Psalm 89:1-4, 15-18 (NRSV)
Verse 1I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever; with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
Verse 2I declare that your steadfast love is established forever; your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.
Verse 3You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to my servant David:
Verse 4'I will establish your descendants forever, and build your throne for all generations.'" Selah
Verse 15Happy are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance;
Verse 16they exult in your name all day long, and extol your righteousness.
Verse 17For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted.
Verse 18For our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel.
Despite the tone of the verses selected for today’s reading, Psalm 89 is not a happy one. Probably written during Judah’s captivity in Babylon, it begins in our reading today with exultation of God’s faithfulness and steadfast love. But later the mood of the psalm turns, mourning how God has seemingly forgotten God’s promises of steadfast love and faithfulness, and ending in lament: “Lord, where is your steadfast love of old, which by your faithfulness you swore to David?” The psalmist then begs God to remember God’s promises.
Living in quarantine has changed our lives. As I write this, coronavirus has killed roughly 300,000 people worldwide, and infected well over a million people in the United States alone. Millions are out of work; families are separated; many face economic ruin. Today the psalmist’s cry is our cry: Where are you, God? Have you forgotten us completely? Psalm 89 brings me comfort because it offers no thoughtless platitudes. Instead, it urges us to dwell in the uncertainties, to truly lament, and to keep a tearful eye open for demonstrations of God’s steadfast love.
How long, O God, our God? Will you hide yourself forever? Remember your promises to your people so that we may bask in your steadfast love and faithfulness always. Amen.