St Augustine of AfricaOn Psalm 1.

“The ungodly are not so, they are not so, but are like the dust which the wind casteth forth from the face of the earth” (ver. 4).

“The earth” is here to be taken as that stedfastness in God, with a view to which it is said, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, yea, I have a goodly heritage” (Ps. 15:5-6).

With a view to this it is said, “Wait on the Lord and keep His ways, and He shall exalt thee to inherit the earth” (Ps. 36:34).

With a view to this it is also said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5).

A comparison too is derived hence, for as this visible earth supports and contains the outer man, so that earth invisible the inner man.

“From the face of which earth the wind casteth forth the ungodly,” that is, pride, in that it puffs him up.

On his guard against this he, who was inebriated by the richness of the house of the Lord, and drunken of the torrent stream of its pleasures, says, “Let not the foot of pride come against me” (Ps. 35:11).

From this earth pride cast forth him who said, “I will place my seat in the north, and I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:13-14).

From the face of the earth it cast forth him also who, after that he had consented and tasted of the forbidden tree that he might be as God, hid himself from the Face of God (Gen. 3:8).

[…] “For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous” (ver. 6).

As it is said, medicine knows health, but knows not disease, and yet disease is recognised by the art of medicine.

In like manner can it be said that “the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous,” but the way of the ungodly He knoweth not.

Not that the Lord is ignorant of anything, and yet He says to sinners, “I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23).  “But the way of the ungodly shall perish” is the same as if it were said, the way of the ungodly the Lord knoweth not.

We can express this more plainly by saying that not to be known of the Lord means the same as to perish, and to be known of the Lord means the same as to abide.

Thus to be belongs to God’s knowing, but not to be to His not knowing. For the Lord says, “I Am that I Am,” and, “I Am hath sent me” (Ex. 3:14).

Augustine of Hippo (354-430): Exposition of the Book of Psalms, Psalm 1, 4,6 (slightly adapted).  

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