Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Resolution for the New Year
I started 2018 with a song for the New Year: Moses’ song in the wilderness, Psalm 90. I’m beginning 2019 with a single resolution.
I was impressed recently by a blogger who had narrowed her resolutions down to two:
- What worked this year
- What didn’t
That’s brilliant, I thought. Only two resolutions, yet they cover all the bases. And it so practical. Surely this exercise will fill me with wisdom for the choices ahead of me in the twelve months ahead. I sharpened my pencil and drew a single vertical line down the middle of my journal page, labeling the two columns.
But as my pencil hovered above the page, a song began running through my head:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his Holy name.
The familiar chorus prompted me to turn to the Psalm that inspired it– Psalm 103. It begins and ends with these words,
“Bless the Lord, O my soul.”
Bookends. Kind of like the first and last day of the year.
What might it look like to make those words my only resolution for 2019? I decided to dig into the Psalm to find out.
7 Fold Blessing
The first word is Bless. Not only does the Psalm begin and end with the call to “Bless the LORD,” but that phrase is repeated 7 times in the Psalm–3 at the beginning and 4 at the end. This 7 fold blessing brings with it a sense of completion, the same sense I would love to have when 2019 finally winds to a close.
There is a difference between the beginning and the end, however. It opens with the Psalmist, an individual, urging himself to praise God. It ends with the Psalmist calling on God’s angels, hosts, and words to praise him. Praise of the one true God expands.
I hope that my own praise–stirred by this Psalm–will likewise expand to the world around me.
The second word, all, is used 9 times. “All” calls for whole-hearted praise from me. “All” signifies that God’s blessings are comprehensive. It tells us no one is left out. “All” tells us what the end result will be, though we still wait for that completion. “All” means ALL.
- And ALL that is within me, bless his holy name, v. 1
- forget not ALL his benefits, v. 2
- who forgives ALL your iniquity, v. 3
- who heals ALL your diseases, v. 4
- The LORD works righteousness and justice for ALL who are oppressed, v. 6
- His kingdom rules over ALL, v. 19
- Bless the LORD ALL his hosts, v. 21
- Bless the LORD ALL his works, v. 22
- in ALL places of his dominion, v. 22
I never realized how powerful the word ALL can be for stirring praise.
The third important word I found is “remember.” It only occurs 3 times–and one is the negative “forget not”–but they shape the Psalm, moving it from me to my Father and back to me.
I am to “forget not” his benefits, (v. 2). I need that word. It’s the New Year and I’m ready to shift into full speed ahead. The Psalmist reminds me to pause and remember ALL his benefits. The book ends of my year must become the book ends of my day.
Next, God–identified as a Father to all who fear him–remembers. Of course he remembers, he’s God! But what is it he remembers? That I’m weak. I’m dust (v. 14). You, too. We think, “full speed ahead…get things done…measure up…accomplish….achieve…take the next hill.” We forget we’re dust. But our Father doesn’t. He remembers. And he treats us accordingly.
Finally, we are to remember. What? The Psalmist reminds us that our Father wants us to remember his commandments (v. 18). This “remember” comes last in the Psalm. After we remember his benefits, after he remembers we are dust, then we are to remember his commandments.
And our Heavenly Father, knowing all he has done for us and how very weak we are, will help us by the intercession of his Son and the indwelling of his Spirit to walk in them.
Bless the LORD O my soul. Happy New Year.