Psalm 103:1-22
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.…

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.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: {A Psalm of David.} Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

WEB: Praise Yahweh, my soul! All that is within me, praise his holy name!

The Saints Blessing the Lord
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