Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VIII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Expositions on the Book of Psalms.: Lamed.
89. The man who speaketh in this Psalm, as if he were tired of human mutability, whence this life is full of temptations, among his tribulations, on account of which he had above said, “The wicked have persecuted me;” 5255 and, “They have almost made an end of me upon earth” 5256 (Psa. 119.89); burning with longings for the heavenly Jerusalem; looked up to the realms above, and said, “O Lord, Thy word endureth for ever in heaven;” that is, among Thy Angels who serve everlastingly in Thine armies, without desertion.
90. But the next verse, after heaven, pertaineth consequently to earth. For this is one verse of the eight which relate to this letter. For eight verses are appended to each of these Hebrew letters, 5257 until this long Psalm be ended. “Thy truth also remaineth from one generation to the other: Thou hast laid the foundation of the earth, and it abideth” (Psa. 119.90). Beholding therefore the earth next after heaven with the gaze of a faithful mind, he findeth in it generations which are not in heaven, and saith, “Thy truth remaineth from one generation to the other:” signifying all generations by this expression, from which the Truth of God was never absent in His saints, at one time fewer, at one time more in number, according as the times happened or shall happen to vary; or wishing two particular generations to be understood, one pertaining to the Law and the Prophets, another to the Gospel.…
91. “Day continueth according to Thy ordinance” (Psa. 119.91). For all these things are day: “and this is the day which the Lord hath made: let us rejoice and be glad in it:” 5258 and “let us walk honestly as in the day.” 5259 “For all things serve Thee.” He said all things of some: “all” which belong to this day “serve Thee.” For the ungodly of whom it is said, “I have compared thy mother unto the night,” 5260 do not serve Thee.
92. He then looketh back towards the source of this earths deliverance, which caused it to abide when founded; and addeth, “If my delight had not been in Thy law, I should perchance have perished in my humiliation” (Psa. 119.92). This is the law of faith, not a vain faith, but that which worketh through love. 5261 Through this grace is gained, which maketh men courageous in temporal tribulation, that they may not perish in the humiliation of mortality.
93. “I will never forget,” he saith, “Thy righteousnesses, for with them Thou hast quickened me” (Psa. 119.93). Behold how it was that he did not perish in his humiliation. For, save God quickeneth, what is man, Who can indeed kill, but cannot quicken himself?
94. He next addeth: “I am Thine: O save me, for I have sought Thy righteousnesses” (Psa. 119.94). We must not understand lightly the words, “I am Thine.” For what is not His? 5262 Why then is it that the Psalmist hath commended himself unto God somewhat in a more familiar sense, in these words, “I am Thine: O save me;” save because he wished it to be understood that he had desired to be his own only to his harm, which is the first and the greatest evil of disobedience? and as if he should say, I wished to be my own, and I lost myself: “I am Thine,” he saith, “O save me, for I have sought Thy righteousnesses;” not my own inclinations, whereby I was my own, but “Thy righteousnesses,” that I might now be Thine.
95. “The ungodly,” he saith, “have awaited me that they might destroy me; but I have understood Thy testimonies” (Psa. 119.95). What meaneth, “that they might destroy me”? Did he then fear that he should perish altogether at the death of his body? God forbid! and what meaneth, “have awaited me,” save that he should consent with them unto iniquity? For then they would destroy him. And he hath said why he hath not perished: “I understood Thy testimonies.” The Greek word, Μαρτύρια, soundeth more familiarly to the ears of the Church. For though they should slay me not consenting unto them, yet while I confessed Thy testimonies (martyria) I should not perish; but they who, that they might destroy me, were waiting till I should consent unto them, tortured me even when I did confess them. Yet he did not leave that which he had understood, looking on it and seeing an end without end, if only he should persevere unto the end.
96. Lastly, he next saith, “I have seen an end of all consummation: but Thy commandment is exceeding broad” (Psa. 119.96). For he had entered into the sanctuary of God, and had understood the end. 5263 Now “all consummation” appeareth to me in this place to signify, the striving even unto death for the truth, 5264 and the endurance of every evil for the true and chief good: the end of which consummation is to excel in the kingdom of Christ, which hath no end; and there to have without death, without pain, and p. 576 with great honour, life, acquired by the death of this life, and by sorrows and reproaches. But in what he hath added, “Thy commandment is exceeding broad;” I understand only love. For what would it have profited him, whatever death impended over him, in the midst of whatsoever torment, to confess those testimonies, if love were not in the confessor?…Broad therefore is the commandment of charity, that twofold commandment, whereby we are enjoined to love God and our neighbour. But what is broader than that, “on” which “hang all the Law and the Prophets”? 5265
Ps. cxix. 86.575:5256
Ps. cxix. 87.575:5257
Ps. cxviii. 24.575:5259
Rom. xiii. 13.575:5260
Hosea iv. 5, LXX.575:5261
Gal. v. 6.575:5262
Ps. xxiv. 1.575:5263
Ps. lxxiii. 17.575:5264
Matt. xxii. 37-40.
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