The Proper Placement of our Praise (Psalm 146) by Bro. John Lao

There was a song that was written by the pop icon Prince entitled Nothing Compares To You. This is made popular by Sinead O’Connor. This song was about a household-help of prince who left for her family. And, si Prince, greatly benefited from the labour of his former helper. She made sure that his favourite drink is always ready, the house is clean, and his clothes are well ordered. And because of that he wrote a song to praise her and to tell her nothing compares to you. How much more when we think of our God? How much more when we think about the King of the universe? The One who has authored all things and sustains them by the word of His power? We can definitely say that none could compare to Him the Thrice holy, who dwells in unapproachable light. He saves, He is able to deliver and He’s able to secure His people through His Son and because of that, unto Him is our proper placement of our grace.

Let’s go now to the word of God and this afternoon, we’ll look at the New Testament in the Book of Psalms. So please open with me to Psalm chapter 146. I’ll be reading the entire chapter Psalm chapter 146. This is the inherent and infallible word of God that reveals who God is. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!

Let us come before God in prayer. Oh Lord and our God, indeed all praises are do Your Name and it is our prayer knowing that we are encumbered by our remaining sins that though we desire to praise You with all of our souls and all of our beings, it is imperfect. We pray oh God that though imperfect, recognising that our good work is acceptable by virtue of Christ. We pray oh God that this gospel, in it we would find encouragement to commit ourselves in a lifelong praise unto Your Name knowing how good and gracious You are towards your saints. We pray this in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Surveying the Psalms kind of takes you into a roller coaster ride. We see themes such as God’s faithfulness being declared upon His people, the deliverance of His people from their bondage to slavery, the blessedness of keeping the ways of our Lord and His instructions, and as well as the warnings that are given to those who would persist in their wickedness. And we’re also taken to a wide spectrum of emotions. John Calvin calls the Psalms as an “anatomy of the soul” in which we find every expression of the heart whether grief, sorrow, doubt, hope, cares, perplexities in the psalters, from rejoicing all the way to lamentation, from despairing to hoping, and seeing all these taking place that there is a promise, there is a conflict, we would wonder how the story would end. At least when you look at the entirety of the book of Psalms, and the last five songs collectively known as the Hallelujah Psalms in which kasama yung Psalm 146, tells us that it concludes with the grace of God. That God’s people will indeed be able to say hallelujah. “Hallel” means praise and “jah” is a shorthand version of the name of God, the personal name of God “Yahweh.” So when you say hallelujah, we are praising the one true God. And each of this songs from Psalms 146 all the way to Psalms 150, it begins and ends with Hallelujah, praise the Lord, giving praise to the one true and living God Yahweh. And in many ways, this Psalm relates much on how the psalm began. Blessed is he who walks not in the counsel of the wicked. Those kind of themes, the blessed ones, they’re being identified. It cites the righteous and contrast them with the wicked and how God deals with both. It cautions us from trusting nobles or influential people, high ranking officials over God who is undeniably faithful and truthful, who is unquestionably caring and sustaining over His people, and who would undyingly reign and rule forever and ever. In other words, it retells the assurance and security that those who belong to Him have. And contrasting it against the fickle hope of those who deny Him, who reject Him, which leads their life into a.. into various dangers, perils and ruins. And this Psalm is a personal expression… so as you look at from chapters 146 to 150, it progresses from an individual who corporate for a.. from a community into encouraging all creations from heaven and earth to praise His name and up until it concludes telling that all that has breath, praise the Lord. And the intention is to put our praises and to put our focus on the One who deserves all of our praises. Verse two says I will praise the Lord as long as I live, I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. It transcends not only in the present life that we have right now, but as saints, we believe that we will for all eternity be praising God in heaven. God, as He graciously gives us days, now that we are in the present, He should be the so object of our praise. We should not… we are warned to look and to find our confidence upon Man who is here today and gone one night. Why? because God is God is who He is. As He has revealed Himself in scripture infinite, holy. And not only that, He is gracious and merciful to sinners like you and I. And on this side of fulfillment though through God’s inherent and infallible word, we are shown who God is and what He is like in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. We’ve also been given the good news that what He has accomplished for us His life, His death and His resurrection. Being recipients of this good news of salvation for us sinners, should rightly place our praise to God Himself. And that is my message for this afternoon. God is the only worthy recipient of our praise and trust. And when you look at Psalm chapter 146, it tells us where it shouldn’t be first of all. It shouldn’t be with man, that’s the first point Where It Shouldn’t Be. But it also tells us and directs our attention on Where It Should Be; that’s going to be our second point.

So let’s first look at the first point, Where It Shouldn’t Be. And beginning verse three, the psalmist brings a word of caution against setting their trust upon man. And he gives this reason— a fellow human being, even with the best of their abilities, can ensure neither safety nor deliverance. There is no salvation from them sinabi ng psalmist in verse four. When the man dies, he returns to the ground; in dust, he would return because it is from dust where he came from.

And along with the plans the good and the welfare that He has promised and planned for His people, the one whom He is ruling over it will die along with Him. That any thought for the future welfare or well-being comes to an end by the time the person is gone. He cites princes, nobility, not the princess, a female princess but a nobility someone who is in high position. But generally the word is used to refer to someone who is influential. And because they often had the responsibility on the welfare of the people, at kapag ganun, you would think as a person, then he is in charge of my well-being. He is in charge for my future. I would look upon this person and trust him because he is the one who will give me security in all my days. But at the end of the day, he is just a son of man, just like every one of us, He is just a mere mortal. Every man is finite, imperfect, limited, bound, fleeting like a vapour, that is here in the moment and gone in a while. Therefore, we’ve been issued with a warning that misplacing our assurance in mere man is of no advantage to us. Finding security in man is futile not because it would simply be unsustainable in the long run for us. But if we trust man instead of God, we would be guilty of appreciating the means more than the source. And appreciating the channel to which God gave His benefit more than God, will in fact cause us to commit the sin of idolatry when in fact the scripture is calling us to put our trust in no one else but the Lord Himself. The people of Israel looking at their history, they have been notorious from drifting away from their trust in God by putting their trust on other nations around them, by seeking their help instead of God. And they even went as far as wanting to become like the pagan nations. Meron silang hari, kailangan din namin ng hari.

We also wanted the king. They have their chariots, we also want our own chariots. They are innumerable and far stronger than we are, we want to be innumerable as well and to become as strong as the other nation. And when they were led in the wilderness, they grumbled and they were thinking thoughts about Egypt. Mas okay ang buhay namin doon. It has been much better when we were in Egypt. And worse, they wanted to have the gods the same as the gods of the other nation. It didn’t take long for them in fact to look at the other nations to have their own gods. Even within the wilderness, they sought to make a golden calf and they made an idol for themselves. And by rejecting the one true God, they have become idolators, trusting the creature and preferring the work of human hands rather than the Creator Himself. And this is the the same thing when we put our trust and our security upon mere man. Jeremiah 17:5, the Lord condemns those who put their trust in man saying “cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.” And so the psalmist again in chapter 118:9 says it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. In companies, leaders and managers and in fact all employees would come and go. We love those who work and lead and manage well and we would want to to make them stay for long as much as possible kasi gusto natin yung pamamalakad nila. Gusto natin yung trabaho nila. But then, come a change of plan, nagkaroon ng opportunity, nagkaroon ng other plans within the family which affected their work, they have resigned, they accepted other ventures. And often people would ask what’s gonna happen to us? Paano na yung future? Paano na yung mga plans that we have initially planned even before the start of the year? The same can be said to the ones whose confidence and security are settled in man. It is just a matter of time that we would ask the same question. And to borrow the words of Solomon, trusting in princes nobles or any man is vanity. It is like striving after the wind. And we all have our share in struggles, friends and brothers and sisters, in the present life. Hindi ko dini-discount yun and often times, we would truly depend on the support of others dahil nakakatulong naman talaga sila. However, we are being reminded by the word of God today, be careful not to misplace our trust.

Perhaps in the present ability of the person or an institution perhaps. Man could provide temporal aid and support in the trials that we are experiencing, in our needs. But you know what? There lies a deeper need for each and every one of us. And it has been stated already by the psalmist here in verse three, we need salvation. We are sinners. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot take ourselves away from our own misery because of our sin. That is the deeper issue and mere mortals like us cannot and will not be able to provide that solution for it. Though a son of man, there is an a human being could not be trusted because of his fleeting nature. The Son of man Jesus Christ truly gives hope to those who believe in Him as their Lord and Saviour. Luke 19:10 he said for the Son of man came to save and seek the lost.” Through His perfect life and sacrificial death, we have been provided pardon and salvation from sin. And for us believers we can rest upon this truth because He is our resurrected Redeemer. He did not remain dead. And if you are not in Christ, there is no salvation for you. The same thing that the psalmist have said that when you put your trust in man, when you put your your trust on any earthly security, there’s nothing that will take you away nor save you from your sins. So heed the word of the psalmist. Realise that ultimately, we cannot have assurance on an earthly perspective. With other men, we can’t have assurance nor security apart from Jesus Christ. And therefore, put your trust in the rightful recipient of our trust, and that is our Lord that you may receive salvation, that you may be reconciled to God in whom you have sinned against. And when we are freed from man-dependence, it inevitably leads us to put our security and confidence and hope to the one who truly saves and secures us, and that is Christ. We trust His work and as well as His words that being saved, we are now trusting upon the wonderful promises of His truths. We are now following and obeying His will written to us in His holy word, shaping our lives and developing the Godly convictions that we ought to follow as the people of God. And having such assurance, kung meron na tayo nung greater assurance, do not go down… not just a step down, but putting yourselves into peril. If you have a great assurance already, guard against having an inordinate trust upon man. And if you have any inclinations of it, mortify.. mortify the sin of trusting man. Have you put your trust upon someone or something other than God? Maybe a person you have been deriving much benefit from, maybe a person who has been supporting you very much, a job that maintains the needs of your family, perhaps the civil government, a relationship that brings you much happiness. How do you respond when things also don’t go your way? Kapag hindi nabigay sa atin ng tao na pinagkakatiwalaan natin, ang inaasahan natin. If they fail to meet your expectation, how are we guarding ourselves from the sin of putting our confidence upon these things over God? Our fellow men are just like each and every one of us— weak and mortal. We change the depending on the conditions and our situations in life. But our God is unchanging. He is immutable, He’s unchanging in His being, His plan and His love for His people.

And His word is faithful and proven faithful. And we know that because Christ has come. Christ was raised from the dead after making a sacrifice for our sins. What kind of influences that are driving or influencing your thinking? And the way you make your decisions for your household, for your family, the way you converse with them, the way you convey the truth of God. Does it really show that God is the One to whom they ought to trust? Yun ba yung pinapakita natin sa ating mga pamilya? to your friends? to your colleagues at work? And when man, when we receive benefits from them, I’m not also saying that we do not show any appreciation to them na kapag may ginawang mabuti sa iyo ang tao, wag ka na lang magsalita, wag ka mag-show ng appreciation.. we’re not saying that. We can still show our gratitude and our appreciation, but the problem begins when we unhealthily depend our security and our lives upon someone or something. And at times, talagang nangayari rin sa atin ito as believers. When we enjoy the benefits so much, when we are receiving much benefit and support from it. We may not openly admit, and kapag tinanong ka siguro ng kapatid mo, nagde-develop ka na ba ng idol concerning this person? We would flat out say no! But take these things away. Doon makikita yung real picture. Doon makikita yung actual, yung totoo na nasa puso natin. And if you could just imagine, think of something that you are depending your lives upon, and imagine for a second na wala yun sa buhay natin or let’s say God has taken that thing away. How would you react? How would you react if God would take away the one on whom we are depending our lives and our happiness on and security.

May warning si Richard Sibbes. And I’d like to quote him. “If we would examine ourselves, the best of us all, it would bring us to our knees and make our faces confounded to consider what deal of atheism there is in our hearts that needs to be subdued.” It is essentially atheism when we prefer the benefit over God Himself, the Source of our benefits.. that we would prefer the one in whom we are receiving the blessing, rather than the source of it. And if you find yourself drifting from your trust upon God in place of someone or something, let His word that tells us of the trustworthiness of God demonstrated in Christ in whom we have salvation and hope, help us turn away from our man-dependence so that we could live our lives in humble dependence upon the Lord Himself, in whom we should find our grace and trust. And it is where it should be.

We will go now to our second point Where It Should Be. We’ll talk about where we ought to put our praise and trust. The psalmist now turned turns our attention on whom we should trust from the negative sinabi niya, do not put your trust in princes or the son of man to the positive on the One who could provide sure help and hope. And he looks and points to no other than the God of Jacob; the God who was revealed Himself, the God who is compared to the other gods of the pagan nation, is one true and living, the God who is living, the one who was promised that he will dwell in Zion forever and ever with His people, the Lord Yahweh. And He declares that those who trust in Him which is essentially securing one’s help and hope from the Lord are blessed objectively. They are blessed not because they have a better standard of life or standard of living, but they are blessed because they have God’s favour upon them. Why do we know that? He sites the compelling reasons in verses 5 to10, emphasising the greatness, the goodness and as well as the grace of God that unlike any man who is fleeting, God is eternal, He shall never die, His rule and reign lasts not only for a lifetime but for everlasting to everlasting. And if the Lord who is eternal faithfully cares and sustains His people and He does, then finding your security, finding our security and hope in God is profitable. We have more than enough encouragement to look to no other than the Lord our God. Those who truly rest their hope upon Him find true security because unlike man who cannot save, whose plans can to not last, God on the contrary can. And He can assure that what He has promised, what He has declared will come to pass. The Lord is most powerful. We would look upon creation, we would look upon the fact that He has created the seas and the heavens and the earth. He is most faithful, He is reliable, He is trustworthy, He will not deny Himself nor will He deceive you for He is holy, righteous and pure. He is most merciful, He comes as a help to those who are weak and lowly and He is most gracious. He sets the captives free, He opens the eyes of the blind, He faithfully cares and sustains His people. The one true God had unveiled His power in creation. He has also shown His character in His word. And we see the word personified as well becoming flesh in the person of Christ Jesus, God the Son came down from heaven, assumed flesh so that He might become our salvation. He is the Creator God as we are told by the author of Hebrews in Chapter 1: 2 to three that it was through Him that all things were created. And here’s the amazing thing— that He upholds the universe by the word of His power. His faithfulness is demonstrated by submitting Himself unto the will of the Father in order to redeem His bride. And His faithful love is also demonstrated upon us whom He came to redeem, that while we were yet sinners, He died for us. Romans 5:8. And in our scripture reading earlier, He explicitly told in Luke chapter 21 that as He read the prophet Isaiah, sinabi niya today. This scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. The prophet Isaiah looked forward to the coming of the Messiah that He would bring the good news that would set free the captives that would open the eyes of the blind. And as Jesus read the scripture, He said that you are looking at it. You are looking to the fulfillment. The one who would proclaim the good news of the Kingdom’s arrival, liberty to the captives and when John the Baptist doubted and questioned Jesus, he pointed the disciples of John and said look at the miracles. He pointed them back to the word of God and said He fulfilled it and He is the one whom we are waiting for, showing that He is the Christ and showing that He is to whom we ought to trust and the one whom we are looking forward to.

Through the person of Christ, we have been given grace in great measure.

Through Him we have been set free from the bondage of sin. We have been given the eyes of faith and the ears to be able to understand His gracious promises that as God becomes the most desirable being in our hearts, we might praise Him with all our soul and with all of our being, for as long as we live, for as long as our day continues that we can find sure hope in Him. And as our faithful Redeemer whoever lives, He ensures our preservation and care. He satisfies our hunger and thirst for righteousness. He is faithful in sanctifying His people through His word, washing us, cleansing us, renewing us, healing us from all the maladies caused by sin. And for the weak saints, particularly yung sinight dito ng psalmist—the widows, the fatherless, he constantly show his love through the church. And the Apostle Paul, if you remember in 1 Timothy chapter 4 or five, that he takes notice.. chapter 5.. he takes notice of the widows to ensure that the church would honour them, and that honour is not simply galangin ninyo ang mga matatanda, hindi yun heh. Provide for them, care for them. These are the widows that do not have their families anymore. And through the church, pinapakita rin ng Panginoon ang Kaniyang pagmamahal sa mga needy, sa mga lonely saints.. that though they lack the biological families, we have a spiritual family in the church. But to those who do not believe in the Son, do note that the psalmist also gave a warning. Verse 9 said the way of the wicked he brings to ruin which means that if you have a plan, and if you are wicked, the Lord Himself will make it crooked. He will not let it come to pass. We would see that somehow wickedness is progressing at the present time, but ultimately once Christ comes again, their plans would perish. And they would be judged eternally. And if you are that person, categorically when you reject Christ and do not believe in Him, you will be part of those wicked people, unbelieving sinners who would be judged by God in His second coming. And if you do not repent of your sins now, there is an expectation of judgment. And as the author of Hebrews said it would be a terrifying thing to fall in the hands of a holy God.

And so recognising the grace that we have received in Christ, is Christ the most desirable for you? Do we praise Him for who He is and what He has done? How are we showing our appreciation to God for His love and His grace? For not only showing it to us, but sending His Son demonstrating His love and applying it through the Holy Spirit that is in the believer. In all your days brethren, friend, let God be the object of your praise and trust.. highest praise, absolute trust. But often, hindi tayo encouraged ‘no to praise God. Well, we could say that. Let’s say we would say uy! praise God, praise God for what is happening in your life. But often times that could also become just a Christian way of saying that’s good! Familiarity truly reads contempt in our hearts, it could. We could reduce saying praise God as a way to commend what is good, that is happening in the life of a brethren. But when we utter such words, when we utter the words “hallelujah, praise the Lord.” do we really praise Him? Do we really recognise the fact that any good as people who have transgressed against God, is given to us by His grace? And that alone gives us the reason to praise Him at magpasalamat sa Kaniya. And when you find yourself alone, do you find yourself praising Him? The fact that you were able to wake up this morning. Even more, gather with the church, even more, God is using your vocation, your family, the church to show His love and care for you. Reflect regularly in the gospel dear brethren. Balik- balikan natin ang gospel that we may be motivated to praise our God. To rouse yourself in a joyful praise unto our God, not just individually. Let it also culminate as we gather here on the Lord’s day with the church in Zion. Here in the church every Lord’s day, we have been given the privilege to sing praises and to publicly declare our praise and Hallelujahs to God. And here’s the thing: if you find yourself again unmotivated to praise God, continue coming to church. Dito, you won’t miss out the gospel. You won’t miss out on the motivation that would enable you to praise God. If sa labas, six days of the week, sobrang busy nyo sa trabaho, minsan, magigising ka pa lang ng 5:30, may chat na sa iyo ang boss mo, na miss out mo na yung quiet time mo. But when you come and gather with a church on the Lord’s day, you will be able to look forward to hear the gospel.

And that will enable us as we receive Christ, His sustaining grace to motivate us to praise Him. Not only that, not only from the preached word, but on the visible word as the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper is being administered right before our eyes. And you experiencing it directly when we partake of the bread and drink of the cup. Hindi lang tayo napapaalalahanan ng gospel, but we are receiving Christ Himself. And recognise also that you are called to share the love of Christ towards your brethren. And in the church, are we fulfilling our obligations to God in our giving? In the proclamation of the Gospel? In our service to our fellow needy saints? Caring for their needs? Do you delight in Christ again brethren? Do you see Him as the supreme object of our affection?

And how are we showing our absolute trust in Him? And if you challenged, in what ways do you find it difficult for you to praise and trust God? If God has graciously condescended upon our health, He is gracious to provide exactly that, church.

A German martyr was burned in 1527 and he goes by the name of George Carpenter. His accusation.. the accusation against him, merong apat, because the Roman Catholic Church knew that he did not believe in the priests being able to forgive man’s sins, that man could call upon God out of heaven, that God was in the bread during the Lord’s Supper which is the common belief of the Roman Catholic church, and that the water used for baptism particularly for infant baptism, can infuse grace upon the the infant. And so he was sentenced to be burned. And as the hangman is preparing for him to be burned, sinabi ng isang brethren, that give us a sign or give us a token that really affirms your devotion to Christ as you are being burned. Sinabi ni George Carpenter his last words, almost his last words.. because you know what his last words were? “Jesus.” He was calling upon the name of Christ. Eto yung sinabi niya: “This shall be my sign and token that so long as I can open my mouth, I will not cease to call upon the name of Jesus.” We have the freedom to worship, we are able to speak, we have been talking about the theology of talk. We have learned that we have redeemed hearts. Not that we have redeemed hearts, isn’t that too much to declare the praise of our God to call the name of Christ… call upon the name of Christ and to proclaim His gospel to those people who haven’t heard of it. That they too may praise the name of the Lord our God. And this is a tremendous encouragement to us— that even at the point of death, for as long as we can utter words, may the words that we would utter is the praise of our Lord. He has shown to us His greatness and goodness in the person of Jesus Christ who accomplished His work on the cross that delivers us from the greatest danger brought about by sin so that our praise and our trust might have its proper placement. May God’s word continue to renew our minds and may put it in our hearts to give praise us to His holy name.

Let’s pray. We praise you indeed oh Lord. Thank You for being so graciousupon us oh Lord. Thank You for giving Christ, the personification of Your gracious fulfillment of the saving work that You have promised for your people. We pray Lord that because of who He is and what He has done, may He be the object of our praise in all the days of our lives. We pray this in Jesus’ Name, amen

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