In June 2019, a remarkable discovery was made in Compiegne, France. It all began when an elderly woman in her nineties, feeling overwhelmed by the demands of maintaining her home, decided to sell her home and find a more manageable living arrangement.
Before listing the property, the lady hired an auctioneer to assess her belongings and determine if she had anything worth selling. If something could be sold, it would be, and the rest would be thrown away. Little did she know that this decision would unveil a truly remarkable treasure within her home.
When the auctioneer arrived, he found a few pieces of furniture that were decent enough to sell. But there was something else that piqued his interest. In the kitchen, above the cooking hotplate, was an old painting hanging on the wall. The lady and her family didn’t think much of it, considering it just an old religious icon from Russia—maybe a mass-produced kind of thing. They never paid it much attention. The auctioneer, however, was convinced that there was more to this painting. He believed it was much more valuable than they thought. So, he persuaded the woman and her family to have it appraised by world-renowned art expert Eric Turquin at the Turquin art gallery in Paris.
As Mr. Turquin examined the painting, something extraordinary unfolded. He carefully and meticulously studied the brushstrokes and assessed the composition of the paint. He subjected it to a comprehensive infrared light analysis. With each passing moment, his excitement grew, as he started to realize the true magnitude of what lay before him. Astonishingly, the expert realized that this painting was no ordinary religious icon—it was a long-lost masterpiece by the revered Italian renaissance painter Cimabue. It dated back to the year 1280 and was one of only a handful of known surviving works by the artist. The painting, now known as “Christ Mocked,” depicted a poignant scene of Jesus being ridiculed before his crucifixion. Its discovery garnered global attention, sent shock waves through the art world, and eventually sold at auction for a staggering 24 million euros (approximately 27 million U.S. dollars).
Now, the story of an ordinary woman unknowingly owning an extraordinary masterpiece serves as a potent illustration. What is truly fascinating about this story is that for all those years, the lady remained oblivious to the true value and significance of the painting she owned. Unaware of the treasure hanging in her kitchen, just above the place where she cooked her meals, she lived without recognizing its worth. However, when the painting’s true value was finally recognized, it brought about a profound transformation in her life. Her perspective was forever changed, and she gained a newfound appreciation (and a lot of money) for the treasure she had unknowingly possessed.
It is rather disheartening to consider that a similar situation often unfolds in the lives of many individuals when it comes to their relationship with God. So many people have God in their lives, much like the woman had that painting. They remain unaffected and completely unaware of the true value of what is right before them. Just as the woman was unaware of the hidden treasure within her home, many individuals fail to grasp the profound significance and transformative power of a genuine connection with God. Even though they may go through religious motions, attend church services now and then, and say a prayer here and there, they do not fully comprehend the depth of the spiritual riches that are offered to them. They fail to understand the life-changing impact that knowing and worshiping God can have on their lives.
So, the question arises: How can we avoid this failure? What steps can we take to develop a deeper understanding of the value of God in our lives? One approach is to do what believers have been doing for millennia. Throughout history, believers have sought to guide and inform their relationship with God through the timeless wisdom of the Psalms. And one Psalm that can particularly aid us in developing a deeper understanding of the value of God in our lives is Psalm 103. This psalm serves as a profound source of insight, offering a wonderful collection of praises and reflections on the character of God. Just as the discovery of the long-lost masterpiece transformed the woman’s life, meditating on Psalm 103 can profoundly transform our understanding of the value of God in our lives.
Psalm 103 begins: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.” This Opening verse sets the tone for the entire psalm, calling upon the soul to bless and worship the Lord. It’s so interesting that this psalm begins with a personal, internal command of one’s own soul. The Psalmist recognizes here the need to actively engage and involve every aspect of his being in worshiping and praising God. This shows us that when it comes to our relationship with God, it requires an active and intentional effort on our part.
If we are to avoid the failure of overlooking the value of God in our lives, we must take intentional steps to cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation of Him. We must engage our whole being, from the inmost part – to the outer extensions of who we are. We must get serious and rouse ourselves to the profound reality of who God is and the immeasurable blessings that we possess in Him.
The Psalmist calls for this in verse 2 when he says: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.”
Here we see another internal call upon the soul, urging it not to forget any of the benefits bestowed by the Lord. This internal call serves as a reminder for us to cultivate gratitude and mindfulness toward the blessings we receive from God. It prompts us to actively remember and to acknowledge the countless ways in which God has shown his love, mercy, and faithfulness in our lives.
This is what the Psalmist does for the next 17 verses. The Psalmist can’t help but revel in all the benefits of belonging to God. He fills his mind with it. He immerses himself in remembering who God is. He is the God who forgives and heals (v.3), who rescues from the pit, and crowns with lovingkindness and compassion (v.4). God is the one who satisfies and renews (v.5), and who executes righteousness and justice for the oppressed (v.6). The God who revealed His ways and His deeds (v.7). The God who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness (v.8). God does not treat as sins deserve (v.10). He is the God whose love is infinite for those who belong to Him (v.17).
Through these verses, the Psalmist is completely enraptured by the goodness and character of God. He basks in the delight of belonging to God, filling his heart and mind with the immeasurable blessings and attributes of the Lord. This is akin to Mr. Turquin’s experience when he discovered the true value of the painting. As he immersed himself in studying every detail, his excitement grew along with his recognition of its true value. Similarly, as the Psalmist in Psalm 103 contemplates the goodness and character of God, he is completely captivated. His heart and his mind are filled with gratitude and praise. He recognizes the true value of what it means to have a relationship with God, growing in the depth of his understanding and experiencing the transformative impact that it has on his life.
This is what God wants for each of us.
- To engage our entire being in His worship and praise
- To intentionally cultivate gratitude and mindfulness toward his blessings
- To contemplate his goodness and to fully appreciate His character…so that we, like the Psalmist, might experience a profound transformation, recognizing the immeasurable value of a relationship with God and understanding the depth of His blessings
When we follow the psalmist’s example, we will see the full value of God in our lives. We will develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of God and will be changed from the depths of our soul to the outermost aspects of who we are. And when aroused to the reality of who God is, we will fully take hold of the immense blessings that we possess in Him.
Let us heed the call to bless the Lord with our whole being and forget none of his benefits.