Psalm 103 – Our Perfect Father
Have you ever said those words-Daaad! I think the one that hits closest to home is when he’s waking his daughter up. I can remember having very similar reactions when my Dad would have to wake me up early! On Sunday mornings my brother and I when we shared a room would stay in bed as long as we could before church-Daad, we heard you, we’re getting up! Or I can remember one year in high school having AP Chemistry that started at 6:40am-and I don’t know what was worse-the AP Chemistry or the 6:40am start time-they were both bad! But I remember my Dad faithfully waking me up for it-with my response being Daad! And so for the Dads here-how many times have you heard yourself referred to in this way? I think it’s a term of endearing annoyance. Meaning-Dad, I love you-but seriously can you stop taking another picture, can you stop telling another bad joke, can you stop embarrassing me or annoying me in front of my friends-Daad! But that’s a Dad’s job, right? Isn’t this what Dads are supposed to do-mission accomplished when your child responds with Daad! You think to yourself-Doing something right! But here this morning we’re going to see that the idea of Dads is one of the most powerful and fundamental concepts on planet earth-because when God wanted to reveal who He is-in all of His eternal, transcendent, sovereign existence-He used the picture of a Dad. He describes Himself as our Heavenly Father. God could have used the image of Heavenly Thunder to describe His thundering reality in our lives, or the Heavenly Earthquake to describes his earthshaking presence or the Heavenly Mountain to describe how high and lofty He is-but instead God chose the picture of a Father. He describes Himself to us as a Dad-someone who is full of resolute strength-but someone who’s also full of tender mercy and compassion.
Now none of us have had perfect Dads-maybe some of you had absent Dads or a Dad that passed away or a Dad who didn’t care all that much or wasn’t around too often. Maybe others of you had an awesome Dad who loved you, spent time with you, taught you things and poured into your life-which is a huge blessing. Good Dads are a great glimpse of our Good God in heaven. But as we said, none of us have had perfect Dads. Every earthly Dad makes mistakes, falls short, doesn’t do it all right-the only dad who is perfect is our Father in Heaven. Do you remember what Jesus said near the end of the sermon on the mount after He finished telling us how to live and conduct ourselves-Matt 5:48. Now Jesus is describing that lifelong process of sanctification where we grow in godliness and become more like Him-but the key point this morning-on Father’s Day-is to remember that we have a perfect Father in heaven. We have a perfect Dad who doesn’t make any mistakes, who always knows what He’s doing, every one of His plans and His purposes come together for good, He’s completely reliable, completely trustworthy, completely loving in all His ways. He knows what He’s doing and He knows where He’s taking you. If you’re a Dad here this morning-how many times have you been in the car, with the family, traveling somewhere-and your kids think you’re lost or not sure where to go. Now we all know Dads are never lost-that’s what it means to be a Dad-so when your kids question that or suggest you may be a bit geographically challenged. Dad, are you sure this is the way? Do you know where we are? Dad, are we lost? What’s your response? Of course we’re not lost-I’m taking a different way to get there-it’s just around the corner, we’ll be there in no time-I know where I’m going. And whether that may be true or not, whether you kids believe that or not-we have a Father in Heaven who knows exactly where He’s going-He’s never wrong, never mistaken, never confused-He knows exactly where He’s taking you because He loves you perfectly!
As we continue our Summer in the Psalms series-we’re going to look at a Psalm this morning that highlights how good and perfect our Heavenly Father is. Take a look at Ps 103:1-2. Now this is a Psalm of David and what he’s doing is giving himself a little talking to. David’s telling himself to zero in and focus. As one commentator said this inner dialogue is a bit of gospel self-talk. Instead of trying to talk some general sense into himself, he’s trying to talk some gospel sense into himself. Something we all need to do. So what’s the essence of his gospel self-talk? All that is within me-within him, within you, within me-all that is within us needs to praise and bless and worship the Lord. As we sang earlier this morning-10,000 reasons for my heart to find. And that’s where David begins-his heart doesn’t want forget all the benefits of knowing the Lord. He finds to find them and rejoice over them.
And before we look at them I just want you to think about the benefits of being a child of the King. That if your Father was the king over a vast empire what would be the benefits? They would be innumerable-living in the palace, exploring the royal estate, being abundantly provided for, not having to worry about your future, knowing you’ll be protected by his royal armies, a great inheritance awaits you, all the privileges of palace life belong to you, you’re a part of the royal family. If your Dad is king there’s a lot of benefits to that-and that’s exactly who we are as children of God. Our Father is the king of a vast empire, our Dad rules over His eternal kingdom. We are not orphans or peasants running through the streets-we’re sons and daughters of the King. And yet how often do we forget those benefits? How often do we forget our identity as a part of God’s royal family? This is how Paul was praying for the believers in Ephesus so they wouldn’t forget it-Eph 1:18. Don’t forget that hope, don’t lose sight of that royal inheritance because you’re a child of the king. Do you pray that way in your life? That the eyes of your heart would be opened wide to see the blessings and benefits you have from your Heavenly Father? How are they described by David? Back to Ps 103:2. Listen up soul! These are really important! Ps 103:3-5. There’s five incredible benefits that David lists there. So Pt1:Our Perfect Father’s Benefits Package: Forgives, Heals, Redeems, Crowns and Satisfies us. If this was a job offer it would be really good-We’re going to forgive all your mistakes and heal you, when you’re stuck and it’s the pits we’re pulling you out and lifting you up, in fact we’re literally crowning you and celebrating you-you’ll be thoroughly satisfied working here we promise. Would you take the job?
Absolutely! What better benefits could there be? And as one writer said-these benefits don’t come from a heavenly employer-but from our Heavenly Father! This is from our God who loves us. So let’s glance back and walk through them for a minute-Ps 103:3-5. God doesn’t forgive some of your sins or even most of your sins-but all of them-every single one! Even the sins you’re most ashamed of; even the mistakes you most want to hide from and forget ever happened. Even those things are all forgiven. And then He heals all your diseases-and you might scratch your head a moment at that one wondering why lots of good, godly people still die from diseases then. If he promises to heal all them why hasn’t He? And the answer is that He has and He will. This healing isn’t only for the here and now but is fully experienced in eternity. Yes-sometimes, amazingly, miraculously God does heal us from diseases now and we give Him all the glory for that. But when we remember the hope to which we have been called, our inheritance in the saints-when we adopt that eternal perspective we discussed last week-then we realize God has healed us from all our diseases because we will be resurrected one day, body and soul forever joined together to live with Him in eternity-disease-free! No germs in God’s kingdom. No sick days in eternity. Healings now are a snapshot of ultimate healing then. Remember what Jesus famously said before He raised Lazarus from the the dead-I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believe in me, though he die, yet shall he live. Jesus is saying that we’ll all die-it’s a fact-some sort of disease will get us in this life-but it won’t have the victory because we’ll be forever healed in Him.
In fact, notice the next benefit is that he redeems your life from the pit-which is really another way of referring to death. Death and disease won’t have the final word-they won’t be your final destiny. You’re not stuck in the pit of your own failure and sin because you’ve been crowned with God’s mercy and love. That what’s been bestowed upon you and lays claim to who you are. Do you go about your day wearing that crown? Letting it dictate your attitude and outlook-that no matter what happens you know your Heavenly Father loves you and shows you mercy? That even though you make a lot of mistakes, He’s there to forgive you and His mercy exists to restore you? That your crowning achievement is being crowned by Him? Do you wear the crown He’s given you? Or do you go about your day wearing a crown of guilt and shame? That instead of letting the crown of God’s love shine brightly in your life you take it off and let the crown of your failures shine brightly? That you go through life thinking you’ll never be good enough, never obedient enough, you’ll always let God done, always disappoint Him and never get it right. The reality is that you’re not crowned by His mercy and love because you got it all right, you’re crowned by His mercy and love because you got it wrong and that’s exactly why He’s crowning you! Your crown isn’t the result of your exceptional performance; your crown is the result of your exceptional God-and we wear that crown-we let His mercy and love shine brightly because that’s who He is. Back to Pt1. If you had never met God before, or ever heard of Him, that’s how He’d introduce Himself. And that’s the direction David takes this Psalm.
Look at Ps 103:6-7. And this is really important because if you remember Moses, he was the guy who God called to lead His people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. But not long after beginning the journey and crossing the Red Sea God has them stop at Mt Sinai-and that’s when Moses went up the mountain to receive the 10 Commandments from God carved on stone. But what happened when Moses was up there? God revealed to Moses that his brother Aaron and all the people got restless and impatient, thought Moses abandoned them, and decided to make their own god-so they formed the golden calf. Nothing like exchanging the God of the universe who had rescued them for a statue of a cow! But that’s what they did-and so Moses came down, grew furious with them and broke the 10 Commandments. So God called Moses to go up the mountain a second time to receive a second set of the 10 Commandments. On the mountain Moses asked the Lord to see His glory-Ex 33:18. Isn’t that the greatest and probably boldest request of all time. Lord-let me see you, the Maker of the Universe! Of course God answered by saying-Ex 33:20-23. Don’t you envy Moses’ experience! Not God’s face-but an amazing glimpse of God’s glory nonetheless! So look at what happened-Ex 34:5. Moses got to see stand next to God and see that partial glimpse of His glory-but far more than what Moses saw is what Moses heard-the name of the Lord. God introduced Himself to Moses-saying this is who I am. Check it out-Ex 34:6. Those are 4 crucial statements-merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love. And when did God say this? Just after His people made a golden calf! God is replacing the 10 Commandments because they had literally broken the first set by making an idol and forsaking God. If there was ever a time for these words to be true-it was then. If there was ever a time for God not to be gracious and merciful it was to His people who rejected Him in order to worship farm animals! But in the midst of His people’s sin and failure God proclaims His name.
And that’s exactly the name David repeats in Ps 103:7-This is who I am-and now we hear it-Ps 103:8. If you’re not sure who God is or what He’s all about; if your view of God is a bit skewed or wrongly influenced by what other people say about God-hear who God is from Himself. This is how God introduced Himself to Moses, this is how David understood God-and this is how you and I must understand God. Pt2:Our Perfect Father’s Identity Profile: Merciful, Gracious, Slow to anger, and Abounding in love to us. What an identity! As one writer said-God defines who He is. No one else gets to decide what He’s like. We must resist the temptation of worshipping the God of our imaginations and we must worship the God of revelation. I love that because this is how God’s chosen to reveal Himself to us. And that means He isn’t out to get you. He isn’t quick to anger-instantly pointing out your every mistake and covering you in shame. He isn’t stingy in love or needlessly cruel trying to make your life miserable-He’s abounding in steadfast love! What would happen if you began each day realizing that this was your God? How would your heart be moved to worship? How would your life be transformed? How would your relationships be changed-knowing that if this is how your Father responds to you-than as His child you can’t help but respond to others in the same way? That you would desire to be merciful, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love to the people in your life! It seems like a no-brainer. That of course we’d be that way if that’s how our Heavenly Father is to us. Why wouldn’t we treat people the way we’ve been treated. But therein lies the difficulty, doesn’t it? We are never so thankful for God’s mercy and grace when we mess up; we’re never so appreciative that He is slow to anger and patient with us, we’re never so amazed by His steadfast love when we stumble and let Him down. But the moment someone lets us down, the moment someone hurts us and offends us and does things we don’t like…? Well that’s another story! And no one characterized that better than the Bible’s most famous deep sea diver-Jonah! When God showed mercy and grace to the wicked Ninevites, did Jonah rejoice because God had showed him mercy and grace by rescuing him from the fish? Was Jonah happy that God’s grace brought about a great repentance from the people? No! Look at what it says-Jonah 4:1. He was quick to anger about how God was slow to anger! It’s so ironic-listen to his response-Jonah 4:2-3. It’s the very same identity! But unlike how Moses and David praised God for being those things-Jonah is complaining about it-he’s furious that God is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Jonah is like the original-Daad! Now he didn’t wasn’t upset about this when he was in the belly of the fish-but now that he’s rescued and on dry land-now that God’s turned His grace to others-Jonah’s not a happy camper! Ask yourself-are you more like Moses and David-praising God for being this way? Or more like Jonah being mad at God?
And I think here’s why Jonah’s mad. What does David say when we return back to Ps 103:10. Is that something praiseworthy for you? Or is that a hard hurdle to overcome? Again-we’re never so thankful that God doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve-otherwise we’d be punished, in the pit, with no hope, game over. But do we want others to get what they deserve? Do you want to see the people in your life get what’s coming to them-and like Jonah you’re mad when they don’t? Do you treat people on the basis of what they deserve? You’ve hurt me so now I’m going to hurt you. Or do you respond in grace to those who’ve hurt you? Do you reach out in mercy to the people you struggle with? This is hinge on which everything balances-if God’s grace has transformed you, will that same grace transform your relationships with others? Or will you repay people and seek vengeance? Praise the Lord that He doesn’t do that with us!
In fact, look at how far God goes the opposite direction in showering us with His undeserved mercy and love. The scope of this is magnificent-Ps 103:11-12. I love how these two verses look at the vertical and horizontal aspects. The point is that we’re supposed to go outside and look up. As high as the heavens are above the earth-tonight go outside and look at the stars which are millions of light years away-and realize that God’s love is greater still! I think we can safely say that while the estimated distance of the known universe is about 45 billion light years across, God’s love will still stretch further than that. Meaning His love for you will never run dry or be exhausted. That His love will surround you for all eternity-nothing will stop it. And then the horizontal aspect says that He’s removed our sins from us-as far as the east is from the west. And can anything be more opposite or further apart than that? Listen to Boice, 834. They’ve been completely removed from us-why? All because of His Son. Not only do we have a perfect Father in Heaven-but we have a perfect Savior, God’s Son, in whom there wasn’t one iota of sin, not one mistake or stumble. He was perfectly sinless-and yet He took our sin upon Himself in order to pay the punishment our sins deserved. Back to the earlier verse-God doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve because Jesus paid the price of death for us even though He did nothing to deserve it. Look at 2 Cor 5:21. The reason that God can remove your sins as far as the east is from the west isn’t because God just looks the other way-your sins are to the east, I’ll look west. It’s not a question of not seeing them or turning a blind eye to them. Instead it’s about who removes them-and that’s Jesus. Your sins are as far away from you as east is from west because Jesus has fully and completely paid for them at the cross. Look at Col 2:13-14. That’s where your sins have gone-that’s where all your mistakes that need to be paid for have gone. Nailed to the cross and put to death by Christ-nothing else needs to be paid-He’s paid it all! Bird, 158. You don’t need to be bogged down by your mistakes, or carry the guilt of what you’ve done on your back. You don’t need to live under the shadow of all you’ve done wrong and how you’ll never measure up. Salvation has never been about that-because it’s all been removed by Jesus. Back to our verse-Ps 103:11-12. And where does this take us-v. 13. Your God loves you perfectly and completely and thoroughly-His love stretches further than the known universe-His forgiveness extends beyond the point that east and west will ever meet-and that’s because He’s your Father in heaven. He doesn’t treat you as your sins deserve, He treats you as His beloved son or daughter.
So Pt3:Our Perfect Father’s Family Tree: Filled with those who Trust, Follow, Worship and Fear Him. And that last word might sound a bit odd-if God is our Father who loves us so much why should we fear Him? To trust, follow and worship all make sense-as the Psalm began-Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name. So where does fear come in? If you haven’t caught it-I want you to notice how this phrase is repeated-Ps 103:11, 13, 17. That word fear doesn’t mean to tremble in your boots and go hide because you’re scared. It means to tremble in awe and wonder that your God would love you that much. It means to be someone who bows in surrender and worship to the One who has forgiven you and promised to love you forever and ever. It means to be someone who doesn’t take God’s love lightly or treats it as a casual thing-O yeah, God loves me-that’s nice. It means that you stand amazed your God would love you like that. When it says-those who fear Him-does that include you? Back to Pt3. It means you’re serious about your relationship with God. It means that you want to respond with a life of obedience and surrender to Him. That you want to be transformed more and more into who He’s called you to be-which is His son or daughter who exemplifies His love to others. It means you want to bear the family resemblance of your good Father in heaven who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love! If that’s our who our Father is-then it needs to be us!
Psalm 103 – Our Perfect Father