Monday, September 21, 2020

September 21 – Monday prior to Proper 21

Psalm 147:1-5, Antiphon, verse 6 – The Lord lifts up the humble He casts the wicked to the ground.” Those who acknowledge that they are without resources in and of themselves, the Lord lifts up while others who trust in themselves will be cast down. This is the definition of faith.

Psalm 147 is the second of five "Alleluia" hymns that close the Psalter. Each of the last five psalms starts and ends with the imperative, "Praise the Lord!" ( translated from the Greek word, alleluia). Together, these psalms put a final exclamation point on the book that the Jewish community calls, "Praises". In other words, the Psalter closes with an extended call to praise that is directed at the Psalter's audience.[1]

We tend to think of the purpose of singing in worship as something we do as part of our relationship with God, as something we do for God. But the direction of the call to praise at the end of the Psalter is a little different. We are enjoined here to come to worship, to learn the praise of God, and to go out into the world and sing these songs (these psalms) out there. And the praise that this psalm calls for has a specific content: it is testimony about God.

Psalm 147 is exclusively praise that is sung about God. The purpose of this type of praise is testimony. As Patrick Miller has written, "the purpose of praise [is] . . . to bear witness to all who hear that God is God.[2]

As you begin another week be it at work, school or home reflect on the mighty acts of the Lord and then live your life as a testimony concerning all the Lord has done. [3]

Collect for Psalm 147
God our Father, great builder of the heavenly Jerusalem, you know the number of the stars and call each of them by name. Heal hearts that are broken, gather those who have been scattered, and enrich us all from the plenitude of your eternal wisdom, Jesus Christ our Lord.

[1] See Beth Tanner, "Rethinking the Enterprise: What Must be Considered in Formulating a Theology of the Psalms," in Rolf Jacobson, ed., Soundings in the Theology of the Psalms (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2011), 139-150.
[2] Interpreting the Psalms (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986), 68.
[4] For All the Saints, A Prayer Book for and by the Church, © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY

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