I get why a lot of people, even those claiming to be Christians, turn to self-help books instead of the Bible when they want to change something about themselves. The Bible can be a bit blunt, and I suppose we humans like to be coddled.
In reading through the Psalms with my wife and children recently, we arrived at Psalm 103. It really is a lovely poem, or a song I suppose is a more fitting term. It reminds our souls to bless the Lord and to remember how He loves us and forgives us and heals us. He redeems us and crowns us with “lovingkindness” and tender mercies.
That’s all good stuff.
The chapter carries on extolling God’s wonderful ways, and then we get to Verse 13: “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him.”
Wait a minute. Where is David the psalmist going with this? Let’s carry on reading Verse 14: “For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.”
Depending on how proud we may be, that last verse may not sit well. But for anyone who has been humbled by situations in life, maybe something in that passage strikes a chord. Have you ever just felt like dirt? Perhaps it’s because you are. In fact, we all are.
Looking at the creation account in Genesis 2:7, we see, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
So we are dirt in a physical sense. And that’s common ground we share with animals, because they’re made from dust, too (see Genesis 2:19). But the good news is we are not just highly-evolved animals, as some modern-day over-thinkers would have us believe. The difference is found in that last part of Genesis 2:7, which says we humans are each a “living soul”.
Looking back at Psalm 103, verses 15 and 16 paint the grim picture of a relatively brief physical life followed by death and obscurity. However, verses 17 and 18 tell of God’s “everlasting” mercy for those who trust in Him, and that’s a spiritual reality.
Essentially, Psalm 103:14 is saying God knows we’re going to get things wrong sometimes, because He knows what we’re like. He made us.
For those of us who love the Lord, this physical life is not all there is, because He promises everlasting life through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
In the meantime, it is a fruitless mission to try in our own power to get things right all the time. We need God’s help, and even then we’re going to let Him down from time to time. We’re going to let people down, too. And that’s the amazing thing about grace, and that’s the amazing thing about mercy.
We may join David in singing, “Bless the Lord, o my soul”.