Lesson 118: Psalm 103:10…
Psalm 103:10 [H]e he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
A nomadic youth got into a fight with his friend, and hit him so hard that he killed him. The law of the land was life for a life, so the boy was in serious trouble. Instead of running away, he ran a day and a half back to the tribal chief, admitted his crime, and begged the chief to protect him.
The chief agreed, but when the boys’ accusers arrived, they told the chief something he did not know. The boy who was killed was the chief’s only son. The chief was visibly shaken, but after a moment he said, Then the one who killed my son will become my son, and all that I have will be his.
This is nothing less than gospel. God sent his Son into the world, and we killed him. But if we return to God, he will forgive our sins, and all that he has will be ours.
Psalm 103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.
We can imagine David lying under a starry sky, amazed by what he saw. He may have been in awe at the power of God, but that is not what gripped his heart. What moved him most was the fact that God’s love for him was higher than the heavens above.
If you had a spaceship that could travel the speed of light, you would pass the moon in just over a second. About eight and a half minutes later you would pass the sun. To get to the next galaxy would take twenty-five thousand years, and to get to the edge of the universe would take ninety-three billion years.
Just imagine God stretching out his hands from one end of the universe to the other and saying, That’s how much I love you. In truth, that is what the Bible teaches. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.
Psalm 103:12 [A]s far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Whenever David thought about God, he was reminded of his sin, because God is against sin. But a thousand years later Christ would go to the cross, so we could be forgiven (Colossians 2:13). Christ’s work on the cross was so effective that David could say in advance, as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
The distance from the North Pole to the South Pole is over twelve thousand miles, but the distance from east to west is harder to measure because there are not any poles. David was saying that God has removed our sins an immeasurable distance–as far as the east is from the west.
Psalm 104:5 He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.
For many years this verse was used to support the idea that the sun revolves around the earth. If the earth can never be moved, then it cannot revolve around the sun. When science showed the earth does, in fact, revolve around the sun, some people lost their confidence in the Bible.
But the Psalmist was not making a scientific argument for an earth-centered universe. He was saying poetically that God made the world a stable place in which to live. By overstating what the Bible teaches, the church embarrassed itself, and gave the world a reason to doubt God’s word.
If God is the author of both nature and Scripture, they cannot contradict each other. When they appear to contradict, we are misunderstanding nature, or Scripture, or both. Contradictory opinions do not need to be settled at once. They can be held in tension until more information becomes available.
We can think of nature and Scripture as two books from the same author, both requiring interpretation. With time, our knowledge of each continues to improve. Christians must be careful not to make the Bible say what it does not say, or to yield to scientific theories that oppose it. Scientific theories come and go, but the word of our God endures forever (Isaiah 40:8), wrote Isaiah.
Psalm 106:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Whenever you feel depressed, make a list of one hundred things for which you can be thankful. If you slept inside on a bed, with a pillow and a blanket, that’s four. If you used a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and shampoo, that’s eight. If you had coffee with sugar and cream in your favorite mug, that’s twelve. The more we are thankful for what we have, the less we will be bothered by what we do not have.
A pastor went to a leper colony where he led a worship service and took song requests. One lady raised a fingerless hand and said, Let’s sing Count your many blessings. Count them one by one. Count your many blessings and see what God has done. Even with a fingerless hand we can Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Reflection and Review
Why is it important to know God loves us?
Why is it important to know that we are forgiven?
Why do the Bible and science appear to disagree sometimes?