Psalm 103:17-18 (NIV)
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.
Our verse today affords us some theological precepts for covenant relationship with God; and I think we should examine these concepts a little deeper.
Psalm 103 is a beautiful meditation of David. In its 22 verses, he explores the foundations and depths upon which intimacy with God is established. Here we find David speaking to his own soul … addressing his inner being with truths about the nature and character of God that can only be understood and appreciated by the soul. As God is Spirit, our relationship with Him must be in the spirit realm … in a transparent form where nothing is hidden and truth abides. Psalm 103 invites us to think deeply and introspectively about the God who created us and His relationship with us:
1 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits—
3 Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever;
10 He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him;
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on His children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him;
14 For He knows how we are formed; He remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 The wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlastingthe Lord’s love is with those who fear Him,and His righteousness with their children’s children—
18 With those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts.
19 The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, who obey His word.
21 Praise the Lord, all His heavenly hosts, you His servants who do His will.
22 Praise the Lord, all His works everywhere in His dominion. Praise the Lord, my soul.
I really glad that David began this Psalm with praise for the nature of God. He tells his soul, “Praise the Lord.” In my view, David “commands” his soul to praise God as he unfolds the “reasons” for doing so. He says to himself, “Do not forget all the benefits that the Father has bestowed your life.” God forgives ALL your sins and heals ALL your diseases. He redeems your life from the pit … the dark abyss of sin. He crowns you … He intentionally places His love and compassion upon you. His favor promotes good things to bless your life. He works righteousness and justice for those who have been oppressed by others…. And that is just the beginning of how God acts on our behalf. I’m reminded of what Paul wrote with similar zeal: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Cf. Ephesians 3:20-21)
David now continues to explore how God manifests His character. God revealed His ways to Moses and displayed His works among His covenant people. From what has been reveal and demonstrated, David concludes that the Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. David observes the kindness of God in that He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. David senses in his soul that the love of God … the forgiveness of God … the compassion of God surpasses our ability to comprehend. Again, I’m reminded of what Paul wrote with great passion: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Cf. Romans 8:38-39) Indeed, the love of Christ Jesus for us … which surpasses knowledge … encompasses all the fullness of God. (Cf. Ephesians 3:18-19)
David shares that what He experiences in His relationship with God is special. The intimacy he has come to know with the Creator … the benefits of fellowship with God the Father … is for those who fear Him! Indeed, His great love is for those who fear Him. (Verse 11). The Lord has compassion on those who fear Him (Verse 13). Yes, His love is with those who fear Him … with those who keep His covenant … with those who remember to obey His precepts. (Verses 17-18) As David wrote in another Psalm: “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge (trusts) in Him.Fear the Lord, you His holy people, for those who fear Him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:8-10) To fear the Lord is to exalt and reverence Him. And we can only do so through faith … in spirit and in truth. (Cf. John 4:23-24) It is through faith that we are joined with the Father. “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. (Cf. Hebrews 11:6) There are no benefits for life; there are no rewards except for those who fear the Lord … for those who keep His covenant and obey His command.
David concludes this meditation within his soul with a declaration of the sovereignty of God. His throne is established in heaven! His Kingdom is the only authority throughout the universe He created. And this conviction ignites praise and worship within David again. David sees that ALL creation is subjected to the Lord God. ALL are commanded to obedience … ALL are enjoined to worship the Almighty God! His Word … His Will … His Works have been revealed to ALL creation. So David commands his soul, “Praise the Lord!” And, perhaps, we should do so ourselves this morning as well. For the soul of every living being WILL bow before Him; and every tongue will acknowledge Him. (Cf. Isaiah 45:22-24; Romans 14:10-12; Philippians 2:9-11)
So here is the application I have found. I cannot know the blessings or rewards of the Creator apart from an intimate relationship with Him. And it is a covenant relationship that He initiated (for He knows how I am formed and He remembers that I am dust) and conferred upon me through His Son, Christ Jesus. The Apostle John explains, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (Cf. 1 John 4:10) As Paul wrote: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Cf. Ephesians 2:8-9) So, there is nothing I have done to earn it or deserve it … but I am compelled in my innermost being (my soul) to respond to His irresistible grace and love with great reverence. For I am convinced that His desire for relationship with me is knowable. And the thought of such love overwhelms me!
David said the love of God is everlasting with those who fear Him. His compassion is on those who fear Him. So I am quite motivated to understand this “fear” … this “reverence” … for God our Creator. To show reverence is an intentional act; and it encompasses how I regard God with the highest honor and deepest respect. Shall I not humble myself, and repent, and submit to Him in faith? Shall I not observe His commandments which reveal His will? God said, “Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord.” (Cf. Leviticus 22:31) Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (Cf. John 14:15, 14:21; 15:10) Shall I not worship (love) in the manner that God has ordained? Obedience demonstrates our love. Obedience reveals truth. And obedience is better than sacrifice. (Cf. 1 Samuel 15:22) Isaiah recorded, “The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” (Cf. Isaiah 29:13) But Jesus said, “God is Spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (Cf. John 4:24) To be sure, reverence must be sincere. And so love must be sincere. Genuine love cannot be hidden. God did not hide or conceal His love for us. Thus, we should not hide or veil our love for Him. Love must be evident to all. “And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us.” (Cf. 1 John 3:23)
Well, I hope that something said here will resonate with your soul. What King David imparted in his Psalms is prophetic of the intimate relationship God desires with us in Christ Jesus. Indeed, the grace of God we know and experience in Christ Jesus should elicit an overwhelming desire within us to love and adore Him … which is manifested in truth through obedience. Reverence IS obedience … because the New Covenant has not been written on tablets of stone; rather, through the blood of Jesus it has been written on our hearts. The Covenant of Love is this: God loves us and we love Him. God demonstrates His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Cf. Romans 5:8) In return, we demonstrate our love for God in this: Keeping His commandments. (Cf. 1 John 5:3)