As I contemplate the presence of the Lord, which He has revealed to us in so many ways in His creation – His power, revealed in the thunder and lightning and lashing rain of storms, crashing waves against the ocean shore, winds ripping through forests tearing down mighty trees, volcanoes erupting – He speaks to me.
“I have revealed so much about Myself in My creation, but much is still shrouded in mystery – My ways are so much higher than your ways. It is not only My power that is revealed in creation, but My love and compassion. Think of a warm summer’s day clasping you in its embrace, the birds and animals showing their care and love for their offspring. My love and care is all around you if you look; but nowhere as great as the presence of Jesus who is with you now. I will never leave you nor forsake you – no matter how difficult this path is – I will always surround you and protect you. You have my promise, which never fails, is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and everywhere you may go in this New Year.
Now we return for a last time to Psalm 103. We started with the theme of worship and praise. The question is what is it that we should praise Yahweh for? What is worthy of our whole inmost being , our souls being swept up in praise for Him? Well we saw initially that David said we should praise Him for His benefits. The psalm then expands on those. However, the question is, why has He given us these benefits? So there is a thread running through the whole psalm, which would perhaps be more obvious and powerful if we could read the Hebrew.
The word which is repeated four times is “chesed”. vv 4,8,11 and 17. Can you still remember the importance and origin of this word? We first found it in Exodus 34:6 where God re-introduces Himself to Moses. Here in v 8 David uses almost the same wording as Exodus 34:6. “The Lord slow to anger and abounding in “chesed”. This word not only describes the steadfastness and reliability of God’s love but its intimate connection with His covenant (V 18). The Passion Translation gives this rendering of v 8; “Your love is like a flooding river, overflowing its banks with kindness”. So David is so taken up by the thought, the fact of Yahweh’s steadfast love that he wants to praise Him with his whole soul.
Now, to demonstrate the vastness of this “chesed”, David shows how we can see and experience it. The main way is in His forgiveness of our sins, which are so far removed from us as where the sun rises and where it sets. Friends, this is such a timely reminder of the importance of this work which was the purpose of Jesus’ coming to live among us. He was moved to do this because of His compassion. (V8,13 – twice). I found it particularly interesting from my perspective, that He shows this compassion because in vv 14-16, He understands our very frailty, transience and mortality.
Of course we need to remind ourselves that these promises will only find their reality in Jesus and His ministry. But the attitude of God has always been behind that.
As I read this psalm on Saturday again, I was struck by this transient nature of our lives. It came with a huge sense of relief as I considered the bumbling, feeble efforts I seem to be making in many ways, as I live this life. God understands. He really does and has taken it into consideration continually in the way He deals with me. It humbles me even more and makes me long to express my praise and worship to him.