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 to Psalm 147

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 10, 2013


A SONG of praise is due to the Lord, for He is building up Jerusalem and bringing home its exiled children. He is giving courage again to those whose hearts had been well nigh broken in the Exile, and He is healing all the wounds of their sorrows. The might and wisdom of Yahweh know no limits, and He can, therefore, raise up His people once more unto power, and overthrow their foes (Ps 147:1-6). Let Israel, therefore, sing songs of praise and thanks to her mighty God, to the God who commands the rain and the clouds, and provides food for all creatures (Ps 147:7-9).

The Lord has no delight in those who rely on their own strength, as the steed relies on its might, or the warrior on his fleetness (cf. Ps 20:8; Ps 33:16 ff.). The pleasure of Yahweh is in those that depend upon Him, and trust Him unreservedly. Humbled, then, and lowly though Israel for the moment is, she may confidently hope, through unwavering trust in Yahweh, to be re-established in her ancient greatness.

In the Hebrew text this psalm and the next following Vulgate Psalm go together to form a single poem, so that the Hebrew psalm 148 is the same as psalm 148 of the Vulgate. The separation of the text into two psalms—as in the Greek and Vulgate—is quite justifiable, for the Vulgate psalm 147 presents a sufficiently rounded-off completeness of thought to stand by itself as a distinct poem. It would be possible, indeed, perhaps, to regard psalm 146 (Vulgate) as itself consisting of two Psalms, verses 1-6 and verses 7-11, so that we might, if we wished, regard the Vulgate psalms 146-147 as consisting of three songs of praise of Yahweh with the same theme—the might of God, as shown in nature and history, and His great mercies towards Israel. In a commentary on the Vulgate Psalter, however, it is most natural to take the Vulgate text as it stands, and to treat the Vulgate psalm 146 by itself as a independent whole.

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