Day 120: What God Does is Who God Is (Psalm 103)

Read Through the Bible in a Year Plan: Psalm 102-104

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Psalm 103:1-5)

The promises of Psalm 103 are amazing enough in English. The challenge to “forget not all the benefits” of a relationship with God is profoundly comforting. The God of the universe forgives all my sin! He heals all my diseases! He redeems me, crowns me, and satisfies me! He works righteousness and justice for the oppressed! He makes His ways known to His people!

But as comforting as these words are in English, they are utterly stunning in Hebrew.

In Hebrew, each of these verbs– “forgives;” “heals;” “redeems;” “crowns;” and “satisfies” are active participles. In English, active participles are verbs turned into adjectives: forgiving, healing, redeeming, crowning, satisfying.

In Hebrew, these are active participles in the absolute state, preceded by a definite article. Now, I know that is a mouthful. But basically, the absolute state can’t have a suffix added to it. A verb in the absolute state can stand alone, but if it is in a series of verbs, it’s going to be the final one. Here’s what it means: In Psalm 103 God doesn’t just perform the actions of forgiveness, healing, and redemption. In Hebrew, God is those things. And because these participles are in the absolute state, we are reminded that God is the ultimate, final, absolute representation of those things. God is:

  • The Forgiving One.
  • The Healing One.
  • The Redeeming One.
  • The Crowning One.
  • The Satisfying One.

Here’s why it matters: If it was simply “Who forgives all my iniquity,” then it would be conditional. The emphasis would be on something I did. He heals all my iniquity because I did such and such. He heals my diseases because I did this or that.

But God forgives me because He is the Forgiving One. He heals because He is Ha Rapha– The Healing One. And so on throughout this list.

These are not things God chooses to do. If they were, He could just as easily choose not to do them. No, they are attributes of His character.

I praise God because His blessings to me ARE NOT CONDITIONAL!!! I can’t earn them; I can only receive them. They are not dependent on what I do, but on who He is.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!



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