PSALM 103:19. — The Lord hath prepared his throne in the heavens: and his kingdom ruleth over all.
THE Psalm begins with the praise of God, wherein the penman excites his soul to a right and elevated management of so great a duty (ver. 1): “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name:” and because himself and all men were insufficient to offer up a praise to God answerable to the greatness of his benefits, he summons in the end of the psalm the angels, and all creatures, to join in concert with him. Observe,
1. As man is too shallow a creature to comprehend the excellency of God, so he is too dull and scanty a creature to offer up a due praise to God, both in regard of the excellency of his nature, and the multitude and greatness of his benefits.
2. We are apt to forget Divine benefits: our souls must therefore be often jogged, and roused up. “All that is within me,” every power of my rational, and every affection of my sensitive part: all his faculties, all his thoughts. Our souls will hang back from God in every duty, much more in this, if we lay not a strict charge upon them. We are so void of a pure and entire love to God, that we have no mind to those duties. Wants will spur us on to prayer, but a pure love to God can only spirit us to praise. We are more ready, to reach out a hand to receive his mercies, than to lift up our hearts to recognize them after the receipt. After the Psalmist had summoned his own soul to this task, he enumerates the Divine blessings received by him, to awaken his soul by a sense of them to so noble a work. He begins at the first and foundation mercy to himself, the pardon of his sin and justification of his person, the renewing of his sickly and languishing nature (ver. 3): “Who forgives all thy iniquities, and heals all thy diseases.” His redemption from death, or eternal destruction; his expected glorification thereupon, which he speaks of with that certainty, as if it were present (ver. 4): “Who redeems thy life from destruction, who crowns thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies.” He makes his progress to the mercy manifested to the church in the protection of it against, or delivery of it from, oppressions (ver. 6): “The Lord executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.” In the discovery of his will and law, and the glory of his merciful name to it (ver. 7, 8): “He made known his ways unto Moses, and his acts unto the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy:” which latter words may refer also to the free and unmerited spring of the benefits he had reckoned up: viz., the mercy of God, which he mentions also (ver. 10): “He hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities;” and then extols the perfection of Divine mercy, in the pardoning of sin (ver. 11, ver. 12); the paternal tenderness of God (ver. 13); the eternity of his mercy (ver. 17); but restrains it to the proper object (ver. 11, 17), “to them that fear him;” i. e. to them that believe in him. Fear being the word commonly used for faith in the Old Testament, under the legal dispensation, wherein the spirit of bondage was more eminent than the spirit of adoption, and their fear more than their confidence. Observe,
1. All true blessings grow up from the pardon of sin (ver. 3): “Who forgives all thine iniquities.” That is the first blessing, the top and crown of all other favors, which draws all other blessings after it, and sweetens all other blessings with it. The principal intent of Christ was expiation of sin, redemption from iniquity; the purchase of other blessings was consequent upon it. Pardon of sin is every blessing virtually, and in the root and spring it flows from the favor of God, and is such a gift as cannot be tainted with a curse, as outward things may.