The last five psalms all begin and end with halelu-jah, which means “Praise the Lord.” No puzzling questions are asked here, no doubts expressed, no fears or concerns are voiced. Only songs of praise remain – a fitting conclusion to the thoughts and focus of the psalms. There are struggles in life. We’ve seen how David and the other psalmists struggled and questioned in the midst of their trust. But turning to God as the one with the answers will result in praise. If we belong to the God who created and sustains the universe and who LOVES us – if we have the foundation of faith and trust in Him – then we will praise Him. Praise is the fruit of trust.
LINK: Psalm 146
Often when I read the psalms I wish I knew Hebrew! Poetry is the highest expression of any language and relies on an intimate knowledge of it. Every once in awhile, I catch a glimpse of what I’m missing and I long to catch the puns and the language play. There’s evidently a pun in this psalm.
Verses 3-4 say this:
Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
The point here is that we are to trust God, not in powerful people or human government. That phrase “son of man” is literally “son of Adam.” Adam means “of the ground, of the earth.” So the “son of the earth” will return to the earth and when he does all his plans will end. That puts life into perspective, doesn’t it?
Contrast that with what the psalm says about the LORD:
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
God is the Creator of all that exists. He sustains the universe, too. He is the true ruler. Ponder that last phrase - who keeps faith forever. God is not made from earth. He keeps His commitments forever.
It doesn’t stop there. The psalm gives specific examples of God’s love and concern.. Read them. Look at how He intervenes in our lives.
How can we not praise Him?
Praise the Lord!
LINK: Psalm 147
This psalm begins by saying that it is good and fitting to praise our God, and that it also gives pleasure! I hope that you are, as I am, finding that to be true.
What hits me as I read this psalm is the series of contrasts. The poem alternates between speaking of God’s intimate care of His people and the display of God’s glory and power in nature.
In verses 2- 6 we see God’s concern for the brokenhearted and humble, those who know that they have nothing to bring to the LORD. Sandwiched between the expressions of God’s concern we are told that God determines the number of stars and names each of them! That’s an illustration of his power and understanding.
The next section, which begins by mentioning singing to the Lord, speaks once again of God’s power, this time showing His care for the created world. He gives rain to the earth; clouds in the sky; grass for the hills; food for even that lowly bird, the raven. Not one of those parts of creation does anything to deserve God’s care. And once again the text turns to what this means for us as His people.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
Read that! He delights in those who fear Him – who know His awesome power and wisdom. He delights in those who hope in His faithful love. God doesn’t delight in us because we do things right or well. He doesn’t delight in our strengths. He delights in us when we turn to Him in trust and hope and obedience.
Look at the figurative language and images in the last section (vv 12-20)! God commands the weather. He scatters ice like crumbs, melts the snow and ice to give us water, sends the wind. That same powerful, commanding, caring God is in charge of human events. He is in charge of the nations. More than that, God cares about His people. He provided for the Israelites and He will provide for us. He gives us peace in the midst of storms.
Look at how the psalm ends:
He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his rules.
We can praise Him because we know how He wants us to live! We have His Word.
Read these psalms and meditate on them. Praise the LORD!
We praise you, O LORD, for your power and for your love and faithfulness. Open our eyes so that we can see you. We praise you and long to delight you. We hope in you, the One who made all that is and who continues to care for it. How can it be that the One who created and sustains also faithfully loves me? Praise the LORD!