Psalm 34:1-10 (RSV)
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and be glad. O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together. I sought the Lord and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears. Look to Him and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them. O taste and see that the Lord is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in Him! O fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him have no want. The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Psalm 146:5-7 (RSV)
Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry.
Both these Psalms speak to God’s active relationship with the ancient Hebrew people. In return for blessing and praising the Lord, God promises to take care of God’s people. God will answer their prayers, save them from their troubles, execute justice and provide food to the hungry.
But does God always shield people from want simply because they “fear the Lord”? Does God ensure justice for oppressed people and give food to the hungry, only because we look to God for our salvation? I think that both of these Psalms can better be understood within the context of time, culture, and other Biblical passages. I believe that God calls us to Sunday worship, not just for praise, but also so that we might be better equipped for Monday service.
The Sunday bulletin at First Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville states after the Benediction, “End of Worship and Beginning of Service.” On Sunday mornings, we Presbyterians praise the Lord through music, bless the Lord through prayer, and learn to fear the Lord by working to better understand God’s Word, both as written in scripture and as proclaimed from the pulpit. However, as the weekly bulletin notes, beginning on Monday morning, God calls us to do more. Matthew 25, where Jesus asks that we welcome the stranger, attend to the sick and feed the hungry says it best. The prophet Micah’s admonition to, “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God” also helps add context to these Psalms.
These two Psalms of Praise and Thanksgiving provide insight into our relationship with God, but they also ask questions. Quality Christian education, regular worship and prayer can help provide the answers.
Dear God, we know that we ought not to delegate mission and service to others. We lift up our missionaries, aid workers, and others who work to fulfill your command to spread the Good News, feed the hungry and attend the sick.