A commentary by Dr Noel Donnelly
Psalm 32 is a great hymn of praise. A hymn, as you will remember from “Praise My Soul the King of Heaven”, has a three-fold structure: first, it has, “Praise my soul the King of Heaven”; second, why praise? Because we are ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven: and so thirdly, “praise with us the God of grace!” Our psalm being a hymn, has this structure. In verses 1-3 it praises God; then, in answer to why we should praise, it thanks God for his faithful word and generous love, in verses 4-5; the hymn ends in 20-22 with renewed hope in the Lord we have been praising.
The full psalm has a preparatory instruction for the singers: this is “A joyful song to the Creator and it is a national hymn of thanksgiving”. .. so, it’s a sort of accompaniment to a “God Save the King” and coronation of its day!
The psalm itself begins with a special word of encouragement for the instrumentalists: they are encouraged to play skilfully and to remember they are playing “fo the Lord” and not for their own satisfaction. “Give thanks to the Lord upon the harp; with ten-stringed lute sing God’s praises. Sing and play loudly with all your skill!”
The psalm once again bridges our readings: when it urges us to sing about the Lord filling the whole earth with love, it echoes the reading from Acts about the commissioning of Greek deacons for the work of worldwide evangelisation. It reaches forward to the Gospel where Jesus teaches that there are many rooms in his Father’s house, Jesus being the Way there which he has prepared.
Our psalm concludes with a prayer for hope.
Verse 22, which we sing as our response, puts it in this way: “May your love be upon us O Lord as we place all our hope in you!” So very appropriate for us today as we move positively along our joyful Easter journey.
Ps 32a: Words (c) The Grail, England. Music St Mungo Music (c) Kevin Mayhew. Sung by Helen Healy.
Ps 32b: Words and music Noel Donnelly; (c) Kevin Mayhew. Sung by Noel Donnelly.
Graphic (c) Netta Ewing.