Psalms 103-105 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits

From Psalms 103-105

19 Psalms thumbIn today’s Psalm the Psalmist begins encouraging his own soul to bless the LORD. Throughout the Psalm he recalls all the reasons why he should do so. Towards the end his praise of the LORD overflows and he ends up encouraging all people, all the heavenly hosts and all creation to bless the LORD.

This post is part of my bible in a year series.

Passage and Comments

The Psalmist starts with himself encouraging his own soul and whole being to bless the LORD.

1 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 forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,

4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,

5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Ps 103.1-5)

He repeats the exhortation reminding himself of ‘all his benefits’. The blessing God conferred on his people.

These include;

  • Forgiveness of sins,
  • Healing of disease,
  • Redemption from death,
  • Loving care (crowns), and
  • Abundant Provision.

What are the benefits you receive from the LORD? What does it mean for you to bless him?

The Psalmist looks more broadly into what the LORD does and why he is to be blessed.

6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.

8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.

14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Ps 103.6-14)

The Psalmist touches upon the LORD’s care and provision for the oppressed. His next verse highlights who he is speaking about.

‘He made known his ways to Moses’. He has the exodus narrative in mind and in particular the early sins of his people.

He remembers the LORD’s forgiveness and mercy towards his sinful and disobedient people.

He remembers the LORD’s steadfast love and compassion towards them. Now he turns his attention to man, implicitly comparing him with God.

15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;

16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

17 But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,

18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. (Ps 103.15-19)

The Psalmist describes mankind as temporary.

But the steadfast love of the LORD is everlasting on those who fear him and the generations who follow them.

These recipients of God’s grace are also described as ‘those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments’. I’ve written on keeping the law before. It is something the authors of scripture believed people could do.

The Psalmist describes the LORD as king over all creation. The concepts of creation, kingdom and covenant all fit together into one picture of God and his people.

20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!

21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!

22 Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul! (Ps 103.20-22)

The Psalmist started with himself. Now he calls out to everyone around him.

Does your personal praise of the LORD lead you to encouraging others to praise him as well?

The Psalmist calls out to the LORD’s angels, his ministers and servants and all his works. His works include creation itself and his people.

Story of Israel

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

“If the Aramaisms in Psalm 103 are taken into account (cf., e.g., the suffix forms in the Hebrew text of vv. 3–5), in addition to the fact that the psalm shows certain similarities to Deutero-Isaiah (Isaiah 40–55) (cf., e.g., 103:11 with Isa 55:9 and 103:15–16 with Isa 40:6–7), it appears likely that the psalm was written during the postexilic period. In this psalm therefore, as in the case of numerous others, the title “Of David” cannot be taken as an indication of authorship. The fact that despite the exile God continued to show his steadfast love, mercy, and compassion to his people and did not forget them should have been a source of renewed courage to them and an inducement to praise the LORD.” (Prinsloo, W.S., 2003. The Psalms. In J. D. G. Dunn & J. W. Rogerson, eds. Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, p. 414.)

Story of Jesus

At the end of Luke’s gospel message, Jesus opened up his disciples minds to understand the OT in light of him and he instructed them to wait until the Holy Spirit came.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God. (Lk 24.44-53)

Its interesting to note Jesus blessed the disciples (v51) and they in turn blessed God (v53).

In today’s Psalm the Psalmist reminds himself of all the LORD’s benefits. He has been blessed by the LORD. At the end of the Psalm he calls out beyond himself to all the world to bless the LORD.

Bless the LORD for Jesus and his benefits. Reflect on all he has done for you and call out to the world to bless him.

Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.