Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VIII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Expositions on the Book of Psalms.: Psalm CXIII
Psalm CXIII. 5030
1. …When ye hear sung in the Psalms, “Praise the Lord, ye children” (Psa. 113.1); imagine not that that exhortation pertaineth not unto you, because having already passed the youth of the body, ye are either blooming in the prime of manhood, or growing gray with the honours of old age: for unto all of you the Apostle saith, “Brethren, be not children in understanding; howbeit, in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.” 5031 What malice in particular, save pride? For it is pride that, presuming in false greatness, suffereth not man to walk along the narrow path, and to enter by the narrow gate; but the child easily entereth through the narrow entrance; and thus no man, save as a child, entereth into the kingdom of heaven. “Praise the Name of the Lord.”…Let Him therefore be alway proclaimed: “Blessed be the Name of the Lord, from this time forth for evermore” (Psa. 113.2). Let Him be proclaimed everywhere: “From the rising up of the sun unto the going down of the same, praise ye the Name of the Lord” (Psa. 113.3).
2. If any of the holy children who praise the Name of the Lord were to ask of me and say to me, “for evermore” I understand to mean unto all eternity: but why “from this,” and why is not the Name of the Lord blessed before this, and before all ages? I will answer the infant, who asketh not in contumacy. Unto you it is said, masters and children, unto you it is said, “Praise the Name of the Lord; blessed be the Name of the Lord:” let the Name of the Lord be blessed, “from this,” that is, from the moment ye speak these words. For ye begin to praise, but praise ye without end.…Or, since in this passage he seemeth to signify rather humility than childhood, the contrary of which is the vain and false greatness of pride; and for this reason none but children praise the Lord, since the proud know not how to praise Him; let old age be childlike, and your childhood like old age; that is, that neither may your wisdom be with pride, nor your humility without wisdom, that ye may “praise the Lord from this for evermore.” Wherever the Church of Christ is diffused in her childlike saints, “Praise ye the Name of the Lord;” that is, “from the rising up of the sun unto the going down of the same.”
3. “The Lord is high above all heathen” (Psa. 113.4). The heathen are men: what wonder if the Lord be above all men? They see with their eyes those whom they worship high above themselves to shine in heaven, the sun and moon and stars, creatures which they serve while they p. 549 neglect the Creator. But not only “is the Lord high above all heathen;” but “His glory” also “is above the heavens.” The heavens look up unto Him above themselves; and the humble have Him together with them, who do not worship the heavens instead of Him, though placed in the flesh beneath the heavens.
4. “Who is like unto the Lord our God, that hath His dwelling so high; and yet beholdeth the humble?” (Psa. 113.5). Any one would think that He dwelleth in the lofty heavens, whence He may behold the humble things on earth; but “He beholdeth the humble things that are in heaven and earth” (Psa. 113.6): what then is His high dwelling, whence He beholdeth the humble things that are in heaven and earth? Are the humble things He beholdeth His own high dwelling itself? For He thus exalteth the humble, so as not to make them proud. He therefore both dwelleth in those whom He raiseth high, and maketh them heaven for Himself, that is, His own abode; and by seeing them not proud, but constantly subject to Himself, He beholdeth even in heaven itself these very humble things, in whom raised on high He dwelleth. For the Spirit thus speaketh through Isaiah: “Thus saith the Highest that dwelleth on high, that inhabiteth eternity; the Lord Most High, dwelling in the holy.” He hath expounded what He meant by dwelling on high, by the more full expression, “dwelling in the holy.”…
5. And he hath moved us also to enquire whether the Lord our God beholdeth the same humble things in heaven and in earth: or different humble things in heaven to what He beholdeth on earth.…But if the Lord our God beholdeth other humble things in heaven to what He doth on earth; I suppose that He already beholdeth in heaven those whom He hath called, and in whom He dwelleth; while on earth He beholdeth those whom He is now calling, that He may dwell in them. For He hath the one with Him musing on heavenly things, the others He is waking, while they yet dream things earthly. But since it is difficult to call even those humble, who have not as yet submitted their necks in piety to the gracious yoke of Christ, since the divine writings throughout the whole Psalm warn us to understand holy by the word humble; there is also another interpretation, which, Beloved, ye may consider with me. I believe that those are now meant by heavens who shall sit upon twelve thrones, and shall judge with the Lord; 5032 and under the name of the earth, the rest of the multitude of the blessed, who shall be set on the right hand, that through works of mercy they may be praised and received into everlasting habitations by those whom they have made friends to themselves from the mammon of unrighteousness in this mortal life. 5033 …
6. “He taketh up the destitute out of the dust, and lifteth the poor out of the mire” (Psa. 113.7); “that He may set Him with the princes, even with the princes of His people” (Psa. 113.8). Let not then the heads of the exalted disdain to be humble, beneath the Lords right hand. For though the faithful steward of the Lords money be placed together with the princes of the people of God, although he be destined to sit on the twelve seats, and even to judge angels; 5034 yet he is taken up destitute from the dust, and lifted from out of the mire. Was not he possibly lifted up from the mire, who “served divers lusts and pleasures”?…
7. What then, brethren, if we have already heard of those humble things which are in heaven, lifted up from the mire, that they might be set with the princes of the people; have we by consequence heard nothing of the humble things which the Lord beholdeth on the earth? For those friends who will judge with their Lord are fewer, while those whom they receive into everlasting habitations are more in number. For although the whole of a heap of corn compared with the separate chaff may seem to contain few in number; yet considered by itself, it is abundant.…The Church then speaketh thus in that sense, wherein she seemeth to bear no offspring among those crowds who have not given up all things, that they might follow the Lord, and might sit upon the twelve thrones. 5035 But how many in the same crowd, who make unto themselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, 5036 shall stand on the right hand through works of mercy? He not only then lifteth up from the mire him whom He is to place with the princes of His people; but also, “Maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children” (Psa. 113.9): He who dwelleth on high, and beholdeth the humble things that are in heaven and earth, the seed of Abraham like the stars of heaven, holiness set on high in heavenly habitations; and like the sand on the sea shore, a merciful and countless multitude gathered together from the harmful waves, and the bitterness of impiety.
Lat. CXII. A discourse to the people.548:5031
1 Cor. 14:20, Matt. 18:3.549:5032
Matt. xix. 28.549:5033
Luke xvi. 9.549:5034
Matt. xix. 28.549:5035
Matt. xix. 28.549:5036
Luke xvi. 9.
Next: Psalm CXIV
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