Psalm 118/119: The Church Fathers on the Third Stasis
This is the final article of a series about Psalm 118 (LXX) / 119 (MT). The other articles can be found here:
צ Tsaddi (Theme: Aspects: Judgment, Zeal, Faith, Trials)
Didymus the Blind: The testimonies are righteousness forever; give me understanding & I shall live (v. 144)
The testimonies which You have given me are not expedient for a little time: they are ‘righteousness forever, ‘ since they justify those who approach them by the disposition of their hearts.
ק Qoph (Theme: Appeal, Devotion, Faith In The Truth & Permanence Of God’s Ways; Imitation)
Didymus the Blind: From the beginning I have known Thy testimonies that Thou has founded them forever (v. 152)
‘The testimonies’ were ‘founded’ by God in such a manner that none can loose or reverse them. Your Word, which is Your wisdom & Your Son, is their foundation. This is precisely why, in establishing their unshakable & indestructible character, He has said: ‘Heaven & earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away’ (Mt. 24:35; Mk. 13:31, Lk. 21:33).
ר Resh (Theme: Essentials: Faith In Trials, Salvation; God’s Truth, Wisdom, Our Fear & Love)
Origen: Far from sinners is Salvation (v. 155)
Why? Because of themselves. Indeed it is written: ‘Behold, they that remove themselves from Thee shall perish’ (Ps. 72:25), for it is not salvationthat escapes us, but we who flee salvation. ‘The Son of Man’ who is salvation ‘is come to seek & to save that which was lost’ (Lk. 19:10). ‘Far from sinners is salvation’: what is the reason for it? It is ‘for they have not sought after Thy statutes.’ If, therefore, someone does not seek after the statutes of God, far from him is salvation, which comes from God…
ש Shin (Theme: Martyrs: Fear Of Men Or Of God; Daily Prayer, Waiting For Salvation)
Eusebius of Caesarea: Seven times a day have I praised Thee (v. 164)
One can understand again, in observing this: rising from his couch before the sun, in imitation of him who said: ‘With my soul have I desired Thee in the night, my God’ (cf. Isa. 26:9) & ‘O God, my God, unto Thee I rise at dawn’ (Ps. 62:1), he addresses to God his first hymn. Afterwards, when day has come, at the first hour, as a morning sacrifice, he offers to God the second hymn; likewise at the third hour the third hymn, at the sixth hour, anew, the fourth hymn; at the ninth hour the fifth; at the twelfth, the sixth; & then at evening, after having tended to his body, at the moment he gains his couch, he acquits himself of a seventh hymn & completes this verse: ‘seven times a day have I praised Thee.’
ת Tau (Theme: The Humility Of David & Its Universal Meaning For The Church)
St. Hesychius of Jerusalem: O seek Thy servant, for I have not forgotten Thy commandments (v. 176)
Since ‘Christ is the end of the law for righteousness’ (Rom. 10:4), the Prophet has done well to declare the present verse as a seal for this psalm, & he pronounces it in the name of humanity as a whole. ‘All we as sheep have gone astray; everyone has gone astray in his own way’ (Isa. 53:6), as has been lucidly expressed by Isaiah. Not only have we erred, but we are even lost—the enemy has ruined us, he has directed our wandering; to deceit he has added delusion; he has added evil to evil; he has deepened the abyss of our need, but the real shepherd has not rejected us even in this situation, ‘for the Son of Man is come to seek & to save that which is lost’ (Lk. 19:10), as our Lord Himself said.