“Let my soul bless Adonai!” Psalm 103 begins with the Psalmist turning inward to list all the ways that God is beneficent. And ends with calling on all of creation to “bless Adonai!” To bless is to express gratitude combined with praise and to do so with humility. This Psalm begins with a move toward inner unity and ends with the whole world united, including the celestial beings. In that trajectory, the Psalmist finds himself a member of the harmonious, cosmic chorus.
In Psalm 103, nefesh, soul, is linked to “all that is within me,” suggestive of his inner life. In our day, we use the word soulful to refer to authentic, unvarnished expression. In some cases, a Psalm conveys painful incompleteness as to justice, foes, personal suffering, and even unsureness of God’s responsiveness. In the case of Psalm 103, the soulful expression is celebratory, conveying wholeness and abiding trust in the Source of Creation.