Psalm 113: 1-2, 4-8
This week our responsorial psalm comes from Psalm 113, a hymn of praise of the LORD. This praise is not limited by time or space, for God is everywhere active, especially in rescuing the lowly.
Praise, you servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD both now and forever.
This psalm is a classic example of a hymn of praise. It begins with the imperative summons to praise God, which is Hallelujah in Hebrew. The summons itself (hallelu) appears in a plural verb form, suggesting a communal setting, and it contains an abbreviation of the divine name (jah).
The call is to praise the name of the LORD, an expression found frequently in the psalms and referring tot he very essence of God.
High above all nations is the LORD; above the heavens is his glory. Who is like the LORD, our God, who is enthroned on high and looks upon the heavens and the earth below?
The psalmist now provides the reasons for his call to praise.
God is depicted as enthroned high above the heavens, a privileged place of honor that belongs to the Creator of the universe.
In a question that really seeks no answer, the psalmist inquires: Is there anyone equal to this God? Could there be anyone to match, much less rival, the LORD, our God, the God of Israel?
It’s important to emphasize the magnificence of God in order to appreciate his eagerness to attend to the needs of the lowly.
He raises up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill he lifts up the poor
The lowly (dal) and the poor (ebyôn) refer to the lower economic class.
Because humans were thought to have been made from dust and it was clear that after death they deteriorated into dust, dust itself (āpār) became a symbol of human mortality, human finitude, and human insignificance.
The dunghill or ash heap (ēper) was the place where worthless things were thrown or the location of the refuse that remained after rubbish had been burned.
These metaphors indicate that the very people society had discarded were the ones that God stooped to lift up.
to seat them with princes, with the princes of his own people.
Furthermore, the lowly were then seated in places of honor among the royal rulers of the people.
The reversals are clear: the God who reigned from the highest heaven has reached into the lowest levels of human existence. This condescension on God’s part is reason for the praise to which the servants of God are summoned.