Cardinal (St.) John Fisher was Bishop of Rochester and Chancellor of Cambridge University in the dangerous days of the Henrician Reformation. Before being executed by Henry as a Catholic loyalist, he was highly influential, working with Lady Margaret Beaufort for instance to found John’s and Christ’s Colleges. He also published a short commentary in English on “The Seven Penitential Psalms” (key texts for Lay devotion at the time), which was the religious “best-seller” of the day, before it and his subsequent reputation in the Church of England were lost along with his head.
Prompted by a reference in Eamonn Duffy’s latest book (Royal Books and Holy Bones – a super retirement present) I’ve downloaded the commentary to Kindle (free from archive.org). He opens his comments on the first psalm (6) with a re-telling of the story of David, and then very effectively makes David an exemplar of returning to God in penitence after a fall, that no sensible person would ignore:
Which of us now that were sick in any part of his body, being in jeopardy of death, would not diligently,search for a medicine wherewith he might be healed, andfirst make inquisition of him that had the same sicknessbefore? Would we not also put very trust and hope to have remedy of our disease by that medicine whereby like manner sickness and diseases were cure4 before?Sith we now therefore have heard tell for a truth how greatly sick and diseased this prophet David was, notwith sickness of his body, but of his soul, and also with what medicine he was cured and made whole, let us take heed and use the same when we be sick in like manner as he was, by our sins, shortly to be cured; for he was a sinner as we be, but he did wholesome penance, making this holy Psalm whereby he got forgiveness and was restored to his soul’s health. We in like wise by oft saying and reading this Psalm, with a contrite heart (as he did), asking mercy, shall without doubt purchase and get of our best and merciful Lord God forgiveness for our sins.
That’ll do nicely for a morning devotion today. And you didn’t misread the reference to David in the title of this post, did you? 🙂