We have already looked at the second psalm of this Second Nocturn of Tenebrae for Holy Saturday, Psalm 26, so today a brief look at Psalm 29 (30).
The title of this psalm alludes to the dedication of David's house, but as Pope John Paul II pointed out in his General Audience given on it, it has always been interpreted, in the Christian tradition, as a paschal hymn.
The psalm opens with Christ thanking his Father for his deliverance, and looks forward to the Resurrection, as the sixth century commentator Cassiodorus nicely sums up:
"In the first section the Lord Christ our King gives thanks to the Father after His glorious resurrection, because the Father freed Him from the hostility of this world. He orders the saints to announce praise of the Lord, since all things lie in His power. In the second section He says that He is not to be shifted from His steadfast purpose, and further adds that praise of the Deity is to be discharged by the living and not by the dead. In the third section He joyfully and delightedly returns to His resurrection, for having laid aside the frailty of the flesh He continues in the undying glory of His majesty. In his usual fashion He describes as past what He knew would come."
St Alphonsus Liguori draws out the lesson from it for us:
"This psalm is very suitable to every Christian who, having been assailed by his passions, is in danger of falling into temptations."
It teaches, Pope John Paul II, suggests that
"...we must never let ourselves be ensnared by the dark confusion of despair, when it seems that everything is already lost. Nor, of course, is there any need to fall into the illusion that we can save ourselves with our own resources."
Rather, we must cry out to God for help, and then thank him when it comes.
Exaltabo te, Domine, quoniam suscepisti me, nec delectasti inimicos meos super me.
Domine Deus meus, clamavi ad te, et sanasti me.
Domine, eduxisti ab inferno animam meam; salvasti me a descendentibus in lacum.
Psallite Domino, sancti ejus; et confitemini memoriæ sanctitatis ejus.
Quoniam ira in indignatione ejus, et vita in voluntate ejus :
ad vesperum demorabitur fletus, et ad matutinum lætitia.
Ego autem dixi in abundantia mea : Non movebor in æternum.
Domine, in voluntate tua præstitisti decori meo virtutem; avertisti faciem tuam a me, et factus sum conturbatus.
Ad te, Domine, clamabo, et ad Deum meum deprecabor.
Quæ utilitas in sanguine meo, dum descendo in corruptionem?
numquid confitebitur tibi pulvis, aut annuntiabit veritatem tuam?
Audivit Dominus, et misertus est mei; Dominus factus est adjutor meus.
Convertisti planctum meum in gaudium mihi; conscidisti saccum meum, et circumdedisti me lætitia:
ut cantet tibi gloria mea, et non compungar. Domine Deus meus, in æternum confitebor tibi.
I will extol you, O Lord, for you have upheld me: and have not made my enemies to rejoice over me. O Lord my God, I have cried to you, and you have healed me.
You have brought forth, O Lord, my soul from hell: you have saved me from them that go down into the pit.
Sing to the Lord, O you his saints: and give praise to the memory of his holiness.
For wrath is in his indignation; and life in his good will.
In the evening weeping shall have place, and in the morning gladness.
And in my abundance I said: I shall never be moved.
O Lord, in your favour, you gave strength to my beauty.
You turned away your face from me, and I became troubled.
To you, O Lord, will I cry: and I will make supplication to my God.
What profit is there in my blood, whilst I go down to corruption?
Shall dust confess to you, or declare your truth?
The Lord has heard, and has had mercy on me: the Lord became my helper.
You have turned for me my mourning into joy: you have cut my sackcloth, and have compassed me with gladness:
To the end that my glory may sing to you, and I may not regret: O Lord my God, I will give praise to you for ever.
Tenebrae of Holy Saturday
Nocturn I: Psalms 4, 14, 15
Nocturn II: Psalms 23, 26, 29
Nocturn III: Psalms 53*, 75*, 87*
Lauds: 50*, 91, 63, [Is 38], 150