Have you ever heard someone say “I love to bless the Lord” or maybe some pray “I bless you Lord?” I remember as a college student at a church internship being confused by a brother in Christ speaking that way in prayer. I thought to myself: “How could he or anyone bless the Lord, doesn’t the Lord bless us? Does the Lord really need our blessing?” In this week’s blog post we starting a series on Psalm 103 and it is a Psalm that is all about blessing the Lord. So whatever it means to bless the Lord it is a biblical thing!
Overview of the Psalm
The old saying is that if you want to know where the keys are in a house check near the front or back door where they likely reside. The same is often true for understanding what a particular passage of God’s Word is teaching. Frequently the theme or key to the passage is present at either the beginning or end of that particular unit of Scripture. Psalm 103 certainly conforms to this general rule of Bible study. The Psalm commences this way: “Bless the LORD, O my soul” (Psalm 103:1) and concludes like this: “Bless the LORD, all you works of His” (Psalm 103:22). In fact, six times in this Psalm we hear of “blessing the LORD” (V. 1, 2, 20, 21, 22 [2x]).
Blessing the LORD?
What exactly does it mean to “bless the LORD?” Consider the following important cross references that help us answer this question:
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth (Genesis 14:18-19)
Behold, bless the LORD, all servants of the LORD, Who serve by night in the house of the LORD! 2 Lift up your hands to the sanctuary And bless the LORD. 3 May the LORD bless you from Zion, He who made heaven and earth (Psalm 134:1 -3)
In both of these passages the Lord is blessing people and people are blessing the Lord. In other words, “God blesses people by conferring good on them; we bless God by praising the good in him.” So when that dear brother was praying “Lord, we bless you,” he was doing something very biblical. He was communicating to the Lord in prayer that he was calling attention to the Lord’s own intrinsic goodness.
Theme of Psalm 103
Psalm 103 is all about calling attention to the goodness of the Lord. It has to do with blessing God by praising God for His goodness. In summary the theme of this Psalm is something like this: Recounting God’s characteristic benefits for the purpose of blessing Him.
This theme is fleshed out in these 22 verses in the following ways:
First, blessing the Lord for His personal benefits (1-5)
Second, blessing the Lord for His corporate benefits (6-14)
Third, blessing the Lord for His enduring benefits (15-18)
Fourth, blessing the Lord for His sovereign right to receive universal blessing (19-22)
As we study this Psalm together in the coming weeks if you have a heart to bless the Lord this passage will help answer some questions that you have no doubt asked before in your own heart. For example, how should you bless the Lord? How can I get back to blessing the Lord? Why am I finding it hard to bless the Lord?
Passages like this cause us to take our eyes off of ourselves and our problems and put them on God and His sufficiency. This Psalm will proclaim a God who is so good and glorious that His sufficiency for all those who trust in Him is undeniable. When we have an appropriately and biblically “big view of God” then our troubles and anxieties get shrunk back to their right size. Whatever looms large in our eyes right now that might be obscuring a clear sight of God’s glory is no match for a biblically grand view of God as revealed in His Word, specifically Psalm 103. I invite you now to read through the text of Psalm 103 below and ask God to help you over the next few weeks to draw out a more consistent blessing of Him. If you have trusted in Christ alone for salvation then you were made and redeemed to bless God by calling attention to His glorious goodness.
Psalm 103 A Psalm of David. Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; 3 Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; 4 Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; 5 Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. 6 The LORD performs righteous deeds And judgments for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. 8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. 9 He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. 10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. 13 Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. 14 For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. 16 When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer. 17 But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, 18 To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them. 19 The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all. 20 Bless the LORD, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word! 21 Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will. 22 Bless the LORD, all you works of His, In all places of His dominion; Bless the LORD, O my soul!
 See Michael Brown in Vol. 1 of New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, page 764.