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Hymn to the Mercy of God.
A psalm of David, voicing his thankful acknowledgment of God's gifts and blessings upon himself, the conclusion calling upon all creatures to join in his song of praise.
v. 1. Bless the Lord, O my soul, a most emphatic invitation and admonition, a joyful self-encouragement; and all that is within me bless His holy name, all the organs of the body being called upon to give thanks for the rich blessings of the Lord, to make known the revelation of His essence and all His attributes before men everywhere.
v. 2. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, all the deeds of His mercy and kindness for which He deserves well from all men;
v. 3. who forgiveth all thine iniquities, the remission of sins being the fundamental blessing in the life of every Christian, and here not only one, but all sins being included in line for forgiveness; who healeth all thy diseases, those coming upon men as the consequence and punishment of sin, all internal and external sufferings;
v. 4. who redeemeth thy life from destruction, delivering, even at a cost to Himself, that of giving His only-begotten Son, from misery and death itself; who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies, the full wealth of His grace and mercy being given to the believer like a precious diadem on his head;
v. 5. who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, giving His blessings in rich measure, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's, whose annual period of molt was used as a picture of rejuvenation through grace, Isaiah 40:31. After this opening admonition there follows a description of God's gracious rule.
v. 6. The Lord executeth, performing with loving care, righteousness, literally, "deeds of righteousness," and judgment for all that are oppressed, giving proof of His justice in favor of His people, over against all expressions of enmity on the part of the many adversaries of the believers.
v. 7. He made known His ways unto Moses, by revealing and proclaiming Himself as the Lord of mercy in His march through the history of the world, Exodus 33:13; Exodus 34:6-8, His acts unto the children of Israel, in accordance with the promise given to Moses upon that occasion.
v. 8. The Lord is merciful and gracious, the two attributes here represented being the outstanding features of His conduct toward His children at all times, slow to anger, waiting long and patiently for a sign of repentance before pouring out His wrath, and plenteous in mercy, His greatness in this respect being revealed to the believers throughout their lives.
v. 9. He will not always chide, making man's behavior a cause for continual legal action, neither will He keep His anger forever, as though bearing a grudge against men.
v. 10. He hath not dealt with us after our sins, for which we should have been punished with everlasting destruction, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities, with the penalty which we had really deserved.
v. 11. For as the heaven is high above the earth, with its almost limitless reaches, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him.
v. 12. As far as the east is from the west, separated from it by an almost incomprehensibly great expanse, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us, and therefore also their penalty. The pictures illustrate the endless power and the utter unreservedness of God's grace.
v. 13. Like as a father pitieth his children, showing them his fatherly mercy, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him, His children through faith in Christ.
v. 14. For He knoweth our frame, just how we are put together, our weakness and frailty; He remembereth that we are dust, for out of it was man originally formed, Genesis 2:7.
v. 15. As for man, his days are as grass, emblem of perishableness, 1 Peter 1:24; as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth, Job 14:1-2, its beauty of the very briefest duration.
v. 16. For the wind passeth over it, the scorching wind coming up from the desert, and it is gone, withered and perished; and the place thereof, the spot of ground where it spent its brief existence, shall know it no more. Cf Isaiah 40:7-8; Job 7:10. In wonderful contrast to this evanescent frailty of man stands the grace of Jehovah as revealed in the Gospel-message.
v. 17. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting, with an eternal power outlasting the frailty of all creatures, upon them that fear Him, trusting in Him by faith in the Messiah's redemption, and His righteousness unto children's children, shown and given to those who follow in the footsteps of their believing parents, Exodus 20:6; Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 7:9;
v. 18. to such as keep His covenant, that of His grace, offered to all men in the Messiah, and to those that remember His commandments to do them, making their entire life conform to the rule of God's holy will.
v. 19. The Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens, established it firmly as the ever-blessed and all-powerful God, 1 Timothy 6:15-16, and His kingdom ruleth over all, since He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Sovereign in His kingdom of power.
v. 20. Bless the Lord, ye His angels, leaders of His invisible creatures, that excel in strength, they are heroes of strength, having been equipped by God with unusual might, that do His commandments, in acts of prompt obedience, hearkening unto the voice of His word, for to hear the Lord's command means, in their case, to execute it at once.
v. 21. Bless ye the Lord, all ye His hosts, the great armies of the heavenly spirits; ye ministers of His that do His pleasure, that being the work of the angels, individually and collectively.
v. 22. Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His dominion, the entire inanimate creation joining in His praise and thanksgiving; bless the Lord, O my soul, the last admonition of the psalmist repeating the thought with which he opened his powerful hymn. Truly, the believers of all times have every reason to praise and exalt the immeasurable mercy of the Lord as revealed to them in Jesus Christ, the Savior.
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Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Psalms 103". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany