Commentary on Psalm 89 by by Dr Noel Donnelly.
Setting by Gerry Fitzpatrick. Recorded by Marie Finnerty
Psalm 89 Commentary 28B
Psalm 89 is an urgent prayer for help. It expresses the cry of a people weighed down after enduring a long period of political and social disorder. There’s a feeling of being forgotten by God. It complains to God, “How could you sit idly by when we are going through this present turmoil? So please turn now and bless this suffering community!”
The whole psalm has 17 verses but our weekend liturgy selects three for our singing: verses 12, 14 and a merging of 16/17. All are linked by our chorus of prayerful response: ”Fill us with your love so that we may rejoice!”
Our first stanza from verse 12 has us asking for God to teach us to number our days. That doesn’t just mean to value our age but for God to number the days of our affliction; to come and make the days of our affliction come to an end ASAP. We could react similarly today as the Covid affliction seems endless.
The psalmist realises his past behaviour has in some way brought about the difficulties in our social and political present disorder, so he prays for much-needed wisdom of heart.
Our second stanza is from verse 14 of the whole psalm. It says, “In the morning, fill us with your love and give us joy now to balance the afflictions we have endured for so long!” The psalmist now has the wisdom to see that the old seeking for wealth, status and power have no ultimate significance.
Our third stanza is from verses 16 and 17 which end the whole Hebrew psalm. We sing for a double blessing that God’s favour will shine on us, and that God will “give success to the work of our hands”.
AS usual, our singing makes a bridge following the first reading from the book of Wisdom where it says “Compared with wisdom riches are nothing; all gold is but a pinch of sand and silver ranks as mud”. Our psalm leads into the Gospel where the seeking of riches is no way to be following Jesus.
Knowing that, we can hopefully carry away with us the response that has echoed through the psalm: “Fill us now with the joy of your love!” That love of God can put a lively smile on our faces and a joyful spring to our step, singing as we go into the week ahead.