Psalm 146 Summary Handout
Praise Yahweh, do not trust princes
You all and I praise Yahweh while we are alive. Do not trust influential people because they die and their thoughts die with them. In contrast, the person who trusts the God of Jacob, Yahweh Elohim, is happy because Yahweh, is the creator, protector, and provider. He created the heaven, the earth, the seas, and all creatures. He is faithful, performs justice, gives food, frees prisoners, gives sight, encourages the discouraged, loves the righteous, protects strangers, supports the fatherless and widows, and thwarts the way of the wicked. Yahweh, the God of Zion, your God, will reign forever, so praise Yahweh.
- Psalm 146.1-2. You all and I praise Yahweh while we are alive.
- Psalm 146.3-4. Do not trust princes because they die and their thoughts die with them.
- Psalm 146.5-9. In contrast, the person who trusts the God of Jacob, Yahweh Elohim, is happy because Yahweh is the creator, protector, and provider.
- Psalm 146.10. Praise Yahweh because he reigns forever.
- Psalm 146.1-2. You all and I praise Yahweh while we are alive. This should be our life long attitude, and not only our attitude but also expressed with our voice. To praise means to express esteem, value, to glorify.
- Psalm 146.1. The first praise is piel imperative masculine plural referring to the audience. The second praise is piel imperative feminine singular referring to my soul, the individual. The Hebrew verb is halel, הָלַל, which means to praise in the piel. The word for soul is nephesh for the living person.
- Psalm 146.2. The psalmist will praise and sing praises while he is alive, which is all his life. Note the name LORD (Yahweh) and his title (God). The LORD is his God. This indicates that the psalmist understands who God is and his own relationship to God.
- Psalm 146.3-4. Do not trust princes because they die and their thoughts die with them. These noble or influential people have a very limited life span, while the LORD God reigns forever as Psalm 146.10 tells us.
- Psalm 146.3. Here is a warning. It is “do not trust in princes” The word is the familiar batach, בָּטַח for trust or rely on as in Isaiah 12.2, Psalm 9.11, Psalm 125.1, Proverbs 16.20. The form is jussive for a negative command in the second person. Prince refers to an influential person, called a son of man in the parallel. They cannot offer any long term deliverance, while LORD God can.
- Psalm 146.4. Furthermore, he will die and his thinking and what he was going to do dies also. The point is that influential people, leaders, are frail. They do not live forever, so why depend on them for eternal things. Every leader, every President, every tyrant has died. He is not there to carry out his plans.
- Psalm 146.5-9. In contrast, the person who trusts the God of Jacob, Yahweh Elohim, is happy because Yahweh is the creator, protector, and provider. He created the heaven and earth and all creatures, is faithful, performs justice, gives food, frees prisoners, gives sight, encourages the discouraged, loves the righteous, protects strangers, supports the fatherless and widows, and thwarts the way of the wicked. The actions in Psalm 146.6-9a are all participles. The words characterize Yahweh. He is the good king. He does these things, though he does not do them in every situation, as Luke 4.14-27, following Isaiah 61.1-3 indicates. He will at times work through his people.
- Psalm 146.5. We have familiar words: blessed, help, hope. These effects are true because the God of Jacob, the LORD his God, is the object of his help and hope. The God of Jacob brings to mind what God has done for Jacob’s extended family. Jacob is Israel’s ancestor. God has certainly been faithful to him personally and to his descendants. See Genesis 32.24-32 for Jacob wrestling with God, and God changing his name to Israel.
- Psalm 146.6. Why can the LORD God help the psalmist? Because he is the creator. The verb is עָשָׂה `asah, to do or make, qal active participle. The psalmist thinks of what the LORD God has done and now does. This instructs the psalmist and gives him confidence. The Hebrew word made is first used in Genesis 1.7, and then in Genesis 1.11,12,16, 26,31; 2.2,3,4,18; 3.1 in the creation account. The LORD also keeps or guards (שָׁמַר shamar, qal participle) truth or faithfulness (אֱמֶת emet, truth faithfulness) forever. This means that God is always faithful to what he says and does.
- Psalm 146.7. Yahweh executes justice, gives food, and sets free. All these actions are participles emphasizing who does it and what he does. He is in this business, sometimes doing it himself and sometimes working through his people, as Luke 4 teaches. See also 1 Kings 17.9-24.
- Psalm 146.8. Yahweh opens, raises, and loves. His objects are the blind, bowed down or discouraged, and righteous. Yahweh is the ultimate and best help for those with physical needs and without help. Loving the righteous is probably put here because they love their neighbor, and the neighbor often needs help.
- Psalm 146.9. This verse has the participle in line a and imperfects verbs in line b and c. The text says Yahweh protects (שָׁמַר shamar) the stranger, he supports (עוּד `ud, helps, relieves) the fatherless and widow, and thwarts (עָוַת`avat to falsify, subvert, bend back, change it so it will not succeed) the life of the wicked. Yahweh provides for those in society who are often left out of the community and at risk. The stranger is the goim, who is an alien or foreigner living in Israel. See Exodus 22.21; 23.9; Deuteronomy 10.19; and Ruth 1.1. Israel was to treat them justly.
- Psalm 146.10. Praise Yahweh because he reigns forever. The psalmist concludes as he began, but adds something. Everyone is to praise Yahweh (piel imperative masculine plural of halal) and the object is Yah LORD ( הַֽלְלוּ־יָֽהּ halelu-yah). Yahweh rules forever, to all generations. The psalmist specifically writes to Israel, Zion. Yahweh is their eternal king. Since he rules forever, he is able to govern and protect and prosper Israel in ways far surpassing mere human kings. Israel has every reason to praise and trust Yahweh her God and King.
So what for us?
- The LORD God lives and rules forever. No dictator, prime minister, president, general, admiral, or any influential or leading person can compete with him. Yahweh Messiah is Israel’s eternal king, and according to Zechariah 14.9 will reign as King over all the earth. John calls him King of kings and LORD of lords in Revelation 17.14; 19.16. We are to follow the LORD and depend on him more than any influential or leading person.
- Human leaders are confined to their time on earth. They cannot provide any human deliverance or solution that will last. They die and their work perishes. Only those who follow God’s ways will leave a good and beneficial heritage, and even their work goes away.
- People who focus on Yahweh the God of Jacob, and go to him for help and trust him will be blessed and happy people.
- Since the LORD God is creator he is able, and since he is faithful to himself and his word he is worthy of our trust. Maybe we do not trust him because we really do not think he is able to deliver us. Or, maybe we do not trust him because we do not think he is faithful. The simplest answer for us is to believe him more than we would believe any other person we trust.
- The LORD is interested in everyone. Sometimes he intervenes himself, sometimes he works through people, and sometimes he takes us through the troubles. He is always able and faithful. Trust him.
- Praise the LORD as long as we have breath.