Theme: Reminding Ourselves of God’s Blessings
This week’s lessons show us that it is essential to remember God’s blessings, and how we are to praise God for all that he is and for all he has done for us.
Scripture: Psalm 103:1-22
Have you ever asked yourself to whom the psalms are spoken? To whom are they addressed? The first answer that comes to mind is that they are addressed to God, and it is true that some of them, probably most of them, are. But some are spoken to other people—some to the righteous, some to sinners, some to Israel, some to the Gentile nations and other groups. In Psalm 103 the psalmist is speaking to himself.
Himself? Why would he do that? We do not have to read very far into the psalm—in fact, only as far as verse 2—to learn why. It is to remind himself of God’s blessings so he will continue to be grateful for all that God had done for him. Roy Clements, the pastor of Eden Baptist Church in Cambridge, England, explains: “He is cataloguing the goodness of God; enumerating his blessings, lest in a moment of depression or backsliding, he should forget the source of his prosperity and take God’s grace for granted.”1 Do you take God’s grace for granted? Others may murmur against God and complain about him. They did in David’s day. Many still do today. David wanted his words to be praise. John Stott wrote of this psalm, “We have here the authentic utterance of a redeemed child of God, who piles up words to express his gratitude to the God of grace.”2
There are several good hymns that are based on this psalm, which is what we would expect of such a great praise hymn. From the Psalter of 1912:
O come, my soul, bless thou the Lord thy Maker,
And all within me bless his holy name;
Bless thou the Lord, forget not all his mercies,
His pardoning grace and saving love proclaim.
Another is Joachim Neander’s hymn of 1680, translated by Catherine Winkworth (1863), “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation,” and also Henry Lyte’s hymn of 1834:
Praise, my soul, the King of heaven,
To his feet your tribute bring:
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who, like me, his praise should sing?
Praise him, praise him, praise him, praise him,
Praise the everlasting King.
There is also another hymn that was popular some years ago, and still is with many people, though not based on Psalm 103 but perfectly captures what the psalmist is doing: “Count your blessings; name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done.”
Psalm 103 and the following psalm, Psalm 104, form a pair of praise psalms. Derek Kidner says, “In the galaxy of the Psalter these are twin stars of the first magnitude.”3 In the fourth book of the Psalter this is the last psalm (and only one of two) that is attributed to David. There are fifteen more in book five.
1Roy Clements, Songs of Experience: Midnight and Dawn through the Eyes of the Psalmists (Fearn, Scotland: Christian Focus, 1993), p. 135.
2John Stott, Favorite Psalms (Chicago: Moody, 1988), p. 95.
3Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150: A Commentary on Books III-V of the Psalms (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1975), p. 364.
Why does David address the psalm to himself? Under what conditions is he writing?
Why do we need to remind ourselves of God’s blessings?
What are some hymns based on this psalm? What is your favorite hymn of praise, and why?
Reflection: In what ways have you taken God’s grace for granted?
Application: Have you ever murmured or complained about God’s working in your life? Repent of your lack of faith, and then make a list of the blessings you have received.
For Further Study: The Father’s blessings flow to us through the Lord Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Download for free and listen to Sinclair Ferguson’s message, “May Jesus Christ Be Praised.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)