I recently had the privilege a couple of weeks back of preaching at my church and I chose to dive into Psalm 103. This guy David can write in ways that majestically express my own heartfelt emotions – they just never come out so poetic.
There is an unusual phrase in this psalm that David uses six times in the 22 verses. Sometimes in my efforts to just get through my reading of a portion of scripture, I do not take the time to thoroughly digest the words that I am reading. But this time a phrase caught my attention and it is worth understanding.
David opens up his song to his God by exclaiming “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name.”
Like me, do you find yourself wrestling with what it means to bless the Lord? I am sure you have used or heard used the phrase, “That person has been such a blessing to me.” What do we mean by this? Simply that the spoken word or the performed action by one person was of help to another. It strengthened them in some way. It made them better off than they were before. That is certainly something we are called to do for each other. But the example breaks down rather quickly. Because there is nothing that I can say or do for God that is going to help Him in some way or strengthen Him. I certainly cannot put God in a better place by virtue of what I have done for Him.
So what does it mean to bless the Lord?
Blessing the Lord is a natural extension of a right view of God
John Piper helps us in our understanding through a helpful article that I read.
God is the inexhaustible blesser. Not only is He the source of all blessing, but His blessing is no trickle of water. It is absolute fulness that overwhelms us. He is the source. He is the fullness. And in that, blessing God is an exclamation of both gratitude and admiration for who God is and what He has done. We recognize His richness, that He is free-giving in His bounty of grace, His steadfast love, and His as-far-as-the-east-is-from-the-west forgiveness. And our response is sheer joy and delight as we both see and experience this about our God.
Blessing God is more of a heart posture than anything else. Because if God is the ultimate blesser, then it is not a far jump in thinking that He is also most blessed.
Blessing God is how we worship well
How often do you or I burst into God’s throne room with our multitude of desires and wishes yet not first submit to a heart posture that accurately reflects God’s character? To do otherwise is very dangerous, for not only do we begin chasing after God just for what He can do for us, but what He does becomes more valuable than who He is.
Simply stated, blessing God is proper worship. And worship is expansive – not narrowing. Just read the last three verses of this Psalm:
Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you might ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the LORD, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul.
David is not desiring that just He bless the Lord but also all those around him. And not only those around him but his entire land. And not only all his land but the entire universe.
In our consumer-driven-western mindset, poor theology can easily slip into our thinking. God becomes the great cosmic vending machine where we put in our spiritual quarters and get to choose what we want.
David helps us with this perspective. To bless God is to delight in both what we see of God as well as what we experience of Him and His benefits. And this becomes critically important when you understand that all of your sinful brokenness is somehow connected with a poor view of God.
So let’s do as David does and bless the Lord with all that is within us. And next week we will take a look at the sober warning given in verse two: forgetting His benefits.