Self Talk That Exalts The LORD
Text: Psalm 103
Proposition: Instructing our soul is part of the discipline of being a disciple, especially as we instruct our soul to exalt the Lord and forget not His benefits.
Introduction: It’s been said that about 80% of our daily communication is self talk. Though we talk to others we talk even more to ourselves. We may do it out loud, we may do it as an aside or we may talk to ourselves in our thoughts about what we can and can’t do, do and don’t like, will or won’t trust. In the theatre we know these as soliloquies, an actor talking to themselves. Hamlet has the most well known of these…“To be, or not to be, that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.” That’s Elizabethan self talk.
This is not a new concept, Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 10:5, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”. When you take every thought captive it means you are beginning to evaluate the self talk that goes on in your mind. You guard yourself against the many influences that we wade through each day and you sharpen the truth that is already resident in your heart and mind. This morning I’d like to take you to a Psalm where David begins by talking to himself. Turn with me to Psalm 103.
I. David’s Self Talk Begins with a Command, a Command to His Soul.
The command is simple and yet profound, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.” It is a command to the inner most part of who David is as a human being, let his body and thought and emotion and will and all his intelligence bless the name of the LORD. It’s like that phrase from the Psalms, “deep cries out to deep.” The cry of the soul is to The LORD or Jehovah, The Self Existing One, the God who was in eternity past and will be in eternity future. Then as if that wasn’t enough David issues a second command to his soul, “Bless the LORD, O my soul and forget none of His benefits”. I think David knew that we are in constant danger of forgetting the grace and glory of God, of ceasing to be thankful and then becoming vain in our relationship with Him. So he speaks to himself, commands himself to be sharp and alert and then with all intentionality, ‘Bless the LORD’. Though this may sound strange the truth is we all do something very similar. We tell ourselves to pull it together when our thoughts run away in anxieties, we tell ourselves to ‘snap out it’, when we are caught up in pits of despair. We command our souls in times of trouble or stress. What David is doing is speaking to himself with a strong, “I will” type of command that is meant to directly resist the other self talk that is so self accusatory, self blaming, self doubting, the unbelieving part of self that is so prevalent in our sin nature. Let all that is within you, all of who you are, all of who God has made, let all of you praise God, exalt His name and deliberately choose as you do so to not forget any of His benefits towards you. Exalt Him, bless the LORD of my soul! That’s the cry but where do you begin in doing that? Have a look at the next few verses.
II. See His Benefits… He Forgives, Heals, Redeems, Crowns and Satisfies.
Have a look at these next verses, “Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” God’s benefits towards you are the fact that He forgives your iniquity or guilt. That’s why Christ came that we would be forgiven all our iniquity. So what guilt are you carrying that you need forgiveness for, it’s there for you, for all the guilt that you carry. He heals your diseases, in the past, present and especially in the future. What do you think that He designed white blood cells for? They protect your body at His design. In glory there will be no sickness and no death, no sorrow and no suffering. He redeems your life, that is He pulls it out of the fire and sets you free in Him. He redeems you through the body and blood of Jesus Christ, our sin bearer. He redeems you in the way you live and think and act because before you were headed on a path to destruction. He crowns you with loving kindness and mercies. That refers to the fact that He has changed your identity to one who now wears a crown. In God’s eyes when you trust Christ you are now in His family. The thing that keeps you in His family is not your good looks or quick mind or personal sacrifice. What keeps you in His family is His loving kindness and mercy towards me in Christ Jesus, a loving kindness and mercy that I am now to be an ambassador of. He satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles. The Southwestern Bald Eagle Management has said that, “In their five year development to adulthood, bald eagles go through one of the most varied plumage changes of any North American bird.” Their youth is renewed or repaired time and again to ready them for the next step of maturity. One of God’s benefits to us is that He readies us at each stage of our growing up, He feeds us with truth and nourishes us with what is good, from actual food to food for thought. He helps us to shed off that which is immature and move towards maturity in Him. You could say that the LORD’s formula for keeping you young is not Botox but Detox, keeping your soul in good repair by getting rid of that which is not good.
In all this forget not His benefits O my soul. Bless the LORD my soul for He is greatly to be praised. So you begin to think to yourself, “It’s amazing, I’m forgiven; God redeemed me, who would have ever thought, I’m not who I used to be anymore, It’s all Jesus”. We are familiar with talking to God, we call that prayer. Perhaps we need to be more astute at taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ even by blessing the LORD in my words to myself.
III. Know His Ways, Righteousness, Justice, Mercy and Grace.
In the way that you self talk, know His ways. “The LORD executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.” It means that God in His righteousness gives us what we need when we need it. It means that He is ‘Just’ in nature and executes Justice according to that nature. We need to know that there is ultimate justice because much of what will happen in your life will not be just. The reality of living in a sin influenced world is that there will be injustice here. But it doesn’t end there, the Lord executes justice on all whether they believe in His existence of not. It’s justice that enables forgiveness to take place, it’s justice that hope is built upon, it’s justice in Christ that we cling to for apart from Him we fall short of the glory of God, for we all have sinned.
The ways of the LORD also move with great compassion towards us. “The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” Do you think the prostitute knows she is a prostitute, do you think the liar knows he is a liar, do you think the embittered knows they are bitter? We all have an acute knowledge of where we have sinned, it can taunt us and be used as an accusation against us. It’s grace and mercy that mark the ways of the LORD, to a dry and thirsty soul those are like healing oil to an open wound. Perhaps in the self talk within us we need to be on guard against the ruinous thoughts and invite the truth of God’s grace and mercy towards us. Just listen to the way God sees you as He invites you to give what you cannot carry to Christ, to gain what was unattainable apart from Christ and His sacrifice for us. This is what self talk would proclaim, “I am chosen in Him; I am holy and blameless in His sight; I am a child of God through Jesus Christ…Eph. 1:4,5; I have redemption and forgiveness…Eph. 1: 7; I am the salt of the earth; I am the light of the world…Matt. 5:13,14; I am loved by God…Eph. 2: 4 I’ve been made alive together with Christ…Eph. 2: 5; I’m His workmanship; …Eph 2: 10; Christ is my peace…Eph. 2:14 That’s what self talk sounds like when God’s mercy and grace are in view. You have a God who knows who and what you are. He knows your history, He knows your brief physical mortality and your eternal spirit. He knows that He loves you like a father loves their own child. He also knows what He Himself can do when it comes to our failings, “For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” With these thoughts close to your heart command your soul in a godly self talk. “Bless the LORD O my soul, let all that is within me bless His holy name. Bless the LORD O my soul and forget none of His benefits.”