A Meditation on Psalm 103

Bless the LORD, O my soul.
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God sent a good thing—a monarch butterfly that landed on my extended belly and sat there for an hour, pulsating its wings and staring at me—reminding me that God held my baby's heart in his hands and nothing could deter God's plan for my child. A good thing. A healthy child, born on November 10, 1985.

Most of us live with grocery stores or markets available, with heat on bleak winter mornings, with soft beds that cuddle us through the night like the safety of a cotton womb. When we live without the threat of falling bombs and the painful rumblings of hunger, we can express our thankfulness. We rejoice that we can worship where we choose and open our Bibles in public places. We are thankful when we can drive across town without snipers watching us from the roofs of cement buildings. We sometimes take these good things for granted, but God remembers to send them and waits for us to bless him—and to trust him when any of those things are threatened.

"The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed" (v. 6). He is the vindicator of the teenage girl forced into prostitution to pay off her family's debts. He works through churches, nonprofits, and social agencies to secure freedom for all, regardless of sex, disability, and skin color. He presides over an eternal court and will someday bang his gavel against those who murder, rape, and pillage. He keeps reminding us to seek truth from his Word and serve our communities with the compassion of Christ. He promises justice at the end of time, yet with the same breath, reminds us to forgive and offer the same grace he has offered us.

"The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love" (v. 8). Although mankind deserves to see God's justice in various forms of divine wrath, he gives us time to confess and repent—to turn away from our iniquities and seek the renewing mind of Christ. He places Bible verses in our hearts, worship songs on our lips, and the voices of little children to bring us back to his light. Patience is his character. God in his mercy and grace is slow to anger and abundant with a persevering type of love that forgives and cleanses and forgives again.

"He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust" (v. 14). As the Creator, he fully comprehends every speck of dust he molded together to make that first man. He recalls with a smile how he sculpted Eve from a rib and presented her to Adam as a companion.

Ever since that first couple, God has planted DNA in women's wombs and created new human beings with the capacity to return his love and change his world. He knows who we are at the core and how long our hearts will continue to beat. He plans each calendar day from the time he plants dimples on our cheeks to the moment he welcomes us home. Even though we are so much weaker than God, he infuses us with his strength and gives us enough energy to feel young again when we serve with the power of his spirit.

God showers us with so many benefits; Psalms could never hold them all. So God continues throughout his book to explain his benefits and to give us examples of people who lived out his call. When we are aware of his presence, we begin to see more and more of his benefits in our daily lives—the black and white finch that delicately pecks at a sunflower seed, the turquoise sunset with a slash of dark orange, God's whispered presence when we feel alone.

The benefits God allows us are numerous. Our task is to remember and to bless the source, to fill our days with gratitude and praise, to turn our eyes away from the struggles of this life, and to remember whose we are.

Then we can join King David's song and bless the Lord with all that is within us—with voice and soul and heart, and with lives that mirror God's personality and carry his holy name.

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