Do me a favor and please read Psalm 146.
We’re coming near the end of our time in the psalms and so the last 5 are understandably seen/considered/called “Hallelujah psalms” for a reason. They are songs about praise, glory, worship, and recognizing that God is the creator, sustainer, and holder of all things. That he is above and beyond all. That he is our breath, our hope, and our joy. But what about this first one – our psalm for the week?
Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s just because of the times we live in here in the states, but I cannot help but read, reflect, and chew on this psalm in light of the world’s political leaders (ours included). We put so much stock in our leaders to lead that when they fail we feel lied to. Leaders are supposed to help our country into good times by their sound decisions, hopeful words, dedicated and committed work, and self-denying sacrifice. They are supposed to help others too outside of our own country and work well together – for the better of the world. In essence: we expect our president (whomever it was/is/will be) to save us. And then they don’t. They never do – and there is no way that they can. We put so much pressure on our leaders all the while failing to remember that they will let us down. Always. They will do what THEY think is best. And why? Because they are broken. They are sinful. They are human.
The psalmist rightly asserts that all our leaders (they use the word “princes”) will fail us. They cannot save us. And while the psalmist doesn’t declare WHY they cannot save us what he DOES do is not only declare that God is the only one who saves but he also states HOW God saves. So in essence we can look at these words, look at the opposite of what God does here, and recognize that those “opposites” are what our own leaders do for us. So here we go!
- Can princes save? No.
- When they die are they really dead? Yup.
- Have any of our leaders ever created anything from nothing (like the heavens and earth)? Nope.
- What about the seas and everything in them? Did they make them or can they make them? Nope.
- Do our leaders uphold the causes of the oppressed? They try but ultimately they fail.
- Do our leaders give food to the hungry? They do – but it’s always temporarily.
- Do any of our leaders set the prisoners free? Not in the hopeful sense as scripture speaks.
- What about giving sight to the blind or hope for those bowed low? Nope.
- Do our leaders watch over the foreigners? Nope.
- What about the fatherless and the widows? Nope – never on ANY agenda.
- The wicked frustrated? To a certain extent but never to their finality and destruction.
Our psalmist encourages us to really understand all the needs we have in this world and to orient our focus in the right direction…and never should it be on broken human beings. All the needs we have in life are only fulfilled by the Lord. All the worries we have in this world will never be taken care of by the next president, the next governor, the next leader – nobody. Because they simply can’t. Now this isn’t a cop-out and this isn’t supposed to be a downer because this psalm is a recognition and praise that while we are broken God is not. That while our leaders cannot give us complete hope, God can. This psalm is a praise of the God who loves, saves, feeds, protects, and restores people. This is a psalm that declares Jesus Christ.
- Who saves? Jesus.
- Who lives eternally? Jesus Christ.
- Who gives us hope? Who makes all things? Who is faithful forever, upholds the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, sets prisoners free and restores sight to the blind? Who lifts all those up who are down low? Jesus…Jesus….Jesus, Jesus, Jesus – and did I say Jesus? Jesus.
So as the psalmist says, praise the Lord. Praise him for all he does for HE reigns forever.
As a closing side-note, and something that’s really cool and beautiful…read this psalm along with Mary’s “magnificat” in Luke 1:46-55. See any similarities?
Some questions to chew on that I too am chewing on:
- Why do we put all these expectations on our leaders when we know they will fail?
- How can we recognize their failures, God’s completion, and then pray for our leaders?
- If we declare that Christ does all these things (and only he can) – what does that mean for you and me?
- The end of verse 8 says that the Lord loves the righteous. What does it mean to be righteous? What are some “righteous” acts that we see in this psalm that God does? Does that mean that WE are to do those? (the answer: yes!)