Chapter CONTEXT from MHCC: 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 favor 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 by the goodness of God and enlarged in love and thankfulness.
Reading today’s text one must ask, what does David mean when he professes to Bless the Lord, Oh my Soul? First, there would appear to be the obvious, something has happened that David is grateful for, specifically, we do not know.
It is observable that no petition occurs throughout the entire compass of these twenty-two verses. Not a single word of supplication is in the whole Psalm addressed to the Most High. Prayer, fervent, heartfelt prayer, had doubtless been previously offered on the part of the Psalmist, and answered by his God. Innumerable blessings had been showered down from above in acknowledgment of David’s supplications; and, therefore, an overflowing gratitude now bursts forth from their joyful recipient. He touches every chord of his harp and of his heart together, and pours forth a spontaneous melody of sweetest sound and purest praise.John Stevenson, in “Gratitude: an Exposition of the Hundred and Third Psalm, “1856.
While we are concerned with only the first five verses today Mr. Stevenson’s observation is spot on, David is very likely grateful for some answered petition(s). Let us break down the verses a little further:
v.1 – Bless…my soul, this is a personal plea utilizing all that is within me (David) If God has truly blessed you should not your praises for Him be just as true.
v. 2 – A repeat of v.1 then David reminds himself never to forget all his (God’s) benefits. It is easy to acknowledge God when you are on the mountaintop and He has secured it for you. Likewise, it is just as easy maybe more so to forget all His benefits when you are sliding down the slippery slopes of said mountain.
v.3 – This begins the list of blessings received by David. He starts out with the most important for all who would hear (or later read) the Psalm, Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, for the truly repentant God forgives our sins. Then David continues by certifying that it is God who healeth all thy diseases. Here are John Gill’s comments on this: not bodily ones, though the Lord is the physician of the bodies as well as of the souls of men, and sometimes heals the diseases of soul and body at once, as in the case of the paralytic man in the Gospel; but spiritual diseases, or soul maladies, are here meant; the same with “iniquities” in the preceding clause: sin is a natural, hereditary, epidemical, nauseous, and mortal disease; and there are many of them, a complication of them, in men, which God only can cure; and he heals them by his word, by means of his Gospel, preaching peace, pardon, and righteousness by Christ; by the blood, wounds, and stripes of his Son; by the application of pardoning grace and mercy; for healing diseases, and forgiving iniquities, are one and the same thing; see Isaiah 33:24, and this the Lord does freely, fully, and infallibly, and for which thanks are due unto him; and it would be very ungrateful, and justly resented, should they not be returned to him; see Luke 17:15.
v.4 – Not only has God forgiven the repentant sins, but He has redeemeth thy life from destruction. He has rescued us from the gates of Hell and the Grave. If that was not enough, rescued from eternal damnation, God, crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies. Being crowned denotes royalty 1 Peter 2:9-10, 1 Peter 5:4, herein God does not crown true believers with a weighty crown of pomp and circumstance, but that of His love and mercy reserved for His children.
v.5 – It has been said the only time the cavity of a man’s mouth will be full is when the grave digger fills it with dirt. Here though David recognizes God fills or satisfieth thy mouth with good things… I love what Thomas fuller says about this: God can so satisfy the soul, that each chink and cranny therein shall be filled with spiritual joy. God does not leave any room for emptiness, instead, He fills us with the joy of victory.
v.5 (cont) – There is an important question that David answers at the very end of these verses, that is why? Why does God bless us and why should we bless/praise Him? David exclaims: so that thy youth is renewed like the eagles. Each year eagles renew their feathers it is called molting, the process is a renewal of sorts and that is why David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit uses it here. For those just coming to the Lord, or renewing a right relationship with Him, there is a sense of youthful enthusiasm.