Book Notes: Theophan’s Commentary on Psalm 118: verse 1

Psalm 118Psalm 118:
A Commentary
by Saint Theophan the Recluse

by Saint John of Kronstadt Press, 2014

Since the days when I taught myself Biblical Hebrew, psalm 118, with its fascinating structure and use of key words (alas not clearly visible in translation) has been my favorite of all psalms.

So Father John recently offered me a commentary by Saint Theophan the Recluse. I have another book by him, but I was not aware of this book.

It is so well done: Theophan writes in a very accessible and concrete, yet deep and nourishing way. He highlights the alphabetical structure of the psalm, but also its spiritual logic, how one verse goes into another, and sees unity in a strophe. So slowly but surely, I have been nourishing myself with this gem.

I will share notes and passages that I find important here. Depending on the amount of content I plan to share, I may focus on one or several verses at a time. So this will be a long series, hopefully posted on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Blessed are the blameless in the way,
who walk in the law of the Lord.

The way = life

blameless= avoiding every sin, doing every good they can.

Inner or outer blessedness? Inner blessedness is inseparable from a pure and God-pleasing life, now.
This is the way to our homeland. Why are we stopping on the way?

All desire happiness. We sin, hoping to find happiness in it. The psalm encourages us to follow the road that leads to happiness. This is a tough road. To achieve blamelessness,  (=like lambs for sacrifice), we need to consider ourselves as dead, to withstand temptations.

Walk and walk, without stopping, paying no attention to anything, stopping at no obstruction, flowing like a mighty river till it reaches the open sea.


Have you read this book?
Any reflection on these quotes?


  1. I’m delighted and eager to see the commencement of this series. I am early in my study of Biblical Hebrew, and a deeper appreciation of the Psalms is one the fruits I am working toward. I will certainly give special attention to this Psalm with its alphabetic organization and its life-giving substance in praise of seeking and following God’s ways in all things. Theophan the Recluse is such a faithful guide to prayer, I look forward to sharing in your journey with him through this Psalm. Thank you, as always, and blessings to you and Father John.


    • Thanks Lucy. So glad it may help. Great news to know you are learning Biblical Hebrew, it’s so helpful to really appreciate the Psalms especially, with their structure, repetitions, key words. You can also better understand why let’s say Psalm 2 comes after Psalm 1. Elements you cannot always see in a translation. I thought I could publish this series 3 times a week, well as you can see, it may not be that often


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