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Psalm 15 (16) - the Resurrection Psalm

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Continuing our series on the Christological Psalms, we now turn to look at Psalm 15 (16) sometimes referred to as ‘The Resurrection Psalm’ and this seems the most appropriate aspect under which to consider this Psalm as we celebrate the Resurrection during this joyous Octave of Easter.

For an authoritative commentary on this Psalm we need look no further than the book of Acts and Peter’s address at Pentecost. St Peter first quotes the prophet Joel concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit, before turning to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. He speaks of how the resurrection of Christ was prophesied by David, when he said:

‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
moreover my flesh will dwell in hope.
For thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades,
nor let thy Holy One see corruption.
Thou has made known to me the ways of life;
thou wilt make me full of gladness with thy presence’
(Psalm 15:8-11 quoted in Acts 2:25)

During this Easter Octave we give thanks for God’s wonderful providence and His fidelity in the face our infidelities. Moses said to the Israelites, ‘Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His loving kindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments’ (Deut. 7:8-9). In spite of our sin, the immortality that was lost in the garden has been granted to us once more in the greatest act of love ever known; a love so powerful that it has conquered the corruption of death.

As we read this Psalm in the light of Peter’s speech at Pentecost, we see the truth of St Augustine’s maxim on the relation of the Old and New Testments, when he says that, ‘The new is in the old concealed; the old is in the new revealed.’

We have so much to be thankful to God for, and, after the comparative barrenness of Lent, it is right that we luxuriate in the Octave of Easter. However, as we rightly celebrate, we must take care to always keep in mind that it is God who is the source of all goodness. We are reminded of this in the second verse of Psalm 15: ‘You are my God, my happiness lies in you alone’. This verse is easier said than lived, and it’s why it’s so important that Lent be more than a crash diet to fit into a suit that won’t quite fit anymore so that we can feel our best at a celebration. We celebrate by eating chocolate or drinking wine again (or doing whatever other good thing we may have given up), not because we can eat or drink them again. The purification we underwent in Lent is wasted if we are not somehow more trusting in God and more loving at the end of it. In that sense Lent is like one of those diets that boast of ‘permanent results’. None of this should diminish our Easter celebrations, but it should purify and intensify them. We should shed any fears that holiness might in some way be boring – we only need look at the lives of so many of the saints to be dispelled of that myth – and in such way we may say with conviction: ‘the lot marked out for me is my delight, welcome indeed the heritage that falls to me’ (v.6).

Br Toby Lees O.P.

Br Toby Lees O.P. Br Toby Lees is a deacon based at St Dominic's Priory in London but assigned to the Priory of San Clemente in Rome for reasons of study. He is completing his STB at the Pontifical University of St Thomas Aquinas ("Angelicum") in Rome.  |  toby.lees@english.op.org


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