A Most Comprehensive Benefit Package
In today’s world we are often keenly conscious of the financial benefits due to us such as in the sphere of employment and pensions. We are always on a quest to find the super food that affords the maximum benefit to our health. But what about our spiritual health? How often do we meditate on the Lord’s benefits? David in this Psalm urges us not to forget all His benefits. Just as David does, we are to engage in speaking to our souls—a kind of self-talk and stirring ourselves to bless the Lord. When we do tell our souls what the Lord has done for us and continues to do for us, we will truly praise the Lord with wholeheartedness.
“Praise the Lord my soul and forget not all His benefits.” verse 2
We can so easily forget what the Lord has done for us and does for us each day. I wonder if there have been times during this exceedingly difficult year when you have forgotten about the Lord’s forgiveness, redemption and love. I wonder if your words like mine, have rather echoed with the psalmist in psalm 42 when he writes,
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed with me?”
I have found this psalm, often called the ‘Everest of Praise’ to be a real remedy to self-centredness and a means of exalting my soul to breath taking heights!
In the first 5 verses of the Psalm, we find a treasure trove of verbs that describe what God does. He forgives all our sins, our most fundamental need, heals all our diseases, spiritual and physical, either in this life or in the life to come, redeems us from the pit, meaning from eternal separation from God, crowns us with love and compassion and satisfies our desires with good things. These verses point us to the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ who paid the price for our sins on the cross, thus giving us forgiveness of sins and life with our Heavenly Father for ever. These verses could not be more comprehensive and are true everyday whether we are in Lockdown or not. We have the perfect spiritual benefit package in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ as all our needs are met and we are crowned with love and compassion. David writes that God will satisfy our desires with good things and we know that as Christians we can be perfectly satisfied in our relationship with Jesus every day. There is so much to praise the Lord for! What benefits we have!
From verses 7-18 we have a further description of the Lord’s amazing love. These verses are peppered with the Lord’s attributes and reminders of His heart. As humans we realise that we harbour anger easily and are slow to show love but by contrast God’s character is the opposite. He is compassionate and gracious, abounding in love, slow to anger and does not treat us as our sins deserve. What a merciful God we have, who sent His only Son Jesus to take the punishment that should have been ours, on Himself, on the cross.
Once we are the Lord’s we can know God as our Father. We can experience his compassion and love. As the famous hymn by F. H. Lyte says, “Well our feeble frame he knows.” David tells us that God knows that we are dust, yet he says that from “everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him”. It is important to note that the condition for knowing his compassion and love is that we fear him. The word ‘fear’ comes three times in this psalm.
At the end of the Psalm David realises a oneness with creation that he never imagined possible for he sees what all nature is doing—rejoicing in God! As Tim Keller says in his helpful book on the Psalms “All his works on earth and in heaven are already singing to God and to one another and he has taken up his unique part in the greatest chorus and symphony of all. Faith in the gospel enables you to hear and join in the music”.
So, to conclude we have a Psalm full of God’s grace to us His people. Someone has said that this psalm was David’s ‘Hallelujah Chorus’. Let us make this psalm our ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ as we each day engage in more self -talk to our souls, telling ourselves of all Christ’s benefits.
Praise my soul the King of heaven,
To His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like Thee His praise should sing,
Praise Him Praise Him Praise Him Praise Him
Praise the everlasting King.
(The hymn Praise my soul the King of Heaven is a metrical version of Psalm 103)
By Marian Lovatt
Marian is a new member of St Margaret's Church having moved to Angmering from Eastbourne. For almost seventeen years she worshipped at All Saints' Eastbourne where her husband Robert was vicar. She has 2 grownup daughters and six young grandchildren.