by Tim Herwaldt
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
8 the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!
The phrase that the author of this Psalm inserted in verse 6, “the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth”, is one that should catch our attention. It is not an uncommon phrase in scripture. A quick search on Biblegateway.com turned up 14 occurrences of this phrase or a variation of it, several in the Psalms alone. It is a phrase that all of us have seen and read many times, and it is a phrase worth lingering over. I think that scripture returns to this phrase numerous times because it reminds us about who it is that we should trust, and why we should trust him.
Think about one of the implications of this phrase. We do not live in an accidental universe. The Lord made this universe in which we all live. It is a massive place, where measurements of distance must be made in terms of how far light travels in a year at 186,000 miles per second, or, if you prefer, 670,000,000 miles per hour. For reference, the farthest known galaxy is about 13.25 billion light years away from earth. Our God made this, and it staggers the mind to think about the unimaginable knowledge, wisdom, power, and understanding that brought this about. Colossians 1:17 reminds us that he not only made it, but continues to hold it all together. These things alone should move us to praise, worship, and trust him, but this Psalm doesn’t stop there.
Prior to this phrase, the author tells us in whom we ought not to trust. Don’t trust in political leaders because they can’t save you. Every one of them will die, and when they do, their plans perish with them. This is where he contrasts this impotence with the magnificence of the one who made all things. The Lord our God, “who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever.” Think about that. His promises have no expiration date. He keeps faith forever.
He goes on. Not only has this mighty God made all things, but he reaches down into our daily lives in a multiplicity of ways. He executes true justice for those who are oppressed, he feeds the hungry, and he sets prisoners free. He gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are weighed down by the burdens of life, and he loves the righteous. And so that we remember, those whom he looks on as righteous are not those who think they have done enough good things, but those who, like Abraham, believe the promise of God and are thus counted righteous by God.
Further, he watches over the sojourners, he upholds widows and those who have no earthly father. And over against all of these ways in which he cares for his own, he brings down the wicked to ruin.
The Psalmist is not wearing rose colored glasses as he looks around at real life. He sees that sometimes God’s people are oppressed, sometimes they go hungry or are imprisoned. He recognizes that sometimes God’s people are burdened, or homeless, or fatherless. He knows that all of us, at some time or another, deal with the hard realities of life.
Even so, he seeks to remind us of who it is that we look to and hope in, and – as if to add an exclamation point – the Psalmist reminds us that his reign, the reign of our God who made heaven and earth, will never end. He is great and mighty and powerful, he cares for his people, and he will reign forever.
Praise the Lord!