Psalm 103 is quite different from Psalm 102. Psalm 103 is all about praise to God for all his benefits, whereas Psalm 102 was a lament of an afflicted person. In fact, there is also an interesting mention of birds to illustrate the points the psalmists are making.
In Psalm 102 we read:
I’m like a pelican of the wilderness,
like an owl among the ruins.
I’m sleepless, shivering in the cold, forlorn, and friendless,
like a lonely bird on the rooftop. (Psalm 102:6-7 TPT)
In Psalm 103 we then read:
your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:5 NIV)
In Psalm 103 “the psalmist [is] talking to himself, as he does in [Psalm] 42:5 [where] his will is lecturing his emotions; [but] here in 103:1-2 it is encouraging his mind. An exercise we neglect to our cost! Practicing it, we may enjoy the vigour of eagles (v. 5) – a contrast to the moping trio of pelican, owl and [probably] sparrow in 102:6-7.” (# 5)
As Wilcock suggests, “lecturing” our emotions and mind is “an exercise we neglect to our cost.”
Let’s consider these two examples.
Firstly Psalm 42:5
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
And then Psalm 103:1-2
1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits
I wonder, when was the last time you were feeling downcast and disturbed (or like one of those “moping trio” of birds in Psalm 102)? And what did you do about it? Well, I guess there are many good responses (like talking to a trusted friend or family member and not trying to mask the feeling with alcohol or similar mood-altering medications), but the one suggested here is a valid response – i.e., a little “lecture” to yourself. But it does need to then lead you to One beyond yourself to really bring positive change. As the psalmist says in Psalm 45, you then need to put your hope in God which then leads to yet another response and that is to praise the One who is our Saviour and God.
And so, here being the relevance of the words of encouragement in today’s Psalm, Praise the Lord, my soul… and forget not all his benefits, of which, when we really think about it, there are many. The Psalmist reminds us of just a few of these benefits as follows:
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Paul says
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
So, as you remind yourself today of all his benefits, may the God of all comfort lift you up (on wings like eagles) from feelings of being downcast and disturbed to a place of hope in Him and praise to Him.
In the words of the prophet Isaiah:
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31)
So, why not begin to praise him now with the following words from a hymn written by Henry Francis Lyte in 1834:
“Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
To his feet your tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Evermore his praises sing.
Praise the everlasting King!”