An exhortation to bless God for his mercy. (1-5) And to the church and to all men. (6-14) For the constancy of his mercy. (15-18) For the government of the world. (19-22)
Verses 1-5 By the pardon of sin, that is taken away which kept good things from us, and we are restored to the favor of God, who bestows good things on us. Think of the provocation; it was sin, and yet pardoned: how many the provocations, yet all pardoned! God is still forgiving, as we are still sinning and repenting. The body finds the melancholy consequences of Adam's offence, it is subject to many infirmities, and the soul also. Christ alone forgives all our sins; it is he alone who heals all our infirmities. And the person who finds his sin cured, has a well-grounded assurance that it is forgiven. When God, by the graces and comforts of his Spirit, recovers his people from their decays, and fills them with new life and joy, which is to them an earnest of eternal life and joy, they may then be said to return to the days of their youth, ( Job 33:25 ) .
Verses 6-14 Truly God is good to all: he is in a special manner good to Israel. He has revealed himself and his grace to them. By his ways we may understand his precepts, the ways he requires us to walk in; and his promises and purposes. He always has been full of compassion. How unlike are those to God, who take every occasion to chide, and never know when to cease! What would become of us, if God should deal so with us? The Scripture says a great deal of the mercy of God, and we all have experienced it. The father pities his children that are weak in knowledge, and teaches them; pities them when they are froward, and bears with them; pities them when they are sick, and comforts them; pities them when they are fallen, and helps them to rise; pities them when they have offended, and, upon their submission, forgives them; pities them when wronged, and rights them: thus the Lord pities those that fear him. See why he pities. He considers the frailty of our bodies, and the folly of our souls, how little we can do, how little we can bear; in all which his compassion appears.
Verses 15-18 How short is man's life, and uncertain! The flower of the garden is commonly more choice, and will last the longer, for being sheltered by the garden-wall, and the gardener's care; but the flower of the field, to which life is here compared, is not only withering in itself, but exposed to the cold blasts, and liable to be cropt and trod on by the beasts of the field. Such is man. God considers this, and pities him; let him consider it himself. God's mercy is better than life, for it will outlive it. His righteousness, the truth of his promise, shall be unto children's children, who tread in the footsteps of their forefathers' piety. Then shall mercy be preserved to them.
Verses 19-22 He who made all, rules all, and both by a word of power. He disposes all persons and things to his own glory. There is a world of holy angels who are ever praising him. Let all his works praise him. Such would have been our constant delight, if we had not been fallen creatures. Such it will in a measure become, if we are born of God. Such it will be for ever in heaven; nor can we be perfectly happy till we can take unwearied pleasure in perfect obedience to the will of our God. And let the feeling of each redeemed heart be, Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Psalms 103:1-22 . A Psalm of joyous praise, in which the writer rises from a thankful acknowledgment of personal blessings to a lively celebration of God's gracious attributes, as not only intrinsically worthy of praise, but as specially suited to man's frailty. He concludes by invoking all creatures to unite in his song.
1. Bless, &c.--when God is the object, praise.
my soul--myself ( Psalms 3:3 , 25:1 ), with allusion to the act, as one of intelligence.
all . . . within me--( Deuteronomy 6:5 ).
his holy name--( Psalms 5:11 ), His complete moral perfections.
2. forget not all--not any, none of His benefits.
3. diseases--as penal inflictions ( Deuteronomy 29:22 , 2 Chronicles 21:19 ).
4. redeemeth--Cost is implied.
destruction--literally, "pit of corruption" ( Psalms 16:10 ).
crowneth--or, "adorneth" ( Psalms 65:11 ).
tender mercies--compassions (compare Psalms 25:6 , 40:11 ).
5. By God's provision, the saint retains a youthful vigor like the eagles ( Psalms 92:14 ; compare Isaiah 40:31 ).
6. Literally, "righteousness and judgments," denoting various acts of God's government.
7. ways--of providence, &c., as usual ( Psalms 25:4 , 67:2 ).
acts--literally, "wonders" ( Psalms 7:11 , 78:17 ).
8-10. God's benevolence implies no merit. He shows it to sinners, who also are chastened for a time ( Exodus 34:6 ).
keep (anger)--in Leviticus 19:18 , bear a grudge ( Jeremiah 3:5 Jeremiah 3:12 ).
12. removed . . . from us--so as no longer to affect our relations to Him.
13. pitieth--literally, "has compassion on."
14. he--"who formed," Psalms 94:9 .
knoweth our frame--literally, "our form."
we are dust--made of and tending to it ( Genesis 2:7 ).
15, 16. So short and frail is life that a breath may destroy it.
it is gone--literally, "it is not."
know it no more--no more recognize him ( Psalms 90:6 , Isaiah 40:6-8 ).
17, 18. For similar contrast compare Psalms 90:2-6 , Psalms 102:27 Psalms 102:28 .
18. such . . . covenant--limits the general terms preceding.
righteousness--as usual ( Psalms 7:17 , 31:1 ).
19. God's firm and universal dominion is a pledge that He will keep His promises ( Psalms 11:4 , 47:8 ).
20-22. do his commandments . . . word--or, literally, "so as to hearken," &c., that is, their acts of obedience are prompt, so that they are ever ready to hear, and know, and follow implicitly His declared will (compare Deuteronomy 26:17 , Luke 1:19 ).
21. ye his hosts--myriads, or armies, as corresponding to angels of great power ( Psalms 103:20 ), denoting multitudes also.
22. all his works--creatures of every sort, everywhere.