” Let all that I am praise the LORD;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name…
may I never forget the good things he does for me.”
–Psalm 103:1-2 NLT
So begins Psalm 103 (one of my favorites), written by David the Shepherd-King.
I imagine him–seated at a large table, a blank parchment spread before him, and a sharpened reed in his hand. Close by sits a small pot half-filled with a mixture of soot, gum, and water–his ink.
David’s gaze drifts to the view of Jerusalem outside the palace window. His thoughts carry him back in time to the hillsides of Bethlehem, just a few miles away. There he had tended his father’s sheep as a boy. But oh, the wonders God had performed during the years since. The humble shepherd boy became a giant killer, then a fugitive from jealous King Saul, and finally, after many years, the crowned king of Israel.
I can sense his heart filling with gratitude and praise, his eyes filling with tears as he considers all the “benefits” God has bestowed.
And David begins to write, extolling the Lord for his forgiveness, redemption, love, goodness, and more (vs. 3-6).
His pen needs more ink. As he dips the reed, David’s gaze is once again drawn to the window. He begins to contemplate God’s goodness expressed to his countrymen long ago:
“He revealed His ways to Moses,
His deeds to the people of Israel” — v. 7, HCSB.
Through the laws outlining his ways, God had revealed his holy character. Through his miraculous deeds God revealed his power, faithfulness and…
…David’s mind shifts to the days when the Hebrews were brought out of slavery in Egypt and led back to the land of their father, Abraham. How compassionate God was.
David marvels at the provisions God engineered, so his people could escape: the gold, silver, and clothing Egyptians gave them as they prepared to flee (Exodus 12:35-36); the food and water necessary for survival (chapters 16 & 17).
David recollects God’s patience with the Israelites—grumbly and rebellious as they were (Numbers 14:18).
And David contemplates God’s love (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)—caring and protective—in spite of the Israelites’ ingratitude and disobedience.
David picks up his reed once more and continues to write:
(“The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and rich in faithful love — v. 8, HCSB.)
Those words beg the question: When have I experienced God’s benefits of compassion and grace, patience and faithful love?
A few examples follow:
- The Lord is compassionate.
Time and again God has tended our family through the loving kindness of friends—friends who have prayed with us in the midst of trauma and who have provided for our needs (like a place to stay, furniture, a contribution to our children’s college funds—the list is very long!). God has benefited us with numerous blessings—even a car one time.
- The Lord is gracious.
He cares about all our concerns, big and small.
This past winter I lost a scarf at the local bookstore. It wasn’t an expensive one, just soft and warm, the perfect size. A thorough check through the aisles and an inquiry at the information booth proved futile.
A couple of weeks later I returned to the same shop. Although I doubted the scarf would turn up (After all, my search two weeks prior had been very thorough.), I decided to ask again. Sure enough, the girl behind the counter produced my scarf.
- The Lord is slow to anger.
I’ve been incredibly blessed to know Jesus my entire life. But sin still besets me—sins like fretting, negativity, lack of faith, low self-esteem, pride, selfishness…must I go on?!
Yet he patiently forgives me and removes my offenses as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He even understands my frailties (v. 14). How gloriously comforting is that?
- The Lord is rich in faithful love.
Every day, with his provision, protection, and presence, guidance, goodness, and gifts, God expresses his unwavering love for us.
And with David, my heart overflows.
(“Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being,
praise his holy name” — v. 1, NIV).
How has God demonstrated his compassion, grace, patience and love in your life? Please share your story in the comment section below!