Why We Should Say "Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul" Today, Tomorrow, and Forever
I remember the first time my ninth-grade Bible teacher had our class memorize Psalm 103. The words from that passage have stuck with me ever since."Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, Oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits" (Ps. 103:1-2).
I used this verse when I underwent depression, anxiety, and even when my friend had been possessed by a demonic spirit. These verses have given me great comfort and given me every reason to praise the Lord.
Perhaps you have a familiarity with this passage or have heard the term “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul,” in a Matt Redman song. No matter what the case, let’s dive into what this verse means and why our souls should bless God today.
What Does "Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul" (Psalm 103:1-2) Mean?
This Psalm, written by David commands believers to bless God. He gives several reasons throughout the chapter for why we should lift up our praise to the Lord. Certain translations refer to these reasons as benefits.
First and foremost, we praise God because he forgives our sins. God’s forgiveness doesn’t just appear in the New Testament. He exercised grace and compassion in the Old Testament as well.
Secondly, God heals our diseases. Although God doesn’t heal us every time—as we may be thinking of a loved one we prayed for fervently who didn’t see healing—but he ultimately heals us of the disease of sin.
Thirdly, God “redeems (our) lives from the pit.” He carries us out of darkness, into his wonderful light. He does not allow us to stay down forever, and in our darkest moment, he dwells with us.
Fourthly, he “crowns” us with lovingkindness and compassion. God’s anger relents. We may think, “Oh, God is so full of wrath.” But the Bible shows that time and time again he gives us second chances.
Fifthly, he satisfies our years with good things. We realize that God has given us a wonderful and beautiful life when we recognize the wonderful people and things he has introduced into our lives.
Finally, he renews our youth like the eagle. Although age and ailments set in, God renews our strength and we know that we will experience a new body one day.
We bless the Lord because he has come through for us time and time again.
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What Does “Oh My Soul” Mean?
How strange that David repeats for us to bless God with our souls over and over again. How do we do that?
According to Dawn Hill, “For David to say, “Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name,” is to praise God completely and with the whole heart. This is not only an emotive expression outwardly nor is this merely an emotionally charged experience, but this includes praising God inwardly.”
In other words, praise God with your entire being.
What Is the Context of Psalm 103?
There are several different kinds of Psalms. Some geared toward lament, some toward praise (some, a little bit of both). David didn't write all of them, and we don't know the historical context of all of them. For some Psalms, for instance, we know they happened during a certain period of life, such as David's repentance Psalm for when he sinned against Bathsheba and Bathsheba's husband.
As far as Psalm 103 goes, we don't know when David specifically wrote this one during his lifetime. However, we do know that these psalms were originally sung. That meant, likely, throughout Jewish history, people in some form used this Psalm as a form of worship to God, perhaps during festivals of celebration.
It has inspired many songwriters to this day, especially in the well-known song, "10,000 Reasons."
How Does Our Soul Praise the Lord?
So how do we go about praising God with all of our being. After all, even if we do have a talent for singing, singing worship songs or hymns on Sunday doesn't seem like enough.
Although this isn't an exhaustive list, here are some ways to worship God with "your soul" (AKA, all of your being).
First, worship God with your work. Instead of taking the easy way out or having some other coworkers pick up the slack, we choose to do the work and to do the work well. I often think about Joseph when it comes to integrity in the workplace. No matter what position he found himself in, he made sure to work hard.
Secondly, we can worship God with our actions. Once we recognize all the things that Psalm 103 lists, we understand the grace and mercy God has extended to us. With this in mind, we choose to refrain from idle talk, from temptation, from sin.
Thirdly, we can praise the Lord through how we love our neighbors. God commands us to first love him, second, love our neighbor. How we treat others can glorify God.
Fourthly, we can choose to bless the Lord through how we spend our time. Instead of binging another show, we can spend that time in the Word or in Prayer.
Boundless possibilities await for how we can worship God with everything.
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What Does "Bless the Lord, Oh My Soul" Look Like in Our Everyday Lives?
Gratitude goes a long way. We can often get frustrated at God when life doesn't turn out how we had hoped. But if we take a look at this chapter, no matter how much our lives appear to be falling apart, we know that God has already given us so many blessings. We can choose to love the Lord with our:
Heart: Our hearts (being the center of everything). We dedicate our lives to God. We let him take control of the plans we once had created for ourselves and allow him to move.
Soul: We praise God with everything within us. We display this love through our actions, not just through worship songs on Sunday.
Mind: We choose what to fill our minds with. We do not allow ourselves to be led astray by wayward doctrine. Instead, we participate in the renewing of our minds on a daily basis. We study the Word of God to make sure we don't take God's words and twist them.
Strength: We do not grow weary in our worship nor in the race set before us. When we grow tired, we ask the Lord to renew our strength and revive our spirit, like the wings of eagles.
We bless God not only because of what he has done for us but because of who he is. Praise the Lord that we have a wonderful and gracious God who has all the might, power, and knowledge.
A Prayer to Bless the Lord
Heavenly Father, I want to praise you today, not only in thought or deed but with my whole being. Give me the strength to love you with all of my heart, the wisdom to allow you to move within my life even when I want to take control, and the knowledge and discernment to stay on the paths of righteousness. And may I do so with all of my being. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
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Hope Bolinger is an acquisitions editor at End Game Press, book editor for hire, and the author of almost 30 books. More than 1500 of her works have been featured in various publications. Check out her books at hopebolinger.com for clean books in most genres, great for adults and kids. Check out her editing profile at Reedsy.com to find out about hiring her for your next book project.
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy-to-read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. We hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in your life today.