Yesterday I wrote a few thoughts on the value and enjoyment for Christians to pray the Psalms. If you go to that post you find an explanation of what prompted my recent interest and an excerpt from Peter Martyr Vermigli’s prayer on Psalm 1. Vermigli was one of the influential 16th century reformers whose presence and teaching had impact all over Europe from Italy to England and much in between.
Today we meditate on excerpts from his Sacred Prayers on Psalm 2. Tomorrow we will consider his prayer on Psalm 8. Though written hundreds of years ago I feel every line of this prayer speaking into the restless world of the 21st century. Despite all that can distract us or potentially undo us our “great and good God” makes his sovereign pleasure for his people fully known in Christ.
Notice how Christian his prayers are and still faithful to the imagery of the Old Testament. We hear Virmigili receive its imagery also according to the trinitarian Persons in YHWH. If you were able to read through the whole of Sacred Prayers you would see that Vermigli ends each prayer in nearly the same way – with an appeal to the holy person of the Son in his kingly titles.
Another truth to notice is how Vermigli existentially internalized the truth of Psalm 2. He brings its verities forward into the 16th century context. He speaks of their need for God’s aide in the advance of “the Gospel and the reformation of the Church.” They had not yet come to call that period “the Reformation,” but he and his fellow reformers across Europe knew their efforts were for “the reformation of the Church.” In this we see his catholic motivation to sustain “the Gospel” in its apostolic genuineness for their people in their time.
In this time, O great and good God, we feel that not only the Antichrist, but all the power and force of the world has conspired against you and your Christ – namely those who think that the Gospel and the reformation of the Church are intolerable chains and a heavy yoke, so that they try by every device to break apart communities of believers and reject all discipline…
You have put Jesus Christ, our only savior, over the Church so that he may reign in it mighty and invincible by his Word and Spirit. Graciously grant to us, your children, even though we are unworthy and disloyal, enough faith and constancy that we may have him as our only King and confess the same…
O God, convert the kings of the earth to yourself so that they may understand and acknowledge and embrace and kiss your Son lest, his wrath being kindled, they perish on the spot. When it seems good to you, make blessed forever those who have really committed themselves to your faith.
Through Christ our Lord.
Note: Paragraph spacing added. Copies of Vermigili’s works can be purchased at the Davenant Institute website. Which volumes are available may depend on current stock. Davenant Institute recent gained possession of the Peter Martyr Vermigli library.