Recommended!
If you haven't seen it already, I would recommend "The Chosen"! The first episode of Season 2 can be viewed by clicking here!

Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Psalms 103:1

A Psalm of David.

Bless the Lord , O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
New American Standard Version
    Jump to:
  1. Adam Clarke Commentary
  2. Bridgeway Bible Commentary
  3. Coffman Commentaries on the Bible
  4. Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
  5. E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes
  6. Calvin's Commentary on the Bible
  7. Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible
  8. Chuck Smith Bible Commentary
  9. John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
  10. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  11. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  12. Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable
  13. Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
  14. Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
  15. F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary
  16. Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
  17. G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible
  18. John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible
  19. Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
  20. Geneva Study Bible
  21. George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary
  22. Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms
  23. Hamilton Smith's Writings
  24. Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible
  25. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
  26. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
  27. Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments
  28. John Trapp Complete Commentary
  29. Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary
  30. The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann
  31. Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical
  32. Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible
  33. Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible
  34. Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible
  35. Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
  36. Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary
  37. Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary
  38. Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary
  39. Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
  40. Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
  41. Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
  42. The Biblical Illustrator
  43. The Biblical Illustrator
  44. Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
  45. Expositor's Bible Commentary
  46. Treasury of David
  47. The Pulpit Commentaries
  48. Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
  49. Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms
  50. Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Worship;   The Topic Concordance - Forgiveness;   Healing;   Redemption;   Satisfaction;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Praise;   Sickness;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Blessing;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Thanksgiving;   Worship;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Heal, Health;   Sanctification;   Worship;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Communion (2);   Sanctification;   Wisdom of God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Bless;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Blessing and Cursing;   Family;   Soul;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Joy;   Psalms;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Eagle;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Blessing;   Psalms the book of;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Bless;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Praise;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Dimi;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for December 25;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

Bless the Lord - He calls on his soul, and all its faculties and powers, to magnify God for his mercies. Under such a weight of obligation the lips can do little; the soul and all its powers must be engaged.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/psalms-103.html. 1832.

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

Psalm 103 God's great love

Realizing how easily people forget God, David reminds himself of the many blessings, physical and spiritual, that God has given him. Gratefully, he praises God for them all (1-2). Sin, sickness and the prospect of a hopeless death have been replaced by forgiveness, good health and a renewed enjoyment of life (3-5).

The constant love of God for his people is seen in the history of Israel. He cares for the oppressed and shows mercy on sinners (6-8). If God acted only according to his justice, all sinners would perish. But to his justice he adds his mercy, by which sinners may be forgiven (9-12). God understands human weakness and he is kind to those who fear him (13-14).

Life is short and uncertain, but people can enjoy the everlasting blessings of God's steadfast love if they are faithfully obedient (15-18). God requires submissive obedience not only of earthly beings, but also of heavenly beings (19-21). In fact, all created things are to praise God. But in the midst of this universal praise, each individual has special cause to praise him (22).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/psalms-103.html. 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

PSALM 103

PRAISING GOD FOR ALL OF HIS MERCIES

The superscription identifies this as a Psalm of David; and, "Nothing in it forbids the supposition that he was the author. However, nothing in the psalm or anywhere else enables us to determine the precise occasion on which it was written."[1]

This is a perfect psalm, suitable to all times and situations. Christians more frequently turn to this psalm than to any other. Its terminology has entered into the speech of all generations. This writer remembers from the prayers of his grandfather the employment of Psalms 103:10 verbatim as it appears in the King James Bible, and also an exclamation that, "The time and place that know us now, shall soon know us no more for ever," founded upon Psalms 103:16.

Some of the critical writers would assign this psalm to the times of the exile, or afterward, depending upon the occurrence of certain Aramaisms; but as Leupold observed, "Aramaisms are never a sure index of date."[2] As Paul T. Butler, a distinguished Christian Church scholar of Joplin, Missouri, wrote in 1968, "Aramaisms cannot be made a criterion for determining date, because they are found in both early and late Old Testament books. Also, the recently-discovered Ras Shamra texts reveal Aramaic elements (Aramaisms) dating back to 1500 to 1400 B.C."[3] This, of course, knocks the keystone out of the arch of critical devices for late-dating Old Testament writings.

Another unwarranted assumption that labels many psalms "liturgical" is also very untrustworthy. "Of course, it cannot be denied that liturgical use of many psalms could have been made, but it is equally correct that they are beautifully adapted to personal use."[4]

The organization of this psalm appears to be: (1) a self-exhortation to praise God (Psalms 103:1-5); (2) Israel exhorted to bless God (Psalms 103:6-13); (3) God's consideration for man's frailty (Psalms 103:14-18); and (4) all in God's kingdom to bless Him (Psalms 103:19-22).

Psalms 103:1-5

SELF-EXHORTATION

"Bless Jehovah, O my soul;

And all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Bless Jehovah, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

Who forgives all thine iniquities;

Who healeth all thy diseases;

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;

Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

Who satisfieth thy desire with good things,

So that thy youth is renewed like the eagle."

Who is it who cannot make the spirit of this worship his own? Every mortal life has received countless benefits at the hand of the Lord, has been healed of many diseases, has received forgiveness of sins, has experienced the redemption of his life from destruction threatened by many dangers seen and unseen, and has enjoyed countless satisfactions from the good things which the Lord has provided.

"So that thy youth is renewed like the eagle" (Psalms 103:5). There was an ancient fable of the eagle renewing its youth in old age, similar to the fable of the Phoenix; but as Briggs noted, "It is doubtful whether there is any allusion here to the fable; but at all events it is the fulness of the life and vigor of the eagle that is thought of."[5]

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/psalms-103.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Bless the Lord, O my soul - The word “bless,” as applied to God, means to praise, implying always a strong affection for him as well as a sense of gratitude. As used with reference to people, the word implies a “wish” that they may be blessed or happy, accompanied often with a prayer that they may be so. Such is the purport of the “blessing” addressed to a congregation of worshippers. Compare Numbers 6:23-27. The word “soul” here is equivalent to mind or heart: my mental and moral powers, as capable of understanding and appreciating his favors. The soul of man was “made” to praise and bless God; to enjoy his friendship; to delight in his favor; to contemplate his perfections. It can never be employed in a more appropriate or a more elevated act than when engaged in his praise.

And all that is within me … - All my powers and faculties; all that can be employed in his praise: the heart, the will, the affections, the emotions. The idea is, that God is worthy of all the praise and adoration which the entire man can render. No one of his faculties or powers should be exempt from the duty and the privilege of praise.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/psalms-103.html. 1870.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Title. of David: i.e. relating to the true David.

Bless. Figure of speech Apostrophe.

the LORD. Hebrew. Jehovah. with "eth = Jehovah Himself.

my soul = me myself. Hebrew. nephesh. App-13.

holy. See note on Exodus 3:5.

name. See note on Psalms 20:1.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/psalms-103.html. 1909-1922.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.Bless Jehovah, O my soul! The prophet, by stirring up himself to gratitude, gives by his own example a lesson to every man of the duty incumbent upon him. And doubtless our slothfulness in this matter has need of continual incitement. If even the prophet, who was inflamed with a more intense and fervent zeal than other men, was not free from this malady, of which his earnestness in stimulating himself is a plain confession, how much more necessary is it for us, who have abundant experience of our own torpor, to apply the same means for our quickening? The Holy Spirit, by his mouth, indirectly upbraids us on account of our not being more diligent in praising God, and at the same time points out the remedy, that every man may descend into himself and correct his own sluggishness. Not content with calling upon his soul (by which he unquestionably means the seat of the understanding and affections) to bless God, the prophet expressly adds his inward parts, addressing as it were his own mind and heart, and all the faculties of both. When he thus speaks to himself, it is as if, removed from the presence of men, he examined himself before God. The repetition renders his language still more emphatic, as if he thereby intended to reprove his own slothfulness.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/psalms-103.html. 1840-57.

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

  1. Intro:
    1. Psalm 103 –
      1. Ps.103 & 104 are companion Psalms.
        1. Note: matching endings. {Already how does this affect your understanding of the Psalm’s content?}
        2. “In the galaxy of the Psalter these are twin stars of the 1st magnitude!” (Derrick Kidner)
      2. If you ever have trouble praising the Lord turn to this Psalm.
        1. “We often”, as Spurgeon said, “write our blessings in the sand, & we engrave our complaints in the marble!”
      3. David does make one request in this Psalm. – it is just pure Praise!
        1. Q: Can you agree w/the new converted sailor who said, “To save such a sinner as I am!...He shall never hear the end of it!”
        2. Q: Do you ever pray to God for the sole purpose of praising Him?
        3. Q: Could you pray this long w/o asking for something?
    2. Outline: Praise for Personal Blessings! Praise for National Blessings! Praise for All Creation!
  2. BLESS THE LORD, O MY SOUL! (Ps.103)
    1. PRAISE FOR…PERSONAL BLESSINGS! (1-5)
    2. Q: When is it right to talk to yourself?
      1. Here David carries on a public dialogue w/himself!
    3. (1,2) Praise…w/your entire being!
      1. “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise!”
      2. “Man was made to worship. He can’t help but worship. All that remains is to see who or what he gives his worship to!” (RBC; pg.3; What kind of worship is God looking for? (pamphlet))
    4. (2) Q: Why should we praise God? – Because of all His benefits! – And Q: What are they…here’s a list!(vs.3-5)
      1. Forget not – Often times when we forget to Praise Him, it is deeper than “absent-mindedness!”
        1. 2 Chron.32:25 “But Hezekiah's heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him;”
        2. See same issue in Deut.8:10-14.
      2. He heals all your diseases – Often in the bible, sin is compared to sickness, & salvation is compared to health.
    5. (3-5) Here comes a parade of the benefits of Gods salvation!
      1. Note 6-pack of verbs: forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, satisfies, & renews.
        1. But salvation is not a step-by-step procedure to go through, but a vast country to explore!
        2. Something else…This Psalm expresses the experience not the doctrine(of salvation). This is what it “feels” like to be saved!
        3. Roy Clement(pastor of Eden Bible Church in Cambridge, England) said, “He is cataloguing the goodness of God; enumerating his blessings, lest in a moment of depression or backsliding, he souls forget the source of his prosperity & take God’s grace for granted.”
        4. We can add to this list of His benefits: Life, health, home, food, Mercy, Grace, Victory over sin, etc.
      2. What God has done for us far exceeds anything we have done for or against Him!
      3. Note all the “alls” we have here!
      4. (3) The infirmary of the soul!
      5. (5) Eagle – Like an eagle that remains strong throughout its long life, the psalmist was spiritually vigorous under God’s hand.
        1. “The eagle molts, loses its old feathers, gets a new coat & soars again!” (Warren Wiersbe)
        2. Is.40:30,31 “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles...”
    6. PRAISE FOR…NATIONAL BLESSINGS! (6-18)
    7. (6,7) There is no story like the Exodus for a record of human unworthiness…of Grace abounding…& benefits forgotten!
    8. (8) Here is almost word for word Gods self-portrait from Ex.34:6, when He passed before Moses on the mount(receiving 2nd set of tablets).
      1. This was right after the reprieve/pardon from golden-calf incident.
      2. A perfect example given of Human faithlessness & Divine mercy!
    9. (9,10) God, infinitely wronged, not only tempers wrath but tempers justice. Though at what cost to Himself,…only the NT would reveal! (Derik Kidner; pg.366)
      1. Great things He has NOT done! – Don’t limit your praises to only what the Lord HAS done, but include what He HASN’T done!
      2. Everyman knows the plague of his own heart! (1 Kings 8:38)
      3. Don’t even think you can cleanse yourself from sin! – That is like trying to climb up a steep glacier of ice in tennis shoes. - Like pouring water into a baggy with holes. – It is like trying to building up a wall of loose sand.
      4. Q: On what basis did He deal w/us? - On the basis of the cross, the grace of God!
    10. (11,12) However many miles are between east & West, you can’t look 2 ways at once!
      1. You have to turn your back on 1 in order to look in the direction of the other!
      2. When God forgives, He puts our sin & us on 2 different horizons.
      3. When He looks at our sin he is no longer looking at us; & when he looks at us, he is no longer looking at our sin! (Boice)
      4. I read a story of a much-loved priest in the Philippines, who carried the burden of a secret sin he had committed many years before. He had repented but still had no peace, no sense of God's forgiveness. In his parish was a woman who deeply loved God and who claimed to have visions in which she spoke with Christ and he with her. The priest, however, was skeptical. To test her he said,"The next time you speak with Christ, I want you to ask him what sin your priest committed while he was in seminary." The woman agreed. A few days later the priest asked, "Well, did Christ visit you in your dreams?" - "Yes, he did," she replied. - "And did you ask him what sin I committed in seminary?" - "Yes." - "Well, what did he say?" - "He said, 'I don't remember.'"
    11. (13,14) If Immeasurable distances are one way of expressing immeasurable love & mercy; then intimacy of a family is another!
      1. When we speak of Gods mercy it is like that of a father for his children!
      2. For those who have been redeemed…He is our Father!
    12. (15-18) Observe the contrast between us(15,16) & God(17-19).
      1. This is the most beautiful time of year in our valley. Q: Have you seen the wild flowers along our freeway & the grass on the hills?
        1. Yet, unfortunately they don’t last but a 2/3 months.
        2. Man, like Grass & wild-flowers, are so brief in their glory, in contrast to God’s “never ending”(from everlasting to everlasting) mercy & rt.
    13. PRAISE FOR…ALL CREATION! (19-22)
    14. (19) His kingdom rules over all - God’s realm is the totality of all things!
      1. No matter how difficult your day; or how discouraging your news; lean on the wonderful assurance that God is on His throne!
      2. And, if He rules over all things, “is it safe to complain about anything, even a windy day or rainy weather?”
        1. It’s loving Him & trusting Him in the storm & in the sunshine!
    15. (20-22) Mighty Angels, Serving Hosts(heavenly army), & His wonderful Works.
      1. David like a wonderful conductor of an orchestra, has now brought in every part:
        1. He 1st brings in the String section of Angels; next the Brass section of Hosts; then the Works of the Woodwinds.
        2. He draws out notes of praise! {What a scene!!!}
      2. David also, like a wonderful Choir director…sing’s no solo!
        1. All in heaven & on earth are called upon to bless the Lord with him.
        2. His voice, like every other, has its own part to add. - It’s own benefits; its own things to celebrate; its own access to the attentive ear of God!
    16. ​​​​​Believers: Q: Is there real praise in your heart to God?
      1. Ask yourselves: Q: Do you come to church out of habit, to impress, or to appease someone? – Do you ever hear sermons w/o really listening to God? – Did you find yourself today “singing the songs”, but not truly worshipping Him?
      2. If so we need to, like David, talk to ourselves!
      3. We need to stir up our hearts to a more appropriate emotional response to the truth about the God we know!
        1. Jonathon Edwards said, “There is no true worship that does not touch the affections.”
      4. If you find your heart cold…do what David did…count your blessings! (Adapted from Roy Clements; Boice; pg.837)
      5. Become aware of your blessings & begin to praise God for them. (ibid)
    17. Unbelievers: Q: Are these blessings David names in this chapter for everyone? No! (vs. 17) let’s us know they are only for those who “fearHim”. And in vs.18 “To such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember His commandments to do them.”
      1. Ask yourselves: Q: Have you experienced forgiveness of sins? Has God redeemed your life from destruction?Has God satisfied you w/good things?Have you experienced for yourself that “The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy”?
      2. Surrender to Jesus Christ today! – Join in the great choir of those who have been saved & sing blessings unto His Wonderful Name…How about today?
    18. End - “To save such a sinner as I am!...He shall never hear the end of it!”
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Brian Bell Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cbb/psalms-103.html. 2017.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Psalm 103:1-22, a favorite psalm of thanksgiving time. I trust that it wasn"t so long ago that you have already forgotten how thankful you were.

Bless the LORD, O my soul ( Psalm 103:1 ):

Now this is a command of David, or a command of David, the psalmist to himself. David often was talking to his inward man, talking to his soul. And here he is commanding himself, commanding his soul to bless the Lord, "Bless the Lord, my soul." In one psalm, David, in talking to his soul, said, "Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why are you so disquieted within me?" He didn"t understand his own feelings. Have you ever been at the place where you didn"t understand your own feelings? Why am I feeling this way? Why do I feel upset? Why do I feel discouraged? Why do I feel despondent? Why do I feel blue? What"s wrong, soul? Why are you cast down? What is your problem? Do you think God is dead or something? Now it"s another vein, "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 ( Psalm 103:1-2 ):

So quickly we forget the benefits of serving the Lord. David then begins to list those benefits. We are not to forget them.

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction ( Psalm 103:3-4 );

That is, He saves you from hell.

who crowns thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies ( Psalm 103:4 );

You see, it isn"t just a negative thing. The Christian life is far from a negative experience and too many people are only emphasizing the negative aspects. Looking at the negative aspects, when in reality there are far more positive aspects to it than the negative aspects. I really don"t take the negative aspects into much account myself. I"m so excited with all of the positive aspects of serving the Lord that the negative doesn"t really come into mind much. "For He crowns thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies.

He satisfies thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle"s. The LORD executes righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, and his acts unto the children of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy ( Psalm 103:5-8 ).

Now you have heard people say, "Well, there is the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. The God of the Old Testament is vengeful and wrathful and murderous and so forth. And the God of the New Testament is love, mercy, and grace." Now wait a minute. This is Old Testament. And he declares, "Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, plenteous in mercy." And you better perhaps read the fourteenth chapter of the book of Revelation, when the cup of the indignation of the wrath of God is overflowing and He pours out His judgment upon this Christ-rejecting earth. And you"ll find that the same God is revealed in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, who is a God of love, a God of mercy, a God of patience, but also a righteous, holy God who is absolutely just.

He will not always chide: nor will he be angry for ever. He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities ( Psalm 103:9-10 ).

How true that is. God has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. God has been merciful to us.

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that reverence him. And as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us ( Psalm 103:11-12 ).

Interesting that he said as far as the east is from the west, rather than as far the north is from the south. Because the north is only about12,500 miles from the south. You can only go north until you get to the North Pole, then you are going south. And as soon as you get to the South Pole, you are going north again. The distance of about12,500 miles, that is, unless you are going straight through. But you can start off tonight flying east, and you"ll fly east the rest of your life, if you don"t change directions. Or you can start flying due west, and you"ll be flying west the rest of your life. So I"m glad that he said as far as the east is from the west, rather than as far as the north is from the south, because I want my sins farther away than the north from the south. I like the east and the west bit. I like God just removing completely my sins, my guilt from me. Because of His mercy.

"As high is the heavens is above the earth." Now there is some scientific discussion as to just how high that might be. And every once in awhile the scientists come along and say, "Oh, we"ve just discovered a new quasar, or galaxy that is beyond anything we"ve ever known before. It is out there, eight billion light years away, ten billion light years away." All right, keep searching man; you"re only expanding the mercy of my God. "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so high is His mercy over those that reverence Him."

And so I like all these new discoveries, though I think a lot of them are just fanciful kind of interpreting of the data that they have with their own limited knowledge. And I don"t think that they know what they are talking about, in many realms, and they"ve confessed that now. They had all kinds of ideas concerning Saturn and the rings, all kinds of scientific data that was in the astronomy books, and now they have to revise all of the books on Saturn. We"ve learned so much from this flyby of our little satellite recently. We"ve learned so many things about the rings and everything else, that all of our theories that we had are out the window now because now we have more data. And so science is changing. The facts are changing, the facts of science seem to often change, but that is totally inconsistent. Facts can"t change. So it must be that the scientists were wrong. Oh, but scientists are gods aren"t they? And if they said if we evolved from the tadpole, surely they must know. I don"t know how high the heaven is above the earth, but however it is, that"s just how high God"s mercy is towards me.

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that reverence him. For he knows our frame; and he remembers that we are dust ( Psalm 103:13-14 ).

Now we don"t remember that ourselves often. We think that we are the rock of Gibraltar. We think, "Man, I can stand, you know. Let me at Satan, you know." And we are challenging so oftentimes Satan to do battle with us. "Come on, just... you know. Come on out and fight." And God looks down upon us and He is, number one, merciful, because we reverence Him. And secondly, He pities us, just like a father pities his child. Because God remembers our frame. He knows we are but dust. This body made out of the dust. God remembers that.

Man has a tendency to magnify his body. Oh, this body consciousness; everything is the body of man. We have come into a body worship cult. How man worships the body. We were driving down to Newport Beach the other night and this place down there. I haven"t been down to Newport for a long time. All these guys working out in the windows, standing there, curling, you know. Mirrors, all over the walls. The old body cult. Worshipping the body. But God remembers it"s just dust. God looks down and says, "O man, just a bit of dust." He knows our frame; He knows we are but dust.

Which means that God doesn"t really expect as much out of me as I expect out of myself. And so oftentimes I am so disappointed with myself, and I weep because of my disappointment over myself. "Oh, I thought I was stronger than that, I thought I was better than that and all. Oh God, I am so sorry I disappointed You." He says, "You didn"t disappoint Me. I knew you were dust all the time." God wasn"t disappointed; I was disappointed in me. But God knew me, He knew me better than I knew myself. He knew that I was but dust. I thought I was Superman. I thought I could I leap buildings with a single bound, and He knows my frame.

As far as our days, we are as the grass: or like a flower in the field ( Psalm 103:15 ).

So for a time, for a moment, we may flourish,

But when the wind passes over it, the grass, the flower is gone, and the place of it remembers it no more. But the mercy of the LORD ( Psalm 103:16-17 )

Now man in passing, we are dust, we are transient, we are passing, like the grass or the flower.

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting ( Psalm 103:17 )

High as the heaven is above the earth. That is one dimension of it, but from another dimension, it"s from everlasting to everlasting, from the vanishing point to the vanishing point, God"s mercy. The height of it and the breadth of it. How glorious.

to those that reverence him ( Psalm 103:17 ),

And the key here all the way through is to those that reverence God.

and his righteousness to the children"s children [that"s my grandkids]; And to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. For the LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless ye the LORD, ye angels, that excel in strength, and do his commandments, harkening to the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his that do his pleasure. Bless the LORD, all his works in all of the places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul ( Psalm 103:17-22 ).

So David calls the angels, the heavenly hosts, in to the praising of God. Those angels that are the ministers of God, doing His will, His pleasure. Then all of his works, all of the places of God"s dominion. Then again, as he started the psalm, he ends it, "Bless the Lord, O my soul." "

Copyright Statement
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/psalms-103.html. 2014.

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

In this Ps. the hope of the previous one has been fulfilled, and sorrow has given place to thanksgiving. Its probable date is soon after the return from exile. The Psalmist utters his personal gratitude and praise (Psalms 103:1-5), and tells how God has shown to Israel in his own day the same power and grace which He showed in the days of Moses (Psalms 103:6-12). Special emphasis is laid on God's fatherly pity for His people in their frailty, and on the eternity of His mercy as shown to generation after generation (Psalms 103:13-18). An ascription of praise to God as the universal King, in which all His angels and all His works are called to join, closes the Ps. (Psalms 103:19-22).

5. See Isaiah 40:31. The eagle's strength seemed to indicate perpetual youth.

6. Righteousness and judgment] RV 'righteous acts and judgments,' i.e. deliverances.

17. Expresses the same assurance as Psalms 102:23-28.

19. Prepared] RV 'established.'

21. Ministers] servants, referring to the angels.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/psalms-103.html. 1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/psalms-103.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

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

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/psalms-103.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

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.]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/psalms-103.html. 2012.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

All His Benefits

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 forgiveth all thine iniquities;

Who healeth all thy diseases;

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;

Who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies:

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things;

So that thy youth is renewed like the eagle.—.

This psalm, with which we are all familiar from our childhood, shines in the firmament of Scripture as a star of the first magnitude. It is a song of praise, yet not the praise of an angel, but the praise of one who has been redeemed from sin and from destruction, and who has experienced that grace which, although sin abounds unto death, doth much more abound unto eternal life. It is the song of a saint, yet not of a glorified saint, but of one who is still working in the lowly valley of this our earthly pilgrimage, and who has to contend with suffering, with sin, and to experience the chastening hand of his Heavenly Father. And therefore it is that this psalm, after beginning upon the lofty mountain heights of God’s greatness and goodness, in which all is bright and strong and eternal, descends into the valley where the path is always narrow and often full of darkness and danger and sadness. But as the Psalmist lives by faith, and as he is saved by faith, so he is also saved by hope; and after having described all the sadness and all the afflictions and conflicts of this our earthly pilgrimage, he shows that even at this present time he is a member of that heavenly and everlasting Kingdom of which the throne of God is the centre, and where the angels, who are bright and strong, are his fellow-worshippers, and in which all the works which God has made will finally be subservient to His glory and be irradiated with His beauty. And thus he rises again, praising and magnifying the Lord and knowing that his own individual soul shall, in that vast and comprehensive Kingdom, for evermore be conscious of the life and of the glory of the Most High.

I

Bless the Lord

1. To praise God, to bless God, is only the response to the blessing which God has given us. God speaks, and the echo is praise. God blesses us and the response is that we bless God. And those five verses of praise in Psalms 103 are nothing but the answer of the believing heart to the benediction of Aaron, which God commanded should be continually laid upon the people. The Lord who is the God of salvation; the Lord, who has revealed His Holy Name as Redeemer; the Lord who, by His Spirit, imparts what the Father of love gives, what the filial love reveals—this is the Lord who is the object of the believer’s praise. For to praise God means nothing else than to behold God and to delight in Him as the God of our salvation. Singing may be the expression of praise, may be the helpful accompaniment of praise, but praise is in the spirit who dwells upon God, who sees the wonderful manifestation of God in His Son Jesus Christ, and the wonderful salvation and treasures of good things stored up in His beloved Son.

We commonly begin our prayers with a request that God will bless us; the Psalmist begins his prayer by calling on his soul to bless God! The eye of the heart is generally directed first to its own desires; the eye of the Psalmist’s heart is directed first to the desires of God! It is a startling feature of prayer, a feature seldom looked at. We think of prayer as a mount where man stands to receive the Divine blessing. We do not often think of it as also a mount where God stands to receive the human blessing. Yet this latter is the thought here. Nay, is it not the thought of our Lord Himself? I have often meditated on these words of Jesus, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness”! I take them to mean: Seek ye first the welfare of God, the establishment of His Kingdom, the reign of His righteousness! Before you yield to self-pity, before you count the number of the things you want, consider what things are still wanting to Him! Consider the spheres of life to which His Kingdom has not yet spread, consider the human hearts to which His righteousness has not yet penetrated! Let your spirit say, “Bless the Lord.” Let the blessing upon God be your morning wish. It is not your power He asks, but your wish. Your benediction cannot sway the forces of the Universe; your Father can do that without prayer. But it is the prayer itself that is dear to Him, the desire of your heart for His heart’s joy, the cry of your spirit for His crowning, the longing of your soul for the triumph of His love. Evermore give Him this bread!1 [Note: G. Matheson, Leaves for Quiet Hours, 213.]

If we want to know what it is to praise God, let us remember such a chapter as the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians, where Paul blesses God who has blessed him with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, and where he sees before him the whole counsel and purpose of the Divine election, of the wonderful, perfect, and complete channel of the purposes of God in the redemption which is in the blood of Jesus, and the wonderful object and purpose of the Divine grace, that we, united with Christ, should through all ages show forth the wonderful love of God. That is to praise God, when we see God and when we appropriate God as He has manifested Himself to us in Christ Jesus. And it is only by the light which comes from above, and by the wonderful operation of the Holy Ghost, that it is so wrought in the heart of the Christian, although it may be in silence, that his soul magnifieth the Lord and his spirit rejoiceth in God his Saviour.2 [Note: A. Saphir.]

2. “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” The Psalmist desires to bless God with all that is within him. He who succeeds in doing this offers to God an eloquent worship. Eloquence means speaking out, letting the whole soul find utterance. And the Psalm before us supplies us with a choice sample of the kind of worship made by David. In this Psalm, mind, heart, conscience, imagination, all come into play. The whole inner man speaks rightfully, thoughtfully, devoutly, musically, pathetically; and, as was to be expected, God is praised to some purpose.

The metrical version of the Psalm puts us in possession of the fuller meaning of this verse:

O thou my soul, bless God the Lord;

And all that in me is

Be stirred up his holy name

To magnify and bless.

How truly and with what fine knowledge of the soul of every spiritual man has this rendering caught the real point of that verse! And it is not this once only that the metrical psalm selects and emphasizes some word which we did not quite realize in the prose version. Here and there it may be that to our modish and sophisticated ears the psalms in metre may fail as poetry; but they never fail in spiritual discernment. They always take hold of the point, of the real business of the prose text. They always recognize the matters which really concern our souls; so that again and again the metrical psalm serves as a kind of commentary upon the prose, developing the finer sentiments, bringing out of the text certain beauties which we might never have become aware of, though we recognize them at once the moment they are set out for us. You see what I mean in this particular instance. The prose reads: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” We might read those words again and again, feeling in each case that it is merely a devout utterance of the soul, having nothing individual or characteristic about it. But how the metrical version cuts down to the root of the idea! What a distinction, what a precise meaning, the metrical form gives to the prayer!

O thou my soul, bless God the Lord;

And all that in me is

Be stirred up his holy name

To magnify and bless.

It was pure spiritual genius to bring out that idea of “stirring up” all that is within our souls.1 [Note: J. A. Hutton, The Soul’s Triumphant Way, 23.]

II

Forget Not

If we would rightly praise God, we must keep ourselves from forgetfulness. Moses warns against this vice when he says: “Beware lest thou forget the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments and his statutes, which I command thee this day, lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” In the Prophets the sad complaint re-echoes from the Lord’s mouth: “Ye are they that forget my holy mountain.”

One of the first stories I recall from my childhood was a story of the evil of forgetting God. I remember the very spot on which it was told to me. I feel the warm grasp of the hand which had hold of mine at the time. I see once more the little seaport town stretching up from the river mouth, with its straggling “fisher town” at one extremity, and at the other its rows of well-built streets and its town hall and academy. On this occasion we were standing on a high bank looking down on the beautiful shore at our feet. Across the tiny harbour, and along the shore on the other side of the river, is a very different scene. What one sees there is a dreary waste of sand. No grass grows there, no trees shadow it, no house stands upon it. It is a place forsaken and desolate. It has been a desolation longer than the oldest inhabitant can remember. But it was not always desolate. It was once a fair estate, rich in cornfields and orchards. A stately mansion stood in the midst of it, and children played in the orchards, and reapers reaped the corn. But the lords of that fair estate were an evil race. They oppressed the poor, they despised religion, they did not remember God. They loved pleasure more than God, and the pleasures they loved were evil. To make an open show of their evil ways they turned the day of the Lord into a day of rioting and drunkenness. And this evil went on a long while. It went on till the long-suffering of God came to an end. And then upon a Sunday evening, and in the harvest-time, when the corn was whitening for the reaper, the riot and wickedness had come to a height. The evil lord and his evil guests were feasting in the hall of the splendid house. And on that very evening there came a sudden darkness and stillness into the heavens, and out of the darkness a wind, and out of the wind a tempest; and, as if that tempest had been a living creature, it lifted the sand from the shore in great whirls and clouds and filled the air with it, and dropped it down in blinding, suffocating showers on all those fields of corn, and on that mansion, and on the evil-doers within. And the fair estate, with all its beautiful gardens and fields, became a widespread heap of sand and a desolation, as it is to this day.1 [Note: Alexander McLeod.]

III

All His Benefits

Of the benefits that David enumerates the first three are all negative: He forgives our sin, He heals the consequences of our sin, our diseases, He delivers us from destruction, the wages of our sin. But in the forgiveness of sin and in the healing of our diseases, in the deliverance from the devil and from everlasting hell, God gives Himself, He gives the whole fulness of His love, He elevates the soul into the very highest spiritual life; and therefore, the Psalmist continues, he who has been thus delivered out of destruction is a king, he is crowned with lovingkindness and with tender mercies, he is enriched and satisfied with good things; and not merely outwardly enriched, but there is a life given him which is unfading, the youth of which is perennial, continually renewing itself by the very strength of God.

1. The Psalmist sets himself to count up the benefits he has received from God. He has not proceeded very far when he finds himself to be engaged in an impossible task. He finds he cannot count the blessings he has received in a single day, how then can he number the blessings of a week, of a month, of a year, of the years of his life? He might as well try to count the number of the stars or the grains of sand on the seashore. It cannot be done.

St. Francis, dining one day on broken bread, with a large stone for table, cried out to his companion: “O brother Masseo, we are not worthy so great a treasure.” When he had repeated these words several times, his companion answered: “Father, how can you talk of treasure where there is so much poverty, and indeed a lack of all things? For we have neither cloth nor knife, nor dish, nor table, nor house; neither have we servant nor maid to wait upon us.” Then said St. Francis: “And this is why I look upon it as a great treasure, because man has no hand in it, but all has been given us by Divine Providence, as we clearly see in this bread of charity, in this beautiful table of stone, in this clear fountain.”1 [Note: E. Meynell, The Life of Francis Thompson (1913), 283.]

I was walking along one winter’s night, hurrying towards home, with my little maiden at my side. Said she, “Father, I am going to count the stars.” “Very well,” I said; “go on.” By and by I heard her counting—“Two hundred and twenty-three, two hundred and twenty-four, two hundred and twenty-five. Oh! dear,” she said, “I had no idea there were so many.” Ah! dear friends, I sometimes say in my soul, “Now, Master, I am going to count Thy benefits.” I am like the little maiden. Soon my heart sighs—sighs not with sorrow, but burdened with such goodness, and I say within myself, “Ah! I had no idea that there were so many.”2 [Note: M. G. Pearse.]

2. But if he cannot remember them all, he may at least try not to forget them all. He may try to remember some of them. But this also is a hard task. For memory is weak, and the blessings are many and manifold. How can he help himself not to forget? How shall he help himself to remember those benefits which he values most highly? He sets himself to find helps to memory, helps not to forget. So he falls upon a plan which he finds to be most helpful, and which others ever since have found to be so. He takes those benefits which he desires not to forget, and he ties them up in bundles. And then, to make sure that he will not forget them, the Psalmist shapes the bundles of God’s benefits into a song. A song is the easiest thing of all to remember. So he shapes them into a song, which people can sing by the wayside as they journey, can carry with them to their work, and brood over in their hours of leisure.

By tying the benefits up in bundles, and by shaping them into a song, the Psalmist earned for himself the undying gratitude of future generations. Specially has he earned for himself our gratitude, for he gave us a song which we sing in Scotland to-day, and have sung for more than three hundred years, when our religious emotions are at their highest and their best. We sing this song when the feeling of consecration has been renewed, widened, and deepened by communion with God at His table. I never was at a communion-time at which this song has not been sung, and no other song could do justice to the feelings of gratitude of the Lord’s people. So we sing, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth, who healeth, who redeemeth, who crowneth, and who satisfieth.”1 [Note: James Iverach, The Other Side of Greatness, 121.]

i

Forgiveness

“Who forgiveth all thine iniquities.”

Note how the Psalmist begins. He begins with iniquity. Where else could a sinful man begin? The most needful of all things for a sinful man is to get rid of his sin. So the Psalmist begins here. This beginning is not peculiar to him, it is the common note of the Bible. In fact, we here come across one of the distinctive peculiarities of the Bible. We may read other literatures and never come across the notion of sin in them. Crimes, blunders, mistakes, miseries enough one may find, but sin as estrangement from a holy personal God who loves man and would serve him one never finds. But in the Bible we are face to face with sin from first to last. One chapter and a bit of another are given to the story of the making of the world and the making of man, and then the story of the entrance of sin is told, and the reader is kept face to face with sin in every part of it. In the gospel story we read at the outset: “Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins”; and in John almost the first word about Him is, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” It is characteristic of the Bible to keep its reader face to face with sin and its consequences, till he is stirred up to the effort to get rid of it.

Sometimes in business a man will say: “There is a limit to everything. I have trusted such an one, and he has deceived me. I have forgiven him much, but now he has crossed the score, and I will have no more dealings with him.” But it is only when men, in their own estimation, have got over that score that the heavenly business begins. Some minister comes from somewhere, to preach some day, and preaches the forgiveness of sins, and that is the beginning of the business; and at length the man finds Heaven for himself, and can say: “He forgiveth all mine iniquities.”2 [Note: A. Whyte.]

ii

Healing

“Who healeth all thy diseases.”

Once a prophet said, “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrefying sores.” When we read these words, we are inclined to say they are Oriental figures of speech, exaggerated metaphors. If our spiritual vision were as keen as that of the prophet, we should find that he was speaking what he knew. Sin then makes disease, and God’s relation to disease is described as that of healing. In the Scriptures this relation is described so fully that it gives a distinctive name for God—Jehovah the Healer. He not only forgives sin, He also so deals with the results of sin that He removes every trace of sin. He heals all our diseases.

The nineteenth century produced three famous persons in this country who contributed more than any of their contemporaries to the relief of human suffering in disease: Simpson, the introducer of chloroform; Lister, the inventor of antiseptic surgery; and Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. The second of the great discoveries completed the beneficent work of the first. The third development—the creation of nursing as a trained profession—has co-operated powerfully with the other two, and would have been beneficent even if the use of anæsthetics and antiseptics had not been discovered. The contribution of Florence Nightingale to the healing art was less than that of either Simpson or Lister; but perhaps, from its wider range, it has saved as many lives, and relieved as much, if not so acute, suffering as either of the other two.1 [Note: Sir Edward Cook, The Life of Florence Nightingale, i. 439.]

iii

Redemption

“Who redeemeth thy life from destruction.”

That is, God preserves the life that He saves. Here is first a life forfeited. That life is then saved by forgiveness. Then there is a life imperilled by disease, and saved by God’s healing. But that life is in a thousand dangers. Many seek after the young child—the Christ within us—to destroy it. But God “redeemeth thy life from destruction.” How often God has saved some of us from impending ruin, He alone knows.

In my native town of Stirling workmen were blasting the castle rock near where it abuts upon a wall that lies open to the street. The train was laid and lit, and an explosion was momentarily expected. Suddenly, trotting round the great wall of cliff, came a little child going straight to where the match burned. The men shouted. That was mercy. But by their very shouting they alarmed and bewildered the poor little thing. By this time the mother also had come round. In a moment she saw the danger, opened wide her arms, and cried from her very heart, “Come to me, my darling.” That was Render mercy; and instantly, with eager, pattering feet, the little thing ran back and away, and stopped not until she was clasped in her mother’s bosom. Not a moment too soon, as the roar of the shattered rock told.1 [Note: A. Grosart.]

I remember one who had been for a long time drifting towards an evil act which was certain to do more harm to others than to himself, but who had not as yet determined on flinging friends, society, work, good repute, his past and future, and God Himself, to the winds. The one thing that kept him back was a remnant of belief in God, in One beyond humanity, beyond the world’s laws of convention and morality. Nothing else was left, for he had, in the desire for this wrong thing, passed beyond caring whether the whole world went against him, whether he injured others or not. He was as ready to destroy all the use of his own life as he was careless of the use of the lives of others. But he felt a slow and steady pull against him. He said to himself, “This is God, though I know Him not.” At last, however, he determined to have his way. One day the loneliness and longing had been too great to be borne, and when night came he went down his garden resolved on the evil thing. “This night,” he said, “I will take the plunge.” But as he went he heard the distant barking of a dog in the village; the moon rose above a dark yew tree at the end of the garden, and he was abruptly stopped in the midst of the pathway. Something seemed to touch him as with a finger, and to push him back. It was not till afterwards that he analysed the feeling, and knew that the rising of the moon over the yew tree and the barking of the dog in the distance had brought back to him an hour in his childhood, when in the dusk he had sat with his mother, after his father’s death, in the same garden, and had heard her say—“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.” It was this slight touch that saved him from wrong which would have broken more lives than his own. It was God speaking; but it would have been as nothing to him, had he not kept his little grain of faith in God alive, the dim consciousness that there was One who cared for him, who had interest that he should conquer righteousness. Next day, he left his home, travelled and won his battle; and his action redeemed not only his own but another’s life.1 [Note: S. A. Brooke, The Ship of the Soul, 23.]

There is an old poem which bears the curious title of “Strife in Heaven,” the idea of which is something like this. The poet supposes himself to be walking in the streets of the New Jerusalem, when he comes to a crowd of saints engaged in a very earnest discussion. He draws near and listens. The question they are discussing is which of them is the greatest monument of God’s saving grace. After a long debate, in which each states his case separately, and each claims to have been by far the most wonderful trophy of God’s love in all the multitude of the redeemed, it is finally agreed to settle the matter by a vote. Vote after vote is taken, and the list of competition is gradually reduced until only two remain. These are allowed to state their case again, and the company stand ready to join in the final vote. The first to speak is a very old man. He begins by saying that it is a mere waste of time to go any further; it is absolutely impossible that God’s grace could have done more for any man in heaven than for him. He tells again how he had led a most wicked and vicious life—a life filled up with every conceivable indulgence, and marred with every crime. He has been a thief, a liar, a blasphemer, a drunkard, and a murderer. On his death-bed, at the eleventh hour, Christ came to him and he was forgiven. The other is also an old man, who says, in a few words, that he was brought to Christ when he was a boy. He had led a quiet and uneventful life, and had looked forward to heaven as long as he could remember. The vote is taken; and, of course, you would say it results in favour of the first. But no, the votes are all given to the last. We might have thought, perhaps, that the one who led the reckless, godless life—he who had lied, thieved, blasphemed, murdered; he who was saved by the skin of his teeth, just a moment before it might have been too late—had the most to thank God for. But the old poet knew the deeper truth. It required great grace verily to pluck that withered brand from the burning. It required depths, absolutely fathomless depths, of mercy to forgive that veteran in sin at the close of all those guilty years. But it required more grace to keep that other life from guilt through all those tempted years. It required more grace to save him from the sins of his youth and keep his Christian boyhood pure, to steer him scathless through the tempted years of riper manhood, to crown his days with usefulness, and his old age with patience and hope. Both started in life together; to one grace came at the end, to the other at the beginning. The first was saved from the guilt of sin, the second from the power of sin as well. The first was saved from dying in sin. But he who became a Christian in his boyhood was saved from living in sin. The one required just one great act of love at the close of life; the other had a life full of love—it was a greater salvation by far. His soul was forgiven like the other, but his life was redeemed from destruction.1 [Note: H. Drummond, The Ideal Life, 149.]

iv

Crowning

“Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.”

So far the Psalmist has been thinking of God’s action as it is defined in relation to sin. Now his thoughts take a grander flight, and he thinks of the Divine action when sin is taken out of the way, and no longer presents a barrier to the fellowship between God and His people. His words take on a finer meaning, and mould themselves into a more musical form. For he tries to represent the intercourse between God and the children of God, when sin is removed from between them. “Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies.” These words are about the most musical and pathetic in the whole Bible, and they are as fine in meaning as they are in form.

God puts honour upon the brow of a forgiven man. He does not merely forgive, and that in a formal way, but, when He forgives, He crowns. He crowns me with the title of “son,” and He places the coronet of heirship upon my head, for “if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.” Sweet picture this. Observe that it is not a crown of merit, for “He crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” This is the only crown that I can consent to wear.2 [Note: A. G. Brown.]

1. Lovingkindness.—Note how the translators of the Psalm have been constrained to tie two English words together in order to set forth the meaning of the original. These translators of the Bible were poets as well as scholars. They took the two words “love” and “kindness” and tied them together in order to shut out the weaker meanings of both, and from the union of them set forth a higher and better meaning than either alone could express. Love has always been recognized to be the strongest and best thing in the world of life, and in recent years it has come to even larger recognition. It really holds society together, is at the basis of family life, is the motive power of the highest activities of mankind. But while love is so and acts so, it may partake of the weakness or the selfishness of human nature. It may become fierce, jealous, regardless of the interest of the person who is its object. It may look at the person merely as belonging to itself, and fiercely insist on exclusive possession. No doubt ideal love would labour, toil, and spend itself for the good of the person loved. But all love is not ideal, and it may have more ferocity than kindness in it. So this fierce side of love is shut out, and only the ideal side is kept, and kept by uniting it with kindness. But kindness is apt to be weak, injudicious, and foolish. It is the kindness, perhaps, of a fond young mother who gives the baby whatever it desires, cloys it with sweets, or gives it unwholesome food because the child likes it, or, as George MacDonald suggests, gives the child a lighted candle because it cries for it. This foolish side of kindness is shut out by tying it to the firmer, wiser fact of love. So united, kindness becomes lovingkindness, and the two become, in their union, something higher and better than either of the two elements contained in it, when these are taken by themselves.

Another young friend writes: “From such an array of beautiful characteristics as is called up by his name it is hard to choose the greatest, but his ‘loving-kindness’ is the outstanding trait that not only those who knew him best, but those who came only casually into contact with him, will remember with tenderness. How he loved every one, especially ‘those who were of the household of faith’! How eagerly would he seek out, even when on holiday, the brother-minister, superannuated by affliction from active work, to encourage and help him by his sympathy, to cheer him with his humour and his jollity, to stimulate him with his wide and varying interests! And in what good stead that wonderful fund of quiet humour stood him through the days of pain and weakness and weariness through which God’s veteran passed, and from which he is now released! One revered him as a saint, but loved him as a man, a man who radiated such love as compelled a willing love in return.”1 [Note: Love and Life: The Story of J. Denholm Brash (1913), 179.]

It is twenty-five years since I first had my attention drawn to this clause. I went to college then, and one day a minister gave me a tract, and told me, “Take that and read it, and when you bring it back, tell me what you think of it.” He said to me—and he proved a sound prophet—“I may not live to see it, but you will see it. The lad that spoke these words—his name will be heard wherever the English language is spoken,”—the name was Charles Spurgeon. It was a discourse on this word—“He crowneth me with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” He had never been to college, and had taken none of your envied degrees that seem to stamp a man as a Master of Divinity. My friend said: “I may not live to see it, but you will.” A young man in his teens, not far up in the offices yet, Spurgeon was under twenty-one when he preached a sermon that made my old friend prophetic. “When God takes a man’s head out of the dust”—said this young fledgling Puritan preacher—“He crowns it with a crown that is so heavy with His grace and goodness that he could not wear it were it not lined with the sweet velvet of His loving-kindness.” Not a classic figure perhaps, but Spurgeon’s figure is graven on my memory while many a classic figure has faded away. Many a costly gift, given carelessly with lavish abundance, you have nearly forgotten: but one gift, given many years ago, you remember still. It was only a cup of cold water, perhaps, but given with a hand and with a look of loving-kindness. And when God crowns us with such love as this, when He smiles upon us, no wonder that it gladdens the heart so that a man never forgets it.2 [Note: Alexander Whyte.]

2. Tender mercies.—Mercy in itself is one of the grandest things in human nature. It is not mere feeling, it is feeling in action. It is not mere sympathy or pity, it is sympathy made alive and active. It is not pity, it is pity going forth into action, to bind up the broken-hearted, to comfort the sorrowful, to make the widow’s heart to sing for joy. But tender mercy is even more than mercy, great and good though the exercise be. It is mercy exercised in the most tender way. For mercy may be exercised in such a way as to wound the feelings of the person to whom you are merciful. You may intend to help your friend who has fallen into misfortune. He may have been blameworthy, his misfortune may have arisen from his want of thought, from his recklessness, or even from wrong-doing. You intend to help him, but you are annoyed with his conduct; you insist on showing him how foolish he was, how reckless was his conduct, how unprincipled was his motive, until he almost feels that he would be without the help if he could be free from the scolding. Or you are merciful to the person who asks you for help, but you fling the penny to him across the street. It is possible in this way to undo all the effects of a merciful action by the ungracious way in which it is done. Mercy according to our text is exercised tenderly. You help your friend, or come to the assistance of those who are in poverty and need, in such a way as to bind up their wounds, to cheer them, and to give them courage to begin the battle of life anew, though life heretofore has been all a failure. For the mercy which man shows to man interprets for man the tender mercies of God. After that interview with you, during which you entered into the sorrow of your friend sympathetically and tenderly, gave him of your wisdom, of your experience, of your means, he goes forth to the work of life again with a new outlook, with a firmer resolution to do well. He says to himself, “It is a good, kind world after all, and there are good, kind people in it. I must show myself worthy to live in so good a world, and worthy of the help I have received.” So tender mercies help, but they help in such a way as to bind up the broken-hearted, and to open a door of hope for those who have failed, and to give them courage to lift them above the feeling of despair.

Stern and unflinching in his denunciation of drunkenness, Ernest Wilberforce was tenderness itself in his dealings with the individual sinner. Few cases are more distressing or more difficult to deal with than those where a clergyman has fallen into habits of intemperance. The Bishop’s correspondence in one of them is lying before me as I write, marked throughout by the strong sense of justness and fairness which ever characterized him, yet compassionate and considerate, so far as consideration was possible. The facts were clear, and the unfortunate gentleman was induced to vacate his office without the scandal of judicial proceedings. But there were features which induced the Bishop to hope that, under happier auspices, he might yet do good and useful work in his chosen calling. Without any effort at minimizing the sad story, he succeeded in inducing an experienced parish priest in another diocese to give the transgressor a fresh start. The good Samaritan had no cause to regret his charity, and in writing to the Bishop he congratulated the clergy of Northumberland in having one set over them to whom they could appeal with perfect confidence in the hour of need. “If ever,” he wrote, “I should be in a fix, I shall wish for such a friend as your Lordship.”1 [Note: J. B. Atlay, Bishop Ernest Wilberforce, 162.]

v

Satisfaction

“Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle.”

1. The word “crowneth” suggests something external, something coming to us from without, and after the crowning there may conceivably be some wants unsupplied, some needs of man which have not been met. But the note of Christianity is that no human needs are left unsatisfied. “My God shall supply all your need.” Satisfied with good, so that every need shall be met—this is the promise.

The thirst of the mind for truth, the thirst of the will and conscience for guidance, and the thirst of the heart for life are satisfied through Him who is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. If there were needs which He could not or would not satisfy, He would have told us of them.2 [Note: James Iverach, The Other Side of Greatness, 133.]

2. The Psalmist felt, as we often feel, that he had emerged from the very gulf of destruction; that he had been, as it were against his will, rescued from moral suicide; that all his life had been redeemed by God. Therefore he burst out into joy and thanksgiving! He who had been through grave sorrows; who had known sin, disease, even destruction; who might have cursed life and shrieked at what men call Fate; cries out in unfeigned and mistakable rapture—it is a very outburst of song—“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.” And in realizing this joyful victory of the moral and spiritual powers; in the resurrection of his spiritual being into strength; in the leaving behind him in its own grave of all that was dead in his past; in the great cry of his heart as he looked back—“I am not there, I am risen”—his youth was renewed like the eagle’s! It was a great triumph; for his best life came back in a higher and a stronger way, with now but little chance of failure. He could again, like the eagle, look upon the sun, and love the upper ranges of the sky; again soar, but with steadier beat of wing than in youth; again possess the freedom he loved before disease and destruction had enslaved his plumes; again breathe the breath of immortal love; again in conscious union with God hear the great spheres “in measured motion draw after the heavenly tune.” And certainty was now with this victory, for he had known and found the Father of his spirit. The waters of his new life arose out of the fountain Life of God Himself, and he knew whence they came. There was now a source as well as a goal for his ideals, hopes, efforts, for the beauty he loved, and for universal joy. It was the Almighty Love and Life of loveliness Himself who was now in him—a personal friend, redeemer, strengthener, exalter; who crowned him with lovingkindness and tender mercies. This is the true resurrection; this is the triumph of life.

The brilliant Princess Anastasia Malsoff (the Nancy Malsoff of the Russian Court) was one of those led to Christ by the Maréchale, with whom she kept up a close friendship during the rest of her life. One of the Princess’s letters is peculiarly interesting: “I will see the Emperor in these days,” she writes, “and I will seek strength to speak to him. You see, my darling, speaking is not enough, one must in such a case pour out one’s soul and feel that a superior force guides one and speaks for one.” It turned out as she hoped. One night she was at the Palace in St. Petersburg. After dinner the Czar came and seated himself beside her. Soon they were deep in intimate conversation. She began telling him what her new-found friend in Paris had done for her. She talked wisely as he listened attentively. At length he said: “But, Nancy, you have always been good, always right.” “No,” she answered; “till now I have never known the Christ. She has made Him real to me, brought Him near to me, and He has become what He never was before—my personal Friend.”1 [Note: J. Strahan, The Maréchale (1913), 184.]

“I shall be sorry,” says Eckhart, the German mystic, “if I am not younger to-morrow than I am to-day—that is, a step nearer to the source whence I came.” And Swedenborg tells us that when heaven was opened to him he found that the oldest angels seemed to be the youngest.

’Tis said there is a fount in Flower Land,—

De Leon found it,—where Old Age away

Throws weary mind and heart, and fresh as day

Springs from the dark and joins Aurora’s band:

This tale, transformed by some skilled trouvère’s wand

From the old myth in a Greek poet’s lay,

Rests on no truth. Change bodies as Time may,

Souls do not change, though heavy be his hand.

Who of us needs this fount? What soul is old?

Age is a mask,—in heart we grow more young,

For in our winters we talk most of spring;

And as we near, slow-tottering, God’s safe fold,

Youth’s loved ones gather nearer:—though among

The seeming dead, youth’s songs more clear they sing.2 [Note: Maurice Francis Egan.]

Literature

Brooke (S. A.), Christ in Modern Life, 351.

Brooke (S. A.), The Gospel of Joy, 67.

Brooke (S. A.), The Ship of the Soul, 16.

Brown (A. G.), in The People’s Pulpit, No. 20.

Brown (C. G.), The Word of Life, 141.

Campbell (J. M.), Grow Old Along with Me, 19.

Cross (J.), Knight-Banneret, 292.

Drummond (H.), The Ideal Life, 145.

Hall (F. O.), Soul and Body, 73.

Hutton (J. A.), The Soul’s Triumphant Way, 23.

Iverach (J.), The Other Side of Greatness, 119.

Macmillan (H.), The Ministry of Nature, 321.

Matheson (G.), Leaves for Quiet Hours, 213.

Miller (J.), Sermons Literary and Scientific, i. 270.

Morrison (G. H.), The Oldest Trade in the World, 103.

Myres (W. M.), Fragments that Remain, 89.

New (C.), The Baptism of the Spirit, 278.

Owen (J.), The Renewal of Youth, 1.

Pearce (J.), The Alabaster Box, 141.

Price (A. C.), Fifty Sermons, vii. 17.

Robinson (W. V.), Angel Voices, 137.

Selby (T. G.), The Unheeding God, 216.

Spurgeon (C. H.), Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, xviii. (1872), No. 1078; xxv. (1879), No. 1492; xlix. (1903), No. 2860.

Spurgeon (C. H.), Evening by Evening, 152.

Voysey (C.), Sermons, xviii. (1895), No. 34; xxv. (1902), No. 44; xxvii. (1904), No. 10.

Christian World Pulpit, xxvii. 161 (M. G. Pearse); xxxvi. 218 (A. B. Bruce); xlix. 72 (J. Stalker); lxxv. 59 (J. Birch).

Contemporary Pulpit, 1st Ser., viii. 10 (A. Whyte); ix. 175 (A. Saphir).

Weekly Pulpit, i. 582 (D. Dann).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/psalms-103.html. 1905.

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

Psalm 103:1-6

We have here a succession of scenes: (1) We are introduced to the law court, and we have a graphic picture of the condemned sinner brought before the bar of God and forced to plead guilty. The great act of Justification—"Who forgiveth all thine iniquities". (2) We are taken to the hospital ward—"Who healeth all thy diseases". Sin as a disease dealt with by the Great Physician. (3) The slave market—"Who redeemeth thy life from destruction". (4) The throne room—"Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness". (5) The banqueting hall—"Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things"; and (6) the heavenward flight—"Thy youth is renewed like the eagle"s".

—Alexander Whyte.

Bundles of Benefits

Psalm 103:2; Psalm 103:5

The Psalmist set himself one day to count up the benefits he had received from God. He had not proceeded far when he found himself engaged in an impossible task. He found he could not count the blessings he had received in a single day, so set himself to find a help to memory. He took those benefits which he desired not to forget, and he tied them up in bundles. He shaped the bundles into a song. Let us open the bundles and examine them. There are five of them; we see that they are divided into three and two. The first three are bound together by a common reference to sin, and the consequence of sin. The last two reveal how God would deal with His people if sin were taken out of the way.

I. Who Forgiveth All Thine Iniquities.—The forgiveness of sin is one of the greatest wonders of Christian experience. It tells us that a man may turn over a new leaf, that his future may not be a copy of his past. The forgiveness of sin is possible, for it is one of the surest facts of real experience.

II. Who Healeth All Thy Diseases.—Sin has its consequences and one of them is disease. Sin then makes disease, and God"s relation to disease is described so fully that it gives a distinctive name for God—Jehovah the Healer.

III. Who Redeemeth Thy Life from Destruction.—On the one hand, the final outcome of sin is destruction; on the other hand, the culmination of God"s action in relation to sin is redemption. Not a redemption of the soul, but of the body, it is the redemption of both, of the whole man.

IV. Who Crowneth Thee with Loving-kindness and Tender Mercies.—These words are about the most musical and poetic in the whole Bible. God crowns with lovingkindness and tender mercies, and these are the highest expression of the loving interest which God has in His people.

V. Satisfieth Thy Mouth with Food.—The note of Christianity is that no human needs are left unsatisfied. Satisfied with food, so that every need shall be met, this is the promise. Thus in this fifth bundle there are many things for which the Psalmist might well be grateful not only for what is expressed in it, but for the promise of large blessings yet in store for us in the days to coma

—J. Iverach, The Other Side of Greatness, p119.

References.—CIII:3.—W. G. Horder, Christian World Pulpit, 1891, p374. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxv. No1492. CIII:3, 4.—H. Drummond, The Ideal Life, p145.

Recovered Youthfulness

Psalm 103:5

The great lesson is that those whom God forgives, crowns with favour, and feeds with spiritual bounties, possess the secret of perpetual youth. The life that God nurtures will always rejuvenate itself and escape the weariness and humiliation of age.

I. We find the process of waste and repair going on in connexion with the common experience of life. Great troubles come to men in sad and obstinate succession, so that they break down utterly; hope exhausts itself, and they are unable to expect anything besides new troubles or the stated recurrence of the old. And then brighter days come. The cloud breaks and the tension is overpast. They are like the man who goes down into the troubled pool a wreck and comes back with the bloom of a child on his face. Youth has renewed itself.

II. Youth is a symbol of the flowing tide of life, and in the natural order of things, age stands for its ebb. If God renew our youth like the eagle"s we shall face without a single hurt the storms and conflicts and testing times of our earthly pilgrimage. Religious life never ought to be old. He whom God thus revives and inspires is able to forget his sorrows and to disburden himself of cares.

III. Many experiences remind us that the attritions in our daily lot tend to wear out religious life itself, and if we neglect the superhuman sources of repair it must wane and perish as surely as an over-pressed physical life. The spirit of the world, which looks everywhere with the suspicious eye, and affirms that the only law observed by the individual and the race is the law of selfishness, has taken possession of us, and every early enthusiasm is black with frostbite. Perhaps it is better we should stand aside and make way for the young, for we are stale, hypercritical, fertile in doubts and misgivings, prone to unhappy forecasts; and the work of the hour can only be done by those whose hearts are warm and eager. But surely that need not be. Religion brings the promise of rejuvenation to the mind, and the temper that has mastered us indicates that we are in closer intimacy with the world than with the God who renews the youth of His servants like the eagle"s.

IV. The temper of old age sometimes steals upon men in their corporate life and influence wanes till final eclipse is reached. It is the decay of faith which disintegrates and topples down dominant nations and conquering empires. The frictions of toil, the fever of overwrought civilizations, the burdens and responsibilities of empire will wear a nation down into weakness, decrepitude, weariness, and despair unless its life be continually revived at the everlasting springs.

V. The recovered youthfulness is in itself meetness for immortality. We need not be appalled at the thought of spending an endless existence in God"s presence, if in the Divine fountain of life we receive renewed baptisms into virginal freshness and vigour. The nature whose youth is here renewed like the eagle"s will be invigorated there for ever-ascending flights. The progress to which we are beckoned is towards an ideal of perpetual youth.

—T. G. Selby, The Unheeding God, p216.

References.—CIII:5.—S. A. Brooke, Christ in Modern Life, p351. CIII:9.—Spurgeon, Sermons. vol. xx. No1171.

Do Our Sins Always Find Us Out?

Psalm 103:10

If there be any one truth which holds the modern mind with a more relentless grasp than any other, it is that sin is followed inevitably and inescapably by its due penalty.

This solemn assurance is bound upon our minds by quoting some of the most emphatic sentences of Scripture. "The soul that sinneth it shall die." "They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind." "The wages of sin is death." "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." "Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." These teachers strike us with a silent dread as they summon up the conspicuous sinners and make them pass in a procession of shame. Esau finds his profane word fastened as a doom on his spirit. Jacob is driven by his sin into exile, and compelled to reap its reward many years after, both in his own anguish and in the sins of the children. Saul becomes a madman and a suicide. David walks in the streets of his city with men"s eyes condemning him, and sees his iniquity blighting his home and undoing the work of his unstained manhood. Solomon"s voluptuous day ends in a corruption whose penalty he himself begins to bear. And so name after name is summoned up, down to Judas rushing on death in his despair, to show that each man receives the full reward of his iniquity.

Now of the element of truth in this teaching no one need have any doubt, but it is a truth so much overstated, and sometimes set down so nakedly, and without relation to other truths, as to be almost a lie. It is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It is not true that every sin is visited by its due penalty. It is not true that a man"s sin always finds him out. It was true that if those Israelites to whom this sombre message was spoken had selfishly remained on the farther side of Jordan, and been content with their own portion, a severe penalty would have fallen upon them. Theirs would have been one of those modern sins for which a man suffers more surely than he knows. It is the sin of the man who selfishly and indulgently "cultivates his garden". But it is not true that a man always pays the uttermost farthing. The man who says so forgets that no single law is unlimited in its scope and power. He ignores the facts of life. He knows nothing of Christian experience. He forgets that law is not supreme and dominant. And he leaves out of account this imperial truth, that there is in the world and over the world a great will, a tender heart, and an infinite power. He forgets that this will uses and controls law. In a word, this grim and crude and unchastened teaching leaves out—God. The Psalmist saw the truth steadily, and he saw it whole when he wrote, "He hath not dealt with us after our sins".

Two boys were playing on a narrow ledge, worn smooth by adventurous feet, in the face of a seaside cliff. They had come along the path from the mill, which was set beside the neighbouring stream. Some twenty feet beneath the deep sea-green water lapped against the rock. One of the boys was the miller"s son—a bold, lawless spirit. He had been warned again and again of the peril of the path. He had been caught and chastised. His defiant spirit loved the danger. This day a careless step to the edge paid its penalty, and he fell into the smooth deep water below. Death seemed to be his just fate. But his keen cry was heard in the mill, and his father ran out with anger on his face. But when he saw his son struggling with death the frown became a spasm of anguish, and at the risk of his own life he plunged in and rescued him. As that boy lay in his exhaustion, tended by loving care, he knew how far it was true that our sin finds us out. He understood this Psalmist"s profounder word, "He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities". He knew that the world, which seems to be all law, is really all love, and that mercy rejoices against judgment.

Let me illustrate this truth to you, looking at it along the broad lines of God"s dealings with us.

I. Look, in the first place, along the line of God"s providence. When a man"s sin should find him out God"s providence often interferes to avert the penalty and to hide the shame. A man has bowed his head for the stroke, but all that he has felt has been the touch of God"s hand in mercy. Paul taught that "whatsoever" a man soweth, that, and nothing different from that, shall he reap. If a man sow oats, he shall reap oats and not barley. If he sow figs, he shall not reap thistles. "He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." But between the sowing and the reaping there come in other laws. There lies the whole providence of God. A man may sow and never reap at all. A man may reap where he has not sown, and gather where he has not strawed. And so between a man"s sin and his finding out there comes in the providence of God. It is written in many a scripture, "He hath not dealt with us after our sins".

II. Look, in the second place, along the line of God"s law. Men sometimes speak as though this law of penalty were the one dominant and overruling ordinance. They speak as though the consequences of a man"s sin must sweep on like a grim and unresting fate, must pursue him as a Nemesis with the steady foot of inescapable vengeance. It is a terrifying truth that our sin sets in motion blind forces of retribution. Every man is aghast when he realizes how wide and far-reaching is the range of a single evil deed. But God uses His law to conquer law. God enlists the higher law of mercy to repel the lower law of judgment. God counterworks the law of retribution by the law of repair.

III. Look, in the third place, along the line of God"s grace. Clearly God deals with infinite mercy in His providence and in His law. But there is an inner world where, at first sight, a man"s sins find him out ruthlessly. God"s providence may prevent the direst consequences. God"s law may renew the life and bring out the fair blossom of many an outward grace. But there are what Newman calls, in the noble title of his overdrawn sermon, "The moral consequences of single sins". There are those moral and spiritual issues and effects which are the curse of the soul. The profligate may sit "a sober man among his boys," but he cannot undo the past. He cannot cleanse his memory, he cannot be wholesome in thought. The events of a man"s wilful years may be left behind him, but in the disability of his conscience, the defects of his character, the torture of old desires, and the indelible hues of sin and error with which his mind is dyed, he shows that his sin is finding him out. And deepest of all there is the sense of things done which cannot be undone, the unanswerable accusation of the past, the breach between the soul and God. We need something more than sweet providence, and something more than correcting law. We need grace. We need that forgiveness and renewal which are proclaimed in the Gospel and wrought out in the Cross of Christ. We need something more than the working of a providence which may interpose between us and our due reward. We need something more than laws which may order and direct new forces. We need to have the breach closed between God and the soul. We need the guilty conscience cleansed. We need the most awful and most desolating consequence of all removed from us, our fearfulness of God and our alienation to Him. These are given us by the Cross.

—W. M. Clow, The Gross in Christian Experience, p167.

The Infinite Forgiveness

Psalm 103:12

The writer of this Psalm groups his thoughts under three clearly defined heads. He speaks in the opening verses of personal forgiveness and the blessings which cluster round it. He next dwells upon the forgiveness which God has extended to His people in their covenant life, as illustrated in past history and the present outlook. And he fittingly closes his meditations with a tribute of praise to the power and sovereign dominion of the God whose mercy reaches to all generations. Our text belongs to the second division, and in terms of inspired rhapsody extols God"s pardoning compassion to the race He had called into His covenant.

I. The average Jew acquired his sense of the Divine forgiveness by remembering that he was an organic part of a redeeming community. God had pitied and pardoned, in significant ways, the race to which he and his forefathers belonged; and whilst affirming from time to time by the prescribed forms his covenant birthright, he was under little or no temptation to regard himself as an outcast.

II. The hope of salvation which some men in modern days entertain because of their affiliation to the Church is a part of the same idea, and is a doubtful survival from Jewish times. God deals with men in racial and confederated aggregates, and is it not well to be identified with an accredited body to which His mercy is pledged? But another idea was emphasized in the ministry of Jesus Christ. His message was a message of condemnation to the body politic but of absolution to the separate penitent. He taught that the Divine Father dealt with the individual, that responsibility was first personal and afterwards corporate, and that men must be saved apart before they are gathered into elect communities.

III. It is the prerogative of a personal God to forgive, and where the Divine personality is either denied or relegated to an obscure background, no place can be found for this cardinal doctrine of the evangelical creed.

IV. The Psalmist"s rhapsody is in no sense exaggerated and the disabilities of our sin do not follow us a day longer than we need their lessons. God"s mercy brings a sweet oblivion of the shame and selfishness of misspent years. In the check put upon our natural ana spiritual strength by the errors of the past, in the shrunken opportunities of which our half-maimed lives are made up, in the less splendid honours that beckon us forward, there may be plain marks of a disability entailed by early unfaithfulness and transgression; and yet God in His love has come so near to us that His immeasurable Being is interposed between our souls and past sin.

V. But the Psalmist implies in his magnificent metaphor that human transgression is dealt with by an act of superhuman grace and power. "As far as the east is from the west." The terms were of unknown range and unlimited elasticity. These figures of the firmament meant for him just as much as they mean for us with our larger knowledge. All the dimensions of space are used to illustrate this hymn of the Divine mercy through every line of which there murmurs the exhilarating breath of a spiritual springtide. No term can be put to the compassions of Almighty God.

VI. Although the Psalmist speaks in such bold and uncompromising terms of God"s forgiveness, we must not assume that there is any strain of indifference to moral distinctions in the magnanimous act he celebrates. To pardon implies a vast constraint of pity, an indescribable sacrifice, the cost of which men only began to learn centuries later, and the immensity of which is still a mystery to us.

—T. G. Selby, The God of the Frail, p39.

Reference.—CIII:12.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xix. No1108.

The Father and His Children

Psalm 103:13

The life of each man may be looked at from two very different points of view. He may be regarded as an individual or as a member of society. Each of these two aspects brings into sight its own particular gifts and opportunities and obligations and advantages.

Our Lord"s parables are divided into two classes according as they treat of this social general aspect of man"s life or of his particular and individual life. Some of those which begin to tell us about the kingdom of God deal with social aspects of human life. Others, such as that of the Prodigal Song of Solomon, are altogether occupied with the life of each individual. All these individualistic parables start with the great assumption that each man is related to God in a particular manner.

I. God is Your Father, and Because He is Song of Solomon, you have a Claim Upon God.—He wishes us to understand that the obligations of Fatherhood are distinctly upon Him. He draws a parallel: "If ye, then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?" He not only acknowledges that the claims of Fatherhood are upon Him but He acknowledges it in a way with which we are familiar and on grounds which we can thoroughly understand. God cannot neglect you nor forget you, nor refuse to hear your prayer. He asks you to believe that. This is the great primary act of trusting God which your heavenly Father asks of every heart of man.

(a) We learn it not from Nature.—If this demand upon our faith were made simply in the face of what we call the common course of Nature it would be practically impossible for us to respond to it.

(b) But from Redemption.—As we look out into the world and its history we see One hanging on Calvary. He claims to be God Himself, and if He is then, of course, the sight of Jesus of Nazareth, God Himself, hanging on the cross of pain and shame does not relieve all our doubts and all our difficulties, it does not tell us how this sad state of things came about or why it is allowed to go on, but it does tell us how God cares.

And this leads us to a further consideration.

II. Fatherhood Means that God has a Claim on Us.—He has a claim on our life and our obedience, and a claim on our service. It is always the service of sons. If you find yourselves engaged in anxious and strenuous work, you are there because God has said, " Song of Solomon, go and work today".

A poor lady found in her son"s coat when he came back from school three of the letters which she had written to him unopened. Poor lady! She said, "My boy had the first claims on me, and I put everything aside to write to him every week," and this was the result, and you can gather how she felt.

So God feels today over your unopened Bible and your unsaid prayers. Remember that we are not neglecting a tyrant but wounding the God Who loves us and Whose heart cries out for us all the time.

Psalm 103:13

Dr. Dale says on this text: "Years ago when death came to me first and took a child, the anguish was great. Watching her while she lay dying, I learnt for the first time what is meant by the words, "Like as a father pitieth his children". Only so could I be taught the pity of God. And I learnt, too, at the same time, what God must feel at the loss of His children. What are all these passionate affections but parables of Divine things. Shall God suffer and not we?"

References.—CIII:13.—J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons (9th Series), p186. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxviii. No1660.

The God of the Frail

Psalm 103:13-14

Our text directly asserts that God pities us because of the pains and vicissitudes to which this fragile framework of our passing lives condemns us. It also indirectly suggests that He blends mercy with His judgment because of the limitations under which we have to pass our probation upon earth, and because also of the obstructions presented by the flesh to our best thought and service, as well as to the great destiny which is already asserting its promise within us.

I. These words remind us that the pathos of our mortality enlists the pity of the Eternal. God"s survey takes in the final picture of our weakness and all the scenes of pain and humiliation which lead up to the last, sad, tear-bathed page of our earthly history. Is not His scrutiny mollified by the remembrance of everything we may have to endure? That principle is the clue to many enigmas in God"s dealings with the children of men. But for the infirmities of the flesh we might never taste the sweetest springs of God"s tenderness. It is not without a far-reaching reason that God has fashioned us of a weak, sensitive, perishable material. It is the children of the dust who are destined to know at last the deepest secret of His heart.

II. These words imply that this brief life man spends in the flesh enlists the Divine compassion, because great spiritual issues turn upon a right use of its opportunities. The issues of a stern probation intertwine themselves with the textures of our earthly lives.

(a) This probation is not only limited in its appointed term, but hampered by the desires engendered within the bodily framework. But in His merciful judgment God penetrates through what is apparent and avoids our pitiable confusions between moral and physical causes.

(b) These words seem to imply that we are the objects of pity because the flesh puts a drag upon our holiest aspiration and service. The Divine Father remembers that we are compassed with frailty and hemmed in by disqualifications. Whilst waywardness must be corrected and moral deformity in all its aspects must be removed, He has taught us that infirmity is distinguished from sin, and, through the mission of One who was tempted like unto His brethren, has assured us of exhaustless compassion.

(c) The flesh obscures the vision of spiritual things, and these words imply that the Father of light looks graciously upon those who are peering through the imprisoning gloom of the senses in the hope that they will yet see His face. The splendour in which God dwells is filtered of its overpowering brightness by the dullness of the flesh, and we may strain our spiritual senses in vain to see it as it is. God ordained this when He made man of the dust of the ground, and for our constitutional limitations has ready an apologetic, tender, magnanimous final—"He remembereth that we are flesh".

—T. G. Selby, The God of the Frail, p1.

References.—CIII:13,14.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xvi. No941. CIII:15, 16.—J. Aspinall, Parish Sermons (1Series), p55. CIII. International Critical Commentary, vol. ii. p323. CIV:1.—J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons (9th Series), p257. CIV:13, 14.—T. Barker, Plain Sermons, p98. CIV:16.—T. Sadler, Sermons for Children, p141. CIV:19.—E. A. Askew, Sermons Preached in Greystoke Church, p132. CIV:19-23.—H. M. Butler, Harrow School Sermons, p176.

Psalm 103

This Psalm was read once a day in the family of John Angell James, of Birmingham. When his wife died he was asked if it should be read. "Yes," he said, "it is as full of comfort as of thanksgiving."

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/edt/psalms-103.html. 1910.

F.B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary

THE LORD’S ABUNDANT MERCIES

Psalms 103:1-12

David’s name heads this peerless psalm, which expresses, as none other, the soul of the universal Church and of the individual Christian. Notice the present tenses throughout these verses. God’s tender dealings run parallel with our lives. He is never weary nor exhausted. When once He begins, He keeps on. Let us enumerate the blessings that He gives in such unbroken abundance, and as the fingers tell the successive beads, praise Him: forgiveness; healing, Exodus 15:26; redemption from perils and accidents, seen and unseen; the crowns that He places on our unworthy heads; entire satisfaction, Psalms 36:8; Isaiah 58:11; perennial youth.

It was a proverb among Orientals that the eagle literally grows younger. This is the psalmist’s reference in Psalms 103:5. For us it means that the life which is fed from the eternal springs is eagle-like in royal strength and sunward flight. Ways or plans are revealed to the inner circle; the ordinary congregation knows only acts. The Father does chide, but only till we put sin away. Conceive the infinite spaces of East and West-such is the distance of forgiven sin from us. It is impossible that the blame or curse of it should ever return upon the redeemed soul.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Frederick Brotherton. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "F. B. Meyer's 'Through the Bible' Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbm/psalms-103.html. 1914.

Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible

Psalm 103

The Praise of Israel

1. The benefits of full salvation (Psalms 103:1-7)

2. Merciful and gracious (Psalms 103:8-18)

3. His throne and His kingdom (Psalms 103:19-22)

This is the well-beloved Psalm, because God’s people love it for its precious and beautiful expressions, telling out the full salvation of our Saviour Lord and the gracious compassion which He manifests towards His own. But we must not overlook the prophetic aspect, which but few believers have recognized. It is really the hymn of Praise which will be sung by redeemed and restored Israel. Theirs will be a whole-souled praise. Their iniquities are forgiven, their diseases are healed, their life is redeemed from the pit, they are crowned with lovingkindness and tender mercies. Their youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Isaiah 40:28-31), which will be fulfilled then. And then the riches of mercy towards His beloved people! His Throne and His kingdom are seen in the closing verses and everything blesses Him.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Gaebelein, Arno Clemens. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Gaebelein's Annotated Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gab/psalms-103.html. 1913-1922.

G. Campbell Morgan's Exposition on the Whole Bible

It seems almost a work of supererogation to write anything about this psalm. It is perhaps the most perfect song of pure praise to be found in the Bible. It has become the common inheritance of all who through suffering and deliverance have learned the goodness of Jehovah. Through centuries it has been sung by glad hearts, and today is as fresh and full of beauty as ever. It is praise intensive and extensive.

As to its intensity, notice how the entire personality of the singer is recognised. The spirit of the man speaks. He addresses his soul, or mind, and calls it to praise first for spiritual benefits, and then for physical. And again notice how in the sweep of the song, things so small as the frame of the physical and its constituent dust are recognised, while yet the immeasurable reaches of east and west are included.

The extensive mercy of Jehovah, as evident in the same system, is seen in other psalms, but perhaps never so majestically as here. It begins with individual consciousness (vv. Psalms 103:1-5); proceeds in recognition of national blessings (vv. Psalms 103:6-18); and ends with the inclusion of all the angels, and hosts, and works in the vast dominion of Jehovah. The “my” of personal experience merges into the “our” of social fellowship, thus culminates in the “all” of universal consciousness. Yet all ends with the person word, and the perfect music of the psalm is revealed in the fact that it opens and closes on the same not.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "G. Campbell Morgan Exposition on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcm/psalms-103.html. 1857-84.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Bless the Lord, O my soul,.... His better part, his soul, which comes immediately from God, and returns to him, which is immaterial and immortal, and of more worth than the world: God is to be served with the best we have; as with the best of our substance, so with the best of our persons; and it is the heart, or soul, which he requires to be given him; and such service as is performed with the soul or spirit is most agreeable to him; he being a Spirit, and therefore must be worshipped in spirit and in truth: unless the spirit or soul of a man, is engaged in the service of God, it is of little avail; for bodily exercise profiteth not; preaching, hearing, praying, and praising, should be both with the spirit, and with the understanding: here the psalmist calls upon his soul to "bless" the Lord; not by invoking or conferring a blessing on him, which as it is impossible to be done, so he stands in no need of it, being God, all sufficient, and blessed for evermore; but by proclaiming and congratulating his blessedness, and by giving him thanks for all mercies, spiritual and temporal:

and all that is within me, bless his holy name; meaning not only all within his body, his heart, reins, lungs, &c. but all within his soul, all the powers and faculties of it; his understanding, will, affections, and judgment; and all the grace that was wrought in him, faith, hope, love, joy, and the like; these he would have all concerned and employed in praising the name of the Lord; which is exalted above all blessing and praise; is great and glorious in all the earth, by reason of his works wrought, and blessings of goodness bestowed; and which appears to be holy in them all, as it does in the works of creation, providence, and redemption; at the remembrance of which holiness thanks should be given; for he that is glorious in holiness is fearful in praises, Psalm 97:12.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/psalms-103.html. 1999.

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

Psalm 103

Psalm 103:1 (A Psalm of David.) Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Psalm 103:1 — "bless his holy name" - Comments- Matthew 6:9 says that the Lord's name is holy. No one else in all the universe has the name of the Lord (YHWH).

Matthew 6:9, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name."

Psalm 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Psalm 103:2"and forget not all his benefits" - Comments- As I was praying in Philippians 4:6 one morning about not being anxious, the Lord quickened to me "forget not all His benefits." As I go throughout this day, I am to be always mindful of what He has done for me. As I read through this psalm that morning, I felt a praise swell in my heart and I began singing praises to my Lord, much as David must have experienced as the Lord gave him these very words.

Philippians 4:6, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God."

Psalm 103:3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;

Psalm 103:4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

Psalm 103:4"who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies" - Comments- The Hebrew word "lovingkindness is "hesed" ( חֵסֵד) (H 2617). This is the agape love of the Old Testament. The Lord has tender mercy upon us because He loves us.

Psalm 103:5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle"s.

Psalm 103:5 — "so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle"s" - Comments- Gesenius, commenting on the Hebrew word for "eagle" ( נְשַׁר) (H 5404), tells us that Psalm 103:5 is a reference to the molting that an eagle goes through, as do many other birds, to renew its wing feathers so that it is able to fly continually.

Psalm 103:5Scripture Reference- We see another reference to the renewal of strength and the flight of an eagle in Isaiah 40:31, "But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

Psalm 103:6 The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

Psalm 103:7 He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.

Psalm 103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

Psalm 103:9 He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.

Psalm 103:9Comments- The Lord does not always keep His anger. Note that God asks us to do the same thing in Ephesians 4:26.

Ephesians 4:26, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:"

Psalm 103:10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

Psalm 103:11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:12 — "As far as the east is from the west" - Comments- An airline pilot once noted that an airplane can fly so far north that it begins to fly south, but it can never fly so far east that it begins to go west. Thus, the north meets the south, but the east will never meet the west. Their distance apart is infinite.

Psalm 103:12 — — Scripture References- Note similar verses:

Isaiah 43:25, "I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins."

Isaiah 44:22, "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee."

Psalm 103:15 As for Prayer of Manasseh, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.

Psalm 103:15Scripture References- Note the same thought in James 1:10-11.

, "But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways."

Psalm 103:20 Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

Psalm 103:20Comments- Benny Hinn understands Psalm 103:20 to mean that the angels hearken unto the voice of God's servants as well when they speak the words of God. 102]

102] Benny Hinn, "Sermon," at Fire Conference, 5-6 June 2009, Miracle Center Cathedral, Kampala, Uganda.

Psalm 103:21 Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.

Psalm 103:22 Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.

Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.
Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/psalms-103.html. 2013.

Geneva Study Bible

"[A Psalm] of David." a Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, [bless] his holy name.

(a) He wakens his dulness to praise God, showing that both understanding and affections, mind and heart, are too little to set forth his praise.
Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/psalms-103.html. 1599-1645.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Himself. Complutensian Septuagint adds, "a psalm of the creation," (Haydock) as this is the subject; but there is no title in the original. (Berthier) The psalm contains "a divine and natural philosophy," (Eusebius) respecting the creation and providence. Plato has written something similar in his Timæus, (Calmet) though this comparison is indecent. (Berthier) --- The imitation is no disparagement, however, to this divine word, and we may surely notice the concord between the inspired and profane writers. (Haydock) --- This psalm seems to be a continuation of the preceding one. (Calmet) --- Great. Literally, "magnified," in the same sense as we say, hallowed be thy name, [Matthew vi. 9.] praying that God may be honoured by all his creatures; (Haydock) though He cannot increase in holiness, &c. (St. Augustine) --- We become acquainted with his greatness, by considering his works. (Calmet) --- Praise. Literally, "confession," (Haydock) Hebrew, "glory." (Calmet) --- Thou art entitled to all praise. (Worthington)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/psalms-103.html. 1859.

Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms

Ver. 1. By David. Praise, O my soul, the Lord, and all that is in me his holy name. Ver. 2. Praise, my soul, the Lord, and forget not all his gifts, Ver. 3. Who forgiveth thee all thine iniquity, who healeth all thy infirmities. Ver. 4. Who delivereth thy life from the grave, who crowneth thee with pity and tender mercies. Ver. 5. Who satisfieth thy beauty with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle. Ver. 6. The Lord executed righteousness and judgment for all oppressed. Ver. 7. He made known his ways to Moses, his mighty deeds to the children of Israel. Ver. 8. Compassionate and gracious is the Lord, long suffering and rich in kindness. Ver. 9. He contends not always, and keeps not up for ever. Ver. 10. He deals not towards us according to our sins, and does not give to us according to our iniquities.

On the first clause of Psalms 103:1, comp. Psalms 34:2-3. The thrice repeated "praise," properly "bless," (twice at the beginning and once at the end), to which the thrice repeated "praise" in Psalms 103:20-22, corresponds, stands in reference to the three-membered Mosaic blessing, Numbers 6:24-26 : the soul, which has experienced the strength of the "bless thee," is exhorted to "bless;" he who has been blessed and refuses to bless has sunk from the state of a man to that of a beast. Berleb.: "The smitten and death-struck soul again brought to life, feeling the joy of its new freedom, and the enjoyment of its deliverance, flows out, in testimony of its gratitude, entirely in praise and thanksgiving. He has, says such a man, delivered thee by his goodness from thine own cares. Thou hast therefore only one thing to do, namely to occupy thyself singly and alone with offering to him praise and thanks. This for the future should be thy only employment." On קרב, the inward part, comp. at Psalms 5:9. The inward part where the heart is (comp. Psalms 39:3, "my heart was hot within me), stands here in contrast to what is external, the mere lips, with which even the unthankful give thanks

Berleb.: "Men often say from mere custom, God be thanked or praised, and this rather externally, without any inward tender gratitude, than in spirit and in truth"—comp. Psalms 62:4, "with the mouth they bless, and with their inward part they curse." The plural of the קרב, and the "all" are particularly emphatic. It adds besides the contrast of the heart to the mouth, that of the whole heart against the half of it; comp. at the "my one heart," and "with the whole heart," in Psalms 86:11-12. The address to the soul, by no means a mere figurative expression, stands in contrast to a superficial lip service. The fundamental passage is Deuteronomy 6:5, "thou shalt love (and therefore also praise, for praise grows out of love) the Lord with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength." His holy name—him who by his deeds has manifested himself as the holy and the adorable one, comp. at Psalms 22:3.

In Psalms 103:2 the positive exhortation is repeated for the purpose of adding to it the negative one about to be emphatically sounded forth. David knew too well from experience the forgetfulness of the human heart not to consider it necessary to remind his posterity of it. For that under the "I will not forget" there lies concealed a "forget thou not" is clear from the above remarks. Berleb.: "Let us all therefore still address our forgetful heart on all occasions. Ah! may we still impress upon our souls on all occasions, by the help of the Holy Ghost, forget not what good things the Lord has done for thee! Yea, "forget not" should always be rung in our hearts, because they so early forget. Allusion is made to the words of Moses, "forget not the Lord thy God who brought thee out of the land of Egypt," &c., in Deuteronomy 6:12, Deuteronomy 8:11, Deuteronomy 8:14; compare Deuteronomy 32:15. On גמל, to bestow gifts, compare at Psalms 7:4. "All his gifts," stands in reference to "all that is in me." It is only he who has given sparingly that feels satisfied with half thanks. On the first clause of Psalms 103:2 compare Psalms 25:11, Psalms 51:9, and Psalms 86:5. According to the connection and parallelism, the forgiveness of sin is a matter-of-fact one; it becomes known in the bringing about of salvation. On the Jod and the suf. here, and in Psalms 103:4-5, compare Ew. § 258 a. The manifestly designed repetition shows that it is no incidental Arameism but a poetical form. That the sicknesses figuratively refers to sufferings (many expositors suppose that moral infirmities are meant, which, however, will not suit the connection), is clear from the fundamental passage, Deuteronomy 29:22, "when they see the plagues of this land and the sicknesses which the Lord hath laid on it," and Exodus 15:26, "If thou wilt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, . . . I will not send upon thee the sickness which I brought upon the Egyptians (in reference to the plagues of Egypt) . . . for I the Lord am thy physician." The Psalmist praises the Lord because he had removed the fulfilment of the threatening contained in the first clause, and had brought about the fulfilment of the promise of the second.

From the grave, Psalms 103:4, compare at Psalms 16:10, Psalms 30:9, to which the Psalmist had been very near, comp. "my life is near to hell," Psalms 88:3, Psalms 68:20, Psalms 48:14. The preceding Psalm complains of impending danger of death, and hopes in it. Thy life—he, the God of thy life, Psalms 42:8. Who crowns thee, Psalms 65:11, with kindness and compassion, Psalms 25:6, Psalms 40:11.

In Psalms 103:5 all translations are to be set aside as arbitrary, and not worth mentioning, which take עדי in any other sense than in the only one which is ascertained, and which also occurs in Psalms 32:9, that viz, of ornament, beauty. That the Psalmist by his beauty denotes his soul as his better part, is clear from the fact that the corresponding expression "my glory," as denoting the soul, is a favourite one with David, (compare. at Psalms 57:8), and from the fact that to satisfy the soul as the seat of the desires and wishes, is a phrase of constant occurrence, comp. Psalms 107:9, "for he satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with good," Isaiah 63:11, "God satisfies in thirsty places thy soul," Psalms 63:5, Psalms 25:13. The objection that the Psalmist addresses his soul, and cannot call his soul the beauty of his soul, has no force. For in the preceding clauses the idea of the whole person represented by the soul as the better part, had imperceptibly come into the place of that of the soul; and the soul is therefore named as the ornament of the person, compare "who healeth all thy sicknesses," and "who delivereth thy life from the grave." In reference to the poetical connection of the plural with the feminine singular in the second clause, compare. Ew. § 307. We cannot translate: like that of the eagle, but only, like the eagle, the comparison as is the case very frequently (comp. Ew. § 221, Lamentations 5:21), being merely intimated, instead of "as is the case with the eagle," "so that in point of strength thou art like the eagle." The Scripture knows nothing of the idea that the eagle when old renews its youth. That there is nothing of this kind contained in Isaiah 40:31, which is commonly appealed to, but that it is rather the powerful flight of the eagle that is there referred to, "they mount up on wings like the eagle, they run and are not weary," is evident from the parallel, to fly, run, march. The want of the copula before the second clause, shows that the goodness with which the soul is satisfied, is just the renewing of the youth, the high privilege of the royal family of David which is continually verified as ages run on. Old age, in other cases always the forerunner of death, is here continually the forerunner of youth; the greater the failure of strength is, so much the nearer is the entire renewal of strength. How completely worn out with old age was the family of David at the time of the first appearance of Christ!

From the favour of God towards the royal family of David, the Psalmist turns in the second half of the strophe to that towards the church, whose weal and woe were intimately and indissolubly bound up with those of the royal race, which in it and with it is crowned with kindness and compassion, satisfied with good things, and raised to fresh and powerful youth. That by "all oppressed ones" in Psalms 103:6, we are to understand "his people in all oppressions," is evident from what follows; compare the praise of the care of God for widows and orphans, in special reference to the suffering church, in Psalms 68:5. The צדקות, righteousnesses, is manifestations of righteousness, as משפטים is right actions.

The ways of the Lord in Psalms 103:7 are his safe guidance, and the making known is a matter-of-fact one; comp. at Psalms 25:4, "thy ways, O Lord, make known to me," instead of "manifest to me thy safe guidance,"—our passage serves to confirm the interpretation given there, Psalms 67:2. All these passages depend upon Exodus 33:13, where Moses says to the Lord, "if I have found grace in thy sight, make known to me thy ways, and let me know thee." Moses speaks there in name of the people whose soul he was. The import of the prayer is, that the Lord would make him the object of his safe guidance, and make himself known in it. The prayer is heard. God promises that he himself will go before him and will lead him to rest. The reference of our verse to this fundamental passage is all the more direct, as the following verse also is unquestionably borrowed from the Pentateuch. As Moses represents the congregation of the Lord, there is no reason for taking יודיע in the sense of a preterite; God always makes known his ways to Moses,—the discourse even in the whole paragraph is of what God does continually. His mighty deeds, Psalms 9:11, Psalms 78:11,

Psalms 103:8 depends upon Exodus 34:6, comp. the repetition just as literal in Joel 2:13, Psalms 86:15, and the references as entirely undeniable in Psalms 78:38, Psalms 111:4, Nahum 1:3. These passages show what a deep impression had been made upon the Israelitish mind by this great and consolatory saying which alone ought to have annihilated all the dreams of Moloch.

On the thought of Psalms 103:9, comp. Psalms 30. Isaiah 57:16 depends upon the first clause: "for I will contend for ever." The circumstance that the ואמת of the fundamental passage is omitted, shows how close is the connection here with the preceding clause. The second clause depends upon Leviticus 19:18, "thou shalt not be revengeful nor bear any grudge לא תטר, against the children of thy people." In strict theological exposition, the Psalmist sees in the passage a proof of the inclination of God to forgive his people, whose commandments are so many illustrations of his nature. He would destroy his own law were he not to do so. Nahum 1:2 again depends on the passage before us: "the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he keepeth wrath (not assuredly for his people, of whom the declaration of the Psalmist holds true, but still) for his enemies," and Jeremiah 3:5, Jeremiah 3:12.

That the preterites in Psalms 103:10, and also the preceding futures, are to be translated as presents, and refer to the constant doings of God, is evident from Psalms 103:11-14, especially Psalms 103:14, where the pret. does not give the least meaning. He deals not with us according to our sins, as he has threatened in Leviticus 26:21 : he does this only to mere despisers, The "with us"—the fearers of God—must be carefully attended to. Otherwise the ungrounded inference which the Berleb. B. deduces will meet us: "punishments hence cannot be absolutely eternal, otherwise he would undoubtedly act towards us (?) according to our sins." The גמל, to give, in Psalms 103:2 with the על is to gift, as here, at Psalms 13:6.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Hengstenberg, Ernst. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". Ernst Hengstenberg on John, Revelation, Ecclesiastes, Ezekiel & Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/heg/psalms-103.html.

Hamilton Smith's Writings

Psalm 103

Praise to Jehovah from restored Israel for the blessings into which they are brought in the ways of God.

(vv1-3) The psalmist calls upon his soul to praise the Lord for all the blessings into which the nation is brought. He presents a millennial picture of Israel blessed in their circumstances by the benefits of the Lord, with their sins forgiven and their diseases healed. In the days of His presentation to Israel, the Lord has forgiven sins and healed diseases, and thus, by putting forth the powers of the world to come, showed that the kingdom had drawn nigh. Alas! the King was rejected and for the time the blessedness of the kingdom was lost.

(vv4-6) Now at length, the nation redeemed from destruction renews its life. The righteous judgment of the Lord will end the long centuries of oppression to which the Jew has been subjected under the rule of the Gentiles, as the result of their rejection of their Messiah.

(vv7-12) The blessing of restored Israel will be brought about by the ways of God as made known to Moses. To Israel His outward acts were revealed; to Moses was revealed the principles on which God acted. These ways are now declared to the restored nation. In His ways God is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. Thus He revealed Himself to Moses on the Mount ( ). In accordance with these ways God had ever acted in the long history of the nation. Because of their sins God had to chasten them, yet, "He will not always chide; neither will He keep His anger for ever."

Their sins and iniquities had become the occasion of showing that His mercy and grace is greater than man"s sin, even "as the heaven is high above the earth." Thus it is seen that God is not indifferent to the sins of His people. He shows mercy to His people, but He deals with them on account of their sins and removes their sins "as far as the east is from the west."

(vv13-16) In all these ways God had acted in tender condescension towards the God-fearing remnant, even as an earthly father pities his children. God remembered their frailty- that like a flower blown away by the wind, so His people if left to the storms of this world would be utterly destroyed and have no more place as a nation.

(vv17-18) In contrast to weak Prayer of Manasseh, whose beauty flourishes like a flower, and is then withered by a storm of wind, the "mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and His righteousness unto children"s children." Neither the frailty of man nor the adverse wind of the enemy can change either "the mercy" or "righteousness" of the Lord. This mercy and righteousness is towards such as keep His covenant and do His commands. Is not this the unconditional covenant made with Abraham, under which the nation being brought into blessing can at last keep Jehovah"s commands ( Romans 8:4)?

(vv19-20) The end of all God"s ways with man is to make manifest that His throne is established in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.

His kingdom displayed as over all calls for the praise of all, both in heaven and earth. Thus all spiritual beings are summoned to bless the Lord. All His "hosts" - every providential force in nature- are called to bless the Lord. All His created works are called to bless the Lord. And let every individual of the redeemed say, "Bless the Lord, O my soul."

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Hamilton. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Hamilton Smith's Writings". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hsw/psalms-103.html. 1832.

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

"Bless the Lord, O my soul—and all that is within me, bless his holy name." Psalm 103:1

As the Son has glorified the Father and the Father has glorified the Song of Solomon, so there is a people in whom both the Father and the Son will be glorified. He therefore said, "And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one" ( John 17:22); and again, "All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I am glorified in them." When, then, God"s goodness and mercy in the face of Jesus Christ are manifested to this people whom he has formed for himself that they might show forth his praise, then they give him back his glory. But how is this done? By praising and blessing his holy name for the manifestation of his goodness and mercy to their soul. We thus see in what a blessed circle this glory runs. The Father glorifies the Son; the Son glorifies the Father; both unite in glorifying his chosen and redeemed people; and they glorify Father and Son by giving them the glory due to their name. We therefore read that "the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy." But how? "Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people. Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; and laud him, all you people" ( Romans 15:9-11).

This is beautifully developed in . It begins with blessing and praising God. "Bless the Lord, O my soul—and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits." Why was it that David called upon his soul to bless the Lord—yes, appealed to every faculty within him to unite in blessing his holy name? Why did he charge it upon his soul not to forget all God"s benefits, but bear them in perpetual remembrance? For this reason—that he might render unto God a tribute of thankful praise. Now by this God is glorified, for whoever offers praise glorifies him. We cannot add to his glory; for his glory is above the heavens. It is infinite, eternal, ineffable. No creature therefore can add to it or take from it; but he does permit poor worms of earth to glorify him by giving him a tribute of thankful praise. But this we can only do by believing in his dear Song of Solomon, receiving of his fullness grace for grace, and blessing and praising his holy name for the manifestation of his goodness, mercy, and love, as brought into our soul by his own divine power.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jcp/psalms-103.html.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Psalm 103:1-22. A Psalm of joyous praise, in which the writer rises from a thankful acknowledgment of personal blessings to a lively celebration of God‘s gracious attributes, as not only intrinsically worthy of praise, but as specially suited to man‘s frailty. He concludes by invoking all creatures to unite in his song.

Bless, etc. — when God is the object, praise.

my soul — myself (Psalm 3:3; Psalm 25:1), with allusion to the act, as one of intelligence.

all  …  within me — (Deuteronomy 6:5).

his holy name — (Psalm 5:11), His complete moral perfections.

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/psalms-103.html. 1871-8.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

.-Bless Yahweh, my soul, for having saved body, soul, and life, and satisfying me with good things (Psalms 103:1-5); He is the righteous Redeemer of His oppressed people from Moses' days downward. Even oppressions he overrules to His people's good, chastising us less than our sins deserve (Psalms 103:6-10); God's mercy illustrated by the height of the heavens, the distance between east and west, and a father's pity for weak children (Psalms 103:11-14); His everlasting mercy to His own is our only refuge from our mortality (Psalms 103:15-18); His kingdom rules over all: let all, therefore, praise Him, especially the Psalmist (Psalms 103:19-22). This is the praise-song of Yahweh's mercy and judgment which David promised at the beginning of the trilogy (Psalms 101:1). David's ideal successor, and then Yahweh's people, whom he represents, is the speaker.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/psalms-103.html. 1871-8.

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

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,”

is supported by all the Versions.

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.

REFLECTIONS.

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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/psalms-103.html. 1835.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Psalms 103:1 « [A Psalm] of David. » Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, [bless] his holy name.

A Psalm of David] Which he wrote when carried out of himself, as far as heaven, saith Beza; and therefore calleth not upon his own soul only, but upon all creatures, from the highest angel to the lowest worm, to set forth God’s praises.

Ver. 1. Bless the Lord, O my soul] Agedum animule mi, et intima men viscera. A good man’s work lieth most within doors; he is more taken up with his own heart than with all the world besides; neither can he ever be alone so long as he hath God and his own soul to converse with. David’s harp was not oftener out of tune than his heart, which here he is setting right, that he may the better make melody to the Lord. Music is sweet, but the setting of the strings in tune is unpleasing; so is it harsh to set our hearts in order, which yet must be done, and thoroughly done, as here.

And all that is within me] All my faculties and senses. The whole soul and body must be set awork in this service; the judgment, to set a right estimate upon mercies; the memory, to recognize and retain them, Deuteronomy 6:11-12; Deuteronomy 8:14; the will, which is the proper seat of thankfulness; the affections, love, desire, joy, confidence; all must be actuated, that our praises may be cordial, vocal, vital. In peace offerings God called for the fat and inwards.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/psalms-103.html. 1865-1868.

Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary

In the strophe Psalms 103:1 the poet calls upon his soul to arise to praiseful gratitude for God's justifying, redeeming, and renewing grace. In such soliloquies it is the Ego that speaks, gathering itself up with the spirit, the stronger, more manly part of man ( Psychology, S. 104f.; tr. p. 126), or even, because the soul as the spiritual medium of the spirit and of the body represents the whole person of man ( Psychology, S. 203; tr. p. 240), the Ego rendering objective in the soul the whole of its own personality. So here in Psalms 103:3 the soul, which is addressed, represents the whole man. The קובים which occurs here is a more choice expression for מעים ( מעים ): the heart, which is called קרב κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν, the reins, the liver, etc.; for according to the scriptural conception ( Psychology, S. 266; tr. p. 313) these organs of the cavities of the breast and abdomen serve not merely for the bodily life, but also the psycho-spiritual life. The summoning בּרכי is repeated per anaphoram . There is nothing the soul of man is so prone to forget as to render thanks that are due, and more especially thanks that are due to God. It therefore needs to be expressly aroused in order that it may not leave the blessing with which God blesses it unacknowledged, and may not forget all His acts performed ( גּמל = גּמר ) on it ( גּמוּל, ῥῆμα μέσον, e.g., in Psalms 137:8), which are purely deeds of loving-kindness), which is the primal condition and the foundation of all the others, viz., sin-pardoning mercy. The verbs סלח and רפא with a dative of the object denote the bestowment of that which is expressed by the verbal notion. תּחלוּאים (taken from Deuteronomy 29:21, cf. 1 Chronicles 21:19, from חלא = חלה, root הל, solutum, laxum esse ) are not merely bodily diseases, but all kinds of inward and outward sufferings. משּׁחת the lxx renders ἐκ φθορᾶς (from שׁחת, as in Job 17:14); but in this antithesis to life it is more natural to render the “pit” (from שׁוּח ) as a name of Hades, as in Psalms 16:10. Just as the soul owes its deliverance from guilt and distress and death to God, so also does it owe to God that with which it is endowed out of the riches of divine love. The verb עטּר, without any such addition as in Ps 5:13, is “to crown,” cf. Psalms 8:6. As is usually the case, it is construed with a double accusative; the crown is as it were woven out of loving-kindness and compassion. The Beth of בּטּוב in Psalms 103:5 instead of the accusative (Psalms 104:28) denotes the means of satisfaction, which is at the same time that which satisfies. עדיך the Targum renders: dies senectutis tuae , whereas in Psalms 32:9 it is ornatus ejus ; the Peshîto renders: corpus tuum , and in Psalms 32:9 inversely, juventus eorum . These significations, “old age” or “youth,” are pure inventions. And since the words are addressed to the soul, עדי cannot also, like כבוד in other instances, be a name of the soul itself (Aben-Ezra, Mendelssohn, Philippsohn, Hengstenberg, and others). We, therefore, with Hitzig, fall back upon the sense of the word in Psalms 32:9, where the lxx renders τάς σιαγόνας αὐτῶν, but here more freely, apparently starting from the primary notion of עדי = Arabic chadd , the cheek: τὸν ἐμπιπλῶντα ἐν ἀγαθοῖς τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν σου (whereas Saadia's victum tuum is based upon a comparison of the Arabic gdâ , to nourish). The poet tells the soul (i.e., his own person, himself) that God satisfies it with good, so that it as it were gets its cheeks full of it (cf. Psalms 81:11). The comparison כּנּשׁר is, as in Micah 1:16 (cf. Isaiah 40:31), to be referred to the annual moulting of the eagle. Its renewing of its plumage is an emblem of the renovation of his youth by grace. The predicate to נעוּריכי (plural of extension in relation to time) stands first regularly in the sing. fem .

Copyright Statement
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Bibliographical Information
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kdo/psalms-103.html. 1854-1889.

The Popular Commentary by Paul E. Kretzmann

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, Isa_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, Exo_33:13; Exo_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, Gen_2:7.

v. 15. As for man, his days are as grass, emblem of perishableness, 1Pe_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 Isa_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, Exo_20:6; Exo_34:7; Deu_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, 1Ti_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.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/kpc/psalms-103.html. 1921-23.

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

              Psalm 103

A Psalm of David

Bless the Lord, O my soul:

And all that is within me, bless his holy name.

2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,

And forget not all his benefits:

3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;

Who healeth all thy diseases;

4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction:

Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things;

So that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The Lord executeth righteousness

And judgment for all that are oppressed.

7 He made known his ways unto Moses,

His acts unto the children of Israel.

8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,

Slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

9 He will not always chide:

Neither will he keep his anger forever.

10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins;

Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

11 For as the heaven is high above the earth,

So great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

12 As far as the east is from the west,

So far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

13 Like as a father pitieth his children,

So the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

14 For he knoweth our frame;

He remembereth that we are dust.

15 As for Prayer of Manasseh, his days are as grass:

As a flower of the field so he flourisheth.

16 For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone;

And the place thereof shall know it no more.

17 But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him,

And his righteousness unto children’s children;

18 To such as keep his covenant,

And to those that remember his commandments to do them.

19 The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens;

And his kingdom ruleth over all.

20 Bless the Lord, ye his angels,

That excel in strength, that do his commandments,

Hearkening unto the voice of his word.

21 Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts;

Ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure

22 Bless the Lord, all his works,

In all places of his dominion:

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

Contents and Composition.—A stream of grateful praise, whose gentle and regular waves rise gradually higher and higher, here flows forth from a mind which is moved to its inmost depths by the blessings, especially those of a spiritual nature, which God has abundantly and from the earliest ages bestowed both upon the Psalmist personally, and upon the whole Church. The poet begins by calling upon his own soul to declare its gratitude for the manifestations of God’s favor, which he has himself personally experienced ( Psalm 103:1-5), and the words which are uttered at the beginning of the Psalm reappear in the last line, and thus enclose the whole. Between these, the Psalmist celebrates God’s gracious and helpful dealings in their actual manifestations in Israel ( Psalm 103:6-10), in their heavenly exaltation and paternal character, and their relation to sinful and mortal men ( Psalm 103:11-14), and in their trustworthiness for all who hold fast to His covenant and to His ordinances ( Psalm 103:15-18). Then the whole world is called upon to praise this heavenly King who rules over all ( Psalm 103:19-22).

The supposition that either a final strophe beginning with Psalm 103:20 (Köster), or the last line (Hupfeld) forms a liturgical epiphony, is without foundation. So also is the assumption that the whole Psalm was designed for the public service (Ewald, Olshausen). Still more unfounded is the notion that the whole people in exile are the speakers. The reference to David’s restoration to the Divine favor after his adultery with Bathsheba (Rosenmüller) is too special. There are, moreover, serious grounds for hesitation with regard to the Davidic origin, afforded especially in Aramaic forms, among which the suffixes echi and aychi are the most striking, occurring, as they do, only besides in Psalm 116:7; Psalm 116:19; Psalm 137:6; Jeremiah 11:15, and 2 Kings 4:1-7. We may regard the passage cited in Psalm 103:8 from Exodus 34:6 as the Text (Hupfeld). [Hengstenberg, holding the originality of the superscriptions, defends the opinion of a composition by David, finding resemblances to the preceding Psalm, which he assigns to the same author. Delitzsch and others, observing the same resemblances, and drawing a like inference, refer it, as they do Psalm 102, to a writer near the close of the captivity. Perowne thinks that nothing certain can be determined as to the date or the author. Alexander favors the hypothesis maintained by Hengstenberg, that this is the Psalm of mercy and judgment promised in Psalm 101—J.F.M.]

[The former rendering is now universally adopted.—J. F. M.]

Psalm 103:5. The satisfying of the languishing heart or soul is also mentioned in Psalm 107:9; Isaiah 58:11; and the whole context leaves the impression rather of inward satisfaction than of outward nourishing. But we should not translate directly: desire (Sept.) For עְַדִי is known to occur elsewhere only in the signification: array or ornament; and this could very well be employed to denote the soul, as “my honor,” “my darling,” and the like expressions, are (Aben Ezra, Mendelssohn, Hengst.) The context, however, must decide as to the special reference of an expression so general and capable of such manifold applications. In Psalm 32:9 the same word denotes the trappings of the mule, which are at the same time the means of restraining it, and we therefore render there: harness. Here we are scarcely justified in understanding the body (Syr.) or the cheek (Kimchi, Del, Hitzig) or the mouth (Luther), and still less old age (Chald.) or youth (J. D. Mich, Gesenius). Nor is it probable that there is any allusion to the rejuvenating influence mentioned in the next line, as though the poet, by way of anticipation, were referring to the adornment of the body which had renewed its youth (Köster, Maurer), or had meant by the word “attire” the whole outfit and equipment which surrounds men like a garment, and is in Job 2:4 denoted by the word skin, in contrast to the soul. [Hupfeld: “All the apparatus of external means by which life is sustained, and with which it is invested.”—J. F. M.] The previous mention of the soul itself does not interfere with our explanation, for the whole person was employed just a little before as representing it, [So Hengstenberg also, who renders: ornament, but explains the word as meaning the soul. Alexander renders: soul, directly .—J. F. M.]

[“He will not always judge” is the more literal and correct rendering. For the next clause comp. Jeremiah 3:5; Jeremiah 3:12.—J. F. M.]

Psalm 103:14-22. The frame does not denote here the moral nature of man ( Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21; Deuteronomy 31:21) the inherited disposition of his heart ( Psalm 51:7), but the frame of dust ( Genesis 2:7) like a potter’s vessel ( Job 10:8 f.; Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 45:9 f.) The second member of Psalm 103:16 is taken literally from Job 7:10. The figure of the flower in general, is based upon Job 14:2; that of the grass on Psalm 90:5; Isaiah 40:6 f.; Isaiah 51:12; the blessing bestowed upon children’s children ( Psalm 103:17) is from Exodus 20:6; Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 7:9. Angels ( Psalm 103:20) are called upon to praise God also in Psalm 29:1; Psalm 148:1. They are here called heroes [of strength, E. V.: that excel in strength.—J. F. M.] as leaders of the armies of God ( Joel 4:9, 11; Isaiah 13:3; Isaiah 40:26). The hosts likewise mentioned here appear to be angels of subordinate rank (Del, Hitzig), and not stars (Hengst, Hupfeld). [The latter opinion has originated in the unwillingness to view this verse as containing anything like a repetition of the preceding. The explanation given above would obviate this difficulty. But there is no need of assuming a subordinate rank to be intended. It would be better to understand this verse as being more comprehensive in its application. The preceding one called upon a special class of the most exalted angels to praise their Maker. This one summons all His hosts that minister to Him. We are led to this, besides, by the gradually widening scope of the passage. For the last verse calls upon all God’s works to bless Him. Thus it seems that the word “all” is intended in each verse to include what goes before, while embracing also a wider class. The application of the term “ministers” to the stars would seem to be lacking in the simplicity and directness which characterize the language of the Psalm throughout.—J. F. M.]

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. If the ingratitude and forgetfulness of the human heart were not great by nature, there would be no need of a special and repeated exhortation to the thankful acknowledgment of God’s benefits. For these benefits are numerous and everywhere apparent, are bestowed upon individuals and the whole country, satisfy physical and spiritual needs, and comprise temporal and eternal good. Yet it is indispensable that we trace all this to the invisible Giver of all good, while we have reason, not merely to call upon others to praise God, but also to remind ourselves, that we have not previously given to God something which is requited to us, but rather, that all our thanks are only an acknowledgment of the blessing which we had previously received from Him, and thus do merely trace back this blessing to its source in God.

2. But the ever-flowing fountain of all these benefits and blessings is the love of God. And this love is manifested not merely as guardian love, beneficent kindness, sympathizing mercy, and helpful compassion, but is chiefly displayed as grace. In such exhibitions of His grace does God forgive the sins of men, deliver them from death, renew their natures, heal their infirmities, beautify their lives; and this without any merit or desert of their own. For it is a paternal mode of dealing which God manifests and exercises towards His people.

3. And since Hebrews, who thus acts towards us as a Father, is also the holy God and the Heavenly King, His dealings are righteous. His love is neither a weak indulgence of all, nor a capricious preference of some. Its immeasurableness and infinitude are not the absence of moderation or self restraint, but correspond to its more than earthly nature, and express the all-comprehensiveness and all-sufficiency of its influence, proceeding from the inexhaustible and invincible fulness of power which dwells in the Divine nature, but do not interfere with the conditions under which this eternally efficacious grace is displayed in the history of the world, and is received and experienced by individuals according to their constant need.

4. All this is most clearly recognizable in the dealings of God with His people. But they, on their side, have reason most strictly to fulfil these conditions. For God’s will and ways have been made known to them by Himself, and the covenant established by Him reminds them constantly, on the one hand, of their obligation to fulfil its duties, in order that His will may be performed on earth by those who fear Him, as it is by the angels in heaven, and, on the other, of the unchangeable willingness of the Highest to show compassion to Prayer of Manasseh, who withers like the grass, and to make those who are His people well-pleasing in His sight.

5. The Church, accordingly, as it is the place of God’s worship, is also the soil for the training up of men as His servants and children. But the sphere of God’s dominion is far wider than His kingdom in Israel: it embraces heaven and earth. And therefore should the praise of this incomparable King resound through all departments of creation, and an accompaniment to the hallelujah of the Church follow in all places of His dominion.

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

The more bountifully God’s benefits are showered down upon men in their brief lives of constant need, the more easily is one after another forgotten; but all the more base is such forgetfulness.—God in His goodness comes forth to meet our wants, and anticipate our requests; are we as speedy with our thanks and as ready in our praise?—That men should praise God with willing readiness, there are necessary, (1) a soul mindful of His blessings, (2) a heart susceptible of love towards Him, (3) a conscience sensitive to His righteous demand.—God rules in His kingdom with fatherly goodness, and yet with kingly righteousness; therefore it becomes us to fear as well as love Him, to serve as well as trust Him.—If God deals with us as a Father, do we act towards Him as children?—The whole world is full of the goodness of the Lord; but how far is the whole world still from knowing and praising Him? What has our Church done to remedy this deficiency? And what is her duty with regard to it?—If we lay claim to the rights of the covenant, we must fulfil its obligations; and this we cannot do without the help of our God as it is pledged in the covenant.—Man has here below no abiding-place, not even in the memory of the world; but God forgets no one. Ohthat we might remember Him!—The Church of God on earth; (1) as the object of His paternal care, (2) as the place where His heavenly glory is manifested, (3) as the organ of His royal government.

Augustine: When thou art forgiven, thy sins begin to set and God’s grace rises.—Seek thy good, oh soul! All creatures have a certain good which supplies and completes their nature. Behold the highest good; it is thine!—Starke: Not a single sin of an impenitent sinner remains unforgiven, and just as little should a single sin remain in its dominion and evil influence ( Romans 6:12).—The crown of a believer in this life, as well as in the heavenly, is God’s mercy and compassion, for they are the sure sources of his blessedness.—Justification must go handin hand with sanctification and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.—The goodness of God is mighty, not only to strengthen our spiritual life, but our temporal also, in so far as it tends to His glory and our welfare.—He who would have the unfailing eagle-like vigor of a mind directed heavenwards, let him ever satisfy his hungry soul with grace alone, and strength will never be wanting to him.—The most potent remedy for a troubled soul is the contemplation of the compassion and goodness of God.—God lets the sinner know and feel His anger, in order to prepare him for the view of His mercy.—True parents should not, it is true, tolerate the faults and sins of their children, by being silent with regard to them or overlooking them, as Eli did; but they must recognize, on the other hand, that they are not so much their judges as their parents, and, as it were, their physicians.—The more transitory man Isaiah, the more abiding is God’s mercy; the Christian must oppose this ground of consolation to all trials, yea, even to death itself.—The holy angels are not only our guardians, but also our instructors and leaders in the praise of God,—No place is an improper one to praise God, provided only our heart is sincere before Him.—We should be as ready (and still more ready) to execute the will of God, as an obedient servant is ready to execute his master’s, even at a nod from him; nor should we do this by compulsion, but from love ( 1 John 5:3).—God knows our distress and ruin better than we ourselves, and regards all men with compassionate sympathy, but looks upon His children especially with the most tender pity.

Berlenburger Bible: The soul which has been stricken and slain, but made alive again, feeling the joy of its new freedom and the enjoyments of its redemption, flows forth without restraint in praise and thanksgiving, in testimony of its gratitude.—Rieger: To feel sin and death, and thereafter to have received the atonement and the Spirit which makes alive, and so to praise God, and to join in faith and patience with all the saints of God,—this is the subject of the 103 Psalm.—Roos: David, when he encouraged his soul to praise God, was conscious of his sins and infirmities; these only were his own. The Lord forgave the one and healed the other, and heascribes all good to Him.—Tholuck: The psalmist, while praising God’s immeasurable mercy to those who fear Him and keep His covenant, guards against that carnal conception of the Divine love, which forgets that repentance and faith are the conditions, under which God announces Himself as our Father.—Guenther: If God had not been patient with our stammering and halting, we would never have learnt to speak the language of truth, nor walk the way of life; and if He had dealt with the nations according to their disobedience, where would their names have been?—Diedrich: The nearer we come to God, the more are we ravished with enlarged discoveries of His forgiveness.—Schaubach: Without forgiveness of sins, even the highest earthly good is only a whitened sepulchre, behind which destruction lurks.—Taube: Prayer of Manasseh, in his body, soul, and spirit, Isaiah, as it were, a mouth opened wide with cravings; that is his greatest weakness and yet his chief adorning; nothing less than God, the native fountain of youth, can satisfy Him.

[Matt. Henry: He considers the frailty of our bodies and the folly of our souls, how little we can do, and expects accordingly from us; how little we can bear, and lays accordingly upon us; in all which appears the tenderness of His compassion.—Hengstenberg: Old age, in other cases always the forerunner of death, is here continually the forerunner of youth: the greater the failure of strength, so much the nearer is the complete renewal of strength.—J. F. M.]

Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/psalms-103.html. 1857-84.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Cheerful Praise.

A psalm of David.

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities who healeth all thy diseases 4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies 5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.

David is here communing with his own heart, and he is no fool that thus talks to himself and excites his own soul to that which is good. Observe,

I. How he stirs up himself to the duty of praise, Psalm 103:1,2. 1. It is the Lord that is to be blessed and spoken well of for he is the fountain of all good, whatever are the channels or cisterns it is to his name, his holy name, that we are to consecrate our praise, giving thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. 2. It is the soul that is to be employed in blessing God, and all that is within us. We make nothing of our religious performances if we do not make heart-work of them, if that which is within us, nay, if all that is within us, be not engaged in them. The work requires the inward man, the whole man, and all little enough. 3. In order to our return of praises to God, there must be a grateful remembrance of the mercies we have received from him: Forget not all his benefits. If we do not give thanks for them, we do forget them and that is unjust as well as unkind, since in all God's favours there is so much that is memorable. "O my soul! to thy shame be it spoken, thou hast forgotten many of his benefits but surely thou wilt not forget them all, for thou shouldst not have forgotten any."

II. How he furnishes himself with abundant matter for praise, and that which is very affecting: "Come, my soul, consider what God has done for thee." 1. "He has pardoned thy sins (Psalm 103:3) he has forgiven, and does forgive, all thy iniquities." This is mentioned first because by the pardon of sin that is taken away which kept good things from us, and we are restored to the favour of God, which bestows good things on us. Think what the provocation was it was iniquity, and yet pardoned how many the provocations were, and yet all pardoned. He has forgiven all our trespasses. It is a continued act he is still forgiving, as we are still sinning and repenting. 2. "He has cured thy sickness." The corruption of nature is the sickness of the soul it is its disorder, and threatens its death. This is cured in sanctification when sin is mortified, the disease is healed though complicated, it is all healed. Our crimes were capital, but God saves our lives by pardoning them our diseases were mortal, but God saves our lives by healing them. These two go together for, as for God, his work is perfect and not done by halves if God take away the guilt of sin by pardoning mercy, he will break the power of it by renewing grace. Where Christ is made righteousness to any soul he is made sanctification, 1 Corinthians 1:30. 3. "He has rescued thee from danger." A man may be in peril of life, not only by his crimes, or his diseases, but by the power of his enemies and therefore here also we experience the divine goodness: Who redeemed thy life from destruction (Psalm 103:4), from the destroyer, from hell (so the Chaldee), from the second death. The redemption of the soul is precious we cannot compass it, and therefore are the more indebted to divine grace that has wrought it out, to him who has obtained eternal redemption for us. See Job 33:24,28. 4. "He has not only saved thee from death and ruin, but has made thee truly and completely happy, with honour, pleasure, and long life." (1.) "He has given thee true honour and great honour, no less than a crown: He crowns thee with his lovingkindness and tender mercies " and what greater dignity is a poor soul capable of than to be advanced into the love and favour of God? This honour have all his saints. What is the crown of glory but God's favour? (2.) "He has given thee true pleasure: He satisfies thy mouth with good things" (Psalm 103:5) it is only the favour and grace of God that can give satisfaction to a soul, can suit its capacities, supply its needs, and answer to its desires. Nothing but divine wisdom can undertake to fill its treasures (Proverbs 8:21) other things will surfeit, but not satiate, Ecclesiastes 6:7; Isaiah 55:2. (3.) "He has given thee a prospect and pledge of long life: Thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." The eagle is long-lived, and, as naturalists say, when she is nearly 100 years old, casts all her feathers (as indeed she changes them in a great measure every year at moulting time), and fresh ones come, so that she becomes young again. When God, by the graces and comforts of his Spirit, recovers his people from their decays, and fills them with new life and joy, which is to them an earnest of eternal life and joy, then they may be said to return to the days of their youth, Job 33:23.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/psalms-103.html. 1706.

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

By the pardon of sin, that is taken away which kept good things from us, and we are restored to the favor of God, who bestows good things on us. Think of the provocation; it was sin, and yet pardoned: how many the provocations, yet all pardoned! God is still forgiving, as we are still sinning and repenting. The body finds the melancholy consequences of Adam's offence, it is subject to many infirmities, and the soul also. Christ alone forgives all our sins; it is he alone who heals all our infirmities. And the person who finds his sin cured, has a well-grounded assurance that it is forgiven. When God, by the graces and comforts of his Spirit, recovers his people from their decays, and fills them with new life and joy, which is to them an earnest of eternal life and joy, they may then be said to return to the days of their youth, Job 33:25.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Concise Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhn/psalms-103.html. 1706.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

PSALM 103

THE ARGUMENT

This Psalm contains a thankful commemoration and celebration of God’s mercies to the psalmist himself, and to the people of Israel, and to all good men.

David stirreth up himself to bless God, Psalms 103:1,2; who forgiveth his sins, Psalms 103:3, redeemeth and satisfieth his soul, Psalms 103:4,5; for other manifold mercies to himself and the church, Psalms 103:6-14. He considereth the frailty of man, Psalms 103:15,16; and showeth God’s everlasting mercy to his covenanted ones, Psalms 103:17-19. He exhorteth all creatures to praise him, Psalms 103:20-22.

Let all my thoughts and affections be engaged, and united, and stirred up to the highest pitch in and for this work.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/psalms-103.html. 1685.

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

CIII. A Hymn of Thanksgiving for Yahweh's Pardoning Love.—The main theme is stated in . Yahweh is just, He rights the oppressed, but above all He is considerate and ready to pardon sin. He acts like a father to His children.

. The poet speaks from his own experience. He calls on his own soul to bless Yahweh. Here the singular is used: not so in Psalms 103:6-14 (see above).

. A man's life is short, but Yahweh continues His kindness to a pious man's descendants.

. Thanksgiving, in which men and angels are to share, for Yahweh's almighty power.

Psalms 103:3. diseases: to be taken literally. The cure of disease was the proof that Yahweh had forgiven sin.

Psalms 103:5. mouth: meaning uncertain (see mg.). "Thy desire" (LXX) makes good sense but has no linguistic justification.

Psalms 103:5 b also is of doubtful interpretation. It may refer to some forgotten myth about the eagle (or rather vulture). Otherwise we must accept the prosaic solution that the poet refers to moulting.

Psalms 103:13. There is no real approach here to Matthew 5:48. Here God is compared to a kindly father who knows the weakness of His children and does not expect too much from them. There God as Father demands perfection itself from His children, and lays on them a task which will continue for ever.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/psalms-103.html. 1919.

Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary

INTRODUCTION

This, as appears from the superscription, is one of David's Psalms. It is a Psalm of great beauty and preciousness, and has been a great favourite of devout souls in all ages. The fulness of the mercy of God in the forgiveness of sins and the enrichment of the soul, and His tender, fatherly pity for His frail and dying children, are here gracefully and gratefully celebrated. It must have been composed at a time when the Poet's soul was filled with precious and grateful recollections of Divine benefits, and with strong and tender confidence in God.

GOD BLESSING MAN AND MAN BLESSING GOD

(Psa )

I. God blessing man. Psa . The Psalmist mentions a number of blessings which he has received from God.

1. Forgiveness. "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities." "Thine iniquities," says John Pulsford, "are in-equities. There is nothing just or right in thee. Thy very nature is an in-equity, bringing forth nothing but in-equities. In-equities towards thy God, in-equities towards thy neighbour, and in-equities towards thyself, make up the whole of thy life. Thou art a bad tree, and a bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit." Notice the completeness of His forgiveness. Our iniquities are more than can be remembered, and are very heinous, but He forgiveth them all. The continuousness of His forgiveness. "He forgiveth." Within us are tendencies to sin and around us are temptations. Our life is sadly marred by transgressions and shortcomings, we need repeated forgivenesses, multiplied pardons; and God bestows them. He continues to forgive.

2. Healing. "Who healeth all thy diseases." The primary reference is to bodily sicknesses. (Comp. Exo ; Deu 29:22). But we cannot regard that as the exclusive reference. "Corruption and disease have a spiritual origin. All material corruption was preceded by spiritual corruption. All diseases were, and are, spiritual to begin with. Disease is a state of in-equity in the body, but it is only the in-equity that pre-existed in spirit, fulfilling itself in matter. The Divine art of healing therefore lies in the forgiveness of the soul's iniquities. Remove the iniquities of the soul, and universal healing comes in. Christ healeth all thy diseases, by forgiving all thy iniquities."—Pulsford. Bodily diseases are analogues of spiritual disorders and infirmities. He heals all these.

3. Redemption. "Who redeemeth thy life from destruction." Hengstenberg: "From the grave." Perowne: "‘From the pit,' including death, the grave, Hades." David had many marvellous deliverances from danger and death which were worthy of celebration. The Lord redeems the soul from sin, and from the penalty of sin, spiritual and eternal death. He will ransom His people from the power of the grave, and endow them with endless and blessed life.

4. Coronation. "Who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies." "The love of God not only delivers from sin, disease, and death: He makes His children kings, and weaves their crown out of His own glorious attributes of loving-kindness and tender mercies."—Perowne. "He heaps upon redeemed sinners untold riches from His full heart; and shows to them the softest ways of His love. Mercies are the softnesses of eternal love, but tender mercies are unutterable endearments from the heart of hearts."—Pulsford.

5. Satisfaction. "Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things." There is diversity of opinion as to how עְדִי—which is rendered "mouth" in the A. V. and in the P. B. V.—should be rendered. See Perowne's critical note, and Barnes in loco. But there is no dispute as to the meaning of the clause. God satisfieth the souls of His servants. He, and He alone, can satisfy the deep needs, and respond to the boundless desires of the soul. Out of God the wants of man's great and awful soul can never be satisfied. By His presence and grace He fills it with delightful satisfaction. "He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness." (Comp. Psa ; Isa 55:1-2; Isa 58:11.)

6. Invigoration. "So that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's." There is no reference here to the fable of the eagle renewing its youth in old age. There is perhaps an allusion to the moulting of its plumage periodically, whereby its strength and activity are increased. As the Christian derives his life from Christ, that life can never become feeble or old. Living in Christ, he will flourish in immortal youth. His eternal life will be an eternal progression towards the perfection of youthful vigour and beauty.

Such are the great and inestimable blessings which the Lord confers upon His servants. It is important that we should notice that these blessings—

1. Are adapted to man's deepest needs. Forgiveness, satisfaction, redemption.

2. Tend to promote his perfection and blessedness, which can be found only in connection with the loving-kindness and tender mercy of the Lord.

II. Man blessing God. (Psa .) God blesses man with gifts; man blesses God with praise. The Psalmist blesses the Lord—

1. With hit soul. "Bless the Lord, O my soul." Not merely with the tongue or pen, but with the heart and soul.

2. With his entire spiritual being. "And all that is within me, bless His holy name." David "would enlist every thought, faculty, power, the heart with all its affections, the will, the conscience, the reason, in a word, the whole spiritual being, all in man that is best and highest, in the same heavenly service."—Perowne.

3. With recollection of His benefits. "Forget not all His benefits." The Psalmist thoughtfully recalls the blessings he has received from God, and is thereby the more urgently incited to praise Him. We are sadly prone to cherish the memory of injuries, and to neglect the memory of benefits. Let us, like the Psalmist, strive to recollect the blessings we have received of the Lord, that thereby our praise might be more grateful and hearty.

4. With reverent admiration of His character. "Bless His holy name." God's holiness consists of all the perfections of His character in harmonious and beautiful union. David praised the Lord not merely because of the benefits he had received from Him, but because of His own glorious perfections. He praised His beneficence, and adored His holiness.

CONCLUSION.—Let us learn from this subject—.

1. The motives of Divine praise. Why should I bless the Lord?

(1) Because of what He does for me—"benefits."

(2) Because of what He is—"holy."

2. The model of Divine praise. How shall I bless the Lord?

(1) Heartily.

(2) With all my powers and affections.

3. The means of Divine praise. By what means can I thus bless the Lord? Recall His benefits, and the heart will grow warm with gratitude, &c.

4. The blessedness of Divine praise. It brings holy cheer to the troubled spirit. It is a foretaste of heaven. To the man whose soul is filled with praise this world is a "scene of Divine manifestation, a temple filled with heavenly voices and traces of the feet of God."

MAN'S REMEMBRANCE OF THE LORD'S BENEFITS

(Psa . "Forget not all His benefits.")

Consider—

I. The benefits of God. Who can enumerate them? He gives us physical benefits; e.g., food, raiment, health, &c. Social benefits, e.g., friends, &c. Intellectual benefits, e.g., His own revelation in nature, history, and the Bible, books, &c. Spiritual benefits, e.g., pardon, help, &c. His gifts are innumerable. They are also very rich. He gives not only kindness and mercy, but "loving-kindness and tender mercies." "The difference between mere kindness and ‘loving-kindness,' between mere mercy and ‘tender mercy,' is the difference between a flower without fragrance and a flower that is fragrant."—Parker.

Rightly viewed the benefits of God must call forth our wonder, admiration, gratitude.

II. The benefits of God may be forgotten. In what sense? Not absolutely. Memory treasures all things, loses nothing. Like the records made with invisible ink, not seen under ordinary circumstances, invisible perhaps for years, yet when brought under the influence of heat appearing distinctly; so with memory, &c. But we treasure that in our memory in which we are most interested. The miser remembers anything that will assist him in accumulating money. The grateful heart remembers benefits. But in depraved human nature there is a sad tendency to forget benefits. Too frequently injuries are treasured, benefits are forgotten. A thankless heart receives benefits, and does not recognise them as such, acknowledges no obligation, &c. All are prone to fail somewhat in treasuring and keeping in view the Divine benefits.

III. The benefits of God should not be forgotten.

1. Because of the gratitude we owe to God for them. Hengstenberg: "He who has been blessed and refuses to bless has sunk from the state of a man to that of a beast." Has he not sunk lower than some beasts? Every blessing involves the obligation to gratitude and praise.

2. Because of the confidence they are calculated to inspire. Every benefit we receive increases our obligation and encouragement to trust in the Lord. Parker: "The atheism of anticipation should be corrected by the gratitude of retrospection. He who reviews the past thankfully may advance to the future hopefully."

SPIRITUAL DISEASES HEALED

(Psa )

I. Why sin is called a disease.

1. As it destroys the moral beauty of the creature. (Gen ; Gen 6:5, compared; Job 42:1-6; Psa 38:3-8.)

2. As it excites pain. (Psa ; Act 2:37; 1Co 15:56.)

3. As it disables from duty. (Isa ; Rom 7:19.) To God. To man.

4. As it deprives men of good sound reason. (Isa .) It stupifies the faculties.

5. As it is infectious.

6. As it leads to death. (Rom ; Rom 5:21; Rom 6:16; Rom 6:23.)

II. The variety of sinful diseases to which we are subject. "All thine iniquities, all thy diseases." (Mar ; Rom 1:29-31; Gal 5:19-21.)

Almost as many as the bodily diseases mentioned in the bills of mortality.

III. The remedy by which God heals these diseases.

1. His pardoning mercy through the redemption of Christ. (See text. Isa ; Rom 3:23-26.)

2. The sanctifying influences of grace. (Eze ; Heb 10:16.)

3. The means of grace. (Eph .)

4. The resurrection of the body. (1Th ; Php 3:10-11.)

5. The case of an ignorant, insensible sinner is very deplorable.

6. The case of a real Christian is very hopeful. His sinful disease is radically healed. The completion of his cure is certain.

7. The glory of Christ, as the physician of souls, is great indeed. (Rev ).—F.… R, in "Skeletons of Sermons."

THE INFINITY, EXPRESSIONS, AND OBJECTS OF THE DIVINE MERCY

(Psa )

The Poet having celebrated the mercy of God to himself, proceeds in these verses to celebrate His mercy to Israel. Consider—

I. The Infinity of the Divine mercy. "As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him." The Psalmist uses a figure of the greatest extent which the world affords in order to set forth the immensity of the mercy of God. It is, like Himself, infinite. As we imagine nothing higher or vaster than the heavens, so the favour of God exceeds our highest thoughts, and surpasses our most extensive and expressive figures. All the measures of the universe are inadequate to set forth the infinite love of God. (Compare Psa ; Psa 57:10). He is "plenteous in mercy." "Above the mountains of our sins the floods of His mercy rise. All the world tastes of His sparing mercy, those who hear the Gospel partake of His inviting mercy, the saints live by His saving mercy, are preserved by His upholding mercy, are cheered by His consoling mercy, and will enter heaven through His infinite and everlasting mercy."—Spurgeon.

II. The expressions of the Divine mercy. It is manifest—

1. In His vindication of the oppressed. "The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed." We have here

(1) The sufferings of the Church. The people of God have often been grievously oppressed and persecuted.

(2) The champion of the Church. The Lord defends the cause of His people, interposes for their deliverance. He humbles the pride of the oppressor, and exalts the oppressed into safety and honour.

2. In His general dealings with His people. "He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities."—See Homiletic sketch on this verse.

3. In the long delay of His anger. "Slow to anger." The Lord has long patience even with the most provoking sinners. He restrains His wrath that the wicked may have longer time and more frequent opportunities for repentance. Though His anger ever burns against sin, yet in mercy to the sinner He bears much, and bears long with him, that he might yet be saved.

4. In the transient duration of His anger. "He will not always chide, neither will He keep His anger for ever." "I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth," &c. (Isa ). "The second clause," says Hengstenberg, "depends upon Lev 19:18, ‘Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people.' Nah 1:2 again depends upon the passage before us: ‘The Lord will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He keepeth wrath' (not assuredly for His people, of whom the declaration of the Psalmist holds true, but still) ‘for His enemies.'" God will manifest His displeasure towards His people if they sin against Him, and will punish them for their sins; but when chastisement has accomplished its mission, He will again manifest His loving-kindness. His "anger is so slow to rise, so ready to abate."

5. In the forgiveness of sins. "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us." The great point here is the completeness of the forgiveness of sin by God. On this point see remarks o Psa . "When sin is pardoned," says Char-nock, "it is never charged again; the guilt of it can no more return than east can become west, or west become east."

6. In His fatherly compassion. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him." Matthew Henry well says: "The father pities his children that are weak in knowledge and instructs them, pities them when they are froward and bears with them, pities them when they are sick and comforts them (Isa ), pities them when they have fallen and helps them up again, pities them when they have offended, and, upon their submission, forgives them, pities them when they are wronged and gives them redress; thus ‘the Lord pities them that fear Him.'" Nay, much more than "thus;" "for He is the ‘Father of all mercies,' and the Father of all the fatherhoods in heaven and earth."

7. In His fatherly consideration. "He knoweth our frame, He remembereth that we are dust." He is acquainted with "our fashioning;" the manner in which we are formed, and the materials of which we are made; He knows how weak we are, and exercises a kindly consideration towards us. He is not exacting in His demands upon us, but is pitiful to our weakness.

8. In the revelation which He made to His people. "He made known His ways unto Moses, His acts unto the children of Israel." This verse refers to Exo, where Moses says to the Lord, "I pray Thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, show me now Thy way, that I may know Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight; and consider that this nation is Thy people. And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." God made Himself known in the guidance and protection of His people, and in the many mighty acts which He wrought on their behalf. The children of Israel saw His acts, His marvellous doings for them. But Moses saw the principles underlying those acts, and the methods of the Divine administration. This revelation the Psalmist rightly regards as an expression of God's mercy. Varied and countless are the manifestations of His mercy to us.

III. The objects of the Divine mercy. To all men upon earth the mercy of God extends. Holy angels need not the Divine mercy, apostate angels need it, but receive it not. Man both needs and receives it. Of all men upon earth we may say,—"The Lord is slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities." But in this Psalm the people of God are specially mentioned as the objects of His mercy. Thrice His mercy is said to be upon "them that fear Him." And the Psalmist in the eighteenth verse gives a further description of them: "To such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them." Holy fear is expressed in obedience. Excellently says Perowne on Psa : "For the third time God's mercy and loving-kindness is said to be upon ‘them that fear Him,' as if to remind us that there is a love within a love, a love which they only know who have tasted that the Lord is gracious, who fear Him and walk in His ways, as well as a love which ‘maketh the sun to shine, and sendeth rain upon the just and the unjust.' In the next verse there is the same limitation, ‘To such as keep His covenant,' and to those who not only know but ‘do' His will. The blessings of the covenant are no inalienable right; mancipio nulli datur; children's children can only inherit its blessings by cleaving to it."

CONCLUSION.—Are we of those who are thus designated? Do we reverently "fear Him"? Let those who do rejoice in the manifold expressions of His mercy toward them. Let those who do not, accept the offer of pardoning mercy, trust His grace, &c.

THE MERCY OF GOD IN THE AFFLICTIONS OF MAN

(Psa )

Consider—

I. The views which this declaration presents to us of the Divine covenant.

1. He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve. Do they not deserve banishment from God, the forfeiture of His parental relation to us, the execution of His righteous sentence upon us? When is it that afflictions appear heavy? When sin is felt lightly. When is it that afflictions appear light? When sin is felt to be heavy.… We know the light we have resisted, the convictions we have disregarded, the mercies we have received and forgotten, and the impressions against which we have rebelled.… And then in proportion to our actual knowledge of God, our experience of the Divine mercy, our acquaintance with the Divine goodness, is the aggravation of our guiltiness.

2. He has not dealt with us as He has dealt with others. Look at the conduct of a righteous and holy God towards fallen angels; … the antediluvian world; … the cities of the plain; … the ancient Israelites for their backslidings. Look at others for the purpose of deepening your gratitude and raising your admiration of the Divine mercy towards you.

3. His dealings towards us have always been mingled with mercy even in the severest dispensations. Had He "rewarded us according to our iniquities," there would have been no mercy and no hope—no termination, no diminution, no alleviation of suffering. When we think of the mercy, mingled with all His judgments and chastenings, have we not reason to adopt the language of the Psalmist in the text?

4. There is mercy in the support we have under affliction. He does not allow us to suffer alone.… What consolation is mingled in the cup of suffering placed in our hands! what promises! what supports! what precious, everlasting consolation and good hope through grace!

5. There is mercy in the removal of affliction. How often do we find the God of grace and of providence wondrously interposing to remove affliction by unexpected means, by unthought-of alleviations, by circumstances of which we had not the least conception, &c.

6. The mercy which is displayed in the results of His dispensations. He intends, by blighting the gourd, to bring us to the shadow of the tree of life—by cutting off the stream, to bring us nearer to the fountain of living waters—by putting the taint of bitterness in our earthly comforts, to bring us to taste that He is gracious. It is the end of His dispensations to make us more humble, more watchful, more spiritual, more holy, more alive to God and eternity. In the school of trial God prepares His children for their inheritance.

II. The practical uses we should make of this declaration.

1. It should lead us faithfully to inquire what has been the effect of chastening and trial on us? When the rod is upon you, what is the course you pursue? Where do you get rid of your troubles? Are you brought to God's throne? Are you brought to humility, to self-abasement, to penitential sorrow? Are you brought to feel there is no mystery in the rod, that all the mystery is in the mercy towards you?

2. It should excite adoring gratitude for the love, the patience, the wisdom, and the faithfulness of our Father in heaven.

3. It should teach us to cherish humble confidence. "All things work together for good to them that love God." "All His paths are mercy and goodness." "I will trust in Him, and not be afraid."

4. It should lead us to exercise unreserved submission. The submission of patience, the submission of obedience, ought to be the result of these views of the Divine character.

5. Let there be practical imitation of the Divine conduct in our temper towards others—in patience, forbearance, forgiveness. "Be ye imitators of God, as dear children, and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us."—Dr. Fletcher.—Abridged from "The Preacher."

GOD'S MERCY AND MAN'S FRAILTY—A CONTRAST

(Psa )

The contrast between man's frailty and transitoriness and God's unchangeableness and eternity, which we found in Psa, is here repeated. The similarity of thought and expression is so great that Hengstenberg says, "That David without doubt drew it from Moses." As most of the ideas occurring in this passage were considered in our Homily on Psa 90:1-6, it will be sufficient to present the outline of our subject here, and refer the reader to that homily. The chief points of the contrast seem to be these—

I. The frailty of man's life upon earth, and the mercy of God. How frail is human life here! As the hot and burning east wind destroys the grass and the flower, so sickness, sorrow, suffering speedily cut short man's career. The flower with its beauty and fragrance soon fades and dies, and man in his glory of corporeal beauty, mental ability, geniality of temper, and holiness of heart and life, soon passes away. But the mercy of the Lord is not a weak, perishable thing. It is great, glorious, abiding. Here is consolation and strength and inspiration for man. He is frail; but he may take refuge in the rich and all-sufficient mercy of God.

II. The brevity of man's life upon earth, and the eternity of the mercy of God. As for the life of man, "the wind passeth over it, and it is gone. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting." The loving-kindness of the Lord is eternal as His own Being. Man, saddened with the transciency of human strength and beauty and life, here is rest for thee in the eternal mercy of God! Here is what we, as sinners, need; and it is here in inexhaustible and unchangeable fulness and freeness.

III. The final departure of man from the earth, and the eternal mercy of God present with him wherever he may be." "It is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more." Man goes hence to

"The undiscover'd country, from whose bourne

No traveller returns."

It is a saddening and a solemn consideration that at death we leave this world never to return to it. The farm, the shop, the office, the study, the home, the Sunday school, the Church will "know us no more" when we have trod "the way to dusty death." We shall have gone from earth for ever. But gone where? Ay, where? How shall we fare when we have taken the last, the lonely, the irretraceable journey? These considerations would be insupportably mysterious and painful, but for this fact: Wherever we may be, the loving-kindness of the Lord will be present with us. "The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him." We do not leave that behind us. We do not travel into any region where it ceases to be present and operative. Having that upon us, all must be well, &c.

IV. The final departure of good men from the earth, and the eternal mercy of God resting upon their descendants. Good men pass away for ever, but the loving-kindness of the Lord is continued to their posterity. Church members die, but the Church remains. God's "righteousness is unto children's children." The covenant of mercy extends from generation to generation, provided that they do not violate their interest in it. For here is the limiting condition: "To such as keep His covenant, and to those that remember His commandments to do them."

God will not forget or fail in His part of the covenant; let man also remember and keep his; and then he may take to himself the consolation, and inspiration, and strength of the contrast we have been considering.

THE GLORIOUS REIGN AND PRAISE OF THE LORD

(Psa )

I. The glorious reign of the Lord. "The Lord hath prepared His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom ruleth over all." Here are three ideas—

1. The stability of His reign. "The Lord hath prepared His throne." Perowne: "Jehovah hath established His throne." His throne is firm and stable. All the rage and rebellion of earth and hell cannot shake it. "His dominion is an everlasting dominion."

2. The majesty of His reign. "His throne in the heavens." The heavens are the most vast and sublime portion of the universe. In them the glory of the Lord is most conspicuously and splendidly displayed. His throne is said to be established there to indicate its loftiness and majesty.

3. The universality of His reign. "His kingdom ruleth over all." He rules in all places. The heavens, the earth, and the seas are subject to His sway. The regularity and order of the universe proclaim His sovereignty. He rules over all creatures. He is the Creator, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all creatures. He rules over all persons. Holy angels delight to do His will. He is supreme in the world of men. And devils cannot sever their connection with His authority. He controls Satan himself.

II. The glorious praise of the Lord. The Poet began the Psalm by calling upon His soul to bless the Lord for His benefits; he proceeded to celebrate His goodness to all "them that fear Him"; now he summons the entire universe to unite in ascribing blessing to Him; and he concludes by calling upon his own soul to join in the praise. The praise of the Lord is celebrated by—

1. Holy angels. "Bless the Lord, ye His angels," &c. (Psa ). In speaking of these angelic beings, the Psalmist brings into view—

(1) Their great power. They "excel in strength." Margin and Perowne: "Mighty in strength." Hengstenberg: "Strong warriors." The deeds ascribed to them in Scripture indicate their amazing might. But in our text the strength which is spoken of is clearly intellectual and moral chiefly. They are mighty to do the will of God, and grow stronger by doing it.

(2) Their ready obedience. They "do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word." They wait and listen for the intimations of His will, and then hasten to carry them out. They are prompt in obedience to Him, and eager to "do His pleasure."

(3) Their immense numbers. "All His hosts." God's angels are multitudinous. There are vast armies of them.

(4) Their Divine service. "Ministers of His, that do His pleasure." They are His, for He made and sustains them; His, for He employs them in His service; His, for they are reverently and lovingly loyal to Him. These glorious beings bless the Lord by reverently celebrating His perfections and joyfully obeying His behests. They praise Him both by song and by service.

2. The unintelligent creation. "Bless the Lord all His works, in all places of His dominion." All His works praise Him as they answer the end for which they were created. Sun, moon, and stars by diffusing light and heat, and by unfolding their beauty and glory, praise Him. The earth by its verdure, fruit-fulness, &c., praises Him. All His works throughout the universe unite to bless Him.

3. Redeemed men. "Bless the Lord, O my soul." The Poet ends the Psalm as he began it by calling upon his own soul to bless the Lord. We who know His redeeming love have the most moving and mighty reasons for celebrating His praise.

CONCLUSION.—While the universe is songful in praise of the Lord, shall my tongue be silent? While others are glowing with enthusiasm, shall my heart be cold? "Bless the Lord, O my soul." While others gladly obey and serve Him, shall my service be wanting? Shall I praise Him in words and not in deeds? Rather let my ears be attentive to hear His commands, and my feet swift and my hands dexterous to obey them. Let us all praise Him, both in song and in service, with lips and with lives.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/phc/psalms-103.html. Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

This Psalm is one continued hymn of praise, and includes a comprehensive view of the goodness of Jehovah, in all the great works of creation and redemption, providence and grace.

A Psalm of David.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/psalms-103.html. 1828.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

How beautifully does the psalm begin, in calling upon the soul to this most pleasing service, of praising God! Reader, do remark it, that it is with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; while with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. Unless the heart be engaged in any service, there is nothing truly valuable in that service. Hence it was an ancient custom in the church, at the opening of the service, to call upon the people, Lift up your hearts! Romans 10:10.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/psalms-103.html. 1828.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Psalms 103:1-3. All that is within me, bless his holy name — Let all my thoughts and affections be engaged, united, and raised to the highest pitch in and for this work. Forget not all his benefits — In order to our duty, praising God for his mercies, it is necessary we should have a grateful remembrance of them. And we may be assured we do forget them, in the sense here meant by the psalmist, if we do not give sincere and hearty thanks for them. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities — This is mentioned first, because, by the pardon of sin, that which prevented our receiving good things is taken away, and we are restored to the favour of God, which ensures good things to us, and bestows them upon us. Who healeth all thy diseases — Spiritual diseases, the diseases of the soul. The corruption of nature is the sickness of the soul: it is its disorder, and threatens its death. This is cured by sanctification. In proportion as sin is mortified, the disease is healed. These two, pardon and holiness, go together, at least a degree of the latter always accompanies the former: if God take away the guilt of sin by pardoning mercy, he also breaks the power of it by renewing grace. Where Christ is made righteousness to any soul, he is also made sanctification to it in a great measure; for, if any man be in Christ he is a new creature: old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/psalms-103.html. 1857.

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

DISCOURSE: 672

DUTY OF PRAISING GOD FOR HIS MERCIES

Psalms 103:1-5. 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 forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases: who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies: who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eayle’s.

IT is a favourite opinion of some divines, that we are bound to love God for his own perfections, without having any respect to the benefits which we receive from him. But this appears to us to be an unscriptural refinement. That God deserves all possible love from his creatures on account of his own perfections, can admit of no doubt: and we can easily conceive, that persons may be so occupied with an admiration of his perfections, as not to have in their minds any distinct reference to the benefits they have received from him: but that any creature can place himself in the situation of a being who has no obligations to God for past mercies, and no expectation of future blessings from him, we very much doubt: nor are we aware that God any where requires us so to divest ourselves of all the feelings of humanity, for the sake of engaging more entirely in the contemplation of his perfections. Nor indeed can we consent to the idea, that gratitude is so low a virtue [Note: Deuteronomy 28:47.]. On the contrary, it seems to be the principle that animates all the hosts of the redeemed in heaven; who are incessantly occupied in singing praises to Him who loved them, and washed them from their sins in his own blood. By this also all the most eminent saints on earth have been distinguished. In proof of this, we need go no further than to the psalm before us, wherein the man after God’s own heart adores and magnifies his Benefactor, for some particular mercies recently vouchsafed unto him. To instil this principle into your minds, and to lead you to a measure of that devotion with which the sweet singer of Israel was inspired, we shall,

I. State the grounds we have to praise God—

To enumerate all the benefits we have received from God, would be impossible. We must content ourselves with adverting to them in the peculiar view in which they are set before us in the text. We would call you then to consider,

1. The freeness and undeservedness of them—

[It is this which gives a zest to every blessing we enjoy: in this view, the very food we eat, and the air we breathe, demand our most grateful acknowledgments. The Psalmist begins with speaking himself as a guilty and corrupt creature, who unless pardoned and renewed by the grace of God, must have been an everlasting monument of his righteous displeasure. The same thought also should be uppermost in our minds. We should contrast our state with that of the fallen angels, who never had a Saviour vouchsafed unto them; and with that of the unbelieving world, who, in consequence of rejecting the Saviour, have perished in their sins. What claim had we, any more than the fallen angels? and, if we had been dealt with according to our deserts, where would have been the difference between us and those who are gone beyond the reach, of mercy Let us but contemplate this, and the smallest mercy we enjoy will appear exceeding great; yea, any thing short of hell will be esteemed a mercy [Note: See how this consideration enhanced the favours which God vouchsafed to David, Psalms 8:1 and St. Paul, Ephesians 3:8.].]

2. The richness and variety—

[The psalm primarily relates to David’s recovery from some heavy disorder: and the terms wherein he expresses his gratitude are precisely such as are used by other persons on similar occasions [Note: Isaiah 38:17.]. On this account, in our review of God’s mercies, it will be proper first to notice the blessings of his providence. How often have we been visited with some bodily disorder, which, for aught we know, has been sent as a preventive or punishment of sin! (We certainly have reason to think, that at this time, as well as in former ages, God punishes the sins of his people in this world, that they may not be condemned in the world to come [Note: Compare 1 Corinthians 11:30; 1 Corinthians 11:32. with James 5:15].) And how often have we been raised from a state of weakness and danger, to renewed life and vigour! At all events, we have been beset with dangers, and yet not permitted to fall a sacrifice to them; and been encompassed with wants, which have been liberally supplied. Can we view all these mercies with indifference? do they not demand from us a tribute of praise?

But the expressions in the text lead us to contemplate also the blessings of God’s grace. And can we adopt the words in this view? O how great and wonderful are they, if we appreciate them aright! To be forgiven one sin is a mercy of inconceivable magnitude; but to be forgiven all, all that we have ever committed, this is a mercy which neither the tongues of men nor of angels can ever adequately declare. Think too of the corruptions which with most inveterate malignity infect our souls: to have these healed! to have them all healed: We no longer wonder at the ardour of the Psalmist’s devotion; we wonder only at our own stupidity. Contemplate moreover the efforts which Satan, that roaring lion, is ever making to destroy us; consider his wiles, his deceits, his fiery darts: what a stupendous mercy is it that we have not been given up as a prey unto his teeth!. Look around at the mercies of all kinds with which we are encircled: and mark the provision of ordinances, and promises, yea, of the body and blood of God’s only dear Son, with which our souls are nourished and renewed; so that our drooping spirits, like the eagle when renewed in its plumage, are enabled to soar to the highest heavens with confidence and joy. Can we find in these things no grounds of praise? Must not our hearts be harder than adamant itself, if they do not melt at the contemplation of such mercies as these?]

3. The constancy and continuance—

[See how triumphantly the Psalmist dwells on this [Note: Forgiveth, healeth, redeemeth, crowneth, satisfieth.]; and let us compare our experience with his. Has not God made us also the objects of his providential care, by day and by night, from the earliest period of our existence to this present moment? Has he not also renewed to us every day and hour the blessings of his grace, “watering us as his garden,” and “encompassing us with his favour as with a shield?” Surely we may say that “goodness and mercy have followed us all our days;” there has not been one single moment when our Divine keeper has ever slumbered or slept; he has kept us, “even as the apple of his eye;” “lest any should hurt us, he has kept us day and night.”

Say now, what are the feelings which such mercies should generate in our souls; and what are the returns which we ought to make to our heavenly Benefactor?]

Not doubting but that all of you must acknowledge your obligation to praise God, we will, as God shall enable us,

II. Stir you up to the performance of this duty—

It is the office of your minister to stir up your pure minds “by way of remembrance,” yea, “to put you in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.” We therefore call upon you to praise God,

1. Individually—

[This is not the duty of ministers only, but of all, whatever be their age, situation, or condition in life: every one is unspeakably indebted to God; and therefore every one should say for himself, “Bless the Lord, O my soul!”

If any object, that they have never yet been made partakers of the blessings of Divine grace, we answer, That you have not on this account the less reason to bless God; for the very “long-suffering of God should be accounted by you as salvation;” and if you compare your state (as yet on mercy’s ground) with that of those who have been cut off in their sins, you will see that all the thanks which you can possibly render unto God, are infinitely less than what he deserves at your hands.

Moreover, if you have received no signal deliverances from sickness or danger, you have the more reason to adore your God, who has preserved you so long in the uninterrupted enjoyment of health and peace.]

2. Fervently—

[Praise is not a service of the lip and knee, but of the warmest affections of the soul. The “soul, and all that is within you,” should be exercised in this blessed work. As you are to “love God with all your heart, and mind, and soul, and strength,” so also you are to bless him with all your faculties and powers. You must not however mistake vociferation, and talkativeness, and bodily fervour, for devotion; your expressions of gratitude, even when most elevated and joyous, must resemble those which are used among the heavenly hosts; who “veil their faces and their feet,” or “cast their crowns at the feet” of their adorable Redeemer. Not to bless him in this manner, is constructively and really to “forget the benefits” you have received from him: yea, an utter forgetfulness of them were less criminal than such an ungrateful remembrance.]

3. Incessantly—

[“Bless, bless, bless the Lord!” says the Psalmist to his soul; shewing thereby that he would have that to be the continual exercise of his mind. Thus should we also labour to have our minds in a constant readiness for this glorious work. We need not indeed be always engaged in the act of praise; for we have many other acts in which a great part of our time must be occupied; but the frame of our minds should always be disposed for this duty, so as to be ready for it whensoever occasion may call for the performance of it. That we shall feel backwardness to it at times, must be expected: the Psalmist intimates as much, by so repeatedly urging his reluctant soul to this duty. But let us follow his example, and urge our souls, however reluctant, to this blessed work. Let us say with him, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; bless him, bless his holy name!” or like Deborah, “Awake, awake, Deborah; awake, awake; utter a song!”

Thus to bless God is our privilege on earth: thus to bless him is an antepast of heaven.]

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/psalms-103.html. 1832.

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible

One’s heart naturally turns to this passage when one desires to magnify the Lord. It is specially suitable for a New Year’s meditation.

Psalms 103:1. Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

Come, my soul, wake up! Bestir thyself! Thou hast great work to do, such work as angels do for ever and ever before the throne. Let no power or faculty exempt itself from this divine service. Come, my memory, my will, my judgment, my intellect, my heart, all that in me is, be stirred up his holy name to magnify and bless. “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” — for the music must begin deep down in the center of my being; it must be myself, my very self, that praises God.

Psalms 103:2. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

This shall be the first note: “We love him because he first loved us.” We have not to go abroad for materials for praise, they lie at home. Forget not all his benefits to thee, my soul, his overwhelming, his innumerable benefits, which have to be summed up in the gross as “all his benefits” —forget them not.

Psalms 103:3. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;

Come, come, my soul, canst thou not praise God for sin forgiven? That is the first note, and it is the sweetest note, in our song of praise. “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities,” — not some of them but the whole mass the blessed Scapegoat has carried into the “No man’s land of oblivion.”

Psalms 103:3. Who healeth all thy diseases;

He is the Physician for thee, my soul: thy diseases are the worst of all diseases, for they would drag thee down to hell if they were not cured. But Jehovah Rophi healeth all thy diseases.

Psalms 103:4. who redeemeth thy life from destruction;

Oh, my soul, praise God for redemption! If thou canst not sing about anything else, sing of free grace and dying love. Keep on ringing those charming bells.

Psalms 103:4. Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

What! can you wear a crown, and not praise him who placed it on your head? Can you wear such a crown as this, made up of lovingkindness and tender mercies, and not bless the Lord? Oh, let it not be so, let us each break forth in spirit in one song tonight, and say, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”

Psalms 103:5. Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Heavenly feasting on heavenly bread; divine satisfaction from the finished work of Christ. Oh, my soul, pray to God to give thee new life tonight, so that thy youth may be renewed, so that thy wing feathers may grow again, and that thou mayest mount as eagles do! Surely, dear friends, this little list of mercies, so small for number, contains an immensity of mercy. Let us bless the Lord for every one of them.

Psalms 103:6. The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

Let the poor and the down-trodden sing unto the Lord. He will take care of you, he is the Executor of the needy and the Executioner of the proud. “The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.”

Psalms 103:7. He made known his ways unto Moses his acts unto the children of Israel.

Therefore, let us bless him, the God of revelation, who does not hide himself from his creatures; but who makes known his ways and his acts unto his people. An unknown God is an unpraised God; but when he shows himself to his people, they cannot refrain from blessing his name.

Psalms 103:8. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

Praise him for this. Bless his name at every single mention of his divine attributes; let your hearts beat to the music of praise tonight.

Psalms 103:9. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.

Let the afflicted praise him; let the downcast and the despondent sinner praise him; if he cannot sing about anything else, let him bless the name of the Lord that he will not keep his anger for ever.

Psalms 103:10. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

Let us thank God we are not in hell; we are yet on praying ground, and on pleading terms with him. Some of us will never go into perdition, for he hath saved us with an everlasting salvation. Truly, if we did not bless him, every timber in this house, and every iron column beneath this roof, might burst out in rebukes for our ingratitude; we must bless his name.

Psalms 103:11. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

Look up into the blue sky, up, up beyond the stars, and say to yourself. “So great is his mercy.” Let us therefore praise him accordingly.

“Loud as his thunders shout his praise,

And sound it lofty at his throne.”

Psalms 103:12. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

There is neither latitude nor longitude for praise. God’s grace is boundless; let us therefore unstintedly praise him.

Psalms 103:13. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

He has a tender heart: he never strikes without regret, but his love always flows freely. No father or mother is half so mild and loving as is the Lord of hosts.

Psalms 103:14. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

Our bodies are but animated dust, and even our souls might be compared to dust in his sight. Not iron or granite, but mere dust are we. It is a wonder that men live so long when there are such mighty forces, even in nature, arrayed against them. Who can control earthquakes and volcanoes? And when men cross the sea in times of storm, it is a wonder that they come to land again.

Psalms 103:15. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.

You are like the primrose by the river’s brim, or the buttercup and the daisy in the field that is visited with the scythe. That is all we are, not cedars, not oaks, not rocks, but flowers of the field.

Psalms 103:16. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.

Some of the hot winds of the East come over a meadow, and it is burned up immediately. I have seen the fairest and loveliest flowers look, in a short time, as if they had been burned with a hot iron when the Sirocco had blown across from Africa: and such are we. We speak of the breath of the pestilence; it is but a puff of wind, and we are gone.

Psalms 103:17-18. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

“But”, — and this is a blessed “but.” “But the mercy of the Lord” — that is not a fading flower, that is not a withering wind, — “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.” Here are ten thousand blessings in one. You have everlasting mercy, covenant mercy. Oh, if we do not praise God when we think of the covenant, what has happened to us? We must be possessed with a dumb devil if we do not praise the name of him whose mercy is from everlasting to everlasting.

Psalms 103:19. The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

Now, children of a King, will you go mourning all your days? You that dwell in the light of his throne, will not you be glad? Rejoice, O Zion, for thy King liveth and reigneth for ever! “The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice.”

Psalms 103:20. Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

“Bless the Lord, ye his angels.” We cannot do it well enough yet; help us, then, ye angels that excel in strength; put out all your strength when ye praise him, “ye that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his Word.” Your actions are your praises, O ye angels! Would God that we had learned to do his commandments as ye do them! We are praying for this, even as our Lord taught his disciples to say, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”

Psalms 103:21. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.

All living things, and all the forces and powers of nature, are calling upon men to praise the Lord; and all the hosts of God, the organs of Omnipotence, ring out the grand chorus, “Bless ye the Lord.”

Psalms 103:22. Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.

I must not go grumbling up to heaven, nor stumbling among the works of God, I must gratefully come to him, and myself praise him, so with the psalmist I cry, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.”

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/psalms-103.html. 2011.

The Biblical Illustrator

Psalms 103:1-22

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

A song of praise

Like stately pillars supporting a solemn temple, three noble psalms, placed side by side, exalt the glory of Jehovah: 103 glorifies the God of grace; 104 the God of nature; 105 the God of history. Each springs from a strong pedestal of adoration, and is crowned with a rich capital of praise.

I. This is a psalm of humanity. It is a true psalm of life; the experience of a throbbing human heart; born of the Holy Ghost, in travail of soul, amid the exigencies of weakness and sin, into the rapture of Divine compassions. All the darkness and evil of the world it knows, but suffers these only to enhance the richness of the life with God into which we move. This great achievement is won by finding out God.

II. This is humanity’s psalm of adoration to God. We see His throne exalted, His kingdom stretched abroad; His angelic hosts above, His inanimate works, below, called upon to praise Him. His eternal power and Godhead, His everlasting years, are set before us in great majesty. Think rightly on God, and all that is within you will bless Him; and this will bless you. If our life had more praise, it would feel less drudgery. “Forget not,” unworthy source of so much ingratitude, despondency, distrust. “Count your mercies.”

III. A great truth and a great duty.

1. God offers the penitent a full redemption.

2. Accept this full redemption. (C. A. South-gate.)

A song of praise

I. The object of praise. The living, not the imagined, the present, not the remote God, by His own inbreathings, called forth this tribute to Himself from a heart in which He dwelt. Sublime in His being, He is oftenest called Preserver, Judge, Father, King. In these several relations He is brought before us in this psalm.

II. The persons and things which are summoned to praise. The grossest confounding of body and spirit then prevailed; yet the soul was a term which all understood, though few could explain. This, the direct inspiration of the Almighty, would naturally be the first to perceive and respond to Divine favours. It is bidden, therefore, to express itself. The emotional, intellectual, and even animal nature may and must each offer Him its peculiar sacrifice of thanksgiving.

III. The reasons for praise. The shower of good things had been so constant, that merely to mention some of them seemed to the enthusiastic singer to ensure within himself the response he sought. He accordingly rallies his own too sluggish soul to pour forth its meed of praise, mindful of the general blessings he had received. He was prone to forget them. All are. Ingratitude is fostered by abundance. Thanklessness is more than meanness. Themistocles sadly said of the Athenians, that when a storm arose, they sheltered themselves under him as under a plane tree, which when the weather was fair again, they would rob of its leaves and branches. So do the needy multitudes cry unto God, and helped, return not to give Him glory, save here and there a stranger. Nay, more; they selfishly use their benefits to deprive Him of that honour which is His due. It was just this sin against which Jehovah had cautioned Israel (Deuteronomy 32:15). And so, as if writing down the long list of gifts that he may count them, the psalmist would beget a fit return. This psalm has been called “a little Bible within the greater.” It is a striking revelation of the being, character, and purpose of God. It is also a clear portrayal of the origin, doings, needs, blessings, and destiny of man. (Monday Club Sermons.)

A song of praise

I. Thanksgiving for personal benefits.

1. Thanks for forgiveness and inward healing.

2. Thanks for redemption and glory.

3. Thanks for intermediate blessings.

There is a long journey from the mouth of the pit of destruction, whence God has rescued us, to the gate of glory by which God will bring us in to receive our everlasting inheritance. On that way we are not left to our own resources. He gives us the supplies needful for the journey, and ministers the strength with which we may reach the end.

II. Praise to the character of God.

1. The righteousness and judgment of the Lord (Exodus 33:13).

2. The mercy and grace of God (Exodus 34:6-7).

III. The measure of God’s mercy.

1. Heavenly greatness (verse 11; Romans 5:20).

2. Infinite forgiveness (verse 12).

3. Fatherly pity (verse 13).

4. The shortness of man’s day and the eternity of God’s mercy (Psalms 103:15-17).

5. A solemn reminder (verse 18).

IV. A universal call to praise (Psalms 103:19-22). Let us who have been forgiven, renewed in the inner man, redeemed from destruction, whose lives have been crowned with lovingkindness and tender mercy, take up the song of thanksgiving, and so, perchance, extend His mercies to those who are yet strangers to it, by setting forth His benefits as we have come to know them in our own experience. (G. F. Pentecost, D. D.)

A soul’s song to God

The singer of this melody, whoever he may have been, has left behind him the valley and has climbed to magnificent heights; yea, on the suburbs of heaven, he sings with impassioned ardour of the goodness of his God, and, finding his voice inadequate to give vent to his gratitude, he summons a goodly choir--the works of God, the ministers of God, the angels of God--to accentuate the joyful strains and to make His praise glorious.

I. A blessed exercise. Some one has said that the Christian ought to be like a horse that has bells on his head: so that he cannot go anywhere without ringing them and making music. His whole life should be in harmony; every thought should constitute a note; every word he utters should be a component part of the joyful strain.

1. The psalmist is solicitous that his praise should be spiritual. It is his soul and not his lips he addresses. He wants nothing formal, mechanical, lifeless, spiritless.

2. The psalmist also arouses himself to unreserved adoration. “And all that is within me,” etc. Our nature is a many-stringed instrument, and every string is to contribute its quota to the symphony. If the soul is to be the leading singer, then every faculty of our mental, moral, and spiritual being, like a united choir, are to render the chorus.

3. The psalmist also urges himself to personal adoration. “O my soul.” He begins with himself, and, albeit he goes out from himself and seeks to engage others in singing unto God, he comes back and concludes his exhortation with himself as the subject. Let the trees clap their hands, let the ocean lift up its voice, etc. “ Bless the Lord, O my soul.”

II. A reasonable exercise. In praising God, we perform one of the highest and purest acts of religion. In praise, we largely eliminate the element of self, and are like the angels in performing the unpolluted service of the skies.

1. There are national benefits.

2. There are social benefits. “God setteth the solitary in families.” He has placed us together so that the cup of our life might be full. What a benediction is Home!

3. But better than all others, there are spiritual benefits of which we must take strict account. These are God’s greatest gifts to us.

Sell-exhortation to worship

I. With the whole soul. There are at least three immeasurable faculties within--intellect, imagination, conscience. All these should praise Jehovah, who is the True, for the intellect; the Beautiful, for the imagination; and the Righteous, for the conscience. Let all come out in praise, as all the powers of the harp come out under the touch of the master musician; as all the powers of the seed come out under the genial influence of the sunbeam.

II. For urgent reasons. “All His benefits.”

1. Sin is an offence; and here is forgiveness.

2. Sin is a disease; and here is healing.

3. Sin is ruinous; and here is restoration.

4. Sin is a degradation; and here is exaltation.

5. Sin is discontent; and here is satisfaction.

6. Sin is weakness; and here is invigoration. (Homilist.)

The saints blessing the Lord

You see here a man talking to himself, a soul with all his soul talking to his soul. His own soul is the first audience a good man ought to think of preaching to. Indeed, if any man desires to excite the hearts of others in any given direction, he must first stir up himself upon the same matter.

I. This exhortation is remarkably comprehensive.

1. The unity of our nature is hero bidden, in its concentration, to yield its whole self to the praise of God. No white-washed sepulchres will please the Lord,--“Bless the Lord, O my soul,”--Let the true Ego praise Him, the essential I, the vital personality, the soul of my soul, the life of my life! Let me be true to the core to my God; let that which is most truly my own vitality spend itself in blessing the Lord. My immortal soul, what hast thou to do with spending thine energies upon mortal things? Wilt thou hunt for fleeting shadows, whilst thou art thyself most real and abiding? Raise thyself on all thy wings, and like the six-winged cherubim adore thy God. But the words suggest yet another meaning,--the soul is our active self, our vigour, our intensity. When we speak of a man’s throwing his soul into a thing, we mean that he does it with all his might. My intensest nature shall bless the Lord. Not with bated breath and a straitened energy will I lisp forth His praises, but I will pour them forth ardently in volumes of impassioned song.

2. But, then, David speaks of the diverse faculties of our nature, and writes, “All that is within me bless His holy name.” The affections are to lead the way in the concert of praise. But the psalmist intended next to bestir the memory, for he goes on to say “forget not all His benefits.” Recollect what God has done for you. Thread the jewels of His grace upon the thread of memory, and hang them about the neck of praise. For mercies beyond count, praise Him without stint. Then let your conscience praise Him, for the psalm proceeds to say, “who forgiveth all thine iniquities.” Conscience once weighed thy sins and condemned thee; now let it weigh the Lord’s pardon and magnify His grace to thee. Let thy emotions join the sacred choir, for thou hast many feelings of delight; bless Him “who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies,” etc. Is all within you peaceful? Sing some sweet pastoral, like the twenty-third psalm. Let the calm of your spirit sound forth the praises of the Lord upon the pleasant harp and the psaltery. Do your days flow smoothly? Then consecrate the dulcimer to the Lord. Do you feel the exhilaration of delight? Then praise ye the Lord with the timbrel and dance. On the other hand, is there a contention within; does conflict disturb your mind? Then praise Him with the sound of the trumpet, for He will go forth with you to the battle. When you return from the battle and divide the spoil, then “praise Him upon the loud cymbals: praise Him upon the high-sounding cymbals.” What-ever emotional state thy soul be found in, let it lead thee to bless thy Maker’s holy name.

II. This suggestion is most reasonable. The Lord has given innumerable blessings to every part of our nature; all our faculties are the recipients of blessing; therefore should they all bless God in return. Every pipe of the organ should yield its quota of sound. As all the rivers run into the sea, so all our powers should flow towards the Lord’s praise. To prove that this is reasonable, let me ask one single question:--if we do not devote all that is within us to the glory of God, which part is that we should leave unconsecrated; and being less unconsecrated to God what should we do with it?

III. It is necessary. It is necessary that the whole nature bless God, for at its best, when all engaged in the service, it fails to compass the work, and fails short of Jehovah’s praise. All the man, with all his might, always occupied in all ways in blessing God, would still be no more than a whisper in comparison with the thunder of praise which the Lord deserves. Do not, therefore, let us insult the Lord with half when the whole is not enough. Jesus Christ will have of us all or nothing; and He will have us sincere, earnest, and intense, or He will not have us at all.

IV. It is beneficial.

1. It is beneficial to ourselves. To be whole-hearted in the praise of God is to elevate our faculties. Consecration is culture. To praise is to learn. To bless God is also of preventive usefulness to us; we cannot bless God and at the same time idolize ourselves. Praise preserves us from being envious of others, for by blessing God for all we have, we learn to bless God for what other people have.

2. It is also useful to others. You cannot do good more effectually than by a happy consecrated life, spent in blessing God. If there be anything that is cheerful, joyous, dewy, bright, full of heaven, it is the life of a man who blesses God all his days. This is the way to win souls. We shall not catch these flies with vinegar,--we must use honey.

V. All this is prepatratory. If we can attain to constant praise now, it will prepare us for all that awaits us. We are harps which will be tuned in all their strings for the concerts of the blessed. The tuner is putting us in order. He sweeps his hands along the strings; there is a jar from every note; so He begins first with one string, and then goes to another. He continues at each string till He hears the exact note. The last time you were ill, one of your strings was tuned; the last time you had a had debt, or trembled at declining business, another string was tuned. And so, between now and heaven, you will have every string set in order; and you will not enter heaven till all are in tune. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The keynote of the year

David sounds the tuningfork with this clear note--“Bless the Lord, O nay soul.”

I. The blessed occupation. How, then, can we bless God?

1. God blesses us by thinking well of us, and we bless God by thinking well of Him. Think deeply of what the Lord has done. Do not pass His mercies over superficially, but look into them. Do not cease to think of the covenant of electing love, of everlasting faithfulness, of redeeming blood, of pardoning grace, and all the ways in which eternal love has shown itself.

2. We also bless God when we wish Him well. Sit down and wish that all men knew God, that all men worshipped Him; and let your wishes blaze up into prayers. Wish that all idols were abolished, and that Jehovah’s name would be sung through every land by every tongue. Wish well to His Church, His cause, His people, and all that concerns His glory.

3. You can bless God by speaking well of Him. Have you said anything to praise God to-day?

4. Bless His name by acts and deeds of holy service and consecration Do it with hand, and purse, and substance, and sacrifice.

II. The commendable manner mentioned. Half the virtue of a thing lies in the way in which it is done. Now, in the service of God, it is net only what you bring, but in what spirit you bring it.

1. That mode of blessing God to which we are called is very spiritual--a matter of soul and spirit. The music of the soul is that which pleases the ear of God: the great spirit is delighted with that which comes from our spirit. A heart that praises Him has within itself all the harmonies that He delights in. The sigh of love is to Him a lyric, the sob of repentance is melody, the inward cries of His own children are an oratorio, and their heart-songs are true hallelujahs.

2. When we bless God, the sacred exercise should be intense. Let every part of your manhood be aroused, and so aroused as to be in fine form. Give me a man on fire when God is to be praised. Let “all that is within me bless His holy name.” A whole God, and a holy God, should have the whole of our powers engaged in blessing His holy name.”

3. The text seems to remind me that we ought to do this repeatedly, because in my text the word “bless” occurs twice. “Bless the Lord, O my soul: bless His holy name.” And in the next verse there is “bless the Lord” again. He is a triune God: render Him triune praise.

III. The sacred object of this blessing--Jehovah. I adore the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God that made the heavens and the earth. I worship the God that cut Rahab, and wounded the crocodile at the Red Sea, the God that led His people through the wilderness, the God that gave them the land of Canaan for a heritage. “This God is our God for ever and ever. He shall be our guide, even unto death.” “Bless Jehovah, O my soul.” Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, we worship Thee; we bless Thee! Do you love a holy God? While you bless Him for His mercy, do you equally bless Him for His holiness? You bless Him for His bounty, but do you feel that you could not thus bless Him if you were not fully aware that He is perfectly righteous? “Bless His holy name.” Aye, when that holiness burns like fire, and threatens to devour the guilty, let us still bless His holy name! When we see His holiness consuming the great Sacrifice, we bow before the Lord in deep dread of soul, but we still bless His holy name. An unholy God! It were absurd to think of such a thing; but a thrice-holy God--let us bless and praise Him.

IV. The suitable monitor. Who is it that says to David, “Bless the Lord, O my soul”? Why, it is David talking to David. The man speaks to himself. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

A song of praise

This psalm is a type of intelligent thanksgiving--an expression of sanctified emotion based upon sanctified thought. We see at once how this true emotion is distinguished from mere formal thanksgiving by the words, “all that is within me”--words which appeal to the very deepest feelings of the heart. But we also notice how, as so often in Scripture, a caution is associated with the highest devotional feeling at the point where one in the ardour of holy rapture forgets for the moment that he is a sinful man in a sinful world: “Bless the Lord, O my soul! yet, my soul, thou art weak and fallible, and prone to forget these very mercies which are calling forth thy praise. Forget not all His benefits.” It is with blessings much as with troubles: few people, comparatively, have great catastrophes in their life, and few have great, colossal joys. There is only the daily succession of little, commonplace pleasures, and we foolishly get into the way of attaching little importance to anything which is not of the nature of a crisis. Go back over your life and pick up the happy times--the day your little child began to walk; the day your boy graduated with honour; the many evenings you have come home tired and have found rest, and light, and warmth, and pleasant words at home; how many happy hours over a book or in conversation with a friend. These, after all, are the benefits which make up the staple of our life. They seem to be little blessings, perhaps because they are so common, yet if we number all God’s benefits we shall find the sum of them very great. The psalmist specifies certain causes for thanksgiving; and the first of these is very significant--the forgiveness of his sins. And rightly, because this is essentially the first fact in all thanksgiving, and is therefore the key not only to this psalm, but to the whole great lesson of Christian thankfulness. Having thus laid this spiritual foundation for a true thanksgiving, the psalmist now passes to mention temporal mercies, yet, possibly, all along with an undertone of spiritual meaning. God healeth all diseases, redeemeth the life from death, ministers to the healthful appetite with good things, makes His child strong and vigorous as the eagle. The association of these benefits directly with God imparts to them a spiritual suggestiveness such as they may well have in this psalm. They are not only pleasant facts, but types of spiritual good. He healeth all thy diseases, but the most deadly disease of all is sin. Thy mouth is satisfied with the kindly fruits of the earth, yet man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Thy youth and vigour are renewed like the eagle’s, but thou knowest too what it is to be strengthened with might by God’s Spirit in the inner man. And now, through all these things--forgiveness, redeeming, renewing--God is working toward an ulterior purpose. “He crowneth thee.” God’s work is not finished in the forgiveness of sins. If a prince were to take a beggar out of the street in order to make him the heir to his throne, would his work be done when he had washed and decently clothed him? No. He must be trained for his position. All that kingly power and fatherly love can command must combine to fit him to be a king. The redeemed sing to Him who not only washed them from their sins, but also made them kings and priests. And as we reach the close of the psalm we find its keynote struck again. It is a psalm of thanksgiving, but it tells us that true thanksgiving can be only within the sphere of God’s accepted sovereignty, from the standpoint of voluntary allegiance to Him. The foundation of all thanksgiving is that God reigns--the foundation of our individual thanksgiving is that God is our King. (M. R. Vincent, D.D.)

Divine goodness celebrated

I. The mercies enumerated.

1. Benefits bestowed.

2. Iniquities forgiven.

3. Diseases healed.

4. Redemption from destruction.

5. A crown of lovingkindnesses and tender mercies.

II. The thanks presented.

1. He blesses God.

2. He does this with all his soul.

3. He calls upon all within him to join in the work of praise.

4. He purposes a lively remembrance of God’s goodness. “And forget not all His benefits.” He would keep it before his eyes; he would be constantly meditating upon it; morning and evening, and in the night watches, etc.

Application.

1. The amazing extent and profusion of the Divine goodness.

2. The immense obligations we are under to serve and bless God. (J. Burns, D.D.)

Worship

Worship means recognition of worth, doing homage to goodness. Even when the worth is limited, as in the case of a good man, the recognition should be cordial. When the homage is offered to Infinite Goodness all the gifts of mind and heart should be brought into play, so as to yield the maximum of worship and recognition. The Lord our God ought to be loved and served with all the heart, and soul, and strength, and mind. Unhappily, in no department of human conduct do the ideal and the reality lie further apart than in religious worship and in religious life. What then are the conditions under which it is possible to render such a service as is illustrated in this exquisite psalm?

1. Faith, or a right conception of God, a right idea of God. We must believe in a God whose character is fitted to inspire devout thought and excite religious affections of reverence, trust, gratitude, and admiration; such a God, that is to say, as is presented to our view in this psalm. He must bless God in a feeble, cold, hesitating fashion, who is all the time not sure whether his Divinity be worthy of worship. The lips say: “God is good”; the mind thinks only of the chosen objects of an arbitrary favouritism. The tongue declares: “God loveth the right”; the reason asks: “Why then do bad men prosper and good men pine?” If we are to worship and serve God aright, this antagonism between word and thought must be overcome. We must believe in a God whose name is a veritable gospel of gladness to our souls

2. Sincerity. Everywhere in Scripture we find great stress laid upon this condition of efficient service. The perfect man in the Bible is not the man without fault, but the man of single-hearted devotion who loves and serves God. Faults in conduct, errors of judgment, infirmities of temper there may be in abundance. The one quality that redeems, ennobles character is self-devotion without reserve to the Divine kingdom of the Gospel, to the cause that is worth living for.

3. Liberty. No one can say with emphasis, “O Lord, truly I am Thy servant,” unless he also is able to say, “Thou hast loosed my bonds.” There are bonds which keep men from being religious, or from being devoted in religion, and there are bonds springing out of religion itself by which many saintly souls are bound. Everything pertaining to religion--worship, creed, practice, tends to become an affair of routine, ceremonial, formula, mechanical habit. Fetters are forged for soul and body, for every faculty of our composite nature--for hand, tongue, mind, heart, conscience. And by such as are in bondage it is regarded as a mark of piety and sanctity to wear with scrupulous care all these grievous fetters. There are times, however, when the bondage becomes unbearable, and the human spirit rises in rebellion and asserts its liberty. Such an epoch is a veritable year of jubilee, when minds are emancipated from worn-out commonplaces, and hearts are enlarged into original and heroic love, like rivers in flood overflowing their banks, and “consciences are purged from dead works to serve the living God.” It is “the acceptable year of the Lord,” “acceptable” to redeemed men, though regarded with pious horror by the slaves of tradition, and “acceptable” to God also. For, be it understood, God takes no pleasure in spiritual bondage. God gets no glory from that sort of thing. His glory is bound up with liberty, for with liberty came opening of closed lips, unsealing all the fountains of religious emotion, locked up by the frosts of a dreary winter, awakening all dormant powers of thought, whereupon once more men bless God with “all that is within them.” (A. B. Bruce, D. D.)

The Christian’s gladness deeply rooted

How vigorous was the plant of joy in the writer’s heart. And why? Because its roots were spread far and wide in a nourishing soil. In the experience of God’s forgiving love and ever bountiful kindness to himself, in the recognition of God’s sure friendliness towards all that are oppressed, in the remembrance of the vast past of His lovingkindness to His people, in a large, real, partnership of joy with “all them that fear Him,” and in an exultant realization that God and gladness ruled the universe, did this cheery saint and singer root his joy. What a poor feeble plant is the happiness of many professed Christians! And no wonder--for it lacks strong and ample roots. No sufficient time or pains are given that thought and affection may spread abroad in the rich nourishing ground of God’s vast goodness and lovingkindness. Take time to be happy--to be exultingly and persistently happy in God and His salvation! (C. G. M.)

The harp of the heart

A more wonderful instrument than any which Israel’s psalmist ever struck is carried in the human breast. Upon its “ten strings” the hand of God often strikes, and evokes most sublime melody. The one hundred and third psalm was originally played upon this harp of the heart. Its keynote is, “Bless the Lord, O my soul! let all that is within me bless His holy name.” At another time the strains of that harp were inexpressibly plaintive and mournful. They were like the wail of a sick child. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness. Against Thee have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Happy is the man who can begin to rehearse for heaven by attuning his heart to the will of God. He is like the old psalmist’s psaltery, every wind that Providence sends only makes music in him. Even boisterous gales of adversity call forth grand and sublime strains of resignation. When he is in trouble, he “giveth songs in the night.” The kind acts he performs for others touch sweet chords in his memory. And amid all the harsh and jangled discords of this world, such a Christ-loving soul is a harp of gold making constant melody in the ear of God. (T. L. Cuyler, D.D.)

Praising with the soul

When the photographer fits that iron rest at the back of your head and keeps you waiting ten minutes, while he gets his plates ready, why, your soul goes out of town, and nothing remains but that heavy look! When the work of art is finished, it is you, and yet it is not you. You were driven out by the touch of that iron. Another time, perhaps, your photograph is taken instantaneously, while you are in an animated attitude, while your whole soul is there; and your friends say, “Aye, that is your very self.” I want you to bless the Lord with your soul at home as in that last portrait. I saw a book wherein the writer says in the preface, “We have given a portrait of our mother, but there was a kind of sacred twinkle about her eyes which no photograph could produce.” Now, it is my heart’s desire that you do praise God with that sacred twinkle, with that feature or faculty which is most characteristic of you. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 103:1". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/psalms-103.html. 1905-1909. New York.

The Biblical Illustrator

Psalms 103:1-22

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

A song of praise

Like stately pillars supporting a solemn temple, three noble psalms, placed side by side, exalt the glory of Jehovah: 103 glorifies the God of grace; 104 the God of nature; 105 the God of history. Each springs from a strong pedestal of adoration, and is crowned with a rich capital of praise.

I. This is a psalm of humanity. It is a true psalm of life; the experience of a throbbing human heart; born of the Holy Ghost, in travail of soul, amid the exigencies of weakness and sin, into the rapture of Divine compassions. All the darkness and evil of the world it knows, but suffers these only to enhance the richness of the life with God into which we move. This great achievement is won by finding out God.

II. This is humanity’s psalm of adoration to God. We see His throne exalted, His kingdom stretched abroad; His angelic hosts above, His inanimate works, below, called upon to praise Him. His eternal power and Godhead, His everlasting years, are set before us in great majesty. Think rightly on God, and all that is within you will bless Him; and this will bless you. If our life had more praise, it would feel less drudgery. “Forget not,” unworthy source of so much ingratitude, despondency, distrust. “Count your mercies.”

III. A great truth and a great duty.

1. God offers the penitent a full redemption.

2. Accept this full redemption. (C. A. South-gate.)

A song of praise

I. The object of praise. The living, not the imagined, the present, not the remote God, by His own inbreathings, called forth this tribute to Himself from a heart in which He dwelt. Sublime in His being, He is oftenest called Preserver, Judge, Father, King. In these several relations He is brought before us in this psalm.

II. The persons and things which are summoned to praise. The grossest confounding of body and spirit then prevailed; yet the soul was a term which all understood, though few could explain. This, the direct inspiration of the Almighty, would naturally be the first to perceive and respond to Divine favours. It is bidden, therefore, to express itself. The emotional, intellectual, and even animal nature may and must each offer Him its peculiar sacrifice of thanksgiving.

III. The reasons for praise. The shower of good things had been so constant, that merely to mention some of them seemed to the enthusiastic singer to ensure within himself the response he sought. He accordingly rallies his own too sluggish soul to pour forth its meed of praise, mindful of the general blessings he had received. He was prone to forget them. All are. Ingratitude is fostered by abundance. Thanklessness is more than meanness. Themistocles sadly said of the Athenians, that when a storm arose, they sheltered themselves under him as under a plane tree, which when the weather was fair again, they would rob of its leaves and branches. So do the needy multitudes cry unto God, and helped, return not to give Him glory, save here and there a stranger. Nay, more; they selfishly use their benefits to deprive Him of that honour which is His due. It was just this sin against which Jehovah had cautioned Israel (Deuteronomy 32:15). And so, as if writing down the long list of gifts that he may count them, the psalmist would beget a fit return. This psalm has been called “a little Bible within the greater.” It is a striking revelation of the being, character, and purpose of God. It is also a clear portrayal of the origin, doings, needs, blessings, and destiny of man. (Monday Club Sermons.)

A song of praise

I. Thanksgiving for personal benefits.

1. Thanks for forgiveness and inward healing.

2. Thanks for redemption and glory.

3. Thanks for intermediate blessings.

There is a long journey from the mouth of the pit of destruction, whence God has rescued us, to the gate of glory by which God will bring us in to receive our everlasting inheritance. On that way we are not left to our own resources. He gives us the supplies needful for the journey, and ministers the strength with which we may reach the end.

II. Praise to the character of God.

1. The righteousness and judgment of the Lord (Exodus 33:13).

2. The mercy and grace of God (Exodus 34:6-7).

III. The measure of God’s mercy.

1. Heavenly greatness (verse 11; Romans 5:20).

2. Infinite forgiveness (verse 12).

3. Fatherly pity (verse 13).

4. The shortness of man’s day and the eternity of God’s mercy (Psalms 103:15-17).

5. A solemn reminder (verse 18).

IV. A universal call to praise (Psalms 103:19-22). Let us who have been forgiven, renewed in the inner man, redeemed from destruction, whose lives have been crowned with lovingkindness and tender mercy, take up the song of thanksgiving, and so, perchance, extend His mercies to those who are yet strangers to it, by setting forth His benefits as we have come to know them in our own experience. (G. F. Pentecost, D. D.)

A soul’s song to God

The singer of this melody, whoever he may have been, has left behind him the valley and has climbed to magnificent heights; yea, on the suburbs of heaven, he sings with impassioned ardour of the goodness of his God, and, finding his voice inadequate to give vent to his gratitude, he summons a goodly choir--the works of God, the ministers of God, the angels of God--to accentuate the joyful strains and to make His praise glorious.

I. A blessed exercise. Some one has said that the Christian ought to be like a horse that has bells on his head: so that he cannot go anywhere without ringing them and making music. His whole life should be in harmony; every thought should constitute a note; every word he utters should be a component part of the joyful strain.

1. The psalmist is solicitous that his praise should be spiritual. It is his soul and not his lips he addresses. He wants nothing formal, mechanical, lifeless, spiritless.

2. The psalmist also arouses himself to unreserved adoration. “And all that is within me,” etc. Our nature is a many-stringed instrument, and every string is to contribute its quota to the symphony. If the soul is to be the leading singer, then every faculty of our mental, moral, and spiritual being, like a united choir, are to render the chorus.

3. The psalmist also urges himself to personal adoration. “O my soul.” He begins with himself, and, albeit he goes out from himself and seeks to engage others in singing unto God, he comes back and concludes his exhortation with himself as the subject. Let the trees clap their hands, let the ocean lift up its voice, etc. “ Bless the Lord, O my soul.”

II. A reasonable exercise. In praising God, we perform one of the highest and purest acts of religion. In praise, we largely eliminate the element of self, and are like the angels in performing the unpolluted service of the skies.

1. There are national benefits.

2. There are social benefits. “God setteth the solitary in families.” He has placed us together so that the cup of our life might be full. What a benediction is Home!

3. But better than all others, there are spiritual benefits of which we must take strict account. These are God’s greatest gifts to us.

Sell-exhortation to worship

I. With the whole soul. There are at least three immeasurable faculties within--intellect, imagination, conscience. All these should praise Jehovah, who is the True, for the intellect; the Beautiful, for the imagination; and the Righteous, for the conscience. Let all come out in praise, as all the powers of the harp come out under the touch of the master musician; as all the powers of the seed come out under the genial influence of the sunbeam.

II. For urgent reasons. “All His benefits.”

1. Sin is an offence; and here is forgiveness.

2. Sin is a disease; and here is healing.

3. Sin is ruinous; and here is restoration.

4. Sin is a degradation; and here is exaltation.

5. Sin is discontent; and here is satisfaction.

6. Sin is weakness; and here is invigoration. (Homilist.)

The saints blessing the Lord

You see here a man talking to himself, a soul with all his soul talking to his soul. His own soul is the first audience a good man ought to think of preaching to. Indeed, if any man desires to excite the hearts of others in any given direction, he must first stir up himself upon the same matter.

I. This exhortation is remarkably comprehensive.

1. The unity of our nature is hero bidden, in its concentration, to yield its whole self to the praise of God. No white-washed sepulchres will please the Lord,--“Bless the Lord, O my soul,”--Let the true Ego praise Him, the essential I, the vital personality, the soul of my soul, the life of my life! Let me be true to the core to my God; let that which is most truly my own vitality spend itself in blessing the Lord. My immortal soul, what hast thou to do with spending thine energies upon mortal things? Wilt thou hunt for fleeting shadows, whilst thou art thyself most real and abiding? Raise thyself on all thy wings, and like the six-winged cherubim adore thy God. But the words suggest yet another meaning,--the soul is our active self, our vigour, our intensity. When we speak of a man’s throwing his soul into a thing, we mean that he does it with all his might. My intensest nature shall bless the Lord. Not with bated breath and a straitened energy will I lisp forth His praises, but I will pour them forth ardently in volumes of impassioned song.

2. But, then, David speaks of the diverse faculties of our nature, and writes, “All that is within me bless His holy name.” The affections are to lead the way in the concert of praise. But the psalmist intended next to bestir the memory, for he goes on to say “forget not all His benefits.” Recollect what God has done for you. Thread the jewels of His grace upon the thread of memory, and hang them about the neck of praise. For mercies beyond count, praise Him without stint. Then let your conscience praise Him, for the psalm proceeds to say, “who forgiveth all thine iniquities.” Conscience once weighed thy sins and condemned thee; now let it weigh the Lord’s pardon and magnify His grace to thee. Let thy emotions join the sacred choir, for thou hast many feelings of delight; bless Him “who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies,” etc. Is all within you peaceful? Sing some sweet pastoral, like the twenty-third psalm. Let the calm of your spirit sound forth the praises of the Lord upon the pleasant harp and the psaltery. Do your days flow smoothly? Then consecrate the dulcimer to the Lord. Do you feel the exhilaration of delight? Then praise ye the Lord with the timbrel and dance. On the other hand, is there a contention within; does conflict disturb your mind? Then praise Him with the sound of the trumpet, for He will go forth with you to the battle. When you return from the battle and divide the spoil, then “praise Him upon the loud cymbals: praise Him upon the high-sounding cymbals.” What-ever emotional state thy soul be found in, let it lead thee to bless thy Maker’s holy name.

II. This suggestion is most reasonable. The Lord has given innumerable blessings to every part of our nature; all our faculties are the recipients of blessing; therefore should they all bless God in return. Every pipe of the organ should yield its quota of sound. As all the rivers run into the sea, so all our powers should flow towards the Lord’s praise. To prove that this is reasonable, let me ask one single question:--if we do not devote all that is within us to the glory of God, which part is that we should leave unconsecrated; and being less unconsecrated to God what should we do with it?

III. It is necessary. It is necessary that the whole nature bless God, for at its best, when all engaged in the service, it fails to compass the work, and fails short of Jehovah’s praise. All the man, with all his might, always occupied in all ways in blessing God, would still be no more than a whisper in comparison with the thunder of praise which the Lord deserves. Do not, therefore, let us insult the Lord with half when the whole is not enough. Jesus Christ will have of us all or nothing; and He will have us sincere, earnest, and intense, or He will not have us at all.

IV. It is beneficial.

1. It is beneficial to ourselves. To be whole-hearted in the praise of God is to elevate our faculties. Consecration is culture. To praise is to learn. To bless God is also of preventive usefulness to us; we cannot bless God and at the same time idolize ourselves. Praise preserves us from being envious of others, for by blessing God for all we have, we learn to bless God for what other people have.

2. It is also useful to others. You cannot do good more effectually than by a happy consecrated life, spent in blessing God. If there be anything that is cheerful, joyous, dewy, bright, full of heaven, it is the life of a man who blesses God all his days. This is the way to win souls. We shall not catch these flies with vinegar,--we must use honey.

V. All this is prepatratory. If we can attain to constant praise now, it will prepare us for all that awaits us. We are harps which will be tuned in all their strings for the concerts of the blessed. The tuner is putting us in order. He sweeps his hands along the strings; there is a jar from every note; so He begins first with one string, and then goes to another. He continues at each string till He hears the exact note. The last time you were ill, one of your strings was tuned; the last time you had a had debt, or trembled at declining business, another string was tuned. And so, between now and heaven, you will have every string set in order; and you will not enter heaven till all are in tune. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The keynote of the year

David sounds the tuningfork with this clear note--“Bless the Lord, O nay soul.”

I. The blessed occupation. How, then, can we bless God?

1. God blesses us by thinking well of us, and we bless God by thinking well of Him. Think deeply of what the Lord has done. Do not pass His mercies over superficially, but look into them. Do not cease to think of the covenant of electing love, of everlasting faithfulness, of redeeming blood, of pardoning grace, and all the ways in which eternal love has shown itself.

2. We also bless God when we wish Him well. Sit down and wish that all men knew God, that all men worshipped Him; and let your wishes blaze up into prayers. Wish that all idols were abolished, and that Jehovah’s name would be sung through every land by every tongue. Wish well to His Church, His cause, His people, and all that concerns His glory.

3. You can bless God by speaking well of Him. Have you said anything to praise God to-day?

4. Bless His name by acts and deeds of holy service and consecration Do it with hand, and purse, and substance, and sacrifice.

II. The commendable manner mentioned. Half the virtue of a thing lies in the way in which it is done. Now, in the service of God, it is net only what you bring, but in what spirit you bring it.

1. That mode of blessing God to which we are called is very spiritual--a matter of soul and spirit. The music of the soul is that which pleases the ear of God: the great spirit is delighted with that which comes from our spirit. A heart that praises Him has within itself all the harmonies that He delights in. The sigh of love is to Him a lyric, the sob of repentance is melody, the inward cries of His own children are an oratorio, and their heart-songs are true hallelujahs.

2. When we bless God, the sacred exercise should be intense. Let every part of your manhood be aroused, and so aroused as to be in fine form. Give me a man on fire when God is to be praised. Let “all that is within me bless His holy name.” A whole God, and a holy God, should have the whole of our powers engaged in blessing His holy name.”

3. The text seems to remind me that we ought to do this repeatedly, because in my text the word “bless” occurs twice. “Bless the Lord, O my soul: bless His holy name.” And in the next verse there is “bless the Lord” again. He is a triune God: render Him triune praise.

III. The sacred object of this blessing--Jehovah. I adore the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God that made the heavens and the earth. I worship the God that cut Rahab, and wounded the crocodile at the Red Sea, the God that led His people through the wilderness, the God that gave them the land of Canaan for a heritage. “This God is our God for ever and ever. He shall be our guide, even unto death.” “Bless Jehovah, O my soul.” Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, we worship Thee; we bless Thee! Do you love a holy God? While you bless Him for His mercy, do you equally bless Him for His holiness? You bless Him for His bounty, but do you feel that you could not thus bless Him if you were not fully aware that He is perfectly righteous? “Bless His holy name.” Aye, when that holiness burns like fire, and threatens to devour the guilty, let us still bless His holy name! When we see His holiness consuming the great Sacrifice, we bow before the Lord in deep dread of soul, but we still bless His holy name. An unholy God! It were absurd to think of such a thing; but a thrice-holy God--let us bless and praise Him.

IV. The suitable monitor. Who is it that says to David, “Bless the Lord, O my soul”? Why, it is David talking to David. The man speaks to himself. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

A song of praise

This psalm is a type of intelligent thanksgiving--an expression of sanctified emotion based upon sanctified thought. We see at once how this true emotion is distinguished from mere formal thanksgiving by the words, “all that is within me”--words which appeal to the very deepest feelings of the heart. But we also notice how, as so often in Scripture, a caution is associated with the highest devotional feeling at the point where one in the ardour of holy rapture forgets for the moment that he is a sinful man in a sinful world: “Bless the Lord, O my soul! yet, my soul, thou art weak and fallible, and prone to forget these very mercies which are calling forth thy praise. Forget not all His benefits.” It is with blessings much as with troubles: few people, comparatively, have great catastrophes in their life, and few have great, colossal joys. There is only the daily succession of little, commonplace pleasures, and we foolishly get into the way of attaching little importance to anything which is not of the nature of a crisis. Go back over your life and pick up the happy times--the day your little child began to walk; the day your boy graduated with honour; the many evenings you have come home tired and have found rest, and light, and warmth, and pleasant words at home; how many happy hours over a book or in conversation with a friend. These, after all, are the benefits which make up the staple of our life. They seem to be little blessings, perhaps because they are so common, yet if we number all God’s benefits we shall find the sum of them very great. The psalmist specifies certain causes for thanksgiving; and the first of these is very significant--the forgiveness of his sins. And rightly, because this is essentially the first fact in all thanksgiving, and is therefore the key not only to this psalm, but to the whole great lesson of Christian thankfulness. Having thus laid this spiritual foundation for a true thanksgiving, the psalmist now passes to mention temporal mercies, yet, possibly, all along with an undertone of spiritual meaning. God healeth all diseases, redeemeth the life from death, ministers to the healthful appetite with good things, makes His child strong and vigorous as the eagle. The association of these benefits directly with God imparts to them a spiritual suggestiveness such as they may well have in this psalm. They are not only pleasant facts, but types of spiritual good. He healeth all thy diseases, but the most deadly disease of all is sin. Thy mouth is satisfied with the kindly fruits of the earth, yet man lives not by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Thy youth and vigour are renewed like the eagle’s, but thou knowest too what it is to be strengthened with might by God’s Spirit in the inner man. And now, through all these things--forgiveness, redeeming, renewing--God is working toward an ulterior purpose. “He crowneth thee.” God’s work is not finished in the forgiveness of sins. If a prince were to take a beggar out of the street in order to make him the heir to his throne, would his work be done when he had washed and decently clothed him? No. He must be trained for his position. All that kingly power and fatherly love can command must combine to fit him to be a king. The redeemed sing to Him who not only washed them from their sins, but also made them kings and priests. And as we reach the close of the psalm we find its keynote struck again. It is a psalm of thanksgiving, but it tells us that true thanksgiving can be only within the sphere of God’s accepted sovereignty, from the standpoint of voluntary allegiance to Him. The foundation of all thanksgiving is that God reigns--the foundation of our individual thanksgiving is that God is our King. (M. R. Vincent, D.D.)

Divine goodness celebrated

I. The mercies enumerated.

1. Benefits bestowed.

2. Iniquities forgiven.

3. Diseases healed.

4. Redemption from destruction.

5. A crown of lovingkindnesses and tender mercies.

II. The thanks presented.

1. He blesses God.

2. He does this with all his soul.

3. He calls upon all within him to join in the work of praise.

4. He purposes a lively remembrance of God’s goodness. “And forget not all His benefits.” He would keep it before his eyes; he would be constantly meditating upon it; morning and evening, and in the night watches, etc.

Application.

1. The amazing extent and profusion of the Divine goodness.

2. The immense obligations we are under to serve and bless God. (J. Burns, D.D.)

Worship

Worship means recognition of worth, doing homage to goodness. Even when the worth is limited, as in the case of a good man, the recognition should be cordial. When the homage is offered to Infinite Goodness all the gifts of mind and heart should be brought into play, so as to yield the maximum of worship and recognition. The Lord our God ought to be loved and served with all the heart, and soul, and strength, and mind. Unhappily, in no department of human conduct do the ideal and the reality lie further apart than in religious worship and in religious life. What then are the conditions under which it is possible to render such a service as is illustrated in this exquisite psalm?

1. Faith, or a right conception of God, a right idea of God. We must believe in a God whose character is fitted to inspire devout thought and excite religious affections of reverence, trust, gratitude, and admiration; such a God, that is to say, as is presented to our view in this psalm. He must bless God in a feeble, cold, hesitating fashion, who is all the time not sure whether his Divinity be worthy of worship. The lips say: “God is good”; the mind thinks only of the chosen objects of an arbitrary favouritism. The tongue declares: “God loveth the right”; the reason asks: “Why then do bad men prosper and good men pine?” If we are to worship and serve God aright, this antagonism between word and thought must be overcome. We must believe in a God whose name is a veritable gospel of gladness to our souls

2. Sincerity. Everywhere in Scripture we find great stress laid upon this condition of efficient service. The perfect man in the Bible is not the man without fault, but the man of single-hearted devotion who loves and serves God. Faults in conduct, errors of judgment, infirmities of temper there may be in abundance. The one quality that redeems, ennobles character is self-devotion without reserve to the Divine kingdom of the Gospel, to the cause that is worth living for.

3. Liberty. No one can say with emphasis, “O Lord, truly I am Thy servant,” unless he also is able to say, “Thou hast loosed my bonds.” There are bonds which keep men from being religious, or from being devoted in religion, and there are bonds springing out of religion itself by which many saintly souls are bound. Everything pertaining to religion--worship, creed, practice, tends to become an affair of routine, ceremonial, formula, mechanical habit. Fetters are forged for soul and body, for every faculty of our composite nature--for hand, tongue, mind, heart, conscience. And by such as are in bondage it is regarded as a mark of piety and sanctity to wear with scrupulous care all these grievous fetters. There are times, however, when the bondage becomes unbearable, and the human spirit rises in rebellion and asserts its liberty. Such an epoch is a veritable year of jubilee, when minds are emancipated from worn-out commonplaces, and hearts are enlarged into original and heroic love, like rivers in flood overflowing their banks, and “consciences are purged from dead works to serve the living God.” It is “the acceptable year of the Lord,” “acceptable” to redeemed men, though regarded with pious horror by the slaves of tradition, and “acceptable” to God also. For, be it understood, God takes no pleasure in spiritual bondage. God gets no glory from that sort of thing. His glory is bound up with liberty, for with liberty came opening of closed lips, unsealing all the fountains of religious emotion, locked up by the frosts of a dreary winter, awakening all dormant powers of thought, whereupon once more men bless God with “all that is within them.” (A. B. Bruce, D. D.)

The Christian’s gladness deeply rooted

How vigorous was the plant of joy in the writer’s heart. And why? Because its roots were spread far and wide in a nourishing soil. In the experience of God’s forgiving love and ever bountiful kindness to himself, in the recognition of God’s sure friendliness towards all that are oppressed, in the remembrance of the vast past of His lovingkindness to His people, in a large, real, partnership of joy with “all them that fear Him,” and in an exultant realization that God and gladness ruled the universe, did this cheery saint and singer root his joy. What a poor feeble plant is the happiness of many professed Christians! And no wonder--for it lacks strong and ample roots. No sufficient time or pains are given that thought and affection may spread abroad in the rich nourishing ground of God’s vast goodness and lovingkindness. Take time to be happy--to be exultingly and persistently happy in God and His salvation! (C. G. M.)

The harp of the heart

A more wonderful instrument than any which Israel’s psalmist ever struck is carried in the human breast. Upon its “ten strings” the hand of God often strikes, and evokes most sublime melody. The one hundred and third psalm was originally played upon this harp of the heart. Its keynote is, “Bless the Lord, O my soul! let all that is within me bless His holy name.” At another time the strains of that harp were inexpressibly plaintive and mournful. They were like the wail of a sick child. “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness. Against Thee have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Happy is the man who can begin to rehearse for heaven by attuning his heart to the will of God. He is like the old psalmist’s psaltery, every wind that Providence sends only makes music in him. Even boisterous gales of adversity call forth grand and sublime strains of resignation. When he is in trouble, he “giveth songs in the night.” The kind acts he performs for others touch sweet chords in his memory. And amid all the harsh and jangled discords of this world, such a Christ-loving soul is a harp of gold making constant melody in the ear of God. (T. L. Cuyler, D.D.)

Praising with the soul

When the photographer fits that iron rest at the back of your head and keeps you waiting ten minutes, while he gets his plates ready, why, your soul goes out of town, and nothing remains but that heavy look! When the work of art is finished, it is you, and yet it is not you. You were driven out by the touch of that iron. Another time, perhaps, your photograph is taken instantaneously, while you are in an animated attitude, while your whole soul is there; and your friends say, “Aye, that is your very self.” I want you to bless the Lord with your soul at home as in that last portrait. I saw a book wherein the writer says in the preface, “We have given a portrait of our mother, but there was a kind of sacred twinkle about her eyes which no photograph could produce.” Now, it is my heart’s desire that you do praise God with that sacred twinkle, with that feature or faculty which is most characteristic of you. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Psalms 103:1". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/psalms-103.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Psalms 103.

An exhortation to praise God for his mercy, and for the constancy thereof.

A Psalm of David.

Title. לדוד ledavid This is one of the psalms of David, which it is supposed was written by him after his recovery from a great illness. See Delaney, book 4: chap. 7. It may be so; but, as we read of no illness that he had, it is by no means clear whether such was the occasion of it, or whether he composed it after a deliverance from some other calamity. It contains a thankful acknowledgment of the great and abundant mercies of God, especially that of pardoning sin, and not exacting the punishment due to it, and is an exquisite performance, very applicable to every deliverance: it may properly be said to describe the wonders of grace, as the following psalm describes the wonders of nature.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/psalms-103.html. 1801-1803.

Expositor's Bible Commentary

Psalms 103:1-22

THERE are no clouds in the horizon, nor notes of sadness in the music, of this psalm. No purer outburst of thankfulness enriches the Church. It is well that, amid the many psalms which give voice to mingled pain and trust, there should be one of unalloyed gladness, as untouched by sorrow as if sung by spirits in heaven. Because it is thus purely an outburst of thankful joy, it is the more fit to be pondered in times of sorrow.

The psalmist’s praise flows in one unbroken stream. There are no clear marks of division, but the river broadens as it runs, and personal benefits and individual praise open out into gifts which are seen to fill the universe, and thanksgiving which is heard from every extremity of His wide dominion of lovingkindness.

In Psalms 103:1-5 the psalmist sings of his own experience. His spirit, or ruling sell calls on his "soul," the weaker and more feminine part, which may be cast down [Psalms 42:1-11 and Psalms 43:1-5] by sorrow, and needs stimulus and control, to contemplate God’s gifts and to praise Him. A good man will rouse himself to such exercise, and coerce his more sensuous and sluggish faculties to their noblest use. Especially must memory be directed, for it keeps woefully short-lived records of mercies, especially of continuous ones. God’s gifts are all "benefits," whether they are bright or dark. The catalogue of blessings lavished on the singer’s soul begins with forgiveness and ends with immortal youth. The profound consciousness of sin, which it was one aim of the Law to evoke, underlies the psalmist’s praise; and he who does not feel that no blessings could come from heaven, unless forgiveness cleared the way for them, has yet to learn the deepest music of thankfulness. It is followed by "healing" of "all thy diseases," which is no cure of merely bodily ailments, any more than redeeming of life "from the pit" is simply preservation of physical existence. In both there is at least included, even if we do not say that it only is in view, the operation of the pardoning God in delivering from the sicknesses and death of the spirit.

The soul thus forgiven and healed is crowned with "lovingkindness and compassions," wreathed into a garland for a festive brow, and its adornment is not only a result of these Divine attributes, but the very things themselves, so that an effluence from God beautifies the soul. Nor is even this all, for the same gifts which are beauty are also sustenance, and God satisfies the soul with good, especially with the only real good, Himself. The word rendered above "mouth" is extremely difficult. It is found in Psalms 32:9, where it seems best taken in the meaning of trappings or harness. That meaning is inappropriate here, though Hupfeld tries to retain it. The LXX renders "desire," which fits well, but can scarcely be established. Other renderings, such as "age" or "duration"-i.e., the whole extent of life-have been suggested. Hengstenberg and others regard the word as a designation of the soul, somewhat resembling the other term applied to it, "glory"; but the fact that it is the soul which is addressed negatives that explanation. Graetz and others resort to a slight textual alteration, resulting in the reading "thy misery." Delitzsch, in his latest editions, adopts this emendation doubtingly, and supposes that with the word misery or affliction there is associated the idea "of beseeching and therefore of longing," whence the LXX rendering would originate. "Mouth" is the most natural word in such connection, and its retention here is sanctioned by "the interpretation of the older versions in Psalms 32:9 and the Arabic cognate" (Perowne). It is therefore retained above, though with some reluctance.

How should a man thus dealt with grow old? The body may, but not the soul. Rather it will drop powers that can decay, and for each thus lost will gain a stronger-moulting, and not being stripped of its wings, though it changes their feathers. There is no need to make the psalmist responsible for the fables of the eagle’s renewal of its youth. The comparison with the monarch of the air does not refer to the process by which the soul’s wings are made strong, but to the result in wings that never tire, but bear their possessor far up in the blue and towards the throne.

In Psalms 103:6-18 the psalmist sweeps a greater circle, and deals with God’s blessings to mankind. He has Israel specifically in view in the earlier verses. but passes beyond Israel to all "who fear Him." It is very instructive that he begins with the definite fact of God’s revelation through Moses. He is not spinning a filmy idea of a God out of his own consciousness, but he has learned all that he knows of Him from His historical self-revelation. A hymn of praise which has not revelation for its basis will have many a quaver of doubt. The God of men’s imaginations, consciences, or yearnings is a dim shadow. The God to whom love turns undoubting and praise rises without one note of discord is the God who has spoken His own name by deeds which have entered into the history of the world. And what has He revealed Himself to be? The psalmist answers almost in the words of the proclamation made to Moses (Psalms 103:8-9). The lawgiver had prayed, "I beseech Thee show me now Thy ways, that I may know Thee"; and the prayer had been granted, when "the Lord passed by before him," and proclaimed His name as "full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy and truth." That proclamation fills the singer’s heart, and his whole soul leaps up in him, as he meditates on its depth and sweetness. Now, after so many centuries of experience, Israel can repeat with full assurance the ancient self-revelation, which has been proved true by many "mighty deeds."

The psalmist’s thoughts are still circling round the idea of forgiveness, with which he began his contemplations. He and his people equally need it; and all that revelation of God’s character bears directly on His relation to sin. Jehovah is "long of anger"-i.e., slow to allow it to flash out in punishment-and as lavish of lovingkindness as sparing of wrath. That character is disclosed by deeds. Jehovah’s graciousness forces Him to "contend" against a man’s sins for the man’s sake. But it forbids Him to be perpetually chastising and condemning, like a harsh taskmaster. Nor does He keep His anger ever burning, though He does keep His lovingkindness aflame for a thousand generations. Lightning is transitory: sunshine, constant. Whatever His chastisements, they have been less than our sins. The heaviest is "light," and "for a moment," when compared with the "exceeding weight of" our guilt.

The glorious metaphors in Psalms 103:11-12 traverse heaven to the zenith, and from sunrise to sunset, to find distances distant enough to express the towering height of God’s mercy and the completeness of His removal from us of our sins. That pure arch, the top stone of which nor wings nor thoughts can reach, sheds down all light and heat which make growth and cherish life. It is high above us, but it pours blessings on us and it bends down all round the horizon to kiss the low, dark earth. The lovingkindness of Jehovah is similarly lofty, boundless, all-fructifying. In Psalms 103:11 b the parallelism would be more complete if a small textual alteration were adopted, which would give "high" instead of "great"; but the slight departure which the existing text makes from precise correspondence with a-is of little moment, and the thought is sufficiently intelligible as the words stand. Between East and West all distances lie. To the eye they bound the world. So far does God’s mercy bear away our sins. Forgiveness and cleansing are inseparably united.

But the song drops-or shall we say rises?-from these magnificent measures of the immeasurable to the homely image of a father’s pity. We may lose ourselves amid the amplitudes of the lofty, wide-stretching sky, but this emblem of paternal love goes straight to our hearts. A pitying God! What can be added to that? But that fatherly pity is decisively limited to "them that fear Him." It is possible, then, to put oneself outside the range of that abundant dew, and the universality of God’s blessings does not hinder self-exclusion from them.

In Psalms 103:14-16 man’s brief life is brought in, not as a sorrow or as a cloud darkening the sunny joy of the song, but as one reason for the Divine compassion. "He, He knows our frame." The word rendered "frame" is literally. "formation" or "fashioning," and comes from the same root as the verb employed in Genesis 2:7 to describe man’s creation. "The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground." It is also used for the potter’s action in moulding earthen vessels. {Isaiah 29:16, etc.} So, in the next clause, "dust" carries on the allusion to Genesis, and the general idea conveyed is that of frailty. Made from dust and fragile as an earthen vessel, man by his weakness appeals to Jehovah’s compassion. A blow, delivered with the full force of that almighty hand, would "break him as a potter’s vessel is broken." Therefore God handles us tenderly, as mindful of the brittle material with which He has to deal. The familiar figure of fading vegetation, so dear to the psalmists, recurs here; but it is touched with peculiar delicacy, and there is something very sweet and uncomplaining in the singer’s tone. The image of the fading flower, burned up by the simoom, and leaving one little soot in the desert robbed" of its beauty, veils much of the terror of death, and expresses no shrinking, though great pathos. Psalms 103:16 may either describe the withering of the flower, or the passing away of frail man. In the former case, the pronouns would be rendered by "it" and "its"; in the latter, by "he," "him," and "his." The latter seems the preferable explanation. Psalms 103:16 b is verbally the same as Job 7:10. The contemplation of mortality tinges the song with a momentary sadness, which melts into the pensive, yet cheerful, assurance that mortality has an accompanying blessing, in that it makes a plea for pity from a Father’s heart.

But another, more triumphant thought springs up. A devout soul, full charged with thankfulness based on faith in God’s name and ways, cannot but be led by remembering man’s brief life to think of God’s eternal years. So, the key changes at Psalms 103:17 from plaintive minors to jubilant notes. The psalmist pulls out all the stops of his organ, and rolls along his music in a great crescendo to the close. The contrast of God’s eternity with man’s transitoriness is like the similar trend of thought in Psalms 90:1-17 and Psalms 102:1-28. The extension of His lovingkindness to children’s children and its limitation to those who fear Him and keep His covenant in obedience, rest upon Exodus 20:6; Exodus 34:7; and Deuteronomy 7:9. That limitation has been laid down twice already (Psalms 103:11-13). All men share in that lovingkindness and receive the best gifts from it of which they are capable; but those who cling to God in loving reverence, and who are moved by that blissful "fear" which has no torment, to yield their wills to Him in inward submission and outward obedience, do enter into the inner recesses of that lovingkindness, and are replenished with good, of which others are incapable.

If God’s lovingkindness is "from everlasting to everlasting," will not His children share in it for as long? The psalm has no articulate doctrine of a future life; but is there not in that thought of an eternal outgoing of God’s heart to its objects some (perhaps half-conscious) implication that these will continue to exist? May not the psalmist have felt that, though the flower of earthly life "passed in the passing of an hour," the root would be somehow transplanted to the higher "house of the Lord," and "flourish in the courts of our God," as long as His everlasting mercy poured its sunshine? We, at all events, know that His eternity is the pledge of ours. "Because I live, ye shall live also."

From Psalms 103:19 to the end, the psalm takes a still wider sweep. It now embraces the universe. But it is noticeable that there is no more about "lovingkindness" in these verses. Man’s sin and frailty make him a fit recipient of it, but we do not know that in all creation another being, capable of and needing it, is found. Amid starry distances, amid heights and depths, far beyond sunrise and sunset, God’s all-including kingdom stretches and blesses all. Therefore, all creatures are called on to Bless Him, since all are blessed by Him, each according to its nature and need. If they have consciousness, they owe Him praise. If they have not, they praise Him by being. The angels, "heroes of strength," as the words literally read, are "His," and they not only execute His behests, but stand attent before Him, listening to catch the first whispered indication of His will. "His hosts" are by some taken to mean the stars; but surely it is more congruous to suppose that beings who are His "ministers" and perform His "will" are intelligent beings. Their praise consists in hearkening to and doing His word. But obedience is not all their praise; for they too, bring Him tribute of conscious adoration in more melodious music than ever sounded on earth. That "choir invisible" praises the King of heaven; but later revelation has taught us that men shall teach a new song to "principalities and powers in heavenly places," because men only can praise Him whose lovingkindness to them, sinful and dying, redeemed them by His blood.

Therefore, it is no drop from these heavenly anthems, when the psalm circles round at last to its beginning, and the singer calls on his soul to add its "little human praise" to the thunderous chorus. The rest of the universe praises the mighty Ruler; he blesses the forgiving, pitying Jehovah. Nature and angels, stars and suns, seas and forests, magnify their Maker and Sustainer; we can bless the God who pardons iniquities and heals diseases which our fellow choristers never knew.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/psalms-103.html.

Treasury of David

TITLE. A Psalm of David. —Doubtless by David; it is in his own style when at its best, and we should attribute it to his later years when he had a higher sense of the preciousness of pardon, because a keener sense of sin, than in his younger days. His clear sense of the frailty of life indicates his weaker years, as also does the very fainess of his praiseful gratitude. As in the lofty Alps some peaks rise above all others so among even the inspired Psalms there are heights of song which overtop the rest. This one hundred and third Psalm has ever seemed to us to be the Monte Rosa of the divine chain of mountains of praise, glowing with a ruddier light than any of the rest. It is as the apple tree among the trees of the wood, and its golden fruit has a flavour such as no fruit ever bears unless it has been ripened in the full suushine of mercy. It is man's reply to the benedictions of his God, his Song on the Mount answering to his Redeemer's Sermon on the Mount. Nebuchadnezzar adored his idol with flute, harp, sacbut, psaltery, dulcimer and all kinds of music; and David, in far nobler style awakens all the melodies of heaven and earth in honour of the one only living and true God. Our attempt at exposition is commenced under an impressive sense of the utter impossibility of doing justice to so sublime a composition; we call upon our soul and all that is within us to aid in the pleasurable task; but, alas, our soul is finite, and our all of mental faculty far too little for the enterprize. There is too much in the Psalm, for a thousand pens to write, it is one of those all-comprehending Scriptures which is a Bible in itself, and it might alone almost suffice for the hymn-book of the church.

DIVISION. First the Psalmist sings of personal mercies which he had himself received Psalms 103:1-5; then he magnifies the attributes of Jehovah as displayed in his dealings with his people, Psalms 103:6-19; and he closes by calling upon all the creatures in the universe to adore the Lord and join with himself in blessing Jehovah, the ever gracious.

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 1. Bless the Lord O my soul. Soul music is the very soul of music. The Psalmist strikes the best keymote when he begins with stirring up his inmost self to magnify the Lord. He soliloquizes, holds self-communion and exhorts himself, as though he felt that dulness would all too soon steal over his faculties, as, indeed, it will over us all, unless we are diligently on the watch. Jehovah is worthy to be praised by us in that highest style of adoration which is intended by the term bless —"All thy works praise thee, O God, but thy saints shall bless thee." Our very life and essential self should be engrossed with this delightful service, and each one of us should arouse his own heart to the engagement. Let others forbear if they can: "Bless the Lord, O MY soul." Let others murmur, but do thou bless. Let others bless themselves and their idols, but do thou bless the LORD. Let others use only their tongues, but as for me I will cry, "Bless the Lord, O my soul."

And all that is within me, bless his holy name. Many are our faculties, emotions, and capacities, but God has given them all to us, and they ought all to join in chorus to his praise. Half-hearted, ill-conceived, unintelligent praises are not such as we should render to our loving Lord. If the law of justice demanded all our heart and soul and mind for the Creator, much more may the law of gratitude put in a comprehensive claim for the homage of our whole being to the God of grace. It is instructive to note how the Psalmist dwells upon the holy name of God, as if his holiness were dearest to him; or, perhaps, because the holiness or wholeness of God was to his mind the grandest motive for rendering to him the homage of his nature in its wholeness. Babes may praise the divine goodness, but fathers in grace magnify his holiness. By the name we understand the revealed character of God, and assuredly those songs which are suggested, not by our fallible reasoning and imperfect observation, but by unerring inspiration, should more than any others arouse all our consecrated powers.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Title. A Psalm of David, which he wrote when carried out of himself as far as heaven, saith Beza. John Trapp.

Whole Psalm. How often have saints in Scotland sung this Psalm in days when they celebrated the Lord's Supper! It is thereby specially known in our land. It is connected also with a remarkable case in the days of John Knox. Elizabeth Adamson, a woman who attended on his preaching, "because he more fully opened the fountain of God's mercies than others did, "was led to Christ and to rest, on hearing this Psalm, after enduring such agony of soul that she said, concerning racking pains of body, "A thousand years of this torment, and ten times more joined", are not to be compared to a quarter of an hour of my soul's trouble. She asked for this Psalm again before departing: "It was in receiving it that my troubled soul first tasted God's mercy, which is now sweeter to me than if all the kingdoms of the earth were given me to possess." Andrew A. Bonar.

Whole Psalm. The number of verses in this Psalm is that of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet; and the completeness of the whole is further testified by its return at the close to the words with which it started, "Bless the Lord, O my soul." J. F. Thrupp.

Whole Psalm. The Psalm, in regard to number, is an alphabetical one, harmonized in such a way as that the concluding turns back into the introductory verse, the whole being in this manner finished and rounded off. In like manner, the name Jehovah occurs eleven times. The Psalm is divided into two strophes, the first of ten and the second of twelve verses. The ten is divided by the five, and the twelve falls into three divisions, each of four verses. Jehovah occurs in the first strophe four, and in the second seven times.

The Psalm bears the character of quiet tenderness. It is a still clear brook of the praise of God. In accordance with this, we find that the verses are of equal length as to structure, and consist regularly of two members. It is only at the conclusion, where the tone rises, that the verses become longer: the vessel is too small for the feeling.

The testimony which the title bears on behalf of the composition of the Psalm by David, is confirmed by the fact that the Psalm in passages, the independence of which cannot be mistaken, bears a striking resemblance to the other Psalms of David, and by the connection with Psalms 102:1-28 David here teaches his posterity to render thanks, as in the previous Psalm he had taught them to pray: the deliverance from deep distress which formed there the subject of prayer, forms here the subject of thanks. E. W. Hengstenberg.

Whole Psalm. It is observable that no petition occurs throughout the entire compass of these twenty-two verses. Not a single word of supplication is in the whole Psalm addressed to the Most High. Prayer, fervent, heartfelt prayer, had doubtless been previously offered on the part of the Psalmist, and answered by his God. Innumerable blessings had been showered down from above in acknowledgment of David's supplications; and, therefore, an overflowing gratitude now bursts forth from their joyful recipient. He touches every chord of his harp and of his heart together, and pours forth a spontaneous melody of sweetest sound and purest praise. John Stevenson, in "Gratitude: an Exposition of the Hundred and Third Psalm, "1856.

Ver. 1. Bless the LORD, O my soul. O how well they are fitted! for what work so fit for my soul as this? Who so fit for this work as my soul? My body, God knows, is gross and heavy, and very unfit for so sublime a work. No, my soul, it is thou must do it; and indeed what hast thou else to do? it is the very work for which thou were made, and O that thou wert as fit to do the work as the work is fit for thee to do! But, alas, thou art become in a manner earthy, at least hast lost a great part of thy abilities, and will never be able to go through with this great work thyself alone. If to bless the Lord were no more but to say, Lord, Lord, like to them that cried, "The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord; "then my tongue alone would be sufficient for it, and I should not need to trouble any other about it; but to bless the Lord is an eminent work, and requires not only many but very able agents to perform it; and therefore, my soul, when thou goest about it, go not alone; but, take with thee "all that is within thee; "all the forces in my whole magazine, whether it be my heart, or my spirits; whether my will, or my affections; whether my understanding, or my memory; take them all with thee, and bless the Lord. Sir R. Baker.

Ver. 1. All that is within me. The literal translation of the form here used is my insides or inner parts, the strong and comprehensive meaning of the plural being further enhanced by the addition of all, as if to preclude exception and reserve, and comprehend within the scope of the address all the powers and affections. J. A. Alexander.

Ver. 1. All that is within me, etc. Let your conscience "bless the Lord, "by unvarying fidelity. Let your judgment bless Him, by decisions in accordance with his word. Let your imagination bless him, by pure and holy musings. Let your affections praise him, by loving whatsoever he loves. Let your desires bless him, by seeking only his glory. Let your memory bless him, by not forgetting any of his benefits. Let your thoughts bless him, by meditating on his excellencies. Let your hope praise him, by longing and looking for the glory that is to be revealed. Let your every sense bless him by its fealty, your every word by its truth, and your every act by its integrity. John Stevenson.

Ver. 1. Bless the LORD, O my soul. You have often heard, that when God is said to bless men, and they on the other hand are excited to bless him, the word is taken in two very different senses. God is the only fountain of being and happiness, from which all good ever flows; and hence he is said to bless his creatures when he bestows mercies and favours upon them, gives them any endowments of body and mind, delivers them from evils, and is the source of their present comforts and future hopes. But in this sense, you will see there is no possibility of any creature's blessing God; for as his infinite and unblemished perfection renders him incapable of receiving any higher excellency, or improvement in happiness; so, could we put the supposition that this immense ocean of good might be increased, it is plain that we, who receive our very being and everything that we have or are from him, could in no case contribute thereto. To bless God, then, is, with an ardent affection humbly to acknowledge those divine excellencies, which render him the best and greatest of beings, the only object worthy of the highest adoration: it is to give him the praise of all those glorious attributes which adorn his nature, and are so conspicuously manifested in his works and ways. To bless God, is to embrace every proper opportunity of owning our veneration and esteem of his excellent greatness, and to declare to all about us, as loudly as we can, the goodness and grace of his conduct towards men, and our infinite obligations for all our enjoyments to him, in whom we live, move, and have our being. And a right blessing of God must take its rise from a heart that is full of esteem and gratitude, which puts life into the songs of praise.

And then, of all others, the most lively and acceptable method of blessing God, is a holy conversation and earnest endeavor to be purified from all iniquity; for blessing of God consists, as I told you, in adoring his excellencies, and expressing our esteem and veneration of them: but what can be so effectual a way of doing this, as the influence that the views of them have upon our lives? That person best exalts the glory of the divine power, who fears God above all, and trembles at the apprehensions of his wrath; and of his justice, who flees from sin, which exposes him to the inexorable severity thereof; and of his love, who is softened thereby into grateful returns of obedience; and then we celebrate his holiness, when we endcavour to imitate it in our lives, and abandon everything that is an abomination to the eyes of his purity. William Dunlop, 1692-1720.

Ver. 1. O my soul. God's eye is chiefly upon the soul: bring a hundred dishes to table, he will carve of none but this; this is the savoury meat he loves. He who is best, will be served with the best; when we give him the soul in a duty, then we give him the flower and the cream; by a holy chemistry we still out the spirits. A soul inflamed in service is the cup of "spiced wine of the juice of the pomegranate" (Song of Solomon 8:2) which the spouse makes Christ to drink of. Thomas Watson.

Ver. 1. Bless his holy name. The name of God frequently signifies his nature and attributes, in Scripture. Now, holiness is the glory of this name; the purity of God is that which beautifies all his perfections, and renders them worthy to be praised. His eternity, and knowledge, and power, without justice, and goodness, and truth, might indeed frighten and confound us; but could not inflame our love, or engage us to hearty blessing. But when infinite mightiness, and unerring wisdom, and eternal dominion, are mixed with unchangeable love, and inviolable veracity and goodness, which exalts itself above all his works; when thus it becomes a holy name, then the divine perfections are rendered truly amiable, and suitable objects of our hope and confidence and loudest songs; so that you see how elegantly the Psalmist upon this occasion mentions the purity of God: "Bless his holy name."

And besides this, there is indeed nothing that more exalts the glory of divine grace and of redeeming love towards a soul, than the consideration of God's holiness;for if your Maker were not of purer eyes than man is, yea, if his hatred to sin, and love to righteousness, were not greater than that of the noblest angel, his pardoning of sin, and patience towards transgressors would not be such a wonderful condescension; but is his name infinitely holy so that "the heavens are not clean in his sight?" Is the smallest iniquity the abhorrence of his soul, and what he hates with a perfect hatred? Surely, then, his grace and love must be incomparably greater than our thoughts. William Dunlop.

Ver. 1-2. The well is seldom so full that water will at first pumping flow forth; neither is the heart commonly so spiritual, after our best care in our worldly converse (much less when we somewhat overdo therein) as to pour itself into God's bosom freely, without something to raise and elevate it; yea, often, the springs of grace lie so low, that pumping only will not fetch the heart up to a praying frame, but arguments must be poured into the soul before the affections rise. Hence are those soliloquies and discourses which we find holy men use with their own hearts to bring them into a gracious temper, suitable for communion with God in ordinances. It seems by these verses] David either found or feared his heart would not be in so good a frame as he desired; consequently he redoubles his charge: he found his heart somewhat drowsy, which made him thus rouse himself. William Guruall.

Ver. 1-3. The Psalmist's gratitude here has four attributes. The first is personal. Bless the Lord, my soul. He has the self-same application in the close of the Psalm, after he has called on others to do this work. Our religion must be social as well as personal: but while it must not end at home, it must begin at home; and relative religion, without personal, will always be found wanting in excitement, in energy, in extent, in continuance, and very commonly in success.

Secondly, It is fervent. And all that is within me, bless his holy name —all my thoughts, my feelings, my understanding, my will, my memory, my conscience, my affections, my passions.

"If there be passions in my soul,

(And passions, Lord, there be);

Let them be all at thy control,

My gracious Lord, for thee."

Thirdly, it is rational, and demanded by the facts of his past life. Therefore "forget not all his benefits." Nothing can properly affect or influence us when it is out of our recollection. "Out of sight out of mind; "and out of mind, out of motive. Whence arose the ingratitude of the Jews of old? Bad memories. "Of the rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten the God that formed thee." "The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider." It should therefore be your concern, not only to recall your mercies, but to reckon them.

Lastly, it is specific:Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases. When all the words in a discourse are emphatic, nothing is emphatic, when we dwell on everything, we dwell on nothing effectively. We are more struck, in a landscape, with a selected point of vision for inspection, than by the general prospect. David was a poet, and understood poetry well; and poetry differs from philosophy. The one seeks to rise from particular facts and instances, to establish general principles and rules: the other is always for descending from generalization to particularization; and much of its beauty and force arises from individualities. William Jay, 1849.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 1. "The Saints blessing the Lord." See "Spurgeon's Sermons, " No. 1,078.

Ver. 1.

1. We should bless the Most High himself. It is possible to fail to bless him, while we praise his gifts, his word, his works, his ways.

2. We should bless him individually: "My soul." Not merely the family through the father, nor the people through the pastor; nor the congregation through the choir; but personally.

3. We should bless him spiritually: "soul." Not only with organ, voice, offering, works, &c.

4. We should bless him unreservedly: "All that is within me."

5. We should bless him resolutely. David preached self-communion, self-encouragement, and self-command. W. Jackson.

Ver. 1. Here is,

1. Self-converse: "Oh my soul." Many talk freely enough to others, but never talk to themselves. They are strangers to themselves—not on speaking terms with themselves —take no interest in their own souls—are dull and melancholy when alone.

2. Self-exhortation: "Bless the Lord, O my soul." Thy Creator, thy Benefactor, thy Redeemer.

3. Self-encouragement: "All that is within me" —every faculty of my mental, moral and spiritual being: with ten strings—every chord in motion. No need for one faculty of the soul to say to another, "know the Lord, for all shall know him from the least even unto the greatest." G. R.

Ver. 1 (First clause, and Psalms 103:22, last clause). Personal worship the Alpha and Omega of religion. C. Davis.

Psalms 103:2*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 2. Bless the LORD, O my soul. He is in real earnest, and again calls upon himself to arise. Had he been very sleepy before? Or was he now doubly sensible of the importance, the imperative necessity of adoration? Certainly, he uses no vain repetitions, for the Holy Spirit guides his pen; and thus he shews us that we have need, again and again, to bestir ourselves when we are about to worship God, for it would be shameful to offer him anything less than the utmost our souls can render. These first verses are a tuning of the harp, a screwing up of the loosened strings that not a note may fail in the sacred harmony.

And forget not all his benefits. Not so much as one of the divine dealings should be forgotten, they are all really beneficial to us, all worthy of himself, and all subjects for praise. Memory is very treacherous about the best things; by a strange perversity, engendered by the fall, it treasures up the refuse of the past and permits priceless treasures to lie neglected, it is tenacious of grievances and holds benefits all too loosely. It needs spurring to its duty, though that duty ought to be its delight. Observe that he calls all that is within him to remember all the Lord's benefits. For our task our energies should be suitably called out. God's all cannot be praised with less than our all.

Reader, have we not cause enough at this time to bless him who blesses us? Come, let us read our diaries and see if there be not choice favours recorded there for which we have rendered no grateful return. Remember how the Persian king, when he conld not sleep, read the chronicles of the empire, and discovered that one who had saved his life had never been rewarded. How quickly did he do him honour! The Lord has saved us with a great salvation, shall we render no recompense? The name of ingrate is one of the most shameful that a man can wear; surely we cannot be content to run the risk of such a brand. Let us awake then, and with intense enthusiasm bless Jehovah.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 2. Bless the Lord, O my soul. David found some dulness and drowsiness; hence he so often puts the thorn to his breast; hence he so impetuously instigateth his soul, as one here phraseth it. John Trapp.

Ver. 2. Forget not. This touches the secret spring of so much ingratitude—forgetfulness, the want of re-collection, or gathering together again of all the varied threads of mercy. Compare De 6:12; De 8:11, 14. "Si oblivisceris, tacebis" (If thou forgettest, thou wilt be silent). J. J. S. Perowne.

Ver. 2. Forget not all his benefits. That is, forget not any of his benefits, as the form of speech in the original doth import. David Dickson.

Ver. 2. Benefits. The word rendered "benefits" —lwmg gemul, means properly an act, work, doing, whether good or evil, Psalms 137:8; and then, desert, or what a man deserves for his act; recompense. It is rendered deserving in Jude 9:16; benefit, as here, in 2 Chronicles 32:25; desert, Psalms 28:4; reward, Psalms 94:2, Isaiah 3:11, Obadiah 1:15; recompense, Proverbs 12:14 Isa 35:4 59:18 66:6 Jeremiah 51:6 La 3:64, Joel 3:4; Joel 3:7. The proper reference here is to the Divine dealings, to what God had done, as a reason for blessing his name. His dealings with the Psalmist had been such as to call for praise and gratitude. What those dealings particularly were he specifies in the following verses. Albert Barnes.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 2. Inquire into the causes of our frequent forgetfulness of the Lord's mercies, show the evil of it, and advise remedies.

Psalms 103:3*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 3. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities. Here David begins his list of blessings received, which he rehearses as themes and arguments for praise. He selects a few of the choicest pearls from the casket of divine love, threads them on the string of memory, and hangs them about the neck of gratitude. Pardoned sin is, in our experience, one of the choicest boons of grace, one of the earliest gifts of mercy, — in fact, the needful preparation for enjoying all that follows it. Till iniquity is forgiven, healing, redemption, and satisfaction are unknown blessings. Forgiveness is first in the order of our spiritual experience, and in some respects first in value. The pardon granted is a present one—forgiveth;it is continual, for he still forgiveth;it is divine, for God gives it; it is far reaching, for it removes all our sins; it takes in omissions as well as commissions, for both these are in-equities;and it is most effectual, for it is as real as the healing, and the rest of the mercies with which it is placed.

Who healeth all thy diseases. When the cause is gone, namely, iniquity, the effect ceases. Sicknesses of body and soul came into the world by sin, and as sin is eradicated, diseases bodily, mental, and spiritual will vanish, till "the inhabitant shall no more say, I am sick." Many-sided is the character of our heavenly Father, for, having forgiven as a judge, he then cures as a physician. He is all things to us, as our needs call for him, and our infirmities do but reveal him in new characters.

"In him is only good,

In me is only ill,

My ill but draws his goodness forth,

And me he loveth still."

God gives efficacy to medicine for the body, and his grace sanctifies the soul. Spiritually we are daily under his care, and he visits us, as the surgeon does his patient; healing still (for that is the exact word) each malady as it arises. No disease of our soul baffles his skill, he goes on healing all, and he will do so till the last trace of taint has gone from our nature. The two alls of this verse are further reasons for all that is within us praising the Lord.

The two blessings of this verse the Psalmist was personally enjoying, he sang not of others but of himself, or rather of his Lord, who was daily forgiving and healing him. He must have known that it was so, or he could not have sung of it. He had no doubt about it, he felt in his soul that it was so, and, therefore, he bade his pardoned and restored soul bless the Lord with all its might.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 3. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities. Thine iniquities are more than can be numbered; and they are an intolerable burden, so that thy soul under them "can in no wise lift up herself." He forgiveth them all. He relieveth thee of all. He taketh the dreadful burden from thy back, the galling yoke from thy neck, and makes thee free... Thine iniquities are in-equities. There is nothing just or right in thee. Thy very nature is an inequity bringing forth nothing but in-equities. Inequities towards thy God, in-equities towards thy neighbour, and in-equities towards thyself, make up the whole of thy life. Thou art a bad tree, and a bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit. John Pulsford, in. "Quiet Hours, "1857.

Ver. 3. All thine iniqities. In this lovely and well-known Psalm, we have great fulness of expression, in reference to the vital subject of redemption.

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities. It is not "some" or "many of thine iniquities." This would never do. If so much as the very smallest iniquity, in thought, word, or act, were left unforgiven, we should be just as badly off, just as far from God, just as unfit for heaven, just as exposed to hell, as though the whole weight of our sins were yet upon us. Let the reader ponder this deeply. It does not say, "Who forgiveth thine iniquities previous to conversion." There is no such notion as this in Scripture. When God forgives, he forgives like himself. The source, the channel, the power, and the standard of forgiveness are all divine. When God cancels a man's sins, he does so according to the measure in which Christ bore those sins. Now, Christ not only bore some or many of the believer's sins, he bore them "all, "and, therefore, God forgives "all." God's forgiveness stretches to the length of Christ's atonement; and Christ's atonement stretches to the length of every one of the believer's sins, past, present, and future. "The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." 1 John 1:9. "Things New and Old, "1858.

Ver. 3. Who healeth all thy diseases. In one of the prisons of a certain country, was a man who had committed high treason: for this crime he was in due time tried, and, being found guilty, was condemned to die. But more than this; he was afflicted with an inward disease, which generally proves mortal. Now we may truly say, that this man is doubly dead; that his life is forfeited twice over: the laws of his country have pronounced him guilty of death, and therefore his life is forfeited once to the laws of his country, and, if he had not died in this way, he must die of his disease; he is, therefore, "twice dead." Now suppose that the sovereign of that country had made up his mind to wish to save that prisoner's life, could he save it? He could indeed take off the penalty of the law; he could give him a free pardon, and so restore the life, as sure as it is forfeited by the just sentence of the law; but, unless he could also send a physician, who could cure the man of his disease, he would die by that, and his pardon would only lengthen out for a few weeks or months a miserable existence. And if this disease were not only a mortal disease, but an infectious one, likely to spread itself by the breath of the patient, and a contagious one, likely to spread by the touch of the patient's body or clothes, then it would be dangerous to others to come near that man; and unless he were cured, and thoroughly and entirely cured, the man, though pardoned, would still be a fit inmate only for the pest-house, and could not be received into the houses of the healthy. You have seen such a case as this, brethren; you are at this very moment, perhaps, sitting close by a person in this case yes, and perhaps you are in this very case yourself! Perhaps, do I say? I should say, you ARE in this very case, unless you are really and truly a Christian, a believer in Christ Jesus. W. Weldon Champneys, 1842.

Ver. 3. All thy diseases. The body experienceth the melancholy consequences of Adam's offence, and is subject to many infirmities; but the soul is subject to as many. What is pride, but lunacy; what is anger, but a fever; what is avarice, but a dropsy; what is lust, but a leprosy; what is sloth, but a dead palsy? Perhaps there are spiritual maladies similar to all corporeal ones. George Horne.

Ver. 3. All thy diseases. O my soul, consider the multitude of infirmities, to which thou art subject; thou hast many suggestions of the flesh; and thou art apt to yield unto them, and strivest not against them by earnest prayer and holy meditations; this is an infirmity. In thy prayers to God, thy thoughts are often wandering, and thou thinkest of other matters, far unworthy of that great Majesty to whom thou prayest: or if not so, yet thou art quickly weary, thy spirits are drowsy in it, and thou hadst rather be doing of something else; this is an infirmity. And indeed thou hast infirmities in all thy senses. In thy seeing, thou canst see a mote in thy brother's eye, and canst not see a beam in thine own eye. In thy smelling, thou thinkest suavis odor lucri ex re qualibet, that the savour of gain is sweet, from whence soever it rise. In thy hearing, thou art gladder to hear the profane and idle discourses, than such as be serious and holy; these are thy infirmities: and, O my soul, if I should cut thee up into as many parts as an anatomist, and examine the infirmities of every part, should I not have cause, just cause, to cry out with Saint Paul, O wretch that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of sin? Who shall heal me of all these infirmities? for whether we call them sins, and then God forgives them; or call them infirmities, and then he heals them; they are to us, all one benefit; in God, all one kindness; that as either of them is well worth remembering; so for both of them, we have just cause to bless him and to praise his name. Sir Richard Baker.

Ver. 3. All thy diseases. Our understandings are so bad that they understand not their own badness; our wills, which are the queens of our souls, become the vassals of sin; our memory, like jet, good only to draw straws and treasure up trifles of no moment; our consciences, through errors in our own understanding, sometimes accusing us when we are innocent, sometimes acquitting us when we are guilty; our affections all disaffected and out of order. Must not that needs be a monstrous face, wherein the blueness which should be in the veins is in the lips, the redness which should be in the cheeks, in the nose; the hair that should grow on the head, on the face? and must not our souls needs seem ugly in the sight of God, who have grief growing there where joy should, and joy where grief should? We love what we should hate and hate where we should love; we fear where no fear is, and fear not where we ought to fear; and all our affections either mistake their object, or exceed their due measure. Thomas Fuller.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 3.

1. Forgiveness is in God: "There is forgiveness with thee." It is his nature to forgive as well as to punish sin.

2. It is from God. None can forgive sin but God. None can reveal forgiveness but God.

3. It is like God, full, free, and everlasting—"all thine iniquities." G. R.

Ver. 3. Who healeth all thy diseases.

1. Why is sin called a disease? (a) As it destroys the moral beauty of the creature. (b) As it excites pain. (c) As it disables from duty. (d) As it leads to death.

2. The variety of sinful diseases to which we are subject. Mr 7:21-23; Galatians 5:19, &c.

3. The remedy by which God heals these diseases. (a) His pardoning mercy through the redemption of Christ. (b) The sanctifying influences of grace. (c) The means of grace. (d) The resurrection of the body. From "The Study, "1873.

Ver. 3 (last clause). —Our diseases by nature, our great Physician, the perfect soundness which he works in us, results of that soundness.

Ver. 3-5. Mercy's Hexapla.

1. Three curses removed. (a) Guilt put away. (b) Corruption cured. (c) Destruction averted.

2. Three blessings, bestowed. (a) Favours that can gratify. (b) Pleasures that can satisfy. (c) Life that can never die.

Or

1. Pardon. (Psalms 103:3)

2. Purification. (Psalms 103:4)

3. Redemption.

4. Coronation. (Psalms 103:5)

5. Plenty bestowed.

6. Power renewed. W. Durban.

Psalms 103:4*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 4. Who redeemeth thy life from destruction. By purchase and by power the Lord redeems us from the spiritual death into which we had fallen, and from the eternal death which would have been its consequence. Had not the death penalty of sin been removed, our forgiveness and healing would have been incomplete portions of salvation, fragments only, and but of small value, but the removal of the guilt and power of sin is fitly attended by the reversal of the sentence of death which had been passed upon us. Glory be to our great Substitute, who delivered us from going down into the pit, by giving himself to be our ransom. Redemption will ever constitute one of the sweetest notes in the believer's grateful song.

Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies. Our Lord does nothing by halves, he will not stay his hand till he has gone to the uttermost with his people. Cleansing, healing, redemption, are not enough, he must needs make them kings and crown them, and the crown must be far more precious than if it were made of corruptible things, such as silver and gold; it is studded with gems of grace and lined with the velvet of lovingkindness; it is decked with the jewels of mercy, but made soft for the head to wear by a lining of tenderness. Who is like unto thee, O Lord! God himself crowns the princes of his family, for their best things come from him directly and distinctly; they do not earn the crown, for it is of mercy not of merit; they feel their own unworthiness of it, therefore he deals with tenderness;but lie is resolved to bless them, and, therefore, he is ever crowning them, always surrounding their brows with coronets of mercy and compassion. He always crowns the edifice which he commences, and where he gives pardon he gives acceptance too. "Since thou wast precious in my sight thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee." Our sin deprived us of all our honours, a bill of attainder was issued against us as traitors; but he who removed the sentence of death by redeeming us from destruction, restores to us more than all our former honours by crowning us anew. Shall God crown us and shall not we crown him? Up, my soul, and cast thy crown at his feet, and in lowliest reverence worship him, who has so greatly exalted thee, as to lift thee from the dunghill and set thee among princes.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 4. Who redeemeth thy life from destruction. From his earliest days the Psalmist was the child of Providence. Many were the hairbreadth escapes and the wonderful deliverances, which he experienced. Dangers of various kinds presented themselves as his years advanced. The jaw of the lion, and the paw of the bear, at various times threatened to terminate his existence, and at others the ruthless hand of man. The same God who delivered him from the sword of Goliath, rescued his life from the javelin of Saul. The Almighty Friend who had covered his head in the day of battle, delivered him, at one moment, from the lords of the Philistines, saved him at another out of the hands of the men of Keilah; and again preserved to him his life and throne from the unnatural rebellion of his own son. Well, therefore, might the Psalmist stir up his soul, and all that was within him, to bless the Lord with most fervent gratitude, who, by so many signal deliverances, had "redeemed his life from destruction." John Stevenson.

Ver. 4. Who redeemeth. Preservation from destruction, lawgh haggoel, properly, redemption of life by the kinsman;possibly looking forward, in the spirit of prophecy, to him who became partaker of our flesh and blood, that he might have the right to redeem our souls from death by dying in our stead. Adam Clarke.

Ver. 4. From the pit, including death, the grave, Hades. The Targum renders "from Gehenna." J. J. S. Perowne.

Ver. 4. Tender mercies. I do not know that I can do better than tell you a little incident that took place in my native town of Stirling. Workmen were blasting the castle rock, near where it abuts upon a walk that lies open to the street. The train was laid and lit, and an explosion was momentarily expected. Suddenly trotting round the great wall of the cliff, came a little child going straight to where the match burned. The men shouted—(it was mercy) —and by their very terror in shouting, alarmed and bewildered the poor little thing. By this time the mother also had come round: in a moment saw the danger; opened wide her arms, and cried from her very heart, "Come to me, my darling, "—(that was tender mercy) —and instantly, with eager pattering feet, and little arms opened to her arms, and tear-filled eyes answering to her eyes—the little thing ran back and away, and stopped not until she was clasped in her mother's bosom—wealth of sunny hair loosened on it, and lips coral red pressed to mother's pallid lip of fear—as the motherly heart gave way to tears, in the thought of so imperilled an escape: for it was barely by a second, as the roar of the shattered rock told. Alexander B. Grosart, in "The Pastor and Helper of Joy, "1865.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 4 (first clause). The Redemption of David's life from destruction.

1. His shepherd life.

2. His military life.

3. His persecuted life.

4. His regal life.

5. His spiritual life. W. J.

Ver. 4. What is redeemed, and from what? Who are redeemed, and by whom?

Psalms 103:5*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 5. Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, or rather "filling with good thy soul." No man is ever filled to satisfaction but a believer, and only God himself can satisfy even him. Many a worldling is satiated, but not one is satisfied. God satisfies the very soul of man, his noblest part, his ornament and glory; and of consequence he satisfies his mouth, however hungry and craving it might otherwise be. Soul-satisfaction loudly calls for soul-praise, and when the mouth is filled with good it is bound to speak good of him who filled it. Our good Lord bestows really good things, not vain toys and idle pleasures; and these he is always giving, so that from moment to moment he is satisfying our soul with good: shall we not be still praising him? If we never cease to bless him till he ceases to bless us, our employment will be eternal.

So that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. Renewal of strength, amounting to a grant of a new lease of life, was granted to the Psalmist; he was so restored to his former self that he grew young again, and looked as vigorous as an eagle, whose eye can gaze upon the sun, and whose wing can mount above the storm. Our version refers to the annual moulting of the eagle, after which it looks fresh and young; but the original does not appear to allude to any such fact of natural history, but simply to describe the diseased one as so healed and strengthened, that he became as full of energy as the bird which is strongest of the feathered race, most fearless, most majestic, and most soaring. He who sat moping with the owl in the last Psalm, here flies on high with the eagle: the Lord works marvellous changes in us, and we learn by such experiences to bless his holy name. To grow from a sparrow to an eagle, and leave the wilderness of the pelican to mount among the stars is enough to make any man cry, "Bless the Lord, O my soul."

Thus, is the endless chain of grace complete. Sins forgiven, its power subdued, and its penalty averted, then we are honoured, supplied, and our very nature renovated, till we are as new-born children in the household of God. O Lord we must bless thee, and we will; as thou dost withhold nothing from us so we would not keep back from thy praise one solitary power of our nature, but with all our heart, and soul, and strength praise thy holy name.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 5. Who satisfieth thy mouth. The word rendered "mouth, " is Kyre, which is rendered ornaments in our version in all other passages—eleven in number—where it occurs, except here and in Psalms 32:9, where it is rendered "mouth; "and even there it ought properly be translated ornament, and here the sense seems to be thy ornament, tbat which is thy glory, thy spirit, Ps 16:9 62:8. It is true that the soul yvpg is here addressed (Psalms 103:1); but the spirit may be called the ornament or glory of the soul. Christopher Wordsworth.

Ver. 5. Satisfieth thy mouth. Kimchi understands the phrase as expressing David's recovery from sickness. In sickness the soul abhorreth bread, and even dainty meat, Job 33:20. The physician, too, limits the diet of the patient, and prescribes things which are nauseous to the palate. The commentator, therefore, supposes that David here describes the blessing of health, by his mouth being filled with good things. Editorial Note to Calvin in loc.

Ver. 5. Satisfieth. God can so satisfy the soul, that each chink and cranny therein shall be filled with spiritual joy. Thomas Fuller.

Ver. 5. With good things. Mark, what does the Lord satisfy with? "good things." Not rich things, not many things, not everything I ask for, but "good things." All my need fully supplied, and everything "good." Goodness is God expressed. All his blessings partake of his own nature. They are holy blessings, holy mercies. Everything that satisfies must have the nature of God in it. Nothing else will ever "satisfy." The heart was made for God, and only God can meet it. Frederick Whitfield, 1874.

Ver. 5. Thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. It is an ancient fable that the eagle is able to renew his youth when very old, and poetical allusion is made to it in this Psalm; but this idea is doubtless founded in reality on the great longevity of the bird, and its power, in common with other birds, of moulting its plumage periodically, and so increasing its strength and activity. Hugh Mac Millan. {1}

{1} We might have filled much of our space with the fables from the rabbis and the fathers in reference to eagles; but they are too absurd, and ought never to be repeated. We hope, therefore, that the reader will excuse if not commend the omission.

Ver. 5. Thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. —The Scripture knows nothing of the idea that the eagle when old renews its youth. That there is nothing of this kind contained in Isaiah 40:31, which is commonly appealed to, but that it is rather the powerful flight of the eagle that is there referred to, "they mount up on wings like the eagle, they run and are not weary, "is evident from the parallel, fly, run, march. E.W. Hengstenberg.

Ver. 5. Thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. Thy activity will renew itself like the eagle. That is to say, From day to day he will receive and increase his strength and rigour, so that he may thrive and flourish like the eagle. The comparison with the eagle is not drawn in point of renovation, but in point of vigour and activity continually renewing itself; as Isaiah 40:31, says, "They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles." Venema.

Ver. 5. Thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. This renovation of his youth may be understood three ways. First, as to his natural state, or bodily strength. Secondly, as to his civil state, or worldly successes, as to his honour and kingly-renown. Thirdly, as to his spiritual state, or the heightening of his gifts, graces, and comforts. It is probable David had found a declension in all these, and at last, through the goodness of God and his blessing upon him, the renewing of them all from that oldness to a youthfulness again, like that of eagles. Joseph Garyl.

Ver. 5. Thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. However bold it may sound, we say not too much when we speak of an eternal youth, as the glorious privilege of the devout servant of the Lord, but of him alone. All that with reason charms and captivates in the appearance of youth, is seen in heightened measure where the spiritual life develops itself undisturbed in fellowship with God. Does the innocence of youth attract you? In the natural life it is but too frequently a misleading appearance; but in the life of the soul it returns to a certain extent when the heart is purified through the power of the Holy Ghost, and the life is renewed in conformity with that of Christ the Lord. Does the enjoyment of youth surpass in your estimation that of any other here below? Be it so; yet all too speedily it is driven away by the cares of later years, whilst enjoyment free from care even in the dark days may dwell in the heart whereon has descended the peace of God through faith. The strength of youth, seems it to you desirable? Ah! day by day stamps truth upon the words: "Youth shall faint and be weary; "but even when the natural strength has already long attained its zenith, the Christian often feels himself elevated through a power from on high, which lifts him above physical weakness; and what no strength of sinew or muscle could accomplish is attained through the power of implicit faith. Yea, even the beautiful developement which the period of youth shows you, ye would not seek in vain in that man who, leaning on God's hand, forgetting the things that are behind, stretches forward from light to light, from strength to strength, from bliss to bliss. How, finally, can hope, that makes the youthful heart beat high with throbs of joy, be lacking to him? The fairest part of life the sensual man sees soon behind him, the spiritual man always in prospect; and like the eagle, this last can often from the low atmosphere round him soar to the pure, clear ether, whence already from afar the image, nay, the ineffable reality, shows him a more than earthly joy.

Eternal youth: it may, yet much more than for David, now be the portion of every Christian, but for these alone. Without faith and hope in the heart, even the bravest determination to remain young always, or at least as long as possible, must give away before the first great storm of life. Yet even when faith and hope are not strangers to us, whence is it that in our spiritual life there is frequently so little of the "eagle" spoken of here, and so much of the "sparrow alone upon the housetop, "referred to in Psalms 102:7 Can it be that we allow ourselves too little to be satisfied with the good things of which David had spoken immediately before; that is to say, that we live so little on the best things which God has to bestow, — his word, his Spirit, his grace? Only through these do we attain that lasting second birth, of which the eagle is the emblem, and an unfading youth of heart the inestimable fruit. Ye who are young in years, seek this undying youth above all the joys of early life! Recover it, ye middle-aged, in living fellowship with him who maketh all things new within! Preserve it, old friends of God and of his Christ, as your fairest crown here on earth, and the earnest of your bliss in heaven. And thou, Christian, who sittest down disconsolate, bethink thyself; the eagle lets his wings hang down, only thereafter to soar with stronger flight! J.J. Van Oosterzee, in "The Year of Salvation, "1874.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 5.

1. A singular condition—satisfaction.

2. A singular provision—good things.

3. A singular result—youth renewed.

Ver. 5. —"Rejuvenescence." See Macmillan's "Ministry of Nature, " pp. 321-347.

Psalms 103:6*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 6. The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are of oppressed. Our own personal obligations must not absorb our song; we must also magnify the Lord for his goodness to others. He does not leave the poor and needy to perish at the hands of their enemies, but interposes on their behalf, for he is the executor of the poor and the executioner of the cruel. When his people were in Egypt he heard their groanings and brought them forth, but he overthrew Pharaoh in the Red Sea. Man's injustice shall receive retribution at the hand of God. Mercy to his saints demands vengeance on their persecutors, and he will repay it. No blood of martyrs shall be shed in vain; no groans of confessors in prison shall be left without inquisition being made concerning them. All wrongs shall be righted, all the oppressed shall be avenged. Justice may at times leave the courts of man, but it abides upon the tribunal of God. For this every right-minded person will bless God. Were he careless of his creature's good, did he neglect the administration of justice, did he suffer high-handed oppressors finally to escape, we should have greater reason for trembling than rejoicing; it is not so, however, for our God is a God of justice, and by him actions are weighed; he will mete out his portion to the proud and make the tyrant bite the dust, —yea, often he visits the haughty persecutor even in this life, so that "the Lord is known by the judgments which he executeth."

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 6. The LORD executeth rghteousness, &c. Rising from personal blessings to general, the comprehensive fact, evermore to the glory of God, is his sympathy with the suffering and oppressed, and his ready and effective interposition in their ease. Who will not praise him that he careth so kindly and so gloriously for those who suffer cruel wrongs from wicked oppressors? Henry Cowles.

Psalms 103:7*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 7. He made known his ways unto Moses. Moses was made to see the manner in which the Lord deals with men; he saw this at each of the three periods of his life, in the court, in retirement, and at the head of the tribes of Israel. To him the Lord gave specially clear manifestations of his dispensations and modes of ruling among mankind, granting to him to see more of God than had before been seen by mortal man, while he cornmaned with him upon the mount.

His acts unto the children of Israel. They saw less than Moses, for they beheld the deeds of God without understanding his method therein, yet this was much, very much, and might have been more if they had not been so perverse; the stint was not in the revelation, but in the hardness of their hearts. It is a great act of sovereign grace and condescending love when the Lord reveals himself to any people, and they ought to appreciate the distinguished favour shown to them. We, as believers in Jesus, know the Lord's ways of covenant grace, and we have by experience been made to see his acts of mercy towards us; how heartily ought we to praise our divine teacher, the Holy Spirit, who has made these things known to us, for had it not been for him we should have continued in darkness unto this day, "Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us and not unto the world?" Why hast thou made us "of the election who have obtained it" while the rest are blinded?

Observe how prominent is the personality of God in all this gracious teaching—"He made known." He did not leave Moses to discover truth for himself, but became his instructor. What should we ever know if he did not make it known? God alone can reveal himself. If Moses needed the Lord to make him know, how much more do we who are so much inferior to the great law-giver?

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 7. He made known his ways unto Moses. When Moses went up to Mount Sinai and tarried there with God the space of forty days, we may well think that God in that time, revealed many secrets to him; and particularly "made known his ways; "(Exodus 33:19); not only his ways in which he would have us to walk, but his ways in which he walks himself, and the course he holds in the government of worldly affairs; why he suffers the wicked to prosper, and why the godly to be oppressed. These "ways" of his he made known to Moses; to the children of Israel, only "his acts." He showed them his wonderful favours to themselves in the wilderness, and that was his righteousness; but he showed them not his ways, and the course he held in them: they saw only the events of things, they saw not the reasons of them, as Moses did. Sir Richard Baker.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 7.

1. God would have men know him.

2. He is his own revealer.

3. There are degrees in the revelation.

4. We may pray for increased knowledge of him.

Psalms 103:8*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 8. The Lord is merciful and gracious. Those with whom he deals are sinners. However much he favours them they are guilty and need mercy at his hands, nor is he slow to compassionate their lost estate, or reluctant by his grace to lift them out of it. Mercy pardons sin, grace bestows favour: in both the Lord abounds. This is that way of his which he made known to Moses (Exodus 34:6), and in that way he will abide as long as the age of grace shall last, and men are yet in this life. He who "executeth righteousness and judgment, " yet delighteth in mercy.

Slow to anger. He can be angry, and can deal out righteous indignation upon the guilty, but it is his strange work; he lingers long, with loving pauses, tarrying by the way to give space for repentance and opportunity for accepting his mercy. Thus deals he with the greatest sinners, and with his own children much more so: towards them his anger is shortlived and never reaches into eternity, and when it is shown in fatherly chastisements he does not afflict willingly, and soon pities their sorrows. From this we should learn to be ourselves slow to anger; if the Lord is longsuffering under our great provocations how much more ought we to endure the errors of our brethren!

And plenteous in mercy. Rich in it, quick in it, overflowing with it; and so had he need to be or we should soon be consumed. He is God, and not man, or our sins would soon drown his love; yet above the mountains of our sins the floods of his mercy rise.

"Plenteous grace with thee is found,

Grace to cover all my sin;

Let the healing streams abound,

Make and keep me pure within."

All the world tastes of his sparing mercy, those who hear the gospel partake of his inviting mercy, the saints live by his saving mercy, are preserved by his upholding mercy, are cheered by his consoling mercy, and will enter heaven through his infinite and everlasting mercy. Let grace abounding be our hourly song in the house of our pilgrimage. Let those who feel that they live upon it glorify the plenteous fountain from which it so spontaneously flows.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 8 Merciful and gracious, slow to stager and plenteous in mercy. O my soul, bere are four properties spoken of to be in God, and are all so necessary, that we could not miss one of them. If he were not "merciful" we could hope for no pardon; and if he were no more but merciful we could hope for no more but pardon; but when besides his being merciful he is also "gracious, "this gives us a further hope, a hope of a donative; and then it will not be what we are worthy to receive, but what it is fit for him to give. If he were not "slow to anger" we could expect no patience; but when besides his slowness to anger he is also "full of compassion; "this makes us expect he will be the good Samaritan, and not only bind up our wounds, but take care also for our further curing. What though he chide and be angry for a time; it is but our being patient a while with him, as he a long time hath been patient with us. Sir R. Baker.

Ver. 8 Slow to anger. In Scripture we find that slowness to anger, and hastiness to be angry, are expressed by the different frame of the nostrils; as, namely, when the Lord is said to be "slow to anger, " the Hebrew is, long of nostrils. Joseph Caryl.

Ver. 8. Plenteous in mercy. dmxykw, "great mighty in mercy, " placing his chief glory in this attribute, and hereby teaching us how to estimate true greatness. George Horne.

Ver. 8. Plenteous in mercy. It is a thing marvellously satisfactory and pleasing to the heart of a man to be still taking from a great heap; and upon this ground are those proverbial sayings, There is no fishing like to fishing in the sea, no service like the service of a king: because in one there is the greatest plenty and abundance of that kind of pleasure that fishers look after; and for them that serve, and must live by their service, there is none like that of princes, because they have abundance of reward and of opportunity whereby to recompense the services of those that do wait and attend upon them... And upon the same ground it is that the Scriptures, in several places do not only assert and testify that God is "merciful" and "gracious, "but abundant in mercy and full of grace; and not simply that there is redemption in him, but plenteousness of redemption, Ps 86:5 130:7; Isaiah 55:7, "Let the wicked forsake his way, "etc.; "Let him return unto the Lord and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." The commodity which we stand in need of is mercy and the pardon of our sins, because we have been unholy and ungodly creatures; this commodity is abundantly in God. There it is treasured up as waters are in the store-house of the sea; there is no end of the treasures of his grace, mercy, pardon, and compassion. There is no man, being in want, but had rather go to a rich man's door to be relieved, than to the door of a poor man, if he kuoweth the rich man to be as liberal and as bountifully disposed as the poor man can be. John Goodwin, on, "Being filled with the Spirit."

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 8.

1. Mercy specified: "Merciful and gracious."

2. Mercy qualified: "Slow to anger." Mercy itself may be angered, and then how terrible is the anger.

3. Mercy amplified: "Plenteous in mercy." "He will abundantly pardon; "and he only knows what abundant pardon means. G. R.

Psalms 103:9*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 9. He will not always chide. He will sometimes, for he cannot endure that his people should harbour sin in their hearts, but not for ever will he chasten them; as soon as they turn to him and forsake their evil ways he will end the quarrel. He might find constant cause for striving with us, for we have always something in us which is contrary to his holy mind, but he refrains himself lest our spirits should fail before him. It will be profitable for any one of us who may be at this time out of conscious fellowship with the Lord, to inquire at his hands the reason for his anger, saying, "Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me?" For he is easily entreated of, and soon ceaseth from his wrath. When his children turn from their sins he soon turns from his chidings.

Neither will he keep his anger for ever. He bears no grudges. The Lord would not have his people harbour resentments, and in his own course of action he sets them a grand example. When the Lord has chastened his child he has done with his anger: he is not punishing as a judge, else might his wrath burn on, but he is acting as a father, and, therefore, after a few blows he ends the matter, and presses his beloved one to his bosom as if nothing had happened; or if the offence lies too deep in the offender's nature to be thus overcome, he continues to correct, but he never ceases to love, and he does not suffer his anger with his people to pass into the next world, but receives his erring child into his glory.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 9. He will not always chide. Certainly it is as unpleasing to God to chide, as it is to us to be chidden; and so little he likes of anger, that he rids his hands of it as fast as th can: he is not so slow in coming to it, but he is as quick in getting from it; for chiding is a bar to mercy, and anger an impediment to compassion; nothing is so distasteful to God as that any block should lie in the way of his mcrcy, or that the liberty of his compassion should have any cause of restraint: and then we may be sure he will not himself lay a block in the way with chiding, nor be a cause to restrain his compassion by keeping his anger. Sir R. Baker.

Ver. 9. (Second Clause). To keep anger for ever, corresponds with the French phrase, Je lui garde, Il me la garde, (*"I am watching him, as he has watched to do a bad turn to me") which we use when the man, who cannot forgive the injuries he has received, cherishes secret revenge in his heart, and waits for an opportunity of retaliation. Now David denies that God, after the manner of men, keeps anger on account of injuries done to him, since he condescends to be reconciled. Calvin.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 9.

1. What God will do to his people. He will sometimes chide —contend with them. (a) Providentially, by outward trials. (b) Experimentally, by inward conflicts.

2. What he will not do to them. (a) Not chide continually in this life. (b) Not chide in the least hereafter. (c) "The days of their mourning shall be ended." G. R.

Psalms 103:10*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 10. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. Else had Israel perished outright, and we also had long ago been consigned to the lowest hell. We ought to praise the Lord for what he has not done as well as for what he has wrought for us; even the negative side deserves our adoring gratitude. Up to this moment, at our very worst estate, we have never suffered as we deserved to suffer; our daily lot has not been apportioned upon the rule of what we merited, but on the far different measure of undeserved kindness. Shall we not bless the Lord? Every power of our being might have been rent with anguish, instead of which we are all in the enjoyment of comparative happiness, and many of us are exceedingly favoured with inward joy; let then every faculty, yea, all that is within us, bless his holy name.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 10. He hath not dealt with us after our sins. Might we not have expected, with such conduct, that God would have withdrawn from us the blessing of his providence, withheld from us the communication of his Spirit, permitted us to find the means of grace profitless, left our temptations to multiply, and suffered us to sink into a state of fixed backsliding? —and then, with our hearts at last sinking into too natural depression, might we not have seemed to hear him saying to us this day, "Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee; know, therefore, and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord God of Hosts." Baptist W. Noel, 1798-1873.

Ver. 10. He hath not dealt with us after our sins. Why is it that God hath not dealt with us after our sins? Is it not because he hath dealt with another after our sins? Another who look our sins upon him; of whom it is said, that "God chastened him in his fierce wrath"? and why did he chasten him, but for our sins? O gracious God, thou art too just to take revenge twice for the same faults; and therefore, having turned thy fierce wrath upon him, thou wilt not turn it upon us too; but having rewarded him according to our iniquities, thou wilt now reward us according to his merits. Sir R. Baker.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 10. Work out the terrible supposition, show the reasons why it has not yet been actually so; then suggest that it may yet become a terrible fact, and exhort the guilty to seek mercy.

Psalms 103:11*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 11. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. Boundless in extent towards his chosen is the mercy of the Lord; it is no more to be measured than the height of heaven or the heaven of heavens. "Like the height of the heavens" is the original language, which implies other points of comparison besides extent, and suggests sublimity, grandeur, and glory. As the lofty heavens canopy the earth, water it with dews and rains, enlighten it with sun, moon, and stars, and look down upon it with unceasing watchfulness, even so the Lord's mercy from above covers all his chosen, enriches them, embraces them, and stands for ever as their dwellingplace. The idea of our version is a very noble one, for who shall tell how exceeding great is the height of heaven? Who can reach the first of the fixed stars, and who can measure the utmost bounds of the starry universe? Yet so great is his mercy! Oh, that great little word so! All this mercy is for "them that fear him; "there must be a humble, hearty reverence of his authority, or we cannot taste of his grace. Godly fear is one of the first products of the divine life in us, it is the beginning of wisdom, yet it fully ensures to its possessor all the benefits of divine mercy, and is, indeed, here and elsewhere, employed to set forth the whole of true religion. Many a true child of God is full of filial fear, and yet at the same time stands trembling as to his acceptance with God; this trembling is groundless, but it is infinitely to be preferred to that baseborn presumption, which incites men to boast of their adoption and consequent security, when all the while they are in the gall of bitterness. Those who are presuming upon the infinite extent of divine mercy, should here be led to consider that although it is wide as the horizon and high as the stars, yet it is only meant for them that fear the Lord, and as for obstinate rebels, they shall have justice without mercy measured out to them.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 11. Our mind cannot find a comparison too large for expressing the superabundant mercy of the Lord toward his people. David Dickson.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 11-13. The height, length and depth of divine love.

Psalms 103:12*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 12. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. O glorious verse, no word even upon the inspired page can excel it! Sin is removed from us by a miracle of love! What a load to move, and yet is it removed so far that the distance is incalculable. Fly as far as the wing of imagination can bear you, and if you journey through space eastward, you are further from the west at every beat of your wing. If sin be removed so far, then we may be sure that the scent, the trace, the very memory of it must be entirely gone. If this be the distance of its removal, there is no shade of fear of its ever being brought back again; even Satan himself could not achieve such a task. Our sins are gone, Jesus has borne them away. Far as the place of sunrise is removed from yonder west, where the sun sinks when his day's journey is done, so far were our sins carried by our scapegoat nineteen centuries ago, and now if they be sought for, they shall not be found, yea, they shall not be, saith the Lord. Come, my soul, awaken thyself thoroughly and glorify the Lord for this richest of blessings. Hallelujah. The Lord alone could remove sin at all, and he has done it in a godlike fashion, making a final sweep of all our transgressions.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. l2. As far as the east is from the west. The expression taken from the distance of the east from west is pitched upon, saith Kimchi, because those two quarters of the world are of greatest extent, being all known and inhabited. From whence it is that geographies reckon that way their longitudes, as from north to south their latitudes. Henry Hammond.

Ver. 12. When sin is pardoned, it is never charged again; the guilt of it can no more return than east can become west, or west become east. Stephen Charnock.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 12. "Plenary Absolution." See "Spurgeon's Sermons, " No. 1,108.

Ver. 12.

1. The union implied. Between man and his transgressions.

(a) Legally.

(b) Actually.

(c) Experimentally.

(d) Eternally, in themselves considered.

2. The separation effected.

(a) By whom? "He hath, "etc.

(b) How? By his own Son coming between the sinner and

his sins.

3. The Re-union prevented. "As far, "etc. When east and west meet, then, and not till then, will the reunion take place. As the two extremities of a straight line can never meet, and cannot be lengthened without receding further from each other, so it will ever be with a pardoned sinner and his sins. G. R.

Psalms 103:13*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 13. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. To those who truly reverence his holy name, the Lord is a father and acts as such. These he pities, for in the very best of men the Lord sees much to pity, and when they are at their best state they still need his compassion. This should check every propensity to pride, though at the same time it should yield us the richest comfort. Fathers feel for their children, especially when they are in pain, they would like to suffer in their stead, their sighs and groans cut them to the quick: thus sensitive towards us is our heavenly Father. We do not adore a god of stone, but the living God, who is tenderness itself. He is at this moment compassionating us, for the word is in the present tense; his pity never fails to flow, and we never cease to need it.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 13. Like as a father pitieth his children, etc. A chaplain to seamen, at an American port, visited a sailor who appeared to be near death. He spoke kindly to the man upon the state of his soul, and directed him to cast himself on Jesus. With an oath, the sick man bade him begone. The chaplain then told him that he must be faithful to him, for if he died impenitent he would be lost for ever. The man was sullen and silent, and pretentted to fall asleep. The visit was repeated more than once, with similar ill success. At length the chaplain, suspecting that the sailor was a Scotchman, repeated a verse of the old version of the Psalms:

"Such pity as a father hath

Unto his children dear.

Like pity shows the Lord to such

As worship him in fear."

Tears started into the sailor's eyes as he listened to these words. The chaplain asked him if he had not had a pious mother. The man broke into tears. Yes, his mother had, in years gone by, taught him these words, and had also prayed to God for him. Since then he had been a wanderer by sea and land; but the memory of her faith and love moved his heart. The appeals made to him were blessed by the Spirit of God. His life was spared, and proved the reality of his conversion.

Ver. 13. Like as a father. It is to be observed in this verse, what kind of mercy the prophet attributes to God. He says not, As man pities man, as the rich the poor man, as the strong the feeble, as the freeman the captive, but he makes mention of that pity which a father shows to his son, which is the greatest of all. The word Mxr itself supports this view, as it properly signifies viscarum commotis. An example of this we have in 1 Kings 3:23-27 in the case of the woman who could not bear the slaughter of her child... And afterwards in the case of the father of the prodigal. Lu 15:11-32. Musculus.

Ver. 13. As a father pitieth his children. The father pitieth his children that are weak in knowledge, and instructs them; pities them when they are froward, and bears with them; pities them when they are sick, and comforts them; when they are fallen, and helps them up again; when they have offended, and upon their submission, forgives them; when they are wronged, and rights them. Thus "the Lord pitieth them that fear him." Matthew Henry.

Ver. 13. So the Lord pitieth, &c. So and ten thousand times more than so. For he is the "Father of all mercies, "and the Father of all the fatherhoods in heaven and earth. Ephesians 3:15. John Trapp.

Ver. 13. The Load pitieth. Though it be commonly said, "It is better to be envied, than pitied; "yet here it is not so: but it is a far happier thing to be pitied of God, than to be envied of men. Sir R. Baker.

Ver. 13. Them that fear him. The fear of God is that deference to God which leads you to subordinate your will to his; makes you intent on pleasing him; penitent in view of past wilfulness; happy in his present smile; transported by his love; hopeful of his glory. George Bowen.

Ver. 13. Them that fear him. It may be understood of those who have not yet "received the spirit of adoption, "but are yet "trembling at his word, "those he "pities." Matthew Henry.

Ver. 13-14. The good father doth not turn off the child for being weak and sickly; but is so much the more indulgent as his necessity requires succour. If his stomach refuse meat, or cannot answer it with digestion, will he put him out of doors? No; when the Shunamite's son complains of his head, she lays him in her bosom. A mother is good to all the fruit of her womb, most kind to the sick infant: when it lies with its eyes fixed on her, not able to declare its grief, or to call for what it desires, this doubles her compassion: "So the Lord doth pity us, remembering our frame, considering that we are but dust"; that our soul works by a lame instrument; and therefore he requires not that of an elemental composition, which he doth of angelical spirits. The son is commanded to write out such a copy fairly; he doth his best, far short of the original; yet the father doth not chide, but encourage him. Or he gives him a bow and arrows, bids him shoot to such a mark; he draws his utmost strength, lets go cheerfully: the arrow drops far short, yet the son is praised, the father pleased. Temptation assaults us, lust buffets us, secular business diverts us, manifold is our weakness, but not beyond our Father's forgiveness: "He will spare us, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him, " Malachi 3:17. Thomas Adams.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 13-14. "The Tender Pity of the Lord." See "Spurgeon's Sermons, "No. 941.

Ver 13-14.

1. Whom God pities; "them that fear him."

2. How he pities "as a father pitieth his children."

3. Why he pities; "for he knoweth our frame." He hath reason to know out frame, for he framed us, and having himself made man of the dust, "he remembers that we are dust." Matthew Henry.

Psalms 103:14*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 14. For he knoweth our frame. He knows how we are made, for he made us. Our make and build, our constitution and temperament, our prevailing infirmity and most besetting temptation he well perceives, for he searches our inmost nature.

He remembereth that we are dust. Made of dust, dust still, and ready to return to dust. We have sometimes heard of "the Iron Duke, " and of iron constitutions, but the words are soon belied, for the Iron Duke is dissolved, and other men of like rigour are following to the grave, where "dust to dust" is an appropriate requiem. We too often forget that we are dust, and try our minds and bodies unduly by excessive mental and bodily exertion, we are also too little mindful of the infirmities of others, and impose upon them burdens grievous to be borne; but our heavenly Father never overloads us, and never fails to give us strength equal to our day, because he always takes our frailty into account when he is apportioning to us our lot. Blessed be his holy name for this gentleness towards his frail creatures.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 14. He knoweth our frame. "Our formation; "the manner in which we are constructed, and the materials of which we are made. Adam Clarke.

Ver. 14. He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. Not like some unskilled empiric, who hath but one receipt for all, strong or weak, young or old; but as a wise physician considers his patient, and then writes his bill. Men and devils are but God's apothecaries, they make not our physic, but give what God prescribes. Balaam loved Balak's fee well enough, but could not go a hair's breadth beyond God's commission. William Gumall.

Ver. 14. He remembereth that we are dust. As if the very matter out of which man was first made, though without sin, were a disadvantage to him, in the resisting of sin. It was a disadvantage before man had any sin in him, how much more is it now when most men have nothing at all in them but sin, and the best have very much. "That which is born of the flesh, "saith Christ, "is flesh." Corrupt nature can produce none but corrupt acts. Joseph Caryl.

Ver. 14. We are dust.

O how in this Thy quire of souls I stand,

—Propt by Thy hand—

A heap of sand!

Which busie thoughts—like winds—would scatter quite,

And put to flight,

But for Thy might;

Thy hand alone doth tame

Those blasts, and knit my frame. Henry Vaughan.

Ver. 14, 16. We are dust. I never see one of those spiral pillars of dust which, like a mimic simoon, rush along the road upon a windy day, with- ont thinking, "There is an image of life." Dust and a breath! Observe how the apparent "pillar" is but a condition, an active condition, of the particles of dust, and those particles continually changing. The form depends upon the incessant movement. The heavy sand floats on the impalpable air while it partakes its motion; let that cease and it fails, So the dull clods of the field, smitten by force, take wings and soar in life, partake for a time its rapid course, and then, the force exhausted, fall back into their former state. A whirl, a flux, maintained by forces without, and ceasing when they are withdrawn; that is our life. James Hinton, in "Thoughts on, Health and some of its Conditions, " 1871.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 14.

1. Man's Constitution.

2. God's Consideration. W. D.

Psalms 103:15*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 15. As for man, his days are as grass. He lives on the grass, and lives like the grass. Corn is but educated grass, and man, who feeds on it, partakes of its nature. The grass lives, grows, flowers, falls beneath the scythe, dries up, and is removed from the field: read this sentence over again, and you will find it the history of man. If he lives out his little day, he is cut down at last, and it is far more likely that he will wither before he comes to maturity, or be plucked away on a sudden, long before he has fulfilled his time.

As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. He has a beauty and a comeliness even as the meadows have when they are yellow with the king-cups, but, alas, how short-lived! No sooner come than gone, a flash of loveliness and no more! Man is not even like a flower in the conservatory or in the sheltered garden border, he grows best according to nature, as the field-flower does, and like the unprotected beautifier of the pasture, he runs a thousand risks of coming to a speedy end. A large congregation, in many-coloured attire, always reminds us of a meadow bright with many hues; and the comparison becomes sadly true when we reflect, that as the grass and its goodliness soon pass away, even so will those we gaze upon, and all their visible beauty. Thus, too, must it be with all that comes of the flesh, even its greatest excellencies and natural virtues, for "that which is born of the flesh is flesh, "and therefore is but as grass which withers if but a breath of wind assails it. Happy are they who, born from above, have in them an incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 15. As for man. The insignificance of man is especially brought out by the use of ENOSH here. Robert Baker Girdlestone.

Ver. 15. Man comes forth, says Job, like a flower, and is cut down; he is sent into the world the fairest and noblest part of God's works, fashioned after the image of his Creator, with respect to reason and the great faculties of the mind; he cometh forth glorious as the flower of the field; as it surpasses the vegetable world in beauty, so does he the animal world in the glory and excellence of his nature. The one, if no untimely accident oppress it, soon arrives at the full period of its perfection, —is suffered to triumph for a few moments, and is plucked up by the roots in the very pride and gayest stage of its being; —or if it happens to escape the hands of violence, in a few days it necessarily sickens of itself and dies away. Man likewise, though his progress is slower, and his duration somewhat longer, yet the periods of his growth and declension are nearly the same, both in the nature and manner of them. If he escapes the dangers which threaten his tenderer years, he is soon got into the full maturity and strength of life; and if he is so fortunate as not to be hurried out of it then by accidents, by his own folly and intemperance—if he escapes these, he naturally decays of himself, —a period comes fast upon him, beyond which he was not made to last. Like flowers or fruits which may be plucked up by force before the time of their maturity, yet cannot be made to outgrow the period when they are to fade and drop of themselves; when that comes, the hand of nature then plucks them both off, and no art of the botanist can uphold the one, or skill of the physician preserve the other, beyond the periods to which their original frames and constitutions were made to extend. As God has appointed and determined the several growths and decays of the vegetable race, so he seems as evidently to have prescribed the same laws to man, as well as all living creatures, in the first rudiments of which there are contained the specific powers of their growth, duration and extinction; and when the evolutions of those animal powers are exhausted and run down, the creature expires and dies of itself, as ripe fruit falls from the tree, or a flower preserved beyond its bloom, drops and perishes upon the stalk. Lawrence Sterne, 1713-1768.

Ver. 15. The Psalmist saith of man, as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. It is not a flower of the garden, but of the "field." This latter is more subject to decay than the former, because it lies more open to the nipping air and violent winds, and to the browsing mouth of the beast, and is more liable to be trampled upon: by all these ways it decayeth as well as by the scorching sun, and its own fading temper. John Edwards, in "Theologia Reformata."

Ver. 15. As flower of the field.

What is life! like a flower, with the bane in its bosom,

Today full of promise—tomorrow it dies! —

And health—like the dew-drop that hangs in its blossom,

Survives but a night, and exhales to the skies!

How oft beneath the bud that is brightest and fairest,

The seeds of the canker in embryo lurk!

How oft at the root of the flower that is rarest—

Secure in its ambush the worm is at work? James Beattie, 1735-1803.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 15. Man's earthly career. His rise, progress, glory, fall, and oblivion.

Ver. 15-18.

1. What man is when left to himself. "As for man, "etc. (a) What here? His days are as grass, his glory as the flower of grass. (b) What hereafter? swept away by a blighting wind, by a blast of divine anger—known no more on the earth, known only in perdition.

2. What the mercy of God does for him. (a) Makes a covenant of grace on his behalf flora everlasting. (b) Makes a covenant of peace with hint in this life. (c) Makes a covenant of promise to him for an eternity to come.

3. Who are the objects of this mercy? (a) Those who fear God. (b) Who walk in the footsteps of pious ancestors. (c) Who rely upon covenant mercy. (d) Who are faithful to their covenant engagements. G. R.

Psalms 103:16*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 16. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone. Only a little wind is needed, not even a scythe is demanded, a breath can do it, for the flower is so frail.

"If one sharp wind sweep over the field,

It withers in an hour."

How small a portion of deleterious gas suffices to create a deadly fever, which no art of man can stay. No need of sword or bullet, a puff of foul air is deadlier far, and fails not to lay low the healthiest and most stalwart son of man.

And the place thereof shall know it no more. The flower blooms no more. It may have a successor, but as for itself its leaves are scattered, and its perfume will never again sweeten the evening air. Man also dies and is gone, gone from his old haunts, his dear home, and his daily labours, never to return. As far as this world is concerned, he is as though he never had been; the sun rises, the moon increases or wanes, summer and winter run their round, the rivers flow, and all things continue in their courses as though they missed him not, so little a figure does he make in the affairs of nature. Perhaps a friend will note that he is gone, and say,

"One morn. I missed him on the accustomed hill,

Along the heath, and near his favourite tree;

Another came, nor yet beside the rill,

Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he."

But when the "dirges due" are silent, beyond a mound of earth, and perhaps a crumbling stone, how small will be the memorial of our existence upon this busy scene! True there are more enduring memories, and an existence of another kind coeval with eternity, but these belong, not to our flesh, which is but grass, but to a higher life, in which we rise to close fellowship with the Eternal.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 16. The wind passeth over it, and it is gone, etc. A breath of air, a gentle wind (xwr) passes over him and he is gone. It would not be so strange if a tempest, a whirlwind, passing over should sweep him away. The Psalmist means much more than this. The gentlest touch, the whispering breeze, bears him off. He soon becomes a stranger, no more known in the little space he once filled, going out and coming in. Henry Cowles.

Ver. 16. The wind passeth over it, and it is gone. It is well known that a hot wind in the east destroys at once every green thing. Nor is this to be wondered at, if, as Dr. Russell says, the winds sometimes "bring with them a degree and kind of heat, which one would imagine came out of an oven, and which, when it blows hard, will affect metals within the houses, such as locks of room doors, nearly as much as if they had been exposed to the rays of the sun." The blasting effect which seems to be here alluded to, of certain pestilential winds upon the animal frame, is by no means exaggerated by the comparison to the sudden fading of a flower. Maillet describes hundreds of persons in a caravan as stifled on the spot by the fire and dust, of which the deadly wind, that sometimes prevails in the eastern deserts, seems to be composed. And Sir John Chardin describes this wind "as making a great hissing noise, "and says that "it appears red and fiery, and kills those whom it strikes by a kind of stifling them, especially when it happens in the day time." Richard Mant.

Ver. 16. The place thereof shall know him no more, &c. Man, once turned to dust, is blown about by every wind, from place to place; and what knows the place, when dust falls upon it; whether it be the dust of a prince, or of a peasant; whether of a man, or of a beast? And must not man then needs be very miserable, when time and place, the two best helps of life, do both forsake him? for what help can he have of time, when his days are but as grass? What help of place, when his place denies him, and will not know him? Sir R. Baker.

Psalms 103:17*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 17. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him. Blessed but! How vast the contrast between the fading flower and the everlasting God! How wonderful that his mercy should link our frailty with his eternity, and make us everlasting too! From old eternity the Lord viewed his people as objects of mercy, and as such chose them to become partakers of his grace; the doctrine of eternal election is most delightful to those who have light to see it and love wherewith to accept it. It is a theme for deepest thought and highest joy. The "to everlasting" is equally precious. Jehovah changes not, he has mercy without end as well as without beginning. Never will those who fear him find that either their sins or their needs have exhausted the great deep of his grace. The main question is, "Do we fear him?" If we are lifting up to heaven the eye of filial fear, the gaze of paternal love is never removed from us, and it never will be, world without end.

And his righteousness unto children's children. Mercy to those with whom the Lord makes a covenant is guaranteed by righteousness;it is because he is just that he never revokes a promise, or fails to fulfil it. Our believing sons and their seed for ever will find the word of the Lord the same: to them will he display his grace and bless them even as he has blessed us. Let us sing, then, for posterity. The past commands our praise and the future invites it. For our descendants let us sing as well as pray. If Abraham rejoiced concerning his seed, so also may the godly, for "instead of the fathers shall be the children, "and as the last Psalm told us in its concluding verse, "the children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee."

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 17. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting. No human benevolence is perpetually the same; but by expelfence we see that those who are kind today, may be changed into tyrants tomorrow. Examples of this we have in the life of Nero, and many other rulers. Therefore lest we should suspect the goodness of God to bear any similar character, it is said with inconceivable consolation, that it shall never cease, but is prepared for ever for all those who fear and serve God. Musculus.

Ver. 17. From everlasting to everlasting. From everlasting, by predestination; to everlasting, by glorification: the one without beginning, the other without end. Bernard.

Psalms 103:18*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 18. Children of the righteous are not, however, promised the Lord's mercy without stipulation, and this verse completes the statement of the last by adding: To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. The parents must be obedient and the children too. We are here bidden to abide by the covenant, and those who run off to any other confidence than the finished work of Jesus are not among those who obey this precept; those with whom the covenant is really made stand firm to it, and having begun in the Spirit, they do not seek to be made perfect in the flesh. The truly godly keep the Lord's commands carefully—they "remember"; they observe them practically—"to do them": moreover they do not pick and choose, but remember "his commandments" as such, without exalting one above another as their own pleasure or convenience may dictate. May our offspring be a thoughtful, careful, observant race, eager to know the will of the Lord, and prompt to follow it fully, then will his mercy enrich and honour them from generation to generation.

This verse also suggests praise, for who would wish the Lord to smile on those who will not regard his ways? That were to encourage vice. From the manner in which some men unguardedly preach the covenant, one might infer that God would bless a certain set of men however they might live, and however they might neglect his laws. But the word teaches not so. The covenant is not legal, but it is holy. It is all of grace from first to last, yet it is no panderer to sin; on the contrary, one of its greatest promises is, "I will put my laws in their hearts and in their minds will I write them"; its general aim is the sanctifying of a people unto God, zealous for good works, and all its gifts and operations work in that direction. Faith keeps the covenant by looking alone to Jesus, while at the same time by earnest obedience it remembers the Lord's commandments to do them.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 18. To do them. Commands are to be remembered in order to practice; a vain speculation is not the intent of the publication of them. Stephen Charnock.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 18. The covenant, in what respects we can keep it, in what frame of mind it must be kept, and what is the practical proof of so doing.

Psalms 103:19*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 19. The LORD has prepared his throne in the heavens. Here is a grand burst of song produced by a view of the boundless power, and glorious sovereignty of Jehovah. His throne is fixed, for that is the word; it is estabhshed, settled, immovable.

"He sits on no precarious throne,

Nor borrows leave to be."

About his government there is no alarm, no disorder, no perturbation, no hurrying to and fro in expedients, no surprises to be met or unexpected catastrophes to be warded off; —all is prepared and fixed, and he himself has prepared and fixed it. He is no delegated sovereign for whom a throne is set up by another; he is an autocrat, and his dominion arises from himself and is sustained by his own innate power. This matchless sovereignty is the pledge of our security, the pillar upon which our confidence may safely lean.

And his kingdom ruleth over all. Over the whole universe he stretches his sceptre. He now reigns universally, he always has done so, and he always will. To us the world may seem rent with anarchy, but he brings order out of confusion. The warring elements are marching beneath his banner when they most wildly rush onward in furious tempest. Great and small, intelligent and material, willing and unwilling, fierce or gentle, —all, all are under his sway. His is the only universal monarchy, he is the blessed and only Potentate, King of kings and Lord of lords. A clear view of his ever active, and everywhere supreme providence, is one of the most delightful of spiritual gifts; he who has it cannot do otherwise than bless the Lord with all his soul.

Thus has the sweet singer hymned the varied attributes of the Lord as seen in nature, grace, and providence, and now he gathers up all his energies for one final outburst of adoration, in which he would have all unite, since all are subjects of the Great King.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 19. The Lord hath prepared his Throne. The word signifies establisthed as well as prepared, and might be so rendered. Due preparation is the natural way to the establishment of a thing; hasty resolves break and moulder. This notes,

1. The peculiarity of his authority. He prepares it, and none else for him. It is a dominion that originally resides in his nature, not derived from any by birth or commission; he alone prepared it. He is the sole cause of his own kingdom; his authority therefore is unbounded, as infinite as his nature. None can set laws to him, because none but himself prepared his throne for him. As he will not impair his own happiness, so he will not abridge himself of his own authority.

2. Readiness to exercise it upon due occasions. He hath prepared his throne, he is not at a loss, he needs not stay for a commission or instructions from any how to act. He hath all things ready for the assistance of his people, he hath rewards and punishments; his treasures trod axes, the great mark of authority lying by him, the one for the good, the other for the wicked. His mercy he keeps by him for thousands, Exodus 34:7; his arrows he hath prepared by him for rebels, Psalms 7:13.

3. Wise management of it. It is prepared: preparations imply prudence; the government of God is not a rash and heady authority. A prince upon his throne, a judge upon the bench, manages things with the greatest discretion, or should be supposed so to do.

4. Successfulness and duration of it. He hath prepared or established it. It is fixed, not tottering; it is an unmovable dominion; all the strugglings of men and devils cannot overturn it, nor so much as shake it. It is established above the reach of obstinate rebels; he cannot be deposed from it, he cannot be mated in it. His dominion, as himself abides for ever. And as his counsel, so his authority, shall stand; and "he will do all his pleasure, " Isaiah 46:10. Stephen Charnock.

Ver. 19. His throne in the heavens, denotes:

1. The glory of his dominion. The heavens are the most stately and comely pieces of the creation; his majesty is there most visible, his glory most splendid, Psalms 19:1. In heaven his dominion is more acknowledged by the angels: his dominion is not disputed there by the angels that attend him, as it is on earth by the rebels that arm themselves against him.

2. The supremacy of his empire. The heavens are the loftiest part of the creation, and the only fit palace for him.

3. Peculiarity of this dominion. He rules in the heavens alone. His authority is not delegated to any creature, he rules the blessed spirits by himself; but he rules men that are on his footstool by others of the same kind, men of their own nature.

4. The vastness of his empire. The earth is but a spot to the heavens. What is England in a map to the whole earth, but a spot you may cover with your finger; much less must the whole earth be to the extended heavens. You cannot conceive the many millions of little particles that are in the earth; and if all put together be but one point: to that place where the throne of God is seated, how vast must his empire be! He rules there ovcr the angels, which excel in strength, those hosts of his which do his pleasure, in comparison of whom all the men in the world, and the power of the greatest potentates, is no more than the strength of an ant or fly. And since his throne is in the heavens, it will follow that all things under the heaven are part of his dominion; the inferior things of earth cannot but be subject to him; and it necessarily includes his influence on all things below, because the heavens arc the cause of all the motion in the world. See Hosea 2:21-22.

5. The easiness of managing this government. His throne being placed on high, he cannot but behold all things that are done below; the height of a place gives advantage to a clear eye to behold things below it. "The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, "Psalms 14:2. He looks not down from heaven as if his presence were confined there, but he looks down majestically, and by way of authority.

6. Duration of it. The heavens are incorruptible, his throne is placed there in an incorruptible state. The throne of God outlives the dissolution of the world. Condensed from Charnock.

Ver. 19. His kingdom ruleth over all. His Lordship is universal. First, over all time:other lords die, but he is eternal. Eternity is properly the duration of an uncreated Ens. It is improperly taken, either for things that have both beginning and end, as everlasting mountains; divers such phrases in Scripture; or for things that have a beginning but shall have no end; so are angels and men's souls eternal; so, eternal life, eternal fire. But God calls himself, "I AM, "Exodus 3:14 : I am what I have been, I have been what I am, what I am and have been I shall be. This attribute is incommunicable: all other things had a non esse preceding their esse;and they have a mutation tending to nothing. "They that war against thee shall be as nothing, "Isaiah 41:12 : all come to nothing unless they be upheld by the manutency of God: but "Thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end, "Psalms 102:27. Thou turnest man to destruction, and again sayest, Return: "even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God, "Psalms 90:2; the sole umpire and measurer of beginning and ending.

Secondly, over all places, heaven, earth, hell, Psalms 135:6. Kings are limited, and cannot do many things they desire: they cannot command the sun to stand still, nor the wind to blow which way they would: in the lofty air, in the depths of the sea no king reigns. They fondly flatter the pope with his long arms that they reach to purgatory; (but indeed both power and place are alike imaginary;)it is Christ alone that hath the keys of all places.

Thirdly, over all creatures;binding the influences of Pleiades, and loosing the bands of Orion, Job 38:31; commanding the fire against the nature of it, to descend, 2 Kings 1:12; creating and ruling the stars, Amos 5:8; overruling the lions, Daniel 6:22, sending the meteors, Psalms 148:8, hedging in the sea, lapping it up like a child in swaddling-clothes, Job 38:8, dividing, diverting, filling it. In both fire and water, those two raging elements that have no mercy, he shows mercy; delivers us from both in both. He calls the fowls, and they come; the beasts, and they hear: the trees, and they spring to obey him. He hath a raven for Elijah, a gourd for Jonah, a dog for Lazarus. Makes the leviathan, the hugest living creature, preserve his prophet. That a terrible lion should be killed, as was by Samson; or not kill, as they forbore Daniel; or kill and not eat, as that prophet, 1 Kings 13:1-29 : here was the Lord. Over metals; he makes iron to swim, stones to cleave asunder. Over the devils; they must obey him though unwillingly. But they continually rebel against him, and break his will? They do indeed against his complacency, not against his permission. There is then no time, not the hour of death; no place, not the sorest torment; no creature, not the devil; but the Lord can deliver us from them. Therefore at all times, in all places, and against all creatures, let us trust in him for deliverance. Thomas Adams.

Ver. 19. His kingdom ruleth over all. When Melancthon was extremely solicitous about the affairs of the church in his days, Luther would have him admonished in these terms, Monendus est Philippus ut desinat esse rector mundi:Let not Philip make himself any longer governor of the world. David Clarkson.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 19. "A Discourse upon God's Dominion." See Charnock's Works Nicol's Edition, Vol. II., pp. 400-499.

Ver. 19.

1. The nature of the throne.

2. The extent of the dominion.

3. The character of the monarch.

4. The consequent joy of the subjects: "Bless the Lord."

Psalms 103:20*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 20. Bess the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength. Finding his work of praise growing upon his hands, he calls upon "the firstborn sons of light" to speak the praises of the Lord, as well they may, for as Milton says, they best can tell. Dwelling nearer to that prepared throne than we as yet have leave to climb, they see in nearer vision the glory which we would adore. To them is given an exceeding might of intellect, and voice, and force which they delight to use in sacred services for him; let them now turn all their strength into that solemn song which we would send up to the third heaven. To him who gave angelic strength let all angelic strength be given. They are his angels, and therefore they are not loath to ring out his praises.

That do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. We are bidden to do these commandntents, and alas we fail; let those unfallen spirits, whose bliss it is never to have transgressed, give to the Lord the glory of their holiness. They hearken for yet more commands, obeying as much by reverent listening as by energetic action, and in this they teach us how the heavenly will should evermore be done; yet even for this surpassing excellence let them take no praise, but render all to him who has made and kept them what they are. O that we could hear them chant the high praises of God, as did the shepherds on that greatest of all birth nights—

"When such music sweet

Their hearts and ears did greet

As never was by mortal finger struck;

Divinely-warbled voice

Answering the stringed noise,

As well their souls in blissful rapture took:

The air, such pleasure loth to lose,

With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close."

Our glad heart anticipates the hour when we shall hear them "harping in loud and solemn guise, "and all to the sole praise of God.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 20. Bless the Lord, ye his angels, etc. The weight of offering praise unto God is too heavy for men to lift; and as for angels, it will take up all their strength and their best abilities to go about it. David Dickson.

Ver. 20. Angels, that excel it, strength, that do his commandments. The chief excellence of the angels, the main cause of their strength and power, and of their immense superiority to mankind, is that which is set forth in the following words of the text. After the Psalmist has described the angels as excelling in strength, he adds that they do God's commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word. For this is the only living source of lasting strength and power. They who do the will of God faithfully and obediently, have God for them; and then what can be against them? Then work itself strengthens them, and is like a tide bearing them onward; because it is his work. They on the other hand who run counter to the will of God, have God against them; and then what can be for them? Can a man push back the sea? can he lay hold on the sun, and drag him out of his course? Then may he hope to be strong, when he is fighting against the will of God...

Hence we see the falsehood of that maxim, so common on the lips of those who plume themselves upon their mastery in the wisdom of this world—that Might is Right, —a maxim which exactly inverts the truth, and whereby the Prince of darkness is ever setting himself up against the Lord of heaven. The true principle, which is inverted and perverted in this falsehood, —the principle which ought to be written up in the councilchambers of princes and on the walls of senate-houses, —the principle which explains the secret of the strength of the angels, and indeed of all true strength, that is in accordance with the will of God, —may be stated in the selfsame words, if we only invert their order, Right is Might. Julius Charles Hare, 1849.

Ver. 20. His angels that do his commandments, etc. They hearken to the voice of his word, they look upon God as the great General, and if he give out the word, they give out their strength, and go about the work willingly. They are very attentive to his commands; if he says, Go smite Herod for his pride, Balaam for his covetousness, David for his vainglory, Sennacherib for his blasphemy, and Sodom for its uncleanness, presently they go. William Greenhill.

Ver. 20. Commandments. Davar (rkd), to speak, is rendered, "command" twenty times... direct personal communion between the Lord and his messengers seems to be implied. R. B. Girdlestone.

Ver. 20. Hearkenling into the voice of his word. Not only, mightily executing the word when heard; but, ever intently listening, ready to catch the intimation of his will. William Kay.

Ver. 20. Hearkening unto the voice of his word. Angels are vigilant creatures, and wait for opportunities, and when they come they will not lose them. They neither slumber nor sleep, but hearken constantly what the Lord will say, what opportunity there will be for action; so, in Ezekiel 1:11, they are described with their wings stretched upward, manifesting their watchfulness and readiness for service. When Christ was born, a multitude of them appeared and celebrated his nativity, Lu 2:13: when Christ was taken by Judas and his train, Peter drew his sword in his Master's defence; but what saith Christ? "Put up thy sword, it is not a time now to fight, but to suffer: thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? It is not a time now to pray for help, I must die, and the Scripture must be fulfilled; but if I would, my Father would bid the angels to aid me, and they presently would come, whole legions of them, yea, all the angels in heaven." Let us learn of angels to watch for opportunities, and take them. There are nicks of time wherein to do the work of Christ. William Greenhill.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 20. The angels' service instructive to us.

1. Their personal strength is excellent. As servants of God we also should see to our own spiritual health and rigour.

2. They are practical in their obedience, not theorists.

3. They are attentive while at work, ready to learn more, and holding fellowship with God, who speaks personally to them.

4. They do all in the spirit of joyful praise, blessing the Lord.

Ver. 20-21.

1. The centre of praise: "Bless the Lord." All praise centres in him.

2. The concert of praise. (a) Angels. (b) The hosts of the redeemed. (c) Ministers in particular. (d) The surrounding creation.

3. The climax of praise: "Bless the Lord, O my soul." This has the highest claim upon me for gratitude and praise. Vast as the chorus may be, it will not be perfect without my note of praise. This is the culminating note: "Bless the Lord, O my soul." G.R.

Psalms 103:21*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 21. Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; to whatever race of creatures ye may belong, for ye are all his troops, and he is the Generallissimo of all your armies. The fowl of the air and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea, should all unite in praising their Creator, after the best of their ability.

Ye ministers of his that do his pleasure; in whatever way ye serve him, bless him as ye serve. The Psalmist would have every servant in the Lord's palace unite with him, and all at once sing out the praises of the Lord. We have attached a new sense to the word "ministers" in these latter days, and so narrowed it down to those who serve in word and doctrine. Yet no true minister would wish to alter it, for we are above all men bound to be the Lord's servants, and we would, beyond all other ministering intelligences or forces, desire to bless the glorious Lord.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 21. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts... that do his pleasure. The sun, moon, stars, and planets do "his pleasure" (Psalms 19:1) unconsciously; the "angels" consciously and with instinctive love, "hearken unto the voice of his word" (Psalms 103:20). Both together constitute the Lord's hosts. A. R. Fausset.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 21. Who are God's ministers? What is their business? To do his pleasure. What is their delight? To bless the Lord.

Ver. 21-22. Henry Melvill has a notable sermon upon "The Peril of the Spiritual Guide." The drift of it may be gathered from the extract which wc have placed as a note upon the passage.

Psalms 103:22*

EXPOSITION.

Ver. 22. Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion. Here is a trinity of blessing for the thrice blessed God, and each one of the three blessings is an enlargement upon that which went before. This is the most comprehensive of all, for what can be a wider call than to all in all places? See how finite man can awaken unbounded praise! Man is but little, yet, placing his hands upon the keys of the great organ of the universe, he wakes it to thunders of adoration! Redeemed man is the voice of nature, the priest in the temple of creation, the precentor in the worship of the universe. O that all the Lord's works on earth were delivered from the vanity to which they were made subject, and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God: the time is hastening on and will most surely come; then will all the Lord's works bless him indeed. The immutable promise is ripening, the sure mercy is on its way. Hasten, ye winged hours!

Bless the Lord, O my soul. He closes on his key-note. He cannot be content to call on others without taking his own part; nor because others sing more loudly and perfectly, will he be content to be set aside. O my soul, come home to thyself and to thy God, and let the little world within thee keep time and tune to the spheres which are ringing out Jehovah's praise. O infinitely blessed Lord, favour us with this highest blessing of being for ever and ever wholly engrossed in blessing Thee.

EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS.

Ver. 22. Bless the LORD, O my soul. That is to say, "Let thy vocation be that of the seraphim, O my soul, and enter on the life of heaven!" Why should I praise him? Can my praise be of any advantage to him? No; nor that of all the heavenly hosts. It is infinite condescension in him to bearken unto the praises of his most exalted creatures.

Let me bless the Lord, because no function will be more rich in blessings to my soul than this. The admiring contemplation of his excellence is in reality the appropriation thereof: the heart cannot delight in God, without becoming like God. Let me do it, because it is the peculiar privilege of man on this earth to bless the Lord. When he would find any to join him in this, he has to ascend the skies. Let me do it, because the earth is fully furnished with the materials of praise. The sands, the seas, the flowers, the insects; animals, birds, fields, mountains, rivers, trees, clouds, sun, moon, stars, —all wait for me to translate their attribues and distinctions into praise. But, above all, the new creation.

Let me do it, because of him, through him, and to him, are all the things that pertain to my existence, health, comfort, knowledge, dignity, safety, progress, power, and usefulness. A thousand of his ministers in earth, sea, and sky, are concerned in the production and preparation of every mouthful that I eat. The breath that I am commanded and enabled to modulate in praise, neither comes nor goes without a most surprising exhibition of the condescension, kindness, wisdom, power, and presence of him whom I am to praise. Is it not dastardly to be receiving benefits, without even mentioning the name, or describing the goodness of the giver? Let candidates for heaven bless the Lord. There is no place there for such as have not learned this art. How shall I praise him? Not with fine words. No poetic talent is here necessary: Any language that expresses heart-felt admiration will be accepted. Praise him so far as you know him; and he will make known to you more of his glory. George Bowen, 1873.

Ver. 22. The last specification is completely comprehensive; all his works in all places of his wide dominions —all that he has made, whether intelligent or not intelligent; "in all places" —above, beneath, around: in heaven, earth, or hell: let them all fall into this universal chorus of praise and blessing, extolling Jehovah, the One supremely great, supremely good! Nor will he exempt himself; for his personal responsibilities as to his own heart, are his highest. Therefore he closes as he began, "Bless the LORD, O my soul." Henry Cowles.

Ver. 22. Bless the LORD, O my soul. Inasmuch as the poet thus comes back to his own soul, his Psalm also turns back into itself and assumes the form of a converging circle. Franz Delitzsch.

Ver. 22. Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul. We are very much struck by this sudden transition from "all God's works, in all places of his dominion, "to himself, a solitary individual. Of course he had already included himself; himself had been summoned when he summoned all God's works in all places of his dominion; but it seems as if a sudden fear had seized the Psalmist, the fear of by any possibility omitting himself; or, if not a fear, yet a consciousness that his very activity in summoning others to praise, might make him forgetful that he was bound to praise God himself, or sluggish in the duty, or ready to take for granted that he could not himself be neglecting what he was so strenuous in pressing on all orders of being. We have a great subject of discourse here. Solomon has said, "They made me keeper of the vineyards, but mine own vineyard have I not kept." Alas! how possible, how easy, to take pains for others, and to be neglectful of one's self: nay, to make the pains we take for others the reason by which we persuade ourselves that we cannot be neglecting ourselves. How important, then, that, if with the Psalmist we call on all God's works in all places of his dominions to bless the Lord; how important, I say, that we add, like persons bent on self-examination, and fearful of self-deceit, "Bless the LORD, O my soul." Henry Melvill.

Ver. 1-2, 22. Bless the Lord, O my soul... Bless the Lord, O my soul, with the Bless the Lord all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul, Psalms 103:22; these two form the thrice-repeated blessing from the Lord to the soul in the Mosaic formula, Numbers 6:24-26. A. R. Fausset.

HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER.

Ver. 22.

1. The Chorus.

2. The Echo. W.D.

WORKS UPON THE HUNDRED AND THIRD PSALM.

Meditations and Disquisitions, upon Seven Consolatarie Psalmes of David... by Sir RICHARD BAKER, Knight, 1640. pg 143-172.

Gratitude: an Exposition of the Hundred and Third Psalm. By the Rev. JOHN STEVENSON, Vicar of Patrixbourne-with-Bridge, Canterbury.

1856.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charles H. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "C.H. Spurgeons's The Treasury of David". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tod/psalms-103.html. 1865-1885

The Pulpit Commentaries

EXPOSITION

A PSALM of joy and thanksgiving for God's manifold mercies, especially for his loving kindness in forgiving sin and transgression (Psalms 103:3, Psalms 103:8-12, Psalms 103:17) passing into adoration of him upon his heavenly throne (Psalms 103:19), and a call on all creation to praise him (Psalms 103:20-22). The "title" assigns the psalm to David, and this view of its authorship is taken by Hengstenberg and Professor Alexander. But other critics see in "certain Aramaic terminations" indications of a later date. Whoever the author, we must regard the composition as less "the outbreathing of gratitude from one individual spirit" than "intended to be used as a national thanksgiving" (Kay).

The psalm divides itself into four portions:

the first (Psalms 103:1-5) an outburst of praise for blessings granted by God to each man severally;

the second (Psalms 103:6-14) an enumeration of his loving kindnesses towards his Church as a whole;

the third (Psalms 103:15-18) a representation of man's weakness and dependence on God; and

the fourth (Psalms 103:19-22) a glance at God's unchanging glory, and a call upon all his creation to bless and worship him.

Psalms 103:1

Bless the Lord, O my soul. Repeated in Psalms 103:2; also at the end of the psalm; and again in Psalms 104:1, Psalms 104:35. To "bless" is more than to praise; it is to praise with affection and gratitude. The psalmist calls upon his own soul, and so on each individual soul, to begin the song of praise, which is to terminate in a general chorus of blessing from all creation (Psalms 104:20-22). And all that is within me. "All my whole nature—intellect, emotion, feeling, sentiment—brain, heart, lungs, tongue," etc. Bless his holy Name; i.e. his manifested Personality, which is almost the same thing as himself.

Psalms 103:2

Bless the Lord, O my soul. Repetition, in Holy Scripture, is almost always for the sake of emphasis. It is not "vain repetition." Our Lord often uses it: "Verily, verily, I say unto you;" "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? …. Feed my sheep … Feed my sheep." And forget not all his benefits (comp. Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 8:11, Deuteronomy 8:14, etc.). Man is so apt to "forget," that he requires continual exhortation not to do so.

Psalms 103:3

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities. This is the first and greatest of "benefits," and is therefore placed first, as that for which we ought, above all else, to bless God. God's forgiveness of sin is a frequent topic with the psalmists (see Psalms 25:11, Psalms 25:18; Psalms 32:1; Psalms 51:9; Psalms 85:2; Psalms 86:5, etc.). Who healeth all thy diseases. This is best understood literally—not as mere "parallelism." Among the greatest blessings which we receive of God is recovery from sickness.

Psalms 103:4

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction. When sickness seems about to be mortal, or when danger threatens from foes, God often steps in and "redeems" men—i.e, saves them, rescues them (see Psalms 56:13; Psalms 116:8; Isaiah 38:16, Isaiah 38:20). Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies (comp. Psalms 8:5; Psalms 18:50; Psalms 23:6, etc.).

Psalms 103:5

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things. So Dean Johnson and our Revisers. But the rendering of עדי by "mouth" is very doubtful. The original meaning of the word seems to have been "gay ornament," whence it passed to "gaiety," "desire of enjoyment," "desire" generally ( τὴν ἐπιθυμίαν σου, LXX.). Dr. Kay translates, "thy gay heart;" Professor Cheyne, "thy desire." God satisfies the reasonable desires of his servants, giving them "all things richly to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6:17), and "satisfying the desire of every living thing" (Psalms 145:16). So that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's; rather, like an eagle (comp. Isaiah 40:31). The meaning is, not "thy youth is renewed as an eagle's youth is," for an eagle's youth is not renewed; but "thy youth is renewed, and is become in its strength like an eagle."

Psalms 103:6

The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment; literally, righteousnesses and judgments; i.e. "acts of righteousness and acts of judgment." For all that are oppressed. The care of God for the "oppressed" is a marked feature of Holy Scripture (see Exodus 2:23-25; Exodus 3:9; 2:18; 6:9; Job 35:9-14; Psalms 9:9; Psalms 10:18; Psalms 79:1-13 :21; Psalms 146:7; Isaiah 1:17, etc.).

Psalms 103:7

He made known his ways unto Moses. God's ways are "past finding out" by man (Romans 11:33); they must be "made known" to him. God made them known to Moses by the revelations which he gave him, especially those of Sinai. His acts unto the children of Israel. The rest of the Israelites were taught mainly by God's "acts"—not that his words were concealed from them, but because

"Segnius irritant animum demissa per aures,

Quam quae sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus."

Psalms 103:8

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. This was a part of the revelation made to Moses (Exodus 34:6), whose words the psalmist closely echoes, both here and in Psalms 86:15 (comp. also Psalms 111:4; Psalms 112:4; Psalms 145:8).

Psalms 103:9

He will not always chide; or, contend (see Isaiah 57:16; and comp. Jeremiah 3:5, Jeremiah 3:12). God will relent from his anger and forgive men, after a while. He will not be "extreme to mark what is done amiss." Neither will he keep his anger forever. He is not implacable. He will accept repentance and amendment (Ezekiel 18:27) He will accept atonement (1 John 2:2).

Psalms 103:10

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us (rather, requited us) according to our iniquities. God never punishes men so much as they deserve to be punished; "in his wrath he" always "thinketh upon mercy."

Psalms 103:11

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him (comp. Psalms 36:5, "Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens, and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds"). The metaphor is bold, yet inadequate; for God's mercy is infinite.

Psalms 103:12

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. God's mercy is the cause, the removal of sin the result. The two are commensurate, and are "described by the largest measures which the earth can afford."

Psalms 103:13

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him (comp. Deuteronomy 32:6; Job 10:8; Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:8, etc.). (For the nature of the "fear" spoken of, both here and in Psalms 103:11, see the description in Psalms 103:17, Psalms 103:18.) It must be a fear that produces obedience, or, in New Testament phrase, that is a "godly fear" (Hebrews 12:28).

Psalms 103:14

For he knoweth our frame; or, our formation (Kay)—the manner in which we were formed (see Genesis 2:7). He remembereth that we are dust (comp. Genesis 2:7; Genesis 3:19; Genesis 19:27; Job 34:15, etc.).

Psalms 103:15

As for man, his days are as grass. Here is a new departure. From the loving kindness and mercy of God the psalmist passes to the weakness and helplessness of man. Man is like grass (Psalms 37:2; Psalms 90:5, Psalms 90:6; Psalms 102:11; Isaiah 40:6-8, etc.). His days fleet and fade. He never "continueth in one stay." As a flower of the field (comp. Job 14:2; Isaiah 28:1; Isaiah 40:6; James 1:10; 1 Peter 1:24, etc.). He flourisheth; i.e. he cometh up in full vigour, glorious to look upon, rejoicing in his youth and strength, but within a little time he fadeth, falleth away, or is "cut down, dried up, and withered." There is no strength or stability in him.

Psalms 103:16

For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; literally, it is not. The burning sirocco, the wind of the desert, variously named in various places, blows upon the flower, and almost immediately scorches it up. So man, when he flourishes most, is for the most part brought low by the wind of suffering, trouble, sickness, calamity, and sinks out of sight. And the place thereof shall know it no more; rather, knows it no more. Seeing it not, forgets it, as if it had never been. So with the greatest men—they pass away and are forgotten (comp. Job 7:10).

Psalms 103:17

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him (comp. Psalms 103:11, Psalms 103:13). Through this "everlasting mercy" of God, man, though so feeble and fragile, does not wholly pass away, but continues to be the recipient of God's bounty. And his righteousness unto children's children. God's "righteousness" is his everlasting justice, by which he gives to men according to their deserts.

Psalms 103:18

To such as keep his covenant; i.e. "to the faithful"—to those who, notwithstanding many lapses and many shortcomings, are yet sincere in heart, and seek to do his will. Such persons remember his commandments to do them.

Psalms 103:19

The Lord hath prepared (or, established) his throne in the heavens. In conclusion, the incomparable majesty of God is set before us, in contrast with the feebleness of man, and he is put forward as the one and only fit Object of worship, alike to the spiritual (Psalms 103:20, Psalms 103:21) and the material creation (Psalms 103:22), as well as to the psalmist himself (Psalms 103:22). Seated on his everlasting throne, he challenges the adoration of the whole universe. And his kingdom ruleth over all (comp. Psalms 47:2; Daniel 4:34, Daniel 4:35).

Psalms 103:20

Bless the Lord, ye his angels (comp. Psalms 148:2). That excel in strength. The angels that "excel in strength"—literally, are mighty in strength—may best be understood as those called in the New Testament "archangels" (1 Thessalonians 4:16; Jud 1 Thessalonians 1:9), the highest of the glorious beings that stand around the throne of God (Revelation 8:2, Revelation 8:6; Revelation 10:1) and execute his behests. These are they that, in an especial sense, do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

Psalms 103:21

Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts. Here the inferior angels seem to be meant—that "multitude of the host of heaven" which appeared to the shepherds on Christ's natal day (Luke 2:13), and which is elsewhere often referred to in Holy Scripture. Ye ministers of his (comp. Psalms 104:4) that do his pleasure. The inferior, no less than the superior, ranks of angels continually carry out the will of God, being "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation" (Hebrews 1:14).

Psalms 103:22

Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion (comp. Psalms 19:1-4; Psalms 145:10; Psalms 148:7-13). The "works of God"—i.e. his material universe—cannot, of course, he said to "bless" God in the same sense that men and angels do; but, in a language of their own, they set forth his glory, and to the poetic mind seem truly to sing his praise. The "Song of the Three Children" is a natural outburst from devout hearts. Bless the Lord, O my soul (comp. Psalms 103:1, and the comment ad loc.).

HOMILETICS

Psalms 103:1-5

God's goodness to ourselves.

The psalmist begins by addressing himself; he has before him his own personal experience during a long (or lengthening) life; and he finds ample reason for full, heartfelt gratitude. Of the "benefits" he has received, he gives—

I. A RECITAL OF THEM. They include:

1. The Divine mercy when he has sinned (Psalms 103:3). These sins have been

2. Divine restoration. (Psalms 103:3, latter part, and 4.) And this is inclusive of

3. All the loving kindnesses which make life beautiful and glad (Psalms 103:4). The excellency of human love, the comforts of home life, the sacred joy of worship.

4. The continuance of Divine protection and replenishment to later life (Psalms 103:5). God had satisfied his prime (marginal reading, Revised Version) with good things—had so visited and renewed him in his manhood, that now, instead of a growing feebleness, he felt the vigour and hopefulness of youth; perhaps he was far enough on the way to be said to be "still bringing forth fruit in old age." He calls on himself to cherish—

II. A REMEMBRANCE OF THEM. "Forget not," etc. (Psalms 103:2). Antecedently that seems impossible; certainly in the case of any one claiming to be devout. Yet it is quite possible for us to be

III. FULL-VOICED AND FULL-HEARTED UTTERANCE OF PRAISE. (Psalms 103:1, Psalms 103:2.) God's praise is not to be rendered by an occasional and formal "returning of thanks" either at the table or in the church. It is to be a daily offering, and one that comes from the heart as well as from the lips. "All that is within us," the whole range of our faculties, is to combine to speak and to sing his praise. Gratitude to God for his abiding and abounding goodness to us, both as citizens of this world and as his children, should be a very leading and powerful factor in our soul, making our character beautiful with spiritual worth, and our life resonant with holy song.

Psalms 103:6-18

The confidence of God's children.

These strong, sustaining words call us to consider—

I. TO WHOM THE DIVINE ASSURANCES ARE GIVEN. It is clear that they are given to the servants of God. The thought runs through the whole passage (see Psalms 103:11, Psalms 103:13, Psalms 103:18). Where this is not explicitly stated, it is to be understood (see particularly Psalms 103:12). Those may not claim the fulfilment of promises to whom they were not made. First enter the service of Christ, and then look up for all the blessings assured to those who believe in him.

II. THESE DIVINE ASSURANCES THEMSELVES.

1. The overthrow of evil, and the consequent deliverance of the good (Psalms 103:6). God "executes righteousness and judgment" in two ways—sometimes by a Divine intervention, when he overturns the designs of the wicked, and at the same time redeems his people (e.g. the Jews from Pharaoh and from Haman and from Sanballat); more often by the constant outworking of those righteous laws which are always acting on behalf of rectitude against iniquity (see Psalms 34:15, Psalms 34:16).

2. Divine patience. (Psalms 103:2.) God is "slow to anger." It was said of a noble modern ruler that, under great provocation, he was "slow to smite, and swift to spare." Of how many might the opposite be said? Our God is "slow to anger." His displeasure is awakened, his condemnation uttered, only when it would be unrighteousness to remain unmoved and silent.

3. Divine mercy. (Psalms 103:10-12.) Instead of inflicting pain, poverty, misery, death—the wages of sin—God has

4. Divine pity. (Psalms 103:13.) Nothing can exceed the pity of the parent for his or her child when in pain or trouble. Then the very tenderest and strongest as well as the purest emotions of the human heart are stirred. "As one whom his mother comforteth"—with such perfect sympathy, such exquisite tenderness—does God comfort us (Isaiah 66:13). God's pity for his children is felt

5. Divine considerateness. (Psalms 103:14.) Christian service is imperfect; our character is blemished, and our work is faulty; but it is sincere; it is rooted in faith; it is animated by love; it is purified by prayer. And he who accepted the service of his apostles in the garden, "knowing their frame" and the weakness of the flesh (Matthew 26:41); he who has owned and blessed the spiritual endeavour and the earnest labours of his people in every age and in every Church since then;—will accept our service and crown our labours now, though in the one and in the other we fall far short even of our own ideal. Well, indeed, would it be if we made as generous allowance for one another as our Master makes for us all.

6. Divine continuance. (Psalms 103:15-17.) With the brevity of all human things we contrast the continuance of the Divine. We ourselves pass away and are forgotten, but God's mercy and his righteousness remain forever. We can always count on them. Men may be very true and very kind, but they pass to where they cannot reach and help us. Let us commit ourselves to the goodness and the faithfulness of God, for on that we may build with absolute security. This is the true confidence of the children of God. But we are reminded in one verse (7) of—

III. THE ONLY HOPE OF THE DISLOYAL. God revealed himself, "his ways, and his acts," to Moses, but grace and truth have come by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). In the gospel God has revealed himself as the Divine Father, who waits to receive his wayward but penitent children. Those that are obdurate and impenitent may not plead his promises, may not appropriate to themselves the sustaining assurance which apply to other persons. But they may—they must—return in humility and in faith to the Father whom they have forsaken; and, once at home with him, they may rest in his loving favour and rejoice in his upholding Word.

Psalms 103:19-22

The range of God's rule and claim.

We have here -

I. THE WIDE RANGE OF GOD'S RULE. (Psalms 103:19.) If his throne were "prepared" anywhere on earth, while within sight of a few, it would be out of sight of and, in that sense, far away from many cities and provinces; but being "prepared in the heavens," it is (in thought and feeling) in view of all, and is thus near to all, and "his kingdom ruleth over all." "The Lord looketh from heaven, he beholdeth all the sons of men; from the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth" (Psalms 33:13, Psalms 33:14). To our imagination, and therefore practically to ourselves, the heavens are much nearer to us, much more "central," than any Jerusalem could be. Every kingdom, every city, every human home, is in the regard, under the control, subject to the rightful sway, of the Divine Sovereign.

II. THE FULNESS OF THE DIVINE CLAIM. God's claim:

1. Ascends to the highest intelligences; the "angels that excel in strength" owe to him their homage; they do, indeed, hearken and obey.

2. Descends to inanimate nature. All his works praise him; unconsciously they "declare his glory."

"There's not a plant nor flower below

But makes his glory known."

3. Includes all that come between. Whatever or whoever are intended by the "hosts" and "ministers" of Psalms 103:21, it is certain that the psalmist included the children of men. It may, indeed, be said that it is impossible to conceive of any of God's creatures or children who owe him so much as we do. For our creation, our endowment, our temporal mercies, our redemption at an infinite cost, and for all the Divine love, patience, considerateness (see above), we have been receiving from him, we owe him "perpetual songs of praise."

III. THE THOROUGHNESS OF OUR SERVICE.

1. Our praise is to be the devout expression of our deep feeling; much more than a reverent attitude or an appropriate deliverance: "all that is within us" (Psalms 103:1) is to come forth in grateful utterance; our song is to express our soul; it is to be the natural, unbidden voice of our homage, our attention, our love, our submission, our consecration.

2. We may he concerned about the piety of our neighbour; but the first thing to do is to address ourselves: "Bless the Lord, O my soul!"

HOMILIES BY S. CONWAY

Psalms 103:1-5

A pattern of praise.

This psalm is all praise; there is no supplication in it. It has helped myriads to praise God, and the secret of such help is that the psalmist was himself filled with the spirit of praise, and it is the blessed contagion of that spirit that helps us today as in the days of old. And it is a pattern of all true praise. It is so in these ways.

I. IN ITS OBJECT.

1. It is praise of the Lord. All is addressed to him, and is for him.

2. And in his holiness. "Bless his holy Name." What a happy fact this reveals as to the psalmist and all who sincerely adopt his words! We can bless God for his beneficence and mercy and goodness, but only a holy soul can bless him for his holiness. Such soul delights not merely in the kind acts of God, but in the pure and perfect character of God.

II. ITS METHODS. It shows us how we should praise the Lord.

1. Personally. "Bless the Lord, O my soul!" It is not a work to be handed over to any choir or any people whatsoever. It is to be our own personal work.

2. Spiritual. It is to be the soul's work. Poetic speech, eloquent phrase, beautiful music, skilled song,—all count for nothing if the soul be not in the work.

3. Whole hearted. "All that is within me." Intellect, memory, imagination, affection, will, all the energies of our spiritual nature, should be engaged.

4. With set purpose. See how he calls on himself, stirs himself up to this holy work, repeats his exhortation and protests against that one chief cause—forgetfulness—of our failure to render praise. "Forget not any of his benefits." This is how we should praise the Lord.

III. ITS REASON. He tells wherefore we should bless the Lord.

1. For forgiveness. This our first necessity; all else avails not without that.

2. For the healing of the soul. It would be but a poor salvation if soul healing did not follow forgiveness, for without the latter we should soon be back to our sins again (2 Peter 2:22). Therefore we need this healing of the soul. And it is promised (see Ezekiel 36:25).

3. For penalty in this life averted. He "redeemeth thy life from destruction." God does not redeem our life from all the consequences of our sin (Psalms 99:8), but from the worst he does. The forgiven man may have to suffer much in consequence of his past sins, but it is as nothing compared with what he would have had to suffer had he not been forgiven. The comfort of God's Spirit, power to witness for Christ, victory over sin, hope bright hope of life eternal,—all these are his; his life is redeemed from destruction.

4. For, next, God crowneth with loving kindness. See all this illustrated in the story of the prodigal son—forgiven, healed, redeemed, crowned, the ring, the robe, the shoes, the feast, were for him; and what answers to them yet is the crowning told of here.

5. For satisfaction with good. This also awaits us: would we but trust God more, we should know it for ourselves. They who walk with God, abide in Christ, know what it is. Let us not rest until we know it for ourselves.

6. For youth of soul renewed. (See homily on this subject.) The outward man may, will, decay, but the inward man shall be renewed day by day.

IV. ITS RESULTS. What a history it would be if we could only trace out what this psalm has done for God's saints in all ages! What spiritual victories it has won! what strength it has imparted! what holy joy! Christian, sing this psalm more heartily, so that many poor lost ones, hearing its sweet evangel, may turn and with you bless the Lord.—S.C.

Psalms 103:5

Renewed youth.

How can that be? We must grow old. Every day brings us nearer to old age, and there is no escaping it except by premature departure. We pass on by stages which succeed each other in regular and well marked order from infancy to the last scene of all, the second childhood, which finds us "sans teeth, eyes, taste—everything." With all of us age creeps on apace, but almost unnoticed. Now, our ideal of age shifts. Children think all grown up people old, and some very old. But when men come to the verge of three score years and ten, they will often flatter themselves that even yet they are not old. But there are certain unmistakable signs which no observant man can fail to notice, and which remind him that the day of life is on the wane. Physical fatigue; less of elasticity and power; he gives in sooner than he did when strain is put on his strength. The way the young treat us. In Thackeray's beautiful story, 'The Newcomes,' he pictures the colonel sitting in his cheerless room, and hearing his boy and his friends singing and making merry overhead. He longed to join them and share in it; but the party would be hushed if he went in, and he would come away sad at heart to think that his presence should be the signal for silence among them, and that his son could not be merry in his company. "We go into the company of young men like Chris Newcome and his friends; they cease their laughter and subdue their talk to the gravity which is supposed to be fit for the ears of the seniors. Then we know, too plainly to be mistaken, what has befallen us; we are growing older; the stamp of middle age is upon us." But if the juniors do not bring home the fact to us, the conduct of the seniors does. Old men have confidence in our judgment, grow civil as they see we are approaching to their side, and have arrived at an age when it should be no longer true that "knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers." They think they can trust no man, and they consult us as they never would have done had not the dew of our youth long ago disappeared. Yes; we must grow old. And why should we regret it? It is an honour and reward which are given of God. "Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, as a shock of corn," etc. The Bible never speaks of "the dreary gift of years;" and if, in melancholy mood, Moses asserts that which, thank God, is so often untrue, that in the years of old age "their strength is but labour and sorrow," the general tone of the Bible tells that days "long in the land" are God's own reward to his people. But whether we be content or no at the inevitable advance of age, there is the fact, and hence the question comes again—How can a renewed youth be? "Can a man enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?" Now—

I. THE TEXT DECLARES THE FACT OF RENEWED YOUTH. And this in no mere poetic sense, but literally and truly. It says, "like the eagle," which year by year renews its plumage, and so seems to renew its vigour and activity along with its new garment.

1. But the renewal of our youth is not physical. Though the bodily life be sustained and nourished by appropriate food and rest, yet, in spite of this, the physical energies succumb to the decay of nature. The outward man not only does, but must, perish. The reservoir gets lower, the constant drain is but inadequately repaired, and by and by our life has all run out. No elixir vitae can prevent this. It is inevitable.

2. But the renewal told of in the text is spiritual. As in Job 33:23-26, where not physical, but spiritual, rejuvenescence is the theme. "They go from strength to strength;" "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;" "Whoso liveth and believeth on me," said our Lord," shall never die." Of Moses it is said that his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. What an illustration have we in the life of St. Paul of this ever-renewed youth!

3. The characteristics of youth belong to such. Capacity for progress, growth, development. It is never too late for them. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." Hopefulness. The path of their life is lit up by the sunshine of the love of God, and it grows brighter and brighter. Enjoyment. The keen relish for all that is delightful is one of the blessed appanages of youth, and that which is like to it is part of the blessedness of that rejuvenescence of which we are speaking. Fulness of joy in his presence is theirs. Innocence, also. "The wicked one toucheth them not." Strength and vigour. They are as athletes in the contests which they have to wage: in the spiritual conflicts they fight, "not uncertainly, as one that beateth the air," but theirs is "the good fight," not only for the object for which it is waged, but for its manner and issue also. Such is this renewed youth.

II. EXPLAINS ITS SECRET. "He satisfieth thy mouth with good things." Christ is the Bread of their life, and they live by him. His are the "good things" by which they are sustained. This is the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which accounts for their renewed youth. They eat the flesh of Christ, and drink his blood; he is their living Bread. They follow his footsteps, they drink into his Spirit; the mind which was in Christ is formed in them, and they grow up into him in all things.

III. ENCOURAGES US TO MAKE IT OUR OWN. Is youth yet ours? Then by yielding our young hearts to the Lord Jesus Christ, let us receive from him that eternal life, that life of the Spirit, whose youth is ever renewed. But if youth has passed away for us, let us in like manner renew it, and gain again all those blessed characteristics, only in far higher degree and manner, which are God's gift to them that are young.—S.C.

Psalms 103:9

He will not always chide.

This psalm is full of the recital of things to be thankful for, and of expectation that we be thankful. Amongst these things, this fact declared in our text is one. And—

I. WE SHOULD BE THANKFUL THAT IT IS ONLY CHIDING, not something worse. God is speaking to his own children, not to the world of the ungodly. These latter he is angry with every day, and sternly punishes, and if they repent not he will destroy them. But though God chide his children, there is not the severity, nor the lack of alleviation, nor the endlessness and hopelessness, which characterize his dealings with hardened and ungodly men.

II. THAT THERE IS SUCH CHIDING. "For what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" (Hebrews 12:7). If God did not make sin full of smart and pain, we should be sure to go back to it again. But when the world sees that there is no partiality with God, that his own children have to suffer even as, and often far more than, others when they do wrong, this tends to beget a holy fear. Yes; blessed be God for our chiding!

III. THAT EVEN THIS WILL HAVE AN END. When we repent of our sin, when God's purpose is fulfilled, when we enter heaven. "Therefore humble yourselves," etc.—S.C.

Psalms 103:13-18

Wherefore another gospel when we have this?

It should seem as if no gospel could be more full, precious, clear, and heart uplifting than this. It is paralleled but not surpassed by St. John's word, "God is love." Why, then, was it needful for Christ to come in order to reveal to us another gospel? Have we not everything here, in this utterance of the Old Testament, and in those others in the same Old Testament, which are like unto it? What more, then, could be needed? We reply—

I. THE MISSION OF CHRIST WAS NEEDED IN ORDER TO REVIVE AND QUICKEN THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH OF THE LOVE OF GOD. It had been, when our Lord came, so limited, petrified, and practically lost, that it was almost as if it had not been. Pharisaism and Sadduceeism had so overlaid or lessened it, that only a few elect souls knew of it or believed it. God's Fatherhood was not much more in our Lord's day than a dead letter.

II. TO MAKE IT REAL TO MEN. True, our text stood there in the psalm, but the life of the Lord here on earth could alone make it stand out as a real, living truth. Then there was held up—placarded, as St. Paul says (Galatians 3:1)—before the eyes of all men, what the pity and love of God could do and endure for the sake of sinful men. And so, as our Lord said, "I, if I be lifted up, will draw all," etc.

III. TO ENSURE ITS BEING SPREAD ABROAD. The Jews, we well know, would never have allowed this. Their inveterate exclusiveness and scorn of all other nations would have kept it to themselves alone. It was necessary that Christ should come and command his disciples to "go into all the world, and preach," etc.

IV. TO REVEAL ITS ENLARGED SCOPE AND AIM. Life and immortality were brought to light by the gospel. Death, till Christ came, kept its sting, and the grave its victory, but he took both away. Such were some of the reasons wherefore God became man, and lived and suffered and died in the Person of Christ. Doubtless there are others, but amongst them all that horrible one, so sadly dear to theologians of a bygone age, is not to be found—that it was to turn the heart of God from anger to love, for God was and eternally is Love—S.C.

Psalms 103:13

The pity of God.

I. THE FULL, CLEAR DECLARATION OF THIS IS FOUND ONLY IN THE BALE.

1. It is not in ancient mythology. The gods of the heathen were strong and much else, but not pitiful.

2. Nor in Nature. How heartless, how cruel, how utterly unsympathizing, she is! The dearly loved, the precious, the innocent, suffer, die in thousands, and Nature has not a solitary tear for them.

3. Nor in society. Law, the bond of society, cannot pity, it can only enforce its commands.

II. NEVERTHELESS, SUGGESTIONS OF IT ARE TO BE FOUND. The lower animals seem to have no affection for their offspring; but:

1. Such suggestions are traceable amongst the higher orders of animal life. See the affection of the mother bird or beast. See the affection of the dog for his master. And of the horse. A blackbird has been known to care for and feed a young robin that had fallen from its nest.

2. And amongst men. Not much amongst savages; but pity advances as we observe the higher races and the more civilized.

III. BUT FAR MORE IS HUMAN PITY SEEN IN THE HUMAN FAMILY AND HOME.

1. There we get the idea most of all realized. "Like as a father," etc. God has made use of our happy familiarity with parental love and pity to teach us what he himself is.

2. And there we learn what pity is and will do. It will inflict pain. Every father and mother do, but not, if they be wise, in anger, in revenge, or in passion, or carelessly, but ever out of love, for the sake of the child.

IV. THUS WE LEARN THE PITY OF GOD.

1. It will inflict pain if for our good.

2. But such infliction does not argue that the sufferer is shut out from the love of God. Man's punishments too often are utterly loveless. See how we treat our criminals, both in prison and when they come out. What a contrast to the Lord's way I See how the father of the prodigal forgave, but the elder brother did not. See the parable of the two debtors.

3. It bids us trust it utterly and forever.—S.C.

Psalms 103:19

The kingdom of God.

The psalm does not go about to prove—Scripture never does—the existence of God, nor the fact that he exercises dominion over us; it takes both for granted, and proceeds to speak of the nature and obligations of the Divine rule. That rule is here asserted. Note—

I. ITS CHARACTERISTICS.

1. Its basis and foundation. These are immutably right. His is not the mere right of might, but a far higher thing, the might of right. Not δυνάμις alone, but ἐξουσί.

2. Its extent. This is so vast, that not alone is our eyesight aided with all conceivable telescopic power far outstripped, but even our thought fails to grasp in its comprehension, or even in its imagination, the wide range either of the material or moral universe over which God reigns.

3. Its regulating law. That law is holy, just, and good, and clothed with power to enforce its sacred sanctions. Its moral perfection is seen supremely in the atoning work of our Lord Jesus Christ.

4. Its purpose and aim. These are the highest possible. The glory of God is to be secured, that glory on which the well being of the whole universe depends. Let God be banished from his throne, and straightway chaos comes again. And the highest well being of his creatures. The two are never antagonistic, but joined in inseparable union. Where one is, there is the other.

5. Its duration. Forever and ever. Such are the characteristics of this blessed and glorious kingdom, whose subjects consist only of regenerated souls—souls that can say, "Oh how I love thy Law! it is my meditation all the day."

II. THE EFFECT WHICH OUR FAITH IN THIS DIVINE KINGDOM SHOULD HAVE UPON US.

1. Obedience. To know God's will should be to obey. "Blessed are they that keep his commandments."

2. Praise. What truer gospel can there be that such a rule is that under which we live?

3. Trust. We cannot always understand the ways of God; they are high above our thought; but we can ever trust, and that is ever good.

4. Confident hope. "He must reign till he hath put all enemies," etc. And he will do this. S.C.

Psalms 103:22

The peril of the spiritual guide.

Such is the title which a great preacher has given to a sermon on this text. The subject is suggested by its closing words. The psalmist had been summoning angels and all the works of the Lord to bless the Lord, and, as if he remembered that he might be—

I. CALLING OTHERS TO PRAISE THE LORD, AND YET NEGLECTING IT HIMSELF, he adds,

"Bless the Lord, O my soul!"

1. And this is a real possibility and a terrible peril. Like as a guide to the loveliest scenes of nature may lead a traveller to different points of view, which will show the glorious landscape at its best, and may expatiate on the beauties that are to be seen, yet may himself be not in the slightest degree stirred or moved by what he calls on the traveller to admire. He has come to be so familiar with it all; he has said the same thing so many times, it is part of his professional talk; he has seen all these glorious things so often, that they have lost their power to affect him. At first it was otherwise; he had become a guide to these scenes because he so delighted in them. But that was a long time ago. He had thought that he could not spend his life more happily than in conducting others to these same beautiful places, and showing them their glories. But all that enthusiasm has long passed, and he is now a mere professional guide.

2. And so, the great preacher to whom I have referred points out, it may be with the spiritual guide—the minister of Christ, the teacher of others in holy things. He may have begun with enthusiasm for the blessed truths and the bright prospects to which he was to lead others; he had such joy in them himself, that to show to others these things seemed an employment to which he might, as in fact he did, give his whole life and soul. But alas! he has got so familiar with it all; the work has become such a routine, that all the old zest and glow and enthusiasm are gone, and he too has become a mere professional guide. God help him and all such! This is the peril.

II. THE SAFEGUARD is, by continual meditation, prayer, and obedience to the Lord, to maintain the freshness, the force, and the "first love." And this safeguard is sure.—S.C.

HOMILIES BY R. TUCK

Psalms 103:3

God the Healer of disease.

Though this psalm is one of the most familiar, both its authorship and its particular occasion are quite unknown. Early in the psalm this text comes. It is part of a review of God's personal mercies to the psalmist, but it is doubtful whether the psalmist referred to times of bodily disease and bodily healing, or to the soul diseases which answer to "iniquities." In view of the way in which Eastern poets loved to repeat their thought with slightly altered phraseology, it is quite possible that the text may read, "Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, and healeth all thy soul diseases—those soul conditions of frailty and infirmity, out of which iniquities come." But, however that may be, it is certainly true that God is the Healer of all men's diseases. The work of the physician must always be traced back to the Divine Physician, who alone has proved to be the recuperative force in human vitality. God has healed us again and again through the agency of the doctor and the medicine.

I. WHAT IS SAID ABOUT MEN'S SICKNESSES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT? Abraham and Isaac died of sheer old age. So indeed did Jacob, but there is a fuller reference to his ending. For all that appears in the record, neither the patriarchs nor their families suffered any sicknesses during their lives. Evidently, these experiences of sickness were not then seen in their relation to character, and so there was no need to leave any narratives concerning them. Sickness is reckoned with under the Mosaic system, but in a very peculiar way. It was treated as an outward sign and consequence of sin; both the sick person and those who tended him being treated as "unclean." To limit this rule because, in its working, it occasioned very serious family and social disturbance, one particular form of disease—that most typical form of disease, leprosy—was taken as the representative of all forms, and the law of the "unclean" was strictly enforced in relation to it. Judaism never suggests the idea that character is cultured by the experience of sickness; and so even its priests and Levites offer no example of tending the sick poor. Sickness, in the old economy, served its purpose simply as the outward sign of God's judgment on sin. When Job's friends came to comfort him, they could think of no other view of sickness than this, though Job felt sure that there must be a higher meaning, if only he could reach it. In the historical books the references to sickness—other than great pestilences—are very brief. One king suffered from internal disease, and one had the gout, but there is only one instance in which any details of a sickness are given, and in that case the relation of it to character first clearly appears. Hezekiah, in the middle of his reign, but before any son and heir was born to him, was smitten down with a bad kind of boil or carbuncle, which put his life in peril. He turned to God in his distress, and gained from God recovery. Evidently he prayed the prayer of faith. As evidently the Prophet Isaiah prayed for him the prayer of faith. And yet it is significantly told us that means were used to ensure his recovery, "Now Isaiah had said, Let them take a cake of figs, and lay it for a plaister upon the boil, and he shall recover." The Book of Job is not a discussion of the question—What ought a godly man to do who is smitten with sickness? Its subject is rather this—What moral end can explain the Divine permission of sickness? One king was seriously reproved because, when he was ill, he "sought unto the physicians, and not unto God." But the wrong was not in his seeking the help of the physicians, but in his failing to seek God first, and to let him send him to the physicians: All we can say about this matter, in connection with the Old Testament, is that when moral considerations began to prevail over ceremonial ones, a truer and worthier view of sickness began to gain power. Then sickness was seen to be one of the great moral agencies by means of which God wrought his higher work in characters and in souls.

II. WHAT IS SAID ABOUT SICKNESS IN THE GOSPELS? Our Lord, as a moral and spiritual Teacher, our Lord as a Saviour, found in men's sicknesses, infirmities, and. disabilities his best agencies for reaching their souls with saving influences. To him suffering was the issue and consequence of sin. And so it was to everybody in his day. Sickness illustrated sin. Suffering produced moods of mind in men which laid them open to his higher influence. So he worked very largely for and among sick people, always trying to get their sicknesses sanctified to them, even in the very act of healing or removing them. He revealed fully to the world the moral relations of sickness, the moral possibilities that lie in sickness. Our Lord's dealing with it is unique, not so much because it was supernatural, as because it was moral. He dealt with it only as a means of securing soul healing. Since Christ's time, sickness, disease, and disability have taken rank among God's remedial agencies, God's character culturing agencies, God's sanctifying agencies.

III. WHAT IS SAID ABOUT SICKNESS IS THE EPISTLES? The apostles never claimed to exert any independent powers. They always healed "in the Name of Christ." They conceived of themselves as holding that special ability in trust for particular ends in the propagation of the gospel. They did not heal everybody. They only healed when the healing could make a way for the gospel, draw attention to it, or prove its Divine origin. And the historical fact is that the power of healing passed away with the first generation of disciples. It is found, in later ages, only in separate and highly endowed individuals, to whom has been entrusted a genius for healing. The case of the Apostle Paul is a remarkable one. He had the gift of healing. He did heal the father of Publius. But he was not carried away by the gift he possessed. He held all his gifts under the most careful restraints. His friend and fellow labourer, Epaphroditus, was "sick, nigh unto death," but St. Paul put forth no power to heal him. God had mercy on him, and restored him in the ordinary way. Trophimus was left at Miletum sick, but it did not enter the apostle's mind that he, or the eiders, could have cured him if they had tried. St. Paul himself had some bodily infirmity which he calls a "thorn in the flesh," but he simply prayed about it, as we pray about such things now. The reference made to this matter by the Apostle James has been gravely misunderstood. It must be read in the light of the chief point he deals with in his Epistle, viz. that faith which cannot get expression in action is not acceptable faith, it is mere sentiment. Anointing sick people with oil was no religious ceremony in the days of the apostle. Using oil in the toilet was simply the sign of health. Those who prayed in faith for the healing of the sick should show their faith by acting as if their prayer was answered. Get the sick man up, dress him, anoint him, in the full confidence that God answers prayer. So Jesus said to the man with the withered hand, "Stretch forth thine hand!" If he believed, he would do what Christ told him, and find power come in so doing. In every age God has healed diseases through his own appointed healing agencies; and those we must use in faith.—R.T.

Psalms 103:4

The Divine crown on man.

"Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies." What various answers could be given to the question—What is the true crown of a man's life?" No doubt the term "crown" may be used in a variety of senses. The psalmist seems here to think of the crown as that which bedecks and beautifies; and he makes us think of the crown of flowers on the May queen, rather than of the jewelled crowns on wealthy kings. So the question comes to be—What is the true adornment, or enrichment, the true decoration, of a human life? Then the answer comes—It is what God gives a man beyond his mere necessities, in the rich outpouring of Divine loving kindness and mercy. It may be put in this way—The Divine provisions are crowned with Divine bestowments.

I. DIVINE PROVISIONS. We cannot be surprised that God, as Creator, should supply all the reasonable needs of his creatures; or that God, as Father, should supply all the wants of his children. There is a certain obligation resting on God that arises out of his relationships. There is a fairly good sense in which the creature and the child may be said to have claims on God, to which, if he be God, he must respond. "The eyes of all wait upon thee, and thou givest them their meat in due season." But the limit of the claim to necessities should be clearly shown. And real necessities are very few, and can be easily defined. Try to conceive the change, in life and relations, if God were now to draw back from us everything but our actual necessities. St. Paul could say, "I have all, and abound."

II. DIVINE BESTOWMENTS. Illustrate by the luxuries and delicacies that the housewife provides beyond the necessaries of the table and the house. She enriches, or crowns, her provisions. So with our Father-God. He meets need, but goes beyond need to give us all things "richly to enjoy." All the extra things, all the pleasant things, all the pretty things, of life, are bestowments of the Divine loving kindness and tender mercies. If we may think of God's duty in what he provides, we may think of his personal love to us in what he bestows.

Then show that personal love can never rest satisfied with its objects being merely provided for; it never can rest until they are happy—happy up to the very limit of their power to be happy. What must God the Father's idea of happiness for his earth children be? With that he would crown them.—R.T.

Psalms 103:6

The Lord of the oppressed.

The point set forth prominently is that God is actively engaged in securing the interests of the oppressed. That goes into the word used, "executeth." We might think of justice and judgment as the pillars of God's throne, and yet conceive of him as only announcing his just decisions; leaving to others the work of carrying them out. To put it in a formal way, the legislative rights of God may be recognized, but the executive rights of God may be denied. We may fully hold both truths of fact. God does pronounce his own judgments; God does execute his own sentences. The figure for God is especially effective in Eastern countries, where justice is so often perverted, and the oppressed have no chance if they happen to be poor. Illustrate by our Lord's parable of the unjust judge and the importunate widow. All the oppressed and poor may be absolutely sure that Jehovah will considerately hear their cases, deal with perfect uprightness in relation to their trouble, and carry out his decisions, whatever they may involve.

I. THE LORD OF THE OPPRESSED HEEDS THE OPPRESSED. The poor often find it nearly impossible to get their cases brought before the magistrates, judges, or kings of earth. It is the righteousness of God that he is right towards every one; all may seek, and none ever seeks in vain. There is absolute freedom given to every man and woman under the sun to tell out the trouble to the Lord. And we may have absolute faith that no tale of human need was ever poured out before God, and disregarded by him. It is a beginning of hope, that the Lord surely heeds us.

II. THE LORD OF THE OPPRESSED ACTS FOR THE OPPRESSED. God's decisions never merely lie on a statute book, like many acts of earthly courts and parliaments. If God decides a thing, it has to be carried out; nay, he himself presides over the carrying it out. We are to have confidence in the Divine energy and activity. "Commit thy way unto the Lord, and he will bring it to pass." How, when, where, he will execute his judgments, we may not anticipate; it is enough for an oppressed soul to know that God is acting for him. "He will bring forth our righteousness as the light, and our judgment as the noon day."

III. THE LORD OF THE OPPRESSED ACTS UPON THE OPPRESSORS. It is not merely that the oppressed are delivered or defended; it is that those who have injured them feel the weight of Divine indignation. Judgment is in one sense for the oppressed, and in another sense for the oppressors.—R.T.

Psalms 103:9

Chiding, but not keeping on chiding.

"He will not always chide." A prophet prays, "O Lord, correct me, but in measure." The supreme danger of all who are in positions of authority over others—parents, teachers, masters—is that they may chastise beyond the requirements of the particular case; they may continue the chiding under the impulse of feeling, when judgment requires its strict limitation. They who chide when in a passion always over chide; they try to satisfy their feeling—and it is unrestrained feeling—rather than the actual demands of the case. Now, the psalmist has the utmost satisfaction in God, because he is quite sure that God never over chides. There never yet was one unnecessary stroke given by the Lord's rod. That complaint no man ever yet fairly made.

I. GOD NEED NOT OVER CHIDE. Either by making the chiding over severe or by keeping it on too long. He need not:

1. Because he is never carried away by feeling. God is the infinitely self-restrained One; and so he is always himself, and perfectly competent to deal with every case.

2. Because he has the infinite power to estimate influences and results. This is often the explanation of man's over chiding. He cannot follow influences, and so see quickly when his object is attained. And it may he added that God has power to stop chidings. Man has not. He may be compelled to keep on awhile a training work he has begun, because, even if he could stop it, he would do serious mischief by stopping it. The omniscience and omnipotence of God prevent him from ever needing to over chide.

II. GOD DOES NOT OVER CHIDE. For the assurance of this, appeal may be made to the experience of God's people in all ages. Their marvel always has been, and always will be, that God should put such strict limitations on his chidinge, and accomplish such an "exceeding and eternal weight of glory" by such "light afflictions." This complaint no child of God, who was in his right mind, ever made; certainly no child of God ever had a right to make.

That God will surely chide us is our ground of assurance. Our self-willedness will never be left alone, to ruin us. That God will never over chide is our abounding consolation.—R.T.

Psalms 103:10

The measure of the Divine dealings.

The point made by the psalmist is that God's dealings with men are not measured with the same measure as man's dealings with his fellow men. If we think precisely we shall admit that God does deal exactly with us "after our sins;" but it is as our sins are divinely estimated. When man proceeds to recognize and punish sins, he deals with sins, rather than with sinners; and metes out his punishments according to standard, with no consideration for the individual. Man, when he authoritatively punishes, is not supposed to make allowances. Judges administer law irrespective of persons. Clemency, with us, is left to the supreme authority behind the judge; and only comes in after the judge has given his judgment according to standard. Man's law concerns acts, not motives. God's judgments are after another standard. God judges sinners, not merely sins. God unites the clemency of the king with the justice of the magistrate. God makes all reasonable allowances. God considers the force of human frailty. God estimates circumstances and motives. Then God's is the higher standard, but it is one which only the God of infinite wisdom and perfect righteousness can use. This may be worked out along two lines.

I. THE MEASURE OF DIVINE DEALING IS WHAT IS POSSIBLE FOR THE RACE. God never measures humanity by the standard he provides for the angels. He never measures humanity fallen by the standard he provides for humanity intact. He does not measure the race in its savage condition with the standard for the race civilized. He does not make one absolute standard to apply equally to every branch of the race. He is mindful of, and considerate towards, all forms of racial peculiarity and disability. Carefully show the distinction between an absolute standard of morals, and an absolute setting, or application, of that standard. If God deals with a morally fallen and frail race, he lets mercy help justice to fix the standard.

II. THE MEASURE OF DIVINE DEALINGS IS WHAT IS POSSIBLE TO THE INDIVIDUAL. This is fully treated under verse 14. One point only need be mentioned. In every sin committed by the individual the element of heredity has to be taken into account. The sin is not absolutely and entirely the man's own. Yet man can never measure this heredity; so his measures will never suffice for deciding the Divine judgments and dealings.—R.T.

Psalms 103:12

Limitless forgiveness.

What figures will best suggest the entireness of the removal of man's sin, when God, in his infinite goodness and mercy, deals with it and removes it? That question is specially interesting because, when man is forgiven his sin, he finds it so hard to get rid of the memory of it. In a sense it may be said that a man "never forgives himself." There is always, therefore, the danger that a man will transfer his own feeling to God, and persuade himself that, though God may forgive, he never really forgets. The psalmist, speaking after the manner of men, and using terms for God which can only in strictness apply to men, declares that God can, and does, and will, utterly forget; "remember our sins no more." The voluntary Divine forgetfulness is a sublime conception. Jeremiah (Jeremiah 50:20) has this declaration, "In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found." Three figures set before us the limitlessness of God's forgiveness.

I. THE DISTANCE OF EAST FROM WEST. (See text.) "Fly as far as the wing of imagination can bear you, and if you journey through space eastward, you are further from the west at every beat of your wing." The distance from north to south can be measured. There are north and south poles—fixed points. There are no eastern or western poles. From every point alike in the circuit of the world the east extends in one direction, the west in the other. Thus the traveller westward may be said to be ever chasing the west without coming nearer to it.

II. REMOVAL BEHIND THE BACK. (Isaiah 38:17, "For thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.") Two ideas are suggested:

1. "Behind the back" is a strong figure for "out of sight" and "out of mind."

2. "Casting" behind the back implies resolute purpose. It is as if God had thoroughly made up his mind that he would never look upon them again; he had done with them forever.

III. THROWING INTO THE SEA. (Micah 7:19, "Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.") Nothing brings to us the sense of hopeless, irretrievable loss, like dropping a thing into the fathomless depths of mid-ocean. If our sins are cast into the sea, we shall never see them more.

God's gracious dealings with our sins depend on our right dealings with them. Only sins that we have put away from ourselves by repentance can God put away from us by his full and free forgiveness.—R.T.

Psalms 103:14

This body of our humiliation.

There is a truth revealed in God's Word which seems to have a painful side. God is to us as we are to him. "Thou renderest to every man according to his work;" "With the froward thou wilt show thyself froward." It is a truth which needs careful qualifications. We have one such in this text. God's ways with us are taken upon due consideration of our bodily frailty. There may be a right or a wrong excuse drawn from the weakness of human nature. We certainly are under limited conditions, and these must be duly considered.

I. GOD'S WAYS WITH US ARE TAKEN WITH FULL KNOWLEDGE OF OUR BODIES. Observe that "frame" is more than "body." This vehicle of the human spirit is wholly the plan of God.

1. Its actual parts, powers, relations, are known to him. "Fearfully and wonderfully made." Illustrate hand, eye, brain.

2. The special tone and habit of each individual are known to him. We may think of him studying each one as a parent does the disposition of each child.

3. The conditions due to hereditary taint and to civilization. Some have a great fight with bodily and mental taint or bias. And there are special influences of disease, and mischievous results often follow it.

4. The general frailty, the passing away, the gradual decaying of the vital powers, God knows and estimates.

II. GOD'S WAYS WITH US ARE TAKEN WITH FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONNECTION BETWEEN OUR BODIES AND OUR MINDS. Minds are spiritual things, but they work through a material frame. The brain is the central machine, to which are attached the separate machines of the senses. The force of the machine is the blood. The spiritual operations of the mind are helped or hindered by the condition of the body. Illustrate a speck in the brain, or weakness in the heart. Sometimes we cannot think—we must just be still. Sometimes we feel depressed, and a sombre tone is put on our thinking. We fret over such things, until we remember that our God knows all. He expects no more work from us than he knows we can do; and he never counts the times of repairing and refreshing our bodily machine to be idle or wasted times.

III. GOD'S WAYS WITH US ARE TAKEN WITH FULL KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONNECTION BETWEEN OUR BODIES AND OUR RELIGION. What he asks from each of us is just this—the noblest religious life we can reach under our existing body conditions. We fret to be free from the body, as St. Paul apparently did: "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" But precisely the test under which each one of us is placed is this—Can you live a godly life in that body of yours, and under those precise body conditions of yours? Only when you can will God find it fitting to entrust you with the immortal and incorruptible body. Oar religious life is a thing of varying moods. Sometimes our "title is clear;" sometimes "our feet are firm;" sometimes our "head is lifted up;" sometimes we "walk in darkness, and have no light;" sometimes we say, "All these things are against me;" "I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul." The very variety unduly troubles us, and we fear lest God should regard us as unstable. But he "knows our frame." Christian joy is very closely linked with bodily health, and Christian gloom with bodily disease. Some diseases spoil the vision. And the body is the great spoiler of the soul's vision. The glorious attainment of the religious life is to get above bodyhinderings; to become master of our bodies in Christ; to "know how to possess the vessels of our bodies in sanctification and honour." Feeling this to be the great aim in life leads to the excesses and extravagances of hermits and devotees. Remember, then, two things:

1. God sees souls.

2. God duly reckons for the body.

It may be that we shall be surprised to find what soul progress we have really made, when the body-clog drops off. This tender and considerate representation of God is full of comfort to us. But then God has not left this sentence to lie in his Word as a general statement. He has taken our frame on himself, so that he might gain experimental knowledge of it. Jesus is the Brother-Man of sorrows. We may think of God's ways with us as based on the experience of Jesus. And if God's omniscience is a reason for trust, how much more is Christ's human experience!—R.T.

Psalms 103:18

The blessedness of covenant keepers.

Prayer book Version, "Even upon such as keep his covenant." A distinctly Israelite point of view. If this be regarded as a psalm of the returned Exiles, the reference is a striking one. Judgment had fallen upon the nation because it had forsaken the national covenant. The restoration was a resuming of the old covenant relations. And therefore the supreme anxiety of the Exiles would concern "keeping this new, this restored covenant." It may be observed that the Lord's gracious dealings are always to be thought of as strictly conditional. "The blessings of the covenant are no inalienable right. Children's children can only inherit its blessings by cleaving to it."

I. COVENANT KEEPERS REMEMBER THEIR PLEDGE. It may have been taken by themselves. It may have been taken in their names by their fathers. It may be freshly taken after a time of lapse. It is a ground of obligation. It is a source of inspiration. It should be kept ever in mind. Illustrate by the oath of loyalty taken by the servants of a king; or by the pledge taken in marriage; or by covenants entered into by those who unite in a common undertaking. See the value of special seasons—sacramental seasons—when covenant pledges are forcibly brought to mind. There is a new covenant in Christ Jesus. It is to that covenant we are pledged; and that covenant we do well to keep in mind.

II. COVENANT KEEPERS AIM AT OBEDIENCE. Sentiment, however good, cannot suffice them. Feelings, as mere feelings, cannot honour God. True covenant keepers try to "remember God's commandments," his requirements under the covenant, with the distinct and full intention to do them, and not merely know what they are, or feel that they are wise and good. The Lord Jesus searchingly said, "If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them!"

REVIEW.

1. Set forth what the Lord's covenant was for Israel, and is for us.

2. Point out how the responsibilities of the covenant may be kept ever before our minds and hearts.

3. Impress that the only acceptable keeping of the covenant is the constant, loving, hearty obedience of all its requirements.—R.T.

HOMILIES BY C. SHORT

Psalms 103:1-5

Gratitude for unbounded mercies.

I. THE SOUL URGENTLY SUMMONED TO PRAISE GOD FOR HIS GOODNESS. Inward praise, not the praise of the lips, is here called for—spiritual, not bodily worship.

II. THE WHOLE INWARD MAN IS TO RECOUNT TO ITSELF THE MERCIES OF GOD.

1. Every power he has—memory, heart, and reason—is to assist in recognizing the Divine benefits he has received.

2. Our temptation and danger are to forget. And we are to resist and conquer forgetfulness and ingratitude.

Especially apt to forget the mercies:

1. That we receive in common with others.

2. The mercies that are uninterrupted by constraint.

3. Mercies of a spiritual nature.

III. A THANKFUL SURVEY OF THE FATHERLY MERCIES OF GOD. "The poet calls upon his soul to arise to praiseful gratitude for God's justifying, redeeming, and renewing grace."

1. The forgiveness of all his sins.

2. Recovery from bodily sickness and infirmity. Sin, the sickness of the soul; disease, the sickness of the body; and God is the Physician of both.

3. Deliverance from threatened death. The pit—a name of Hades—the abode of the departed.

4. Loving kindness and tender mercies make him rich and royal. Like a king, they crown him.

5. No real want of the soul is left unsatisfied. "Shall not want any good thing;" "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."

6. His strength is thus constantly renewed. (Isaiah 40:31.) "They that wait upon the Lord," etc.—S.

Psalms 103:13

The pity of the Lord.

"Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him." In the Old Testament revelation of God there are bursts and flashes of light in startling contrast to the ordinary conceptions of him under that dispensation. There are grand conceptions of his power, omniscience, wisdom, and providence prevailing; but sometimes there are the tenderer conceptions of his goodness and mercy, as in the Psalms and prophets.

I. THE REASONS OF GOD'S PITY. Pity is sympathy for persons on account of weakness, suffering, or calamity. God feels pity for us:

1. On account of our weakness. "He knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." We are poor and insignificant compared with the spiritual and mighty angels. We are allied to the dust in one important part of our nature. And we are but children in the germ and infancy of our being. How weak we are in the body to contend against the mighty forces of nature, to encounter accident, to endure suffering! How weak in mind! how ignorant! how feeble in the power of our convictions! how poor in the power of our will!

2. He pities us for our sins and mistakes. In how many ways do we go wrong, not of set purpose, but unwittingly; or from the force of education and outward circumstances! We sin through ignorance. And we sin with knowledge. And God pities the sinner while he punishes. If he did not pity, he would not punish. Punishment is love seeking to recover the sinful child. God's anger is nothing but love chastising.

3. He pities us in our sufferings. He would not be a Father if he did not. Some of our sufferings are sent by him—such as we could not avoid. "But he doth not willingly afflict nor grieve the children of men." Many of our sufferings are self-incurred—such as we might have avoided. But he, nevertheless, pities us then.

II. THE NATURE OF GOD'S PITY. That of a father.

1. A father's pity is helpful. A neighbour's pity or a friend's is not always helpful; they are either unwilling or unable to relieve and help us. But a father will do all in his power to help his child. And has not God helped us in our low estate by coming to us in the Person of his Son? He has not sat and looked on and done nothing.

2. It is bountiful. Infinite in disposition to help, and in resources for our relief. "Exceeding abundantly." God said to the Jews, "What more could I have done for my vineyard?" And surely, in view of the gospel, he might say the same to us. Only one thing to limit his help—his help is to enable us to help ourselves. What we can do for ourselves that he leaves to us. His aim is to make us strong and great.

3. His pity is enduring. Human pity is soon exhausted. "But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting." It has borne with each of us very long, and will continue to the end.—S.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tpc/psalms-103.html. 1897.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
A. M. 2970. B.C. 1034. Bless
22; 104:1; 146:1,2; Luke 1:46,47
all that
47:7; 57:7-11; 63:5; 86:12,13; 111:1; 138:1; Mark 12:30-33; John 4:24; 1 Corinthians 14:15; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 3:16
holy name
99:3; Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8
Reciprocal: Genesis 19:19 - and thou;  Genesis 35:3 - who answered;  Genesis 49:6 - O my soul;  Exodus 16:32 - GeneralLeviticus 7:12 - a thanksgiving;  Numbers 31:54 - a memorial;  Deuteronomy 26:7 - we cried;  Judges 5:12 - Deborah;  Ruth 4:14 - Blessed;  2 Samuel 22:1 - David;  1 Kings 1:48 - Blessed;  1 Chronicles 29:10 - David blessed;  2 Chronicles 20:26 - blessed;  Nehemiah 9:5 - bless;  Psalm 9:1 - praise;  Psalm 40:3 - praise;  Psalm 62:5 - soul;  Psalm 68:19 - Blessed;  Psalm 96:2 - bless;  Psalm 100:4 - be thankful;  Psalm 104:35 - Bless;  Psalm 128:1 - every one;  Psalm 145:1 - extol thee;  Song of Solomon 1:4 - remember;  Jeremiah 4:19 - O my;  Daniel 2:20 - Blessed;  Daniel 2:23 - thank;  Daniel 4:34 - I blessed;  Micah 6:5 - remember;  Mark 1:31 - ministered;  Luke 5:25 - glorifying;  Luke 13:13 - and immediately;  Luke 17:15 - GeneralLuke 18:43 - followed;  Acts 3:8 - praising;  Colossians 3:23 - whatsoever

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/psalms-103.html.

Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms

. Title. David is supposed to have written this most beautiful Psalm, when he was newly recovered from a dangerous sickness to vigorous health. (Notes, Psalm 30:3-8 : title1- 10. Psalm 12:1-8.)

V:1 . " He wakeneth his dulness to praise God, shewing that both understanding and affections, mind and " heart, are too little to set forth his praise." (Marg. Ref. Notes, . Deuteronomy 6:5. Mark 12:28-34.) " He calleth forth all his powers and faculties, all that is within " him, that every part of his frame may glorify its Saviour; " that the understanding may know him, the will choose1him, the affections delight in him, the heart believe in " him, and the tongue confess him." Bp. Home.

V:2. David"s fear of losing the sense and remembrance of the benefits, which God had bestowed on him, shews both what the fallen nature of man is most prone to, find what divine grace teaches the Degenerate chiefly to watch and pray against; namely, ingratitude to God, and forgetful- ness of his benefits; especially by means of present trials, conflicts, and discouragements. (Marg. Ref. Notes, . 2 Chronicles 32:24-26; 2 Chronicles 32:31. Luke vi11-19. P.O.)

V:3, 4. The sickness, with which the Psalmist had been visited, was the correction of his sin : but, having obtained forgiveness of all his iniquities, the malady also was removed. Sinful passions are the diseases of the soul : but if sin be pardoned, these also will be healed : and in proportion as they are healed, we have evidence that our guilt is pardoned.

(Notes, . Psalm 107:17-22. Job 33:19-30. Isaiah 38: 17-20. Matthew 9:28. P. O18.)

Crowneth (or, encircleth) thee with loving- kindness and tender mercies. (4) Note, .v7 Thus his life was redeemed from the grave, and his soul from " the pit " of destruction; " and all his comforts were restored and increased. (Marg. Ref.)

V:5. Eagle"s.] It is generally agreed, that the eagle is very long-lived, and seems at an advanced age to possess the vigour of youth. Perhaps the Psalmist had nothing more in view than this. He had been reduced to great weakness, with loss of appetite and other infirmities, which he supposed to indicate his approaching death, or the labour and sorrow of old age. But he unexpectedly recovered health, appetite, and strength; and seemed, like the eagle, to be restored to the vigour of youth, at an advanced time of life. Many traditions about the eagle seem not sufficiently proved : nor is it certain, that in moulting her feathers, she materially differs from other birds. " I " can never sufficiently bless thy goodness, who . . . dost restore my strength, and makest my youth and freshness ( return like the eagle"s. Oh, that I may with fresh de" light and joy be still praising thee, and be lifted up to " heaven, (as they are when they have renewed their plumes,) in more vigorous love, and affectionate desires " and endeavours, to employ all my renewed strengtling" thy faithful service." Bp. Patrick. (Notes, Isaiah 40: 27-31. . Revelation 4:6-8.)

V:6- 8. Lively gratitude for recent personal benefits led the Psalmist to remember, with adoring praise, the glorious perfections of his gracious Benefactor, as manifested in his dealings with his creatures. The omnipotent Sovereign of t! e world uses his power in executing righteousness, relieving the oppressed, and crushing the oppressor. (Marg. Ref. Notes, ; Psalm 72:4-7; Psalm 99:4

4.) This he especially did when he delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage; and hy Moses made himself known to the people, and brought them acquainted with his works, his truth, and laws : and especially he shewed his glory to Moses, and proclaimed his name, as " merciful " and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy." (Marg Ref. Note, Exodus 34:5 " How full of consolation to the penitent soul are the words of this verse ! " {8) " " The Lord is merciful " ; the bowels of his " tender compassion yearn over us, as those of a mother " yearn over the child of her womb. He is " gracious " ready to give us freely all things that are needful * for our salvation. He is " slow to anger," bearing with " the frowardness of his children; . . . giving them by this " his long suffering, time for repentance : and he is " plenteous in mercy" (isn n), " great, mighty in mercy," " placing his chief glory in this attribute." Up. Home.

V:9. " He sheweth first his severe judgment; but so soon as the sinner is humbled, he recciveth him to mercy." Assurances of this kind must always be understood of true believers; or of those who by affliction are brought to " repentance, and works meet for repentance : " for God will keep his anger for ever, in the full meaning of the words, against all that continue to the end of life im- penitent and unbelieving. (Notes, 11- 13. Psalm 30:5; Psalm 77:5-12. Psalm 92:6-7. Isaiah 5715, 16. Jeremiah 3:4-5. Micah 7:18-20.)

V:10. " Blessed be his holy name, there is mercy even in our punishments : our sufferings are never so great as our sins." Bp. Patrick. Every mitigating circumstance, every remaining comfort or hope, is mercy : all short of final misery is mercy : and even the chastisements themselves are mercies, as means of grace used by our gracious Father, for our profit.

(Notes, Ezra 9:15. Job 11:5-6. Lamentations 3:21-23. Habakkuk 3:2. Hebrews 12:4-11.)

V:11- 13. The immeasurable height of the arch of leaven, is an emblem continually before us, of the infinite mercy of God to his people. The space, between the rising and setting sun, may remind us of the immense distance to which their guilt is removed from them; and the compassion of a tender Father feebly represents the kindness and tenderness of God to them. (Marg. Ref. Note, Is. Iv8, 9. , v11.) A wise and good father will not be severe to mark every failure in his child; he will encourage his feeble attempts to obey him; he will feel every stroke which he inflicts, when chastising him for his good; and he will always gladly remove his sufferings when he is able. The character, to which these blessings exclusively belong, even those " who fear God," should be carefully noted. (Notes, 15- 18. Psalm 147:10-11. Genesis 22:11-12. Ecclesiastes 12:11-14; Ecclesiastes 5:13. Acts 10:1; Acts 2:34-35.)

V:14. The word rendered " our frame," generally means, the device or imagination which we frame in our hearts. The clause seems to mean, that God knoweth our fallen nature, both in respect of its depravity, and frailty; and should he deal with us in strict justice, we must all be crushed and destroyed. He therefore exercises fatherly compassion to those who fear him; otwithstanding the evil which he witnesses in their hearts and lives : and he is long-suffering to the wicked, giving them space for repentance, and repeatedly warning them, before he inflicts deserved punishment. (Notes, . 2 Peter 3:9-14 Revelation 2:20-23.) Our frame.] Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:21. (Notes, Genesis 6:5; Genesis 8:20-22; Genesis 5:21.)

Dust.] (Note, .) The sentence " Dust " thou art and to dust shall thou return," was pronounced against man as fallen. (Note, Genesis 3:17-19.) " By one " man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and " so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Note, Romans 5:12-14.)

V:15-18. (Notes, . Isaiah 40: 6-8. James 1:9-11. 1 Peter 1:23-25.) This affecting illustration of human frailty, and the transient nature of all earthly glory and prosperity, frequently occurs in Scripture : but it is here contrasted, most beautifully, with the everlasting mercy and truth of God. " Let not man presume, who withereth " like the green herb : but then let not man despair, whose " nature, with all its infirmities, the Son of God hath taken * upon him. The flower which faded in Adam, blossoms " anew in Christ, never to fade again." Bp. Home. The language used by the Psalmist is very emphatical : " The " mercy of JEHOVAH, is from eternity, and to eternity." (Note, Psalm 90:1-2. Ephesians 1:3-8; Ephesians 3:9-12. 2 Timothy 1:9.) And this mercy, which is from everlasting in its source, and to everlasting in its efficacy, is ensured to all those who fear GOD, in every generation; who must therefore be the same with true Christians. ( Luke 1:50.) " And his righteousness unto children"s children." " His just and faithful keeping of his promise; " that is the promise made to Abraham, and in him to all believers, of special benefits to their posterity. (Notes, Genesis 17:7-8. Jeremiah 32:39-41. Acts 2:37-40. Romans 4:9-12. Galatians 3:10-14. Hebrews 6:13-15.; But then the persons spoken of, to prevent mistakes, are further characterized; " To such as keep his " covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them." They come to God, according to the covenant of mercy ratified " with Abraham in Christ, " which the law given four hundred and thirty years after" wards could not disannul;" (Notes, Galatians 3:15-18; Galatians 3:26-29;) they adhere to it as their only ground of hope; and daily endeavour to " walk in all his commandments " and ordinances blameless." They cannot indeed perform his commandments (20); but they remember them, with a real desire and purpose of unreserved obedience, and habitually endeavour to accomplish that purpose.

V:19. The mediatorial kingdom of God, as administered by Emmanuel, seems especially intended. This kingdom he " hath prepared," and established " in the " heavens," out of the reach of all the changes of this ower world. According to his everlasting purpose, he began to do this by the promises and predictions of the great Redeemer, from the fall of Adam; and by the various introductory dispensations and institutions which made way for his coming; all of which have received their accomplishment in Christ our King, and in his exaltation in heaven, as " Head over all things to the church," " angels, " principalities, and powers" in heaven, as well as all men, being subject unto him. (Notes, . Matthew 3:2. Ephesians 1:15-23. Revelation 11:15-18.)

V:20- 22. " In that we, which naturally are slow to praise God, exhort the angels which willingly do it, we " stir up ourselves to consider our duty, and awake out of " our sluggishness." (Notes, . Luke 2:8-14 Revelation 5:11-14; Revelation 19:1-6.) The language used, concerning the obedience of " the angels, who excel in strength," should be compared with that which describes the obedience of frail, sinful man (18). The business, privilege, and felicity of angels consist in perfectly doing their Maker"s will. " The heart of the Psalmist is full, and over floweth with joy. Unable worthily to praise JEHOVAH for his mercies vouchsafed to the church, he inviteth heaven and earth to join with him, and to celebrate, in full chorus, the redemption of man." Bp. Home. (Marg. Ref.) "Let all with one consent bless his holy " name : and thou, my soul, be sure thou never forget to " make one. O fail not to bear thy part in this joyful " quire, that daily sing his praise." Bp. Patrick. (Note, 1, 2.)

PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS.

" God is a Spirit," and must be worshipped " in spirit " and truth." We must therefore " call upon our souls, and " all that is within us, to bless his holy name : " we must also intreat him to assist us, that we may " lift up our " souls " unto him; otherwise the most excellent words, and the most melodious singing, will be entirely unacceptable. But alas ! how prone are we all to forget his benefits ! Without constant recollection we shall continually omit to render thanks to God, for the unceasing favours of his providence and grace: and indeed we never keep pace with our great Benefactor in these returns, or in making a proper use of his goodness. His readiness to forgive makes way for all his other benefits to the sinful race of men : and without an interest in his pardoning mercy, no natural endowments, or providential gifts, will prove real blessings. But the true believer may praise the Lord, for having forgiven, and for daily forgiving, all his iniquities, having set forth his own " Son to be the propitiation for " our sins, and for the sins of the whole world." (Note, .) He is also daily healing the diseases of the soul, which are far more malignant than those of the body : and as he preserves our temporal lives, so he redeems the souls of his people from merited destruction, " and crowneth them with loving-kindness and tender " mercies." The plentiful provision made for our outward wants, and even for our enjoyment, demands a tribute of grateful praise : but the feast, with which our God satisfies the souls of his people, is a far more important obligation. (Notes, Ixiii1 ) The renewal of health after wasting sickness is very pleasant, and should be acknowledged with hearty thanksgiving : yet the renewal of our souls to holiness, and the renewal of our spiritual strength from day to day, are blessings of a nobler and more enduring nature. But we cannot recount the half of our mercies, nor by any means form a due estimate of them, till they be completed in eternal glory. We should therefore, to enliven our gratitude, trace these streams back to the foantain. and consider the Lord"s constant goodness to his- people, as well as his peculiar kindness to us. He is the righteous Judge of the world, and the Patron of all that are oppressed : he rescued Israel from Egyptian bondage, and executed judgment on their haughty oppressors : but he redeems his people from a far more deplorable slavery. " He made known his ways unto Moses, and his acts to " the children of Israel : " but he has displayed, more clearly, his glorious perfections by his Son Jesus Christ; and has afforded us far greater advantages than they enjoyed. We are shewn in the most effectual manner, that " The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and " plenteous in mercy : " and happy are we, if we have come at his invitation to share the blessings of his gospel. In this case, we may indeed experience rebukes and corrections; but " he will not always chide, neither will he " keep his anger for ever : " and every humbled penitent knows, " that he hath not dealt with him after his sins, " nor rewarded him according to his iniquities." If indeed this be our character, we need not yield to discouragement, at the consideration of our most atrocious and multiplied transgressions; seeing the mercies of God are still larger than they all : and when we trust in those mercies, he will put away our sins far from us, and " bury them in the " depths of the sea." Indeed we are yet weak and frail; our days are few, our temporal comforts are withering as the grass, and we shall soon be gone, and " our place will " know us no more :" but our heavenly Father " knoweth " our frame, and remembereth that we are dust; " and he pities us under all our sorrows and trials. He will indeed thwart our wayward inclinations, and will not indulge us to our hurt; he will also rebuke and correct us for our sins : but he will support and comfort us under every trial, and he cannot want power to relieve his afflicted children. His mercy is from everlasting in its origin, and to everlasting in its blessed effects, and should be habitually contrasted with all the fading glories of this world : and those, who belong to the Lord, have the fairest prospect of felicity for their children; and may entertain a cheerful hope, that he will make known his righteousness and salvation even to their remote posterity. But they are distinguished by their characters, as well as by their privileges : for they " join themselves to the Lord" according to his gracious covenant, and, while they trust in his mercy, they " re" member his commandments to do them." (Notes, Isaiah 55: 1- 3; 563- 7) Our glorious God and King has prepared a mercy- seat for his throne in heaven, on which he rules over all. Let us then rejoice, that innumerable hosts of angels, who " excel in strength," are continually celebrating his praises. Their employment and happiness consist in doing his commandments, in hearkening to the voice of his word, in being his servants, and doing his pleasure. Such would have been our constant delight, if we had not been fallen creatures; such it is in a measure become,, if we are " born of God; " and such it will be for ever in heaven to all who arrive there : nor can we be perfectly happy, till we can take unwearied pleasure in perfect obedience to the will of our God. Let us then copy the examples of these bright spirits; and cordially join our feeble hallelujahs to their exalted praises of God our Saviour : let us glorify him, along with " all his works in "" all places of his dominion;" and rejoice in hope, that the earth, as well as the heavens, will at length be filled with those who praise the Lord, and " do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word."

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Scott, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". Thomas Scott: Explanatory Notes, Practical Observations on the book Psalms. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsp/psalms-103.html. 1804.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1.Bless the Lord, O my soul—To “bless the Lord” is to praise him by declaring his attributes and works, and offering thanksgiving. To “bless” an individual man is to invoke the favour of God upon him. See Numbers 6:22-27. “Soul,” here, cannot be taken as the intermediate, or psychical nature, between the mind and body, according to the Greek trichotomy, but the ego, the self, and is parallel to the all that is within me, or inward parts, in the next line; or, as we would say, my inmost soulthe depth of my being. It is to be a soul-work, not formal or lip service. David rouses himself to the sum total of all his higher powers in ascribing praise to God. The word “bless” occurs six times in the psalm.

 

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/psalms-103.html. 1874-1909.