Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” (Psalm 103:1,2)
This is a Psalm of personal praise to God as the giver of all things. It should never be read or recited in a listless sort of way, but in soul sincerity and bodily enthusiasm. None but a real Christian can do this. It is thought that David wrote this Psalm late in life. He had experienced many sorrows but he forgets them all, and is lost in wonder at the goodness of God. He realized he had a great God and celebrated such divine attributes as grace, mercy, patience, pity, and sovereignty.
To bless the Lord is to thank Him. When He blesses us He bestows benefits; when we bless Him we thank Him for His blessings. The command to be thankful has been referred to as the forgotten commandment. All of God’s blessings call for all that we have in the giving of thanks.
David selects some of the choice pearls of God’s attributes, strings them on the thread of memory and hangs them around the neck of gratitude. In verses 6-18, He speaks of righteousness, grace, mercy, patience and pity. He executes judgment for the oppressed. He is slow to anger. He does not become angry at the least provocation. He is patient and holds no grudges.
The Psalmist contrasts the brevity of human life with the everlasting mercy of God. In his days man is like grass which the hot wind dries up, but God’s mercy is eternal. (v.15,16) He illustrates the forgiving mercy of God which no human mercy can match. It is as high as the heaven is above the earth. (v.11) He removes sin as far as the East is from the West. (v.12)
In verses 1-5, David lists the blessings of God produced by His great grace:
(1) “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities.” Note the little word “all.” God does not forgive just some, or many of our sins, but all. His forgiveness reaches to the length of Christ’s atonement, and His atonement stretches to the length of our sins.
(2) “Who healeth all thy diseases: the character of God is many-sided. As judge He forgives; as physician He heals according to His sovereign will. The soul as well as the body has its diseases. Pride, anger, greed, lust and sloth are diseases of the soul. The may produce bodily disease if they are not dealt with in spiritual warfare. God cures of a sinful nature those whose iniquities He forgives.
(3) “Who redeemeth thy life from destruction:” David had faced many dangers- the jaw of the lion, the paw of the bear, the sword of Goliath, the javelin of Saul, the hatred of the Philistines, and the unnatural rebellion of his own son. None of these destroyed David, for God was with him.
(4) “Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies:” God gives victory over all foes. His mercies are called “tender mercies.” God adorns our person with loving kindness and tender mercies such as only He can provide.
(5) “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things:” The Hebrew word for mouth means ornament and stands for the soul or spirit as the ornament of our being, the body being vile and corruptible. God satisfies the soul with good things.
(6) “Thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s:” In moulting the eagle gets new feathers which makes it appear young. There can be soul strength when the body falls apart.
In 19-22, David dwells on the throne of God. God’s throne is fixed and secure. Human governments are breaking down; earthly thrones are tottering; administrations are changing hands, but God’s throne is immovable and everlasting. In God’s government there is no alarm, no disorder, no anxiety; no hurrying to and fro in changing plans; no surprises to be met, or threatened tragedies to be averted. God’s throne is higher than the angels. There are no areas where God does not reign. “His kingdom ruleth over all.”
Every verse of this Psalm expresses a great truth found everywhere in God’s Word. It is loaded with God’s grace and sovereignty. The Psalmist calls upon us all to bless the Lord. “Bless the Lord, O my soul.”
“Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.” (Psalm 103:22)