Psalm 103

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Scroll of the Psalms

Psalm 103 is the 103rd psalm from the Book of Psalms (Greek numbering: Psalm 102). The first verse attributes it to King David, the author of many Psalms. 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]

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.

An interesting note appears to the modern reader when considering verse 12. The significance of the compass directions being east and west in verse 12 instead of north and south, is that when traveling north you will eventually cross the North pole and begin traveling south, and the same vice versa. This does not happen when traveling east or west, and thus the difference between our transgression and ourselves is considered infinite. Although this line of reasoning is powerful for modern readers, the culture that produced this Psalm had a cosmology that viewed the world as flat and having four corners. In the original context, east and west function as a merism that implies infinite distance.



  • Verse 1 is the final verse of Nishmat.[2]
  • Verse 10 is part of the opening paragraph of the long Tachanun recited on Mondays and Thursdays.[3]
  • Verse 13 is part of the long Tachanun recited on Mondays and Thursdays.[4]
  • Verse 14 is the second-to-last verse of the regular Tachanun.[5]
  • Verse 17 is recited during the blessings before the Shema on the second day of Rosh Hashanah.[6]
  • Verse 19 is the seventh verse of Yehi Kivod in Pesukei Dezimra.[7]



  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. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 403
  3. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 125
  4. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 127
  5. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 139
  6. ^ The Complete Artscroll Machzor for Rosh Hashanah page 273
  7. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 66
  8. ^ Krivoshein, Basil. "Some differences between Greek and Russian divine services and their significance". Retrieved 4 July 2013. 

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