Augustine. Exposition on the Book of Psalms. Schaff, Philip (editor). New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co, 1886. Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers: Series 1: Volume VIII. Re-published 2014, Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle electronic edition, ISBN-13: 978-1-78379-372-3.
Psalm 147:1 tells us, "Praise the Lord." Augustine understands this as the command from one God to all the church, no matter where they are (Augustine Psalms, loc. 342834, par. 1). The promised reward of verse one is that praise is good. Specifically, Augustine says, the particular form of praise known as a Psalm is good. He goes on to describe the particular instrument used for a Psalm, the psaltery (Augustine Psalms, loc. 342839, par. 2). As an instrument played with the hands, Augustine says the work of our hands should accompany our praise to God. Our praise is made pleasant in God's sight as we praise him with our voices and with a holy life (Augustine Psalms, loc. 342854, par. 3).
Who is this God, pleased by our praise? Augustine describes in brief, the way God in Scripture initiates a loving relationship with His people (Augustine Psalms, loc. 342865, par. 4). In verse three, God is described as the one who heals bruised hearts. Those who are not subject to pain might not be healed. But God does not fail to care for those who are hurting (Augustine Psalms, loc. 342870, par. 5). Augustine compares God to the physician and his treatment to the life we live in the Church.
Verse four describes God's ability, based on his exhaustive knowledge of all. He can name all the stars. Augustine concludes that he certainly knows all about his people and their trials (Augustine Psalms, loc. 342890, par. 8). The theme continues in verse five, as we speak of God's greatness.
Verse six changes our focus as God cares for the gentle. Augustine asks whether this is contradictory to God's power. It is not, since the Lord is the physician (Augustine Psalms, loc. 342924, par. 10). Verse seven then moves on to beginning with confession. Surprisingly, Augustine discusses the way one would confess sins but he doesn't make the connection between being gentle (humble) and confessing sins (Augustine Psalms, loc. 342929, par. 11). He does note that verses seven and eight return to the idea laid out at the beginning of the Psalm. With the clear conscience of confession, we praise the God who gives rain to nourish the earth (Augustine Psalms, loc. 342934, par. 12).
Augustine makes an interesting reference to a Scripture passage, "Let alms sweat in thy hand, till thou findest a righteous nam to whom to give it" (Augustine Psalms, loc. 342949, par. 13). I recall this from Didache 1.6, not from Scripture. Augustine takes the teaching to indicate that our planned giving should include setting aside some resources which we give to people whom we seek out, rather than to those who approach us. God is the owner of all, and sustains all (v. 9). He is certainly able to provide for his people and enable them to share generously.
Augustine allegorizes the remainder of verses nine and ten, taking the ravens to be his people who depend on him but the horses to be those people who are proud in their strength (Augustine Psalms, loc. 342970, par. 15). Verse eleven then pulls us back from the animal kingdom to God's love for people who hope in him.
Verse 12 calls all God's people, even in the captivity Augustine understands to be "Jerusalem" to praise God together (Augustine Psalms, loc. 342985, par. 17). Their hope, even in times of trouble, is tobe in the Lord who will make all trouble pass away. Augustine describes this hope at some length, drawing subsequent verses in as they picture the strong hope found in God. In verse 13 he strengthens the gates as a defense (Augustine Psalms, loc. 343019, par. 20). Verses 14-15 continue to speak of the Lord's ability to provide for his people. Augustine is clear that God does this through His Word, not only the written and spoken version, but Jesus, the Word incarnate (Augustine Psalms, loc. 343045, par. 23).