Read This Week’s Passage: Psalm 103:1–22
The image is forever embedded on my mind. I was teaching the third session of twelve on The Everlasting Covenant at an evangelism school. In the class of thirty, a student in her late twenties on the front left row of tables had situated a “bed.” Biblically illiterate, she could not sit for more than a few minutes at a time. I flashed my next slide on the screen and began to read—Psalm 103. Suddenly I noticed a stirring on my front left. She was struggling to pull herself up. I stopped reading.
“It’s OK, you don’t have to get up,” I assured her.
“No, sir,” she responded, “if God is really like this, I have to stand,” which she did until I finished reading the passage three slides later. During the next break, she couldn’t stop talking about it: “Is it really true,” she kept repeating, “is God really like this? I never knew this!”
This incident struck me because Psalm 103 is an Old Testament believer’s theology of the Mosaic/Sinaitic/old covenant (the psalm’s main section is bracketed between direct references to “Moses” and the “covenant” in vv. 7, 18).
However, many modern scholars attempt to pit the “law of Moses” (the Mosaic covenant) against the “law of Christ” (an undefined term occurring only in Gal. 6:2 and often associated with the new covenant). They ascribe to the Mosaic covenant all the negative characterizations in the conflicting statements listed in our Introduction to this lesson series and reviewed in our previous lesson’s inTro section. They describe the Mosaic covenant as primarily bondage-generating rules and regulations that were to be externally obeyed, by rote, in contrast to the new covenant’s law of love written on the heart, to be obeyed from the heart.
Written by David, Psalm 103 was adopted into Israel’s national hymnal (the book of Psalms) by believers who actually lived under that covenant and wrote of it, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Ps. 119:97, NKJV). In the Mosaic/Sinaitic/old covenant, they found “delight” (v. 24), counsel (v. 24), “liberty” // “freedom” (v. 45, NIV), and “hope” (v. 49). They described it as “my songs” (v. 54), “wonderful” (v. 129), that which had “given me life” (v. 93) and was “the rejoicing of my heart” (v. 111), that which they “panted and longed for” (v. 131). Psalm 103 describes what they heard and received from God when they read, listened to, sang, and lived according to the covenant He gave to Moses, for them, at Sinai. What my student heard during the reading of Psalm 103 in class that day is what the people of Israel heard several millennia earlier. No wonder she felt the need to stand!
Welcome to “The Gospel of Moses According to David.”