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103. Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

2Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

3Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;

4Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;

5Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.

7He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.

8The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.

9He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.

10He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.

11For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him.

12As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

13Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him.

14For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

15As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.

16For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.

17But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children;

18To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

19The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.

20Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.

21Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.

22Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.

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Cheerful Praise.

19 The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.   20 Bless the Lord, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.   21 Bless ye the Lord, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure.   22 Bless the Lord, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul.

Here is, I. The doctrine of universal providence laid down, v. 19. He has secured the happiness of his peculiar people by promise and covenant, but the order of mankind, and the world in general, he secures by common providence. The Lord has a throne of his own, a throne of glory, a throne of government. He that made all rules all, and both by a word of power: He has prepared his throne, has fixed and established it that it cannot be shaken; he has afore-ordained all the measures of his government and does all according to the counsel of his own will. He has prepared it in the heavens, above us, and out of sight; for he holds back the face of his throne, and spreads a cloud upon it (Job xxvi. 9); yet he can himself judge through the dark cloud, Job xxiii. 13. Hence the heavens are said to rule (Dan. iv. 26), and we are led to consider this by the influence which even the visible heavens have upon this earth, their dominion, Job xxxviii. 33; Gen. i. 16. But though God's throne is in heaven, and there he keeps his court, and thither we are to direct to him (Our Father who art in heaven), yet his kingdom rules over all. He takes cognizance of all the inhabitants, and all the affairs, of this lower world, and disposes all persons and things according to the counsel of his will, to his own glory (Dan. iv. 35): His kingdom rules over all kings and all kingdoms, and from it there is no exempt jurisdiction.

II. The duty of universal praise inferred from it: if all are under God's dominion, all must do him homage.

1. Let the holy angels praise him (v. 20, 21): Bless the Lord, you his angels; and again, Bless the Lord, all you his hosts, you ministers of his. David had been stirring up himself and others to praise God, and here, in the close, he calls upon the angels to do it; not as if they needed any excitement of ours to praise God, they do it continually; but thus he expresses his high thoughts of God as worthy of the adorations of the holy angels, thus he quickens himself and others to the duty with this consideration, That it is the work of angels, and comforts himself in reference to his own weakness and defect in the performance of this duty with this consideration, That there is a world of holy angels who dwell in God's house and are still praising him. In short, the blessed angels are glorious attendants upon the blessed God. Observe, (1.) How well qualified they are for the post they are in. They are able; for they excel in strength; they are mighty in strength (so the word is); they are able to bring great things to pass, and to abide in their work without weariness. And they are as willing as they are able; they are willing to know their work; for they hearken to the voice of his word; they stand expecting commission and instructions from their great Lord, and always behold his face (Matt. xviii. 10), that they may take the first intimation of his mind. They are willing to do their work: They do his commandments (v. 20); they do his pleasure (v. 21); they dispute not any divine commands, but readily address themselves to the execution of them. Nor do they delay, but fly swiftly: They do his commandments at hearing, or as soon as they hear the voice of his word; so Dr. Hammond. To obey is better than sacrifice; for angels obey, but do not sacrifice. (2.) What their service is. They are his angels, and ministers of his—his, for he made them, and made them for himself—his, for he employs them, though he does not need them—his, for he is their owner and Lord; they belong to him and he has them at his beck. All the creatures are his servants, but not as the angels that attend the presence of his glory. Soldiers, and seamen, and all good subjects, serve the king, but not as the courtiers do, the ministers of state and those of the household. [1.] The angels occasionally serve God in this lower world; they do his commandments, go on his errands (Dan. ix. 21), fight his battles (2 Kings vi. 17), and minister for the good of his people, Heb. i. 14. [2.] They continually praise him in the upper world; they began betimes to do it (Job xxxviii. 7), and it is still their business, from which they rest not day nor night, Rev. iv. 8. It is God's glory that he has such attendants, but more his glory that he neither needs them nor is benefited by them.

2. Let all his works praise him (v. 22), all in all places of his dominion; for, because they are his works, they are under his dominion, and they were made and are ruled that they may be unto him for a name and a praise. All his works, that is, all the children of men, in all parts of the world, let them all praise God; yea, and the inferior creatures too, which are God's works also; let them praise him objectively, though they cannot praise him actually, Ps. cxlv. 10. Yet all this shall not excuse David from praising God, but rather excite him to do it the more cheerfully, that he may bear a part in this concert; for he concludes, Bless the Lord, O my soul! as he began, v. 1. Blessing God and giving him glory must be the alpha and the omega of all our services. He began with Bless the Lord, O my soul! and, when he had penned and sung this excellent hymn to his honour, he does not say, Now, O my soul! thou hast blessed the Lord, sit down, and rest thee, but, Bless the Lord, O my soul! yet more and more. When we have done ever so much in the service of God, yet still we must stir up ourselves to do more. God's praise is a subject that will never be exhausted, and therefore we must never think this work done till we come to heaven, where it will be for ever in the doing.




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