Seeing God Through the Psalms
“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” (Psalms 103:12-14)
There is no god like Jehovah! There is no deed that reaches the heart of man like Jesus’ death on the cross. Here Jehovah is reaching out to man with pity and forgiveness. This Psalm gives us a poetic description of God’s forgiveness and mercy.
The imagery beautifully describes God’s boundless forgiveness. Unlike the distance from north to south, the distance from east to west is not measured. To “cast sin behind the back” means it is “out of sight, and out of mind.” When something is cast into the sea it is irretrievable. “In those days and in that time," says the LORD, "The iniquity of Israel shall be sought, but there shall be none; And the sins of Judah, but they shall not be found; For I will pardon those whom I preserve” (Jeremiah 50:20). When God forgives sin he removes it entirely.
Coupled with God’s limitless forgiveness is his pity (verse 13). There is nothing like the pity of a parent for their child. A father’s pity would include shelter from the elements, sympathy in times of distress, strength when times get tough, encouragement to persevere, instruction in how to live, and correction when in the wrong. Like any good father, God will do everything within his will to help his children.
For what reason did God bestow such sympathy? The Psalmist says: “He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust” (vs. 14). Man is weak in body and mind. "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak" (Matthew 26:41). At times man is feeble in his power of conviction, poor in his power of will, and woefully ignorant of God’s way.
Even though our service to God is imperfect, if one will fear Him, if our devotion is rooted in faith and sincerity, if it is motivated by love, and purified by prayer, it is accepted by God.
Enlarge My Heart
“I will run the course of your commandments. For you shall enlarge my heart” (Psalms 119:32, NKJV). The opposite is, “Indeed for you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them” (Ezekiel 33:32, NKJV).
Ezekiel pleads, “Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord” (Ezekiel 33:30). But the people came, sat, heard, but did not do them. They treated the words of the Lord as a very lovely song but found no value in them. How sad!
By contrast, the Psalmist says the word of God will enlarge his heart. How is it one can see the word of God as enlarging his heart, and another hear the same word as a very lovely song but do nothing about it? Ezekiel says it is because, “with their mouth they show much love but their hearts pursue their own gain” (Ezekiel 33:31, NKJV).
The heart makes all the difference. If we want our heart to be enlarged by the word of God, it will be. If all we want to do is hear it as a lovely song that sounds good and is soothing, then that is all we will do. It is determined by what we will. We must will to do the will of God (John 7:17). The will to do the will of God makes all the difference. The Athenians told Paul, “Hey, we like to hear new things. When you come up with another new thing come and tell us about it.” But they were not going to do anything with what they heard.
We can pursue our own gain or we can pursue the will of God. Those attitudes do not end up in the same place.
“Seek the kingdom of God first.” (Matt 6:33) This is God’s word. Will it enlarge our hearts, or will we just say, “Hey that sounds lovely” and do nothing about it?
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church.” (Eph. 5:25, NKJV) Will that enlarge our hearts, or will we just treat it as a lovely song and walk away?
“Keep yourself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27) Seems plain enough. Will we will to do His will and enlarge our hearts, or listen as listening to a lovely song and then become world-stained.
This is not rocket science. The reason people do not do what the Lord says is because they will not to do His will. They pursue their own gain. On the other hand, when the word of God enlarges a person’s heart, their lives are much more successful and peaceful. Who and whom we pursue makes all the difference in eternity.
Psalm 101 is a song of commitment from David to the Lord. There are several “I Will” statements that David gives, describing what he will do for the Lord.
I will sing of steadfast love and justice; to you, O LORD, I will make music (v. 1) – it is David’s commitment to worship. I will commit my time, my thoughts, my voice to You in worship. Do you spend time daily in worship to God?
I will ponder the way that is blameless. (v. 2) – there is a way before the Lord that one can be blameless, a right path. Before I speak, before I act, I will think about which decisions will lead me and keep me on the blameless way.
I will walk with integrity of heart within my house (v. 2) – integrity brings to mind character. It is who you are when no one is around, like at home. Thus even in the privacy of my own home I will not give my heart over to bitterness, to greed, to lust, to pride. My heart will be pure and right, even when alone.
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. (v. 3) – in a world full of distractions, full of evil and alluring ways, I will choose to set my eyes on God, to keep my focus on things above, on the things that honor God and matter the most.
I will know nothing of evil (v. 4) – I will strive to preserve a heart of innocence. I will guard against the thoughts of the wicked. I will not be drawn by examples of evil. Rather than filling my heart with today’s news (which is almost always negative), I’ll fill my heart with the words of life.
Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. (v. 5) – the people I consider my close friends, where I turn to for advice, they will not be those who are walking away from God. I will use my words and example to speak the truth and love, to address sin and point others to Christ.
I will look with favor on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me. (v. 6) – in contrast to the thought above, I will surround myself with people of character and integrity. I will learn and lean on those who walk the same path, following the same goal, heading to the same destination – those who are Heaven bound.
7 I will statements. 7 powerful choices. What a big difference these 7 decisions will make in your life!
Holy Righteous God, like David the longing of my heart is to commit my life to You. Every day is full of choices – may the decisions and choices I make today be made with wisdom, with You in mind, with Heaven as my goal – may they be decisions that honor and glorify You. Father, today I WILL use my time, my thoughts, my words, my actions to further Your Kingdom, to demonstrate Your goodness, to bless and not to curse, to show the world my love and devotion to You!
Be Aware Of Envy
Psalms 73 is so current. It is so easy to look at the rich and famous and grow envious of them. We see them die with a smile on their face. They die in strength. Seemingly, they have no trouble. They live in nice homes. They drive nice cars. They are popular. They take exotic vacations (vs. 3-12). It is easy to ask, “God, don’t you care about the righteous? They suffer. They give it all up for You. God, I know you are good but…”
Asaph had three choices. He could abandon his faith and run with the wicked, he could hold on to his faith in hypocrisy and fake it, or he could look to God for answers.
When Asaph goes to the house of God, he gains a different perspective. He sees life from God’s point of view. Now he sees from the 30,000 foot point of view. Now he understands. One reason the rich and famous enjoy life as they do and die with a smile on their face is because they do not know what they face. The godless life is a mirage. It has a sad end. It is not fulfilling. They are living miserable and do not know it. When Asaph realized how he had been thinking, he was grieved (vs. 21-22). He was looking only at the here and now. He was giving no thought to the consequences of that lifestyle.
Asaph now knows the reward of the world, but what of his own fate? The wicked are on the wrong road. They may appear to have health, wealth, and worldly success, but they don’t have God. Therefore, they don’t have anything! He realizes this one great truth. When he has God, he has everything. He has no want. He has ultimate success. He knows that those who draw near to the Lord will have true strength and prosperity (vs. 26 -28).
He concludes, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none on earth that I desire besides you” (vs. 25).
Coming to the house of God is so important. It brings us back to the fundamental of what life is really all about. In our materialistic world, none of us is beyond taking our eyes off God and looking at the world and worldly people. When we begin to measure ourselves to them and their lifestyle, we will always be lacking. No one can keep up with them. When we see life from God’s point of view, we see how really blessed we are. We see what the worldly do not have. We see their poverty among their riches. We see their wrinkles that are covered by the make-up of worldly success.
Come before God. Let Him show what life is all about. Let Him show us true wealth and success. Ah, to be with God! There is peace!
- Next time we go to the house of God, thank God for allowing us to see things from His point of view.
- God’s point of view is the only point of view that explains life and gives life value.
I Have Sinned, but Can Take Joy in God’s Words
The final theme for Psalm 119 is that it teaches us that loving God’s rules is qualified and produced by knowledge of sin, grace, and the promises of God. The more you can relate to the psalmist’s repentance for sin, the more you will relate to his love for God’s rules as you endure the trials of life.
So, on this average weekday, you may be like the writer of Psalm 119: suffering under temptation to sin or afflicted by circumstances or people around you. Plead with God to deliver you based on his promises (v. 170). Rest in his covenant faithfulness to his people (v. 76). Rejoice that God eternally keeps the terms of his own law, his own rules, perfectly (v. 65). Remember that he has given you life in himself according to his Word (v. 50). Let the true Word of God, Jesus Christ, abide in you richly today, and be filled with love for your Savior.
Thank you for taking this journey with us through Psalm 119. We hope that we have learned that even though this chapter may be daunting there is so much to learn from it.