One’s heart naturally turns to this passage when one desires to magnify the Lord. It is specially suitable for a New Year’s meditation.
Psalms 103:1. Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Come, my soul, wake up! Bestir thyself! Thou hast great work to do, such work as angels do for ever and ever before the throne. Let no power or faculty exempt itself from this divine service. Come, my memory, my will, my judgment, my intellect, my heart, all that in me is, be stirred up his holy name to magnify and bless. “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” — for the music must begin deep down in the centre of my being; it must be myself, my very self, that praises God.
Psalms 103:2. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
This shall be the first note: “We love him because he first loved us.” We have not to go abroad for materials for praise, they lie at home. Forget not all his benefits to thee, my soul, his overwhelming, his innumerable benefits, which have to be summed up in the gross as “all his benefits” —forget them not.
Psalms 103:3. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;
Come, come, my soul, canst thou not praise God for sin forgiven? That is the first note, and it is the sweetest note, in our song of praise. “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities,” — not some of them but the whole mass the blessed Scapegoat has carried into the “No man’s land of oblivion.”
Psalms 103:3. Who healeth all thy diseases;
He is the Physician for thee, my soul: thy diseases are the worst of all diseases, for they would drag thee down to hell if they were not cured. But Jehovah Rophi healeth all thy diseases.
Psalms 103:4. who redeemeth thy life from destruction;
Oh, my soul, praise God for redemption! If thou canst not sing about anything else, sing of free grace and dying love. Keep on ringing those charming bells.
Psalms 103:4. Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies;
What! can you wear a crown, and not praise him who placed it on your head? Can you wear such a crown as this, made up of loving kindness and tender mercies, and not bless the Lord? Oh, let it not be so, let us each break forth in spirit in one song tonight, and say, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”
Psalms 103:5. Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Heavenly feasting on heavenly bread; divine satisfaction from the finished work of Christ. Oh, my soul, pray to God to give thee new life tonight, so that thy youth may be renewed, so that thy wing feathers may grow again, and that thou mayest mount as eagles do! Surely, dear friends, this little list of mercies, so small for number, contains an immensity of mercy. Let us bless the Lord for every one of them.
Psalms 103:6. The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.
Let the poor and the down-trodden sing unto the Lord. He will take care of you, he is the Executor of the needy and the Executioner of the proud. “The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.”
Psalms 103:7. He made known his ways unto Moses his acts unto the children of Israel.
Therefore, let us bless him, the God of revelation, who does not hide himself from his creatures; but who makes known his ways and his acts unto his people. An unknown God is an unpraised God; but when he shows himself to his people, they cannot refrain from blessing his name.
Psalms 103:8. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.
Praise him for this. Bless his name at every single mention of his divine attributes; let your hearts beat to the music of praise tonight.
Psalms 103:9. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.
Let the afflicted praise him; let the downcast and the despondent sinner praise him; if he cannot sing about anything else, let him bless the name of the Lord that he will not keep his anger for ever.
Psalms 103:10. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
Let us thank God we are not in hell; we are yet on praying ground, and on pleading terms with him. Some of us will never go into perdition, for he hath saved us with an everlasting salvation. Truly, if we did not bless him, every timber in this house, and every iron column beneath this roof, might burst out in rebukes for our ingratitude; we must bless his name.
Psalms 103:11. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
Look up into the blue sky, up, up beyond the stars, and say to yourself. “So great is his mercy.” Let us therefore praise him accordingly.
“Loud as his thunders shout his praise,
And sound it lofty at his throne.”
Psalms 103:12. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
There is neither latitude nor longitude for praise. God’s grace is boundless; let us therefore unstintedly praise him.
Psalms 103:13. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.
He has a tender heart: he never strikes without regret, but his love always flows freely. No father or mother is half so mild and loving as is the Lord of hosts.
Psalms 103:14. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.
Our bodies are but animated dust, and even our souls might be compared to dust in his sight. Not iron or granite, but mere dust are we. It is a wonder that men live so long when there are such mighty forces, even in nature, arrayed against them. Who can control earthquakes and volcanoes? And when men cross the sea in times of storm, it is a wonder that they come to land again.
Psalms 103:15. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
You are like the primrose by the river’s brim, or the buttercup and the daisy in the field that is visited with the scythe. That is all we are, not cedars, not oaks, not rocks, but flowers of the field.
Psalms 103:16. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.
Some of the hot winds of the East come over a meadow, and it is burned up immediately. I have seen the fairest and loveliest flowers look, in a short time, as if they had been burned with a hot iron when the Sirocco had blown across from Africa: and such are we. We speak of the breath of the pestilence; it is but a puff of wind, and we are gone.
Psalms 103:17-18. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children; to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.
“But”, — and this is a blessed “but.” “But the mercy of the Lord” — that is not a fading flower, that is not a withering wind, — “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting.” Here are ten thousand blessings in one. You have everlasting mercy, covenant mercy. Oh, if we do not praise God when we think of the covenant, what has happened to us? We must be possessed with a dumb devil if we do not praise the name of him whose mercy is from everlasting to everlasting.
Psalms 103:19. The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
Now, children of a King, will you go mourning all your days? You that dwell in the light of his throne, will not you be glad? Rejoice, O Zion, for thy King liveth and reigneth for ever! “The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice.”
Psalms 103:20. Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.
“Bless the Lord, ye his angels.” We cannot do it well enough yet; help us, then, ye angels that excel in strength; put out all your strength when ye praise him, “ye that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his Word.” Your actions are your praises, O ye angels! Would God that we had learned to do his commandments as ye do them! We are praying for this, even as our Lord taught his disciples to say, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
Psalms 103:21. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.
All living things, and all the forces and powers of nature, are calling upon men to praise the Lord; and all the hosts of God, the organs of Omnipotence, ring out the grand chorus, “Bless ye the Lord.”
Psalms 103:22. Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.
I must not go grumbling up to heaven, nor stumbling among the works of God, I must gratefully come to him, and myself praise him, so with the psalmist I cry, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.”