Today’s Reading: Psalms 101-105
Today’s Reflection: Psalm 103:13
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
What is this text saying?
In this Psalm, entitled “Bless the Lord, O my soul”, King David expounds on God’s righteousness and His loving mercies towards mankind and makes the analogy of God’s love being like that of a father to his children.
Why is it important?
This highlights one of the most amazing truths of God’s word. God doesn’t merely wish for you to obey His laws or follow a list of holy dos and don’ts. He wants to have a relationship with you, and not just any relationship but the intimacy of a relationship between a father and a child. God wants you to get to know Him and His ways and learn to trust Him. God wants you to have the familiarity and comfort with Him that will allow you to call Him ‘Abba’ father, just as Jesus did (Mark 14:36; Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6). God wants to partner with you in making your life a remarkable and abundant adventure of love, faith, grace and blessings, leading to eternal salvation for you and those bearing witness (1 Timothy 4:16).
How can I apply this?
Think about how you relate to God right now. Can you really call it a relationship, or is God just an impersonal force? Do you talk to God, or worry about trying to appease Him? Are you receiving God’s forgiveness, grace and love, or working to be worthy of them? I encourage you to take God at His word and go to him as a child to a loving and welcoming father. Consider these truths:
1 – God is a perfect father: No earthly father is perfect, and sadly for many of us our human fathers have been far less than merely imperfect—absent, unloving, abusive, controlling. Because of this we may come to God fearing that what is true of our human fathers will also be true of our Heavenly Father. Because of this some of us may not want to have anything to do with God at all. Fortunately our Heavenly Father can ‘re-write’ our idea of what the title father really means through His perfect example.
Psalm 103 describes God as a father who gives His children many benefits: forgiveness from sin, healing from disease, redemption, He crowns us with steadfast love and mercy, and satisfies us with good things (vs. 2-5). For those who have scars from earthly fathers who have fallen short, God invites you to find healing and restoration in a father-child relationship with Him (and as God heals you, He’ll lead you to find it in your heart to be compassionate to your earthly father as well).
2 – God is a patient father: Psalm 103:10 reads ‘He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.’ Just as a parent shows patience to a child who is learning the rules of life, God is merciful towards us. Verse 8 describes Him as ‘slow to anger’.
Though God does promise justice to the oppressed (vs. 6) it may appear to us that others who are doing wrong are getting away without being punished. We have to remember that God is being merciful and patient with them as He has been with us, and that this patience, this forbearance (or ‘holding back’) is meant to lead to repentance (Romans 2:4) for them just as it is for us.
3 – God is a father who disciplines His children: Discipline is an important part of love, something we eagerly acknowledge it when we consider raising our own children, but don’t like to hear quite as much when it applies to us. The truth is there is nothing loving in allowing someone to continue on a path that will lead them to destruction. This is why our Heavenly Father chastens those who He loves (Hebrews 12:6) and admonishes us not to despise His correction (Proverbs 3:11) but to accept it as a necessary part of our spiritual growth (Hebrews 12:10). Lest you become discouraged, God does give us the promise that His correction will not last forever (Psalm 103:9).
Deuteronomy 8:5 – Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you.