[Admin: This stanza struck me as especially relevant during these times…this Lent…this season of affliction.]
Those that make God’s promises their portion, may with humble boldness make them their plea…
49 Remember your word to your servant, in which you have made me hope.
- Here the psalmist does not intimate that God can forget, but shows his fervor, (St. Augustine) and begs that he may be worthy to receive the effects of God’s promises. (St. Hilary)
50 This is my comfort in my affliction that your promise gives me life.
- “This is my consolation in my distress.” (St. Jerome)
- The expectation of your promises has given me courage. (Worthington)
51 Godless men utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.
- But I continued to observe thy law with patience, notwithstanding their provocations.
52 When I think of your ordinances from of old, I take comfort, O LORD.
- Of old. Upon the rebel angels, and sinful men, whom thou wilt punish for ever. This encourages me to adhere to the cause of virtue. (Worthington)
- In many dangers our ancestors have been protected by God. Is his arm shortened, or are we no longer his people? (Calmet)
- Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s suffering, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:12-14)
53 Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked, who forsake your law.
- So much was the psalmist grieved at the sight of sinners! (Berthier)
- Apostates particularly filled him with horror. (Calmet)
54 Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.
- Song. Here on earth I am comforted with singing the praises of thy law, which makes the observers just. (Worthington)
- Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your heart to God. (Colossians 3:16)
- For we are strangers before you, and sojourners, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. (1 Chronicles 29:15)
- But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:16)
- These pious exercises were opposed to the scandalous discourses of sinners. (Berthier)
55 I remember your name in the night, O LORD, and keep your law.
- Night. Of tribulation, (Worthington) and captivity. (Calmet)
56 This blessing has fallen to me, that I have kept your precepts.
We are instructed in all this, but the prophet has already experienced it. He says, “This hope has consoled me in my humility, for your word has given me life.” The hope is the hope that God has implanted in him. It has consoled him “in his humility,” that is, when he is spurned, mocked, vexed by injustices, dishonored by insults, for he knows that he is soldiering through his present trials. But the hope instilled by the Lord consoles him in these wars endured in his weakness, and he is lent life by the utterances of God. By these he knows that the glory of his weakness is outstanding in heaven. He knows that his soul, renewed by the utterances of God, contains within it, so to say, the nourishment of eternal life. He lives by God’s utterances and is untroubled by the empty fame of the proud, for he knows that his need is richer than their wealth. He knows that his fasting is abundantly fed by the blessing of heaven and the gospel and that his humility will be rewarded by the glorious prize of honor. So he added, “The arrogant mock me without restraint, but I do not turn from your law.” – Hilary of Poitiers, Homily on Psalm 118.
*Hilary of Poitiers (315-367) was Bishop of Poitiers and called the “Athanasius of the West” because of his defense (against the Arians) of the common nature of Father of Son.
He that by his Spirit works faith in us, will work for us. The word of God speaks comfort in affliction. If, through grace, it makes us holy, there is enough in it to make us easy, in all conditions. Let us be certain we have the Divine law for what we believe, and then let not scoffers prevail upon us to decline from it. God’s judgments of old comfort and encourage us, for he is still the same. Sin is horrible in the eyes of all that are sanctified. In the season of affliction, and in the silent hours of the night, he remembers the name of the Lord, and is stirred up to keep the law. (source)