Augustin on Psalms 56

PSALM 56 (55)

Ps 56)

1. Just as when we are going to enter into any house, we look on the title to see whose it is and to whom it belongeth, lest perchance inopportunely we burst into a place whereunto we ought not; and again, in order that we may not through timidity withdraw from that which we ought to enter: as if in a word we were to read, These estates belong to such an one or to such an one: so on the lintel of this Psalm we have inscribed, "At the end, for the people that from holy men were put afar off, to David himself, at the inscription of the Title, when the Allophyli held him in Gath."(11) Let us therefore take knowledge of the people that from holy men were put afar off at the inscription of the Title. For this doth belong to that David whom now ye know how to understand spiritually. For there is here commended to our notice no other than He of whom hath been said, "The end of the Law is Christ for righteousness to every man believing."(12) Therefore when thou hearest "at the end," unto Christ give heed, lest tarrying in the way thou arrive not at the end. ...

2. Who are then the people that from holy men were put afar off at the inscription of the Title? Let the Title itself declare to us that people. For there was written a certain title at the Passion of the Lord, when the Lord was crucified: there was in that place a Title inscribed in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin, "The King of the Jews;"(13) in three tongues as though by three witnesses the Title was confirmed: because "in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall stand every word."(1)...

3. What therefore meaneth that which to the title itself still belongeth, namely, that "the Allophyli held him in Geth"? Geth was a certain city of the Allophyli,(2) that is, of strangers, to wit, of people afar from holy men. All they that refuse Christ for King become strangers. Wherefore strangers are they made? Because even that vine, though by Him planted, when it had become sour what heard it? "Wherefore hast thou been turned into sourness, O alien vine?"(3) It hath not been said, My vine: because if Mine, sweet; if sour, not Mine; if not Mine, surely alien. "There held him," then, "Allophyli in Geth." We find indeed, brethren, David himself, son of Jesse, king of Israel, to have been in a strange land among the Allophyli, when he was sought by Saul, and was in that city and with the king of that city,(4) but that there he was detained we read not. Therefore our David, the Lord Jesus Christ out of the seed of that David, not alone they held, but there hold Him still Allophyli in Geth. Of Geth we have said that it is a city. But the interpretation of this name, if asked for, signifieth "press." ... How therefore here is He held in Geth? Held in a winepress is His Body, that is, His Church. What is, in a winepress? In pressings. But in a winepress fruitful is the pressing. A grape on the vine sustaineth no pressing, whole it seemeth, but nothing thence floweth: it is thrown into a winepress, is trodden, is pressed; harm seemeth to be done to the grape, but this harm is not barren; nay, if no harm had been applied, barren it would have remained.

4. Let whatsoever holy men therefore that are suffering pressing from those that have been put afar off from the saints, give heed to this Psalm, let them perceive here themselves, let them speak what here is spoken, that suffer what here is spoken of. ... Private enmities therefore let no one think of, when about to hear the words of this Psalm: "Know ye that for us the wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against princes and powers, and spiritual things of wickedness,"(5) that is, against the devil and his angels; because even when we suffer men that annoy us, he is instigating, he is inflaming, as it were his vessels he is moving. Let us give heed therefore to two enemies, him whom we see, and him whom we see not; man we see, the devil we see not; man let us love, of the devil beware; for man pray, against the devil pray, and let us say to God, "Have pity on me, O Lord, for man hath trodden me down" (verse 1). Fear not because man hath trodden thee clown: have thou wine, a grape thou hast become in order that thou shouldest be trodden. "All day long warring he hath troubled me," every one that hath been put afar off from the saints. But why should not here be understood even the devil himself? Is it because mention is made of "man"?(6) doth therefore the Gospel err, because it hath said, "A man that is an enemy hath done this"?(7) But by a kind of figure may he also be called a man,(8) and yet not be a man. Whether therefore it was him whom he that said these words was beholding, or whether it was the people and each one that was put afar off from holy men, through which kind the devil troubleth the people of God, who cleave to holy men, who cleave to the Holy One, who cleave to the King, at the title of which King being indignant they were as though beaten back, and put afar off: let him say, "Have pity on me, O Lord, for man hath trodden me down:" and let him faint not in this treading down, knowing Him on whom he is calling, and by whose example he hath been made strong. The first cluster in the winefat pressed is Christ. When that cluster by passion was pressed Out,(9) there flowed that whence "the cup inebriating is how passing beautiful!"(10) Let His Body likewise say, looking upon its Head, "Have pity on me, O Lord, for man hath trodden me down: all day long warring he hath troubled me." "All day long," at all times. Let no one say to himself, There have been troubles in our fathers' time, in our time there are not. If thou supposest thyself not to have troubles, not yet hast thou begun to be a Christian. And where is the voice of the Apostle, "But even all that will live godly in Christ, persecutions shall suffer."(11) If therefore thou sufferest not any persecution for Christ, take heed lest not yet thou hast begun godly to live in Christ. But when thou hast begun godly to live in Christ, thou hast entered into the winepress; make ready thyself for pressings: but be not thou dry, lest from the pressing nothing go forth.

5. "Mine enemies have trodden me down all day long" (verse 2). They that have been put afar off from holy men, these are mine enemies. All day long: already it hath been said, "From the height(12) of the day." What meaneth, "from the height of the day"? Perchance it is a high thing to understand. And no wonder, because the height of the day it is. For perchance they for this reason have been put afar off from holy men, because they were not able to penetrate the height of the day, whereof the Apostles are twelve shining hours. Therefore they that crucified Him, as if man, in the day have erred. But why have they suffered darkness, so that they should be put afar off from holy men? Because on high the day was shining, Him in the height hidden they knew not. "For if they had known, never the Lord of Glory would they have crucified."(1) ...

6. "For many men that war against me, shall fear" (verse 3). Shall fear when? When the day shall have passed away, wherein they are high. For for a time high they are, when the time of their height is finished they will fear. "But I in Thee will hope, O Lord." He saith not, "But I will not fear:" but, "Many men, that war against me, shall fear." When there shall have come that day of Judgment, then "shall mourn for themselves all the tribes of the earth."(2) When there shall have appeared the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, then secure shall be all holy men. For that thing shall come which they hoped for, which they longed for, the coming whereof they prayed for: but to those men no place for repentance shall remain, because in that time wherein fruitful might have been repentance, their heart they hardened against a warning Lord. Shall they too raise up a wall against a judging God? The godliness of this man do thou indeed acknowledge, and if in that Body thou art, imitate him. When he had said, "Many men, that war against me, shall fear:" he did not continue, "But I will not fear;" lest to his own powers ascribing his not fearing, he too should be amid high temporal things, and through pride temporal he should not deserve to come to rest everlasting: rather he hath made thee to perceive whence he shall not fear. "But I," he saith, "in thee will hope, O Lord:" he hath not spoken of his confidence: but of the cause of his confidence. For if I shall not fear, I may also by hardness of heart not fear, for many men by too much pride fear nothing. ...

7. "In God I will praise my discourses, in God I have(3) hoped: I will not fear what flesh doeth to me" (verse 4). Wherefore? Because in God I will praise my discourses. If in thyself thou praisest thy discourses: I say not that thou art not to fear; it is impossible that thou have not to fear. For thy discourses either false thou wilt have, and therefore thine own, because false: or if thy discourses shall be true, and thou shalt deem thyself not to have them from God but of thyself to speak; true they will be, but thou wilt be false: but if thou shalt have known that thou canst say nothing true in the wisdom of God, in the faith of the Truth, save that which From Him thou hast received, of whom is said, "For what hast thou which thou hast not received?"(4) Then in God thou art praising thy discourses, in order that in God thou mayest be praised by the discourses of God. ... "In God I have hoped, I will not fear what flesh doeth to me." Wast thou not the same that a little before wast saying, "Have pity on me, O Lord, for man hath trodden me down; all day long warring he hath troubled me"?(5) How therefore here, "I will not fear what flesh doeth to me"? What shall he do to thee? Thou thyself a little before hast said, "Hath trodden me down, hath troubled me." Nothing shall he do, when these things he shall do? He hath had regard to the wine which floweth from treading, and hath made answer, Evidently he hath trodden down, evidently hath troubled; but what to me shall he do? A grape I was, wine I shall be: "In God I have hoped, I will not fear what flesh doeth to me."

8. "All day long my words they abhorred" (verse 5). Thus they are, ye know. Speak truth, preach truth, proclaim Christ to the heathen, proclaim the Church to heretics, proclaim to all men salvation: they contradict, they abhor my words. But when my words they abhor, whom think ye they abhor, save Him in whom I shall praise my discourses? "All day long my words they abhorred." Let this at least suffice, let them abhor words, no farther let them proceed, censure, reject! Be it far from them! Why should I say this? When words they reject, when words they hate, those words which from the fount of truth flow forth, what would they do to him through whom the very words are spoken? what but that which followeth, "Against me all the counsels of them are for evil?" If the bread itself they hate, how spare they the basket wherein it is ministered? "Against me all the counsels of them are for evil." If so even against the Lord Himself, let not the Body disdain that which hath gone before in the Head, to the end that the Body may cleave to the Head. Despised hath been thy Lord, and wilt thou have thyself be honoured by those men that have been put afar off from holy men? Do not for thyself wish to claim that which in Him hath not gone before. "The disciple is not greater than his Master; the servant is not greater than his Lord. If the Master of the family they have called Beelzebub, how much more them of His household?"(6) Against me all the counsels of them are for evil."

9. "They shall sojourn, and shall hide" (verse 6). To sojourn is to be in a strange land. Sojourners is a term used of those then that live in a country not their own. Every man in this life is a foreigner: in which life ye see that with flesh we are covered round, through which flesh the heart cannot be seen. Therefore the Apostle saith, "Do not before the time judge anything, until the Lord come, and He shall enlighten the hidden things of darkness, and shall manifest the thoughts of the heart; and then praise shall be to each one from God."(1) Before that this be done, in this sojourning of fleshly life every one carrieth his own heart, and every heart to every other heart is shut. Furthermore, those men of whom the counsels are against this man for evil, "shall sojourn, and shall hide:" because in this foreign abode they are, and carry flesh, they hide guile in heart; whatsoever of evil they think, they hide. Wherefore? Because as yet this life is a foreign one. Let them hide; that shall appear which they hide, and they too will not be hidden. There is also in this hidden thing another interpretation, which perchance will be more approved of. For out of those men that have been put afar off from holy men, there creep in certain false brethren, and they cause worse tribulations to the Body of Christ; because they are not altogether avoided as if entirely aliens. ... Not even those men nevertheless let us fear, brethren: "I will not fear what flesh doeth to me." Even if they sojourn, even if they go in, even if they feign, even if they hide, flesh they are: do thou in the Lord hope, nothing to thee shall flesh do. But he bringeth in tribulation, bringeth in treading down. There is added wine, because the grape is pressed: thy tribulation will not be unfruitful: another seeth thee, imitateth thee: because thou also in order that thou mightest learn to bear such a man, to thy Head hast looked up, that first cluster, unto whom there hath come in a man that he might see, hath sojourned, and hath hidden, to wit, the traitor Judas. All men, therefore, that with false heart go in, sojourning and hiding, do not thou fear: the father of these same men, Judas, with thy Lord hath been: and He indeed knew him; although Judas the traitor was sojourning and hiding, nevertheless, the heart of him was open to the Lord of all:(2) knowingly He chose one man, whereby He might give comfort to thee that wouldest not know whom thou shouldest avoid. For He might have not chosen Judas, because He knew Judas: for He saith to His disciples, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one out of you is a devil?"(3) Therefore even a devil was chosen. Or if chosen he was not, how is it that He hath chosen twelve, and not rather eleven? Chosen even he is, but for another purpose. Chosen were eleven for the work of probation, chosen one for the work of temptation.(4) Whence could He give an example to thee, that wouldest not know what men thou shouldest avoid as evil, of what men thou shouldest beware as false and artificial, sojourning and hiding, except He say to thee, Behold, with Myself I have had one of those very men! There hath gone before an example, I have borne, to suffer I have willed that which I knew, in order that to thee knowing not I might give consolation. That which to Me he hath done, the same he will do to thee also: in order that he may be able to do much, in order that he may make much havoc, he will accuse, false charges he will allege. ...

10. "These same men shall mark my heel." For they shall sojourn and hide in such sort, that they may mark where a man slippeth. Intent they are upon the heel, to see when a slip may chance to be made; in order that they may detain the foot for a fall, or trip up the foot for a stumble; certes that they may find that which they may accuse. And what man so walketh, that nowhere he slippeth? For example, how speedily is a slip made even in tongue? For it is written, "Whosoever in tongue stumbleth not, the same is a perfect man."(5) What man I pray would dare himself to call or deem perfect? Therefore it must needs be that every one slip in tongue. But let them that shall sojourn and shall hide, carp at all words, seeking somewhere to make snares and knotty false accusations, wherein they are themselves entangled before those whom they strive to entangle: in order that they may themselves be taken and perish before that they catch other men in order to destroy them. ... Whatever good thing I have said, whatever true thing I have said, of God I have said it, and from God have said it: whatever other thing perchance I have said, which to have said I ought not, as a man I have said, but under God I have said. He that strengtheneth one walking, doth menace one straying, forgive one acknowledging, recalleth the tongue, recalleth him that slipped. ... Attend thou unto the discourses of him whom thou blamest, whether perchance he may teach thee something to thy health. And what, he saith, shall he be able to teach to my health, that hath so slipped in word? This very thing perchance he is teaching thee to thy health, that thou be not a carper at words, but a gatherer of precepts. "As my soul hath undergone." I speak of that which I have undergone. He was speaking as one experienced: "As my soul hath undergone. They shall sojourn and hide." Let my soul undergo all men, men without barking, men within hiding, let it undergo. From without coming, like a river cometh temptation: on the Rock let it find thee, let it strike against, not throw thee down; the house hath been founded upon a Rock.(1) Within he is, he shall sojourn and hide: suppose chaff is near thee, let there come in the treading of oxen, let there come in the roller of temptations; thou art cleansed, the other is crushed.

11. "For nothing Thou shalt save them" (verse 7). He hath taught us even for these very men to pray. However "they shall sojourn and hide," however deceitful they be, however dissemblers and liers in wait they be; do thou pray for them, and do not say, Shall God amend even such a man, so evil, so perverse? Do not despair: give heed to Him whom thou askest, not him for whom thou askest. The greatness of the disease seest thou, the might of the Physician seest thou not? "They shall sojourn and hide: as my soul hath undergone." Undergo, pray: and there is done what? "For nothing Thou shalt save them." Thou shalt make them safe so as that nothing to Thee it may be, that is, so that no labour to Thee it may be. With men they are despaired of, but Thou with a word dost heal; Thou wilt not toil in healing, though we are astounded in looking on. There is another sense in this verse, "For nothing Thou shalt save them:" with not any merits of their going before Thou shall save them. ... They shall not bring to Thee he-goats, rams, bulls, not gifts and spices shall they bring Thee in Thy temple, not anything of the drink-offering of a good conscience do they pour thereon; all in them is rough, all foul, all to be detested: and though they to Thee bring nothing whereby they may be saved; "For nothing Thou shall save them," that is, with the free gift of Thy Grace. ...

12. "In anger the peoples Thou shall bring down." Thou art angry and dost bring down, dost rage and save, dost terrify and call. Thou fillest with tribulations all things, in order that being set in tribulations men may fly to Thee, lest by pleasures and a wrong security they be seduced. From Thee anger is seen, but that of a father. A father is angry with a son, the despiser of his injunctions: being angry with him he boxeth him, striketh, pulleth the ear, draggeth with hand, leadeth to school. How many men have entered, how many men have filled the House of the Lord, in the anger of Him brought down, that is, by tribulations terrified and with faith filled? For to this end tribulation stirreth up; in order to empty the vessel which is full of wickedness, so as that it may be filled with grace.

13. "O God, my life I have told out to Thee" (verse 8). For that I live hath been Thy doing, and for this reason I tell out my life to Thee. But did not God know that which He had given? What is that which thou tellest out to Him? Wilt thou teach God? Far be it. Therefore why saith he, "I have told out to Thee"? Is it perchance because it profiteth Thee that I have told out my life? And what doth it profit God? To the advantage of God it doth profit. I have told out to God my life, because that life hath been God's doing. In like manner as his life Paul the Apostle did tell out, saying, "I that before was a blasphemer and a persecutor and injurious," he shall tell out his life. "But mercy I have obtained."(2) He hath told out his life, not for himself, but for Him: because he hath told it out in such sort, that in Him men believe, not for his own advantages, but for the advantages of Him. ... "O God, my life I have told out to Thee. Thou hast put my tears in Thy sight." Thou hast hearkened to me imploring Thee. "As also in Thy promise." Because as Thou hadst promised this thing, so Thou hast done. Thou hast said Thou wouldest hearken to one weeping. I have believed, I have wept, I have been hearkened unto; I have found Thee merciful in prommising, true in repaying.

14. "Turned be mine enemies backward" (verse 9). This thing to these very men is profitable, no ill to these men he is wishing. For to go before they are willing, therefore to be amended they are not willing. Thou warnest thine enemy to live well, that he amend himself: he scorneth, he rejecteth thy word: "Behold him that adviseth me; behold him from whom I am to hear the commandments whereby I shall live!" To go before thee he willeth, and in going before is not amended. He mindeth not that thy words are not thine, he mindeth not that thy life to God thou tellest out, not to thyself. In going before therefore he is not amended: it is a good thing for him that he be turned backward, and follow him whom to go before he willed. The Lord to His disciples was speaking of His Passion that was to be. Peter shuddered, and saith," Far be it, O Lord;"(3) he that a little before had said, "Thou art the Christ, Son of the living God," having confessed God, feared for Him to die, as if but a man. But the Lord who so came that He might suffer (for we could not otherwise be saved unless with His blood we were redeemed), a little before had praised the confession of Peter. ... But immediately when the Lord beginneth to speak of His Passion, he feared lest He should perish by death, whereas we ourselves should perish unless He died; and he saith, "Far be it, O Lord, this thing shall not be done." And the Lord, to him to whom a little before He had said, "Blessed thou art, and upon this Rock I will build my Church," saith, "Go back behind, Satan, an offence thou art to Me." Why therefore "Satan" is he, that a little before was "blessed," and a "Rock"? "For thou savourest not the things which are of God," He saith, "but those things which are of man.(1) A little before he savoured the things which are of God: because "not flesh and blood hath revealed to thee, but My Father which is in the Heavens." When in God he was praising his discourse, not Satan but Peter, from petra: but when of himself and out of human infirmity, carnal love of man, which would be for an impediment to his own salvation, and that of the rest, Satan he is called. Why? Because to go before the Lord he willed, and earthly counsel to give to the heavenly Leader. "Far be it, O Lord, this thing shall not be done." Thou sayest, "Far be it," and thou sayest, "O Lord:" surely if Lord He is, in power He doeth: if Master He is, He knoweth what He doeth, He knoweth what He teacheth. But thou wiliest to lead thy Leader, teach thy Master, command thy Lord, choose for God: much thou goest before, go back behind. Did not this too profit these enemies? "Turned be Mine enemies backward;" but let them not remain backward. For this reason let them be turned backward, lest they go before; but so that they follow, not so that they remain.

15. "In whatsoever day I shall have called upon Thee, behold I have known that my God art Thou" (verse 9). A great knowledge. He saith not, "I have known that God Thou art:" but, "that my God art Thou." For thine He is, when thee He succoureth: thine He is, when thou to Him art not an alien. Whence is said, "Blessed the people of whom is the Lord the God of the same."(2) Wherefore "of whom is"? For of whom is He not? Of all things indeed God He is: but of those men the God peculiarly He is said to be, that love Him, that hold Him, that possess Him, that worship Him, as though belonging to His own House: the great family of Him are they, redeemed by the great blood of the Only Son. How great a thing hath God given to us, that His own we should be, and He should be ours! But in truth foreigners afar have been put from holy men, sons alien they are. See what of them is said in another Psalm: "0 Lord, deliver me," he saith, "from the hand of alien sons, of whom the mouth hath spoken vanity, and the right hand of them is a right hand of iniquity."(3) ...

16. Let us therefore love God, brethren, purely and chastely. There is not a chaste heart, if God for reward it worshippeth. How so? Reward of the worship of God shall not we have? We shall have evidently, but it is God Himself whom we worship. Himself for us a reward shall be, because "we shall see Him as He is."(4) Observe that a reward(5) thou shalt obtain. ... I will tell you, brethren: in these human alliances consider a chaste heart, of what sort it is towards God: certainly human alliances are of such sort, that a man doth not love his wife, that loveth her because of her portion: a woman her husband doth not chastely love, that for these reasons loveth him, because something he hath given, or because much he hath given. Both a rich man is a husband, and one that hath become a poor man is a husband. How many men proscribed, by chaste wives have been the more beloved! Proved have been many chaste marriages by the misfortunes of husbands: that the wives might not be supposed to love any other object more than their husband, not only have they not forsaken, but the more have they obeyed. If therefore a husband of flesh freely is loved, if chastely he is loved; and a wife of flesh freely is loved, if chastely she is loved; in what manner must God be loved, the true and truth-speaking Husband of the soul, making fruitful unto the offspring of everlasting life, and not suffering us to be barren? Him, therefore, so let us love, as that any other thing besides Himself be not loved: and there takes place in us that which we have spoken of, that which we have sung, because even here the voice is ours: "In whatsoever day I shall have called upon Thee, behold, I have known that my God art Thou." This is to call upon God, freely to call upon Him. Furthermore, of certain men hath been said what? "Upon the Lord they have not called."(6) The Lord they seemed as it were to call unto themselves and they besought Him about inheritances, about increasing money, about lengthening this life, about the rest of temporal things: and concerning them the Scripture saith what? "Upon the Lord they have not called." Therefore there followeth what? "There they have feared with fear, where there was no fear." What is, "where there was no fear"? Lest money should be stolen from them, lest anything in their house should be made less; lastly, lest they should have less of years in this life, than they hoped for themselves: but there have they trembled with fear, where there was no fear. ... "In God I will praise the word, in the Lord I will praise the discourse" (verse 10): "in God I have hoped, I will not fear what man doeth unto me" (verse 11). Now this is the very sense which above(1) hath been repeated.

17. "In me, O God, are Thy vows, which I will render of praise to Thee" (verse 12). "Vow ye, and render to the Lord your God."(2) What vow, what render? Perchance those animals which were offered at the altars aforetime? No such thing offer thou: in thyself is what thou mayest vow and render. From the heart's coffer bring forth the incense of praise; from the store of a good conscience bring forth the sacrifice of faith. Whatsoever thing thou bringest forth, kindle with love. In thyself be the vows, which thou mayest render of praise to God. Of what praise? For what hath He granted thee? "For Thou hast rescued my soul from death" (verse 13). This is that very life which he telleth out to Him: "O God, my life I have told out to Thee."(3) For I was what? Dead. Through myself I was dead: through Thee I am what? Alive. Therefore "in me, O God, are Thy vows, which I will render of praise to Thee." Behold I love my God: no one doth tear Him from me: that which to Him I may give, no one doth tear front me, because in the heart it is shut up. With reason is said with that former confidence, "What should man do unto me?"(4) Let man rage, let him be permitted to rage, be permitted to accomplish that which he attempteth: what is he to take away? Gold, silver, cattle, men servants, maid servants, estates, houses, let him take away all things: doth he by any means take away the vows, which are in me, which I may render of praise to God? The tempter was permitted to tempt a holy man, Job;(5) in one moment he took away all things: whatever of possessions he had had, he carried off: took away inheritance, slew heirs; and this not little by little, but in a crowd, at one blow, at one swoop, so that all things were on a sudden announced: when all was taken away, alone there remained Job, but in him were vows of praise, which he might render to God, in him evidently there were: the coffer of his holy breast the thieving devil had not rifled, full he was of that wherefrom he might sacrifice. Hear what he had, hear what he brought forth: "The Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken away; as hath pleased the Lord, so hath been done: be the name of the Lord blessed."(6) O riches interior, whither thief doth not draw near! God Himself had given that whereof He was receiving; He had Himself enriched him with that whereof to Him he was offering that which He loved. Praise from thee God requireth, thy confession God requireth. But from thy field wilt thou give anything? He hath Himself rained in order that thou mayest have. From thy coffer wilt thou give anything? He hath Himself put in that which thou art to give. What wilt thou give, which from Him thou hast not received? "For what hast thou which thou hast not received?"(7) From the heart wilt thou give? He too hath given faith, hope, and charity: this thou must bring forth: this thou must sacrifice. But evidently all the other things the enemy is able to take away against thy will; this to take away he is not able, unless thou be willing. These things a man will lose even against his will: and wishing to have gold, will lose gold; and wishing to have house, will lose house: faith no one will lose, except him that shall have despised her.

18. "Because Thou hast rescued my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from slipping: that I may be pleasing before God in the light of the living" (verse 13). With reason he is not pleasing to alien sons, that are put afar off from holy men, because they have not the light of the living, whence they may see that which to God is pleasing. "Light of the living," is light of the immortal, light of holy men. He that is not in darkness, is pleasing in the light of the living. A man is observed, and the things which belong to him; no one knoweth of what sort he is: God seeth of what sort he is. Sometimes even the devil himself he escapeth; except he tempt, he findeth not: just as concerning that man of whom just now I have made mention: ... "Doth Job by any means worship God for nought?"(8) For this was true light, this the light of the living, that gratis he should worship God. God saw in the heart of His servant His gratiotous worship. For that heart was pleasing in the sight of the Lord in the light of the living: the devil's sight he escaped, because in darkness he was. God admitted the tempter, not in order that He might Himself know that which He did know, but in order that to us to be known and imitated He might set it forth. Admitted was the tempter; he took away everything, there remained the man bereft of possessions, bereft of family, bereft of children, full of God. A wife certainly was left.(9) Merciful do ye deem the devil, that he left him a wife? He knew through whom he had deceived Adam. ... With wound smitten from head even unto feet, whole nevertheless within, he made answer to the woman tempting, out of the light of the living, out of the light of his heart: "thou hast spoken as though one of the unwise women,"(10) that is, as though one that hath not the light of the living. For the light of the living is wisdom, and the darkness of unwise men is folly. Thou hast spoken as though one of the unwise women: my flesh thou seest, the light of my heart thou seest not. For she then might more have loved her husband, if the interior beauty she had known, and had beheld the place where he was beautiful before the eyes of God: because in Him were vows which he might render of praise to God. How entirely the enemy had forborne to invade that patrimony! How whole was that which he was possessing, and that because of which yet more to be possessed he hoped for, being to go on" from virtues unto virtue."(1) Therefore, brethren, to this end let all these things serve us, that God grates we love, in Him hope always, neither man nor devil fear. Neither the one nor the other doeth anything, except when it is permitted: permitted for no other reason can it be, except because it doth profit us. Let us endure evil men, let us be good men: because even we have been evil. Even as nothing(2) God shall save men, of whom we dare to despair. Therefore of no one let us despair, for all men whom we suffer let us pray, from God let us never depart. Our patrimony let Him be, our hope let Him be, our safety let Him be. He is Himself here a comforter, there a remunerator, everywhere Maker-alive, and of life the Giver, not of another life, but of that whereof hath been said, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life:"(3) in order that both here in the light of faith, and there in the light of sight, as it were in the light of the living, in the sight of the Lord we may be pleasing.

Augustin on Psalms 56