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Psalm 103: Bless the Lord, O My Soul (Part 1) Print E-mail
Sunday, 09 February 2014

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I like to sing.  I enjoy corporate worship.  I like playing guitar and writing songs.  I love to listen to music.  I like those things.  When I was in college I would go to my bank and balance my checkbook at the island in the lobby using the little calculator they provided (not sure how this became my practice and not sure I would recommend it now).  We had a friend who worked in the bank and one day she broke down and told me how the workers all knew who I was because I balanced my checkbook at the counter and was always singing while I did it (except for the days when the balance ran low).  I was the Ďbalances his checkbook in the bank while singingí guy.  And I was okay with that.  What could I say, I liked to sing.

But even if you like to sing like me, there are times when our souls do not want to sing.  They do not want to praise the Lord or be thankful or rejoice.  Sometimes we are facing difficult times, sometimes we forget, sometimes we are just to worn out.  All of this and more can lead us to not wanting to bless the Lord.  But we should bless Him.  We should even bless Him when we donít Ďfeelí like it.  Sometimes we just have to say to our own souls: ĎBless the Lord, O my soul.í  This is how Psalm 103 begins.  Look at verses 1-2 with me.  Notice that the psalmist, David, is addressing his own soul.  He is saying to himself: ĎBless God, rejoice in the Lord, hold nothing back.í  The psalm goes on to list several reasons why we should do that.  I think we can break them into two categories: The Lordís benefits and the Lordís character.  Letís consider these.

His Benefits (v. 3-5)

David writes at the end of verse 2: forget not all his benefits.  We are to bless the Lord because of all that He has done for us, all of His kind acts toward us.  David, like us, was prone to forgetfulness and so he tells His own soul not to forget all that God has done.  We must not forget His benefits.

Then David lists five specific benefits in verses 3-5.  Look at those with me.  First, we bless the Lord because He forgives all iniquity.  The Lord is willing to forgive our sin.  David knew this well didnít he?  He committed adultery with Bathsheba, got her pregnant, and had her husband killed to cover it up.  There is no way to clean that up.  It was sin, it was iniquity.  Yet, the Lord forgave him.  And David tells his soul to never forget it.  If you have turned from your sins and trusted in Jesus, then the Lord has forgiven your sins as well.  Do not forget it.  Say with David: ĎBless the Lord, of my soul for He has forgiven your iniquity.í

Second, we bless the Lord because He heals all diseases.  The Lord is the Great Physician.  There is no sickness that He cannot heal.  There are times when the Lord does not heal.  There are times when our bodies wear out and die.  But even in death, we are healed through faith in Christ.  I may live the rest of my earthly life with diabetes, but there is coming a Day when every disease will be healed forever.  No more cancer.  No more heart attacks.  No more sickness.  So bless the Lord, O my soul, for he heals all diseases.

Third, we bless the Lord because He redeems our life from the pit.  ĎThe pití was another way of referring to death, so David is talking about the Lord rescuing us from certain death.  How many times did God spare Davidís life?  How many battles?  How many enemies?  How many plots to snuff out Davidís life did he escape by Godí hand?  It could be that this is all that David is saying, but this could be a reference to resurrection as well.  The Old Testament does not speak much about the life to come, but it does at times, and this seems to at least be a veiled reference to our future resurrection from the pit.  Because of Jesusí death and resurrection, we know that one Day, all those who have faith in Him will be raised to eternal life.  We will all face death, but those in Christ will be victorious.  So bless the Lord, O my soul, for he redeems us from the pit.

Fourth, we bless the Lord because he crowns us with steadfast love.  The world clamors for love and acceptance.  We all want to be loved and valued.  David tells his soul praise the Lord because God has loved him with steadfast love (Ďhesedí).  The love of the Lord is always with him.  No matter what happens, it will not fail him.  It is the steadfast love of the Lord that chose to send us Jesus. It was love that drove Him to the cross.  And it was love that held Him there.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, for His steadfast love.

Fifth, we bless the Lord because He satisfies us with good.  The Rolling Stones were wrong, you can find satisfaction in this life.  It is found in knowing and loving the Lord.  He satisfies us with good and leaves us expectantly wanting more from Him.  It is a profound paradox: in Christ we find all we could ever need and we can never get enough of Him.  So bless the Lord, O my soul, for he satisfies you with good.  All of these are great reasons to bless the Lord, but David does not stop here.  He goes on.

His character (v. 6-19)

The first five reasons were somewhat personal.  God had given these benefits to David.  But God had done great things for Israel as well and David wants to bless Him for those.  He focuses here more on Godís character than His acts, but we should note that His character did lead the Lord to act on behalf of Israel.  So, what characteristics does David mention?

First, we bless the Lord because He is righteous and just.  Look at verses 6-7.  Remember when the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt at the beginning of Exodus?  God heard their cry and He answered with justice and righteousness by delivering them from their oppressors.  In the same way, Christ came to deliver us from our oppressors: sin, Satan, and death.  His justice and righteousness were displayed at the cross and will be fulfilled on the Day of Judgment.  We praise Him for His justice and righteousness.

Second, we bless the Lord because He is merciful and gracious.  David has already written about Godís mercy to him, but God was merciful toward Israel as well.  Look at verses 8-9.  After God rescued Israel, the people often rebelled against the Lord.  They made a golden calf, thy refused to enter the Promised Land, they allowed idolatry.  Yet, the Lord was gracious with them.  He often punished them, but He did not keep his anger forever.  The Lord will correct us as His people.  He will discipline us as His sons and daughters (see Hebrews 12:3ff).  But He is always slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  We praise Him for His mercy and grace.

Third, we bless the Lord because He does not deal with us according to our sins.  Let me ask you a painful question: what do your sins deserve?  Be honest.  What should the Lord do to you because of your sins?  The only answer we can give is that God should throw us into Hell because of our sins.  We deserve His punishment and His wrath.  Yet, David glories in the fact that God does not deal with His people according to what their sins deserve.  Look at verses 10-12.  How high are the heavens above the earth?  We cannot measure it.  Thus, Godís love for His people, for those who fear Him, is immeasurable.  How far is the east from the west?  Again, we cannot even begin to measure it.  This is how far God has separated us from our sins.  How did He do that?  He sent us Jesus to live a perfect life and die on a cross.  When Jesus said, ďIt is finishedĒ and you put your faith in His sacrifice, your sins were removed from you as far as the east is from the west.  How amazing is that?  How worthy is the Lord of our praise?  We bless Him because he does not deal with us according to our sin.

Fourth, we bless the Lord because He is compassionate.  Look at verses 13-14.  Just like a father has compassion on his son, so the Lord has compassion on us.  His compassion is perfect, unlike our earthly father at times, for He truly sees us as we are.  He knows our weaknesses and our frailty.  He knows that we are but dust.  We praise Him for such compassion.

Finally, we praise the Lord because He is everlasting.  We saw in Psalm 102 the contrast between the days of man and the eternity of God.  We see the same in verses 15-19.  Look at those with me.  Manís days are like grass.  They are temporary.  They are numbered.  But not so with the Lord.  He is eternal.  His love is from everlasting to everlasting.  We should note that His love is reserved for those who fear himÖthose who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.  Yes, we can say that God loves the world, but we must not take such love for granted.  We must not presume on Godís kindness and continue to live in sin (Romans 2:3-5).  Godís steadfast love is not meant to lead us to disobedience.  May it never be!  Godís everlasting love is meant to lead us to obedience and devotion.  It is meant to lead us to bless Him with all that is within us.

So then, are you ready to bless the Lord?  David gives us numerous reasons to praise Him.  He tells us of the great individual benefits and what God has done for Israel.  He tells us of Godís forgiveness and mercy and grace and righteousness and justice and compassion.  And because we now live after the coming of Christ, we have now seen these in the flesh.  We know even more of Godís character, His love and grace and mercy, than David knew when He wrote Psalm 103.  We know of God coming in the flesh.  We know of the perfect life that He lived.  We know of His compassion for the poor and the needy and the sinners.  We know of His death on a cross.  We know of His payment for our sins.  And we know that it is true because we know of His glorious resurrection from the dead.  If you have never repented of your sins and trusted in Christ, then let me encourage you to do so today.  He will not deal with you according to your sins, but will forgive you and give you new life in Him.

If you have turned from your sins and trusted in Christ, then say to your soul with David: Bless the Lord!  Look at verses 20-22.  All creation will praise the Lord.  All the angels, all the heavenly hosts.  Yet, David ends where he began: with his own soul.  May we bless the Lord with everything that is in us for all that He is and all that He has done for us in Christ.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~ 


Last Updated ( Thursday, 20 February 2014 )

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