The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 21st Century
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PSALM TEN
The Innocent one killed

AFTER Psalm 9, the thanksgiving of the Messiah for the defeat of pagan peoples, Psalm 10 appeals to God against the hypocritical and greedy false brothers who triumph insolently, in the interior of the Country. The thanksgiving gives way to an earnest prayer to Yahweh in order that He break His incomprehensible silence and His cruel inaction. This is topical  !

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  1. Why, Yahweh, do You stay distant, why in time of distress do You hide Yourself  ?
  2. With pride, the impious one persecutes the one humbled.
    «  They will be caught in the schemes that they have contrived.  »

THE THOUGHTS OF THE IMPIOUS ONE

  1. For the impious one lauds his desires and, full of greed, he blesses defying Yahweh.
  2. The impious one does not consider how terrible His wrath is  ; all his schemes are “ God-less ”.
  3. His ways last at all times  ; Your judgements are high above him  : «  All His enemies, He will blow on them.  »
  4. He has said in his heart  : «  I am unshakeable, from age to age, I am sheltered from harm.  »
  5. He swears, his mouth is full of ruses and violence  ; beneath his language are misdeeds and iniquity.

THE INTRIGUES OF THE IMPIOUS ONE

  1. In the public places that he haunts in ambush, he is on watch, in hiding-places he will kill the Innocent One  ; his eyes are on the look-out for a field.
  2. He lies in ambush in his hiding-place like a lion in its den  ; he lies in ambush to carry off the humble one. He carries the one humbled off by luring him into his net.
  3. And, full of contrition, he yields. But the field of Elohim falls into his possession.
  4. He has said in his heart  : «  God has forgotten, He has hidden His Face, He never sees anything.  »
  5. Arise Yahweh God, raise Your hand, forget not the humbled  !
  6. Why does the impious one spurn God  ? He has said in his heart  : «  You will not ask for an account.  »

ORPHAN

  1. Open Your eyes, for it is You who give test and sorrow from Your own hands  :
    You come to the assistance of the orphan who, because of You, gives up a field.
  2. Break the arm of the impious one  ! You will ask for an account of his impiety, and You will not find evil any more.
  3. Yahweh is a king forever and always  ! The pagans have disappeared from His Land.
  4. Yahweh, You graciously heard the desire of the humble, You will strengthen their heart, You will hearken with Your ear.
  5. To do justice to the orphan and the one oppressed, that a man originating from the earth increase terror no more  !
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VERSE 1  : the time of «  distress  » persists at Jerusalem, after the return from the Exile. Yahweh still seems absent, «  distant  », «  hiding  » Himself from His people, ever since the Prophet Ezekiel saw Him desert the Temple of Jerusalem… And Israel is thus exposed to all sorts of persecutions, as the preceding psalms have taught us. This is why Psalm 9 implored Yahweh to return, to manifest Himself once again, in order to be «  a bulwark for the one who has been crushed, a bulwark in times of distress.  » (Ps 9.10)

VERSE 2  : the condition of Yahweh’s faithful, in this «  time of distress  » is to be «  humbled  » by the pride of the impious one. God responds to this arrogance by promising a reversal of fates. (cf. Ps 9.16).

THE THOUGHTS OF THE IMPIOUS ONE

VERSE 3  : it is no longer a question of “ pagans ” but of the sanctimonious, which the Psalmist subtlety intimates by applying the vocabulary of piety to the feelings of the impious one  : instead of lauding God, they laud their own passions  ; instead of blessing God, they bless «  defying God  »  ! It is the fruit of a great controversy  !

VERSE 4  : the impious one is an “ atheist ”, not in the modern sense of the word, but he believes that God does not really intervene in his life. He therefore leads his life according to his own «  schemes  », congratulating himself for the advantages he derives from his wrongdoings.

VERSE 5. He succeeds in everything  ; he has not understood the lesson of the Exile  : «  Let the impious one forsake his way, and the wicked man his thoughts  ; Let him turn to Yahweh for mercy  ; to our God, who is generous in forgiving. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says Yahweh.  » (Is 55.7-8) God’s «  judgements  » are contained in this promise  : «  With the breath of His lips He shall slay the impious one.  » (Is 11.4)

VERSE 6  : this is what the impious one says of himself, «  in his heart  ». One might as well say that he thinks he is God in Person  !

VERSE 7. And here is what he utters outside  : a torrent of villainies always ready to burst out on all occasions from «  beneath his tongue  », as though from an inexhaustible source  !

THE INTRIGUES OF THE IMPIOUS ONE

  1. In the public places that he haunts in ambush, he is on watch, in hiding-places he will kill the Innocent One  ; his eyes are on the look-out for a field.

The impious one does not content himself with only speaking scandal. He acts in accordance with what he says, even committing robbery and murder, ever since Cain killed Abel through jealousy, in order to take possession of his wealth, hélekah. It is the key word of this poem, used only in this psalm and misunderstood by commentators  : it is the equivalent of the word hèleqah, and designates Naboth’s «  field  » (2 K 9.21).

«  The Innocent One  » finds himself in the same situation as Naboth who long ago refused to sell his vineyard to Ahab, king of Israel, and whom Jezebel, using false witnesses, had stoned to death in order to give the vineyard to her husband (1 K 21).

Thus the inspired author foresees the «  Innocent One  » par excellence, persecuted to death, Jesus in His Passion. Our Lord Himself provided the exegesis of this psalm in a parable presenting wicked tenants who killed all those whom the Master of the vineyard had sent to obtain the produce of his vineyard  : «  He had one other to send, a beloved son. He sent him to them last of all, thinking  : “ They will respect my son. ” But those tenants said to one another  : “ This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours. ”  » (Mk 12.6-7)

  1. He lies in ambush in his hiding-place like a lion in its den  ; he lies in ambush to carry off the humble one. He carries the one humbled off by luring him into his net.

The «  one humbled  », the object of the Impious one’s condemnation (v. 2), clearly designates the Innocent One who is killed, the heir, the Messiah, Yahweh’s Suffering Servant, and those who resemble Him  : «  Ill-treated, He humbled Himself  » (Is 53.7).

«  Carried off  »  : at the time of the Exile, as was the little Jehoiachin, the last King of Judah (598-597), who was eight years old at his accession, reigned three months and was deported with the queen, his mother, in order to expiate the crimes of his people in the jails of Babylon. “ The Unknown of the Exile ” presents him as the figure of the King-Messiah to come, who will redeem His people by His suffering. This is why Yahweh promises Him the heritage  : «  Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage, and the ends of the earth Your possession.  » (Ps 2.8) For Yahweh «  is not deaf to the cry of those who have been humbled  » (Ps 9.13).

  1. And, full of contrition, he yields. But the field of Elohim falls into his possession.

This Innocent One is «  full of contrition  » because «  Yahweh laid upon Him the guilt of us all.  » (Is 53.6). But at the cost of this humiliation, he will enter into possession of «  a field of Elohim  », which had fallen into the hands of the impious. The expression designates the Holy Land occupied for the moment by the Samaritans and pagan invaders.

  1. He has said in his heart  : «  God has forgotten, He has hidden His Face, He never sees anything.  »

It is the impious one who speaks in this manner. But God does not forget. Consequently, when contempt of God is added to the sufferings of the «  one humbled  », the limit has been reached  ! The common interest of God and «  one humbled  » demands God’s rapid intervention (cf. Ps 9.20).

  1. Arise Yahweh God, raise Your hand, forget not the humbled  !

«  Raise Your hand  » to strike (Is 9.11; 16; 20; 10.4; 10; 14).

  1. Why does the impious one spurn God  ? He has said in his heart  : «  You will not ask for an account.  »

It is insane  : «  For He who orders an account for blood remembers it  ; He is not deaf to the cry of those who have been humbled.  » (Ps 9.13) Whence this supplication  :

ORPHAN

  1. Open your eyes, for it is You who give test and sorrow from Your own hands  : You come to the assistance of the orphan who, because of you, gives up a field.

Unlike the impious one, according to whom God sees nothing (verses 11 and 13), «  the one humbled  » only has to say  : «  Yahweh will come to assist me.  » (Is 50.7) And the «  orphaned  » Jewish people, without king and prophet since the Exile  : «  Yet, You are our Father, Yahweh  ; we are the clay and You the potter  : we are all the work of Your hands.  » (Is 64.7) Out of fidelity to Yahweh the repatriates abandoned «  a field  » acquired in the land of the Exile, and did not regain possession of their own  :

«  Our inherited lands have been turned over to strangers, our homes to foreigners. We have become orphans, fatherless  ; widowed are our mothers.  » (Lm 5.1-3)

  1. Break the arm of the impious one  ! You will ask for an account of his impiety, and You will not find evil any more.

The time has come for God to put an end to the secret blasphemy that the impious one pours out in his heart (v. 13). Then evil will disappear.

  1. Yahweh is a king forever and always  ! The pagans have disappeared from His land.

This is a beautiful profession of monarchic faith  !

  1. Yahweh, You graciously heard the desire of the humble, You will strengthen their heart, You will hearken with Your ear.

The «  desire of the humbled  » corresponds to what the impious one prided himself on (v. 3), and the firmness of his heart corresponds to the illusion of the Other (v. 6).

  1. To do justice to the orphan and the one oppressed, that a man originating from the earth increase terror no more  !

This final verse is an appeal to a saviour who is not from the Earth. A prayer that was answered when a man «  originating  » from Heaven was born of a Virgin  : «  Emmanuel  », «  God with us  ».

Brother Bruno of Jesus-Mary
He is risen   ! n° 30, February 2004

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