The Catholic Counter-Reformation in the 21st Century
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PSALM ELEVEN (10)
Hatred of schism

IN order to understand Psalm 11 (10 in the Breviary1), it must be placed following the preceding one, that is to say, in the same context of the return from the Exile, firmly set in the same Messianic hope. This is the key to verses 1 and 2, which the exegetes declare untranslatable. The same goes for the last verse, which the same exegetes claim to correct in order to make it say the opposite of what it truly means  !

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  1. To the choirmaster, to David.

GIVERS OF EVIL ADVICE

  • I take shelter in Yahweh  ; how say you to my soul  : «  Flee your Mountain, bird  !
  1. For, behold, the wicked bend the bow and fit the arrow on the cord to shoot in the dark those who have an upright heart,
  2. For the founders have been uprooted.  »
    What has the Just One done  ?

SUPERNATURAL WISDOM

  1. Yahweh is in the Hekal, His Sanctuary. Yahweh is in heaven, His throne.
    His eyes scan, His eyelids test the sons of Adam.
  2. Yahweh examines the righteous man and the wicked man  ; His soul hates him who loves violence.
  3. I shall rain down on the wicked coals of fire and sulphur, and a blast of wrath will be the portion of their cup.
  4. Because He is righteous Yahweh loves deeds of righteousness  : their faces shall contemplate Righteousness.
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  1. To the choirmaster, to David.

As in the preceding psalms, this one is dedicated to David, designated as the «  choirmaster  ».

GIVERS OF EVIL ADVICE

  • I take shelter in Yahweh  ; how say you to my soul  : «  Flee your Mountain, bird  !

Ancient and modern exegetes declare the Hebrew text to be “ unintelligible and modify it so as to translate  : «  Flee, sparrow, to your mountain  !  » By this original mistranslation, the entire lesson of the psalm is lost, as we shall demonstrate.

«  Bird  »  : this word designates the community of faithful Jews whom Yahweh had brought back from Babylon, in the manner of the Prophet Hosea  : «  Like a bird, they shall come trembling from Egypt, and like a dove from the land of Assyria  ; and I will return them to their homes, says Yahweh.  » (Hos 11.11)

The «  Mountain  » is that of Jerusalem, Sion, the holy Mountain of Yahweh, on which the Messiah was anointed (Ps 2.6), on which the Temple also is built. There Yahweh resides. This council of fainthearted friends can therefore be easily understood  : it is an incitement to break with the Temple of Jerusalem, to commit schism. Like the Samaritans, who built their own temple on Mount Garizim in 328 in opposition to the Temple of Jerusalem, they are, for this reason, schismatics. Moreover, they could perhaps be the authors of this perfidious advice…

But the Psalmist «  takes shelter in Yahweh  », like the dove «  hidden in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff  » (Sg 2.14). This is his joy, as he has already said  : «  But then all who take shelter in You will rejoice, they will cry for joy forever  ; and You will defend them. And those who love Your name will exult in You.  » (Ps 5.12)

  1. For, behold, the wicked bend the bow and fit the arrow on the cord to shoot in the dark those who have an upright heart,

The word «  dark  » is to be taken in its metaphorical sense. How can one «  shoot in the dark  »  ? It therefore concerns the treason hatched in the «  dark  ». The Passion of the Lord would fulfil this prophecy to the letter  : «  Immediately after receiving the morsel, he went out  ; and it was night  » (Jn 13.30)

The plot that is woven here was already referred to in Psalm 2  : «  The kings of the earth take up position, and its rulers unite against Yahweh and His Anointed, saying, “ Let us break their shackles asunder, and cast off their yoke  ! ”  » (Ps 2.2-3)

We have shown that the context was the time of Alexander’s conquest. Samaria took advantage of the situation that Alexander had caused and entered into schism. The Psalmist draws a parallel between this strained situation and the period that had preceded the Exile, when Nebuchadnezzar began to make threats and the Prophet Jeremiah denounced the false brethren  : «  They bend their tongue like a bow  ; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land  ; for they proceed from evil to evil, but Me they know not, says Yahweh… Their tongue is a deadly arrow  ; it speaks deceitfully  ; with his mouth each speaks peaceably to his neighbour, but in his heart he plans an ambush for him. Shall I not punish them for these things  ? says Yahweh – Shall I not avenge Myself on a nation such as this  ?  » (Jr 9.2 et 7-8)

  1. For the founders have been uprooted.  »
    What has the Just One done  ?

To remedy the incomprehension of the exegetes that leads them to interpretations that destroy one another, it suffices to identify «  the founders  »  : they are the Jews who did not want to obey Yahweh and His prophet and were punished by exile.

The verb «  uproot.  » clearly recalls the vocation of the Prophet Jeremiah  : «  See  ! I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to uproot and to tear down, to exterminate and to demolish, to build and to plant.  » (Jr 1.10) Jeremiah was charged with announcing to the Jews their defeat and deportation to Babylon, the punishment for their incredulity. If they were to accept this punishment for their conversion, by remaining in the country instead of fleeing to Egypt before the Babylonian threat, Yahweh had promised them the restoration  : «  I will build you up and not tear you down  ; I will plant you, and not pluck you up; for I will repent of the evil which I did to you.  »

Upon their return from the Exile, the Jews brought back from Babylon the precious Songs of the Servant, the fourth of which prophesied  : «  By His knowledge shall the Righteous One, My Servant, make many righteous  ; and He shall bear their iniquities  » (Is 53.11) The Jewish people knew full well why they were being punished by God. But the suffering Servant, «  the Righteous One, what did He do  ?  » Assuredly nothing wrong, since He is the «  Righteous One  »  ! The Prophet Jeremiah represents Him once again in Chapter 9, in terms that closely parallel Psalm 11  : «  Who will provide me a wayfarers’ lodgings in the desert, that I may leave My people and go far away from them  ! For they are all adulterers, a company of treacherous men  » (Jr 9.1).

Therefore, if the «  Righteous One  » is «  uprooted  » as well, He suffers the same punishment, not because of His own sins, but for the redemption of His people.

This verse expresses the entire Messianic hope of the faithful Yahwists in these troubled times  : the Servant of Yahweh will come and save them from their sins. Should they, then, enter into schism like the Samaritans  ? Never  ! This would be to sin against hope  !

SUPERNATURAL WISDOM

  1. Yahweh is in the Hekal, His Sanctuary. Yahweh is in heaven, His throne.
    His eyes scan  ; His eyelids test the sons of Adam.

Yahweh only dwells in the midst of His sanctuary in Jerusalem, on His holy Mountain, He whose throne is in the Heavens. He lowers His attention down to the sons of Adam (Ps 8.5) in order to distinguish the good from the evil (Ps 7.10).

  1. Yahweh examines the righteous man and the wicked man  ; His soul hates him who loves violence.

After the description of the wicked quoted above, the Prophet Jeremiah announced their punishment  : «  Therefore, thus says Yahweh Sabaoth  : “ Behold, I will refine them and test them, for what else can I do for the daughter of My people  ? ”  » (Jr 9.6) Their punishment came through war and deportation. The next time, it would be worse  :

  1. I shall rain down on the wicked coals of fire and sulphur, and a blast of wrath will be the portion of their cup.

Their final punishment would be similar to that of Sodom and Gomorrah  : «  Then Yahweh rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from Yahweh out of heaven.  » (Gn 19.24)

But the Unknown of the Exile prophesied that Jerusalem would be raised up from this terrible trial  :

«  Rouse yourself, rouse yourself, stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of Yahweh the cup of His wrath, who have drunk to the dregs the bowl of staggeringThus says your Lord, Yahweh, your God who pleads the cause of His people  : “ Behold, I have taken from your hand the cup of staggering  ; the bowl of My wrath you shall drink no more. ”  » (Is 51.17; 22)

How will this come about  ?

  1. Because He is righteous Yahweh loves deeds of righteousness  : their faces shall contemplate Righteousness.

The ordinary, generally accepted translation is not true to the Hebrew  ; it deforms the lesson of the psalm. It is too little to consider Yahweh “ righteous ”  : He is the personification of the Righteousness that those who will have been faithful, those who avoid the temptation to enter into schism, will contemplate with their own eyes, face to Face.

When Our Lord will appear, «  fulfilling all righteousness  » (Mt 3.15) the prophecy will be fulfilled. Righteous hearts will only have to turn towards Him, our mediator, this «  righteous man  », whom no one succeeded in proving guilty of sin.

CONCLUSION

Even threatened with the invasion of Alexander, the community of faithful Yahwists did not leave the holy Mountain, where they remained under God’s eyes. Even in our present darkness, God sees clearly. He recognises His own in the midst of the wicked and the impious, in that they long in their hearts for the Messiah who will redeem them from their sins by His suffering. Since the return from the Exile, their hope was renewed by the meditation of the songs of the Suffering Servant. In comparison with such hope, how could one succumb to the temptation of schism  ?…

Brother Bruno of Jesus-Mary
He is risen  ! n° 38, October 2005


(1) As a result of Psalm 10 being joined to Psalm 9 in the Septuagint and the Vulgate, this psalm is numbered ten in our Breviary and eleven in Hebrew. Starting with this psalm the differing scheme of numbering persists up to Psalm 147.

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