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Oh, My Soul
by Mary Alice McGinnis
When I was a teenager, struggling with making sense of things, I would sometimes sit down and allow my thoughts and feelings to freely flow from to the tip of my pen to the lines of my notebook paper. It was a safe, cathartic way for me to sort through things in my thoughts and heart.
Sometimes it would start with “Dear Self,” and I would explore all the questions I wanted to ask myself about why I was thinking, acting, or feeling a certain way. Other times, I would begin with “Dear God” and lay out my heart in soul searching prayer to my Father in heaven.
David does a similar practice in the Psalms. Sometimes he pours out his heart in anguish, saying things like, “Why are you so downcast, Oh my Soul?” Often this pouring out lead him to a resolution of “I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
In Psalm 103, David unfolds one of his “Oh My Soul” for us to reflect upon. Instead of ruminating on all the things that are wrong in his life, he speaks to his deepest self, saying,
“Hey, listen up, Soul! Remember . . .”
Let’s peek into what David bids his soul to remember.
David says, “Praise (or Bless) the Lord, O My Soul.”
This must be important because David repeats this phrase two more times in the first two verses.
He quantifies it by saying, “All my inmost being, praise (bless) His Holy Name.”
He wants his soul to praise the Lord, not just with his lips, but also with his heart.
Not just with his mind, but with all the deepest depths of himself.
Then David calls to his soul to a higher level by saying, “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”
In the verses that follow, David carefully and specifically enumerates all the things he desires his soul to recall about God’s benefits.
We do not know the circumstance surrounding the writing of this Psalm by David. Some scholars believe David wrote this toward the end of his life, after many years of bringing his heart to the Lord in this manner.
What are God’s benefits? How would you enumerate God’s bountifully acts of kindness and abundant provision in your life?
Take five minutes, right now, with a piece of paper and a pen. Set a timer.
Write at the top “Dear Soul, remember . . .”
When you begin to write, don’t allow your pen to stop until the five minutes is up.
Be specific, but don’t overthink it.
Here are some prompts:
Where is God healing me?
Where has He, and where is He redeeming my life from the pit?
Where is God crowning me with His love?
Where is God satisfying my deepest desires with good things?
How righteous is God?
How sinful am I? How grateful am I for His forgiveness?
How big are God’s thoughts and ways? How effective is His forgiveness?
How do I picture God’s compassion toward me?
If you need more inspiration for reflection, re-read the words of Psalm 103. Lift all your inmost being in praise to the Lord.
There are 10,000 reasons to bless the Lord, Oh my Soul!
Prayer – Read your “Dear Soul” letter out load as a prayer of praise back to God.