Grace For The Journey
We will continue to be reminded of why we should rejoice in the benefits God has so graciously bestowed on us throughout last year. We’re working through this passage from Psalms 103:1-5:
“Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities and heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
Yesterday, we rejoiced in the truth that God “forgives all our sins.” Today, let’s look at a second blessing:
He Heals All Your Diseases
David affirms that God “heals all [our] diseases” (verse 3b). In order to correctly understand the blessing promised here, several things must be placed in perspective.
First, the passage is not intended to suggest that God’s people can expect perpetual healing from every illness, so that he will never die. Physical death is a punishment which results from humanity’s involvement in sin (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12); it is a divine appointment (Hebrews 9:27).
Second, the passage is not a promise that Christians, throughout history, will be able to tap into the divine power of miraculous healing, as such existed in the era of Jesus’ personal ministry, and in the apostolic period just beyond that time. The supernatural phenomena of those days were temporary by design (1 Corinthians 13:8ff).
What the passage does suggest is this: The God who created the human body (Genesis 2:7; Psalm 139:14) is able, consistent with His own purposes, to mend His own creation. None of us would survive infancy were it not for the amazing providential healing process that has been divinely designed and incorporated into the fabric of the human system. The immune system, the phenomenon of antibodies, the mending process, etc., are all remarkable beyond our ability to express.
Beyond this, however, is the ultimate promise of our glorified state. It has been noted that the “diseases” of this text are not confined to bodily sicknesses necessarily, but “may include all suffering” (A.F. Kirkpatrick, The Psalms, Cambridge: University Press, 1906, p. 601). Some scholars think that “diseases” is but a metaphor for life’s “adversities or setbacks” (W.A. VanGemeren, “Psalms,” NIV Bible Commentary, Barker & Kohlenberger, Eds., 1994, I, p. 898).
After the body is deposited back into the bowels of the earth, to return to its dusty origin (Genesis 3:19; Ecclesiastes 12:7), it awaits the day of resurrection (John 5:28-29; Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15). When it emerges from the grave, it will enter a new state wherein pain and death exist “no more” (Revelation 21:4), and where the “leaves” of the “tree of life” provide abiding “healing,” i.e., everlasting association with God (Revelation 22:2; cf. Genesis 3:22).
Make no mistake; our Great Physician is able to heal every one of our diseases. We read about many such healings throughout the Scriptures . . .
- Lepers were cleansed.
- Blind men were made to see.
- The lame were made to walk.
- The dead were raised to life.
But I believe what David had in view when he wrote this psalm was not so much physical diseases as the spiritual disease that afflicts us all. Luke’s gospel provides a wonderful example of this truth:
The Bible says in Luke 5:18-25, “Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’ The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, ‘Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk?’ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.”
Luke recounted the divine healing of the paralyzed man, but there is a deeper message in this story. The most important malady Jesus healed was spiritual. Our Lord’s expression of grace – “Friend, your sins are forgiven” – is the one thing everyone needs to hear!
To be sure, physical healing is a wonderful gift from God, and we praise Him for the many physical healings we ourselves have received and have seen in others. But the disease that we most desperately need to be healed of is the sin nature that separates us from God. Look again at Luke’s account and see how this truth is expressed in the order of what Jesus did.
He healed the man spiritually first (“Your sins are forgiven”);
Then He healed him physically (“Get up and walk”).
It’s important to recognize that even if the physical healing had not come – and it does not always come in this lifetime – the man would have received what He needed most: forgiveness of sin and the end of his alienation from God. As the Bible reminds us elsewhere in the Psalms, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him” (Psalm 32:1-2).
Blessed indeed! And if you have not yet received that blessing, I urge you not to wait another moment. You can be united with God for all eternity simply by trusting in the fact that He became a man and died on the cross for your sins. “Confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”