“Praise the Lord, O my soul; All my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” Psalm 103:1-6
When the “battle” seems fierce our tendency can be to take our gaze away from God and place it on our outwardly or inwardly circumstances. There are many times when our inner battle is more fierce than our outward battle, because if our enemy can thwart our mind’s focus on the truth of who we are in Christ and the promises of God, the greater opportunity he has to defeat us spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically, and relationally. These are all aspects of our lives with which God created us in His image as holistic beings, and with which we can be attacked by the “flaming arrows of the enemy."
In verse six of Psalm 103, David writes, “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed,” meaning that when we experience any type of oppression (the feeling of being pressed or weighted down), God remains faithful to be with us, and to never leave us, continuing to work on our behalf. Things of this world such as depression, anxiety, and fear of the uncertainty of the future can cause a sense of oppression leading to deeper feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and powerlessness. We can, if not careful and alert, be drawn away by our feelings and emotions from the very promises of God regarding our position in Him, and His promises to go before us in order to carry out His plans for our lives through the victory we have in Jesus moment by moment each day.
Our enemy and his dark forces would surely despise us at any point claiming the very truth of God that sets us free - for with freedom comes transformation, and with transformation in Christ comes lives redeemed for His glory and purposes. Therefore, in verses 1-5 of Psalm 103, David provides a prescription for times of discouragement in the battle and along our spiritual journey. He writes, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
In this passage, we are given a key element of truth that becomes part of our offensive and defensive strategies against our enemies. This most important element of the battle is praising God, “Praise the Lord, O my soul…praise His holy name…Praise Him and forget not all His benefits.” Praising God in the midst of adversity, struggle, and the trials of life reminds us that He is still in control and is able to go behind and before us as our refuge, strength, provider, and protector in all circumstances. We are also to praise Him for He has forgiven us of all our sin, heals our diseases, redeeming our life from the pit and crowns us with love and compassion satisfying the deepest needs of our soul. Not only that, but God renews our strength in Him, “so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” As we take small, simple steps of obedience toward Christ each day, we will be drawn nearer to Him through our praise and worship of Him for who He is and for all He is doing on this day, and in our days to come. For as we began with verse six, so we end, “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.” Therefore, today if you have feelings of discouragement, anxiety, depression, or oppression in your spirit, reach out to the Lord by simply looking for opportunities to praise Him. This will guard your heart and redirect your spirit toward Him and away from a central focus on your circumstances.
Father, today may I find opportunities to praise and worship you even in moments of trial and testing, even when my emotions and feelings shout otherwise. Thank You for being ever-present, able, and in control of all the circumstances of my life. Regardless of what battles I experience today I know you are with me and that you go before me. Help me be quick to remember all of the benefits of being Your child - forgiven, redeemed, loved, and cared for in every way. Lord, You are always good, may I praise you for that moment by moment throughout this day. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.