Psalm 103: 6 - 18
“He remembers that we are dust” v. 14 - Have you wondered what God really thinks about you? Our greatest barrier to knowing God better may be how much we know about how much God knows about us. We struggle with God because we feel so bad about ourselves, and if we know the truth about ourselves, think of how much more God knows us! We can’t fool him.
Sometimes we don’t want to pray or read the Bible or think about God because when we look in the mirror, we feel like saying, “You’re a big disappointment” or “You ought to be a lot better by now.” We’ve all felt that way from time to time. It’s been a hard week, or a bad month, and we’ve passed the end of what seems like a wasted year.
I probably don’t need to spend any time convincing you that you are a sinner. You probably know the truth about yourself all too well. But it’s the other side that we need to talk about. We don’t know God’s heart very well.
That’s where Psalm 103 can help us tremendously. Perhaps no other chapter in the Bible so clearly reveals God’s compassion for his people. If you’re wondering what God thinks about you, let’s take a journey and discover 7 liberating truths about God’s heart.
1. He Loves to Help the Needy v. 6, 7
The “oppressed” are those who can’t help themselves. OT - word especially referred to widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. When we are tempted to take advantage of others because we are strong and they are weak, God says, “Think about that first.” He takes the side of the weak. Our God keeps his eyes on the helpless, and when others hurt them, he moves to balance the scales of justice.
There are days and times when this is hard to believe, especially in light of events like terrorist bombings and so on. But this truth stands like a solid rock for the believer. If all of history is a book, we haven’t reached the final chapter yet. We’re somewhere near the end, but we’re not sure how far away we are. But we know this much. Eventually God will bring everything to light, and he will judge with impartiality. In that day there will be no hiding, no excuse-making, no bribes, and no way of escape.
All those who labour for a better world and a more just society and those who stretch out a helping hand–you have to believe this or you can’t go on. Are you needy? The answer is yes whether you know it or not. You are needy and God is on your side. That’s a great place to start.
2. He Shows Mercy to Those Who Don’t Deserve It v. 8
4 great attributes of God - A. The Lord is compassionate-He pardons us. B. The Lord is gracious-He gives us what we don’t deserve. C. The Lord is slow to anger-He is patient with us when we fall. D. The Lord abounds in love-He loves us more than we can imagine.
There’s no love like God’s love. When he saves, he saves completely. When he forgives, he forgives all my sins. When he sets free, we are free forever. KJV - last phrase of v. 8 - God is “plenteous in mercy.” Spurgeon takes that phrase – “All the world tastes of his sparing mercy, those who hear the gospel partake of his invitingmercy, the saints live by his saving mercy, are preserved by his upholding mercy, are cheered by his consoling mercy, and will enter heaven through his infinite and everlasting mercy.
I like that! 6 kinds of mercy in just 1 sentence. That’s plenty mercy for anyone who needs it.
3. He Tempers His Wrath v. 9, 10
Have you ever known anyone who loved to argue? We all know people who love to keep a quarrel going because they are so angry. God is not like that. He is willing to end the quarrel and welcome us back home. Sometimes the real problem is that we want to keep fighting him.
He’s more ready to forgive than we are to be forgiven! When we forget to pray, he remembers to feed us. When we forget to give thanks, he sends us restful sleep. When we idle in sin, he sends his Holy Spirit to convict us. When we refuse to give, he keeps on giving still. When we fall, he lifts us up. When we disappoint ourselves and others, he still calls us his children. God even blesses those who don’t believe in him.
The atheist artillery shoot at God on ground he provides for them. The fact that God withholds punishment to his enemies, that too is evidence of his mercy for “God’s kindness leads you toward repentance” (Romans 2:4).
4. He Forgives All Our Sins v. 11, 12
Consider the greatness of God’s love. Astronomers tell us that the farthest known light source from the earth is ten billion light years away. That means that light starting from that source (a quasar) would take ten billion years travelling at the speed to light to arrive at the earth. By contrast the nearest star is “only” four light years away from us. That’s four years travelling at the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second. Light from the sun reaches the earth in a little over 8 minutes. So even the nearest star is a vast distance from the earth. You could reach the nearest star in a modern spaceship in “only” 81,000 years. You can turn it around any way you like and we are left with 2 inescapable realities – i. We live in a tiny corner of the universe ii. The universe is vast beyond our comprehension. But God’s love is greater, vaster, larger, deeper, longer, broader, and bigger in all dimensions that the universe itself. Go as far as you can go, to the end of the known universe and beyond. When you have gone as far as you can go, look up and smile because God’s love is still going. You will never reach the end of it.
Consider the magnitude of God’s love. Let’s suppose you want to go east until you finally reach the west. Besides having circumnavigated the globe, what have you proved? Among other things, you have proved that no matter how far east you go, you will never find the west. My sins can never come back to haunt me again.
Never the 2 shall meet. The further east you go, the farther you are from the west.
That’s the magnitude of God’s love. Here is great good news for all the sinners of the world. When God forgives, he removes our sins, he lifts them up, he takes them away, and he puts them so far away from us that we could never find them if we searched for them for a thousand years. They are gone forever. Even Satan can’t bring them back.
God has . . . A long fuse - “slow to anger” (v. 8) A short memory-"does not harbour his anger forever” (v. 9) A thick skin-"does not treat us as our sins deserve” (v. 10) A great heart-"so great is his love, so far has he removed our sins” (v. 11, 12). I’m glad we have a God like that because that exactly the kind of God we need.
5. He Understands Our Weakness v. 13
I never understood that verse until I had children. When an earthly father has done his job well, he makes it easy for his children to believe in their Heavenly Father.
Earthly fathers-however imperfect-point us upward to our Heavenly Father. Our children learn that we do not worship a god of stone or an empty idol or a remote deity or an impersonal machine in the sky. We serve a Father God who knows our weakness and loves us anyway. The Great Physician knows our weakness and understands our fears -and when we can’t go on, he carries us on his back.
6. He Remembers That We Are Dust v. 14 - 16
Here is a truth we all understand - Yesterday’s green leaves soon turn brown. It is a law of nature that the green leaves of spring end up in a pile on your lawn. Why do the leaves lose their green? There is a scientific explanation having to do with the loss of green chlorophyll, but that simply means the leaves are slowly dying. Their beauty comes from their death.
Who remembers each leaf? Not the tree. One by one the leaves fall to the ground where they disintegrate and return to the soil from which they came. No one names them or numbers them or even thinks about them. It is the way of nature, the way God arranged the changing of the seasons.
When God puts grey in your hair, it’s like the leaves turning brown. It’s God’s way of saying, “You won’t be here forever.” If that’s all there is, if we are here today and gone tomorrow, if that’s the end of the story, then there isn’t much hope. But let me share something with you. If you don’t have anything else to be thankful for this year, here’s something you can hold on to. Our hope is not in man or in anything man can do.
Our hope is in the everlasting God!
7. He Links Us With Eternity By Linking Us With Himself v. 17, 18
There is nothing we can do about our frailty. We come from the hand of our Creator stamped, “Fragile: Handle with care.” We are like the whirlwinds that blow across the veldt. We make a big scene and then suddenly we disappear. Try as we might, we can’t cancel our humanity. Nothing can change what we are. Vitamins and exercise and clean living may slow down the process. Positive thinking may improve our mood. But for all of us, the end is the same: Ashes to ashes, Dust to dust.
Psalm 103 offers us one strong ground of comfort that lifts us up above the transitory nature of this life. It is the “but” of v. 17, the blessed “but” that changes everything. That one word offers an eternal contrast between The fading flower and the everlasting God,
Our mortality and God’s eternity. That one word-that little “but"-stands at the intersection between this life and the next. Here is our real hope of life that never ends.
God’s tender mercy. His unfailing love. His abounding grace.
Life without Christ is a hopeless end, but life with Christ is an endless hope. And this endless hope is not only to us but to our children’s children. What will we leave our children? A vast estate? A large inheritance? A huge life insurance policy? Whatever we may say about earthly possessions, they pale next to the privilege of passing down a godly heritage, a tapestry of truth, and a pattern of believing that our children and grandchildren can claim as their own.
We are richer than we think, we are more blessed than we know, and we have more than we realise.
In a transient and passing world where everything fades away, we have the promise that we are linked to the future even after we are gone by the faithfulness of God to our children to our children’s children. This, too, is the mercy of God.
Go to the cross and you will find your way home to God.
All that we believe, all that we have, all that we hope for is found in the cross of Christ.
Are you weak? So am I. Are you needy? So am I. Are you guilty? So am I. Are you frail? So am I. Are you like dust? So am I.
God says to us, his weak, needy, guilty, frail, dusty children, “I know you through and through, and I love you anyway. Come to me. Rest in me. Make me your Rock.” God’s mercy in Christ is more than enough for all of us. Amen.