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NPNF1-08. St. Augustine: Exposition on the Book of Psalms
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Cheth.

57. Let us hear what followeth: “I have promised to keep Thy law.” What meaneth, “My portion, O Lord: I have promised to keep Thy law” (ver. 57); save because the Lord will be each man’s portion then, when he hath kept His law? Consider therefore what he subjoineth: “I entreated Thy face, with my whole heart:” and saying in what manner he prayed: “O be merciful,” he saith, “unto me, according to Thy word” (ver. 58). And as if he had been heard and aided by Him whom he prayed unto, “I thought,” he saith, “on mine own ways, and turned away my feet unto Thy testimonies” (ver. 59). That is, I turned them away from mine own ways, which displeased me, that they might follow Thy testimonies, and there might find a path. For most of the copies have not, “Because I thought,” as is read in some; but only, “I thought.” But what is here written, “and I turned away my feet:” some read, “Because I thought, Thou also hast turned away my feet:” that this may rather be ascribed to the grace of God, according to the Apostle’s words, “For it is God who worketh in us.”52125212     Philip. ii. 13.

58. Lastly, when he had received this blessing of grace, he saith, “I was ready, and was not disturbed, that I may keep Thy commandments” (ver. 60). Which some have rendered, “to keeping Thy commandments,” some “that I should keep,” others “to keep,” the Greek being τοῦ φυλ€ξασθαι.

59. But in what manner he was ready to keep the divine commandments, he hath added, in these words: “The bands of the ungodly have surrounded me: but I have not forgotten Thy law” (ver. 61). “The bands of the ungodly” are the hindrances of our enemies, whether spiritual, as the devil and his angels, or carnal, the children of disobedience, in whom the devil worketh.52135213     Eph. ii. 2. For this word peccatorum is not from peccata, “sins;” but from peccatores, “sinners.” Therefore when they threaten evils, with which to alarm the righteous, that they may not suffer for the law of God, they, so to speak, entangle them with bands, with a strong and tough cord of their own. For “they draw iniquity like a long rope,”52145214     Isa. v. 18. and thus endeavour to entangle the holy, and sometimes are allowed so to do.

60. “At midnight,” he saith, “I rise to give thanks unto Thee: because of Thy righteous judgments” (ver. 62). This very fact, that the bands of the ungodly surround the righteous, is one of the righteous judgments of God. On which account the Apostle Peter saith, “The time is come when judgment must begin at the house of the Lord.”52155215     1 Pet. iv. 17. For he saith this of the persecutions which the Church suffered, when the bands of the ungodly surrounded them. I suppose, therefore, that by “midnight” we should understand the heavier seasons of tribulation. In which he said, “I arose:” since He did not so afflict him, as to cast him down; but tried him, so that he arose, that is, that through this very tribulation he might advance unto a bolder confession.

61. For I imagine that what followeth, “I am a companion of all them that fear Thee, and keep Thy commandments” (ver. 63), doth relate to the Head Himself, as it is in the Epistle which is inscribed to the Hebrews: “Both He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren.”52165216     Heb. ii. 11, 14. …Therefore Jesus Himself speaketh in this prophecy: some things in His Members and in the Unity of His Body, as if in one man diffused over the whole world, and growing up in succession throughout the roll of ages: and some things in Himself our Head. And on this account, that since He became the companion of His brethren, God of men, the Immortal of the mortal, for this reason the seed fell upon the earth, that by its death it might produce much fruit; he next addeth concerning this very fruit, “The earth, O Lord, is full of Thy mercy” (ver. 64). And whence this, save when the ungodly is justified? That we may make progress in the knowledge of this grace, he addeth, “O teach me Thy righteousnesses!”


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