Psalm 103 is David’s version of the song—one he is singing to himself. 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, vv 1-2. I found it difficult to see that “wake up” admonition, I admit. But every commentator I checked, five of them, saw it clear as a bell. One likened it to Psalm 42:5: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. That one is much easier to see. Why are you so depressed, he asks himself, when you have the salvation offered by God? Now look again at 103: Bless the Lord…and forget not his benefits.”
For isn’t that exactly what we do? We go along in our ordinary, normal lives, nothing important happens, nothing exciting happens, and we become complacent in our service and even a little despondent in our ordinariness, and forget what God has done for us. But just think about this morning. You woke up in your comfortable bed (check) in your comfortable house (check), possibly next to your beloved (check). You ate a breakfast from a pantry and refrigerator full of possibilities (check). You stood in front of a closet and chose from among all those clothes what you wanted to wear (check). You might have gotten in your car (check) and driven to school or work or the store without mishap (check). How many blessings is that already that you never even noticed? How many more will you receive the rest of the day, and still not notice?
“Forget not his benefits!” David reminds himself—and later on the people of Israel, and ultimately us. Why is it that when something bad happens we will blame God, but never think to give Him credit for all the good we enjoy nearly every single minute of the day? “Wake up and praise the Lord!”
And then there is this: while God gives us brethren to encourage us, David shows us that in the final analysis, we are responsible for our own rousing. We cannot blame the church, we cannot blame the elders, we cannot blame our families if we fall into hopelessness and despair—it’s my business to see myself clearly, to notice when I need a nudge or a prod or even a kick in the rear. And after I have awakened, then I will follow David’s example of leadership and wake others too.
Which is what this has been, I hope—wake up little Susie, or Joey, or Charlie, or Cathy, or whatever your name may be. Do not forget the benefits of being God’s child. Always count your blessings, no matter how trite that may seem. David did. He’s not a bad leader to follow.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change, James 1:17.