Eurasia Blog Wednesday Devotion: “Bless the LORD, O My Soul” (Psalm 103:1a)

Yesterday, we posted about the work of St. Trinitatisgemeinde in Leipzig, Germany, and the decision to make a permanent move to Lukaskirche. This past weekend, in Lukaskirche, St. Trinitatisgemeinde hosted the  District Singers Festival (Sprengelsängerfest) of the Eastern District of the Selbständige Evangelisch-Lutherische Kirche (SELK). We will post more on the festival soon, but for today the Eurasia Blog Wednesday devotion will focus on the theme from the weekend, which is found in Psalm 103:1a: “Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele” (“Bless the Lord, O my soul.”)

The altar at Lukaskirche before the service on Sunday, September 22.

The altar at Lukaskirche before the service on Sunday, September 22.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s (Psalm 103:1-5 ESV).

“Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele!” (“Bless the Lord, O my soul!”) declares the Psalmist. The Psalmist calls for his soul to speak well of Yahweh in this exuberant opening line. He then goes on to do that very thing. He speaks well of Yahweh as he recounts Yahweh’s works for the people of Israel and for himself. In these first five verses, he summarizes the wonderful things that Yahweh has done for him and for the people of Israel. These actions of God are not based on personal experience, but on the mighty works Yahweh has performed on behalf of all of Israel. Later in the Psalm, the Psalmist refers to Moses and the covenant, rooting the call to praise and the reason for praise in the context of the Exodus and Yahweh’s covenant with His people. In the Exodus, the Lord benefitted His people in an unforgettable way by bringing them out of their slavery in the land of Egypt (Deuteronomy 6:12). He promised to and then demonstrably did forgive all their iniquity, and continued to do so (Exodus 34:6-7a, Psalm 103:8), He healed their diseases because “I am the LORD, your healer” (Exodus 15:26). He redeemed their lives from the pit by giving them His salvation and making them His people when He put His name, Yahweh, upon them. He gifted them with His steadfast love (Hebrew: chesed) and mercy as part of His covenant promises to them, and He satisfied them with good things as He provided Manna, quail and water in the Wilderness to nourish and sustain them.

Therefore the Psalmist joyfully “commands” his soul to bless the Lord in response to all that the Lord has done for him and for his people. So what does this Psalm have to do with us? Why do we join in “speaking good things” of the Lord? And what “good things” do we speak? Well, we, too, join in blessing Yahweh because of and by recounting the steadfast love He has shown to us. We remember the benefits of the Lord because He brought us out from the slavery of sin, death and the devil through our Baptisms into His Triune Name (1 Peter 3:18-22). Through this entrance into God’s family, we become those to whom He gives all of His good benefits. We receive His unending forgiveness and recognize that He is slow to anger as that forgiveness is pronounced upon us by our Pastors in the Holy Absolution (see Matthew 9:2, John 20:22-23). We experience the LORD’s healing of body, soul and mind, and we look forward to the day when we know that all will be fully healed. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have been “redeemed from the pit” and we will be raised to new life with God in Christ. We have been crowned with the LORD’s steadfast love and mercy through the death of His Son, Jesus Christ, who has won that crown for us and transferred that love and mercy to us. Finally, the LORD satisfies us with good things both through the provision of daily bread and through His gift of Holy Communion, where we are fed with the very body and blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of our sins (Matthew 26:26-29). When we recount God’s mighty deeds in our lives though the work of His Son Jesus Christ, we indeed bless the LORD! And we do not bless Him alone, but join in speaking well of Him and proclaiming His mighty acts of mercy through His Son Jesus Christ with the angels, all the hosts, and all of the Lord’s works:

Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
you mighty 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 (Psalm 103:20-22 ESV)!

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, you have given us all good things through Your Son, Jesus Christ; grant that we may ever bless Your name through the proclamation of the Gospel so that others may know your mighty acts of salvation, believe, and join the chorus of praise; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, Our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

  • Missed last week’s devotion? You can still read it here.
  • Stay tuned to the Eurasia Blog for more information about Sprengelsängerfest.
  • Pray for the work in Leipzig, that the Lord would cause His Name to be blessed by many as His love is proclaimed.

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