Declaration of Dependence

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” These words, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, have formed the foundation for a variety of political doctrines, ideas, and opinions since they appeared in 1776. It asserts the existence of natural rights—individual rights implied by the fact of Creation and the gift of the Creator. While few today could probably explain the doctrine of natural rights, people have no problem asserting their rights on a daily basis—and often making demands that far exceed them. However, despite the clarity of the original text, people on both sides of the political spectrum seem intent on divorcing the existence of rights from their natural origin. This disconnect lies at the heart of secular society and the growing domination governments at various levels exercise in the daily lives of their citizens. Faith in government has replaced faith in God. And that has consequences far more extensive than most realize.

When the psalmist penned Psalm 146, he opened by contrasting his own faith in God and the temptation to trust government instead. The LORD, he says, does indeed deserve praise throughout life (Psa. 146:1-2), and it is this consistency that lies at the heart of the contrast. Men regularly come to office making promises to the people and leave office with those promises yet unfulfilled (Psa. 146:3-4). They enjoy the privilege of power but fail to deliver what the people—or the country—really need. This theme dominates history, and yet men continue down its path. Israel had witnessed this in their own history—to their own destruction. Even after they returned from captivity, the people routinely looked to the nations around them for guidance and help as they sought to address the ills of their own society. The psalmist countered this reliance on government and politicians, regardless of their form, with trust in God: “Happy is  he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God” (Psa. 145:5). The LORD can deliver like no other, because He created the universe and stands above it—not in it. He keeps His promises always; He is completely trustworthy, responding to the needs of the oppressed and hungry with compassion rather than condescension (Psa. 146:6-7a). The LORD acts in stark contrast to politicians. Politicians imprison people; the LORD frees people. Politicians, as in the case with Samson, would sometimes blind their prisoners, but the LORD wants to help people see. Politicians consolidate power for themselves; the LORD wants to lift people up. Politicians embrace the immoral; the LORD recognizes and loves with moral clarity. Politicians care for their own constituency; the LORD cares for all (Psa. 146:7b-9a). Rather than seeking out those who can help Him, the LORD provides help for those who need Him. Rather than following the path of political expediency, the LORD exposes wickedness and sets it on end (Psa. 146:9).

The subtle contrasts contained within this psalm declare the sovereignty of God in every situation in every nation in every time. However, the author did not write this song to serve as a political statement, railing against a particular government. He wrote it as a statement of faith to emphasize where our trust should be no matter who is in charge of government. So many people today place their trust in a government to provide all their needs, to do their will. Many others place their trust in a political party to protect their interests and their rights. But in all of this it is essential for God’s people to remember a simple truth: no matter how independent we may be politically, we are ever dependent on God. Politicians—and governments—come and go, but “The LORD shall reign forever—Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!” (Psa. 146:10). 

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