Counseling Through Psalm 103:8-10, Part 1

Psalm 103:8-10

The Lord is compassionate and gracious,

Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.

He will not always strive with us,

Nor will He keep His anger forever.

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

These verses are balm to my soul. They tell me beautiful, wonderful, comforting, better-than-we-could-ask-or-imagine truths about my God. When I see my sin and depravity, my guilt before God and others, I am brought low. This passage holds out great hope.

God is compassionate. Synonyms for compassionate include: sympathetic, warm, caring, loving.  These are words that invite me to draw near to Him, to trust in Him, to seek Him, even though the guilt of my sin whispers I should actually run and hide or at least grovel in shame instead. He is gracious, meaning He pours out His grace into my life over and over though I never deserve it. He is slow to anger. While I am frequently impatient with others, easily angered at the first sign that they are not living up to my demands and expectations, God is not like me.  As the perfect, holy sovereign Ruler of the universe He has the right to be easily irritated over my unending failures. He instead declares in His unchanging Word that he is slow to anger. And in case I am not quite convinced that He is good and kind, verse 8 ends by stating his lovingkindness is nothing less than abounding.  God’s love is abundant, heaping over, and extravagant; His love is directly proportionate to His own supreme and infinite greatness.

Next He promises He will not always accuse nor strive with us. This promise is fulfilled in Christ.  Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” While I was His enemy whom deserved accusations and His wrath, He reconciled me to Himself through the death of Christ (Romans 5:10). Instead of fearing that God will strive against me, I rejoice that God chose, saved and justified me and no one can bring a charge against me (Romans 8:33).

Considering all of this, I can declare along with David that God “has not dealt with us according to our sins.” As the NIV puts it, “He does not treat us as our sins deserve.” I rightfully deserve God’s righteous wrath and punishment, but that is not how He treats me. Instead, He showers me with compassion, grace, patience and abounding lovingkindness.

Let these truths about God’s good character encourage you to more deeply know, trust, seek and love our compassionate and gracious God.

Jennifer Cantu
Jennifer Cantu works as a counselor and Shift Supervisor at Vision of Hope. She received her biblical counseling certification from ACBC in 2014. In addition to working at VOH, Jennifer counsels women through Faith Church’s counseling ministry. She is very thankful for ministry opportunities to help, teach and encourage women with God's Word.