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  • Chad Werkhoven

Psalm 103 - Forgiveness isn't New

God's forgiveness of sins isn't just a New Testament innovation.

Read / Listen

Read Psalm 103

Listen to passage & devotional:


Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 56

Q. What do you believe

concerning “the forgiveness of sins”?

A. I believe that God,

because of Christ’s atonement,

will never hold against me

any of my sins

nor my sinful nature

which I need to struggle against

all my life.

Rather, in his grace

God grants me

the righteousness of Christ

to free me forever from judgment.



So many people force the Bible into a false dichotomy in which the Old Testament tells the story of an angry Creator determined to unload His wrath upon His wayward, sinful children. According to this understanding, there's no good news in the Bible until the Son of this bitter old man shows up in the New Testament with love and compassion for all.

Psalm 103 is an excellent reminder that such a bifurcated approach to the Bible is totally inaccurate.

Notice the endearing language that David uses to describe the LORD:

  • He forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, satisfies and loves;

  • He is faithful, compassionate and gracious, He does not repay us with what we deserve.

Notice that in describing the LORD's grace, David does not do so by minimizing or ignoring His holiness:

  • The LORD works righteousness and justice;

  • He has made His law known.

Too many people, building on the misconception of a vengeful Father who is ultimately pacified by His Son who loves all people unconditionally, have the false idea that somehow it's God who changes, not us; that it's God who somehow realizes His standards are impossible so He drops them.

The truth is that you're the one who's been changed:

  • God, in His patience, did not treat you as your sins deserved;

  • Rather, He removed your sins and put them as far away as the east is from the west.

Dig Deeper

Sadly, there are some (many?) reading this today who can't identify with the description David uses for God, that He is like "a father who has compassion for His children (v13)." For them the idea of an angry Father who is ready to instantly crush any sort of disobedience is much more familiar.

Our catechism, in echoing and summarizing the entire Bible, beautifully removes the wedge we so often want to place in between the Father and the Son. Notice who is extending grace and mercy - God (the Father):

  • will never hold against me my sins...

  • in His grace frees me forever from judgment.

Of course this is only possible because of the changes you've experienced in Christ; it's because of His atonement (payment) and because you been given His righteousness.

Remember, you're the one who's been changed, not God.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who has compassion on His children;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will praise the LORD with all of your inmost being.



Read the New Testament in a year, a chapter a day - Romans 8


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