The Functional Prince (Part 2)

Edmund Blair Leighton - A little prince likely in time to bless a royal throne

“Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”- Psalm 146:1

We worship what we treasure, and we often treasure our man-made princes. Those people whose approval we pine after, whose glances we crave, whose qualities we drool over, these are the ordinary acquaintances which we turn into extraordinary dignitaries. We allow them to control us, to alter our moods and to define us. Our worth often becomes based on what they think of us or how well we match up to their glory. In the first post, we examined some questions regarding how to unmask those persons in our lives whom we have conferred royalty upon, the reasons why we should not “fear”, or worship, them, and some reasons why we should covet and prize the beauty of God. Here, we will look at the last six reasons this Psalm gives. Ultimately, the Psalmist is calling us back to proper worship, worship of the One who actually deserves it and worship of the One who can actually give us all that we really need.

7. God exalts the lowly. “The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down,” (v. 8). He has such a careful eye as to see the men and women who stumble under the sufferings of this world. He sees those who bend and fall under the yoke of insecurity, oppression, and fear. This expression of God’s character is distilled in the person of Christ, who invites us with the words, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” (Matthew 11:28-29). For those who turn to Christ there is eternal rest. Because Christ carried His people in His body up the hill to the cross and was punished for their crimes, He can offer them an easier way. Notice, though, that Christ’s rest is not “yoke-less” or “burden-less.” To follow Christ is to take a yoke upon you and to take a burden upon your shoulders. But Christ’s yoke and burden, unlike the yokes and burdens of our functional princes, work for our good and His glory, nourishing us and training us for godliness and right worship.

8. God loves righteous people. The people who are constantly in God’s heart are those who are set apart and upright, for “The LORD loves the righteous,” (v. 8). The world, our natural tendencies, and the spiritual forces waging war against the Kingdom of God treasure evil, darkness, and immorality. They feed on those things which can only bring perpetual death. But God treasures the righteous, those who strive after Him for His glory and their good. Indeed, those who are righteous are those who “live by faith,” (Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11). The righteous are the ones who pursue the LORD’s way by pursuing their everything in Jesus. They are the ones who have abandoned their pursuit of sex, money, fame, the attention of others, and the identities this world is handing out like donuts to pursue their life in the person of Christ, daily repenting of their false worship and resting in His work done on their behalf. They are near to His heart and always on His mind. All other “gods” could not care less about their worshippers, for their supreme commander, Satan, comes only to “steal, kill, and destroy,” (John 10:10) as he “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” (1Peter 5:8). But God loves His worshippers.

9. God watches over those who wander. He “watches over the sojourners,” (v. 9). He keeps an eye on those who have not found their home, those who pursue the pitching of their tents in a land they have never discovered. Surely we all feel a sense of homesickness as we wander around on this planet. Our memories of past Christmases, family vacations, childhood romances, and the like plague us with the realization that “home” has eluded us. We desperately search for a place to call our own. Christians, though, are the ultimate sojourners, because they, by faith, understand that they are truly “strangers and exiles on the earth,” (Hebrews 11:13). They make it their priority to seek a “homeland,” desiring a “better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city,” (Hebrews 11:13-14, 16). This city has been prepared for them by Christ, their glorious Lord and Savior. He told His disciples, as He tells us now, “And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also,” (John 14:3). Our functional princes care nothing for us. They call us only into the wilderness, away from our home, to starve in the wastelands of the world. God, however, watches over those who seek Him in the desert land, and He is preparing for them a glorious home.

10. God fights for those who are defenseless. He “upholds the widow and the fatherless,” (v. 9). In a Biblical culture where men were the main providers, the widow and the fatherless child oftentimes had no support. Even today the widow and the fatherless child are in predicaments. Though our society takes care of these, and though both widows and orphans can, at many times, take care of themselves, they still suffer from loss of companionship and support. Here we find a special category, the widow and the orphan, but the category can also be applied generally. This psalm speaks to those who have experienced loss, to those whose support has been ripped out from underneath them. Our God, though, fights for those who have no strength or support. We hear the battle cry of Nehemiah 4:20, “Our God will fight for us,” and realize that that is exactly what He has done for His people in Christ. God has “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him,” (Colossians 2:15). God has fought for His people in dealing with sin and Satan by His own death and resurrection. Death, our final enemy, is “swallowed up in victory,” (Isaiah 25:8), so now, the worship of Christians is reoriented around God, “who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Corinthians 15:57). There is only death and destructive slavery for those who fear the functional prince. But for those who fear the “Prince of Peace,” (Isaiah 9:6), there is ultimate victory.

11. God executes true justice. It is true that “the way of the wicked he brings to ruin,” (v.9). We all long for justice, don’t we? We see crimes perpetrated daily, injustices committed without end, and all the while we long for everything to be put right. We long for a day when those who live in wickedness will be brought to court. This is bad news for everyone, though, for all are naturally wicked. If we long for true justice without a Saviour, we will all stand naked and exposed before a perfect Judge. But God has brought the way of the wicked to ruin for His people in the body of Christ, for “he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed,” (Isaiah 53:5). To release His people from condemnation and shame, His supreme justice was poured out on the Son at Calvary. And, of course, Christ will come again to bring ruin upon all those who have not turned to Him; “the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous,” (Psalm 1:5). Functional princes will be rendered powerless at Christ’s second coming, and all those who trust in them will be found guilty of false worship.

12. God will rule forever. We mistake the kingdoms of our functional princes for everlasting kingdoms; that’s why we spend so much time pining over them. But “The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations,” (v. 10). The Kingdom of Christ is “a kingdom that cannot be shaken,” (Hebrews 12:28). It truly is “an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion endures from generation to generation,” (Daniel 4:3). This kingdom will survive the ebb of time and will outlast the little worlds and dominions of those we now deem supremely important and worthy of worship.

It is the LORD alone who deserves our utmost attention and worship. Our lives should strive to proclaim “Praise the LORD!” (v. 10) instead of “Praise Bob!” or “Praise Suzy!”. Sadly, though, we all live in a constant struggle where our functional princes threaten our allegiances. Psalm 146, though, loads God’s people up with enough ammunition to fight the enemy as we are tempted. The glory and beauty of our functional princes, however, will always diminish in the supreme Light, Splendor, and Worthiness of our Great God in the face of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.

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