Thursday, June 20, 2013

Psalm 112, verses 6-7: Strive to become great saints

Job on the dungheap
The next two verses of Psalm 112 remind us of God's promises of what he will do for those who believe in him:

6 Suscitans a terra inopem, et de stercore erigens pauperem:
Raising up the needy from the earth, and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill:

7 ut collocet eum cum principibus, cum principibus populi sui.
That he may place him with princes, with the princes of his people.


Suscitans( lifting up/reviving/raising up) a (from) terra (the earth)  inopem (the needy)
et (and) de (from) stercore (the dung heap) erigens (lifting up) pauperem (the poor)

ut (in order to) collocet (place/set) eum (him) cum (with) principibus (princes) cum (with)  principibus (the princes) populi (of the people) sui (his)

suscito, avi, atum, are, to raise up, set up; to raise up, revive; to raise up, exalt.
inops, opis, without means or resources; poor, needy, indigent, destitute
stercus, oris, n., dung, the dunghill as a symbol of destitution and miser; dust, mire, filth.
erigo, rexi, rectum, ere 3  to raise, lift or set up, raise, place upright.
pauper, eris, adj., poor, needy, indigent, helpless, destitute, wretched.
colloco, avi, atum, are  to set, place, put; to lie down, to rest.
princeps, cipis, m.  prince, ruler, sovereign.
populus, i, people.  the chosen people; a heathen nation


These verses have both a literal and metaphorical meaning. It points us first especially to the poor and lowly; those God raises up from the lowest to the highest of positions - figures such as David and Mary.  Indeed, the words are echoed in 1 Kings 2, the Song of Hannah, and of course in the Magnificat.

Yet they potentially apply to us all, as Cassiodorus explains:

"Those in need and want should not claim this benefit solely for themselves, for anyone who through God's grace is raised from this blemished body, is exalted from the dunghill and from pov­erty. In fact, even a king in this world is empty of God's gifts and rolls in the dung, for vices of the flesh are his master. So the Lord raises up those of any rank or age when He bestows the gifts of His mercy."

The dung heap, St Robert Bellarmine explains, is the mire of original sin; the 'princes of the people' are not earthly princes, but rather the citizens of heaven:

".. our Savior said, "Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom." Now, mankind lay prostrate on the earth, wallowing on the dunghill of original sin, and its consequent evils, and yet God, who is seated in heaven, looked down on the earth, and raised up the needy, that is, the man despoiled by the robbers, who was lying on the dunghill of misery, to "place him with princes;" not in the general acceptation of the word; but with "the princes of his people," the possessors of the heavenly Jerusalem, the citizens of the kingdom of heaven...the ele­vation from a state of sin and death to that of glory and immortality, to an equality with the angels, to share in that happiness that forms a part of God's own happiness, that, indeed, is the true, the truly great, and the most to be sought for elevation."


Look upon us with mercy O Lord and free us from our mire of our sin.  Grant that through your Son we may put off this earthly raiment and be worthy of the white robes of salvation.


How are we to be worthy of this honour?  We must strive to be great saints, working to make disciples of all men.  Cassiodorus explains:

"But you are not to believe that the preeminence mentioned here is the distinc­tion sought by human aspirations; rather, it is the preeminence granted by the Lord's generosity which is lofty in humility, certain in faith, unflinching in mental strength. As for the addition: Of his people, it points to the Catholic Church spread through the whole world."

The psalm so far

1 Laudate, pueri, Dominum; laudate nomen Domini.
2 Sit nomen Domini benedictum ex hoc nunc et usque in sæculum.
3 A solis ortu usque ad occasum laudabile nomen Domini.
4 Excelsus super omnes gentes Dominus, et super cælos gloria ejus.
 5 Quis sicut Dominus Deus noster, qui in altis habitat, et humilia respicit in cælo et in terra?
6 Suscitans a terra inopem, et de stercore erigens pauperem:  
7 ut collocet eum cum principibus, cum principibus populi sui.

You can find the final post in this series of notes on Psalm 112 here.

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