jesus met the woman at the well who was seeking to quench her thirst. She spent a lifetime seeking satisfaction in relationships and never found it. She was incredibly empty. Jesus introduced her to the Living Water only He could provide, offering to soothe the thirst of her soul.
Sin is a dry well. When we visit that well, we always leave thirsty and empty. But when we come to God, He forgives, and He heals! He redeems, and He crowns! He satisfies the deepest thirst of the soul!
Sin not only leaves us empty, it always robs us of something. What did your sin take from you? Did you lose your enthusiasm? Did you lose your innocence? Did you lose hope? Did you lose your self-esteem? Did you lose your family? Did you lose your reputation? Did you lose God?
David experienced loss as the result of sin. However, he also experienced God. In his worship, he announced, “He forgives, and He heals! He redeems, and He crowns! He satisfies!
Yet there is more! He also Renews! He renews our youth like the eagle!
The renewal of which David speaks, is the restoration of what sin caused us to lose. God can restore your joy. In Psalm 23, David said: “He restores my soul.” God promised Jeremiah “If you return then I will restore you.” In Jeremiah, God also promises to restore what His people lost as a result of their sin. In Malachi, God promises to restore the hearts of the fathers to children, resulting in the healing of relationships. Is there something that was spoiled or lost as a result of sin that needs to be renewed or restored?
He forgives, and He heals! He redeems your life from the pit! He crowns with lovingkindness and compassion! He satisfies! He renews and restores what sin has left a ruin!
I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to sing along with David, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name!”
Photo by Ben White