Psalm 146:5–The Turning Point and the Second Half, God is God…

As depressing as verses 3 and 4 are, we (thankfully) reach a pivot and turn at verse 5:

Psa 146:5  Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God

Trusting in men is immediate, easier, but ultimately a letdown.  Trusting is God is where we are headed with this psalm.   Good comment here:

Alas, how often do we trust when we should be afraid, and become afraid when we should trust! – Lange’s Commentary.

I also like the Believer’s Bible Commentary here where he connects the second part of this psalm to particular character traits in God.  This list would be good to meditate upon:

“The way of happiness, help, and hope is to rely on the God of Jacob, that is, the God of the undeserving. Here are some of the reasons why He is worthy of all our confidence:
146:6   Omnipotent Creator. He made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the creatures in the universe. If He can do that, what can’t He do?
Dependable One. He keeps truth forever. It is impossible for Him to lie or to go back on His word. There is no risk involved in trusting Him. He cannot fail.
146:7   Advocate of the helpless. He sees to it that the righteous are vindicated, that their cause eventually triumphs. The waves may seem to be against them but the tide is sure to win.
Provider. He gives food to the hungry, both in a spiritual and physical sense. He brings us into His banqueting house, and what a table He spreads!
Emancipator. He sets the captives free—from human oppression, from the chains of sin, from the grip of the world, from the bondage of the devil, and from selfish living.
146:8   Sight-Giver. The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; some are blind physically, some mentally and spiritually. Some by birth, some by accident, and some by choice. No case is too hard for Him.
Uplifter. He lifts the flagging spirits of those who are bowed down beneath the burdens of worry, affliction, trouble, and sorrow.
Lover of good men. Barnes writes, “It is a characteristic of God, and a foundation for praise, that He loves those who obey law, who do that which is right.”
146:9   Protector of exiles. He is interested in the welfare of strangers, sojourners, and exiles. Pilgrims find a true paraclete in Jehovah.
Friend of the bereft. He upholds the fatherless and the widow, and all others who have no human helper.
Judge of the evil. He thwarts the best laid plans of ungodly men and makes the way of the wicked end in ruin.
146:10   Eternal King. In contrast to man’s transiency is the eternity of God. The LORD shall reign forever—to all generations. Praise the LORD!”  -BBC

Men are Men, a Real Downer: the first half of Psalm 146

“The best of men are men at best. They cannot save themselves, let alone others. ” -BBC

Psa 146:3  Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
Psa 146:4  When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.

Men are men, God is God–simple, right?   But we mess it up all the time.  We hope in the seen instead of the unseen.  We trust in the immediate at the expense of the eternal.

You can’t get more depressing than Barnes here:

It is “his” as it is the only property which he has in reversion. All that a man – a prince, a nobleman, a monarch, a millionaire – will soon have will be his grave, his few feet of earth. That will be his by right of possession, by the fact that for the time being he will occupy it, and not another man! But that, too, may soon become another man’s grave, so that even there he is a tenant only for a time; he has no permanent possession even of a grave. – Albert Barnes.

When I read the older commentaries, they strike me as morbid at times.  Or perhaps they were more in touch with the boundaries of life—disease, hard work, the elements of nature, and the ravages of time–were not held at arms length as they are nowdays.

“His thoughts perish.” The science, the philosophy, the statesmanship of one age is exploded in the next. The men who are the masters of the world’s intellect to-day are discrowned to-morrow. In this age of restless and rapid change they may survive their own thoughts; their thoughts do not survive them. – J. J. Stewart Perowne.

If this was true in the 1880’s when Stewart Perowne was at his zenith,  how much more is this true today with the great proliferation of real-time thinking, RSS feeds, and text messaging?  Without faith in God, in our spirit returning to The Creator, it’s easy to see how the existentialists waded in the black mire.  God’s hand in all this changes everything.

esh-to-naw’
From H6245; thinking: – thought.

Psa_146:4
“His thoughts.” Rather, “his false, deceitful show”; literally, “his glitterings.” – Samuel Horsley, 1733-1806.

‛âshath
aw-shath’
A primitive root; probably to be sleek, that is, glossy; hence (through the idea of polishing) to excogitate (as if forming in the mind): – shine, think.

I’m trying to trace Horsley’s footsteps here—imagine this “ashath” is where we got “glitterings.”  It’s sad to think that our most polished thoughts are mere glitterings.  How to reconcile this thought that man is of so little consequence and yet of such great consequence to God?   It requires more space and time than I have this morning, that’s for sure!

“His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth.” His breath goes from his body, and his body goes to the grave. His spirit goes one way, and his body another. High as he stood, the want of a little air brings him down to the ground, and lays him under it.”  Spurgeon

And if you haven’t had enough already, here are more depressing reflections from Spurgeon:

“In that very day his thoughts perish.” Whatever he may have proposed to do, the proposal ends in smoke. He cannot think, and what he had thought of cannot effect itself, and therefore it dies. Now that he has gone, men are ready enough to let his thoughts go with him into oblivion; another thinker comes, and turns the thoughts of his predecessor to ridicule. It is a pitiful thing to be waiting upon princes or upon any other men, in the hope that they will think of us. In an hour they are gone, and where are their schemes for our promotion? A day has ended their thoughts by ending them; and our trusts have perished, for their thoughts have perished. Men’s ambitions, expectations, declarations, and boastings all vanish into thin air when the breath of life vanishes from their bodies. This is the narrow estate of man, his breath, his earth, and his thoughts; and this is his threefold climax therein, – his breath goeth forth, to his earth he returns, and his thoughts perish. Is this a being to be relied upon? Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. To trust it would be a still greater vanity.”  Spurgeon


It does remind me of Ecclesiastes—no wonder the literature teachers love Ecclesiastes.   But notice, it’s trusting in man that caused this bleakness.