Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sermon on Psalm 103

Paul Horne
Psalm 103 sermon

            Have you ever experienced something so grand that all you wanted to do was talk about it. For those of us who are married, think back to when you first fell in love with your spouse, all you could do was sing their praise they could do no wrong. Well this is how David feels about the Lord in Psalm 103. He is rejoicing over all the goodness of God and how he relates to his people. It is my hope that by the time we are done looking at this Psalm we will all be rejoicing right along with David, because of what we see the Lord doing not only in our lives but also in the lives of those around us.
         David is rather emphatic when he says “Bless the Lord, O my soul” so much so he feels the need to repeat himself.  When he goes to bless the Lord he doesn’t want to do it in some halfhearted manner, he wants to do it with all that he has. He wants to do as Jesus spoke about in Mark 12:30 when he told the scribes who questioned him, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’”(ESV) In verse two he expresses what would be our first point that we should not forget all the benefits we receive from the Lord. David is praising the Lord for his greatness, but “the opposite of “praise” is “forgetfulness”, to forget the benefit of the Lord is to disregard his covenantal Lordship.”[1] He spends the next four verses expounding on those benefits. How easy is it for us to fall into a place of complacency and forgetfulness? I know for myself it is a daily struggle to remember all of the good the Lord has done for me. The greatest thing we should remember is that he forgives our iniquities, which is no small feat. He forgives us of our iniquities by the blood of his son Jesus Christ and the price that was paid on the cross. All of our benefits center around all the redemptive qualities we receive in Christ. “The use of who and your personalizes the acts of God in that he forgives and restores individuals.”[2]
It needs to be understood in verse three it is not a literal sense of healing all of our diseases, it is more of a metaphorical reference to sin. Once we look at verse four we are told that we are going to be crowned with steadfast love and mercy, this is not the last time steadfast love shows up, so lets look at it and see more about it. The Hebrew word is hesed,  which can mean faithfulness, loyalty, loyal love, goodness. What does it mean to you that the Lord has crowned you? It means he makes us part of the family, because if you have faith in Christ you are now in the family and you receive this steadfast love and mercy. Another great benefit we receive from God is that we do not go about longing for things, because he satisfies us with good. The satisfaction we receive from the Lord, is greater than anything we would ever get from the world, he gives us eternal satisfaction, while all the world can offer us is temporal satisfaction. With that satisfaction comes a renewal of our youth like that of an eagle. This verse brings to many believers minds Isa 40:31. In ancient Israel “The eagle serves as a symbol of vigor and freedom associated with the benefits of restoration to divine favor and covenantal status.”[3] In verse six we are told that the Lord works righteousness and justice for the oppressed. That makes me think that the Lord is working for good for those who are being put upon. Some would say that righteousness relates to salvation and justice or vindication. These are some great benefits to have received from the Lord, I cannot imagine anyone better work towards my vindication. How about you can you think of someone who can come into your bad situation and turn things around for you?
Next we learn about the ways the Lord acts towards his people. Before he revealed himself to the world incarnate as Jesus Christ he revealed himself to Moses, and then to the people of Israel.  Unlike the Lord some people are known to have a temper at times, but the Lord has never let that happen to him, there has never been something we have done that caught him off guard and made him become irate. No he responds in the complete opposite manner with mercy, grace, and steadfast love. Verse nine should probably be understood in the manner that he will not always scold or rebuke us, nor will he remain angry with us forever. As a human being how easy do you find yourself holding a grudge against someone for something they did? The question then becomes do they even know that they have wronged you, and are you holding on to your anger for no reason allowing it to tare you apart? The Lord doesn’t repay us deed for deed, or deal with according to the things that we have done. When I say us I am referring to those who belong to Christ, we have been redeemed and bought by the blood of the Lamb and have his righteousness covering us in place of our sinfulness. He did that because he loved us before the foundation of the earth, the Lord is not forgetful in the sense that we know forgetfulness. Verse 12 tells us “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. That is something to rejoice about which is the point I have been making that the Lord has given us so many benefits to be glad over.
While this verse are not specifically about fatherhood is makes me think back on my own childhood and also how I am raising my own children, I was shown certain amount of compassion from my father could it have been more sure, but it could have been less also. I strive daily to show my boys that I love them through little gestures and try not to speak harshly to them. The same way I try and be compassionate towards my children God doesn’t try he just does. The word here for compassion Keraham, can mean love or show pity toward. We need to be careful and not think that the Lord is going to show pity (word the KJV uses) towards just anybody there is a stipulation mentioned, and it is to those who fear him. On this verse the famous Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon gives this rebuke,
Some of you he does not pity at all. You that do not fear him, but trifle with him, you that hate him, you that despise him, you that are careless about him, you that never think about him—you have none of his pity. When you are sick he looks on your sickness as something you deserve. When you go astray, he looks upon your wandering as a mere matter of course of your guilty nature, and he is angry with you. Your afflictions are not strokes of his rod, they are cuts of his sword. Your sins are not things he overlooks, but if you die as you now are –guilty and unsaved—justice shall look on you with a tearless eye and say to you, “You knew your duty, but did it not.” Think not that this text shall afford you any consolation in this life or in that which is to come. You shall not have even a drop of water to cool your tongues in hell. No pity shall be shed upon you there.

After hearing such a scathing rebuke you should either be scared or comforted. Which are you? To those of us in this life that fear and follow the Lord we will receive this pity and compassion.  I could not imagine what life would be like without the Lord showing me compassion for all the things I have done and will do.  David moves on from the compassion of the Lord to the frailty of man and how God remembers us. Psalm 8:4 ask the question of “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” Our days are short and filled with self-indulgence but the Lord still remembers us. This is another reason we should be praising God.  Just like the verses in Isaiah we are equated to as grass and flowers. What David is doing here is contrasting the days of man with the steadfast love of the Lord which is from everlasting to everlasting.
Again though his love comes with some stipulations, but there is also additional blessings that take place as we observe what the Lord commands. There are three things we have to keep in mind as we go about our daily lives that will ensure we receive this steadfast love of the Lord. As we have seen we need to fear him, fear here means to reverence or worship him, next we are to keep his covenant that he has made with us, and lastly remember to do his commandments. What commandments do we have to live by today, are they the 10 commandments or the Jewish law or is it to love God and love other people? If we do the last two we will be fulfilling the rest of the Law.
Verse 19 establishes our last and final point that all things must praise God; while it doesn’t explicitly say that you will see how I came to that conclusion once we take a little bit of a closer look at verses 19-22.
         Why is the Lord worthy of praise, well if we haven’t established that fact already, I haven’t done my job. But, to add to the reasons we should praise God is that “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.” That means there isn’t anything or anyone in this world that the Lord doesn’t have rule over, now whether or not one submits to that rule willingly is a different story.
Four times in the last three verse we are told the Bless the Lord. Not just us as individuals, but also his angels, his hosts and all of his works. That leaves no stone unaccounted for everything is to bless the Lord and sing his praises. But knowing what we are supposed to do and doing it are two different things. What makes it difficult for you in your life to openly or better yet in private praise the Lord? I say that because I have found there are times I can sing the Lord’s praises to people in public but in my private life I struggle to recognize all the things he has done for me and all the praise he truly deserves.
So let us be like the fall leaves and show God’s splendor and glory in our lives and speak about it not only to those who come around but to ourselves also. Let not a rock have to cry out praises to our God and king because we were to timid to do it.
It is my hope that our time together has enlivened your hearts to all the good things the Lord has done for and given to us. Please do not leave this place and forget the benefits we have for loving the Lord, or forget the ways in which he acts towards us, and most of all that we should praise him for it all, David felt that praising God was so important that he not only started his Psalm that way he ended it that way as well.

[1] Vangemeren, 651.
[2] Ibid, 652.
[3] Ibid., 652.

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