I know I have read this Psalm (103) many times, in my Bible it has highlights and underlines I even imaged a place and time that David would have written it but that apparently did not mean I studied it. Well, for the place and time I could see David having penned this awesome song in 2 Samuel 12:16. This is where David is pleading for the life of the first child he had with Bathsheba. For seven days David is pleading with the Eternal God of Israel; I am sure he was stating why he would follow such a great God. David would also be reminding God of His awesome deeds and righteous ways, part of this would be comparing things David can see to the Father’s bigger realities. But what pulled me into this study was the phrase – “Praise the Lord, O my soul.”
KJV vs. NIV and Hebrew vs. English has always been a reason for me to study and Psalm 103 continues this tradition. The NIV translators rendered barak to mean, “praise” while in Hebrew it is “bless.” Vine’s Dictionary adds it is – to kneel, bless, be blessed, or curse.
I liked that it started and ended with “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” Taking that thought a step farther I only found two psalms that begin and end with that phrase, 103 and 104. There are several that begin and end with “hãlal” or Hallelu Yah or as we say in English – Hallelujah! I believe those Psalm are 135, 146 – 150. Verses 1, 2, 20, 21, and 22 a, b begin with barak and verse 1, 2, and 22b add the phrase “O my soul.” So six times (man’s number) it is said to “bless” the Lord, actually the three that add “O my soul” are for David (men) while the other three are directed at other creations.
Verses 19 – 22 are a “verse” or thought within this psalm. They deal with God’s kingdom and who should barak. David notes that angels, heavenly host, all His works, and my soul are to bârak. At first I was puzzled by angels, heavenly host and all works, I thought for sure David was repeating himself but a check of the Hebrew definitions added to the depth of this Psalm. The “angels” or messengers seem to be a specific group of created beings while the “heavenly host” is the rest of God’s army. This is consistent with the rest of Scripture because different “classes” of angels are mentioned in the prophets and Revelation. “All His works” is just that, everything thing else: plants, animals, the waves, and the heavens.
Psalm 103 ends as it began, a personal call for the individual to barak his God with everything that is within him.