Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
What are some of the best things people have given you?
Many of us have been through the whole job searching process. Rick has just finished that, and it starts by looking for that opening. You look through the paper, you scan online sites, you can even go through a third party that does the looking for you. You craft the most up to date resume with all the relevant information. Then you find it – the job that would be a great fit. It has great hours and even better fringe benefits. You feel a bit under qualified, but you never know. You go through the application and do the waiting, then you get the call for the interview. You enter the office somewhat nervous, because it really is a “killer” job. You shake hands and sit and the interviewer starts up and easy conversation with you. “The process is really rather simple,” she says. “We have this check list, so I will simply go through and see if you match up.” You have applied for job 3×9-777, that’s the one for Supreme Sovereign.” She does that thing where she glances at you over her glasses and gives you a dubious look. She turns to Psalm 103 and begins to go through the list:
- Ability to pardon sins
- Ability to heal diseases
- Redeems life, giving an individual true worth
- Loves all: in all, through all, in spite of all
- Ability to refresh and revitalize a person’s life experience
- Delivers the oppressed
- Comes close to people: imminence with eminence
She looks at you again, then picks up your resume. You suddenly realize that not only does your bakery supervisor position not have much relevance, but the strained relationship with your neighbour and the looseness of your tongue is a big issue. You are not surprised when she gives a brief sigh and says, “You know, Mr Smith. While you have some good stuff here, I don’t really think you have what it takes for this position. It wouldn’t be out of line for me to say, ”I don’t think you are cut out for deity!” I’d set your sights a little lower.
So you go home and check out the Psalm itself. Indeed, as you look through the first 7 verses you see all of those job requirements. Your heart begins to echo the Psalmist when he says, “Bless the Lord, O My soul, and all that is within me. Bless His holy name.” It really is a good thing you or I are not deity. He really is above all and beyond all. When you look at what He does you can’t help but echo the song that says, “For He has done great things.” So, you continue reading the Psalm and discover that aside from the checklist of the things God does, you see a few other major themes.
In verses 8-10 you see God’s grace. What was the price of grace, that unmerited favour that God shows towards us? While the Psalmist did not know it then, he was pointing ahead a thousand years to the point where the incarnate God died for you and I on the cross. We had this huge, massive debt. The root of that debt was sin. We were born with it – it is that thing that resides within us that causes us to be selfish, to be angry and nasty. Picture that debt as if it was the South Saskatchewan. You are given a child’s pail and told to empty it. When you empty it the debt is done. So you go down to the end of Taylor Street into Buena Vista and down to that park on the river and start dipping. Your task is impossible. Even if you were able to scoop fast enough to keep ahead of the flow of the water, where are you putting it? You throw it on the beach and then the “emptied” water just flows back into the River. Grace is that thing given to you that you could never get on your own. The cross of Jesus stopped that River of Debt far better than the Diefenbaker ever could, for our earthly dams aren’t meant to stop rivers, just harness their power. So even though you and I were drowning in the debt of sin, God did not pass the judgement due those sins. That grace is ever present today. As you go through your day to day stuff and you realize it with a careless word or a thoughtless deed you have blown it again, you have fallen short of the ideal, God reaches down and offers His love and instruction and correction and righteousness. It is all yours, because of the grace of a great and awesome God.
As you read verses 11-12 in this Psalm you continue to be amazed at not just the grace of God, but His forgiveness. So you have this impossible river debt, and in grace God has stepped in and stopped the flow. There has been too much water under the bridge so to speak. You are unworthy, God could never love you for what you have done, for what you are. The Psalmist say, “You don’t get it. Let me give you a picture.” And so he takes this globe. No, understand that even though David’s view of the world wasn’t this big, this complete, he was inspired to write a significant truth about just how big God is and how much He loves you and I. David said our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west. Notice he didn’t say as far as the north is from the south. If you stand on the North Pole and go South, you can only go 20,004 km before you hit the South Pole and start going north. You can’t ever go any further than 20,004 km south. There’s a cap, a limit. But if you start going east, how far can you go before you have reached the end of “eastnest” and start going west? You don’t. You can keep going east until the cows come home. You can go east around the world 1,000 times and still be no closer to going west. There is no end to going east because we live on a sphere. So how much forgiveness does God have? It is limitless.
In verses 13-17 you read of God’s compassion. The picture is of a loving father to his children, and we can all relate to that even if it wasn’t our personal experience. We know how a father should act and behave. We know the ideal of a father giving up all to protect his wife and children. The Psalmist goes beyond this and asks how long do you think compassion would last? How long is a long time? How long do you think the Supreme Sovereign would consider a long time? The Hebrews made it easy to understand for us. If they wanted something emphasized or intensified, they would just repeat the word. Something could be red, or if it was really really red they would say it was the red of reds, the red of all reds. Take all the reds you could find, then the reddest of those would be what I am talking about. It is like the Chuck Norris jokes, which refer to him as the ultimate guy. When He does push-ups, it is the earth that moves, not him. Some people wear Superman pajamas. Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas. Chuck Norris doesn’t breathe, he holds air hostage. When the boogeyman goes to sleep, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris. So when the Psalm speaks of everlasting to everlasting, you know it is beyond forever and a day.
Do you understand why the Psalmist opens and ends the Psalm with six “Bless the Lords.” Do you get disappointed and think God isn’t watching out for you? Be patient and rest assured that God is working on your behalf, and has been since long before you acknowledged Him as your Lord and Savior. Trust Him, rest in Him, listen to Him, seek Him. Just stop and wait on Him – you will not be disappointed.