Psalm 103: Six Major Kingdom Benefits

By Dr. Ron Woodworth

“Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me bless his holy name.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of his benefits—

Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

Who redeems your life from the pit…

And crowns you with love and compassion,

Who satisfies your desires with good things…

 So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

(Psalm 103:1-5)

As I’ve been re-devoting myself to prayerfully waiting on the Lord in the mornings, I was led to this formerly familiar Psalm–Psalm 103. While prayerfully pondering each verse and word of the text above, it struck me that this Psalm contains an excellent list of what I’m calling “Kingdom benefits” for all believers–that should be regularly rehearsed in praise to the Lord. Come with me on a brief devotional journey into the promises of a God who keeps covenant throughout all generations.

“For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ.’”

(2 Corinthians 1:20)

Verse 1: “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of his benefits…”

  • To bless the Lord means to praise him.
  • To praise means to acknowledge, commend, affirm and applaud!

Notice how the psalmist is speaking to himself. “Get with it soul!” It’s like he is awakening himself from any apathy or complacency (perhaps when he first awakens in the mornings) by commanding everything within him to honorably acknowledge God’s goodness and kindness toward him. Isn’t it true, that at times, we do need to alert (and perhaps even command) our soul to praise the Lord?

For, if we are not careful we can fall into a dullness of spirit that is imprisoned by “feelings” rather than liberated by faith. Blessing or praising the Lord (out loud rather than just in our heads) is actually a spiritual exercise or discipline that can keep us spiritually sharp and attuned to God’s continual blessings on our lives. That’s one of the reasons, without being superficially religious, I try often to respond to the question of “How are you doing Ron?” with “I’m more blessed than I deserve.” Selah.

The fact is: Praise emanates from the life of a person who is continually remembering (or calling to mind) the Lord’s benefits. When we forget those benefits we cease to praise—thereby often hindering us from experiencing the fullness of what God intends for our lives and families. Make no mistake about it…there is power in praise! Power to liberate our emotions, power to release God’s promised provision, and power to bind the enemy from our lives (Psalm 149). Could I invite you to consider joining me right now to speak out loud–and if you dare, with hands raised highJ–the following declaration of praise:

“Lord Jesus I praise, glorify, honor and exalt you over anything and everything that challenges my faith today! I declare that you are Lord of all (!) and have been so faithful to me…that I want the world to know you live and reign in the hearts and lives of all who trust you! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!”

Verse 2: “…who forgives all your sins and heals all of your diseases…”

  • Wow! What incredible benefits to start with—forgiveness and healing!

To forgive implies both a release from all penalties or consequences associated with sin—as well as a forgetting that the sin was ever committed in the first place. In other words: When God acquits—he forgets! And notice how many sins he forgives—ALL of them. That means all sin: from the most serious external transgressions to the seething secret iniquities. We only need to confess all known sins and trust him that those sins and iniquities which we are unaware of are all covered by his blood sacrifice as well. Then we can stand confident of our righteousness by grace through faith—even though we still may be battling to secure a lifestyle of righteous living that coincides with his declaration of our righteousness or justification in Christ. That’s good news my friend and a benefit worth remembering/rehearsing all the time!

  • I’m struck that the healing of our diseases immediately follows the forgiveness of our sins.

In the New Testament Jesus asserted that his authority to forgive sins was verified by his power to heal the sick. “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…”he said to the paralytic,” Get up, take your mat and go home…And the man got up and went home…and the crowd was filled with awe and praised God.” (Matthew 9:6-8) In other words, if God has forgiven you of your sins then you are a prime candidate for the further manifestation of his power to heal. Why not seek the Lord about claiming this promise, or kingdom benefit in your own life for some debilitating sickness or disease—or even some minor nagging malady of some sort? After all, why live with some affliction you don’t need to? I would never encourage anyone to surrender to an illness prematurely or perpetually without a serious and specific word from God confirming his will and grace in this regard.1

Verse 3: “…who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion…”

  • To redeem literally means to “buy back” someone’s freedom from captivity through the payment of a ransom of some kind.

Thank God that he was has redeemed us from all captivity (to sin, sickness, the flesh, the world, the devil, and death) by the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. However, in addition to this marvelous positional truth of redemption I have found that there are other times in my life when I again desperately need to experience his redeeming power. I am speaking of when, as a Christian, I have foolishly (in hindsight) gotten myself into binding situations—either by financial, contractual/legal, or relational commitments, etc., where I am powerless to extricate myself. In times like these I have poured out my broken heart to the Lord who has graciously and repeatedly redeemed my life from the pit of trouble, anxiety and despair. And, while it is true that God might not free us from all external circumstances into which we have fallen; we can nevertheless count on his sustaining grace and peace to help us endure any trial that he, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, might determine is better for us to endure than escape.

“No temptation or trial has overtaken you but such as it common to man. And God is faithful—who will not allow you to be tempted (tested or tried) beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted (with trials), he will also provide a way out [or through] so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

In other words, some storms you can rebuke—whereas others you must endure. But either way, his gracious presence, peace and provision will be your constant companion.

This merciful presence of God is reflected in the next phrase…he “crowns you with love and compassion.” In other words, he places upon our heads—thus making it obvious to all [a crown would certainly cause others to take notice] that we are objects of his love and compassion. Please notice that a crown signifies nobility—I mean peasants didn’t normally run around with crowns on their headsJ In fact, a crown is specifically a royal or imperial headdress of cap of sovereignty—awarded as a sign of victory or a mark of honor. Think of that. The Lord has crowned us with his victory and given us the title of divine nobility! We are the sons and daughters and hence heirs of God. This means that regardless of our present earthly social-political status we can and should hold our heads up high–not in pride, but in dignity as befits those who make a claim to divine nobility.

Personal Testimony: My wife’s name is Patricia Ann which literally means “gracious nobility.” And anyone who knows Patty can definitely attest to the fact that she bears her name well. As I have had the privilege of being married to her for 25 years she has inadvertently and yet undeniably been, besides the Lord and my dearest mother, the major ennobling and embolding influence in my life. She has ennobled me by “commanding” my respect with the always honorable way she bears herself in public and private. And she has emboldened me with confidence in knowing that God must have marked me out for some kind of “special destiny,” to be married to one who, in my mind, deserves so much and yet asks for so little.

Verse: 5: “Who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Desire is defined as hope accompanied by an expectation of fulfillment. In Proverbs 13:12 it states that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” There are many who live hopeless and despondent lives because their hearts’ have been sickened with a lack of fulfillment. They have abandoned their youthful visions and dreams through continual failure and now live “risk-free” [or safe] lives in order to avoid being disappointed again. Unconsciously or not, they are guarding their hearts to mask the pain of the empty hopelessness they feel. Their hearts have become old before their time—without ever realizing their God-given potential. In this regard, it’s instructive that the word “disappoint” means to “miss an appointment.” It’s like they showed up expecting something (or someone) that didn’t meet them at the appointed time or way that they had anticipated. As a result, they no longer believe and show little to no excitement or passion about life itself. They live what I call a “passionless existence.” Without hope…without faith…without a living God who can truly “satisfy their desires with good things.”

If I am describing you, then know that, according to his word, the Lord really does want to fulfill the desires of your heart with blessings beyond your wildest dreams. You only need to make certain that you are a citizen of his kingdom by believing his word of promise, repenting of sin, renouncing your own self-willed (or rebellious life style), and earnestly seeking his kingdom above everything and everyone else in this life (Matthew 6:33). If you do this (or re-do this if needed) then the Lord will heal your heart enabling you to hope again and revive you with a new zeal for life.

This revival of heart is what “renewing your youth like the eagle’s” means. For, in ancient biblical times an eagle symbolized the vigor of youth.2  There is no more popular verse in this regard than Isaiah 40:31 that promises, “Those who wait (or hope in) the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up (soar) on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

I remember when years ago [thankfullyJ], during my “dark night of the soul” I noticed that the verse just before verse 31 was embarrassingly descriptive of me… “Even though youths grow tired and weary and vigorous young men stumble badly…yet those who wait on the Lord will find renewed strength.” (Isaiah 41:30)  Yet, even when I had, as a young man and minister, “stumbled badly” [by experiencing the agony of a church-split] the Lord was still there to revive my heart and restore my hope in his goodness—to the point where here I am again today (though 20 years older) filled with a new zeal for his purpose and hopeful anticipation that the best is yet to come.

My friend, the same promise of restored hope and youthful zeal (regardless of your age) is the certain promise and benefit of all God’s children who look to him in time of need and come to him in times of weariness.

Let the Lord be magnified

Ron

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, ‘The Lord is upright; he is my Rock.” (Psalm 91:12-15)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)


[1] If you would like further biblical instruction on the topic of divine healing and health, please refer to my series on “What Does the Bible Say About Healing?”

[2] NIV Study Bible footnote “like the eagle’s” for Psalm 103:5, p. 903.