Psalm 57, A Spiritual Psalter

St Ephraim the Syrian


If you have not yet become mightily inflamed with the Holy Spirit, avoid listening to the thoughts of others, that what you hear might not arouse passions not yet dead and pervert your soul.

If you are an ardent reader, seek not brilliant and erudite texts; otherwise the demon of haughtiness will strike your heart. But like a wise bee that gathers honey from flowers, through your reading obtain also healing for your soul.

Blessed is he who preaches virtue by means of his deeds. But if you say something that pertains to virtue, but do the opposite, this will not save you.

When you see people dissipated in acts of unclean love, look not at them in amazement, that you might not be seduced by rosy skin which will soon turn to dust.


Rather sigh to yourself and cry out: Remember, O Lord, that we are dust -- and God's grace will prevent you from becoming a prisoner of the Evil One.

Pray diligently to the Lord, that He might grant you the spirit of perfect chastity, that even as you dream at night you might evade the wiles of the Evil One as a person runs when he sees a wild beast chasing after him; or as a man whose pursuer carries a burning torch runs from room to room, that the fire might not burn him.

Just as one cannot buy education or artistic skills for any price without working at it, so one cannot attain the habit of exercising the virtues without zeal and diligence.

Just as your head takes priority over all other members of your body, and if a stone, stick or sword is aimed at you, you raise other members of your body to deflect the blow from your head, knowing that you cannot live in this life without your head -- so may you give priority overall things to faith in the Holy Trinity Which is One in essence, for without this faith no one can live the true life.

With all your heart hope on the Lord, and you will easily evade the wiles of the wicked one, for the Lord does not forsake those who work for Him.


From A Spiritual Psalter by our Holy Father St Ephraim of Edessa, the Syrian; excerpted and arranged by St. Theophan the Recluse according to the manner of the Divine Psalter of the Old Testament.