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Please open your Bibles to Psalm 103 and let’s read it together.
A Psalm of David
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; 3 who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; 5 who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle. 6 The Lord performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. 8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. 9 He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. 14 For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer. 17 But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, 18 to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them. 19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. 20 Bless the Lord, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word! 21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will. 22 Bless the Lord, all you works of His, in all places of His dominion; bless the Lord, O my soul!”
“Bullet” Bob Hayes was a wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960’s and 70’s. He was known for his incredible speed. For a time, he held the title of world’s fastest human, having set world records in the 100m and the 4x100m relay. In fact, his anchor leg of the 4×1 is still the fastest ever recorded. He is the only athlete to win both a Super Bowl ring and a gold medal.
Just months before the Cowboys drafted him, he was chosen to represent the United States in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics to run the 100 and the 4×1 relay. On the day of the 100m finals, Hayes left the Olympic village ready to race. Having arrived on the field, he began to warm up, stretch, and mentally prepare for the most important 10 seconds of his life.
Wikipedia says that it was at this time that he discovered he didn’t have both of his shoes. He had left one in his room at the Olympic village, having inadvertently kicked it under the bed. But this is not what really happened–an eyewitness told me otherwise.
You see my father, Tom Farrell, was on the field that day–he too had travelled to Tokyo to compete. As a 20-year-old NCAA college champion, he would run the 800, finishing fifth. He would return to the Olympics four years later in Mexico City to finish third. He is here with us this morning, this year marking the 50th anniversary of his bronze medal. (If you want to see his medal after the service is over, just ask him–he wears it around his neck.) Happy Father’s Day, Dad!
My father tells the story of the missing shoe a bit differently. Unbeknownst to Hayes, Smokin’ Joe Frazier, the boxer who would win gold in Tokyo and then go on to beat Muhammmad Ali in the Fight of the Century and become the undisputed heavy weight champion of the world, had played a practical joke on Hayes. He had taken his left shoe out of his bag and hid it under the bed–what a friend.
So Bob Hayes is frantically looking for another pair of shoes so he doesn’t have to forfeit the biggest race of his life. He is walking up and down the infield asking people their shoe size. He approached my father, who was in the infield warming up–and when he discovered they wore the same size shoe, he pleaded his case and eventually convinced my dad to give up his shoes.
He would go on to take first place in the 100 that day, tying the world record and earning the title, Fastest Man in the World. The next morning, the headline of the NY Times read, “Farrell’s Shoes Win Gold Medal–Too Bad Farrell Wasn’t in Them”.
I am sure Hayes was grateful for my father’s generosity and thanked him. I think he probably had words with Joe Frazier after the race was over, saying something like, “You are lucky I was able to borrow Tom Farrell’s shoes.” But I bet the memory of that gift faded pretty quickly.
He had other things to think about, as he stepped onto the podium that day to receive his medal, or as he returned home a hero with increased negotiating power as he sought to sign a lucrative contract with the Cowboys. But again, I bet that gift quickly faded from mind. Certainly without those shoes, he would not have won and yet its human nature to forget.
I think this happens to all of us. There are objects of tremendous value, or even gifts given to us that lose their luster over time. Think about that new car. You’re so excited to get in it—it looks new, smells new, feels new. But over time it just becomes a car that you drive.
You are so grateful for that new job. You needed it, it helps you support your family, and it pays really well. But within a short period of time, you find yourself complaining and seeing greener grass elsewhere.
Relationships can be like this—spending time with that girl or that guy fills you with butterflies and sends tingles down your spine. But if you don’t guard it carefully, the relationship gets stale and you wonder, “Where did the magic go?”
So often, we take things for granted and allow our hearts to drift toward ungratefulness. There is a tendency for this to happen in our Christian lives, don’t you think? The pendulum swings pretty quickly, from times of nearness to God to slothfulness, and even dullness of heart.
As Christians, we can be forgetful and even ungrateful people. Maybe this describes you this morning. You are weary, discontent, distracted, bored, burnt out. You are in a spiritual rut, going through all the same motions, but the passion and the joy are gone.
And while there could be many reasons for this, I would like to suggest that it is because your eyes, instead of being fixed on God and the greatness of His salvation, are instead fixed on self. You have settled into the mundane tasks of everyday life, and instead of delighting in God, you feel only duty and obligation. You have taken for granted the amazing blessings that God has poured out into your life and you are living in the shadows. Does this describe you this morning?
It is possible that this is what David, the writer of Psalm 103, was going through. And so he writes in verse 1, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.” Notice that this psalm is not addressed to God. It is not a prayer or a song of praise that has God as the primary audience. Who is he writing to? Himself.
In both the first and last verse, he gives instruction to his own soul. “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” He is talking to himself–no, he is preaching to himself. And his message is simple. It has one main point–worship God. Give to God the praise and adoration that He is worthy of. Maybe you need to hear the same message. Maybe you need to wrestle with your own heart and get your eyes off of self and back on to the greatness of God.
He finishes verse 1 by saying, “All that is within me, bless His holy name.” The worship of God is to come from the deepest part of our being and be representative of all that we are. It is a statement of totality. Martin Luther said, “Body and soul; eyes, ears, and all limbs and sense; reason and all faculties are given to the praise of God.”
This is not just the moving of your lips for five songs on Sunday morning, but rather a heart and life that is given to God in all things. In Matthew 15 Jesus gave a warning saying, “This people honors Me with their lips but their heart is far from Me.”
Sometimes, we fall into this same error. We stay up too late on Saturday night, get up too late Sunday morning, hustle just to get here near on time. The service starts and we are ushered into the very throne room of God, yet we are unprepared to worship Him.
And so David calls to his own heart and through this psalm, he calls to you to stoke the embers in your heart and rekindle the fires of praise of God. And throughout this psalm, he simply paints a picture of the blessings of God and reminds us why God is to be praised.
Our thesis this morning is, “Let’s go.” That’s right, “Let’s go.” Like David, I want to stir our hearts afresh to praise God. No delays, no other priorities. Let us allow the Spirit of God to lift us into the heavenlies as we see the greatness of our Savior and His love for us. Are you ready? Let’s go!
1 Forgetful soul, Count Your Blessings Verses 2 to 5
Look at verse 2, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.” In this statement, David reveals that like us, he is prone to forget. He too takes God’s blessings for granted. Have you ever gotten to the end of a day and realized that you haven’t thought about God at all? No prayer, no dependence–nothing. In the busyness of work or school or daily tasks, the urgent has pushed out the priority. So many are the events of our life and the affairs of our day, we can unwittingly push God out.
And so in verses 3 to 5, in an effort to stir his soul, he lays out five personal blessings from God. This is like machine gun, they come fast and furious. The first blessing he reminds himself of is in verse 3.
First You are forgiven Verse 3
“Who pardons all your iniquities”–that is to say, God has forgiven your sin. He has cancelled it out. The Hebrew word for pardon is used only of God in the Scripture. In Isaiah 55:7, it says God abundantly pardons. Notice the word “all” in verse 3—“all your iniquities”. This is to say, God offers complete forgiveness.
Have you ever been pulled over by a police officer for speeding, only to be let off without a ticket? It has happened to me a handful of times. But once, I was driving on a freeway in a pretty isolated area and I was going well over the speed limit. A highway patrol officer going the other direction locked eyes with me. I knew that he was going to turn around at the first opportunity and come after me, so I did what anyone else would do.
Having seen a sign for a truck rest stop, I sped up, pulled off the freeway and hid behind a parked semi. About two minutes later, the CHP went flying by. I am not proud of this, but it illustrates my point. That was not pardon–that was evasion.
The sinner cannot evade God. The sinner must either face the consequences of their sin or be pardoned by a merciful God. One commentator wrote, “If so much as the very smallest iniquity were left unforgiven, we would be just as badly off, just as far from God, just as unfit for heaven, just as exposed to hell, as though the whole weight of our sins were yet upon us.”
Notice also the personal nature of this. He says, “all YOUR iniquities.” Forgiveness, he reminds himself, has come to YOU. This is an intimate blessing that applies uniquely to each and every child of God.
Second You are Healthy Verse 3
Verse 3, “Who heals all your diseases.” The word heal means to restore or to make healthy. God has brought restoration to sickness, to disease, to the physical maladies faced by the author. Psalm 30:2 says, “O Lord my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me.”
But this is not limited to physical health. In Psalm 147:3, “God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” In Psalm 41:4, “He heals the soul that sins.” And in Exodus 15:26, “God declares, ‘For I, the Lord, am your healer.’”
This is not to say that God heals every sickness and every disease as those in the prosperity gospel teach. Tracy and I had a friend whose father pastors a church that has a sign out in front, “We pray for deliverance,” with a subtitle that says they specialize in cancer healings. She died five years ago from cancer. Seeing the reaction of her family, and especially her father, was devastating as he grappled with a bad theology that drove unrealistic expectations.
Scripture does not teach that God automatically removes the sickness and suffering of His children. But here David appreciates the healing hand of God in his life. And we recognize the health that we enjoy, the overcoming of sickness, the healing that our bodies go through is a gift from God.
Third You are Protected Verse 4
“Who redeems your life from the pit.” To redeem is to deliver, to ransom, to bring into safety. God has redeemed us from the pit–that is, from the grave or destruction. In its simplest form, this could be a reference to protection from physical death. And certainly David had plenty of close calls. But it could also refer to the rescue from the consequences and penalty of sin. One commentator said this is a global promise that the Lord is able to save one’s life, no matter what the nature of the threat or crisis.
Do any of you remember the old ride at Magic Mountain called Spinout? It is a large circular building, really just a giant cylinder. You walk through the door and it closes behind you, becoming part of the wall. You find a place on the wall and then stand there facing the middle, as the cylinder begins to spin–slowly at first, then faster and faster until the centrifugal force pins your body to the wall.
The floor drops, but you stay right where you are, stuck on the wall. And there you stay until it ends. The ride would often be shut down, not because it was broken, but because people threw up. And as you can imagine, they would throw up all over themselves and then it would drip down the wall and need to be cleaned.
Similar to that ride, we too were trapped In a pit, unable to climb out, pinned to the wall as it were, our life spinning out of control. Enslaved to sin, hopeless, helpless, headed toward destruction until God redeemed our life from the pit–He pulled you out.
Psalm 40:2 says, “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay.” Have you forgotten the pit that God pulled you out of? Forgetful soul, count your blessings. You are forgiven, healed, protected. And . . .
Fourth You are loved Verse 4
Verse 4, “Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion.” The idea of crowning someone brings the picture of a royal celebration in which some member of the royal family is being honored with a golden crown or a garland of flowers. David would understand this, having been honored as king over all Israel. But this crown is not made with gold fittings or precious jewels, it is something far more valuable.
God has crowned you–that is, He has encircled or surrounded you with His lovingkindness and compassion. Lovingkindness is best defined as unfailing love and this word is used all over the Psalms to define God’s covenant love for His people. The word compassion is God’s tender mercy. And here it is lavished upon us. The final blessing is in verse 5.
Fifth You are satisfied/content Verse 5
“Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle” (verse 5). Throughout his life, God has showered him with good things and he is satisfied. He pours out blessings until they overflow–far more than he deserved. Psalm 145:16 says, “You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”
So much so that David feels like an eagle soaring in its strength. His spiritual strength is renewed and in his heart, he feels young again. And so, forgetful soul–count your blessings. You are forgiven, healthy, protected, loved, and satisfied.
The king bows down to praise God, having remembered what God has done. What about you–what has God done for you? “Forget none of His benefits,” verse 2 says. What blessings has He poured out on your life?
We are so quick to forget. Charles Spurgeon said, “Memory is very treacherous about the best things…it treasures up the refuse of the past and permits priceless treasures to lie neglected.” Careful that you don’t forget.
My job takes me in and out of the operating room and I remember watching surgery once where the doctor spent a good deal of time cutting out the scar tissue of a previous wound. With a sharp blade, he carefully cut around the hardened, fibrous scar tissue removing it completely. Do you need the Lord to take His scalpel and cut deep into your heart to remove the hardened callouses of sin and forgetfulness? The first step, forgetful soul, is to count your blessings. Let’s go!
2 Guilty sinner, Discover Forgiveness Verses 6 to 14
In verses 6 to 14, David expands his audience. He is no longer addressing himself alone but has now pulled his readers into this psalm. He uses words like “us” and “ours” instead of “me” and “my”. And he shows us the amazing love of God demonstrated in the complete and total forgiveness of the guilty sinner.
He begins by taking us back to the days of Moses. Verse 6 says, “The Lord performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.” You remember the story of how God brought His people out of Egypt?
In summary, there was a baby in a basket, “Let my people go,” ten plagues, crossing the Red Sea, Pharaoh’s army destroyed, a trip across the desert with manna from Heaven and water coming from rocks–the amazing miraculous provision of God. They arrive at Sinai and God carves His Law into stone tablets and gives it to Moses.
And God said to Moses in Exodus 32:7, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.” And you know the story, they were dancing, singing, and worshipping a golden calf that they had made. So quickly had this people forgotten the benefits of God. So quickly had they stopped counting their blessings.
Sometimes we do this same thing. We leave this place on any given Sunday, with our hearts filled up and His praises on our lips, only to find ourselves worshipping other gods by the end of the day. How can this be?
In Exodus 32, God’s anger is kindled and in verse 10 He says to Moses, “Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”
But Moses interceded, begging God to show mercy, and God relented. And Moses goes back up the mountain and God revealed the reason why He relented. After hiding Moses in the cleft of the rock, He passed by and made a declaration of His character in Exodus 34:6 to 8, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin . . . 8 Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship.”
In the midst of their flagrant sin, God puts His character on display and shows forgiving love to a whole nation of guilty sinners. Psalm 103:8 is taken directly from Exodus 34, and the situation is the same–obstinate and rebellious sinners in need of mercy. And now David asks to be treated the same way. He forgave Israel because of His unfailing love and David has experienced the same forgiveness in his own life.
Four different words are used to show different aspects of the love of God. “Compassionate” we have already seen–it is pity and tender mercy. “Gracious” is demonstrating kindness or showing favor. “Slow to anger” literally means nose or nostrils and has the idea of your nostrils flaring up as an expression of anger. The thought is that God takes a long, deep breath as he holds his anger in abeyance. And “abounding in lovingkindness” we have already seen as the unfailing love of God.
And these four words are stacked one atop the other to give a multifaceted perspective of the love of God. But there are other words that could have been used here. In light of our sin, he could have said God is holy, angry, wrathful and ready to judge. Hebrews 10:31, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” And Nahum 1:6, “Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire.” And Psalm 130:3 says, “If You should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?”
In the court of divine justice, judgment will be swift and final. When the sinner comes before the holy Judge, he or she will be declared guilty and will be thrown from the heart of Heaven into the very depths of Hell. Countless millions have been locked into their eternal destiny for committing the very same sins as you and I. But guilty sinner, discover forgiveness.
Look at verse 10, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” Did you get that? Although we have amassed sin in every part of our life and we stand condemned before a holy Judge, we have not been given the punishment due to sinners. We have not received the reward we deserve.
Verse 9 adds to this by saying, “He will not keep His anger forever.” And are you not thankful for this? What if God’s anger toward you burned for eternity? We would be doomed. In verses 11 to 13, David gives us three incredible pictures to describe the forgiveness of God. These are visual images given to help us wrap our minds around the magnitude of forgiveness.
Let’s look first at the infinite nature of forgiveness in verses 11 to 12, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.” This speaks of the greatness of God’s love. It is unmeasurable, it is incalculable. It cannot be contained. Extending to the heavens, it is infinite in nature. AW Pink said, “God’s love is without limit. There is a depth to it which none can fathom; there is a height to it which none can scale; there is a length and breadth to it which defies measurement.”
The second picture is in verse 12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” The idea is that He puts distance between you and your sin. Not a little bit of distance, not a good amount of distance–an infinite distance. The distance between you and your sin is from the rising to the setting sun.
And these two verses give us a glimpse into the amazing nature of God’s infinite forgiveness. But these are not the only descriptions of the forgiveness of God. Listen to what the rest of Scripture says. Isaiah 1:18 says, “Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow.” In Micah 7:18, “You will tread our iniquities under your foot.” In Isaiah 38:17, “For you have cast all my sins behind your back.” And in Isaiah 43:25, “I will remember your sins no more.” Micah 7:19, “You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”
This is incredible truth. But I think the best description of forgiveness was expressed by Jesus Himself as He hung on the cross. Suspended between Earth and Heaven, the Giver of life was dying. The sky went dark and rocks split in half, as creation itself responded to the wrath of God being poured out on the Son. Isaiah 53:5 says, “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities.”
Listen carefully–forgiveness isn’t free. There has never been a higher price paid for anything. Your forgiveness was purchased with the precious blood of a Lamb, unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. And 1 John 1:7 says, “The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” And so, hanging on that cross, Jesus declared in a statement of total and complete victory, “It is finished.”
Sin entered in the garden and ruled from Adam until Christ, but now it is finished. Satan had raised himself as the god of this world in defiance and rebellion, but now his head has been crushed–it is finished. Death with a cold, icy grip that drags men and women to Hell, has been dealt the death blow. It is finished.
Every time we have failed, every denial of Christ, every compromise, every act of disobedience–it is finished. When God looks at you He sees only the righteousness of Christ. Your sin has been dealt with–it is finished.
Guilt and shame, remorse and regret–you need carry them no more. They were nailed to the cross–you are free, you are forgiven. My friends, it is finished. Charles Spurgeon once said it seemed as if hell were put into His cup; He seized it, and, in one tremendous labor of love, He drank damnation dry. And so, the guilty sinner discovers a forgiveness without limits. A love that is higher than the heavens and a forgiveness that is farther than the east is from the west.
Let’s look next at the intimate nature of forgiveness in verse 13. “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” This is such a sweet picture–it is so intimate, so personal. There is a unique love that each parent has for their own children. Fathers, remember the moment you held your newborn son or daughter for the first time?
It doesn’t matter how tough you are, it brings every man to their knees. A covenant is made to protect and to guard. A bond is formed based on selfless love. A decision is made to make whatever sacrifice necessary to provide and care for them. There is a sweet intimacy here between a father and his child. And such is the relationship that you have with your heavenly Father. He has compassion on you. And so, guilty sinner, find forgiveness and let it motivate you to praise. Let’s go!
3 Mortal man, Rest in Eternal Love Verses 14 to 19
“For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust” (verse 14). Genesis 2:7 says, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Man is made from dirt. Not from a precious metal, not from sugar and spice and everything nice, not from star dust—dirt, plain dirt.
And verses 15 and 16 add, “As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer.” This is a very simple picture of the transient nature of life. Just like the desert flower, we are here today and gone tomorrow.
About ten years ago, we were on the 76 coming home from a high school beach day. It was dark. Tracy was next to me and Zoe was in her car seat behind Tracy. She was just a baby. We were about halfway across. And by the way, this was before they had put any center dividers in the road. Zoe made a noise and I looked back to make sure she was okay and inadvertently pulled the wheel to the left just a smidge. When I turned to face forward, we were on the wrong side of the road staring into the headlights of a lifted Ford F-250 pick-up truck.
I yanked the wheel to the right as hard as I could in an effort to avoid a collision. I heard a deafening noise like the sound of a gun being fired right outside the driver’s window. But we were still driving 50 miles an hour. There was no accident. The truck had passed. I tried to look into my driver’s side mirror to see what had happened, but the mirror was gone.
So close were we to a head-on, that my driver’s side mirror had impacted the front corner of the truck and been pulverized–that was the loud sound I heard. We had avoided a head-on collision by inches. That was one of a handful of near-death experiences that I have faced. And I am sure that you have similar stories. The principle is pretty simple. Life is frail–like a budding flower or grass in the desert heat, we don’t last long.
Psalm 39:5 says, “Surely every man at his best is a mere breath.” And Psalm 144:4 says, “Our days are like a passing shadow.” Ecclesiastes 3:20 says, “All go to the same place. All came from the dust and all return to the dust.”
And so the psalmist sets up a contrast. Look at verse 17, “But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children.” What these verses are saying is that in comparison to our short and transient life, the love of God for you stretches from one side of eternity to the other.” Let’s look at the love of God past, present, and future so we can get a better understanding.
The past love of God–in eternity past, Scripture tells us that God set His love on you. Isn’t that what Ephesians 1 says? “In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.” The text says it was before the foundation of the world. So then before the world was made, before there was time, He loved you.
The present love of God–no matter what circumstance of life, in sickness and in health, in pain and in joy, in youth and in old age, the love of God is fixed upon His children. Ephesians 2:4 calls it a great love. And Ephesians 3:19 says that it surpasses understanding. Romans 8:39 declares, “There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.” And Romans 5 describes the greatest demonstration of His love in that “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.”
God loves you, friend. He has given Himself to buy you back from sin and Romans 5 says, He has poured His eternal love straight into your heart. What issues are in your life? What struggles, what doubts, what fears hold you back? Friend, “there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18), and it extends all the days of our life. The love of God will be with us even as we face the cold, icy river of death. For Romans 8 declares that not even death can separate us from His love.
The future love of God–and so we enter the shores of eternity and find ourselves in the presence of an eternal God whose name is Love. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and His love for you will never change. And just to emphasize the security of this love, look back in Psalm 103:19, “The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all.” He is King of kings and He reigns in complete and total control. This is a sovereign love.
First Chronicles 16:34 sums up our response. “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” Or how about Psalm 63:3, “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You.” We have been given instruction, 1) Forgetful soul, count your blessings, verses 2 to 5, 2) Guilty sinner, discover forgiveness, verses 6 to 14, 3) Mortal man, rest in eternal love, verses 15 to 19, which brings us to our final point . . .
4 Overflowing heart, Let’s Go Verses 20 to 22
As David prepares to close the psalm, his heart is ready to explode with praise. He cannot contain himself and so in these final verses he utters four commands. I love this. Look at verses 20 to 21, “Bless the Lord, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word! 21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will.”
These first two commands are directed to the angels. So get the picture here–this sinful, finite man is, as it were, standing on his rooftop calling every holy angel in Heaven to worship God. That’s bold. These sinless, supernatural beings have been in the presence of God since their creation. They function as messengers, awaiting dispatch from God. They are protectors of His holiness, guarding the way to His presence. And they are warriors, ready to do His bidding. And here David calls them, all of them, to bless the Lord.
Just so you know, there is no lack of praise in Heaven. There is no pause or diminishment of praise that David is concerned about. But he is bursting at the seams and maybe because he knows that his worship is tainted by sin, that even his best deeds are as filthy rags, and that he is so prone to forget, he calls the perfect angels to worship.
Listen to what John Newton says about angels, “If two angels were to receive at the same moment a commission from God, one to go down and rule earth’s grandest empire, the other to go and sweep the streets of its remotest village, it would be a matter of entire indifference to each which service fell to his lot, the post of ruler or the post of scavenger; for the joy of the angels lies only in obedience to God’s will, and with equal joy they would lift Lazarus in his rags to Abraham’s bosom, or be a chariot of fire to carry Elijah home” (John Newton). And I would add, the joy of the angels is to worship God–and they do, day and night.
David moves on in verse 22 to say, “Bless the Lord, all you works of His, in all places of His dominion.” This is a call to all of creation–from the tiniest ant to the largest mammal, from the deepest ocean trench to the highest peak of Everest, from the smallest to greatest. All of creation is called to worship. “Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all it contains; let the field exult, and all that is in it. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy before the Lord” (Psalm 96:11 to 13).
In Luke 19 Jesus says that if we stop praising God, then even the rocks will cry out. And this brings us to the last phrase of verse 22. David ends where he started. “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” What a fitting end. Having seen the amazing character and work of God, there is nothing left to do except praise Him. And so with an overflowing heart, David says to anyone who will listen, “Let’s go.”
Now listen to me as we close. Maybe you have noticed that I have skipped some very important phrases in this psalm. And I did so purposely so I could collect them together here at the end for the purpose of emphasis. Let me point them out to you.
Look at verse 11, “So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.” Verse 13, “So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” Verse 17, “But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him.” Verse 18, “And His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them.”
Even though it would seem at first glance that everyone experiences the love of God, the simple reality is that the blessings spoken of here are only experienced by those who fear Him and who keep His covenant. So let me ask you, do you know the love of God and have you experienced His forgiveness?
If the answer is no, then come to the cross of Jesus Christ, surrender your life to Him and join in the chorus of praise. For those in this room who have experienced the love and forgiveness of God, let me remind you one last time . . .
1 Forgetful soul, count your blessings Verses 2 to 5
2 Guilty sinner, discover forgiveness Verses 6 to 14
3 Mortal man, rest in eternal love Verses 15 to 19
4 Overflowing heart, let’s go Verses 20 to 22