Summary: God is the source of our hope and the reason for our praise
Psalm 146:1-10 "The Site of Hope"
I recently received an email from a former Nigerian royalty, stating that she had decided to give me $22 million. All I needed to do was to deposit $350.00 in a bank account that she identified. This would pay for the bank charges. She would send me the check for $22 million by return mail. I thought that I had won the Powerball. My hope had come true! Before I sent the check for $350.00, though, I began to have second thoughts. Eventually I realized that I had been placing my hope in the wrong thing.
Psalm 146 talks about hope but not hope in instant riches or immediate successes. Hope isn't wishful thinking. The hope that the Psalmist writes about in this Psalm is place on something that is faithful and secure. We are called to not hope for something, but rather to hope in someone.
The book of Hebrews mentions faith and hope. In 11:1 it reads, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen." We hope in something that we cannot perceive with any of our senses, but we are assured in our hearts that it will happen.
One of my favorite hymns is "My Hope is Built on Nothing Less." The first verse goes like this, "My hope is built on nothing less/ than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
No merit of my own I claim,/ but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
On Christ the solid rock I stand,/all other ground is sinking sand." The hope this hymn sings about is a hope based on God's action in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When the Psalmist was writing this Psalm, he was writing it for the people of Israel. He was very much aware of Israel's history. It had been one of struggle. The Psalmist was not writing to inspire the people to hope for better times, an answer to all of their prayers or a sudden realization of all of their dreams.
The Psalm directs the people of Israel to place their hope in the Lord. They were to place their hope in a God who loved them deeply and who called them God's own people. They would be happy--not disappointed if they did this, because their God was a faithful God (verse 5).
Yahweh the God of Israel had been faithful throughout Israel's history. Their history had not been idyllic. In fact it had been one of struggle, hardship and suffering. Still, God hand never deserted them. God had remained faithful.
There are two significant historical events for Israel. The central one is the Exodus. God led them out of slavery in Egypt to the promised land. That's the short version. Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years. They complained. They doubted that God would provide food and water for them. They questioned whether or not God would go before them and defeat their enemies. Never once in those forty years did God forsake them.
The other significant event was their exile to Babylon--sometimes called the Babylonian Captivity. Israel lost everything--their land, homes, means of making a livelihood and most importantly the temple. They thought that God had deserted them, but God had not. The Lord moved and after a period of several decades brought them back to their homeland. Even when the people of Israel had turned their back on God, God didn't turn his back on them.
In addition to these significant historical events, the Psalmist reminds his readers that God executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry (vs. 7). God sets prisoners free, opens the eyes of the blind (vs. 7b), lifts up those who are bowed down (vs. 8). God doesn't stop there. God also watches over strangers and upholds the orphan and the widow (vs. 9).
Look back on your lives and see how God has been faithful. Your lives may not have been fairy tales. There may have been times when you turned your back on God; when you said you didn't believe. Yet, God never turned God's back on you. For my family, God has seen us through several major health issues, the teen years, broken and bruised relationships, loss, death and grief. Never has God forsaken us. God has always been faithful.
Because we are able to place our hope in a faithful God, the Psalmist encourages us to "Praise the Lord." Praise is a fitting response to God's actions—God’s grace--in our lives and God's faithfulness.
We are to praise the Lord with our soul. This is not some small part of our being--the spiritual part of us. The word in Hebrew means our entire being. We are to praise the Lord with our singing, speaking and actions. Every aspect of our lives are to be avenues of praise.