PSALM 146 “PRAISE THE LORD!”
Bible Background: Psalm 146 leads off the final 5 psalms, which all begin and end with “Praise the Lord!” This one is more of an ‘individual hymn of thanksgiving’. By the closing line of Psalm 150 “everything that has breath” is summoned to praise the Lord! “Hallelujah” from the Hebrew word “halal” appears 40 times in the final 5.
Digging Deeper: 1. In addition to being a psalm of praise, this is also an ‘instructional psalm’, as in: “do not put your trust in rulers” but rather, put your trust in the LORD. In v.4 the ones who are “happy/blessed” are the ones who do put their trust in the LORD.
2. The theme that “the LORD reigns forever” is at the heart of the whole collection of Psalms. Whereas Israel’s kings were supposed to shepherd God’s people; they didn’t do very well at that. It is God who actually gives justice, makes sure the hungry are fed, and cares for the stranger, the orphan, and the widow. The question is: How does God do that? The answer has at least two parts: God gives justice, feeds the hungry, and cares for the lowly, through our hands and feet and gifts. God also uses the resources of government to make sure that the least among us are provided for. On this 4th of July weekend, can we honestly say that both we-as individuals, and we-as a nation, are doing our part to care for those God takes special note of?
3. As in Psalm 1 (where we began), there is a contrast between “the righteous” and “the way of the wicked”. In the psalms, the ‘wicked’ are not primarily evildoers. Wickedness primarily has to do with trust, as in: not trusting in God, but trusting in money, self, power, earthly rulers, and so forth. Deep down, where do we put our trust? And where are we to put our trust?
4. Often, the charge in the psalms is to “Sing to the Lord”. That implies worship, as when we’re gathered on Sunday mornings. We also see the psalms teaching us to sing our way to justice and through difficult times. Consider how important the power of faith and the power of song was during the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s. “We Shall Overcome” is still a powerful song that stirs minds and souls to resist oppression of all sorts, and which adds power and purpose to our deepest longings.
For an online devotion on the psalms we’ve looked at this summer go to: http://www.integrity-authenticity-love.com/ For youth and adults who will take up the “memorize a psalm” challenge, try Psalm 23, Psalm 1, Psalm 100, or Psalm 121.