A Reflection on Psalm 105.1-10 by Canon Rob,
August 13th, The Tenth Sunday after Trinity.
One of the readings set for this morning’s Eucharist is from the Book of Genesis: Chapter 37, verses 1-4 and 12-28. It tells the story of Joseph’s jealous brothers who plot to get rid of him. They sell him for twenty pieces of silver to a group of Ishmaelites who take him to Egypt. Far from being a disaster, this is the beginning of a new and privileged life for Joseph who, in Genesis 45, tells his brothers all that has happened to him was down to God. This is just one example of how God has worked in the past as He continues to do today.
Psalm 105 is a celebration of all that God has done through Abraham and his descendants up to the time when His Chosen People entered the Promised Land. Throughout its 45 verses it recalls the wonderful deeds of God, and it begins with an encouragement to “give thanks to the Lord and call upon his name; make known his deeds among the people.” Only verses 1 – 10 are set to be used today, but if you take the time to read all the verses you will be able to recall other stories from the Old Testament: about Isaac; Jacob; Joseph; Moses and Aaron. When we are going through a time of crisis, personally, nationally or internationally it is often difficult to see where God is. However, as we look back on past experiences, we can sometimes see the ‘hand of God’ in whatever that experience was. So it is with today’s psalm and as you reflect upon the verses set for today, you may like to reflect on something which you have gone through and which, only with hindsight, you recognise that God was with you as He was with the early Israelites.
Commentators point out that the first fifteen verses of Psalm 105 are found in the First Book of Chronicles, Chapter 16, verses 8 – 22. [You can find this book in the Old Testament immediately after the Second Book of Kings.] It was a hymn of praise sung during the reign of King David when the Ark of the Covenant was carried into the Temple and formed part of the liturgy used that day, just as the psalms can form part of our liturgy today – as indeed they do at Evensong. And perhaps a key verse for us to especially reflect upon is verse 3 – shown above. In the Common Worship version, the words are, “Rejoice in the praise of his [God’s] holy name; let the hearts of them rejoice who seek the Lord.” However, the translation in the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible is probably more accurate and calls us to Glory in God’s holy name! Glory denotes the special presence of God, which we are reminded of at the Eucharist, when the bread and wine are blessed [consecrated] and become the Body and Blood of Christ. Christ is truly present and through receiving Holy Communion, we are strengthened and sustained by his presence. The Ark of the Covenant symbolised the presence of God for the People of Israel.
The remaining verses set for today are about the covenant God made with Abraham. [See especially verses 8 – 10.] However, this promise is not just made to Abraham but, as verse 8 says, “the promise that he made for a thousand generations.” In other words, for all time, and it was this covenant which was fulfilled in and through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The covenant made with Abraham, in verse 11, was about the Promised Land and as we see in verses 9 and 10, it was confirmed with Isaac and Jacob as well. Whilst we can rightly use the verses of today’s psalm as a hymn of praise, we do so against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and the violence in Israel/Palestine. This hymn of praise then can also become for us a reminder to pray for peace in the whole world which God created for all.
God of our fathers, you brought your people out of slavery and led them to freedom in the promised land;
feed us on our journey with the bread of heaven that we may hunger and thirst for righteousness
until your kingdom comes; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
[Prayer at the end of Psalm 105 in Common Worship Daily Prayer]