Psalm 146: 1 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! 2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long. 3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. 4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.
One of the common mistakes that God’s people made in the Old Testament was to seek military help from neighboring nations rather than trusting in the Lord to protect them. Entering these alliances inevitably included recognition, if not outright worship, of pagan gods. A major no-no. This morning I’m particularly drawn to v.3-4:
3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. 4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.
Most of you know that my wife Jana and I have three children: 22, 20, and 16 years of age. We’re at the stage of life in which the children are “leaving” home. Two of them still live with us, but they’re leaving nonetheless. By that I mean, there is greater distance between them and us parents. They are beginning to earn their own money and make their own decisions – particularly the older two. And while a part of me grieves their growing up, another part of me beams with pride.
Yet there are times, especially Christmas, when I remember how things were when the children were little – when they were anything but independent. Especially in their first years, mom and I used to get them up, dress them, feed them, watch them closely all day long. At the end of the day we would feed them, bathe them, dress them in pajamas, read a story, then pray with them as they went to sleep. We were in constant physical contact with them because they depended on us for everything.
What a contrast between then and now.
I bring this up, not merely to be nostalgic, but as an illustration of our relationship with God the Father. Very often we relate with God as adult children who do things mostly on our own. We might seek the Lord in times of trouble, or times of dire need, but most of the time we do our things our way. It’s the picture of an independent adult child relating with a parent.
This is not the picture God the Father has in mind for our relationship with him.
Rather than becoming independent, God wants us to be completely dependent on him for most everything, every day. It’s involves a posture of constant humility and neediness. As the apostle Paul writes in his letters, “When I am weak, then I am strong”. It’s one of the great paradoxes of the faith. We are at our strongest when we are at our weakest, for in our humility and need, the all-powerful God of all Creation steps in on our behalf.
This is the point of which we are reminded this morning by the psalmist. Depending on the things and people of this earth, things that are here today and gone tomorrow, is a mistake. Only our God is everlasting. When we humble ourselves before the Lord in our weakness, the strength of the eternal is released into our lives. This is an important lesson for me today. How about you?
Heavenly Father, our world teaches us to depend on no one. This is not your teaching. Give us grace to humble ourselves before you – for everything. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.