Psalm 103

AWAKE MY SOUL   — Pete Bauer

This sermon was preached at Peace Hill Christian Fellowship on June 20th, 2010. To listen to the audio of this sermon, just click on this link – Ps 103.

WAKE UP AND ACKNOWLEDGE WHO OUR GOD IS.

Wake Up Your Soul:  The Psalm begins with the Psalmist speaking to his own soul – commanding his soul to praise the Lord – shaking himself from his inmost being.  This does not necessarily occur to us because we are too familiar with the language -we have grown comfortable with the turn of phrase and it is easy to gloss over without seeing.

But what we must see happening, this morning, in this Psalm, is how David is calling himself to worship.   Most of us do not wake up this way.  David has to tell himself not to forget  the benefits of God – Why?   Because we are apt to forget, to doubt, to get wrapped up in our trouble, our sorrow, our fear, our anger, our lust, our preoccupation with the worries and details of life – just like David.

This morning, as we look at this Psalm, we are called to slow down in order to stop and look at this description of who God is…

Articulate Who Our God Is:  Most of us live, much of the time, with vague notions and worries about God.   We pay much more attention to the details of our sin and inadequacy – to the sins and offenses of others – to what we have to deal with or to what we do not have.  Consequently, we live out much of our lives in fear, loneliness and frustration.

But David forces himself to articulate – to spell out – the specifics of the character of God.  The list is almost too good to be true…

~ God Forgives All Your SIns and heals  all your diseases:  Top of the list – the first thing David wants to say about God – is that God forgives every sin, and that God is our healer

.     Notice how David speaks to himself – “all your sins”.

God Redeems Your Life from the Pit Pit and Crowns You with Compassion:   God is the one who has taken our lives from the slimy pit – (a picture of being trapped, unable to escape, imprisoned and hopeless) – and has bought us.   Not only has God bought us (very NT language here), but he also crowns us with love and compassion.  David uses this metaphor because he was, quite literally, “crowned”.  This is a picture of God honoring us – exalting us – (like the experience of Joseph, who was freed from a prison pit and given a place of authority and honor all in one day).

God Satisfies Our Desires and Renews Us:   The picture of our youth being renewed like the eagles suggests the soaring of our spirits.  This is about more than a satisfaction of material desires, it is about the renewal of the soul – that internal aliveness and joy – the refreshment of the spirit that God can work in us.

God Works Out Justice for the Oppressed:  God is a God of justice, who alone can bring full justice on evil – who cares for the poor and oppressed.

REMEMBER THAT GOD HAS REVEALED THIS ABOIUT HIMSELF.

How can David have the authority to say these things about God?   How can we?  Because God has said these things about himself!   David is not making these things up out of thin air.  In Ex.34, right after Aaron makes the golden calf and the people engaged in idolatry and Moses smashed the first stone tablets of the 10 commandments, Moses goes back up to the mountain and begs God not to abandon the people – even though they are “stiff-necked”.   And God passes before Moses and reveals his name to Moses.

We would expect, after such an incident, that God would talk about his holiness, and how people who are so sinful cannot follow him.  But instead he says,  “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished…” (Ex.34:6-7).   This is the Name of our God!

Our God’s Name is Compassion:  Vs.8 states outright that God is compassionate and gracious – and then goes on to define just exactly what that means.

~ It means that God takes a long time to get angry – he is not easily provoked, because he is overflowing with love.   God wants so much for us, and is so determined to redeem us, and is so patient in doing so, that he does not easily become angry.

~ It means that God is not our accuser:   We know who our accuser is – the enemy of God.

~ It means that God does not hold a grudge:  God does not stew over our sin like we do.

~ It means that God does not treat us as we deserve:   God does not treat us as we deserve to be treated – though we fail and fall  – though we go our own way – God is compassionate.

Why is God This Way?   What motivates God to be compassionate towards people who are so inconstant and who fail so often?   David makes four statements which reveal the mind/ heart of God.

1)  God desires to show us love on a different order than what we have ever experienced or seen.  You cannot possibly understand how much God loves you and has loved you.   And David is saying this even before that love is expressed and sealed in Jesus Christ.

2) God desires to pronounce us innocent.  God has removed the sin of those who trust in him.  This, again, sounds very NT.   The fact that David is saying it here in the OT is evidence that God’s plan was always to forgive the sins of those who fear and honor him.

3)  God wants to be Our Father.  God wants to Father’s us!  He is not the Father we had or have – He is the Father we need and longed to have.  God created us to bring us into that eternal, joyful fellowship that he has experienced eternally as a trinity.

4)  God wants to love us through eternity.   God understands how inconsistent and inconstant we are.  God knows what we are – dust.   God recognizes that our nature is to up and down  – back and forth – blooming and fading.  But God is from everlasting to everlasting (strange expression).  God is constant, eternal.  God’s love is not like ours – up and down.

JOIN ALL CREATION IN PRAISING GOD.

We Do Not Worship God in a Vacuum:  As David closes this Psalm, he is recognizing something very important about praise… that he is not alone.   Praising God is not some esoteric experience detached from everyday life.  The truth is that we were made to praise God in  every day life.   We were meant to recognize that goodness and wonder of our Creator, and his compassion for us.   The truth is that in the spiritual realm the angels and the heavenly hosts who carry out God’s will  are constantly praising him.  The Creation pours forth speech about God – the heavens declare his glory.  We are the unusual ones.

Human beings, the pinnacle of creation – made in God’s image – we alone need reminding.

Praise Awakens Us:  Praise is not some strange unusual thing – it is what we were made for.   And praise unfolds us and fills us up.   To remember the character and nature of our God, over time, changes us.   We become more aware of the presence and goodness of God.   Our perspective on life is renewed and changed by the willingness to take up God’s name and remember God’s benefits.

I want to encourage you to spend some time with this Psalm this week – to question what you believe about God’s motives towards you and to see how that matches up with Psalm 103.  Let God tell you himself what he is like.  Allow God to tell you about his intentions towards you.

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