Praising the Perfect King

Posted: April 25, 2012 in Psalms

Psalms 101-103, “Praising the Perfect King”

Have you ever wondered what the perfect is like?  Most of us at some point look at injustice in the world, and sit and think what it will be like after Jesus returns and the world sees Him in all of His glory, and He begins His physical reign upon the earth.  That’s the time when things will be perfect.  That’s the time when people will see the perfect King.  That’s the time when all suffering will end in the perfect kingdom.  That’s the time when we will experience the perfect blessings fulfilled in the kingdom of God.

Of course if we think about those future days, it’s no surprise that the writers of the psalms did the same thing.  In Psalms 101-103, we see the authors (mainly David) looking towards the future & the perfect reign of Christ.  As the authors look through times of blessing & times of suffering, their eyes are fixed upon the awesome God whose everlasting love is made clear in His covenant and promises.

Psalm 101 (NKJV) – David’s Intentions; Jesus’ Actions
A Psalm of David.

  • What we read in Psalm 100 is a description of the perfect King of Israel.  This is the way the King was supposed to act.  Of course it doesn’t take much reading of 1-2 Samuel & 1-2 Kings to realize that absolutely no king acted this way.  Even with as good a king as David was (the pre-eminent of all of the historical kings of Israel/Judah), he failed at the standards set here.  The standard is nothing less than perfect purity – which is wonderful, in that it serves well for the representative ruler appointed by God over God’s people.  At the same time, it’s terrible in that absolutely no one can live up to it.  No one, that is, except one: the Lord Jesus Christ.  What are listed out as David’s intentions are nothing less than an accurate description of Jesus’ real actions as the King of kings.
  • How the King will live (vss. 1-4)

1 I will sing of mercy and justice; To You, O LORD, I will sing praises.

  • Notice the future tense here.  This is a commitment from David to sing praises to God.  It’s not that David wasn’t doing it at the current time, but rather a continued commitment to go on singing the praises of the wonderful covenant-keeping Ever-Existent God.
  • Note the dual nature of the praise:
    • David sings of mercy.  “Chesed” = the loyal covenantal lovingkindness of God.  God shows forth His mercy to His people, graciously approaching us through Jesus Christ in order that we can approach Him without fear of destruction.
    • David sings of justice.  God’s righteousness is perfect, thus God will exercises perfect judgment.  In a world in which “justice” is a concept imperfectly expressed in our courtrooms and government, the perfect justice of God is certainly worth singing about.
    • Sometimes we have a tendency to let one aspect of God’s character override the other, as if the loyal love of God is opposed to the holy righteousness of God.  Not true!  God is infinite in all of His attributes, thus He is infinitely holy AND infinitely loving.  To sing the praises of God is to praise Him for all that He is – not to pick & choose which aspects of God we appreciate the most.

2 I will behave wisely in a perfect way. Oh, when will You come to me? I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.

  • David’s desire is to walk in a way that is pleasing to God.
  • Considering David’s question, had God forsaken him?  No.  This seems to be no more than just the desire to see his God face-to-face.  Much like we today join in the prayer of the early church, “Maranatha!  Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”  When we Jesus come – when will we see Him?  We long for that day & we sing praises until that day comes.

3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. 4 A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness.

  • David goes into detail on what a “wise & perfect” walk & behavior looks like.  Taking practical steps to purity by separating himself from bad influences.
  • Keep in mind that David failed in this area.  Especially regarding his eyes…it was when he lingered in gazing upon Bathsheba that his world was thrown into turmoil & he descended into vile sin (adultery, deception, murder, etc.).  There’s no doubt that David DID know wickedness.  Yet his heart was to stay far from it!
    • Our problem is often that we don’t even have the desire that David did.  Not only do we engage in such sin, we don’t even start with the intentions on staying far from it.  Although we cannot simply stay in the realm of good intentions, that’s absolutely where it must start!  If we do not start out with the desire to walk in purity before the Lord, it ought to be no surprise when we fail to walk in purity.
    • What happens when our good intentions fail?  Humble yourself in confession & repentance, and seek the forgiveness of God!  (1 John 1:9)
  • Though David failed, Jesus did not.  Truly there was nothing wicked set before Jesus’ eyes, and our Lord knew no wickedness at all until the moment that He became sin for our sakes.  It’s not that He wasn’t tempted (He was!), but Jesus did not give into His temptation.  Truly evil did not cling to our Lord Jesus, and His heart was pure from perversity.  Praise God for our perfect Lord!
  • How the King will rule (vss. 5-8)

5 Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, Him I will destroy; The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart, Him I will not endure.

  • David’s desire for a righteous rule started first with his own heart and actions, but it did not stay there.  As God’s representative king upon the earth over the people of God, David had a responsibility to rule righteously.  Just as God destroys evildoers and slanderers, so would David do in the role God had appointed to him.
  • Again, what was imperfect with David will be perfectly seen in Christ Jesus during the Millennial kingdom.  During that time, Jesus will rule in perfect righteousness.  The wicked will be punished with a rod of iron (Ps 2:9), and the righteousness of God will be enforced all over the world.  For the sin that God endures today, upon Jesus’ 2nd coming, no sin will be endured any longer.  The world will finally see the perfect righteousness of God applied in the way that only the perfect God could do.
  • Notice what sins are considered here: slander & pride.  It’s not the so-called “big” sins such as murder & adultery & theft, etc.  It’s not the stuff that we would normally see people in jail for…these are things that any of us would be found guilty of!  Any time we’ve spoken falsely about our neighbor & defamed his/her character, we’ve slandered them.  Any time we’ve lifted ourselves up in our own pride, we’ve sinned against God.  These are the very things that Jesus will not endure in His perfect kingdom.  Our supposed “little” sins leave us just as guilty as the more famous ones!  There are sins that are winked at in the pews of our churches that leave Jesus appalled and ready to judge in righteousness.
    • The solution?  The cross of Christ.  The same punishment was doled out for slander as for murder.  The same wrath of God was poured out upon Christ for pride as for conspiracy.  We are all in dire need of the forgiveness of God, and that forgiveness has been made available to all through the cross!

6 My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, That they may dwell with me; He who walks in a perfect way, He shall serve me. 7 He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence.

  • Just as the king will judge the wicked in righteousness, so will he uphold those who are faithful.  The king watches over the righteous in order that he could pour out his blessings upon them.
  • There’s a contrast here regarding who it is that dwells in the presence of the king.  Those without sin serve the king & dwell in his house; those who continue in wickedness will not dwell with him.
  • There’s a direct parallel here in our relationship with Christ.  Those who will dwell with Him for all eternity are those who have been made righteous by Him.  Those who remain in their own wickedness will not remain in the presence of the Lord – they will be forever cast out into the outer darkness where there is weeping & gnashing of teeth.

8 Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land, That I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD.

  • What was implied in verse 7 is spelled out in verse 8.  The wicked not only will not serve in the presence of the king, but they will be destroyed & purged out of the land.  Those who are not identified with the king are forever cut off & face utter destruction.
  • The Bible could not be clearer on this point: those who are labeled as evildoers will be cast off and destroyed. It must be so, or God could not be considered perfectly righteous.

 

Psalm 102 (NKJV) – Trials are temporary; God is everlasting
A Prayer of the Afflicted, When He is Overwhelmed and Pours Out His Complaint Before the LORD.

  • We’re not given a historical context to Ps 102, but afflictions as they’re written seem to describe well the time of the Babylonian exile of Jerusalem.  The author knows that he will soon die, but he is thankful for everlasting covenant of God & looks forward to future generations seeing the fulfillment of God’s promises.  Even as the author looked forward to the rebuilding of the earthly Jerusalem, so we also look forward to the coming of the New Jerusalem, and at the very least, the Millennial Kingdom.  Some of the promises listed in Ps 102 will only be fulfilled in the Millennium, and there’s no doubt that Jesus is in view here as the everlasting Creator and King.  The trials the author endured here were one day going to end, but the reign of our God and King will endure forever!
  • Plea for audience (vss. 1-2)

1 Hear my prayer, O LORD, And let my cry come to You.

  • This is a common cry in the psalms (we’ve seen something like this 6 times already!).  The author desires to have an audience with his eternal King, that God Himself would hear the petition and answer according to His righteousness.
  • It’s not just a common cry in the psalms, it’s a common cry for us as well.  We want to know that God hears our prayers.  So often, when people pray it seems as if they are having a one-sided conversation.  We do a lot of talking, and then wonder what kind of response we might get & if God even hears us at all.  This is an area in which we cannot rely upon our feelings, but upon the solid promises of the word of God.  When we come through Jesus Christ, we know that God DOES hear us.  Jesus is our Mediator (1 Tim 2:5) – Jesus is our Advocate (1 Jn 2:1) – Jesus gives us access to the throne of grace (Heb 4:16).  Can sin get in the way?  Certainly – as Peter makes clear to husbands who do not dwell with their wives with understanding (1 Pet 3:7).  But when we come humbly to God, dependent upon the grace of Christ Jesus, we can be sure that our God hears our prayers.
    • This ought to give us much hope when we pray!  So often, our prayers are based upon our emotions – the way we feel at the time.  We feel “close” to the Lord, or we feel “far” from Him.  To be sure, there are ups & downs in our walk with God (as there are in any relationship), but our relationship with God is not based upon our feelings.  Our covenant relationship with God is based upon the solid fact of the cross & resurrection of Jesus Christ.  That endures, despite the way we may be feeling from day to day.  JESUS is the basis of which we can pray to God, and so we pray & pray & continue to pray more, knowing that our God hears us because of the glorious work of His Son.

2 Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; Incline Your ear to me; In the day that I call, answer me speedily.

  • The fear for the psalmist is abandonment.  He is in an hour of deep need – this is the time that he needs God the most, and he cannot afford to be left alone.  The good news for every Christian is that what the psalmist fears is unfounded for the believer.  God will never leave us nor forsake us.  Jesus has promised to be with us, even to the end of the age.  Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be with us, as our comforter & teacher.  God will never abandon us!
  • Description of troubles (vss. 3-11)

3 For my days are consumed like smoke, And my bones are burned like a hearth. 4 My heart is stricken and withered like grass, So that I forget to eat my bread. 5 Because of the sound of my groaning My bones cling to my skin. 6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert. 7 I lie awake, And am like a sparrow alone on the housetop.

  • The description is one of lonely depression and suffering.  He feels as if his life is wasted and being consumed.  He’s mentally beat down, and physically suffering in pain.  He already feels utterly alone, and cannot bear the thought of God abandoning him as well.
  • We observed in other psalms that there are times in which the psalmists cannot help but break out in praise & that’s all they can do.  But there are other times in which we read the unfiltered pain of the authors as they pour out their suffering before the Lord.  Ps 102 certainly shows this suffering.
    • Sometimes Christians get the idea that unless their dispositions are always happy & smiling, then they must be a poor Christian.  After all, if they are experiencing sadness & grief, then they must have lost the joy of the Lord, right?  Wrong!  Suffering is not only not unusual for a Christian, it’s expected.  Jesus told us that we would face tribulations, and Paul writes of the fellowship of the sufferings of Christ.  It wouldn’t be called “suffering” if it felt good & made us happy.  It is OK to grieve in times of grief.  That doesn’t make you a bad Christian; it makes you human.  As believers, we’re rejoice with those who rejoice, but also to weep with those who weep.  When we suffer, it’s not something to hide away from the Lord in shame, but rather bring openly to His feet, asking for His help and power.  (Which is exactly the model we see in the Psalms!)
    • Some of you may be bearing some sort of suffering tonight.  I encourage you to bring it before the Lord.  If it comes with tears & sorrow, so be it – but don’t hide it from the Lord; bring it to Him.  Allow your Lord to minister to you in your pain, so that you might experience the strength and comfort He offers.

8 My enemies reproach me all day long; Those who deride me swear an oath against me. 9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, And mingled my drink with weeping, 10 Because of Your indignation and Your wrath; For You have lifted me up and cast me away. 11 My days are like a shadow that lengthens, And I wither away like grass.

  • Part of the reason for the psalmist’s sufferings were the constant attacks from his enemies.  Who these enemies were, we’re not told, but he bore so much reproach from them that it seemed as if insults and derision were his food, as opposed to normal bread and water.
  • The other reason for the psalmist’s sufferings was the Lord.  The author recognizes the discipline of the hand of God (“Your indignation & Your wrath”).  What the author was enduring were the things that the Lord had allowed, and so (like Job) the psalmist pours out his complaint before the Lord.
  • It’s easy for us to complain to the Lord about the attacks of our enemies (whether personal or spiritual); we have a much tougher time talking to the Lord about the things that He has allowed.  Obviously we do not blame the Lord for our troubles.  If we experience the discipline of God, we can be sure God is doing so because He loves us & desires for us to stay away from sin.  At the same time, we’re lying to ourselves if we try to pretend that God is not involved at all.  God is sovereign.  The things we experience ARE things that God allows.  Even taking into account the free will God has given us, God certainly could help us avoid suffering if He so desired, so if we’re experiencing suffering we have to affirm that God is the one who has allowed us to experience it.
    • So how do we deal with that?  For some people, that can be a rather tough pill to swallow.  Does this mean that God is to blame for our suffering?  Absolutely not.  All suffering is the result of sin.  That’s not to say someone’s sin always directly causes suffering, but “sin” as a whole entered the world when Adam sinned in the Garden, and all of creation fell with Adam.  Suffering entered at THAT point.  ALL suffering can ultimately be traced back to the 1st sin.  What’s the solution?  The cross of Christ!  Sin entered as a result of the 1st Adam; grace comes as the result of the last Adam (Jesus Christ).  God certainly allows the suffering, but God also graciously provided the only possible answer when He gave His only begotten Son to be sacrificed on our behalf.  God does not passively sit by as we suffer; He already personally intervened to ultimately remove ALL suffering from the world & restore us back to the way He had intended at creation.  Thus when we endure suffering, we can know that God also endured suffering when Jesus hung on the cross – and THERE we find the answer.
  • The promised kingdom of God (vss. 12-22)

12 But You, O LORD, shall endure forever, And the remembrance of Your name to all generations.

  • There are a few contrasts introduced here.  Contrast #1: the psalmist will die (vs 11), but God will endure.

13 You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come. 14 For Your servants take pleasure in her stones, And show favor to her dust.

  • Contrast #2: The psalmist may suffer; Zion will be blessed by God.
  • Notice the idea of Zion (Jerusalem) being rebuilt.  This might indicate this psalm was written during the time of the Babylonian captivity.  The city of Jerusalem seems to have been (at the moment) left in rubble & dust, but the time was coming in which Jerusalem would experience the favor of God again.

15 So the nations shall fear the name of the LORD, And all the kings of the earth Your glory. 16 For the LORD shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory.

  • Contrast #3: The psalmist feels abandoned, but one day all the nations will fear the name of the Lord & they will see Him in His glory.
  • Certainly this was true when Jerusalem was rebuilt & even the Medes & Persian empire recognized the blessing of God upon the land (re: Ezra & Nehemiah) – but ultimately this can only be truly fulfilled in the Millennial Kingdom.  During the time of Nehemiah, surely the nations of the region recognized the hand of God, but only during the Millennium will the glory of God be recognized by literally every nation all over the earth.

17 He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, And shall not despise their prayer. 18 This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.

  • The author is looking forward to the promises of God being yet fulfilled.  He may be experiencing suffering now, but he understands that one day the people of God will not be enduring the same thing he is.  One day, the future generation would praise the Lord in the city of God.
  • This might even be an indirect prophecy regarding the Church.  Theologically speaking, the Church is a peculiar people in the history of the world.  We did not exist prior to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we will be pulled out of the world at the rapture, prior to the Great Tribulation.  To the psalmist, we would definitely be considered “a people yet to be created,” and yet we can participate in the promises given to the nation of Israel to praise the Lord as the people of God.

19 For He looked down from the height of His sanctuary; From heaven the LORD viewed the earth, 20 To hear the groaning of the prisoner, To release those appointed to death, 21 To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, And His praise in Jerusalem, 22 When the peoples are gathered together, And the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.

  • Though the psalmist’s immediate view would be of God intervening in the lives of the Jews to bring them out of captivity back to the land of promise, there is also the inescapable description of the gospel here.  This is exactly the terminology used by Isaiah (and quoted by Jesus) to describe the coming of the Messiah, who would “preach the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives, give sight to the blind, set at liberty those who were oppressed, and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Lk 4:18-19, Isa 49:8-9)
    • To look down from the sanctuary speaks of the compassion of the Lord.
    • To view the earth from heaven speaks of the incarnation of the Lord.
  • Don’t miss what’s going on here.  The author is suffering, and to whom does God turn his attention in prayer?  Jesus!
  • Again, the ultimate fulfillment of this is plainly seen in the Millennial kingdom.  It’s during the 1000-year reign of Christ that the “peoples are gathered together, And the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.”  Every nation will serve God!  Every nation will recognize Jesus as the King!
  • God’s eternality & covenant (vss. 23-28)

23 He weakened my strength in the way; He shortened my days. 24 I said, “O my God, Do not take me away in the midst of my days; Your years are throughout all generations.

  • The psalmist again addresses his sufferings – asking the Lord for healing.  He knows that he doesn’t have long to live, and he’s asking the Lord for a few more years.  Perhaps this is his prayer asking to live long enough to see the restoration of Jerusalem?  We don’t know.
  • However long the author has to live, the idea here is that God has longer.  God is eternal.  He’s ever-existent & will never die.  This speaks to the strength of God’s promises regarding the future city and kingdom.  God’s promises will never fade away because God Himself will never fade away.  He will endure forever.  How long will God last?  He’ll outlast even His creation.  See vs. 25…

25 Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. 26 They will perish, but You will endure; Yes, they will all grow old like a garment; Like a cloak You will change them, And they will be changed. 27 But You are the same, And Your years will have no end.

  • Because God created the world, God is obviously older than the world.  Yet beyond that, God will outlast the world.  Scripture is clear that the current creation is fallen & will one day be refashioned.  Peter writes that the heavens & elements will pass away & melt with fervent heat & the earth will be burned up (2 Pet 3:10).  John records in Revelation that there is a new heavens & new earth that is coming (Rev 21:1).  Who will have been there before & after this creation?  God.  He is beyond creation because He is the Creator – the ultimate self-sufficient God.
  • BTW – these verses are exactly quoted by the author of Hebrews regarding Jesus Christ (Heb 1:10-12).  It’s a powerful statement in the New Testament that the Son of God is absolutely no less than the Creator God Himself.  It wasn’t merely God the Father that laid the foundation of the earth, it was God the Son – the Lord Jesus Christ.

28 The children of Your servants will continue, And their descendants will be established before You.”

  • One more act of grace: who is it that will continue with God beyond the re-creation of the world?  The people of God.  Amazing!  What an inheritance of grace we have received!  The promises we have received through Jesus Christ will last into eternity – far beyond the existence of even this present world.
  • This gave comfort to the psalmist, in that no matter what temporary trials he was experiencing, he knew that God would be forever faithful in the end.  This ought to give the same comfort to us as well.  There is definitely suffering we experience, but our suffering is nothing when placed in the light of comparison along with our eternal glorious God & His promises!

 

Psalm 103 (NKJV) – Bless the Merciful God
A Psalm Of David.

  • When David wrote this psalm, we don’t know.  We can surmise it was later in David’s life, because he relates the personal knowledge of the wonderful forgiveness of God.  David is filled with praise because he has the faithful everlasting covenant of God in view.  David’s eyes are fixed upon God and the outpouring of His grace, and it not only leads him to praise the Lord, but to call upon all of creation to do the same.
  • Opening personal praise (vss. 1-2)

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

  • The idea for “bless” is one of adoration & praise.  David looks unto the Lord God & is astounded.  He is amazed by the God he serves & the grace that he has personally experienced.  He’s left floored by his wonderful God & King & desires to praise God with absolutely everything that he has.  God is holy & worthy of praise!
  • Is that how we praise the Lord?  With “all that is within” us?  Granted, we won’t always praise the Lord in this way, but that is certainly our example.  We are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength in fulfillment of the Great Commandment – IOW, to love Him with everything we are & with everything we’ve got.  Nothing ought to be left out in our praise & worship of God…He’s worthy of everything we can give Him!

2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:

  • The refrain is repeated, here with the reason why to praise God: all of His mighty works (His “benefits”).  There are times to praise the Lord simply for His glorious character (who He is), and there are times in which we praise God for the things He has done.  Both are absolutely appropriate.  Any reason is a good reason to praise the Lord! J
  • The benefits given by God (vss. 3-18)

3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, 4 Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, 5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

  • The marvelous benefits of God!  David starts by listing out 5 main categories.
    • Benefit #1: Forgiveness.  Not partial forgiveness or forgiveness only of certain things…we’re told that God “forgives ALL our iniquities.”  Amazing!  All our sin is put away & completely dealt with in Christ.  We are not under the wrath of God because the wrath of God was put upon His Son.  We are truly forgiven.
    • Benefit #2: Healing.  Our healing is found in Christ!  Be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, when we need healing we turn to the One who offers healing.  In Christ we find healing from every disease.
      • Objection: what about the times that Christians die from disease?  To be sure, we don’t always experience a miraculous healing – but we DO find 100% of our healing in Jesus.  The reason why heaven is a place without sickness or disease or death is because God the Son is the one “who heals all your diseases.
    • Benefit #3: Redemption.  Redemption is related to forgiveness, but different.  Whereas with forgiveness, our sins against God are done away with, redemption deals with the issue of slavery.  We were slaves given over to sin & death, and we needed to be bought/purchased out of that.  That’s what the blood of Jesus did – it purchased our redemption.
    • Benefit #4: Mercy.  This is the loyal lovingkindess of God – His faithful covenantal love extended to those who are His people.  The “tender mercies” also describes the compassion of God.  Those who have received Christ as Savior & Lord have partaken of the compassion and never-ending covenant of God.  We’ve been brought into forever-relationship with the God of the Universe – He has crowned us as His own children.
    • Benefit #5: Provision.  As a baby eagle is fed by the mother eagle, so does God provide for His people.  Whether it’s basic physical provision, or spiritual & emotional strength, we can count upon our God to provide for us our daily bread.
  • What marvelous benefits are extended to those who are the people of God!  What incredible blessings are given to those in Christ!  It’s no wonder that the Bible tells us we have experienced grace upon grace.

6 The LORD executes righteousness And justice for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

  • David looks back to one of the founding covenants between God & the nation of Israel: the Mosaic covenant.  God had promised to be the nations’ God & King and to rule them with perfect judgment, and that is exactly how God had acted (even when Israel sinned).  God is the perfect judge because God is perfect, period.
  • Even in this covenant, the mercy of God is made known.  When God revealed Himself to Moses on Mt. Sinai, He revealed Himself using the same language as David quotes.  God is astoundingly merciful, and also absolutely just.  He will keep covenant and mercy forever with those who love Him, and yet God will by no means clear the guilty.  He is both righteous & merciful.  The fact that God is so merciful is the very thing that Israel has experienced.  See vs. 9-10…

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 punished us according to our iniquities.

  • If God had punished Israel according to the measure that their sins had deserved, they would have been completely wiped off the map before they even arrived in the promised land!  Yet God was incredibly merciful.  He dealt with their sins (through sacrifice and discipline), and was abounding with mercy at the same time.
  • It’s so contrary to what we might believe, but even the discipline of God can be an act of God’s mercy.  It’s a demonstration of His love towards us as children – it’s a way of Him intervening in our lives to keep us from further sin.  It’s His protection & His provision of us, and something for which we ought to be grateful.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

  • What a glorious description of the grace & mercy of God!  It’s infinitely vertical – as high as the uncontainable universe.  It’s infinitely horizontal – as the east is from the west (which can never meet).  The forgiveness and covenant mercies we have received in Christ Jesus is beyond our estimation!

13 As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. 14 For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

  • God pities us & knows our weaknesses.  He knows we’re but made of dust – He knows we struggle against a nature of sin.  He knows every temptation we face & the areas in which we are weak…and He pities us with compassionate understanding.  Praise God that He knows our weaknesses!  God does not condemn us for being human.  He loves, forgives, restores, and strengthens us.  And He even went beyond that to become human Himself & endured the same temptations we ourselves face (though without sin).  What amazing compassion!  What amazing grace!

15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, And its place remembers it no more. 17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting On those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, 18 To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them.

  • Life is short & weak, but God’s covenant never ends.  God’s covenant is an everlasting covenant that extends to all generations.
  • Notice who’s included in the covenant: “those who remember His commandments to do them.”  Obviously we are not saved by our obedience of the law.  (If that was how salvation came, we would all be utterly lost!)  We are saved because of the grace of God made possible by Jesus’ obedience.  It is the evidence of our salvation that is made plain in our obedience to God’s commandments.  As Jesus said, “He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is He who loves Me.” (John 14:21)  Our obedience is not the cause of our salvation, but it is crucial evidence that we have indeed been saved.
    • If your life is more characterized by your wanton disobedience rather than the desire to follow after God in humble submission to Him, then you need to ask yourself if you’ve partaken of the covenant of God in the 1st place.
  • The blessing belonging to God (vss. 19-22)

19 The LORD has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all.

  • God’s kingdom is all-encompassing

20 Bless the LORD, you His angels, Who excel in strength, who do His word, Heeding the voice of His word. 21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.

  • God is to be praised by the angels.

22 Bless the LORD, all His works, In all places of His dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

  • God is to be praised by all creation
  • God is to be praised by us, personally.

Conclusion:
We serve a compassionate faithful God who is truly worthy of all of our praise!  Whether we’re looking forward to the perfect reign of the perfect King in the Millennium, or we’re simply trusting God to get us through our everyday trials and suffering, we can be assured that our God loves us, that He hears us, that He knows what we’re going through, and that He has showered us with grace.  This is a God whom we can bless with everything that is within us.  This is a God whom we can love with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  This is a God who is worthy of our trust.

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