Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget 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, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him. Psalm 103:1-13 (NRSV)
The Psalms (today’s reading from Psalm 103 is one of many Psalms attributed to King David) are a ready source of instruction on the nature of God, which is a great comfort for us at times when we are struggling with faith and with life in general. In those times when we cannot find the words with which to pray, one can turn to the Psalms and we will find that the various Psalmists have written the very words we need to pray and meditate upon. God has given us great gifts of prayers and praise through the pens of the Psalmists!
We learn in the very beginning of Scripture (Genesis 1) that God created the earth and all of creation to be good. God’s will is that creation is good. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Thy will be done, Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” When we thank God for the goodness of creation we create an atmosphere in which we want to work toward the goodness and restoration that He created us for.
In today’s Psalm we have several points of meaningful prayer right in front of us.
First we are reminded to bless the Lord- to remember who we are talking to when we pray. God is holy. He commands our reverent awe (which is the meaning of “fear of the Lord.”)
Then we are reminded of all the kindness we have received from God, and to thank Him for it.
We are also reminded that God doesn’t give us what we deserve, but He always gives us what we need to make us good and whole. He separates us from our sins as far away as we can possibly be separated from them. He gives us strength and healing.
God has compassion. He has compassion for us when we are distraught, when we are at the end of ourselves, and when we can’t find the words to pray.
God also has given us a purpose and a place in His story. We all have different roles and we have been put in different places to fulfill them, but compassion is a universal expression of love that we can all display.
How can we reflect the compassion of our compassionate and forgiving God today?