Over the course of this month, we have been examining the third commandment and the importance of not taking the Lord’s name in vain. In the Law, we studied what is specifically forbidden by this commandment. In the Prophets, we examined practical ways that we can exalt the name of the Lord in daily life. In the Gospels, we looked at the Lord’s Prayer and the example of Jesus in honoring the name of His Heavenly Father. In the New Testament epistles, we traced the value of the name of Jesus Christ—the name which is above every name. We have derived from all these passages this statement of application that every Christian man can live by:
I am to revere God’s name and character in my words, actions, and attitudes, living in holiness because His name is holy.
In this final week of March, we are going to look at the opening exhortation of the psalmist in Psalm 103: “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name” (verse 1).
Just as the third commandment warns of the danger of taking the name of the Lord in vain, this psalm encourages us to rightly use the holy name of the Lord. In this psalm, David encourages his own soul and, by extension, all believers to “bless his holy name.”
It is easy to understand what it means for God to bless His people. But have you considered the importance and privilege that we have as His children to “bless Him”? This expression does not merely mean in a shallow sense that we are to “be a blessing” to God. He is in need of nothing. He owns “every beast of the forest” and the “cattle upon a thousand hills.” (See Psalm 50:10.) In simple terms, the verb bless in this verse expresses a declaration of a state of being. It literally means “declare that the name of the Lord is blessed.”
How do we do “bless the Lord”? Well, we are not left to wonder. The psalmist follows his exhortation by declaring the blessedness of the name of Jehovah. David the psalmist does so by remembering and recording the benefits that flow from God’s works and His ways.
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2). Let’s look at the benefits that are recorded in the opening verses of Psalm 103:
1. “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities”
We are to declare the blessedness of forgiveness that God has freely granted through the sacrifice of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Do you “bless the Lord” by telling others about how God has forgiven you? Do you extend that same forgiveness to your own offenders?
2. “Who healeth all thy diseases”
God has not promised to deliver us from all physical affliction. Death and sickness have come upon humanity through the curse upon sin. But whatever measure of health that we do enjoy is a gift from His good hand. Do you “bless the Lord” by praising or thanking God for this gift? Do you promote the physical health of others by praying for them? Do you encourage the spiritual and mental health of your loved ones by offering them Godly counsel?
3. “Who redeemeth thy life from destruction”
We are unaware of the numerous times that we would be destroyed were it not for the redeeming grace of God. How often have we been spared from accidents on the highway or from ruining our lives, our marriages, or our families by mistakes that we have made? Do you “bless the Lord” by giving God the credit for redeeming you from destructive habits and choices that otherwise would have ruined your life?
4. “Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies”
God’s “lovingkindness” is the covenant love that is not based upon our ability to love Him in return. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Do you “bless the Lord” by extending the same lovingkindness and tender mercy that you have received from God to your wife and children in moments of frustration?
5. “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things”
Only a true believer can experience genuine satisfaction. Whatever God gives is “good,” although it may not be pleasurable. In the same way that a parent gives a child what is “good for him,” so the Lord gives us exactly what is good for us. As we mature in our understanding of His ways and our knowledge of Him, we can testify and bless His name that we are satisfied by His will in our lives. Do you “bless the Lord” by teaching your children that God knows what is best for us and gives us exactly what we need?
6. “So that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s”
As we wait upon the Lord, He renews our strength, and we can “mount up with wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31). An eagle goes through a periodic and gradual molt of its feathers, shedding worn feathers and growing new ones that will be able to bear it aloft. In a similar way, the Lord renews us by His gracious Holy Spirit, gradually sanctifying and renewing our strength so that we are enabled to soar above temptations that would pull us down. Do you regularly set aside special times of fasting, prayer, and meditation so that your spirit can be renewed by the Spirit of God?
The list does not end here. For the remainder of the psalm, David remembers and records the ways and works of God in an effort to “declare the blessedness” of the holy name of Jehovah. Each one of us has a similar story to tell. We can tell and record for our children and our grandchildren the particular ways that God has been good to us in daily life. In the next biographical sketch, we will look at the life of a man who learned to “bless the name of the Lord” in spite of very difficult circumstances.