“Bless the Lord, O my soul …” (Psalm 103:1a)
When read in the various versions, it’s all about God!
Let all that I am praise the Lord (NLT).
Praise the Lord, my soul (NIV).
Bless the Lord, O my soul (ESV).
Hebrew uses the word “bless”. To me, bless is a fuller, richer, deeper-nuanced word than praise is, embracing our whole inner being in us and blessing the Lord. He blesses us in so many ways so that we can respond likewise. What a privilege we are given to be able to do that! That’s what Jesus makes possible for us. He invites us into his relationship with Abba Father and Holy Spirit.
Telling ourselves to praise or bless the Lord is a conventional Hebrew way of addressing oneself, something we need to do more often because we otherwise forget! The angels and heavenly hosts are also called upon to join in praising and blessing the Lord!
David’s psalm celebrates what the Lord does for us and speaks again of God’s mercies to his people, Israel, now all made available to us in and through Jesus.
This psalm also gives us God’s own character reference: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (verse 8, NIV), first used in Exodus 34:6, repeated in Joel 2:13, and Psalm 86:15 adds “and faithfulness”. He speaks this about himself — his character reference to us!
Can you hear his heart of compassion for you and those around you? It’s available to all but revealed to those who trust him and take him at his word. He means what he says! Jesus reveals God’s compassion to us, too. Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Though we may not see him with our physical eyes, the Holy Spirit can reveal many unseen things to the eyes of faith.
He remembers that we are dust (verse 14), our days like grass or like flowers in a field (verse 15), here a brief while and then gone from this earth (verse 16). Yet his love is always with those who trust him; although it is way beyond our comprehension, it is revealed to anyone who asks.
Lord, let Your grace and mercy always be with me, even though I don’t deserve it. Let Your love fill my life, so that I may show that love to everyone around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.