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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VIII:
Expositions on the Book of Psalms.: Beth.

Early Church Fathers  Index     


9. “Wherewithal shall a young man correct his way? even by keeping Thy words” (Psa. 119.9). He questioneth himself, and answereth himself. “Wherewithal?” So far it is a question: next cometh the answer, “even by keeping Thy words.” But in this place the keeping of the words of God, must be understood as the obeying His commandments in deed: for they are kept in memory in vain, if they are not kept in life also. But what is meant by “young man” here? For he might have said, wherewithal shall any one (homo) correct his way? or, wherewithal shall a man (vir) correct his way? which is usually put by the Scriptures in such a way, that the whole human race is understood.…But in this passage he saith neither any one, nor a man, but, “a young man.” Is then an old man to be despaired of? or doth an old man correct his way by any other means than by ruling himself after God’s word? Or is it perhaps an admonition at what age we ought chiefly to correct our way; according to what is elsewhere written, “My son, gather instruction from thy youth up: so shalt thou find wisdom till thy gray hairs.” 5138 There is another mode of interpreting it, by recognising in the expression the younger son in the Gospel, 5139 who returned to himself, and said, “I will arise and go to my father.” 5140 Wherewithal did he correct his way, save by ruling himself after the words of God, which he desired as one longing for his father’s bread.…

10. “With my whole heart,” he saith, “have I sought thee; O repel me not from Thy commandments” (Psa. 119.10). Behold, he prayeth that he may be aided to keep the words of God, wherewith he had said that the young man corrected his way. For this is the meaning of the words, “O repel me not from Thy commandments:” for what is it to be repelled of God, save not to be aided? For human infirmity is not equal to obeying His righteous and exalted commandments, unless His love doth prevent p. 562 and aid. But those whom He aideth not, these He is justly said to repel.…

11. “Thy words have I hid within my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Psa. 119.11). He at once sought the Divine aid, lest the words of God might be hidden without fruit in his heart, unless works of righteousness followed. For after saying this, he added, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord, teach me Thy righteousnesses” (Psa. 119.12). “Teach me,” he saith, as they learn who do them; not as they who merely remember them, that they may have somewhat to speak of. Why then doth he say, “Teach me Thy righteousnesses,” save because he wisheth to learn them by deeds, not by speaking or retaining them in his memory? Since then, as it is read in another Psalm, “He shall give blessing, who gave the law;” 5141 therefore, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord,” he saith, “O teach me Thy righteousness.” For because I have hidden Thy words in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee, Thou hast given a law; give also the blessing of Thy grace, that by doing right I may learn what Thou by teaching hast commanded.…

12. “With my lips have I been telling of all the judgments of Thy mouth” (Psa. 119.13); that is, I have kept silent nothing of Thy judgments, which Thou didst will should become known to me through Thy words, but I have been telling of all of them without exception with my lips. This he seemeth to me to signify, since he saith not, all Thy judgments, but, “all the judgments of Thy mouth;” that is, which Thou hast revealed unto me: that by His mouth we may understand His word, which He hath discovered unto us in many revelations of the Saints, and in the two Testaments; all which judgments the Church ceaseth not to declare at all times with her lips.

13. “I have had as great delight in the way Thy testimonies, as in all manner of riches” (Psa. 119.14). We understand that there is no more speedy, no more sure, no shorter, no higher way of the testimonies of God than Christ, “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” 5142 Thence he saith that he hath had as great delight in this way, as in all riches. Those are the testimonies, by which He deigneth to prove unto us how much He loveth us. 5143

14. “I will talk of Thy commandments, and have respect unto Thy ways” 5144 (Psa. 119.15). And thus the Church doth exercise herself in the commandments of God, by speaking in the copious disputations of the learned against all the enemies of the Christian and Catholic faith; which are fruitful to those who compose them, if nothing but the ways of the Lord is regarded in them; but “All the ways of the Lord are,” as it is written, “mercy and truth;” 5145 the fulness of which both is found in Christ. Through this sweet exercise is gained also what he subjoineth: “My meditation shall be in Thy statutes, and I will not forget Thy word” (Psa. 119.16). “My meditation” shall be therein, that I may not forget them. Thus the blessed man in the first Psalm “shall meditate in the law” of the Lord “day and night.” 5146



Ecclesiasticus 6.18.


Luke xv. 12, etc.


Luke xv. 18.


Ps. lxxxiv. 6. “The rain also,” etc.


Col. ii. 3.


Rom. 5:8, 9, John 14:6, Rom. 8:32.


[He says: “The Greek word is, ‡δολεσχήσω, which the Latin translators have rendered sometimes by ‘talking,’ sometimes by ‘being exercised in:’ and these seem different from one another: but if the exercise of the understanding be understood, with a certain delight in uttering, they are connected with one another, and one thing, in a manner, is made up of both, so that talking is not foreign to this sort of exercise.”—C.]


Ps. xxvi. 9.


Ps. xxv. 10.

Next: Gimel.

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