Psalm 103:11-181NIV New International Version Translations
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 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. 15 As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. 17 But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’S love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—18 with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
Bible students believe that David wrote this psalm when he was an old man. It tells us 7 times to praise the LORD. The LORD is the covenant name for God. A covenant is when two groups of people agree. Verses 17 and 18 of the psalm tell us about the covenant, or what God and his people have agreed to do.
The speaker in this hymn begins by praising God for personal benefits (Psalm 103:1-5), then moves on to God’s mercy toward all the people (Psalm 103:6-18). Even sin cannot destroy that mercy (Psalm 103:11-13), for the eternal God is well aware of the people’s human fragility (Psalm 103:14-18). The psalmist invites the heavenly beings to join in praise (Psalm 103:19-22). Your youth is renewed like the eagle’s: because of the eagle’s long life it was a symbol of perennial youth and vigor. (Isaiah 40:31)
Items for Discussion
- In or society, we love something for nothing. Socialism is our current cure for those who do not have what others have. Is it a good deal for people?
- Can our society live without rules to follow? Why or why not?
- God cut a deal with His people to obey and He would take care of them. Why would humanity pass up such a good deal? They seem to like the concept of being taken care of. What is so different about God’s deal?
- What are the behavioral attributes that we should demonstrate about our God? Find them in the Psalm’s verses.
- What are your thoughts when you hear about God’s forgiven described in verse 12?
2 Corinthians 1:3-5
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
Background on Corinth
The city was on a narrow piece of land between northern and southern Greece. It was an important city for trade. All the goods that went by land from north to south, passed through it. It had two ports. One was on the east side and the other was on the west side. People often emptied the goods from their ships at one port or the other. Then they took them by land to the port on the other side. This was only four miles. The journey by sea was 200 miles. About 750 000 people lived in the city. It was the one of the chief cities in Greece. The Roman writer Strabo wrote: ‘Corinth was always great and wealthy.’
There was a large rock in the centre of the city. The temple of the Greek goddess Artemis (or Diana) stood on this rock. She was the goddess of love. People praised this goddess by having sex with male or female priests. ‘To behave like a Corinthian,’ meant to have sex with a person whom you had not married. In his first letter, Paul explained to the Christians there why such behaviour is wrong. The church was large. Most of its members were Gentiles (not Jews). They came from the middle and lower social classes. Many had lived evil lives before they became Christians. It was difficult for them to free themselves from their past sins. This sets for us the times and place of Paul’s writings.
Paul had an experience of great pain. He praised God because God understands. And God cares about our pains. God comforts us in them. ‘Comfort’ here is more than mere sympathy. It means to give them help and hope. God comforts us so that we can comfort other people. This is the result of what God has done for us. To ‘share the pains of Christ’ does not mean that His pains were not enough. It means that we suffer because we follow him. He also gives us God’s help. Paul’s pain helped him to give comfort to other people. If he received comfort, he could pass it on to other people. They were suffering pain for their trust in Christ as Paul was. Paul was confident. The people of Corinth had to suffer troubles like him. They would also receive the comfort that he had received.
Items for Discussion
- How does comfort differ from sympathy?
- If Christ suffered for us and His work on the Cross is perfect in all ways, why must we suffer?
- What do we learn from pain – all types, physical, mental, emotional?
- What advantages does someone have in their witness to other people when they have also experienced someone’s pain?
- What are the human salves for removing the sting of pain?
- How does mortal man grow to understand an immortal God?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations