Friday, October 18, 2019

Psalm 141 (142) with commentary

Psalm 141 (142)

1 Understanding; by David, when he was in the cave; a prayer. 

2 I cried to the Lord with my voice, With my voice I prayed to the Lord. 

3 I shall pour out my supplication before Him; I shall declare my affliction in His presence. 

4 When my spirit fainted within me, Then You knew my paths; For on the way I was going, they hid a trap for me. 

5 I looked on my right, and saw There was no one who knew me; Refuge failed me, And there was no one who cared for my soul. 

6 I cried to You, O Lord; I said, “You are my hope, My portion in the land of the living. 

7 Attend to my supplication, For I was humbled exceedingly; Deliver me from my persecutors, For they are stronger than I. 

8 Bring my soul out of prison To give thanks to Your name, O Lord; The righteous shall wait for me, until You reward me.”

THEODORET: The psalm’s theme is clear. Pursued by Saul, the divine David took refuge in the cave and hid himself in its interior.1 Then, perceiving Saul brought down into it, he banished fear from his mind, called for the divine assistance, and attained it. 
REARDON: Psalm 141 is a prayer of desolation and loneliness:
Samuel 22 tells of his seeking refuge from Saul in “the cave of Adullam,” and two chapters later there is a dramatic description of David’s concealment from Saul in a cave near Engedi by the Dead Sea.
When we think of those unjustly accused who may have prayed this psalm, various characters come to mind from the Book of Daniel, such as Susannah, the three youths in the furnace, and the Prophet himself. And if this psalm is a fitting supplication for those in prison, then the Prophet Micaiah and John the Baptist are to be counted among those who may have prayed it. Likewise the Apostles Peter, Paul (“ in prisons more frequently”), and John. But most of all, and adding superabundant dignity to the rest, there is Christ our Lord, the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, abandoned by His closest friends, betrayed by one of them and denied in public by another, but finding His sole refuge in the Father.
TEHILLIM: David composed this awesome and wonders psalm while biding for Saul in a cave, at which time he had cut off the corner of Saul’s garment (to prove that he was able to kill him but did not do so).  He declared, “Where can I turn, and where can I run? I have no recourse but to cry out to you.”

Understanding; by David, when he was in the cave; a prayer.

1. I cried to the Lord with my voice, With my voice I prayed to the Lord.

CHRYSOSTOM: everywhere he makes this beginning and here uses voice twice. It is not without is to teach us two things, both the vigor of his enthusiasm and alertness of his mind, and in addition that the voice is his.

2. I shall pour out my supplication before Him;

THEODORET: I shall declare my affliction in His presence. From this it is clear that he calls his earnestness of mind cry: how could this man in hiding and anxious to escape notice use his voice to cry out? So he means, In all earnestness I implored God.
I made the trouble clear to him, he is saying, and earnestly offered the petition about it; he indicated by pour out the force of the request.
CHRYSOSTOM: Do you see a spirit freed of earthly concerns? He neither had recourse to human beings, nor looked for assistance from them but for invincible help and grace from above. Wishing to make clear the intensity of his mind and fervor buried within him he said, “l pour out” in great abundance. From this we learn that tribulations also make no slight contribution to sound values. This is the fruit of tribulation, after all. It has in fact two advantages: one, in making us more zealous and attentive; the other, in proving no insignificant reason to be heard... And everywhere in Scripture we shall find that those bearing tribulations with gratitude not only expiate many of their sins but also obtain thereby no little confidence in God’s presence.

3. When my spirit fainted within me, then You knew my paths; For on the way I was going, they hid a trap for me.

CHRYSOSTOM: When faint hearted people in particular give up and many utter defamatory words, then the psalmist most of all employs good sense, having tribulations  as a teacher. So when you see someone despairing as a result of tribulation, or uttering some harsh word, hold not the tribulation responsible but the faintheartedness of the speaker—its natural with tribulation to have the opposite effect—attention, a contrite mind, an alert attitude, depth of piety. Hence Paul also said, “Tribulation produces endurance and endurance character.” And, “Lest I’ve carried away with the magnitude of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given me, as a messenger of Satan, to punish me. Three times I besought the Lord about it, and he said to me, My grace is enough for you: my power is brought to completion in weakness. When I am weak, you see, then I am strong.”

4. I looked on my right, and saw there was no one who knew me; Refuge failed me, and there was no one who cared for my soul.

THEODORET: I espied no helper in any direction, he is saying, calling action of the better disposed the right. Flight is no longer available to me, and there is no one looking after my soul: I have fallen into nets from which there is no escape, I find no means of flight nor one to assist me. 
CHRYSOSTOM: Here he shows the extent of the disaster...and what was worse , that not only were any allies or assistants not at hand, but they did not even recognize him. This is the extent of isolation, the height of alienation... This brought him no harm and instead it gave even greater benefit bringing him into relationship with God. So, when you see evils on the increase, do not lose heart, but be more on the alert: this is the reason God allows them to arise, to shake you from your becomes more zealous in prayer, more active in alms giving, in scorn for the belly, and every vice becomes more easily overcome, banished by tribulation.
In addition he shows not only that traps lay in the way, nor was there  anyone to help or to recognize him, but there was no way out left him... he was cut off in the midst of evils... so what does he do? Does he disparaged of his salvation? No,

5. I cried to You, O Lord; I said, “You are my hope, my portion in the land of the living.

CHRYSOSTOM: Not being disparaged he takes refuge in God. Note the alertness of spirit. Far from problems overwhelming him, they instead gave him wings, and being in difficulties he knew the invincible hand and all powerful force... He said You are my help: all human means have proved futile and the storm so far exceeds all assistance to be beyond all measures for surviving shipwreck. Yet even if this is beyond Hope in human estimation, and we are sinking, nevertheless everything is easy for You; hence let us hope and not grow faint. My inheritance, “ My portion of the living”, my treasure, my wealth—you are everything in yourself. Here he calls his own country the land of the living... and often calls the Babylonian captivity Hades and death.

7. Bring my soul out of prison to give thanks to Your name, O Lord; The righteous shall wait for me, until You reward me.”

CHRYSOSTOM:What he means is free me from troubles: by “prison” he hints at the excess of calamities. ...neither did tribulation make him lose heart but rather led him to supplication and prayer, nor did ease render him supine but led him also at that time to thanksgiving (to confess thy name).
“The righteous shall wait for me, until You reward me.” This will be of benefit even to the righteous: they will rejoice, be glad, jump for joy, to see my freedom from trouble. The righteous souls grieve with those who are abused and do not envy those who prosper, and on the other hand they rejoice and share the happiness and satisfaction of those shown favor. As Paul says, “ Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”
Let us bear the troubles besetting us with thanks, so that even they may become easier, and we may attain the future goods. May it be the good fortune of us all to be granted this, thanks to the grace and loving kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory and the power, for the ages of ages.

THEODORET: the enemies have become stronger than I, but through your aid I shall escape their clutches. Bring my soul out of prison so that I may confess to your name. Aquila, on the other hand, put it this way, “Bring my soul out of confinement,” in other words, it was as if he was held in a kind of enclosure and cell, with the enemies camped at the door of the cave. Yet he promises to repay the favors with hymns, once he attains salvation. Righteous people will wait for me until you give me recompense. Symmachus, on the other hand, put it this way, “The righteous will crown your name when you act in my favor”: they will take the favor done to me as a pledge of salvation in their regard, and praise you as the just Judge.

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