1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.
2 While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.
3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.
5 Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God:
6 Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:
7 Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The Lord looseth the prisoners:
8 The Lord openeth the eyes of the blind: the Lord raiseth them that are bowed down: the Lord loveth the righteous:
9 The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.
10 The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the Lord.
The Lord our God, rather than the state, is more worthy of our praise and our trust because He really can save the oppressed, the prisoner, the blind, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow.
We come into this psalm with a sense of happiness and contentedness because we have seen the salvation of the Lord radically save ourselves, our children, and our friends. We think of what God has already done, and the potential of what He can and will do in the future, and we rejoice. We consider what God has done for us, and we praise our God with warmed and ready hearts.
The psalmist bursts out in a resounding call to others to praise God, and then he directs the same admonition to himself. “Praise the Lord, O my soul!” Theologians tell us that the great purpose of all of life is to glorify God, and here the psalmist actually lives this out. He writes new songs of praise. The worshiper seeks out daily venues for praise though he finds himself in a secularized church full of half-hearted praise. His heart is filled with reasons to praise. He utterly rejects man-centered religion that always stops short of unrestrained praise. Too many people today seek an experience and a feeling in worship. They seek to get something out of it for themselves. Rather, here the psalmist brings himself into worship and offers all of himself to God.
The praise commended in this psalm is perpetual. It is an every-day element of life in the family and church. As we get older, we begin to lose our physical health and strength. At points, we may have little mental capacity. Sleeplessness may curtail our ability to think or to emote. However, the psalmist commits all of the faculties still available to him to the task of praise. He may be reduced to the mental condition of a two-year-old as he falls into dementia. It doesn’t matter. For the rest of his life, he dedicates his mind, his emotions, and his soul to the worship of God. As the sharks of death ravage his body at the end, he is still praising God with every cell that remains!
The remainder of the psalm identifies the basis for praise, by contrasting earthly powers with our Lord and God. State worship may be the major sin of all modern nations. Since the 19th century, almost every national government in the world has increased its power and promised womb-to-tomb security.
Millions of people have come to trust the state for their daily bread, their health care, and their social security. There was none of this in the 1620s, the 1720s, or the 1820s. Now, the democratically-elected politicians campaign on unrealistic promises. These liars promise to fix the health systems, and provide a better economy. They pretend as if they are in sovereign control over agriculture, plagues, viruses, economic forces, the character of the work force, the moral condition of men’s hearts, etc. etc. These politicians lie to us. The media lies. The legislatures lie. The bureaucracies lie. The political parties lie. There is actually “no help” in princes, according to verse three. Is that statement an exaggeration? Not at all! Without God’s intervention, these men are completely incapable of controlling the forces inside and outside their nations to deliver peace, prosperity, health, and salvation.
The euphoria over presidential candidates at their conventions cannot be matched by the praise for the true and living God in His churches. People scream themselves hoarse during political rallies. Their expectations for their favorite candidates are very high as they enter the elections.
Despite his brave promises, the politician will fail again and again. Every president will be a cruel disappointment. After a while, even the electorate will become disillusioned. Since 1984, the approval rating for the Congress of the United States has fallen from 60% to 9%. Political leaders take the credit when the economy does well, and when it does badly they blame it on the previous administration. Even the most respected leaders plant the seeds of their own destruction. This includes George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. They are all but men, and their bodies have all rotted in the grave. They weren’t even able to save themselves. How could they save a nation from eventual ruin?
In contrast with the masses that trust in governments, here is the righteous man who trusts in the God of Jacob. He is happy who finds hope in the Lord his God. Trusting in man is irrational for many reasons, but primarily because man is mortal, finite, and limited in what he can do. As some like to put it, “Even the president puts his pants on one leg at a time!” On the other hand, God has no limitations to His ability, His power and wisdom. He made the heavens and the earth, and His works prove His deity. There should be no question here. “All the gods of the heathen are idols, but the Lord made the heavens!” Man’s great medical institutions are still very much limited in what they can do. They cannot raise the dead or restore sight to the blind.
Much of modern medical technology is overrated. With all of his scientific development, man is incapable of increasing longevity by more than a few years. We have no interest in praising the false gods that man has constructed for himself. Rather, we want to serve the true and living God. For He alone is the Creator and sovereign overseer of heaven and earth. His truth is unfailing, and His wisdom is unlimited and impeccable. What is man in comparison to that? He is nothing!
Pay special attention to whom it is that God helps. It is the oppressed, the hungry, the prisoners, the bowed down, the strangers, and the widow that He reaches out to assist. He is especially concerned for those who are bruised and broken by the fall, humbled, destitute, and “on their last leg.”
Physical weakness is not the main problem that afflicts man. He is severely hampered by spiritual blindness, by spiritual bondage, by spiritual starvation, and spiritual oppression. The devil has blinded his eyes, and holds him under his control (2 Cor. 4:4, Eph. 2:2, 3). The great deliverance needed can only come by God’s mighty hand that sets the captives free and opens the eyes of the blind. Even in the worst-case scenarios, God can bring about the most phenomenal redemption with tremendous spiritual, emotional, and physical effects. Children who are kidnapped and enslaved under the most sordid and wretched circumstances in the slums of Bangkok have been wondrously redeemed, both spiritually and physically. These stories are truly wondrous, and the Christian church around the world is filled with men, women, and children who can share amazing testimonies of redemption!
Here is the great summary statement for the psalm, as the psalmist points out that our King in heaven will never be deposed. Indeed, the crown rights over the world have been granted to our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Humans do have an innate desire to praise some leader or a presidential candidate. This is why they pour out their adoration at political rallies and parades. It is vain worship, and always disappointing. Our adoration and worship must rather be channeled towards the King of kings, and Lord of lords.
The end of the psalm is the same as the beginning. We turn to our brothers and sisters around us in the church, and we say, “EVERYBODY, PRAISE THE LORD!”
Everywhere today, we find people trusting in the socialist state. This idolatry is the devastating sin of millions of people. Every true church must teach against the sin of state worship and call their people to repentance. The poor must refuse dependence upon the state. As we walk the path of repentance, our churches must return to privatized charity that relies upon God’s provision, not the provision of the state.
When we come to church, we come to the assembly of God’s people to offer sacrifices of praise to our God. We do not come primarily to attend a self-help seminar, or to hear what God will do for us, or to fellowship with the saints. We are come to praise. We come with sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. May they be the best sacrifices our souls can bring.
1. What are the faculties within us that we can dedicate to the worship of God?
2. What are the two objects of trust contrasted in this psalm? Who is it that most people want to trust today?
3. Typically, what are the things that politicians act as if they can control? Who is it that ultimately controls all of these things?
4. Why is God a good object of our trust, according to this psalm?
5. Who are the people that God is most ready to help?
6. How is God described in the last verse of the psalm, and how does this remind us of His Son Jesus Christ?
1. What is our family’s view of government welfare programs? How do we live in such a way that we clearly do not trust in the state?
2. Do we have stories to tell, right now, of God’s great deliverance from Satan’s bondage and blindness