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Psalm 146

Praise for God’s Help


Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord, O my soul!

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The Divine Bounty.

1 Praise ye the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul.   2 While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.   3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.   4 His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

David is supposed to have penned this psalm; and he was himself a prince, a mighty prince; as such, it might be thought, 1. That he should be exempted from the service of praising God, that it was enough for him to see that his priests and people did it, but that he needed not to do it himself in his own person. Michal thought it a disparagement to him to dance before the ark; but he was so far from being of this mind that he would himself be first and foremost in the work, v. 1, 2. He considered his dignity as so far from excusing him from it that it rather obliged him to lead in it, and he thought it so far from lessening him that it really magnified him; therefore he stirred up himself to it and to make a business of it: Praise the Lord, O my soul! and he resolved to abide by it: "I will praise him with my heart, I will sing praises to him with my mouth. Herein I will have an eye to him as the Lord, infinitely blessed and glorious in himself, and as my God, in covenant with me." Praise is most pleasant when, in praising God, we have an eye to him as ours, whom we have an interest in and stand in relation to. "This I will do constantly while I live, every day of my life, and to my life's end; nay, I will do it while I have any being, for when I have no being on earth I hope to have a being in heaven, a better being, to be doing it better." That which is the great end of our being ought to be our great employment and delight while we have any being. "In thee must our time and powers be spent." 2. It might be thought that he himself, having been so great a blessing to his country, should be adored, according to the usage of the heathen nations, who deified their heroes, that they should all come and trust in his shadow and make him their stay and strong-hold. "No," says David, "Put not your trust in princes (v. 3), not in me, not in any other; do not repose your confidence in them; do not raise your expectations from them. Be not too sure of their sincerity; some have thought they knew better how to reign by knowing how to dissemble. Be not too sure of their constancy and fidelity; it is possible they may both change their minds and break their words." But, though we suppose them very wise and as good as David himself, yet we must not be too sure of their ability and continuance, for they are sons of Adam, weak and mortal. There is indeed a Son of man in whom there is help, in whom there is salvation, and who will not fail those that trust in him. But all other sons of men are like the man they are sprung of, who, being in honour, did not abide. (1.) We cannot be sure of their ability. Even the power of kings may be so straitened, cramped, and weakened, that they may not be in a capacity to do that for us which we expect. David himself owned (2 Sam. iii. 39), I am this day weak, though anointed king. So that in the son of man there is often no help, no salvation; he is at a loss, at his wits' end, as a man astonished, and then, though a mighty man, he cannot save, Jer. xiv. 9. (2.) We cannot be sure of their continuance. Suppose he has it in his power to help us while he lives, yet he may be suddenly taken off when we expect most from him (v. 4): His breath goes forth, so it does every moment, and comes back again, but that is an intimation that it will shortly go for good and all, and then he returns to his earth. The earth is his, in respect of his original as a man, the earth out of which he was taken, and to which therefore he must return, according to the sentence, Gen. iii. 19. It is his, if he be a worldly man, in respect of choice, his earth which he has chosen for his portion, and on the things of which he has set his affections. He shall go to his own place. Or, rather, it is his earth because of the property he has in it; and though he has had large possessions on earth a grave is all that will remain to him. The earth God has given to the children of men, and great striving there is about it, and, as a mark of their authority, men call their lands by their own names. But, after a while, no part of the earth will be their own but that in which the dead body shall make its bed, and that shall be theirs while the earth remains. But, when he returns to his earth, in that very day his thoughts perish; all the projects and designs he had of kindness to us vanish and are gone, and he cannot take one step further in them; all his purposes are cut off and buried with him, Job xvii. 11. And then what becomes of our expectations from him? Princes are mortal, as well as other men, and therefore we cannot have that assurance of help from them which we may have from that Potentate who hath immortality. Cease from man, whose breath is in his nostrils and will not be there long.