“God satisfies you with good”: meditation on Psalm 103:1-5

Psalm 103:5: [God] satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

In the Bob Dylan song “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go,” the singer has fallen in love and is therefore acting in ways that don’t make sense to himself. He sings—of himself—”You’re gonna make me give myself a good talking to.”

Similarly, in Psalm 103, David is giving himself—his soul—a “good talking to”: “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” Then, in verses 2 through 5, he reminds his soul of the many reasons that he has to bless the Lord: The Lord “forgives all your iniquity,” “heals all your diseases,” “redeems your life from the pit,” “crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,” and “satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Why does David need to give his soul a good talking to? Why do I?

This morning, as with most mornings, I woke up thinking something like this: “I will be happy today if… I will not have to worry today if… I will feel good about myself today if…” In other words, the extent to which I will be happy in life depends on people and circumstances over which I have little, if any, control. My soul seeks refuge in contingencies rather than in the rock, the fortress, and the stronghold that is my God.

Perhaps David’s soul does, too.

So in this psalm he reminds it of a different kind of happiness—one that doesn’t depend on circumstances. It will always be the case, for example, that God “satisfies [us] with good”: “The Lord is my shepherd,” after all. “I shall not want.” “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). “[M]y God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

God’s ability and willingness to satisfy me will be true no matter what—even in the worst case scenario, when I die—because then I’ll have Christ in all his fullness (Philippians 1:21).

Not that I remember this most of the time. So I remind my soul, fickle child that it is, “Here are the reasons, Brent, for you to be truly happy.”

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