As we near the end of the book of Psalms, the exclamations of praise seem to grow in crescendo after crescendo. The final five psalms begin with the simple and direct command to “Praise the LORD!” but the first of these—Psalm 146—has a particular focus on God’s concern for the poor and oppressed as a primary reason for such praise.
Read Psalm 146. What is the message here to us? What is God saying, especially in Psalm 146:5-9?
As surely as God is Creator of this world (see Ps. 146:6), this Psalm describes God’s continuing work in the world as judge, provider, liberator, healer, helper, and defender—all of these focused on people in specific need of these kinds of help. It is an inspiring vision of what God does and seeks to do in our lives, in our communities, and in our world.
Sometimes we think of caring for the needy as something we ought to do because God said so. But Psalm 146 says this is something God already does—and we are invited to join with Him. When we work against poverty, oppression, and disease, we are truly working with God and His purposes. What greater privilege can there be than partnering with God in fulfilling something as inspiring as Psalm 146?
But there are also benefits for us. Christians often talk about their search for God and their desire to have a closer relationship with Him. Yet, verses like Psalm 146:7-9, and so many others throughout the Bible, indicate to us that one way to find God is to join in with what He does. So, if He is working to lift up the poor, sick, and oppressed, as Psalm 146 says He is, we should be working with Him, as well. “Christ came to this earth to walk and work among the poor and suffering. They received the greatest share of His attention. And today, in the person of His children, He visits the poor and needy, relieving woe and alleviating suffering.
Take away suffering and need, and we should have no way of understanding the mercy and love of God, no way of knowing the compassionate, sympathetic heavenly Father. Never does the gospel put on an aspect of greater loveliness than when it is brought to the most needy and destitute regions”. – Ellen White, Testimonies for the Church, vol. 7, p. 226.
What has been your experience in how we become close to God by serving others?