Psalm 89 Commentary for Sunday 23C by Dr Noel Donnelly
Psalm 89 expresses the urgent 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, “You have helped us through many generations, so please turn now and bless this suffering community!”
The psalmist has us asking the eternal God not to sweep us back to the dust of the earth, like Adam. It asks God to number the days of our affliction while we’re still alive; to come and make these days of our affliction come to an end ASAP. We could react similarly today with its wars and viruses. There’s an interesting balance here: while God is asked for pity; the psalmist needs to develop wisdom of heart.
Our second stanza says we are like flowers springing fresh in the morning and withering by nightfall. We need your help NOW Lord!
Our third stanza builds on this: “Make us know the shortness of life! May we gain wisdom of heart.” There’s an interesting balance here: while God is asked for pity; the psalmist needs to develop wisdom of heart.
In the final stanza we sing urgently for a triple blessing: that God’s “favour will shine” on us; that God will “give success to the work of our hands”, and especially that God “will fill us with love”.
As usual, our psalmist’s singing for wisdom of heart makes a bridge following the first reading from the book of Wisdom where the writer’s perishable body and its teeming mind struggle to see God’s purpose for the writer. Strong stuff there! Our psalm leads into the Gospel where the psalmist’s wisdom of heart is essential for the choices we must make to being a follower of Jesus.
audio: words (c) The Grail, England. Music (c) St Mungo Music. Recorded by Grace Buckley.