I hope you’re making progress on memorizing this psalm. If we can remember what God has done — not just recall the facts but really sink these truths deep into our souls — it will transform the way we think and live. Memorizing the psalm will help us remember it in a life-changing way.
Assignment: Pray for God’s continued work in your heart as you study this psalm. As we read Psalm 103 today, we’re going to look for some reasons — some explanations. The words because and for often alert us to a reason for what is being said in the text. Let’s look at some examples:
“We’re not going to play outside today because it’s too wet and cold. The reason we’re not going to play outside is — it’s raining (again ).
“Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” Why will my lips praise God? Because His steadfast love (there’s that amazing word again!) is better than life.
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. (What a wonderful truth!) Why can I lie down and sleep in peace, no matter what is going on around me? Because I’m not going to change a thing by lying there awake. The Lord alone makes me dwell in safety.
The word for doesn’t always introduce a reason. “In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help.” Try replacing the word for with the word because. The sentence doesn’t make sense anymore. So we’re not looking at a reason.
- Read Psalm 103, watching for because and for. Circle these words with a black pen or pencil (or you can pick a more exciting color, if you prefer ) In the ESV, I found three appearances of the words. (NIV and NASB readers may only find two.)
- When you have finished reading, go back and look at the words that precede each of those circled words. In your notebook, copy the thoughts that precede each because or for and also the words that follow, circling the for in your notes as well.
Why will God not always chide? Why will He not keep His anger forever?
Why does He not repay us as our sins deserve?
There’s our answer, right there behind the for, in verse 11 and then continuing on into verse 12. His amazing, Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love really doesn’t stop. It really doesn’t give up. It doesn’t break. It’s always been and always will be. And it’s bigger and stronger and more powerful than any sin we ever have or ever will commit. It will prevail.
God will chide us if He has to, but He keeps right on loving and He doesn’t stop forgiving. When we try to walk away from that love, He pursues us. If we keep up our fight, He may let us eat the fruit of our rebellion for awhile, but He’s still there, still watching, still ready to take us into His arms the moment we turn back around.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve because His steadfast love is just too big for that.
And besides, He has removed our sins — or at least the guilt of our sins. (We’re stuck doing battle with the remnants of our sin nature for now.) He’s removed our transgressions from us, the ones who keep wanting to feel guilty about them.
The guilt is gone. So we can quit dredging it back up. God is satisfied. The debt has been paid. So He doesn’t need to deal with us as our sins deserve.
I have a hard time grabbing hold of this.
If this is true, Lord, won’t everyone just go out and sin up a storm and then claim your grace for forgiveness? Isn’t this steadfast love kind of risky, Lord? People are going to take advantage of You.
No. God knows what He’s doing (and He’s used to being taken advantage of). Let’s wrap up today by heading to Romans 6 and reading what Paul has to say about this question. (We’ll look at the other fors next week.) Read this chapter in Romans. Think about what we have been learning in Psalm 103. What kind of life has God called us to when He redeems us from the pit, crowning us with His steadfast love?
Pray again, asking God to help you understand and live these truths.
For your children:
Read Psalm 103:9-11 with your children. Talk about why God doesn’t treat us the way our sins deserve. Talk about God’s steadfast love that keeps on loving us.
If you own the children’s book The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown, this is the perfect day to read this with your children. This book is such a easy-to-grasp look at what God’s steadfast love is like. Read it, and discuss how it pictures God’s never-ending, always-pursuing love for us.
If you don’t own the book, you can watch the pictures while Grandma Annii reads it aloud for you!
When you’ve finished the story, tell your children a story from your own life that gives testimony to God’s steadfast love and forgiveness.