Saturday, June 21, 2014

Psalm 149: verses 4-6

Verses 4 to 7 of Psalm 149 explain the context for the 'new song' of the Church.

Quia beneplácitum est Dómino in pópulo suo: * et exaltábit mansuétos in salútem.
quia beneplacitum est Domino in populo suo, et honorabit mansuetos in salute.
Quia complacet sibi Dominus in populo suo ; exaltabit mansuetos in lesu.

τι εδοκε κύριος ν λα ατο κα ψώσει πραες ν σωτηρί

beneplacitus, a, um well-pleasing, agreeable, acceptable
populus, i, people; the chosen people. 
exalto, avi, atum, are  to exalt, i.e., to elevate in rank, power, dignity, or the like; to dignify
mansuetus, a, um  meek, mild, humble
salus, utis, the act of helping, saving; victory, temporal salvation; help, deliverance, safety, salvation.

For the Lord is well pleased with his people: and he will exalt the meek unto salvation.
For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; and will exalt the meek with salvation.
For the Lord delighteth in His people, He crowneth the humble with triumph
For the Lord hath pleasure in his people, and helpeth the meek-hearted.
For the Lord takes delight in his people. He crowns the poor with salvation.

Bellarmine explains why we should praise God, thanking him for our membership of the Church:

The reason for singing this new canticle is because the Lord hath been well pleased with his people, that is to say, loved them from eternity, from his own pure kindness, which good will of God is the foundation and primary source of all our blessings; for predestination, vocation, justification, glorifica­tion, all are owing to God's having been "well pleased with his people;" and, touching on this, the Lord himself said, "Fear not, little flock; for it hath pleased your Father to give you a king­dom." This good pleasure of God is frequently alluded to by St. Paul, and it justly forms the subject of the new canticle; "and he will exalt the meek unto salvation;" God not only resolved in his mind to deal thus kindly with his people, but he will carry it into immediate effect, because "he will exalt the meek unto salva­tion," he will exalt to the highest degree possible, to eternal hap­piness, his meek and humble people, as being true members of him who said, "I am meek and humble of heart."
Exsultábunt sancti in glória: * lætabúntur in cubílibus suis.
Iubilent sancti in gloria, laetentur in cubilibus suis.
Exultabunt sancti in gloria : laudabunt in cubilibus suis.

καυχήσονται σιοι ν δόξ κα γαλλιάσονται π τν κοιτν ατν

exsulto, avi, atum, are  to spring, leap, or jump up; to exult, to rejoice exceedingly
gloria, ae,  glory, honor, majesty
cubile, is, n. a bed, couch; a den, lair.

The saints shall rejoice in glory: they shall be joyful in their beds.
The saints shall rejoice in glory; and shall exult on their beds
In triumph let thy faithful servants rejoice, rejoice and take their rest. 
Let the saints be joyful with glory; let them rejoice in their beds.
Let the faithful rejoice in their glory, shout for joy and take their rest.

There are two key words here that need to be explained.  First 'glory': what they are rejoicing in here is the glorified Christ, which we too will share in our own resurrection.  St Augustine distinguishes this from the false glory of this world, represented for us today in the culture of 'celebrity':

I would say somewhat important about the glory of the saints. For there is no one who loves not glory. But the glory of fools, popular glory as it is called, has snares to deceive, so that a man, influenced by the praises of vain men, shall be willing to live in such fashion as to be spoken of by men, whosoever they be, in whatsoever way. Hence it is that men, rendered mad, and puffed up with pride, empty within, without swollen, are willing ever to ruin their fortunes by bestowing them on stage-players, actors, men who fight with wild beasts, charioteers. What sums they give, what sums they spend! They lavish the powers not only of their patrimony, but of their minds too. They scorn the poor, because the people shouts not that the poor should be given to, but the people do shout that the fighter with wild beasts be given to. When then no shout is raised to them, they refuse to spend; when madmen shout to them, they are mad too: nay, all are mad, both performer, and spectator, and the giver. This mad glory is blamed by the Lord, is offensive in the eyes of the Almighty....

The second key word here is beds.  St Augustine suggests that it means in the privacy of our hearts:

The saints shall exult in glory, they shall rejoice in their beds: not in theatres, or amphitheatres, or circuses, or follies, or market places, but in their chambers. What is, in their chambers? In their hearts. Hear the Apostle Paul exulting in his closet: For this is our glory, the testimony of our conscience. 2 Corinthians 1:12 

There is though, perhaps another key allusion here, as St Jerome points out, for the exultation of the saints here is of those living in a state of grace.  It perhaps stands in contrast to the bed of the penitent depicted in Psalm 6 as lying in a bed drenched with tears.

Exaltatiónes Dei in gútture eórum: * et gládii ancípites in mánibus eórum.

α ψώσεις το θεο ν τ λάρυγγι ατν κα ομφααι δίστομοι ν τας χερσν ατν

For the two-edged sword see:  Neh 4:10; 2 Macc 15:27;

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Rev 1: 16 - in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

Rev 2:12 - "And to the angel of the church in Per'gamum write: `The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.

exsultatio, onis,  joy, rejoicing, exultation, praise
guttur, is, n., the throat
gladius, ii, m., a sword.
anceps, cipitis  two edged.
manus, us, hand

The high praises of God shall be in their mouth: and two-edged swords in their hands:
The high praises of God shall be in their throat, and two-edged swords in their hands
Let the praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hands
Let the praise of God be on their lips and a two-edged sword in their hand,

This verse sets out the dual mission of the Christian: on the one praising God, on the other working to advance his kingdom in the world by spreading the Gospel.  The Fathers interpret the two-edged sword, in the light of Hebrews 4, as meaning Scripture.  Cassiodorus for example explains that:

...Earlier he said that the saints rejoice in their beds; now he says that the Lord's rejoicings are set in their throats, the sense being that they never cease to praise whether in thought or in tongue Him from whom they obtain eternal gifts. He also moves on to explain the power that they wield, with the words: And two-edged swords in their hands. The two-edged sword is the word of the Lord Saviour, of which Christ Himself says in the gospel: I have come not to send peace to the earth, but a sword? It is two-edged because it contains the two Testaments. First it separated Jews from Gentiles; subse­quently it segregated and cut off only the Christians from the entice­ments of the whole world. There is one sword, but two ways of cutting which He grants to the chosen peoples at various selected moments of time.


Cantáte Dómino cánticum novum: * laus ejus in ecclésia sanctórum.
Sing to the Lord a new canticle: let his praise be in the church of the saints.
2  Lætétur Israël in eo, qui fecit eum: * et fílii Sion exsúltent in rege suo.
2 Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: and let the children of Sion be joyful in their king.
3  Laudent nomen ejus in choro: * in tympano, et psaltério psallant ei.
3 Let them praise his name in choir: let them sing to him with the timbrel and the psaltery.
4  Quia beneplácitum est Dómino in pópulo suo: * et exaltábit mansuétos in salútem.
4 For the Lord is well pleased with his people: and he will exalt the meek unto salvation.
5  Exsultábunt sancti in glória: * lætabúntur in cubílibus suis.
5 The saints shall rejoice in glory: they shall be joyful in their beds.
6  Exaltatiónes Dei in gútture eórum: * et gládii ancípites in mánibus eórum.
6 The high praises of God shall be in their mouth: and two-edged swords in their hands:
7  Ad faciéndam vindíctam in natiónibus: * increpatiónes in pópulis
7 To execute vengeance upon the nations, chastisements among the people:
8  Ad alligándos reges eórum in compédibus: * et nóbiles eórum in mánicis férreis.
To bind their kings with fetters, and their nobles with manacles of iron. 
9  Ut fáciant in eis judícium conscríptum: * glória hæc est ómnibus sanctis ejus.
9 To execute upon them the judgment that is written: this glory is to all his saints. Alleluia.
And for the final set of notes on this psalm, continue on here.

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