Quote of the Day: Earthly and Eternal Blessings


Augustine in a sermon on Psalm 41 (Psalm 40 in the Septuagint-based numbering system he used):

Et vide beatitudinem tuam–And look at your blessing!

The Psalmist says (using the ESV), “Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him; the Lord protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land . . . .”

In Augustine’s Latin, you’re supposed to understand the poor man–which is probably closer to the original Hebrew than you would think from just looking at the English. (See here for a Hebrew-English interlinear; you can click on the number 7919 for the original word.)

Augustine tends to look for Jesus Christ in every sentence of the Psalms–sometimes in every word.  To understand the poor man is to understand Christ, who though rich became poor for our sakes, as Paul says in the New Testament.  Interestingly, Augustine still gets to what is probably the original sense of the sentence: caring for poor people!  You can look at the end of Section 2 of his sermon here in the public-domain translation where he goes through Jesus back down to earth, telling us to care about the poor here.

The Psalmist also keeps us down on earth with that “blessed in the land” line.

In a bit left out of the public-domain translation (available in this book), Augustine explains that that keeping alive is about the next life.  Now keep in mind that the next life is, like this one, bodily.  Augustine sometimes talks about heaven without talking about earth, but at just this point he doesn’t even mention heaven.  He talks about eternal life, yes, but, true to New Testament form, he’s talking about the bodily resurrection!  He quotes Paul.

And then he quotes Paul again, saying that G-d gives us hope in the present as well as the future!  And that takes him back to the Psalm, which talks about blessing on earth!

It looks to me from the afore-linked online interlinear source that the Hebrew word in question corresponds nicely to Augustine’s terra (Latin) and to the New Testament γῆ (Greek) in that it can mean either “earth” or “land.”  Augustine’s emphasis is on earth, and he explains that some Christians make the mistake of thinking G-d only blesses them in the next life.  In this life, they’re into things like astrology!  They think (or they might as well be thinking): Satan controls this evil world, and as long as we’re in good with G-d for the afterlife, we can give Satan his due here!

No, says Augustine.  In this life, we only seek good from G-d.

Just something I’ve been reading.

But you don’t really need Augustine if you read his sources.  Read Psalm 100.  Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19.

Give thanks on this, and on all days, to G-d.

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  1. Clavius Thatcher

    Thank you for a good Thanksgiving lesson.

    A blessed Thanksgiving to all!

    • #1
  2. Manny Member

    Nice analysis.  Thank you St. A.

    • #2