Today’s Psalm reading is a song of praise to the Lord, written by King David. Both at the start and end of this psalm, we are told to bless the Lord. How do we do that? The word “bless”, when used in reference to God, means to worship in praise and adoration. This was important to David, as he tells us here to bless Yahweh and His Holy Name at least seven times. There are so many reasons to bless God. David was never one to hold back in his praise to the Lord, and here he lists several reasons in verses 1 - 5. There are so many benefits, or good things, that the Lord has given us. We are not to forget these, but instead remember to thank and praise Him for them (vs. 2).
In the next three verses David gives us some reasons for blessing the Lord. First, he says for the forgiveness of our sins, and then for healing of diseases. In verse 4 David says to bless the Lord for His redemption of us, our salvation. This could also include the Lord’s protection when in danger. He also wants to bless the Lord for His loving kindness and mercy. And lastly, in verse 5, David says to bless the Lord for providing good food for us.
As David continues on with this hymn of praise and blessing to the Lord he focuses most of the rest of the psalm on one of those reasons he gave, namely on forgiveness. When reading through the Old Testament, we see that David was a sinner, just as all of mankind is, even though he dearly loved the Lord. He knew first hand the mercy of the Lord, and was thankful for His forgiveness. David knew that God doesn’t punish us as we would deserve, but is instead slow to get angry at us, and slow in pouring out His wrath (vs. 8 - 10).
The weight of sin and guilt is heavy. Only Jesus can remove that weight. God not only forgives us of our sins, He also forgets (vs. 11 - 12). Forgiving and forgetting are part of God’s character. That is something that is often very difficult for us to do. We may be able to forgive someone for something they did to us, but it is not easy to forget. God, though, does forget our sins once they are forgiven us. Grace forgets. There may be times we do not feel as though we’ve been forgiven, but if we’ve accepted Jesus as our Savior, the truth of His Word says we are forgiven. Though sometimes our heart feels guilty, God’s Word says we are forgiven (I John 3:20).
God completely separates our sins from us. David phrases it as saying our sins are separated from us as far as the east is from the west (vs. 12). He didn’t say as far as the north is from the south because if I start going north, eventually when I get to the north pole, I will then start heading south. There is a limit to going north or south. Eventually you must start going the other way. That is not the case with east or west. If I go east, I can keep going east forever. The direction never turns to west. That is how far our sins are taken from us.
David also praises God for being good father to us, His children (vs. 13 - 14). A good father realizes his children are just children, and acknowledges they are weak, immature, and limited in knowledge - that they aren’t adults yet. God is also patient with us. A good father also cares for and provides for his children’s needs, and protects them. These are all things that God does for us. The pagan false gods (which don’t really exist) that were worshipped in David’s day, and false gods today do not have attributes of caring for “their” people. They are often given attributes of being fickle or outright hostile to those who worship them. Yahweh, though, loves His children. He is truly our Father, not just a “father figure”. He loves us so much better than any earthly father.
As David wraps up this psalm, he reminds us in verse 19 that Yahweh is sovereign over all. He has everything in His control, even when we can’t see it. There is nothing He cannot do. Then David calls upon all of the angels to also bless the Lord (vs. 20-22). Angels are mighty in strength, not weak, delicate things. They are God’s messengers and warriors against Satan and his minions. David enjoins all of God’s creation, everywhere, to bless His Name.