February 16: Psalm 103
Praise to God in His covenant faithfulness
87.87 D Beecher (Love Divine, All Loves Excelling), p. 149
Hyfrydol (Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus), p. 169
Ode to Joy (Joyful, Joyful), p. 159
Nettleton (Come, Thou Fount), p. 179
Bless the Lord, my soul; my whole heart; ever bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, my soul; forget not all His mercies to proclaim.
Who forgives all thy transgressions, thy diseases all Who heals;
Who redeems thee from destruction, who with thee so kindly deals.
Who with love and mercy crowns thee, satisfies thy mouth with good;
So that even like the eagle, thou art blessed with youth renewed.
In His righteousness, Jehovah will deliver those distressed;
He will execute just judgement in the cause of all oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses, and His acts to Isr’el’s race;
Tender, loving is Jehovah, slow to anger, rich in grace.
He will not forever chide us, nor will keep His anger still,
Has not dealt as we offended, nor requited us our ill.
For as high as is the heaven far above the earth below,
Ever great to them that fear Him is the mercy He will show.
Far as east from west is distant, He has put away our sin;
Like compassion of a father has the Lord’s compassion been.
For our frame He well remembers; that we are but dust He knows;
As for man, like grass he rises; as the flower in field he grows.
Over it the wind now passes; in a moment it is gone;
In the place where once it flourished, it shall never more be known.
But Jehovah’s lovingkindness unto them that fear His name,
From eternity abideth to eternity the same.
And His righteousness remaineth to their children and their seed,
Who His covenant remember, and His precepts hear and heed.
In the heavens has Jehovah founded His eternal throne;
Over all is His dominion; He is king and He alone.
Bless the Lord, all you His angels, You on whom He strength conferred,
Who His orders are performing, Who obey His every word.
Bless the Lord, all you His servants, hosts that know and do His will,
Who forever wait upon Him, all His pleasure to fulfill.
Bless the Lord, all you His creatures, all His works with one accord,
In all parts of His dominion, O my soul, bless thou the Lord.
In Psalm 103, the soul is called to the contemplation of God’s infinite, forgiving mercy: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy…He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” Indeed not, for “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). This is a psalm appropriately to be prayed in front of an icon of the Cross, for only in the crucified Jesus is it truly fulfilled. The four dimensions of the Cross, its length and breadth, its height and depth, are the dimensions of God’s mercy: “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” This hesed love or mercy of God is not a hazy benevolence. It has a definite history that climaxes in specific acts of salvation: “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16). This is a psalm, then, to be kneaded carefully into the leaven of the soul, for it is concerned with the blood-forgiveness we receive in Christ our Lord. (Reardon, p. 204)