Psalm 146 – The third Sunday of Ordinary Time – for Sunday, June 9, 2013
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!” (Psalm 146:1)
Did Jesus first read Psalm 146 in Hebrew?
Did he hear it in Aramaic, or even a mash-up of Hebrew and Aramaic like our modern day Spanglish?
I read Psalm 146 in English.
Because I choose a lectionary lesson each morning, I spent time with Psalm 146 on the day after Elijah had encountered the Zarephath widow (I Kings 17:8-12). I read it two days after Luke 7:11-17’s account of Jesus raising the son of the widow from Nain back to life.
Elijah’s adventures were exciting, faith provoking and elaborate. Jesus’ stunning gift to a widow reverberated with mystery, history and theology.
But I kept wondering about that brief psalm near the end of Psalms:
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God all my life long.
I nested in my office’s corner chair—my praying chair, my meditation space, my Bible-reading cushy recliner—and stared at the ancient psalm. It stared at me.
Jesus could have also referred to it as an ancient psalm, since it had been written centuries before his birth. Whenever he read it or heard these words for the first time, was it Joseph or Mary or a rabbi or a neighbor that shared it with him?
Since Psalm 146 (or the other 149 psalms) was scribed, how many languages have been used to declare: I will praise the Lord as long as I live? Over a hundred? Five hundred? More than a thousand unique tongues and accents?
How many times has it been sung or danced? How many times has all or part of Psalm 146 found its way into a script, poem, ode, memoir, battle cry, tattoo, novel and stage play? How many times has Psalm 146’s THE LORD WILL REIGN FOREVER been shouted in a worship service, echoing in cramped chapels or soaring cathedrals? How often has a rabbi or priest or layperson muttered the words with such a flat, lifeless tone that the persons in the pew nodded off, heads bobbing, their only response a snore? Continue reading →