You shall increase my greatness, and comfort me on every side.
All Commentaries on Psalms 71:21 Go To Psalms 71
Augustine of Hippo
26. But this was discipline; admonition, not desertion. Lastly, giving thanks, he saith what? "And being turned Thou hast made me alive, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back." But when before? What is this "again"? Thou hast fallen from a high place, O man, disobedient slave, O thou proud against thy Lord, thou hast fallen. There hast come to pass in thee, "every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled:" may there come to pass in thee, "every one that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Return thou from the deep. I return, he saith, I return, I acknowledge; "0 God, who is like unto Thee? How great troubles hast Thou shown to me, many and evil! and being turned Thou hast made me alive, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back." "We perceive," I hear. Thou hast brought us back from the bottomless places of the earth, hast brought us back from the depth and drowning of sin. But why "again"? When had it already been done? Let us go on, if perchance the latter parts of the Psalm itself do not explain to us the thing which here we do not yet perceive, namely, why he hath said "again." Therefore let us hear: "How great troubles Thou hast shown to me, many and evil! And being turned Thou hast made me alive, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back." What then? "Thou hast multiplied Thy righteousness, and being turned Thou hast comforted me, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back" (ver. 21). Behold a second "again"! If we labour to unravel this "again" when written once, who will be able to unravel it when doubled? Now "again" itself is a redoubling, and once more there is written "again." May He be with us from whom is grace, may there be with us the arm also which we are telling forth to every generation that is to come: may He be with us Himself, and as with the key of His Cross open to us the mystery that is locked up. For it was not to no purpose that when He was crucified the veil of the temple was rent in the midst, but to show that through His Passion the secret things of all mysteries were opened. May He then Himself be with men passing over unto Him, be the veil taken away: may our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ tell us why such a voice of the Prophet hath been sent before, "Thou hast shown to me troubles many and evil: and being turned Thou hast made me alive, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back." Behold this is the first "again" which hath been written. Let us see what this is, and we shall see why there is a second "again."
27. ...Therein Christ died, wherein thou art to die: and therein Christ rose again, wherein thou art to rise again. By His example He taught thee what thou shouldest not fear, for what thou shouldest hope. Thou didst fear death, He died: thou didst despair of rising again, He rose again. But thou sayest to me, He rose again, do I by any means rise again? But He rose again in that which for thee He received of thee. Therefore thy nature in Him hath preceded thee; and that which was taken of thee, hath gone up before thee: therein therefore thou also hast ascended. Therefore He ascended first, and we in Him: because that flesh is of the human race. ...Behold one "again." Hear of its being fulfilled from the Apostle: "If then ye have risen with Christ, the things which are above seek ye, where Christ is sitting on the right hand of God; the things which are above mind ye, not the things which are upon the earth." He then hath gone before: already we also have risen again, but still in hope. Hear the Apostle Paul saying this same thing: "Even we ourselves groan in ourselves, looking for the adoption, the redemption of our body." What is it then that Christ hath granted to thee? Hear that which followeth: "For by hope we are saved: but hope which is seen is not hope. For that which a man seeth, why doth he hope for? But if that which we see not we hope for, through patience we wait for it." We have been brought back therefore again from the bottomless places in hope. Why again? Because already Christ had gone before. But because we shall rise again in substance, for now in hope we are living, now after faith we are walking; we have been brought back from the bottomless places of the earth, by believing in Him who before us hath risen again from the bottomless place of the earth. ...Thou hast heard one "again," thou hast heard the other: "again;" one "again" because of Christ going before; and the other, yet however in hope, and a thing which remaineth to be in substance. "Thou hast multiplied Thy righteousness," already in me believing, already in those that, first have risen again in hope. ..."Thou hast multiplied Thy righteousness, and being turned Thou hast comforted me:" and because of the body to rise again at the end, even from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back.