Psalm 103 (Psalms on the Trail)

2015-05-22 09.22.21

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is your steadfast love for those who fear you.

As far as the east is from the west,

so far have you removed our transgressions from us.”

Psalm 103: 11-12 

I am looking southeast from the spine of the Blue Ridge.  How far do you think I can see?  As the crow flies (more directly to the east), I know the Atlantic Ocean is about 200 miles away, too far to be seen even without the pollution haze.  Still, I know it is there.  I remember how every summer my brothers and I endured a drive over what seemed an incredible distance from our home in the mountains to our grandparents’ homes in Norfolk/Virginia Beach.  Yet the love of grandparents and the promise of days at the beach helped us tolerate a crowded back seat for seven hours.  I would watch the two-lane highway, searching for any sign of the ocean—even though the ocean was another ten miles beyond either home of  grandparents, and we wouldn’t see it until the next day.  But as a child I was convinced that I might catch a glimpse of a horizon of sea green waves from the top of the next hill.

Horizons also sparked the imagination of the psalmist—horizons and God’s amazing steadfast love.  To the psalmist’s far east lay waterless deserts and sandstorms, places that only a few hardy traders and camels would dare travel.  To the west lay the Mediterranean Sea, and rumors of a greater sea beyond that—no known person had traveled beyond its farthest reach.  The psalmist’s east from the west was forever.  And that, the psalmist said, is how far God has removed our transgressions and failures that we cannot remove ourselves.

The Word became flesh, said another poet centuries later.  Love crosses and love carries great distances for the sake of the beloved.


1. Take this verse with you and ponder its meaning for you throughout the day.  What do you notice?  What do you wonder?  What great distances has God’s steadfast love traveled for you?

2. Or read all of Psalm 103.  This is a wonderful psalm with much to teach us.

3. Or comment with a photo of your own that is a window of this verse’s meaning for you.

Tomorrow’s psalm will be Psalm 104:27-28.

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting a daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.