19 July 2022

Praying with the Psalms in Ordinary Time:
19 July 2022 (Psalm 146)

‘Happy are those whose help … is in the Lord their God, who made heaven and earth’ (Psalm 146: 5-6) … evening skies after sunset in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Patrick Comerford

In the Calendar of the Church, we are in Ordinary Time. The calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today (19 July 2022) commemorates Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, and his sister Macrina, deaconess, teachers of the faith in the fourth century. Before today begins, I am taking some time this morning to continue my reflections drawing on the Psalms.

In my blog, I am reflecting each morning in this Prayer Diary in these ways:

1, Short reflections on a psalm or psalms;

2, reading the psalm or psalms;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Psalm 146:

Psalm 146 is the first of fthe ive final concluding praise Psalms in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 146 to Psalm 150). In the slightly different numbering system in the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, this is Psalm 145. The opening words of this psalm in Latin are: Lauda anima mea Dominum.

Psalms 146 to 150 form the culmination or crescendo of the Book of Psalms as a whole. These six psalms correspond to the six days of creation. These psalms are not attributed to David. In the Septuagint, Psalms 145 to 148 are given the title ‘of Haggai and Zechariah.’

Psalms 146 and 147 are seen by some commentators as twin Psalms. Both psalms draw on images from Isaiah 61, such as setting captives free, opening blind eyes and healing the broken-hearted.

Besides Isaiah 61, the themes in this Psalm are also found in Leviticus 25 (the year of Jubilee).

This is one of six Psalms involving preaching to self, using the evocative phrase ‘O my soul’ (see Psalms 42, 43, 103, 104, 116 and 146).

Psalm 146 draws a contrast between human and divine rule. As humans, we are mortal, we come from dust and return to dust (see verse 4); God is eternal, as are the values by which he governs the affairs of humanity.

Psalm 146 reminds us how God loves those who follow his ways, cares for the stranger in the land, looks after the orphan and the widow, and upsets the plans of the wicked.

The psalmist will praise God throughout his life. We should not look to powerful people for security and help because they are finite: when they die, so do their plans.

But God is to be trusted, for he is creator, and he keeps his promises forever. He gives justice to those who suffer, bread to those who hunger, freedom to the prisoner, sight to the blind, hope to the oppressed and those on the margins of society.

He loves those who follow his ways, cares for the stranger in the land, looks after the orphan and the widow, upsets the plans of the wicked.

The former Chief Rabbi, the late Lord (Jonathan) Sacks, says these principles of justice and compassion run through Jewish history as the governing ideals of a society under the sovereignty of God.

This is the God who shall reign for ever.

‘The Lord … gives food to the hungry’ (Psalm 146: 5-7) … lunch in Stony Stratford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Psalm 146 (NRSVA):

1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

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

5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.

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

10 The Lord will reign for ever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) this week is ‘Turning Point,’ looking at the work of the Diocese of Kurunegala in the Church of Ceylon in Sri Lanka. This theme was introduced on Sunday.

Tuesday 19 July 2022:

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:

We pray for the Diocese of Kurunegala and their capacity-building programme. May they teach, tend, treasure and transform churches within the diocese.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

No comments: