The Psalms of David

The Psalms of David are a very mysterious section of the Bible. In some verses, David is singing, praising and glorifying God, while in others, he is complaining and expressing his anguish, fear, disappointment, frustration and even agony. David’s diverse experiences, feelings and thoughts resemble our own experiences as we journey through the states of our spiritual transformation.

We also learn from Swedenborg that in the Celestial or highest sense of the Word, David corresponds to the Lord. And his combats, battles and wars correspond to the Lord’s combats with the hells when He was reconciling the human and the Divine and restoring spiritual equilibrium between Heaven and hell.

In the New Testament, Jesus also said that He came to fulfill the scriptures. And while He was experiencing His last temptation, He even uttered some words straight from the Old Testament:

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me! Psalm 22

Now, many people wonder, if God [YHVH] is omnipotent, and Jesus (YEHOSHUA or YHVH saves) was God manifested in the flesh, why He would utter these words. But we should remember that, although God is omnipotent and infinite, the flesh that He embodied was human and finite. Jesus referred to the higher aspect of Himself as “the Father” or Divine Love. And sometimes He also referred to Himself as “the Son of God” and sometimes as “the Son of Man.”

He who knows what in the Lord is called “the Son of God,” and what in Him is called “the Son of man,” is able to see many of the secret things of the Word; for at one time the Lord calls Himself “the Son,” at another “the Son of God,” and at another “the Son of man,” everywhere according to the subject that is being treated of. When His Divinity, His oneness with the Father, His Divine power, faith in Him, life from Him, are being treated of, He calls Himself “the Son,” and “the Son of God.” As, for instance, in John 5:17-26, and elsewhere. But where His passion, Judgment, His advent, and, in general, redemption, salvation, reformation, and regeneration, are treated of, He calls Himself “the Son of man;” the reason of which is that He is then meant in respect to the Word. In the Word of the Old Testament, the Lord is designated by various names, being there named Jehovah, Jah, Lord, God, the Lord Jehovih, Jehovah Zebaoth, the God of Israel, the Holy One of Israel, the Mighty One of Jacob, Shaddai, the Rock, and also Creator, Former, Savior, Redeemer, everywhere according to the subject that is being treated of. And the same in the Word of the New Testament, where He is named Jesus, Christ [Messiah], the Lord, God, the Son of God, the Son of man, the Prophet, the Lamb, with other names, also everywhere according to the subject there treated of. [Doctrine of the Lord 22]

And when He had put off this human, He put on the Divine Human, from which He called Himself the “Son of man,” as we find many times in the Word of the New Testament; and also the “Son of God;” and by the “Son of man” He meant the truth itself, and by the “Son of God” the good itself, which belonged to His Human Essence when this was made Divine. The former state was that of the Lord’s humiliation, but the latter that of His glorification. Emanuel Swedenborg [AC 2159]

Thus, before He was glorified and ascended into Heaven, Jesus was constrained, humbled and tormented by His human flesh. But, when He experienced His last temptation or the crucifixion, the human flesh He embodied was crushed and humbled to the point of nothingness. At that point, His human was completely fused with His Divine and God became Divine-Human. It was in fact this human part of Himself that was crying out and uttering those desperate words from Psalm 22. And this passion on the cross was prophesied in the Old Testament.

Jesus also said:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father [Divine Love] except through me.” John 14:6

Swedenborg says that we cannot be conjoined with an abstract God. We must know God personally and intimately in order to form a true or real relationship. Thus, the Lord’s physical manifestation as the Messiah on Earth, His actual life, behavior and actions provided a way for us to be conjoined with the harmonic fields of Heaven. If we believe in His words, trust in Him, freely and willingly receive Him into our self, and act according to His teachings, the Lord can now enter into our being through the Holy Spirit and raise each one us into the Holy fields of Heaven. And we can also use the Psalms to comfort our soul when we experience the torment, agony and despair of spiritual temptation .

When we are in spiritual temptations, we are assaulted by false or morbid thoughts and negative or depressing feelings. During such times, we often believe that the Lord has abandoned, forsaken and left us all alone in a cruel and merciless world. It is during these moments of despair that our natural self is being humiliated and we may wish to cry out: My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me! But, according to Swedenborg, it is in fact during these desperate moments that the Lord is exceedingly near. And He allows these difficult experiences so that, through faith in Him, our soul can be infused with Divine Love and Wisdom. Through temptation, our soul is transformed, purified and strengthened. Like a piece of iron is forged into a useful tool by fire, heat and the blows of the blacksmith’s hammer, our soul is transformed by the spiritual fire of Love and the blows of spiritual temptation.

Since there are few at the present day who undergo spiritual temptations and therefore the nature of them is unknown, let something more be said about them. There are spiritual temptations or trials and there are natural temptations or trials. Spiritual temptations belong to the internal man, whereas natural trials belong to the external man. Spiritual temptations sometimes occur separately from natural trials, at other times together with them. They are natural trials when a person suffers in ways that affect his physical body, position in society, and wealth, in short his natural life, that is, the kinds of sufferings he undergoes when he is sick, unfortunate, persecuted, wrongly punished, and so on. Anxious feelings in such circumstances are what are meant by natural trials. But these trials contribute nothing whatever to the person’s spiritual life; nor should they be called trials or temptations but miseries. For they arise as a result of harm done to his natural life, which is the life of self-love and love of the world. Criminals sometimes endure such miseries; and the more that they love self and the world, and so depend on these for their life, the greater is their misery and anguish.

But spiritual temptations belong to the internal man; they are attacks made on his spiritual life. Anxious feelings in this case do not exist on account of any loss in their natural life, but on account of the loss of faith and charity, and consequently of salvation. Natural trials are often the means by which those spiritual temptations come about. For if a person is suffering natural trials – that is to say, sickness, sorrow, loss of wealth or position, and so on – and during them comes to think of the Lord’s help, His Providence, and the state of the wicked, in that they boast and rejoice when the good suffer and endure various miseries and losses, then spiritual temptation is bound up with natural trial. Such was the Lord’s final temptation, in Gethsemane, and when He endured the Cross, which was the severest of all. From all this one may see what natural trial is and what spiritual temptation is. A third kind of temptation or trial also exists, which is anxiety and depression caused for the most part by physical or mental infirmity. Such anxiety may involve some degree of spiritual temptation or it may not involve any at all. Emanuel Swedenborg [AC 8164]