Daily Devotions Psalm 103 “Redeemed from the Pit”
Wednesday, April 11, 2012 Bryan E. Walker
A famous newspaper columnist from my generation, Erma Bombeck, once wrote a book called: If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits? When folks are having a bad day or going through a tough time they will sometimes say, when asked how they are doing, “It’s the pits!”, or, “I’m in the pits!” The word “pitfall” indicates some kind of a trap or obstacle that we should avoid. About the only decent use of the word “pit” that I can think of readily is a gravel pit, a rock quarry that includes a crusher to make gravel for our roads (as an old dump truck driver I have been in a gravel pit!) In today’s devotion from Psalm 103 (today is the 102nd day of the year so somehow I got one day ahead) we read of another “pit”, more ominous, and as we study it, downright terrifying. The Psalmist proclaims that the LORD is He who “redeems your life from the pit….”
This Psalm of David begins on a high note with, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” We must ask what does it mean to Bless the LORD? Usually we ask for the LORD to bless us! We are supposed to “Be a Blessing” to others. How can we bless the LORD? The Hebrew word is barakh and the root means “to kneel”. We bless God by worshiping, praising, thanking, loving, and serving him! David begins this wonderful Psalm bursting out with a joyful worship blessing for the LORD. His soul simply cannot be silent as he erupts in a blessing for God; and this should be true for us as well.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NeWCHS0bQhQ This is close to how we sung this praise song/chorus a long time ago.
A Charismatic/Black Gospel approach to this Psalm
A Classical approach to this Psalm- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WtsGS6kpDU
“and all that is within me, bless his holy name!” This is no mere surface, temporary, emotional experience that’s for show; David blesses the LORD from deep within, using all that he is, all that is in him. This similar to the Greatest Commandment from Mark12:29-30 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” which is a quote from Deuteronomy 6:4, 5. All genuine worship is rooted in the whole human; we do not have separate categories of “worship” and the rest of life. The gospel should infect and affect our entire humanity and everything we do, thus making our whole life a giant praise song for the Lord that blesses His holy name.
“his holy name”. Holy is the Hebrew for qodesh, meaning something that is sacred, set apart, consecrated. To say that God’s name is holy means that God is set apart from us, transcendent, above and beyond us, pure and unapproachable. The only characteristic or attribute of God that is proclaimed in scripture with the 3-fold superlative is his holiness in Isaiah 6:3 and Rev. 4:8. We are to bless God’s holy name because he is holy, holy, holy! And the biggest way to bless the Lord’s holy name is to fulfill Lev. 19:2 “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” (See also 1Peter1:15-16 “but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBGTPh2Xn_o A classic hymn.
Part of our blessing of God is to remember his benefits (vs.2) and the biggest of all benefits is that He “forgives all your iniquity…” The Hebrew word for iniquity is avown meaning perversity, moral evil, fault. The text assumes that we are perverse, morally corrupt, fallen, and evil. Modern man hates this doctrine. Modern man assumes the goodness of man and we object to being called sinners, let alone having our iniquities pointed out. David tells us that God forgives ALL our iniquity. God is a forgiving God. This does not mean that he merely overlooks our sin, winks at it, sweeps it under the rug. God is holy so how can he forgive sin?
Verse 4 tells us, “who redeems your life from the pit.” The word for redeem is ga’al which means to act as next of kin, to buy back out of debt, slavery, or as a POW in war. God does not just forgive and forget, he actively purchases us out of bondage, slavery, prison, and debt. God pays a price for us and our sins. That redemption price, our kinsman-redeemer, is none other than Jesus Christ. Jesus paid the price with his death on the cross so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be brought out of slavery into a loving relationship with God.
But what is “the pit”? The Hebrew word is shachath meaning the corruption and destruction related to a grave or pit. To be redeemed from the pit, then, means to be saved from death and the grave. Theologically, we could say it means to be saved from the pit of hell, the second death. Again, David touches on an area that modern man doesn’t want anything to do with, the doctrine of hell. People commonly believe in a heaven, but are either against the entire idea of hell or think it is reserved for only the very bad people, like Hitler. But it seems to me that David’s assumption is that, apart from God’s redeeming us, we all are heading for the pit. We need to understand and preach that all men are heading to the pit of hell unless and until they are redeemed by our holy God.
The good news then, is that we can bless God by worshiping him who has redeemed us from the pit of hell by sending our kinsman-redeemer, Jesus, to pay the price for our sins so that “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. “ (v.12).
Do you feel blessed? Do you want to bless the Lord?