To Remember, or Not to Remember?
Ever talk to yourself? We all do—we mull over self-talk all the time. Our thoughts constantly tick over; many of them are statements to ourselves about how we view the world, and how we perceive our role in it.
And it doesn’t mean we’re crazy; it just means we’re a reasoning, reflecting human being. (Of course, if you’re arguing with yourself, you may have a problem. If you lose an argument with yourself, well … ).
This ability to talk to ourselves is what separates us from the beasts. David spoke to himself in Psalm 103:1, 2;
“Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits”
In praising God; He urges himself to remember the goodness of God, listing three of these all-encompassing “benefits.”
Firstly, God “forgives all our iniquity” (v. 3). Now, this is good news that never gets old.
Second, God “heals all our disease” (v. 3). This does not just refer to physical sickness, but also refers to the dis–ease of soul from which so much physical sickness stems. God is both the Healer of the body and the Restorer of the soul (Psalm 23:3).
Thirdly, God fulfils all our desires, the implication of the phrase: “who satisfies your mouth with good things” (v. 5). True, sustaining fulfilment is found in God alone. (Why are we so bent on trying to find satisfaction in people, places and programs when we have access to a River that never runs dry?)
David intentionally took the time to keep God’s faithfulness in mind, meditating on the goodness of God. In contrast, one of Old Testament Israel’s core problems was their forgetfulness. They habitually forgot God’s goodness in chronic lapses of memory. We learn, at their expense, how easily we find rehashing the negative, highlighting the bad and believing the worst-case scenario—and how readily we forget “all His benefits.”
A sobering example of this is the tribe of Ephraim; they were “armed and carrying bows” yet “turned back in the day of battle” (Psalm 78:9). Even though they were armed to the teeth, they crumbled in the face of adversity; even though they were set for action, they melted in the heat of the challenge. Why? “They did not keep the covenant of God … and forgot His works and His wonders that he had shown them” (vv. 10, 11).
To improve our memories, David offers this counsel: “Trust in the Lord and … feed on His faithfulness” (Psalm 37:3). To cure our bent towards forgetfulness, we ought to nourish our soul on God’s faithful character, “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” James 1:17).
This requires rehearsing God’s goodness, continually bringing to memory who God is and what He has done for us. Unless we nourish our souls regularly in God’s goodness towards us, we will become starved and malnourished, unable to keep pace with the unfolding purpose of God. However, remembering God’s goodness enjoyed yesterday prepares us to boldly face tomorrow.