Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Psalm 3 - Multi dicunt (v2)

Yesterday I looked briefly at verse 1 of Psalm 3:

Dómine quid multiplicáti sunt qui tríbulant me? * multi insúrgunt advérsum me.

I want to continue today the examination of Psalm 3, with a look at verse 2:

Multi dicunt ánimæ meæ: * Non est salus ipsi in Deo ejus.

Psalm 3: David as a type of Christ

First a reminder of the overall focus of the psalm, from St Alphonsus Liguori:

"This psalm has for its title: David flying before his son Absalom. It was therefore to David fleeing from the persecutions of the unfortunate Absalom that is commonly applied the literal sense of this psalm. But in the mystical sense, according to St. Jerome, St. Augustine, Bede, Theodoret, and others, David here represents Jesus Christ considered in his Passion and in his resurrection. We would here once more remark on the subject of the enemies from whom the royal prophet endured persecution, that all the psalms when they speak literally are to be understood mystically of all the internal and external enemies, especially of our most powerful and most dangerous enemies, I mean the devils who are plotting against our eternal salvation."

Verse 2

The Vulgate is: “Multi dicunt ánimæ meæ: non est salus ipsi in Deo ejus."

The Douay-Rheims translates this as ‘Many say (multi dicunt) to/in reference to my soul (animae meae): There is no (non est) salvation (salus) for him (ipsi) in his God (in Deo ejus)’.  

The Coverdale translation (from the Hebrew Masoretic Text) makes it: "Many one there be that say of my soul, There is no help for him in his God."

In sum, the psalmist’s friends and enemies are all saying that God has abandoned him. 

Perseverance in faith

Pope Benedict comments on the verse:

"The Psalm opens with an invocation to the Lord: A multitude threatens him and rises against him, generating fear that magnifies the threat, making it appear greater and even more terrifying; but the praying person does not let this vision of death prevail, he keeps intact his relationship with the God of life and turns to him first in search of help.  However his enemies attempt to break this bond with God and to injure their victim's faith. They insinuate that the Lord cannot intervene, they say that not even God can save him. Hence the attack is not only physical but involves the spiritual dimension too: “there is no help for him in God”, they say, targeting the central principle of the Psalmist's mind.  This is the extreme temptation to which the believer is subjected, the temptation to lose faith, to lose trust in God’s closeness. The righteous pass the final test, remain steadfast in faith, in the certainty of the truth and in full trust in God; in this way they find life and truth. It seems to me that here the Psalm touches us very personally: beset by many problems we are tempted to think that perhaps God does not save me, that he does not know me, perhaps he is not able to; the temptation to lose faith is our enemy's ultimate attack and if we are to find God, if we are to find life, we must resist it."

Vocab list

multus, a, um, much; many, numerous; much, great.
dico, dixi, dictum, ere 3, to say, speak; to sing; in the sense of to think, plan, desire; to praise.
anima, ae,  Equivalent to a personal pronoun: Untranslated:. Life, soul, and heart
meus a um – my mine
non – not
est – he/she/it/there is
salus, utis, /. help, deliverance, safety, salvation.
ipse ipsa ipsum – him, her -self,
in+abl=in, on,by means of, with
deus god
ejus – from is ea id, he, she ,it, that

And now, on to the next verse...

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