Psalms 142–150“Praise Him for His acts of power; praise Him for His surpassing greatness” (Ps. 150:2).How great a contribution the Psalms make to our lives. In reading them we are led to praise the Lord.
Four psalms of David lift us from a desperate sense of need (Pss. 142–143) to confidence in God as our deliverer (Ps. 144) and then to praise (Ps. 145). The psalter ends (Pss. 146–150) with five beautiful praise psalms, each beginning and ending with the Hebrew shout, Hallelujah! which means “Praise the Lord!”
Understanding the Text
Psalm 142: In Desperate Need. The setting is the cave in which David hid from Saul’s pursuing army. Troubled and discouraged, David cried out to God for rescue. “Before Him I tell my trouble” Ps. 142:1–5. One of the most important lessons we learn from the Book of Psalms is that, like David, you and I can “pour out our complaints” to the Lord. We can tell Him every trouble, share every dark and distressed emotion. When no one else is concerned about us, we have in God One who truly cares. God doesn’t want you or me to clutch our fears or our pain to us. God wants us to share that fear or pain with Him, knowing that He will listen and does care. “You are my refuge” Ps. 142:5–7. Sharing our fears or pain with the Lord reminds us of who God is. He not only listens, He is able to help! Our enemies may be too strong for us, but they are not too strong for the Lord. Our appeal is directed to the one Being in the universe who is able to help! We come to the Lord with our fears and our pain. We come away in peace, with a renewed sense of hope. At last we can see ahead to a time when “the righteous will gather about me because of Your goodness to me.” Psalm 143: In Deep Distress. Once again fears drove David to the Lord. Again he was helped. He meditated on God’s past works, and ultimately reached a clear understanding of how he must deal with his trials. (See DEVOTIONAL.) Psalm 144: My Deliverer! God answered David’s prayers and rescued him from his enemies. Here David celebrated the Lord as his deliverer. “Praise be to the Lord, my rock” Ps. 144:1–4. Wonder of wonders, God had again stooped to deliver a mere mortal, and David was awed by the fact. Echoing Psalm 8, David cried, “What is man that You care for him?” We sense the joy David felt as he piled image on image, celebrating his loving God as my rock, my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, my shield. It is amazing that God should be all this for any human being. It is overwhelming that He should be all this for me! “Part Your heavens, O Lord, and come down” Ps. 144:5–11. These verses are not so much an appeal for God to act as they are celebration of a deliverance already experienced. In a sense David was reliving the rescue that lifted him from despair to joy. “Then” Ps. 144:12–15. The outcome of deliverance is peace and prosperity. No wonder David cried, “Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord.” God saves us from all our troubles, and He intends to bless. Psalm 145: Praise His Name. This is an acrostic psalm: each line begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. We might name it, “Praising God from A through Z,” as each letter brings to mind a different reason to praise the Lord. Psalm 146: Praise the God of Jacob. This first of the five Hallelujah psalms that close the psalter focuses our attention on who Israel’s God is, and what He does. “Praise the Lord, O my soul” Ps. 146:1–4. God is praised as our only real source of help and deliverance. “The God of Jacob” Ps. 146:5–9. The name is rooted in history: this is the God who bound Himself by covenant oath to be the God of Israel. We celebrate Him, for this God is the Maker of all, faithful forever, sustainer of the oppressed, who frees the prisoner, heals the infirm, loves the righteous, watches over the alien, sustains the helpless, and frustrates the ways of the wicked. All the psalmist knows about this God of Jacob thrills him, and moves him to sing praises! “The Lord reigns forever” Ps. 146:10. This is the capstone. The One we know and celebrate is Sovereign in this universe. In Him we are safe and secure. Praise the Lord. Psalm 147: Praise the Sustainer. The Hallelujah Chorus continues with praise to God for maintaining the universe He created, and caring for all who put their trust in His unfailing love. Psalm 148: Praise Him, All Creation. Nature does more than reveal God’s wisdom and power. All the splendor of Creation joins Israel in exalting God’s name, and thus offers praise. Psalm 149: Praise Him, All Saints. God’s people, whom He created and whom He crowned with salvation, rejoice in the Lord and offer Him praise. “In the assembly of the saints” Ps. 149:1–8. God’s people have two callings, each of which are aspects of worship. First, God’s people are called to sing His praises, and rejoice in the One who takes such delight in them (vv. 1–5). Second, God’s people are to take a stand on this earth against evil (vv. 6–9). While in Old Testament times Israel literally went to war against pagan peoples in their land, today we are to be engaged in spiritual warfare, doing all we can to uphold righteousness and do justice in our society. Psalm 150: Praise the Lord. The final, jubilant psalm in this great Old Testament book pictures a people who gather before the Lord (v. 1) to praise His works and character (v. 2) with every resource they possessed (vv. 3–5), until all living things join in with shouts of joy (v. 6).
What Can I Do?(Ps. 143)
No one likes to feel helpless. Almost any situation seems bearable if there is only something, anything, that we can do that might improve it. Despair and depression usually flood in only when we realize that we are helpless, unable to affect our situation, totally at the mercy of our circumstances. I think David felt much like this when he penned Psalm 143. He cried out to God for mercy and relief (v. 1). He realized he had no right to expect God’s help (v. 2). Yet his desperate situation filled him with dismay (vv. 3–4). David recalled what God had done and reaffirmed his trust in the Lord (vv. 5–8). But like you and me, David also seemed to cry out, “What can I do?”The answer is simple and clear. We see it in David’s words, “Show me the way I should go,” and, “Teach me to do Your will” (vv. 8b, 10). We may be helpless to better our situations. But there is still something we can do! Each day, each hour, as we wait for God to deliver us, we can concentrate our attention on doing God’s will for that day, for that hour. What we can always do, no matter how helpless we may be to alter our situations, is to live each moment as servants of the Lord, ready always to respond as His “good Spirit” reveals an opportunity to serve Him. What a sense of relief comes over us as we make David’s discovery. We are not helpless after all. There is something we can do. The most important thing of all. We can do God’s will.
When you can’t change your situation, make it your priority simply to do each hour, each day, what God wills.