Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Psalm 138 verses 6-7

Verses 6&7 of Psalm 138 points us to the Holy Ghost.

Quo ibo a spíritu tuo? * et quo a fácie tua fúgiam?

πο πορευθ π το πνεύματός σου κα π το προσώπου σου πο φύγω

Quo (so that) ibo (there) a spiritu (from the spirit) tuo (your)?  et (and) quo (in order that) a facie (from the face) tua (your) fugiam (I will flee)?

quo that, so that, in the end that, in order that
ibi, adv.  there, in that place. then
spiritus, us, m.  breath;  wind;  breath of life, vital spirit; the soul; spirit, disposition; Divine assistance, grace
facies, ei, f. face, countenance, appearance;  presence.
fugio, fugi, fugitum, ere 3  to flee, take to flight, run away; With  a facie,  from, from before, from the presence of.

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy face? 
Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? and whither shall I flee from my presence? 
Whither could I go before Thy spirit, or whither flee before Thy face?
Whither shall I go then from thy Spirit? or whither shall I go then from thy presence?
Where can I go, then, to take refuge from thy spirit, to hide from thy view?
O where can I go from your spirit, or where can I flee from your face?

Verses 6&7 take us back to the attributes of God, and particularly point to the person of the Holy Ghost.  They assert that he is infinite, present everywhere and in everything.  As Chrysostom puts it, they tell us that:

You fill everything, you are present to everyone - not in part, bit wholly to everyone.  By mentioning what is above and what below, length and breadth, height and depth, he indicates he is present everywhere...

The result, as Cassiodorus explains, is that we can never hope to evade God:

...in which He reveals in mystical sequence that no creature can escape God's presence.  Since He is most fully and entirely present everywhere, where can a person hide himself if he thinks he can evade Him?...But since we realise through such preaching that the Holy Spirit is everywhere, there is no doubt that the Holy Spirit is seen to be coeternal and coequal with the Father and the Son; only the Trinity can be everywhere in its entirety....Let us return to that saving remedy; Father, Son and Holy Spirit are the almighty Creator, the one God beyond understanding. We speak of His face by metaphor for His presence, for just as our human face possesses mere vision, so the whole of the Lord's substance knows all things with an acuteness of vision beyond description, embracing, penetrating, observing everything.

That presence is necessary of course, for God is not only the creator but also the sustainer of the universe, as Bellarmine points out:

He now adduces another argument to prove that no one can escape God's ken, inasmuch as God is everywhere, penetrating everything...without God's help we cannot stir, nor can we go along but as he carries us, for "in him we live, move, and have our being."

Si ascéndero in cælum, tu illic es: * si descéndero in inférnum, ades.
Si ascendero in caelum, ibi es tu ; si iacuero in inferno, ades.

ἐὰν ναβ ες τν ορανόν σ ε κε ἐὰν καταβ ες τν δην πάρει

Si (if) ascendero (I will ascend/go up) in cælum (into heaven), tu (you) illic (there) es (you are) si (if) descendero (I will descend/go down) in infernum (into hell), ades (you are present)

ascendo, scendi, scensum, ere 3  to go up, ascend. to mount a horse, chariot, etc., to ride.
caelum, i, n., or caeli, orum, m.  heaven, the abode of God; the heavens as opposed to the earth; the air;
illic, adv.  Of place: there, in that place; Of time: then
descendo, scendi, scensum, ere 3  to descend, to come or go down.
infernus, i, m. Sheol; the nether world, the underworld, the grave, the kingdom of the dead, hell 
adsum adesse affui to be present

If I ascend into heaven, thou art there: if I descend into hell, thou art present. 
If I should go up to heaven, thou art there: if I should go down to hell, thou art present.
If I ascend into heaven Thou art there; if I descend into hell, Thou art present
If I climb up into heaven, thou art there; if I go down to hell, thou art there also.

Verse 7 takes us back to the Christological meaning of this psalm, for as Cassiodorus point out, it can be seen as pointing to the descent into hell and Christ's ascension into heaven:

...In his capacity as Man He says...that is, the place where He was to be set at the Father's right hand....(descent to hell) This was what happened by the law of His humanity, that when His body was crucified He descended to break the bonds of those in hell, and as the most devoted Redeemer to aid the human race in its toils.  He added: Thou art present, for He rose speedily on the third day.

It is important to note that hell in this context means 'the limbo of the fathers', where the souls waited to be allowed to enter heaven before the coming of Christ.

Psalm 138/1 – Domine probasti me
Vulgate (Numbering follows psalmody)
Douay-Rheims (numbering follows DR)
In finem, psalmus David.
Unto the end, a psalm of David.
Dómine, probásti me, et cognovísti me: * tu cognovísti sessiónem meam, et resurrectiónem meam.
1 Lord, you have proved me, and known me: 2 You have known my sitting down, and my rising up.
2  Intellexísti cogitatiónes meas de longe: * sémitam meam, et funículum meum investigásti.
You have understood my thoughts afar off: my path and my line you have searched out.
3  Et omnes vias meas prævidísti: * quia non est sermo in lingua mea.
4 And you have foreseen all my ways: for there is no speech in my tongue.
4  Ecce, Dómine, tu cognovísti ómnia novíssima, et antíqua: * tu formásti me, et posuísti super me manum tuam.
5 Behold, O Lord, you have known all things, the last and those of old: you have formed me, and have laid your hand upon me.
5  Mirábilis facta est sciéntia tua ex me: * confortáta est, et non pótero ad eam.
6 Your knowledge has become wonderful to me: it is high, and I cannot reach to it
6  Quo ibo a spíritu tuo? * et quo a fácie tua fúgiam?
7 Whither shall I go from your spirit? Or whither shall I flee from your face?
7  Si ascéndero in cælum, tu illic es: * si descéndero in inférnum, ades.
8 If I ascend into heaven, you are there: if I descend into hell, you are present.
8  Si súmpsero pennas meas dilúculo, * et habitávero in extrémis maris.
9 If I take my wings early in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea:
9  Etenim illuc manus tua dedúcet me: * et tenébit me déxtera tua.
10 Even there also shall your hand lead me: and your right hand shall hold me.

And you can find the next set of notes on this psalm here.

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