“Worship Lyrics and the Hidden Narcissism” is the title of a worship pastor’s blog post from 2009. He noted that the lyrics of many modern praise choruses are self–centered, and after a conference for worship leaders, he lamented: “Each song seemed to define God according to our experience of Him,” rather than the other way around. We need to evaluate lyrics for subtle narcissism, “which places us at the center of the worship experience instead of God.” The pastor then encouraged his readers to be thoughtful about how lyrics reflect God’s Word. Some of the best examples of God–centered expressions of worship come from Scripture, especially the book of Psalms.
Psalm 146 is a wonderful example of a song grounded in the acknowledgment of who God is. The entire Psalm is bracketed with praise (vv. 1–2, 10). The psalmist clarifies that worship emanates from one’s inner being and continues for a lifetime. Verses three through six contrast the person who places his security in humans with the one who trusts God for help and hope—this one is called “blessed.” “Mortal men” diminish compared to the eternal and faithful Creator (v. 6).
The psalm resounds with ten proclamations of who God is and what He does (vv. 7–10). God advocates for the oppressed. In the original Hebrew, the first line of verse 7 reads: “the one who executes justice.” The Lord feeds the hungry and releases the prisoners; He heals the blind and lifts up the humble. The Lord cares for the displaced and vulnerable people among us, like refugees, orphans, and widows. Notice the important contrast: God loves the righteous, but obstructs the plans of the wicked (v. 9).
Psalm 146 praises God as the eternal King (v. 10), and He is the faithful covenant keeper (v. 5) who can remain true to His promises for all generations. He is a God who not only cares about the oppressed, but also has the power to deliver from sin and to defeat the wicked. He is worthy of all our praise.