Bless The Lord
By Kasey Knowlton
Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” - Psalm 103:1-5
I’ve always found the phrase, “Bless the Lord,” a little strange. What does it mean to bless the Lord? How could I possibly do that? In my best discernment of the Hebrew, “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” in Hebrew reads: “barakhi nafshi et Adonai.” “Barakhi” (bless), is related to the word “berekh,” which means “knee.” This relates to the Hebrew word, “varak,” which means “to kneel.” There are other broader meanings to the word “varak,” including: to bow in adoration, to praise, congratulate, honor, salute, or to thank. When David tells us to “bless the Lord,” he is telling us to approach God in humility, thanking and praising Him for His goodness. We are acknowledging that He is God, and we are not. David also demonstrates that the act of blessing God is not flippant or a casual acknowledgment. The Psalm states, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name,” (emphasis added). The act of blessing comes from the deepest parts of our being - our souls - and deservedly so, for He is Holy (set apart), like no other and the one true God.
In the second part of verse 2, David says, “forget none of His benefits.” David is telling us to remember God’s qualities. Remembering is a key spiritual discipline for the maturing Christian. We go to church, read His word and fellowship with other believers so that we may remember (and often), all of His great deeds and all that He has done for us. But what are these deeds?
The first mentioned is, “who pardons all your iniquities…” Only someone in a position of authority can pardon someone of the consequence of a sin. So here David is showing us that God is our judge and our deliverer. Our God is the only one who can pardon us since He has provided the only sacrifice sufficient to take on the due penalty of our sins, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son. 2nd Corinthians 5:21 states, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
The next great deed listed is, “Who heals all of your diseases…” There are dozens of examples of Jesus literally healing people of call kinds of ills, such as leprosy, muteness, deafness, bleeding, demonic possession, being paralyzed, among many other miracles. He is our healer! The scriptures also promise the healing of our broken nature. Psalm 147:3 states, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Isaiah 61:1 similarly states, “…he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.” Jesus reads from this scroll at the beginning of his earthly ministry, signifying that He is the one whom God has sent to do these things.
The Psalm continues with, “Who redeems your life from the pit…” David makes similar remarks in another Psalm, 30:3. “O Lord, you have brought up my soul from Sheol; you have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit.” We see here that God is our redeemer. Through the mercy of God giving us His only son, we are spared from eternal torment, a forever separation from Him in Hell, by the blood of Jesus Christ!
David also writes, “Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion…” The God of the universe crowns us like royalty with a crown that enables us to love with kindness and compassion. This verse is not unlike the fruits promised to us through God’s Holy Spirit. Gal. 5:22 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…” These qualities are our inheritance, given to us by God’s own Spirt!
The last quality David lists is, “Who satisfies your years with good things…” God is our satisfaction, our provider, a faithful Father, the giver of all good things. James 1:17 puts it this way: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.” And why does He give us these good things? The last part of verse five from Psalm 103 tells us. “So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” He gives us these gifts so that we may be renewed with a youthfulness of spirit, with the vibrance and freedom of an eagle.
As believers, we must approach the Lord in humility, in thankfulness and praise, from the deep recess of our souls, remembering all that He has done and all that He continues to do for us. By doing so, we will bless Him with our whole hearts!