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; PSALM CIII.
In this evangelical and most comfortable hymn, Da
vid, after exciting himself to the work, praises Jehovah for the mercies of redemption; celebrates his goodness to Moses and Israel; sets forth the divine philanthropy, under various beautiful expressions and images; describes, in a manner wonderfully affecting, man's frail and perishable state; but leads him, for consolation, to the everlasting mercy of God in Christ, the stability of whose throne and kingdom he declares, and calls upon heaven and earth to join with him, in blessing and praising his holy name.
1. Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
The Psalmist, about to utter a song of praise, first endeavours to awaken and stir up his soul to the joyful task. He calls forth all his powers and faculties, all that is within him, that every part of his frame may glorify its Saviour; that the understanding may know him, the will choose him, the affections delight in him, the heart believe in him, and the tongue confess him. « 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.
Thanksgiving cannot be sincere and hearty, unless a man bear impressed upon his mind, at the time, a quick sense of benefits received; and benefits we are most of us apt to forget; those, especially, which are conferred upon us by God. Therefore David repeats his self-awakening call, and summons all his powers of recollection, that none of the divine favours might continue unnoticed and unacknowledged. A catalogue of such particular mercies, temporal and spiritual, as each individual has experienced through life, might be of service, to refresh the memory, upon this important head.
3. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities: who healeth all thine infirmities.
At the head of God's mercies must for ever stand remission of sin, or that full and free pardon purchased for us by Jesus Christ, whereby, if we truly repent and believe in him, our transgressions, though ever so many, and ever so great, are done away, and become as if they had never been; from a state of guilt we pass into one of justification, from a state of enmity into one of reconciliation, from a state of servitude into one of liberty and sonship. Next to the pardon of sin, considered as a crime, we are to commemorate the cure of it, considered as a disease, or indeed as a complication of diseases-"Who healeth all thine infirmities.” The body experiences the melancholy consequences of Adam's offence, and is subject to many infirmities; but the soul is subject to as many. What is pride, but lunacy; what is anger, but a fever; what is avarice, but a dropsy; what is lust, but a leprosy; what is sloth, but a dead palsy? Perhaps there are spiritual maladies similar to all corporeal ones. When Jesus Christ was upon earth, he proved himself the physician of men's souls, by the cures which he Wrought upon their bodies. It is he alone who forgiveth all our iniquities; it is he alone who healeth all our infirmities. And the person who finds his sin cured has a well-grounded assurance that it is for given.
4. Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth, or, encircleth, thee with loving kindness and tender mercies.
Man hath two lives; he is, therefore, subject to a double destruction; and, consequently, capable of a twofold redemption. He who is recovered from sickness, and thereby redeemed from that destruction which natural death brings upon the body, will undoubtedly sing this strain in transports of gratitude; and he ought so to do. But what will be the sensations of him who celebrates, in the same words, the spiritual redemption of his soul from death and destruction everlasting? How is he crowned with the loving kindness of Jehovah; how is he encircled by the arms of mercy! “Length of days is in her right hand, and in her left hand riches and honour;" never ending length of days; true riches, that abide for ever; and “the honour which cometh from God only.” .
5. Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
It is God who gives us the good things of this world, and who gives us likewise an appetite and a taste to enjoy them. It is God who restores a body, emaciated by sickness, to bloom, vigour, and agility. And he does greater things than these. He satisfies all the desires of the soul with a banquet of spiritual dainties, and bestows on her a relish for the same. By the renovating power of his spirit, he restores her from decrepitude, to the health and strength of a young eagle, so that she can ascend up on high, and contemplate the splendour of the Sun of Righteousness. Thus, at the day of the resurrection, clothed anew with salvation and glory, the body likewise shall rise from earth, and fly away as an eagle toward heaven, to begin an immortal life, and be for ever young.
6. The LORD executed righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. 7. He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.
From a consideration of his own particular case, the Psalmist makes a general reflection on that attribute of God, which inclines him to deliver his people, and to punish their oppressors, of what kind soever they be. And here that grand display of the ways and works of Jehovah, the redemption of Israel by the hand of Moses, immediately occurs, and is celebrated Thus each private mercy, whether of a temporal or spiritual nature, should remind us of that public and universal blessing of redemption by Jesus Christ, from which every other blessing flows, as a stream from its foun
fain, and for which God ought, therefore, upon all oc*casions, to be praised and glorified.
8. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. .. When Moses desired Jehovah to show him his way and his glory, Jehovah passed by, and proclaimed himself, as here, “ Jehovah, merciful and gracious,” &c. How full of consolation to the penitent soul are all the words of this verse! The Lord is merciful, the bowels of his tender compassion yearn over us, as those of a mother yearn over the child of her womb; " yea, a woman may forget her sucking child, yet can he not forget us:" He is gracious, ready to give us freely all things that are needful for our salvation. He is slow to anger, bearing with the frowardness of his children, with their provocations and relapses for 40, 50, 60, 70 years together, before he strikes the blow; giving them, by this his long suffering, time for re-pentance. And he is plenteous in mercy, great, mighty in mercy, placing his chief glory in this attribute, and hereby teaching us how to estimate true greatness.
9. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. ' 10. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
God's chastisements are some of the most eminent proofs of his mercy. They are sent to reclaim us, and to save us from eternal punishment. They continue not always, but are removed when they have done their work; and, while they last, are as nothing in