Background The central part of Psalm 103 could be summed up as God is a tender merciful God. Sometimes we think that the people of the Old Testament viewed God as an angry vengeful God, and there are parts that do support that. However, the Old Testament view of God is multifaceted. This tender side of God is present throughout the stories as well. Here, the Psalmist reminds us that God’s compassion and forgiveness beyond anything we owed. Two other background points. First, some versions will use the term to “fear” God, but it is important to read that as respect and honor. It is an awe of God above anything else that centers the Jewish faith. Second, remembering what I wrote yesterday, the Psalmist isn’t talking about personal salvation per say, but of salvation of the community. It is the community that continues, not the individual, and thus the individual as part of that community becomes part of that everlasting promise of God. It may be hard for us as an individualist culture to relate to this group philosophy, but there is something to be learned in trying.
Reading Psalm 103:6-18
Focus Verses 11-13 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.
We often hear of God referred to as Father, but father can be a loaded term depending on your personal experiences and our society. God is as much a Mother as a Father, but given the different roles of mothers in that time, that analogy isn’t used as much in the Psalms. Although it is used as in Psalm 36 and then quoted by Christ in Matthew 23. So it would help if we try and remove the human parenting issues, and think of a more divine parent. If you described a perfect parent- all the good things about a parent- and then looked at that list- is it a description of God?