The psalmist invites us to look to God for support we can count on: “Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob” (niv). The Hebrew word translated “help” implies the strong presence and aid of God in situations of grave vulnerability. Psalm 146 stresses that it is God who takes care of the people in such times, not powerful leaders.
Throughout most of the Old Testament, kings ruled the Jewish community. Their primary job was to ensure the safety and welfare of the people, but often the kings of Israel did not live up to the responsibilities of their position. By the time of the writing of Psalm 146, no king protected Israel: Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and the people made captives in Babylon. No wonder the psalmist disdains the human princes who cannot save and whose plans come to nothing.
Our world differs greatly from ancient Israel, yet many nations experience conditions of hunger, injustice, emotional pain, refugee vulnerability, economic hardship. Political leadership and social systems of support provide needed help but remain susceptible to changing ideologies and budgets. The marginalized of the world continue to suffer. God, on the other hand, attends to the despairing people of the world—often through the presence of men and women who show up in seemingly hopeless and broken places, embodying God’s words of justice advocacy and compassionate action. The psalmist refers to God nine times in verses 6-9, underscoring God’s engagement with the oppressed and presence in their suffering.
We receive blessing when we look to God as the source of help. Where today do we need wise leadership translated into concrete compassionate action?

God, we thank you for being our strength. Give us wise leaders who have compassion for people who need protection and help. Amen.

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I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.” 

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