The ten verses of Psalm 146, bookended with a command to ‘Praise the Lord’, have been food for my soul in these last few weeks. For me, living in a nation which has a proud history of strong democracy and the rule of law, recent events have been unsettling to say the least. The Brexit shambles has led to a divided country where tensions are running high between those of opposing opinions. The latest twist in this sorry tale culminated in our Prime Minister being judged to have acted unlawfully. Troubling and worrying times, indeed.
But, as is so frequently the case, God’s word speaks clearly, sheds light, reorders priorities and refocuses faith. And Psalm 146 feels ever-so-relevant.
Following the opening exhortation to praise the Lord the psalmist makes a decision to do this while he lives and has his being (vv1,2). Praise of God will not happen by accident in my life. It is a daily decision to use my breath and energy to praise Him who is worthy of all praise.
The psalmist’s attention, like mine has in recent months, drifts towards concentrating on earthly, human rulers. These people, though significant in worldly terms, are finite, mortal beings who will end up in the grave just as every other person who has lived (vv3,4). No salvation can be found in them. They offer no permanent transformation. Instead, our eyes must be lifted to the One who can help, to the One in whom it is worth placing hope – God Himself (v5)! He is the One who has created all things in heaven and earth, sea and sky. All power belongs to Him and He is faithful (v6).
But this focus on God isn’t simply because He is bigger and stronger than earthly rulers. It is because His priorities are superior and His moral framework is perfect. His heart beats for the oppressed and He executes judgement for them (v7). His hands open to provide food for the hungry (v7). His mission is one of freedom – for the prisoners in bondage and for the blind in darkness (v8). He lifts up those who have been trampled down and He loves those who love doing right (v8). He looks with loving protection for those who have no home or country of their own (v9). He advocates for those who have no-one to speak up for them. He is the champion of widows and orphans. His power and priorities mean that those who plot to do evil will be thwarted (v9).
To complete the contrast the psalmist reminds us that God’s reign is forever and will last through all generations. No earthly ruler can compete and no man will outlast Him.
What a God! No wonder we should praise Him! Surely our focus should be on the true Author of Salvation and our priorities brought into line with His?
Psalm 146: Ten short verses. One huge change in perspective!
Where is your trust? Blessed is He whose hope is in the Lord his God (v5).