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A Study of Psalm 103

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Psalm 103 is a popular psalm recited in many churches across the world today. It is one of 150 Psalms in the Book of Psalms, the 19th book in the Holy Christian Bible. The Book of psalms is a collection of sacred songs, one being psalm 103. As with many other psalms, Psalm 103 has been used, and is currently is being used, to assist in praising and worshipping the Lord. The need and reason to praise and worship the Lord can be found else where in scripture such as in the following scriptures: Isaiah 43:7 – Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.

1] Revelation 4:11 – Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. 1 Corinthians 15:32 – If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

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1 Chronicles 16:29 – Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

The deduction can be made by reading the scriptures above that glorifying the Lord, worshipping the Lord, and praising the Lord are essential practices in the lives of men. Men and women were created to worship and give God his due glory. In Psalm 103, praising the Lord is very recognizable and it is the purpose of the psalm. This paper will briefly describe the author of the psalm, elaborate on the meaning of the psalm, investigate the type of psalm, and identify the poetic parallelisms found in the Psalm.

About the Author

The Septuagint translation of the heading of Psalm 103 is “of David,” therefore authorship of Psalm 103 is credited to King David, the second king of Israel. King David is credited with writing 73 of the 150 psalms, nearly half of the entire book. David had many faults and committed several sins in his life, many of which are written in the historical books of the bible. Some of these sins included adultery and murder. Unlike many other kings of Israel, David repented of his sins and honored the Lord. The Lord showed mercy and grace on David and allowed him to become a powerful, respected, and prosperous leader.

Again, unlike many of the other kings of Israel, David acknowledged that the Lord was very merciful and full of grace. David realized that it was not his power and might that blessed him, but rather it was God’s love. David used his poetic gift to give God the love He deserves, to show God David’s appreciation for the deeds the Lord had done, and to express a need for God through the struggles of life. Psalm 103 was an example of how David expressed his love for God Almighty for being a good God and for the deeds God commits in the lives of His people.


The overall purpose of Psalm 103 is to give God praise for His grace, His love, and His forgiveness. It is a celebration of deliverance. [2] Psalm 103 can be broken up into four sections as follows: 1. Psalm 103:1-5 – Praise God for pardon of sin 2. Psalm 103:6-14 – Acknowledging God’s Grace 3. Psalm 103:15-18 – God’s abounding love for the righteous 4. Psalm 103:19-22 – Praise the Lord Everybody In the first section of Psalm 103 (verses 1-5,) David makes his call to praise opening with the words, “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. The next 4 verses in the first section give reasoning for praising God. The reasons include the Lord’s benefits, his forgiveness, his healing power, redemption, his love, his compassion, and his satisfying efforts. Healing and redemption are a potential result of sickness and falling short of the glory of God and both of these are a result of sin. With God’s forgiveness of sin, the benefits of healing and redemption follow. A broader theme for section 1 could be Praising God for his love because forgiveness is a byproduct of the love of God, but a more specific theme for the first section would be Praising God for forgiveness of sin.

The second section of Psalm 103 (verses 6-14) acknowledges God’s Grace and mercy. As mentioned previously, King David, unlike many of Kings of Israel acknowledged the goodness of the Lord. Here David acknowledges the Lord’s grace by making the following statements: “The LORD is merciful and gracious. ” (verse 8) “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. ” (verse 10) “The LORD pitieth them that fear him. ” (verse 13) In the third section of the Psalm 103 (verse 15-18) David reveals hat the righteous or those that fear the Lord will receive abounding love from God. Verse 17 reads “But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him…” This section gives inspiration and hope for following God. Those that obey the Lord will receive the Lord’ love, and receiving the Lord’s love is reason to Praise the Lord, which is the purpose of this Psalm. The fourth section of Psalm 103 (verse 19-22) calls for every thing in creation to Praise the Lord. David directs the angles, the heavenly hosts, the servants, and all of his works to praise the Lord.

In this last section, a total of 4 verses, David closes the psalm writing the phrase “Bless the Lord,” four times without identifying a reason to praise the Lord. Though finding a reason to praise the Lord is fine, a higher level of praise, is giving glory and praise to the Lord just because of one’s love for the Lord. This is recognized in the closing section of Psalm 103. The Lord is to be praised just because. Type of Psalm Psalm 103 is a Hymn Proper, Descriptive Praise Psalm. The World English dictionary defines praise as “the act of expressing approval or admiration. Praise or admiration to God is found throughout psalm 103. The phrase Bless the Lord, a very formal praise to God appears in the psalm six times, proving Psalm 103 is a praise psalm. It is a descriptive praise psalm because of it structure and content. In a descriptive praise psalm, the praise to God is: for who he is, to praise God’s name, and to praise his attributes. The structure of the descriptive praise psalm starts with a call to praise, then there is written a cause for praise, and finally there is a conclusion of the psalm. Psalm 103 fits the criterion for a descriptive praise psalm.

In this Psalm David praises God’s name by writing, “bless his holy name. ” (verse 1) Also the in verses 3 and 4, the verses that set the tone of the psalm, David writes of God’s abilities. The action words of these scriptures including forgive, heal, redeem, and crown, are not necessarily describing what he has specifically done in one’s life but rather what the Lord can do, thus making this psalm a descriptive psalm and not a declarative psalm. In regards to structure, the call to praise is found in the first two verses: 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: Here David, the author makes his call to Praise saying, “Bless the Lord,” twice and also saying, “bless His Holy Name. ” Many causes for praise are listed throughout the psalm. Two in particular include his forgiving and healing power which is found in the third verse. “ Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases” The conclusion of the psalm is found in the fourth section which includes verse 19-22. In the conclusion, David does not continue with reasons for praising the Lord, he simply directs all creation to just praise the Lord.


Parallelism is defined by Webster’s dictionary as “repeated similarities introduced for rhetorical effect. ” Four types of parallelism is found throughout Psalm 103 including: synthetic, emblematic, synonymous, and climactic parallelism. Synthetic parallelism, in which a second thought or phrase completes the first thought, is found in verses 11 and 12. 11 For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

For both verses the latter part of the verse needs the first part to form a complete thought and there are strong analogous similarities between the subjects in the two parts of the verse revealing the parallelism. Emblematic parallelism is parallelism, where “One line casts light on another line by use of a memorable emblem or figure. ”[3] This is found in verse 13. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. The figure in this verse is an earthly father and his child. The earthly father and child is compared to God and man.

Synonymous parallelism is a repetition of the same message in two lines with the second line worded differently. This is found in four times in Psalm 103 including the following verses: He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. 10 He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. (Mercy…) To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. 20 Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. In verse 7 making His ‘ways known to Moses’ is synonymous to His ‘acts to Israel. ’ In verse 10 ‘not dealing with our sins’ is synonymous to ‘not rewarding our iniquities. ’ In verse 18 ‘those who keep his covenant’ is synonymous to ‘those who remember his commands. ’ In verse 20-21 ‘ye his angels’ is synonymous to ‘ye his host,’ and ‘do his commandments’ is synonymous to ‘do his commands. ’ Climactic parallelism, in which one thought build up and possibly completing a second thought is found in two verses in Psalm 103. Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. In verse 1 my soul is built up into the phrase all that is within me. In verse 14 our frame is built up into we are but dust. Conclusion A study of the psalm 103 shows that psalm 103 is a Hymn Proper Praise Psalm, with a variety of parallelism written by King David. The purpose of the psalm was to praise the Lord and give God glory for who he is and for his wonderful deeds.


  • Knight, George. The New Israel, A Commentary on the Book of Isaiah 56-66, Grand Rapids: WM B Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985.
  • Parle, Joe. Proverbs and Psalms PowerPoints. Houston: Parle, 2011.
  • The Holy Bible, King James Version. New York: American Bible Society: 1999; Bartleby. com, 2000.
  • Unless otherwise noted that all Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
  • John Walvoord and Roy Zuck. The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Colorado Springs: Cook, 1983), 867.
  • Joe Parle. Proverbs and Psalms PowerPoints. (Houston: Parle, 2011) , 7.

Cite this A Study of Psalm 103

A Study of Psalm 103. (2016, Oct 02). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/a-study-of-psalm-103/

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