Yesterday and to-day, the Church bids us read at Matins the commentary of St Augustine on verses of Psalm 63, which he rightly interprets in the context of the Lord's Passion, the suffering of the Saint of saints and the true and faithful Witness, the Prince of Martyrs: for "the New the Old reveals, the Old the New conceals". Here are the extracts used on Good Friday and Holy Saturday (although I haven't been able to fill up a missing part of Lesson vi):
Good FridayLesson ivYou have protected me from the gathering together of malignants, and from the multitude of men working iniquity (Psalm 63:2). Now upon Himself our Head let us look. Like things many Martyrs have suffered: but nothing does shine out so brightly as the Head of Martyrs; in Him rather let us behold what they have gone through. Protected He was from the multitude of malignants, God protecting Himself, the Son Himself and the Manhood which He was carrying protecting His flesh: because Son of Man He is, and Son of God He is; Son of God because of the form of God, Son of Man because of the form of a servant: having in His power to lay down His life: and to take it again. (John 10:18) To Him what could enemies do? They killed body, soul they killed not. Observe. Too little therefore it were for the Lord to exhort the Martyrs with word, unless He had enforced it by example.Lesson vYou know what a gathering together there was of malignant Jews, and what a multitude there was of men working iniquity. What iniquity? That wherewith they willed to kill the Lord Jesus Christ. So many good works, He says, I have shown to you, for which of these will you to kill Me? (John 10:32) He endured all their infirm, He healed all their sick, He preached the Kingdom of Heaven, He held not His peace at their vices, so that these same should have been displeasing to them, rather than the Physician by whom they were being made whole: for all these His remedies being ungrateful, like men delirious in high fever raving at the physician, they devised the plan of destroying Him that had come to heal them; as though therein they would prove whether He were indeed a man, that could die, or were somewhat above men, and would not suffer Himself to die. The word of these same men we perceive in the wisdom of Solomon: with death most vile, say they, let us condemn Him; let us question Him, for there will be regard in the discourses of Him; for if truly Son of God He is, let Him deliver Him. (Cf. Wisdom 2:20,18.)Lesson viFor they have whet like a sword their tongues (Psalm 63:3). Which says another Psalm also, Sons of men; their teeth are arms and arrows, and their tongue is a sharp sword. Let not the Jews say, we have not killed Christ. For to this end they gave Him to Pilate the judge, in order that they themselves might seem as it were guiltless of His death. For when Pilate said to them: You put him to death, they responded: It is not lawful for us to put any man to death. [...] But if he is guilty because he did it though unwillingly, are they innocent who compelled him to do it? By no means. But he gave sentence against Him, and commanded Him to be crucified: and in a manner himself killed Him; ye also, O you Jews, killed Him. Whence did ye kill Him? With the sword of the tongue: for you did whet your tongues. And when did ye smite, except when you cried out, Crucify, Crucify? (Luke 23:21)Holy SaturdayLesson ivThere shall draw near a man to a deep heart, and God shall be exalted (Psalm 63:7). They said, Who shall see us? They failed in searching searchings (Psalm 63:6), evil counsels. There drew near a man to those same counsels, He suffered Himself to be held as a man. For He would not have been held except He were man, or have been seen except He were man, or have been smitten except He were man, or have been crucified or have died except He were man. There drew near a man therefore to all those sufferings, which in Him would have been of no avail except He were Man. But if He were not Man, there would not have been deliverance for man. There has drawn near a Man and a deep heart, that is, a secret heart: presenting before human faces Man, keeping within God: concealing the form of God, wherein He is equal with the Father, (Philippians 2:6) and offering the form of a servant, wherein He is less than the Father.Lesson vTo what did they bring those their searchings, in which searchings they failed, so that even, when the Lord was dead and buried, they set guards at the tomb? For they said to Pilate, That deceiver; by this name the Lord Jesus Christ was called, for the comfort of His servants when they are called deceivers; they say therefore to Pilate, That deceiver said when yet living, After three days I will rise again: (Matthew 27:63-66) Command therefore the sepulchre to be guarded until the third day: lest perhaps his disciples come and steal him away and say to the people: He is risen from the dead: and the last error shall be worse than the first. Pilate saith to them: You have a guard. Go, guard it as you know. And they departing, made the sepulchre secure, sealing the stone and setting guards.Lesson viThey set for guards soldiers at the sepulchre. At the earth quaking, the Lord rose again: such miracles were done about the sepulchre, that even the very soldiers that had come for guards were made witnesses, if they chose to tell the truth: but the same covetousness which had led captive a disciple, the companion of Christ, led captive also the soldier that was guard of the sepulchre. We give you, they say, money; (Matthew 28:12-13) and say ye, while yourselves were sleeping there came His disciples, and took Him away. Truly they failed searching searchings. What is this that thou sayest, O unhappy astuteness? To what extent hast thou not abandoned the light of the counsel of piety, and have immersed thyself in the depths of cunning, that this thou sayest: Say, that is, you sleepers, his disciples came, and stole him away? Sleeping witnesses ye adduce: truly you yourself hast fallen asleep, that in searching such devices hast failed.