Psalm 146 (God lifts up those bowed down)

Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save.

When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.

Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them – he remains faithful for ever.

He 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.

The Lord reigns for ever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the Lord.

Psalm 146 sings the story of the Bible – the story of God defeating evil – in contrast to human princes who often do not stand against evil, and worse, often cover it up. Psalm 146 sings of God as the one who upholds the cause of the weak and the powerless, and who “frustrates the ways of the wicked.” God does this through Jesus. Even though Jesus is “the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them” in experiencing the ultimate evil, the ultimate abuse at the hands of humans at the cross, Jesus lays down his life to defeat the power of that very evil for eternity. “The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down” as people come home to God through Jesus, the one who is nothing like their abusers (or nothing like they themselves once were as abusers).

What is abuse? Abuse is the strong preying on the weak, be it domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, or abuse in the workplace. This week we have seen that if we really follow Jesus, there cannot be any place for abuse in the church, in our homes or our workplaces/schools. We have seen that the church gets abuse wrong when it does not use its power to protect the abused, when it allows abuse to stay in the darkness, or worse, tries to cover it up. Jesus shows that there is no place for abuse, or cover-ups anywhere, including in the church. What part will you play as we aim to really follow Jesus, and so not allow any place for abuse in our church, in our homes or our workplaces/schools?

Head: How have your attitudes been changed as you’ve understood that when we really follow Jesus that means there cannot be any place for abuse in our church, in our homes or our workplaces/schools?

Heart: How does your heart respond to Psalm 146’s picture of God as the one who “watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked”?

Hands: What part will you play as we aim to really follow Jesus, and so not allow any place for abuse in our church, in our homes or our workplaces/schools?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, my heart praises you as the one who “watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but who frustrates the ways of the wicked.” Please give courage to our leaders to really follow Jesus and so do their part in giving no place for abuse, or cover-ups anywhere, including in our church. I pray for myself and the people of our church. Help each of us to really follow Jesus, and so play our part in not allowing any place for abuse in our church, in our homes or our workplaces/schools. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.  

Phil Strong