22 July 2022

Praying with the Psalms in Ordinary Time:
22 July 2022 (Psalm 149)

‘Let them sing praise to him with timbrel and lyre’ (Psalm 149: 3) … singers and musicians in an evening street concert in Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

In the Calendar of the Church, we are in Ordinary Time. Today we also celebrate the feast of Saint Mary Magdalene (22 July 2022). 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 149:

Psalm 149 is second last psalm in the Bible and the fourth of the five final concluding praise Psalms in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 146 to Psalm 150). In Latin, Psalm 149 is known as ‘Cantate Domino,’ sharing an opening line with Psalm 96.

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.

Psalms 149 is a psalm of thanksgiving for God’s role in the people’s history, granting them victory in war and ensuring the ultimate victory of justice over cruelty and aggression. The worshippers, the people and community of faith, are invited not only to sing but to dance and to make music.

The people are called to sing ‘a new song’ to Lord, new perhaps because God continually reveals more of himself to the faithful. These hymns are accompanied by ‘dancing … tambourine and ‘lyre’ (verse 3).

The ‘two-edged’ sword (verse 6) may be a reference to the dual nature of history: on the one hand, the house of Israel must fight its own battles; on the other, it must always be conscious of the providential pattern of history and the role of God in its survival and success.

But for New Testament uses of similar imagery see:

‘The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart’ (Hebrews 4: 12).


‘… and from his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining with full force’ (Revelation 1: 16) … ‘These are the words of him who has the two-edged sword’ (Revelation 2: 12).

Citing verses 5 and 6, the Talmud (Berakhot 5) says the praises said by the pious on their beds refer to the recital of the Bedtime Shema. The Shema is like a ‘double-edged sword’ that can destroy both inner and outer demons and evil spirits.

Saint Augustine of Hippo says the phrase has a mystical meaning, dividing things temporal and things eternal.

King David instructing musicians … a window by CE Kempe in Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Psalm 149 (NRSVA):

1 Praise the Lord!
Sing to the Lord a new song,
his praise in the assembly of the faithful.
2 Let Israel be glad in its Maker;
let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.
3 Let them praise his name with dancing,
making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.
4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people;
he adorns the humble with victory.
5 Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy on their couches.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their throats
and two-edged swords in their hands,
7 to execute vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,
8 to bind their kings with fetters
and their nobles with chains of iron,
9 to execute on them the judgement decreed.
This is glory for all his faithful ones.
Praise the Lord!

Μη μου άπτου, ‘Noli me Tangere,’ an icon by Mikhail Damaskinos in the Museum of Christian Art in the former church of Saint Catherine of Sinai in Iraklion … today is feast of Saint Mary Magdalene (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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.

Friday 22 July 2022 (Saint Mary Magdalene):

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

Today we celebrate the feast of Mary Magdalene. May we give thanks for her life and resolve to include people of all kinds in the life of the Church.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

The Church of Aghia Magdalini or Saint Mary Magdalene, in Nea Magnesia, near Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

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

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