Psalm 147 Translation and comment

Bright praise to Yah!

It is good to sing to our God

For it is pleasant to adorn him with praise.

Yahweh is restoring Jerusalem:

He gathers the scattered people of Israel;

heals the broken -hearted

And bandages their wounds.

He counts the number of the stars

Calling each one by name.

Our Lord is great and of great power

His comprehension cannot be counted.

Yahweh lifts up those who are brought low

And razes the wrongdoers to the ground.

Sing in gratitude to Yahweh!

Give praise to our God on the lyre!

Who covers the sky with clouds,

Making ready the rain for the earth,

Helping the grass to grow on the hillsides.

He gives their daily bread to the beasts,

Yes, to the raven chicks when they yell.

He finds no happiness in the strength of a horse

Nor delight in the legs of a warrior;

But he finds delight in those who fear him

Who look to his lovingkindness.

Join in praise of Yahweh, Jerusalem!

Go praise your God, Zion!

For he bolsters the bars of your gates

And blesses your children within you.

He makes prosperity within your bounds

And fills you with the best of wheat.

He sends out his order to the earth,

His commandment runs quickly.

He sends the snow like wool

Sprinkles hoar frost like ashes

Hurls down hailstones like breadcrumbs.

Who can face his freezing weather?

Then he sends his command and melts them,

He breathes upon them and the waters break loose.

He proclaims his promise to Jacob’s clan

His decrees and judgements to Israel.

No other nations have enjoyed this treatment;

They do not know his judgements.

Bright praise to Yah!

For this writer, the activity of God is twofold, a) directed to his people and b) directed to the cosmos, emphasising that the God who is gathering the exiles of Israel, and caring for their wounds, is the same creator whose wisdom encompasses the stars, the processes of nature and the creatures of the earth. This is the same story that is told by Genesis, the great creator becomes the God of Israel, and by Isaiah, Israel’s God is not like the idols of other nations but is the living lord of nature and history. The psalm does this job eloquently, placing the different activities of God between repeated commands to praise him. The laconic conclusion, noting that no other nation enjoys such divine attention, sums up the meaning of the psalm.

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