As we have seen Psalm 103 is designed to teach us to recount God’s characteristic benefits for the purpose of blessing Him. By recounting God’s characteristic benefits we are enabled to call attention to His intrinsic blessedness. In God’s grace He blesses us and also by His grace we have the privilege of calling attention to His blessedness.
In order for us to live a life of recounting God’s characteristic benefits, we will have to grow in our ability to exhort ourselves regarding this wholehearted blessing of the Lord. But how do you get to the point of blessing the Lord with your whole being? The answer that we are shown from this text is that it has everything to do with thinking about the Lord and His benefits.
There is a great danger in our lives. We are all busy with many responsibilities and cares. Often what we do is forget God’s benefits toward us and just keep going on as ungrateful children. Such is the focus of David’s self-exhortation in verse two: “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.” David is aware that he is quick to forget the benefits or the kind deeds of the Lord. And if we are going to live our lives recounting the benefits of the LORD we too must be aware of this tendency to forget.
Our goal should be to carry out the focus of David’s self-exhortation not to forget the kind deeds of the LORD. What would be involved with forgetting none of the Lord’s benefits? What are the implications for our lives?
If we are going to forget none of the benefits of the Lord then consider the following three necessary realities:
Then we must slow down long enough to even recognize His benefits. One of the negative effects that our fast paced technologically advanced age serves to us on a silver platter is the delusion that we must always be connected or else we will be missing something. There is great truth to the fact that we must always be connected, but it is not Facebook, Twitter, the internet, a cell phone, cable news or any other modern day “connection point” that we are genuinely in constant need of. The connection that we desperately need is living in moment by moment awareness of God by faith in Christ Jesus. As much as many modern day technological advances are blessings and able to be used for wonderful things, it is also true that beyond the overtly wicked things that they can be used for, the creating of constant noise in our souls is spiritually paralyzing. Scripture constantly calls us to wait upon the LORD which involves trusting in Him, not our activity and stopping long enough to do so.
Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD (Psalm 27:14).
“And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.( Psalm 39:7).
I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope (Psalm 130:5).
The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness (Psalm 147:11).
Then we must be informed as to what is and is not from God and what is and is not a kind deed. In other words, if we are to remember the good deeds of the LORD then we must have hearts and minds that are renewed by the Word of God in order to be able to recognize His benefits. This is essential because some of God’s benefits to us do not present themselves to be benefits unless we know God’s mind about the matter and how He typically works in the lives of His children. In addition, if we are unaware of what God’s Word says, we might actually rejoice in what we perceive to be a benefit from God when in reality it directly contradicts His Word and cannot rightly be called a benefit. In reality, apart from a renewed mind we are in danger of identifying temptations as benefits from God rather than recognizing that we must turn from those temptations.
Here is the point. If we are going to remember the benefits of the LORD we must have a renewed mind that does not evaluate something as being or not being a benefit based on the world’s value system.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2).
Then we must be committed to recounting them to ourselves and all those around us. All of us are “recounters.” It is nearly impossible not to be a “recounter.” Some of us are recounting things to those around us constantly. Others are constantly recounting things to themselves. All of us are a mixture of these polarities. Either way we are “recounters.” But we must not forget that not all recounting is created equal. We are very capable of practicing illegitimate sinful recounting.
Anxious thoughts are illegitimate recounting:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6)
Gossip is illegitimate recounting:
He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, Therefore do not associate with a gossip (Proverbs 20:19).
Grumbling is an all-time favorite illegitimate recounting:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. (Philippians 2:14-16).
So what kind of recounting should we be practicing? Recounting that magnify God before ourselves and others and edifies our own hearts and those that we are around. So how can this be true of someone? How can this be true of you? Well, the hope is not in your skillful exhortation to yourself (though as we have seen we must exhort ourselves). The hope is actually in the enablement to so exhort ourselves. The hope is in the Spirit working in us in such a way that our recounting is not a recounting characterized by the deeds of the flesh, but a recounting characterized by the fruit of the Spirit. If we will walk by the Spirit and are filled with the Spirit then our recounting will be very similar to what Paul says in Ephesians 5:18-21:
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father (Ephesians 5:18-20).
We are to call attention to the Lord’s intrinsic goodness with all our being which will involve not forgetting all His kind deeds toward us. May we by the power of the Spirit be marked by a thankful remembering of all the benefits we have received from the Lord so that we might rightly call attention to His intrinsic goodness.