Gleanings from Orthodox Christian Authors and the Holy Fathers

psalms

4 Entries

Now, my son, it is necessary for each of the readers of that book to read it in its entirety, for truly the thing in it are divinely inspired, but then to take benefits from these, as from the fruits of a garden on which he may cast his gaze when the need arises. For I believe that the whole of human existence, both the dispositions of the soul and the movements of the thoughts, have been measured out and encompassed in those very words of the Psalter. And nothing beyond those is found among men. For whether there was necessity of repentance or confession, or tribulation and trial befell us, or someone was persecuted, or, being plotted against, he was protected, or if, moreover, someone has become deeply sorrowful and disturbed and he suffers something of the sort that is described in the things just mentioned, and he either attends to himself as one who is advancing, being set free from his foe, or he wants to sing praises and give thanks to the Lord - for any such eventuality he has instruction in the divine Psalms. Let him therefore select the things and in them about each of these circumstances, and reciting what has been written as concerning them, and being affected by the writings, lift them up to the Lord. St. Athanasius of Alexandria, The Letter to Marcellinus



The Book of Psalms thus has a certain grace of its own, and a distinctive exactitude of expression. For in addition to the other things in which it enjoys an affinity and fellowship with the other books, it possesses, beyond that, this marvel of its own -- namely, that it contains even the emotions of each soul, and it has the changes and rectifications of these delineated and regulated in itself. Therefore anyone who wishes boundlessly to receive and understand from it, so as to mold himself, it is written there. St. Athanasius the Great, Letter to Marcellinus

The Book of Psalms thus has a certain grace of its own, and a distinctive exactitude of expression. For in additional to the other things in which it enjoys an affinity and fellowship with the other books, it possesses, beyond that, this marvel of its own -- namely, that it contains even the emotions of each soul, and it has the changes and rectifications of these delineated and regulated in itself. Therefore anyone who wishes boundlessly to receive and understand from it, so as to mold himself, it is written there. St. Athanasius the Great, Letter to Marcellinus

There is also this astonishing thing in the Psalms. In the other books, those who read what the holy ones say, and what they might say concerning certain people, are relating the things that were written about those earlier people. And likewise, those who listen consider themselves to be other than those about whom the passage speaks, so that they only come to the imitation of the deeds that are told to the extent that they marvel at them and desire to emulate them. By contrast, however, he who takes up this book - the Psalter - goes through the prophecies about the Savior, as is customary in the other Scriptures, with admiration and adoration, but the other psalms he recognizes as being his own words. And the one who hears is deeply moved, as though he himself were speaking, and is affected by the words of the songs, as if they were his own songs. St. Athanasius of Alexandria, The Letter to Marcellinus





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