Psalm 103

Psalm 103 by Pastor David Groendyk

  This is another well-known psalm which exhorts us to bless God for all of his wonderful benefits to us. In the background of this psalm, you can hear the echoes of the big-picture history of Israel, beginning with their rescue out of Egypt all the way through their return from exile. Let’s look at how this psalm unfolds.   All God’s people should bless the Lord for his many benefits (vv. 1–5). It probably makes sense to all of us how the Lord blesses people, but what does it mean for people to bless God? Simply put, it means to speak well of God. We ought to ascribe to him the glory that is due his name. We must attribute to him every single goodness and benefit that we have received from him. That can be in prayer or singing to God, it can be in discussion with other believers, or it can be witnessing to unbelievers. Magnify God! What do you have that you have not received? Every good gift has been handed down to us from our good and perfect Father who never changes or wavers. Glorify him for all that he has done!   What are the benefits that we shouldn’t forget? Firstly, the deliverance and forgiveness we receive from him because of his steadfast love (vv. 6–14). You can hear in these verses the echoes of Exodus. He has miraculously delivered his people from Egypt and brought them safely through the Red Sea (vv. 6–7). He reminds us of his character which he revealed to Moses after Israel worshiped the golden calf at Mount Sinai (vv. 8–10). While Israel looked back at the Red Sea as their great act of deliverance, Christians look back to the cross. How prone we are to forget the forgiveness we have through Christ. The language couldn’t be any more absolute (vv. 11–12), and it couldn’t be any more tender and compassionate (vv. 13–14). Christ’s sacrifice for the cross on our behalf was the most magnificent act of love and most definite act of forgiveness anyone could receive.   What are the benefits that we shouldn’t forget? Secondly, the enduring and constant care we receive from him because of his steadfast love (vv. 15–19). Human beings are as weak and impermanent as a tiny blade of grass. More than that, we are sinful and disloyal, despite the many gifts God has bestowed on us. Israel demonstrated this constantly throughout its history, eventually culminating in their own destruction and exile. And yet, God remembered his everlasting love. He remembered his covenant, and he brought his people back to be a nation once more. How great is our King that though we fail constantly, he is still merciful and gracious and loving to those who seek his covenant! His steadfast love does not let us go.   After meditating on these great truths, we should be stirred up even to exhort the angels of heaven and the material creation to bless the Lord (vv. 20–22). God’s praise is greedy; it’s always seeking to find others to glorify and worship God. But it all starts in your own heart. Notice the way these exhortations are worded. “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” Each member of the congregation is exhorting their own self to bless God. Do you practice this sort of preaching to yourself? It’s something we must do constantly, because none of us passively drift closer to God. Our natural tendency is to drift away. So actively preach to yourself, regularly exhort yourself, constantly remind yourself of all his benefits and to bless the Lord.