Discovering True Love – Psalms 103

The Psalms has always been my book of prayer and the way I begin each day. The Jews referred to the book of Psalms as “The Book of Praises,”

But, I didn’t know that the LORD would take me to a certain psalm to show me His love — an enduring love in even the hardest times.

I needed help to survive the world’s worst pandemic in modern history – COVID-19. A wave of information continued to hit me square between the eyes, making my anxiety and fear palatable. I could taste it with every recorded death on social media, television, and on the radio.

There was no escaping it.

Wearing the mask alone reminded me of my vulnerability. I know I wasn’t supposed to be scared, but I couldn’t help it.

I cried to the Lord, “I’m afraid and don’t know what to do. Help!”

The LORD penetrated the fog of fear, and in the holy hush I heard Him say, “Psalm 103”.

Is that all? I really wanted more, but I trusted Him. I slowly turned to it in my Bible and learned why so many scholars believe this psalm has comforted more than hundreds of thousands believers since it was written.


Reading this psalm was like soothing water washing away fear and as I read it, every day for a year, it was a steady shield against the fiery darts set to destroy me. This Word of God, breathed into my soul, silenced even the raging anxiety. This was active love and perfect for such a time as this.

Go ahead, read it for yourself and watch what happens.

Psalm 103 (NRSV)

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and do not forget all His benefits — Who forgives all your inequity, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, Who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the people of Israel.

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always accuse, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far, He removes our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion for His children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear Him, for He knows how we were made; He remembers that we are dust.

As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, for those who see His covenant and remember to do His commandments.

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens and His kingdom rules overall. Bless the LORD, O you His angels, you mighty ones who do His bidding, obedient to His spoken word. Bless the LORD, all His hosts, His ministers that do His will. Bless the LORD, all His works in all places of His dominion.

Bless the LORD, O my soul.


Fifty years ago, I had learned that God is love. I thought I knew and understood this kind of love then, but I was only fooling myself. Years tell the tale of His faithfulness and tender love.

The example of His continuing love is clear in Psalm 103. It is not passive, impersonal, or far away. It is active, intimate, and close at hand. Not only that, but it is not a matter of conjuring up feelings of love and affection. It is steadfast and true – a wholehearted love.

We learn to love ourselves through seeing ourselves through God’s loving eyes.

I’ve never been commanded to love my husband of 49 years, I just do. It breaks my heart when I realize that the Lord God must command us to love Him. We are to love Him with all our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength. Why? Because what is lovingly given to Him is returned in treasured measures of love.

We learn to honestly love others when we learn to love ourselves the way God does.

His love allows us to see ourselves as He sees us.

True Love?

There is “phileo” or brotherly love. There is “eros” or sexual/erotic love. These are common among us. They tend to be motivated by self-love, self-gratification, and self-protection.

Self-love is centered on self.

“Agape” love, on the other hand, is different. It is not common among the people. It is the strongest love — proceeds from the heart. We learn to care for others because God cares for us.

“Agape” love is rooted in our relationship with Christ, who is both faithful and steadfast in His love toward us.

Intimacy with God produces true love — “agape” in us.


So, as I continued to read Psalm 103, I found agape love. I didn’t let the news get to me, I kept a distance as necessary, and washed my hands as never before. Not because the world forced me to, but because I found “agape”. It is patient and kind. It neither boasts nor envies. Furthermore, it is not proud, rude, self-seeking or easily angered.

Agape is quick to forgive, seek the good and the truth. The love discovered in Psalm 103 protects, trust, hopes and perseveres. It does not fail.

Agape love mirrors the selfless love of God. Faith, hope, and love remains even in a pandemic, but the greatest of these is love.

God’s love is steadfast, loyal, and enduring. Not even a pandemic can separate us from God’s love.

Agape Endures?

As I spent more time in this psalm, I began to think about my own future death. Do I need to fear it or deny it? My times are in His hands. As I read Psalm 103, I imagined the Lord God on His throne with all His creatures praising Him, and I wondered – Does God look forward to seeing me face-to-face as much as I do? As I look into His loving eyes, will I hear, “Hello there, my beloved. I’ve been waiting for you. Well done, my good and faithful servant”?

I thank God for those days in the Pandemic, for they led me away from myself to the heart of God – Psalm 103.

Call to Action

Read and re-read this psalm for a week or maybe a month and watch what happens. Please let me know in the comments below or on the contact page.

May the LORD bless and keep you until we meet again,

What are you afraid of? Let God act. Abandon yourself to Him. You will suffer, but you will suffer with love, peace, and consolation. You will fight, but you can carry off the victory, and God Himself, after having fought with you, will crown you with His own hand. You will weep, but your tears will be sweet, and God Himself will come with satisfaction to dry them. You will not be free any longer to give yourself up to your tyrannic passions, but you will sacrifice your liberty freely, and you will enter into a new liberty unknown to the world, in which you will do nothing except for love.

François Fénelon

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