"Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!"
Have you ever looked yourself in the mirror with exasperation and asked, "What is wrong with you!?" or "Why are you feeling this way?" If so, you're not alone. There are times when we experience things on the inside, in our respective souls, that we can't make sense of or sort out--maybe feelings of sadness, agitation, depression or what I think of as the general sense of inward "blah." At times we can pinpoint the cause of our inner discombobulation--a torn relationship, an inward struggle or physical ailment. At other times, and perhaps even most of the time, we cannot diagnose our soul-problem.
So, we ask ourselves questions like, "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?" (Psalm 43:5). Psalm 103 provides both a sympathetic consolation as well as a way out of the doldrums in the spiritual life. I say sympathetic consolation because King David, a man after God's own heart, is here directing, even commanding, his soul to bless God.
Why? Because, in a broken world infected by sin, there are times when our souls do not feel like blessing the LORD. All of us can relate. But the psalm is not written to leave us there, but to show us a path back to praise and blessing. And the path begins with speaking truth to the self. But it's not truth in the sense of mere fact.
The truth that will be spoken to the self in Psalm 103 is full of beauty, wonder, glory, God and quotations from scripture itself. In verse 1, David shows us that to move out of the doldrums, we have point our hearts back to glory, back to God, back to truth, back to the name of the LORD and splendor of all that his name entails. And as we do, we will begin to feel the fresh winds of life, passion and joy return to our fragile hearts. This is the starting point of psalm 103.