Sometimes we cling to a single verse and make far more of it than we should. Other times, we ignore small passages with a big message. My hope with this series of posts is find a happy medium which allows for swings in either direction as the Lord allows.
Today we’ll be taking a deeper look at Psalm 103:2-3:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;” (KJV)
We begin verse 2 in the same manner as the first verse. It’s definitely a reminder that praise should be a priority where our communication with God is concerned. It is also a reminder that sometimes we might have to place ourselves in a position of worship despite how we may feel at the moment. If you need a refresher of the conclusion we reached about this first portion, you can pop on over to the post about verse one. Before I move on though, I’d like to give you a quote from The Treasury of David regarding the beginning of this verse:
“…thus he shews us that we have need, again and again, to bestir ourselves when we are about to worship God, for it would be shameful to offer him anything less than the utmost our souls can render. These first verses are a tuning of the harp, a screwing up of the loosened strings that not a note may fail in the sacred harmony.”
I’m going to move on to the part which says, “and forget not all his benefits”. This phrase is another reason I think David was struggling to praise in the midst of shaken faith. I don’t know what he was going through at the time, but it’s like he’s making a case in support of trusting God with the issue. David had plenty of trials during his lifetime, and no doubt, he benefitted greatly from his relationship with God (he defeated Goliath, he escaped the wrath of Saul, he became king…etc).
Still, sometimes it is so easy to forget the benefit we’ve had of walking with God. Take Peter for instance. He asks Jesus if he can walk on water too. Jesus tells him to step out of the boat, but the minute the waves start to churn, what happens. Peter begins to sink. He forgets the benefit of “walking with” Jesus. With Jesus, he can walk on water. In his own power, he is subject to the laws of nature. I love this quote from The Treasury of David:
“Memory is very treacherous about the best things; by a strange perversity, engendered by the fall, it treasures up the refuse of the past and permits priceless treasures to lie neglected, it is tenacious of grievances and holds benefits all too loosely.”
It’s so true. We tend to remember far more easily the negative. We would do well to remember the benefits of being a child of the King. It is when we remember who we are in Christ that we will behave accordingly. In order to further get his mind set on the right things, David begins to list some of these benefits. He begins with probably the most important benefit, forgiveness.
“who forgiveth all thine iniquities;” (KJV)
The 1599 Geneva Bible calls the remission of sin “the beginning and chiefest of all benefits”. Without forgiveness, we are lost. Our sin marks us. This one benefit alone should cause us to worship freely. It should elicit a gratitude like nothing else. With this forgiveness, He removes the barrier, the separation brought by sin. We are able to come before His throne. It’s easy to forget this benefit because it is one we cannot lose. He graciously gives it. It is always there. So we become comfortable with it, and unfortunately run the risk of losing our appreciation of His ultimate sacrifice.
The final portion of these passages is one that can bring forth controversy. People cling to these words like a promise to always have healing from earthly disease. The fact is, when you are healed, He is the one doing the healing. He may use doctors, or medicines, or even mud, but it is He who brings the healing. David was likely referring to his personal “diseases” that were healed (or healing). The word can also be translated “grievous” which could refer to anything traumatic, painful, agonizing, bad…etc. The word grievous is derived from the noun, “grief”. And I think we can all relate to grief in one form or another.ji
It is obvious that God has the capacity to heal not only our physical pain, but our emotional and spiritual wounds as well. Another passage says, “by his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Those who study the scriptures agree that these “stripes” or “wounds” refer to the crucifixion. If we jump over to the new testament, we can see the healing isn’t a physical healing, but rather a spiritual restoration… a redemption. This doesn’t discount that God does heal physically, but it shows that His priority is redemption for the sinner. Check out the context and cross references here for more insight.
Verse number four is coming up, but in the meantime, let’s begin to take stock of “all his benefits.” We would do well to forget them not.
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