Praying the Psalms (with NT fulfillment and commentary):
Psalm 103:1-5: A Psalm of God’s Lovingkindness and Compassion
Here is my New Testament enhanced version of Psalm 103:1-5:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me,
from my innermost being, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and do not forget any of the LORD’s benefits
for those who love and fear Him.
The LORD’s promised benefits are yours
by the finished work of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases
by the sacrificial atonement of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Who redeems your life from the grave
by the bodily resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion,
the same lovingkindness and compassion
that keeps the LORD faithful to old and new covenants.
Who satisfies your desires with the good things He has created,
so that the vision and strength of your youth is renewed
like an eagle maturing into its full color and strength.
What is Hebrew meaning of “benefits”?
Hebrew (Orthodox Jewish Bible): Barachi (Bless) Hashem, O my nefesh (soul); and all that is within me, bless His Shem kodesh (Name holy). 2 Barachi Hashem, O my nefesh, and forget not all His gmulim (benefits).
The Hebrew noun means “recompense, reward, benefit.” It comes from the Hebrew verb gamal “to deal fully or adequately with, deal bountifully with” (Psalm 13:6). The wicked receive a very different “benefit” from the righteous. The wicked receive “recompense” for their wicked deeds. The noun is translated “recompense or repay” in Psalm 28:4, 94:2; Proverbs 19:17. The righteous receive forgiveness of sins and healing of diseases from God’s lovingkindness and compassion. (Hebrew “diseases” tachalu = disease, sickness, pain. It may be derived from a Semitic root word for rust that deteriorates metal, so may refer to anything that corrupts the body – disease – and the soul – unforgiveness and bitterness.)
How do we receive these benefits? Have we appropriated these promised benefits by faith? We have no doubt God forgives all our sins because Christ paid our sin penalty. Why don’t we also believe God heals all our diseases?
Forgiveness of sins, “spiritual healing,” is primary. Psalm 103:10-12 emphasizes forgiveness of sins. We have continual forgiveness even after we are “saved” because we still sin (1 John 1:9). Healing of diseases is secondary. Just as we still sin after we are saved, we still get sick living in this world under the curse of sin, but there is provision for forgiveness and physical healing. I see indirect references to healing in the fact that God knows our bodies are made of dust and He is compassionate (103:13-16).
All the benefits Christians receive come through Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:20: For every one of God’s promises in “Yes” in Jesus Christ. Therefore, through Him we also say “Amen” to the glory of God. Christ has purchased with His blood our spiritual and physical healing. Both are provided for in the atonement of Christ. Read Isaiah 53:4-5 and Matthew 8:14-17. Matthew quoted Isaiah 53:4 and applied it only to deliverance from demons and healing of sicknesses. “Jesus took upon Himself our illnesses and carried away our diseases.” There’s no mention of forgiveness of sins which is how it is normally interpreted.
1 Peter 2:24: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. Peter applied Isaiah 53:4-5 to forgiveness of sins and physical healing. The “wounds” may refer to the scourging or crucifixion scars. The Greek word for “healed” generally refers to physical illness but can be used for restoration from a state of sin and condemnation.
Read Isaiah 61:1-2a and Luke 4:16-21. Jesus’ messianic claim at the Nazareth synagogue is immediately followed by physical healing and deliverance from demons. So, deliverance from demons and physical healing are evidence of Christ as Messiah with authority to forgive sins. (Read Luke 5:17-26.)
Both benefits are received the same way – by grace through faith. How do we receive forgiveness of sins? By grace through faith and not works (Ephesians 2:8-9). How do we receive physical healing? By grace through faith and not works. There are two physical healing extremes to avoid. First, cessationism which teaches God does not do physical healing anymore. It was only a sign for Jesus and the Apostles. Second, “works faith” which says, “You do not have enough faith!” Healing, like forgiveness of sins, is received by grace through faith and not works. It is a gracious gift of Christ’s compassion. Never lay guilt or condemnation on a suffering person. God does not punish his faith children with sickness.
The benefits of Psalm 103 are fulfilled in Jesus Christ and are ours by faith.
First, Jesus performs physical healing today because of his compassion and mercy: Matthew 9:35-38, 14:14, 15:32; Mark 1:40-42 (Jesus said, “I will” and touched a leper). Second, Jesus performs physical healing today to confirm what is unseen, the kingdom God and forgiveness of sins: Luke 5:17-26, 9:1-2, 10:1-12. This happens frequently with my friend’s ministry The Elijah Challenge which focuses on Christ’s Great Commission.
[Note: Faith is necessary to receive God’s benefits: Hebrews 11:6. The benefits are received the same way, but the result may be different. Sometimes persevering “mountain-moving faith” is required for healing. See Matthew 9:20-22; Luke 8:42-48; Matthew 17:20. Jesus identified “little/weak faith,” Matthew 8:26 & 14:31, and “great/strong faith,” Matthew 8:10 & 15:28, based on a person’s understanding of who He was and His authority. There is a Greek word for “little faith” = oligopistos. There is always room to increase faith: Luke 17:5.]
Conclusion: Forgiveness of sins and physical healing are provided for in the atonement of Christ. Both benefits are received by GRACE through faith and not works.
What pit have I been redeemed from?
Hebrews V4 (OJB): Who is the Go’el (Redeemer) of your life from shachat (corruption, pit, grave); Who crowns you with chesed and rachamim.
This is God’s promise of bodily resurrection. God will redeem our bodies from corruption in the grave. This promise is true and certain because Jesus Christ was raised from death and said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.” (John 11:25-26) The ultimate healing of all diseases is when our bodies are redeemed from the grave by bodily resurrection.
What does it mean to be crowned with lovingkindness and compassion?
God’s lovingkindness is emphasized in Psalm 103. It is the Hebrew word chesed = lovingkindness. I prefer covenant love or loyalty. The Psalm emphasizes the LORD’s lovingkindness (vs. 8, 11, 17). The LORD has abundant, immeasurable, and eternal lovingkindness for those who fear Him. It is the steadfast love that keeps God faithful to His covenants with people. Deuteronomy 7:9: Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments.
Most English versions use “crowns.” Some use “surrounds” and the meaning is “encircles for protection.” God “crowns” the year with His bounty (Ps. 65:11). Psalm 8:5: Mankind was created lower than angels, but “crowned” with glory and honor because mankind was created in the image of God.
How would you feel if someone put a gold crown on your head? The act of crowning means value and dignity. When God puts a crown of lovingkindness and compassion on your head that means you are of great value to Him. You are the precious object of His lovingkindness and mercy.
How is youth renewed like an eagle?
An eaglet passes through several stages of growth until it becomes mature. At about 5 years old the eaglet sheds its first feathers and grows its mature feathers. This is called “molting.” During the molting stage the eagle looks sickly and weak. The eagle is “renewed” as it grows into an adult with the white feathers of its head and tail and its yellow beak and eyes. When David wrote this Psalm, he meant when he remembered and appropriated the LORD’s benefits he was renewed in soul and body. David may have been weary and discouraged from his trials, but when he remembered, believed, and appropriated the LORD’s benefits, the LORD’s rewards for the righteous, he was renewed in body, soul, and spirit. The LORD makes you feel young again. The LORD restores the vision and strength of your youth.
[Note: Most Bible commentators affirm the first benefit “He pardons all your sins” immediately when you repent. They have doubts about the second benefit “He heals all your diseases.” One commentator wrote, “There is a difference between God’s handling of iniquity and of diseases.” His example is David’s sin with Bathsheba and the death of the child. David repented. “Forgiveness was immediate; but healing was denied, in spite of seven days of prayer and fasting (2 Samuel 12:13-23).” (Source: Tyndale OT Commentary, Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150, p. 364.) I do not think this is an appropriate example as the death of the child was God’s judgment for David’s sin. God decreed the death of the child (12:14). I believe in God’s spiritual and physical healing until it is our time to die and be with Him.]