“Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion!
For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your children within you.
He grants peace within your borders; he fills you with the finest of wheat.
He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.” (Psalms 147:12-15)
Psalm passages can have several purposes; confession, petition, praise and thanksgiving. In that respect they are a lot like prayers, and often psalms are used as prayers. In this lectionary year when confession, penance, and forgiveness are the focus I would have expected more of that type of psalm. But so far we have had praises, worthy praises, but praise nonetheless. But . . . the psalm is not done.
“He gives snow like wool; he scatters frost like ashes. He hurls down hail like crumbs— who can stand before his cold?” (Verses 16 – 17)
I have become much more sensitive to the cold; even touching cool things can bring chill to my hands and my spine. So I for one could not withstand or stand before the Lord’s cold. But the psalmist I suspect is referring not just to physical cold but the power and might of the Lord to do those things.
“He sends out his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow. He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his ordinances.”
Praise the Lord! (Verses 18 -20)
The Israelite nation (actually the Hebrew/Jewish nation or the name they existed under during the time of the psalmist) was unique amongst all of the other nations in that the Lord had picked them as the Lord’s forerunner people. That is not to say that it remained this way; indeed Jesus Christ called all humanity to the God-self. But it was the Jews that started out as the “sample” people. And after the Jews, those how espoused Christianity as Jesus taught it carried forth the banner. So, . . . . how well have we Christians been doing that?
Ah yes, beloved reader. Here comes the time for our confession, the taking on of our penance, and the hope of God’s forgiveness. I have been thinking a lot lately about the need for forgiveness, and determining what we need to confess and make penance for. I have not come to any firm conclusions, but I suspect this will be a year when those themes will emerge more and more.
May you, beloved reader, start of this New Year in God’s good graces and may you not stray far from them. Selah!