Ever since I first owned a car, I have been a member of the American Automobile Association, more commonly known as AAA. There are many benefits to being a member of AAA. If your car breaks down, they’ll come and tow it. Got a flat? AAA will send someone to fix the flat or change the tire for you. Car stuck in the mud? They’ll send someone to extricate it. The benefits go on and on. I am well acquainted with the benefits of AAA, having used several of the services they offer. And because I have benefited from those services, I am ready to tell anyone who owns a car how much I love AAA and how much I appreciate the benefits they provide to their members.
In Psalm 103, David sings praises to the Lord, blessing the name of the Lord with his whole heart, with his whole being (Psalm 103:1). David knew firsthand the benefits of being a child of God. Having experienced the benefits that God provides, David makes it clear that he will not forget any of those benefits (Psalm 102:2) and that he was ready to tell everyone about them. In verses 3 to 5 of this beautiful psalm, David lists six particular benefits, six blessings that he had received from God, blessings that meant so much to him that he wanted everyone to know about them, to know that they could receive these benefits, these blessings, as well.
The first benefit is forgiveness (Psalm 103:3a). Just like each and every one of us, David was a sinner. But David had experienced the forgiveness of God. In verse 12, David says that God has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. God sent His Son, Jesus, to pay the penalty for our sins, and when we trust in Him and believe in Him, we can experience God’s forgiveness. The second benefit that David lists is healing (Psalm 103:3b). Isaiah 53:5 tells us that by Jesus’ stripes we are healed. Healing is available to us as believers. God is able to heal every disease. This does not mean that healing is guaranteed, but we must always pray for healing, believing in our hearts that God can and does heal.
The third benefit that David speaks of is redemption. God redeems us from the pits in our lives (Psalm 103:4a). When we are stuck in pits such as depression or addiction, we can be sure that if we call on God, He will reach down and redeem us from those pits. And, because of the sacrifice of Jesus, God has provided a way out of the ultimate pit, the pit of our sins. The fourth benefit that David speaks of is the crown of God’s loving-kindness and compassion (Psalm 103:4b). In the New Living Translation, this is translated as God’s love and tender mercies. God has shown us how great His love is by sending Jesus to die for us (John 3:16) and His tender mercies toward us never fail. Because God is faithful, His mercies and compassion are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
The fifth benefit proclaimed by David is that God fills our lives with good things (Psalm 103:5a). God knows what we need in life, on both a spiritual level and an earthly level, and His desire is to provide good things for all of us. Jesus taught that we should seek God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness first and, when we do, God will provide the good things that we need (Matthew 6:33). Finally, the sixth benefit David shows us is that God renews our youth like the eagle. This doesn’t mean that God is like the fountain of youth and that we will be made young in our old age. Rather, God makes us like an eagle, which (like most other birds), goes through a process called molting. The eagle sheds its old feathers, feathers that have become worn and damaged, and those feathers are replaced by new, stronger feathers, giving the eagle a renewed strength. That is what God does for us. He helps us to shed the old person, getting rid of the habits and behaviors that drag us down, and replaces them with the new person, filled with the strength that comes from Him, so that we can soar like the eagle.
All of us, when we choose to walk with God, to believe in His Son, Jesus, and follow His ways, can receive the benefits that David speaks of in Psalm 103. And once we receive them, we must never forget them. We must praise the Lord for them and testify to those around us about what He has done for us.