TEXT: Psalm 103
Verses 1-5: While other psalms open with a call for the assembled faithful to praise God, the psalmist here urges himself to worship. He desires that his praise not be robotic, but to emanate from the deepest places of his heart (soul/inmost being). By exhorting himself publicly to praise, he encourages others to join in.
Verses 6-12: The psalmist makes it clear that benefits from God are not just for him, but for all of God’s faithful people – characterized in this psalm as the oppressed.
Verses13-18: We read that God is like a Father to his people (those who fear him). His love and righteousness last forever. In contrast to the temporal nature of humanity, God’s love, and righteousness last forever.
Verses 20-22: The psalm opened with the psalmist exhorting himself to worship. At the end, he calls on others to join him. He proclaims God’s universal kingship and therefore everyone and everything should praise Him. The psalmist closes by repeating the first call as a final call to worship (Praise the Lord, my soul).
INTERPRET: The psalm opens and closes with a call to praise in a way that is well known in the hymnic literature of the Psalms, although this psalm is the first to use it. The psalm begins as the prayer of an individual, but eventually the individual speaks on behalf of the community. The psalmist urges himself and eventually the whole cosmos to praise and thank God for healing him spiritually (by forgiveness) and physically (from a deadly disease).
The implication here is that the disease was a consequence of his sin. Of course, not all suffering is explained by personal sin (see the book of Job), nor does sin always lead to immediate suffering. It is significant, for instance, that Jesus forgave the paralysed man’s sins before healing him of his affliction (Luke 5: 17-26). Indeed, The Pharisees and teachers of the religious law may be alluding to Psalm 103:3 when they say that only God can forgive sins (Luke 5:21). This gospel story clearly demonstrates Jesus himself is God.
APPLICATION: From the call to prayer all the way through the praise of this psalm, there is so much for us to examine within ourselves. The psalmist seeks to praise his holy name with his inmost being. Do we find ourselves being too robotic at times with our praise and worship?
There are so many benefits with being in relation with God; do we seek all His benefits both in this life and the next?
The psalmist makes it clear that God’s benefits are not just for us, but for everyone who seeks God. How often do we praise God for what He is doing in the lives of our brothers and sisters?
The psalmist makes a clear distinction between the love of this world and the everlasting love and faithfulness of God. Are we able to make this clear distinction?
Finally, the psalmist seeks for his praise of God to include and bring forth others to praise God. Are we being intentional about being good witnesses by living praise-filled lives?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, your name is worthy of all praise and glory, for you forgive all my sins and heal all my diseases. You have redeemed me from death and crowned me with loving-kindness and tender-mercies. You fill my life with good things and my youth is renewed each day, all praise to Your Holy name. AMEN.
SONG: 10,000 Reasons
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.