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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 103

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

« [A Psalm] of David. » Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, [bless] his holy name.

A Psalm of David — Which he wrote when carried out of himself, as far as heaven, saith Beza; and therefore calleth not upon his own soul only, but upon all creatures, from the highest angel to the lowest worm, to set forth God’s praises.

Bless the Lord, O my soulAgedum animule mi, et intima men viscera. A good man’s work lieth most within doors; he is more taken up with his own heart than with all the world besides; neither can he ever be alone so long as he hath God and his own soul to converse with. David’s harp was not oftener out of tune than his heart, which here he is setting right, that he may the better make melody to the Lord. Music is sweet, but the setting of the strings in tune is unpleasing; so is it harsh to set our hearts in order, which yet must be done, and thoroughly done, as here.

And all that is within me — All my faculties and senses. The whole soul and body must be set awork in this service; the judgment, to set a right estimate upon mercies; the memory, to recognize and retain them, Deuteronomy 6:11-12 ; Deuteronomy 8:14 ; the will, which is the proper seat of thankfulness; the affections, love, desire, joy, confidence; all must be actuated, that our praises may be cordial, vocal, vital. In peace offerings God called for the fat and inwards.

Verse 2

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Bless the lord, O my soul — David found some dulness and drowsiness; hence he so oft puts the thorn to the breast; hence he so impetuously instigateth his soul, as one here phraseth it.

And forget not all his benefits — Forgetfulness is a grave; look to it: eaten bread is soon forgotten with us, as it is with children; neither perisheth anything so soon with many as a good turn, Aμναμονες οι βροτοι (Pindar). Alphonsus, king of Arragon, professed that he wondered not so much at his courtiers’ ingratitude to him (who had raised many of them from mean to great estates, which they little remembered) as at his own to God.

Verse 3

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities — David not only taketh upon him with a holy imperiousness, laying God’s charge upon his soul to be thankful; but intending to show himself good cause why to be so, he worthily beginneth with remission of sin, as a complexive mercy, and such as comprehendeth all the rest. He had a crown of pure gold set upon his head, Psalms 21:3 ; but here he blesseth God for a better crown; Psalms 103:4 , "Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness," … And how was this crown set on his head but by forgiving all his iniquities?

Who healeth all thy diseases — Corporal and spiritual. Quod sanitas in corpore id sanctitas in corde. Jehovah Rophe, or the Lord the physician (as he is called, Exodus 15:26 ), cureth his people on both sides, maketh them whole every whit. See Isaiah 19:22 Matthew 8:17 . He bore our diseases.

Verse 4

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction — From hell, saith the Chaldee; from a thousand deaths and dangers every day. All this Christ, our kind kinsman, doth for us, dying virtually as oft as we offend.

Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness, … — Encircleth and surroundeth thee with benefits, so that which way soever thou turnest thee, thou canst not look beside a blessing. See Trapp on " Psalms 103:3 "

Verse 5

Who satisfieth thy mouth with good [things; so that] thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Who satisfieth thy mouth — Heb. thy jaws, so that thou art top full, eating as long as eating is good. God alloweth thee an honest affluence of outward comforts; open thy mouth wide, and he will fill it, Psalms 81:10 .

So that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s — The eagle is of all birds the most vegetous and vivacious, renewing her youth and health, they say, at every ten years’ end, by casting her old feathers, and getting new, till she be a hundred years old ( Aquilae senectus. Proverb). Augustine observeth that when her bill is overgrown, that she cannot take in her meat, she beateth it against a rock, and so excutit onus rostri, she striketh off the cumbersome part of her bill, and thereby recovereth her eating. That which hindereth our renovation, saith he, the rock Christ taketh away, … See Isaiah 40:31 .

Verse 6

The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

The Lord executeth, … — The words are both plural, to show that God will execute omnimodam iustitiamet iudicium, all and all manner of justice and judgment, relieving the oppressed, and punishing the oppressor to the full.

Verse 7

He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.

He made known his ways unto Moses — Even right judgments, true laws, good statute and commandments, Nehemiah 9:13-14 . The Rabbis by ways here understand God’s attributes and properties (Middoth they call them), those thirteen proclaimed, Exodus 34:1-35 , after that Moses had prayed, Exodus 33:13 , "Show me thy ways"; and the next words favour this interpretation.

His acts to the children — His miracles in Egypt, and all along the wilderness, where they fed upon sacraments.

Verse 8

The LORD [is] merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

The Lord is merciful and gracious — These are Moses’s very expressions, Exodus 34:6 . Theodoret calleth him, worthily, the great ocean of divinity, …

Verse 9

He will not always chide: neither will he keep [his anger] for ever.

He will not always chide — His still revenges are terrible, Genesis 6:3 , with 1 Peter 3:19 , but God, being appeased towards the penitent people, will not show his anger so much as in words, Isaiah 57:16 .

Neither will he keep his anqer for ever — Much less must we, Leviticus 19:18 Ephesians 4:26 , though against his enemies God is expressly said to keep it, Nahum 1:2 .

Verse 10

He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

He hath not dealt with us after our sins — Heb. our errors, our involuntary and unavoidable infirmities.

According to our iniquities — Heb. perversely committed; for of these evils also the saints are not free; but God beareth with more than small faults, especially if not scandalous.

Verse 11

For as the heaven is high above the earth, [so] great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

For as the heaven is high above the earth — How high the third heaven is cannot be conjectured. But for the middlemost heaven (wherein the sun, moon, and stars are placed), how exceeding high it is may be guessed and gathered, in that the stars (whereof those of the first magnitude are said to be every one above a hundred and seven times as big again as the whole earth) do yet seem to us but as so many sparks or spangles. See Proverbs 25:3 Ephesians 4:10 .

So great is his mercy — The heavens are exceeding high above the earth, but God’s mercy to his is above the heavens, Psalms 108:4 . The original word, gabbar, here used, is the same with that, Genesis 7:20 , used for the prevailing of the waters above the mountains.

Verse 12

As far as the east is from the west, [so] far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

As far as the east, … — And these we know to be so far asunder that they shall never come together. The space also and distance of these two is the greatest that can be imagined, Deuteronomy 4:32 Psalms 113:3 Isaiah 45:6 .

So far hath he removed our transgressions — The guilt of them, whereby a man stands charged with the fault, and is obliged to the punishment due thereunto. See Isaiah 43:25 ; Isaiah 38:17 Micah 7:19 Ezekiel 33:16 . Peccata non redeunt. Discharges in justification are not repealed, called in again.

Verse 13

Like as a father pitieth [his] children, [so] the LORD pitieth them that fear him.

Like as a father pitieth — There is an ocean of love in a father’s heart. See Luke 15:20 Genesis 33:2 ; Genesis 33:13-14 ; Genesis 34:3 , how hardly and with what caution Jacob parted with Benjamin. Sozomen maketh mention of a certain merchant, who offering himself to be put to death for his two sons who were sentenced to die, and it being granted that one of the two (whom he should choose) should be upon that condition delivered; the miserable father, aequali utriusque amore victus, equally affected to them both, could not yield that either, of them should die, but remained hovering about both, till both were put to death.

So the Lord pitieth, … — So and ten thousand times more than so; for he is the Father of all mercies, and the Father of all the fatherhoods ( Parentela ) in heaven and earth, Ephesians 3:15 .

Verse 14

For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we [are] dust.

For he knoweth our frame — Our evil concupiscence, saith the Chaldee; Figulinam et fragilem constitutionem nostram, saith Junius, that we are nothing better than a compound of dirt and sin.

He remembereth that we are dust — Our bodies are (for our souls are of a spiritual nature, divinae particula aurae ), and sooner or later to be turned to dust again.

Verse 15

[As for] man, his days [are] as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.

As for man, his days are as grass — The frailty of man’s life, intimated in the former verse, is here lively painted out under the similitude of grass, as likewise in many other Scriptures. See Psalms 37:2 ; Psalms 90:5-6 , …

As a flower of the field, so he flourisheth — Take him in all his gaiety, his beauty, and his bravery, he is but as a flower; and that not of the garden, which hath more shelter and better ordering, but of the field, and so more subject to heat, weather, pulling up, or treading down, Isaiah 40:6-8 .

Verse 16

For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.

For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone — Heb. it is not; that is, it neither continues any longer in being nor returns any more into being: so here, Job 14:7-12 .

And the place thereof shall know it no more — Though, while it stood and flourished, the place of it seemed as it were to know nothing but it, the glory and beauty of it drew all eyes to it, … Think the same of men in their flourish, soon forgotten, as dead men out of mind, Psalms 31:12 .

Verse 17

But the mercy of the LORD [is] from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;

But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting — God is from all eternity and unto all eternity kind to all that fear him, in what age of the world soever they live.

And his righteousness unto children’s children — That is, his kindness or bounty; for so the word tsedachah should be taken, according to Psalms 112:8-9 2 Corinthians 9:9 .

Verse 18

To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

To such as keep his covenant — For else they shall know God’s breach of promise, as it is Numbers 14:3-4 . Neither shall it benefit them to have been born of godly parents.

To those that remember his commandments — That resolve to do them, though in many things they fail, Qui faciunt praecepta etiamsi non perficiant, that wish well to that which they can never compass, Psalms 119:4-5 . If they cannot open the door, yet if they give a pluck at the bolt or a lift of the latch, there is comfort.

Verse 19

The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

The Lord hath prepared — Or, fixed, founded, firmed, established. Here God is further praised for his most excellent Majesty, which appeareth, first, from the loftiness of his throne; secondly, from the largeness of his dominion.

Verse 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 — In stirring up the angels to praise God, he awaketh himself; and for this purpose, Incipit a superioribus, et finit in infirmis, saith Kimchi here, he calleth in the help of all the creatures, from the highest to the lowest; and, after all, concludeth as he began, with a saying to himself.

That excel in strength — Heb. Giants for strength, such as can prevail, and do great exploits, yet is all their strength derivative, they have it from God (who is Hagibbor, the mighty one, Deuteronomy 10:17 ), and hence the angel Gabriel hath his name, God is my strength. Labour we to be like unto the angels, strengthened with all might, …, Colossians 1:11 , walking about the world as conquerors, able to do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth us, Philippians 4:13 .

That do his commandments — viz. Cheerfully, speedily, universally, humbly, constantly. Let us do accordingly, else we mock God when we pray, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven."

Verse 21

Bless ye the LORD, all [ye] his hosts; [ye] ministers of his, that do his pleasure.

Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts — That is, all his creatures, which are fitly called God’s hosts, first, for their number; secondly, for their order; thirdly, for their obedience.

Ye ministers of his — Whether in State or Church. Kings are God’s ministers, Romans 13:4 ; Romans 13:6 . So are angels, Hebrews 1:14 , like as ministers are angels, Revelation 2:1 ; they have exchanged names, their office is, angel-like, to wait upon God, to stand before him, to serve in his presence, and to bless his name.

Verse 22

Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.

Bless the Lord, all his works — Whether living or lifeless; for all thy works praise thee, O Lord, and thy saints bless thee, Psalms 145:10 . Benedicite ter, ad mysterium Triadis, saith an interpreter.

Bless the Lord, O my soul — Whatever others do, let me be doing at it, as Joshua 24:14-15 .

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Psalms 103". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/psalms-103.html. 1865-1868.
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