Psalm 103:20
Bless the LORD, you his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening to the voice of his word.
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(20) Just as in the highest revelation made by Jesus Christ the angels in heaven rejoice over the repentant sinner, so in the psalmist’s view the mercy of Jehovah to his faithful people is cause for high acclaim among the hosts around the throne.

Psalm 103:20-22. Bless the Lord, ye his angels — Who, though glorious creatures, are but his ministers and messengers, as the word signifies. And by inviting the angels to bless God he excites men to the same duty, as having more dependance upon God, and obligation to him. That excel in strength — Of which see one evidence, 2 Kings 19:35. You are freed from the inabilities and infirmities of mankind; that do his commandments — That live in a universal, constant, and perfect obedience to all God’s commands; hearkening unto the voice of his word — Who diligently wait for his commands, and execute them with all cheerfulness and readiness. Bless the Lord, all ye his hosts — The angels again, to whom he still continues his address, and whom he more particularly describes by the name of hosts, a title often given to them on account of their vast numbers, mighty power, unanimous concurrence, and exquisite order. Ye ministers of his — The Hebrew word משׁרתיו, mesharethaiv, thus rendered, is commonly used of the highest and most honourable sort of servants; that do his pleasure — Whose constant business and delight it is to execute his orders and fulfil his will. Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion — All creatures, both in heaven and earth, according to your several capacities. Bless the Lord, O my soul — Which thou hast especial and abundant reason to do. Thus he ends the Psalm with the same words wherewith he began it. 103:19-22 He who made all, rules all, and both by a word of power. He disposes all persons and things to his own glory. There is a world of holy angels who are ever praising him. Let all his works praise him. Such would have been our constant delight, if we had not been fallen creatures. Such it will in a measure become, if we are born of God. Such it will be for ever in heaven; nor can we be perfectly happy till we can take unwearied pleasure in perfect obedience to the will of our God. And let the feeling of each redeemed heart be, Bless the Lord, O my soul.Bless the Lord - The psalm began Psalm 103:1-2 with an exhortation to "bless the Lord." That exhortation was, however, then addressed by the psalmist to his own soul, and was especially founded on the benefits which he had himself received. The psalm closes also with an exhortation to "bless the Lord," yet on a much wider scale. The psalmist feels that there is not only occasion for him to do it, but that the reason for it extends to the whole universe. The meaning is, that God is worthy of universal praise; and all ranks of beings - all worlds - should join in that praise. Man, feeble, frail, dying, could not come up to the fullness of the praise required. Praise such as was appropriate to God - such as his perfections and works deserved - demanded loftier powers than those of man; the loftiest powers in the universe.

Ye his angels - All beings higher than man; beings around and before his throne.

That excel in strength - Margin, as in Hebrew, "mighty in strength," and therefore more "able" to offer adequate praise.

That do his commandments - Who perfectly obey his law, and who, therefore, can render more acceptable praise than can ever come from human lips.

Hearkening unto the voice of his word - Who always listen to his voice; who never are disobedient; and who can, therefore, approach him as holy beings, and more appropriately worship him.

20-22. do his commandments … word—or, literally, "so as to hearken," &c., that is, their acts of obedience are prompt, so that they are ever ready to hear, and know, and follow implicitly His declared will (compare De 26:17; Lu 1:19).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.

Psalm 103:20

"Bless 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 loth to ring out his praises. "That do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word." We are bidden to do these commandments, 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.


Angels; which, though glorious creatures, are but his ministers and messengers, as the word signifies. And inviting the angels to bless God, he quickens men to the same duty, as having more dependence upon God, and, obligation to him. That excel in strength; of which see evidence 2 Kings 19:35. You are freed from the impentencies and infirmities of mankind.

That do his commandments; that live in a universal, constant, and perfect obedience to all God’s commands, which the best of men through the infirmity of the flesh do frequently violate.

Hearkening unto the voice of his word; that diligently wait for God’s commands or errands, and execute them with all cheerfulness and readiness. Bless the Lord, ye his angels,.... For their creation, being made by him; for their preservation, living, moving, and having their being in him; and for their happiness, in which they are continued, owing to their being chosen of God in Christ, and to their confirmation by Christ. These are always employed in the work of blessing and praising the Lord nor are they in the least backward to it, nor remiss it; nor does this address unto them suppose anything of this kind. The design of the psalmist is only to show how great and good the Lord is; that angels, the more excellent order of creatures, are under obligation to him, and are bound to praise him: and his further view is, to stir up himself and others to this work, from such a consideration, that such noble creatures are employed in the same, and who are further described:

that excel in strength; or, "are mighty in strength" (e); they are called mighty angels, 2 Thessalonians 1:7 an instance of the might and power of an angel see in 2 Kings 19:35. These, not having sinned, have lost nothing of their original strength and power, and therefore must greatly excel fallen man; who is become a very weak creature, and unable to do the will and work of God, which angels are, as follows:

that do his commandments; or "his word" (f); what he orders to be done: this they do readily and willingly, constantly, perfectly, and completely; see Matthew 6:10.

Hearkening to the voice of his word; they stand before the Lord, waiting his orders; listening with great attention to what he says, and then readily execute it. Or, "at hearing the voice of his word"; that is, as soon as they hear the voice of his word, or hear him speaking (g), immediately they apply themselves to the performance of it.

(e) "fortes robore", Pagninus, Montanus; "valentissimi robore", Junius & Tremellius. (f) "verbum ejus", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (g) So Muis.

Bless the LORD, ye {m} his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

(m) In that we, who naturally are slow to praise God, exhort the angels, who willingly do it, we stir up ourselves to consider our duty and wake from our sluggishness.

20. Bless Jehovah, ye angels of his;

Ye mighty in strength, that do his word,

Hearkening unto the voice of his word.

Heavenly beings are most capable of praising the heavenly King. For the address to the angels cp. Psalm 29:1; Psalm 148:2. They are called mighty in strength as God’s warriors; cp. Joel 3:11. The “blessed obedience” of the angels is an example for man.Verse 20. - Bless the Lord, ye his angels (comp. Psalm 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; Jude 1:9), the highest of the glorious beings that stand around the throne of God (Revelation 8:2, 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. The ingenious figures in Psalm 103:11. (cf. Psalm 36:6; Psalm 57:11) illustrate the infinite power and complete unreservedness of mercy (loving-kindness). הרחיק has Gaja (as have also השׁחיתו and התעיבו, Psalm 14:1; Psalm 53:2, in exact texts), in order to render possible the distinct pronunciation of the guttural in the combination רח. Psalm 103:13 sounds just as much like the spirit of the New Testament as Psalm 103:11, Psalm 103:12. The relationship to Jahve in which those stand who fear Him is a filial relationship based upon free reciprocity (Malachi 3:11). His Fatherly compassion is (Psalm 103:14) based upon the frailty and perishableness of man, which are known to God, much the same as God's promise after the Flood not to decree a like judgment again (Genesis 8:21). According to this passage and Deuteronomy 31:21, יצרנוּ appears to be intended of the moral nature; but according to Psalm 103:14, one is obliged to think rather of the natural form which man possesses from God the Creator (ויּיצר, Genesis 2:7) than of the form of heart which he has by his own choice and, so far as its groundwork is concerned, by inheritance (Psalm 51:7). In זכוּר, mindful, the passive, according to Bצttcher's correct apprehension of it, expresses a passive state after an action that is completed by the person himself, as in בּטוּה, ידוּע, and the like. In its form Psalm 103:14 reminds one of the Book of Job JObadiah 11:11; Job 28:23, and Psalm 103:14 as to subject-matter recalls Job 7:7, and other passages (cf. Psalm 78:39; Psalm 89:48); but the following figurative representation of human frailty, with which the poet contrasts the eternal nature of the divine mercy as the sure stay of all God-fearing ones in the midst of the rise and decay of things here below, still more strongly recalls that book.
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