Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Hymn of Praise - Psalm 103


Spring Blossoms

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's

Psalm 103:1-5
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This is a beautiful psalm of praise.  We will spend several blogs on this psalm.  This is the first of four psalms that are connected in reflecting on God's people from creation to exile.  (Psalm 103 - 106)  This psalm begins and ends with  Bless the Lord.  In the first two verses the phrase "Bless the Lord,"  appears three times.  It truly is worth saying three times! The threefold repetition of praise represents the highest form of worship.  In our writing today, we might bold the test, underline the text, write the text in all caps, or add an exclamation point. In the Hebrew writings, one would repeat the phrase three times.  This would be the equivalent to adding all  the grammatical emphasis we could use today.  Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!  Isaiah 6:3

This entire psalm is a song of heartfelt praise. There is no petition in this psalm. Many psalms start or end with a praise, but few are entirely dedicated to praise. This praise psalm starts with an individual praise then progresses to group praise and continues with corporate praise joined with the angels. Our praise of God should lift us to worship in Him. We often find ourselves using prayer for an avenue of requests and petitions from God. If we only go to God with our requests, we are missing the best of prayer. Prayer offers us the opportunity to praise and thank the Lord. When we pour out heart in love for the Lord we will experience true worship. We must strive to be totally occupied with the Lord.

Praise the Lord with all that is within me, bless his holy name.  All that is within me!  David tells us to praise the Lord with one's total nature. Bless the lord with all our senses, all our faculties, all our soul, all our nature. It seems I rarely achieve this level of praise. This level of  praise is not our natural response. Regardless of  how we feel or the circumstances we face, we must praise the Lord.  It is our responsibility and our duty to praise the Lord. We must make praise a priority in our lives.  We must bless Him, bless Him and bless Him.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. How easy it is to forget all that God has given us.  We easily forget the benefits of being a Christian.   When the blessings are coming day in and day out (and they always are) we ignore them.  We expect blessings and think we deserve them.  We find ourselves forgetting the sunshine on rainy days. When we are in the midst of sorrows, trouble and disappointment, we cry out to God for help and blessings. If we do remember the sunshine on rainy days it is only to complain that the sun isn't shining.  God’s benefits reveal his character. The benefits of God's blessings are His steadfast love and mercy.  Let us never forget all His blessings.

David then lists a few of the benefits an individual will receive from the Lord.  who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.

  1. Who forgives you all of your iniquity. God through the sacrifice of Jesus, His Son, has forgiven us of our sins.  It is an unspeakable gift of divine grace that our sins are forgiven.
  2. Who heals all your diseases. Alright, we know that on earth all diseases are not healed. Ultimately all genuine healing is from God. God is capable of healing all diseases, no disease is incurable for Him.  Healing can take place over a period of time or instantly.  In the Millennium all diseases will healed. Also in death for a Christian they will have the ultimate healing - no diseases ever again. Healing does not have to refer to physical healing. Healing  is used as a metaphor for restoring the moral and spiritual life. In this psalm heals is in parallel with forgiveness and therefore the metaphorical healing is emphasized.  Disease is a moral and spiritual condition. Disease and sin both weaken and corrupt.  God in his mercy will take them both away.
  3. Who redeems your life from the pit. For Christians redemption is guaranteed.  This irreversible justification was accomplished by Christ. Christ did for us what we could not do. Our redemption was purchase through the blood of Jesus Christ and by the power of His mighty hand.
  4. Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. God provides us with His love and mercy now and throughout eternity. We are under His constant care.
  5. Who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagleThe eagle is an emblem of strength, vitality, and youthful endurance.  The benefits of God are constant and never ending.  He will give us the strength to soar over the problems that face us daily.


God’s benefits reveal his character.  God is compassionate, forgiving, loving, and gentle. Man’s life on earth is very short. God’s encompassing love is everlasting, His justice dependable through all time for those who are His children.  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.



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