The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

St Thomas Aquinas’ Commentary on Psalm 15

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 17, 2010

Note: The numbering of the Psalms differed in Aquinas’ day; what we identify as Ps 15 was in his day 14.  The following Latin/English text is taken from The Aquinas Translation Project and conforms to their copyright restrictions (see note at bottom of post).

Psalm 14

a. Domine quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo? aut quis requiescet in monte sancto tuo? Lord, who shall dwell in your tabernacle? or rest on your holy mountain?
b. Qui ingreditur sine macula, et operatur iustitiam. Qui loquitur veritatem in corde suo, qui non egit dolum in lingua sua. He who enters without blemish, and does justice. He who speaks the truth in his heart, and has not brought about deceit in his speech.
c. Nec fecit proximo suo malum, et opprobrium non accepit adversus proximos suos. He who has done no evil to his fellow man, and accepts no reproach against his neighbours.
d. Ad nihilum deductus est in conspectu eius malignus: timentes autem Dominum glorificat. In his sight, the wicked are brought to nothing; but he glorifes those that fear the Lord.
e. Qui iurat proximo suo et non decipit, qui pecuniam suam non dedit ad usuram, et munera super innocentem non accepit. Qui facit haec, non commovebitur in aeternum. He who swears an oath to his neighbour, and does not break it; he who has not given his money to usury, nor taken bribes against the innocent. He who does these things, shall not be moved forever.
a. Supra Psalmista egit de malitia et dolo adversariorum; hic agit de propria iustitia. Et primo ostendit qualis sit iustitia quam Deus acceptat. Secundo, quasi gratias agens ostendit qualis sit sua iustitia, ibi, Conserva me. Previously, the psalmist treated of the malice and deceit of his enemies. Here, he treats of proper justice. First, he shows what kind of justice God accepts, and then, as one giving thanks, he shows the quality of His justice, at, Preserve me (Psalm 15).
Titulus, Psalmus David. In Psalmo isto duo facit: nam quasi sacerdos existens coram Deo consulit Deum. Primo ponitur quaestio. Secundo expositio, ibi, Qui ingreditur sine macula. In this psalm (the title of which is A Psalm of David), he does two things. Inasmuch as he consults with God, like a priest standing in God’s presence, he first poses a question, and then offers an explanation, at, He who enters without blemish.
Praemittit ergo duplicem quaestionem, quia duplex est status praesentis ecclesiae, et futurae. Primus est militantium: Apoc. 14. Amodo iam dicit spiritus ut requiescant. Et hi duo status signati sunt in veteri testamento. Quia primo habuerunt tabernaculum: Ex. 26. Quamdiu habuerunt bella et labores: 2. Reg. 7. Factum est cum dedisset Dominus requiem David ab universis inimicis suis, dixit ad Nathan: Vides quod ego habitem in domo cedrina, et arca Dei posita est in medio pellium? Postea fecit templum, quando habuit pacem. So, he puts forth two questions because of the two-fold status of the Church, that is, in the here and now, and in the future. The first refers to the Church as it struggles on this earth, the Church Militant – Apocalypse 14: From henceforth now, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours - and both are indicated in the Old Testament. For at first they had the tabernacle - ??: For a long time they had wars and labours; 2 Kings 7: It came to pass that when the Lord had given David rest from all of his enemies, he said to Nathan: Do you see that I dwell in a house of cedar and that the ark of God is lodged within skins? Afterwards, he made the temple, when there was peace.
Per tabernaculum designatur ecclesia militans, per templum in monte factum status futurae vitae: et ideo dicit, Quis habitabit in tabernaculo tuo, idest in praesenti ecclesia; quasi dicat, quis est dignus habitare: peccatores enim habitant numero, non merito. Hieronymus habet, Quis peregrinabitur: Ps. 67. Habitare facit unamines in domo. By the tabernacle is designated the Church as it struggles on this earth, and by the temple on the mount, the state of its future life. Thus he says, Who shall dwell in your tabernacle, that is, in the Church of the present, as if he were saying, Who is worthy to dwell: for sinners dwell among the multitude, and not among the deserving. Jerome’s version has, Who will be absent from – Psalm 67: (God) who makes men of one manner to dwell in a house.
Secunda quaestio, Quis requiescet in monte santo tuo? Et dicitur mons sanctus, quia nihil est ibi coinquinatum: Hier. 31. Benedicat tibi Dominus, pulchritudo iustitiae, mons sanctus: Isa. 35. Via sancta vocabitur: Ex. 15. Introduces eos, et plantabis in monte haereditatis tuae, firmissimo habitaculo tuo quod operatus es Domine. The second question is Who shall rest on your holy mountain? The mountain is called holy because there is nothing defiled there – Jeremias 31: The Lord bless you, the beauty of justice, the holy mountain; Isaiah 35: It shall be called the holy way; Exodus 15: You shall bring them in, and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance, in your most firm habitation which you have made, O Lord.
b. Qui. Hic ponitur responsio: et circa hoc duo facit. Primo commemorat merita habitantium in praedictis locis, scilicet in tabernaculo, et in monte sancto Dei. Secundo praemium, ibi, Qui facit haec, non commovebitur in aeternum. He who. At this point, he gives his response in a two-fold manner. First, he mentions the merits of those living in the previously mentioned places, namely in the tabernacle and on God’s holy mountain, and secondly, their reward, at, He who does these things, shall not be moved forever.
Ponit autem decem effectus virtutum. Sed actio virtuosi consideratur dupliciter. Primo per comparationem ad se. Secundo per comparationem ad alios. While he describes ten effects of virtue, the action of the virtuous is considered in a two fold way, first, through a comparison with their own action, and secondly, with that of others.
Primo proponit ea, per quae homo bene operatur in se. Secundo ea per quae se bene habet ad proximum, ibi, Nec fecit proximo suo etc. In se, quantum ad exteriora, in opere, et in locutione. In opere, quantum ad duo. Primo, quod fugiat malum; et ideo dicit, Qui ingreditur sine macula. Vita ista quaedam via est ad vitam aeternam; et ideo dicit, Ingreditur, idest in via graditur: Ps. 41. Ingrediar in locum tabernaculi. Item 118. Beati immaculati in via. Sine macula, scilicet mortali, quia peccatum veniale non habet maculam proprie: Eccl. 31. Beatus dives qui inventus est sine macula. Sed in Christo, et in Virgine Maria nulla omnino macula fuit, et istis appropriatur temperantia, quia contra temperantiam maculatur. Secundo, ut faciat bona; et ideo sequitur, Et operatur iustitiam, idest ea ad quae iustitia inclinat; et reducitur ad eam prout est specialis virtus. He first describes those things through which a man operates well as such, and then those things through which he is well-related to his neighbour, at, He who has done no evil to his fellow man etc. With respect to the former, his activity and speech are described in relation to exterior things. His activity is described in two ways. First, that he avoid evil. Thus, he says, He who enters without blemish. His very life is a sort of road to eternal life. Thus, he says, He who enters, that is, he who walks in the way – Psalm 41: I will go into the place of the tabernacle; Psalm 118: Blessed are the undefiled in the way. Without blemish, namely mortal sin, since venial sin does not blemish properly speaking – Ecclesiasticus 31: Blessed is the rich man that is found without blemish. But no blemish at all arose in Christ and the Virgin Mary; temperance is attributed to both, since a person in opposition to temperance is blemished. Second, that he do good works. Hence he continues, And does justice, that is, those things to which justice inclines. And he is brought to justice as it is a special virtue.
In sermone, primo, ut faciat bonum, Qui loquitur veritatem, idest faciat bonum locutionis: Isa. 33. Quis poterit habitare ex vobis cum ardoribus sempiternis? Qui ambulat in iustitiis, et loquitur veritatem. Et dicit, In corde, contra illos qui loquuntur veritatem a casu, non ex proposito: Prov. 12. Labium veritatis firmum erit: 1 Pet. 2. Deponentes omne mendacium, et omnem dolum, quasi modo geniti infantes. Secundo, ut vitet malum, scilicet dolositatem: Hier. 9. Sagitta vulnerans lingua eorum, dolum locuta est. His speech is described next, first, that he do good, He who speaks the truth, namely, that he do good through his speech – Isaiah 33: Which of you shall dwell with everlasting burnings? He who walks in just ways, and speaks the truth, In his heart, against those who speak the truth by chance, and not by their own effort – Proverbs 12: The lip of truth shall be steadfast; 1 Peter 2: Laying aside every lie and deceit, as newborn babes. Secondly, that (in his speech) he avoid evil , namely deceitfulness – Jeremiah 9: Their tongue is a piercing arrow, deceitful is their speech.
Qui non egit dolum in lingua sua. Alia litera, Qui non est facilis in lingua sua: Prov. 25. Urbs patens et absque murorum ambitu, vir qui non potest in loquendo coercere spiritum suum. Alia litera, Et non est accusatio in lingua eius, quia scilicet non est detractor et relator, vel quia verba sua non sunt accusabilia: Eph. 4. Omnis sermo malus de ore vestro non procedat. And has not brought about deceit in his speech. Another version has, And is not free in his speech – Proverbs 25: As a city that lies open and is not encircled with walls, so is a man that cannot restrain his own spirit in speaking. Another version has, And there is no accusation in his speech, either because he is not a detractor and a gossip, or his words are not reprehensible – Ephesians 4: Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth.
c. Nec fecit. Supra egit Psalmista de virtuosa operatione quam Deus acceptat, connumerando per quae homo bene operatur in se; hic autem connumerat ea, per quae se bene habet ad proximum. He who has done no evil. Previously, the psalmist treated of virtuous activity which God accepts. He did this by enumerating those activities by which a man operates well with respect to himself. Here, however, he enumerates those activities through which he is well-related to his neighbour.
Et hic quantum ad proximum petit tria. Primo, ut ei non noceat. Secundo, quod non consentiat nocenti: Rom. 1. Qui talia agunt, regnum Dei non consequentur; sed digni sunt morte non solum qui faciunt ea, sed etiam qui consentiunt facientibus. Tertio, quod non decipiat ipsum. He describes three things with respect to his neighbour. First, that he do him no harm, second, that he not consent to harm – Romans 1: Those who do such things, do not obtain the kingdom of god; they are worthy of death, not only those that do these acts, but they also that consent to those that do them – and third, that he not ensnare him.
Dicit ergo quantum ad primum, Nec fecit proximo suo malum, nec corporaliter, nec spiritualiter: Rom. 12. Nulli malum pro malo reddentes: Col. ult. Dum tempus habemus, operemur bonum. Therefore, he says with respect to the first, He who does no evil to his fellow man, neither corporally or spiritually: Romans 12: To no man rendering evil for evil; Galatians 6: While we have time, let us work good.
Quantum ad secundum dicit, Et opprobrium non accepit adversus proximos suos. Aliquis dicit aliquid contra alius, sed non est sustinendum; et ideo dicit, Opprobrium non accepit, tunc scilicet, quando ille qui audit verba detractoria contra eum, et ex his detestatur illum, de quo dicuntur, vel etiam ipse dicit aliis: Eccl. 19. Audisti verbum contra proximum tuum, commoriatur in te etc. Eccl. 28. Sepi aurem tuam spinis, et noli audire linguam nequam. With respect to the second, he says, And has accepted no reproach against his neighbours. People say things against another, but such are not to be endured. For this reason he says, And has accepted no reproach, that is, at that time, when he hears disparaging words against another, on account of these words he destests that man, concerning which they are said, or he even speaks to them (these words) – Eccl. 19: You have heard a word against your neighbour; let it die in you etc.; ??? (psalm 57:5-6, proverbs 17:4): Close your ear to intricacies, and do not listen to vile speach.
Hieronymus: Si non est auditor, non est detractor. Bernardus: Detrahere aut detrahentem audire, quid horum damnabilius sit, non facile dixero: Prov. 25. Ventus aquilo dissipat pluviam, et facies tristis linguam detrahentem, quia ad literam detrahens cessat cum audiens contristatur. Jerome says, If one is not a listener, one is not a detractor. Bernardus states, I cannot easily say which is more deserving of condemnation, to disparage, or to listen to one disparaging. Proverbs 25: The north wind disperses the rain, and a sad face the speech of one disparaging, since disparaging litterally ceases when the one listening is saddened.
d. Ad nihilum. Hic ostendit quod non despiciat. In homine sunt duo, scilicet vitium et virtus. Vitium est despiciendum; et ideo dicit Malignus, inquantum talis, Ad nihilum est deductus, idest nihil reputatur; et hoc est bonum. Primo ad tollendum aemulationem: quandoque enim aliquis malus exaltatur: Hier. 12. Via impiorum prosperatur etc. To nothing. At this point, he shows what he will not despise. There are two things which pertain to man, namely sin and virtue. Sin is to be despised; and thus he says The wicked, insofar as that sort, are brought to nothing, that is, are considered as nothing. And this is good, first to eliminate the imitation (of their ways); for an evil is sometimes honoured – Jeremias 12: The way of the wicked prospers etc.
Sed propter hoc nullo modo debet eum reputare magnum, sed debet eum despicere: Mala. 2. Gloria hominis peccatoris stercus et vermis est: hodie extollitur et eras non invenitur, quia conversus est in terram, et cogitatio eius periit. However, according to this, one ought never to consider him great, but ought to despise him – Malachi 2: The glory of man’s sin is dung and worm: today it is exalted and tomorrow it is not found, because he has lived on the land, and his thought has perished.
Vel aliquis magnus intendit nocere, sed ex quo est malignus contemnas eum: quia talium derogatio est nostrae vitae adprobatio: Ps. 26. Si consistant adversum me castra, non timebit cor meum, idest peccatores. Or a great person intends to do harm, but because he is wicked, you despise him: for that sort of disparagement is an approving of our life – Psalm 26: If an army, that is, sinners, persists against me, my heart will not fear.
Sed virtuosum hominem reputa magnum; ideo dicit, Timentes autem Dominum glorificat: Eccl. 25. Quam magnus est qui invenit sapientiam et scientiam, sed non est super timentem Dominum. But the virtuous man is consider to be great; thus he says, But he glorifies those that fear the Lord – Eccl. 25: How great is he who finds wisdom and knowledge, but there is none above him who fears the Lord.
Glossa aliter exponit, Ad nihilum deductus est in conspectu eius malignus, idest diabolus vinctus est ab eo: Io. 2. Vicistis malignum etc. Dominus glorificat timentes Dominum, scilicet se. Sed prima expositio est magis literalis. The gloss explains this differently: In his sight, the wicked are brought to nothing, that is, the devil is conquered by him – John 2: You have conquered the wicked etc. The Lord glorifies those who fear the Lord, namely himself. However, the first explanation is the more literal one.
e. Hic prohibet ne decipiat proximum. In tribus autem proximus decipitur, videlicet in promissis, et hoc per iuramentum; et ideo dicit, Qui iurat etc., idest firmat ad decipiendum, quia non servat: Zach. 8. Iuramentum mendax non diligas: Levi. 14. Non periurabis in nomine Dei tui, et non pollues illud. Iurare non pertinet ad virtutem, sed iuramentum servare. Here, he holds back so that he does not deceive his neighbour. One’s neighbour is deceived in three ways. First, in promisses, and this, through an oath; thus he says, He who swears an oath etc., that is, assents so as to deceive, because he does not comply – Zachariah 8: You do not love the deceitful oath; Leviticus 14: You will not swear falsely in the name of the your God, nor will you defile it. Swearing does not pertain to virtue, but rather to the keeping of an oath.
Item in contractibus. Unde Qui pecuniam suam non dedit ad usuram: Luc. 6. Mutuum date, nihil inde sperantes: et munera super innocentem non accepit: Prov. 17. Munera de sinu, idest ecclesiae, impius accepit, ut pervertat semitas iudicii: Deut. 23. prohibetur quod non detur fratri ad usuram, quia vendit quod non est, cum non habeat usumfructum. Secondly, in agreements. So, He who has not given his money to ursury – Luke 6: Give a loan, hoping nothing in return: and do not accepts bribes against the innocent; Proverbs 17: The wicked accept gifts from the bosom, that is, from the Church, to corrupt the path of the judge; Deuteronomy 23 forbids that it be given to a brother in usury, because he sells what does not exist, although he does not have usufruct (the right of enjoying the use and advantages of another’s property short of the destruction or waste of its substance).
Item in iudiciis, quando dat sententiam contra innocentes; et ideo dicit, Et munera: Isa. 5. Vae qui iustificatis impios propter munera: Iob 19. Ignis devorabit tabernacula eorum, qui munera libenter accipiunt. Thirdly, in judgments, when he gives a statement against the innocent; and thus he says, And bribes – Isaiah 5: Woe to those who justify wicked deeds on account of bribes; Job 19: Fire will devour the dwellings of those who readily accept bribes.
Consequenter ponitur praemium, Qui fecit, idest servat: Haec, omnia praedicta: Iac. 1. Estote factores verbi: Rom. 2. Non auditores legis iusti sunt apud Deum, sed factores. Consequently, he sets down a reward (for the one) who does these things, that is who observes all of the aforesaid – Jacob 1: Be doers of the word; Romans 2: The hearers of the law are not justifed before God, but rather the doers.
Non commovebitur in aeternum, idest hic habitabit in monte sancto meo: Infra 124. Qui confidunt in Domino sicut mons Syon etc. Ps. 54. Non dabis in aeternum fluctuationem iusto. Shall not be moved forever, that is, this person will dwell on my holy mountain – Psalm 124: He who trusts in the Lord is like Mount Syon etc.; Psalm 54: You will not deliver the just into eternal unrest.

© Stephen Loughlin
(sjl1@desales.edu)


The Aquinas Translation Project
(http://www4.desales.edu/~philtheo/loughlin/ATP/index.html)

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8 Responses to “St Thomas Aquinas’ Commentary on Psalm 15”

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