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Meditations on the Psalms of Koiak II

 

Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.  Send down Thine hand from on high: Rescue me and deliver me. (Second Sunday, Evening Psalm, translated from coptic)
As I meditate on this psalm, I could see David the Psalmist, who, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote this Psalm a thousand years before the coming of Christ. To David was given a privilege that few prophets had, for his psalms have more prophesies about the birth, the passion and the resurrection of the Messiah than any other Old Testament Book. 
    No wonder he cries out asking the Lord to hasten His coming to Earth: “Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down!” David, like many of the Jews, thought of the coming of the Messiah to be associated with the same phenomena that took place when the Lord descended on Mount Sinai to give the Law to Moses. No wonder he adds: “touch the mountains, and they shall smoke!” He pleads with the Lord to deliver him from the misery of Hades by saying: “Send down Thine hand from on high: Rescue me and deliver me.”
    David, speaking by the Holy Spirit, had earlier made a prophesy: “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.” (Ps 16:10) And even though this prophesy was said concerning Christ, yet David must have taken it as pertaining to his own deliverance from Hell. I could imagine him pleading with the Lord: Lord, Thou hast promised not to leave my soul in Hell (Hades, Amenti) and it’s been a thousand years since you made that promise to me, So, “Send down Thine hand from on high: Rescue me and deliver me.”

He shall descend like rain upon a fleece: and like drops dripping upon the earth. In his days shall righteousness flourish: and abundance of peace.(Second Sunday, Morning Psalm, translated from coptic)
It seems to me that this versicle is a response to David’s plea that the Lord come down from heaven! Except that the Holy Spirit is now directing David to another Psalm given to him that describes the manner in which the Lord will make His appearance on Earth. 
    Unlike the descent of the Lord on Mount Sinai which is described to us in Exodus 19:18: “And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire”, the coming down of the Lord in order to save the whole race of Adam will be inconspicuous! “He shall descend like rain upon a fleece.” Fleece is the fluffy stuff that people get when they shear lambs. It is what wool is made of. The Holy Spirit speaking through David tells us (and him too) that when the Lord comes down from heaven, it will be like rain falling on a fleece, almost imperceptible.
    Indeed, His coming was most un-notable. Only a few poor shepherds knew about it because the angel announced His coming to them. His coming was also revealed to The Three kings, who saw His star in the East, and this was done in order to fulfill the prophesy of another Psalm, the Evening Psalm of Christmas: “The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of the Arabs and Seba shall offer gifts.” 
    The Psalm continues: “In his days shall righteousness flourish: and abundance of peace.”  Indeed in His days righteousness flourished because He was a teacher of righteousness, and a doer of righteousness. “and abundance of peace.” that peace which was announced to us by the angels in their hymn: “peace on earth and goodwill toward men” Indeed the coming of the Lord ushered peace between heaven and earth. The Liturgy of Saint Gregory describes this beautifully: “Thou hast reconciled the heavenly and the earthly, and made the two into one.”

Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear: and forget your own people, and your father's house Because the King has desired your beauty: for He Himself is your Lord. (Second Sunday, Liturgy Psalm, translated from coptic)
The Gospel reading that follows this Psalm is about the visit of the angel Gabriel and his annunciation of the good news to the holy Virgin Mary. And the Psalm that prefaces this Gospel is a prophesy about this. “Hearken, O daughter”: It seems to me that David the Prophet is addressing the holy Virgin Mary. He rightly calls her “daughter”, for indeed, the church calls her the “daughter of David” He asks her to hearken or listen carefully.
    After attracting the attention of his daughter according to the flesh, David continues:“And see,” See, not only with your eyes but with all your heart and soul, for behold, an archangel will be sent to you! He is one of the seven angels standing before God (Rev 8:2), so look carefully, “and incline your ear.”: be obedient to the message he brings to you for it is from the Most High.
    The Psalmist prepares the holy Virgin for a major change in her life by saying: “forget your own people, and your father's house.” For though she was born of Jewish parents and raised as a devout Jew, yet in a little while, she will become the mother of all Christians. 
    David now gives the Virgin a hint about the contents of the message to be revealed to her by the angel: “Because the King has desired your beauty” The King is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ, who chose to be born of the holy Virgin. He has chosen her above all the women that were ever born for he desired her beauty. Not her physical beauty, but rather her inner beauty, the beauty of her soul.  
    Another Psalm that speaks of this inner beauty of the holy Virgin is the Morning Psalm for the first day of Pachons; the birthday of the holy Virgin: “All the glory of The king's daughter is within: clothed with gold-fringed garments, adorned in varied ways.” The Psalm speaks of her as “The king's daughter “, for indeed, she is the daughter of King David. The Psalm tells us that all her glory is within, an inner glory. For indeed on the outside she was a poor teenager, an orphan, given to espouse an older man because she had no one to look after her. But she was “clothed with gold-fringed garments, adorned in varied ways.” Not literally, for a poor girl could not afford gold fringed garments. Those gold-fringed garments, according to the Fathers, are her virtues. She is “adorned in varied ways”: adorned with all sorts of virtues that the saints wrote volumes about. It was this beauty that the King had desired when He chose her to be His Mother.
    But, lest she should think pridefully that she will become the mother of the King, David, her father adds: “for He Himself is your Lord.” The same King that will be born of you,  He Himself is your Lord. The holy Virgin must have memorized and understood this Psalm, for when the angel told her what was prophesied a thousand years earlier, she responded: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.”  (Luke 1:38)

For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation. Here will I dwell; for I have desired it. Her widow with a blessing will I bless. (Third Sunday, Evening Psalm, translated from coptic)
Zion was the old name of Jerusalem. It belonged to the Gentiles but King David took possession of it and renamed it Jerusalem, which means “the vision of peace” 
    In the scripture, the word Zion can be understood in many way. It refers to Jerusalem as the city of David but also the city of God, where God dwells! Psalm 9:11 reads: “Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion.” It also refers to the Jewish nation as a whole; God’s chosen people and the church of the Old Testament. 
    In the prophetic scripture it also refers to the church of the New Testament, which inherited all the promises given to the old Zion. The church of the New Testament is often named “the daughter of Zion.”
    Theologically, it refers to the holy Virgin Mary, who became the dwelling place of God the Logos, and “the holy city of the Great King”, as we call her in the Sunday Theotokia. Spiritually, it refers to the human soul, the temple of the Holy Spirit, and thus a dwelling place of God. The current versicle is meant to be interpreted theologically as referring to the holy Virgin Mary. 
    “The LORD has chosen Zion”: Indeed the Lord has chosen the holy Virgin above all the women ever born to be His Mother, the new Eve, who was to be given as a mother to all Christians, when the Lord told the beloved disciple: “Behold, your mother” (Jn 19:27)
    “He has desired it for his habitation. Here will I dwell; for I have desired it.”: The Lord has desired the beauty of her soul and the purity of her body as a place where He can dwell. He has desired her “more than all the dwellings of Jacob.” (Ps 87:2) Saint Theodosius, the 33rd Pope of Alexandria, interprets the “dwellings of Jacob” as the choir of the saints. This means that she was preferred over all the saints, to be Mother of God.
    Please note that the same Psalm is used in the Liturgy of holy Baptism. The priest pours the holy Myron into the water in the font, then, he stirs the water while reciting the appropriate versicles of the Psalms. The stirring of the water in the baptismal font is in the likeness of the angel that descended into the pool of Bethesda and stirred the water, and whoever went into the water first was healed from any disease. (Jn 5:4) The analogy is clear, for whoever believes and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:16)
    The Psalm versicles recited by the priest while stirring the water are all prophetic references to Baptism. The last versicle to be recited is the same: “The LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation.” This refers to the one baptized becoming “Zion” the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver-of-life.


Reprinted from: PAROUSIA, JANUARY 2007  Read it online