Psalm 103 – Musings

David starting and ending Psalm 103 with “Barak the Lord, O my soul” shows what was important to David and where his heart was. But I have grown to appreciate all the topics he covered between his praising and blessing.

He captures (hooks) the reader/singers with why you should praise the Lord. I think the idea of “benefits” is a great attention grabber. In our age, we worry about benefits and want them as part of our compensation for doing something we are expected to do (our jobs). So in just doing what we should (praise God), we get some serious compensation – forgiveness, healing, satisfaction, etc.

I used The New Layman’s Parallel Bible to compare phrases and check on words that I looked up in my KJV concordance. I noticed how the different translations separated the various sections of Psalm 103. KJV and the Living Bible had no separations but the NIV and Revised Standard did arrange the verses into sections. The Revised Standard divided 1-5, 6-14, 15-18, and 19 -22 the NIV divided almost the same except verses 6 and 19 are by themselves and form breaks between the sections. That is always a minor thing but it is interesting to see how the various translators interpret and arrange Scripture.

My biggest take away maybe that leaders (Moses) need to ask to see God’s highway. His “Ways and Deeds” form quite a road for the people to be lead on.

Psalm 103 – Benefits


  1. Forgives
  2. Heals
  3. Redeems
  4. Crowns
  5. Satisfies
  6. Works for the oppressed

His Ways and Deeds:

  1. Compassionate
  2. Gracious
  3. Slow to anger
  4. Abounding in love
  5. Removed our transgression
  6. Has compassion
  7. He knows us
  8. His love is with those who fear Him

I am going to deal with the word “righteousness”, as it appears with the “Benefits” and “His Ways and Deeds.” It is in verse 6 and 17 and both times it is used it is the feminine form – tsdaqah.   The Strong’s Concordance states that it is used 157 in the Old Testament but is not found in Exodus, Leviticus, 2 Kings, Eccl, Lamentations, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah. Tsedeq is the masculine form and is used 119 times mainly in poetic literature. Both of these words have a figurative usage of “prosperity.” The conclusion of many exegetes is that the terms have a relational and legal significance.

In verse 6 He is working for the oppressed while in verse 17 it is with those who fear the Lord and their children. At least in these verses, the relationship is the stronger with the weaker thus reflecting the Bridegroom/Bride relationship Jesus has with His Church.

See Psalm103 – Praise and Moses

I used the 1990 NIV for this study.

Psalm 103 – Barak the Lord

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.