Trust in the Lord, Not in Princes

Psalm 118:8-9

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes” (Psalm 118:8-9).

People often have a tendency to put their trust in man. They trust that their civil leaders will always protect them, trust that their preacher will always teach them the truth, trust that their elders will always give them wise counsel, etc. While it is possible for these things to often happen, we cannot assume they will always happen. Furthermore, any good that is provided by those in whom we trust is never perfect. This is why the psalmist wrote, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (Psalm 118:8).

Immediately after that, the psalmist repeated the phrase with one change. He emphasized the fact that trusting in God is better than trusting in princes (Psalm 118:9). Because civil leaders may maintain security, provide for the people, rule in a way that pleases the people, or be the only government the people have ever known, many place their trust in these rulers. Yet the psalmist said it was better to trust in God. Why?

Consider another passage that discusses the idea of trusting in princes:

Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; in that very day his thoughts perish” (Psalm 146:3-4).

The reason why we are not to “trust in princes” is because there is “no salvation” in them (Psalm 146:3). They are mortals who will one day be gone (Psalm 146:3-4). Therefore, if we trust in them, the source of our hope is temporary and uncertain.

In contrast, the psalmist gave three reasons why it is better to trust in the Lord:

  1. God is our creator – “How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them” (Psalm 146:5-6). The Creation shows us that God is not limited in His power as human rulers are.
  2. God cares for us – “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 raises up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous; the Lord protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, but He thwarts the way of the wicked” (Psalm 146:7-9). While others may care (or claim to care) for us, they cannot do what God can do in providing help and support for those who need it.
  3. God will reign forever – “The Lord will reign forever, Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord” (Psalm 146:10). Unlike human rulers who are mere mortals (Psalm 146:3), the Lord is eternal.

With this in mind, consider a passage just a few verses after the one where we started:

The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone” (Psalm 118:22).

This passage is a prophecy of Christ. Peter wrote, “For this is contained in Scripture: ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.’ This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, ‘The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,’ and, ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense’; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed” (1 Peter 2:6-8). Jesus is the “corner stone.” Because of this, He must be the foundation of our faith and hope and we must completely place our trust in Him.

On the other hand, if our faith, hope, and trust is in man, we will be lost. Peter said, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Let us be sure that we are building our lives upon the solid foundation of God’s word with Jesus as the corner stone. If we place our trust in man instead of God, we are building our lives upon a foundation that will not endure. Let us always remember that “it is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (Psalm 118:8).

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