Today’s verses of Psalm 118 (119) contain a plea to help us turn our eyes and minds away from vanity and covetousness, and earthly things in general. As Richard J Foster’s 1960 commentary on the Psalms and Canticles of the Breviary notes:
“We live in the world surrounded by temptation and we are drawn towards evil. The psalm warns us to control our "vision"—television or any other kind of "vision"—averte oculos meos ne videant vanitatem; per viam tuam da mihi vitam. The things we see and read form our thoughts and so affect our outlook and especially our prayers. How could we better express our desire for union with God through the avoidance of evil influences than by these words?”
This fifth stanza of Psalm 118 also recapitulates the key themes of the psalm so far. As St Robert Bellarmine comments:
“In the next eight verses he asks, in a certain order, first, for a desire of observing the law; secondly, for light to understand it; thirdly, for grace to observe it; and fourthly, for the removal of all obstacles thereto. In this very long Psalm David, for the purpose of touching the affections, and of guarding against tedium, repeats the same matter frequently, but in different phraseology.”
The verses (he)
33 Legem pone mihi, Domine, viam justificationum tuarum, et exquiram eam semper.
34 Da mihi intellectum, et scrutabor legem tuam, et custodiam illam in toto corde meo.
35 Deduc me in semitam mandatorum tuorum, quia ipsam volui.
36 Inclina cor meum in testimonia tua, et non in avaritiam.
37 Averte oculos meos, ne videant vanitatem; in via tua vivifica me.
38 Statue servo tuo eloquium tuum in timore tuo.
39 Amputa opprobrium meum quod suspicatus sum, quia judicia tua jucunda.
40 Ecce concupivi mandata tua: in æquitate tua vivifica me.
33 He. Set before me for a law the way of your justifications, O Lord: and I will always seek after it.
34 Give me understanding, and I will search your law; and I will keep it with my whole heart.
35 Lead me into the path of your commandments; for this same I have desired.
36 Incline my heart into your testimonies and not to covetousness.
37 Turn away my eyes that they may not behold vanity: quicken me in your way.
38 Establish your word to your servant, in your fear.
39 Turn away my reproach, which I have apprehended: for your judgments are delightful.
40 Behold I have longed after your precepts: quicken me in your justice.