Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume VIII/Expositions on the Book of Psalms/Psalm XXVII
Of David himself, before he was anointed.
1. Christ’s young soldier speaketh, on his coming to the faith. “The Lord is my light, and my salvation: whom shall I fear?” (ver. 1). The Lord will give me both knowledge of Himself, and salvation: who shall take me from Him? “The Lord is the Protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?” The Lord will repel all the assaults and snares of mine enemy: of no man shall I be afraid.
2. “Whilst the guilty approach unto me to eat up my flesh” (ver. 2). Whilst the guilty come near to recognise and insult me, that they may exalt themselves above me in my change for the better; that with their reviling tooth they may consume not me, but rather my fleshly desires. “Mine enemies who trouble me.” Not they only who trouble me, blaming me with a friendly intent, and wishing to recall me from my purpose, but mine enemies also. “They became weak, and fell.” Whilst then they do this with the desire of defending their own opinion, they became weak to believe better things, and began to hate the word of salvation, whereby I do what displeases them.
3. “If camps stand together against me, my heart will not fear.” But if the multitude of gain-sayers conspire to stand together against me, my heart will not fear, so as to go over to their side. “If war rise up against me, in this will I trust” (ver. 3). If the persecution of this world arise against me, in this petition, which I am pondering, will I place my hope.
4. “One have I asked of the Lord, this will I require.” For one petition have I asked the Lord, this will I require. “That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” (ver. 4). That as long as I am in this life, no adversities may exclude me from the number of them who hold the unity and the truth of the Lord’s faith throughout the world. “That I may contemplate the delight of the Lord.” With this end, namely, that persevering in the faith, the delightsome vision may appear to me, which I may contemplate face to face. “And I shall be protected, His temple.” And death being swallowed up in victory, I shall be clothed with immortality, being made His temple.
5. “For He hath hidden me in His tabernacle in the day of my evils” (ver. 5). For He hath hidden me in the dispensation of His Incarnate Word in the time of temptations, to which my mortal life is exposed. “He hath protected me in the secret place of His tabernacle.” He hath protected me, with the heart believing unto righteousness.
6. “On a rock hath He exalted me.” And that what I believed might be made manifest for salvation, He hath made my confession to be conspicuous in His own strength. “And now, lo! He hath exalted mine head above mine enemies” (ver. 6). What doth He reserve for me at the last, when even now the body is dead because of sin, lo! I feel that my mind serves the law of God, and is not led captive under the rebellious law of sin? “I have gone about, and have sacrificed in His tabernacle the sacrifice of rejoicing.” I have considered the circuit of the world, believing on Christ; and in that for us God was humbled in time, I have praised Him with rejoicing: for with such sacrifice He is well pleased. “I will sing and give praises to the Lord.” In heart and in deed I will be glad in the Lord.
7. “Hear my voice, O Lord, wherewith I have cried unto Thee” (ver. 7). Hear, Lord, my interior voice, which with a strong intention I have addressed to Thy ears. “Have mercy upon me, and hear me.” Have mercy upon me, and hear me therein.
8. “My heart hath said to Thee, I have sought Thy countenance” (ver. 8). For I have not exhibited myself to men; but in secret, where Thou alone hearest, my heart hath said to Thee; I have not sought from Thee aught without Thee as a reward, but Thy countenance. “Thy countenance, O Lord, will I seek.” In thus search will I perseveringly persist: for not aught that is common, but Thy countenance, O Lord, will I seek, that I may love Thee freely, since nothing more precious do I find.
9. “Turn not away Thy face from me” (ver. 9): that I may find what I seek. “Turn not aside in anger from Thy servant:” lest, while seeking Thee, I fall in with somewhat else. For what is more grievous than this punishment to one who loveth and seeketh the truth of Thy countenance? “Be Thou my Helper.” How shall I find it, if Thou help me not? “Leave me not, neither despise me, O God my Saviour.” Scorn not that a mortal dares to seek the Eternal; for Thou, God, dost heal the wound of my sin.
10. “For my father and my mother have left me” (ver. 10). For the kingdom of this world and the city of this world, of which I was born in time and mortality, have left me seeking Thee, and despising what they promised, since they could not give what I seek. “But the Lord took me up.” But the Lord, who can give me Himself, took me up.
11. “Appoint me a law, O Lord, in Thy way” (ver. 11). For me then who am setting out toward Thee, and commenting so great a profession, of arriving at wisdom, from fear, appoint, O Lord, a law in Thy way, lest in my wandering Thy rule abandon me. “And direct me in the right path because of mine enemies.” And direct me in the right way of its straits. For it is not enough to begin, since enemies cease not until the end is attained.
12. “Deliver me not up unto the souls of them that trouble me” (ver. 12). Suffer not them that trouble me to be satiated with my evils. “For unrighteous witnesses have risen up against me.” For there have risen up against me they that speak falsely of me, to remove and call me back from Thee, as if I seek glory of men. “And iniquity hath lied unto itself.” Therefore iniquity hath been pleased with its own lie. For me it hath not moved, to whom because of this there hath been promised a greater reward in heaven.
13. “I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living” (ver. 13). And since my Lord hath first suffered these things, if I too despise the tongues of the dying (“for the mouth that lieth slayeth the soul”), I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living, where there is no place for falsity.
14. “Wait on the Lord, quit thyself like a man: and let thy heart be strong, yea wait on the Lord” (ver. 14). But when shall this be? It is arduous for a mortal, it is slow to a lover: but listen to the voice, that deceiveth not, of him that saith, “Wait on the Lord.” Endure the burning of the reins manfully, and the burning of the heart stoutly. Think not that what thou dost not as yet receive is denied thee. That thou faint not in despair, see how it is said, “Wait on the Lord.”
- Lat. XXVI.
- [In the Second Exposition he dwells on the spiritual chrism, from which the Son of David is called Christ; affirms that Christians partake of the same anointing; speaking of confirmation as their sacramental anointing and what it implies.—C.]
- [A minute prophecy. John xviii. 6.—C.]
- [The Old Latin of this charming verse seems to have read, “One hope have I desired,” etc. See Cyprian, A.N.F. vol. v. p. 501.—C.]
- Wisd. i. 11.
- [On the first three verses of this Psalm, see Origen, A.N.F. vol. iv. pp. 333, 575, 649. Compare Cyprian, A.N.F. vol. iv. p. 501.—C.]