Psalm 103:1
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Psalm 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.103:1-5 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.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.

PSALM 103

Ps 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.

1. Bless, &c.—when God is the object, praise.

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

all … within me—(De 6:5).

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

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.

Psalm 103:1

"Bless the Lord, O my soul." Soul music is the very soul of music. The Psalmist strikes the best key-note 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.

Psalm 103:2

"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 could 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.

Psalm 103:3

"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 of 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,

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

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.

<<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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. My soul is the Psalmist’s self or personality: all that is within me are the various organs of the body, which were regarded by the Hebrews as the seat of thought will and emotion. The Psalmist summons all the faculties and powers of his being to unite in the praise of Jehovah.

his holy name] Cp. Psalm 33:21; Psalm 105:3; Psalm 106:47; Psalm 145:21. Jehovah’s holiness, which must needs be vindicated in the punishment of Israel’s sin, was again demonstrated in the deliverance which proved His faithfulness to His covenant. Cp. Ezekiel 39:7; Ezekiel 39:25.

1–5. The Psalmist exhorts himself to praise God for His manifold mercies.Verse 1. - Bless the Lord, O my soul. Repeated in ver. 2; also at the end of the psalm; and again in Psalm 104:1, 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 (vers. 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. On the way (ב as in Psalm 110:7) - not "by means of the way" (ב as in Psalm 105:18), in connection with which one would expect of find some attributive minuter definition of the way - God hath bowed down his strength (cf. Deuteronomy 8:2); it was therefore a troublous, toilsome way which he has been led, together with his people. He has shortened his days, so that he only drags on wearily, and has only a short distance still before him before he is entirely overcome. The Chethb כחו (lxx ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ) may be understood of God's irresistible might, as in Job 23:6; Job 30:18, but in connection with it the designation of the object is felt to be wanting. The introductory אמר (cf. Job 10:2), which announces a definite moulding of the utterance, serves to give prominence to the petition that follows. In the expression אל־תּעלני life is conceived of as a line the length of which accords with nature; to die before one's time is a being taken up out of this course, so that the second half of the line is not lived through (Psalm 55:24, Isaiah 38:10). The prayer not to sweep him away before his time, the poet supports not by the eternity of God in itself, but by the work of the rejuvenation of the world and of the restoration of Israel that is to be looked for, which He can and will bring to an accomplishment, because He is the ever-living One. The longing to see this new time is the final ground of the poet's prayer for the prolonging of his life. The confession of God the Creator in Psalm 102:26 reminds one in its form of Isaiah 48:13, cf. Psalm 44:24. המּה in Psalm 102:27 refers to the two great divisions of the universe. The fact that God will create heaven and earth anew is a revelation that is indicated even in Isaiah 34:4, but is first of all expressed more fully and in many ways in the second part of the Book of Isaiah, viz., Isaiah 51:6, Isaiah 51:16; Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22. It is clear from the agreement in the figure of the garment (Isaiah 51:6, cf. Psalm 50:9) and in the expression (עמד, perstare, as in Isaiah 66:22) that the poet has gained this knowledge from the prophet. The expressive אתּה הוּא, Thou art He, i.e., unalterably the same One, is also taken from the mouth of the prophet, Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 43:10; Isaiah 46:4; Isaiah 48:12; הוּא is a predicate, and denotes the identity (sameness) of Jahve (Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, i. 63). In v. 29 also, in which the prayer for a lengthening of life tapers off to a point, we hear Isaiah 65:2; Isaiah 66:22 re-echoed. And from the fact that in the mind of the poet as of the prophet the post-exilic Jerusalem and the final new Jerusalem upon the new earth under a new heaven blend together, it is evident that not merely in the time of Hezekiah or of Manasseh (assuming that Isaiah 40:1 are by the old Isaiah), but also even in the second half of the Exile, such a perspectively foreshortened view was possible. When, moreover, the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews at once refers Psalm 102:26-28 to Christ, this is justified by the fact that the God whom the poet confesses as the unchangeable One is Jahve who is to come.
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