Monday, March 4, 2013

Tenebrae/17 - Psalm 26: Whom shall I fear?

Today's psalm, Psalm 26, actually gets two guernsey's at Tenebrae, closing off the first Nocturn of Good Friday, and in the second Nocturn Holy Saturday.

In the Septuagint/Vulgate, the psalm is given the title 'The psalm of David before he was anointed'.  David was actually anointed three separate times - by Samuel (I Samuel 16:13); by the men of Judah (2 Samuel 2:4); and as king of all Israel (2 Samuel 5:3).

Accordingly, it has an obvious interpretation as applicable to Christ, twice (debatably!) anointed by women, once early in his ministry (Luke 7: 36-38) before the Crucifixion (by Mary Magdalen, John 12:1-11); and finally in the blood of the crucifixion, his kingship attested to by the sign Pilate insisted on placing on his Cross. Alternatively, one can see it as referring to his anointing as prophet, priest and king.

Overall the psalm has something of the feel of the Lord is my shepherd, for it pictures a man under siege, but is totally confident in placing his trust in God.

Pointing us to heaven

Its Holy Saturday placement surely reflects the verse used as its antiphon then, 'Credo vidére bona Dómini in terra vivéntium', or, 'I believe that I shall yet see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living'.

St Alphonus Liguori comments that in this verse, the psalmist, King David, is a type of the man hounded by his enemies, and ready to enter heaven:

"He is a figure of the just man who in the midst of the enemies of his salvation longs to leave this world, and to enter into the heavenly kingdom."

Steadfast amongst our foes

The Good Friday focus, though, is surely the first part of the psalm, on which St Athanasius advises:

"When you see the boundless pride of many, and evil passing great, so that among men (so it seems) no holy thing remains, take refuge with the Lord.. if this state of things be long drawn out, be not faint-hearted, as though God had forgotten you, but call upon Him with Psalm 26."

Psalm 26

Dóminus illuminátio mea, et salus mea, * quem timébo?
Dóminus protéctor vitæ meæ, * a quo trepidábo?
Dum apprópiant super me nocéntes, * ut edant carnes meas :
Qui tríbulant me inimíci mei, * ipsi infirmáti sunt et cecidérunt.
Si consístant advérsum me castra, * non timébit cor meum.
Si exsúrgat advérsum me prælium, * in hoc ego sperábo.
Unam pétii a Dómino, hanc requíram, * ut inhábitem in domo Dómini ómnibus diébus vitæ meæ :
Ut vídeam voluptátem Dómini, * et vísitem templum ejus.
Quóniam abscóndit me in tabernáculo suo: * in die malórum protéxit me in abscóndito tabernáculi sui.
In petra exaltávit me: * et nunc exaltávit caput meum super inimícos meos.
Circuívi et immolávi in tabernáculo ejus hóstiam vociferatiónis: * cantábo et psalmum dicam Dómino.
Exáudi, Dómine, vocem meam, qua clamávi ad te: * miserére mei, et exáudi me.
Tibi dixit cor meum, exquisívit te fácies mea : * fáciem tuam, Dómine, requíram.
Ne avértas fáciem tuam a me, * ne declínes in ira a servo tuo.
Adjútor meus esto: * ne derelínquas me, neque despícias me, Deus, salutáris meus.
Quóniam pater meus, et mater mea dereliquérunt me: * Dóminus autem assúmpsit me.
Legem pone mihi, Dómine, in via tua: * et dírige me in sémitam rectam propter inimícos meos.
Ne tradíderis me in ánimas tribulántium me: * quóniam insurrexérunt in me testes iníqui et mentíta est iníquitas sibi.
Credo vidére bona Dómini * in terra vivéntium.
Exspécta Dóminum, viríliter age: * et confortétur cor tuum, et sústine Dóminum.

The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?
Whilst the wicked draw near against me, to eat my flesh.
My enemies that trouble me, have themselves been weakened, and have fallen.
If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear.
If a battle should rise up against me, in this will I be confident.
One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple.
For he has hidden me in his tabernacle; in the day of evils, he has protected me in the secret place of his tabernacle.
He has exalted me upon a rock: and now he has lifted up my head above my enemies.
I have gone round, and have offered up in his tabernacle a sacrifice of jubilation: I will sing, and recite a psalm to the Lord.
Hear, O Lord, my voice, with which I have cried to you: have mercy on me and hear me.
My heart has said to you: My face has sought you: your face, O Lord, will I still seek.
Turn not away your face from me; decline not in your wrath from your servant.
Be my helper, forsake me not; do not despise me, O God my Saviour.
For my father and my mother have left me: but the Lord has taken me up.
Set me, O Lord, a law in your way, and guide me in the right path, because of my enemies.
Deliver me not over to the will of them that trouble me; for unjust witnesses have risen up against me; and iniquity has lied to itself.
I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.

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

Tenebrae of Holy Saturday

Nocturn I: Psalms 4, 14, 15
Nocturn II: Psalms 23, 26*, 29
Nocturn III: Psalms 53*, 75*, 87*
Lauds: 50*, 91, 63, [Is 38], 150

You can find the next part of the series, on Psalm 37 here.  Alternatively, to go to the next psalm of Holy Saturday, go to Psalm 29.

And here is a recording to give you the psalm tone for Psalm 26 with the antiphon for Holy Saturday.

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