July 16 – Psalm 146 (Downtown)


Note that this week is a standalone sermon, a one-off in between our sermon series in which each Vintage Church location looks at a different text. Below you’ll find the discussion guide for Vintage Church Downtown out of Psalm 146. For groups at Vintage Church Durham, North, West, and Chapel Hill, please refer to your respective pastor or staff member. Next week we’ll all pick up with our next series in John 17.

Main Focus: God wants us to place our hope and security in him rather than the people or things of this world.

Psalm 146 is a sweeping passage in which the author is trying to woo our hearts, encourage us not to fall prey to the temptations to trust the world, and prompt us to praise the Most High. When reading the Psalms, we know they were written to be creative, poetic pieces. Often, we read them as songs and think they’re intended to be purely worshipful or liturgical, but as we read through, we see clear truths and exhortations (urgings) from the writer and words of hope and encouragement.

A common theme in the Psalms is trusting in the Lord, which is exactly what the psalmist encourages us to do. We see this direct comparison and contrast in this passage where we’re told to “Put not your trust in princes” (v3), but in “the God of Jacob” (v5). When the psalmist uses the term prince, read that as any influential person, particularly leaders in and out of government, who you perceive as having some sort of power to help you, provide for you, keep you safe, or make your life better. The psalmist warns that these and all other people will fail us because they are nothing more than us; they’re mortals taken from the dust and destined to return to the dust (Genesis 3:19). In fact, these “princes” are such ultimate failures that the psalmist barely wastes any space on them—they get exactly two verses, while the surpassing nature of God gets the other 8! Men will fail us, simple as that, but God gives us reason after reason after reason to hope in him.

But it’s really worth our time to sit with those two quick verses. In discussion we’ll reflect on what precisely this means and in what ways we are prone to do so. When the psalmist says “put not your trust in,” this isn’t to say, “don’t trust anyone.” This is an utmost trust, something equivalent with salvation as the end of verse 3 puts it; this is someone who, when you think about a desperate need you have in your life or outside yourself, your mind runs to first before running to God. Like, “Yeah yeah, I have Jesus, but what I really need is so-and-so to do ______.” And keep in mind that, out of an individualistic bent, the prince many of us tend to put our trust in is ourselves, or a future version of ourselves. Don’t forget, this prince is mortal too.

Continuing on, we see in verses 7-9 this beautiful portion of the passage describing the goodness of God. Specifically, we’re told of the mercy he shows and has on the least, the last, and the lost. Verse 7 tells us that he is a God who “executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry,” and that he “set prisoners free.” We often hold this preconception that the “God of the Old Testament” is a God purely of anger and wrath, but reading on, we see this language of God being merciful, kind, gentle, and just. 

“He opens the eyes of the blind,” “lifts up those who are bowed down,” and “loves the righteous” (v8). Even in verse 9, it’s written that “the Lord watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless.” The CSB translation lends us another perspective of this verse, as it says, “The Lord protects resident aliens, and helps the fatherless and the widow.” This is a God of mercy, compassion, and care, particularly towards the vulnerable; orphans, widows, and refugees. How glorious is it that we worship a God who shows compassion to those who are weak and vulnerable?

As we enter discussion this week, we’ll take a look at what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus regarding verse 9. What would our gospel-driven community look like if we sought ways to care for and shepherd the most vulnerable in our city or neighborhood? Passages like Psalm 146 should (1) encourage us to trust in the Lord with our lives, knowing that his goodness has no end (v10), (2) remind us to remain alert concerning the things of this world that seek our attention, trust, and focus (1 Pet. 5:8), and (3) give us hope and grow our love for the Lord. His goodness knows no end because he knows no end. “The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!” (v10).

Questions for Discussion
• Could someone read Psalm 146 for us?

• What stood out to you from this psalm?

• Why do you think the psalmist warns us against trusting in “princes”?

• What are some ways you tend to “put your trust in princes”?

• What does this psalm say about God’s character?

• Look at verse 5—why do you think hoping in God leads to us being called “blessed”?

• Verses 7-9 talk about God’s care for the vulnerable. What are some ways we, as a group, can live according to his priority?