Book Notes: Theophan’s Commentary on Psalm 118: verses 34-35

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

(1815-1894)
by Saint John of Kronstadt Press, 2014
Goodreads
orthodox-cross

VERSE 34:
Give me understanding,
and I will search out Thy law,
and I will keep it with my whole heart.

In verse 33, he was asking for general knowledge.
Here, for particular knowledge of the lawful way of behavior. To carry it out fully and correctly. To follow with the heart, not the lips.
Asking to understand the spiritual significance of anything that has been made law.
To follow inwardly, not just with the outward conscience.

VERSE 35:
Guide me in the path of Thy commandments,
for I have desired it.

After the desire to follow, we need to be guided. Acknowledgement of weakness.
Desiring God’s blessings allows them to enter, just as opening a window allows light to enter.
Christ precedes us, we have to follow Him, He is our guide.
The path = the narrow way, as we usually walk on it alone, with God.
In this way we are monks: “In his consciousness, there is only God” (p.98)
The narrow way goes around bends, precipices, stones, thorns.

He Himself Who, invisibly but surely guides His travelers, intentionally diverts the route this way or that, as He sees it more suitable and necessary for the one being guided. Trials occurring with God’s consent have the same necessity, but they are only the removal of the leading and supporting hand. Direct influences on the change of direction in one and the same person manifest themselves in changes in podvigs and actions, outward as well as inward, recording which it might seem to an onlooker that the same person has completely changed.
For instance, a regular ascetic has become a fool for Christ; a hermit — sociable and accessible to all; a strict faster — a commonplace abstainer; a lover of set prayers — one who prays without books. The need for such things to occur no one can describe, and even those to whom they occur cannot foresee them. These are secrets of the living, and the participants themselves recognize their moral necessity only for themselves. But why and how all this happens, they cannot explain to themselves; the only thank God Who arranges all things for our good.
p.98

I don’t think I have ever read anything clearer about my own experience in the change of podvig

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