Summer of Psalms: Psalm 146
Scripture: Psalm 146
Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Why in the world should I praise God? Look at my life. I can’t find the job I truly want and my present job is high stress with little pay with an endless stream of work that really needs 2 people. I’m living pay check to pay check. No doubt. Retire? Fat chance! My marriage, at best it’s been on a holding pattern for the last 10 years. My health stops me from doing what I really want to do. Friendships?? Who has time for them?
And you’re asking me to praise God. Why?
Some of you can relate to that characterization, although for others of you, that’s not your story. For you, life has had it rocky points, but overall, it’s pretty good. The job is stressful, although in a twisted way it’s satisfying and provides for a comfortable life. Your marriage and children are a source of strength. Health has its challenges but overall it’s still okay and when it comes to friends, you have a few great friends that you do life with. Praise the Lord, my soul. Life is good. I can do that.
Psalm 146 is known as a Hallel Psalm. That’s because the psalm begins and ends with the Hebrew word Hallel, from which we get our word Hallelujah, which is often translated as “Praise the Lord.” The last 5 psalms of the Book of Psalms are Hallel Psalms, all of which give reason for praising God.
The Hebrew understanding of Hallel praise is one that involves dancing. Psalm 30:11 does a great job describing this. It reads, You have turned my mourning into dancing. Obviously, people practicing Hallel praise were not Germans, nor were they proper Lutherans.
The False Foundation - Psalm 146 lays out the choice we have for our lives. We can lay the foundation for our lives on “things, people and institutions of the world” or on “God.” Or using the terminology of this Psalm, we can praise God because of the circumstances of our lives or simply because of who God is. The contrast between these two is laid out starting with vv. 3-4, Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. These words point to the finite nature of people, institutions and things of our world.
As a young man, I was drawn to basing my life, praise & hope on what achieved and what I possessed. This is still something I struggle with. The foundation of my contentment, my happiness, my identity and praise of God was based on things like school I went to, the job I worked, the clothes I wore, the size of my bank account, the people I was seen with and my personal achievements.
It didn’t take long to realize this led to a roller-coaster life of ups and downs. Let’s be honest, when life was going well I could sing praises all day long. But those up times of rushes and self-satisfaction seem to get shorter and shorter.
I eventually saw the folly in it. Through the circumstances of life I realized what Psalm 146 says, I cannot rely on any of these things, people and institutions because the ultimate reality is that “…they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.
What are important things, people and institutions in your life that tempt you to trust in them as the foundation of life? Job, boyfriend or girlfriend, spouse, your looks, your financial security, your health, your friends, your hobby. I don’t want to say that these things are not important. They’re all blessings God gives to us and he intends for us to find enjoyment and satisfaction in them. BUT they cannot be our foundational hope or the foundation of our self-worth and identity, or the foundation for our praise of God. WHY? Because they will ALL PASS AWAY.
“If you had land on the beach and you were going to build a huge, beautify house on it, would you place that beautiful house on a foundation that the architect told you a hundred times would only support the house for a few years and then it would be crushed?” No one in their right mind would do that. That would be crazy.
If we wouldn’t do that for a house, we don’t want to do it with our life.
The Lasting Foundation – Psalm 146 goes on to give us another option to be the foundation for our life and hope. It gives us another reason to praise God that’s not the circumstances of life. Psalm 146:5-6, Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them- he remains faithful forever.
So what qualifications does the LORD God have to be the foundation of that beautiful house we call life? Why should we praise him? He’s the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them. He’s the one who spoke and there was light and then the sky, and the waters and land, the plants and animals and then finally, with his word, was you and me. We praise God and found our life on him simply because of who he is.
Where do we have to go to know this creating God? The good news is that we don’t have to go anywhere. This Lord and God, Maker of heaven and earth came to us in the person of Jesus. The NT book of John, the 1st Chapter calls Jesus the Word. Listen to how it explains how God the Maker came to us through the real person of Jesus. John 1:1-4, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
Earlier in this worship service, we saw God coming to Olivia through the Word and water of baptism. Olivia and you and me need God to come to us. That’s what God did through his son Jesus and by the miracle called baptism, Jesus came to Olivia.
But the baptism for Olivia is only the beginning. As Olivia’s mom and dad raise Olivia in the church, surround by people who love Jesus, Olivia will move forward in her spiritual journey and she will grow in her ability to praise God.
The same is true for you and me. Each of us has our own spiritual journey. As we take our spiritual journey seriously, we make sure that settings like worship, bible studies and small groups are a big part of our lives. Through these our faith in God is strengthened and we gain the desire an ability to praise God, even when life is not going well.
I recall a time when life was not going well. The journey of life was going somewhere I did not want to go. These were dark days and I found myself unable & unwilling to praise God. It actually brought sickness into my life.
I never again want to be in this place of not being able to praise God. I want to be able to live Psalm 30:1-4, I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. Sing the praises of the Lord….
God the Maker of heaven and earth is the one foundation of life that will never give way. As God comes to through his Son, Jesus Christ, He strengthens our faith, giving us the foundation of life that will support that beautiful house that praises God regardless of the circumstance.