Re-member-ing what has been torn apart and then restored is our context for Psalm 147, a psalm composed after the Babylonian exile (147:2 The Holy rebuilds Jerusalem; the One gathers in the exiles of Israel).
Often enough, attending the psalms in devotionals and worship, I have found people rushing through, reading the words aloud with no meaning given to them. They are words, or a song, and holy words, so we should say them and be about them. While there are communities that endeavor to read neutrally so as to best allow what the Holy is saying come through the words, I find myself more filled with awe and gratitude and reverence when I pause and attend to the meaning as I read the psalms out loud.
Psalm 147:1 begins us with an affirmation of praise. Hallelujah! It is good to chant hymns to the Holy One; it is pleasant to sing glorious praise. Sitting in the sanctuary, meeting these words, with whatever is going on in my life, I want to meet those words with meaning. When I’m in trouble, I’m given a chance to find a Hallelujah moment, to remember I am not alone wherever I go, however I find myself. When I’m full of wonder, I have a chance to lift up my heart with thanksgiving. However I am, the affirmation of praise is an invitation to remember my whole self and be refreshed and renewed.
Many of us will meet exile and plenty of troubles in our lives, before we arrive in the hour of prayer, and after. Psalm 147 and psalms like it give us the marvelous opportunity to remember who we are and whose we are.