20 July 2022

Praying with the Psalms in Ordinary Time:
20 July 2022 (Psalm 147)

‘For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you’ (Psalm 147: 12) … the gates into Cappoquin House, Co Waterford (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

In the Calendar of the Church, we are in Ordinary Time. The calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today (20 July 2022) commemorates Saint Margaret of Antioch, a martyr in the fourth century, and Bartolomé de las Casas, apostle to the Indies (1566). 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 147:

Psalm 147 is the second of the five 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 psalm is divided into two, with verses 1-11 becoming Psalm 146 and verses 12-20 becoming Psalm 147. In Latin, Psalm 146 is known as ‘Laudate Dominum quoniam bonum psalmus,’ and Psalm 147 as ‘Lauda Jerusalem 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.

Psalm 147, like the other psalms in this group, begins and ends in Hebrew with the word ‘Hallelujah’ (‘Praise God’), and so it is classified as a psalm of praise.

Psalm 147 is a hymn that is an invitation to praise God for his universal power and for his providential care. Earlier in this Psalm, (verses 1-11), God is praised for rebuilding Jerusalem, gathering the people, healing, creating, and providing for the needs of those he creates.

In that opening section, we are also reminded that that there is no limit to God’s wisdom: ‘his understanding is beyond measure’ (verse 5).

Now we are reminded that worship is due to God for he protects where we live (‘the bars of your gate’), he blesses the children, and he brings peace and prosperity (verses 12-14).

Then we are reminded of God’s blessings through nature, the weather and the created order, through winter and spring (verses 16-18).

Finally, we are reminded of the blessings through God’s wisdom (verses 19-20).

‘Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre’ (Psalm 147: 7) … lyres in a shop front on a street in Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Psalm 147 (NRSVA):

1 Praise the Lord!
How good it is to sing praises to our God;
for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the broken-hearted,
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The Lord lifts up the downtrodden;
he casts the wicked to the ground.

7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre.
8 He covers the heavens with clouds,
prepares rain for the earth,
makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the animals their food,
and to the young ravens when they cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.

12 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He grants peace within your borders;
he fills you with the finest of wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down hail like crumbs—
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his ordinances.
Praise the Lord!

The monument to ‘Fray Bartolomé de las Casas’ by Emilio García Ortiz in Seville hails Fray Bartolomé as a founding figure in the concept of Universal Human Rights … he is commemorated in the Calendar of Common Worship on 20 July (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.

Wednesday 20 July 2022:

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

Let us give thanks for teachers and mentors who inspire and encourage young adults and children in their daily lives.

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

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