The following meditation is taken from my notes on Psalm 103. These notes were part of a Bible study on the Psalms.
The steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting toward those who fear Him. His love has no beginning and no end. As He Himself is eternal and infinite in His being, so His love toward His own is eternal and infinite – it knows no bounds. God understands the frail condition of His covenant children and the fact that they are sinners. He knows what man is made of and that he comes from the dust of the ground. God manifests His love and justice by showing compassion toward feeble humanity and forgiving sin. The psalmist praises the LORD for this amazing grace.
– Verse 4: “He crowns you with committed love and compassion.” “The two sides of the divine love: ‘compassion’ is his passionate love, love in all its emotional content and excitement. ‘Committed love’ is love expressed by a determined act of the will, fixed, committed, ‘till death do us part’” (Alec Motyer).
– Verse 6: “Yahweh is ever working total righteousness.” “Yahweh’s consistent fidelity to righteous principles” (Motyer).
– Verse 10: “’Sins’ are actual commissions and omissions, specific misdemeanors. Iniquities points to the hidden warp or defect in human nature giving rise to sins” (Motyer).
– Verse 13: “As a father shows compassion to his children.” “Passionate, maternal love, as in 1 Kings 3:26” (Motyer).
Pause for Thought, by Alec Motyer
“Psalm 103 is not unique in the psalms of David but like, for example, Psalm 145, it is an exercise in sheer concentration on Yahweh, without mention of circumstances good or bad, no reference to enemies. Just Yahweh, his benefits and sufficiencies. The three wonderful comparisons in verses 11 – 13 tell us everything. The first concerns height, the second distance and the third parenthood. Just as the heavens overarch the whole earth, so Yahweh’s unfailing, committed love prevails. The same verb is used of the floodwaters (Genesis 7:18 – 20) irresistibly covering the earth and swamping every opposition. Just so his love is always there (overarching) and is an active force fighting like an armed man on our side, irresistibly sufficient for every opposition and eventuality. ‘East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet.’ I don’t know what the poet meant, but geographically the words are correct. Micah (7:19) saw all our sins in the depths of the sea . . . David went one better: the distance is infinite, never ending; our sins are gone without trace, irrecoverable, never to be located. Verse 13 is best of all: ‘like a father has a mother’s passionate love for his sons’. The word ‘compassion’ (rachamim) belongs to the same word-group as rechem, a womb, and we see it in action in 1 Kings 3:26. Here is perfect parenthood, father and mother all in one, Joseph as well as Mary. Yahweh’s love is thus an overarching, constant, powerful, active love; it is a saving love, taking our sins from us, bearing them away to such a place as is ever infinitely beyond reach. And it is a fullness of love, a love that lacks nothing that makes true, perfect love what it is, a love of welcome, protection, warmth and strength; passion and steadfastness in equal proportions. ‘There is no love like the love of Jesus.’”