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Friday, March 1, 2024

Benefits (Benefit #4)

Here's that list of benefits from Psalm 103 again:

  1. forgiveness for iniquity
  2. healing for diseases
  3. redemption from "the pit"
  4. being crowned with "steadfast love and mercy"
  5. being satisfied with "good" - specifically good health

God crowns you with steadfast love and mercy

Crowns are round, and that's why translations use the word "crowns" here. But it doesn't seem to me to be about a royal crown. The Hebrew word means "to encircle" – it seems to me that this is more of a protective measure than the coronation we might think of. In Psalm 5:12 it says "For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield." That word "cover" is the same word translated "crown" here, in Psalm 103:4.

"Steadfast love" means loyalty, devotion, and the unchangeable nature of God. In Deuteronomy 31:8 (and also a few verses before in 31:6) Moses said this about the nature of God: "It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed." In the passage in Hebrews 13 that quotes Moses, the author wraps it up this way: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) God loves you, and He isn't going to change His mind!

And finally, "mercies" means a deep well of loving compassion. In verses 13-14 of this same chapter, the Psalmist expands on this a little bit more: "As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." God isn't looking for a reason to condemn us. He knows that we are fragile creatures, able to be wiped out by nothing more than a change of temperature or an invisible gas that we breathe. When one of my children is in pain or fearful or in some kind of danger, I am immediately there for them, in their corner, because I know them and I know when they have a need. That's the way God is for us.

All of that meaning packed into seven words! God protectively encircles us with His devotion, His loyalty, His never-leave-you, His love, His mercy, His compassion. It's like being in the safest place you've ever been, with the kindest, strongest, and most protective person you've ever met. It's that, but more. Wow!

On to Benefit #5, or start from the beginning!

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