Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VIII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Expositions on the Book of Psalms.: Pe.
128. “Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore hath my soul searched them” (Psa. 119.129). Who counteth, even by their kinds, the testimonies of God? Heaven and earth, His visible and invisible works, declare in some manner the testimony of His goodness and greatness; and the very ordinary and accustomed course of nature, whereby the seasons are rapidly revolved, in all things after their kinds, however temporal and perishable, however held cheap through our constant experience of them, give, if a pious thinker give heed to them, a testimony to the Creator. But which of these is not wonderful, if we measure each not by its habitual presence, but by reason? But if we venture to bring all nature within the comprehensive view of one act of contemplation, doth not that take place in us which the prophet describeth, “I considered Thy works, and trembled”? 5319 Yet the Psalmist was not terrified in his wonder at creation, but rather said that this was the reason that he ought to search it, because it was wonderful. For after saying, “Thy testimonies are wonderful,” he addeth, “therefore hath my soul searched them;” as if he had become more curious from the difficulty of thoroughly searching them. For the more abstruse are the causes of anything, the more wonderful it is…
129. “When thy word goeth forth,” he saith, “it giveth light, and maketh His little ones to understand” (Psa. 119.130). What is the little one save the humble and weak? Be not proud therefore, presume not in thine own strength, which is nought; and thou wilt understand why a good law was given by a good God, though it cannot give life. For it was given for this end, that it might make thee a little one instead of great, that it might show that thou hadst not strength to do the law of thine own power: and that thus, wanting aid and destitute, thou mightest fly unto grace, saying, “Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak.” 5320 …Let all be little ones, and let all the world be guilty before Thee: because “by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified” in Thy sight; “for by the Law is the knowledge of sin,” etc. 5321 These are Thy wonderful testimonies, which the soul of this little one hath searched; and hath therefore found, because he became humbled and a little one. For who doth Thy commandments as they ought to be done, that is, by “faith which worketh through love,” 5322 save love itself be shed abroad in his heart through the Holy Spirit? 5323
130. This is confessed by this little one; “I opened my mouth,” he saith, “and drew in the spirit: for I longed for Thy commandments” (Psa. 119.131). What did he long for, save to obey the divine commandments? But there was no possibility of the weak doing hard things, the little one great things: he opened his mouth, confessing that he could not do them of himself: and drew in power to do them: he opened his mouth, by seeking, asking, knocking: 5324 and athirst drank in the good Spirit, which enabled him to do what he could not do by himself, “the commandment holy and just and good.” 5325 Not that they themselves who “are led by the Spirit of God,” 5326 do nothing; but that they may not do nothing good, they are moved to act by the good Spirit. For so much the more is every man made a good son, in proportion as the good Spirit is given unto Him by the Father in a greater measure.
131. He still prayeth. He hath opened his mouth, and drawn in the Spirit; but he still knocketh in prayer unto the Father, and seeketh: he drinketh, but the more sweet he findeth it, the more eagerly doth he thirst. Hear the words of him in his thirst. “O look Thou upon me,” he saith, “and be merciful unto me: according to the judgment of those that love Thy Name” (Psa. 119.132): that is, according to the judgment Thou has dealt unto all who love Thy Name; since Thou hast first loved them, to cause them to love Thee. For thus saith the Apostle John, “We love God, because He first loved us.” 5327
132. See what the Psalmist next most openly saith: “Order my steps after Thy word: and so shall no wickedness have dominion over me” (Psa. 119.133). Where what else doth he say than this, Make me upright and free according to Thy promise. But so much the more as the love of God reigneth in every man, so much the less hath wickedness dominion over him. What else then doth he seek than that by the gift of God he may love God? For by loving God he loveth himself, so that he may healthily love his neighbour also as himself: on which commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets. 5328 What then doth he pray, save that God may cause the fulfillment by His help of those commandments which He imposeth by His bidding?
133. But what meaneth this that he saith, “O deliver me from the calumnies of men: so shall I keep Thy commandments”? (Psa. 119.134)…p. 583 Did not the holy people of God much the more gloriously keep the commandments among these very calumnies, when they were at their hottest in the midst of tribulations, when they yielded not to their persecutors to commit impieties? But, in truth, the meaning of these words is this: Do Thou, by pouring upon me Thy Spirit, guard me from being overcome by the terrors of human calumny, and from being drawn over to their evil deeds away from Thy commandments. For if Thou hast thus dealt with me, that is, if Thou hast in this manner delivered me by the gift of patience from their calumnies, so that I fear not the false charges they prefer against me; among those very calumnies I will keep Thy commandments.
134. “Show the light of Thy countenance on Thy servant, and teach me thy statutes” (Psa. 119.135): that is, manifest Thy presence, by succouring and aiding me. “And teach me Thy righteousnesses.” Teach me to work them: as it is more plainly expressed elsewhere, “Teach me to do Thy will.” 5329 For they who hear, although they retain in their memories what they hear, are by no means to be considered to have learnt, unless they do. For it is the word of Truth: “Every man that hath heard and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me.” 5330 He therefore who obeyeth not in deed, that is, who cometh not, hath not learnt.
135. “My eyes have descended streams of waters, because they have not kept Thy law” (Psa. 119.136): that is, my eyes. For in some copies there is this reading, “Because I have not kept Thy law, streams of waters” therefore “descended,” that is, floods of tears. 5331 …
Hab. iii. 2.582:5320
Ps. vi. 2.582:5321
Rom. iii. 19-21.582:5322
Gal. v. 6.582:5323
Rom. v. 5.582:5324
Matt. vii. 7.582:5325
Rom. vii. 12.582:5326
Rom. viii. 14.582:5327
1 John iv. 19.582:5328
Matt. xxii. 37-40.583:5329
Ps. cxliii. 10.583:5330
John vi. 45.583:5331
[He adds: “There are copies which do not read descended, but overpassed, meaning that he said hyperbolically, that in weeping he had overpast streams of waters, that is, by weeping more than the waters flow in their streams.”—C.]
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