“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.”
~Psalm 146:1-2 (NRSV)
It’s easy for a Christian to become despondent as he or she looks increasingly at a crumbling world; popularity is competitively decadent, just as morality is in decline, yet so many things about life brim with hope. We easily lose our way if we’re focused on the wrong things.
Psalm 146 is a song of praise that comes to us in the form of a hymn, though we can view it, also, from the wisdom genre, for it contrasts the ways of the wise and foolish.
The psalm helps us to refocus on God when we are discouraged in our faith.
A Reminder of the Necessity of a Solitary Worship
Perhaps what’s most encouraging for us, personally, is reading the faith of the psalmist as they recommit themselves to the Lord—now, for all life. We’ve all had times when backtracking to the old way was a temptation and, for some, it was a reality.
The biggest temptation of all is we get distracted in our worship—even the modern-day church is not saved; there are myriads of ministers and ‘super pastors’ who are inadvertently worshipped, almost like popular musicians, television personalities, and movie stars. The social media world has only exacerbated such a trend.
This psalm commends us, from verse 5, to convert the joy we gain from life into praise for God, alone. It extols us, in verses 3-4, to trust not in “princes... in mortals,” for “their breath departs,” and they soon shall “return to the earth,” just like we will.
God, alone, is to be worshipped—the bearing of wisdom; any competing force for that worship entices us to folly.
Reasons for that Solitary Worship
Verse 5 is the caricature of hope we are to behold: “Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”
Verses 7-9 give a timely portrayal of the advocacy value of the Almighty; the one who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry, who sets the prisoners free, and opens the eyes of the blind. God watches over immigrants, and upholds the orphan and the widow.
As we’re found in a solitary worship we begin to notice, more and more, how well the Lord hedges in the lowly—the true righteous.
Our hope must be in God to save us in our momentary and seasonal afflictions. No person, piety, or program can truly help unless it is vested in God.
The rationale for solitary worship in the living God is simple: there is no help besides the Lord. Any help besides real help is just a hindrance. Whilst people trust in many manifestations of other gods, they rely on luck, superstition, and lies for their blessings. We ought to rely on our faith, which is backed in the truth of God’s goodness and grace.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.