This week we are continuing our meditation through Psalm 103. A Psalm that exemplifies the self-exhortation that a mature believer practices. The self-exhortation is to give oneself to wholehearted blessing of the Lord for His characteristic benefits. This self-exhortation is about wholeheartedly calling attention to the intrinsic goodness of the Lord. This example of mature blessing of the Lord starts off in verses 1-5 with a call to personally blessing the Lord for His characteristic benefits toward us rather than forgetting them.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; 3 Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; 4 Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; 5 Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle (Psalm 103:1-5)
Did you know that the Lord crowns His children? Maybe you know that one day as a child of God through faith in Jesus you will reign with Jesus. That is what we are told in Revelation 20:6:
Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
But even right now there is a sense in which the Lord crowns us. According to Psalm 103:4 He crowns His children with “lovingkindness and compassion.” When a future king is crowned, the crown is a symbol of their right to reign and the crowning is a bestowal of that symbol. For the Lord to crown us with “lovingkindness and compassion” is evidence of the fact that the Lord has bestowed those very things upon us.
Bless the Lord who bestows you with lovingkindness
This is an important word throughout the Old Testament. The underlying Hebrew word is hesed and refers to the Lord’s covenantal loyalty to His children. We are being called to bless the Lord for His faithful love, His steadfast love, and as our text says it, His “lovingkindness.”
Not only is this word important throughout the Old Testament, but it is also important in this very Psalm. Just consider the following places that this word shows up in this Psalm:
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness (v. 8)
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him (v. 11).
But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children (v. 17)
When is the last time you specifically took time to communicate with God in prayer about His lovingkindness? Do those around you know you as someone who is amazed at the Lord’s lovingkindness? Do you fear the Lord? Then He has bestowed you with abounding, great, eternal lovingkindness. He has steadfast love toward you because He has entered into covenant with you in Christ Jesus. There is nothing that can cause His covenantal love toward you in Christ to be extinguished. Call attention this goodness of the Lord toward you.
Bless the Lord who bestows you with compassion
This word for compassion is also used more than once in Psalm 103:
Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him (v. 13)
When you think of compassion what comes to your mind? Interestingly, when this word for compassion is singular it is translated “womb.” There really is no greater illustration than compassionate care than the protection and care of a mother’s womb for her baby. Here we are told that the Lord crowns us with compassion, a far superior compassion than even the heights of human compassion. As one commentary puts it “the crown is as it were woven out of lovingkindness and compassion (Keil and Delitzsch).
Maybe you feel like you have known little lovingkindness and compassion in this world. Or maybe your relationship with family or with your spouse or a former friend is void of the kind of lovingkindness and compassion that you desire. Is Jesus your Savior? If so, then you are a child of God and this is a fact: The Lord crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion. Often we long for and become very distraught and bent out of shape over the lack of lovingkindness or compassion from various relationships in our lives. Certainly it is natural to desire these things, but when we become discouraged, angry, hopeless or bitter in response to these perceived deficiencies, we have forgotten something. We have forgotten the characteristic benefits from the Lord of lovingkindness and compassion. And in our forgetting we stopped blessing the Lord. Instead we become idolaters longing for lovingkindness and compassion of others more than the daily experience and acknowledgment of the Lord’s lovingkindness and compassion toward us. Whenever we cease to bless the Lord for His lovingkindness and compassion we inevitably try to find that blessedness somewhere else and are always sourly disappointed. Turn to the One who crowns you with these benefits daily and bless Him for it. Bless the One who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion.