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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
Psalms 103



Verse 1-2

David called on himself to bless the Lord wholeheartedly because of all His many blessings. Note the many references to "all" and its equivalents in this psalm. Some groups of Christians (e.g, some Amish) give thanks to God at the end of their meals as well as at the beginning.

Verses 1-5

1. Praise for God"s mercy to individuals103:1-5

Verses 1-22

Psalm 103

"The four psalms that close Book Four of the book of Psalm (90-106) emphasize praise to the Lord for several reasons: His benefits to His people (103), His care of His creation (104), His wonderful acts on behalf of Israel (105), His longsuffering with His people"s rebellion (106)." [Note: Wiersbe, The . . . Wisdom . . ., p276.]

This popular Davidic psalm of individual thanksgiving reviews God"s mercies and expresses confident hope in His covenant promises. It contains no requests. Though there is no real connection between this psalm and the preceding one, this one expresses thanks for answered prayer, which Psalm 102requested. It was the inspiration for H. F. Lyte"s popular hymn, "Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven."

"This 103] is perhaps the best-known and best-loved of all the hymns." [Note: Brueggemann, p160.]

Verses 3-5

God"s blessings that people enjoy as benefits include forgiveness of sins, healing from sickness, deliverance from death, enrichment of life, satisfaction, and rejuvenation. Eagles remain strong to the end of their lives. Likewise, God enables His people to remain spiritually vigorous until death.

"The expression your youth is renewed like an eagle"s may allude to the phenomenon of molting, whereby the eagle grows new feathers." [Note: The NET Bible note on103:5.]

Verses 6-8

Psalm 103:6 is a topic sentence that introduces what follows. Psalm 103:7-8 describe God"s dealings with Israel at Mt. Sinai. The fact that God revealed Himself to Moses and the Israelites indicates His great compassion and grace. Psalm 103:8 quotes Exodus 34:6. It restates four great characteristics about God.

Verses 6-18

2. Testimony to God"s compassion to His people103:6-18

Verses 9-12

These verses illustrate the truth of Psalm 103:8. God"s compassion is clear in that He does not constantly accuse or antagonize us, even though we constantly sin (cf. Ephesians 6:4). He is slow to anger and He does not maintain His anger continually. His gracious character is obvious in that He does not punish us for our sins immediately or completely, as we deserve. He does not pay us back what we deserve either. His loyal love (Heb. hesed) with those who fear Him is as limitless as the sky. Furthermore, He separates the guilt of our sins from us completely (cf. Romans 8:1).

Many students of Psalm 103:12 have noted that if someone travels north or south he finally arrives at a pole from which he can proceed no farther north or south. However, if someone travels east or west, he never reaches such a point. God did not say He forgives (or removes) our sins as far as the north is from the south, but as far as the east is from the west, namely: to infinity-in degree or distance.

Verses 13-18

God"s compassion is father-like in that He is mindful of our finite creaturely limitations.

"He knows us even better than we know ourselves." [Note: Kidner, Psalm 73-150 , p366.]

Psalm 103:15-16 beautifully describe the transitory nature of human life. It is both frail and short-lived. In contrast, God"s loyal love to those who fear Him abides strong forever. It transcends generations and continues on to the descendants of those who obey His law ( Psalm 103:17-18; cf. Exodus 20:5-6).

Verses 19-22

3. Praise for God"s sovereignty over all103:19-22

God reigns from heaven as King over all. His authority extends to every created thing.

"The central theme of the book of Psalm , which its prayers assume and its songs of praise affirm, is God"s kingship....

"The book"s theological message may be summarized as follows: As the Creator of all things, God exercises sovereign authority over the natural order, the nations, and Israel, His unique people. In His role as universal King God assures order and justice in the world and among His people, often by exhibiting His power as an invincible warrior. The proper response to this sovereign King is trust and praise." [Note: Chisholm, "A Theology . . .," p258.]

In view of His beneficent character, all creatures should bless the Lord. This includes his powerful angelic servants (cf. Hebrews 1:14) and all His creation. David ended this psalm as he began it-by exhorting himself to bless the Lord.

This great psalm glorifies God by expounding His character. It teaches us what God is like. We should join the rest of creation in praising God because of who He is.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 103:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 19th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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