Psalm for the 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Psalm 145: 10-11, 15-16, 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.

Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,

There is a comprehensiveness to this call for praise: The works of the Lord include everything God has made as well as everything God has done, everything God has fashioned as well as everything God has accomplished.

and let your faithful ones bless you.

The faithful of the Lord are those who are holy (hāsîd), those who are bound to God in covenant loyalty. They are summoned to bless the Lord, to praise or honor God in reverence and awe.

Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom

God is characterized as a monarch who rules over a kingdom. The word used here for glory (kābôd) means “heavy” or “weighty,” implying that God’s kingdom is substantial, distinguished because of its magnitude, comprehensive in its splendor.

The idea that gods ruled as kings was quite common in the ancient world, so to characterize the God of Israel in this way was not unusual. What are unique are the exclusive claims made about the reign of Israel’s God. It is resplendent, as one would expect, but it is also universal and eternal.

and speak of your might.

The God before whom the psalmist stands is also a savior who has performed marvelous deeds on behalf of the people. God has delivered them from bondage, has provided for them in their need, has established them as a people, and has promised them a secure and prosperous future.

The praise given to God by the faithful will ensure that all men will come to know of his mighty deeds.

The eyes of all look hopefully to you, and you give them their food in due season; you open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The psalmist now speaks directly to God, proclaiming the Lord’s universal providence. With vivid imagery, the psalmist illustrates how all creation relies on God’s protective care. Everything that has been created stands needy and trusting before God, in whose hands is found the sustenance upon which life depends, and God is openhanded in satisfying this need. The image bespeaks the confidence creation has in God and the tender concern God has toward creation.

The image of the hand of the Lord feeding us is particularly poignant this Sunday, as we hear the gospel reading of the feeding of the five thousand.

The LORD is just in all his ways and holy in all his works.

The Lord’s is a kingdom of justice (sedeq) in the sense that he responds with kindness and salvation to all those who invoke him and love him, and allows those who hate him to perish (verse 20, which is not included in this passage).

The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.

Another characteristic of God’s covenant 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.

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