Psalm 146 – Underdog

Praise the Lord!

Let all that I am praise the Lord.
    I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
    I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.

Don’t put your confidence in powerful people;
    there is no help for you there.
When they breathe their last, they return to the earth,
    and all their plans die with them.
But joyful are those who have the God of Israelas their helper,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and everything in them.
    He keeps every promise forever.
He gives justice to the oppressed
    and food to the hungry.
The Lord frees the prisoners.
    The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are weighed down.
    The Lord loves the godly.
The Lord protects the foreigners among us.
    He cares for the orphans and widows,
    but he frustrates the plans of the wicked.

The Lord will reign forever.
    He will be your God, O Jerusalem, throughout the generations.

Praise the Lord! (New Living Translation)

I confess to being a classic cartoon connoisseur. Adults told me when I was a kid that I would outgrow watching them. Well, I’m still waiting for that day. 

One of the cartoons I enjoyed (and still do!) watching is “Underdog” (1964-1973). There is something deep within the human psyche that cheers for the underdog. Wally Cox was the perfect voice for the mild-mannered shoe-shine boy to take his underdog super energy pill and fly through the sky to rescue Sweet Polly Purebread.

That “something” inside us which identifies with the underdog is the justice of G-d. 

It’s important to understand that when the term “justice” is used, it isn’t meant primarily in punitive terms, as we might typically think of it. Rather, justice is providing people with what they need to survive, thrive, and flourish in life. Conversely, withholding needs from individuals or groups of people in this world is “injustice.” 

Today’s Psalm lets us know G-d cares about the underdog – the one who lacks basic material and spiritual provisions for living. 

G-d is deeply concerned for those who are powerless, defenseless, and on the margins of society. The psalmist identifies such persons: the hungry; prisoners; the blind; those bowed down; the orphan; and the widow. All these people represent individuals without ability to be movers and shakers in society. In short, they need G-d and deserve justice.

The Lord delights to use divine power in championing the underdog and lifting them up. What’s more, truth be told, it turns out that all of us are underdogs. Everyone needs G-d. 

We are meant to both receive and provide justice without prejudice or discrimination. Every action and decision we make is really G-d’s grace and enablement to do it. Thus, the logical and reasonable response to such a G-d is praise – to declare our hallelujahs to the One who reigns forever and will always see humanity’s great need. 

So, how will you acknowledge and praise G-d today for divine attributes and actions? Let such praise shape your soul and lift your spirit as you intentionally connect with the gracious G-d who gives us what we need so that we can say, “There’s no need to fear. Underdog is here!”

Almighty God, Father of all mercies, we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks for all your goodness and loving-kindness to us and to all whom you have made. We bless you for our creation, preservation, and all the blessings of this life; but above all for your immeasurable love in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ; for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory. Amen.

Psalm 146 – “Underdog”

d046c-underdog

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 all my life long.

Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their 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.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

The Lord will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord! (NRSV)

I admit that I am a classic cartoon connoisseur.  I was told when I was a kid that I would outgrow watching them – I’m still waiting for that day.  One of the cartoons I enjoyed (and still do!) watching is “Underdog.”  There is something deep within the human psyche that cheers for the underdog.  Wally Cox was the perfect voice for the mild-mannered shoe-shine boy to take his underdog super energy pill and fly through the sky to rescue Sweet Polly Purebread.

That “something” within us which identifies with the underdog is the justice of God.  It is important to understand that when the term “justice” is used, it isn’t meant primarily in punitive terms, as we might typically think of it.  Justice is providing people with what they need to survive, thrive, and flourish in life.  Withholding things from individuals or groups of people, or folks not possessing the things they need to function as humans in this world is an “injustice.”

Today’s psalm from the Revised Common Lectionary lets us know that God cares about the underdog – the one for whom may be lacking in basic material and spiritual provisions for living.  There ought to be no doubt that God is deeply concerned for those who are powerless, defenseless, and on the margins of society.  The psalmist identifies such persons: those who are hungry; the prisoners; the blind; those bowed down; the orphan; and, the widow.  All these people represent individuals without the ability to be movers and shakers in their society.  In short, they need God; they deserve justice.

And God delights to use his power to champion them and lift them up.  What is more, truth be told, it turns out that all of us are underdogs.  We all need God.  We all are meant to both receive and provide justice.  Every altruistic decision we make and just action we take is really God’s gracious empowerment to do it.  We owe it all to God.  Thus, the logical and reasonable response to such a God is praise – to declare our hallelujahs to the One who reigns forever and always sees humanity’s great need.  How will you praise God today for who he is and for what he has done?  Let such praise shape your soul and lift your spirit as you intentionally connect with the merciful God who gives the underdog what they need.

Eternal God, you reign forever and ever.  I praise you for as long as I live.  I put my trust in you, and not in those in who wield their apparent power and influence for personal gain.  Let them wallow in their delusions while I declare the mighty Name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.