Summary: Psalm 103 is a love story; one that reveals the Benefits of God's Love, the Nature of God's Love, and our Response to God's Love
In his book, Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery, Dr. Richard Selzer tells of his experience as a witness to the magnificence of love at a most difficult time in his surgical career:
“I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private. Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily?
The young woman speaks. "Will my mouth always be like this?" she asks.
‘Yes,’ I say, ‘it will. It is because the nerve was cut.’
She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. "I like it," he says, "It is kind of cute." All at once I know who he is. I understand and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter [like this]. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works.”
So touching is their intimacy, so inexpressible the breadth of their love, Dr. Selzer cannot erase it from his memory. Yet, in comparison to God’s love for you, it is pale and insignificant.
1. This morning we consider love—not just any love—God’s inexpressible love. Our goal is to come to know God better by considering (1) the benefits of his love, (2) the nature of his love, and (3) our response to his love.
A. It is unlikely that you will entrust your life to someone you know little about, and ridiculous to think that you will trust your eternal destiny to someone you hardly know.
B. I hope that as you are confronted by God’s love for you, there will be a natural response, one that draws you into a relationship with him through Christ, who came to earth and died so that you might have access to God’s love.
2. With these goals in mind, we turn our attention to Psalm 103: a beautiful hymn, sung in ancient Israel and preserved for us in their hymnal, the Book of Psalms.
1. Among the Psalms attributed to David, 103 and 104 are considered masterpieces. Together the two praise God as Savior, Creator, Father, and Sustainer—merciful and mighty.
A. We see David as director of worship, founder of the great choirs of ancient Israel. He opens the psalm with a personal, inward call to worship, then calls on all of God’s creation to worship him with him, those in heaven and on earth.
B. If this were a worship seminar, I could go on for hours—I’m passionate about worship—yet our focus is God’s love. David begins with the benefits of God’s love:
III. BENEFITS OF GOD’S LOVE (vv3-5)
1. He forgives your sins and heals your diseases (v3). For some people, sin has visible consequences; the results of their sin linger, even though God forgave them immediately.
A. If you know someone with a self-destructive habit you understand. The moment they repent of their behavior, they are forgiven. Healing, however, is not immediate. It may be some time before the scars of their sin heal. They often suffer as they recover physically and emotionally. The Psalmist sees God’s healing of such scars as an outward sign of his forgiveness.
2. He redeems you and surrounds you with love and compassion (v4). The central theme of the Bible is God’s love for his creation and his desire to redeem them from the grave of death brought about by original sin. By redeeming his people, he transforms them from death to life, surrounding (i.e., crowning) them with his love and compassion.
3. He satisfies and renews you (v5). The Israelite’s lives (individually and collectively) are enriched by their covenant relationship with God. He provides all they need for survival, and lavishes his love and blessing on them, though they don’t deserve it.
4. Having considered the benefits of God’s love, the Psalmist reveals the nature of God’s love:
IV. THE NATURE OF GOD’S LOVE (vv6-19)
1. God has a heart for the oppressed (v6).
A. Remember Sarai and Hagar? God responded to each one when they were oppressed (by one another). In each case, God brought words and acts of grace in their time of despair.