Psalm 103


In this psalm, David praises God for His redemptive work which reaches everyone and he thanks God for caring for all people, not just Israel.


‘Of David.’

Although the headings aren’t inspired by God, they are important because they give us some understanding of the Psalm and they help us to see why it was written. The headings usually tell us four things.

1. Who wrote them, probably wrote them or possibly wrote them.

2. Information about the historical background to the Psalm. Why it was written.

3. They tell us of the tune the Psalm was written to.

4. How it was used.

The heading tells us this is a psalm of David.

‘Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all 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

David begins by speaking to his soul and asks his soul to praise the LORD and praise His Holy Name.

David is simply seeking to praise God with everything he’s got, he wants the innermost part of him to praise God too, Numbers 6:23-27. He essentially speaks to his inner self to praise God, possibly because there was a part of him which didn’t really praise God.

David speaks to his soul again and asks that his soul praises the Lord, but this time, it was to remind him of all the benefits he has for being a child of God, 2 Chronicles 32:25.

He now goes on to describe five benefits which he and all of God’s children have because of their obedience and commitment to God.

1. Because we are God’s children, He forgives our sin.

When we reflect upon our own sinfulness and the staggering amount of sin God forgave us personally at our baptism, Acts 2:38, it can sometimes be overwhelming that God in His grace is willing to forgive us completely. Sometimes, people who have been Christians for a long time, often forget what it was like to have their many sins forgiven.

2. Because we are God’s children, He heals all our diseases.

God heals us emotionally, mentally, and if it is His will, physically. More importantly, God heals us spiritually, the biggest disease we needed healing from was our sin, Isaiah 53:5 / 1 Peter 2:24.

3. Because we are God’s children, He redeems our life from the pit.

God knows how to save His people from the destruction that comes from sin, Ephesians 1:7 / Colossians 1:13. He loves His children and helps them to avoid the pitfalls of life, 1 Corinthians 10:13. He knows how to rescue us from any situation in life, 2 Timothy 4:18.

4. Because we are God’s children, He crowns us with love and compassion.

God is love, 1 John 4:8 / 1 John 4:16, and He is full of compassion, Psalm 86:15, therefore, His love and compassion will never be exhausted.

We love Him because He first loved us, 1 John 4:19, we love others because He loves us, John 15:12. We show compassion to others because He was compassionate to us, Luke 6:36 / Luke 15:20.

5. Because we are God’s children, He satisfies our desires with good things.

God wants us to live life to the full and get the best out of life, John 10:10. Everything we receive from God isn’t only good but it’s also perfect, James 1:17. We won’t lack anything in this life, He provides us with everything we need for life and to live a life which pleases Him, 2 Peter 1:3.

As an eagle soars to great heights, so the result of God providing for the youth is that they too will have strength and longevity in life, Isaiah 40:31.

‘The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbour his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.’ Psalm 103:6-14

David tells us that the LORD works righteousness and justice, but notice He works for ‘all’ the oppressed, not just those living in Israel.

God has made His ways known to Moses and the people of Israel. David speaks about how God dealt with the nation of Israel so that we can understand how gracious God can be with our rebellion.

God was patient with Israel, James 5:11, He was forgiving and He cared for them as a father lovingly cares for his children, Exodus 34:6-7.

David acknowledges that God that Israel totally deserved to be punished much more severely for their sins than they were. This is because God is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love because God won’t always accuse or harbour His anger against His people forever.

In other words, though there were times when His children had to be disciplined, God wouldn’t continually do so day after day, Isaiah 57:16. Because of His forgiveness and mercy, He doesn’t punish His people with what they deserve for their sins. Their rebellion would justly deserve death, but because of His mercy, He only disciplines.

The measure of God’s love for those who fear Him is seen in the distance between the earth and the heavens, that is, it’s immeasurable, Isaiah 55:9. The measure of his forgiveness is seen in the distance from the east to the west, that is, He completely forgives, Isaiah 43:25 / Isaiah 44:22.

As a loving father shows compassion for his children, the Lord shows compassion on all those who fear Him, Matthew 7:7-11 / Luke 15:22-24.

God knows we are formed because He is the One who formed us, He knows we are dust because He created us from the dust, Genesis 2:7 / Genesis 3:19 / Ecclesiastes 3:20 / Isaiah 29:16.

‘The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.’ Psalm 103:15-18

David after telling us that God remembers we are dust, now speaks about the briefness of life.

Life is like grass and like flowers, and when the wind blows over them, they are gone, they disappear and no one remembers where it was. In other words, it’s there one day and gone the next, Psalm 90:5-6 / Isaiah 40:6-8 / James 4:14 / 1 Peter 1:24.

In contrast to the briefness of the mortal’s life, God’s love is never-ending. God’s children and their children’s children, if they fear Him, will be blessed by His love and righteousness, Exodus 20:6 / Acts 2:39.

David tells us the terms and conditions in these verses for those who will receive His everlasting love, they must fear Him, they must keep His covenant and be obedient to His precepts.

‘The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all. Praise the LORD, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word. Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do his will. Praise the LORD, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the LORD, my soul.’ Psalm 103:19-22

David declares that the LORD has established His throne in heaven, that is, God reigns in heaven and He will never be moved. God not only reigns in heaven but His kingdom rules over all, that is, God rules over everything which He created, including the earth.

Israel was under the kingdom reign of God, but Israel wasn’t all the kingdom of God. All nations of the world composed the territory of the sovereignty of God.

Earlier David spoke to his soul and asked his to soul praise God, now he calls upon the angels to praise God. The angels are the mighty ones, the heavenly hosts, God’s servants who obey God at His command.

Even angels were a part of the kingdom reign of God before Jesus assumed this authority when He ascended to the right hand of the Father, Isaiah 1:9 / Ephesians 1:20-24 / 1 Peter 3:22.

David also asks all of God’s works everywhere in His dominion to praise God, that is, everything everywhere is called upon to praise God.

David ends his plasm with the same words he began with, he wants his soul to praise the LORD. After writing everything he wrote in this plasm, it’s clear, that David had many, many reasons to praise the LORD.


David personally knew about receiving God’s love and forgiveness, 2 Samuel 12:1-14 / Psalm 51, but as Christians, we often find it difficult to accept that He has totally forgiven us of all our sins.

There are a few things we should remember when it comes to our forgiveness.

1. Forgiveness is available because Jesus took my guilt and shame upon himself, Romans 3:23-25 / Hebrews 12:2.

2. Forgiveness is based on His merit and not ours, Ephesians 1:7.

3. Forgiveness is reliable because it is given by the one who is in authority, Romans 8:34.

I wonder when Jesus said to the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, ‘woman, where are your accusers, has no one condemned you?’ And she said, ‘No one Lord.’ John 8:10. I wonder maybe for the first time she included herself.

The next time, we’re struggling to accept God’s forgiveness, we should remind ourselves of the words of the Hebrew writer in Hebrews 10:17 ‘Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.’

Or maybe we should read again David’s words in this psalm, Psalm 103:12 ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.’

Or maybe we should read again Jesus’ words to the woman, ‘Neither do I condemn you, go your way and sin no more.’ John 8:11.

Go To Psalm 104