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Psalms 103 Summary - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

The hope of the preceding Psalm ( Psa 103:13) has been realised. Sorrow has been turned into joy. God has forgiven the sins of His people and taken them back into His favour. Praise and thanksgiving take the place of complaint and supplication.

The Psalm bears the name of David in the title, but it is impossible to suppose that it was written by him. The Aramaic colouring of the language [56] , the allusions to Job, Jeremiah, and the later chapters of Isaiah, and the general style and matter of the Psalm, combine to make it certain that it belongs to a far later date. If Psalms 102 may be assigned to the close of the Exile, Psalms 103 may with equal probability be placed in the early years of the Return. It was written while the sense of the nation’s forgiveness, of which that deliverance was the proof, was still fresh and vivid.

[56] In Psa 103:3-5 peculiar forms of the pronominal suffix of 2nd pers. sing. fem. çkî, and plur. aykî are used. They are found again in Psa 116:7; Psa 116:19; Psa 135:9; Psa 137:6; and elsewhere only in 2Ki 4:2 ff., Jer 11:15 (?); Son 2:13 (?). They resemble the Aramaic form, and appear to have been in use in the dialect of North Israel, and to have been employed occasionally after the Exile under the influence of Aramaic (cp. the Aramaic form of suffix for 3rd pers. masc. in Psa 116:12) in poetry as rhythmically euphonious forms. See Gesen.-Kautzsch Gram. § 91, 1, R. 2; 2 R. 2.

It is evident that Psa 103:10 ff. speak of Jehovah’s mercies to the nation, and some commentators think that the speaker in Psa 103:1-5 also is the personified nation. But the change from the singular in Psa 103:1-5 to the plural in Psa 103:6 ff. is left unexplained by this theory. Here, as in Psalms 102, it is more natural to suppose that the Psalmist, when he uses the first person singular, is really speaking for himself, and using words which any other pious Israelite might appropriate for the expression of his own personal feelings.

But just as in Psalms 102 national sorrows and sufferings have so deeply entered into the Psalmist’s heart that he speaks of them as his own, so here he so completely identifies himself with the destinies of the nation that its joys are his own, and he gives thanks for national deliverance and national mercies as though they had been vouchsafed to him individually.

The Psalm falls into five approximately equal stanzas, the first and last forming the introduction and conclusion, and the other three the main body of the Psalm.

i. The Psalmist summons his soul and all his faculties to praise Jehovah for pardon, redemption, and bountiful provision for every need (Psa 103:1-5).

ii. Jehovah’s revelation of Himself to Moses has been verified afresh in His recent treatment of Israel (Psa 103:6-10). His pardoning mercy knows no limits; His fatherly love shews the most tender consideration (Psa 103:11-14). Man may be frail and transitory, but those who fear Jehovah can rest in the assurance of His eternal faithfulness to their posterity (Psa 103:15-18).

iii. The thought of the universality of Jehovah’s kingdom naturally introduces the call to all creation to join in an universal chorus of praises (Psa 103:19-22).

The Psalm is one of singular beauty. Its tenderness, its trustfulness, its hopefulness, anticipate the spirit of the N.T. It does not contain one jarring note, and it furnishes fit language of thanksgiving for the greater blessings of a more marvellous redemption than that of Israel from Babylon.

Consult other comments:

Psalms 103:0 - Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Psalms 103:0 - The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

Psalms 103:0 - Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers (Old and New Testaments)

Psalms 103:0 - John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Psalms 103:0 - Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary

Psalms 103:0 - Jamieson, Fausset and Brown's Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Psalms 103:0 - Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Psalms 103:0 - English Annotations on the Holy Bible by Matthew Poole

Psalms 103:0 - Whedon's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges