In Every Circumstance, Bless the Lord (Psalm 103:20-22)
Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! ²¹Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! ²²Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul! —Psalm 103:20-22
For years I have prayed asking God to bless me. I’ve included prayers for blessings on the people I love and the world around me. But meditating on God’s benefits these past six weeks has helped me to see that often I have asked narrowly, focusing on material or situational comforts. And I have asked anemically, uttering halfhearted words from an underdeveloped sense of His power and purposes at work in the world.
God blesses His children abundantly, but His blessings aren’t measured in material riches or situational happiness. God blesses His children infinitely, and the more we understand the nature of what He gives–His mercy, forgiveness, lovingkindness, and grace–the more He emboldens us to seek the Giver of such gracious gifts in order to bless Him.
David gives us a host of reasons to sing God’s praises. The sum of God’s benefits in this psalm is staggering: forgiveness for sins, redemption from hell, satisfaction with good, healing from soul diseases, righteousness and justice, mercy and grace, discipline and purifying anger, sanctifying love, and tenderhearted compassion. All of these good gifts flow to Christians from the Sovereign Lord who rules over all–all rulers, all peoples, all places, all things, all circumstances, all thoughts and intentions. God reigns over everything.
God’s benefits apply in every situation, but one of the benefits we focused on last week seems especially timely: “The LORD has established his throne in the heavens.” It is fixed, immovable, and “his kingdom rules over all” (v. 19, emphasis added). There is no president, prince, or prime minister above God. He is the highest ruler and He reigns over every lesser ruler. To a man, every leader in power serves at God’s pleasure, and only as long as He ordains. This is a comfort as I read the harrowing news coming from Ukraine.
God’s benefits are for everyone who calls on Him including people under fire from Russian troops, hiding from soldiers in Myanmar’s forests, starving in famished African deserts, the oppressed around the globe. As our hearts break over their suffering, may we plead on their behalf to the God who works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed (v. 6). May He hide them in Jesus, the rock of our salvation, so that they may know God as protector, deliverer, and friend in this life, and the life to come. May we all, in view of the horrors of sin in our broken world, turn to the Lord for redemption, trusting Him to make all things right. May we not miss the warnings that such headlines bring: as bad as suffering is in this life, it will pale next to the wrath against sin that is coming. May God grant the peoples of the world pleas of mercy to cry out to Him in their trouble. For in the end, salvation is our greatest need and it belongs to our God. There is no greater blessing.
David ends this psalm where he began, commanding his soul to bless the Lord. But now, after rehearsing God’s infinite benefits, his soul soars as he commands it, along with the angels, God’s hosts, and all of God’s works, to join him in blessing the Lord.
Let us vigorously join the chorus. When the challenges and disappointments of life press in, say, “God’s benefits remain–I am freed from the power of sin and death, Christ is coming again, my future is secure–bless the Lord!” When headlines tempt us to fear or despair, say, “consider all God’s benefits–He will see to it that all this suffering is for the good of those who love Him–bless the Lord!” When health or finances falter, when hardships abound, when the nations rage, we say, “Bless the Lord! This is not the last word. These trials–every one–will pass away! And Christ will come again and rule and reign, in peace, forever.” Whatever the circumstance, let all creation say, “Bless the Lord!”
The heart cry that ends the prayers of David in the book of Psalms is a fitting end to our study of Psalm 103:
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory!
Amen and Amen! (Psalm 72:18-19)
How can you broaden your prayers in light of God's blessings extolled in Psalm 103?
What present challenges might you turn into opportunities to bless the Lord?
Spend some time this week singing and saying praises to God for His infinite blessings to all of His children.
Candice Watters is the Fighter Verses blog editor. She is a wife, mom, and author of Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help it Happen and co-author of Start Your Family: Inspiration for Having Babies with her husband Steve. The Watterses are parents of four and are passionate about helping moms and dads disciple their children.