Psalms 73:16

When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;
Read Chapter 73

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
16. "If I said, I shall declare thus; behold, the generation of Thy sons I have reprobated" (ver. 15): that is, I will teach thus. How wilt thou teach? that there is no knowledge in the Most High, that God doth not know? Wilt thou propound this opinion, that without cause men live justly who do live justly; that a just man hath lost his service, because God doth more show favour to evil men, or else He doth care for no one? Wilt thou tell this, declare this? He doth restrain himself by an authority repressing him. What authority? A man wisheth some time to break out in this sentiment: but he is recalled by the Scriptures directing us alway to live well, saying, that God doth care for things human, that He maketh a distinction between a godly man and an ungodly man. Therefore this man also wishing to put forth this sentiment, doth recollect himself. And what saith he? "I have reprobated the generation of Thy sons." If I shall declare thus, the generation of just men I shall reprobate. As also some copies have it, "Behold, the generation of thy sons with which I have been in concert:" that is, with which consisting of Thy sons I have been in concert; that is, with which I have agreed, to which I have been conformed: I have been out of time with all, if so I teach. For he doth sing in concert who giveth the tune together; but he that giveth not the tune together doth not sing in concert. Am I to say something different from that which Abraham said, from that which Isaac said, from that which Jacob said, from that which the Prophets said? For all they said that God doth care for things human, am I to say that He careth not? Is there greater wisdom in me than in them? Greater understanding in me than in them? A most wholesome authority hath called back his thought from ungodliness. And what followeth? That he might not reprobate, he did what? "And I undertook to know" (ver. 16). May God be with him in order that he may know. Meanwhile, brethren, from a great fall he is being withheld, when he doth not presume that he already knoweth, but hath undertaken to know that which he knew not. For but now he was willing to appear as if knowing, and to declare that God hath no care of things human. For this hath come to be a most naughty and ungodly doctrine of unrighteous men. Know, brethren, that many men dispute and say that God careth not for things human, that by chances all things are ruled, or that our wills have been made subject to the stars, that each one is not dealt with according to his deserts, but by the necessity of his stars,-an evil doctrine, an impious doctrine. Unto these thoughts was going that man whose feet were almost moved, and whose steps were all but overthrown, into this error he was going; but because he was not in tune with the generation of the sons of God, he undertook to know, and condemned the knowledge wherein with God's just men he agreed not. And what he saith let us hear; how that he undertook to know, and was helped, and learned something, and declared it to us. "And I undertook," he saith, "to know." "In this labour is before me." Truly a great labour; to know in what manner both God doth care for things human, and it is well with evil men, and good men labour. Great is the importance of the question; therefore, "and this labour is before me." As it were there is standing in my face a sort of wall, but thou hast the voice of a Psalm, "In my God I shall pass over the wall."

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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