Psalms – Chapter 103

Bless My Soul!

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

Actually, that’s “Bless, my soul.” David tells his soul and all his internal organs to praise G-d for all His kindness. He forgives sin (good for the soul), He heals people from disease (good for the body), and He saves people from death. When people are afflicted, they should be inspired to change their ways. In this sense, the punishments are a good thing, because they lead to ultimately greater rewards. G-d satisfies a person’s mouth with good things, restoring his health and vigor. The disease and healing we experience is a form of G-d’s righteousness and judgment for those who oppress the weak.

G-d explained to Moses His ways when it comes to suffering and He revealed His attributes, including being merciful, compassionate, slow to anger and full of kindness. (This verse partially parallels Exodus 34:6.) He will not be angry with Israel forever and He will not bear a grudge. He hasn’t punished us as much as we deserve – if He had, we would have already been destroyed! In fact, His kindness towards His faithful is as great as Heaven is high. After we repent, our sins are as far from us as east is from west. He has mercy on His adherents as a father has on his children.

G-d, Who created mankind, knows that people are subject to temptation and that our lives are short. We are like grass that sprouts, then withers. But G-d’s kindness keeps on going to subsequent generations of those who follow His word (the Torah). G-d’s metaphorical throne is in Heaven, from where He rules over all. David instructs G-d’s angels, who carry out His work, to bless Him. David then tells the stars and other celestial bodies, that proceed in their orbits according to G-d’s will, to bless Him. Next, David tells everything on Earth that G-d created to bless Him. Finally, David concludes as he began: by telling his own soul to bless G-d.

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