Monday, January 1, 2018

Psalm 2 - verse 8: Ask of me

 Jan van Eyck. St Bavo's Cathedral, Ghent.

Verse 8 of Psalm 2 takes us from the Incarnation, the main focus of the previous verse, to the kingship of Christ.

Póstula a me, et dabo tibi gentes hereditátem tuam,* et possessiónem tuam términos terræ. 
αἴτησαι πα{R'} ἐμοῦ καὶ δώσω σοι ἔθνη 
τὴν κληρονομίαν σου καὶ τὴν κατάσχεσίν 
σου τὰ πέρατα τῆς γῆς

Póstula (ask) a (by/of) me, et (and) dabo (I will give) tibi (to you) gentes (the people/Gentiles) hereditátem (inheritance) tuam (your) * et (and) possessiónem (possessions) tuam (your) términos (the ends) terræ (of the earth). 

postulo, avi, atum, are,  to ask. require, demand..
do, dedi, datum, are, to give
gens, gentis, sing., people, nation, the chosen people, the Israelites; pl  the heathen, the gentiles
hereditas, atis,   an inheritance, possession
possessio, onis,   possession, property, substance.
terminus, i, m., border, limit, bound, end.

Ask of me, and I will give you the Gentiles for your inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for your possession
Ask of me, and I will give thee the heathen [for] thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth [for] thy possession.
Ask of me, and I will give Thee the nations for thy inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Thy possession
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.
Desire of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.
Ask thy will of me, and thou shalt have the nations for thy patrimony; the very ends of the world for thy domain.
Ask and I will shall bequeath you the nations, put the ends of the earth in your possession.

 Christ's divinity and humanity

Many of the Father's commentaries on this verse focus on the work ask.  Why, after all, should Christ have to ask for something that is his by virtue of his divine nature?

Cassiodorus explains that the verse refers to Christ as man:
This is said with reference to his appearance and form as servant, for he is the son of a virgin; for whatever Christ received within time, he obtained what he did not possess as a man. 
Cassiodorus goes on to explain though, that the reference to 'thine' inheritance refers to his divinity, thus St John Chrysostom explains that:
The Scripture acknowledges two kingdoms of God, the one by appropriation, the other by creation. Thus, He is King over all, both Greeks and Jews and devils and His adversaries, in respect of His creation: but He is King of the faithful and willing and subject, in respect of His making them His own. This is the kingdom which is said also to have a beginning. For concerning this He saith also in the second Psalm, “Ask of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance.” (Commentary on 1 Corinthians)
Christ's prayer as a model for ours

The second key focus message of this verse is that even though God knows what we need, we do, as Origen notes, actually have to ask for divine gifts: ask and it shall be given to you.

St Augustine points to Christ's mission of intercession for us and the things he explicitly 'asks' God for on our behalf, and that we should join ourselves to in our own prayers:
This has at once a temporal sense with reference to the Manhood which He took on Himself, who offered up Himself as a Sacrifice in the stead of all sacrifices, who also makes intercession for us; so that the words, ask of Me, may be referred to all this temporal dispensation, which has been instituted for mankind, namely, that the nations should be joined to the Name of Christ, and so be redeemed from death, and possessed by God.
Similarly, St Thomas Aquinas comments on this verse that:
God bestow gifts freely when we ask for them in prayer: It is God who works in us, to will and to accomplish etc; Christ provides an example for us here in asking for what naturally belonged to him.  He prays on behalf of the gentiles and offers his passion for them.  It is a small thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to convert the dregs of Israel. Behold, I have given you to be the light of the gentiles, that you might be my salvation even to the farthest part of the earth; Whom he has appointed heir of all things etc.
The future of the world

This verse also reminds us that history has a destiny, namely the salvation of the world, as St Augustine reminds us:
I shall give You the nations for Your inheritance, which so possess them for their salvation, and to bear unto You spiritual fruit. And the uttermost parts of the earth for Your possession. The same repeated, The uttermost parts of the earth, is put for the nations; but more clearly, that we might understand all the nations. And Your possession stands for Your inheritance.
Christ's is a spiritual kingdom, not confined to any borders, with his power exercised over the Church, as St Liguori explains.  His power is the:
 spiritual power that Jesus Christ has over the Church, which through his merits was to be spread through the entire world, according to what our Saviour has himself said; All power is given to me in heaven and on.
 It can be read also, though as referring to the new heaven and earth that will emerge after the second coming, as Cassiodorus explains:
Here is demonstrated the future belief of all nations in the name of Christ, through whom the world has been reconciled to God after the expulsion of superstitions.  The mention here of thy possession means that he received with his human nature what he always possessed with his divine nature; his majesty could not be endowed with what it possessed already.  A boundary (terminus) is so called according to some because the boundary stone is somewhat less (minus) than three (ter) feet.  I think that we should not pass over the phrase, boundaries of the earth without attention.  They gird and enclose the globe, thus signifying not merely areas of dry land, but also the surrounding substance of the entire air and the unity of all creatures.  As Christ summarily and finally said in the gospel; All power is given to me in heaven and in earth.  And paul said In the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth.

Psalm 2: Quare fremuérunt Gentes
Douay Rheims
Quare fremuérunt Gentes: * et pópuli meditáti sunt inánia?
Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things?
2  Astitérunt reges terræ, et príncipes convenérunt in unum * advérsus Dóminum, et advérsus Christum ejus.
The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ.
3  Dirumpámus víncula eórum: * et projiciámus a nobis jugum ipsórum.
Let us break their bonds asunder: and let us cast away their yoke from us.
 4. Qui hábitat in cælis, irridébit eos: * et Dóminus subsannábit eos.
He that dwells in heaven shall laugh at them: and the Lord shall deride them.
5  Tunc loquétur ad eos in ira sua, * et in furóre suo conturbábit eos.
Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage.
6  Ego autem constitútus sum Rex ab eo super Sion montem sanctum ejus, * prædicans præcéptum ejus.
But I am appointed king by him over Sion, his holy mountain, preaching his commandment.
7  Dóminus dixit ad me: * Fílius meus es tu, ego hódie génui te.
The Lord has said to me: You are my son, this day have I begotten you.
8  Póstula a me, et dábo tibi Gentes hereditátem tuam, * et possessiónem tuam términos terræ.
Ask of me, and I will give you the Gentiles for your inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for your possession
9  Reges eos in virga férrea, * et tamquam vas fíguli confrínges eos.
You shall rule them with a rod of iron, and shall break them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
10  Et nunc, reges, intellígite: * erudímini, qui judicátis terram.
And now, O you kings, understand: receive instruction, you that judge the earth.
11  Servíte Dómino in timóre: * et exsultáte ei cum   tremóre.
Serve the Lord with fear: and rejoice unto him with trembling.
12  Apprehéndite disciplínam, nequándo irascátur Dóminus, * et pereátis de via justa.
Embrace discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and you perish from the just way.
13  Cum exárserit in brevi ira ejus: * beáti omnes qui confídunt in eo.
When his wrath shall be kindled in a short time, blessed are all they that trust in him.

You can find the next part in this series here.

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