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Bible Commentaries

Smith's Bible Commentary

Psalms 103

Verses 1-22

Psalms 103:1-22 , a favorite psalm of thanksgiving time. I trust that it wasn't so long ago that you have already forgotten how thankful you were.

Bless the LORD, O my soul ( Psalms 103:1 ):

Now this is a command of David, or a command of David, the psalmist to himself. David often was talking to his inward man, talking to his soul. And here he is commanding himself, commanding his soul to bless the Lord, "Bless the Lord, my soul." In one psalm, David, in talking to his soul, said, "Why are you cast down, O my soul? Why are you so disquieted within me?" He didn't understand his own feelings. Have you ever been at the place where you didn't understand your own feelings? Why am I feeling this way? Why do I feel upset? Why do I feel discouraged? Why do I feel despondent? Why do I feel blue? What's wrong, soul? Why are you cast down? What is your problem? Do you think God is dead or something? Now it's another vein, "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 ( Psalms 103:1-2 ):

So quickly we forget the benefits of serving the Lord. David then begins to list those benefits. We are not to forget them.

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction ( Psalms 103:3-4 );

That is, He saves you from hell.

who crowns thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies ( Psalms 103:4 );

You see, it isn't just a negative thing. The Christian life is far from a negative experience and too many people are only emphasizing the negative aspects. Looking at the negative aspects, when in reality there are far more positive aspects to it than the negative aspects. I really don't take the negative aspects into much account myself. I'm so excited with all of the positive aspects of serving the Lord that the negative doesn't really come into mind much. "For He crowns thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies.

He satisfies thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The LORD executes righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, and his acts unto the children of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy ( Psalms 103:5-8 ).

Now you have heard people say, "Well, there is the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. The God of the Old Testament is vengeful and wrathful and murderous and so forth. And the God of the New Testament is love, mercy, and grace." Now wait a minute. This is Old Testament. And he declares, "Jehovah is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, plenteous in mercy." And you better perhaps read the fourteenth chapter of the book of Revelation, when the cup of the indignation of the wrath of God is overflowing and He pours out His judgment upon this Christ-rejecting earth. And you'll find that the same God is revealed in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, who is a God of love, a God of mercy, a God of patience, but also a righteous, holy God who is absolutely just.

He will not always chide: nor will he be angry for ever. He has not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities ( Psalms 103:9-10 ).

How true that is. God has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. God has been merciful to us.

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that reverence him. And as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us ( Psalms 103:11-12 ).

Interesting that he said as far as the east is from the west, rather than as far the north is from the south. Because the north is only about 12,500 miles from the south. You can only go north until you get to the North Pole, then you are going south. And as soon as you get to the South Pole, you are going north again. The distance of about 12,500 miles, that is, unless you are going straight through. But you can start off tonight flying east, and you'll fly east the rest of your life, if you don't change directions. Or you can start flying due west, and you'll be flying west the rest of your life. So I'm glad that he said as far as the east is from the west, rather than as far as the north is from the south, because I want my sins farther away than the north from the south. I like the east and the west bit. I like God just removing completely my sins, my guilt from me. Because of His mercy.

"As high is the heavens is above the earth." Now there is some scientific discussion as to just how high that might be. And every once in awhile the scientists come along and say, "Oh, we've just discovered a new quasar, or galaxy that is beyond anything we've ever known before. It is out there, eight billion light years away, ten billion light years away." All right, keep searching man; you're only expanding the mercy of my God. "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so high is His mercy over those that reverence Him."

And so I like all these new discoveries, though I think a lot of them are just fanciful kind of interpreting of the data that they have with their own limited knowledge. And I don't think that they know what they are talking about, in many realms, and they've confessed that now. They had all kinds of ideas concerning Saturn and the rings, all kinds of scientific data that was in the astronomy books, and now they have to revise all of the books on Saturn. We've learned so much from this flyby of our little satellite recently. We've learned so many things about the rings and everything else, that all of our theories that we had are out the window now because now we have more data. And so science is changing. The facts are changing, the facts of science seem to often change, but that is totally inconsistent. Facts can't change. So it must be that the scientists were wrong. Oh, but scientists are gods aren't they? And if they said if we evolved from the tadpole, surely they must know. I don't know how high the heaven is above the earth, but however it is, that's just how high God's mercy is towards me.

Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that reverence him. For he knows our frame; and he remembers that we are dust ( Psalms 103:13-14 ).

Now we don't remember that ourselves often. We think that we are the rock of Gibraltar. We think, "Man, I can stand, you know. Let me at Satan, you know." And we are challenging so oftentimes Satan to do battle with us. "Come on, just... you know. Come on out and fight." And God looks down upon us and He is, number one, merciful, because we reverence Him. And secondly, He pities us, just like a father pities his child. Because God remembers our frame. He knows we are but dust. This body made out of the dust. God remembers that.

Man has a tendency to magnify his body. Oh, this body consciousness; everything is the body of man. We have come into a body worship cult. How man worships the body. We were driving down to Newport Beach the other night and this place down there. I haven't been down to Newport for a long time. All these guys working out in the windows, standing there, curling, you know. Mirrors, all over the walls. The old body cult. Worshipping the body. But God remembers it's just dust. God looks down and says, "O man, just a bit of dust." He knows our frame; He knows we are but dust.

Which means that God doesn't really expect as much out of me as I expect out of myself. And so oftentimes I am so disappointed with myself, and I weep because of my disappointment over myself. "Oh, I thought I was stronger than that, I thought I was better than that and all. Oh God, I am so sorry I disappointed You." He says, "You didn't disappoint Me. I knew you were dust all the time." God wasn't disappointed; I was disappointed in me. But God knew me, He knew me better than I knew myself. He knew that I was but dust. I thought I was Superman. I thought I could I leap buildings with a single bound, and He knows my frame.

As far as our days, we are as the grass: or like a flower in the field ( Psalms 103:15 ).

So for a time, for a moment, we may flourish,

But when the wind passes over it, the grass, the flower is gone, and the place of it remembers it no more. But the mercy of the LORD ( Psalms 103:16-17 )

Now man in passing, we are dust, we are transient, we are passing, like the grass or the flower.

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting ( Psalms 103:17 )

High as the heaven is above the earth. That is one dimension of it, but from another dimension, it's from everlasting to everlasting, from the vanishing point to the vanishing point, God's mercy. The height of it and the breadth of it. How glorious.

to those that reverence him ( Psalms 103:17 ),

And the key here all the way through is to those that reverence God.

and his righteousness to the children's children [that's my grandkids]; And to such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. For the LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless ye the LORD, ye angels, that excel in strength, and do his commandments, harkening to the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his that do his pleasure. Bless the LORD, all his works in all of the places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul ( Psalms 103:17-22 ).

So David calls the angels, the heavenly hosts, in to the praising of God. Those angels that are the ministers of God, doing His will, His pleasure. Then all of his works, all of the places of God's dominion. Then again, as he started the psalm, he ends it, "Bless the Lord, O my soul." "

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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Psalms 103". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.