We have said as much about prayer as our mean intelligence and the nature of the occasion have demanded. If anyone desires to gain the fullest abundance of satisfaction on this subject, he must read the most eloquent Cassian, who in his ninth and tenth Conferences28 has discussed the types of prayer with such power and quality that the holy Spirit seems clearly to have spoken through his mouth.
I. A psalm of David when his son pursued him. The history of this is very well known from reading the Book of Kings; for David's son Absalom is known to have driven his father from the kingdom, and irreligiously pursued him. 1 A parallel is being offered here, as some commentators claim, to the situation of every Christian afflicted in the bitterness of this world by the savage sins which are so to say his sons. But opposed to them is the healing repentance which this psalm is shown to contain. Remember however that the history of this has already been recounted in Psalm 3; but there Absalom was named because the psalmist wished the example he offers to be applied only to Judas, whereas here he goes unnamed so that each of the faithful, as we have already said, may apply the words to his own faults.
True, the prophet has been exercised by pondering the large numbers of penitents; but the closer he draws to the praises to come, the more he turns in remorse of heart to the font of repentance, so that once he has been suitably cleansed in that solitary refuge, he may appear wholly clean before the Lord's sight. And rightly so, to avoid hearing that verdict which spells disgrace: But to the sinner God has said, Why dost thou declare my justices?2 So in his initial prayer he asks the Lord Christ not to enter into judgment against His servant, but prays that the Lord's mercy may aid his troubled heart. In the second prayer he asks that he may swiftly attain pardon, so that once he has been guided on to the path of truth, he may be freed from the snares of his enemies.