Good, Good Father: Psalm 103, 16 June 2024

Good, Good Father: Psalm 103
Restoring Your Soul: Psalms 

Series Big Idea: The Psalms are filled with passionate expressions of the soul.
Big Idea: The LORD is a good, good Father to those who love and fear Him.
Several years ago, I shared about my dad’s funeral. It was one of the greatest days of my life, which may sound strange, but it was a tremendous honor to celebrate the life of the greatest man I ever knew, a life which was slowly extinguished through Lewy body dementia. Dad was not perfect, but he pointed me to the One who is, and on this Father’s Day in the middle of a series on the Psalms, it seems appropriate to examine Psalm 103 and what is written about our good, good Father.
Happy Father’s Day. I realize for many, it’s not. Death, abuse, or abandonment are but three reasons you might be struggling today as a dad or the child of a dad. Calling God “Father” is challenging for some who are triggered by the mention of dad rather than comforted by the word. If that’s you, I want to draw your attention to the truth of our heavenly Father and let that be your starting point rather than trying to associate God with your earthly one. It’s worth noting there are 22 verses in this psalm, corresponding with the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. Charles Haddon Spurgeon said of Psalm 103, “There is too much in this Psalm for a thousand pens to write about.”
Psalm 103 begins with praise, much as our morning did today
Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. (Psalm 103:1, NLT)
God is worthy of our praise, our worship, our attention…all of it! Have you ever given someone your divided attention? I’m not a big fan of the telephone because I’m sometimes tempted to be multi-tasking…checking an e-mail, looking out the window, or surfing the Internet. If I have to look at you on a screen or face-to-face, I’m more likely to give you all of my attention.
That’s what God wants…all of us. All of our praise. Our whole heart. He’s holy and worthy. He deserves it!
In the past few years, we’ve seen the popularity of Taylor Swift skyrocket, with countless Swifties captivated by seemingly everything she says, does, and sings. They praise her with thunderous applause after each song. They spend millions of dollars on tickets, t-shirts, and recordings. She fills their thoughts, and perhaps even their dreams. One church even devoted a Sunday to her faith-filled lyrics and 1200 people showed up…and this is in Germany!
I’m not here to promote or critique Taylor Swift, but she’s a singer. How much more should we praise the LORD?!
Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. (Psalm 103:2, NLT)
All that I am. What good things has He done for you? Tell someone now. If you needed help, here’s some ideas:
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! (Psalm 103:3-5, NLT)
That’s Someone worth praising and adoring! He forgives, heals, redeems or delivers, crowns, loves, fills, and renews. Hallelujah!
The LORD gives righteousness and justice to all who are treated unfairly. (Psalm 103:6, NLT)
Let’s pause for a moment and meditate on that verse. How does it make you feel? It gives me hope for those experiencing injustice. Think of a time when you were treated unfairly. It’s a helpless, angering thing. But God sees. He sees you today. Take comfort. Obviously, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t help the oppressed—quite the opposite—but God will right all wrongs…someday…maybe in this life, maybe in the next. He is a good Father. He loves His children. It doesn’t mean they always get what they want when they want it, but in the end, justice will be served.
He revealed his character to Moses and his deeds to the people of Israel. (Psalm 103:7, NLT)
It’s impossible to overstate the work of God through the Exodus. He called Moses to lead the people out of Egyptian slavery and provided for them during their forty-year journey of disobedience and grumbling in the wilderness. This included parting the Red Sea, feeding them manna, and sending quail before bringing them to the Promised Land of Canaan.
The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. (Psalm 103:8, NLT)
does get angry, and anger is not a sin. It’s a primary emotion which can result in sinful or righteous behavior. We should get angry about things like child abuse and sex trafficking. Tragically, many fathers are not compassionate, merciful, or loving, instead quick to get angry, but not our Heavenly Dad. He’s the perfect example for us earthly dads. These words weren’t David’s idea, but quoted from God Himself in Exodus 34:6
The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,
            “Yahweh! The LORD!
                        The God of compassion and mercy!
            I am slow to anger
                        and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. (Exodus 34:6, NLT)
At least nine times in the. Bible we’re told God is slow to anger. Aren’t you glad? I believe there are two common extremes when it comes to God the Father. The first is that He’s an old, weak creature in the sky who is asleep, distracted, or just plain disinterested in us. Because our prayers are not always answered in vending-machine style, people assume He doesn’t care. The other extreme is angry God, mean God, out-to-get-you God who is waiting for one slip up so He can zap you and make your life miserable. Both are destructive images of God.
What God wants more than anything is you! All of you. He wants your heart, soul, mind, and body. He wants your love, time, and worship. It’s not about manipulation, ego, or insecurity but relationship. He sometimes uses trials and suffering to get our attention, to get our minds off ourselves and onto Him, to remind us of His presence, power, and love.
He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever. He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:9-12, NLT)
It seems to me there are some Christians who love to emphasis God’s wrath and judgment. The other extreme—that He’s just a nice Mr. Rogers figure who is aloof and always gentle—is damaging, too, but look at these beautiful truths. God never changes. These words were true thousands of years ago and they’re true today. He backed them up by sending Jesus to die in our place, to forgive our sins, to reconcile us to our heavenly Father. In fact, I believe one of the primary reasons God hates sin is simply because he knows it always hurts us. When a loving parent says to a child, “Don’t touch the hot stove,” it’s not about them having power or being offended by the action, but rather they don’t want to see their child suffer.
Does God hate sin? Yes, because God hates to see His kids suffer, and sin inevitably leads to death of one kind or another.
Now we come to our scripture reading text, our Father’s Day passage, if you will. We’ve seen God’s compassion on His sinning people and now we turn to God’s compassion on His weak and frail children.
The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust. Our days on earth are like grass; like wildflowers, we bloom and die. (Psalm 103:13-15, NLT)
The LORD is a good, good Father!
The wind blows, and we are gone—as though we had never been here. But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments! (Psalm 103:16-18, NLT)
The LORD has made the heavens his throne; from there he rules over everything. (Psalm 103:19, NLT)
Praise the LORD, you angels, you mighty ones who carry out his plans, listening for each of his commands. Yes, praise the LORD, you armies of angels who serve him and do his will! (Psalm 103:20-21, NLT)
Praise the LORD, everything he has created, everything in all his kingdom.
Let all that I am praise the LORD. (Psalm 103:22, NLT)
We were created to know and praise the LORD.

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