Praise the Lord! Let all that I am praise the Lord. I will praise the Lord as long as I live. I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath. Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them. He keeps every promise forever. He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The Lord frees the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down. The Lord loves the godly. The Lord protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked. The Lord will reign forever. He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations. Praise the Lord! (Psalm 146:1-10)
Psalms 146–150 overflow with praise. Each begins and ends with “Praise the Lord.” They show us where, why, and how to praise God. What does praise do? (1) Praise takes our minds off our problems and shortcomings, and focuses them on God. (2) Praise leads us from individual meditation to corporate worship. (3) Praise causes us to consider and appreciate God's character. (4) Praise lifts our perspective from the earthly to the heavenly.
The psalmist portrays man as an inadequate savior, a false hope; even princes cannot deliver (146:3). God is the hope and the help of the needy. Jesus affirms his concern for the poor and afflicted in Luke 4:18-21; 7:21-23. He does not separate the social and spiritual needs of people, but attends to both. While God, not the government, is the hope of the needy, we are his instruments to help here on earth.
God’s plans “frustrate the plans of the wicked” (146:9) because his values are the opposite of society’s. Jesus turned society’s values upside down when he proclaimed that “many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then” (Matthew 19:30), and that “if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (Matthew 16:25).
Don’t be surprised when others don’t understand your Christian values, but don’t give in to theirs. Instead, continue to let your light shine (Matthew 5:14-16).