Read: Psalm 103:1 – 2; Deuteronomy 6:5, 8:10; Judges 5:9; 1 Chronicles 29:20
David wrote Psalm 103 in his maturity, when he had gained a deeper appreciation of his own sinfulness and God’s mercy. In Psalm 103 David blessed the Lord. To bless God is to give Him glory, thanksgiving, and the credit for everything good. Realizing all the benefits God has showered upon me calls forth a blessing from every fiber of my being.
Think About It: Most of the references in Scripture to blessing involve God blessing us, not the other way around. What reasons do I have to bless God? Do I bless God with “all that is within me”? Is my worship and praise of God enthusiastic and whole-hearted? Is there anything I am holding back from God?
Prayer: Bless the Lord!
Read: Psalm 103:3; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Luke 7:37 – 47
David called on me to remember all God’s benefits, and then he enumerated them. Forgiveness is the first benefit he mentioned and commented upon extensively in the psalm. Recognizing the benefit of forgiveness requires that I adopt the viewpoint of the psalmist, which means recognizing and taking responsibility for my specific, personal sins.
Think About It: According to Luke 7:37 – 47 what makes recognizing my sinfulness and God’s forgiveness so important? Do I appreciate how great my offenses against God are? Do I love much, or love little?
Prayer: Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.
Read: Psalm 103:8, 13; Romans 5:6 – 8; 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Peter 3:18
Forgiveness arises from God’s very nature: He is slow to anger, gracious, and plenteous in mercy; He pities me like a father pities His children, desiring that things work out well for me.
Think About It: Some people think that they really haven’t committed sin, or that the sin they have committed “isn’t so bad,” or that they have a good excuse for committing sin. How do the Scripture passages for today refute that kind of thinking?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for forgiving me, the chief of sinners.
Read: Psalm 103:9 – 10; John 1:29; Romans 8:3- 4; Ephesians 2:1- 4; 2 Corinthians 5:21
Forgiveness requires the resolution of God’s wrath against sin. The psalmist writes that God will “not keep His anger forever.” We are all by nature “children of wrath,” richly deserving the judgment of God. But God, being rich in mercy, devised a way to express His mercy to undeserving sinners. That way is Christ. Forgiveness means God does not give me what I deserve: “He has not dealt with us according to our sins.” Instead, He dealt with Christ “according to our sins” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Think About It: What would be the result if God dealt with me according to my sins? (See for example Deuteronomy 28:15 – 45.) What do I really deserve from God? How has God dealt with me instead?
Prayer: Thank God that He has not dealt with me as I deserve, but rather according to His mercy.
Read: Psalm 103:11, 111:10; Proverbs 8:13; 9:10; 1 Corinthians 1:30; Hebrews 12:18-29
God’s mercy (which is the source of His forgiveness) is conditional: it is for them that fear Him. Fearing God requires belief that He exists, and that He rewards those who seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). “Fear of the Lord” means standing in awe of God, being aware of His omnipresence and of His holiness, being aware that He demands holiness from me. This awareness leads me to the Law (God’s requirement for how I ought to live), which in turn leads me through the experience of Romans 7. (The good that I would do, I don’t do, the evil that I wouldn’t do, that I do – who is there to deliver me from this body doomed to death?) This leads me at last to the cross of Christ and trust in the grace and love of God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is choosing to give God the proper place in my life, which means accepting Jesus as Savior and submitting to Him as Lord. Jesus is the wisdom of God. Fearing God ultimately leads to faith in Christ.
Think About It: Do I stand in awe of God? Do I recognize that I live in the presence of God, the angels, the saints in heaven (Hebrews 12:18 – 29)? What difference should this realization make in the way I live?
Prayer: For God’s help in living with an awareness of His constant presence.
Read: Psalm 103:12; 1 John 1:9; Jeremiah 31:34; 33:8
Forgiveness involves God removing my transgressions from me as far as the east is from the west.
Think About It: Do I really believe that God removes my transgressions from me? How does Jeremiah 31:34 describe this same truth? Do I believe it?
Prayer: Praise God that, when I repent and trust in Christ, He removes my sin and remembers it no more.
Read: Psalm 103:14 – 16; Genesis 2:7; 3:19; Ecclesiastes 3:20; 12:7; Psalm 90:10 – 12
Forgiveness takes into account my weakness and my temporality. I am made out of dust and my time is short.
Think About It: How long do I think I have left to live? Have I “numbered my days”? What are the spiritual implications of being “made out of dirt”?
Prayer: Teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart to wisdom.