Sunday, November 4, 2012

Psalm 110 vs 7 - The immutable law

Today's verse of Psalm 110 reminds us that the judgments of God alluded to in the previous verse are based on the immutable laws that he has put in place:

Fidélia ómnia mandáta ejus: confirmáta in sæculum sæculi, facta in veritáte et æquitáte
All his commandments are faithful: confirmed for ever and ever, made in truth and equity.


Fidélia ómnia mandáta ejus = trustworthy/sure/faithful [are] all his commandments/precepts/laws

confirmáta in sæculum sæculi = established/confirmed forever and ever

facta in veritáte et æquitáte = made/done in truth and fairness/equity/uprightness


Chrysostom draws attention to the fairly standard juxtaposition in the psalms, between the wonder of creation and the wonder of the law:

“As he often does, he does here too, moving from the wisdom in his richly varied creation and from his care to his lawmaking, and discussing in turn this part of his providence. I mean, he corrected the human race not only by creating a creation of this kind and extent but by laying down laws...In the same way here, too, after speaking about his marvels and wonders and works, he shifts his attention to the subject of his precepts, speaking this way…”

He goes on to explain the significance of ‘all’ in the phrase. By the law, he means firstly the laws of science, that govern the operation of the world around us. He points secondly to the natural law, written on men’s hearts. And finally there is the written law of the Old Testament and the New.


We are invited to delight in the commands or laws of God.


Chrysostom invites us to adopt Christ’s teaching on fulfilling not just the letter of the law, but also its spirit:

“There are also laws that are in writing. And all these remain in force. If some have been abrogated, however, they have been changed not for the worse but for the better. That one, for example, "You shall not kill," has not been abrogated but extended; and that one, "You shall not commit adultery," has not been cancelled but has become more comprehensive. Hence he also said, "I have not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfil them." That is to say, the person who does not give way to rage will be far more likely to abstain from murder, and the one not giving free rein to a roving eye will keep a greater distance from adultery. Consequently, law has this particular character, special, immortal, invariable - the law of creation, the law of nature, the law of sound values, and the law of the New Testament.” Hence he says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away," indicating their immovable character.”

You can find the next part of this series here.

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