My Favorite Psalm and a tribute to my parents

103 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your [a]years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

The Lord performs [b]righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who [c]fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who [d]fear Him.
14 For He Himself knows [e]our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
17 But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who [f]fear Him,
And His [g]righteousness to children’s children,
18 To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.

19 The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His [h]sovereignty rules over [i]all.
20 Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
21 Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
22 Bless the Lord, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Well, the Lord bailed me out again, at least it seems unless the unexpected happens today. I was on that verge of panic and desperation yesterday, about to put myself into afib again stressing out over something dumb that I did the night before and I was worried about the consequences of it. Woke up 2AM worrying about it. I keep quoting Paul in Philippians 4: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all [d]comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” but it doesn’t remove the dark cloud hanging over me. I tell myself that the potential problem is not even serious, and is fixable even the worst occurs, but that doesn’t help either. I was expecting another fretful night before I could find out the consequences, but the Lord gave me relief yesterday out of the blue.

He has done that so many times! I usually think of this Psalm after each time. I think of verse 4: “He redeems me from the pit”. I don’t know what pit David was referring to. The commentaries say that the word means “destruction, the grave, the pit of corruption (Ps 16:10)” and would refer to the many times God rescued David from potential death. I apply the verse to any danger or problem, big or small, that the Lord delivers me from. Thank you Lord, for rescuing me again!

But then I start reading the whole Psalm. Even on my worst day, the Lord has blessed me with so many blessings, but I “forget his benefits”. Usually we think of “benefits” like those offered at my job: health insurance and a retirement plan. I get those benefits every month and I take them for granted. I do that with God unfortunately. David lists several benefits. Forgiveness . Physical healing. Love and compassion. Good things. Renewal of strength. I get all those every day. Thank you Lord.

David cites what God told Moses in Exodus 34 Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and [d]truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” Moses wanted more intimate knowledge of God to help him with the burden of leading the rebellious Israelites. God told him to get behind a rock, and the Lord passed by while giving Moses this summary of His attributes. Moses only saw his “back side”, some glory brightness no doubt, but not the full glory of God which no man can see. David seems to be thinking about these attributes when he says that the Lord has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. East and west are simply directions that extend indefinitely. Since they go in opposite directions, the distance between them can’t even be defined as it is infinite. I can’t think of an illustration of infinity any better than that! I am such a sinner, and yet the grace of God forgives me each day. Thank you Lord.

He has compassion on s as a father has for his children. A good, loving father will always have compassion on his children even when they don’t deserve it. A father will bail his drug addicted son out over and over, trying to rescue him. He will sympathize with and help his irresponsible daughter who messes up in life over and over. He grieves over bad things in the lives of his children, even if they bring those things on themselves due to bad behavior. Can you think of a better illustration of compassion than that? I can’t. He knows our frame, out physical weaknesses, because He knows that He made us as weak, imperfect humans. He formed us in our mother’s womb and we are his offspring. He sympathizes with our weaknesses. He even came to earth in His Son Jesus to share those same temptations, to empathize with us. When I am struggling with stress, I wish I could just relax in His love and compassion, casting my anxiety over to Him, let my mind be at peace and at ease. With the help of the Spirit, I’m sure that I could. So why don’t I quit trying to control things and surrender control to God. Why don’t I quit relying on the flesh and rely on the Spirit?

David closes pointing out the sovereignty of God over the whole world. He calls on all the angels and all creation to serve Him and bless Him. Our days are passing quickly ,like the flowers in a field. As I get older, I think how quickly time has flown. It seems like yesterday that my wife and I were getting on a plane to go do mission work in Trinidad, West Indies, but that was 45 years ago. My parents are dead (but alive in eternity where they will never die), and my wife’s parents are in their 90″s with failing health and alzheimers (her did). It seems like yesterday that I could drop by my mom’s apartment here in town and watch TV with her for a whle. No matter what she was watching, she would hand me the channel changer and tell me to change the station to what I wanted to watch. She put my needs and wants above her own all my life (which maybe explains why I am so selfish). She was so proud of my accomplishments. I still have her scrap book where she would save newspaper or church bulletin clippings about our mission work. She thought I was the best preacher in the world and the best Bible scholar in the world. She lifted herself out of the poverty of her childhood and the depression, got her teaching degree, became one of the best 1st grade teachers in Alabama for 50 years back when teachers got about $7,000 per year. She would cook us a full breakfast, drive 40 minutes to her school, drive home, cook us a full supper (we never ate out), and keep the house clean. She was a Type A workaholic, which is where I get mine from. She could paint several rooms in a house in no time. When we would visit, she would jump up and within 30 minutes or so have a full wonderful meal ready. When she retired, she was able to do her first love which is study the Bible. She knew the Old Testament better than any preacher I have ever known. She would write copious notes on what she was studying (I still have a lot of her “studies” she wrote up with her pen). She had an amazing memory. She loved her grandchildren, great grans, and great great grans. She kept in touch with them constantly.

It seems like yesterday that my dad got a lung disease at age 72 (lived 2 years after that) and we would visit him. He knew nothing but hard work all his life at minimum pay, but worked overtime hours to support his family. He was forever helping people fix something. When he died, about 600 people signed the register at the funeral home. He never led a prayer in church, only knew one prayer at home (God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food), and we never talked about spiritual things or prayed together, but I knew he loved me. He never missed one of my baseball games. When I had problems working as a principal in a Christian school, I would fret and worry until I called him and he would say, “we’ll fix it in the morning”, and I could sleep that night- and he would get up in the morning with a plan and fix it! I miss just watching him ride on his ’62 Ford tractor (he was raised in the country during the depression, picking cotton and planting crops and he loved his tractor more than anything he owned, including his modest house). I still have that tractor. Some guys at church got it running for me and they cut 5 acres of church wild grass with it, and that makes me happy. He loved to fish, and we had great experiences fishing that I will never forget. Fishing is to me like shopping is to my wife. I can remember catching a 7 pound bass and a 3 pound crappie at Smith Lake when I was 17 years old (50 years ago) like it was yesterday.

Pardon me for getting personal with these tributes to my parents. But that is another one of the great blessings God has given me. And now He has blessed my wife and I with 3 godly children whom I am very proud of. My parents never said, “I love you” or hugged, but I know they did love me. It is still hard for me to express love, but I am so blessed: all 3 of my children end every conversation with “I love you”. I am surrounded with the lovingkindness of God and the love of family and friends. I don’t know why I am so grumpy, but I kinda enjoy it. The end.

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