In Psalm 103 we come to a psalm of thanksgiving, perhaps better described as a hymn of gratitude, as the writer, King David, moves from heartfelt personal praise to inviting all of Israel and all of God’s people to remember the Lord, dwell on what he has done, and give him praise.
In v2 we read, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits…”
I’m not sure about you but it’s very easy to forget things. I would’ve forgotten more of my life than remembered it. I’m sure you are the same.
I mean, we all like to think we’ve got good memories and can remember a lot, which of course our amazing brains can. But we’re also not all blessed, or perhaps cursed, with a photographic memory. And so we remember many things we’ve done, sights we’ve seen, and words we’ve listened to. But the reality is that we forget more than we remember. Which to me seems like one of the Lord’s graces toward us.
Who wants to remember those really embarrassing comments we’ve made to colleagues or others we don’t know so well? Who wants to remember that embarrassing experience we had in high school or going through those years of puberty? Who wants to remember the acute grief we experience when a loved one passes away? There is actually plenty in life that we don’t want to remember.
But, there is also the negative side to forgetting things. We find ourselves forgetting names, numbers, faces, people, dates and times. And as we get older this can have repercussions on our quality of life.
But David’s point in this Psalm is not a negative one, it’s a positive one. It’s the encouragement to remember what the Lord has done, to remember the benefits that come with knowing God. For there are plenty of benefits that the Lord has given us and when we remember these things we are led to praise and gratitude for them and for him.
This whole Psalm seems to list the benefits available to us, but in v1-6 we read specific benefits of:
- The forgiveness of sin
- The healing of disease
- The redemption of life from pit
- The crowning of love and compassion upon us
- The satisfaction of our desires
- The righteousness and justice of God
In the busyness of life it is easy to forget the benefits that come with being crowned a child of God. And these are incredible benefits! Even David, considered to be a ‘man after God’s own heart’(Acts 13:22) evidently needs to be reminded of these things.
And all these benefits we see fulfilled through our Lord Jesus. This baby Jesus we remember at Christmas, this God-child we read of through the Prophets and writings of scripture, this Son of God born to a teenager in a derelict town, is the one who fulfils all these benefits and provides us with all these benefits through his life and death on a cross.
And so who would want to forget these things?
We take photos to remember the experiences we’ve had and the places we’ve been to. When we look back on photos we’ve taken, our memories take us back to what we’ve done and experienced. We don’t want to forget that sunrise, or that waterfall, or that animal we got up close to. We don’t want to forget that party with friends, or that dinner with family, or that person we met. And so we take a photo as a keepsake, to help us remember.
This list here is a reminder for us, a keepsake, as is all of scripture, which helps us remember God for who he is and what he has done.