Psalm 103:2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits–
I like the way the Japanese expresses this verse: “Don’t forget a single one of the good things the Lord has done for us.” David shows a real understanding of human nature here. Logically speaking, why would we forget the good things God does for us? However, we human beings are not logical! We tend to forget the good, and/or take it for granted. Then, we turn around and demand more! David gives quite a litany of God’s blessings in this Psalm, and he starts and ends it by commanding his soul to praise God. That’s an excellent remedy to our forgetfulness! David’s use of “soul,” and his addressing his soul as a separate entity, is very interesting. Throughout the Bible we have references to spirit, soul, and flesh (body), and they don’t always seem to carry the same exact meanings. However, the principle that we are multi-part beings seems clear, and agrees with our experience. We battle within ourselves, and in severe cases that becomes mental illness. David certainly had his failings, but he had the right idea: exercise your will in choosing to praise God. When we do that, we restore our perspective on everything else. We are enabled to remember His grace and mercy toward us, and the fact that whatever difficulties we might be facing, they are temporary. Mental illness (apart from physiological diseases like Alzheimer’s) is most often an attempt to escape from pressures or conditions we see as unbearable. That makes praising God the perfect therapy, both as a preventive and as a remedy.
I deal with people with a wide variety of emotional and mental problems on a daily basis, and what I have just written rings very true to me. I am certainly not immune to emotional pressures myself, and it is very true in my personal experience. I too tend to forget what God has done for me! There are many hymns that touch on this – “What He’s Done for Me,” “Count Your Blessings,” and many more – and learning and singing them can be very beneficial, however simplistic they might seem. In one difficult period, the songs of Dennis Jernigan were a great blessing in reminding me of God’s grace and love and helping me turn my eyes to Him. At one point I was allowed to have weekly group meetings at the mental hospital, and we sang Christian songs together. Looking back, several people were helped enough by that that they were successfully discharged. Administration policies have changed at that hospital since then, but God’s principles haven’t changed, and I need to seek His wisdom in applying them for the benefit of all to whom I minister.
Father, thank You for this reminder. This applies to everyone, not just those in the mental hospital! Help me personally live a life of praise, not forgetting all You have done for me, so that I may in turn help others lift their eyes to You as well, and so escape the traps of the enemy, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!