Bless the Lord O My Soul – A look at Psalm 103 and 10,000 Reasons

BiblePsalmsI am a terrible gardener. When it comes to mowing the lawn, I will take care of the grass and do what I need to keep the yard looking nice. However, when it comes to flowerbeds and the like, I’m just not that great.

Those beds of bushes and pretty plants take an enormous amount of effort to keep looking nice. When we moved into our new house, the landscaping was not in great shape, and over the busy summer, they have gotten progressively worse. I really do want them to look good, and my wife does especially. It’s just been hard with being so busy.

Flowerbeds do not automatically look nice though. Weeds creep in, mulch dries out, and plants die. They need to be tended to – worked over – cultivated.

Our souls are the same way. The rigors of life can creep in, and we can neglect the care of our hearts. Just like unattended gardens, our souls can become overgrown and out of sorts.

Psalm 103 is a great picture of worship that is cultivation of the soul. The psalmist, perhaps David, is working on the garden of his heart, calling his own being to worship. He is not manufacturing anything artificial, but rather he is doing what he must to clear out the mess and see the beauty of the Lord again.

This Psalm has found its way into many songs, but one today has captivated the heart of Christians all over the world. “10,000 Reasons” is written by Matt Redman, one of the most prolific sacred song writers of our day. The inspiration for this song comes from Psalm 103. I want us to take a look at the Scripture, looking to gain a better understanding of this song and how we worship through it. Through our journey, we will also do a bit of gardening in our own souls, calling our hearts to worship.

Psalm 103
1 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 not all his benefits,

3 who forgives all your iniquity,
 who heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit,
 who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

5 who satisfies you with good
 so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses,
 his acts to the people of Israel.

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
 slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

9 He will not always chide,
 nor will he keep his anger forever.

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
 nor repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
 so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west,
 so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
 so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
 he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
 and its place knows it no more.

17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,

18 to those who keep his covenant
 and remember to do his commandments.

19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
 and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
 you mighty ones who do his word,
    obeying the voice of his word!

21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
 his ministers, who do his will!

22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
 in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Verses 1-5 are written by the psalmist to his own soul. He is calling his own heart to worship the Lord, bringing blessing to the One who is the author of blessings. In these first few verses, the author brings to remembrance all that God has done in his own life. Forgiveness of sin, healing, redemption, faithful love, and true satisfaction have come from the Lord. These wonderful acts of God have brought life to this author, renewing his youth and making his soul soar like an eagle.

Nothing else compares to this – nothing else compares to the Lord. Too often this is forgotten in the midst of everything. The author takes the time to remember just how good God really is.

Verses 6-14 are pointed towards the qualities of the Lord that apply to all. For those that are oppressed, God cares for them and fights for them! He is not a god who wants to remain hidden or distant, but He has revealed Himself to the people of Israel. And we know, that Christ came to the world – came to us – to save us all! John 1:14 says that “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus came to be the light in the darkness of the world.

The Lord is rich in love and slow to anger. Many of us have experienced those with quick tempers, even some in terrible ways. David saw Saul’s temper more than once. From God’s perspective, His own people turned their back on Him repeatedly, but He never dealt with them like He could have. Like a true loving Father, His anger and discipline always came to correct and bring people back to Him. God never gave up on His people, and He never will. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 truly represent the nature of God’s love.

Finally, in this section, the psalmist looks at just how big the Lord’s forgiveness really is. It cannot possibly be quantified. The picture of “as far as the east is from the west” is used as a way to measure the size of God’s redemption. There is no way to fathom it. When the Lord forgives sins, they are gone. Redemption is real and true. Even when we fall, He wants to pick us up. He knows we are not perfect, but He never gives up on us. 1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That’s not a spot clean – it’s the power wash.

The final section of the psalm, verses 15-22, demonstrate just how big God is and how He still loves us. Our lives are like grass that dries up and blows away. But still, God knows us and loves us.

And God is the complete opposite. He never fades. He is everlasting. His love is everlasting. He is the only true constant – the only good that will never end. Nothing will defeat Him. Even the most powerful kingdom pales in comparison to His.

With this picture, the psalmist calls on the whole of creation to worship God just like his soul. Angels, all His servants, and everything God has made will bless the Lord because of Who He is and what He has done.

And the psalmists voice joins the song of the universe, bringing his melody to the tune.

Psalm 103 is so beautiful, because it is a song that we still sing today. The truths that the author writes about are true for us today as well! God has done so much for us, and He is still doing so much! Everyday, all around us, the Lord is working in so many ways that we do not even see them all.

And our souls need that cultivation too. Have you ever been in a worship service and felt empty? Has there ever been a day when you woke up and wondered what was the point?

Like the flowerbeds in front of my house, our souls will be overgrown and out of shape without proper care. Psalm 103 shows us how to cultivate our hearts and bring our souls to worship.

10,000 Reasons is a song that is a great summary of the truth of Psalm 103.

The first verse deals with praising God with the coming of a new day, and that praise continuing throughout the day – no matter what may come. These lyrics call the soul to worship God through any circumstance:

The sun comes up it’s a new day dawning

It’s time to sing Your song again

Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me

Let me be singing when the evening comes

Verse 2 focuses on the attributes of the goodness of God. “10,000 Reasons” is a number that really is not an exact quantity, but rather it is a picture of just the great number of reasons we have to worship God. Even if we were to sit down and write out each one, ten thousand would just be the beginning.

You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger

Your name is great and Your heart is kind

For all Your goodness I will keep on singing

Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

The third and final verse is a beautiful picture of looking back at life but also looking forward to the life yet to come. Praise for the Lord has only just begun, for everything our heart is longing for is just ahead. For ten thousand years we will be with God, and that is just the beginning. During that time, no sin or darkness will be between those who belong to the Lord.

And on that day when my strength is failing

The end draws near and my time has come

Still my soul will sing Your praise unending

Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Finally, the chorus is the call to cultivate our hearts to bring praise to God. For all these reasons, we bring a song to Him.

Bless the Lord O my soul

O my soul
, Worship His holy name

Sing like never before

O my soul, 
I’ll worship Your holy name

Today, lets take some time to cultivate our souls. For the next few minutes, we want to call our hearts to worship like the psalmist and Redman do.

Let’s listen through a couple of versions of 10,000 Reasons together. While it plays, let’s focus on three things:

  1. Remembrance: Write down some of the ways God has blessed you, either recently or throughout your life.
  2. 10,000 Reasons: Write down the goodness of God. What makes Him worthy to be worshipped?
  3. Bless the Lord: Write down a prayer of worship to the Lord. He always blesses us, and our worship to Him is a blessing to Him. Bless Him today. Commune with Him in worship.

May our worship cultivate our souls towards God. And may our worship lead our lives to live for Him. One final question for us to consider, is God calling you to something? As you spend time calling your heart to worship, let the Holy Spirit speak as well. What is He saying to you?

Advertisements

We Get Angry and Jealous When We See Others Succeed, but Our Delight Should Be in God’s Love and Will For OUR Lives // Psalm 73

Have you ever seen an athlete or celebrity rise to the top or win that championship and at the same time he or she is arrogant, spiteful, or just plain mean?

Reality shows LOVE to play on this. Producers and casting directors will search for people who are strong competitors and who do anything to anyone to win. You can also see it in any sport or music realm.

Many times, it leaves us asking, “Why?” Why does someone achieve success no matter how terrible he or she is? How do evil men become rulers of a nation? Why is Ron Artest still playing NBA basketball? (I kid, I kid! …well, maybe)

In Psalm 73, the author (probably Asaph or one his writers) asks these same questions. He has seen evil people rise up all around him, and how can God allow such a thing to happen? Here’s how it starts,

1 Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
3 For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

We all get this way right? We all ask these questions, especially when things seem to be going well for those who could care less about God or His Kingdom.

Being a musician, I’ve experienced this plenty of times. How does that person get to have the resources to make an album? Why did he get the blessing of such an incredible voice?

It’s really petty and selfish when you get down to it. Basically, I’m asking God, “Why did you mess up?” or “Why did you give me the leftovers?” What I’m forgetting is that I have the most important gift of all.

See, success for most of us is all about security, or I should say, insecurity. If we don’t achieve a certain goal, then our self-worth is very low. What we all forget is how much Christ thought we were worth. In His eyes, we were worth more than His own life.

The psalmist also sees the slippery slope of “success.” What the world defines as “winning” is very temporary and temporarily satisfying. We may think being a star or winning it all is what life is all about, but in the end those things just fade away.

So don’t ever compromise your relationship with God to follow after some silly dream that you think will make you happy. It won’t. The author aptly says earlier in the psalm about what God had shown him,

18 Truly you set them in slippery places;
you make them fall to ruin.
19 How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!

The most important thing to any of us is a relationship with God. He is truly is everything we could ever hope for. In the end, He will be the One who glorifies us and brings us true everlasting joy. Notice what the psalmist said in verses 24-26,

24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Are you discouraged because you think someone else is getting to live your dream? Don’t be! God DOES have an incredible plan for you, and it is more amazing than you could ever imagine. Follow who God wants you to be. It may seem like others are winning when they shouldn’t be, but you’ve got the Creator of the Universe on your side!

God, Save Us From Ourselves // Romans 8

Courtney and I have a beautiful 16-month-old daughter, who has very recently become quite adept at moving around in bipedal manner. In the past week, she has even picked up a considerable amount of velocity. Sometimes it even seems like her little mind is telling her legs, “Ramming Speed!!!”

What hasn’t quite caught up to her walking is her visual coordination. She looks down most of the time when she is barreling ahead. Which, as anyone of you with children knows, leads to many collisions with solid, immovable objects. (My nerdy physics Spidey Senses are tingling, but I will not fall into that trap today)

What I find myself doing time and time again is trying to keep Ellis’ head from certain pain and anguish. This often means placing my hand in the way of a table corner. Other times, it means picking her up and setting her feet on a different course altogether. And even though she is only a child, Ellis still has a free spirit that will often not express a great amount of happiness when I lead her away from certain cranial danger.

This has taught me so much about God and how He treats us. The truth is the Lord loves us so much and wants the absolute best for us, but so often we kick and scream and throw a fit whenever He is trying to direct our path. We are too busy looking down at our own feet to see the pitfalls ahead.

Romans 8:28 is an amazing verse in the midst of just incredible Scriptures that Paul wrote about life in the world. It says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

There is so much to say about the context in which Paul wrote these words, but the theologian William Barclay has some very intriguing thoughts about this verse. Paul wrote, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good,” and it might seem that God only does good things for those that love Him.

Barclay wrote that this verse is more about perspective than anything else. God is doing good for all, and anything good in the world comes from Him. However, we can only see the truth – that God is working for the good in all circumstances – if we love and trust Him. If we don’t love God, then we won’t have faith to see or trust His plans.

How often did we as teenagers think our parents were so dumb for setting boundaries for us or setting us straight? Maybe we still loved our parents in those times, but we sure didn’t trust that they knew best. If we don’t trust Him, or those that don’t love God at all, then we don’t see the good that God is working towards.

This is especially true when God may guide us out of situations that we may want, but ultimately, if we stay on the same course we are cruisin’ for a bruisin’. Sometimes He even allows us to bump our heads just to learn to walk with our eyes on Him.

These are easy words to type and even to read, but they are so difficult to put into practice in everyday life. I wish I could write a blog about why everything difficult happens. But the words that Paul is writing in Romans 8 is not trying to explain the why; he is trying to affirm the promise that God is going to make everything right one day. We will see God’s hand in our lives now, and one day everything will be set right.

So when it seems like you aren’t getting your way in life, don’t throw a tantrum. Trust that God really does know best and wants the best for us. He loves us. And sometimes, He is just trying to keep us from knocking our heads on that pesky end table.