[The LORD] upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets prisoners free,
the LORD gives sight to the blind,
the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,
the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
There is one sense in which “God is no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34, KJV). God cares about each individual. God knows the heart of each human being. God is sovereign over all, from the lowliest servant to the most powerful ruler.
Yet in many passages of Scripture the Lord shows a particular care for those who are powerless, for those who are victims of the powerful. Psalm 146 is such a passage. This psalm regards as joyful “those whose help is the God of Jacob” (Psalm 146:5). In particular, this includes the oppressed, to whom God gives justice; the hungry, whom God feeds; prisoners, who will be freed; and the blind, whose eyes will be healed. Those who are weighed down by earthly burdens will be lifted up. Those who are righteous will receive God’s love. Foreigners who lack legal protection will receive divine protection. Orphans and widows, who are particularly vulnerable in a society built around male provision, will be cared for by God. And the wicked will have their evil plans frustrated.
Does this mean God does not help those who have power and food, those whose eyes are healthy and who are flourishing in this life? No. According to Psalm 146, if those who are blessed with earthly things choose to live rightly, if they avoid evil, then they will be loved by God and their plans will be fulfilled.
Yet for those who are powerless Psalm 146 offers a compelling word of hope. If you are oppressed, hungry, and otherwise weighed down, God is on your side. God is your helper.
For those who been entrusted with some measure of power, Psalm 146 offers an implicit word of exhortation. Should we not help those for whom God is their helper? Should we not join God in his work of doing justice, feeding the hungry, freeing the prisoners, watching over the foreigner, and the like? Indeed, these actions are part and parcel of being the godly ones whom God loves. As it says in James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Something to Think About:
How are you joining God in his work of caring for the powerless?
Are there people in your life whom you can offer to help in God’s name, even today?
Something to Do:
Prayerfully consider one way you can join God’s work as pictured in Psalm 146:7-9. Then, as the Spirit leads you, do something that makes a difference for someone who needs God’s help through you.
Gracious God, God of justice and compassion, thank you for caring about all people. Thank you for being particularly attentive to the needs and struggles of the powerless. Thank you, Lord, for the ways you have graciously reached out to me when I have felt powerless and needy.
I still need you every day, Lord, no doubt about it. Yet I have been entrusted with power and resources in order to join you in your work of justice and compassion in this world. Help me to see the needs of those around me. Help me to reach out in love to those whom I can help. May my heart be open to those who are hurting in our world, so that I might extend your love to them in tangible ways for your glory. Amen.