By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.
These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.
Glory hallelujah for God’s help! This is a summary of Psalm 146, where the psalmist, filled with gratitude for the greatness of God’s grace, writes, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord; / I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Do not put your trust in princes, / Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; / In that very day his plans perish. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, / Whose hope is in the Lord his God, / Who made heaven and earth, / The sea, and all that is in them; / Who keeps truth forever, / Who executes justice for the oppressed, / Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; / The Lord raises those who are bowed down; / The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; / He relieves the fatherless and widow; / But the way of the wicked He turns upside down. The Lord shall reign forever—Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!”
Allow me to point out three things from the psalmist in our passage.
I. First, there is the praise to God he engages (Psalm 146:1-2,10b).
From Psalm 146:1-2 and 10b we read, “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord; / I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. . . Praise the Lord!”
Dr. Herbert Lockyer, Sr. (1886-1984) shares, “George Carpenter, the Bavarian martyr, being asked by some of his godly brethren when he was burning to death at the stake, to give some sign of his constancy, answered—
‘Let this be a sign unto you of my faith and perseverance in the truth, that so long as I am able to open my mouth or to whisper, I will never cease to praise God, and to profess his truth’—which he did.” Now, that’s a real Christian!
We read in 1 Chronicles 16:25-26, “For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; / He is also to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, / But the Lord made the heavens.”
The last three stanzas of Joseph Addison’s (1672-1719) hymn titled “When All Thy Mercies, Oh My God” provide a great opportunity to express our heart’s desire. May we declare with Addison, “Through every period of my life / Thy goodness I’ll pursue / And after death, in distant worlds, / The glorious theme renew. When nature fails, and day and night / Divide Thy works no more, / My ever grateful heart, O Lord, / Thy mercy shall adore. Through all eternity to Thee / A joyful song I’ll raise; / For, oh, eternity’s too short / To utter all Thy praise!”
Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe states, “A life of praise is free from constant anxiety and discouragement as we focus on the Lord, who is mentioned eleven times in this psalm.”
The psalmist understands it is Jehovah the Lord God, who alone is worthy of our worship. In the words of Psalm 115:1, we must say, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory, / Because of Your mercy, / Because of Your truth.”
II. Second, there is the trust in God he encourages (Psalm 146:3-9).
From Psalm 146:3-9 we read, “Do not put your trust in princes, /Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; / In that very day his plans perish. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, / Whose hope is in the Lord his God, / Who made heaven and earth, / The sea, and all that is in them; / Who keeps truth forever, / Who executes justice for the oppressed, / Who gives food to the hungry. The Lord gives freedom to the prisoners. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; / The Lord raises those who are bowed down; / The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; / He relieves the fatherless and widow; / But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.”
On the warning recorded in verse 3 about not “put[ting] your trust in princes”, Dr. Adam Clarke (1762-1832) comments, “This may refer, as has been stated above, to Cyrus, who had revoked his edict for the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Perhaps they had begun to suppose that they were about to owe their deliverance to the Persian king. God permitted this change in the disposition of the king, to teach them the vanity of confidence in men, and the necessity of trusting in himself.”
On our money we find the phrase, “In God We Trust”. Over the years we have seen a transfer of trust. Former President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) quipped, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” While those who serve in the government are to be trustworthy we are to trust in the Lord our God. In Isaiah 31:1-3 we read, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, / And rely on horses, / Who trust in chariots because they are many, / And in horsemen because they are very strong, / But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, / Nor seek the Lord! Yet He also is wise and will bring disaster, / And will not call back His words, / But will arise against the house of evildoers, / And against the help of those who work iniquity. Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; / And their horses are flesh, and not spirit. When the Lord stretches out His hand, / Both he who helps will fall, / And he who is helped will fall down; / They all will perish together.” We read in Jeremiah 17:5-10, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man / And makes flesh his strength, / Whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, / And shall not see when good comes, / But shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, / In a salt land which is not inhabited. ‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, / And whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, / Which spreads out its roots by the river, / And will not fear when heat comes; / But its leaf will be green, / And will not be anxious in the year of drought, / Nor will cease from yielding fruit. ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, / And desperately wicked; / Who can know it? I, the Lord, search the heart, / I test the mind, / Even to give every man according to his ways, / According to the fruit of his doings.”
The psalmist declares in Psalm 121:1-3, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, / Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; / He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel / Shall neither slumber nor sleep.”
David testifies in Psalm 34:4-7, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, / And delivered me from all my fears. They looked to Him [for help] and were radiant, / And their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, / And saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, / And delivers them.” We read in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, / And lean not on your own understanding; / In all your ways acknowledge Him, / And He shall direct your paths.”
While we are not to put our trust in “a son of man”, we are to put our complete trust in “the Son of Man”, Jesus Christ the Lord! May we be able to honestly confess with Louisa M. R. Stead (1850-1917), “Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er; / Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to trust Him more!”
III. Third, there is the life under God he envisages (Psalm 146:10a).
To envisage is “to look in the face of; to apprehend, to regard.” From Psalm 146:10a we read, “The Lord shall reign forever—Your God, O Zion, to all generations.” Moses writes in Exodus 15:18, “The Lord shall reign forever and ever.” David writes in Psalm 10:16, “The Lord is King forever and ever; / The nations have perished out of His land.” John writes in Revelation 11:15, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” With this verse in mind, George Frederic Handel (1685-1759) concludes the “Hallelujah Chorus” as follows, “King of kings and lord of lords / King of kings and lord of lords / And he shall reign forever and ever / Forever and ever and ever and ever / (King of kings and lord of lords)/ Hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah hallelujah Hallelujah.”
Paul the Apostle writes in 2 Timothy 2:8-13, “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, / We shall also live with Him. If we endure, / We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, / He also will deny us. If we are faithless, / He remains faithful;
He cannot deny Himself.”
Rev. Matthew Henry (1662-1714) comments, “Let suffering saints remember, and look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of their faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despised the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God. We must not think it strange if the best men meet with the worst treatment; but this is cheering, that the word of God is not bound. Here we see the real and true cause of the apostle’s suffering trouble in, or for, the sake of the gospel. If we are dead to this world, its pleasures, profits, and honours, we shall be for ever with Christ in a better world. He is faithful to his threatenings, and faithful to his promises. This truth makes sure the unbeliever’s condemnation, and the believer’s salvation.” From the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, we read, “Reigning is something more than mere salvation.” In Romans 5:17 we read, “For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)” Jesus promises in Revelation 3:21, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” John writes in Revelation 5:8-10, “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, / And to open its seals; / For You were slain, / And have redeemed us to God by Your blood / Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, / And have made us kings and priests to our God; / And we shall reign on the earth.”
“Says ex-humanist D. R. Davies, ‘So long as a man nurses the belief that he can save himself, salvation will escape him.’” After sharing this statement, Dr. Paul S. Rees (1900-1991) comments, “And it might be added, when he reaches the place where, beaten and humbled, he admits that he can’t save himself, there will not be half a dozen saviors standing around, waiting to save him. There will be just one, and His name will be Jesus—Jesus Christ our Lord!”
In the words of the last stanza Dr. Isaac Watts’ (1674-1748) hymn, “Our God, our help in ages past, / Our hope for years to come, / Be Thou our God while life shall last, / And our eternal home.”
Paul the Apostle writes in Ephesians 3:20-21, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Glory hallelujah for God’s help!
Herbert Lockyer, Sr., A Devotional Commentary: Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1974, 1993), p. 765
Joseph Addison, “When All Thy Mercies, Oh My God”, (1712)
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament: Wisdom and Poetry, (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2004), p. 377, Database © 2007 WORDsearch Corp.
Adam Clarke, Clarke’s Commentary on the Old Testament, Database © 2004 WORDsearch Corp.
Louisa M. R. Stead, “Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus”, (1882)
George Frederic Handel, The Messiah, “Hallelujah Chorus”, (1741)
Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible, (1706), Database WORDsearch Corp.
Rev. Robert Jamieson, D.D.., Rev. A.R. Fausset, A.M, & Rev. David Brown, D.D., Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary: Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Edinburgh: Collins & Company, 1871), Database © 2005 WORDsearch Corp.
Paul S. Rees, Stand Up In Praise To God, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1960), p. 48
Isaac Watts, “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”, (1719)
By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527
Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on Amazon.com and WORDsearchbible.com
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