by Pastor Bud Talbert
In Psalm 146:3 the reader is advised, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” However, princes can be powerful people. They can have great influence in international discussions. They often have powerful military assets at their disposal. Yet, the psalmist clearly says that in them “there is no salvation,” no rescue, no substantial help.
During the divided kingdom (970-586 BC) Judah and Jerusalem were constantly tempted to look to Egypt and its princes for help against Assyria or Babylon. Isaiah 31:1 captures this tendency “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the Lord!” Israel was putting their trust in Egyptian princes, which this psalm says specifically NOT to do. Why not? Because they cannot save, “in whom there is no salvation.”
The psalmist will elaborate further in the very next verse (4), “When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.” This great prince can die. His breath can depart, and suddenly he is no longer powerful. He can no longer engage in international discussions. Military assets are no longer at his disposal. In fact, NOTHING is at his disposal any longer. He’s dead. He cannot help himself, much less anyone else. What happens to him? He returns to the dust from which he was made (Gen 3:19). But notice the next phrase. On the day of his death his plans perish. This is what makes trusting in people (presidents, prime ministers, parents, etc.) so dangerous. Their best intentions are put in the coffin with them.
But this is not true of Yahweh. Verses 5-6 tell the reader that the one who trusts Yahweh, whose hope is in Him, is blessed, happy. Why? Because (1) this person has sought for help from God and not a powerful but perishable prince. But this person is also happy because (2) he placed his hope in Yahweh his God.
And who is this God we can trust in? Verses 6-9 describe His suitability as a reliable, responsive Helper in nine expressions. He is forever trustworthy and reliable (“keeps faith forever”). That is, He is willing and able to bring to fruition that for which we have trusted Him. He alone is just toward those bereft of justice among mere men (“who executes justice for the oppressed”). He feeds the hungry, frees prisoners, makes blind eyes see, lifts the fallen, loves the righteous, guards travelers, and is the champion of widows and orphans. In other words, unlike earthly princes, God is eminently trustworthy. He alone is completely worthy of our hopeful confidence. Why? Because His sovereignty never ends. And for that we should praise Him (verses 1-3, 10). What a God we can trust in!