Book Notes: Theophan’s Commentary on Psalm 118: verses 105-106

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

by Saint John of Kronstadt Press, 2014

Introduction to the 14th octave:

Nun = tribe
Manifestations of spiritual life have their own tribal character – which passion has which offspring? Which virtue (2 Peter 1,5-7) has which offspring?
We could also see this in the list of Beatitudes – the tribe of virtues that lead to Paradise.
The prophet depicts the tribe of virtues in these verses as well – this time, he doesn’t explain more the structure of the upcoming verses.

VERSE 105:
Thy law is a lamp unto my feet
and light unto my paths.

The person saying this has true faith, and accepts God’s law, God’s will, without questioning.
This faith leads us to our heavenly fatherland.
For such faith, everything is clear. No fear of obstacles (end of p.243) along the journey.

The walking of the path of faith cleanses the mind and returns it,
through the action of grace,
the lost ability to see the spiritual and the divine.
p. 242

VERSE 106:
I have sworn and resolved that I will keep
the judgments of Thy righteousness.

The 1st offspring of faith = “the resolve to please God and the constant zeal for it”.
As we promise at baptism:
“… and unite myself unto Christ the Lord,
with the promise to always fulfill His will in everything.”

This second line is not in the current rite of baptism. It looks like Theophan added it here as explanation of the deep meaning of what “uniting oneself to Christ” means, and to connect more with his point. Still, it’s pretty neat, and this is definitely what we should keep in mind when we hear these words in the baptism rite.

I have sworn and resolved
ie, with a vow have I laid down the Law as a rule for my whole life.

the judgments of Thy righteousness
= God’s will, expressed in His revealed word.

Faith often first produces fear (according to St. Isaac the Syrian), which awakes the conscience, and brings then to repentance. And resolve not to fall again.

So faith –> resolve
Then faith lightens (cf. verse 105) the whole way of the zealous one, telling him what to do:

He walks as if under the light of a brightly shining sun,
and will never stumble over anything.
p. 243

Do you want to succeed?
Pray: O Lord, grant me faith, strong and unwavering.

I really like how Theophan comes back here to the theme of light, thus making a nice loop around verses 105-106: faith produces light, resolve and zeal, which in its turn produces light.

Any reflection on these quotes?

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