Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Psalm 9 (Pt 2) - Prime on Wednesday

Beinecke Collection, Yale

Wednesday - Exsúrge, Dómine, non confortétur homo 

Exsúrge, Dómine, non confortétur homo: * judicéntur Gentes in conspéctu tuo.
Arise, O Lord, let not man be strengthened: let the Gentiles be judged in your sight.
2 Constítue, Dómine, legislatórem super eos: * ut sciant Gentes quóniam hómines sunt.
Appoint, O Lord, a lawgiver over them: that the Gentiles may know themselves to be but men.
3 Ut quid, Dómine, recessísti longe, * déspicis in opportunitátibus, in tribulatióne?
Why, O Lord, have you retired afar off? Why do you slight us in our wants, in the time of trouble?
4 Dum supérbit ímpius, incénditur pauper: * comprehendúntur in consíliis quibus cógitant.
Whilst the wicked man is proud, the poor is set on fire: they are caught in the counsels which they devise.
5 Quóniam laudátur peccátor in desidériis ánimæ suæ: * et iníquus benedícitur.
For the sinner is praised in the desires of his soul: and the unjust man is blessed.
6 Exacerbávit Dóminum peccátor, * secúndum multitúdinem iræ suæ non quæret.
The sinner has provoked the Lord, according to the multitude of his wrath, he will not seek him:
7 Non est Deus in conspéctu ejus: * inquinátæ sunt viæ illíus in omni témpore.
God is not before his eyes: his ways are filthy at all times.
8 Auferúntur judícia tua a fácie ejus: * ómnium inimicórum suórum dominábitur.
Your judgments are removed form his sight: he shall rule over all his enemies.
9 Dixit enim in corde suo: * Non movébor a generatióne in generatiónem sine malo.
For he has said in his heart: I shall not be moved from generation to generation, and shall be without evil.
10 Cujus maledictióne os plenum est, et amaritúdine, et dolo: * sub lingua ejus labor et dolor.
His mouth is full of cursing, and of bitterness, and of deceit: under his tongue are labour and sorrow.
11 Sedet in insídiis cum divítibus in occúltis: * ut interfíciat innocéntem.
He sits in ambush with the rich, in private places, that he may kill the innocent.
12 Oculi ejus in páuperem respíciunt: * insidiátur in abscóndito, quasi leo in spelúnca sua.
His eyes are upon the poor man: he lies in wait, in secret, like a lion in his den.
13 Insidiátur ut rápiat páuperem: * rápere páuperem, dum áttrahit eum.
He lies in ambush, that he may catch the poor man: so catch the poor, whilst he draws him to him.
 14 In láqueo suo humiliábit eum: * inclinábit se, et cadet, cum dominátus fúerit páuperum.
In his net he will bring him down, he will crouch and fall, when he shall have power over the poor.
15 Dixit enim in corde suo: Oblítus est Deus, * avértit fáciem suam ne vídeat in finem.
For he has said in his heart: God has forgotten, he has turned away his face, not to see to the end.
16 Exsúrge, Dómine Deus, exaltétur manus tua: * ne obliviscáris páuperum.
Arise, O Lord God, let your hand be exalted: forget not the poor.  
17 Propter quid irritávit ímpius Deum? * dixit enim in corde suo: Non requíret.
Wherefore has the wicked provoked God? For he has said in his heart: He will not require it.  
18 Vides quóniam tu labórem et dolórem consíderas: * ut tradas eos in manus tuas.
You see it, for you consider labour and sorrow: that you may deliver them into your hands.
19 Tibi derelíctus est pauper: * órphano tu eris adjútor.
To you is the poor man left: you will be a helper to the orphan.  
20 Cóntere bráchium peccatóris et malígni: * quærétur peccátum illíus, et non inveniétur.
Break the arm of the sinner and of the malignant: his sin shall be sought, and shall not be found. 
21 Dóminus regnábit in ætérnum, et in sæculum sæculi: * períbitis, Gentes, de terra illíus.
The Lord shall reign to eternity, yea, for ever and ever: you Gentiles shall perish from his land.  
22 Desidérium páuperum exaudívit Dóminus: * præparatiónem cordis eórum audívit auris tua.
The Lord has heard the desire of the poor: your ear has heard the preparation of their heart.
23 Judicáre pupíllo et húmili, * ut non appónat ultra magnificáre se homo super terram.
To judge for the fatherless and for the humble, that man may no more presume to magnify himself upon earth.

St Benedict's organisation of the Office splits Psalm 9 into two parts, and there is surely a reason for this!  Certainly this second part of the psalms seems to fit well with the overall theme of the day on the evil that men do, above represented by Judas' betrayal.

The writer’s main plaint is that God seems to withdraw from the world, allowing the wicked to oppress the poor. The psalm points to a contest between God and man that is only too apposite to our times: man strives for the illusion of control, convinced that even if God exists (which he doubts), he won’t actually act to punish the evildoer, but instead leaves him free to pursue his desires for riches and pleasure, and to oppress the poor. In reality of course, as the psalmist makes clear, this is not a contest that man truly win, even though he might seem to be getting away with it for a time.

This half of the psalm itself falls neatly into two halves, each section starting with the call for God to arise (‘Exsurge’).  In the opening line, the psalm asks for God to judge things 'in your sight', that is, secretly, where God alone sees.  Evil men, the psalm notes seem to thrive; God seems to allow this to happen.  Yet, the psalmist points out, God does in fact see and intervene in the workings of history, even though much of what he is doing and the reasons for it are not clear to us, at least in this life.

At the second ‘exsurge’ (verse 16) the psalmist asks for God to make manifest his judgments in response to the trust the poor put in him.  The focus shifts to the behaviour of the poor and weak, and their hope in God.

Father Pius Pasch commented:
The first part of Psalm 9 has been full of joyous confidence, but this second part is sunk in sadness and lamentation.  We have to realize that there is more than victory to the kingdom.  We must see its other side: the defeats, the Gethsemane, the tears.  The mystical Christ, and with him the child of God, goes through the world with a cross upon his shoulder.

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