The Spirituality of Psalm 103

by Berry Friesen (May 19, 2016)

In recent days, I have received unwelcome news from my doctor of a life-threatening disease.

The details are terribly important to me and to my loved ones and in due time, those details will be our preoccupations.  But for now, they are unknown and I am left to guess about what lies ahead. 

My thoughts have taken me to Psalm 103.  It’s a lovely poem that reflects the spirituality I desire. 

Here is how the poet describes the human condition (quoting The New English Bible):

“Our days are like the grass;
we blossom like the flowers of the field,
a wind passes over us and we cease to be,
and our  place knows us no more.”

Where then is comfort?  The poet tells us this:

“As a father has compassion on his children,
so has the LORD compassion on all who fear him.
For he knows how we were made,
he knows full well that we are dust.”

Of course, we want more.  We want not only comfort, but some assurance that our lives counted for something and had meaning.  And the poet hears our plea (quoting the NRSV):

“The steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children to those who keep his covenant,
to those who remember to do his commandments. 
The LORD has established his throne in the heavens and his kingdom rules over all.”

This is the voice of faith, convinced that though we flower and then fade, our lives contribute in some small way to the justice and righteousness God is unfolding for generations to come and all creation.

And so the poet ends with these words of praise (back to New English): 

“Bless the LORD, all his angels,
creatures of might who do his bidding.
Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers who serve his will.
Bless the LORD, all created things,
in every place where he has dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul.”