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  • Stephen Johnson

Preach to Your Soul (Psalm 103:1-4)

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, 3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. —Psalm 103:1-4

We all talk to ourselves every now and then, but have you ever preached to yourself? Or, perhaps even odder to the imagination, have you ever sung to yourself?

King David seems to do both in Psalm 103. We will be memorizing the entire Psalm the next seven weeks. But my prayer is not just that we memorize it, but that we would preach it to our souls—that it would ignite worship to Jesus our Lord.

David sings three commands to his soul: “Bless the Lord” (vv. 1, 2, 22); “Bless his holy name” (v. 1); and “Forget not all his benefits” (v. 2). The first two commands are essentially the same, so I will focus on the first and third and then discuss how they relate.

Bless the Lord, O My Soul

This command is the main point of Psalm 103, as is seen in how David repeats it and begins and ends with it. It's likely that David wrote this while in a spiritually dry season of life, since it would seem odd for him to command his soul to do what was already happening. It is also possible that he was experiencing a divided heart, and so he cried out for all that was within him to bless the Lord. Whatever his condition, his desire is clear, that his whole soul—the deepest desire of his heart, every cell in his body, every thought in his head, every word in his mouth, every action throughout his day—would worship the Lord.

Forget Not All His Benefits

The psalmist next commands his soul not to forget what the Lord has done. The majority of the Psalm is then spent remembering the Lord‘s benefits. As you memorize this Psalm, notice all the wonderful benefits the Lord has blessed us with.

We see four benefits from the Lord in verses 3-4: He forgives all the soul’s iniquity; He heals all the soul’s diseases; He redeems the soul’s life from the pit; and He crowns the soul with steadfast love and mercy. Each one of these benefits, and countless others, were purchased for us by Jesus’ death on the cross. By His wounds we are forgiven, healed, saved from hell, and forever faithfully loved.

From Receiving Benefits to Giving Blessing

How then do the two commands relate? In order to fuel our souls to bless the Lord, we should reflect on the Lord‘s benefits to us. This is not just a lesson on counting your blessings. We count our blessings in order to bless the Lord. Our relationship with God should have a joy-inducing U-shaped pattern: God acts through Christ’s death to give us benefits and then we gladly respond in worship to Him.

As you memorize this Psalm, preach it to yourself. Preach the Lord‘s benefits to yourself. Memorize these benefits in order to remember them in order to fuel your worship.


For Reflection:

  1. What other commands do you need to preach to your soul?

  2. In what other ways, besides singing, can you bless the Lord?


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