Summary: The psalmist had received many wondrous blessing and benefits from God, but had not remembered them frequently enough, and he is not alone. He determines to do better.
PSALM 103: 1-5
A CALL TO BLESS THE LORD GOD
The Psalmist had walked with God through many difficulties & many years and had come to know Him as merciful and gracious. He had received many wondrous blessing and benefits from God, but had not remembered them frequently enough, and he is not alone. The psalmist determines to do better. Thus the psalm opens with the command to bless (or praise) Yahweh, and then lists some of the good things that Yahweh does for His people. When the Lord ‘blesses’ us, He see our needs and responds to them; when we ‘bless’ the Lord, we review His excellencies and respond to them. Praise is certainly warranted in view of who the Lord is and His many benefits to us His people.
I. RELEASING PRAISE, 1-2.
II. REMEMBERED BLESSING, 3-5.
In verse 1 the psalmist speaks to his soul in order to stir his innermost being to magnify the Lord. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
The psalmist repeats the command to bless the Lord six times (vv. 1, 2, 20, 21, 22) in this Psalm. [The Hebrew word used here, barak.] Bless expresses appreciation, gratitude, respect, relationship, and good will toward the one being blessed. To bless the Lord is to delight His heart by showing love and gratitude for all He is and does [Wiersbe, Warren. Bible Exposition Commentary Vol. 2. David Cook Publishing. Colorado Springs 2004]. Praise comes from a grateful heart that wants to please and honor God.
Most believers understand that we should bless the Lord, but infrequently do so, or bless Him inadequately. The psalmist wants to change his failure which simply gives lip service to God. David thus commands his soul to bless the Lord.
So David talks to his own soul—his mind, will and emotions. He calls upon every faculty (5:9; 49:11) of his being to bless the Lord. “With all his being” or soul, indicates putting his whole heart (Mk. 12:28-31) in his praise of God’s character.
The blessing of His holy name refers primarily to the glorious character and nature of Yahweh (33:21). He blesses the Lord Himself before he recounts his blessings. For all God does stems from who He is (name) and what He is (holy).
The call to bless God is repeated in verse 2 with the added thought of being thankful for blessings received. “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits [‘dealings,’ ‘sufficiencies’or ‘blessings’].”
David gives all that he within himself to God and to God’s praise because he has remembered all that God has done for him. Memory is always one of our best aids in worship. Praise is certainly warranted in view of the Lord’s many benefits to us His people.
Although forgetfulness sometimes increases with age, forgetfulness of God’s blessings is common to all. David though is determined not to fail His Lord by forgetting His blessings to him.
Whenever we find ourselves full of anxiety about the future, it’s very likely because we don’t remember how faithful God has been in the past. When we forget what the Lord has done—the benefits He’s made so abundantly available to us, the faithfulness and kindness He so consistently shows to us—our faith begins to falter. If you’re like me and don’t always remember how the Lord has answered your prayers, I encourage you to write down the things you’re wrestling with or going through. As I reread my old prayer journals I can see how God solved seemingly impossible situations in wondrous ways. [Courson, J. (2006). Jon Courson’s application commentary: Volume two: Psalms-Malachi (p. 126). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.]