Heart of the Father

Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins

and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s…The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:1-5, 8-14

 

This section of the Psalms should be a great encouragement to every believer because it reveals the heart of God towards his people. Too many of us doubt the answers to our prayers and godly desires because we feel as if we don’t measure up or because some failing from our past haunts us. On top of that, many of us still see God as a distant father whom we must somehow beg or persuade to answer a prayer.   Too many of us imagine that God hasn’t immediately answered a prayer because our ‘spiritual performance” has not been up to par and, therefore, quickly give up on the prayer. Too often we focus on our performance rather than the heart of God and the all-sufficient sacrifice of Jesus.   When we do that, our faith easily gives way to discouragement.

 

Notice that David says nothing about his spiritual prowess or personal righteousness in this section. Even when David failed catastrophically in his sin with Bathsheba, he trusted in the heart of God for forgiveness and restoration. Real faith rests on our confidence in the character and faithfulness of God, not on our own righteousness. It stands on our belief that God is always good and always wants good things for his children. If David was confident of that goodness, how much more confident should we be as we live under a better covenant, drenched in the blood of Christ, as well as hosting the Holy Spirit within us.

 

According to this Psalm, here are some things in which we can have complete confidence. God is always ready and willing to forgive and heal. It is his nature. When we trust in his love rather than our own righteousness, we can easily own our weaknesses and sins and confess them – which brings immediate forgiveness and blessings. We can also trust in the heart of God to pull us out of the pits we so often dig for ourselves and to be eager to restore us to full standing in his house. The prodigal comes to mind.

 

David also declares that it is the heart of God to fulfill the desires of his children with good things. When God isn’t answering our desire for a certain relationship or for a big lottery win, we can be assured that that those would not produce good things in our lives in the long run. Trusting God to sort through our desires and grant us only those that will ultimately bless us may be the ultimate test of our faith. Contentment is the fruit of that trust as we ask for our desires but then take no offense at God when he does not say yes to every desire of our heart.

 

Finally, David sums up the most amazing thing about God when he declares that God does not treat us as our sins deserve. He recognizes our inherit weaknesses. James wrote that mercy triumphs over judgment (Ja.2:13) and that was David’s hope. Remember, David wrote these words hundreds of years before the cross but still received a revelation that God’s immense love for us prompts him to remove our transgressions from us. David’s claim to this grace of God reveals that the blood of Christ must have flowed backward as well as forward from the cross for those who had faith even under a covenant of law. Although David had only a prophetic glimpse of God’s answer for sin, he was convinced that the love of God and the goodness of God would find a solution to the problem of our alienation. Even after his adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, David found hope in the heart of God. Psalm 51 is his lament after that sin and he begins with, “Have mercy on me O God, according to your unfailing love.” His hope was never in his ability to do enough good to cover his sin or in convincing God that someone else actually had caused him to sin. He made no attempt to rationalize or minimize his sin or to declare that he just wasn’t himself that day. His trust was in the unfailing love of God for his people and a belief that somehow God would be willing to forgive his worst sins and take away his transgressions.

 

We need to live by that same confident expectation. Too many of us doubt that God’s blessings are for us because of past mistakes or present stumbles. Too many of us doubt that God will work through us because we are still trying to unravel the issues in our lives. James tells us that we “have not because we ask not.” We ask not because we do not live with an assurance of God’s unfailing love, his relentless desire to bless his children, and his eternal willingness to remove our sins as far as the east is from the west through the perfect sacrifice of his Son.

 

Satan fuels those doubts in each of us because doubt prevents is from moving in the power and provision of heaven. As long as we feel that we don’t qualify for the best of heaven, we will have no faith for those things. We must remember that God has qualified us through his Son. We will never qualify ourselves except through a simple faith in God’s unwavering love for us, his constant goodness, and his desire to bless us in every way through Jesus. That was the foundation of David’s life and must be the foundation of ours as well. If you struggle with that assurance, spending time soaking in Psalm 103 on a regular basis would be well spent as you focus on the unwavering heart of the Father for you.

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