Soul Music

Psalm 103

Joanne M, housekeeping staff for years. Had reputation around hospital for singing in the halls – everyone knew her voice, knew what she would be singing. Hymns, of course. Much of time, she didn’t need much encouragement to bless the Lord in song; was just who she was. For those who need more encouragement: according to David Dickson, 17 reasons or arguments to praise given in psalm! “Soul music is the very soul of music.” CHS Sacred music program – With Heart and Voice – right combination for praise.

On earth is the place where God makes musical instruments and tunes them—and between now and Heaven He will put all that is within them into fit condition for blessing and praising His name eternally! In Heaven every part of the man will bless God without any difficulty. No need for a preacher there to exhort you! No need for you to talk to yourself and say, “Bless the Lord, O my Soul”—you will do it as naturally as now you breathe! CHS

But….we’re here, not there. So, need some help to produce soul music pleasing to God. Psalmist not only talks to himself, does so with outside voice. Further, “This psalm has been compared to a stream which, as it flows, gradually acquires strength and volume till its waves of praise swell like those of the sea.” Ellicott Speaker caught in swells, then those nearby, finally everyone brought in to bless the Lord with heart and voice.

A. you bless v.1-5

don’t hold back

if we should love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, strength – stands to reason should praise/bless him same way

if WSC #1 is correct (1 Cor. 10:31) and man’s chief end is to glorify God, right praise is essential part of life

since the Fall, man lives in tension: eternal soul in union with temporal body; soul that continues existence through death and beyond, body that is only good for a few decades

too often bodily existence and all that accompanies it pushes soulish existence into background – psalmist here calls his spiritual self to foreground activity, praise

remember his blessings

remember with right attitude/spirit – do not forget or cease to care about: aka, don’t take for granted, don’t presume on covenant relationship with God, do remember with praise and thanksgiving

full forgiveness

if not this, the rest don’t matter; in fact, other “blessings” become liabilities because they put us deeper in debt

who else but God could devise a plan to achieve full forgiveness which requires full satisfaction without violating his character or destroying his people

Lam. 3:22 Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.


first in view: removing all misery connected with guilt (that has been forgiven); broader application, is God who indirectly (by physiological design, medical help) or directly (by divine intervention) brings about healing from injury/illness


“Redeeming means delivering, but with a strong implication of cost and risk [danger].” Alexander

“from the Pit” – resurrection of the soul from grave of spiritual death the beginning of our salvation, ultimately leads to deliverance of both soul and body from Pit of Hell, at great cost and danger to Christ himself

loyal love and compassion

crown is designation of honor – believer has honor because is object of God’s love and mercy

full satisfaction

people search for satisfaction in lots of places – job, position, education, usually related to what they have done for / by themselves, eventually come up empty

God not only can satisfy his people, he will satisfy…fully….with good, that is, himself; pick a desire or preference or need: who can satisfy better than God?

not a “one-shot-fillup”; God continuously supplies and satisfies, enabling his people to persevere in holiness

need any more incentive to personal praise? not feeling much like praising God? read Ps. 103! could even read it aloud to encourage not only yourself, also others within earshot

B. we bless v.6-19

looks up from self-encouragement, speaks in more “national” terms to incite those around to join in praise

is good to others – does what is right, especially toward the afflicted and oppressed (6)

No blood of martyrs shall be shed in vain; no groans of confessors in prison shall be left without inquisition being made concerning them. All wrongs shall be righted, all the oppressed shall be avenged. CHS

revealed himself (didn’t stay hidden)

God had to act with purpose and in particular ways or would have remained hidden from our view; had to communicate in way mankind could comprehend so man isn’t kept in dark

in word (7a)

spoke to and through people using words, dreams and visions, teaching ministry of his Son, now the Bible

pictures aren’t enough, can be misunderstood, misapplied; words bring clarity to pictures, reveal things pictures can’t

and deed (7b ff)

doesn’t stay angry (8-9)

God has right to get angry instantly with those who displease him; has right to stay angry with them; has right and (sadly) cause to constantly accuse them of wrongdoing

has chosen / purposed instead to abound in mercy, to be longsuffering and patient toward all mankind

shows mercy (10)

grace – giving what is not deserved and cannot be earned; God’s grace goes to next level – giving to those who already have debt they can never pay

mercy – the flip-side of grace: not giving what is deserved; true on personal level, corporate level (body of people), national level, world level

even for worst scoundrel imaginable, God shows mercy in this life; no one receives perfect justice this side of eternity

grants forgiveness and cleansing (11-12)

already declared fact of forgiveness in v.3; here gives further insight – who God forgives,why, how God forgives

who: those who fear him; why: his loyal love that towers over them; how: sending their sin “over the horizon”

Corrie ten Boom concludes, “There is an ocean of God’s love available – there is plenty for everyone. May God grant you never to doubt that victorious love – whatever the circumstances.”

is compassionate (13-14)

we don’t worship/love/praise God of stone; God of Bible acts in love because he is love, demonstrated his love by sending Son to be propitiation

here’s significance of that: roots of compassion = co-suffering; in being compassionate, God suffers with his people – experiencing their frailty, limitations, consequences of living in sinful environment (but without sin himself)

how?? he “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.” (Phil. 2:7)

is faithful (15-18)

night and day contrast: man flourishes…briefly…often without enduring impact; human life is fragile and short

God, otoh, well, he flourishes…forever…without beginning or end; another reminder that God is eternal by nature, not constitution

God is not so hard, durable, impervious he can’t wear out, wear down, disappear; is because of who he is, not how he’s made that he is eternal

because of who God is that his attributes are eternal – his loyal love and faithfulness to those who love him – God’s love, faithfulness, compassion all displayed/bestowed in relationship of covenant

is sovereign (19)

God isn’t ceremonial figurehead (e.g., Queen of England) – a throne and crown but no real authority or ruling activity

LBCF 5.1 God, the good Creator of all things, in his infinite power and wisdom, upholds, directs, organizes and governs all creatures and things, from the greatest to the least, by his perfectly wise and holy providence, to the end for which they were created.

C. everybody bless v.20-22

messengers, warriors, servants (20-21)

all those in every place in entire cosmos who love and serve God – your voices needed, too, so God will be properly praised

all his works (22a)

even God’s creation can give mute or non-verbal praise to him – “the heavens declare God’s glory…” (Psa. 19:1-3)

me, too! (22b)

not satisfied to summon others to praise, must do his own part also; have made it full circle, now go round again!

This psalm a wonderful hymn of praise; no surprise so many hymnwriters have used it as their launching pad. Teaches much about God, how many reasons / opportunities his people have to praise him. There’s important principle with application to daily Christian life here:

even best, most faithful Christian doesn’t always feel like praising God. Sadly, comes with territory of being fallen human being. So…do we just accept it as inevitable, try to wait it out? NO!!! Get after yourself to do what you know is right, start praising God even if you don’t feel like it. Small beginnings will lead to more robust praise, will attract others to praise with you. And…emotions / feelings will follow. When the heart is down, cool, lazy, head needs to lead; heart will catch up!


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