Today we have reached the start of the psalms of Tenebrae for Good Friday, and today's psalm, Psalm 2, sets the scene for the day's events, with its verses on the plotting of princes against the King of the world, most famous in its setting by Handel:
Why do the nations rage?
The New Testament repeatedly makes it clear that Psalm 2’s plotting Kings and raging peoples refers to Pilate and Herod and all those who plotted against and persecuted Our Lord.
In particular, in Acts 4, St Peter cites the psalm and then says:
“…for truly in this city there were gathered together against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever thy hand and thy plan had predestined to take place.”But the psalm can surely also be given a more contemporary meaning: the peoples plotting together are those advocating the secularist and new aggressive-atheistic rejection of the authority of God in society. It is a rejection of God that pretends that sodomy is something praiseworthy rather than the perversion of our sexuality; that the great gift of life is something to be extinguished at our whim; and that the pursuit of self-indulgent pleasure is the highest ideal in our empty lives.
The bonds of God's love and homosexuality
In his commentary on verse 3 St Thomas Aquinas explains the rationale for the strong condemnations of atheism in the psalms. He explains that atheism involves a specific rejection of God, the desire to ‘break the bonds’ of the natural law written on men's hearts, and the divine law taught to us by Christ.
Just how literally secularists and pretend-Christians take this desire to 'break their bonds asunder' is illustrated by a piece in the Australian Jesuit rag Eureka Street earlier this week, in an article that paints fidelity to Church teaching on homosexuality as a form of slavery, a form of bondage that needs to be broken!
What Scripture actually teaches us, though, is nicely summarized in the latter half of this psalm.
In verse 11 we are told to serve the Lord with fear and trembling. Verse 12 tells us to accept instruction, correction and discipline. Finally, we are told to trust in God.
Like Our Lord, we may find ourselves suffering temptations and persecuted, but if we put our trust in God, we will reach the happy end he promises.
Psalm 2: Quare fremuérunt Gentes
Quare fremuérunt Gentes: * et pópuli meditáti sunt inánia?
Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things?
2 Astitérunt reges terræ, et príncipes convenérunt in unum * advérsus Dóminum, et advérsus Christum ejus.
The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ.
3 Dirumpámus víncula eórum: * et projiciámus a nobis jugum ipsórum.
Let us break their bonds asunder: and let us cast away their yoke from us.
4. Qui hábitat in cælis, irridébit eos: * et Dóminus subsannábit eos.
He that dwells in heaven shall laugh at them: and the Lord shall deride them.
5 Tunc loquétur ad eos in ira sua, * et in furóre suo conturbábit eos.
Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage.
6 Ego autem constitútus sum Rex ab eo super Sion montem sanctum ejus, * prædicans præcéptum ejus.
But I am appointed king by him over Sion, his holy mountain, preaching his commandment.
7 Dóminus dixit ad me: * Fílius meus es tu, ego hódie génui te.
The Lord has said to me: You are my son, this day have I begotten you.
8 Póstula a me, et dábo tibi Gentes hereditátem tuam, * et possessiónem tuam términos terræ.
Ask of me, and I will give you the Gentiles for your inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for your possession
9 Reges eos in virga férrea, * et tamquam vas fíguli confrínges eos.
You shall rule them with a rod of iron, and shall break them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10 Et nunc, reges, intellígite: * erudímini, qui judicátis terram.
And now, O you kings, understand: receive instruction, you that judge the earth.
11 Servíte Dómino in timóre: * et exsultáte ei cum tremóre.
Serve the Lord with fear: and rejoice unto him with trembling.
12 Apprehéndite disciplínam, nequándo irascátur Dóminus, * et pereátis de via justa.
Embrace discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and you perish from the just way.
13 Cum exárserit in brevi ira ejus: * beáti omnes qui confídunt in eo.
When his wrath shall be kindled in a short time, blessed are all they that trust in him.
Tenebrae of Good Friday
Nocturn I: Psalms 2, 21, 26
Nocturn II: Psalms 37, 39, 53*
Nocturn III: Psalms 58, 87*, 93
Lauds: 50*, 142, 84, [Hab], 147
Notes on the next psalm can be found here.