This psalm is a braid of three of the most powerful messages in Scripture. The first is an invitation to worship – to praise God for who He is. The second is to remember, to not let the circumstances, seasons, ebbing tides, and revolving settings distract us from recognizing the God who transcends it all. And the third is to accept that God is the source of our best self-interest.
As the psalm goes on, it lists some of the benefits of life with God – He forgives sins, redeems life, and satisfies desires, to name a few.
One of the great trip wires in our attempts to follow God is that we see the first two strands of the braid as linked but not the third. We think our worship needs to cost us, that we need to die to ourselves, sacrifice our desire and our interest. This confusion makes sense because there is one sense in which that is exactly what we need to do. Worship (acknowledging God as God) does come at a cost, we are called to die to our fleshly nature.
But that is the front end of this third strand of the braid. Don’t forget that the Bible also says that he who loses his life will find it. The greatest commandment is to love others as yourself. So, we have to be careful not to throw out the baby with the bath water. The baby, in this sense, is our spirit, who we truly are and what is really in our best interest. The bathwater is the sin in our lives that lies to us by perverting our desires and telling us we can achieve them apart from the other two strands of the braid.
Dying to our flesh is in our best self-interest. Loving others is in our best self-interest. Acknowledging and praising God is in our best self-interest. This is what we were made for, who we truly are. It is what we really want.
When these strands are woven together, we experience a life of true righteousness, that benefits us, our community, and the Kingdom of God.
“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
– Psalm 103:1-2