Psalm for the 5th Sunday of Easter (C)

Psalm 145:8-13

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.

The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness.

Technical covenant language abounds here. God is described as gracious (hannûn), compassionate (rahûm), and filled with lovingkindness (hesed).

This correlates with how God described himself at his revelation to Moses in Exodus 34:6.

The LORD is good to all and compassionate toward all his works.

Note that this divine goodness is not reserved for Israel alone but is extended to all God’s works, including all people and all of natural creation. The covenant has been expanded to a universal embrace.

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.

Let them make known your might to the children of Adam, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

The Lord will be praised on all sides — by all his works and all his faithful; and all mankind, the “children of Adam,” will come to know his mighty deeds.

Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages, and your dominion endures through all generations.

The kingdom of God is everlasting as well as universal. God has established his dominion not by means of military victories but by his universal providence and his righteousness.

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