Do you ever wake up and lack the motivation to work out? That is me most days! What about your relationship with God? Do you ever struggle with motivation to continue taking steps to grow? If so, you are not alone.
It is not uncommon to feel distracted, distant, and maybe even apathetic at times in our walk with God. From my experiences in college and campus ministry, I have noticed that summer can be especially full of ups and downs. For some, being away from the academic pressure, busyness, and temptations at school can be helpful for slowing down and refocusing on God. For others, being away from routine and community can be challenging and disorienting - as if the past 18 months haven’t been disorienting enough for all of us.
No matter how we may be feeling this summer, the good news is God’s love and faithfulness are not dependent on us! In spite of changing circumstances and motivation, God does not and will not change (Hebrews 13:8). His love is steadfast, and His mercies are still new every day (Lamentations 3:22-23). And with a little “soul talk”, we can always redirect our attention and praise to Him. With that in mind, take some time to read and reflect on Psalm 103.
1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.
Questions to Consider:
- What stands out to you as you read through this psalm? What words, phrases, and/or repetition do you notice?
- This psalm begins and ends with a call to “Praise the Lord, my soul.” How can focusing our attention on God and directing our souls to praise Him change our attitude and perspective?
- In verses 2-6, what are “all of (the Lord’s) benefits” the psalmist urges his soul not to forget? Why is it important to remember all that God has done, especially when we feel distracted, discouraged, or distant?
- Verse 8 describes God as “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” How does this description affirm or challenge your current view of God? From the rest of the psalm, which aspects of God’s character and promises resonate with you? Why?
- How is God inviting you to respond to Him through this passage (worship, thanksgiving, confession, repentance, etc.)?
In this psalm, David urges his soul to praise God “with all (his) inmost being” and to “forget not all his benefits.” Though he experienced extreme highs and lows throughout his life, David did not ultimately allow his circumstances to dictate or derail his worship of God. Instead, by choosing to remember and focus on what is true regardless of situation or motivation, David is still known as a “man after God’s own heart.
For extra credit (not really), check out this past devotional highlighting another psalm of David and the Importance of Remembering.
Similar to talking ourselves into exercising when we are not feeling it, like David, we can give our souls a pep talk this summer - or anytime. As we refocus on God and remember His unchanging character and unfailing love, we are compelled to worship again or anew and to share His love with others.
Whether you have had a great or difficult summer so far, consider setting aside time - maybe a morning or afternoon - to sit with God using Psalm 103 as a guide. Read through the psalm again several times. Journal your responses to the questions above along with any other reactions to the passage.
For followers of Jesus, remember and give thanks for God’s presence and faithfulness throughout your life. Confess the ways you may have turned away and prioritized other things above God lately. Receive God’s love and forgiveness afresh, and ask Him to restore to you the joy of your salvation. If you are not a follower of Jesus, read through verses 2-6 again and consider this: all of this is available to you, and to all who put their faith in Christ!
In response to Psalm 103, you may also want to express your worship to God through music, art, exercising, being outside - whatever helps you to remember and respond as a beloved child to our gracious, compassionate, and loving Father.
As we prepare for another school year, let’s give God our soul attention and decide now to praise Him no matter what. Along with David and God’s people everywhere, “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name” (Psalm 103:1).
10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord O My Soul)