Psalm 103

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Scroll of the Psalms

Psalm 103 is the 103rd psalm in the biblical Book of Psalms. The first verse attributes it to King David, the author of many Psalms. It is a hymn, beginning in English "Bless the Lord, O my soul" (KJV). J. A. Motyer of Trinity College, Bristol describes it thus: "The blend of changeless fatherly care and endless sovereign rule is the distinctive stress of this Psalm."[1] In the Greek Septuagint version of the bible, and in its Latin translation in the Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 102 in a slightly different numbering system.

The psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic and Eastern liturgies. It has been paraphrased as hymns and set to music.


Hebrew Bible version[edit]

Following is the Hebrew text and English translation of Psalm 103:[2]

Verse Hebrew English
1 לְדָוִ֨ד | בָּֽרְכִ֣י נַ֖פְשִׁי אֶת־יְהֹוָ֑ה וְכָל־קְ֜רָבַ֗י אֶת־שֵׁ֥ם קָדְשֽׁוֹ Of David. My soul, bless the Lord, and all my innards, His holy name.
2 בָּֽרְכִ֣י נַ֖פְשִׁי אֶת־יְהֹוָ֑ה וְאַל־תִּ֜שְׁכְּחִ֗י כָּל־גְּמוּלָֽיו My soul, bless the Lord and do not forget any of His benefits.
3 הַסֹּלֵ֥חַ לְכָל־עֲו‍ֹנֵ֑כִי הָ֜רֹֽפֵ֗א לְכָל־תַּֽחֲלוּאָֽיְכִי Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your illnesses.
4 הַגּוֹאֵ֣ל מִשַּׁ֣חַת חַיָּ֑יְכִי הַֽ֜מְעַטְּרֵ֗כִי חֶ֣סֶד וְרַֽחֲמִֽים Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with kindness and mercy.
5 הַמַּשְׂבִּ֣יַע בַּטּ֣וֹב עֶדְיֵ֑ךְ תִּתְחַדֵּ֖שׁ כַּנֶּ֣שֶׁר נְעוּרָֽיְכִי Who sates your mouth with goodness, that your youth renews itself like the eagle.
6 עֹשֵׂ֣ה צְדָק֣וֹת יְהֹוָ֑ה וּ֜מִשְׁפָּטִ֗ים לְכָל־עֲשׁוּקִֽים The Lord performs charitable deeds and judgment for all oppressed people.
7 יוֹדִ֣יעַ דְּרָכָ֣יו לְמֹשֶׁ֑ה לִבְנֵ֥י יִ֜שְׂרָאֵ֗ל עֲלִֽילוֹתָיו He makes His ways known to Moses, to the children of Israel His deeds.
8 רַח֣וּם וְחַנּ֣וּן יְהֹוָ֑ה אֶ֖רֶךְ אַפַּ֣יִם וְרַב־חָֽסֶד The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and with much kindness.
9 לֹֽא־לָנֶ֥צַח יָרִ֑יב וְלֹ֖א לְעוֹלָ֣ם יִטּֽוֹר He will not quarrel to eternity, and He will not bear a grudge forever.
10 לֹ֣א כַֽ֖חֲטָאֵינוּ עָ֣שָׂה לָ֑נוּ וְלֹ֥א כַֽ֜עֲו‍ֹנֹתֵ֗ינוּ גָּ֘מַ֥ל עָלֵֽינוּ He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor has He repaid us according to our iniquities.
11 כִּ֚י כִגְבֹ֣הַּ שָׁ֖מַיִם עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ גָּ֘בַ֥ר חַ֜סְדּ֗וֹ עַל־יְרֵאָֽיו For, as the height of the heavens over the earth, so great is His kindness toward those who fear Him.
12 כִּרְחֹ֣ק מִ֖זְרָח מִֽמַּֽעֲרָ֑ב הִרְחִ֥יק מִ֜מֶּ֗נּוּ אֶת־פְּשָׁעֵֽינוּ As the distance of east from west, He distanced our transgressions from us.
13 כְּרַחֵ֣ם אָ֖ב עַל־בָּנִ֑ים רִ֘חַ֥ם יְ֜הֹוָ֗ה עַל־יְרֵאָֽיו As a father has mercy on sons, the Lord had mercy on those who fear Him.
14 כִּ֣י ה֖וּא יָדַ֣ע יִצְרֵ֑נוּ זָ֜כ֗וּר כִּֽי־עָ֘פָ֥ר אֲנָֽחְנוּ For He knows our creation; He remembers that we are dust.
15 אֱנוֹשׁ כֶּֽחָצִ֣יר יָמָ֑יו כְּצִ֥יץ הַ֜שָּׂדֶ֗ה כֵּ֣ן יָצִֽיץ As for man–his days are like grass; like a flower of the field, so does he sprout.
16 כִּ֚י ר֣וּחַ עָֽבְרָה־בּ֣וֹ וְאֵינֶ֑נּוּ וְלֹֽא־יַכִּירֶ֖נּוּ ע֣וֹד מְקוֹמֽוֹ For a wind passes over him and he is no longer here; and his place no longer recognizes him.
17 וְחֶ֚סֶד יְהֹוָ֨ה | מֵֽעוֹלָ֣ם וְעַד־עוֹלָם עַל־יְרֵאָ֑יו וְ֜צִדְקָת֗וֹ לִבְנֵ֥י בָנִֽים But the Lord's kindness is from everlasting to everlasting, and His charity to sons of sons.
18 לְשֹֽׁמְרֵ֥י בְרִית֑וֹ וּלְזֹֽכְרֵ֥י פִ֜קֻּדָ֗יו לַֽעֲשׂוֹתָֽם To those who keep His covenant and to those who remember His commandments to perform them.
19 יְֽהוָ֗ה בַּ֖שָּׁמַיִם הֵכִ֣ין כִּסְא֑וֹ וּ֜מַלְכוּת֗וֹ בַּכֹּ֥ל מָשָֽׁלָה The Lord established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.
20 בָּֽרְכ֥וּ יְהֹוָ֗ה מַלְאָ֫כָ֥יו | גִּבֹּ֣רֵי כֹחַ עֹשֵׂ֣י דְבָר֑וֹ לִ֜שְׁמֹ֗עַ בְּק֣וֹל דְּבָרֽוֹ Bless the Lord, His angels, those mighty in strength, who perform His word, to hearken to the voice of His word.
21 בָּֽרְכ֣וּ יְ֖הֹוָה כָּל־צְבָאָ֑יו מְ֜שָׁרְתָ֗יו עֹ֘שֵׂ֥י רְצוֹנֽוֹ Bless the Lord, all His hosts, His ministers, those who do His will.
22 בָּֽ֘רְכ֚וּ יְהֹוָ֨ה | כָּל־מַֽעֲשָׂ֗יו בְּכָל־מְקֹמ֥וֹת מֶמְשַׁלְתּ֑וֹ בָּֽ֘רְכִ֥י נַ֜פְשִׁ֗י אֶת־יְהֹוָֽה Bless the Lord, all His works, in all the places of His dominion; my soul, bless the Lord.


The psalm uses a variety of imagery, memorably in verse 12: "...As far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us..." 103:12.

It is similar in theme to Psalm 102.[3]



  • Verse 1 is the final verse of Nishmat.[4]
  • Verse 10 is part of the opening paragraph of the long Tachanun recited on Mondays and Thursdays.[5]
  • Verse 13 is part of the long Tachanun recited on Mondays and Thursdays.[6]
  • Verse 14 is the second-to-last verse of the regular Tachanun.[7]
  • Verse 17 is recited during the blessings before the Shema on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.[8]
  • Verse 19 is the seventh verse of Yehi Kivod in Pesukei Dezimra.[9]

New Testament[edit]

Catholic Church[edit]

Psalm 103:3 on a cross in the village of Kétvölgy, Hungary.

In the Western church This psalm was traditionally performed during the celebration of Matins of Saturday by the order of St. Benedict, probably since its founding to 530.[11]

In the Liturgy of the Hours, Psalm 103 is sung or recited today to the Office of Sunday readings deuxième week. It is also very present among the Mass readings. It is the psalm read the Sacred Heart party. For ordinary times, we find the 7th and the 24th Sunday of the year A7 and the eighth Sunday of the year B. Lent, it is played the 3rd and 7th Sunday. Finally, it is the 7th Psalm on Easter Sunday.

Orthodox Church[edit]

In the Eastern Orthodox Church this psalm is one of the six psalms of Orthros (Matins) read every morning outside of Bright Week. It is also the first of the "Typical Psalms" of the Typica, which is read in place of the Divine Liturgy when the latter is not celebrated on days it is permitted to be. It is frequently sung as the first antiphon of the Divine Liturgy, but there it is often replaced by another antiphon on great feasts and on many weekdays, and is always thus replaced in Greek practice (except on Mount Athos).[12]


Thesman found the psalm a declaration that God never betrays us, never abandons us, and never forgets ..... His mercy covers our mistakes and our human tendencies[13] while Coke, calls it an exquisite performance, very applicable to every deliverance: it may properly be said to describe the wonders of grace,[14] This Psalm is one continued hymn of praise, and includes a comprehensive view of the goodness of Jehovah, in all the great works of creation and redemption[15] while Barnes called it exceedingly regular in its structure and composition; beautiful in its language and conceptions; adapted to all times and ages; suited to express the feelings of gratitude to God for deliverance from trouble, and for the manifestation of his mercy; suited to elevate the soul, and to fill it with cheerful views.[16]

Ps103 in Luttrell Psalter c. 1325–1335.

The Old Testament scholar Bernhard Duhm considers the Psalm a "compilation of all sorts of beautiful sentences from a fairly extensive reading."[17]

Musical settings[edit]

Psalm 103 is the basis of several hymns. A paraphrase of Psalm 103 in German is "Nun lob, mein Seel, den Herren", written by Johann Gramann in 1525, which was translated by Catherine Winkworth as "My Soul, now Praise thy Maker!" and published in 1863. English hymns include "Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven", written in the nineteenth century by Henry Francis Lyte, and "Sing to the Lord and praise him".

In the 16th century, Claudin de Sermisy set the psalm.

The song Bless The Lord in the musical Godspell is based on this psalm.


  1. ^ LePeau, Phyllis J. (2001-08-02). Kindness: Reaching Out to Others. Zondervan. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-310-23866-9., attributed to The New Bible Commentary, 552.
  2. ^ "Tehillim - Psalms - Chapter 103". 2018. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
  3. ^ Jewish Publication Society (2014) "Psalms" (note on Psalm 103) in Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler (eds.) The Jewish Study Bible (second edition). New York: Oxford University Press.
  4. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur p. 403
  5. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur p. 125
  6. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur p. 127
  7. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur p. 139
  8. ^ The Complete Artscroll Machzor for Rosh Hashanah p. 273
  9. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur p. 66
  10. ^ Kirkpatrick, A. F. (1901). The Book of Psalms: with Introduction and Notes. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Book IV and V: Psalms XC-CL. Cambridge: At the University Press. p. 839. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
  11. ^ "La distribution des Psaumes dans la Règle de Saint Benoît - Mont de Cats".
  12. ^ Krivoshein, Basil. "Some differences between Greek and Russian divine services and their significance". Retrieved 4 July 2013.
  13. ^ R. J. Thesman, A Meditation on Psalm 103.
  14. ^ Coke, Thomas. Commentary on Psalms 103:1.
  15. ^ Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Psalms 103:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary".
  16. ^ Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible, (1834)
  17. ^ Bernhard Duhm, Psalmen (1922), p. 371

External links[edit]