Monday, December 9, 2013

Psalm 131: Verses 9-10

The Dance of King David before the Ark of the Covenant
Today's verses of Psalm 131 take us to the importance of the correct performance of the liturgy, and its connection to the promise of the coming of Christ.

Verse notes

Sacerdótes tui induántur justítiam: * et sancti tui exsúltent.
Sacerdotes tui induantur iustitia, et sancti tui laudent.

ο ερες σου νδύσονται δικαιοσύνην κα ο σιοί σου γαλλιάσονται

Sacerdótes (priests) tui (your)  induántur (let them be clothed) justítiam (justice) et (and) sancti (the holy ones) tui (of you) exsúltent (let them rejoice)

The verbs here are present subjunctive: the people are asking that this may be the case.  Verse 17 provides God’s reply. 

sacerdos, dotis, m.   priest.
induo, ui, utum, ere 3  to put on, to clothe with.
sanctus, a, um,  holy.
exsulto, avi, atum, are , prop., to spring, leap, or jump up; to exult, to rejoice exceedingly

Let your priests be clothed with justice: and let your saints rejoice.
Thy priests shall clothe themselves with righteousness; and thy saints shall exult.
Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints sing with joyfulness.

We seldom think, today, of adherence to the rubrics as a matter of justice, but that is the traditional interpretation of this verse.  St John Chrysostom, for example, comments on this verse that:

“Now, he gives the name righteousness here to ritual, priesthood, worship, sacrifices, offerings, and the observant lifestyle associated with these, since this in particular should be required of priests, too. And your holy ones will rejoice, which in fact happened. Notice him not looking for construction of a city, not for abundance of wares, not for other forms of prosperity, but for the appearance of the Temple, rest for the ark, the full number of priests, ritual, worship, priesthood.”

Similarly, St Robert Bellarmine insists on the importance of the sanctity of priests for the salvation of the people:

“The Ark having been brought into the temple, Solomon puts up a prayer, first for the priests, then for the king, that is, for himself; for on them depend the whole safety of the people, the priests being the rulers in spiritual matters, as are the kings in temporal. He asks for the priests, that they may be just and holy, as they ought to be, in order to discharge their duty prop­erly, and that they should be alive in praising God, that being their peculiar province because they are bound to give God the tribute of praise and thanksgiving, both on their own part, and on that of the people, for the favors we are constantly receiving from him; and so to praise and thank our benefactor is to stir up his kindness to continue and increase his blessings. He, there­fore, says, I beg of you, O Lord, that "thy priests be clothed with justice," interior and exterior, within and without; that justice may appear in their lives, words, and actions, and that nothing disgraceful should turn up in those who are to minister to you and to teach your people. The metaphor of a robe is used here to give us to understand, that as such an article not only covers the deformities, but also adds to the appearance of those who wear it, and distinguishes them too; so should priests, through their virtues, and their extreme sanctity, not only rise above the imputation of anything mean or disgraceful, but should hold themselves up as a bright model and example to the flocks they have in charge, so that it may not be said of them, that "the peo­ple are as bad as the priest."

Propter David, servum tuum: * non avértas fáciem christi tui.

νεκεν Δαυιδ το δούλου σου μ ποστρέψς τ πρόσωπον το χριστο σου

Propter (for the sake of/because of) David servum (servant) tuum  (your) non (not) avértas (you turn away/reject) fáciem (the face) christi (of the anointed) tui (your)

To turn away the face is to refuse to grant a request (cf 1 Kings 6: 12, 15).  The anointed one or Christ was clearly Solomon in its literal historical context, but was understood as a type of/reference to the Messiah by the Jews, as well as in Christian interpretation.

propter, prep, with ace. In stating a cause: on account of, by reason of, because of, from, for, for the sake of.
servus, i, m., a slave, servant; servants of the Lord, devout men who keep the law; the people, i.e., the Israelites
averto, verti, versum, ere 3, to turn away, avert;to bring back.
facies, ei,. face, countenance, appearance;  presence.
Christus, I m Christ, the Messias, the Messianic King, anointed.

For your servant David's sake, turn not away the face of your anointed.
For the sake of thy servant David turn not away the face of thine anointed.
For thy servant David’s sake, turn not away the presence of thine Anointed.

Pope Benedict XVI's commentary on this psalm points to the importance of the double level of meaning to the verse: on the one hand, a historical plea for the king as the successor of David; but also a messianic text:

"...It is easy to perceive a Messianic dimension in this supplication, initially destined to implore support for the Hebrew sovereign in his life's trials. The term "anointed", in fact, expresses the Jewish term "Messiah": the gaze of the praying person thus extends beyond the events in the Kingdom of Judah to the great expectation of the perfect "anointed One", the Messiah who will always be pleasing to God, and loved and blessed by him, and will be not only for Israel, but the "anointed", the king for all the world. He, God, is with us and awaits this "anointed", come then in the person of Jesus Christ...The "anointed" is Christ. Christ, the Son of God, is made flesh. And the Ark of the Covenant, the true dwelling of God in the world, not made of wood but of flesh and blood, is the Mother who offers herself to the Lord as the Ark of the Covenant and invites us also to be living dwellings for God in the world."

Psalm 131 (132) – Memento Domine

Canticum graduum.
A gradual canticle.
1 Meménto, Dómine, David, * et omnis mansuetúdinis ejus :
O Lord remember David, and all his meekness.

2  Sicut jurávit Dómino, * votum vovit Deo Jacob
2 How he swore to the Lord, he vowed a vow to the God of Jacob:
3  Si introíero in tabernáculum domus meæ, * si ascéndero in lectum strati mei :
3 If I shall enter into the tabernacle of my house: if I shall go up into the bed wherein I lie:
4  Si dédero somnum óculis meis, * et pálpebris meis dormitatiónem :
4 If I shall give sleep to my eyes, or slumber to my eyelids,
5  Et réquiem tempóribus meis : donec invéniam locum Dómino, * tabernáculum Deo Jacob.
5 or rest to my temples: until I find out a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
6. Ecce audívimus eam in Ephrata: * invénimus eam in campis silvæ.
6 Behold we have heard of it in Ephrata: we have found it in the fields of the wood.
7  Introíbimus in tabernáculum ejus: * adorábimus in loco, ubi stetérunt pedes ejus.
7 We will go into his tabernacle: we will adore in the place where his feet stood. .
8  Surge, Dómine, in réquiem tuam, * tu et arca sanctificatiónis tuæ.
8 Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark, which you have sanctified
9  Sacerdótes tui induántur justítiam: * et sancti tui exsúltent.
9 Let your priests be clothed with justice: and let   your saints rejoice.
10  Propter David, servum tuum: * non avértas fáciem Christi tui.
10 For your servant David's sake, turn not away the face of your anointed.
11  Jurávit Dóminus David veritátem, et non frustrábitur eam: * de fructu ventris tui ponam super sedem tuam.
11 The Lord has sworn truth to David, and he will not make it void: of the fruit of your womb I will set upon your throne
12  Si custodíerint fílii tui testaméntum meum: * et testimónia mea hæc, quæ docébo eos.
12 If your children will keep my covenant, and these my testimonies which I shall teach them:
13  Et fílii eórum usque in sæculum: * sedébunt super sedem tuam.
Their children also for evermore shall sit upon your throne.
14  Quóniam elégit Dóminus Sion: * elégit eam in habitatiónem sibi.
13 For the Lord has chosen Sion: he has chosen it for his dwelling.
15  Hæc réquies mea in sæculum sæculi: * hic habitábo, quóniam elégi eam.
14 This is my rest for ever and ever: here will I dwell, for I have chosen it.
16  Víduam ejus benedícens benedícam: * páuperes ejus saturábo pánibus.
15 Blessing I will bless her widow: I will satisfy her poor with bread.
17  Sacerdótes ejus índuam salutári: * et sancti ejus exsultatióne exsultábunt.
16 I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints shall rejoice with exceeding great joy.
18  Illuc prodúcam cornu David: * parávi lucérnam Christo meo.
17 There will I bring forth a horn to David: I have prepared a lamp for my anointed
19  Inimícos ejus índuam confusióne: * super ipsum autem efflorébit sanctificátio mea.
18 His enemies I will clothe with confusion: but upon him shall my sanctification flourish.
Notes on the next verses can be found here.

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