Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Psalm 10 (Wednesday Prime No 2) - Summary

Codex Bodmer 127 103r Detail.jpg
c12th Passionary of Weissenau, Cod. Bodmer 127, fol. 103r.
Psalm 10: In Domino confido
In finem. Psalmus David.
Unto the end. A psalm to David.
In Dómino confído : quómodo dícitis ánimæ meæ: * Tránsmigra in montem sicut passer?
In the Lord I put my trust: how then do you say to my soul: Get you away from hence to the mountain, like a sparrow.
2  Quóniam ecce peccatóres intendérunt arcum, paravérunt sagíttas suas in pháretra, * ut sagíttent in obscúro rectos corde.
For, lo, the wicked have bent their bow: they have prepared their arrows in the quiver, to shoot in the dark the upright of heart.
3  Quóniam quæ perfecísti, destruxérunt: * justus autem quid fecit?
For they have destroyed the things which you have made: but what has the just man done
4  Dóminus in templo sancto suo, * Dóminus in cælo sedes ejus.
The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven
5  Oculi ejus in páuperem respíciunt: * pálpebræ ejus intérrogant fílios hóminum.
His eyes look on the poor man: his eyelids examine the sons of men
6  Dóminus intérrogat justum et ímpium: * qui autem díligit iniquitátem, odit ánimam suam.
The Lord tries the just and the wicked: but he that loves iniquity, hates his own soul
7  Pluet super peccatóres láqueos: * ignis, et sulphur, et spíritus procellárum pars cálicis eórum.
He shall rain snares upon sinners: fire and brimstone, and storms of winds, shall be the portion of their cup.
8  Quóniam justus Dóminus, et justítias diléxit: * æquitátem vidit vultus ejus.
For the Lord is just, and has loved justice: his countenance has beheld righteousness.

St Benedict makes Wednesday as a fast day in his Rule, consistent with the early Christian practice and association of the day with Judas’ betrayal.  In this context Psalm 10 can be read as a call to spiritual heroism in imitation of Christ as he faced his coming Passion, and a reminder that though evil seems at times to triumph, ultimately justice will prevail (indeed Pope St John Paul II’s catechesis on the psalm pointed to the reference to fire and brimstone as a reminder of the fate of the city of Sodom).

The original historical context for this psalm is probably David’s time at the court of mad King Saul, when he was constantly under suspicion, and was in fact forced to flee and live in the caves in the mountainous regions several times during this period.  On this particular occasion, however, although anxious friends concerned about his safety urge him to flee, he rejects the advice, confident that God wishes him to stay.  The first two verses have an obvious Christological application as we ponder the events of Wednesday in Holy Week in today's Office, for they warn that ‘unless you flee, they will kill you’.  Yet Our Lord, knowing the coming betrayal he faced, chose not to flee, not to shirk the cup.

The psalm is also, though, a commentary on the corrupt state of a society in turmoil.  The Fathers and Theologians accordingly read it as being primarily about the threat posed by heresy.   

St Augustine:
Appears to be sung against the heretics, who, by rehearsing and exaggerating the sins of many in the Church, as if either all or the majority among themselves were righteous, strive to turn and snatch us away from the breasts of the one True Mother Church... let him refer the Psalm to the Lord's passion, and of the Jews say, For they have destroyed what You have perfected; and of the Lord Himself, But what has the Just done? whom they accused as the destroyer of the Law: whose precepts, by their corrupt living, and by despising them, and by setting up their own, they had destroyed, so that the Lord Himself may speak as Man, as He is wont, saying, In the Lord I trust; how say ye to my soul, Remove into the mountains as a sparrow? by reason, that is, of the fear of those who desire to apprehend and crucify Him.
 St Thomas Aquinas:
This psalm can be explained literally of David, or mystically of Christ, or allegorically. Morally it concerns the just man, and heretics. The title (of this psalm is) Unto the end. A psalm for David. Jerome('s version) has Conqueror. In the preceding psalm, the giving of thanks was set forth for (the psalmist's) liberation from (his) enemies. Here, he shows the confidence brought about by having received (this liberation). And he speaks from the stance of one desiring God's kindnesses which follows upon freedom from danger. 
St Alphonse Liguori:
In this psalm the just are exhorted to place confidence in God during the time of persecution.
Fr Pasch:
This song of David forms a logical extension and climax to the previous Psalm.  "In God is my trust" - that is the shield for God's citizen in every crisis.
Pope St John Paul II:
The spiritual key of the entire psalm is well-expressed in the concluding verse:  "For the Lord is just, he loves just deeds". This is the root of all trust and the source of all hope on the day of darkness and trial. God is not indifferent to right and wrong:  he is a good God and not a dark, incomprehensible, mysterious destiny.  The psalm unfolds substantially in two scenes: in the first (cf. vv. 1-3), the wicked man is described in his apparent victory... the turning point the second scene (cf. vv. 4-7). The Lord, seated on the heavenly throne, takes in the entire human horizon with his penetrating gaze. From that transcendent vantage point, sign of the divine omniscience and omnipotence, God is able to search out and examine every person, distinguishing the righteous from the wicked and forcefully condemning injustice (cf. vv. 4-5). 

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