Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Peace upon Israel - Psalm 124 verse 5 (Gradual Psalm no 6/5)

Source: Fr Hugh OSB
The final verse of Psalm 124 contrasts the fate of the treacherous, who will be punished by God, with the just, who will enjoy the peace of Christ, a very Benedictine objective.

Declinántes autem in obligatiónes addúcet Dóminus cum operántibus iniquitátem: * pax super Israël.
Declinantes autem per vias pravas adducet Dominus cum operantibus iniquitatem. Pax super Israel!
Qui autem declinant ad prauitates suas, deducet eos Dominus cum his qui operantur iniquitatem. Pax super Israhel.
τοὺς δὲ ἐκκλίνοντας εἰς τὰς στραγγαλιὰς ἀπάξει κύριος μετὰ τῶν ἐργαζομένων τὴν ἀνομίαν εἰρήνη ἐπὶ τὸν Ισραηλ

Text notes: ‘Obligationes’ translates the Greek meaning a knot tied tight, or a twisted cord, symbolizing snares and treacheries, and in this context, Israelites who are dishonest.  The Diurnal follows the Hebrew Masoretic Text here instead of the Vulgate, which renders the verse as ‘they who turn aside their twisted paths’.  But the sense of the verse is the same in both versions.

declino, avi, atum, are,  to bend from the straight path, to turn aside or away, depart from, go astray
autem, adversative conj., but, on the contrary, however
obligatio, onis, /. (obligo), lit., a binding; fig., an entangling, ensnaring, bonds
adduco, duxi, ductum, ere 3, to bring, lead, or escort to
pax, pacis,  peace, blessings, prosperity, etc.

But such as turn aside into bonds, the Lord shall lead out with the workers of iniquity: peace upon Israel.
But them that turn aside to crooked ways the Lord will lead away with the workers of iniquity: but peace shall be upon Israel.
But strayers on crooked paths the Lord will snatch away like evil-doers.  Peace upon Israel.
But those who turn aside upon their crooked ways the LORD will lead away with evildoers! Peace be in Israel!

Feet that stray into false paths the Lord will punish, as he punishes wrong-doers; but upon Israel there shall be peace.
As for such as turn back unto their own wickedness, the Lord shall lead them forth with the evil doers; but peace shall be upon Israel.
but the crooked and those who do evil, drive them away! On Israel, peace!

 The most important part of this verse is the last, the focus on peace.  Peace in this context means first and foremost peace of soul, as the various commentators point out.  St John Chrysostom for example notes that:
…the peace he speaks of here is not that only which is perceptible, but also the peace which is more exalted than that and from which it also comes, and he prays that the soul not rebel against itself by introducing the conflict of passions.
St Augustine contrasts this happy state with that of those who refuse to believe, and choose instead to follow their own paths:
What then shall they have, who are righteous in heart, and who turn not back? Let us now come to the heritage itself, brethren, for we are sons. What shall we possess? What is our heritage? What is our country: what is it called? Peace. In this we salute you, this we announce to you, this the mountains receive, and the little hills receive as righteousness. Peace is Christ: for He is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us. Since we are sons, we shall have an inheritance. And what shall this inheritance be called, but peace? 
As for the wicked though, both within and outside of the Church:
And consider that they who love not peace are disinherited. Now they who divide unity, love not peace. Peace is the possession of the pious, the possession of heirs. And who are heirs? Sons....Since then Christ the Son of God is peace, He therefore came to gather together His own, and to separate them from the wicked. From what wicked men? From those who hate Jerusalem, who hate peace, who wish to tear unity asunder, who believe not peace, who preach a false peace to the people, and have it not. To whom answer is made, when they say, Peace be with you, And with your spirit: but they speak falsely, and they hear falsely. Unto whom do they say, Peace be with you? To those whom they separate from the peace of the whole earth. And unto whom is it said, And with your spirit? To those who embrace dissensions, and who hate peace. For if peace were in their spirit, would they not love unity, and leave dissensions? Speaking then false words, they hear false words.
He concludes with an injunction to us:
 Let us speak true words, and hear true words. Let us be Israel, and let us embrace peace; for Jerusalem is a vision of peace, and we are Israel, and peace is upon Israel.
Canticum graduum.

1 Qui confídunt in Dómino, sicut mons Sion: * non commovébitur in ætérnum, qui hábitat in Jerúsalem.
They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Sion: he shall not be moved for ever that dwells 2 in Jerusalem.
2  Montes in circúitu ejus: * et Dóminus in circúitu pópuli sui, ex hoc nunc et usque in sæculum.
Mountains are round about it: so the Lord is round about his people from henceforth now and for ever.
3  Quia non relínquet Dóminus virgam peccatórum super sortem justórum: * ut non exténdant justi ad iniquitátem manus suas.
3 For the Lord will not leave the rod of sinners upon the lot of the just: that the just may not stretch forth their hands to iniquity.
4  Bénefac, Dómine, bonis, * et rectis corde.
4 Do good, O Lord, to those that are good, and to the upright of heart.
5  Declinántes autem in obligatiónes addúcet Dóminus cum operántibus iniquitátem: * pax super Israël.
5 But such as turn aside into bonds, the Lord shall lead out with the workers of iniquity: peace upon Israel.

You can find notes on the next Gradual Psalm, Psalm 125, here.

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