Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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      Psalm - Chapter 146 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. Shout praises to the LORD! With all that I am, I will shout his praises.
    2. I will sing and praise the LORD God for as long as I live.
    3. You can't depend on anyone, not even a great leader.
    4. Once they die and are buried, that will be the end of all their plans.
    5. The LORD God of Jacob blesses everyone who trusts him and depends on him.
    6. God made heaven and earth; he created the sea and everything else. God always keeps his word.
    7. He gives justice to the poor and food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free
    8. and heals blind eyes. He gives a helping hand to everyone who falls. The LORD loves good people
    9. and looks after strangers. He defends the rights of orphans and widows, but destroys the wicked.
    10. The LORD God of Zion will rule forever! Shout praises to the LORD!
Reflections

Psalms - Chapter 146

Entered: May 08, 2009
This and the remaining psalms, all psalms of praise, are encapsulated with hallelujah's at the beginning and the end. The theme of this psalm is that only God is worthy of our trust. Not even the most powerful of men are worthy of our trust. What reasons are given for this claim? First, man is temporary. He lives and he dies and returns to the ground. Kings reign for a while, but God reigns forever. Therefore, He has powers that extend beyond life itself. In fact, God, who has made the heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them, remains faithful forever. Although the psalm does not draw the following conclusions, we can, because of these realities and realities we already know. Since kings are temporal, they can only address temporal needs. They are limited to only a few to whom they can give attention at a time, and when they do give attention to those few, it is given for only a brief period of time. What needs they address for those few are not eliminated, only temporarily eased. God's powers are extensive. His attention is given to everyone simultaneously and continuously. He gets at the root of our needs which lies within us. He has the power to transform us from within giving us real hope and a whole new lease on life. This is why the psalmist can say in verse 5, "Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God."

The psalmist goes beyond God's powers in giving reason for trusting in Him instead of man. Just because God has the power to help us does not necessarily mean He will. But the psalmist tells us in verses 7-9 that He also has the character to help us. He executes justice for the exploited, gives food to the hungry, frees the prisoners, opens the eyes of the blind, and raises up those who are oppressed. And the list goes on. What earthly king demonstrates such compassion? Those throughout history have demonstrated more inclination to exploit the downtrodden and imprison them rather than free them.

God is an equal opportunity savior, but He can only help those who turn to Him for help. We must acknowledge that He is and recognize our trust in Him and not ourselves or other people for what we need. That is what prayer is about. It demonstrates our dependence and trust on Him and seeks His help for what we need. However, the psalmist includes something of a caveat toward the end of the psalm. He says, "The Lord loves the righteous . . . but frustrates the ways of the wicked." As I said above, God is an equal opportunity savior, but not everyone turns to Him for His help. Many are not convinced He exists, others recognize His existence but don't think He is concerned enough with man to help him, and still others, such as the wicked, think they can grab for themselves what they need. Why do they need God?

There comes a time when our chosen paths clearly show the wisdom of our choices. Maybe it is soon and maybe late. But sooner or later our choices reveal their fruit. The psalmist says, "Happy is the one whose help is the God of Jacob."

Entered: July 22, 2014

Our psalmist is again David who finds plenty of reason to praise the Lord. The psalm compares God's care to that of man, particularly that of rulers. "Happy is the one," he says, "whose hope is in the LORD his God," who is, "the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them." (146:5-6) But he cautions not to "trust in nobles, in man, who cannot save." For with man, regardless of his standing or power, "When his breath leaves him, he returns to the ground; on that day his plans die." (146:3-4) David gives two powerful reasons why we should not trust in man: First, man cannot even save himself let alone anyone else, and second, regardless of how good a man may be to us, when he dies, his efforts on our behalf die with him.

Not so with God. As already mentioned, He is Maker of heaven and earth. Nothing is beyond His power. Furthermore, He reigns forever. He will never die and thus His help for us will never run out. Instead, it is our need for His help that will run out. David lists several reasons the one whose hope is in the Lord will be happy:

  • He remains faithful forever.
  • He executes justice for the exploited.
  • He gives food to the hungry.
  • He frees prisoners.
  • He opens the eyes of the blind.
  • He raises up those who are oppressed.
  • He loves the righteous.
  • He protects foreigners.
  • He helps the fatherless and the widow.
  • And he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

We can also read into this that these are all things that man cannot do for us or can only do with limited capacity. We should therefore join with David in giving praise to the Lord.