Divinely Shaped Dust
Psalm 103:10–19 (ESV)
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. 17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, 18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. 19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
If ever there were a passage that has captured my imagination, it is this portion from Psalm 103.
To pause a moment here is to be lifted into lofty places. For here we see a glimpse of the Almighty and how he views the work of his own hand.
While mankind wails at the fragility of life, vainly grasping for immortality, it is this very state of existence that forms our greatest asset. We are fragile. And our Father knows it.
Rather than chide the weary and condemn the weak. God's heart, defined by infinite mercy, swells with compassion to embrace the wilting soul and nurture the failing spirit of man. For all our efforts to build a life that will surpass Babel, God sees our frame and truly knows us. We are nothing more than dust.
And it is for this very reason, that we are no more than dust, the gospel is so glorious. That God rules with such absolute sovereign power from the throne room of heaven and then decisively acts to remove my sin—I who am no more than dust—as far as the East is from the West, is so astounding we should yearn for an eternity to worship the God who has accomplished such a miracle.
To celebrate the gospel is to simultaneously glory in the utter otherness of God, while acknowledging our desperate weakness and fragility as dust, yet dust that has been remembered and loved. It is God's great sovereignty that shapes out lives from dust, yet at best, we are still clay in the Potter's hand; clay that has no right to question the Maker's great design (Romans 9:20).
Yet even then, God's compassionate mercy extends to all. In an act of profound wisdom, our Father places a priceless treasure within these fragile jars of clay (2 Corinthians 4:7). This is done to show not how great we have become, but instead, to display how astoundingly powerful and immense is his strength and salvation.
No wonder the Psalmist finishes his song with this words:
Psalm 103:20–22 (ESV)
20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 22 Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!