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The Lord Shall Reign!—Psalm 146

Tuesday, September 28, 2010, 6:00
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The Lord Shall Reign!

October 17, 2010

Lesson: Psalm 146

Key Verse: Psalm 146:10

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Introduction

Our key verse begins, “The Lord shall reign forever.” The Lord exercises the function of a royal Ruler, as the ordained King of kings and Lord of lords. His reign is eternal and omnipotent. Thus, all rulers of this earth are but ministers responsible to God and his righteous and moral law. In comparison, the Lord is the supreme King. His law and rule are supreme. Rev. Samuel Rutherford in his book, Lex Rex, compares the rule of the human kings to that of God. He writes that the prince is the “minister of God for the good of the subject.” Rutherford continues, “Now certain it is, God only, unequivocally and essentially as God, is the judge, and God only and essentially king, and all men in relation to him are mere ministers, servants, legates, deputies; and in relation to him, equivocally and improperly, judges or kings, and mere created and breathing shadows of the power of the King of kings.”

In God’s presence, we are asked the question, “What is the chief end of man?” Our answer rings out with praise, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever” (S.C. 1). In the presence of the Triune God, we are to sing our eternal hallelujahs to our Lord.

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Praise the Lord—Sing Hallelujah!: Psalm 146:1-2

From the depths of the Psalmist’s heart comes a manifesto, an edict, so to speak, that declares that his life will acclaim the praise of his Lord. “Praise the Lord!” is his cry. In these two verses, the Psalmist uses the term ‘praise’ four times. His voice, his soul, and his whole being will praise the Lord. How long will he do this? He will do it forever! As long as he has his being. If we know that we have eternal and abundant life in Christ, now and for eternity, then we know how long we are to praise our Lord.

What does it mean to “praise the Lord!”? The word, Praise, ‘Halal,’ means ‘to shine,’ to celebrate, to glorify. We are to give glory to God, not allowing anything, by word or deed, to hinder the radiant love and grace of God to shine forth. The Psalmist exclaims that he will “sing praises!” To “sing praises” means to celebrate or sing songs, as in poetry, or to make music. Something has happened to the heart of the child of God. From his soul issues the joy and praise of this new grace and love that he has received from the hand of his Creator and Redeemer. The Lord has laid hold upon us, and we have in turn embraced him in love. Our mind, soul, and heart proclaim the covenant of grace that is ours in Christ.

However, we are reminded that we are not to give glory to God in the sense we can add to glory that is God’s. Nor will he share this glory with anyone: “My glory I will not give to another” (Isa. 48:11). Isaiah continues, “Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last.” Thomas Watson (Body of Divinity) wrote: “We glorify God, when we are God-admirers; admire his attributes, which are the glistering charter of free grace, and the spiritual cabinet where the pearl of prices is hid; the noble effects of his power and wisdom in making the world, which is called ‘the work of his fingers.’ Psa. 8:3. To glorify God is to have God-admiring thoughts; to esteem him most excellent, and search for diamonds in this rock only.”

We are to praise him in Zion! We are to praise him in and from the congregation. As a congregation, we are to “Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion! Declare his deeds among the people” (Psa. 9:11). We are to praise our Lord as long as we live, while we have our being. “Therefore by him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name” (Heb. 13:15).

Discussion: What is the meaning of “Praise the Lord”?

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Happy is the Child of God!—Our Help and Hope: Psalm 146:3-5

Praise and happiness comes from the object of our trust. ‘Trust’ is a word we have come across before, as in Psalm 125:1: “Those who trust in the Lord shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abides forever.” This word, ‘trust,’ expresses our attachment to another, the one in whom we secure ourselves, that we might find the best support. Of the 181 uses in the Old Testament, 50 are found in the Psalms. This word gives credence to this statement of our Lord Jesus: “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you” (Luke 12:29–31).

We see in the words of Jesus the two objects of faith or trust, of which each of us must choose, one or the other. As the Psalmist wrote, “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.” But “Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.” The world around us attaches itself to men. Either:

  • to a politician, whose ideology is that government is the mother upon whom we all must nurse,
  • to a tyrant whose ideology is communism or Marxism, and so suppresses the people,
  • or to the atheist who claims that man is the only hope of mankind, etc.

To put our trust in princes is like attaching ourselves to a wooden idol. An idol cannot walk, nor can it give help of any kind. The prince upon whom man depends is just a child of another man, in whom there is no help. For his spirit will depart from his body, as will our spirits. His body will return to the dust of earth, and “In that very day his plans will perish.” No man can leave a legacy, a name for himself; for another man will rise up, and the previous prince will be but a name in a history book, or on the shelf of a museum named after him.

There is only one attachment that provides all the good we need on this earth, and for eternity. This attachment reveals the happiness of the person who has put his trust in the Triune God of Israel, Jacob, and Zion, “whose hope is in the Lord his God.” This is the God who does not die but lives. He leaves not a legacy, but carries out his covenant promise. God’s Scriptures reveal a living King who cares for his own: “Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his mercy” (Psa. 33:18). “I am the Good Shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known by my own” (Jesus, John 10:14). “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knows those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7).

Happiness springs from our attachment to that which we love the most, upon whom or what we have placed our trust and faith. “He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he” (Prov. 16:20). These words of Christ express our utter trust or dependence upon our Lord: “Blessed (how inwardly happy) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).

Discussion: What is the relationship between faith and happiness?

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The Lord, our Truth, and Life!—Creator and Savior: Psalm 146:6–9

Who is the object of our trust; whom do we embrace, attach ourselves to, without reservation? Faith, in and of itself, is useless, unless the object of that faith is able to do what it promises. The object of our faith or trust is the Lord, the Triune God Himself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our happiness and hope are rightfully placed in the object of our faith, Christ Jesus, our King and Savior. Nine works of grace are listed to confirm our faith in Christ alone. These nine activities of the Triune God reveal his covenant love toward us as his people. The Lord, our Sovereign King and Savior:

  1. He has created, out of nothing, the heaven and earth, including the seas and all they contain. Thus, from the very beginning he has provided for all things, as he is the Creator. Our Savior-King was in the beginning with God, and is God, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1–3).
  2. “He keeps truth forever!” Jesus Christ, said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” the one who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” We can trust him and his Word. In him we hear the admonition: “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established by grace” (Heb. 13:8–9). We are to be like Job who, in his afflictions, confirmed his faith in the Lord, saying, “I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).
  3. He executes justice for the oppressed. Righteousness and justice seem so very far away from us in a world where men do what is right in their own eyes. Our Sovereign calls upon us to be patient in times of affliction, that he may bring true justice into our lives. Justice means deliverance from oppression. This word ‘justice,’ or judgment, means to declare a verdict. Justice is an attribute of God: “Therefore the Lord will wait, that he may be gracious to you; and therefore he will be exalted, that he may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed are all those who wait for him” (Isa. 30:18). All authority is of God; therefore, all that is unjust will be judged in his light. We are to be like our King Jesus: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).
  4. He gives food to the hungry. Whether it is the hunger of the body or, more important, the hunger and thirst of the soul, it is God alone who provides that daily bread which we need. In other words, he will not leave us without the needs of body and soul. Therefore, let our “conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For he himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you,’ so we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:5–6).
  5. He gives freedom to the prisoners. Our Lord loosens the chains which hold us in the prison of sin, or would hold us in the prisons of men. John Bunyan was imprisoned when he wrote his Pilgrim’s Progress. His freedom was in Christ. Paul and Silas saw the chains fall from their bodies, and the gates opened by an angel of the Lord. Daniel’s lions were made moot; the fiery furnace of his friends could not burn them. Our freedom lies in Christ alone.
  6. He opens the eyes of the blind. Calvin illustrates this work of our King: “To enlighten the blind is the same with giving light in the midst of darkness. What at any time we know not what to do—are in perplexity, and lie confounded and dismayed, as if the darkness of death had fallen upon us—let us learn to ascribe this title to God that he may dissipate the gloom and open our eyes.” Our Lord anoints our eyes that we may see. He is the Light that disperses the darkness.
  7. He raises those who are bowed down. Our Lord and King reaches out to bear our burdens that our spiritual backs might be made straight. Hear and obey these words of our Savior: “Come to me, all of you, who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you refreshment. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28–29).
  8. He loves the righteous. Three times the Spirit uses the term ‘Lord’ or Jehovah; the Triune God who told Moses that he is the ‘I Am’ God, in whom all things have their life. Paul writes, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Paul counted all as lost for Christ. He would be found in Christ, “not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (3:7–9). Thomas Watson wrote that Christ is “the principle of my life, the end of my life, the joy of my life. If we can say, for me to live is Christ, we may comfortably conclude, that to die shall be gain.”
  9. He watches over the strangers, relieves the fatherless and widow; but turns the way of the wicked upside down. This reveals the love of God in Christ Jesus for those who are his, over against the wicked who war against his church, and, therefore, against him. The way of the wicked will be destroyed. But those who are strangers in this world, those who are fatherless and widows, and so many times neglected—our Lord will provide for them. He will do this through His people. How easy it is for man to treat harshly those who are strangers, orphans, and widows. They seem so alone, without hope. How sad it is to see this happening within the Church, the Body of Christ. Our Lord will preserve those who are weak, while he will destroy those who seem strong, so strong that the deal unjustly with those who are weaker.

Discussion: How does the work of Christ help us to follow him in word and deed?

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Praise the Lord—Zion’s Eternal King!: Psalm 146:10

Zion’s eternal King is the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. There is no other Sovereign. When we praise the Lord, we are exalting his name, declaring his attributes and works to his glory and honor among his people, and to the world around us. When we invite others to fellowship with us, our witness is that our fellowship is with Christ, the Spirit, and our Father in heaven. We declare with the prophet: “In that day shall this song be sung in the land of Judah: We have a strong city; salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Isa.26:1–4)

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Lessons are based on the International Sunday School Lessons for Christian Teaching, copyright © 2010 by the Committee on the Uniform Series.

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