The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 43

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 20, 2015


Arg. Thomas. That Christ is the Light of the world, the Way, the Truth, and the Life: the voice of the Church praying that she may be divided from them that believe not. To them who have obtained the faith of Christ [that is, the recently baptized], the voice of the Church praying that the good and the bad may be severed in the last day.

1 Give sentence with me, O God, and defend my cause against the ungodly people: O deliver me from the deceitful and wicked man.
2 For thou art the God of my strength, why hast thou put me from thee: and why go I so heavily, while the enemy oppresseth me?

These two verses will better come under our notice in Psalm 144: for a reason there to be mentioned.

3 O send out thy light and thy truth, that they may lead me: and bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy dwelling.

Here he sets forth the only way of his liberation:—and what way is that, (Michael Ayguan.

“>Ay.) but by the Incarnation? Thy Light: as it is written: “That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”S. John 1:9.

“>* Thy Truth: as He said Himself:—“I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”S. John 14:6.

“>* And therefore, the Master of Sentences uses this verse formally, when writing “of the benefits of the Incarnation.” Light indeed, after so many centuries that darkness covered the earth,Lib. iii. dist. 19.

“>* and gross darkness the people! Truth indeed, when those things that were concealed from the wisest philosophers of Greece and Rome are now revealed to babes and sucklings! Others will have it that,S. Chrysost. Hesych.

“>* by Light, the Son of God, by Truth, the Holy Ghost, is more especially set forth. That they may lead me. So our translation, and rightly. The Vulgate has, they have led me: then, with reference to the past benefits of the Incarnation: Thy holy hill. Take it of the Church Militant, as almost all the commentators: not that I would much blame those, who keeping our Lord’s dear Passion here,Hesych.

“>* as always, before their eyes, see in the holy hill, Mount Calvary. It is to be observed that, in the “sending forth,” the Greeks, followed by S. Ambrose, generally see an allusion to the First Advent; S. Augustine, with almost all the Latin Fathers,S. Ambros. de Spirit. S. xix.

“>* to the Second. And then truly the light will be shown which clearly distinguishes the tares from the wheat; and the truth, which, however they may have been mingled in this world, shall then definitively, and for ever, set the sheep on the right hand, and the goats on the left. It is a beautiful idea of Hugh of S. Victor that by light is meant the faith by which we walk now; by truth,Hugo Victorin.

“>* the reward which we are hereafter to possess:—as if the reality would so far surpass all that faith can tell, or hope desire, here, as to make their warmest aspirations little better than untruths. This was one of the many verses used against the Arians:—the Trinity being set forth in Him Who sends: in the Light: and in the Truth.S. Athanas. ad Serapion. S. Cyril lib. i. in S. Joan.

“>* The Jews were in the habit of referring the truth to Elijah; the light to the Messiah. And no doubt there is a reference to the Urim and Thummim by which God’s Will was manifested on the stones of the High Priest’s breastplate. And to Thy dwelling. Take the holy hill in what sense you will, there can be no doubt that this dwelling is the “habitation of God, the house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens.” Therefore, the Incarnation: therefore that holy hill up which the Lord bare the Cross: therefore also that holy hill the Church Militant; all to this one end: that Calvary might end in Mount Salem, that the Church of warfare might lead to the Church of peace!

4 And that I may go unto the altar of God, even unto the God of my joy and gladness: and upon the harp will I give thanks unto thee, O God, my God.

Never, surely, more glorious and comforting verse than this. To see the Man of Sorrows,—now His warfare almost accomplished,—now the sin He bare for us almost pardoned,—approaching to the Great Altar of the Evening Sacrifice of the world. And yet, drawing near to offer Himself to the Father, that Father is the God of His joy and gladness. O glorious example for His servants in all their sufferings! (Gerhohus.

“>G.) See to it, Christian, that when thou art called to offer a sacrifice to God, He is the fountain of gladness. See to it that thou draw nigh, not with fear, not reluctantly, nay, not even acquiescingly,—but rejoicing that thou hast it in thy power thus to sacrifice to Him Who sacrificed Himself for thee. See to it that thou count nothing of any further worth than as it may so be made the matter of sacrifice; and say with Him, the Priest and Victim, as thou drawest near the time of thy trial,—“I have a Baptism to be baptized with: and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!” This is well chosen as the introit to the altar of the Latin Church, though the Vulgate translation be different: “And I will enter in to the altar of God, to the God, Who giveth joy to my youth.” That, albeit not the correct sense of the Hebrew, is not the less appropriate in our dear Lord’s mouth; seeing that it was in the very prime and best estate of human youth, that He thus drew near to His altar. Or,S. Chrysost. Hesych.

“>* taking the words in another sense,—here our youth is indeed rejoiced and gladdened, because at that altar of the Cross, we put off the old man, corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and put on the new man, renewed in knowledge after the Image of Him That created him. Others again take this altar of the golden altar on which the prayers of the saints are offered; so that we do really and truly draw nigh that altar whenever we approach God in prayer. Or,Ruffinus.

“>* as the Carthusian takes it, so may we,—of the Blessed Eucharist. That I may go unto the altar of God; yes, (Dionysius the Carthusian.

“>D. C.) but that is the least part of our service; wherefore, not stopping at the altar, he continues, even unto the God Whose Flesh and Blood are there really and truly eaten and drunk. And notice the parallelism of the two passages: even unto the God that rejoiceth my youth, and that other Psalm: “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things,”Ps. 103:5.

“>* (and what are they but the food of angels?) “making thee young and lusty as an eagle.”

And upon the harp will I give thanks unto Thee. I have said before why on the harp. The harp gives forth no sound till it is struck by the hand; and the only praise which God cares for is that which comes from the deeds,Vieyra, iii. 117.

“>* which satisfieth His goodness not only by the lip, but also in the life. And how in another sense the harp sets forth the peculiar offering of martyrdom, we have already seen in Vol. I. p. 460.

5a (5) Why art thou so heavy, O my soul: and why art thou so disquieted within me?
5b (6) O put thy trust in God: for I will yet give Him thanks, which is the help of my countenance, and my God.

The third time, in this, and the preceding Psalm, in which we have these verses. They see in this, a dependence on each Person of the Ever Blessed Trinity for and against our enemies; or, as others, we may see in the triple repetition,—the Thanksgiving for Creation, for Redemption, and for Glory. (Cassiodorus.

“>C.) And Cassiodorus dwells at great length on the consideration: how precious, in the sight of God, must be the virtue of Christian joy,—when S. Paul twice,—“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, rejoice,”—and David, as here, thrice commends it to us.

And therefore:

Glory be to the Father, Who sends out His Light and His Truth; and to the Son, the God of our strength: and to the Holy Ghost, which is the help of our countenance, and our God;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.


Almighty God,Ludolph.

“>* fountain of perpetual light, we pray Thee that, sending forth Thy truth into our hearts, Thou wouldst lighten us with the new effulgence of Thy eternal light. Through. (If the Collect be addressed to God the Father, the proper ending is: Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, One God, world without end. Amen.


O Lord,Mozarabic. Passiontide.

“>* Only-Begotten Son of the Father, Who didst by Thy Passion judge betwixt Thy servants and the ungodly people, defend us, we beseech Thee, by the virtue of the same Passion from the power of the enemy: that Thou alone mayest receive the praises of Thy Church, Who alone didst pay the price of our Redemption. Amen. Through Thy mercy. (The Mozarabic ending is—at the conclusion of the prayer, without any other termination: Amen. Through Thy mercy, O our God, Who art blessed, and livest and governest all things, to ages of ages. Amen.


Grant, O Lord, we beseech Thee, that we may be illuminated by Thee the Light, directed by Thee the Way, corrected by Thee the Truth, quickened by Thee the Life. Who livest. (If the prayer be addressed to God the Son: Who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end. Amen.



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This entry was posted on September 20, 2015 at 8:18 am and is filed under Bible, Catholic, Christ, fathers of the church, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture. Tagged: , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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