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Home > Fathers of the Church > Expositions on the Psalms (Augustine) > Psalm 27

Exposition on Psalm 27

Of David himself, before he was anointed.

1. Christ's young soldier speaks, on his coming to the faith. The Lord is my light, and my salvation: whom shall I fear? Psalm 26:1. The Lord will give me both knowledge of Himself, and salvation: who shall take me from Him? The Lord is the Protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid? The Lord will repel all the assaults and snares of mine enemy: of no man shall I be afraid.

2. Whilst the guilty approach unto me to eat up my flesh Psalm 26:2. Whilst the guilty come near to recognise and insult me, that they may exalt themselves above me in my change for the better; that with their reviling tooth they may consume not me, but rather my fleshly desires. Mine enemies who trouble me. Not they only who trouble me, blaming me with a friendly intent, and wishing to recall me from my purpose, but mine enemies also. They became weak, and fell. Whilst then they do this with the desire of defending their own opinion, they became weak to believe better things, and began to hate the word of salvation, whereby I do what displeases them.

3. If camps stand together against me, my heart will not fear. But if the multitude of gain-sayers conspire to stand together against me, my heart will not fear, so as to go over to their side. If war rise up against me, in this will I trust Psalm 26:3. If the persecution of this world arise against me, in this petition, which I am pondering, will I place my hope.

4. One have I asked of the Lord, this will I require. For one petition have I asked the Lord, this will I require. That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life Psalm 26:4. That as long as I am in this life, no adversities may exclude me from the number of them who hold the unity and the truth of the Lord's faith throughout the world. That I may contemplate the delight of the Lord. With this end, namely, that persevering in the faith, the delightsome vision may appear to me, which I may contemplate face to face. And I shall be protected, His temple. And death being swallowed up in victory, I shall be clothed with immortality, being made His temple.

5. For He has hidden me in His tabernacle in the day of my evils Psalm 26:5. For He has hidden me in the dispensation of His Incarnate Word in the time of temptations, to which my mortal life is exposed. He has protected me in the secret place of His tabernacle. He has protected me, with the heart believing unto righteousness.

6. On a rock has He exalted me. And that what I believed might be made manifest for salvation, He has made my confession to be conspicuous in His own strength. And now, lo! He has exalted mine head above mine enemies Psalm 26:6. What does He reserve for me at the last, when even now the body is dead because of sin, lo! I feel that my mind serves the law of God, and is not led captive under the rebellious law of sin? I have gone about, and have sacrificed in His tabernacle the sacrifice of rejoicing. I have considered the circuit of the world, believing on Christ; and in that for us God was humbled in time, I have praised Him with rejoicing: for with such sacrifice He is well pleased. I will sing and give praises to the Lord. In heart and in deed I will be glad in the Lord.

7. Hear my voice, O Lord, wherewith I have cried unto You Psalm 26:7. Hear, Lord, my interior voice, which with a strong intention I have addressed to Your ears. Have mercy upon me, and hear me. Have mercy upon me, and hear me therein.

8. My heart has said to You, I have sought Your countenance Psalm 26:8. For I have not exhibited myself to men; but in secret, where Thou alone hear, my heart has said to You; I have not sought from You anything without You as a reward, but Your countenance. Your countenance, O Lord, will I seek. In thus search will I perseveringly persist: for not anything that is common, but Your countenance, O Lord, will I seek, that I may love You freely, since nothing more precious do I find.

9. Turn not away Your face from me Psalm 26:9: that I may find what I seek. Turn not aside in anger from Your servant: lest, while seeking You, I fall in with somewhat else. For what is more grievous than this punishment to one who loves and seeks the truth of Your countenance? Be Thou my Helper. How shall I find it, if Thou help me not? Leave me not, neither despise me, O God my Saviour. Scorn not that a mortal dares to seek the Eternal; for Thou, God, dost heal the wound of my sin.

10. For my father and my mother have left me (ver. 10). For the kingdom of this world and the city of this world, of which I was born in time and mortality, have left me seeking You, and despising what they promised, since they could not give what I seek. But the Lord took me up. But the Lord, who can give me Himself, took me up.

11. Appoint me a law, O Lord, in Your way Psalm 26:11. For me then who am setting out toward You, and commenting so great a profession, of arriving at wisdom, from fear, appoint, O Lord, a law in Your way, lest in my wandering Your rule abandon me. And direct me in the right path because of mine enemies. And direct me in the right way of its straits. For it is not enough to begin, since enemies cease not until the end is attained.

12. Deliver me not up unto the souls of them that trouble me Psalm 26:12. Suffer not them that trouble me to be satiated with my evils. For unrighteous witnesses have risen up against me. For there have risen up against me they that speak falsely of me, to remove and call me back from You, as if I seek glory of men. And iniquity has lied unto itself. Therefore iniquity has been pleased with its own lie. For me it has not moved, to whom because of this there has been promised a greater reward in heaven.

13. I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living Psalm 26:13. And since my Lord has first suffered these things, if I too despise the tongues of the dying (for the mouth that lies slays the soul Wisdom 1:11), I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living, where there is no place for falsity.

14. Wait on the Lord, quit yourself like a man: and let your heart be strong, yea wait on the Lord Psalm 26:14. But when shall this be? It is arduous for a mortal, it is slow to a lover: but listen to the voice, that deceives not, of him that says, Wait on the Lord. Endure the burning of the reins manfully, and the burning of the heart stoutly. Think not that what you do not as yet receive is denied you. That you faint not in despair, see how it is said, Wait on the Lord.

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Source. Translated by an anonymous scholar. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 8. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1801027.htm>.

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