Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul,And all that is [deep] within me, bless His holy name. Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul,And do not forget any of His benefits; Who forgives all your sins,Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit,Who crowns you [lavishly] with lovingkindness and tender mercy; Who satisfies your years with good things,So that your youth is renewed like the [soaring] eagle. The Lord executes righteousnessAnd justice for all the oppressed. He made known His ways [of righteousness and justice] to Moses,His acts to the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious,Slow to anger and abounding in compassion and lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us,Nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins [as we deserve],Nor rewarded us [with punishment] according to our wickedness. For as the heavens are high above the earth,So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear and worship Him [with awe-filled respect and deepest reverence]. As far as the east is from the west,So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father loves his children,So the Lord loves those who fear and worship Him [with awe-filled respect and deepest reverence]. For He knows our [mortal] frame;He remembers that we are [merely] dust. As for man, his days are like grass;Like a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it and it is no more,And its place knows it no longer. But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who [reverently] fear Him,And His righteousness to children’s children, To those who honor and keep His covenant,And remember to do His commandments [imprinting His word on their hearts]. The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,And His sovereignty rules over all [the universe]. Bless the Lord, you His angels,You mighty ones who do His commandments,Obeying the voice of His word! Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,You who serve Him and do His will. Bless the Lord, all you works of His, in all places of His dominion;Bless and affectionately praise the Lord, O my soul!
Have you ever heard a healing take place? I have. I listened to an audio tape of Duane Miller teaching his Sunday school class from the text of Psalm 103 at the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on January 17, 1993. Duane prematurely retired from pastoring three years earlier because of a virus which penetrated the myelin sheath around the nerves of his vocal cords, reducing his speech to a raspy whisper.
He experienced the awful distress described in Psalm 102, the counterpoint to the joy found in Psalm 103.
Teaching his class that day with a special microphone resting on his lips, he reaffirmed his belief in divine healing and that miracles had not ended with the Book of Acts. Listening to the tape, at times you can barely understand his weakly spoken wheezy words of faith. The miracles happened at verse 4 when he said, “I have had and you have had in times past pit experiences.”
On the word “pit” Duane’s life changed-the word was clear as a bell, in contrast to the imperfect enunciation of the preceding word “past.” He paused, startled, began again and stopped. He said a few more words-all in a normal, clear tone- and stopped again. The class erupted with shouts of joy, astonishment, and sounds of weeping. God completely healed him as he was declaring the truth of this psalm. (You can read the full account in Miller’s book, Out of Silence, Nelson Publishers.)
Many of us like Duane have spent lengthy amounts of time in the despair described by Psalm 102, but Psalm 103 expresses that the Lord has deep healing that matches our deep hurt. While Psalm 102 ended with a sense that perhaps God’s blessings might skip over us and benefit our children and their descendants instead, Psalm 103 reminds us that God will not forget us. For this reason it’s no wonder that the psalm begins with gratitude(verses 1-2) as well as what the Lord has done(verses 3-5).
First, He forgives all our sins. The legal definition of sin places it in two categories: those arising from intention and those stemming from negligence. God forgives both- our acts of commission and omission, cancels all indictments against us and discharges all our debts.
Second He heals all our diseases. What makes this verse difficult is that many have not experienced healing such as Duane’s that is assured in this psalm. As believers in Christ, we must confess that we don’t understand everything now in this life. We are often left with a lot of questions that seem to have no answers. Ultimately, in eternity we will be made whole as we receive glorified bodies which some view as healing. God will ultimately eradicate all disease and death, but He has not banished either now. Furthermore we must broaden our definition of disease to include anything that diminishes our wholeness and well-being. Diseases can just as easily be mental or emotional such as bad attitudes, unforgiving spirits, bitter hearts, eruptive and angry tongues, flawed wills that do not resist addictions, and other things that diminish a healthy life. The Gospels frequently make the statement that “he(Jesus) made them every with whole” which indicates He ministered to the whole person- body, soul, spirit.
Third, He redeems our lives from the pit. The pit represents the abysses of life from which we cannot escape. The old hymn captures the essence of God’s grace as it says, “When He reached down His hand for me.” God reaches His long arm into the pitch-black hole of despair or depression where we are imprisoned and lie helpless, seizes us strongly, pulls us up, and sets our feet on solid ground in the sunlight of His presence.
Fourth, He crowns our lives with love and compassion. In the world to come- heaven- there awaits for us a crown of righteousness, life and glory( 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4). But for now God wants us to wear a crown of love and compassion. God has a better gift for us than the crowns of success, power, or riches.
Fifth, He satisfies our desires with good things. The horror of depression as expressed by Psalm 102 is the total lack of hope. The deceitfulness of temptation is that it it presses us to believe we’re headed down into the pit of nonfulfillment if we obey God. But God is committed to bringing good into our lives, no matter what. Psalm 16:11 says, “At his right hand are pleasures for evermore.” There’s no true disappointment in Jesus.
Sixth, He renews our lives as the eagles. Were we to trap an eagle and confine him to a dark cage, he won’t live long. He lives best when free. We’re no different and that why the Lord has provided “all his benefits.” The little word “all” is significant for the Lord is not one who has pets nor is He a respecter of persons. His favor is for all who call upon Him.
The question for us is: How can we be sure that this is really who God is? We have the records of generations to who He has revealed himself, His character has been seen in how He helped Israel and also what He has done for us. If all this isn’t enough to convince us, observe His tender parenting(verses 13-18). Our lives experience a fixed center of stability because the Lord reigns(verse 19).
Dr. John Thompson