God Remembers - God Forgets

By Johnny Hunt
Bible Book: Psalms  103 : 6-18
Subject: Mercy; Grace; Remember; Memory, God's


God Remembers What Man Forgets and God Forgets What Man Remembers!

In Psalm 103:1-5, the Psalmist gives personal praise for all the Lord has done. Now, in Ps 103:6-18, he speaks of corporate praise for all the Lord has done for His people. Verses 19-20 speak of universal praise for all of creation. We usually praise the Lord for something He has done (1-5), but we also should praise Him for something He has not done. Psalms 103:10, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.”

All of us are aware of the plague of our hearts, not only the occasional sins but those that try to get us into bondage. In fact, God knows our weaknesses and sins better than we do. God sees the origin and the outcome of our sins.
Psalms 19:12-13
“Who can understand his errors?
Cleanse me from secret faults.
Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins;
Let them not have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
And I shall be innocent of great transgression.”


If Psalm 103:10 is true, on what basis does God deal with us? On the basis of the cross, the grace of God. Jesus Christ died for our sins, and God forgives them through the blood of His Son. We can come to Him and ask Him to forgive any sin.


David shows God’s mercy for sinners. “executes righteousness” – works righteousness; He manifests His faithfulness to His covenant people.
He also executes “justice” (judgment) on behalf of “all who are oppressed.” This is referencing the Exodus. The Lord shows His righteousness to Moses, while displaying His justice on Pharaoh. The Lord was their righteous deliverer.


The people knew the Lord’s acts, but Moses knew God’s ways. People knew what He was doing, while Moses knew why He was doing it. Moses was intimate with the Lord and understood His will. The Lord had revealed His name to Moses, which was a revelation of Who He is.

Exodus 34:6, “And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth’”

Moses knew something of the character, nature, and plans of the Lord.



After noting v.8, the text proceeds to enforce this passage by using two negative statements and three illustrations: v.8 “abounding in mercy” (covenant-love) and abounding in goodness. “slow to anger” – His wrath is not easily provoked. His mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13)

“The Lord’s loving-kindness is constant like the sunshine; His anger transitory like the lightening.” A.G. Clarke

v.9 “He will not always strive with us” (contend)- pictures that of a court room. The Lord is both judge and prosecuting attorney. He has all the evidence He needs to condemn us, but He does not prolong the trial. When the judge is your Father, and when Jesus has died for your sins, there is full and free forgiveness available to all who will ask for it. Though slow to anger, the time comes when God must convict His people of their sin and show His indignation by chastening (disciplining) them, but even then His anger does not last forever. “Nor will He keep His anger forever” – He does not maintain His anger. There is a limit to God’s wrath; it is temporal, not eternal, in relation to His children.

v.10, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.”

“sins” – actions which miss the mark

“iniquities” – crookedness, deviations from the path.

The point is that if God gave us what we deserved, we would all perish. He does not treat us as our sins deserve (this is a challenge in the way I view others that I feel have wronged me.) God has not treated us or dealt with us according to our sins. On what basis does He deal with us? On the basis of the cross, the grace of God. The Lord holds no grudges, harbors no resentments. The punishment we deserved was given to Jesus.
Isaiah 53:4-6, “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
The Psalmist has already taken our minds back to the Exodus. For example, in the Exodus, Israel, along with Egypt, should have lost her firstborn to the angel of death. But God provided a substitute in the Passover Lamb; therefore, He did not deal with His people according to their sins. By what right do we stand before God now? We have no inherent right. God provides that right for us in Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

Again, God has not dealt with us according to our sins. God’s mercy triumphs over His wrath and it triumphs over our sin. Romans 5:20b, “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more”

This truth in Ps 103:8-9 always reminds me of the truth of Matthew 5:7. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” When you experience mercy, I have, you can express mercy.


Note first how God’s mercy connects with our fear, v.11, 13, 17. As we are humbled before Him in reverence and awe, He reaches out and touches us with His forgiveness and love.

1. His Mercy is Vertical. 11

When we look into the clear blue sky or see the most distant star, we must remember that God’s mercy is higher still; as high as the heavens.

2. His Mercy is Horizontal. 12

The distance from north to south is finite. You can go no farther in either of those directions than the pole. East to west is infinite. Psalmist remembered the ceremony on the annual Day of Atonement (Lev 16) when the goat (scapegoat) was released in the wilderness, symbolically bearing Israel’s sins far away.
Isaiah 38:17, “For you have cast all my sins behind Your back.”
Isaiah 43:25, "I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake;
And I will not remember your sins.”
Isaiah 44:22, “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions,
And like a cloud, your sins.
Return to Me, for I have redeemed you."
Jeremiah 31:34, “…for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."
Micah 7:19, “He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea.”

3. His Mercy Is Paternal. 13
God is likened to a tender Father, but His pity is not a shallow, sentimental feeling. A holy God demands that His law be satisfied, and only His perfect Son could provide that satisfaction. Romans 3:24-25, “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed”

NOTE: Romans 3:19-31

NOTE What God Remembers

Psalms 103:14, “For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.”

He understands our formation because He formed us from the dust. Man is like a fragile earthen vessel, therefore, God handles us tenderly. God remembers what man forgets (our infirmities) and forgets what man remembers (our sins). God looks at our frailty, our weaknesses, our struggles, and He has pity on us. In the Incarnation, God takes the next step. He becomes one with us and shares in our humanity. As Hebrews says in 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
It is encouraging to know that even “dust” has potential when it is in the hands of the Potter.

4. His Mercy Is Universal. 15-22

Psalms 19:1-2, “The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork.
Day unto day utters speech,
And night unto night reveals knowledge.”