VERSE OF THE DAY
The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
The Lord Expects nothing but love and a compassionate relationship from his children as he is like a father to those who honor and respect him in god fearing love and relationships
What Does Psalm 103:13 Mean? ►
Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
So much exciting truth has been condensed into a few short verses in Psalm 103, that it should rejoice our heart, still our soul, provide encouragement, and cause us to gaze in utter wonderment and awe at the God Who created us, redeemed us, and upholds us moment by moment by the might of His powerful hand.
We are not worthy to gather up the crumbs under His table, and yet we have been raised up together with Christ and seated together with Him in heavenly places – no wonder David blessed the holy name of the Lord with his whole being. And it is no surprise that he called to mind God’s kindness towards us, and wrote in verse 13… “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.”
The same God Who knit us together in our mother’s womb, is tender-hearted towards all who fear Him. He pardons all our iniquities, heals all our diseases, redeems our life from the pit, and by grace has crowned us with lovingkindness, tender mercies, and great goodness. His compassion never fails and His mercies are new every morning – great is His faithfulness.
The very God of gods, Who is eternal in substance and holy in nature, leads us beside still waters, and provides the refreshment we need – spirit, soul, and body, as we travel through life. He never fails to satisfy our days and years with good things – for moment by moment we are kept secure in His love. The Lord’s concern for each one of us is likened to the tenderness a father has for his beloved son or daughter.
He restores our soul and leads us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake, so that our youth is renewed like the eagle. His grace is sufficient for His strength is made perfect in our weakness.. so that through Him, we may run the race of life and not be weary, we may walk in storms of difficulty and danger and not faint. Oh yes, David certainly compressed the benefits we receive from our caring, compassionate Lord into the few short verses of this psalm.
David could have described God with a multitude of alternative comparisons – the boldness of a lion, the strength of the wind, the gentleness of a dove, the sweetness of honey. But he chose to use the love and compassion of a caring and considerate human father towards his child, in order to convey the love, compassion, pity, and grace of God towards those who believe in Him.
Pity or compassion may seem an unusual attribute for the psalmist to emphasise, but it brings to mind the yearning heart of a father towards the frailty and weakness of the child he loves. The sleeping child needs to be sheltered by his father, the weary child needs to be carried. The hungry child needs the father’s provision of food to sustain him, while the wandering child needs to be sought after, brought home, and shown great understanding. The disobedient child needs to be chastened, and the child that is wounded and afraid needs the loving compassion that can only come from the heart of a father who truly cares for the child of his love.
The loving compassion of every earthly father is completely eclipsed by the tender-hearted pity and grace that God shows to each of His own. He knows our various weaknesses. He knows our human frame, our inner frailties, and is mindful that we are but dust. Yet in His mercy and grace, He has rescued us from a miry pit and bestowed on us such riches of His grace, that we should be forever glorifying His holy name.
Let us never fail to bless the Lord with our whole being, and not forget all His benefits – for He pardons all our iniquities, heals all our diseases, redeems our life from the pit, crowns us with lovingkindness and compassion, and satisfies our years with good things. Let us never forget that just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on all of us who fear Him – and He is worthy to receive ALL the honour and praise, forever and ever.
Heavenly Father, thank You that you are such a wonderful, compassionate Father to all Your blood-bought children. Thank You that You know our inner frailties and remember that we are but dust. I praise and thank You for the many benefits and graces that You bestow on us day by day and moment by moment. Thank You for the loving care you have towards us and for the many benefits that are ours, by faith in Jesus. May I never hold these things lightly and bless Your holy name for Your goodness and grace. This I pray in Jesus’ name, AMEN.
As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.
Thoughts on Today’s Verse…
Compassion. Not pity, not anger, not shame, not impatience, not intolerance, not rejection, but compassion is what God, my Father, gives to me. He cares for my pain enough to enter into my world and share it in Jesus.
Father of Mercies and God of all Compassion, thank you for not only knowing and caring about my struggles and problems but sending me help in Jesus and the Holy Spirit. By one I know your love and mercy and by the other I know your might and power. May your Spirit of compassion be found in my relationships. Through the grace of Jesus I pray. Amen.
The Thoughts and Prayer on Today’s Verse are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Psalm 103 – Bless the LORD, O My Soul
This psalm is simply titled A Psalm of David. We don’t know the circumstances in which it was written, but since David was a man who knew the grace and deliverance of God many times, it could have been written at many different times of his life.
However, Charles Spurgeon thought, “We should attribute it to his later years when he had a higher sense of the preciousness of pardon, because a keener sense of sin, than in his younger days. His clear sense of the frailty of life indicates his weaker years, as also does the very fulness of his praiseful gratitude.” (Charles Spurgeon)
“It is perhaps the most perfect song of pure praise to be found in the Bible…. Through centuries it has been sung by glad hearts, and today is as fresh and full of beauty as ever.” (G. Campbell Morgan)
A. Reasons to bless and honor God.
1. (1-2) Blessing God for all His benefits.
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:
a. Bless the LORD: David did not mean this in the sense that a greater person bestows a blessing on a lesser person. God is infinitely greater than man, and man could never give a blessing to God. David meant this in the sense that it blesses and honors God when His creatures praise Him and thank Him appropriately.
b. Bless the LORD, O my soul: David called upon his soul to bless Yahweh. It was as if David looked at his soul and understood that it was not praising God enough. He called upon his soul to do more.
i. David understood that true worship was something deeply inward, of the soul. It is not just about outward forms or expressions, but also about something real from the soul. “Soul music is the very soul of music.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “Let others murmur, but do thou bless. Let others bless themselves and their idols, but do thou bless the Lord. Let others use only their tongues, but as for me I will cry, ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul.’” (Spurgeon)
c. All that is within me, bless His holy name: David also understood that worship had to be more than superficial; it had to be offered as completely as possible. He wanted everything within to praise God. He set his heart in tune as well as setting his instruments in tune.
i. We often praise and thank God halfheartedly – or less! David called for everything within him (all that is within me) to give honor and praise to God.
ii. All that is within me: “What a rebuke to much of what passes for praise in our assemblies. We come to church, but we leave our minds at home. We hear of God’s grace, but our hearts have been hardened by a critical and carping spirit.” (Boice)
iii. “The singer addresses himself. He realizes that he has power over himself, that he is able to give or to withhold that which is due to God.” (Morgan)
iv. “The one value of these opening words is that they show us that worship is not involuntary, automatic. It calls for the coordination of all our powers…. The sanctuary is not a lounge, a place of relaxation. We should enter it with all the powers of personality arrested, arranged, dedicated. Then we may render a service of praise that is worthy and acceptable.” (Morgan)
v. Bless His holy name: “Only a holy man can delight in holy things. Holiness is the terror of unholy men; they love sin and count it liberty, but holiness is to them a slavery. If we be saints we shall bless God for his holiness.” (Spurgeon)
d. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: In the pattern of Hebrew poetry, David used repetition for emphasis. He then added an important idea – that this praise and honor to God should be given unto Him for rational reasons, not on the basis of mere emotion or excitement. True benefits are given by God unto His people, and we must not forget them. Instead, we should use the remembrance of those things as reasons to praise.
i. 2 Chronicles 32:25 describes a king who did forget God’s benefits, at least for a time: But Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem.
ii. “Thanksgiving cannot be sincere and hearty, unless a man bear impressed upon his mind, at the time, a quick sense of ‘benefits’ received.” (Horne)
iii. “Praise is the response of awe for God, while reflecting on what the Lord has done for the people of God throughout the history of redemption, for creation at large, for the community, and for oneself.” (VanGemeren)
2. (3-5) Blessing God who redeems.
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
a. Who forgives all your iniquities: One of the great benefits mentioned in Psalm 103:3 is the forgiveness of all our sins. When the magnitude of our sin and the righteousness of God are understood, this forgiveness is a staggering reason for praising and honoring God.
i. This begins a series of great benefits God brings to His believing people. “He selects a few of the choicest pearls from the casket of divine love, threads them on the string of memory, and hangs them about the neck of gratitude.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Significantly, this is the benefit listed first. In David’s mind, the most important thing was to have sins forgiven, even more important than physical healing.
iii. “The profound consciousness of sin, which it was one aim of the Law to evoke, underlies the psalmist’s praise.” (Maclaren)
b. Who heals all your diseases: Another great benefit is God’s care for our bodies. He brings healing to us in this life through both natural and miraculous ways. He promises ultimate healing for all His people in the age to come.
i. Many commentators understand these diseases as spiritual in nature. Horne described this thinking: “What is pride, but lunacy? What is lust, but a leprosy? What is sloth, but a dead palsy? Perhaps there are spiritual maladies similar to all [bodily] ones.” While it is true that sin leads to spiritual illness, here David seems to refer to physical diseases.
ii. “Some suggest that David is speaking about spiritual illness, such as the burdens of sin. But that is not it. I think he really is speaking of diseases. He is saying that when we are healed, as we often are, it is God who has done it. He is the healer of the body as well as of the soul. Therefore, such health as we have been given is a sure gift from God. God should be praised for it.” (Boice)
c. Who redeems your life from destruction: Many know the powerful blessing of God’s rescue from sure destruction. Many calamities are spared the child of God, whether he knows it or not.
i. Who redeems: “Preservation from destruction, haggoel, properly, redemption of life by the kinsman; possibly looking forward, in the spirit of prophecy, to him who became partaker of our flesh and blood, that he might have the right to redeem our souls from death by dying in our stead.” (Clarke)
d. Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies: God’s greatness extends beyond sparing us from sin, disease, or trouble. Through God’s blessing, we are crowned with His great love and mercy.
e. Who satisfies your mouth with good things: The result of God’s work, both in what He saves us from and what He saves us unto, is to bring true satisfaction to our lives. This is different from mere pleasure or entertainment; God wants to bring true satisfaction to our lives from good things. This satisfaction becomes a source of strength and energy to His people (your youth is renewed like the eagle’s).
i. “It is God who gives us the ‘good things’ of this world, and who giveth us likewise an appetite and a taste to enjoy them.” (Horne)
ii. Who satisfies: “No man is ever filled to satisfaction but a believer, and only God himself can satisfy even him. Many a worldling is satiated, but not one is satisfied.” (Spurgeon)
iii. Your youth is renewed like the eagle’s: “The second line is not implying…that eagles have the power of self-renewal; only that God renews us to…the very picture of buoyant, tireless strength which Isaiah 40:30f. takes up.” (Kidner)
3. (6-7) Blessing God who is righteous.
The LORD executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
a. The LORD executes righteousness and justice: In the previous section, David described the greatness of God in His work to the individual. Yet God also shows His greatness in bringing righteousness and justice to societies.
i. “Our own personal obligations must not absorb our song; we must also magnify the Lord for his goodness to others.” (Spurgeon)
b. He made known His ways: Another aspect of God’s greatness is His self-revelation. God could be content to hide Himself, but instead He wanted to make known His way and His acts.
4. (8-10) Blessing God who is gracious.
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
a. The LORD is merciful and gracious: In the previous lines, David described the righteousness and justice of God. Those aspects of God’s character are true, but so also are His mercy and graciousness. His anger comes, but slowly and after much mercy has been shown.
i. “All the world tastes of his sparing mercy, those who hear the gospel partake of his inviting mercy, the saints live by his saving mercy, are preserved by his upholding mercy, are cheered by his consoling mercy, and will enter heaven through his infinite and everlasting mercy.” (Spurgeon)
b. Abounding in mercy: David’s statements remind us of God’s revelation of Himself to Moses in Exodus 34: The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth (Exodus 34:6).
i. He will not always strive with us: “These very human terms point the contrast between God’s generosity and the heavy-handed wrath of man, who loves to keep his quarrels going (chide [strive] translates a term much used for disputes, especially at law) and to nurse his grievances.” (Kidner)
c. He has not dealt with us according to our sins: David knew the slow anger and abounding mercy of God personally. He knew that his sins (and the sins of his people) deserved much greater judgment or discipline than they had received.
i. “We ought to praise the Lord for what he has not done as well as for what he has wrought for us; even the negative side deserves our adoring gratitude.” (Spurgeon)
ii. “Why is it that God hath not dealt with us after our sins? Is it not because he hath dealt with another after our sins? Another who took our sins upon him.” (Baker, cited in Spurgeon)
5. (11-12) The greatness of God’s gracious forgiveness.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
a. For as the heavens are high above the earth: This is a description of the abounding mercy of God mentioned in Psalm 103:8. The distance from the earth to the heavens measures the greatness of His mercy toward those who fear Him. By instinct, we often think of God’s mercy as less than it really is.
i. There were three concepts of heaven in the ancient Biblical world. The first heaven is the blue sky, the atmosphere with its sun. The second heaven is the night sky, the stars and constellations. The third heaven is the place where God dwells and is enthroned. It’s interesting to wonder which of the three concepts of heaven David had in mind with this wonderful statement.
b. As far as the east is from the west: This is a description of the great forgiveness of God mentioned in Psalm 103:10. We have no idea if David knew the shape of the earth, but the Holy Spirit who inspired David to write this did, and the nature of the earth and our way of describing directions makes this statement particularly inspiring.
i. As far as the east is from the west is much greater than saying as far as the north is from the south, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. If you travel north on a globe, you begin to travel south as soon as you go over the North Pole. But if you travel east, you will continue east forever. Given the true shape of the earth, east and west never meet – and this is how far God has removed our sins from us!
ii. “As the east and the west can never meet in one point, but be for ever at the same distance from each other, so our sins and their decreed punishment are removed to an eternal distance by his mercy.” (Clarke)
iii. “God loves us, and he will love us for ever. He loves us infinitely, and he could not love us more than if we had never fallen.” (Spurgeon)
6. (13-14) Blessing God who shows great sympathy.
As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
a. The LORD pities those who fear Him: David continues to describe the abounding mercy and goodness of God. The way that a good father cares for and even pities his children in their frailty and weakness, so the LORD pities those who fear Him.
i. We think of a loving father dealing with his tired children. He does not demand more of them than they can perform, but with care takes into account their weaknesses. He comforts them and measures his expectations according to his wisdom and compassion.
ii. Spurgeon considered the many ways God may pity His children:
· He pities our childish ignorance.
· He pities our childish weakness.
· He pities our childish foolishness.
· He pities our childish naughtiness.
· He pities our childish stumbles and falls.
· He pities the pain of His children.
· He pities the child when another has wronged him.
· He pities the fears of His children.
iii. “It is in the present tense, and carries the idea of continuity: at this very moment he is now pitying them that fear him. Though he knows your trials will work for your good, yet he pities you. Though he knows that there is sin in you, which, perhaps, may require this rough discipline ere you be sanctified, yet he pities you. Though he can hear the music of heaven, the songs and glees that will ultimately come of your present sighs and griefs, yet still he pities those groans and wails of yours.” (Spurgeon)
iv. “We may lose ourselves amid the amplitudes of the lofty, wide-stretching sky, but this emblem of paternal love goes straight to our hearts. A pitying God! What can be added to that?” (Maclaren)
v. The wise reaction to this is, fear the LORD! How much better to be on the side of His pity and compassion than to be on the side of His anger or righteous judgment!
b. For He knows our frame: The pity and compassion of God toward those who fear Him are rooted in His knowledge and understanding of our inherent weakness and impermanence, our transience.
i. “The word rendered ‘frame’ is literally, ‘formation’ or ‘fashioning,’ and comes from the same root as the verb employed in Genesis 2:7 to describe man’s creation. ‘The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground.’ It is also used for the potter’s action in moulding earthen vessels. (Isaiah 29:16, etc.) So, in the next clause, ‘dust’ carries on the allusion to Genesis, and the general idea conveyed is that of frailty.” (Maclaren)
ii. “In all his conduct towards us he considers the frailty of our nature, the untowardness of our circumstances, the strength and subtlety of temptation, and the sure party (till the heart is renewed) that the tempter has within us.” (Clarke)
iii. This pity and remembrance were turned to empathy at the incarnation. God Himself added humanity to His deity and experienced our frame and our dust-like weakness. What before He knew by observation, He submitted to know by experience.
B. Contrasts that display the greatness of God.
1. (15-18) The contrast between man’s moment and God’s permanence.
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more.
But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
a. As for man, his days are like grass: David expanded the thought of man’s weak frame and dust-like nature. Humanity is so transient that his days are like grass and like a flower of the field that blooms one day and withers the next. When the flower is gone, virtually nothing remains – its place remembers it no more.
i. “A flower of the field; which is more exposed to winds and other violences than the flowers of the garden, which are secured by the art and care of the gardener.” (Poole)
ii. “The flower which faded in Adam, blooms anew in Christ, never to fade again.” (Horne)
b. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting: This is true of God’s mercy and of God Himself, the source of mercy. His hesed – covenant love, loyal kindness – endures from all ages to all ages. Those who fear Him receive the benefit of this everlasting mercy, as do their children’s children.
i. “God’s love does not alter with our alterings, or change with our changes. Does the mother’s love fluctuate with the moods of her sick babe?” (Meyer)
ii. “There never was a time when He did not love you. His mercy is from everlasting; nor a time when He will love you less – it is to everlasting.” (Meyer)
c. To such as keep His covenant: These promises of everlasting love and mercy are given with conditions. The promises are made to those who fear Him, to those who keep His covenant, and those who remember His commandments to do them.
2. (19) The contrast between Yahweh and all creation.
The LORD has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.
a. The LORD has established His throne in heaven: David celebrated God’s secure reign from heaven. God is enthroned in heaven, beyond the troubles and corruptions of earth. It is established, and will never be moved.
b. And His kingdom rules over all: An eternal contrast is made between the Ruler and the ruled. There is no aspect of the universe that is not under His reign.
i. “When Melancthon was extremely solicitous [worried] about the affairs of the church in his days, Luther would have him admonished in these terms, Monendus est Philippzzs ut desinat esse rector mundi, Let not Philip make himself any longer governor of the world.” (Clarkson, cited in Spurgeon)
3. (20-22) The contrast between God and His angels.
Bless the LORD, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
Bless the LORD, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
a. Bless the LORD, you His angels: David began the psalm by telling his own soul to bless the Lord, but he knew the praise and honor to God should go beyond what he could give. It should extend all the way to the angels, and David boldly told them to also bless the LORD.
b. Who excel in strength, who do His word: The angels are strong and obedient, but even they should bless the LORD, giving Him praise and honor.
c. Bless the LORD, all you His hosts: The angels also make up God’s hosts: His heavenly army under His command who do His pleasure. As God’s soldiers, they should give Him the honor and praise due to Him.
d. Bless the LORD, all His works: David extended the call to honor and praise God further than the angels to all of God’s works, in all places of His dominion.
i. All His works: “His song is no solo, for all creation is singing – or will sing – with him; but his voice, like every other, has its own part to add, its own ‘benefits’ (2ff.) to celebrate, and its own access (cf. Ps. 5:3) to the attentive ear of God.” (Kidner)
ii. “Man is but little, yet, placing his hands upon the keys of the great organ of the universe, he wakes it to thunders of adoration! Redeemed man is the voice of nature, the priest in the temple of creation, the precentor in the worship of the universe.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “The ‘my’ of personal experience merges into the ‘our’ of social fellowship, thus culminates in the ‘all’ of universal consciousness.” (Morgan)
e. Bless the LORD, O my soul: David ended the psalm as he began it, with a call to his own soul to bless God, giving Him the honor and praise due to Him. After the many reasons given in Psalm 103, David had more reasons to bless the LORD at the end of the psalm.
(c) 2020 The Enduring Word Bible Commentary by David Guzik – email@example.com
Matthew Henry :: Commentary on Psalms 103
This psalm calls more for devotion than exposition; it is a most excellent psalm of praise, and of general use. The psalmist,
• I. Stirs up himself and his own soul to praise God (v. 1, 2) for his favour to him in particular (v. 3-5), to the church in general, and to all good men, to whom he is, and will be, just, and kind, and constant (v. 6-18), and for his government of the world (v. 19).
• II. He desires the assistance of the holy angels, and all the works of God, in praising him (v. 20-22).
In singing this psalm we must in a special manner get our hearts affected with the goodness of God and enlarged in love and thankfulness.
A psalm of David.
David is here communing with his own heart, and he is no fool that thus talks to himself and excites his own soul to that which is good. Observe,
• I. How he stirs up himself to the duty of praise, v. 1, 2.
• 1. It is the Lord that is to be blessed and spoken well of; for he is the fountain of all good, whatever are the channels or cisterns; it is to his name, his holy name, that we are to consecrate our praise, giving thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.
• 2. It is the soul that is to be employed in blessing God, and all that is within us. We make nothing of our religious performances if we do not make heart-work of them, if that which is within us, nay, if all that is within us, be not engaged in them. The work requires the inward man, the whole man, and all little enough.
• 3. In order to our return of praises to God, there must be a grateful remembrance of the mercies we have received from him: Forget not all his benefits. If we do not give thanks for them, we do forget them; and that is unjust as well as unkind, since in all God’s favours there is so much that is memorable. “O my soul! to thy shame be it spoken, thou hast forgotten many of his benefits; but surely thou wilt not forget them all, for thou shouldst not have forgotten any.”
• II. How he furnishes himself with abundant matter for praise, and that which is very affecting: “Come, my soul, consider what God has done for thee.”
• 1. “He has pardoned thy sins (v. 3); he has forgiven, and does forgive, all thy iniquities.” This is mentioned first because by the pardon of sin that is taken away which kept good things from us, and we are restored to the favour of God, which bestows good things on us. Think what the provocation was; it was iniquity, and yet pardoned; how many the provocations were, and yet all pardoned. He has forgiven all our trespasses. It is a continued act; he is still forgiving, as we are still sinning and repenting.
• 2. “He has cured thy sickness.” The corruption of nature is the sickness of the soul; it is its disorder, and threatens its death. This is cured in sanctification; when sin is mortified, the disease is healed; though complicated, it is all healed. Our crimes were capital, but God saves our lives by pardoning them; our diseases were mortal, but God saves our lives by healing them. These two go together; for, as for God, his work is perfect and not done by halves; if God take away the guilt of sin by pardoning mercy, he will break the power of it by renewing grace. Where Christ is made righteousness to any soul he is made sanctification, 1 Co. 1:30.
• 3. “He has rescued thee from danger.” A man may be in peril of life, not only by his crimes, or his diseases, but by the power of his enemies; and therefore here also we experience the divine goodness: Who redeemed thy life from destruction (v. 4), from the destroyer, from hell (so the Chaldee), from the second death. The redemption of the soul is precious; we cannot compass it, and therefore are the more indebted to divine grace that has wrought it out, to him who has obtained eternal redemption for us. See Job 33:24, 28.
• 4. “He has not only saved thee from death and ruin, but has made thee truly and completely happy, with honour, pleasure, and long life.”
• (1.) “He has given thee true honour and great honour, no less than a crown: He crowns thee with his lovingkindness and tender mercies;” and what greater dignity is a poor soul capable of than to be advanced into the love and favour of God? This honour have all his saints. What is the crown of glory but God’s favour?
• (2.) “He has given thee true pleasure: He satisfies thy mouth with good things” (v. 5); it is only the favour and grace of God that can give satisfaction to a soul, can suit its capacities, supply its needs, and answer to its desires. Nothing but divine wisdom can undertake to fill its treasures (Prov. 8:21); other things will surfeit, but not satiate, Eccl. 6:7; Isa. 55:2.
• (3.) “He has given thee a prospect and pledge of long life: Thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” The eagle is long-lived, and, as naturalists say, when she is nearly 100 years old, casts all her feathers (as indeed she changes them in a great measure every year at moulting time), and fresh ones come, so that she becomes young again. When God, by the graces and comforts of his Spirit, recovers his people from their decays, and fills them with new life and joy, which is to them an earnest of eternal life and joy, then they may be said to return to the days of their youth, Job 33:25.
Hitherto the psalmist had only looked back upon his own experiences and thence fetched matter for praise; here he looks abroad and takes notice of his favour to others also; for in them we should rejoice and give thanks for them, all the saints being fed at a common table and sharing in the same blessings.
• I. Truly God is good to all (v. 6): He executes righteousness and judgment, not only for his own people, but for all that are oppressed; for even in common providence he is the patron of wronged innocency, and, one way or other, will plead the cause of those that are injured against their oppressors. It is his honour to humble the proud and help the helpless.
• II. He is in a special manner good to Israel, to every Israelite indeed, that is of a clean and upright heart.
• 1. He has revealed himself and his grace to us (v. 7): He made known his ways unto Moses, and by him his acts to the children of Israel, not only by his rod to those who then lived, but by his pen to succeeding ages. Note, Divine revelation is one of the first and greatest of divine favours with which the church is blessed; for God restores us to himself by revealing himself to us, and gives us all good by giving us knowledge. He has made known his acts and his ways (that is, his nature, and the methods of his dealing with the children of men), that they may know both what to conceive of him and what to expect from him; so Dr. Hammond. Or by his ways we may understand his precepts, the way which he requires us to walk in; and by his acts, or designs (as the word signifies), his promises and purposes as to what he will do with us. Thus fairly does God deal with us.
• 2. He has never been rigorous and severe with us, but always tender, full of compassion, and ready to forgive.
• (1.) It is in his nature to be so (v. 8): The Lord is merciful and gracious; this was his way which he made known unto Moses at Mount Horeb, when he thus proclaimed his name (Ex. 34:6, 7), in answer to Moses’s request (ch. 33:13), I beseech thee, show me thy way, that I may know thee. It is my way, says God, to pardon sin.
• [1.] He is not soon angry, v. 8. He is slow to anger, not extreme to mark what we do amiss nor ready to take advantage against us. He bears long with those that are very provoking, defers punishing, that he may give space to repent, and does not speedily execute the sentence of his law; and he could not be thus slow to anger if he were not plenteous in mercy, the very Father of mercies.
• [2.] He is not long angry; for (v. 9) he will not always chide, though we always offend and deserve chiding. Though he signify his displeasure against us for our sins by the rebukes of Providence, and the reproaches of our own consciences, and thus cause grief, yet he will have compassion, and will not always keep us in pain and terror, no, not for our sins, but, after the spirit of bondage, will give the spirit of adoption. How unlike are those to God who always chide, who take every occasion to chide, and never know when to cease! What would become of us if God should deal so with us? He will not keep his anger for ever against his own people, but will gather them with everlasting mercies, Isa. 54:8; 57:16.
• (2.) We have found him so; we, for our parts, must own that he has not dealt with us after our sins, v. 10. The scripture says a great deal of the mercy of God, and we may all set to our seal that it is true, that we have experienced it. If he had not been a God of patience, we should have been in hell long ago; but he has not rewarded us after our iniquities; so those will say who know what sin deserves. He has not inflicted the judgments which we have merited, nor deprived us of the comforts which we have forfeited, which should make us think the worse, and not the better, of sin; for God’s patience should lead us to repentance, Rom. 2:4.
• 3. He has pardoned our sins, not only my iniquity (v. 3), but our transgressions, v. 12. Though it is of our own benefit, by the pardoning mercy of God, that we are to take the comfort, yet of the benefit others have by it we must give him the glory. Observe,
• (1.) The transcendent riches of God’s mercy (v. 11): As the heaven is high above the earth (so high that the earth is but a point to the vast expanse), so God’s mercy is above the merits of those that fear him most, so much above and beyond them that there is no proportion at all between them; the greatest performances of man’s duty cannot demand the least tokens of God’s favour as a debt, and therefore all the seed of Jacob will join with him in owning themselves less than the least of all God’s mercies, Gen. 32:10. Observe, God’s mercy is thus great towards those that fear him, not towards those that trifle with him. We must fear the Lord and his goodness.
• (2.) The fulness of his pardons, an evidence of the riches of his mercy (v. 12): As far as the east is from the west (which two quarters of the world are of greatest extent, because all known and inhabited, and therefore geographers that way reckon their longitudes) so far has he removed our transgressions from us, so that they shall never be laid to our charge, nor rise up in judgment against us. The sins of believers shall be remembered no more, shall not be mentioned unto them; they shall be sought for, and not found. If we thoroughly forsake them, God will thoroughly forgive them.
• 4. He has pitied our sorrows, v. 13, 14. Observe,
• (1.) Whom he pities-those that fear him, that is, all good people, who in this world may become objects of pity on account of the grievances to which they are not only born, but born again. Or it may be understood of those who have not yet received the spirit of adoption, but are yet trembling at his word; those he pities, Jer. 31:18, 20.
• (2.) How he pities-as a father pities his children, and does them good as there is occasion. God is a Father to those that fear him and owns them for his children, and he is tender of them as a father. The father pities his children that are weak in knowledge and instructs them, pities them when they are froward and bears with them, pities them when they are sick and comforts them (Isa. 66:13), pities them when they have fallen and helps them up again, pities them when they have offended, and, upon their submission, forgives them, pities them when they are wronged and gives them redress; thus the Lord pities those that fear him.
• (3.) Why he pities-for he knows our frame. He has reason to know our frame, for he framed us; and, having himself made man of the dust, he remembers that he is dust, not only by constitution, but by sentence. Dust thou art. He considers the frailty of our bodies and the folly of our souls, how little we can do, and expects accordingly from us, how little we can bear, and lays accordingly upon us, in all which appears the tenderness of his compassion.
• 5. He has perpetuated his covenant-mercy and thereby provided relief for our frailty, v. 15-18. See here,
• (1.) How short man’s life is and of what uncertain continuance. The lives even of great men and good men are so, and neither their greatness nor their goodness can alter the property of them: As for man, his days are as grass, which grows out of the earth, rises but a little way above it, and soon withers and returns to it again. See Isa. 40:6, 7. Man, in his best estate, seems somewhat more than grass; he flourishes and looks gay; yet then he is but like a flower of the field, which, though distinguished a little from the grass, will wither with it. The flower of the garden is commonly more choice and valuable, and, though in its own nature withering, will last the longer for its being sheltered by the garden wall and the gardener’s care; but the flower of the field (to which life is here compared) is not only withering in itself, but exposed to the cold blasts, and liable to be cropped and trodden on by the beasts of the field. Man’s life is not only wasting of itself, but its period may be anticipated by a thousand accidents. When the flower is in its perfection a blasting wind, unseen, unlooked for, passes over it, and it is gone; it hangs the head, drops the leaves, dwindles into the ground again, and the place thereof, which was proud of it, now knows it no more. Such a thing is man: God considers this, and pities him; let him consider it himself, and be humble, dead to this world and thoughtful of another.
• (2.) How long and lasting God’s mercy is to his people (v. 17, 18): it will continue longer than their lives, and will survive their present state. Observe,
• [1.] The description of those to whom this mercy belongs. They are such as fear God, such as are truly religious, from principle.
• First, They live a life of faith; for they keep God’s covenant; having taken hold of it, they keep hold of it, fast hold, and will not let it go. They keep it as a treasure, keep it as their portion, and would not for all the world part with it, for it is their life.
• Secondly, They live a life of obedience; they remember his commandments to do them, else they do not keep his covenant. Those only shall have the benefit of God’s promises that make conscience of his precepts. See who those are that have a good memory, as well as a good understanding (Ps. 111:10), those that remember God’s commandments, not to talk of them, but to do them, and to be ruled by them.
• [2.] The continuance of the mercy which belongs to such as these; it will last them longer than their lives on earth, and therefore they need not be troubled though their lives be short, since death itself will be no abridgment, no infringement, of their bliss. God’s mercy is better than life, for it will out-live it.
• First, To their souls, which are immortal; to them the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting; from everlasting in the councils of it to everlasting in the consequences of it, in their election before the world was and their glorification when this world shall be no more; for they are predestinated to the inheritance (Eph. 1:11) and look for the mercy of the Lord, the Lord Jesus, unto eternal life.
• Secondly, To their seed, which shall be kept up to the end of time (Ps. 102:28): His righteousness, the truth of his promise, shall be unto children’s children; provided they tread in the steps of their predecessors’ piety, and keep his covenant, as they did, then shall mercy be preserved to them, even to a thousand generations.
• I. The doctrine of universal providence laid down, v. 19. He has secured the happiness of his peculiar people by promise and covenant, but the order of mankind, and the world in general, he secures by common providence. The Lord has a throne of his own, a throne of glory, a throne of government. He that made all rules all, and both by a word of power: He has prepared his throne, has fixed and established it that it cannot be shaken; he has afore-ordained all the measures of his government and does all according to the counsel of his own will. He has prepared it in the heavens, above us, and out of sight; for he holds back the face of his throne, and spreads a cloud upon it (Job 26:9); yet he can himself judge through the dark cloud, Job 22:13. Hence the heavens are said to rule (Dan 4:26), and we are led to consider this by the influence which even the visible heavens have upon this earth, their dominion, Job 38:33; Gen. 1:16. But though God’s throne is in heaven, and there he keeps his court, and thither we are to direct to him (Our Father who art in heaven), yet his kingdom rules over all. He takes cognizance of all the inhabitants, and all the affairs, of this lower world, and disposes all persons and things according to the counsel of his will, to his own glory (Dan. 4:35): His kingdom rules over all kings and all kingdoms, and from it there is no exempt jurisdiction.
• II. The duty of universal praise inferred from it: if all are under God’s dominion, all must do him homage.
• 1. Let the holy angels praise him (v. 20, 21): Bless the Lord, you his angels; and again, Bless the Lord, all you his hosts, you ministers of his. David had been stirring up himself and others to praise God, and here, in the close, he calls upon the angels to do it; not as if they needed any excitement of ours to praise God, they do it continually; but thus he expresses his high thoughts of God as worthy of the adorations of the holy angels, thus he quickens himself and others to the duty with this consideration, That it is the work of angels, and comforts himself in reference to his own weakness and defect in the performance of this duty with this consideration, That there is a world of holy angels who dwell in God’s house and are still praising him. In short, the blessed angels are glorious attendants upon the blessed God. Observe,
• (1.) How well qualified they are for the post they are in. They are able; for they excel in strength; they are mighty in strength (so the word is); they are able to bring great things to pass, and to abide in their work without weariness. And they are as willing as they are able; they are willing to know their work; for they hearken to the voice of his word; they stand expecting commission and instructions from their great Lord, and always behold his face (Mt. 18:10), that they may take the first intimation of his mind. They are willing to do their work: They do his commandments (v. 20); they do his pleasure (v. 21); they dispute not any divine commands, but readily address themselves to the execution of them. Nor do they delay, but fly swiftly: They do his commandments at hearing, or as soon as they hear the voice of his word; so Dr. Hammond. To obey is better than sacrifice; for angels obey, but do not sacrifice.
• (2.) What their service is. They are his angels, and ministers of his-his, for he made them, and made them for himself-his, for he employs them, though he does not need them-his, for he is their owner and Lord; they belong to him and he has them at his beck. All the creatures are his servants, but not as the angels that attend the presence of his glory. Soldiers, and seamen, and all good subjects, serve the king, but not as the courtiers do, the ministers of state and those of the household.
• [1.] The angels occasionally serve God in this lower world; they do his commandments, go on his errands (Dan. 9:21), fight his battles (2 Ki. 6:17), and minister for the good of his people, Heb. 1:14.
• [2.] They continually praise him in the upper world; they began betimes to do it (Job 38:7), and it is still their business, from which they rest not day nor night, Rev. 4:8. It is God’s glory that he has such attendants, but more his glory that he neither needs them nor is benefited by them.
• 2. Let all his works praise him (v. 22), all in all places of his dominion; for, because they are his works, they are under his dominion, and they were made and are ruled that they may be unto him for a name and a praise. All his works, that is, all the children of men, in all parts of the world, let them all praise God; yea, and the inferior creatures too, which are God’s works also; let them praise him objectively, though they cannot praise him actually, Ps. 145:10. Yet all this shall not excuse David from praising God, but rather excite him to do it the more cheerfully, that he may bear a part in this concert; for he concludes, Bless the Lord, O my soul! as he began, v. 1. Blessing God and giving him glory must be the alpha and the omega of all our services. He began with Bless the Lord, O my soul! and, when he had penned and sung this excellent hymn to his honour, he does not say, Now, O my soul! thou hast blessed the Lord, sit down, and rest thee, but, Bless the Lord, O my soul! yet more and more. When we have done ever so much in the service of God, yet still we must stir up ourselves to do more. God’s praise is a subject that will never be exhausted, and therefore we must never think this work done till we come to heaven, where it will be for ever in the doing.
What does Psalm 103:13 mean?
Ideally, a father shows compassion to his children. “Compassion” is from a Hebrew root that implies action. It’s not merely a feeling, but an emotion that inspires action. If one of Dad’s children is ill, he feels sympathy for the child, but compassion is reflected in nursing the child back to health. If one of his children is in trouble, Dad hurts for him, and compassion inspires him to extricate the child from danger. Like a good father, our heavenly Father demonstrates strong compassion for us.
God understands what we face, and He cares for us. First Peter 5:7 encourages us to cast all our anxiety on our Father in heaven for that reason. Lamentations 3:22–23 reminds us, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” In the times of the Judges, the Lord rescued His people from their enemies. He saw their enemies were afflicting and oppressing them to the point that they were groaning. Therefore, He was moved to pity (Judges 2:16–18).
Psalm 103:6–19 reflects on the Lord’s benefits to Israel. Deuteronomy 6:1–15 contains the Lord’s promise to bless the people of Israel if they would obey him. Psalm 105 and 106 are companion psalms that stress the Lord’s goodness to Israel.
Psalm 103 praises God for what He has done. This includes celebration of His personal influence, as well as the way God has blessed the nation of Israel. David encourages praises from himself, from the people in general, and even from the angels and hosts of heaven