Read: Psalm 146:1; Psalm 103:1; Psalm 135:1
Psalm 146, which is untitled and not attributed to David, is believed to be a psalm of the exile, written to encourage the Jews. It begins with an exhortation, directed to everyone, to praise the Lord. It continues with an inward directed imperative: “Praise the Lord, Oh my soul.” The Hebrew word for soul is nephesh, and refers to the breath, self, desire, passion, appetite, emotion, and mind; in other words, to the inward essence of a person.
Think About It: Why are both corporate and personal expressions of praise important for me? When and how do I engage with others in praising the Lord? When and how do I praise the Lord with my inward being?
Prayer: Praise the Lord, O my soul!
Read: Psalm 146:2; Isaiah 38:19; Psalm 63:4; 104:33
The psalmist pledged to praise God while he had being, in other words, while there was still time in this life. The Hebrew word for “being” has the meaning of “continuance,” or “something added to.” God is the one who gives life and adds to it. The Jewish commentator Malbim commented on Psalm 146:2 that God has endowed each living person with two gifts: 1) the gift of life itself, which is the same for every person; 2) additional talents which enable each person to carry out his or her unique mission in life; a personal gift which forges a bond between each individual and his or her Maker. God also holds each one accountable to produce the work for which He has granted life and gifts.
Think About It: In the light of Malbim’s observations on Psalm 146:2, read Ephesians 2:10, Romans 12:6, and 2 Corinthians 10:5. How could Malbim’s explanation be reinterpreted from a Christian perspective?
Prayer: Lord, help me to use the new life and spiritual gifts you have given me to praise You.
Read: Psalm 146:3 – 4; Jeremiah 17:5, 7; Psalm 60:11; Psalm 118:8 – 9; Isaiah 2:22
Psalm 146:3 warns us not to place our trust in man. The Hebrew word translated “princes” can also be translated “nobles” and can refer to persons of noble character, exceptional generosity, and high motivations. Even noble persons (e.g. King Cyrus, who decreed the return from exile) must not take the place of God in our trust, for human motivations can change, or the circumstances of the noble prince might be altered – he might not be able to deliver on his promise.
Think About It: Psalm 146:3 also reminds us that our ancestors or relatives cannot provide us with salvation. John the Baptist reminded the Jews of this (Matthew 3:9). What are some ways that people today might think of salvation as being something they can inherit or borrow from someone else? According to Psalm 146:4, why is it futile to put one’s trust in man? What light does 1 Corinthians 2:6 shed on this question?
Prayer: Lord, please help me not to put my trust in people and things that cannot save.
Read: Psalm 146:5; Genesis 28:15
Psalm 146:5 exhorts us to trust on in the God of Jacob. The title “God of Jacob” is used because the psalm was originally written for use by the Jews in exile, and their situation was like that of Jacob. They were surrounded by hostile people, and far from home. The title “God of Jacob” also reminds us that Jacob needed special help from God, which God provided.
Think About It: What kind of special help did Jacob need from God? What are some of the ways that God provided that help? What special help do I need from God? How has God provided help for me?
Prayer: Praise God for the help He has provided for me.
Read: Psalm 146:6 – 7; Revelation 14:7; Psalm 100:5; Jeremiah 50:33 – 34; Isaiah 49:10, 61:1
The final five verses of Psalm 146 provide several reasons why we should trust in the Lord.
Think About It: What reasons for trusting in the Lord are found in Psalm 146:6? What basic human rights are mentioned in Psalm 146:7 that God protects?
Prayer: Praise God that He is creator, that He is faithful, and that He protects basic human rights, including my own.
Read: Psalm 146:8; Isaiah 9:2, 59:9, 10; Luke 7:22
Psalm 146:8 tells us we can trust God because He gives sight to the blind, which is meant both literally and spiritually. When we are lost, stumbling in the darkness, God shows us the way. Psalm 146:8 goes on to tell us that God straightens the bent. He upholds those bent by heavy burdens (Luke 13:13; Matthew 11:28 – 29).
Think About It: Psalm 146:8 ends with the information that God loves the righteous. Why might this be a problem (Romans 3:10; Psalm 53:1 – 3)? Why does God love me, even though I have no righteousness of my own (Romans 4:22 – 25)? How could “the LORD loves the righteous” be restated in Christian terminology?
Prayer: Praise God for the light He gives, for the way He lifts my burdens, for the imputed righteousness of Christ, for His unfailing love.
Read: Psalm 146:9 – 10; 1 Peter 1:17; 2:11; Psalm 68:5; Revelation 11:15
Psalm 146:9 tells us God watches over the sojourners, widows and orphans – those who are the weak, powerless, and friendless. Part of God’s care for the powerless is His willingness to bring their persecutors to ruin (Exodus 22:23). Psalm 146:10 tells us that God reigns forever. His eternal reign stands in contrast to the princes of this world, whose mortality always brings their reigns to an end.
Think About It: The Scripture references from 1 Peter1:17 and 2:11 tell me I am to regard myself as an exile and sojourner. What does that mean in terms of my thinking and my behavior? What light is shed on this question by 1 John 2:15 – 16?
Prayer: Lord, help me to live as a sojourner and exile in this world, looking forward to Your eternal kingdom.