The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Boylan’s Introduction on Psalm 146

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 5, 2012


IN Yahweh alone can Israel trust! This is the theme of the psalm. In the first part of the poem (Ps 146:1-6) the psalmist contrasts the might of Yahweh with the weakness and helplessness of men. It is useless to trust in even the most powerful of men, for their lives are uncertain and brief, and on the day of their death their plans come to nought. Israel should, therefore, put no trust in alliances with foreign princes: in Yahweh alone, the God of Jacob, the God of the Covenant, the Creator of heaven and earth, should the hopes of Israel be set. (For a different division of the text see the RNAB structure).

The second part of the psalm (146:7-9) celebrates the faithfulness of the Lord to His promises. He has ever acted as the God who made the Covenant with Israel. He has protected and guided His people in all their history. He has defended them against oppression; He has delivered them from bondage; He has given them food when they were hungry, and instruction when they were in need thereof: He has ever uplifted the weak and lowly and has guarded the Israelite Exiles, and provided for the widows and orphans of His people. Not only has God the power, then, to protect His people, but He has at all times used that power and thus fulfilled His Covenant with Israel. In Him, therefore, and not in foreign princes, should Israel trust.

In the concluding verse the psalmist declares that Yahweh, in contrast with human rulers, is a King for ever. He is Israel’s God, the God of Sion, who reigns throughout the ages. In her God, then, let Israel trust!

This psalm is the first psalm of the so-called ‘Little Hallel’
(which includes the last six psalms of the Vulgate Psalter). It is not possible to determine precisely the date or occasion of this psalm. The presence of many echoes of other psalms suggests a post-Exilic date, and the peculiar insistence of the psalmist on the futility of reliance on human help seems to imply some recent political event as the occasion of the psalm. The reference in the Greek (= Vulgate) title to the prophets Aggaeus and Zachary implies a tradition that the psalm was composed in the early post-Exilic period.

One Response to “Father Boylan’s Introduction on Psalm 146”

  1. […] Father Boylan’s Introduction to Today’s Responsorial (Ps 146). […]

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