Commentary by Dr Noel Donnelly. Graphic (c) Netta Ewing.
When we sing Psalm 65 in our liturgy, we are using only nine of the twenty verses of the complete psalm. Over all there is an orderly structure to this prayer of joyful praise and thanksgiving: it moves from “all the earth” (which is emphasised by repetition in verses 1 and 4), then through the ancestral people of Israel, and thirdly into the present community, and ending with the affirmation of the leader of the community, perhaps the king originally. The psalm moves from the cosmic “all the earth” to the particular, the leader of the community. It’s interesting that this leader gives personal affirmation to what the choir has just sung!
In this structured prayer there are four invitations or summonses: firstly, “Come and cry out with joy!”; then, “Come and see!”; then “Come and hear!”; and finally, “Come and bless!” We start off by singing, “Cry out with joy, all the earth and sing to the glory of God’s name, and say, ‘How tremendous are your deeds, O God!’” The phrase “all the earth” is repeated in verse 4, emphasising the universal call to holiness and worship. Next, in verse 5 all are to “come and see!”, see what God has done for Israel, notably the saving history in Exodus. Then there’s a personal plea: “Come and hear what God has done for me”, an individual witness to God’s goodness. Finally, the leader encourages the community to “Come and bless God!”
How can mere humans bless God? Perhaps firstly by giving the only thing God doesn’t have, our free return of loving worship; but secondly the realisation that a simple “thankyou” is not enough: there is a need to tell others of God’s goodness.
Psalm 65 may revive in us the prayer life of our Jewish sisters and brothers, as they came and saw and heard and listened and blest! That’s just like our assembly for Mass today! We come, we see, and not only hear but listen, and even bless God, present in the readings, the Eucharist and one another.