# 301 A journey through the Psalms. Psalm 103. Wayward family, gentle Father (# 29)

There is no difference between us, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  (Romans 3:22-24)

Ever wondered why our world (and often our own personal lives) are in a mess? Why the selfishness? Why the short sightedness? Why the greed? Why the hatred and violence? Why the injustice? The answer is given to us above in the words of Romans 3:23.

And in Psalm 103 we have the perfect illustration of this truth. Kidner says:

“No story surpasses the Exodus for a record of human unworthiness: of grace abounding and ‘benefits forgot’. Its mention here (v. 7) reminds us of the sullen ingratitude which God encounters in reply to the forgiving, healing, and redeeming of which the opening verses sang.” (# 29)

Unlike other psalms though, the psalmist does not dwell on the sordid detail of the sins of God’s people, but rather on God’s amazing grace to his people. He says:

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.

Oh, the grace and mercy of God available to each one of us!

Then those incredible words where God uses “immeasurable distances” to express his “immeasurable love and mercy” towards us:

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Paul in Ephesians prays for believers that:

… you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge…     (Ephesians 3:17-19)

Then, referring to verses 11-13, Kidner writes:

“If immeasurable distances are one way of expressing immeasurable love and mercy, the intimacy of a family is another.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;

He continues:

“By the first, we are led out into a ‘large place’, to walk at liberty; by the second we are brought home. In a family context there is affection as well as compassion… the mark of a true parent. But verse 14 adds that this Father knows as deeply as he cares… He knows us even better than we know ourselves.” (# 29)

And so, the psalmist says:

14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.

And yet knowing us, He still loves us deeply:

17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,

    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

We began by acknowledging that the reason for the mess we are in as a world, and as nations, and as families, and as individuals at times is our sinful waywardness. But, praise God, there is an answer to our problem and that answer has been provided by God, because of his love and compassion for us. That answer is given by Paul in Romans 3:24 when he says: all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Jesus is the answer! In fact, the only answer –“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (the words of Jesus in John 14:6).

And as the psalmist began, he also ends with praise to our wonderful God. 

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

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