St Basil On Psalm 32

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A Psalm in Praise of the Power and Providence of God (ON PSALM 32) REJOICE IN THE LORD, O ye just; praise becometh the upright.

The voice of exultation is familar in the Scripture, betokening a very bright and happy state of soul in those deserving of happiness. ‘Rejoice/ therefore, ‘in the Lord, O ye just’ not when the interests of your home are flourishing, not when you are in good health of body, not when your fields are filled with all sorts of fruits, but, when you have the Lord such immeasurable Beauty, Goodness, Wisdom. Let the joy that is in Him suffice for you. He who exults with joy and happiness in anything that is much desired, seems thus to rejoice in Him. Therefore, Scripture urges the just to be aware of their dignity, because they have been considered worthy to be the servants of so great a Master, and to glory in His service with inexpressible joy and exultation, since the heart is, as it were, bounding with ecstasy of love of the good. If at any time a light, for example, falling upon your heart, produced a continuous thought of God and illumined your soul, so that you loved God and despised the world and all things corporeal, understand from that faint and brief re- semblance the whole state of the just, who are enjoying God steadily and uninterruptedly. At some rare times by the dispensation of God that transport of joy seizes you in order that through a little taste He may remind you of what you have been deprived. But, for the just man the divine and heavenly joy is lasting, since the Holy Spirit dwells in him once for all. ‘But the first fruit of the Spirit is: charity, joy, peace.’ Therefore, ‘rejoice in the Lord, O ye just.’ The Lord is like a place capable of containing the just, and there is every reason for one who is in Him to be delighted and to make merry. Moreover, the just man becomes a place for the Lord, when he receives Him in himself. He who sins gives place to the devil, taking no heed of him who said: ‘Do not give place to the devil’ nor to Ecclesiastes, ‘If the spirit of him that hath power, ascend upon thee, leave not thy place’ Let us, then, who are in the Lord and who, as much as we are able, observe closely His wonders, so draw joy to our hearts from the contemplation of them.

‘Praise becometh the upright’ As a crooked foot does not fit into a straight sandal, so neither is the praise of God suited to perverted hearts. For this reason, I think, since speech concerning the Saviour is not becoming in the mouth of the demons, He takes away their power, in order that they may not make Him known. And Paul rebuked the divining spirit in order that the Holy One might not be praised by an un- clean person. Such also is this saying: ‘But to the sinner God hath said: Why dost thou declare my justices?’ Let us earnestly endeavour, therefore, to flee every crooked and tortuous act, and let us keep our mind and the judgment of our soul as straight as a rule, in order that the praise of the Lord may be permitted to us since we are upright. In the same way the serpent, which is the author of sin, is called crooked, and the sword of God is drawn against the dragon, the crooked serpent, which makes many twists and turns in its progress. As the coiling movement of the serpent trails along, it is traced unevenly on the ground, since, if it were otherwise, the first parts would hasten along, the next follow transversely and the tail bend aside in the opposite direction. Therefore, he who follows the serpent shows that his life is crooked, uneven, and filled with contrarieties; but, he who follows after the Lord makes his paths straight and his footprints right. For, ‘the Lord our God is righteous, and his countenance hath beheld righteousness.’ If two rulers are compared with each other, their straightness is in agreement with each other, but, if a distorted piece of wood is compared with a ruler, the crooked one will be found at variance with the straight. Since, there- fore, the praise of God is righteous, there is need of a righteous heart, in order that the praise may be fitting and adapted to it. But, if ‘no one can say “Jesus is Lord,” except in the Holy Spirit,’ how would you give praise, since you do not have the right spirit in your heart?

(2) ‘Give praise to the Lord on the harp; sing to him with the psaltery, the instrument of ten strings’ First, it is necessary to praise the Lord on the harp; that is, to render harmoniously the actions of the body. Since, indeed, we sinned in the body, ‘when we yielded our members as slaves of sin, unto lawlessness’ let us give praise with our body, using the same instrument for the destruction of sin. Have you reviled?

Bless. Have you defrauded? Make restitution. Have you been intoxicated? Fast. Have you made false pretensions? Be humble. Have you been envious? Console. Have you murdered? Bear witness, or afflict your body with the equivalent of martyrdom through confession. And then, after confession you are worthy to play for God on the ten-stringed psaltery. For, it is necessary, first, to correct the actions of our body, so that we perform them harmoniously with the divine Word and thus mount up to the contemplation of things intellectual. Perhaps, the mind, which seeks things above, is called a psaltery because the structure of this instrument has its resonance from above. The works of the body, therefore, give praise to God as if from below; but the mysteries, which are proclaimed through the mind, have their origin from above, as if the mind was resonant through the Spirit. He, therefore, who observes all the precepts and makes, as it were, harmony and symphony from them, he, I say, plays for God on a ten-stringed psaltery, because there are ten principal precepts, written according to the first teaching of the Law.

‘Sing to the Lord a new canticle’ That is, not in the antiquity of written word, but in the newness of the spirit serve God. He who understands the law not in a corporeal sense, but who becomes acquainted with its spiritual meaning is the one who sings the new canticle. For, the ancient aged testament has passed and the new renewed canticle of the teaching of the Lord has succeeded, which revives our youth like an eagle, when we destroy the exterior man and are renewed day by day. But, he who ‘strains forward to what is before’ always becomes newer than he was formerly. There- fore, becoming always newer than he was, he sings a newer canticle to God. But according to custom, that is said to be newer which is admirable or which has recently come into existence. If, then, you relate the wondrous manner and the whole surpassing nature of the Incarnation of the Lord, you will sing a newer and an unusual canticle; and, if you go on through the regeneration and renewal of the whole world which had grown old under its sin, and proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection, you thus sing a canticle both new and recent.

(3) ‘Sing well unto him with a loud noise.’ Hear the command. ‘Sing well/ with unwavering mind, with sincere affection. ‘Sing with a loud noise’ Like certain brave soldiers, after the victory against the enemy, pour forth hymns to the Author of the victory. ‘Take courage’ it is said, ‘I have overcome the world.’ What man is capable of fighting against the evil one, unless, fleeing to the protection of the power of our Commander in chief, by our faith in Him we smite our enemy and shoot him with arrows? Therefore, ‘sing well with a loud noise.’ But, the loud noise is a certain inarticulate sound, when those who are fighting side by side in a war shout out in unison with each other. Sing, then, in harmony and in agreement and in union through charity. Now, what should those say who are singing? ‘That the word of the Lord is right’ Therefore, he first summons the righteous to praise, since the Word of the Lord is righteous and is destined to be glorified, who ‘was in the beginning with God and was God’ The Father, then, is righteous; the Son is righteous; the Holy Spirit is righteous.

‘And all his works are done with faithfulness’ What does this mean? His work is the heavens, His work is the earth, His work is the sea, the air, all things inanimate, animate, rational, and irrational. How, then, are all things done with faithfulness? What sort of faith is there in inanimate objects? What is the faith of the brute beasts? What faith is there in a stone? What faith in a dog? Neither the inanimate object nor the beast is in faith. Nevertheless, the assertion excludes nothing, but includes all things when it says: ‘All his works are done with faithfulness’ What, then, does this mean? ‘If you see the heavens’ he says ‘and the order in them, they are a guide to faith, for through themselves they show the Craftsman; and, if you see the orderly arrangement about the earth, again through these things also your faith in God is increased. In fact, it is not by acquiring knowledge of God with our carnal eyes that we believe in Him, but by the power of the mind we have perceived the invisible God through visible things. Therefore, ‘all his works are done with faithfulness.’ Even if you consider the stone, it also possesses a certain proof of the power of its Maker: likewise, if you consider the ant or the gnat or the bee. Frequently in the smallest objects the wisdom of the Creator shines forth. He who unfolded the heavens and poured out the boundless expanses of the seas, He it is who hollowed out the very delicate sting of the bee like a tube, so that through it the poison might be poured out. Therefore ‘all his works are done with faithfulness’ Do not say: ‘This happened by chance’ and ‘that occurred accidentally’ Nothing is casual, nothing indeterminate, nothing happens at random, nothing among things that exist is caused by chance. And do not say It is a bad mishap’ or ‘it is an evil hour’ These are the words of the untaught. ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And yet not one of them will fall’ without the divine will. How many are the hairs of your head? Not one of them will be forgotten. 21 Do you see the divine eye, how none of the least trifles escapes its glance?

The Lord ‘loveth mercy and judgment; the earth is full of the mercy of the Lord’ If the judgment of God, who renders precisely according to our deserts what is due to us for our deeds, should be by itself, what hope would there be? Who of all mankind would be saved? But, as it is, ‘He loveth mercy and judgment.’ It is as if He had made mercy a coadjutor to Himself, standing before the royal throne of His judgment, and thus He leads each one to judgment. ‘If thou, O Lord, wilt mark iniquities: Lord, who shall stand it?’ Neither is mercy without judgment, nor judgment without mercy. He loves mercy, therefore, before judgment, and after mercy He comes to judgment. However, these qualities are joined to each other, mercy and judgment, lest either mercy alone should produce presumption, or judgment alone cause despair. The Judge wishes to have mercy on you and to share His own compassion, but on condition that He finds you humble after sin, contrite, lamenting much for your evil deeds, announcing publicly without shame sins committed secretly, begging the brethren to labor with you in reparation; in short, if He sees that you are worthy of pity, He provides His mercy for you ungrudgingly. But, if He sees your heart unrepentant, your mind proud, your disbelief of the future life, and your fearlessness of the judgment, then He desires the judgment for you, just as a reasonable and kind doctor tries at first with hot applications and soft poultices to reduce a tumour, but, when he sees that the mass is rigidly and obstinately resisting, casting away the olive oil and the gentle method of treatment, he prefers henceforth the use of the knife. Therefore, He loves mercy in the case of those repenting, but He also loves judgment in the case of the unyielding. Isaiah says some such thing, too, to God: ‘Thy mercy in measure’ For, he compares the mercy with the judgment of Him who gives compensation by scale and number and weight according to the deserts of each.

(4) ‘The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord’ Here mercy is separated from judgment. The earth is full of only the mercy of the Lord, since His judgment is stored up for the appointed time. Here, then, mercy is apart from judgment; indeed, He did not come ‘in order that He might judge the world, but that He might save the world’ But there, judgment is not apart from mercy because man could not be found clean from stain, not even if he had lived for only one day. And so, if anyone sees the evil spreading daily and the mortal race of man, so far as it merits for its sins, deserving of countless deaths, he will admire the riches of the goodness of God and of His forbearance and patience. Of course, while we are on earth, we need mercy. Those in heaven, indeed, merit to be called happy, not to be pitied. Or, the explanation is, per- haps, that, because of the sentence laid upon us for sin, it is we who are called earth, since we hear from God, ‘Earth you are, and unto earth you shall return’ we, who are full of the mercies of God. For, ‘when we were dead by reason of our’ offences and ‘sins/ God, having mercy, ‘brought us to life together with Christ’

‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth’ Where are those who set at naught the Spirit? Where are those who separate It from the creative power? Where are those who dissever It from union with the Father and Son? Let them hear the psalm which says: ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth/ The term ‘Word/ will not be considered as this common form of diction which consists of names and expressions, nor will the Spirit be considered as vapour poured out in the air; but as the Word, which was in the beginning with God, and as the Holy Spirit, which has obtained this appellation as Its own. As, then, the Creator, the Word, firmly established the heavens, so the Spirit which is from God, which proceeds from the Father, that is, which is from His mouth (that you may not judge that It is some external object or some creature, but may glorify It as having Its substance from God) brings with It all the powers in Him, Therefore, all the heavenly power was established by the Spirit; that is, it has from the assistance of the Spirit the solidity and firm- ness and constancy in holiness and in every virtue that is becoming to the sacred powers. In this place, therefore, the Spirit was described as from His mouth; we shall find elsewhere that the Word also was said to be from His mouth, in order that it may be understood that the Saviour and His Holy Spirit are from the Father. Since, then, the Saviour is the Word of the Lord, and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit from His mouth, both joined with Him in the creation of the heavens and the powers in them, and for this reason the statement was made: ‘By the word of the Lord the heavens were established; and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth.’ For, nothing is made holy, except by the presence of the Spirit. The Word, the Master Craftsman and Creator of the universe, gave entrance into existence to the angels; the Holy Spirit added holiness to them. The angels were not created infants, then perfected by gradual exercise and thus made worthy of the reception of the Spirit; but, in their initial formation and in the material, as it were, of their substance they had holiness laid as a foundation. Wherefore, they are turned toward evil with difficulty, for they were immediately steeled by sanctity, as by some tempering, and possessed steadfastness in virtue by the gift of the Holy Spirit.

(5) ‘Gathering together the waters of the sea, as a vessel; laying up the depths in storehouses.’ He did not say, ‘Gathering together the waters of the sea as in a vessel’ but, ‘as a vessel’ thus ‘gathering together the waters of the sea’ Consider, I beg of you, the nature of a vessel, now inflated, when the skin is stretched tight by the enclosed air; now reduced, when that which is stretching it yields. In this way, therefore, the sea at times swells and, becoming wild and swollen with the winds, it seethes; again, at other times, in a calm, it is reduced to a lower level. As a vessel, then, the Lord thus gathers together and reduces the water of the sea. However, we have found in certain copies, ‘Gathering together as in a vessel the waters of the sea’ where Scripture refers us to ancient history, when the Red Sea, although no one was dividing it nor enclosing it, of itself stood firm, as if held in some vessel, because the divine command did not permit it to be poured forth.

‘Laying up the depths in storehouses’ It would be more consistent as regards the general notion to say: ‘Placing storehouses in the depths’ that is, enclosing its wealth in mystery. But, now he says that the depths are like certain treasures worthy of the divine storehouses. Are, then, the words concerning the divine judgment, which are unutterable and incomprehensible to human understanding, never called depths, since the reasons according to which He dispenses all things individually are stored up only in the knowledge of God? In fact, we learned in another psalm, which said, ‘Thy judgments are a great deep’ that the judgments made about each one are called a deep. Therefore, if you seek to know why the life of a sinner is continued, but the days of sojourning of the just man are cut short; why the unjust man thrives, but a just man is afflicted; why the young child is snatched away before coming to maturity; whence are wars; why there are shipwrecks, earthquakes, droughts, heavy rains; why things destructive of men are created; why one man is a slave, another, free, one is rich, another is poor (and the difference in sins and in virtuous actions is great; she who was sold to a brothel-keeper is in sin by force, but she who immediately obtained a good master grows up with virginity) ; why this one is treated with kindness, and that one condemned; and what is the reward in the case o each o these from the Judge; taking all these questions into your mind, consider that the judgments of God are the depths and, because they are enclosed in the divine storehouses, are not easily grasped by those encountering them. To him who believes, a promise is given by God: *I will give thee hidden treasures, unseen ones.’ When we have been deemed worthy of knowledge face to face, we shall see also the depths in the storehouses of God. If you will gather together the sayings in Scripture about vessels, you will better comprehend the prophetic meaning. Those, then, who are renewed day by day and who take new wine from the true vine, are said in the Gospel to be new vessels. But, they who have not yet put off the old man are old vessels, unable to be trusted for the reception of new wine. For, no one puts new wine into old wineskins, lest the wine be spilt, and those skins be entirely ruined, inasmuch as they are considered worthy of no excuse hereafter, if they spill the good new wine. New wine must be poured into fresh skins. The new and spiritual wine and that which is glowing with the Holy Spirit, the perception of truth which never becomes old, must be put in the new man, who, because ‘he always bears about in his body the dying of Jesus,’ might justly be said to be a new vessel. (6) ‘Let all the earth fear the Lord, and let all the inhabitants of the world be in awe of him’ Since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, let those who are earthly minded be taught through fear. In fact, fear Is necessarily employed as introductory to true religion, but love, now taking over, brings to perfection those who have been prepared by a fear that is capable of knowledge. To the whole earth, therefore, Scripture advises fear. ‘Let all the inhabitants of the world/ it says, ‘be in awe of him.’ Let them make every movement, as it were, whether effected by the mind or by bodily action, according to the will of God. At least I understand the words, ‘Let them be in awe of him/ in this way. For example, let neither the eye be moved without God, nor the hand be put in motion without God, nor the heart think on things not well pleasing to God. In short, let them be in awe of no one else, and let nothing move them except the fear of God.

For he spoke and they were made: he commanded and they were created’ To the two preceding statements: ‘Let all the earth fear’ and ‘Let all the inhabitants of the world be in awe’ he added two more, ‘He spoke and they were made; he commanded and they were created’ Since man is composed of an earthy form and a soul indwelling in a body, that which was formed from earth is called earth; for the soul which obtains as its lot a life in the flesh is called the inhabitant of the world. Appropriately, therefore, the saying, ‘He spoke and they were made/ is assigned to the earth. In the case of our form which was made from the earth, ‘they were made’ but, in the case of the part created according to the image of God, ‘they were created’ since the creation is frequently understood in the transformation and improvement, as the expression, ‘If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature’ and also, ‘That of the two he might create one new man’ Perhaps also, ‘they were made’ is spoken in the case of the first begetting of man, and ‘they were created’ in the case of the second regeneration through the grace of Christ. As a command of God excels a mere word, to the same extent does creation excel generation.

The Lord bringeth to nought the counsels of nations; and he rejecteth the devices of people’ This is an explanation of the preceding statement of how God created those who believe in Him in consequence of His bringing to nought the foolish counsels which the people held about idolatry and all vanity, and in consequence of His rejection of the counsels of princes. And it is possible to refer these things to the time of His passion when they thought that they were crucifying the King of Glory, but He through the economy of the cross was renewing humanity. For, in the Resurrection the counsel of nations, of Pilate and his soldiers, and of whoever was active in the matter of the cross, was brought to nought; the counsels of the princes were rejected, and also those of the high priests and scribes and kings of the people. In fact, the Resurrection destroyed their every device. If you will read the things in each history which God did to the faithless nations, you will find that the statement has much force even according to our corporeal intelligence. When Joram, son of Achaab, was king in Israel, then his son Ader, King of Syria, carrying on a war with a great force and a heavy hand, besieged Samaria, so that even the necessaries of life were wanting to them, and the head of an ass was sold for fifty shekels of silver, and the fourth part of a cabe of pigeon’s dung for five shekels of silver. At that time, therefore, in order that the promise of Elisha might be fulfilled, the counsels of Syria were brought to nought, and abandoning their tents and all their supplies, they fled, leaving such a great abundance in Samaria that a measure of fine flour and two measures of barley were sold for one shekel. Thus, then, the Lord knew how to bring to nought the counsels of nations. We learned in the time of Achitophel how He cast away the counsels of the princes, when David prayed, saying: Infatuate the counsel of Achitophel’ Therefore, when you hear some one making great threats and announcing that he will bring upon you all sorts of ill- treatment, losses, blows, or death, look up to the Lord who brings to nought the counsels of nations and rejects the devices of the people.

(7) ‘But the counsel of the Lord standeth for ever: the thoughts of his heart to all generations.’ Do you not see the teachings of the nations, this empty philosophy, how subtle and farfetched they are concerning the inventions of their teachings, both in the rational speculations and in the moral injunctions, and in certain natural sciences and the other so-called esoteric teachings? How all things have been scattered and rendered useless, and the truths of the Gospel alone now hold place in the world? For, many are the counsels in the hearts of men, but the counsel of the Lord has prevailed. And it is necessary, at least if the counsel from God is to remain in our souls firm and steadfast, for the human thoughts which we formerly held, first to be rejected. Just as he who intends to write on wax, first smooths it down and thus puts on whatever forms he wishes, so also the heart which is to admit clearly the divine words must be made clean of the opposite thoughts. ‘The thoughts of his heart to all generations/ Since, then, there are two chosen peoples, and two testaments were given to them according to the saying, ‘The thoughts of his heart to all generations (eis genekn kai genean)/ since ‘generation’ is named twice, there can be understood also two thoughts, the one, according to which we received the previous testament, but the second, bestowing upon us the new and saving teaching of Christ.

‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord: the people whom he hath chosen for his inheritance.’ No one considers the people of the Jews blessed, but, as that people which was chosen according to merit from all the peoples. For, we are the nation of whom the Lord is our God; we are also the people whom He chose as an inheritance for Himself; the nation, for we have been selected from many nations; the people, because we have been summoned in place of the rejected people. And, since ‘Many are called, but few are chosen’ he does not pronounce him blessed who is called, but him who is chosen. Blessed is he whom He chose. What is the cause of the pronouncement of blessedness? The expected inheritance of everlasting blessings. Or, does he, perhaps, according to the Apostle, since, when the full number of nations will have entered, then all Israel will be saved, first proclaim blessed, the full number of nations, then later, Israel, which is saved? Certainly, not just anyone will be saved, but only the remnant which is according to the election of grace. Therefore, he says: ‘The people whom he hath chosen for his inheritance’

(8) ‘The Lord hath looked from heaven: he hath beheld all the sons of men from his habitation which lie hath prepared’ The Lord looks from above on those who stand fast in their proper dignity and perform the duties that belong to human nature. But, He regards differently those who fall into the utmost evils because He Himself came down. ‘Because’ He said, ‘the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done all that the outcry which has come to me indicates’ And again, ‘He came down to see the city and the tower which men had built.’ But here it says, ‘The Lord hath looked from heaven: he hath beheld all the sons of men.’ Consider the lofty spectator; consider Him who is bending down regarding the affairs of mankind. Wherever you may go, whatever you may do, whether in the darkness or in the daytime, you have the eye of God watching. ‘From his habitation which he hath prepared’ The gates are not being opened, the curtains are not being drawn together, the habitation of God is ready for viewing. He looks upon all the sons of men. No one escapes His sight; no darkness, no concealing walls, nothing is a hindrance to the eyes of God. He is so far from failing to look upon each individually, that He even looks into the hearts, which He Himself formed without any admixture of evil. God, the creator of men, made the heart simple according to His own saving image; but later we made it, by union with passions of the flesh, a complicated and manifold heart, destroying its likeness to God, its simplicity, and its integrity. Since He is the Maker of hearts, therefore, He understands all our works. But, we call both words and thoughts and, in general, every movement of man, his works. With what feelings or for what purpose they are, whether to please men or to perform the duties of the commands given us by God, He alone knows, who understands all our works. Therefore, for every idle word we give an account. Even for a cup of cold water, we do not lose our reward, because the Lord understands all our works.

(9) The king is not saved by a great army’ Not the extent of the military force, not the walls of cities, not an infantry phalanx, not cavalry troops, not equipment of naval power, will procure safety for the king. For, the Lord establishes kings and removes them, and ‘there exists no authority, except that appointed by God’ Therefore, the king is saved, not through much power, but through divine grace. So that the saving is true for them also: ‘By grace you have been saved.’ So also, a farmer does not obtain his portion of harvest as much through his agricultural diligence as through God, who causes the crops to grow. For ‘neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the growth.’ And if ‘the heart of the king is in the hand of God’ he will not be saved through power of arms, but through the divine guidance. Now, not any random person is in the hand of God, but he who is worthy of the name of king. And some have denned the kingly office as lawful authority, or the universal control that is not liable to sin. ‘Nor shall the giant be saved by his own great strength.’ He calls him a giant who uses physical power and bodily force. Therefore, neither the king has aid enough from his soldiery, nor is the strong man able to suffice for himself against everything. All things that are at once human, when compared with the true power are weakness and infirmity. Therefore, ‘The weak things of the world has God chosen to put to shame the strong,’ and ‘out of the mouths of infants and of sucklings He has perfected praise, that He may destroy the enemy and the avenger’ Divine grace operating in the infants and the unintelligent is especially conspicuous. ‘Useless is the horse for safety; neither shall he be saved by the abundance of his strength’ The horse has been excluded from the use of holy men. Neither does Israel, when she was successful in wars, seem to have used cavalry forces nor did any one of the holy men accept the private use of horses as proper for them. Pharaoh used a cavalry, and the arrogant Sennacherib took pride in the great number of his horses. Wherefore, He cast into the sea Pharaoh’s cavalry and the riders; and all the horsemen of Sennacherib slept. Whence, also, the law given by Moses, which ordains the duties of kings, says: ‘He shall not multiply horses to himself.’ ‘Neither shall he be saved by the abundance of his strength/ Tor when I am weak, then I am strong.’ For the abundance of bodily strength is a hindrance to the safety of the spirit.

(10) ‘Behold the eyes of the Lord are on them that fear him.’ Elsewhere, it says, ‘The eyes of the Lord are upon the just’ but here, ‘on those that fear him’ When we look upon the Lord and our eyes are on Him, so that we say, ‘Behold as the eyes of the servants are on the hands of their masters, so are our eyes unto the Lord our God’ then, we, as it were, draw the eye of the Lord to watch over us. ‘And on them who hope in his mercy’ The humility of those who serve the Lord indicates how they hope in His mercy. He who does not trust in his own good deeds nor expects to be justified by his works has, as his only hope of salvation, the mercies of God. For, when he considers that the expression, ‘Behold the Lord and his reward’ refers to each according to his work, and when he ponders his own evil deeds, he fears the punishment and cowers beneath the threats.

There is good hope which gazes steadfastly at the mercies and kindness of God lest it be swallowed up by grief. He hopes that his soul will be delivered from death and will be fed by Him in famine. ‘Our soul waiteth for the Lord: for he is our helper and protector.” This word contains an exhortation to endurance, so that, even if we are seized by one of those who are oppressing us, we do not depart from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, but with our whole soul endure the sufferings, awaiting help from God. Tor in him our heart shall rejoice; and in his holy name we have trusted’ This agrees with the words in the beginning of the psalm: ‘Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just’ And Tor in him our heart shall rejoice/ And it seems to me that consistently with these words the Apostle said: ‘In all these things we overcome because of him who has loved us,’ and ‘Not only this, but we exult in tribulations also’ For, the psalmist in saying: ‘Our soul waiteth for the Lord’ in order that he might show that it was not through force nor because he was oppressed by afflictions that he displayed patience, but that with all joy he accepts the ill-treatment for the name of the Lord, says, ‘Not only do we endure, but also “In him our heart shall rejoice, and in his holy name we have trusted’ ‘ It is sufficient for us to be named Christians to escape all abuse from our adversaries. The name of God is said to be holy, not entirely because it has a certain sanctifying power in its syllables, but because the whole specific character of God and the thought contained in what is specially contemplated concerning Him. is holy and pure.

‘Let thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, as we have hoped in thee’ Do you see how wisely he prayed? He has made a proper disposition the measure of the number of God’s mercies. To such an extent’ he says, let thy mercy be upon us, as we have previously hoped in thee.’ All our hope is to return to eternal rest, in order that, after the body of our lowly condition has been changed, we may realise that this same body has been made like to the glorified Body of Christ.