Joy of Faith in God
INTRODUCTION "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, 'Rejoice'" [Philippians 4:4]. "Rejoice evermore" [I Timothy 5:16]. Miserable professing Christians either do not believe the Bible or their faith is very weak. The Christian faith is a joyful faith; the Christian hope is a joyful hope; the Christian life is a joyful life. Happy believers are good witnesses fit to be used by their Lord in leading other people to believe in Him. Those who continually talk about how hard it is to live a Christian life, those who show little evidence of even trying to live like Christians, and those who complain about all their sorrows, troubles, and sufferings are very poor advertisements for the faith they profess. Psalm 146, the selection for this lesson, is a joyful song of praise which begins and ends with the same Hebrew word, "Hallelujah," meaning in English "Praise ye the Lord." So happy is the psalmist in singing the praises of his Lord Jehovah that he calls upon his hearers or readers to join in a chorus of praise. Surely this is the normal attitude and desire of all true worshipers of God. Lesson outline follows: 1. Worship, Psalm 146:1-2. a. Personal praise, 1. b. Persistent praise, 2. 2. Warning, Psalm 146:3-4. a. Human helplessness, 3. b. Human hopefulness, 4. 3. Witness, Psalm 146:5-10. a. Jehovah's joy, 5. b. Creator's constancy, 6. c. Divine deliverance, 7. d. Love's liberation, 8. e. Providential pleasure, 9. f. Everlasting empire, lOa. g. Continued chorus, lOb. NOTES ON THE TEXT: WORSHIP, Psalm 146:1-2. An essential part of worship is praise. Recognition of the "worthship" or worthiness of God inevitably moves His worshipers to praise the excellence of His character and the grandeur of His works. Sometimes we may praise a creature more highly than he deserves, but we can never praise the Creator enough, though we should praise Him continually for eternity. Personal Praise, 1. Beginning with a general exhortation to praise, the psalmist wisely remembers to admonish his own soul. It is right and proper to call upon others to praise our God, but it is most important that we remember to praise Him ourselves. Our works must be consistent with our words to make our testimony convincing. Persistent Praise, 2. "While I live" would seem to be long enough, since the believer has everlasting life and, in a spiritual sense, will never die [John 6:47; 11:26]. But to make clear his intention to persist in praising God through all changes of life and condition, the psalmist says further, "while I have any being."
WARNING, Psalm 146:3-4. Consistent praise of the true God demands that we have no other gods in His presence. Even the princes of this world are not to be trusted as we trust God; the greatest man in the world is still a mere human being, only a man and the son of man, like ourselves. No Messianic reference is intended here; but if it is so interpreted, we may point out that if Jesus were no more than the son of man He could not be a Savior: it is because He is also the Son of God that He has saving power. Human Helplessness, 3. In view of eternity and our needs for eternity, human powers and resources are utterly helpless to save; whatever might be their desires or intentions, there is no help for us in men. Human Hopefulness, 4. Furthermore, there is no hope that any prince or other great man of this world can help us in the next life: he is as mortal as we are, and as he returns to dust so will his very thoughts perish, so far as any effectiveness or manifestation in this world is concerned. None but the resurrected Christ has demonstrated His power over death.
WITNESS, Psalm 146:5-10. Now the psalmist continues to praise Jehovah by bearing witness to HIS mighty works. Let us be bold to declare that God our Savior is the Creator, Judge, and Ruler of all. Jehovah's Joy, 5. "Happy" here is from a word often translated "blessed." The God of Jacob, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, bestows blessings and happiness in His salvation that none can know except those who find all their help and hope in Him. Let us rejoice in the joy of Jehovah. Creator's Constancy, 6. Evolutionists may have whatever comfort they can find in their theories of blind and fickle chance or of inexorable natural laws of uncertain origin. We who know the Maker of heaven and earth, the eternal Creator of the greatest and smallest of all things that exist, know also that He is Truth, and that He keeps truth forever. In contrast with a constantly changing creation, the Creator remains constantly the same. Divine Deliverance, 7. Unlike the impersonal forces of evolutionism, materialism, and other false religions, the living God is the personal God, who has a personal interest in the condition of His creatures, down to the least of them. So the psalmist understood that when deliverance comes to the oppressed, or food to the hungry, or release to the prisoners of sin and Satan, it is not accident; these are daily reminders that God is still on His throne and still bestows His mercies according to His own will. Love's Liberation, 8. God is love, and some manifestations of that love are extended to the righteous and wicked alike [Matthew 5:45], but in a special sense He loves those who by faith have accepted for themselves His righteousness by faith, and so are righteous in His sight. So lost sinners as well as saved may experience liberation from physical infirmities, but the blessings of eternal salvation are reserved for the righteous, who by nature were sinners equally as bad as others, but in His redeeming love have received the righteousness of faith. Providential Pleasure, 9. Still mingling natural and spiritual considerations, the psalmist bears witness to the sometimes mysterious dealings of divine providence. God is not oblivious to human affairs; rather it seems that He takes special pleasure in intervening and interfering with the normal processes of nature and the normal expectations of men. So to the eye of faith His hand may be seen in the operations of providence. Sometimes He turns the way of the wicked upside down in temporal judgments, and He will do so finally and completely in eternal judgment. Everlasting Empire, l0a. God's kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. Empires of this world rise and fall, but the divine dominion, which in the broadest sense includes all creation, is from everlasting to everlasting. Continued Chorus, l0b. Join the chorus: "Praise ye the Lord." We can find no greater or grander theme.
CONCLUSION [Psalm 34:8] According to Hebrew poetic parallelism, "taste" here is used in a spiritual sense, meaning about the same as "trust" in the latter part of the verse. The only way to find out how good God is, the only way to find true and lasting happiness, is to put our trust in Him.
[From AAB, February 10, 1978, pp. 2-3. -- jrd]
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