Calvin on Psalm 103


Psalm 103 (ESV)
1 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 not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love 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 to do his commandments.
19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

v. 2 “It is our own ingratitude which hinders us from praising God, not his lack of goodness towards us. Although He blesses us so that we may praise Him, our shameful listlessness buries in our hearts his innumerable benefits. The memory of them should cause us to praise.”


v. 3 “… reconciliation is the fountain from which all his benefits flow.(and though they do not taste it, his goodness also extends to the ungodly)”


v. 4- 5 “…when our physical bodies grow weak and decay, we are renewed to a better life. There is therefore no reason for us to be troubled by failing strength, for we continue to be sustained by the Spirit in our old age.”


v. 6 “[W]e are taught patience when we are unjustly assaulted, for God covers us with the shield of his justice.”


v.7- 8 “There is nothing better to build up our faith and excite our praise that this knowledge of his goodness, wisdom, righteousness and mercy. Nevertheless, there is no worse fault in us than that devilish arrogance which robs God of his glory.

v.9-10 “If it were not for God’s mercy, our sins would shut the door against God’s goodness… However, this pardon is is the special privilege of his children, for towards those who hate him he is an avenging God  (Deut 5:9 contrast Isa. 54:7)”

v. 11- 12 “(God’s mercy) only reaches us because our guilt is taken away and our sins are blotted out.David makes it clear he is speaking of God’s children -those who fear him- and not humanity in general.”


v. 13 “Righteousness is imputed to those who submit to his word.”

 v. 14- 16 “The more despicable  we are -we are but dist- the more inclined is God to be merciful to us.”


v. 17- 18 “By taking our children’s children into his care, he shows how precious to him is our salvation.
…Faith and prayer are the required responses to the covenant of grace.
…Many are quick to talk about God’s law’s, but their feet are slow and their hands are heavy when it comes to the reality of spiritual service”


v. 19- 22 “by recounting the divine benefits and magnifying the extent of his empire, David’s purpose was to stimulate himself and all the faithful to ever more fervent praise.”

Sisters, let us join the heavenly beings, the heavens, all of God’s creation and bless our Lord’s name who is worthy to be praised!



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