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Bless the Lord!

Praise jumps off the page in Psalm 103:

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

Is this what praise is like for you? Some of us are quiet and reserved by nature, so the liveliness and energy of this praise can seem uncomfortable, a bit foreign to our experience. Can our worship ever be as exuberant as David’s?

It can be, when we think carefully about all the reasons we have for praising God.

Near the beginning of the psalm David urges himself to “forget not all his benefits” (v. 2). Then he goes on to count just a few of God’s numerous blessings:

God forgave him.

God healed him.

God saved him from the pit.

In all this God didn’t deal with David according to his sins, but showed amazing grace. So this is why David praises God with great joy!

David worships because he has been the recipient of God’s rich compassion. Incredibly, it’s a compassion that we know more profoundly than David ever did. For we know the measureless and unfathomable extent of the Father’s love, that He gave his one and only Son to die for sinners.

We know how much our forgiveness costs, that Christ’s own body was given for us, and his blood was poured out. God even gives us the precious reminder of this sacrifice in the bread and wine of Lord’s Supper.

It is fitting then, that in the Reformed tradition, the Lord’s Supper formulary ends with extended quotations from Psalm 103: “Since the Lord has now nourished our souls at his table, let us together praise his holy name, ‘Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!’”

Because of Christ Jesus, we can sing Psalm 103 with great gusto.

We’re not charged with sin anymore, because Jesus was accused in our place.

We’re extracted from the miry pit, because Jesus sank into hell for us.

We may call God our Father because in Jesus, the Father adopts us as his own.

So the next time after you celebrate the Lord’s Supper, appreciate how enthusiastically you can praise the LORD with psalms like the 103rd.

But not only then. For every day in which you’re allowed to enjoy the Father’s love, praise God with this joyful psalm. You have every reason to call your soul to a celebration of the LORD’s goodness: “All that is within me, bless his holy name.” And if it starts in your heart, it will carry over into all of life.

Like David, you’ll probably need to exhort yourself today, “My soul, forget not all his benefits!” For we all struggle with spiritual amnesia, forgetting fundamental truths about who God is and what He has done for us in Christ. But it is good to develop our memories for God’s great gifts.

Memory nourishes gratitude, serves as an aid to our faith, and prompts our praise. Forget not all his benefits!

Call yourself often to praise, so that not a day goes by without it: “Bless the Lord!”


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