Today: [Psalm 103] Bless the Lord, O My Soul! In Psalm 103 we see David bellowing forth his praise and worship of God. He begins with his own soul and then exhorts the people, the mountains, angels and potentates in spiritual places to God praise unto God. Psalm 103 perhaps like none other is an exhortation of praise unto God unique for it’s simplicity, impactful for its intensity – giving us the command to bless, and bless with passionate praise the Lord our savior.
[Psa 103:1-22 KJV] 1 [[[A Psalm] of David.]] Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, [bless] his holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good [things; so that] thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
Here in Psalm 103 we find another great example of David encouraging himself in the Lord. The ability to speak to one’s self in this manner without pretense and express genuine encouragement and worship to God is very unique among human personality types. It surely came from long hours of solitude when David was a lad watching over his father’s sheep. We have to remember that David was not highly favored by his parents or his brothers. The brothers would go out to war and be considered for lofty responsibility – while David was set aside expected to take up the menial tasks that his father Jesse considered beneath the more favored sons. Out of the ignominy of his humble background God chose to send an anointing on him by the hand of Samuel that raised him up to the be one of the greatest influences upon all mankind. In the annals of history king David, the apostle Paul and Jesus Himself are some of the most impactful lives that have ever lived.
Must has been written about Jesus, the apostle Paul wrote the New Testament and David wrote the longest compendium of prose found not only in the bible but in many ancient writings. We are immensely benefited to have in David so prolific a writer that God chose to pass down to us in the form of the book of Psalms. Throughout the psalms written by David and the psalms inspired by David we find a very simple structure of “complaint, self-encouragement and praise to God” repeated over and over. David was a man after God’s own heart and we do well to walk in his example.
In verse 1 David commands that “all that is within” him should praise the Lord. There are many random thoughts and contrary sentiments at times that manifest in our minds and heart. David saw the chaotic stream of his own internal dialog and marshalled them with a command to one singular focus of praise and worship to God. He didn’t consider himself as being at the mercy of his own consciousness. He took charge of his own internal territory. We must remember it was David’s son Solomon who penned these words from no doubt his father’s example:
[Pro 16:32 KJV] 32 [He that is] slow to anger [is] better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
In verse two we are reminded not to forget the benefits of the Lord. Forget the negative. Forget the downturn and the difficulties of life but in the midst of all the demands and struggles we go through – forget not the benefit of God. Remember that he forgives all our iniquities and heals all our diseases. Remember that He redeems our life from destruction and if we are crowned with mercy it is by His hand. If there is any good thing we have experienced it isn’t chance or luck – it is the hand of God at work in our lives and for that we are compelled to be grateful.
In verse 7 we find an insight that sets the standard for higher maturity in relationship to God. He showed unto Israel His acts and unto Moses His ways. We want to have more than just a witness of what God has done in our lives. We want to understand His ways. We want to know the heart of God and the mind of God in our lives. From a very young boy I laid hold on this and made it my pursuit in life to plumb the depths of God’s heart in this manner. There is more to be known of God than just understanding that He exists and seeing what He did in times past. We aspired to intimate relationship with Him.
8 The LORD [is] merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep [his anger] for ever. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, [so] great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
In verse 8 we are reminded that there is anger in God. Anger therefore is not always a sin for God cannot sin. What is anger? Anger is a wall. We we are anger we are putting separation between us and the object of our wrath. God was angry with Adam and Eve and turned them out of the garden. Ultimately it was for their own good because they would have fallen into an unredeemed state had that partaken of the tree of life in a fallen condition.
While God is angry, He is also merciful and gracious. If we will make the effort not to compartmentalize our life and see ourselves before a holy God from whom nothing is hidden we see the abundance patience, and mercy of God who in spite of our failures and transgressions and rank humanity – shows His lovingkindness to us every single day of our sojourn on this earth. He does not hide his mercies from us. He is easily approachable as a loving father. He doesn’t pretend our transgression doesn’t exist. In fact He so cannot avoid the reality of our sinful state that He of necessity sent His only son to die in our place. By the shed blood of God’s only son He chose to put our transgressions as far from us as east is from the west. We are reminded of a song lyric by the Cathedrals of the graciousness and love of God in spite of our shortcomings:
Oh, what a Savior, oh hallelujah
His heart was broken on Calvary
His hands were nail scarred
His side was riven
He gave His life-blood for even me.
13 Like as a father pitieth [his] children, [so] the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we [are] dust. 15 [As for] man, his days [are] as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. 16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. 17 But the mercy of the LORD [is] from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; 18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. 19 The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. 20 Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. 21 Bless ye the LORD, all [ye] his hosts; [ye] ministers of his, that do his pleasure. 22 Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.
In verse 13 we see that God does not look at us in an objective manner. He looks upon us with pity. His heart is drawn toward us as a father’s heart is drawn toward his own children. As a father I have a hard time being unaffected emotionally toward my sons and my daughter. I have strong feelings and deep emotions even though they are now grown and gone and we see little of each other. They are in my thoughts and in my heart. They come to me in my dreams as little children and I pray for them in the night. If I being evil think of my own children in the context of our imperfect relationships – how much more does the heart of God ache for each of us as His own offspring?
Verse 14 tells us that God remembers what we are made of. We often see God as being too demanding and exacting of obedience and a higher standard of perfection than we feel that we can meet. Nothing could be further from the truth. God does not ignore sin, shortcoming or evil in our hearts but He never forgets the frailty of the flesh or the brevity of our own lives. He is a merciful and loving Father at all times – even in judgment. We tremble at the reality of hell but remember that our Father in heaven has done all that He possibly can to avert the fact of one human being spending eternity there – He sent His only begotten Son to die a brutal death in order to save us from Hell and bring us to Himself for eternity.
In verse 20 David loses all composure and stands upon mount Zion bellowing forth his appreciation of God – commanding even the angels in heaven to bow and worship and give excellence and worship and praise unto God. I can imagine the cries of David’s worship and praise wafting forth from Zion over the precincts of Jerusalem while young children asleep in their beds awake to hear their king praising and worshipping God. May God in His mercy give us leaders and those in authority who have such reverence for God. The psalm concludes with David – exhausted repeating over and again – “bless the Lord all ye hosts” and “bless the Lord all ye ministers of His…” and “bless the Lord” and “bless the Lord” to which we can only cry in response – “yes and amen!”
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