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Read Psalm 103

Of David.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Go Deeper

While the previous psalm was a cry for distress, Psalm 103 is one of the most familiar psalms of praise. Yesterday we heard David crying out for help and likening himself to a desert owl among the ruins and a bird alone on a roof (102:6-7). Both of these word pictures describe isolation and defeat.

 Notice today then, how David describes what God can do for your soul in verse 5: [He] satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. In comparison to the birds described in Psalm 102, the eagle is a picture of strength and victory. In fact, an eagle’s gripping strength is ten times stronger than the average grip of an adult hand, exerting upwards of 400 pounds per square inch. Despite this strength, the eagle also must go through the continual process of molting its feathers from head to tail in order to be able to survive. The eagle never loses all its feathers at once; instead it goes through this process losing only a few feathers at a time so that it can continue to fly and hunt.

 David didn’t use this word picture without reason. He knew that as a follower of God, there would be a continual process of rebirth and restoration as we walk through life on this earth. But, David also knew that God was faithful to renew our strength and ultimately make us victorious. How did he know? Let’s look again at verses 3-4.

God forgives all our sins. He heals all our diseases. He redeems our lives from the pit. He crowns us with love and compassion. David knew these things to be true because he had seen God’s faithfulness through his own life and the lives of those before him.  

 The same is still true. Jesus came to earth, died on the cross, and was raised to life three days later so that we could be fully restored and renewed. Sometimes in life we might feel like we are going through the molting process or feel more like the desert owl isolated among the ruins. But this chapter is a merciful reminder that God isn’t finished. He will satisfy our desires with good things and renew our strength like the eagle’s. If you’re in the “victory” period right now, praise Him for His kindness. If you feel like you’re in the middle of molting and isolation, don’t give up. He will not let you lose all your feathers at once. It might be slow and it might feel like it’s taking too long—but He is still good, and His promises stand true. You will survive the renewal process and come out the other side exactly as God created you to be: victorious in Him. For as high as the heavens are above this earth, so great is His love for you.

Questions

  1. Which example do you feel like right now—the desert owl or the eagle?
  2. What can you do today to restore your soul and remind yourself of God’s promises? Spend some time today doing something that fuels your love for Jesus.
  3. Read this chapter again, this time as a prayer of worship directly to God, praising Him and His holy name.

Did You Know?

The Hebrew word for eagle is “Ne-sher” which means “a mighty warrior.”

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1 thought on “Psalm 103”

  1. Ella Snodgrass

    David pens the benefits of our Lord so beautifully as One who is holy, forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, satisfies, is righteous, loving, compassionate, just, and gracious. His love is infinite extending beyond our finite lives, across generations, and into eternity. Wow! That covers every need we could ever have. The words of this hymn speak to our response to His greatness, “I trust in God, I know He cares for me, on mountain bleak or on the stormy sea, tho’ billows roll, He keeps my soul, my heavenly watches over me.”

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