Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Psalm 114/6: On God's mercy

Continuing our look at Psalm 114 (116), here is today’s verse:

O Dómine, líbera ánimam meam: miséricors Dóminus, et justus, et Deus noster miserétur.
O Lord, deliver my soul. The Lord is merciful and just, and our God shows mercy.

Today’s verse, St Robert Bellarmine suggests, is a call to repentance:

To show what good hope he had in God, he assigns a reason for having had such hope, because "The Lord is merciful and just, and our God showeth mercy;" the Lord is merciful, because he goes before sinners, and inspires them with the idea of penance and prayer, "For he first loved us," as the apostle says. He is also just, for he lets no one go unchastised, as St. Paul says, "He scourgeth every son whom he receiveth," and he pardons those who do not pardon themselves, and not only forgives their sins, but makes them his heirs.

Phrase by phrase:

O Dómine = O Lord

líbera ánimam meam = free/deliver (imperative) my soul

miséricors Dóminus et justus =the Lord is merciful and just

et Deus noster miserétur = and our God has pity (note the deponent)

The Revised Standard Version translates the verse as "O LORD, I beseech thee, save my life!" Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful.

Key vocab:

libero, avi, atum, are to free, set free, deliver
misericors, cordis merciful, abounding in mercy.
justus, a, um just
misereor, sertus sum, eri 2 to pity, have mercy on.

God’s mercy

The concept of God’s mercy dealt with by this verse is a rich one. St Basil the Great comments:

“Everywhere Scripture joins justice with the mercy of God, teaching us, that neither the mercy of God is without judgment nor His judgment without mercy. Even while He pities, He measures out His mercies judiciously to the worthy; and while judging, He brings forth the judgment, having regard to our weakness, repaying us with kindness rather than with equal reciprocal measurement…Mercy is an emotion experienced toward those who have been reduced beyond their desert, and which arises in those sympathetically disposed. We pity the man who has fallen from great riches into the uttermost poverty, him who has been overthrown from the peak of vigor of body to extreme weakness, him who gloried in the beauty and grace of body and who has been destroyed by most shameful passions. Though we at one time were held in glory, living in paradise, yet, we have become inglorious and humble because of our banishment; 'our God showeth mercy’ seeing what sort of men we have become from what we were. For this reason He summoned Adam with a voice of mercy, saying: 'Adam, where are you?' He who knows all things was not seeking to be informed, but He wished to perceive what sort he had become from what he had been. 'Where are you?' instead of 'to what sort of a ruin have you descended from so great a height?'

Psalm 114

Diléxi, quóniam exáudiet dóminus vocem oratiónis meæ.
Quia inclinávit aurem suam mihi: et in diébus meis invocábo.
Circumdedérunt me dolóres mortis: et perícula inférni invenérunt me.
Tribulatiónem et dolórem invéni: et nomen Dómini invocávi.
O Dómine, líbera ánimam meam: miséricors Dóminus, et justus, et Deus noster miserétur.
Custódiens párvulos Dóminus: humiliátus sum, et liberávit me.
Convértere, ánima mea, in réquiem tuam: quia Dóminus benefécit tibi.
Quia erípuit ánimam meam de morte: óculos meos a lácrimis, pedes meos a lapsu.
Placébo Dómino in regióne vivórum.

You can find notes on the next verse here.

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