Meditations on the Psalms, The Christian Life #2, by Monsignor Ronald Arbuthnott Knox

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

Psalm 138

Lord, thou hast proved me, and known me: Thou hast known my sitting down, and my rising up. Thou hast understood my thoughts afar off: my path and my line thou hast searched out. And thou hast foreseen all my ways: for there is no speech in my tongue. Behold, O Lord, thou hast known all things, the last and those of old: thou hast formed me, and hast laid thy hand upon me.

Thy knowledge is become wonderful to me: it is high, and I cannot reach to it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy face? If I ascend into heaven, thou art there: if I descend into hell, thou art present. If I take my wings early in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea: Even there also shall thy hand lead me: and thy right hand shall hold me.

And I said: Perhaps darkness shall cover me: and night shall be my light in my pleasures. But darkness shall not be dark to thee, and night shall be light as day: the darkness thereof, and the light thereof are alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast protected me from my mother’s womb. I will praise thee, for thou art fearfully magnified: wonderful are thy works, and my soul knoweth right well. My bone is not hidden from thee, which thou hast made in secret: and my substance in the lower parts of the earth.

Thy eyes did see my imperfect being, and in thy book all shall be written: days shall be formed, and no one in them. But to me thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable: their principality is exceedingly strengthened. I will number them, and they shall be multiplied above the sand: I rose up and am still with thee. If thou wilt kill the wicked, O God: ye men of blood, depart from me: Because you say in thought: They shall receive thy cities in vain.

Have I not hated them, O Lord, that hated thee: and pine away because of thy enemies? I have hated them with a perfect hatred: and they are become enemies to me. Prove me, O God, and know my heart: examine me, and know my paths. And see if there be in me the way of iniquity: and lead me in the eternal way.

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Some Attributes of God

First Point. The omniscience of God. I am on my trial, under the scrutiny of the all-seeing eye which no motion of mine can escape. My ordinary daily actions, so trivial that I myself am hardly conscious of them, are present to the consciousness of God. More, he understands my thoughts, the inmost thoughts of a creature, infinitely below him in dignity; he understands my secret motives, though I myself am often blind to the nature of them. Further, he can foresee all that will befall me, my temptations, my sins, my place in eternity. He needs no words of mine to acquaint him with what I am. His eternal wisdom planned the whole scheme of creation, before Time was, and can reach forward into the fathomless depths of eternity, foreknowing the destiny of every individual soul. When he created me, he arranged all the circumstances of my life that were to test my loyalty, or lead me to him. With what utter submission of spirit must I bow to his Will for me!

Second Point. The omnipresence and omnipotence of God. God is a spirit, confined by no limitations of space; everywhere he is present, witnessing all that passes. If by his mercy I attain to heaven, it will be to enjoy his full presence; if I am condemned to eternal punishment, it will be by a personal exercise of his power. By some hasty flight to a distant country the criminal may, perhaps, escape from human ken; he will never travel far enough to escape from God’s hand, that still guides his path, still controls his destinies. The sinner may protect himself from the world’s scandal by covering up in darkness the guilty life he leads; but to God the darkness and the light are alike; he is close at hand, even where human observation is impossible. Nor is God present merely as a witness; he is everywhere present in his unlimited Power, which equally calls for our humble adoration. If it is wonderful that we cannot hide ourselves from him now, still more wonderful was the hidden process by which he brought us into being; he made us from the dust, he knew our fashioning in the womb, our whole lives are as it were chronicled before him; he reigned in solitary majesty before Time was, or the human race began.

Third Point. The justice of God. One of God’s attributes will only be fully made known to us in the future – his infallible justice. The time will come when his friends, often so poor and despised on earth, will shine as stars in the firmament, the innumerable company of just men made perfect. His knowledge, his presence, his power will all make themselves felt at the day of the Resurrection. And at the same time his righteous judgment will be exercised against the sinners, who despised their birthright and made light of their celestial citizenship. O, that I might learn to see things with God’s eyes; that I might be blind to all the transitory allurements of the world, and hate sin as he hates it! May he prove me with his trials until he sees my heart as he would have it be; may his grace put me continually in mind of my sins, and disclose to me my impure motives; may he never spare me, as long as he sees in me aught that offends him, till he has set my feet safely on the path of eternal life!

Acts: Congratulation with God on his perfections; fear of offending his all-seeing eye; hatred of our sins.

Colloquy with the ever-present Witness who knows all the secrets of our hearts.