Psalm 147 - The Lord heals the brokenhearted
How good it is to sing praises to our God;
for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted,
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
he gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
his understanding is beyond measure.
6 The Lord lifts up the downtrodden;
he casts the wicked to the ground.
make melody to our God on the lyre.
8 He covers the heavens with clouds,
prepares rain for the earth,
makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He gives to the animals their food,
and to the young ravens when they cry.
10 His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
11 but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.
12 Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!
Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates;
he blesses your children within you.
14 He grants peace within your borders;
he fills you with the finest of wheat.
15 He sends out his command to the earth;
his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool;
he scatters frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down hail like crumbs—
who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends out his word, and melts them;
he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob,
his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation;
they do not know his ordinances.
Praise the Lord!
Psalm 147 (NRSV)
2nd Sunday after Christmas, verses 12-20
5th Sunday after Epiphany, Year B, verses 1-11, 20c
Proper 26, Year B, Sunday between October 30 and November 5
How good it is to sing praises to our God; for she is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting (v1).
The book of Psalms ends with extravagent praise for the Lord, with Psalms 145-150 each one singing that praise in a different voice.
The watchword of this psalm is the reason why we offer praise: for God is gracious. God is good, God cares for his creation, God speaks to her chosen people.
Let us not here enumerate the ways that Gd stands in a relationship of grace to the world. The psalm does that with better poetry.
Let us rather highlight one aspect of the Lord's merciful goodness. "The Lord heals the brokenhearted, and binds up their wounds."
We know how much the world is in need of healing. Daily we pray for an end to violence, for the remission and cure of cancer and the restoration to health from all diseases, for liberation from addiction, for an end to poverty, racism, and all manner of social injustice.
The psalm's declaration that God heals the broken-hearted, seems to me to be the most vital part of healing, the one most in need of divine power. One of the biggest barriers to healing are the twin conditions of despair and apathy. Both prevent people from seeing and believing that healing is possible.
Yet God is a healer. God always stands with those who are outcast, marginalized, oppressed. And those suffering from broken "hearts." The Hebrew לֵ֑ב here literally means "heart," but more often signifies will, mind, or person. So we are talking about a condition affecting a person's spirit, their thought-processes, attitude, and will to live fully.
When God binds up the wounds of the broken-in-heart, this "heart surgery" is aimed at restoring someone to a place where they can hope again, where they can see the possibilities that God envisions. Healing the heart-broken is the critical act in restoring a person, and a community, to wholeness. Of all the awesome powers for which we justly praise God, this may be the Lord's most tender work.
Ingrid Taylar, Raven + Winter Berries (edited), California, February 8, 2017. (CC BY 2.0)
Unattributed, Flower petal love, (CC0 1.0).