Wednesday of Epiphany 7 – Psalm 103:1-13

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

On April 11, 1675, in a German town with the odd name of Bopfingen, the deacon’s wife gave birth to a son. They named him Johan Daniel. His last name was Herrnschmidt. He went on to a rather distinguished career as an academic and as a preacher. In 1712 he was summoned to the court of prince Georg August to be the court preacher and an administrator of the church in his realm. But perhaps the most important thing that ever happened to Johann was that while a university student in Halle, he came to trust Jesus in a personal and very profound way. This led him to express his faith in poetry. Much of it is not very good poetry by poetic standards, but it is personal and pious. Occasionally, however, Johann hit the sweet spot of true poetry.

You likely know one of his poems, it draws several ideas from this psalm, and you might have sung it in church. The English translation is “Praise the Almighty” and it is found is LSB #797. Johann died at the relatively young age of 48. But he did not die, not really. The blessed Lord who has forgiven all his iniquities, has redeemed Johann’s life from the pit and crowned him with steadfast love and mercy. That Lord has satisfied him with good and renewed his strength like the eagle’s. As Johann wrote,

“Praise the Almighty, my soul, adore Him! Yes, I will laud Him until death; with songs and anthems I come before Him As long as He allows me breath. From Him my life and all things come, Bless, O my soul, His holy name.

“Blessed, oh, blessed are they forever Whose help is from the Lord Most High, Whom from salvation can not nothing sever, And who in hope to Christ draw nigh, To all who trust in Him, our Lord Will aid and counsel now afford.”

You can listen to Johann’s hymn being sung here.

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