Friday, July 17, 2015

Whom Do You Trust: Learning to Pray Psalm 146

Psalm 146 begins the Psalter’s final flurry of praise with the psalmist calling himself or herself to the act of praising the LORD. In verse 1, he twice repeats the exhortation “Praise the LORD!” In the second phrase, he calls upon his soul to join the praise. In other words, the psalmist invites the totality of all that he is to return praise to God: all of our gifts, talents, thoughts, and emotions. Verse 2 offers the response of the psalmist. He declares his intention to indeed praise the LORD all of his life. Notice that in verse 2, the psalmist personally identifies the LORD as “my God.” To praise God is to proclaim one’s loyalty and relationship to the LORD.

Ps 146 then turns to the main body of the Psalm in verses 3–10. The focus is on trust. We praise the LORD because the LORD alone can be trusted to sustain and carry us through the journey of life.

Verses 3–4 set up a contrast between trusting human authorities versus trusting the LORD. There is a problem with human leaders. No matter how great they may be, their power is temporary and there is no ultimate deliverance or salvation in them.

One of the key questions in life is this: Whom do you trust with your life and loved ones? Psalm 146 knows that there is only one being worthy of this trust: the LORD. Verses 5–10 tells us why this is true.

First, verse 5 boldly declares the happiness or state of blessedness of each person who finds help and hope in the LORD. We saw the word translated “blessed” in Ps 1:1 and 2:12. Now we encounter it here at the end of the Psalms. This is good news. Our journey through life has a happy ending.

Second, verses 6–10 give the specific reasons that demonstrate why trusting and hoping in the LORD is superior to trusting in human power. These verses celebrate God’s actions and character. We can trust God because he is the Creator of all that exists (v.6). The creator and savior of the world are one and the same.

We can trust God because of his eternal faithfulness. God is absolutely dependable to do the right thing at the right time every time. God has the track record to prove this. Verses 7-10 list tangible evidences of God’s faithfulness. The Creator does not sleep on the job but continues to act for justice and wholeness for all including in particular those desperate for what only God can do. This includes the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoner, the blind, the humbled, the foreigner, the fatherless, and the widow. In other words, God is radically for the marginalized. In fact, these states of need do not suggest that such persons deserved their condition, but rather Psalmist declares that “God loves the righteous.” The implication is that these very persons whom the powerful often overlook are part of God’s people regardless of circumstances. The Gospel is not simply good news for the powerful and connected; it is good news for everyone including the disenfranchised and disconnected.

Third, verse 9b announces that the LORD who sustains the righteous confounds the wicked. Their will be people who choose to thwart God’s mission and oppress God’s people, but their day will come to an end.

Last, Psalm 146 reminds us that the LORD reigns forever. Therefore, God’s people must praise and worship him.

What reasons does the psalmist give us for praising God?

Whom do you trust with your life and loved ones?

How does this psalm teach us to pray?

© 2015 Brian D. Russell

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