Monday, January 18, 2016

Delighting in the Law of the Lord

Our pastor is teaching through some of the Psalms, so I thought it might be helpful to post some patristic reflections about the texts being used.

Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lᴏʀᴅ,

    and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.  (Ps 1:1-3)

There are therefore two things that contribute to a person’s attaining blessedness: correct views on doctrine, for the purpose of having a dutiful and upright attitude toward God, and a disciplined moral upbringing, for living in an honorable and sound manner.  Neither suffices for perfection without the other, each being supplemented or accompanied by the other.  Faith takes pride of place among them, just as in the body the head is given greater esteem than the other members.  Still, for a person’s perfection, relationship with the other members and conjunction of the limbs are also required.  Likewise, for the full development of life, both of these things must come together—namely faith and life.

Theodore of Mopsuestia

The epithet “blessed,” therefore, constitutes the fruit of perfection as far as virtue is concerned.  You see, every practice in life looks towards the goal: athletics looks towards olive wreaths, martial arts towards victories and spoils, medicine certainly towards good health and cure of disease, commerce towards amassing wealth and abundance of riches.  The practice of virtue has as its fruit and goal the blessedness from God. … Since flight from evil, however, is not sufficient for perfection of virtue, “Turn aside from evil,” he says, “and do good,” [Ps 37:27] and blessed Isaiah says, “Put an end to your wrongdoing, learn to do good.” [Is 1:16-17]  Quite appropriately blessed David added, But his delight is in the law of the Lᴏʀᴅ, and on his law he meditates day and night.  What is required is not merely to abhor the above-mentioned but also to give one’s attention to the divine law night and day, to choose what the divine law dictates, and to guide one’s life according to its direction.  This, after all, is what the God of all enjoined through Moses in the words “The words of this law will be at all times in your mouth, and you will ponder them seated or rising, in bed or on the road traveling; you shall hang them from your hand, and they shall be fixed before your eyes.”  [Dt 6:6-8]

Theodoret of Cyrus

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