Psalm 103:2–6, 8–13, 17–18comment (0)
December 6, 2012
By Michael Wilson
Related Scripture: Psalm 103:2–6, 8–13, 17–18
Bible Studies for Life
Director, Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence, Samford University
YAHWEH OUR FATHER
Psalm 103:2–6, 8–13, 17–18
Last week’s lesson invited us to consider Yahweh, the name of the God of holiness and wonder — the great I Am, our God. We were reminded that the Holy One keeps promises. Moses and the Hebrew people learned this truth as they experienced redemption from generations of Egyptian bondage.
This week’s lesson reminds us that the Holy One engages with us in our daily living. Though holy and different from us, God is always reaching out to us like a compassionate, loving father to his children.
Yahweh Gives Undeserved Love (2–6)
It all begins with forgiveness. From the Psalmist’s inmost being, he gives voice to a song of praise and blessing to God for what God has done in his life. The Hebrew people could identify with the message. They too had experienced the beneficial activity of Yahweh’s steadfast love: theirs was a forgiveness that healed, delivered from desperate life-and-death situations and made it possible for them to experience a renewed, satisfying, good life.
Undeserved and impossible to earn, God’s loving, redemptive activity encompasses the entire life experience. Like David and the Hebrew people, we too can declare, “Praise the Lord, O my soul” for God’s active love and care in all of our life situations.
Yahweh Displays Unequaled Love (8–12)
We know many stories in Scripture that describe God’s punishment of evildoers and His blessing of the righteous. These verses present a slightly different testimony. David’s words reflect personal acquaintance with disobedience and unfaithfulness to God. Yet he declares that Yahweh does not deal with a person based on his or her sin. Like a loving father, God’s response to disobedience is motivated by compassion. “As high as the heavens are above the earth” defines the limit of God’s love. “As far as the east is from the west” describes the distance transgressions are placed from the memory of God. Thankfully, Yahweh does not act in a way commensurate with one’s transgressions. Mercy, compassion and love are God’s ways. There is no love that can be compared to this love. However, there is an appropriate response to such love: we are to live with a reverent sense of awe and righteous responsibility before the Holy One.
Yahweh Extends Unceasing Love (13, 17–18)
In reflective moments we are aware how fragile and vulnerable life can be and how brief is our time on earth. Many older adults increasingly ponder the end of their days and what is beyond this life. The Psalmist reminds us that God knows our condition; we are made from dust, and to dust the body will return. The steadfast love of Yahweh for us is not just unending, it is everlasting. This unceasing love exists eternally just as God exists eternally. Though our time on earth is limited, God’s love for us is not. It extends beyond the end of our time in this life to include even our time in eternity with God. The Psalmist declares that, like a loving father, God’s blessings and love are also for those who transgress and are disobedient, who turn to Yahweh for help.
The Life Lesson
Psalm 103 is a personal testimony. David experienced firsthand God’s compassion-driven forgiveness that renewed his life and restored his joy and gave him purpose. David’s testimony also was the testimony of a people. God’s compassion-driven forgiveness for the Hebrew people and their repeated transgressions renewed them and gave them a future. What was true for the Psalmist and the Hebrew people is true for us today. The undeserved compassion and steadfast love we can experience in our lives is possible as we daily continue turning to God in obedience and away from our transgressions.