Meditations on the Psalms, The Christian Life #16, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

cover of the ebook 'Meditations on the Psalms, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox'

Psalm 33

I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall be always in my mouth. In the Lord shall my soul be praised: let the meek hear and rejoice. O magnify the Lord with me; and let us extol his name together. I sought the Lord, and he heard me; and he delivered me from all my troubles.

Come ye to him and be enlightened: and your faces shall not be confounded. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him: and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear him: and shall deliver them. O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet: blessed is the man that hopeth in him. Fear the Lord, all ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

The rich have wanted, and have suffered hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not be deprived of any good. Come, children, hearken to me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord. Who is the man that desireth life: who loveth to see good days? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Turn away from evil and do good: seek after peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are upon the just: and his ears unto their prayers. But the countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil things: to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The just cried, and the Lord heard them: and delivered them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart: and he will save the humble of spirit. Many are the afflictions of the just; but out of them all will the Lord deliver them.

The Lord keepeth all their bones, not one of them shall be broken. The death of the wicked is very evil: and they that hate the just shall be guilty. The Lord will redeem the souls of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall offend.

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Considerations on Deliverance from Trouble

First Point The soul, delivered from troubles, would have all the world rejoice with it. Hitherto I have often neglected to bless and praise God; now, by his help, I mean to make the rest of my life a continuous offering of praise to him. Now and henceforward I will ascribe to God all the glory which self-love bids me take to myself; I will join myself to the number of those meek souls, who have learned to distrust themselves, whether Saints in heaven or still alive on the earth; I unite my intention with theirs in extolling God’s holy Name. I turned in my trouble to look for God, and found him close at hand to deliver me. Would that all men might have recourse to him, and experience the illumination that is, the guidance and the hope which he is ready to give; unfailingly ready, so that no one need fear disappointment and embarrassment through having applied to him in vain. What was I when I cried and found deliverance? I was poor that is, I was destitute of earthly help, and destitute at the same time of all merit, all claim upon his goodness. I was poor that is, I recognized my own nothingness and helplessness, and to such souls God is merciful. They have, all unseen, the arms of their guardian angel stretched round them, like a friendly host encamped about them on their pilgrimage.

Second Point. The blessedness of serving God in itself counter-weighs our earthly troubles. The soul that has really tasted the intimacy of God derives from it a sweetness which is undisturbed by earthly circumstance. The soul that has seriously considered God’s greatness, and learned to fear him, will riot be dismayed by merely temporal needs. It is those who think themselves rich that is, those who are self-satisfied and worldly, without consciousness of spiritual need who are really poor, for the riches, the human support, the temporal advantages which they cherish are in themselves unreal, and desert them in time of trouble; those who make God the end of their striving will never be baffled in their search. This, then, is the secret of the God-fearing soul. You want life? The sense of free, untrammelled action, of exercising your powers to the full? You want “good days” not short, violent sensations of pleasure, but steady, enduring happiness? Then you must mortify your desire to criticize, to back bite, to complain; you must cultivate honesty and frankness of speech so many of our miseries come from misuse of the tongue. You must learn to love good and hate evil as you see it around you; you must learn to live peaceably with men, and to love silence and recollection. If you are thus mortified, half your troubles disappear, and the other half became lighter to bear.

Third Point. But, beyond this, God does specially preserve the soul that seeks him, if not from all trouble, at least from the sins trouble tempts us to. God sees, hears, knows, everything that goes on in the world, but with this difference he has a kindly eye and an attentive ear for the just; the unjust have only the reprobation of his frown. Although he will not buy human love by automatically (as it were) rewarding goodness, he does shew special temporal mercies to his own; and more especially when he sees that trouble has already had the effect of humbling them and producing contrition. Even so we must not expect to escape the afflictions by which God tests us here; all he guarantees is that in his hands we can suffer no vital injury, i.e., no harm affecting the inward life of the soul: unlike the worldly, the just escape the terrors of an unrepentant deathbed, and of eternal guilt; they are redeemed from the power of their spiritual enemy, and trouble itself cannot lead them into sin and despair.

Acts: Thanksgiving, with determination to show our gratitude in our lives; detachment from the world; confidence in God’s protection.

Colloquy with God who invites you to be enlightened and to taste his sweetness.