Psalm 147: 12-15, 19-20
This week’s responsorial psalm comes from the final stanza of Psalm 147, which praises God’s protection of and solicitude toward the people of Israel.
Glorify the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion.
Both Jerusalem, the capital of the nation, and Zion, the mountain upon which the city was built, came to represent the people. They are called upon directly to praise God.
The summons to praise is followed by a listing of some of the many wonderful works for God that elicit such praise. All of them point to the uniqueness of the bond that holds God and this people together.
For he has strengthened the bars of your gates; he has blessed your children within you.
God protects the people by fortifying the city. The ancient practice of building walls around cities provided them with a defense against possible attack and gave them a vantage point from which to observe the activity outside the walls. As strong as these walls might have been, the city was somewhat vulnerable at its gates, where all normal traffic had to be accommodated.
The psalmist calls the people to praise God, who has strengthened them precisely at their most vulnerable spot.
He has granted peace in your borders;
Walls also act as borders. They define the limits of personal property and they determine the sweep of the city. Protected as they are, the people of Jerusalem are truly blessed. They can go about their lives with a sense of security, for the fortification provided by God has assured them of peace.
with the best of wheat he fills you.
God’s security has also enabled them to prosper, since they don’t have to invest time or resources in defense measures. This prosperity is symbolized by abundant wheat of exceptional quality, which can only come from expansive fields that have not been ravaged by war. This is a land that has known peace.
This verse has traditionally been used by the Church to signify the Eucharist, an ineffable expression of God’s generosity.
He sends forth his command to the earth; swiftly runs his word!
All these blessings are manifestations of God’s powerful word (Genesis 1:3-26; Isaiah 55:10-11), which is personified here.
God’s word is like an emissary who runs swiftly throughout the earth, both proclaiming and bringing about what has been proclaimed. God speaks, and it is accomplished. God promises to protect and to provide for the people, and it is done.
He has proclaimed his word to Jacob, his statutes and his ordinances to Israel. He has not done thus for any other nation; his ordinances he has not made known to them.
The same divine word that created the universe has been given to Israel in the law and has made them an exceptional people.
It is God’s word that will ensure God’s continued protection and care of Israel; no other nation has been so blessed with such a unique relationship with the creator of the world. No other nation has been given God’s law of life.
This is the people of God. This privilege is the reason to praise God!