“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name”
The Psalmist begins by expressing his strong desire to praise God. We discover the meaning of our existence only when our life becomes an act of worship, a gift of praise offered in gratitude and love towards God.
Because the desire to bless the Lord is something deeply rooted and innate in our human nature, the Psalmist refers to the soul’s inner contents, to all that is within me, for ”the good man from the treasure of his heart brings forth good, and his mouth speaks from the abundance of his heart” (Luke 6:45). The Psalmist’s soul is filled with feelings of worship and praise, and this inner disposition is externalised through the power of speech by exclaiming: “Bless the Lord, O my soul”.
To ‘bless’ another person means to speak well of him, or to wish or pray that he might receive something good. With respect to God, however, to ‘bless’ means to praise and glorify Him. The word ‘soul’ refers to the fullness of human life, not only to the spiritual element of human beings. What is expressed here is the impulse of the entire person to glorify God: the desire of the whole self to praise and glorify His holy name.
St John Chrysostom writes on Psalm 103: ”The soul stands midway between the body and spirit, and so can drag the body down to base pleasures or draw the spirit up to God, and thus David charges his soul to bless the Lord, which means to glorify God always.”
Source: February – March 2016 Lychnos Edition