Today’s stanza of Psalm 118 encourage us to keep God’s promises to us firm in our mind so that we can withstand the assaults of those who attack us in this world, and it has a few verses in it of particular note, so I’ll linger over this stanza for a couple of days in order to draw them out.
He has put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble…
Verses 50 and 51 set a contrast that echoes throughout Scripture, between the proud and the humble:
“This has comforted me in my humiliation: because your word has enlivened me.
The proud did iniquitously altogether: but I declined not from your law.”
As we go about our earthly life, the pilgrimage referred to in verse 54, we will face difficulties and humiliations. We can accept them peaceably, as things to learn and grow from, and stay fast in God’s way knowing that God has promised he will always be with us; this is the path of humility, modeled for us by Our Lady.
Or we can scream and shout, insist that we are in control, and attempt to impose our will on ourselves and others, and in the process, commit to the way of sin. This is the path of the proud.
How should we respond to the attacks of the proud?
The psalm recognizes that those trying to pursue the good will come under attack, and it instructs us on what to do.
First, cling fast to God’s law, stay on the path ourselves no matter the provocation.
Secondly, remember that justice will be served eventually, one way or another. Verse 53 invites us to remember the constant theme of the Old Testament, that evil will be punished, and good rewarded:
“I remembered, O Lord, your judgments of old: and I was comforted.”
Thirdly though, and perhaps most importantly, it reminds us that we should be horrified at the prospect of others going to hell. There is still hope of redemption for even the worst sinner while he remains alive, and thus we must pray for the conversion of such souls:
“A fainting has taken hold of me, because of the wicked that forsake your law.”
Here is the stanza in full.
49 Memor esto verbi tui servo tuo, in quo mihi spem dedisti.
Be mindful of your word to your servant, in which you have given me hope.
50 Hæc me consolata est in humilitate mea, quia eloquium tuum vivificavit me.
This has comforted me in my humiliation: because your word has enlivened me.
51 Superbi inique agebant usquequaque; a lege autem tua non declinavi.
The proud did iniquitously altogether: but I declined not from your law.
52 Memor fui judiciorum tuorum a sæculo, Domine, et consolatus sum.
I remembered, O Lord, your judgments of old: and I was comforted.
53 Defectio tenuit me, pro peccatoribus derelinquentibus legem tuam.
A fainting has taken hold of me, because of the wicked that forsake your law.
54 Cantabiles mihi erant justificationes tuæ in loco peregrinationis meæ.
Your justifications were the subject of my song, in the place of my pilgrimage.
55 Memor fui nocte nominis tui, Domine, et custodivi legem tuam.
In the night I have remembered your name, O Lord: and have kept your law.
56 Hæc facta est mihi, quia justificationes tuas exquisivi.
This happened to me: because I sought after your justifications.