Psalm 146 (Psalms on the Trail)

Psalm 146

Put not your trust in rulers,

in mortals in whom there is no help….

Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help,

whose hope is in the Lord their God….

who gives justice to those who are oppressed,

and food to those who hunger.

The Lord sets the captive free…

Psalm 146: 3,5,7

Whom do you trust?  Don’t trust in rulers to help, says the psalmist.  At one time I would have argued with the psalmist and pointed out the advantages of a democratic government with elected officials. But like many people in this country over the last couple of years, I have become disillusioned in the ability of our elected government to accomplish its work on behalf of the people.  For a democracy to work well, people with differing views need to negotiate and make compromises.

I can hear the psalmist responding: well, what did you expect?  God is our help and hope.

The psalmist is right—our help is ultimately in God, not rulers or governments (although ideally governments can do their part in helping with some of the priorities mentioned in this psalm.) But Jesus showed us what God’s help looks like: ordinary people, sometimes one at a time, sometimes working together in groups, doing the tasks of feeding the hungry, freeing those oppressed by the system (including the religious system), speaking the truth, and being a neighbor to the hurting…not waiting for the next person to do it.  No longer can I assume that the larger system will do the right thing.  I must take steps in my own small way as I am able to do the things God is passionate about. Therein likes God’s help. Hasn’t God’s help come to me through people?  So why wouldn’t I occasionally expect that God’s help come through me to reach others. (Check out the rest of the Psalm 146 to see the full list of God’s priorities for helping.)

Actually, to actively be God’s help, God’s hands, God’s feet, God’s comfort, is a much more meaningful way of living, don’t you think,  than to sit on the sidelines waiting for a gridlocked system to do something?  God created us to love our neighbors as ourselves, not wait for rulers to do it for us.  Maybe the struggle our nation is going through will spark us to speak the truth more clearly and do God’s help more energetically.


1. Read the verse and reflect on its meaning for you.  What do you notice?  What do you wonder?

2. Read all of Psalm 146 and see how this verse fits into the whole.

3. Or comment with a photo of your own that is a window of this psalm’s meaning for you.

The next post will be on Psalm 147.

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting an (almost) daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.