Psalm 103

Bless The LORD, 22 April 2018

Bless The Lord
D6 Series—
Songs from the Heart (Psalms)
Psalm 103

Series Overview: The Psalms reveal hearts poured out in inspired song.

Big Idea: God is worthy of our praise!

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! (Psalms 103:1, ESV)

We’ve sung the words, but what do they mean?

Today we are continuing our series, Songs from the Heart, on select Psalms. I have mentioned how the book of Psalms was Israel’s hymnbook…and my favorite book of the Old Testament. The passion, authenticity, and artistry of these lyrics are so real, relevant, and inspiring…thousands of years after their writing.

On Resurrection Sunday, we saw glimpses of the suffering Jesus in Psalm 22. Then we looked at the Messianic nature of Psalm 72 and God’s love expressed in Psalm 89 last Sunday. Today we turn to Psalm 103.

At the recent Worship Night in America event, Pastor Darren Whitehead talked about the seven Hebrew words for “praise.” Just saying that makes our English language seem so simplistic!

The word repeated used in Psalm 103 for “praise” or “bless,” depending upon your translation, is the word “barak.”

Of David. Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. (Psalms 103:1)

בָּרַךְ   bāraḵ   means to bless or pronounce blessings, give praise, give thanks, extol, to kneel down, to bow or salute, to bless God as an act of adoration.

This Hebrew word appears about 300 times in the Old Testament. To bless or praise the LORD is to bow down before Him, acknowledging He is God and we are not, thanking Him and telling others how great He is…in word, song, and deed. Praising or blessing God, then, is more than just words…it’s a lifestyle, an act of worship.

King David begins this famous psalm by not merely stating, “barak,” but telling his soul, all of his inmost being, to praise the LORD and His holy name.

The Hebrew name for God is so holy, in fact, that to this day it is never spoken out loud by Jews. The word “Adonai” is a more general term for God, but the holy name which Gentiles often pronounce “Yahweh” is sacred and revered. There is so much in this one short verse. It’s as if David is throwing himself before the LORD saying, “I’m Yours, LORD. All of me. My body. My soul. My heart. My mind. It all thanks You. It all adores You. It all belongs to You.”

Have you ever felt like that? That’s devotion. That’s passion. That’s worship. And God loves it! This idea of blessing the LORD is the central idea of this psalm. The LORD has blessed David, and David returns the favor.

Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases, (Psalms 103:2-3)

David tells his soul to forget not. Why? Because we forget! What do we forget? We forget the LORD’s blessings, His benefits.

Do you like benefits? It seems like every few months I’m getting a notice in the mail about new benefits coming soon to my credit card or changes in my health insurance benefits (not always good changes!). When making a major purchase, one must always learn about the features and benefits of the investment.

We must not forget the benefits of the LORD. David lists five in this psalm.

  • 1. God has forgiven our sins (all our sins!)
  • 2. God heals all our diseases (someday all diseases will be healed; maybe today!)

  • What else?

    who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
    who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalms 103:4-5)

    Here we see the final three benefits:

  • 3. God redeems our life from the pit (now and beyond the grave)
  • 4. God crowns us with love and compassion (surrounds us, placed upon us)
  • 5. God satisfies our desires with good things (we can satisfy them with bad things!)

  • The result is our youth, our strength, is renewed. Because of the goodness of the LORD we can have hope and passion (one of my prayers for FAC).

    Is this good news, family? Absolutely! The problem for many of us is we forget. I don’t necessarily mean we have no knowledge of these truths, but rather we are so familiar with them we forget their importance, their impact, and we forget to thank God!

    The LORD works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.
    He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
    The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love. (Psalms 103:6-8)

    Have you ever felt oppressed? Many in our world today are oppressed—by poverty, slavery, injustice…and yet God works on their behalf. He is engaged in righteousness and justice. His timing might not be as quick as we would like, but in the end, justice will prevail.

    Moses and the people of Israel were witnesses of God’s righteousness and deliverance.

    Verse eight is echoed throughout the Bible. From Exodus to Joel to Jonah, this phrase appears:

    “The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in love.”

    Because God is just, he gets angry. We should get angry when we see injustice. We simply need to direct our anger appropriately.

    … “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

    Jesus got angry. The Father gets angry, but His anger is limited by His grace, mercy and love.

    He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
    he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities. (Psalms 103:9-10)

    This is great news! We come to a God of justice but also grace and mercy. He is a God of wrath, but also love. He does not treat us as our sins deserve. Meditate on that for a moment. Hallelujah! People often talk about what they deserve. All I deserve is eternal separation from God because of my sins, yet God does not treat me as my sins deserve. I’m so grateful. Praise the LORD!!!

    For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
    as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalms 103:11-12)

    Here’s another oft-quoted scripture. God created the cosmos for us to enjoy. His love is as great as from here to the heavens! That’s infinite!

    Furthermore, our sins are forgiven, sent as far away as from the east to the west. That’s far! That’s infinite!

    God’s love is endless. God’s forgiveness is endless. There’s more!

    As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
    for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust. (Psalms 103:13-14)

    This past week I was thrilled to be present for the formal legal adoption of the Glovers’ son. Watching him during these six months since birth has brought me so much joy, and mine pales in comparison to the joy of mom, dad, and big brother.

    I was thinking about him when I read this verse. His mom and dad know he is small, young, and fragile. God knows even the strongest people on our planet are nothing compared to God’s power. We are all but dust. Those who fear—who revere—God will receive His compassion rather than His wrath and justice for our sins, which reminds of the one child the Father did not have compassion upon—Jesus. He took our punishment. He died on our behalf.

    The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
    the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more. (Psalms 103:15-16)

    Here’s another beautiful image of our weakness, our mortality. We often think we’re so strong and mighty, but when we compare ourselves to God…to the universe…we are like a blade of grass. Yet to God, we are special.

    But from everlasting to everlasting
    the LORD’S love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
    with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts. (Psalms 103:17-18)

    All good dads love their children. They give age-appropriate feedback and discipline. They encourage, support, and provide for their kids. They are aware of the limitations of little people and nurture them to adulthood.

    But don’t miss the condition—obedience. We talked about this last week. God’s love language is obedience. We love Him because He first loved us. We obey, not out of fear of punishment, but out of reverence, respect, and love. God can be trusted. God’s Word can be trusted. God’s commands can be trusted. He’s a good, good Father.

    The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all. (Psalms 103:19)

    That’s pretty comprehensive! God’s kingdom rules over all, and not just over us.

    Praise the LORD, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word. (Psalms 103:20)

    The LORD rules over the angels who praise Him.

    Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will. (Psalms 103:21)

    The LORD rules over the heavenly hosts who praise Him.

    Praise the LORD, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion. (Psalms 103:22a)

    The LORD rules over all of creation who praise Him. There’s a great scene in the Palm Sunday account where Jesus warns what will happen if we don’t praise the LORD.

    When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:

    “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

    “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

    Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”

    “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” (Luke 19:37-40)
    I don’t want any stones praising the LORD instead of me!

    And finally, David ends the way he began:

    Praise the LORD, my soul. (Psalms 103:22b)

    So What?

    As the ushers come forward, I want to prepare you for opportunities to praise the LORD. First, you can bless and praise the LORD by giving of your tithes and offerings. The word tithe means ten percent, something of a minimum. All we have belongs to God. We have the freedom to spend and save, but the Old Testament minimum was ten percent to the LORD. Some of you give more than ten percent, which is wonderful. You’ve experienced the joy of generosity as Heather and I have. Worshipping through giving is not the weekly church fundraiser. It’s a way to tangibly declare our allegiance to God.

    If you don’t tithe, I want to encourage you to begin with something. Start with five percent. Start with one percent! I recently learned that in the average church, one third of the people give zero, zip, nada. How sad…for them! Another third give less than $10/week. That might be fine for some of our students whose only income is a paper route, but for many of us ten dollars is less than we spend a week on restaurant tips…and we’re talk about Almighty God! If you’re not prepared to give this morning, no worries. You can give via our free smartphone
    app or on our website, too.

    If we love God, we will obey, and that includes being generous with the resources He has given to us. As you listen to this beautiful song of praise, may it prompt you to fully engage in worship, in blessing the LORD.

    Benediction (containing “barak”)

    ‘ “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ’ (Numbers 6:24-26)

    some ideas from D6, Westside Church Vancouver

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
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