This is a psalm of David, written after some recent deliverance from sickness, or other affliction. The composition is the unfolding of the heart in gratitude to God, for personal and for national mercies. He calls not only on men, but also on angels to join the choir. The title, “a psalm of David,”
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Psalms 103:3. Who forgiveth—who healeth all thy diseases. Sins and afflictions are synonymous terms in Hebrew piety, and of frequent occurrence. Isaiah 38:17.
Psalms 103:4. Who redeemeth thy life. Hebrews הגואל hagoel. The goal or near kinsman is the Redeemer. He who, forasmuch as the children were partakers of flesh and blood, himself also took part of the same. Hebrews 2:14.
Psalms 103:5. Thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Hebrew and the Arabic read, as the feathers of the eagle, which after moulting in the spring, and at a great age, renews its beautiful plumage as in youth. The gaities of youth, as a poet has said of Nestor, sometimes sport on the temples of an aged saint. See on Psalms 92:12.
We here enter into a high sphere of psalmody and praise. The psalmist, impressed with recent mercies, and mercies of the richest kind, pours forth the effusion of his heart in sublime sentiments and beautiful language. Twice he summons all the powers of his soul to bless the Lord, as though they had languished in the duty, being vanquished by the weight of grace. When a man is labouring under pain, groaning with grief, and appalled with terror, he cannot but be deeply impressed with his situation; but after a recovery, (when carnal men forget the Lord) to be animated with these sentiments is a high mark of a regenerate soul.
The first object which attracted David’s praise was a grateful recollection of God’s forgiving love. He was one of those honest men, who always connected his sufferings and his sins. Reason in a thousand cases is not able to trace this connection; yet a general acknowledgement of this kind is sanctifying, and sin is the first cause of misery and death. Hence the interior comforts of religion are never more welcome than in the day of affliction.
Pardon was connected with purity. God healed both body and soul at once; and the wounds of sin are the most disastrous and offensive. God heals our pride by making us humble and contented with out lot. He heals our concupiscence by purity of heart, and so of every other vice. The soul is brought nigh to God, it walks in close fellowship with him, and it will not, cannot offend him.
To pardon and grace the Lord often adds a multitude of temporal and spiritual favours. He not only redeems the body from dying, and the soul from hell, but he encircles the head with a garland of mercies, and renovates the constitution as the eagle’s, which frequently live to a hundred years. Thus the Lord executes judgment for the oppressed when they cry to him. His anger is lenient in its correction, and momentary in duration; and his mercy is rich above all estimation. It is high as heaven; it removes our sins as far as the east is from the west, and is exercised with the utmost paternal indulgence.
When a good man falls as the grass and the flower after the scythe, the Lord reserves all these mercies as the heritage of his children, provided they keep his covenant and do his commandments. What arguments are here addressed to us and our children, to serve and praise the Lord. No father is more paternal to an afflicted child, than the Lord is to his saints in the day of trouble.
Unable adequately to praise the Lord, but seeing he had his throne in the heavens, as well as on the earth, he invites the holy angels and all the obedient hosts above to bless his holy name, while his grateful soul should do its utmost to glorify him in a humble sphere.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 103". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany