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The choice of the supporting text is not at all random since, even from ancient times, the psalms have benefitted from the attention of an impressive number of interpreters and have been the beginning of both dialogue and controversy between religions Christianity and Judaism and Christian denominations. Throughout the exegetical analysis, we took into consideration the rigors of the school of criticism which we correlated with the rabbinic and patristic commentaries in order to accomplish a very ample interpretation.
Even if these commentators were not entirely in agreement, rather than bringing to relief their interpretative differences, we tried to underline the common elements existing in the specific manner of interpretation of each exegetical school.
Thus, the complexity of this isagogic, exegetical and theological study resides in the fact that it approaches the text of the psalm from a literary, allegorical and spiritual point of view and it can become a hermeneutical paradigm for those who wish to study the Holy Scriptures with scientific and spiritual accuracy.
Verse 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water 1, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
A blessed person has the moral verticality and the vertical intent of being in a permanent state of communion with God through thoughts and deeds which respect the law and the psalmist is thus bound to set this blessed man in a paradigmatic space where everything is perfectly placed, where everything prospers and becomes eternal.
The comparison used by the author of the Psalms creates a paradisiacal image in which the abundance of waters makes everything grow and bear fruit at the right time. For this purpose, human happiness is compared to a tree 2 which was taken from its place of growth and replanted near a water source, in a superior soil, more favourable to its development 3. This association is always positive with the single exception from psalm From a theological perspective, this action implies that a person who does not do the same sins as Adam 5 and perpetually keeps the law of God might also transcend from this perverted world into the sacred space of Paradise6.
The elements of this comparison are to be found in the works of Prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel,7 too. The latter prophet clearly stresses the importance of the water in the life cycle of the tree.
The source of this big river, that has the ability of returning the health to all the waters of the lakes and seas it touches and that implicitly maintains alive the fish and all the other living creatures of these lakes and seas, springs from under the lintel of the temple and flows towards the East.
Besides forever bearing fruit and never withering, these trees are given therapeutic qualities through the holy water Ez. Even if there are some opinions according to which the author of the psalm was influenced by these prophetic writings 9 and that he transferred their texts into his own, what is more important is focussing on the fact that the Jewish people came to think that a person is in constant connection to the Lord and partakes in His holiness through a water upon which special qualities have been bestowed and which can enable a person to live in the plenitude and the eternity of the terrestrial heaven.
Using the typological spiritual valences, the Holy Fathers of the Church have indicated more directions of interpretation, which do not exclude each other but rather create an extremely complicated image of the spiritual senses as suggested in the text.
Scribner's Sons, , 9. Saint Hilary considers that every man to whom God promises Heaven, as in the case of the criminals on the cross, is similar to the tree that was pricked out in the garden of Eden near the source of water. The Rabbis underline the fact that the Law of God can be associated t water cf. Israel V. There are multiple and varied arguments which the Fathers brought to support the Christological interpretation of this passage: some start from the association that Solomon makes between the Wisdom of God12 that is Christ Himself and the Tree of Life Pr.
Theodore of Cyrus, and not only17, says that in the gospel Christ is represented as the source of the living water Jn. If one drinks this water, he will never be thirsty again and, furthermore he will not only become the recipient of this water but also source of this living water through the work of the Holy Spirit Jn.
The fruit brought at the right time and the evergreen leaves are the main results of having set the tree on the banks of the blessed spring. Marie L. Noticing the similarities between the image of the tree described in the psalm and the tree from the middleof the Garden of Eden, the authors of the targumim have used the phrase Tree of Life when referring to this tree.
His opinion is partly shared by Saint Jerome. O cross, from which such great and wonderful fruits are gathered! The fruit of the cross is a glorious resurrection. The evergreen leaves are a sign that the tree is strong and healthy and it is not subjected to decay According to Rabbi Solomon Jarchi, the foliage of the tree is an indicative of the true importance of the law: like in the case of leaves, some believe that the laws do not have a huge importance and take them lightly To a certain extent, this vision is also shared by the Fathers of the Church who support the idea according to which the fruits of the tree identified by most critics with Jesus Christ are the very words of God as they were mentioned in the Scripture These are the words with which the apostles have succeeded in extending to the margins of the world a Church24 that has already been founded on the cross during the Pentecost.
By identifying the source of the waters with the Holy Scripture, John of Damascus considers that the fruits and the leaves of the tree represent the faith, respectively the deeds of a person — the direct consequence of people living in the ways of the Lord Since the Judeans did not fulfil the terms of verses 1 and 2, they were no longer able to bear the fruit of their existence, not even when the right time for that had come Even if, from a grammatical point of view, in the last part of the verse, the psalmist still refers to the tree, most translators have laid stress upon the blessed man who is the protagonist of the action So, after comparing the just man with the tree that bears fruit, the psalmist shifts back to the image of the positive character of his description and underlines the fact that nothing can stand in front of the one who works together and stays in communion with God because, in this way, that man brings to an end everything he begins.
David Kimhi on the first Book of Psalms, ed. NEALE, Robert C. Hill Boston: Liden, , 6. Without underlining something regarding their character, the author is straightforward about the goal of their lifestyle and he uses a metaphor32 to convey his message. There is a possibility that this image might have been inspired by the process used by the oriental agriculturists who separated the wheat from the chaff and other plants in open field where the wind was strong If we take into consideration the fact that the subsequent verse refers to the judgement of God and that Saint John the Baptism uses the same image when he demands the Pharisees to do deeds worthy of redemption under the threat of the judgement Mat.
Therefore, the faith of the two types of people is extremely well-shaped by these metaphorical images. The wicked, amongst whom we must mention the sinners and the mockers of the first verse39, lack power and consistency, do not have the ability to bear fruit 40 and cannot give those who trust the Law of God anything more than a light discomfort similar to that caused by the dust when it hits a person in the face These people thought they were characterized by greatness when they strayed from the right path, when they stayed in the counsel of the wicked and defied and mocked the Lord but that proved to be as temporary as the chaff and the dust blown away by the wind.
Dust does not seem to have any substance, but it does, of course, have a kind of existence of its own. Oace he has denied God, hei s led by delusion wherever the breath of the devil sends him.
Like dust, they cannot produce any real damage, but are permanently condemned to unsettled and distress. Verse 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. Parker, , 3. As a result, if we take into consideration this aspect when we interpret this psalm, we can establish that, if the sinners are compared to dust, they will not be able to partake in the right judgment of God These visions do not exclude the fact that the judgement mentioned in the text of the psalm starts from here because, as Rabbi Solomon Freehof says, God explicitly mentioned what faith of the sinners52 will be.
It is important to notice that in the context of the previously mentioned time of trial, the psalmist excludes the presence of the wicked from the eschatological event. He says that sinners will not rise with the blessed ones and will not stand on judgement day. Furthermore, the Saviour only mentioned the resurrection of the just in the New Testament Lk. The only texts that refer explicitly to the resurrection of the sinners are those of Jn. The exemption of the disbelievers from the final judgement can be understood only if one takes into consideration the Johannine text Jn.
Rashi extends the use of this word to the next verse, the one that ends the psalm. Wermans Publishing, , KIMHI, Besides this, the scholars also tried to confirm the words of the psalmist by finding different meanings of these words. For example, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem says that the wicked will not rise to be judged but only to be sentenced 55 and this was also confirmed by Theodore of Mopsuestia in his commentary to the psalms Saint Hilary considers that it is not the existence of these men that is denied but their ability to rise to be judged and, implicitly, eternal life.
Like dust, these will continue to exist, incessantly enduring an eternal punishment The Bishop of Cyrus makes the same considerations, being even explicit in saying that the wicked will not rise to be judged but to be punished Being unable to rise to heaven, they will be judged in absence If one hypocritically belongs to such a community, it will be shown on judgement day when all thoughts and deeds will be disclosed and repaid appropriately The omniscience of God, which is mentioned in the last verse, gives meaning to the previous statements If the Lord knows the most inner thoughts of a man, then the characteristics, the development and the aim of the two ways of the legal and illegal one — exhibited with a lot of certainty and security - are certified and trustworthy.
They do not need expostulation but because if their wickedness they receive they just punishment. In the same way in which a judge does not call to judgment the murders in order to reprehend them but to impose on them the law, those who have lived in wickedness are sentenced to torment after the resurrection without being called to justice but receiving the just punishment.
This term consequently denotes a very profound personal knowledge, involving reason, will and feelings, that develops a wish of becoming closer with the one upon whom the action is reflected Thus, this knowledge is based upon a close connection between the one that knows and the one that is being known.
These nuances - which suggest that, in this context, the verb to know must not be limited to its basic meaning - find a considerable applicability in the patristic interpretations. Beginning with Origen and continuing with the Western Fathers, the critics considered that knowledge is limited to the just men since only their deeds are worthy of being known Saint Hilary not only thinks as such, but also develops a positive counterexample.
Abraham, one of the biblical characters of whose faith God does no doubt, is subjected to a temptation at the end of which the angel of God tells him that his fear of God is well-known Gen. This does not mean that Abraham had been unaware of that reality until that moment but only that the things known to God are worth knowing Under these circumstances, any man who strays from God by committing a sin is doomed.
Thus, the faith of the wicked must not be looked upon as punishment but as a result of their option to follow the wrong path In other words, all sinners are offered the possibility to give up an aimless life for one in which they will partake in happiness. The paths of right and wrong.
The main theological themes that are developed by the psalmist all throughout this sapiential poem are those of the two paths and the contrast between the faithful and the wicked Even if most exegetes75 correlate Psalm 1 with the text of Proverbs 2: , to underline these realities, their common source must be sought in the 30th chapter of the Deuteronomy in which God lays before man two paths between which he must unavoidably choose: life and death, right or wrong v.
The one who chooses the first path is asked to love God whole-heartedly v. If he fulfils all these, that man will rejoice in everything his wife will bear children, his livestock will be multiplied and his land will have crops — v. The Israelite, who will not obey and who will stray from the God of his forefathers to serve other gods v. Even if God suggested he should chose life in order to secure life both for him and his successors, man is not deprived of his freedom of choice.
Both the key elements and the persuasive manner in which they might convince man to follow the Lord and His laws are to be found in Psalm 1 He who wishes to follow the right path must not give in to their passions and their individual convictions so that they will not be like the idols, which are their own gods, but to love and follow the laws of God as if they were part of their being, constantly meditating to it.
Even if metaphorically expressed, the effects of this choice are identical in many respects to those mentioned in the Deuteronomy prosperity, happiness, eternity and communion with God.
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