Praise the LORD, I tell myself, and never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He ransoms me from death and surrounds me with love and tender mercies. - Psalm 103:2-4
Genuine appreciation is enthusiastic—it eagerly enrolls others in joyful acknowledgement and celebration. David is a good example. He said, “The Lord has made the heavens his throne; from there he rules over everything” (103:19). David found this so encouraging and such a reason for rejoicing that he took delight in praise and exhorted the whole created order to recognize and rejoice that God is firmly on the throne.
The only problem with visions of God, high and lifted up on his throne, is that he can appear to be remote and inaccessible, removed from us and unmoved by the vicissitudes of life that we endure. But nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, the wonder of the divine-human relationship is that the transcendent Lord is immanent (close by). He who rules the heavens and the earth is neither unaware of nor unconcerned about the intimate details of our lives.
So tender are God’s thoughts toward us that he continually bears in mind that we are frail, fallen, and finite. “The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he understands how weak we are; he knows we are only dust” (103:13-14). God is painfully aware of our limitations. He knows all about our sinful disposition, and he recognizes how tenuous our hold on life is. So he deals with us accordingly—both firmly and tenderly.
This does not mean that God overlooks our failings or excuses our sin. On the contrary, he holds us responsible, but he makes a way for us to be forgiven through the gracious work of Christ on the cross. In fact, “He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases” (103:3). We should remember that our sins will finally be forgiven, our diseases will finally be healed, and we will be finally ransomed from death when we are finally with him in heaven. All this is because of Christ. In the meantime, we can say with David, “He fills my life with good things” (103:5)—and we can be grateful.
We need to keep telling ourselves of God’s tender mercies because we have an ingrained tendency to forget. We must take steps to “never forget the good things he does” for us (103:2). As we consider these things, each of us, whatever his frame of mind, should stop and say, “As for me—I, too, will praise the Lord” (103:22). Recollecting God’s tender mercies makes for warm hearts, and warm hearts warm up other hearts to “praise his holy name” (103:1).
For Further Study: Psalm 103
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