Thursday, September 15, 2016

Psalm 73 - The destruction of the true temple

Psalm 73: Thursday Matins I, 1 
Intellectus Asaph.
Understanding for Asaph.
Ut quid, Deus, repulísti in finem: * irátus est furor tuus super oves páscuæ tuæ?
God, why have you cast us off unto the end: why is your wrath enkindled against the sheep of your pasture?
2  Memor esto congregatiónis tuæ: * quam possedísti ab inítio.
2 Remember your congregation, which you have possessed from the beginning.
3  Redemísti virgam hereditátis tuæ: * mons Sion, in quo habitásti in eo.
The sceptre of your inheritance which you have redeemed: mount Sion in which you have dwelt.
4  Leva manus tuas in supérbias eórum in finem: * quanta malignátus est inimícus in sancto!
3 Lift up your hands against their pride unto the end; see what things the enemy has done wickedly in the sanctuary.
5  Et gloriáti sunt qui odérunt te: * in médio solemnitátis tuæ.
4 And they that hate you have made their boasts, in the midst of your solemnity.
6  Posuérunt signa sua, signa: * et non cognovérunt sicut in éxitu super summum.
They have set up their ensigns for signs, 5 and they knew not both in the going out and on the highest top.
7  Quasi in silva lignórum secúribus excidérunt jánuas ejus in idípsum: * in secúri et áscia dejecérunt eam.
As with axes in a wood of trees, 6 they have cut down at once the gates thereof, with axe and hatchet they have brought it down.
8  Incendérunt igni sanctuárium tuum: * in terra polluérunt tabernáculum nóminis tui.
7 They have set fire to your sanctuary: they have defiled the dwelling place of your name on the earth.
9  Dixérunt in corde suo cognátio eórum simul: * Quiéscere faciámus omnes dies festos Dei a terra.
8 They said in their heart, the whole kindred of them together: Let us abolish all the festival days of God from the land.
10  Signa nostra non vídimus, jam non est prophéta: * et nos non cognóscet ámplius.
9 Our signs we have not seen, there is now no prophet: and he will know us no more.
11  Usquequo, Deus, improperábit inimícus: * irrítat adversárius nomen tuum in finem?
10 How long, O God, shall the enemy reproach: is the adversary to provoke your name for ever?
12  Ut quid avértis manum tuam, et déxteram tuam, * de médio sinu tuo in finem?
11 Why do you turn away your hand: and your right hand out of the midst of your bosom for ever?
13  Deus autem Rex noster ante sæcula: * operátus est salútem in médio terræ.
12 But God is our king before ages: he has wrought salvation in the midst of the earth.
14  Tu confirmásti in virtúte tua mare: * contribulásti cápita dracónum in aquis.
13 You by your strength made the sea firm: you crushed the heads of the dragons in the waters.
15  Tu confregísti cápita dracónis: * dedísti eum escam pópulis Æthíopum.
14 You have broken the heads of the dragon: you have given him to be meat for the people of the Ethiopians.
16  Tu dirupísti fontes, et torréntes * tu siccásti flúvios Ethan.
15 You have broken up the fountains and the torrents: you have dried up the Ethan rivers.
17  Tuus est dies, et tua est nox: * tu fabricátus es auróram et solem.
16 Yours is the day, and yours is the night: you have made the morning light and the sun.
18  Tu fecísti omnes términos terræ: * æstátem et ver tu plasmásti ea.
17 You have made all the borders of the earth: the summer and the spring were formed by you.
19  Memor esto hujus, inimícus improperávit Dómino: * et pópulus insípiens incitávit nomen tuum
18 Remember this, the enemy has reproached the Lord: and a foolish people has provoked your name.
20  Ne tradas béstiis ánimas confiténtes tibi, * et ánimas páuperum tuórum ne obliviscáris in finem.
19 Deliver not up to beasts the souls that confess to you: and forget not to the end the souls of your poor.
21  Réspice in testaméntum tuum: * quia repléti sunt, qui obscuráti sunt terræ dómibus iniquitátum.
20 Have regard to your covenant: for they that are the obscure of the earth have been filled with dwellings of iniquity.
22  Ne avertátur húmilis factus confúsus: * pauper et inops laudábunt nomen tuum.
21 Let not the humble be turned away with confusion: the poor and needy shall praise your name.
23  Exsúrge, Deus, júdica causam tuam: * memor esto improperiórum tuórum, eórum quæ ab insipiénte sunt tota die.
22 Arise, O God, judge your own cause: remember your reproaches with which the foolish man has reproached you all the day.
24  Ne obliviscáris voces inimicórum tuórum: * supérbia eórum, qui te odérunt, ascéndit semper.
23 Forget not the voices of your enemies: the pride of them that hate you ascends continually.

This psalm is generally interpreted as dealing with the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, as evildoers and those who hate God plot to eliminate true worship of God.

Opinions are divided on just which particular destruction of the Temple this psalm refers to, but its role in kicking off the mini-Triduum in the Office each week is nicely explained by Cassiodorus, who follows St Augustine on this:
...In this psalm there is lamentation for the destruction of the city...The good Physician has done all he could, if the sick man wished to recover his health. Let us remember, however, that the authority of the Church relates that Jerusalem was ravaged in the days when the most cruel people of the Jews crucified Christ the Lord, so that there can be no doubt what temporal evil that obstinate transgression sustained.
Cassiodorus summarises the content of the psalm as follows:
The people of the Israelites, embracing in figure the most devoted synagogue, speaks throughout the psalm. In the first part she laments that she has been consigned to the Gentiles, so that the reckless behaviour of the enemy had polluted the Lord's sanctuary, and she mentions that the unrepentant hearts of certain Jews had provoked the judgment of the Lord; however, she prophesies that as the outcome of all this they will be converted at the end of the world. The second part states that at the coming of Christ human superstitions and acts of wickedness were destroyed, and recounts that He has done great and various deeds, incidentally asking that the erring Jews should be lent help. In the third section she asks that mindful of His promises He should rescue the seed of Israel from extinction, and that the arrogance of the Romans, who puffed themselves up insufferably, should mount to His sight. Let us listen to this psalm with attentive minds, for it is a wonderful lamentation for the destruction of Jerusalem.

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