Text: Psalm 103:1-4
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 iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.
When you wake up in the morning, let your first thought be that the Lord is good, and your first spiritual activity to thank Him! In the daytime, when you are working or resting, in the evening, when you lie down, and at night, before you go to sleep, thank the Lord. You Christians both young and old, what will your Christianity be like? How will you be able to take part in the song of praise before the throne with the blessed, while here you are discontented because of your sin or at least slow in praising the Lord? It is good that you know and regret your sin; yes, it is absolutely necessary. And it is good that you are tried by different temptations, for that is the lot of the saints on earth. They bear the cross and feel it pressing down on them. But it is not good that worry should conquer and songs of praise be missing. All who humble themselves receive grace. The Lord chastens, but also comforts. The poor and meek shall enjoy great peace. There is an enormous difference in the soul whose basic song is complaint and lament, and the soul in whose lamenting there is selflessness, victory, and hope. Why is your life so poor in songs of praise? Because your repentance is so superficial. You complain enough, but it is murmuring against God, complaining against the church or fellow believers with little or no meekness. How can David sing such a glorious hymn of praise? Because he can sing such deep hymns of repentance. How can his cry for help end in thanks and praise? Because even his song of lament praises God’s righteousness.
Humble yourself, and believe God’s grace. Humble yourself and believe God’s Word of grace: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life” (Psa 23:6), and then you must indeed give thanks! Be simple before the Lord; become one of those David describes in other places, when he says: “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance. In Your name they rejoice all day long, And in Your righteousness they are exalted. For You are the glory of their strength, And in Your favor our horn is exalted. For our shield belongs to the Lord, And our king to the Holy One of Israel” (Psa 89:15-18). Blessed are those whose hearts are full of harp-strings that sound gently to the Lord’s praise! You can be so blessed, for “He forgives all your iniquities, He heals all your diseases, He redeems your life from destruction, He crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” Shouldn’t everything that is in you bless His name?
Lord God, I confess my sin, my great unthankfulness, and I pray sincerely: Give me grace to humble myself and to believe. Give me victory over the pride and unbelief of my evil heart. Give me abundant grace that I praise You my whole life, that I may thank and praise You for everything with all my heart. Amen.
All ye who on this earth do dwell,
Give thanks and glorify
The Lord whose praises ever swell
In seraph songs on high.
Lift up your hearts in praise to God,
Himself best Gift of all,
Who works His wonders all abroad,
Upholding great and small.
Since first our life began to be,
He has preserved our frame;
And when man’s strength was vanity,
He as our Helper came.
Though often we His patience try
And well deserve His frown,
In grace He lays His anger by
And pours new blessings down.
‘Tis He revives our fainting soul,
Gives joyful hearts to men;
And when great waves of trouble roll,
He drives them back again.
Gerhardt: All ye who on this earth do dwell L 519:1-4 ELH 52:1-5 tr. A. Ramsey;
tune: Nun danket all