Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Penitential Psalms - Psalm 50/6 verses 13-15

Verse 13 of Psalm 50, which speaks of the joy of salvation, is my absolute favourite.  The next two verses speak of the potential fruits of David's salvation - converting others, and offering praise to God.  He is not yet there, however, for he still needs God's pardon.

Redde mihi lætítiam salutáris tui: * et spíritu principáli confírma me.
Redde mihi laetitiam salutaris tui et spiritu promptissimo confirma me.
Redde mihi laetitiam lesu tui, et spiritu potenti confixma me.

πόδος μοι τν γαλλίασιν το σωτηρίου σου κα πνεύματι γεμονικ στήρισόν με

Text notes: Spiritu principali = princely or noble spirit. The Septuagint is more literally ruling or guiding, while the MT makes it a willing (generous) spirit, and St. Jerome offers powerful spirit.

reddo, didi, ditum, ere. to restore, return, give back; to requite, repay, reward, render;
laetitia, ae, f. joy, gladness
principalis, e It is variously rendered, noble, perfect

confirmo, avi, atum, are, to strengthen, confirm, establish; in the passive, to be sustained, supported, stayed.

Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and strengthen me with a perfect spirit.
Restore to me the joy of thy salvation: establish me with thy directing Spirit.
O give me the comfort of thy help again, and stablish me with thy free Spirit.

The fruit of our reconciliation with God is the gift of Christ, through whom salvation comes, and the presence of the Spirit, as Irenaeus points out in Against Heresies:

"For [God] promised, that in the last times He would pour Him [the Spirit] upon [His] servants and handmaids, that they might prophesy; wherefore He did also descend upon the Son of God, made the Son of man, becoming accustomed in fellowship with Him to dwell in the human race, to rest with human beings, and to dwell in the workmanship of God, working the will of the Father in them, and renewing them from their old habits into the newness of Christ." (III.17.2)

The key point, though, is that Christianity is not a dour, miserable thing, but rather an occasion of joy.  St Thomas Aquinas points out in his commentary on this verse, that grace inevitably leads to cheerfulness:

" gives cheerfulness, for he who has grace has charity; and he who has charity loves God, and possesses him; and he who has what he loves, rejoices. Therefore, where charity is, there is joy. "

Pope John Paul II, in Pastores dabo vobis (1992), puts this verse in the context of the sacrament of penance:

"It is necessary and very urgent to rediscover within spiritual formation the beauty and joy of the sacrament of penance. In a culture which - through renewed and more subtle forms of self justification - runs the fatal risk of losing the "sense of sin" and, as a result, the consoling joy of the plea for forgiveness (cf. Ps 51,14) and of meeting God who is "rich in mercy" (Ep 2,4), it is vital to educate future priests to have the virtue of penance, which the Church wisely nourishes in her celebrations and in the seasons of the liturgical year, and which finds its fullness in the sacrament of reconciliation. From it flow the sense of asceticism and interior discipline, a spirit of sacrifice and self - denial, the acceptance of hard work and of the cross."

Docébo iníquos vias tuas: * et ímpii ad te converténtur.
Docebo iniquos uias tuas, et peccatores ad te reuertentur.

 διδάξω νόμους τς δούς σου κα σεβες π σ πιστρέψουσιν

doceo, docui, doctum, ere 2 to teach, instruct..
iniquus, a, um, unjust, godless, wicked; As a subst.  the wicked, the godless, the unjust (man or men); evil-doers.
impius, ii, m., sinners, the wicked, the godless,
converto, verti, versum, ere 3, to turn, change, alter, bring back; quicken, refresh; bring back; convert, turn from sin;

I will teach the unjust your ways: and the wicked shall be converted to you.
Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and ungodly men shall turn to thee.
Then shall I teach thy ways unto the wicked, and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

The fruit of our salvation is the desire to convert others as well; and indeed this too brings a reward, as James 5:20 makes clear: "Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."

David himself is testimony of this truth, as St Robert Bellarmine points out:

"The fruit of his justification, tending to the glory of God and the benefit of many. Having been taken into favor after so many grievous offenses, "I will teach," by word and example, "thy ways," mercy, and justice; "For all the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth;" and the consequence will be, that the wicked, following my example, will be converted to thee. David was a signal example to all posterity of God's justice and mercy; of his mercy, because, notwithstanding his grievous crimes, the moment he exclaimed, "I have sinned before the Lord," they were all forgiven; and of his justice, for the Lord inflicted more grievous temporal punishments on him, not only in the death of the son born in adultery, but soon after, in his expulsion from the kingdom, the public violation of his wives by his own son and the slaughter of his sons Amon and Absalom. His example was useful, not only to the people of his own time, but to a unto the end of the world; for this Psalm, composed by him is in use, and will be in use: so long as the Church militant shall be in existence."

Líbera me de sanguínibus, Deus, Deus salútis meæ: * et exsultábit lingua mea justítiam tuam.
Libera me de sanguinibus, Deus Deus salutis meae; laudabit lingua mea iustitiam tuam.

ῥῦσαί με ξ αμάτων θες θες τς σωτηρίας μου γαλλιάσεται γλσσά μου τν δικαιοσύνην σου

Text notes: Libera me de sanguinibus   - literally from the bloods, but meaning from blood-guiltiness, ie David prays to be delivered from the guilt of having shed the blood of Urias.   The plural follows the Greek plural in imitation of the Hebrew plural of composition (stains or pools of blood).

liber, era, erum, free.
sanguis, mis, m., blood; sanguines, um, vir sanguinum, a blood thirsty man, a man of bloody
exsulto, avi, atum, are ., to spring, leap, or jump up; to exult, to rejoice exceedingly

lingua, ae, f., the tongue; language, speech, tongue; plan, council

Deliver me from blood, O God, you God of my salvation: and my tongue shall extol your justice.
Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation: and my tongue shall joyfully declare thy righteousness
Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, thou that art the God of my health; and my tongue shall sing of thy righteousness.

This verse brings us back to the obstacles that David still faced, in this verse, the guilt of his sin which is still on him.  As Bellarmine says:

"Having prayed shortly before for his sins to be washed away, and having promised that he would teach sinners the ways of the Lord, he now prays to be freed from the punishment which Urias' blood, unjustly spilt, called for, and promises to praise God's justice. "Deliver me;" save me from the void of Unas' blood, which, unjustly spilled by me, cries out to thee and calls for vengeance; "Deliver me," for he fancied he saw the blood, like a soldier in arms, staring him in the face; and, therefore, with great propriety, he adds, "O God, the God of my salvation;" for to deliver from imminent danger is the province of a Savior; and this, too, is a reason for his adding, "and my tongue shall extol thy justice;" for true deliverance and salvation was then had through the merits of Christ in prospective as the same is had now through the same merits as of the past. The merits of Christ have in them the very essence of justice and deserve the most unbounded praises both of lips and heart on our part."

Psalm 50: Miserere me Deus 
In finem. Psalmus David cum venit ad eum Nathan propheta, quando intravit ad Bethsabee.
Unto the end, a psalm of David, 2 when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had sinned with Bethsabee.
1 Miserére mei Deus, * secúndum magnam misericórdiam tuam.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your great mercy.
2  Et secúndum multitúdinem miseratiónum tuárum, * dele iniquitátem meam.
And according to the multitude of your tender mercies blot out my iniquity.
3  Amplius lava me ab iniquitáte mea: * et a peccáto meo munda me.
Wash me yet more from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
4  Quóniam iniquitátem meam ego cognósco: * et peccátum meum contra me est semper.
For I know my iniquity, and my sin is always before me.
5  Tibi soli peccávi, et malum coram te feci: * ut justificéris in sermónibus tuis, et vincas cum judicáris.
To you only have I sinned, and have done evil before you: that you may be justified in your words, and may overcome when you are judged.
6  Ecce enim in iniquitátibus concéptus sum: * et in peccátis concépit me mater mea.
For behold I was conceived in iniquities; and in sins did my mother conceive me.
7  Ecce enim veritátem dilexísti: * incérta et occúlta sapiéntiæ tuæ manifestásti mihi.
For behold you have loved truth: the uncertain and hidden things of your wisdom you have made manifest to me.
8  Aspérges me hyssópo, et mundábor: * lavábis me, et super nivem dealbábor.
You shall sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: you shall wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.
9  Audítui meo dabis gáudium et lætítiam: * et exsultábunt ossa humiliáta.
To my hearing you shall give joy and gladness: and the bones that have been humbled shall rejoice.
10  Avérte fáciem tuam a peccátis meis: * et omnes iniquitátes meas dele.
Turn away your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
11  Cor mundum crea in me, Deus: * et spíritum rectum ínnova in viscéribus meis.
Create a clean heart in me, O God: and renew a right spirit within my bowels.
12  Ne projícias me a fácie tua: * et spíritum sanctum tuum ne áuferas a me.
Cast me not away from your face; and take not your holy spirit from me.
13  Redde mihi lætítiam salutáris tui: * et spíritu principáli confírma me.
Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and strengthen me with a perfect spirit.
14  Docébo iníquos vias tuas: * et ímpii ad te converténtur.
I will teach the unjust your ways: and the wicked shall be converted to you.
15  Líbera me de sanguínibus, Deus, Deus salútis meæ: * et exsultábit lingua mea justítiam tuam.
Deliver me from blood, O God, you God of my salvation: and my tongue shall extol your justice.   
16  Dómine, lábia mea apéries: * et os meum annuntiábit laudem tuam.
O Lord, you will open my lips: and my mouth shall declare your praise.
17  Quóniam si voluísses sacrifícium dedíssem útique: * holocáustis non delectáberis.
For if you had desired sacrifice, I would indeed have given it: with burnt offerings you will not be delighted.
18  Sacrifícium Deo spíritus contribulátus: * cor contrítum, et humiliátum, Deus non despícies.
A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, you will not despise.
19  Benígne fac, Dómine, in bona voluntáte tua Sion: * ut ædificéntur muri Jerúsalem.
Deal favourably, O Lord, in your good will with Sion; that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.
20  Tunc acceptábis sacrifícium justítiæ, oblatiónes, et holocáusta: * tunc impónent super altáre tuum vítulos.
Then shall you accept the sacrifice of justice, oblations and whole burnt offerings: then shall they lay calves upon your altar.

You can find the next part of this series on Psalm 50 here.

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