Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—He remains faithful forever. He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked (Psalm 146: 5-9).
Whose side is God on? Your answer is right here in this Psalm: the oppressed, the hungry, prisoners, the blind, those who are bowed down, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. Here are some of the more intense meanings in the Hebrew language describing their lives:
Crushed, slandered, defrauded, extorted and exploited; perpetually poor and constantly hungry; to bind, to hold captive; having one’s eyes put out; those who live in a state of darkness and spiritual dullness; and a temporary dweller who has no inherited rights.
That’s a long litany of persecution and suffering. But in each instance, the LORD does good things:
- He upholds the cause of the oppressed. He gives food to the hungry. He sets the prisoners free.
- He gives sight to the blind. He lifts up those who are bowed down. He watches over foreigners.
- He sustains the fatherless and the widow.
Consider each of the acts the LORD does for each of these peoples. Aren’t these different forms of freedom? Justice grants freedom, food and care give freedom. Being once blind and now being able to see, that’s certainly freedom. Those who are bowed down are raised up. And the Lord protects and supports the outcasts, the downtrodden and victims. All acts of freedom.
Now in the midst of this passage, there is a line which stands out: The LORD loves the righteous. This tells us three things. First, just because you’re righteous doesn’t mean you’re not going to suffer. Indeed, we are told: But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed (1 Peter 3:14).
Second, your suffering should be a result of doing what is right. So, if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you (1 Peter 4:19).
Thirdly, understand that you will be persecuted because of Whom you belong. Jesus said: If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you (John 15:19).
In this day, in our country, this kind of persecution is rampant. When injustice is the cause, we must do as the prophet Micah tells us: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (6:8). For those of us who are suffering the consequences because of our foolish or sinful choices: Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:22-24). And if we are suffering because we love Christ, two verses: But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44). If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you (Luke 6:29-30). Want to live free? Live free in His righteousness. Live free in His love!