God of the Powerless
He gives justice to the oppressed and food to the hungry. The LORD frees the prisoners. The LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are weighed down. The LORD loves the godly. The LORD protects the foreigners among us. He cares for the orphans and widows, but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.
There is a sense in which "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34, KJV). He cares about each individual. He knows the heart of each human being. His guidance is sovereign over all, from the lowliest servant to the most powerful sovereign.
Yet, in many passages of Scripture, the Lord shows a particular care for those who are powerless, for those who are often victims of the powerful. Psalm 146 is such a passage. This psalm regards as joyful those "who have the God of Israel as their helper" (146:5). In particular, this includes the oppressed, to whom God gives justice; the hungry, whom God feeds; the prisoners, whom God sets free; and the blind, whose eyes will be healed. Those who are weighed down by earthly burdens will be lifted up. Those who are righteous will receive God's love. Foreigners, who lack legal protection, will receive divine protection. Orphans and widows, who are particularly vulnerable in a society built around male provision, will be cared for by God. And the wicked will have their evil plans frustrated.
Does this mean God does not help those who have power and food, those whose eyes are healthy and who are flourishing in this life? No. If those who are blessed with earthly things choose to live rightly, if they avoid evil, then they will be loved by God and their plans will be fulfilled.
For those who are powerless, Psalm 146 offers a word of hope. If you are oppressed, hungry, and otherwise weighed down, God is on your side. God is your helper.
For those who are powerful, Psalm 146 offers an implicit word of exhortation. Should we not help those for whom God is their helper? Should we not join God in his work of doing justice, feeding the hungry, freeing the prisoners, and the like? Indeed, these actions are part and parcel of being the godly ones whom God loves. As it says in James 1:27, "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How are you joining God in his work of caring for the powerless? Are there people in your life whom you can offer to help in God's name, even today?
PRAYER: God of justice and compassion, thank you for caring about all people. Thank you for being particularly attentive to the needs and struggles of the powerless. Thank you, Lord, for the ways you have graciously reached out to me when I have been powerless and needy.
I still need you every day, Lord, no doubt about it. Yet, I have been entrusted with power and resources in order to join you in your work of justice and compassion in this world. Help me to see the needs of those around me. Help me to reach out in love to those whom I can help. May my heart be open to those who are hurting in our world, so that I might extend your love to them in tangible ways, for your glory. Amen.