Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord! ” (Psalm 146, ESV)
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ;
Did you ever go to camp and do one of those “faith walks.” You know how they go, one person is blindfolded and the other leads them all around… up and down steps, around corners, through doorways, maybe even outside… The whole idea is that, if you are the blindfolded person, your supposed to learn to trust the person who is leading you around. If you’re the leader then you are suppose to show yourself as trustworthy. You do it by example, by showing that you can trust someone else, or that you are trustworthy. The “faith walk” is supposed to begin to help you to develop a new relationship with another person, a relationship based on trust.
Trust is very important in life. Just think about how people react when their trust has been violated. Remember the time when you broke a promise to a friend. Remember how you felt when the secret you told came back to you from a different source. Did you lose money in Enron? Clearly that whole scandal is a violation of trust. It isn’t just feelings that are hurt when trust is violated. Life is full of placing our trust in one place or another. In a way life is a faith walk. It’s important to be able to put your trust in someone. It’s important to learn who is actually trustworthy.
Life is a faith walk…. In some sense you have the opportunity to pick who you want to lead you around while you are blindfolded. When I was young had to do a faith walk, I always tried to get next to some pretty girl, it was a chance to hold her hand… in fact I think that’s how I met my wife.
The Psalm for today is about trust. The author of this poem isn’t known. No one knows exactly when it was written either. But, some of the language suggests that it was written after the great Babylonian exile. They had lost what God had given them because of this very issue. They had trusted in themselves, they had trusted in their kings, they had trusted in everything except for their God. It cost them the land that God had given them, and they spent about a generation away from the land they loved. During that exile they learned what it meant to trust in God.
The author says here, “Don’t let the princes of this world lead you! They will fail you. They will lead you astray.” He knew it probably from personal experience. He maybe lived under a government that failed. I’m not sure that in many ways we trust our government far too much. We trust it to bail us out of poverty, we trust it to take care of us in times of disaster, and provide for us when we retire. We trust it to keep the peace, and we trust it to be just. While God has given us government we are not to put our trust in it. Governments fail the daily news is full of crumbling governments. Don’t think for a moment that our government here is so strong that it can never fail. Don’t think that this democratic form of government, this country is so blessed by God that it can never fall apart. “Don’t trust in princes.” The Psalmist says.
Don’t let mere mortal men lead you in your faith walk either. Don’t trust what human beings say or do. Don’t make glorious plans with them. Death is in their future. When they die all their plans come to nothing. Death is the great equalizer. It removes wealth, it cancels plans, it ends partnerships, and it ignores social status. Don’t trust mortal men either.
In case you forgot, you are in that category. You, too, will die. You to are not trustworthy. But, even before death, we find people untrustworthy, we find ourselves untrustworthy. We constantly make promises we don’t keep. We constantly forget to do the things that we should. There are even times when we make promises that we have no intention at all of keeping. We know who we are, and we know that other people are the same.
Life is a faith walk… but, you can’t trust in yourself, you can’t trust in other people, you can’t trust in government, who can you trust in? Well, the Psalm has an answer for that; it says God is the one who is trustworthy.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, ” (Psalm 146:5, ESV)
When God leads you around, even when you can’t see where you are going, you can trust when here leads you.
But, the Psalm isn’t just speaking in generalities, it tells us exactly why God is trustworthy. “Because” it says,
[He] made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; ” (Psalm 146:6–7, ESV)
This is First Article. I believe in God the father almighty maker of heaven and earth. God created everything, he preserves and protects is. He has an interest in how it all goes. That includes being trustworthy.
There’s more though, and here is where the faith walk becomes even more interesting. He is faithful and trustworthy forever. The psalm says. Even when ‘blindfolded’ people are oppressed, God helps them. Here the Hebrew language for oppressed means economically oppressed, the poor. He helps those who are lead through hunger. He leads prisoners so that they become free, he helps the blind to see, and the humble and people who have no place to call their own; and even the widow… He helps. You see, no matter where your faith walk leads you, no matter what condition you find yourself in… if you’re trust is in “the God of Jacob” you will find him faithful.
Sometimes we find it difficult to trust in the God of Jacob. When we are honest with ourselves we know that this is true. As you go through life, as you go on the faith walk, sometimes you trust God a lot, and sometimes you don’t feel like you can trust him at all. It’s not unusual, because our sin constantly threatens to separate us from God. While we are walking around blindfolded, we will at times try to pull our hand out of God’s hand so that we can rip of our blindfold. We don’t always trust where God is leading us. Those are the times when we God is most faithful. If you remember the Gospel lesson from last week, Jesus is the one who said that no one could snatch us out of our Father’s hand. (John 10).
But it is Jesus who shows us exactly how faithful God is. “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.” “I and the Father are one.” What you see me doing… you see God doing. We have many accounts of God being faithful, just as this Psalm says He is. Jesus is God being faithful. He is found among the poor, and the oppressed. Even his own disciples were working class people and despised people. He gives the blind sight, and even heals the sick people who were outcast. He feeds hungry people on the green grass slopes of the mountains around the Sea of Galilee. Jesus Christ was faithful just as God is faithful. He loves the least, the last, and the worst. It is shown to us most clearing in the life of Jesus our Lord.
Jesus Christ shows his love for us. We, too, are the least, the last and the worst. We are unfaithful; we are untrustworthy; prisoners of our own hearts and minds, and blind to the way that God would lead us. We fail to put our trust in him so very often even when our lives aren't even on the line. We panic over finances, friendships, church property, and so many other earthly things. But Jesus is faithful; He sets prisoners free and gives sight to the blind, just as the Psalmist wrote. He is so faithful; the He doesn't even spare His own life. He is so faithful that He allows himself to be nailed to a cross and suffer the full punishment of our sin. Jesus on the cross is God's billboard of faithfulness. He is so faithful that he hangs on the cross not only for you and me but even those who hate him, deny him, curse him, and say no matter what they will not receive Jesus' forgiveness. This is God's faithfulness. That he forgives those who are his enemies. Just as you and I once were, as is all those who refuse to believe in him.
Life is a faith walk… Jesus Christ the faithful one, has placed your hand in his, right there next to the nail print. No one can snatch you out of His hand. He leads you on your faith walk through all kinds of interesting places. Even though you are blindfolded you can trust in Him to lead you because he is trustworthy. He has proved it through His willingness to die for you, and for your sin, but even more than that, he has proved it by rising again from the dead. Remember Death, the great equalizer; the canceller of plans, faithful Jesus defeated him. He didn’t thwart His plans. Jesus Christ wasn’t a mere mortal man; He was God and Man together, united. He alone is worthy of trust. He is God himself.
The psalm begins and ends the same way. “Praise the Lord,” is says. Praise him because of what he has done. Praise him because he is worthy to be praised. Praise him because he alone is worthy of being trusted. Life is a faith walk… Trust Jesus. Amen.
The peace of God, keep your heart and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.