County Jail Study on Psalms 103

King David wrote this Psalm later in his life. We know this because he wrote this Psalm from a deep understanding of God’s grace and mercy. He understood all the benefits of being in a right relationship with God and he was thankful. What is more amazing is the fact that we have a greater understanding of Psalms 103 and it has more meaning to us because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross for us. Since I spent most of last week preparing this bible study on Psalms 103 for the county jail, I thought I would post it. This is a lengthy study that will span about four weeks. For example, last Friday, I only covered the first five verses because there was a great discussion. Enjoy.

Bless the Lord, O My Soul

Psalms 103 (ESV)

1) Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

Bless, in this context, means an act of adoration, praise, giving thanks.
Our
soul is said to contain our morality and conscience and is responsible for the functions of thinking and willing, which determines all behavior. Webster’s dictionary says the soul is the residence of our mind, emotions, and will. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 which states, “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify [set apart and purify] you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Also, Jesus tells us in Mark 12:30 that we are to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

2) Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,

?? How do we remember something?

?? What are benefits? (A kindly, charitable act; favor; advantage; reward; something good; etc.)

3) who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases (sicknesses),

Iniquity means lack of righteousness; that is, not doing what is right or being just (equitable and impartial); doing wickedness (evil moral character; evil; depraved)

It is a benefit to have all our sins forgiven and to be healed of our sicknesses. When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he said in John 1:29Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

?? What does “all” mean? Do you believe this?

If you don’t believe verse three, choose to believe and ask God to show your unhealthy beliefs about His promises. When He shows you, ask Him to lose and remove those specific unhealthy beliefs. If you have been praying for healing and you have not been healed, then keep trusting that God is all-powerful and can heal. Trust that He has a purpose for your sickness and one day, you will be healed.

?? Is there someone you need to forgive who did you wrong?

Unforgiveness often does not hurt the person we refuse to forgive, but it always hurts us, which is why it blocks healing. Forgiveness is essential for healing because it releases us from the power of a wrongful action or offense. Forgiving someone does not excuse their wrong actions but sets us free to heal and move on. We find a condition for forgiveness in Matthew 6:14-15, which states in the NIV, “For if you forgive (others) when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15) But if you do not forgive (others), your Father will not forgive your sins.” Also see Matthew18:23-35.

?? Have you forgiven yourself for hurting others? Ask God to take all that guilt from you.

4) who redeems your life from the pit (grave—Strong’s definition; destruction; NKJ), who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

Redemption or redeem means to get back; recover, as by paying a fee. It is our deliverance from sin and the consequences of sin. 1 Peter 1:18-19 tells us that we were “redeemed [ransomed and bought back] from the futile ways inherited from our forefathers, …with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.Ephesians 1:7-9 states, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace, 8) which He lavished on us.”

?? What image comes to your mind when you read this verse?

?? Do you see yourself in the pit of sin or sitting in heaven, forgiven and crowned with love and mercy?

If you see yourself in the pit of sin and despair then do the following: Choose to believe with your heart and confess that Jesus Christ is God the Son, who died to pay the debt for sin; forgives your sins and frees you from sins control (See Jn 1:29; 1 Jn 4:15; 1 Pet 1:18-19; Col 1:14; & Gal 5:1). When you confess this with your mouth and believe it with our heart, then God the Holy Spirit and His love, life, and light enter into your heart (See Gal. 4:6 & 1 Cor. 6:17).

5) who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Strong’s definition of good in this context is favor, benefits; advantage. There are other ways to translate the beginning of this verse, for example, the New American Standard states: “Who satisfies your years with good things,…” The New International Version states: “who satisfies your desires with good things,…” The New King James Version states: “who satisfies your mouth with good things…” Furthermore, I read that an eagle continually sheds its feathers and regrow new ones. Therefore, an old eagle will look the same as a young eagle.

?? How do you see this verse working in your life? (See Col. 3:8-10 and Eph. 4:22-24)

6) The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

Righteousness, in this context, is the act of doing what is right.

Justice or judgment, in this context, it is a reward or penalty as deserved.

Oppressed is someone who has been defrauded, violated, deceived, or wronged in some way.

Isaiah 30:18 states, “Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts Himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait (long; NAS) for Him.”

?? How would you describe righteousness and justice in your own words?

?? What happens when we wait on the Lord, that is, when we long for Him?

7) He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.

Short List from the book of Exodus of God’s ways and acts:

  • Moses’s staff becomes a serpent then back to a staff again.

  • Brought 10 plaques on Egypt but not where the Israelites were staying because Pharaoh would not let them leave Egypt: All water sources became blood; frogs everywhere; all the dust became gnats; swarms of flies; plague kills all Egyptian livestock; boils on all the Egyptian people and animals; hail destroys everything; locusts ate everything in sight; pitch black darkness throughout Egypt, but not where the Israelites lived in Goshen; the death of the firstborn except for the Israelite’s homes with the blood of a perfect, spotless lamb on the doorposts (called Passover).

  • The Red Sea parted, and over one million Israelites walked to the other side on dry ground.

  • They were fed with food from heaven, called manna.

  • Water comes out of rocks at Moses’s command.

  • Their shoes did not wear out for 40 years.

?? How does knowing this, give you confidence that nothing is impossible with God?

8) The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Mercy is not getting what we deserve for our sin.

Grace is getting what we don’t deserve because of our sin (i.e., forgiveness, eternal life, blessings, etc.)

Psalms 86:15 states, “But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Also, Psalms 116:5 states, “Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.” Lamentations 3:21-25 states, “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22) The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; 23) they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 24) “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.” 25) The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him.”

?? Why do we have hope because of knowing God is merciful, gracious, and faithful

?? How can we be merciful and gracious to others around us?

?? What should we do when we are quick to get angry and not to be loving?

First, we need to take the angry thought captive (recognize it, acknowledge it, and grab hold of it) then lose and remove it from your mind before it comes out of your mouth. Secondly, forgive the offense quickly. And, thirdly, understand the person who offended you is a sinner and needs God’s love, therefore, bind to your heart God’s mercy and love for that person. James 1:19-20 states, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

9) He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.

Chide means to rebuke or contend with; to be displeased with your sin. Yes, God is angry when we sin because He is holy. He also knows that sin is destructive in our lives and the lives of others. God wants us to be merciful and loving instead.

10) He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

So too, the Bible explains how we also are not to deal with others according to their sin. In 1 Peter 3:9, it states, “9) Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling (insult for insult; NAS & NIV) but on the contrary, bless [to speak well of or ask divine favor for; hence, to wish well to], for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing [divine favor] (for you were called for this very purpose that you might inherit a blessing; NAS).”

Luke 6:27-28 Jesus states, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies (those hostile to you; LITV), do good to those who hate you, 28) bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse (mistreat; NAS, insult; LITV) you.”

When you are tempted to repay evil for evil, take the thought of returning the same treatment captive (recognize it, acknowledge it, and grab hold of it) then loose and remove it from your mind before it comes out of your mouth. Next, bind-in the love of God for them and respond with mercy and kindness. Ephesians 4:31-32 states, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32) Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” We can only accomplish this as we lean on God and ask Him to remove the things listed in verse 31 and put into our hearts the attributes listed in verse 32.

!! Turn to the prayer on the page about healing issues in your life and demonstrate this.

11) For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

?? When you think of the fear of God, what does it mean to you?

The fear of the Lord is to have deep respect, love, and awe which we demonstrate in our obedience to God’s Word (Deuteronomy 6:2, 10:12; 1 Samuel 12:14). The following verses describe how we are to fear God:

Psalms 22:23 states ”You who fear the Lord, praise Him! …glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him, …” 1 Samuel 12:24 states, “Only fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you.” Proverbs 3:7-8 states, “Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. 8) It will be healing to your flesh (body; NAS) and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 28:14 states, “Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity (the pit).” Psalms 115:11 also states; “You who fear the LORD, trust in the LORD! He is their help and their shield.” Psalms 34:9 states, “Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him have no lack!

12) as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

?? How would you explain this verse to one of your friends?

13) As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

14) For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

15) As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16) for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

?? Explain what these verses mean to you?

17) But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,

18) to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

?? What are these verses saying to you?

19) The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.

20) Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!

Hebrews 1:13-14 states, “And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 14) Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?”

?? Who are those who are to inherit salvation?

?? What images do you get from this verse?

A few other verses of how angels minister:

Ex.23:20 “Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.”

1 Chron. 21:1-17 vs.15) “And God sent an angel to Jerusalem to destroy it; but as he was about to destroy it, the Lord saw and was sorry over the calamity, and said to the destroying angel, “It is enough; now relax your hand.” … vs. 16) Then David lifted up his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, with his drawn sword in his hand stretched out over Jerusalem… vs. 27) The Lord commanded the angel, and he put his sword back in its sheath.

2 Chron. 32:20,21 “But King Hezekiah and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed about this and cried out to heaven. 21) And the Lord sent an angel who destroyed every mighty warrior, commander, and officer in the camp of the king of Assyria.”

Ps. 34:7 “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them.”

Ps. 91:11“For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;”

Daniel 6:22 “My God sent His angel, and He shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in His sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you O king.”

Matt. 2:13 “…behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.”

Matt. 2:19 “After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the Child and His mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the Child’s life are dead.'”

Matt. 28:5 “The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified…’”

Matt. 4:49 “So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50) and will throw them into the furnace of fire;…”

2 Kings 19:1-8 (Elijah flees into the desert because he is afraid of Jezebel’s threat against him and becomes very depressed.) vs. 5) “Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” vs. 7) The angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, ‘Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.’”

Zech. 3:1 “Then he [the angel] showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him.”

Matt. 4:11 “Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.”

Mark 1:13 “And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.”

Matt. 18:10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

Matt. 28:2 “And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.”

Acts 5:19 “But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, taking them out he said,…”

Acts 12:5-17 “And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. “

21) Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!

22) Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Author: Joyce Holzman Hanscom

I am helping the women at the county jail to transform their painful memories and hurts to heal their negative heart issues so they can make good decisions. I am also a Sunday School and Bible teacher, originally trained as a computer science teacher.

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