Psalm 146 - Hitting the Pause Button on Life
One of the many gifts of the Psalms is an invitation to center ourselves around God’s divine providence over our lives and our world. The psalter is a pause button in a life gone awry with 24-hour news cycles, endless social media posts, and information overload.
The Psalms call us to stop. Breathe.
To take in this fleeting, infinite moment and fall vulnerably into God’s word. To remove the fig leaves of our busy-ness, and just be—in all of our raw humanness as articulated, without apology, by the psalmist—with the God who loves us.
To that end, Psalm 146 begins with a call to praise:
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul. I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
God is the only one worthy of our praise.
Sadly, however, we too often look elsewhere to place our hope. Vainly we seek earthly saviors and worldly powers to do what God alone can do. We elect political leaders who tickle our ears with promises they cannot/will not keep. We buy into corporate America’s campaign that more is better. We swallow the Pharmaceutical industry’s pitch for the drug that will finally fix us.
Though writing centuries ago, the composer of Psalm 146 knows all too well this universal temptation to grasp at earthly solutions to God-sized issues.
“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help,” he warns.
However wise they may seem, or however heavenly their promises may be, our leaders are ultimately powerless in the face of existential problems, and too often driven by questionable motives with limited perspective.
In the end, like everything else in creation, they and their best laid plans are finite.
Verses 5-9 celebrate all that the Lord does—in contrast to what mortals cannot. It is God who helps, creates, keeps faith, executes justice and feeds the hungry.
It is God who frees the prisoner, opens the eyes of the blind, lifts up the lowly, loves the righteous, watches over the stranger, upholds the vulnerable and holds the wicked to account.
We might participate in such things, but we are at best only instruments.
Ultimately, it is God who provides. Therefore, Psalm 146 ends, appropriately, right where it started—praise the Lord! God alone is worthy, and long s for our fullest attention.
Dr. Todd Jordan is Senior Pastor of Strawbridge United Methodist Church in Kingwood, Texas near Houston. If you are ever in the area, Todd and his congregation would love to have you come worship with them.
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