The Psalms are among the most hauntingly beautiful songs and prayers that this world possesses. They are poems whose appeal is permanent and universal. As an anthology of 150 gems the Psalter is a work of consummate art, a thing of beauty which is a joy for ever; its loveliness increases. The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express that same delight in God which made David dance says the late C. S. Lewis.
The Bible is a
presentation of the divine drama in which we are all taking part. The
the drama is the great acts and interventions of God, past, present and
The Psalms are a distillation of the Old Testament and especially of
teaching of the Hebrew Prophets. They sum up the whole theology of the
Testament. They are the quintessence of the faith and devotion of
If the relic of a saint or loved one is dear to us, how much more precious is everything connected with Jesus Christ, the Lord of Life. The Psalter was both His Prayer Book and Song Book. While dying on the cross, the only portion of Holy Scripture that He quoted was the Psalter. Of His seven last words, four of them are echoes from the Book of Psalms: My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? (Ps. 21:2; Mt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34); I thirst (Jn. 19:28; Ps. 41:2; 62:2; 142:6); It is done, accomplished, finished (Ps. 21:32; Jn. 19:30); Into Thy hands I entrust My spirit (Ps. 30:6; Lk. 23:46).
We only realize the full
significance of the Psalms as we read them in Christ the Truth, through
eyes, and in His Spirit. Faith is vision. Unbelief is blindness. If the good news is veiled, it is veiled
only to those who have lost their way. When the Old Testament is read,
lies over their minds. Only in Christ is the veil removed. The minds of
unbelievers are so blinded by the god of this world that the light of
Gospel of Christ cannot dawn upon them. God Who told light to shine out
has shone in our hearts with the light of the knowledge of the glory of
God in the
face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4-6). So
The songs of
The Christian Church
accepted the Old Testament as sacred scriptures. The Apostles and
preachers and teachers cited passages of the Old Testament as
prophecies of the
events of the Gospel. They also saw correspondences between things and
the old and new covenants. The Exodus from Egypt and the giving of the
the Covenant have their counterpart in the redemption of mankind
through the death
and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the giving of the new covenant in
blood (1 Cor. 11:25) and the new commandment which fulfils the law (Jn.
Gal. 5:14; Rom. 13:10). The temple at
Similarly Christ was seen
to be both priest and victim (Heb. 8:1—9:15). He is the sacrificial
also the victorious king (Jn. 1:36; 18:37). He is the good Shepherd and
the Lion of the tribe of
The Church also understood that Jesus was the Word (Jn. 1:14; 1 Jn. 1:1; Rev. 19:13). He was Himself the utterance of God’s love and grace, light and truth in the world. The utterances of the Old Testament had been partial, incomplete, fragmentary, preparatory, prophetic. In Jesus we have the fullness and finality of the divine utterance. Jesus embodies the divine utterance both in His teaching and in Himself. The Word and the Person are completely identical. The Word Who became flesh (Jn. 1:14) was in origin and originally God (Jn. 1:1), ever at work with the Father and the Spirit in the creation of the world (Jn. 5:17), ever giving life and light to men and angels (Jn. 1:9). And so we see that the Word is a Person. Life is not something but Someone (Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:21). The whole pageant of the past is recapitulated in the gracious personality of Jesus the Messiah. He recapitulates in His Person the whole destiny of mankind (Eph. 1:10). God has predestined men to become conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29).
Under both Old and New Covenants the Church preceded the Bible. The essential role of the Church, as of the individual Christian, is to bear witness to experience, to what has been seen and heard (Acts 1:8; 4:20; 22:15). Man’s vocation and destiny are supernatural (Heb. 3:1; Rom. 8:29; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Cor. 1:2). Scripture is a communication of divine light to guide us in the way of perfection (Mt. 5:48). To know Christ (Truth) is to love Him and be free (1 Jn. 4). So a supernatural revelation of God’s nature, will and purpose is essential. Such is the Word of God contained in the Bible. It is a love-letter written by our heavenly Father and transmitted by the sacred writers to the human race on our pilgrimage towards our heavenly country (St. Chrysostom). Readers of the Bible have the Church to guide them. No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of private interpretation, nor can it be understood by one’s own powers. For no prophecy ever originated in the human will, but holy men of God spoke as they were prompted by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:20). It is the Church’s mission to interpret the Bible. People who live humbly and honestly in the fellowship of the Church have their minds conditioned and attuned to understand the scriptures as the revelation of the mind of God. (1 Cor. 2:16; Phil. 2:5; 2 Pet. 3:1)
It would be a mistake to
think that the Psalms are a beautiful expression of nature mysticism,
by the natural beauty of the countryside and the soothing sounds of
murmuring streams. They are rather the war-songs of the Prince of
Peace, the vigorous
shouts and cries of the whole man, responding or reacting with his
to the One Who comes to him in all the circumstances of life. Jesus
tells us that we shall never see Him until we say in every situation, Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the
Lord (Lk. 13:35). In this matter of the sanctification of the total
to love God with his whole nature (Lk. 10:27),
The Jews prayed and worshipped with spirit, soul and body. They beat their breasts, clapped their hands, stretched out their arms, fell prostrate on the ground; they sang, they shouted, they danced; they used drums, tambourines, cymbals, castanets, bells, horns, trumpets, pipes, and various stringed instruments. We find these features in the Psalms. St. Isaac the Syrian says, Every prayer in which the body does not participate and by which the heart is not affected should be reckoned as an abortion without a soul.
Varieties of prayer are
found in the Psalms: Worship and Bowing Down, Love and Adoration,
Contemplation, Stillness and Watching, Waiting and Listening, Hope and
Acts of Faith and Trust, Praise and Blessing, Exaltation and
Repentance and Confession, Weeping and Groaning, Exultation and
Joy and Gladness, Vows and Affirmations, Exorcism and Adjuration,
Submission, Petition and Intercession. We need to learn afresh the
use of the Psalter. One reason for the neglect of the Psalms in our
is the disproportionate attention given to critical and historical
modern biblical study, to the almost total exclusion of the vital
purpose of the Word of God. To be
ignorant of Scripture is not to know Christ says
The Church never merely
studied the Psalms. They were her chief book of devotion. Her divine
had quoted them, had used them in prayer, had explained them to His
and had died with them on His lips. The Apostles ordered the faithful
to use the
Psalms both in their personal lives and in community worship (Jas.
5:13; Col. 3:16;
At first the Psalter was
the only hymnbook available. Many both of the clergy and laity knew it
heart. St. Germanus in Constantinople and St. Gregory in
The Psalms are poetry and this version retains the original poetic form by printing the lines as in the Septuagint. Much is lost when the Psalms are printed as prose. Hebrew verse does not rhyme except occasionally and accidentally. It is based on what is called parallelism, and is mostly in the form of couplets. The second line of the couplet may be a repetition of the theme in different words, or a contrast, or a heightened emphasis. There is rhythm, but little metre. Often there is a play on words, or assonance, or alliteration, or some figure of speech. These are not reproducible in translation. But the parallelism is clearly retained. If the line endings occasionally rhyme, that is quite incidental as in the original Hebrew.
It must not be thought that the parallelism of Hebrew poetry merely means that the second line of every couplet simply repeats the thought of the first line in different words. Far from it. It may enrich or amplify the thought of the first line, or it may modify it in other ways. For example, the Prophet Isaiah writes (55:7): Let the wicked forsake his ways and the sinful man his thoughts. Or take the opening words of that wonderful outburst of praise which the Holy Spirit put on Mary’s lips (Luke 1:46):My soul magnifies the Lord
This does not mean that soul and spirit are therefore identical (cp. 1 Thess. 5:23). Rather it indicates that the second half of the couplet is a result of the first. With my soul I magnify the Lord (soul including understanding, intellect, memory, imagination, desire, will). As a result of my growing consciousness and realization of the greatness and goodness and glory of God, my spirit is filled with joy and I exult in God my Saviour. So the inspired lines are found to contain a simple technique for the praise of God.
This new translation of the Psalter has been made primarily for use in the services of the Orthodox Church. It will be found to follow closely and often word for word previous versions made from the Hebrew. It will also be found to differ widely in many places. This is because the Orthodox Church is committed to the Septuagint version of the Bible, which was the Bible of the whole Christian Church during the first thousand years of its existence. It is also the version of the Bible that was used and quoted by our Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles, though they also occasionally referred to the Hebrew. That is why it will be found that this version of the Psalms tallies in almost every instance with the Psalms quoted in the New Testament whereas the Hebrew Psalms are often widely divergent. For example, Psalm 4:5, Be angry, yet do not sin, is quoted word for word by the Apostle Paul (Eph. 4:26). The Hebrew gives quite a different reading.
If it is asked why the Septuagint often differs so totally from the Massoretic text, the answer probably is that Hebrew was a kind of shorthand, entirely without vowels when the Psalms were written. It is easy to see that a word like brd could be rendered bread, bird, bard, brayed, broad, beard, bored, breed, broody braid, bride, bred, buried. It is not surprising that there are variant readings. What is surprising is that the Septuagint reproduces a vast amount of the Hebrew text almost verbatim, so that we can often check the Massoretic. Another reason for differences in the Septuagint may be that the Seventy translators used a Hebrew version that differed in many respects from the Massoretic text.
We cannot give footnotes to explain how we arrive at every puzzling rendering of the Greek, as it is not within our scope. If we take a single instance, it will be seen how lengthy and complicated such explanations could be. In Psalm 101:27, change them like clothing could be rendered, roll them like clothing. Actually there is a variant reading at this point, some texts reading roll, others change. As the thought suggested is that of a person rolling or stripping off a worn-out garment, we believe that the word change faithfully conveys the sense of either Greek word and also the meaning of the Hebrew original. In fact, the idea of change and renewal and the rebirth of the soul as a new creation is a basic concept throughout Holy Scripture (cp. Jn. 3:3-5; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 2:10; 4:24).
The Psalms provide food for the fed up and heavenly bread in the wilderness. But what about the stone-age ethics? How does King Og aid our sanctification or help our prayer? In some of the Psalms we seem to be thirsting not for God but for our enemies’ blood. Sometimes we seem to be howling war-cries with a tribe of savages. How can we speak the truth in love with Hebrew tribals who even sink to sacrificing their sons and daughters to demons? (105:37)
The purpose of God’s written word of which the Psalms are a part is to make known to men the saving truths that God has revealed to us about Himself in His eternal Being and about His action in time and place and His plan for the new world order. Christian theology is essentially the knowledge of God and His will revealed to man through God’s action in history, which is truly His story. Orthodox theology as a unity of knowledge is a means to an end that transcends all knowledge. This end is union with God. The Psalms sum up the whole salvation history and theology of the Old Covenant. The lights and shadows of the total panorama are all here.
So the Psalms are unlike the sacred books of the world religions. The Bible is the record of the life of a community offered by the Church as divine revelation. We see the living God in the movement of events. It is not merely the history of a progressive revelation, but history as revelation. The meaning of the events lies in man’s meeting with God. The prophet, like the priest, is a public person. His encounter with God is not merely private experience, like that of the mystics and sages of the world religions. The pressure of public events is the normal occasion of the prophet’s meeting with God. The truth which the encounter reveals to his mind is public property. God’s choice of the prophet is not an act of favouritism, but an invitation or call to special responsibility (cp. Amos 3:2). The word of God which gives the vital meaning to history always has a twofold action: it is the word of crisis and judgment, and it is the creative word of renewal and regeneration. If anyone is in the Truth, there is a new creation (cp. 2 Cor. 5:17). Judgment is followed by the new heavens and new earth (2 Pet. 3:13), and the universal restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). The light that judges us, transfigures and saves us (Jn. 12:47). In Thy light we see light (Ps. 35:10). The supreme message of the Psalter is that the vision of God, to know and love Him, to trust and obey Him; and to offer Him the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving is eternal life and happiness (Jn. 6:40; 17:3; Lk. 10:25- 28; 1 Pet. 1:8f).
The Psalms are the Bible
in miniature. By a kind of divine tom-tom they drum into our
truth that we meet God in the world of persons, things and events. Here
we are to pass through the visible and transient to the invisible and
the initiative always rests with God. The word of God comes out of the
into the here, and breaks into our life from beyond us. The Bible is a
God’s search for man. The people of God are not those who have a
or natural genius for religion. Far from it. All the saints would agree
they had a natural bent for unbelief and waywardness, but for the grace
We love because He first loved us (1
Jn. 4:19). When we were still
sinners Christ died for us (
In the Psalms David speaks as if he were not going to die, as if God would not leave him in hell or allow him to see corruption (15:10). Yet David died and his Kingdom vanished. Now hear the Apostle Peter at Pentecost:
Men and brethren, I can speak freely to you about the Patriarch David: he died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. But being a prophet, he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of Christ, when he said that his soul would not be left in hell, nor would his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised to life, and we are all His witnesses (Acts 2:29f).
The Psalms were the utterances of both David and Christ. God Who spoke in David and Who became incarnate as the Son of David was speaking of His own coming into visibility as the divine Messiah and of His plan of salvation. This plan is only fully revealed in its fulfilment, when men are filled with the Holy Spirit of God. The incarnation of the Word as the visible image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15) is the supreme demonstration of the divine initiative and intervention. It is the climax of God’s search for man and the discovery and redemption of the lost image and likeness in the Saviour’s death and resurrection.
A striking and mysterious
figure looms larger and larger, and gradually takes shape, as we read
re-read the Psalms. He is the Son of God, appointed King on
The Psalms foreshadow in figure and symbol the way of life and freedom fully revealed only in the New Adam (Rom. 5:12f., 1 Cor. 15:21f.), the New Noah, father of the new race who rise from the baptismal waters (1 Pet. 3:20f; 2 Pet. 2:5), the Prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:15, 18; Jn. 1:21, 46; 6:14, 32; Acts 3:22). So He explains the miracle of the bronze serpent which Moses fixed to a sign-post or standard and which brought a change of heart (Num. 21:9): As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life (Jn. 3:14).
But the crucial and
decisive event of the old covenant history was the Exodus from
As Moses led the Hebrew slaves out of Egyptian bondage through the Red Sea towards the Promised Land and celebrated their escape or deliverance by the sacrifice of the Passover Lamb, so Christ the true Lamb of God by His sacrifice on the cross leads men through the red sea of His life-giving blood out of the real slavery of sin into the glorious freedom of the children of God, which is heaven on earth or the Promised Land. The great theme of history is the conflict between belief and unbelief. Human societies like human beings live by faith and die when faith dies (Rom. 1:17; Jas. 2:20). Faith is the light in which we see God. As we grow in faith and love, the mystery and unity of the Exodus and Christ’s Passover becomes more and more a matter of personal experience. Yet the experience is not the essential reality, but only an effect of the reality which is infinitely beyond experience, namely God in us: Christ in you (Col. 1).
By faith in Christ (Jn. 5:24) and by the new birth (Jn. 3:3-5) we enter a new dimension of life and become amphibians, living at once in time and eternity. We are at the same time in the wilderness and in the Promised Land. Our life is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). God has enthroned us with Christ in heaven (Eph. 2:6). The Songs of Zion will tell us again and again that by faith we are Christ’s body in this world (1 Cor. 12:27) and that He lives in us (Col. 1:27; 2:6; Gal. 2:20). Be what you are! they keep saying. Be forgiven, be reconciled, be friends with God, be clean, be free, be filled with the Spirit, be whole, be holy, be children of God, be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven! (Phil. 3:20)
Some people object to parts of the Psalms because they seem to contradict the Divine law of love taught by Christ. But the mystery of the divine wrath and vengeance reveals the total incompatibility of evil with the divine nature. You who love the Lord, hate evil (Ps.96:10; Rom. 12:9). Judgment and vengeance belong to God and must be left to Him (Dt. 32:35). God’s judgment is His appearance, manifestation, epiphany (Pss. 49:1-4; 79:2; 93:1). In its fullness this appearing or manifestation refers to the incarnation, when Christ becomes the visible criterion in Whose light we see light (Ps. 35:10). All the evil and malice of the world culminates in the crucifixion of Christ. When vengeance is left to God, it takes the form of the agony and death of the God-man. God takes His own medicine. With Christ we are to hate the reign of evil, the vile spirits and passions that prevent the reign of Christ in our hearts and in the world. As we hate and forsake sin, we become free to love and pray and labour for God’s reign and rule on earth.
Spiritual things must be
spiritually understood. People contrast spirit and letter. But what letter is there in the Word of God Who says Himself, My words are spirit and life (Jn. 6:63)?
Truly the letter kills (2 Cor. 3:6).
To a literalist the message and meaning of the Bible is bound to elude
meticulous search. The resident aliens whom God’s people are to drive
Other people object that they cannot sincerely say with some of the Psalms that they are blameless, innocent, faithful, holy; it seems hypocritical. Still others say that they do not share the agony and suffering of the Psalmist, that their knees are not weak from fasting, and how can they give thanks for joys and victories they have never experienced? The trouble with all these people is that they have lost the sense of solidarity and unity with all mankind in Christ, still less do they have a sense of the unity of all being in God.
After Pentecost when the Spirit restored men to unity, we read, The whole body of believers had one heart and soul, and none of them called any of his possessions his own, but everything was shared as common property (Acts 4:32). We cannot repeat too often that the Psalms refer to Christ and can be applied fully only to Him. But it is Christ in you Who is the hope of glory for you (Col. 1:27). He ever lives to make intercession in you, with you, for you (Heb. 7:25). The Psalms teach us to enlarge our hearts or consciousness to embrace all mankind. Remember those who suffer as if you shared their pain (Heb. 13:3).
Today we hear much of the priesthood of the laity. The Psalms, if used aright, compel us to exercise our priesthood and act as the voice of all mankind in Christ, the one Mediator Priest and Intercessor. We even act as the mouth of all dumb creation to thank and glorify God for His goodness. The Angels in heaven and all God’s creatures are invited to join the divine praises. To Him Who loves us and has washed us from our sins in His own blood and made us a kingdom of priests to serve His God and Father, to Him be glory and triumph throughout endless ages (Rev. 1:5). As we pray with and for all mankind, we get a vision of hidden realities visible only to the eyes of faith, and we actually begin to see God’s new creation taking shape. When He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 Jn. 3:2). If we are faithful, God will keep us till the end. So St. Athanasius explains Psalm 93:14 thus: The Lord will guard His people in their troubles and afflictions, and He will direct and guide them until His justice returns in judgment, that is, until Christ judges the world; for God has made Him our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness and our redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). But disobedience always incurs God’s Judgment (Jer. 44).
Og, Sehon, Pharaoh are so
many troubles and trials. There is plenty of suffering and misery on
Tim. 3:12). We make use of it aright when we offer it in union with the
sufferings of Christ. In union with Christ our sufferings assume
redemptive value, just as a drop of water thrown into a great river
that the river does (
All the Psalms have as
their aim the glorification of God. They were sung in the
At the time when the Psalms were written they were not of such use to those among whom they were written as they are to us, for they were written to foretell the New Covenant among those who lived under the Old Covenant (St. Augustine). The one great theme is Christ in regard to His inner life as the God-man and in His past, present and future relations with the Church and the world. The Psalter is the expression of the heart of the true man. It is the prophetic portrait of the mind and heart of the coming Saviour. God speaks to men in human words. What wonderful beauty there is in the words, Let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice (140), when applied to the one great sacrifice of our Redemption which was offered in the evening of the world and on the eve of the Passover by the stretching out of the Saviour’s hands to embrace all mankind on the Cross! This we sing daily at Vespers. What profound significance we can see in the words, I will not die but live and proclaim the works of the Lord (117:17), when we refer them to the morning of the Resurrection and that first Easter Day, and the commission to the Apostles to make disciples of all nations! This we sing daily at Matins. On Easter Day itself we sing. This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (117:24). And every day is the new day fresh from the and of the living God, so let us keep festival 1 Cor. 5:8).
The inspiration of the Psalms as an integral part of inspired Scripture is vouched for and guaranteed by Christ the Truth, Who asked the Pharisees: How is it that David, inspired by the Spirit, calls Christ Lord, saying, (Ps. 109:1). The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand till I put Thy enemies under Thy feet.’ If David calls Him Lord, how can He be his son? (Mt. 22:43-45). Christ classes the Psalms, the chief book of the Chetubim or Hagiographa, with the Law and the Prophets (Lk. 24:44). Inspiration is explicitly defined in 2 Tim. 3:16 and 2 Pet. 1:20, 21.
The title of Psalm 89
attributes it to Moses. The psalm itself recalls how the first
Israelites were doomed to die in the wilderness for their infidelity
So about 1280 B.C. some of the Psalms were probably being sung. The
ascribe 84 of the 150 to David, who lived about 1000 B.C. So the
the Psalms are well over 3000 years old, and the compilation covered
1000 years. There are indications of editing at different dates. For
after Psalm 71 an editor has added: The
songs of David the son of Jesse are ended. But later we meet more
attributed to David, evidently inserted by other editors (90, 92, 93
Book of Psalms was perhaps completed for the Jewish canon by about 300
Greek translation was made in
We cannot summarize the matter of authorship better than by quoting the words of St. Gregory the Dialogist: Who was the author? A very useless question as soon as we believe that the book was the work of the Holy Spirit Who dictated what was to be written. If we received a letter from a great personage, would we be curious to know what pen he used to write it?
Besides studying the past, we can sing songs about it. That is what the Psalmists did. The whole history of the world as recorded in the Old Testament, from the creation of the universe till after the Babylonian Exile, is put into poetry by the Psalmists. Psalm 136 looks back to the Babylonian Exile as a thing of the past (cp. also Ps. 125).
The Psalms form a single book. So our Lord refers to them (Lk. 20:42), and so do His Apostles (Acts 1:20). The Orthodox Church has divided the Psalter into 20 kathismas or sessions (perhaps because it is customary to sit during the reading of a kathisma). Each kathisma is further divided into 3 sections, marked by a Glory. At each Glory it is customary to stand and sing as follows:
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Glory to Thee, O God.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Glory to Thee, O God.
Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia. Glory to Thee, O God.
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
Effect of the Psalms
People talk of haunted
houses. The Psalter is a house of prayer haunted by the Spirit of
inspired the Psalms. Used aright, they cannot fail to lift us above and
ourselves. They confront us with God and we find ourselves haunted by
and gradually brought face to face with Him. They bring our hearts and
the presence of the living God. They fill our minds with His truth in
unite us with His love. The saints and fathers of the Church, like the
patriarchs and prophets of
The Church functions as a
voice. Its ministers are servants of the
word (Lk. 1:2). The word of life was
made visible. Life is a Person. The eternal life that was with the
made visible to us. What we have seen and heard we declare to you, that
share our fellowship, the life we share with the Father and His Son in
unity of the Spirit, that our joy may be complete (1 Jn. 1:1-4). In one who is obedient to His word, the divine
love has indeed reached perfection (1 Jn. 2:5). In the Psalms many
are audible. Sometimes it is the Psalmist who speaks, sometimes a fool,
And the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come’. And let everyone who hears say, ‘Come’. And let everyone who is thirsty come, and let everyone who has the will to do so take the water of life as a free gift (Rev. 22:17). Here the Spirit of God and the Church with one voice invite every living soul to come to the only fountain of life and happiness. Then every listening soul is told to cry out of the depths of his hunger and need, Come! Finally the thirsty and needy and willing are told to come and receive the water of life freely.
Here we have two comings: the final coming of Christ to the world and the coming of each soul to Christ. In fact, Christ comes to us continually in all the changes and chances of our lives, supremely in the mystery of communion (1 Cor. 11:23-30; Jn. 6:31- 58), and in many special manifestations of His real presence (Jn. 14:19-23). The Psalms tell us that we cannot find satisfaction in sin or work or riches or culture or honour and glory. But in Jesus we find here and now satisfaction and happiness, pardon, purity and peace: Happy are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Christ), for they will be satisfied (Mt. 5:6). Pardon: In Him we have the forgiveness of our sins (Eph. 1:7). Purity: He has washed us from our sins in His own blood (Rev. 1:5). Peace: My peace I give you (Jn. 14:27). He is our peace (Eph. 2:14).
And so we watch in eager expectation for the coming of the Son of God in power and glory, praying and working for that golden age foreseen and foretold by the holy Prophets where God’s will of perfect love is done on earth as it is in heaven. Let us take as our motto the words of the Psalmist: I will live to please the Lord in the land of the living (Ps. 114:9), the Promised Land, the honeycomb of the earth (Ez. 20:6 LXX), peace beyond all understanding (Phil. 4:7), the joy of the Lord (Mt. 25:23), heaven within you (Lk. 17:21), divine life in the soul of man (2 Cor. 5:15), sharing the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). He who has the Son has the life (1 Jn. 5:12). Come, Lord Jesus (Rev. 22:20).
If we keep vigil in church, David comes first, last and central. If early in the morning we want songs and hymns, first, last and central is David again. If we are occupied with the funeral solemnities of those who have fallen asleep, or if virgins sit at home and spin, David is first, last and central. O amazing wonder! Many who have made little progress in literature know the Psalter by heart. Nor is it only in cities and churches that David is famous; in the village market, in the desert, and in uninhabitable land, he excites the praise of God. In monasteries, among those holy choirs of angelic armies, David is first, last and central. In the convents of virgins, where are the communities of those who imitate Mary; in the deserts where there are men crucified to the world, who live their life in heaven with God, David is first, last and central. All other men at night are overcome by sleep. David alone is active, and gathering the servants of God into seraphic bands, he turns earth into heaven, and converts men into angels.