Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! ²Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, ³who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, ⁴who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, —Psalm 103:1-4
Psalm 103 is a psalm of David believed to be written in his later years. It is a gift of God to us today, with deep lessons for every Christian. Over the next seven weeks, as we take up the challenge of memorizing Psalm 103, we will join with the angels, all the hosts of the Lord, and all His works in every place of His dominion in blessing our incomparable Lord (vv. 20-22).
King David begins by commanding himself to “bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul…” These opening verses are meant to set our minds on the greatness of our Lord. But not only our minds, it must come from “all that is within me.” Let there be no limits to our praise of the God of heaven whose lovingkindness reaches to the skies, whose throne is established in the heavens, and whose kingdom rules over all.
Knowing God’s glorious attributes, we might wonder how we could ever forget His benefits. And yet we do. Sometimes I try to imagine David, the shepherd boy who became king of Israel. Did he ever catch a glimpse of a his reflection with his crown on his head, royal robes flowing, and pause to admire the vision? Or did his thoughts turn to despair, remembering his failures, even as God’s anointed king? Did he stop himself and think, Wait a minute! Have you forgotten where you came from? Have you forgotten the Lord—His grace and kindness, His choosing? O my soul, bless the Lord, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Christian, whether you're tempted to be proud or to despair, we are given beautiful reminders of God’s grace to us in verses 3-4, truths that are echoed throughout Psalm 103:
He “forgives all your iniquity,” because the Great Shepherd, Jesus our Lord, laid down His life for the sheep (v. 3).
He removes our transgressions from us “as far as east is from the west” (v. 12).
He has compassion and “heals all of [our] diseases,” keeping us safe in His love (v. 3).
“[H]e knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust.” (v. 14).
He “redeems [our] life from the pit” setting us free by the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus (v. 4).
He lavishes those who fear Him with His great steadfast love (v. 11)
Psalm 103 tells of the greatness of our unchanging God, and calls us to reckon with our own inability to save ourselves.
Believer, you may be at the top of your profession, praised by man for your abilities, or perhaps your work is known only to God. You may live in a mansion and eat the finest foods, or you may be living in a homeless shelter, holding onto your last book of food stamps. You may enjoy a loving Christian family or one that is suffering and broken. You may be self-confident, strong, and healthy, or weak, fearful, and vulnerable. Whatever your situation, the call is the same: do not forget the Lord who has given us all His benefits.
His benefits do not come to us based on our last name or our possessions or accomplishments, but who He is. And it is the Lord, not man, who places the crown of His eternal covenant love and mercy on every believer’s life. This unseen crown is a signet of the eternal reality of our life in Christ and His ownership of us—for we have been bought with a price, the precious blood of Christ.
Let all the redeemed, therefore, say,
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 pardons all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.
The enemies of our souls (our flesh, the world, and the devil) attempt to pull our minds away into forgetfulness of God’s grace toward us. How might they be tempting you to forget all the Lord’s benefits?
How does Psalm 103 comfort you in difficult times?
In 2 Peter 1:3-4, we read that God has granted to us His "precious and very great promises" in Christ Jesus. How might Psalm 103 build your faith and confidence in these promises and God's good work in you?
Betty Dodge is wife to Rick, a mom to adult children, and grandmother to seven. She is a Bible teacher for women and children, as well as a regular contributor to the Fighter Verses Blog. One of Betty's greatest joys is seeing God working in believers as they learn His Word and grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ.