“For He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14).
More than any other line in the Psalms, this truth captures the essence of what the Psalms teach us about the relationship between God and man. The Psalms contain the full spectrum of human emotion and passion poured out before God in song: love, anger, wrath, guilt, repentance, lament, happiness, blessing, cursing, prospering, lacking, fear, hope, peace, praise, adoration, thanksgiving, and any and every other disposition, affliction, or perspective that is felt and contained in the human experience. All of these are expressed to God in unashamed, unabashed, and unfiltered force and candor, yet God has seen fit to inscribe these honest and sometimes seemingly irreverent cries to Him in Holy writ, inscripturated for eternity, to be regarded as sacred utterances for the rest of this age and the age to come. Why? Because “He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust.”
The Psalms give us a fascinating perspective into what it means to not only worship God, but to commune with Him. That’s what most of the Psalm writers were doing when they offered their songs to God. One would be hard-pressed to read the Psalms—any Psalm, for that matter—and walk away feeling the words to be hollow and empty. That’s because what the Psalmists wrote was real. Estes quotes Allen P. Ross: “Many psalms address God directly with their poetic expressions of petition and praise. They reveal all the religious feelings of the faithful—fears, doubts, and tragedies, as well as triumphs, joys, and hopes. The psalmists frequently drew on their experiences for examples of people’s needs and God’s goodness and mercy” (Estes, 151). The Psalm writers were not afraid to bring themselves fully to God in their worship of Him. Ross says that everything contained in the Psalms is “the religious feelings of the faithful.” Those who faithfully commune with and enjoy God are not afraid of bearing their souls to Him, whether positively or negatively. “He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust.”
Through the Psalms, we learn that we can bring ourselves fully to God without hiding anything. When we bring Him our joy, He rejoices with us. When we bring Him our sorrow, He weeps with us. When we bring Him our anger, He is patient with us. When we cry out for vengeance, He is longsuffering with us. He understands the dark night of the soul: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1). He is aware of our pain and turmoil: “You have kept count of my sorrows; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” (Psalm 56:8). He is quick to hear our cries of repentance and pleas for forgiveness: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). And despite seeing the worst of us, He will move us to praise, again and again: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6). He receives the praise of wicked sinners, He regards it as pleasing to Him, and He cherishes the adoration of His weak, feeble, and frail people. And the Psalms encourage us to bring all of this to Him without holding anything back. “He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust.”