Friday, February 19, 2016

Protector, Deliverer, and God

I have covered Verse 1 in another posting, “I” doesn’t want to be in Christ.  I do not desire to rehash that, but I do desire to touch upon a couple of things.

Some of the astute teachers of our Church that have gone before us have seen this psalm as a dialogue between God and the “just” man, e.g. GOD: “He that dwelleth (constantly dwelling) in the aid of the most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of Jacob;” JUST MAN: “He shall say to the Lord: ‘Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust, for he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word’.”[1]  For this reason, I am utilizing the Douay-Rheims (D-R) rather than the NAB or the NRSV.  I believe the D-R makes things more practical to us, and it is more in line with the references that I will be using.  I, of course, am not stating that the NAB, NRSV, or RSV are incorrect; I am just saying that the D-R is more beneficial.  For instance, in Verse 3 (which we will get to in another posting), the D-R has “and from the sharp word,” whereas the NAB has “from the destroying plague” and the NRSV, “from the deadly pestilence.”  Both the NAB and NRSV appear redundant in that a plague is deadly and a pestilence is deadly.  Also, since I don’t at the moment have to dread a plague or pestilence, they are not relevant to me at this time.  However, “the sharp word” is something that occurs frequently.  Therefore, I am utilizing the D-R for this portion.

We have already cover in the previous posting who it is that “dwells in the shelter of the Most High,” or the D-R version, “He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High,” he that “shall abide under the protection of the God of Jacob.”  I do desire to spend a little more time on Verse 2 to cover something I omitted in the other posting.

In Verse 2, we have the “just” man saying to God, “Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in Him will I trust.”  Where the NAB and NRSV have “my refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust,” the D-R has “Though art my protector and my refuge: my God, in Him will I trust.”  In other words, where the NAB has “refuge,” it will be “protector,” and “fortress” in the NAB will “refuge” in the D-R. 

St. Bellarmine tells us: “These words represent three of God’s favors, for which the just man returns thanks; one, a past favor; the second, a present; and the third, a future favor.”[2]  The first favor, protection, St. Bellarmine says, is the mercy of God through which he supports man after falling into mortal sin, e.g. David and Peter.  He says that the just man mentions this favor first because he says to himself, “If God be so good as to protect the enemy who does not confide in him, and to inspire him with penance and confidence, how good and kind must He not be to the friend and child who does confide in Him.”  Although the saint does not say it, I would also think that this includes Baptism because it is God who makes the first move of causing the person to become repentant, including infant Baptism.  In infant Baptism, God is calling the child through the parents, thereby protecting it.  Hence, we are thankful that God calls us through Baptism and when He absolves us during the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

The second favor, according to St. Bellarmine, is contained in the words “my refuge” because it is present time.  When God protects us through Baptism and the Sacrament of Reconciliation—when we have committed a mortal sin—He does not immediately assume us into heaven, but “places [us] in the line of His soldiers who are fighting here below and, if the individual trusts in the Lord as we discussed in the earlier posting, God will prove to be a “refuge” to the person “in every temptation and difficulty, and a most safe and secure refuge, as the Hebrew word for refuge implies.”1  We see this plainly as God placing us into the Catholic Church for security and for increase of faith.

For the third favor, the saint instructs us: “The third favor is a future one, and the greatest of all, and is contained in the words, ‘my God,’ for God is the supreme good, and God is always God in himself, and, therefore, the supreme good; and he will be peculiarly so ‘when we shall see him as he is,’ for then we shall enjoy the supreme good. The just man, therefore, reflecting and allowing that God was one time his protector, then his refuge, and, after this life, will constitute his happiness, comes to the conclusion, ‘in him will I trust;’ that is, I am firmly determined to put my trust in him, through every danger and temptation, as did holy Job, when he said, ‘Although he should kill me, I will trust in him’.”

To summarize:  When an individual desires to have a thorough trust in the protection of God, where he is abiding in that protection, by going to God in prayer, continuously asking to enter His secret place, the place of protection, “he then who so imitates Christ as to endure all the troubles of this world, with his hopes set upon God, that he falls into no snare, is broken down by no panic fears, he it is "who dwelleth under the defense of the Most High, who shall abide under the protection of God."1  That individual will then say to God, “Thou art my protector, and my refuge: my God, in Him will I trust.  This shall be our prayer at home, during Mass, and while receiving the Eucharist, constantly recalling that He is Protector, Deliverer, God.  We must remember that we can only be delivered when we are actually between the proverbial rock and a hard place.  It is then that He becomes our Fortress, for we do not need a fortress if we are not in danger.  Jesus promised us persecutions, hardships.  Our first pope, Peter, was crucified; St. Paul was beheaded; and we have a myriad of martyrs of the faith.  Nevertheless, they persevered and endured because God was Protector, Deliverer, and God of their souls.

--Tommy Turner

[1] The Holy Bible, Translated from the Latin Vulgate, (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), Ps 90:1–3.
[2] Saint Robert Bellarmine (2015-05-11). A Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Illustrated) (p. 422). Aeterna Press. Kindle Edition.
1 Saint Robert Bellarmine (2015-05-11). A Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Illustrated) (p. 423). Aeterna Press. Kindle Edition.
1 St. Augustine (2010-03-28). St. Augustine: Exposition on the Book of Psalms (Kindle Locations 21558-21559).  . Kindle Edition.

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