Psalm 145: 2-3, 8-9, 17-18
The responsorial psalm for this week is a hymn of praise of the greatness of God. Interestingly, the full psalm is in acrostic form, meaning that every verse begins with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
The five psalms that precede this one (Psalms 140-144) are all petitionary prayers; this psalm and the five that follow it (the last six psalms in the Book of Psalms) are all hymns of praise.
Every day will I bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever.
The passage opens with verbs that describe the devotion of the psalmist. “Bless” (bārak) implies bending one’s knee in submission or reverence; “praise” (hālal), though it is sometimes used to refer to human beings, is most frequently used as a call to praise God. The psalmist exclaims that he will offer blessings and praise all his days.
As is seen so often in hymns of praise, it is the name of God that is lauded, the name somewhat removed from God yet an expression of the very essence of God. To extol God’s name was a way of showing both reverence and praise.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable.
The reason for this praise is the greatness of God. It is unfathomable, beyond human understanding. All one can do is stand in awe of God and give praise.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.
This acclamation is closely associated with God’s revelation of himself to Moses when he re-established the covenant with the people (Exodus 34:6). God is described as gracious (hannûn), compassionate (rahûm), and filled with lovingkindness (hesed), which are all technical terms used in covenant language.
Note that God’s divine goodness is not reserved for Israel alone but is extended to “all his works,” including all people and all of natural creation. The historical covenant has been expanded to a universal embrace.
The LORD is just in all his ways and holy in all his works.
Finally, the basis of God’s loving attention is proclaimed. God’s covenant commitment is revealed as justice (sedeq) and lovingkindness (hesed). These constitute the source of God’s provident care and the firm foundation upon which the faithful ones can trust.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.
A third covenant characteristic is truth (ěmet). Here, it refers to the firmness or constancy with which the faithful rely on God. They can rely on God because God has entered into a solemn agreement with them, has made serious promises to them, and can be depended on to be faithful. In order to experience the benefits of this covenant, one needs only to call upon God, who is always there to hear.