Monday, April 15, 2013

Tenebrae psalms/34 - Psalm 63

The original historical context for Psalm 63 is not clear: the title claims Davidic authorship, and the style and language seems to support this, so some modern commentators have suggested that it may refer to David’s early days at Saul’s court, when enemies plotted to bring about his downfall.

The Fathers, however, gave it an entirely Christological interpretation, as Cassiodorus explains:

“The words of this heading, as has often been remarked, are wholly related to the Lord Christ, who is to speak through the entire psalm. These words are written without historical narration; the clarity of the heading seems to waft the light of the coming psalm over us. The Lord will speak of His passion, which has afforded life to the world and has poured on us the light of belief…initially prays that He be freed from fear of the Jewish people, as He relates their deceits and impious deeds as if they have already been performed. He teaches that they have failed in their acts of persecution, whereas He has attained the glory of resurrection.”

When it is said on Wednesday in the Benedictine Office, the focus is on those plotting to betray Jesus in the assembly of the malignant (verse 2), and those resolute in wickedness (verse 6).  In the context of the great works done on Holy Saturday night, it reminds us that we must actively choose to join the just, the upright of heart.  The Apostles preached the works of the Lord (v10) to those who had crucified Jesus, offering them the chance of redemption.  And many of those same persecutors were indeed converted, as the life of St Paul attests.

Psalm 63

Psalm 63: Exaudi Deus

In finem. Psalmus David.
Unto the end, a psalm for David.
1 Exáudi, Deus, oratiónem meam cum déprecor: * a timóre inimíci éripe ánimam meam.
Hear O God, my prayer, when I make supplication to you: deliver my soul from the fear of the enemy.
2 Protexísti me a convéntu malignántium: * a multitúdine operántium iniquitátem.
You have protected me from the assembly of the malignant; from the multitude of the workers of iniquity.
3  Quia exacuérunt ut gládium linguas suas: * intendérunt arcum rem amáram, ut sagíttent in occúltis immaculátum.
For they have whetted their tongues like a sword; they have bent their bow a bitter thing, to shoot in secret the undefiled.
4  Súbito sagittábunt eum, et non timébunt: * firmavérunt sibi sermónem nequam.
They will shoot at him on a sudden, and will not fear: they are resolute in wickedness.
5 Narravérunt ut abscónderent láqueos: * dixérunt: Quis vidébit eos?
They have talked of hiding snares; they have said: Who shall see them?
6  Scrutáti sunt iniquitátes: * defecérunt scrutántes scrutínio.
They have searched after iniquities: they have failed in their search.
7  Accédet homo ad cor altum: * et exaltábitur Deus.
Man shall come to a deep heart: And God shall be exalted.
8  Sagíttæ parvulórum factæ sunt plagæ eórum: * et infirmátæ sunt contra eos linguæ eórum.
The arrows of children are their wounds: And their tongues against them are made weak
9  Conturbáti sunt omnes qui vidébant eos: * et tímuit omnis homo.
All that saw them were troubled; and every man was afraid.
10  Et annuntiavérunt ópera Dei, * et facta ejus intellexérunt.
And they declared the works of God, and understood his doings.
11  Lætábitur justus in Dómino, et sperábit in eo: * et laudabúntur omnes recti corde.
The just shall rejoice in the Lord, and shall hope in him: and all the upright in heart shall be praised.

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

And for the next part in this series go here.

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