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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 146

Verses 1-4

Introduction

The concluding great hallel-psalms (Psalms146-150) are sung in the daily morning service of the Jews, at least from the destruction of the temple in 70 AD.

These psalms begin and end with “hallelujah”, as do Psalm 106 and Psalm 113. The content, too, is only praise. It is a fitting ending for the book of Psalms. It speaks of that which is important to the LORD during the realm of peace.

The LORD created man for His honor and glory. The definition of sin is “to miss the mark”, which concretely means “to miss the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Now that creation has been restored, man comes to the purpose for which he was created, which is to make God great. These five hallel-psalms represent the activity of man led by Israel during the realm of peace.

In the New Testament, too, we find the exclamation hallelujah only at the end, namely beginning in Revelation 19, when the Lord Jesus has accepted His earthly kingdom. For the church of Christ in this age, the Father is looking for worshipers (John 4:23-Jeremiah :). Since our Passover has been slain, we may celebrate on earth, a celebration for Him (1 Corinthians 5:7-Ruth :). In heaven, we will sing praises to Him forever.

That songs of praise will be the hallmark of the realm of peace is because the LORD is “holy” and is “enthroned upon the praises of Israel” (Psalms 22:3). Other verses that point to songs of praise in the realm of peace are found in Psalms 48; 84; 111; 113 (Psalms 48:10; Psalms 84:4Psalms 111:10; Psalms 113:3).

Psalm 146 is in a sense an elaboration of the psalmist’s wish in Psalm 145:
Psalms 146:2Psalms 145:2
Psalms 146:5Psalms 145:15
Psalms 146:7Psalms 145:15
Psalms 146:7Psalms 145:14
Psalms 146:10Psalms 145:13

Praise the LORD

The psalm begins with the exclamation “hallelujah!”, which is “praise the LORD!” (Psalms 146:1). It is the first psalm of the last five psalms to begin with ‘hallelujah’. They all end with ‘hallelujah’ as well. These psalms form the mighty final chord of the book, a final chord brimming with praise. In this psalm, the ‘hallelujah’ is followed, as it were, in a two-way conversation with himself, by the psalmist’s response. He says to his soul, that is to himself, that he must respond to this call and praise the LORD.

To this he responds with two promises. First, he says that he will praise the LORD while he lives, meaning all his life (Psalms 146:2). In doing so, the psalmist is fulfilling the purpose for which the LORD created him, and that is to praise and magnify Him.

His life is full of proofs of the LORD’s lovingkindness. All of those proofs of favor are a reason to praise Him. To this he adds that he will sing praises to his God as long as he has his being. Don’t we too have many reasons to sing songs of praise? So why do we do it so little?

There will be no ‘praise the LORD’ if people are trusted, which is sin in addition to folly (Jeremiah 17:5). The tendency of man, including the believer, to “trust in princes” is always present (Psalms 146:3). Princes may be people of stature and influence, but they are also only human beings. The psalmist warns against trusting in such people (Psalms 118:8-1 Samuel :; Isaiah 2:22).

No matter how distinguished a person is and how much influence he has, he is and remains a “mortal man, in whom there is no salvation”. That the psalmist uses the word “mortal man” underscores his impermanence (cf. Psalms 8:4), which at the same time rules out the possibility that he could provide salvation or rescue.

To trust any man is to trust in uncertainty (Psalms 146:4). Man, even if he were benevolent, is impermanent. Once he dies, “his spirit departs”. He is buried, “he returns to the earth”. He was made of the dust and returns to it (Genesis 3:19; Psalms 90:3; Psalms 104:29; Ecclesiastes 3:20). All his plans in which he trusted perish with him. Nothing comes of it. What folly to trust in something as uncertain as a human being. Those who trust in people have no reason to praise the LORD.

Verses 5-9

The LORD Keeps Faith Forever

Unlike man, who is dust, God is almighty. Trusting in man is foolishness; trusting in God is wisdom (Psalms 146:5). One “whose help is the God of Jacob” is “blessed.” This is the last time of the twenty-five times the word “blessed” appears in Psalms. The faithfulness of the LORD, manifest in His covenant, is now shown in what He has been able to make of the ‘raw material’ Jacob, the heels holder, namely Israel, the prince of God, who may live to the honor and glory of the LORD.

This “blessed” also applies to us. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is now also our God and Father, has made from the dead substance as we were, dead in our trespasses and sins, enemies and haters of God, to His children. Yes, He has made us worshipers of the Father, who may approach by the new and living way into the inner sanctuary (Hebrews 10:19-Proverbs :). Praised be His Name forever and ever. Let’s start with that now!

An appeal to ‘the God of Jacob’ is made by someone who feels like Jacob: a continually failing, inadequate believer. From such a person God wants to be his God. Such a person no longer has a high opinion of himself nor does he expect anything from himself. He is someone “whose hope is in the LORD his God”. Help and hope belong together. They are both present in someone who has a personal relationship with God. This is the case with the psalmist. He speaks of “his God”, Who is “the LORD”, that is the God Who is faithful to His promises. He is fully worthy of his trust.

And Who is this God? It is the God “Who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them” (Psalms 146:6). He is the almighty Creator. Therefore, everything depends on Him. He has brought everything into being, but then He has not withdrawn from the work of His hands. This is evident from the fact that He “keeps faith forever”. Whatever He has made, He also maintains in His faithfulness (Hebrews 1:3). He will always do so, for He is the eternally Unchangeable One (cf. James 1:17).

God is not only almighty, He is also good. His special concern is for various groups of people who suffer from the consequences of sin that has intruded into His creation. The first consequence is the disruption of interpersonal relationships (Psalms 146:7). There are oppressed people. They are oppressed by people who despise the right of their fellow men. The oppressed are exploited. They have no human being to speak up for them. But they cry out to God and He stands up for them (cf. James 5:4-Joshua :). He executes justice for the oppressed (Psalms 103:6).

The next consequence of sin is hunger. This can be the result of drought sent by God to make man return to Him. It can also be the result of war. Both causes result for Israel from their unfaithfulness to the covenant. The hungry cry out to God and confess their unfaithfulness. God responds by giving them food. This is true both materially and spiritually (cf. Psalms 107:9; Matthew 5:6; Luke 1:53).

Then there are “the prisoners”. First, captivity for Israel is the result of their unfaithfulness to the covenant with God. We can then also apply it generally, that man by his choice of sin is by nature a prisoner of sin and in its power. He cannot free himself from this captivity. Those who turn to God in confession of their sins are delivered by Him from the power of sin and set free from it.

Blindness (Psalms 146:8) is also a consequence of sin. The coming of Christ is marked, among other things, by the healing of the blind (Isaiah 35:5). Nowhere in the Old Testament do we read of anyone being healed of blindness (cf. John 9:32).

Literal blindness is a picture of spiritual blindness. When Christ, Who is the light of the world, came into the world, the world did not recognize Him (John 1:5). This shows the blindness of the world. God had to send John the Baptist to witness and tell people that the light had come (John 1:6-1 Samuel :).

Blindness characterizes man in his sinful state (2 Corinthians 4:3-Numbers :). It also applies to one who professes to belong to God’s people – both Israel and the church – but has no life from God (Isaiah 42:18-Proverbs :; Revelation 3:17). But “the LORD opens [the eyes of] the blind” who acknowledge their blindness.

Those who are bowed down under the burden of their sins and go to the LORD with it are raised up by Him (Psalms 146:8; cf. Luke 13:10-Esther :). All that is said of the LORD here, the Lord Jesus demonstrated in His life on earth. He is the LORD Who has come to His people. Because His people have rejected Him, these blessings have been delayed for the people as a whole. He will give all those blessings to His people in the realm of peace.

All who have gone to the LORD in their need have been made “righteous” by Him (Psalms 146:8). He does this on the basis of the blood of the new covenant, through which “the ministry of righteousness”, or the imputation of righteousness, can take place (2 Corinthians 3:9). They are the new people of God, made up entirely of righteous people (Isaiah 60:21). They have done what is right in His sight and continue to do so. In them He sees His own features. That rejoices His heart. To them His love goes out and He assures them that He loves them.

The LORD shows Himself to be a Protector of “the strangers” (Psalms 146:9). Strangers are people who have no civil rights in Israel. They have nothing to which they can lay claim. But “the LORD protects the strangers” who are aware of this and have joined His people. They share in the blessing He gives to His people. Beautiful examples of this are Rahab and Ruth (Joshua 2:8-1 Chronicles :; Joshua 6:22-Lamentations :; Ruth 1:16-Esther :; Ruth 4:13-Esther :; Matthew 1:5-Joshua :).

“The fatherless and the widow” are supported by the LORD. Fatherless and widows are the most vulnerable people in society. They have no parents and husband to care for them. The LORD takes care of them. He supports them (Psalms 68:6).

Against the multitude of benefits for those who have the God of Jacob for their help and have set their hope on Him (Psalms 146:5), one line is devoted to the fate of the wicked. The text about the wicked connects to the vulnerable group of strangers, fatherless and widows. This means that these wicked have taken advantage of their vulnerability.

The tragedy of their fate comes out strongly as a result. Wicked people do not turn to God, but follow their own way. It is a way thwarted [literally made crooked] by the LORD, causing their way to perish (Psalms 1:6). They lose their way. Without realizing it, they start wandering aimlessly. Thus, they pursue their path in a completely different direction than they suspected. Instead of reaching their desired goals, they end up in the grave.

Verse 10

The LORD Will Reign Forever

After the brief interlude about the crooked way of the wicked, the final chord of the song of praise follows: “The LORD will reign forever.” The final chord sings of the full fulfillment of what Moses sang as a prophet at the Red Sea on the occasion of the redemption of God’s people. He concludes that song with the words David sings here: “The LORD shall reign forever and ever” (Exodus 15:18).

The LORD determines not only the way of the wicked, but the whole course of history. It is the history of Zion. He is her God. He was, is, and will be, “to all generations”. Zion endures forever for all who are associated with her.

This observation leads a new “hallelujah”, with which the psalm ends as it began. There is a difference, however. In Psalms 146:1, the psalmist exhorts himself to praise the LORD. In the last verse, he calls on everyone to praise the LORD. This is the correct order. Only after we have done something ourselves can we call others to do it too.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 146". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/psalms-146.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.