Thursday, March 6, 2014

Penitential Psalms: No. 1: Psalm 6

c15th Harrowing of Hell and Psalm 6

As I've only recently posted a series on Psalm 6, I'm not going to linger over this first of the Seven Penitential Psalms, but will rather refer you back to that series, which you can find at the links below.

By way of a starter for our meditation though, I want to share a little of St John Fisher's commentary on this psalm, which focuses on the call to true contrition and penance.

Verses 2 and 3, he suggests, describe the agitated state of the unconverted sinner:

"Saint Ambrose asks this question: What pain is more grievous than the inward wound of a man's conscience?  It troubles, it vexes, it pricks, it tears, and it also crucifies the mind; it turns the memory upside down, it confounds the reason, it makes crooked the will, and it agitates the soul."

When the psalmist asks how long (verse 3), he is pleading, St John says, for God to turn to the sinner and calm his heart, which will occur once he truly repents and starts doing penance.  The plea for mercy and salvation of verse 4 is a reminder that in hell or even purgatory punishment is our preoccupation, not praise of God, and so we must hope to avoid it by doing penance now.

And if we are free of sin and any associated punishment, we are rich indeed, and must share it with those who are poor and sick, he urges.

Let us then make a start on a good Lent!

Notes on Psalm 6

Introduction to Psalm 6
Psalm 6 Pt 2: On God's anger (v1)
Psalm 6 pt 3: God the physician (v2)
Psalm 6 pt 4: In death no man remembers you (v3-5)
Psalm 6 pt 5: A baptism of tears (v6)
Psalm 6 pt 6: praying for our enemies (v7-10)

You can also find some short summaries of the psalm by assorted authors here.

Psalm 6
Magistro chori. Fidibus. Super octavam. PSALMUS. David.
Unto the end, in verses, a psalm for David, for the octave.
Dómine, ne in furóre tuo árguas me, * neque in ira tua corrípias me.
O Lord, rebuke me not in your indignation, nor chastise me in your wrath.
2  Miserére mei, Dómine, quóniam infírmus sum : * sana me, Dómine, quóniam conturbáta sunt ossa mea.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak: heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
3  Et ánima mea turbáta est valde : * sed tu, Dómine, úsquequo?
And my soul is troubled exceedingly: but you, O Lord, how long?  
4  Convértere, Dómine, et éripe ánimam meam : * salvum me fac propter misericórdiam tuam.
Turn to me, O Lord, and deliver my soul: O save me for your mercy's sake.
5.  Quóniam non est in morte qui memor sit tui : * in inférno autem quis confitébitur tibi?
For there is no one in death that is mindful of you: and who shall confess to you in hell?
6  Laborávi in gémitu meo, lavábo per síngulas noctes lectum meum : * lácrimis meis stratum meum rigábo.
I have laboured in my groanings, every night I will wash my bed: I will water my couch with my tears
7  Turbátus est a furóre óculus meus : * inveterávi inter omnes inimícos meos.
My eye is troubled through indignation: I have grown old amongst all my enemies.
8  Discédite a me, omnes, qui operámini iniquitátem : *  quóniam exaudívit Dóminus vocem fletus mei.
Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity: for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping.
9  Exaudívit Dóminus deprecatiónem meam, *  Dóminus oratiónem meam suscépit.
The Lord has heard my supplication: the Lord has received my prayer.
10  Erubéscant, et conturbéntur veheménter omnes inimíci mei : * convertántur et erubéscant valde velóciter.
Let all my enemies be ashamed, and be very much troubled: let them be turned back, and be ashamed very speedily.

The next post in this series is an introduction to the second penitential psalm, Psalm 31.

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