SSL 10 - Psalm 146:1-10
Prayers & Announcements
LAST WEEK: In 15 key verses of Psalm 136, we learned the many ways that God's steadfast love for us endures forever. What were the major points of personal application we took away from it?
1. We should continually give thanks to God for showing His steadfast love by creating us and the world we live in. God's creation, from the smallest atom up the vastness of the universe, is a fact of history that mightily demonstrates God's steadfast love for humankind-those created in His image.
2. We should continually give thanks to God for showing His steadfast love by saving us. The history of Israel depicted in the psalm is a picture of our spiritual history, of how God chose us by grace alone, redeemed us from the bondage of sin, and saved us, like the Israelites, to be a "chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people for His own possession." (1 Pet. 2:9).
3. We should continually give thanks to God for showing His steadfast love through His provision to us. God not only gives us everything we need to live but also provides for every living thing in the creation. We should thank Him for the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breath, the warmth of the sun, and everything else that sustains our lives from day to day. He made it.
4. We should continually give thanks to God as the "God of Heaven" for His sovereign control over every event in our lives. This means we must acknowledge that God, for His purposes, has planned the every circumstance of our lives, even times of trials and hardships. As a result, when we grumble and complain about our problems, we aren't fully submitting to God's sovereignty, are we? And this aspect of submitting to Him is easier said than done, isn't it?
THIS WEEK: We move on to Psalm 146, which begins the series of five final songs in the Book of Psalms. We don't know who wrote this Psalm or when it was written. Many think it was penned sometime after the Babylonian Exile. This psalm and the four which follow it, each begins with the exhortation "Praise the LORD," which translates to Hallelujah in Hebrew. The expression we now know so well first appeared in Ps. 104:35 and only occurs 23 times elsewhere in Psalms. In today's Psalm, in vv. 1-2, we see the psalmist always praising the LORD. In vv. 3-4, he tells us in whom we should not trust and thus, by implication, in whom we should trust. In vv. 5-10, the writer shows that when we praise and trust in the Almighty LORD, we will be blessed.
Read Ps. 146:1-2 - Declaration: To Receive God's Blessing, Always Praise Him
1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
v. 1: "Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul" - The opening "Praise the LORD" is plural, addressed to the entire congregation, but then with "O my soul," the psalmist turns to himself with a personal declaration. The Hebrew expression for praise the LORD, hallelujah, really should never be used loosely or carelessly, because it amounts to taking the Lord's name in vain. It should only be used as a sincere proclamation of praise to God.
v. 2: "praise the LORD as long as I live...sing praises...while I have my being" - Here the psalmist shows determined resolve to continue praising God with his entire being as long as he has the breath of life to do it. Spurgeon commented that, "We cannot be too firm in the holy resolve to praise God, for it is the chief end of our living and being that we should glorify God and enjoy Him forever."
Read Ps. 146:3-4 - Warning: To Receive God's Blessing, Trust Him, Not Men
3 Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
v. 3: "Put not your trust in princes...son of man...no salvation" - As used here, the title "prince" covers a broad spectrum of people-the influential, wealthy, high-placed, celebrated, etc.-but should truly apply to all humans, regardless of his or her station in life. At first glance, v. 3 seems to lack continuity with vv. 1-2, i.e., what's the connection between praising God and trusting in people? Well, it's a matter of perspective: if some "princely" person does help you in some way, you should certainly express your gratitude and appreciation to him or her, but you must always reserve the final credit to God and see His hand in it. Putting all your trust in any human is a mistake because they are mortal (i.e., a son of man) and their continued ability to help you may be short-lived due to poor health or death (i.e., no salvation).
v. 4: "breath departs...returns to the earth...plans perish" - The greatest and mightiest people among us are only human, they will someday die, and all of their brilliant plans will die with them.
Therefore, the powerful in whom you trust is but one breath away from the grave, where he or she will be of no help to you at all. There is some Hebrew word-play in these verses between the words man (Heb. = adam) and earth or ground (Heb. = adamah). It comes from Gen. 3:19, where God pronounced a curse on Adam that he would return to earth, "because from it you were taken, for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." This underscores the weakness inherent to even the strongest of humans-a powerful prince today, a corpse tomorrow. In Jeremiah 17:5 and 7 the prophet makes this point: "Thus says the LORD, 'Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is in the LORD.'" About this, Spurgeon said, "This is the narrow estate of man-his breath goes forth, to his earth he returns, and his thoughts perish. Is this to be relied upon? Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. To trust it would be a still greater vanity."
Read Ps. 146:5-9 - One Worthy: Confidence in the On Great God
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; 8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
v. 5: "whose help is the God of Jacob...hope is in the LORD" - The title "God of Jacob" signifies God's sovereign grace. Why would God choose Jacob over Esau, who appeared to be the more upright man? Jacob, on the other hand, was a scheming deceiver. The answer is grace. I'm not going to recount the whole story from Gen. 32, except to share Paul's explanation in Rom. 9:11-12: "for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls [i.e. unmerited grace], 12 it was said to her, "THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER." The use of the word "hope" in the Psalms is rare, which in Hebrew means eagerly looking forward to something great. Spurgeon said that placing all of our quiet hope in the LORD "is the sweetest music that reaches the heart of God."
Note: In v. 5 the psalmist, in effect, states his case: When you place all of your trust and hope in the Almighty God, you will be blessed; then vv. 6-9, he goes on to prove his case.
v. 6b: "made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them" - A familiar theme of Psalms, you can trust God because He created everything, and no man, no matter how smart or powerful, can create something from nothing by speaking it into existence. Point one.
v. 6b: "keeps faith forever" - God never goes back on His covenant promises, as the writer of Hebrews put it in 10:23, "Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who has promised is faithful." Point two.
v. 7: "justice for the oppressed...food for the hungry...sets the prisoners free" - Here the psalmist provides a list of people with severe problems. First, God's judgment is 100% certain (though sometimes delayed) against evil and powerful men (Hitler, Stalin, Taliban, ISIS, etc.). We have God's promise that all wrongs will be righted according His timing as stated in Rev. 6:15-17: " Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and every-one, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" Second, God provides food and sustenance not only for mankind but for all living things in His creation (Ps. 146:7), so we can trust Him to provide for our needs. Third, to people who are imprisoned unjustly like Joseph or Peter or those imprisoned by sin or guilt beyond their human ability to break free, God is able to deliver them no matter what situation they are in. Point three.
v. 8a: "opens the eyes of the blind" - The "blind" can be viewed literally or figuratively. Isa. 35:5 predicted that the Messiah would "open" the eyes of the blind, which Jesus, in fact, did both physically and spiritually. Point four.
v. 8b: "lifts up those who bowed down" - Whatever your burden may be, cast it upon the LORD and He will set you free. Even if you are "bowed down" with sin and guilt, bring it to the cross and claim the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the friend of sinners! Point five.
v. 8c: "loves the righteous" - Why does the psalmist mention this, the "righteous," in the mist of all these people with devastating problems? Because the righteous are often persecuted and oppressed because of their faith. Jesus said, in Mt. 5:10, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Point six.
v. 9a: "watches over the sojourners" - Often, foreigners or expatriates are often rejected, ridiculed, and discriminated against when they find themselves as refugees in a strange place. They feel like outcasts whom no one cares about. But God cares for them and protects them. Point seven.
v. 9b: "upholds the widow and the fatherless" - This doesn't mean that widows or orphans are never mistreated or neglected; they are, in fact, all over this world. It means that God especially cares for them and expects His people to reach out and protect them. God commands us to care for widows and orphans. This obligation was part of the Mosaic law (Ex. 22:21-24) and is now the responsibility of the NT church (1 Tim. 5:3-16; James 1:27). Point eight.
Note: So, taking these five verses together, the psalmist has three major biblical truths which indentify ways we can be blessed: (1) Because God is the almighty creator, he sustains everything that gives us life; (2) Because God is forever faithful, he will keep all of the covenant promises made to those who believe in Him; and (3) Because of God's love and mercy for mankind, He will help the poor, the afflicted, and the outcasts.
Read Ps. 146:10 - Reality: God Will Reign Forever and Deserves Our Praise
10 The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!
v. 10a: "The LORD will reign forever" - This statement means that God can never fail, at anything. We can rejoice in knowing we have we have an eternal God who possesses unlimited power and the infinite wisdom to direct our lives. Because of His eternal reign as our King, we are to trust and praise Him all the days of our lives. As I speak to you, He is preparing a place for every one of us right now to live with Him forever. PRAISE THE LORD! AMEN?
1. To receive God's blessing, we must praise Him-always! Since the psalmist exhorts us to keep praising God, what does it mean in practical terms? Well, like the psalmist, we must preach to ourselves to continually give praise and thanks to God as long as we have the breath to do it. Reminders-things we should be thankful for (things we often take for granted)-surround us every minute we're alive. Praising God through the day can take just a few seconds to stop and say, "thank you, Lord," for any of the myriad things He gives to us, e.g., another day of life as soon as you wake up, a refreshing glass of water when you're thirsty, the clean air you breath when you step outside, when you see a flower blooming from your garden, when you receive an unexpected phone call from a loved one, etc. The list is almost endless; we just need to stop, think, and see God's hand in it. We should even praise God when we're having problems, knowing that there is some purpose behind it.
2. To receive God's Blessing, we trust in Him, not people. You might ask: What's the connection between praising God and trusting in people? Well, it's a matter of perspective: if some influential person does help you in some way, you should certainly express your gratitude and appreciation to him or her, but you must always reserve the final credit to God and see His hand in it. Putting all your trust in any human is a mistake because they are mortal (i.e., a son of man) and their continued ability to help you may be short-lived due to poor health or death (i.e., no salvation)
3. To receive God's blessing, we must put all of our trust and hope in Him. Let's list the reasons the psalmist gives us to believe this: (1) because God created everything; (2) because God is faithful and never breaks His promises; (3) Because God will bring justice-right all wrongs-in His timing; (4) Because we were "blind" until God opened out eyes to spiritual truth; (5) Because God can save people who are "bowed-Down" with sin and guilt and can't help themselves; (6) Because God loves and cares for the righteous who are persecuted for their faith; and (7) God loves and cares for the poor, the afflicted, the outcasts, the widows, and orphans who need help.