Psalms 99–106 “Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever” (Ps. 106:1).
Themes developed in worship psalms tend to focus on who God is, on what He has done, and on the wonder of His love for His people.
Israel worshiped the Lord as enthroned (Ps. 99), as God (Ps. 100), and as a God of love and justice (Ps. 101). One psalm foreshadows the Messiah’s days and endless years (Ps. 102), while others celebrate God’s great love (Ps. 103), His self-revelation in nature (Ps. 104), and particularly in history (Ps. 105) as a covenant-keeping God (Ps. 106).
Understanding the Text
Psalm 99: God Enthroned. God’s absolute sovereignty is demonstrated in His gracious choice of Israel. “The Lord reigns” Ps. 99:1–9. God has exercised His sovereignty in choosing Israel (vv. 1–3). That choice was just, as well as sovereign (vv. 4–5), for God’s own keep His statutes (vv. 6–7). His justice is also displayed both in punishing Israel’s misdeeds and in His forgiveness (vv. 8–9). How important to remember that God does not use His power capriciously. He keeps His commitments, and does right. Psalm 100: The Lord Is God. The one true God has revealed Himself in His personal name, Yahweh, “the Lord.” “Know that the Lord is God” Ps. 100:1–5. The personal name Yahweh was revealed to Moses. That name, which means “The One Who Is Always Present,” was to be “My name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation” (Ex. 3:15). This psalm exults that it is Yahweh who is God. “He who made us, and we are His,” is God. The Lord, who is good, and whose love endures forever, is ruler of the universe. What a cause for thanksgiving. Because the Lord is God, we are safe and secure forever. For “His faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 101: Love and Justice. David found a reason to praise, and a motive for godly living, in the love and the justice of God. “I will be careful to lead a blameless life” Ps. 101:1–8. The psalm expresses David’s commitment to the God whose love and justice he praised. That commitment was expressed in the psalmist’s determination to live in a way that pleased God. But note the motivation. David intended to lead a blameless life in view of the love and the justice of God. Because God loves us, we want to please Him. Because God is a God of justice, we can trust Him fully to reward those who do right, and to punish the wicked. Our motivation too, when pure, is response to the love God has showered on us, and trust that His justice will guard and protect us as we live for Him. Psalm 102: Messiah’s Days and Years. Even in Old Testament times this psalm was known as messianic. It is a psalm which sensitizes us to the sufferings of the Saviour, and a future shaped by His ultimate exaltation. “I am in distress” Ps. 102:1–11. In familiar terms this psalm evokes images of frailty and pain, rejection and despair. It was because of God’s wrath against our sin, not the sufferer’s, that the Father has “taken [Messiah] up and thrown Me aside.” “You will arise and have compassion” Ps. 102:12–17. In the Messiah, God’s appointed time had come, and He Himself acted to have compassion on His people. Through that act “the Lord will rebuild Zion” when He appears “in His glory.” “Written for a future generation” Ps. 102:18–22. The benefits of the Messiah’s act are not immediately visible. But they will be known in the future, when God declares His name openly and “the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord.” “Your years will never end” Ps. 102:23–28. Though death would cut short Messiah’s days, His years will “go on through all generations.” He is the One who laid the foundation of the earth. The universe will perish, but not Him, for “You remain the same, and Your years will never end.” And, because of Messiah, “the children of Your servants will live in Your presence.” When we read such psalms and many of the prophets we realize how often God turned the eyes of His Old Testament people ahead, and how clearly He portrayed the coming Saviour. Most importantly, however, we ourselves are led to sense the wonder of a God who would enter our world and suffer here as a human being, in order to redeem a people who have no benefit to return to Him but our worship and our praise. Psalm 103: God’s Great Love. David chronicled evidence of God’s love in a psalm that is sure to move us to praise. (See DEVOTIONAL.) The Old Testament compares God’s love to that of a father for his own children (Ps. 103:13). Only in the New Testament do we discover that God is a Father to individual believers. It is Father-love that has motivated God to do for us those wonderful things which Psalm 103 records. Psalm 104. God in Nature. God’s greatness is displayed in all the wonderful things which He has made. We are to meditate on creation’s evidence of His glory, and praise the Lord. “When You send Your Spirit, they are created” Ps. 104:1–35. This psalm parallels the Genesis Creation account. It is well to read it as a commentary on Genesis 1, not to explain how God created, but to celebrate the wonder of His works. The parallels between this psalm and Genesis 1 are:
|Day 1||Gen. 1:3–5||light||Ps. 104:2a|
|Day 2||Gen. 1:6–8||firmament||Ps. 104:2b-4|
|Day 3||Gen. 1:9–13||land, water||Ps. 104:5–13|
|veg., trees||Ps. 104:14–18|
|Day 4||Gen. 1:14–19||hvnly. bodies||Ps. 104:19–24|
|Day 5||Gen. 1:20–23||sea creat.||Ps. 104:25–26|
|Day 6||Gen. 1:24–28||anmls., man||Ps. 104:21–24|
|Gen. 1:29–31||food for all||Ps. 104:27–30|
Psalm 105: God in History. God is known by what He has done in history for His people Israel. This psalm praises the Lord for His “wonderful acts.” The miracles and judgments of the Lord seen through the history of His dealings with Israel reveal Him as a covenant-keeping God, who keeps His promises and works miracles on behalf of His own. Psalm 106: Covenant Love. In this dark counterpart to Psalm 105, the psalmist reviewed history’s evidence of human failure. Against that background the wonder of God’s covenant-keeping love shines bright and clear.
Let Me Count the Ways (Ps. 103)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote one of the English language’s most powerful love poems. It begins: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight . . . and it ends With my lost saints—I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life!-and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death. Browning’s powerful poem wasn’t the first to count love’s ways. The first was David, who a thousand years before Christ set down a list in Psalm 103 of ways in which God loves you and me. And his list is far more specific, far more extensive, and far more wonderful than Browning’s. How does God love us? He forgives our sins and heals our diseases (v. 3). He preserves our life and crowns us with love and compassion (v. 4). He satisfies our desires with good things (v. 5). He works justice for the oppressed (v. 6). He made known His ways to Moses and revealed Himself in history’s mighty acts (v. 7). And the list goes on. He is compassionate and slow to anger (v. 8). He does not treat us as our sins deserve (v. 10). And still there is more. Far too much to record in this brief meditation. But if life ever seems hard and the future so bleak that you can see nothing but darkness ahead, turn in your Bible to this psalm that celebrates God’s love. As you count with David the ways that God loves you, the darkness will break. And, with David, you will be lifted up to sing God’s praise.
Jot down the number of this psalm on the inside back cover of your Bible, so you can find it at times when you feel down.