Summary: Who is this LORD, that we should worship Him? Why should we trust and praise this God?
A CALL TO WORSHIP
The last five Psalms (146-150) all begin and end with an exhortation to praise the LORD, addressed collectively to the congregation of God’s people. Yet it is not enough for the praise leader just to call others to worship: it is also the exercise of his own soul (Psalm 146:1; cf. Psalm 103:1). The writer’s praise is his very life’s breath (Psalm 146:2).
Such should be our praise. It is not something in which we indulge ourselves on special occasions only, but something which is relevant to all times and in all places (cf. Philippians 4:4). It is easy to say “Praise the LORD” in the good times: but we should not be prevented from such worship even in the shackles of the deepest dungeon of our lives (Acts 16:23-25).
With the Psalmist, our commitment should be to worship the LORD “while I have my being” (Psalm 146:2). Yet this is no individualistic super-piety. On the contrary: our ‘soul’ is ‘bound in the bundle of life with the LORD our God’ (1 Samuel 25:29); and our worship belongs to all the generations of God’s people (Psalm 146:10) – even to generations yet unborn (Psalm 22:30-31).
Yet even while we are worshipping the LORD, the temptation is always there to put our trust in something or someone else. The children of Israel very quickly resorted to the golden calf (Exodus 32:1), and throughout their history made unhelpful alliances with the super-powers of their day (Isaiah 31:1; cf. Isaiah 30:3). Even good king Hezekiah made the mistake of trusting the Babylonians (Isaiah 39:4-6).
So the Psalmist warns us: put not your trust in princes, nor in the sons of men in whom there is no help (Psalm 146:3). They are, after all, men like any other. They too, like Adam, will return to the earth from which they were drawn (Genesis 3:19); and their thoughts will perish with them (Psalm 146:4).
Yet who is this LORD, that we should worship Him? First, He is the God of Creation (cf. Psalm 8:3; Psalm 19:1). Second, and not far behind it, He is the God of Covenant “who keeps His promises for ever” (Psalm 146:6).
“The God of Jacob” (Psalm 146:5) “executes judgment for the oppressed” and “gives food to the hungry” (Psalm 146:7). This covenant God heard the voice of the cry of the children of Israel in bondage in Egypt (Exodus 3:9), and fed them in the wilderness (Exodus 16:32). The LORD loosed the captives (Psalm 146:7).
The name of “the LORD” resounds throughout the rest of the Psalm - yet we could just as easily read the name of Jesus. After all, it was He who set us free from our sins in His own blood (Revelation 1:5), and who goes on releasing those who have been held in bondage to sin and to death (Romans 6:6; Hebrews 2:15). It is He who opens the eyes of the blind (Psalm 146:8; cf. Acts 26:18), and who raises up the bowed down (Luke 13:11-13).
We are also able to see what we should be doing. The LORD cares for the strangers, the refugees, the outsiders (Psalm 146:9): so should we. The LORD relieves the orphans and widows – and often that is through the obedience His own people.
Again there is the echo of Psalm 1. The LORD loves the righteous (Psalm 146:8), but the way of the wicked He turns upside down (Psalm 146:9). It is no wonder that, from a worldly perspective, the early Christians were accused of ‘turning the world upside down’ (Acts 17:6).
Why should we trust and praise this God? Unlike the princes (Psalm 146:3), He shall reign for ever and ever, and to all generations (Psalm 146:10). This is your God (the Psalmist addresses God’s people) - so be sure you all “Praise the LORD” (Psalm 146:10).