Perfecting Praise

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
—Psalm 103:2

DAVID, WITH DEEP gratitude in his heart, was moved to give utterance to the thoughts of praise that were welling up within him. We are blessed to have a record of his meditations and deliberations in the Book of Psalms. The 103rd Psalm is particularly a befitting expression of David’s devotion to God. While it expresses his own sentiments, we feel that his utterances were also prophetic of the true Christian’s feelings and sentiments.


The word ‘bless’ in Hebrew means ‘to kneel,’ and by implication has the thought of praising or blessing God as an act of adoration. A summary of the commandment given to Israel was “to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” (Deut. 11:13) David realized that lip worship would be of no value unless the lips were being employed by the heart and soul of the individual. So he does not merely say, ‘Bless the Lord;’ he opens this psalm by saying, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me [heart, soul, strength, being], bless his holy name.”—vs. 1

This act of blessing the Lord in adoration and in worship should cause the Lord’s people to kneel before their Heavenly Father, to prostrate themselves while in his hallowed presence. Can we not all join with the psalmist in saying, “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”—Ps. 95:6,7

It may not be necessary, or even practical, to kneel or bow down every time we offer our prayers of praise. There are times when it would be improper for us to do so when we are in public view where such a position of worship would seem ostentatious, to be seen of men. There are times when most of the Lord’s people can enter into their closets and there bow down in humble, grateful prayer and worship. While we thus bless the Lord, let us heed David’s suggestion to “forget not all his dealings.”—Ps. 103:2, Rotherham


What are the Lord’s ‘dealings’ which David exhorts us not to forget? The blessings and benefits of the Christian are many. The number we could count would depend upon how minutely we itemized them. We are dependent upon the Lord for everything that pertains to life, for, as the Apostle Paul declared, “In him we live, and move, and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) Hence, in his ‘dealings’ he extends to us all the favors of life, such as food, raiment, shelter, sunshine, and rain. We, as Christians, have far more to be thankful for than merely the provisions for our earthly existence—a life which, at best, does not usually exceed four score years, and these often accompanied with sorrow. The Psalmist David goes on to list the benefits of the Lord to ‘usward’ and those which he itemizes well represent those for which we, as New Creatures in Christ Jesus, have much reason to be grateful.

David explained that it was the Lord “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”—Ps. 103:3-5

There are fitting applications of these words to David’s own life. The Lord surely was gracious to him and did forgive his iniquities and crown his life with loving-kindness and tender mercies. The full meaning of his words, however, can better be understood by spiritual Israel, who have been begotten of the Lord’s Holy Spirit of power and of a sound mind.


As New Creatures we, of course, do not sin (I John 3:9) and would need no forgiveness; but in that we are held responsible for our flesh, we then surely need the Lord’s forgiveness for all the sins and shortcomings which are committed due to the imperfection of our flesh. The Lord has graciously provided a means of covering our unwilling sins and trespasses with the robe of Christ’s righteousness. When we sin, “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1), who intercedes on our behalf, and secures forgiveness for all our deflections from the Lord’s approved standards. Even for those sins which are committed out of neglect and carelessness, with what might be termed ‘partial willfulness’ on our part, the Lord disciplines us with some corrective chastisement. When we learn the needed lessons, and ask his forgiveness, he graciously restores us to his favor. We may join with the psalmist in giving thanks to the Lord that, “there is forgiveness with thee.”—Ps. 130:4

Some have erroneously concluded, however, that because the Lord forgives sin, he releases unconditionally from punishment. If the Lord’s forgiveness implied this, Adam might have been forgiven without our Master having to give his human life to pay the penalty for the original sin. But this was not the case. While Adam will be released from the penalty pronounced against him, it was necessary that Jesus pay the price with his own precious blood.

The unwilling sins which we commit, due to imperfection that is ever present with us, are covered with the robe of Christ’s righteousness, and need no chastisement. We did not consent to them, but were merely unable to stem the tide of our human imperfections. But wherein we have been remiss and negligent and allowed our fallen humanity too much liberty, the Lord often sends us some chastening experiences for our correction in righteousness. Thus, he might forgive our transgressions and release us from the severe penalty of withdrawing his favor from us, even though he applies the chastening rod.—Heb. 12:5-11


In the Lord’s dealings with us, David also recalls that he “healeth” all our “diseases.” (Ps. 103:3) To the materialistic followers of the Master, this text might bring the hope that the Lord will heal their physical maladies and bring relief from their discomforts in the flesh. But those looking for physical blessings need to reexamine the terms of Christian discipleship during this Gospel Age. Upon more careful study, they will find the Scriptures to show that the “outward man” perishes day by day. (II Cor. 4:16) The ‘outward man’ is the flesh, and the apostle here testifies that it receives no cures or restorations, but that disintegration and death are before it.

The apostle adds in this same text that “the inward man [the New Creature] is renewed day by day.” How fitting are David’s words, which speak of the healing of all our diseases, when properly applied to the Divine restoration of our hearts from the soul sickness of discouragement, frustration, and indifference! Who that has been any time in the narrow way has not felt an occasional measure of soul sickness, or been at least at a low spiritual ebb? But the Lord does not then forsake us, for he surely heals and strengthens us, and leads us back into a vigorous, healthful condition.


Another of the Divine ‘dealings’ which we should remember while we give thanks to the Lord is that he provided for our redemption from “destruction.” (Ps. 103:4) He furnished a ransom by sending his Son, his only begotten Son, to be a propitiation for our sins and the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2) We were under the yoke of sin and death, and in the Lord’s gracious dealings with us he brought us up “out of an horrible pit, [and] out of the miry clay” and he set our feet upon “a rock,” the Rock of Ages. (Ps. 40:2) No longer do we, his children, stand in dread condemnation as aliens and strangers before the bar of Divine justice. But we have been brought within the inner circle of God’s love and mercy, and as the psalmist exclaimed, he crowns us “with lovingkindness and tender mercies.”—Ps. 103:4

It may seem strange to those in the world who hear Christians speak of the Lord’s loving-kindness and tender mercies which they experience, when the worldly often observe that, as followers of the Master, we have severe trials and difficulties, great self-denials and restraints. They cannot see where there is any profit in serving the Lord. They cannot understand how the Apostle Paul could write as he did, that “we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life,” and yet speak of God who permitted this affliction as “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.”—II Cor. 1:8,3

The real truth of the matter, however, reveals that the ‘God of all mercy and comfort’ is subjecting his faithful followers to painful trials and besetments, and is sacrificing their humanity in his service day by day. This may seem like a calamity to those who do not know the object and purpose of God’s dealings; but to those who know that the Lord is developing a New Creation to be joint-heirs with Christ, the matter is viewed as most wonderful and blessed.

The trials and hardships of the narrow way are necessary to prove and test the fidelity of the consecrated followers of the Master. They are also necessary to consume the dross of their characters, and to establish indelibly in their hearts the character likeness of their Lord. Even while they are undergoing these trying experiences they have many compensating blessings of peace, joy, and Divine approval. Very satisfying are their present blessings and they more than recompense for the hardships of the ‘narrow way.’ This being true, we often see them rejoicing in the face of adversities, and patient in tribulation. (Rom. 12:12) And, in spite of all the trials, it can properly be said that they live a richer, fuller, and more satisfying life than the most successful and contented worldly persons could experience.


In the Lord’s dealings with us, ample provision has been made to satisfy our hunger and thirst for righteousness. So David truly wrote, “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Ps. 103:5) In this day, when there is a famine in the world, “not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11), we are being fed sumptuously, and watered with the refreshing and soul-satisfying portion of the Divine Word.

What a blessed and happy feast we are enjoying! The poor world has been feeding on the promises of their fellow men, but these promises are soon broken. They then listen to eloquent philosophers who endeavor to quell their fears with sweet words and enchanting phrases, all of which, at best, only serve to allay their fears, but do not in any way alter the state of affairs in the crumbling world. They turn to the statesmen, who speak of peace and brighter days, if their policies should be adopted—policies which have failed many times in the past. They receive only little lasting comfort. The clergy likewise have no answer or message of comfort to give them, for their proposed plan of converting the world to Christ has been unsuccessful.


By the Lord’s grace, we are not without a true and living hope in this present world chaos, for the Lord has taken us into his confidence and has revealed his plans and purposes to us. In these last days he has satisfied us with good things from his storehouse of truth. We are privileged to know that the Lord is now selecting a group of faithful followers of the Master to be the kings and priests of the Millennial Age; which age is, in turn, reserved for the restoration and elevation of the entire human race.

This wonderful knowledge is a refreshing portion, indeed, to the Lord’s true people. It helps them to take new courage and hope as they see this present evil world passing away. It also enables them to gladden the hearts of others who are looking for the answer to the present distress of nations.

They can assure others that yet a little while and the dominion of darkness shall forever pass away, and the glorious kingdom of light and truth shall be ushered in, lightened by the true Light which will lighten every man in the new age. How this glad message renews our strength and determination to press on in the narrow way. Indeed, as the psalmist said, our ‘youth is renewed like the eagle’s.’

This message should also have the same impact upon the world. They must wait until the Millennial kingdom of Christ has come, to fully appreciate the sentiments of this psalm. Then God’s Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all flesh.—Joel 2: 28

David wrote that, in that day, “The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.” (Ps. 103:19) In heaven, all of God’s angelic creatures recognize this authority, and are eager to bow down before him. As David says: “Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.”—Ps. 103:20-22

When the church is complete, and with the angels of heaven giving praises to God, the remaining need is that the world of mankind be lifted up, going up the “way of holiness” unto perfection, and voicing their praise.—Isa. 35:1-10

Dawn Bible Students Association
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