After directing us to give passionate and life-long praise to God (vv. 1, 2), Psalm 146 instructs, "Do not put your trust in princes" (v. 3). This is a clear command, followed by some powerful rationale. So while we pray for our elected officials every shabbat and seek to live respectful, law-abiding honorable lives of kiddush Hashem, we must embrace the truth that people are not the object of our hope. Here are the reasons:
Political leaders cannot save us from our deepest problems both here and in Israel – Psalm 146 continues by clarifying that we do not place our hope in leaders because, as politically great as they may seem, they are mere people who cannot save us from our personal problems and sometimes they cause more problems than they solve.
The solutions of political leaders are temporary – King David affirms the transient nature of every leader because "His breath leave him, and he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish" (v. 4). We've all witnessed the back-and-forth of political parties, the erasure of executive orders and the toppling of partisan influence.
Only hope in God provides ultimate and lasting help – "Blessed is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God" (v. 5). Meditate on this powerful promise of blessing. Consider a similar teaching passage in Psalm 20, which is a prayer for David the king of Israel. In that intercessory psalm, we find these words: "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God" (Ps. 20:7). It is also a reminder to the people of that day, and to us, that our hope is not in a king or political system but in the "name of the Lord our God."
He is our ultimate hope because He created us – The creator and designer of any object or system has the best insight as to how to fix the problems of his creation. Our God is the one "who made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that is in them" (v. 6), and He alone has the ultimate power and wisdom to solve the deepest problems of mankind.
He is our ultimate hope because He alone is faithful – Our God "keeps faithfulness forever" (v. 6) or paraphrasing, "He always keeps his promises." Unlike many politicians, God's word is sure, reliable and unchanging.
He is our ultimate hope because His justice is perfect – Our God "executes justice for the oppressed" (v. 7). His decrees and discernment about any issues or needs are all-wise and all-good.
He is our ultimate hope because He is a sufficient provider – Our God "gives food to the hungry" (v.7). He knows the needs of humanity and has the power to provide for their needs.
He is our ultimate hope because He brings true freedom – "The Lord releases the prisoners" (v. 7). Countless individuals in our society are physically, spiritually, mentally or emotionally enslaved, addicted and in bondage.
He is our ultimate hope because He heals our blindness – "The Lord opens the eyes of the blind" (v. 8).
He is our ultimate hope because He raises up the oppressed – "The Lord raises hose who are bowed down" (v. 8). This is the only way the Jewish people survived thousands of years of oppression, persecution and genocide.
He is our ultimate hope because He loves those who choose to do right – "The Lord loves the righteous" (v. 8).
He is our ultimate hope because He provides for the strangers – He gives His people, Divine wisdom and compassion to respond to those who come into our nation, looking for hope because "the Lord preserves the sojourners" (v. 9).
He is our ultimate hope because He cares for the disadvantaged because He "lifts up the fatherless and widow" (v. 9).
He is our ultimate hope because He destroys wickedness "on the way of the wicked He brings disaster" (v. 9).
He is our ultimate hope because His reign is eternal – "The Lord shall reign forever, your God, O Zion, unto all generations" (v. 10). He is everlasting and unchanging.