Book Notes: Theophan’s Commentary on Psalm 118: verse 129

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

by Saint John of Kronstadt Press, 2014

Introduction to the 17th octave:

Pe = the mouth, hence here, the lips.
God’s lips pronounce commandments.
God-fearing people’s lips confess their submission to God;
they pray to Him to teach them and give them the strength to follow the commandments;
and they express contrition and repentance if they deviate from them.

VERSE 129:
Wonderful are Thy testimonies;
therefore hath my soul searched them out.

Wonderful are Thy testimonies: how are the commandments wonderful?
They are complete, perfect, and embrace everything.
They are wonderful in their fruit: they clothe us with the likeness of God and lead us to blessedness.
And in the fact that they are unfathomable.
Wonderful in God’s plan of salvation (Christ’s Incarnation and Passion, the sending of the Holy Spirit).
Wonderful in the way leading to our salvation (receiving the Holy Spirit, participating in the sacred mysteries, ascesis, our death in Christ),  and synergy.

therefore hath my soul searched them out

The awareness that God’s testimonies are wonderful exposes one to wonder at them, that is, to look at them, to delve into and study them, with love and the desire to implement them in his life…
Such a search keeps the mind and attention focused upon how to live; having come to understand the beauty of the rules of life, it disposes towards them and warms up the zeal to live according to them.
Therefore he who studies the law of the Lord day and night is like the trees which is planted by the streams of the waters, which shall bring forth its fruit in its season (Ps 1:3). Scripture knows nothing of scholarly research with the goal of barren knowledge: all its talk is about life and its arrangement. Scholarly research is begotten by the lack of concern for life, in order to cover up its empty idleness by this outward appearance.
p. 280

Wow, that’s a powerful statement about vain and empty scholarly endeavors for the mere sake of scholarliness – it goes perfectly with another book I’m currently reading: Thinking Orthodox: Understanding and Acquiring the Orthodox Christian Mind, by Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou (Chesterton: Ancient Faith Publishing, 2020).

And a reminder that reading this book, and posting notes about it (and for you to read them), is useless if I/you don’t try to implement it in my daily life.

Any reflection on these quotes?

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