Summary: David bares his soul in recording his relationship with God - who Forgives, who Heals, who Preserves, who Provides and who Satisfies.
Do you ever talk to yourself? In Psalm 103 King David is addressing himself. “Bless the Lord”, he exclaims, “Bless the Lord, O my soul”. It’s clear that he’s holding a conversation with himself. This isn’t by any means a unique experience for a believer. In fact it’s often a sign that a Christian thinks deeply about his religion. It shows that the person is concerned about making progress in spiritual things.
Do you ever get alone in the Lord’s presence and review your life? It’s accepted business practice for employees to have an annual appraisal. What happens is that the person being appraised gets together with his or her senior or manager and has a thorough review of progress or otherwise in the past year, frankly assessing strengths and weaknesses, and to identify goals to strive after. This can be a chastening experience, but also very positive if done in the right spirit.
One of the benefits of watching a tennis match on television is that the camera often focuses on the players at moments of great tension. If they’ve missed a shot, they tell themselves off. If they’ve won a difficult point, they show uninhibited joy. We seem to have caught David in one of these private moments of making known his innermost thoughts. He’s suddenly become aware of God’s great gifts to him and his whole being wells up in an expression of thankfulness.
David issues himself an instruction, “Bless the Lord, O my soul”. So let’s step within earshot as David begins speaking to himself. Let’s listen as the inspired poet opens his heart on the most important relationship a person can have – with God. David knew how easy it was for him to forget the gracious way in which the Lord had blessed him. This was despite his failings, so he recalls five great blessings the Lord grants to all that put their trust in him. Five benefits the Lord has bestowed upon us as believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
David records that his relationship with God has revealed him as:
THE GOD WHO FORGIVES
“Bless the Lord” he urges his whole being, “the Lord, who forgives all your iniquity.” It’s quite right that this should be the first benefit mentioned because it is our primary need. We can never have fellowship with God until the question of our sin has been dealt with.
David knew his need of forgiveness. Although he was a great man who had done much good for his country, he had
fallen into temptation and had committed some terrible sins that are recorded in the Bible, in addition to the
lesser failings common to all. And yet he’d found that the Lord was merciful to those who repented and looked to him for forgiveness.
The Psalm makes it quite clear, "He has not punished us as we deserve for all our sins. For his mercy towards those who fear and honour him is as great as the height of the heaven above the earth." This anticipated the wonderful provision that God has made in the gift of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. How was this made possible? He came to make atonement for our sin on the Cross. To make forgiveness possible for us. The Lord Jesus has borne the penalty that we should have suffered. In fact he offers a free pardon which is even better than being forgiven.
No wonder that David urges himself to bless or praise the God who forgives. He then turns to praise:
THE GOD WHO HEALS
Does God heal today? Yes, indeed he does. There can’t be many Christians, who at a time of physical weakness haven’t lifted up their hearts to God in earnest, believing prayer. The fact that their recovery may not have been instantaneous or that the sickness appears to have run its course or that medical aid has been used, is no argument against divine healing. God doesn’t bind himself as to how he operates. Jesus didn’t come into the world to stop suffering, nor to explain it, nor to take it away, but to fill it with his presence. But having said that, we can also take heart that he has given us specific promises in his Word to encourage us to look to him for healing - for indeed he is able.
Healing is a gift from God. He is sovereign in its distribution. We might be tempted to think it would be so much simpler if the gift of healing could be received on request like reaching out for a bottle of medicine. But that isn’t so. It isn’t God’s way. A balanced view of Scripture indicates that God plans for us. He has the best in mind for us and, in his permissive will, may allow health and strength, or weakness and suffering, long life or short life. It’s not for us to question his decision. C S Lewis wrote that God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. Sickness can be God’s megaphone to draw our attention back to him.