A striking feature of the psalm is the composer’s confidence about the current circumstances of which he was aware. We can see this confidence in the tenses of the verbs that he uses in verses 4-9. And we can also see that what God is doing in the present gives confidence to the Psalmist about the future (v. 10). So we could say that message of the psalm is that seeing divine providence will stimulate strong faith.
In verses 1 and 2 the psalmist engages in self-exhortation – he addresses his own soul and calls upon himself to praise God. Why should a godly man have to call upon himself to praise God? The reason is that even the best of us can become lazy in a spiritual sense. We are prone to take the Lord’s goodness for granted.
The psalmist also expresses his spiritual ambition – ‘I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being’ (v. 2). It is good to have healthy ambitions in life because they keep us from being satisfied with whatever we have done. And it is wise to have spiritual ambitions that reveal dedication to God.
It is amazing how often people trust in human leaders to provide the remedy for whatever is happening. Of course, we should pray for our rulers that God would help them. But we should never imagine that they somehow will deliver us. The psalmist states that the princes or prince he had known had not provided deliverance for the nation (vv. 3-4). Instead of being there long enough to solve an issue, he died and with his death his plans came to an end as well. The obvious lesson is not to place our hopes in other humans.
In contrast to the person who is disappointed because the human leader has expired, there is the believer in God (vv. 6-7). Of course, the blessing is not merely in the fact that God will never die because for many millions his endless existence is the greatest threat of all. In addition, a believer is blessed because of what his God will do for him.
The psalmist uses an interesting title for the Lord when he describes him as the God of Jacob. It is a reference to him as the God of the covenant made with one their forefathers that he would bless his descendants, and that would have been an encouragement to the psalmist. The psalmist says to himself, ‘The God who helped Jacob will help all who trust in him whatever their circumstances.’
Then the psalmist turns to consider his God as the creator of all things who keeps his promises to his people. Clearly, one way of receiving spiritual encouragement is to think of the power of God expressed in his creating the world and everything in it. When that God is on a person’s side, what does it matter if powerful people happen to be against him?
The blessings he had experienced cause him to think about what else the Lord can do for his people (vv. 8-10). He proceeds to list seven ways in which God does so – six on their behalf and one against the wicked. No doubt, some of the ways were fulfilled literally, such as delivering prisoners and taking care of the widows and fatherless. Yet some of the ways point more to spiritual help being provided for those described here as righteous.
The obvious point that the psalmist is making is that the Lord is active continually on behalf of his righteous people, whatever situation they find themselves in. This means that he is always aware of what their needs are, be they prisoners, infirm (blind), crushed, migrants and without a protector (widows and fatherless). Moreover the psalmist reminds himself that the Lord always has strong affection for his people. In contrast, the psalmist says that God is working to bring down the plans of the wicked, whoever they are.
The psalmist closes with a resounding call to others to join him in his song. He addresses the real Zionists and reminds them that their King always rules. This is true in the present, even when things may seem to indicate otherwise (after all, our generation is one of the generations that the psalmist had in mind). We are to look at a throne continually, but not at the thrones of men, but at the throne of God. And as we look, we are to praise him for who he is and for what his plans are.