Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Psalm 59: For them that shall be changed through Christ

Psalm 59: Wednesday Matins I, 1 
In finem, pro his qui immutabuntur, in tituli inscriptionem ipsi David, in doctrinam, cum succendit Mesopotamiam Syriæ et Sobal, et convertit Joab, et percussit Idumæam in valle Salinarum duodecim millia
1 Unto the end, for them that shall be changed, for the inscription of a title, to David himself, for doctrine, 2 when he set fire to Mesopotamia of Syria and Sobal: and Joab returned and slew of Edom, in the vale of the saltpits, twelve thousand men.
Deus, repulísti nos, et destruxísti nos: * irátus es, et misértus es nobis.
3 O God, you have cast us off, and have destroyed us; you have been angry, and have had mercy on us.
2  Commovísti terram, et conturbásti eam: * sana contritiónes ejus, quia commóta est.
4 You have moved the earth, and have troubled it: heal the breaches thereof, for it has been moved.
3  Ostendísti pópulo tuo dura: * potásti nos vino compunctiónis.
5 You have shown your people hard things; you have made us drink the wine of sorrow.
4  Dedísti metuéntibus te significatiónem: * ut fúgiant a fácie arcus :
6 You have given a warning to them that fear you: that they may flee from before the bow:
5  Ut liberéntur dilécti tui: * salvum fac déxtera tua, et exáudi me.
That your beloved may be delivered. 7 Save me with your right hand, and hear me.
6  Deus locútus est in sancto suo: * lætábor, et partíbor Síchimam : et convállem tabernaculórum metíbor.
8 God has spoken in his holy place: I will rejoice, and I will divide Sichem; and will mete out the vale of tabernacles.
7  Meus est Gálaad, et meus est Manásses: * et Ephraim fortitúdo cápitis mei.
9 Galaad is mine, and Manasses is mine: and Ephraim is the strength of my head.
8  Juda rex meus: * Moab olla spei meæ.
Juda is my king: 10 Moab is the pot of my hope.
9  In Idumæam exténdam calceaméntum meum: * mihi alienígenæ súbditi sunt.
Into Edom will I stretch out my shoe: to me the foreigners are made subject
10  Quis dedúcet me in civitátem munítam? * quis dedúcet me usque in Idumæam?
11 Who will bring me into the strong city? Who will lead me into Edom?
11  Nonne tu, Deus, qui repulísti nos? * et non egrediéris, Deus in virtútibus nostris?
12 Will not you, O God, who have cast us off? And will not you, O God, go out with our armies?
12  Da nobis auxílium de tribulatióne: * quia vana salus hóminis.
13 Give us help from trouble: for vain is the salvation of man.
13  In Deo faciémus virtútem: * et ipse ad níhilum dedúcet tribulántes nos.
14 Through God we shall do mightily: and he shall bring to nothing them that afflict us.

The first psalm of Wednesday Matins is not an easy one.

The betrayal of Judas

Traditionally the day is associated with the betrayal of Judas (the reason for the Wednesday fast in the Rule), and St Basil's explanation of the opening lines of the psalm points to the psalm as taking us from Adam's expulsion from Paradise and the tribulations of the people thereafter, but now moving towards salvation.  On the opening lines he comments:
You have cast off those who in proportion to their sins removed themselves to a distance from You. 
You have destroyed the accumulations of our wickedness, doing good to us because of our weakness. 
You were angry, since we were by nature children of wrath having no hope, and being without God in the world. 
You had mercy on us when You set forth Your only-begotten Son as a propitiation for our sins in order that in His blood we might find redemption. We would not know that we were having these kindnesses done to us, unless 'Thou hast made us drink the wine of sorrow'... 
Cassiodorus' explanation of the title to the psalm points to the people poised at the edge of the decision to accept or reject Christ:
Those changed unto the end are persons who lay aside the sin of the old man and serve the Lord Saviour with spotless devotion of heart.  Of them Scripture says: For you were at one time darkness, but now light in the Lord.  He next explains how they were changed: On the inscription of the title to David himself, for teaching.  The inscription of the title denotes Christ the King; so they must be changed by abandoning the devil and acknowledging Christ as their king.  We have often stated that David denotes the Lord.  To teaching add "Christian." for it is not sufficient for anyone to call him King without being eager to obey His precepts.  
When he set fire to Mesopotamia in Syria, and the rest.  The history of the Kings recounts that David won these victories after he succeeded Saul in the kingship, and it seems inappropriate to introduce them into our ordered arrangement here since they are known to be recounted in extenso there.  But we must realise that these wars are a description in figure of the Lord Saviour's victories which He wins throughout the whole world over pagans and the faithless.  It is their words which this psalm will utter, so that when truly dislodged from their old superstition they may deserve to be changed through the grace of the new man.
The people who were in thrall to ancient errors are passing into the new grace of the holy religion.  In the first section they entreat that after the affliction which they have suffered in making satisfaction, they may be refreshed by their new blessing.  In the second part after the break of a diaspalm they also ask that after the hardships they have endured they may be led by the Lord into the heavily fortified city.  They ask that they may be granted aid from their affliction, the aid which God alone is known to be able to give.

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