Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 18 2019 - Psalm 103 – He does not treat us as our sins deserve

Count your blessings, name them one by one…
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

So goes the chorus of an old hymn, perhaps inspired by this wonderful psalm.

The author of this psalm urges us not to forget all that the Lord has done for us. To assist us in not forgetting, he lists some of the blessings, or "benefits" which the Lord has lavished on us in his great love and compassion (v.4). Most precious of these is the assurance that he forgives us all our sins (v.3).

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. (vv.10-13)

These blessings are given us freely, but we know that they have been purchased at great cost; they are ours only because of Jesus. He is the one who came from the heights of heaven to become part of this poor world because of the greatness of his love for us. In his sacrificial death upon the cross, God treated him as our sins deserved; he endured the wrath of God in our place. He is the one who has removed our transgressions from us – as far as the east is from the west – so that they can never again condemn us.

How should we respond to God's love and compassion? We should praise the Lord with all our being (v.1). If angels in glory never cease to sing God's praise, and all creation praises him in its own way (vv.20-22), praise should often be found on our lips and always be the keynote of our lives.

Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God,
In every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim
Thy being and Thy ways.
Not for the lip of praise alone,
Nor e’en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part! (Horatius Bonar)

Nor shall our praise last only for a lifetime. This psalm reminds us of our mortality (vv. 15-16), but assures us that the Lord's love stretches from everlasting to everlasting for those that fear him (v.17). So, to quote Isaac Watts:

I'll praise my Maker while I've breath;
and when my voice is lost in death,
praise shall employ my nobler powers.
My days of praise shall ne'er be past,
while life, and thought, and being last,
or immortality endures.

Father forgive me that I am sometime so preoccupied with the details of my daily life that I lose sight of the fact that I am truly and greatly blessed. Open my eyes to the wonders of your grace towards me in the Lord Jesus Christ; open my heart to love you as you have loved me; open my mouth to sing your praise; open my whole being to the life of your kingdom.

Peter Misselbrook