But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law does he meditate day and night.
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Augustine of Hippo
2. "But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law will he meditate by day and by night (ver. 2). The law is not made for a righteous man," says the Apostle. But it is one thing to be in the law, another under the law. Whoso is in the law, acteth according to the law; whoso is under the law, is acted upon according to the law: the one therefore is free, the other a slave. Again, the law, which is written and imposed upon the servant, is one thing; the law, which is mentally discerned by him who needeth not its "letter," is another thing. "He will meditate by day and by night," is to be understood either as without ceasing; or "by day" in joy, "by night" in tribulations. For it is said, "Abraham saw my day, and was glad:" and of tribulation it is said, "my reins also have instructed me, even unto the night."
Will. He is wholly occupied and delighted in keeping God's commandments. (Worthington)
This distinguishes the saint from him who only refrains from sin through fear. (Calmet)
Qui timet invitus observat. (St. Ambrose)
Yet even servile fear is of some service, as it restrains exterior conduct, and may, in time, give place to filial reverence. (Haydock)
Meditate, and put in practice. (Menochius)
Night. The Jews studied the books of the law so earnestly from their childhood, that they could recite them as easily as they could tell their own names; (Josephus, contra Apion 2.; Deuteronomy vi. 6.) and is it not a shame that many Christians should be so negligent, that they have never so much as read the gospels! (Calmet) though they be eager enough after idle books. The sacred writings are the records of our inheritance. They show us our true destination, and deserve to be most seriously considered from the beginning to the end. (Haydock)
There is no doubt then that, as this instance proves, the undutiful (or ungodly) must be distinguished from the sinner. And, indeed, general opinion agrees to call those men ungodly who scorn to search for the knowledge of God, who in their irreverent mind take for granted that there is no Creator of the world, who assert that it arrived at the order and beauty which we see by chance movements, who, in order to deprive their Creator of all power to pass judgment on a life lived rightly or in sin, will have it that man comes into being and passes out of it again by the simple operation of a law of nature.
Thus, all the counsel of these men is wavering, unsteady, and vague, and wanders about in the same familiar paths and over the same familiar ground, never finding a resting-place, for it fails to reach any definite decision. They have never in their system risen to the doctrine of a Creator of the world, for instead of answering our questions as to the cause, beginning, and duration...
But then sometimes the will needs supplementing; and the mere desire for perfect happiness does not win it, unless performance wait upon intention. The Psalm, you remember, goes on: And in His Law will he meditate day and night. The man achieves the perfection of happiness by unbroken and unwearied meditation in the Law. Now it may be objected that this is impossible owing to the conditions of human infirmity, which require time for repose, for sleep, for food: so that our bodily circumstances preclude us from the hope of attaining happiness, inasmuch as we are distracted by the interruption of our bodily needs from our meditation by day and night. Parallel to this passage are the words of the Apostle, Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 As though we were bound to set at naught our bodily requirements and to continue praying without any interruption! Meditation in the Law, therefore, does not lie in reading its words, but in pious performance of its injunctions; not in a mere pe...
Now the words which stand at the beginning of the Psalm are quite unsuited to the Person and Dignity of the Son, while the whole contents are in themselves a condemnation of the careless haste that would use them to extol Him. For when it is said, and his will has been in the Law of the Lord, how (seeing that the Law was given by the Son of God) can a happiness which depends on his will being in the Law of the Lord be attributed to Him Who is Himself Lord of the Law? That the Law is His He Himself declares in the seventy-seventh Psalm, where He says: Hear My Law, O My people: incline your ears unto the words of My mouth. I will open My mouth in a parable. And the Evangelist Matthew further asserts that these words were spoken by the Son, when he says For this cause spoke He in parables that the saying might be fulfilled: I will open My mouth in parables. Matthew 13:35 The Lord then gave fulfilment in act to His own prophecy, speaking in the parables in which He had promised that He wou...