Psalm 103:12-14 1The New International Version (NIV).
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Psalm 103 calls more for devotion than deep study. It is an excellent psalm of praise, and intended for general use. The psalmist, in all probability, In Psalm 102, David stirs up his own emotion and to praise God (Psalm 102:1-2) for His good favor. This is especially true in verses 102:3-5, to the church in general, and to all good men, to whom God is, and will be, just, and kind, and constant (Psalm 102:6-18), and for God’s government of the world, Psalm 102:19. The psalmist desires the assistance of the holy angels, and all the works of God, in praising God, Psalm 102:20-22. In singing Psalm 103, we must do so with all of our heart, feeling the goodness of God and do so in love and thankfulness.
The psalmist reminds us that God has pardoned our sins (Psalm 103:12) through His mercy and we are to take comfort, not only for ourselves but for all others and give God the glory. The fullness of God’s pardon is evidence of the riches of God’s mercy (Psalm 103:12):
1. As far as the east is from the west (which two quarters of the world) so far has he removed our transgressions from us, that nothing we have done can be used against us. The sins of believers shall are no longer remembered, they shall not be mentioned or even looked up. In other words, they never existed. Of course we must turn our lives over totally to God and it is only then God will thoroughly forgive them.
2. God also feels our sadness and sorrows, Psalm 103:13-14
3. Who does God pity? Those that fear him, that is, all good people, who in this world may become objects of pity on account of the sins to which they are not only born into but cause on their own.
4. How does God pity? As a father pities his children, and provides help on occasion.
5. Why God pities us? He knows how we are created. He has reason to know our construction because God built us having made us through His hands from dust. God knows that because of how we are constructed, from dust, we have weakness and limitations. Our bodies are frail and our souls are weak. The human can bear very little in comparison to God. So God lays appropriate expectations upon us and shows us the tenderness of His compassion.
Items for Discussion
• Why do love and fear seem to go together when we talk about a “father’s love?”
• When sin is pardoned, it is never charged again. Why are these verses such a good explanation of this gift from God?
• Fun question: How far is the East from the West?
• Why is it foolish for people to think they can do anything, control anything, and create anything?
• Why is it appropriate for the Christian to use a “father figure” for describing God? Most other religions would use an image of a powerful ruler or king? Is not God also powerful?
1 Thessalonians 2:11-12
11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
Thessalonica was formerly the city of Macedonia which is now called Salonichi. It was one of the best places for commerce in what was called the Levant (an area comprised of Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey). The apostle Paul, having been diverted from his plan of going into the provinces of Asia, was directed to preach the gospel in Macedonia (Acts 16:9, 10). In obedience to this call from God, Paul went from Troas to Samothracia, then to Neapolis, and to Philippi, where he had good success in his ministry. His message was not necessarily met with favor and Paul was cast into prison with his travel companion Silas. In prison, they comforted each other and eventually released and departed.
Passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where Paul planted a church that consisted of some believing Jews and many converted Gentiles (Acts 17:1-4). Unbelieving Jews in the city forced Paul and Silas to leave under the cover of darkness. Afterwards Paul went to Athens, leaving Silas and Timotheus behind, but sent directions that they should come to him with as soon as they could. When they came, Timotheus was sent to Thessalonica, to check up on the newly formed church and to ground them in their faith (1 Thess. 3:2). Timotheus then returned to Paul while he preached in Athens, and was sent out again, together with Silas, to visit the churches in Macedonia. Paul remained behind in Athens alone (1 Thess. 3:1) and eventually departed to Corinth. Here in Corinth, Paul stayed for a year and a half, during which time Silas and Timotheus returned to him from Macedonia (Acts 18:5), and then he wrote this letter to the church of Christ at Thessalonica. While this letter is placed after other letters by Paul in the New Testament, it is thought to be the first of all Paul’s letters, written about A.D. 51. The main content of this letter is to express the thankfulness of Paul for the good success his preaching had among them, to establish them in the faith, and persuade them to a holy conversation.
Mildness and tenderness are recommended as part of religion, and are most comparable to God’s gracious dealing with sinners, in and by the gospel. This is the way to win people. We should not only be faithful to our calling as Christians, but in our particular callings and relations with all people. The privilege we receive from our great gospel is that we have been called by God His kingdom and for His glory. The duty for us found in the gospel is that our walk and talk is worthy of God. We should live as one who has been given a high and holy calling. Our great purpose is to honor, serve, and please God, and to seek to be worthy of Him.
Items for Discussion
• What are the duties of the Christian?
• How is it that you are called to carry out your role as a Christian?
• Where do you think the church fails in its duties?
• What are the attributes of a “good father?”
• How would you do a comparison of those attributes with God?
• Which are the attributes that are most important for using when it comes to relating to the unchurched world?
• If you had to make a single change to the church you are in to align its goals with these Bible verses, what would it be?
- 1The New International Version (NIV).