Bible Meditation: The Glory of Your Kingdom

Sunday 15 May, fifth Sunday of Easter, four texts will be read.
First reading Book of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 14, 21b-27).
Psalm 144.
Second reading Book of Revelation (Ap, 21, 1-5a).
The Gospel according to Saint John (Jn 13, 31-33a.34-35).

Psalm 144 (145), 8-13ab

The Lord is tenderness and mercy, slow to anger and full of love; the goodness of the Lord is for all, his tenderness for all his works.

May your works, Lord, give you thanks and may your faithful bless you! They will speak of the glory of your reign, they will speak of your exploits, announcing to men your exploits, the glory and the brilliance of your reign: your reign, an eternal reign, your empire, for the ages of the ages. The Lord is true
in everything he says, faithful in everything he does.

For all generations

After so many psalms which give to hear the cry of an individual, happy or unhappy, but always seized in the heart of his existence, of his emotions, one can be surprised by the solemnity of this psalm of praise. This hymn is not the intimate prayer of an individual in heart-to-heart dialogue with his God.

The author does not speak of his own experience only, but he enumerates all the exploits of God, for all generations. It announces his eternal reign and rises to the universal to evoke his reign open to all and at all times. He uses all the letters of the alphabet to begin his verses, as if to express, from A to Z, his praise.

And when he states the qualities of God, his tenderness, his pity, his patience, his love, it is with the help of an already well-known, perhaps liturgical, expression: “The Lord is tenderness and mercy, slow to anger and full of love”, an expression taken from a long tradition, even if the order of the words may have varied over the centuries, and which is found in the book of Exodus, Numbers, Joel, Jonah, Nehemiah or in other psalms.

Express gratitude to God

Despite its majesty, this psalm does not keep man at a distance, but it draws a place for him. In fact, according to him, the task of bearing witness falls to the human being. The God of Israel is not like the gods of antiquity, separated from humans and living in the celestial spheres. He is a God who made a covenant with his people, a faithful God.

So the believers are called the faithful, the hasidim, which means “those who believe in the faithfulness of God and who in turn are faithful to him”. In the Bible, when believers want to express their gratitude to God, they do not do so with a simple thank you, but rather with praise, a confession of faith.

Here the faithful are called, by a series of synonymous verbs, to bless God, to say, to speak, to announce to men his exploits and the glory of his reign. Faith grows from being shared, and in the common proclamation nothing less than communion between men is established: to invite others to praise is to commune in the love of God, which also supposes love of neighbour. . So Jesus says: “By this all will know that you are my disciples: if you have love for one another” (John 13, 35).

Add your voice

If this psalm seems to us a little smooth, without roughness, it is because it is like a stone polished by time, softened by use. Repeated at length, chanted, sung by innumerable faithful, who have drawn strength and courage from it, it now offers itself again for repetition.

We can add our own voice to it, with its particular timbre, its own inflections, its modulations forged by life. If we have experienced the encounter with the Lord, we can in turn repeat his immemorial words and thus enter into the great “cloud of witnesses” spoken of in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 12:1).

Christine Renouard is a pastor of the United Protestant Church of France and former general coordinator of the chaplaincies of the Foundation of the Deaconesses of Reuilly. She published A way of life. The Psalms Editions Olivetan.

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Bible Meditation: The Glory of Your Kingdom

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