Have you ever been caught talking to yourself? It can be embarrassing or concerning for both you and others who catch you in this practice. I find myself doing this when I am stressed or really burdened with something happening in my life.
In Psalm 103, the psalmist is engaging in some serious self-talk.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”
Whether troubled by something or awakened by a revelation, the psalmist engages in some self-talk that resembles a healthy, faithful, and intimately personal “pep talk” to praise God. The psalmist then enumerates some of the many reasons why God is worthy of praise. Among the many reasons to praise God, the psalmist cites three times the “steadfast love” or hesed of God as a primary basis for praise of God.
“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
This steadfast love represents the very essence of God. God’s abiding, merciful love is worthy of our praise.
In a world filled with struggle, brokenness, and division, we too often want to complain and shout about what others need to do and how they need simply to agree with our views.
We point to government, society, others, and even the church with judgment and condemnation. Even in our best moments, we still tend to focus on how other people need to embrace and give praise to God.
After enumerating the many reasons for God to be praised, the psalmist becomes far-reaching in calling for God to be praised. From the farthest realms of heaven to the most faithful among us, God is to be praised.
However, as the psalm begins with a personal encounter of self-talk that calls for faithful and heartfelt praise of God, so it ends with a refrain of that same conviction of personal praise.
In a world of evident challenges and widespread conflict, may we follow the lead of the psalmist in Psalm 103. May we engage in some heartfelt and faithful self-talk that leads us to begin and end with our own personal and intimate call to praise God.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul.”
Rev. Jay K. Jackson is Senior Pastor of Longview First United Methodist Church. If you are ever in the area, Jay and his congregation would love to have you come worship with them.
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