Book Notes: Theophan’s Commentary on Psalm 118: verse 3

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

by Saint John of Kronstadt Press, 2014

For they that work iniquity
have not walked in His ways.

= doing no iniquity, they have started to walk in His ways. This applies to those who did verses 1 and 2:

Constantly unwavering in mind, senses, and deeds, they walk only in God’s ways.
page 17

The person becomes totally renewed in the image of the Creator, with unyielding love, led by the Holy Spirit. They also become tools of divine Providence for others, like Seraphim of Sarov.

We have sinful desires within us. Walking in God’s ways means not obeying them.
We pray for these small sins that distract us: forgive us our debts.



Any reflection on these quotes?


  1. Seeking Him with our whole heart (118:2) makes us want to find His ways and walk in them, even delight in them, when we give Him our hearts. Reciprocally, if we deliberately walk in a contrary way (working “iniquity”), we stop seeking Him. Our hearts can become cold or distant, and it gets harder to find the Way back. But nothing is impossible with God, thankfully.
    Yes, good point that even small sins can weaken or distract us–good way to think about our daily prayer, and the help it brings against temptations. Blessings, Emma!


  2. We have sinful desires within us. Walking in God’s ways means not obeying them.

    I really like that and one takeaway I had is the part on page 18 which says the sin acts in us through sinful desires. If we listen to them, We will act sinfully but if, following the apostle, we do not listen to them, then not we, but the sin that dwells in us is acting.

    It made me think of this saying from Martin Luther “You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” simply put, You can’t keep the Devil from suggesting thoughts, but you can choose not to dwell or act on them.


    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Andrew. Absolutely.
      The Fathers, starting with Evagrius I believe, have often talked about how sin works out, and yes the first step is a thought or suggestion that comes to mind, and at that point, we are able, by the grace of God, to totally ignore it. And nothing will come out of it. But if we start playing with it and keep focusing on it, it will grow and will be impossible to uproot. And God knows where it will lead us.
      I didn’t know this quote by Martin Luther, but the Desert Fathers have several similar images, actually he may have taken that one from them. I like also the one that compares our mind to a tree, in which monkeys jump up and down, and you can just ignore the monkeys. A more contemporary Mount Athos father has modernized the image of the birds, and compared our mind to an airport. Planes/thoughts can fly, but we cannot allow them to land.
      And along the same line:
      As Cassian says, our mind is like a mill, it’s in its nature to grind grain, there’s nothing we cannot do against it. The important thing is what type of grain do we feed it. Either bad thoughts, or to replace them: the Jesus Prayer, to keep our mind occupied with good things.


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