Do me a favor and please read Psalm 103.
Psalm 103 is a favorite for many people – and it’s not hard to figure out why. Going from individual praise (1-5) to corporate praise (6-18) and finally to encouraging creation to praise the Lord (19-22) it simply is encouraging, hopeful, and full of life.
As to context and voice? Your bible is probably like mine and states that it’s a psalm “of David” and there is no reason not to place authorship there – but that’s about where we end. Psalm 103 doesn’t appear to be a psalm in response to something or a crying out because of a need. It simply is. Many do feel that this psalm should be read with Psalm 104 which is a lengthy psalm that definitely continues on with this vibe – but there are others who feel that this psalm is a response to the previous psalm (102) that was a psalm of lament (you can find my reflections on that psalm here). I appreciate what one commentator states, that this isn’t a psalm of exposition (breaking it down, moving it in directions and deciphering what is being said). Instead, this simply is what it is. A psalm of praise – and one for just general use. You don’t need to be in a special place or at a special function. You don’t need to be in the right mindset or in a “happy place” to praise God. You simply need to praise him. From your soul and outward. It is that simple.
I appreciate that this psalm covers pretty much all of life. We have sin and yet from there we praise because we have hope that we aren’t treated as our sins state we should be. We have the depths of life and yet we praise because that pit isn’t where we stay. We have the oppressed who are given justice, compassion for those who are harmed, and love love love! And we praise God because he is the giver, restorer, and bringer of all those things.
One theme that runs a string throughout this text is covenant. It may not be stated outside of verse 18 but it is definitely implied! If we skip verses 1 and 2, which are the reasons we should praise God, we get this beautiful treatise concerning the covenantness of God (not a word – but it works). Why is your life freed from the pit and given a crown with love and compassion? Why do we receive righteousness and justice? Why does the Lord bestow his compassion and grace and why, after all that we’ve done to him (time and time again) is God slow to anger and abound in love? Why does God’s anger relent and our sins given a softer hand? Because God holds to his covenant. It’s that simple.
God created a covenant, a promise, with Moses and the people of Israel and he held to it. Later on God sent his on and only Son, Jesus Christ, to come and spread his love wider. Instead of just with Israel God’s covenant was opened up to every tribe, tongue, and nation. So that should you believe in him, should you call on the name of Jesus Christ, should you join the heavens, the earth, the praises from east and west…should you join the heavenly hosts and angels in praise for Jesus Christ and his work that you too become benefactors of God’s covenant.
Not sure what else to say about this. As the one commentator said…this doesn’t need some great expository work to draw out its purpose. This psalm is meant to encourage you to praise God and remember why. It’s a psalm that puts you and God into perspective and give thanks because of it. Oh, and one more thing, maybe it’s just me but it blows my mind when I think about the fact that when I stop and praise God…millions upon millions of people are doing the same thing at that moment. And not only humans but heavenly hosts and angels are doing it too. I wish I had the ability to hear all those voices singing and praising God. One day…one day we will.