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  • Fr. Tarcisio

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem PSALM 147


1. TYPE OF PSALM: Hymn of Praise

Psalm 147 is a song of thanksgiving for the peace and prosperity of Jerusalem, and, above all, for having given them the Law by which is distinguished from all nations, and which is proof of the divine predilection for Israel.

2. READ THE WORD.

Psalm 147

How good to sing praise to our God; how pleasant to give fitting praise. 2 The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, 3 Healing the brokenhearted, and binding up their wounds. 4 He numbers the stars, and gives to all of them their names. 5 Great is our Lord, vast in power, with wisdom beyond measure. 6 The Lord gives aid to the poor, but casts the wicked to the ground.

7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; with the lyre make music to our God, 8 [b]Who covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, makes grass sprout on the mountains, 9 Who gives animals their food and young ravens what they cry for. 10 [c]He takes no delight in the strength of horses, no pleasure in the runner’s stride. 11 Rather the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his mercy.

12 Glorify the Lord, Jerusalem; Zion, offer praise to your God, 13 For he has strengthened the bars of your gates, blessed your children within you. 14 He brings peace to your borders, and satisfies you with finest wheat. 15 [d]He sends his command to earth; his word runs swiftly! 16 Thus he makes the snow like wool, and spreads the frost like ash; 17 He disperses hail like crumbs. Who can withstand his cold? 18 Yet when again he issues his command, it melts them; he raises his winds and the waters flow.

19 He proclaims his word to Jacob, his statutes and laws to Israel. 20 He has not done this for any other nation; of such laws they know nothing.

What does the text say?

vv.1-6. This psalm begins with an invitation to praise God, the creator, who cares for the afflicted, who heals broken hearts and bandages wounds. It was probably a hymn composed after the exile, during the reconstruction of the city of Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40-48) and the return of the exiles (Isaiah 56:8 and Nehemiah 1:9).

The creator is pending of his creation, and although the stars seem infinite, he calls each one by name. In the same way he knows the afflictions of the humble and he knows the evil deeds of the wicked.

vv.7-11. The Lord has created the universe and worries every day that the clouds, rain, plants and food for man and all living beings are not lacking. His creation continues to generate life.

And since he is the creator, he does not allow himself to be impressed by the verve of the horses or the strength of men, rather he is pleased by those who listen to him and trust him.

In vv. 13-14 God's historical action enters the picture. It is described by a series of symbols representing the work of protection and aid for the city of Jerusalem and its inhabitants. First of all, reference is made to the "locks" that reinforce and make the gates of Jerusalem inviolable.

The door, moreover, is a sign to indicate the entire city with its solidity and tranquility. Inside, represented as a secure bosom, the children of Zion, that is, the citizens, enjoy peace and serenity, wrapped in the protective mantle of divine blessing. The image of the happy and calm city is highlighted by the highest and most precious gift of peace, which makes its confines safe.

God is the one who gives us two fundamental stations. On the one hand, the order of the Lord causes winter to descend on the earth, represented by white snow like wool, by frost like ash, by hail compared to breadcrumbs and by the cold that freezes the waters (cf. vv. 16-17). On the other hand, a second divine order blows the hot wind that brings the summer and melts the ice: thus, the rainwater and the torrents can run free to irrigate the land and fertilize it.

Finally, in the third part of this hymn of praise (cf. vv. 19-20). He turns to the Lord of history, from whom he had departed. The divine Word brings to Israel an even greater and more valuable gift, that of the Law, Revelation. "He did not act like this with any nation or make his commands known to them" (v. 20).

3. MEDITATE ON THE WORD. Does this reading say anything special to you?

The people of God had experienced the defeat and humiliation of stronger nations, they were enslaved and their city destroyed. But a light has shone again in their history and they will rise again, they will be able to live in peace, protected by the doors that God himself has reinforced. In moments of difficulty, we must not lose hope of recovering peace, of feeling calm and safe again, having God on our side.

4. PRAY WITH THE WORD. What do you say to God?

After having put your people to the trial, Lord, you put peace on their borders, reinforced the bolts of the city, and satiated their inhabitants with flour; also look at the difficulties we are experiencing these days. Grant us that peace and that security that only comes from you.

5. CONTEMPLATE THE WORD. How does your look change?

Our God knows the number of the stars and calls each one by name. He also knows each person by name and knows what they are going through. And in the same way that winter is followed by spring and summer, so will it be in our lives ... After each cold winter with its problems and difficulties, spring and summer will come with its warmth and new life.

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