Psalm for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)

Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.

Psalm 92: 2-3, 13-14, 15-16

This week’s responsorial psalm is from Psalm 92, a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for God’s faithful deeds.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praise to your name, Most High,

The psalm begins with a declaration of the appropriateness of thanking God.

One’s name is really an integral part of one’s very being. Therefore, to praise the name of the Most High is to praise the LORD.

to proclaim your kindness at dawn and your faithfulness throughout the night.

Hymns of thanksgiving normally include specific reasons for the author’s gratitude. Although no such details are provided here, there is an allusion to the goodness that God has shown. Lovingkindness (hesed) and faithfulness (ěmûnâh) are part of the vocabulary of covenant.

The cultic dimension of this prayer can be seen in the declaration that it is good to praise God throughout the night, even until dawn. This suggests some kind of vigil, the kind that was normally part of the devotional life that unfolded at shrines. Individuals often held prayerful vigils in petition for some favor from God or in thanksgiving for a blessing received.

The just one shall flourish like the palm tree, like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow. 

The rewards of righteousness are sketched using imagery from the natural world of the Near East. The fertility of the familiar palm tree and the longevity of the neighboring cedar of Lebanon are apt metaphors for the blessings that will flow from fidelity to one’s covenant responsibilities.

They that are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God.

This statement suggests the temple and is a second allusion to worship. To be “planted in the house of the LORD” is probably a reference to temple devotion, which could be part of the life of any Israelite — rather than temple service, which was reserved to just a few men. Just as trees were planted near water, their source of life, so the righteous are planted in the presence of God, their source of life.

They shall bear fruit even in old age; vigorous and sturdy shall they be, 

The fruitfulness of the righteous is further described. It will endure even into old age, a time when living things normally cease to be productive. The vicissitudes of life that too frequently wear people down will not undermine their fruitfulness, because they are planted in the presence of God, the source of all life. As long as they are faithful in their covenant commitment, they will be able to draw on the strength and life-giving forces of this presence.

declaring how just is the LORD, my rock, in whom there is no wrong.

Finally, these remarkable lives will bear witness to the uprightness of God. Once again, the covenant relationship is the basis of this hymn of thanksgiving. The righteous are blessed because they have been faithful. However, the fruitfulness of their lives is a sign that God too has been faithful to the covenant promises that were made.

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