Psalm 145: 1-2, 8-11, 13-14
The responsorial for this week is from Psalm 145, 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.
I will extol you, O my God and King, and I will bless your name forever and ever.
The prayer begins with promises to praise the Lord, which he vows to do every day.
“Devotion to praise is a mark of the truly filial heart. He who praises the Lord every day will praise him for the eternal Day” (Saint John Chrysostom, Expositio in Psalmos, 144, 2).
Every day will I bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever.
The psalmist uses specific verbs to describe his devotion. “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.
As is seen so often in hymns of praise, it is the name of God that is lauded. To extol God’s name was a way of showing both reverence and 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.
The LORD is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works. The LORD lifts up all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
The passage ends by extolling God’s compassion, which is especially evident toward those who are burdened. Not only does he not despise or reject them; there is a sense in which he especially draws near them to hold them up.
In light of all these magnificent qualities of God, it is not enough to enjoy the privilege of belonging to God’s kingdom. In addition to praising God for the wonders he has accomplished in and for the covenanted faithful, they are to announce the glory of God’s rule to the entire human race, to all the children of Adam.