PFOA : Psalm 146
Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!
Psalms146-150, the last five in the Book of Psalms, are known as the Hallelujah Psalms. Each psalm begins and ends with ‘Hallelujah!’ which is ‘Praise the Lord!’ in Hebrew. These psalms at the end of the book are also fitting for us to reflect on at the beginning of a New Year (and Chinese New Year).
These psalms were probably written after the Jews returned from Babylon, when the temple was rebuilt and worship restored. If so, then from Nehemiah and Ezra, we know that the resettlement of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple was a period of uncertainty and danger, fraught with opposition, false accusations, intrigue, injustice and inconsistent policies from the authorities. This would provide the context for the writer’s warning not to trust in the power of mortal men and human authorities. Their domination and influence are temporal and will pass away. (vv. 3,4).
As they worshipped, the people resolved to praise God, not just in the temple, but in their hearts all the time for as long as they lived. (vv. 1,2). They had a godly worldview, one that acknowledges the Lord God as the creator of heaven and earth, the seas and all that is in it (v. 6). More than that, they knew God. He is not a distant sovereign creator; He is interested and involved in the affairs of man, upholding the cause of the oppressed, feeding the hungry, freeing those in bondage, healing the blind and sick, and lifting up the discouraged and fallen. He loves the righteous and protects and sustains widows, orphans and foreigners (vv. 6-9).
Those who trust the Lord are blessed (v. 5). But no so the wicked, the unrighteous, the oppressor, the arrogant who reject God, their ways are frustrated, their schemes will fail (v. 10). So those who trust in the Lord can rejoice, they can sing Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, for the Lord God reigns! Only the blessings from God will last.
In recent weeks, we are seeing the effects of two ‘disruptive” events that took place last year. First, the British people unexpectedly voted for Great Britain to leave the European Union - “Brexit”. Then, in November, the American people elected Donald Trump to be the next President of the United States of America. Cross-border movement of people will be greatly impacted especially with Trump’s controversial entry ban based on nationality (and religion). Long-standing trade agreements will be jeopardised, and the situation of refugees world-wide, the hostilities in the Middle East, and tensions in the South China Sea are taking a turn for the worse. The fragile economy of many nations may deteriorate.
The result among people is a sense of frustration, of powerlessness, and disillusionment with human institutions. Hopelessness among refugees, the poor and unemployed is rife and the widening gap between the rich and poor fuels anger against injustice and oppression. The uncertainty and fear felt by many today is not unlike that of the Jews returning to a desolate and burnt out Jerusalem.
How can God’s people today praise the Lord? Will ‘Hallelujah’ burst forth from their lips? Just as the psalmist reminded the Jews, God’s people today can take heart by remembering that “The Lord God reigns” (v. 10). God the Father is the creator and He loves the world. God’s son Jesus Christ died for the sins of mankind and was vindicated by His resurrection, God the Holy Spirit is in the world, guiding and blessing the believer by His indwelling presence.
• Let us Pray for One Another. We are not ashamed of the gospel. We make it known by our word and life. Yes, we will meet challenges. Remember our “Lord God Reigns”, our Almighty and Sovereign God who loves us sits on the throne and is in complete control. Read Psalm 146 and Praise the Lord!