Psalm 88 Commentary.

Our liturgy for the 13th Sunday of Year A selects 6 of the 53 verses in Psalm 88. The whole psalm runs through sharply contrasting moods: it begins with 37 verses of thankful praise for God’s love in bringing about Creation and in forming a Covenant relationship with humanity; but sad experience shows things going wrong and the singer, having praised God seven times for his steadfast love then for the next 14 verses accuses God 16 times for abandoning this Covenant. He accuses God of fickleness and unreliability. We get none of this protest in the cherry-picking of today’s verses. 

Today’s selection of grateful praise follows the reading from 2 Kings about the hospitality to Elisha being rewarded with the promise of the birth of a son. It leads to the Gospel where the hospitality offered to Jesus and his disciples will also be recompensed. The psalmist will sing of God’s constant love behind so many instances like these.Two responses to the psalm itself may arise for us: gratitude for God’s loving presence in our many blessings; and on the other hand, an understandable feeling of protest and questioning that it’s really OK when God’s absence is being felt in our struggles….. even St Teresa of Avila once bluntly prayed having fallen into the in the mud, “It’s no wonder You have so few friends when You treat people like that!” Prayer has to be honest, as you 

Commentary By Dr Noel Donnelly

Setting by Robin Sudlow; recorded by Grace Buckley.

Setting by Dr Noel Donnelly sung by The St Mungo Singers