The Temple & the World
Psalm 65 (Greek and Latin, 64) is not easy to take in at first, because it contains so many disparate elements the mind does not readily join together. For example, there is an initial impression that the psalm’s topography is confused. It begins in Jerusalem: “Thou, O God, art praised in Sion; and unto thee shall the vow be performed in Jerusalem” (Coverdale Psalter). Although the psalmist is happy, for a few verses, to “dwell in thy court” and “be satisfied with the pleasures of thy house, even of thy holy temple,” the psalm rather soon moves to wider spaces, referring to those who “dwell in the uttermost parts of the earth.”
If the place of this prayer is unclear, so is the time: “Thou that makest the out-goings of the morning and evening to praise thee.” Although the liturgical usage of Holy Church rather early decided to make this a morning psalm, its general sense is by no means tied to the morning.
The mood of the psalmist changes, too. At first, he seems overwhelmed by his sins: “My misdeeds prevail against me: O be thou merciful unto our sins.” Before long, nonetheless, he turns his attention to the moral failings of others, speaking of “the madness of the peoples.”
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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