February 11: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah
Throughout the month of February, we are looking at Psalm 146 (NIV) side by side with its metered version from the Psalter. Today, let’s look at the first and second verses of Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, starting in verse 5 of the Psalm.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God.
Happy is the man that chooses Israel’s God to be his aid. He is blessed whose hope of blessing on the Lord his God is stayed.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
Heav’n and earth the Lord created,
the sea, and everything in them.
seas and all that they contain;
He remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed.
he delivers from oppression. Righteousness he will maintain.
He gives food to the hungry.
Food he daily gives the hungry,
The LORD sets prisoners free.
sets the mourning pris’ner free,
The LORD gives sight to the blind; the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down.
raises those bowed down with anguish, makes the sightless eye to see.
The LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the foreigner
Well Jehovah loves the righteous, and the stranger he befriends,
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
helps the fatherless and widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
judgment on the wicked sends.
A friend recently asked me if I knew of any worship songs or hymns that speak to a Biblical approach to justice. Since then, I have looked at the songs that we sing with new eyes, to see if they speak to God’s heart for justice and mercy. Certainly, Scripture is full of the cries of the oppressed, and we see God working his justice for the downtrodden.
Psalm 146 is one of those Scriptures. When we read and sing Psalm 146, we praise God for his justice. We assert that those who follow God are blessed in the present and have hope for the future. We state that we can be assured of this, because we know God to be faithful and powerful. His steadfastness is demonstrated in creation and offered to the oppressed. God gives food to the hungry, sets prisoners free, gives sight to the blind, and lifts up those who are bowed down. He watches over immigrants, orphans, and widows. His plans work together for the good of the upright—those who do what is right and have right standing before God, but he works against those who are wicked.
Perhaps we don’t have too many songs that speak to a how we should approach justice from a Biblical perspective; maybe a few more of our songs praise God for his just character. In praising God for his care for the oppressed and describing the kinds of justice God cares about, “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah” does both.
For Reflection: Read 1 John 4:19-5:5. Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? Do you love the Father? Do you follow God’s commands and seek to do what is right? If you are loving God and loving his children, you are counted among the “righteous” in Psalm 146. Ask God to help you trust his provision—that his plans for you will be good and right, and that you will overcome the world when he returns. Ask God to help you to love his children and to be used as an instrument of his justice and mercy to the hungry, prisoners, disabled, oppressed, immigrants, orphans, and widows.