Psalm 103:3

 

EXPOSITION

Verse 3. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities. Here David begins his list of blessings received, which he rehearses as themes and arguments for praise. He selects a few of the choicest pearls from the casket of divine love, threads them on the string of memory, and hangs them about the neck of gratitude. Pardoned sin is, in our experience, one of the choicest boons of grace, one of the earliest gifts of mercy, -- in fact, the needful preparation for enjoying all that follows it. Till iniquity is forgiven, healing, redemption, and satisfaction are unknown blessings. Forgiveness is first in the order of our spiritual experience, and in some respects first in value. The pardon granted is a present one -- forgiveth; it is continual, for he still forgiveth; it is divine, for God gives it; it is far reaching, for it removes all our sins; it takes in omissions as well as commissions, for both these are in-equities; and it is most effectual, for it is as real as the healing, and the rest of the mercies with which it is placed.

Who healeth all thy diseases. When the cause is gone, namely, iniquity, the effect ceases. Sicknesses of body and soul came into the world by sin, and as sin is eradicated, diseases bodily, mental, and spiritual will vanish, till "the inhabitant shall no more say, I am sick." Many-sided is the character of our heavenly Father, for, having forgiven as a judge, he then cures as a physician. He is all things to us, as our needs call for him, and our infirmities do but reveal him in new characters.

"In him is only good,
In me is only ill,
My ill but draws his goodness forth,
And me he loveth still."

God gives efficacy to medicine for the body, and his grace sanctifies the soul. Spiritually we are daily under his care, and he visits us, as the surgeon does his patient; healing still (for that is the exact word) each malady as it arises. No disease of our soul baffles his skill, he goes on healing all, and he will do so till the last trace of taint has gone from our nature. The two alls of this verse are further reasons for all that is within us praising the Lord.

The two blessings of this verse the Psalmist was personally enjoying, he sang not of others but of himself, or rather of his Lord, who was daily forgiving and healing him. He must have known that it was so, or he could not have sung of it. He had no doubt about it, he felt in his soul that it was so, and, therefore, he bade his pardoned and restored soul bless the Lord with all its might.

 

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS

Verse 3. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities. Thine iniquities are more than can be numbered; and they are an intolerable burden, so that thy soul under them "can in no wise lift up herself." He forgiveth them all. He relieveth thee of all. He taketh the dreadful burden from thy back, the galling yoke from thy neck, and makes thee free... Thine iniquities are in-equities. There is nothing just or right in thee. Thy very nature is an inequity bringing forth nothing but in-equities. Inequities towards thy God, in-equities towards thy neighbour, and in-equities towards thyself, make up the whole of thy life. Thou art a bad tree, and a bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit. John Pulsford, in. "Quiet Hours," 1857.

Verse 3. All thine iniqities. In this lovely and well-known Psalm, we have great fulness of expression, in reference to the vital subject of redemption.

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities. It is not "some" or "many of thine iniquities." This would never do. If so much as the very smallest iniquity, in thought, word, or act, were left unforgiven, we should be just as badly off, just as far from God, just as unfit for heaven, just as exposed to hell, as though the whole weight of our sins were yet upon us. Let the reader ponder this deeply. It does not say, "Who forgiveth thine iniquities previous to conversion." There is no such notion as this in Scripture. When God forgives, he forgives like himself. The source, the channel, the power, and the standard of forgiveness are all divine. When God cancels a man's sins, he does so according to the measure in which Christ bore those sins. Now, Christ not only bore some or many of the believer's sins, he bore them "all," and, therefore, God forgives "all." God's forgiveness stretches to the length of Christ's atonement; and Christ's atonement stretches to the length of every one of the believer's sins, past, present, and future. "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John 1:9 . "Things New and Old," 1858.

Verse 3. Who healeth all thy diseases. In one of the prisons of a certain country, was a man who had committed high treason: for this crime he was in due time tried, and, being found guilty, was condemned to die. But more than this; he was afflicted with an inward disease, which generally proves mortal. Now we may truly say, that this man is doubly dead; that his life is forfeited twice over: the laws of his country have pronounced him guilty of death, and therefore his life is forfeited once to the laws of his country, and, if he had not died in this way, he must die of his disease; he is, therefore, "twice dead." Now suppose that the sovereign of that country had made up his mind to wish to save that prisoner's life, could he save it? He could indeed take off the penalty of the law; he could give him a free pardon, and so restore the life, as sure as it is forfeited by the just sentence of the law; but, unless he could also send a physician, who could cure the man of his disease, he would die by that, and his pardon would only lengthen out for a few weeks or months a miserable existence. And if this disease were not only a mortal disease, but an infectious one, likely to spread itself by the breath of the patient, and a contagious one, likely to spread by the touch of the patient's body or clothes, then it would be dangerous to others to come near that man; and unless he were cured, and thoroughly and entirely cured, the man, though pardoned, would still be a fit inmate only for the pest-house, and could not be received into the houses of the healthy. You have seen such a case as this, brethren; you are at this very moment, perhaps, sitting close by a person in this case yes, and perhaps you are in this very case yourself! Perhaps, do I say? I should say, you ARE in this very case, unless you are really and truly a Christian, a believer in Christ Jesus. W. Weldon Champneys, 1842.

Verse 3. All thy diseases. The body experienceth the melancholy consequences of Adam's offence, and is subject to many infirmities; but the soul is subject to as many. What is pride, but lunacy; what is anger, but a fever; what is avarice, but a dropsy; what is lust, but a leprosy; what is sloth, but a dead palsy? Perhaps there are spiritual maladies similar to all corporeal ones. George Horne.

Verse 3. All thy diseases. O my soul, consider the multitude of infirmities, to which thou art subject; thou hast many suggestions of the flesh; and thou art apt to yield unto them, and strivest not against them by earnest prayer and holy meditations; this is an infirmity. In thy prayers to God, thy thoughts are often wandering, and thou thinkest of other matters, far unworthy of that great Majesty to whom thou prayest: or if not so, yet thou art quickly weary, thy spirits are drowsy in it, and thou hadst rather be doing of something else; this is an infirmity. And indeed thou hast infirmities in all thy senses. In thy seeing, thou canst see a mote in thy brother's eye, and canst not see a beam in thine own eye. In thy smelling, thou thinkest suavis odor lucri ex re qualibet, that the savour of gain is sweet, from whence soever it rise. In thy hearing, thou art gladder to hear the profane and idle discourses, than such as be serious and holy; these are thy infirmities: and, O my soul, if I should cut thee up into as many parts as an anatomist, and examine the infirmities of every part, should I not have cause, just cause, to cry out with Saint Paul, O wretch that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of sin? Who shall heal me of all these infirmities? for whether we call them sins, and then God forgives them; or call them infirmities, and then he heals them; they are to us, all one benefit; in God, all one kindness; that as either of them is well worth remembering; so for both of them, we have just cause to bless him and to praise his name. Sir Richard Baker.

Verse 3. All thy diseases. Our understandings are so bad that they understand not their own badness; our wills, which are the queens of our souls, become the vassals of sin; our memory, like jet, good only to draw straws and treasure up trifles of no moment; our consciences, through errors in our own understanding, sometimes accusing us when we are innocent, sometimes acquitting us when we are guilty; our affections all disaffected and out of order. Must not that needs be a monstrous face, wherein the blueness which should be in the veins is in the lips, the redness which should be in the cheeks, in the nose; the hair that should grow on the head, on the face? and must not our souls needs seem ugly in the sight of God, who have grief growing there where joy should, and joy where grief should? We love what we should hate and hate where we should love; we fear where no fear is, and fear not where we ought to fear; and all our affections either mistake their object, or exceed their due measure. Thomas Fuller.

 

HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS

Verse 3.

  1. Forgiveness is in God: "There is forgiveness with thee." It is his nature to forgive as well as to punish sin.
  2. It is from God. None can forgive sin but God. None can reveal forgiveness but God.
  3. It is like God, full, free, and everlasting -- "all thine iniquities." G. R.

Verse 3. Who healeth all thy diseases.

  1. Why is sin called a disease?
    1. As it destroys the moral beauty of the creature.
    2. As it excites pain.
    3. As it disables from duty.
    4. As it leads to death.
  2. The variety of sinful diseases to which we are subject. Mark 7:21-23 ; 5:19 , &c.
  3. The remedy by which God heals these diseases.
    1. His pardoning mercy through the redemption of Christ.
    2. The sanctifying influences of grace.
    3. The means of grace.
    4. The resurrection of the body. From "The Study," 1873.

Verse 3. (last clause). -- Our diseases by nature, our great Physician, the perfect soundness which he works in us, results of that soundness.

Verse 3-5. Mercy's Hexapla.

  1. Three curses removed.
    1. Guilt put away.
    2. Corruption cured.
    3. Destruction averted.
  2. Three blessings, bestowed.
    1. Favours that can gratify.
    2. Pleasures that can satisfy.
    3. Life that can never die.
Or

  1. Pardon. ( Psalms 103:3 )
  2. Purification. ( Psalms 103:4 )
  3. Redemption.
  4. Coronation. ( Psalms 103:5 )
  5. Plenty bestowed.
  6. Power renewed. W. Durban.