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God’s Word for You

Psalm 103:6-10 The LORD is compassionate

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, December 24, 2019

6 The LORD works righteousness
  and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
  his acts to the children of Israel.

David takes us back in time more than four hundred years, from his lifetime back to the days of Moses. The oppressed Israelites were slaves in Egypt then, used and abused by their wicked taskmasters, bleeding under the lash, starving with their meager rations; fearing for their lives. But God told them that he heard them. He heard all of them. “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering” (Exodus 3:7). He called Moses from the burning bush, and he displayed his power to save them with miracles that taunted the Egyptians. The first few miracles Moses performed drew out Pharaoh’s best magicians, but soon they were at a loss, and could not compete with God’s servant in any way or on any level.

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
  slow to anger and abounding in mercy.

These words are almost a direct quotation of what God himself said to Moses when he gave him the second copy of the Ten Commandments, the copy that was placed in the golden chest, the ark of the covenant, and kept in the Most Holy Place in God’s tabernacle. “The LORD came down in the cloud,” Moses recalled later, “and stood there with him [Moses] and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:5-6). These are words of the purest gospel, showing us that God does not condemn even though we deserve to be condemned. God saves, for Jesus’ sake. This is what David contemplates next:

9 He will not always accuse,
  nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us as our sins deserve,
  nor repay us as our guilt deserves.

Sin must be punished, so why does God sometimes, or “not always,” accuse? Why doesn’t he deal with us “as our sins deserve” or “as our guilt deserves”? It is because the payment for our sins and for our guilt was already paid, by Christ on the cross. Christ was and is our righteousness, and God receives the righteous (those with faith in Christ) for the sake of the righteous man (Matthew 10:41). In the same way, he wants us to receive one another for Christ’s sake and not on account of other merits. We are stewards of the mystery of Christ, that he came to rescue sinners, both Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 3:6). Without faith, the punishment is eternal agony. God warns, “If you remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I will multiply your afflictions seven times over, as your sins deserve” (Leviticus 26:21). But in Christ, we are not punished at all because he suffered our punishment in our place. This is the reason Christ came and took on our flesh: Not to be laid in a manger (although that did happen), but to be nailed to a cross. In doing so, he ended the curse spoken in the garden as man was driven out, and he blessed us with an invitation to the Garden we shall never need to leave. Once, man lived only to die. Now in Christ, we die only to live, and to live forevermore.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

 

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