“A Psalm of Covenant Relationship and Forgiveness” – Dr. Gerald Miller

May 22, 2017

“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; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust. 

The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.  But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children —with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.  The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.  Praise the Lord, you His angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, who obey His word.  Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will.  Praise the Lord, all His works everywhere in His dominion. Praise the Lord, my soul.” -- Psalm 103

As with Psalm 51, the composer of this poem may have in mind the depth of David’s sins and God’s gracious provision for forgiveness.  The psalmist seems in awe at the compassion and steadfast love of God.  He compares God’s love to that of a father who forgives his children when they have gone astray.  Verse 18 underscores especially the covenant relationship God has with his children we well as God’s expectation that they live lives that reflect his righteousness. The New Testament affirms this message as well in numerous passages.  I John 1-2 emphasizes that the essence of God’s commandments is that we love one another and that as we walk in His ways, the shed blood of Christ cleanses us from all our sins.


- Dr. Gene Miller, Professor of Christian Studies & Philosophy

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