“Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.” Psalm 103:1-4
Prague is one of the most charming cities in my opinion. During a business trip many years ago, I remember standing on Charles Bridge (Karluv Most) thanking the Lord for the opportunity to visit such a beautiful destination. Yet somehow, “thank you” was not enough to express the delight in my heart. You see I’ve thought of that country even as a little girl. I was seven when my dad brought home a desk globe for our library. That was the first time I saw the word Czechoslovakia. Fascinated by the spelling, I wondered if I would ever see that place. I seriously doubted it, especially when I realized that my country of birth is but a tiny part of a much bigger world. Europe was so far from where I was. It did not stop me though from staring at the globe for hours and reading all the names of the different countries and their capitals. Hence 35 years later, while I was soaking in the beauty of Prague, I was overcome with a tremendous amount of gratitude. Interestingly, as I was praying on Charles Bridge, the Lord brought back memories of my childhood, in our home library, studying the globe, as if to say “I was watching as you were staring at the globe.”
God is Sovereign and he does as he pleases. I tell this story not to paint a wrong image of God as one whose task is to fulfill our childhood dreams. I tell this story as an example of one of the tangible instances in my life that our loving Father used to let me have a taste of his goodness in a very personal way, and it drew me to praise him even more.
David undoubtedly had moments when his heart overflowed with gladness toward God. Psalm 103 is among the psalms that convey such high praise – a glorious exultation of the goodness of God. For the past two weeks, I parked myself at Psalm 103 and slowly digested Charles Spurgeon’s exposition of it. Pondering on the richness of God’s love and goodness is a powerful way to re-position our perspective and restructure our frame of mind. If we would humbly acknowledge who God is and what he has done, the only response would be to bless him with everything we’ve got. “ALL that is within me, bless his holy name…”
Our God is indeed worthy of our all, and he is worthy of our all, all the time. Why this truth does not impact the way I honor him on a daily basis is because I do not always remember what he has done. Human nature has selective amnesia. In our frailty we tend to forget the good things God has given, while our pride always points to that which we accuse him of withholding. Thus David urges God’s people to “forget not all his benefits.” We are to remember them all. When we treasure every single thing that God has done for our good and his glory, we will be amazed at what it does to our relationship with him.
Note that item number one on David’s list of things to praise God for is the fact that he forgives all our iniquity. This psalm was written by an older David who was much more cognizant of his own sinful heart against the backdrop of the greater merciful heart of God. At this point in his life, he knew that to be forgiven by a holy God is the most precious thing. Nothing could compare with receiving his mercy and pardon. Not even slaying a giant!
No matter how long we have known the gospel, it always helps to pause and bask in the joy of being forgiven. In the treasure chest of God’s gifts, it still is and will always be the most valuable gem, that is only ours through Christ.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,” Ephesians 1:7
“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:43
As followers of Christ, we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who enables us to forget not all his benefits – his healing, his redemption, his steadfast love and mercy; and to see with the eyes of our hearts that even that which may seem adversarial, when held by his mighty hands, becomes a much needed blessing for our souls. Such is the wisdom and power of our God. And because of him who on the cross proclaimed “It is finished”, we have all the more reason to resonate with David in blessing the Lord with all that is within us. Bless his holy name!