Trust in Princes
Self-Talk in the Midst of a Mess

Trust in Princes

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"Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish." - Psalm 146:3-4 (ESV)

In Psalm 146, there is a litany of leadership qualities that sets God apart from most human leaders. Granted that God is God and we are not, these are leadership benchmarks, against which, we might evaluate our own effectiveness as leaders and the effectiveness of our elected leaders.

Perhaps it could inform how we think about our voting responsibilities.

Here is what God does:

  • The LORD sets the prisoners free (America leads the world in mass incarceration.).
  • The LORD opens the eyes of the blind. ( a high regard for truth and more)
  • The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down. (builds up rather than tears down people)
  • The LORD loves the righteous. (always on the side of justice and truth)
  • The LORD watches over the sojourners. (welcomes the stranger and refugee)
  • God upholds the widow and the fatherless. (bias for the poor, oppressed, and marginalized)
  • God brings the way of the wicked to ruin. (stands against corruption and wickedness)

It  is a model for people, and specifically leaders who want something to survive after their plans perish with them.

We either treat our leaders with blind trust and awe or with disrespect, contempt, and disgust.

It is hard to find the middle ground where we honor them, recognize their limitations and humanity, and see them as temporary occupiers of a role that they will one day surrender to another.

FDR did not finish the New Deal; LBJ did not complete the architecture of a Great Society; Nixon did not give us a Just and Lasting Peace; they all left office, dead or alive, with unfinished plans.

So will we.

So will every leader. Our plans perish when they depend upon us.

On the other hand,to the extent that these and others offered plans that were part of a larger plan of God and invested in other people who caught a vision and took them to the next level with God's help and guidance, they survived.

It was not about faith in humans, but it God who guides, leads, and brings to pass.

Even, and especially, Jesus, understood and modeled this. He spent most of His ministry teaching His plan to the "next generation" of leaders and then, completed His work by dying and rising. He returned from death, gave His final lessons, and commissioned the church to take His plan and vision to all future generations.

He commissioned only a church, not a government, prince, or corporation, to execute, propagate, and lead His not-of-this-world kingdom of grace.

That is how plans survive.


Psalm 146 New International Version (NIV)

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

I will praise the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Do not put your trust in princes,
    in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
    on that very day their plans come to nothing.
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.

The Lord reigns forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.

New International Version (NIV)  - Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.