Monday, October 3, 2016

Psalm 1 verse 7 - God knows us

File:Wenceslas Hollar - God calls Abraham (State 2).jpg

The final verse of Psalm 1 takes us back to God's care for us.

Quoniam novit dominus viam iustorum; et iter impiorum peribit.
τι γινώσκει κύριος δν δικαίων κα δς σεβν πολεται

Quoniam (for) novit (he knows, perfect tense) Dominus (the Lord) viam (the way) iustorum (of the just); et (and) iter (the way) impiorum (of the wicked) peribit (it will perish).
nosco, novi, notum, ere 3 to know, to be acquainted with; to know, regard with approbation; approve
iter, ltineris, n., way, journey:
pereo, li, ltum, ireto perish, come to naught, be lost; to stray, be lost.

For the Lord knows the way of the just: and the way of the wicked shall perish.
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous; but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
  For the Lord knoweth the way of the just, but the way of the wicked shall end in ruin.
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
But the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; and the way of the ungodly shall perish.
They walk, the just, under the Lord’s protection; the path of the wicked, how soon is it lost to sight!
for the Lord guards the way of the just but the way of the wicked leads to doom.

The idea of God 'knowing' the righteous is an important one, alluded in several other psalms. It is not, of course, that God does not see the evil-doer.

Several of the Fathers, including St Hilary, see this verse as alluding to the contrasting treatment by God of Adam and Abraham:
...For it was said to Adam when he had sinned: Adam, where are you? Not because God knew not that the man whom He still had in the garden was there still, but to show, by his being asked where he was, that he was unworthy of God's knowledge by the fact of having sinned. 
But Abraham, after being for a long time unknown— the word of God came to him when he was seventy years of age— was, upon his proving himself faithful to the Lord, admitted to intimacy with God by the following act of high condescension: Now I know that you fear the Lord your God, and for My sake you have not spared your dearly loved son...
In essence, then, God knowing the ways of the just means that he recognises and approves of their actions.

The verse though, is not (just) a statement of approbation for the just and condemnation of the wicked, but rather a call to repentance, as St Augustine's New Testament spin on it makes clear:
 As it is said, medicine knows health, but knows not disease, and yet disease is recognised by the art of medicine. In like manner can it be said that "the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous," but the way of the ungodly He knoweth not. Not that the Lord is ignorant of anything, and yet He says to sinners, "I never knew you." 

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