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

Archive for the ‘NOTES ON THE PSALMS’ Category

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 138

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 16, 2014


THIS is a song of thanksgiving for the goodness of Yahweh towards His people in general, and in particular for some gracious intervention of the Lord on behalf of Israel that has just occurred.

Yahweh has glorified His name and His word by granting success to His people, Israel. For this public thanksgiving is due. The heathen gods will be compelled to look on while thanksgiving is being made to Yahweh for the gracious deeds by which He has broken the power of Israel’s heathen foes. Even the kings of the heathens, themselves, when they realise all the greatness of Yahweh’s truth and kindness and power will join with Israel in honouring Him and giving Him thanks. The help which the Lord has recently given will not be refused again in time of need, for the loving-kindness of Yahweh endures for ever, and He cannot forget the “work of His hands.”

The psalm is ascribed to David in the Massoretic text, and tO David, Haggai and Zechariah by the Septuagint. This shows uncertainty of tradition as to authorship. The idea that foreign kings are to join in honouring the God of Israel belongs to the realm of Messianic hope. It has been suggested that the best setting for this psalm would be the period of Nehemiah when Israel was able to face the heathen world boldly, in the proud consciousness of her newly established power.

It will be noted that this psalm is closely allied in many respects with Ps. 116.

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Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 22:34-40

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 16, 2014

Ver 34. But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.35. Then one of them, which was a Lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,36. “Master, which is the great commandment in the Law?”37. Jesus said unto him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God. with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.38. This is the first and great commandment.39. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.40. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Jerome: The Pharisees having been themselves already confuted (in the matter of the denarius), and now seeing their adversaries also overthrown, should have taken warning to attempt no further deceit against Him; but hate and jealousy are the parents of impudence.

Origen: Jesus had put the Sadducees to silence, to shew that the tongue of falsehood is silenced by the brightness of truth. For as it belongs to the righteous man to be silent when it is good to be silent, and to speak when it is good to speak, and not to hold his peace; so it belongs to every teacher of a lie not indeed to be silent, but to be silent as far as any good purpose is concerned.

Jerome: The Pharisees and Sadducees, thus foes to one another, unite in one common purpose to tempt Jesus.

Pseudo-Chrys.: Or the Pharisees meet together, that their numbers may silence Him whom their reasonings could not confute; thus, while they array numbers against Him, shewing that truth failed them; they said among themselves, Let one speak for all, and all speak, through one, so if He prevail, the victory may seem to belong to all; if He be overthrown, the defeat may rest with Him alone; so it follows, “Then one of them, a teacher of the Law, asked him a question, tempting Him.”

Origen: All who thus ask questions of any teacher to try him, and not to learn of him, we must regard as brethren of this Pharisee, according to what is said below, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of mine, ye have done it unto me.” [Mat_25:40]

Aug., de Cons. Ev., ii, 73: Let no one find a difficulty in this, that Matthew speaks of this man as putting his question to tempt the Lord, whereas Mark does not mention this, but concludes with what the Lord said to him upon his answering wisely, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.” [Mar_12:34] For it is possible that, though he came to tempt, yet the Lord’s answer may have wrought correction within him.

Or, the tempting here meant need not be that of one designing to deceive an enemy, but rather the cautious approach of one making proof of a stranger. And that is not written in vain, “Whoso believeth lightly, he is of a vain heart.” [Ecc_19:4]

Origen: He said “Master” tempting Him, for none but a disciple would thus address Christ. Whoever then does not learn of the Word, nor yields himself wholly up to it, yet calls it Master, he is brother to this Pharisee thus tempting Christ. Perhaps while they read the Law before the Saviour’s coming, it was a question among them which was the great commandment in it; nor would the Pharisee have asked this, if it had not been long time enquired among themselves, but never found till Jesus came and declared it.

Pseudo-Chrys.: He who now enquires for the greatest commandment had not observed the least. He only ought to seek for a higher righteousness who has fulfilled the lower.

Jerome: Or he enquires not for the sake of the commands, but which is the first and great commandment, that seeing all that God commands is great, he may have occasion to cavil whatever the answer be.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But the Lord so answers him, as at once to lay bare the dissimulation of his enquiry, “Jesus saith unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Thou shalt love,” not ‘fear,’ for to love is more than to fear; to fear belongs to slaves, to love to sons; fear is in compulsion, love in freedom. Whoso serves God in fear escapes punishment, but has not the reward of righteousness because he did well unwillingly through fear. God does not desire to be served servilely by men as a master, but to be loved as a father, for that He has given the spirit of adoption to men.

But to love God with the whole heart, is to have the heart inclined to the love of no one thing more than of God. To love God again with the whole soul is to have the mind stayed upon the truth, and to be firm in the faith. For the love of the heart and the love of the soul are different. The first is in a sort carnal, that we should love God even with our flesh, which we cannot do unless we first depart from the love of the things of this world. The love of the heart is felt in the heart, but the love of the soul is not felt, but is perceived because it consists in a judgment of the soul. For he who believes that all good is in God, and that without Him is no good, he loves God with his whole soul. But to love God with the whole mind, is to have all the faculties open and unoccupied for Him. He only loves God with his whole mind, whose intellect ministers to God, whose wisdom is employed about God, whose thoughts travail in the things of God, and whose memory holds the things which are good.

Aug., de Doctr. Christ., i, 22: Or otherwise; You are commanded to love God “with all thy heart,” that your whole thoughts — “with all thy soul,” that your whole life — “with all thy mind,” that your whole understanding — may be given to Him from whom you have that you give. Thus He has left no part of our life which may justly be unfilled of Him, or give place to the desire after any other final good [marg. note: alia re frui]; but if aught else present itself for the soul’s love, it should be absorbed into that channel in which the whole current of love runs. For man is then the most perfect when his whole life tends towards the life [marg. note: al. bonum] unchangeable, and clings to it with the whole purpose of his soul.

Gloss., interlin.: Or, “with all thy heart,” i.e. understanding; “with all thy soul,” i.e. thy will; “with all thy mind,” i.e. memory; so you shall think, will, remember nothing contrary to Him.

Origen: Or otherwise; “With all thy heart,” that is, in all recollection, act, thought; “with all thy soul,” to be ready, that is, to lay it down for God’s religion; “with all thy mind,” bringing forth nothing but what is of God. And consider whether you cannot thus take the heart of the understanding, by which we contemplate things intellectual, and the “mind” of that by which we utter thoughts, walking as it were with the mind through each expression, and uttering it.

If the Lord had given no answer to the Pharisee who thus tempted Him, we should have judged that there was no commandment greater than the rest. But when the Lord adds, “This is the first and great commandment,” we learn how we ought to think of the commandments, that there is a great one, and that there are less down to the least. And the Lord says not only that it is a great, but that it is the first commandment, not in order of Scripture, but in supremacy of value.

They only take upon them the greatness and supremacy of this precept, who not only love the Lord their God, but add these three conditions. Nor did He only teach the first and great commandment, but added that there was a second like unto the first, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself:” But if “Whoso loveth iniquity hath hated his own soul,” [Psa_11:5] it is manifest that he does not love his neighbour as himself, when he does not love himself.

Aug., de Doctr. Christ., i, 30; see Rom_13:10: It is clear that every man is to be regarded as a neighbour, because evil is to be done to no man. Further, if every one to whom we are bound to shew service of mercy, or who is bound to shew it to us, be rightly called our neighbour, it is manifest that in this precept are comprehended the holy Angels who perform for us those services of which we may read in Scripture.

Whence also our Lord Himself would be called our neighbour; for it was Himself whom He represents as the good Samaritan, who gave succour to the man who was left half-dead by the way.

Aug., de Trin., viii, 6: He that loves men ought to love them either because they are righteous, or that they may be righteous; and so also ought he to love himself either for that he is, or that he may be righteous. And thus without peril he may love his neighbour as himself.

Aug., de Doctr. Christ., i, 22: But if even yourself you ought not to love for your own sake, but because of Him in whom is the rightful end of your love, let not another man be displeased that you love even him for God’s sake. Whoso then rightly loves his neighbour, ought to endeavour with him that he also with his whole heart love God.

Pseudo-Chrys.: But who loves man is as who loves God; for man is God’s image, wherein God is loved, as a King is honoured in his statue. For this cause this commandment is said to be like the first.

Hilary: Or otherwise; That the second command is like the first signifies that the obligation and merit of both are alike; for no love of God without Christ, or of Christ without God, can profit to salvation.

It follows, “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Aug., Quaest. Ev., i, 33: “Hang,” that is, refer thither as their end.

Raban.: For to these two commandments belongs the whole decalogue; the commandments of the first table to the love of God, those of the second to the love of our neighbour.

Origen: Or, because he that has fulfilled the things that are written concerning the love of God and our neighbour, is worthy to receive from God the great reward, that he should be enabled to understand the Law and the Prophets.

Aug., de Trin., viii. 7: Since there are two commandments, the love of God and the love of our neighbour, on which hang the Law and the Prophets, not without reason does Scripture put one for both; sometimes the love of God; as in that, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God;” [Rom_8:28] and sometimes the love of our neighbour; as in that, “All the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” [Gal_5:14]

And that because if a man love his neighbour, it follows therefrom that he loves God also; for it is the selfsame affection by which we love God, and by which we love our neighbour, save that we love God for Himself, but ourselves and our neighbour for God’s sake.

Aug., de Doctr. Christ., i, 26, 30: But since the Divine substance is more excellent and higher than our nature, the command to love God is distinct from that to love our neighbour. But if by yourself, you understand your whole self, that is both your soul and your body, and in like manner of your neighbour, there is no sort of things to be loved omitted in these commands. The love of God goes first, and the rule thereof is so set out to us as to make all other loves center in that, so that nothing seems said of loving yourself.

But then follows, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” so that love of yourself is not omitted.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 107

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 16, 2014


THIS psalm, though it begins a new Book, forms the natural conclusion to the two preceding psalms. Israel appears here as reconciled with the Lord, and as safely returned from the Exile. The prayer in Ps. 104:47 is taken as granted. The Israelites whom the Lord has brought home are called on to thank
their Saviour, Yahweh, for His manifold favours, and in particular, for the graces of redemption from captivity and safe home-bringing (Ps 107:1-3).

In four strophes, which are clearly marked off by a peculiarly constructed refrain, four perils, typical of the dangers of human life generally, and typical, in particular, of the dangers and difficulties of the Exile in Babylon and the Return from that Exile are vividly described: (a) Ps 107:4-9, the perils of travellers lost in the desert; (b) Ps 107:10-16, imprisonment; (c) Ps 107:17-22, grievous illness; Ps 10723-32, the terrors of a storm at sea.

In a final strophe (Ps 10733-43) the psalmist deals, in the manner of a Sapiential Writer, with the methods of God’s gracious providence as seen in nature and history—especially in the history of Israel. This strophe differs so much in manner and form from the rest of the poem that it has been often treated by critics (sometimes even by Catholic critics) as a separate psalm. It can be shown, however, that in this final section of Psalm 107 also, the redemption of Israel from the captivity of Babylon is kept in view ; hence this strophe, emphasizing, as it does, the might by which God bends all the powers of nature to His purposes and the loving care which He exercises towards His people, forms a fitting conclusion to a poem on the peculiar dangers of the Exile and return from the Exile.

It would appear from a close study of the psalm that it was not composed immediately after the return from the Babylonian Exile, but considerably later. The psalmist has clearly in view, not merely the difficulties of the home-coming from Babylon, but also the perils of all the later home-comings of pious Jews, returning from the Diaspora to join in the celebration of the great feasts in Jerusalem.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 67

Posted by Dim Bulb on August 12, 2014


HIS psalm is based on the Priestly Blessing in Numbers 6:24-26 the blessing with which the priests were wont to bless the people gathered for worship in the Temple. The Aaronic Blessing in Numbers 6. runs thus:

May Yahweh bless thee and keep thee!May Yahweh make His face to shine upon thee!May Yahweh lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace!

It wishes to Israel, and to each individual Israelite, the care and protecting presence of God, and the sense of peace which comes from friendship with God. In many ways Yahweh could reveal His love for His people, and His protecting presence in their midst ; but no revelation of His love and presence could be more obvious to the popular mind than that contained in the blessings of a bounteous harvest. The psalm is a song of thanksgiving for harvest joys. At a harvest festival whether Pasch (Passover), Pentecost or Tabernacles the words of the Aaronic Blessing are thought of as echoed by the multitude, and expanded into a song such as we have here. The Lord has, indeed, been gracious, and therein lies a token that He will be gracious again. The blessing which Yahweh has granted to Israel is a blessing for the heathens also. They will learn thereby what a mighty and what a loving God Yahweh is, and thus, they, too, will be led to know and praise Him. Thus, in the psalm, the natural blessings of harvest are typical of the greater blessings which the Gentiles will enjoy in common with Israel in the Messianic time.

There is no clear indication of date in the Hebrew text of the psalm. The superscription in the Vulgate (following the Greek) ascribes it, in the usual way, to David. It is clear that the psalm is liturgical in character. It is not connected, as far as can be seen, with any definite occasion, and it was, no doubt, used, in a purely formal way, at all kinds of harvest festivals. Modern criticism regards it as postexilic chiefly because of its universalism.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalms 9 and 10 (Psalm 9 in LXX and Vulgate)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 16, 2014

In the Greek Septuagint (LXX) and the Latin Vulgate Psalms 9 and 10 are treated (correctly) as a single psalm, numbered 9. Most modern bibles treat them as two separate psalms, numbered 9 and 10. Father Boylan follows the LXX/Vulgate numbering. What he refers to as part one of the psalm corresponds to the modern psalm number 9. Part two corresponds to the modern psalm number 10.


THE first part of this psalm (verses 2-21) is a song of thanks giving for the rescue of Israel from foreign enemies; the second part (22-39) i s a prayer for protection against troubles which have arisen within the Hebrew State.

Part I. The Lord has held judgment over the heathen strangers. He has reduced their cities to ruins, and blotted out their name forever. Israel, avenged and victorious, sings glad songs of praise and thanks in Jerusalem. The heathens have met with that same fate which they had planned for Sion. The first part ends with a strong appeal to the Lord to set a masterful ruler over the heathens that they may realise that they are but mere men.

Part II begins with a complaint that the Lord is not helping in the hour of need. He seems to stand afar off, and to give no thought to His friends. The friends of the Lord are here the poor and the God-fearing, who are pursued and oppressed by godless Israelites. The oppression of the weaker Israelites by the wealthy and insolent and God-defying aristocrats is vividly described. The psalmist prays to God, as the sole refuge of the weak and lowly, to break the power of their ruthless oppressors.

The concluding verses (37-39) serve as a conclusion to both parts of the psalm. The foreign enemies have been ruined, and the oppressors within Israel have learned the lesson that man is but man, and that God is the shield of the weak and oppressed. The two parts of the poem end with the same thought.

In this analysis it is assumed that the two parts constitute a single poem. The Hebrew text regards them as two separate poems. The combined arrangement is, however, supported by certain features of the Hebrew text itself. This psalm is one of the alphabetical psalms, and the alphabetical structure is continued through the two parts. The two parts form a single psalm in the Greek versions, and in Jerome s version. The Hebrew text of the second part (Ps. 10 Hebrew) has no title as if it had been set in isolation by some accident. As we see, the two parts, besides being connected by the acrostic arrangement, end similarly, and the situation of Part I is implied in the conclusion of Part II. The Vulgate arrangement of the two parts as one poem is, therefore, to be retained. Since, however, Part II forms a separate psalm in the Hebrew text, the Vulgate numbering of the psalms will henceforth, for the most part, be different from that of the Massoretic text (and therefore also, of the Revised Version).

The occasion of this poem cannot be determined. David had many experiences of victories abroad and troubles at home. Yet it is very difficult to find in any known incidents of his reign a background for the ninth Psalm. The tendency of many modern commentators
is to parallel Part I with the prophecy of Nahum, and to explain the defeat of the heathen as referring to the fall of Niniveh. More radical critics would find the inspiration for the two parts in events of the Maccabean period. If we set aside the Vulgate ascription of the psalm to David, we shall have nothing to guide us in placing the poem but mere subjectivism. The words of the title: Pro occultis filii may point back to a consonantal Hebrew text which could be translated, According to the death of the Son but this again, would give us no help in discovering the historical context of the psalm.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 48

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 13, 2014


FROM verse 10 we see that the multitude stands in the Court of the Temple. In verse 13 the people are exhorted to go forth, and walk round Sion, so as to study the glorious strength and beauty of Jerusalem, and thus be able to describe its greatness to their children’s children. Possibly, therefore, this psalm was used as a processional hymn at the beginning of one of the great festivals in Jerusalem. The procession going forth from the temple would traverse the streets of the city, and return again to the temple. The Jewish pilgrims who have come from distant homes, have heard of the greatness of Jerusalem: now they see it with their own eyes. The psalm would be thus one of those “Hymns of Sion” mentioned in Ps. 137:3. With pride the singer dwells on the inviolate greatness of the fortress city. No invasion has ever made it fear: indeed, hostile kings who marched against it were cast into dread and dismay when they beheld its strength, and fled in fear, while their armies were broken and dispersed like the great merchant ships which a storm from the east has fallen on, and shattered.

It is possible that some particular attack on Jerusalem is referred to in verses 5-8. Critics favour the view that Sanherib’s (Sennacherib’s) campaign (701 B.C.) is in the psalmist s mind. There are striking points of contact in the poem with Isaiah 33.

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Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 65

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 4, 2014


THIS psalm represents the people gathered together in the Temple to praise and thank the Lord for His favours; (a) for forgiveness of sin which had called for punishment (verses 2-4);
(b) for His merciful providence in nature and history (verses 5-9); and, (c) for His most recent blessing a springtime full of promise. Apparently a season of drought, which the people acknowledge to have been deserved by their sins, has been followed by favourable rains. The thanksgiving which the people had vowed to the Lord (verse 2), should He hear their prayers, is conveyed in this hymn. It is one of the most beautiful of the nature-poems of the Psalter. It resembles Ps. 67 in its main motif.

The superscription of the psalm in the Septuagint and Vulgate connects the poem with the exilic prophets Jeremias and Ezechiel, and apparently assigns its composition to the period of the return from the Babylonian Exile. The ascription to Jeremias and Ezechiel, and the reference to the Exile are absent from the Massoretic text. All three texts agree in ascribing the psalm to David. It is obvious, however, that the poem could not have for its author David, Jeremias and Ezechiel, nor any two of these sacred writers. Hence we may safely disregard this title in so far as it speaks of authorship. That the people are not in Babylon, but in Palestine, follows from verse 10 and following verses, if they are taken as a description of the effects of fertilising rains sent by God in answer to prayer. Verses 3, 6, 9 are very universalistic in tone and are regarded by many modem critics as proving the post-exilic origin of the psalm. It is, however, very dogmatic to assert that the idea of God s universal rule and providence was not familiar in the pre-exilic period.

Attempts have been made to take literally the reference to the return from Exile in the title, and to explain the psalm as a song composed to be sung by homesick exiles on their way to Jerusalem. In Sion, not in Babylon, the exiles may sing again the songs of home. The Temple will be set up again and all men will come to visit it. “Sinners” have prevailed over the exiles until now; but Israel s sins are now forgiven, and the exile is loosed from the yoke of the stranger. How splendid it will be to live again in the shadow of the Temple! The mighty God of Israel will do wonders once more and will raise His people into power again. The rise of Israel is foreshadowed under the symbol of a wonderful spring that has followed on a season of drought.

This view of the origin and meaning of the psalm is possible. Support for it might be found in Joel 2:21-26, where the return of fertility and abundance as a token of the return of Yahweh s favour after a season of famine (Israel s punishment for sin) is similarly described.

It is, however, easier and better to take the psalm simply as a hymn of thanks sung during a service of thanksgiving which the people had vowed unto God if He would graciously send them rain in a season of drought. Such a hymn might, obviously, belong, as far as its theme is concerned, to any period of Jewish history. As a song of Sion it would, of course, be sung in Jerusalem ; and, as a song of thanks for a springtime of promise, it would thank the Lord for His mercies towards the people dwelling in His own land.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 65

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 4, 2014

1. The voice of holy prophecy must be confessed in the very title of this Psalm. It is inscribed, “Unto the end, a Psalm of David, a song of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, on account of the people of transmigration when they were beginning to go forth.” How it fired with our fathers6 in the time of the transmigration to Babylon, is not known to all, but only to those that diligently study the Holy Scriptures, either by hearing or by reading. For the captive people Israel from the city of Jerusalem was led into slavery unto Babylon.7 But holy Jeremiah prophesied, that after seventy years the people would return out of captivity, and would rebuild the very city Jerusalem, which they had mourned as having been overthrown by enemies. But at that time there were prophets in that captivity of the people dwelling in Babylon, among whom was also the prophet Ezekiel. But that people was waiting until there should be fulfilled the space of seventy years, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah.1 It came to pass, when the seventy years had been completed, the temple was restored which had been thrown down: and there returned from captivity a great part of that people. But whereas the Apostle saith, “these things in figure happened unto them, but they have been written for our sakes, upon whom the end of the world hath come:”2 we also ought to know first our captivity, then our deliverance: we ought to know the Babylon wherein we are captives, and the Jerusalem for a return to which we are sighing. For these two cities, according to the letter, in reality are two cities. And the former Jerusalem indeed by the Jews is not now inhabited. For after the crucifixion of the Lord vengeance was taken upon them with a great scourge, and being rooted up from that place where, with impious licentiousness being infuriated, they had madly raged against their Physician, they have been dispersed throughout all nations, and that land hath been given to Christians: and there is fulfilled what the Lord had said to them, “Therefore the kingdom shall be taken away from you, and it shall be given to a nation doing justice.”3 But when they saw great multitudes then following the Lord, preaching the kingdom of Heaven, and doing wonderful things, the rulers of that city said, “If we shall have let Him go, all men will go after Him, and there shall come the Romans, and shall take from us both place and nation.”4 That they might not lose their place, they killed the Lord; and they lost it, even because they killed. Therefore that city, being one earthly, did bear the figure of a certain city everlasting in the Heavens: but when that which was signified began more evidently to be preached, the shadow, whereby it was being signified, was thrown down: for this reason in that place now the temple is no more, which had been constructed for the image of the future Body of the Lord. We have the light, the shadow hath passed away: nevertheless, still in a kind of captivity we are: “So long as we are,” he saith, “in the body, we are sojourning afar from the Lord.”5

2. And see ye the names of those two cities, Babylon and Jerusalem. Babylon is interpreted confusion, Jerusalem vision of peace. Observe now the city of confusion, in order that ye may perceive the vision of peace; that ye may endure that, sigh for this. Whereby can those two cities be distinguished? Can we anywise now separate them from each other? They are mingled, and from the very beginning of mankind mingled they run on unto the end of the world. Jerusalem received beginning through Abel, Babylon through Cain: for the buildings of the cities were afterwards erected. That Jerusalem in the land of the Jebusites was builded: for at first it used to be called Jebus,6 from thence the nation of the Jebusites was expelled, when the people of God was delivered from Egypt, and led into the land of promise. But Babylon was builded in the most interior regions of Persia, which for a long time raised its head above the rest of nations. These two cities then at particular times were builded, so that there might be shown a figure of two cities begun of old, and to remain even unto the end in this world, but at the end to be severed. Whereby then can we now show them, that are mingled? At that time the Lord shall show, when some He shall set on the right hand, others on the left. Jerusalem on the right hand shall be, Babylon on the left.… Two loves make up these two cities: love of God maketh Jerusalem, love of the world maketh Babylon. Therefore let each one question himself as to what he loveth: and he shall find of which he is a citizen: and if he shall have found himself to be a citizen of Babylon, let him root out cupidity, implant charity: but if he shall have found himself a citizen of Jerusalem, let him endure captivity, hope for liberty.… Now therefore let us hear of, brethren, hear of, and sing of, and long for, that city whereof we are citizens. And what are the joys which are sung of to us? In what manner in ourselves is formed again the love of our city, which by long sojourning we had forgotten? But our Father hath sent from thence letters to us, God hath supplied to us the Scriptures, by which letters there should be wrought in us a longing for return: because by loving our sojourning, to enemies we had turned our face, and our back to our fatherland. What then is here sung?

3. “For Thee a hymn is meet, O God, in Sion” (ver. 1). That fatherland is Sion: Jerusalem is the very same as Sion; and of this name the interpretation ye ought to know. As Jerusalem is interpreted vision of peace, so Sion Beholding,7 that is, vision and contemplation. Some great inexplicable sight to us is promised: and this is God Himself that hath builded the city. Beauteous and graceful the city, how much more beauteous a Builder it hath! “For Thee a hymn is meet, O God,” he saith. But where? “In Sion:” in Babylon it is not meet. For when a man beginneth to be renewed, already with heart in Jerusalem he singeth, with the Apostle saying, “Our conversation is in the Heavens.”8 For “in the flesh though walking,” he saith, “not after the flesh we war.”9 Already in longing we are there, already hope into that land, as it were an anchor, we have sent before, lest in this sea being tossed we suffer shipwreck. In like manner therefore as of a ship which is at anchor, we rightly say that already she is come to land, for still she rolleth, but to land in a manner she hath been brought safe in the teeth of winds and in the teeth of storms; so against the temptations of this sojourning, our hope being grounded in that city Jerusalem causeth us not to be carried away upon rocks. He therefore that according to this hope singeth, in that city singeth: let him therefore say, “For Thee a hymn is meet, O God, in Sion.” …

4. “And to Thee shall there be paid a vow in Jerusalem.” Here we vow, and a good thing it is that there we should pay. But who are they that here do vow and pay not? They that persevere not even unto the end1 in that which they have vowed. Whence saith another Psalm, “Vow ye, and pay ye unto the Lord your God:”2 and, “to Thee shall it be paid in Jerusalem.” For there shall we be whole, that is, entire in the resurrection of just men: there shall be paid our whole vow, not soul alone, but the very flesh also, no longer corruptible, because no longer in Babylon, but now a body heavenly and changed. What sort of change is promised? “For we all shall rise again,” saith the Apostle, “but we shall not3 all be changed.… Where is, O death, thy sting?”4 For now while there begin in use the first-fruits of the mind, from whence is the longing for Jerusalem, many things of corruptible flesh do contend against us, which will not contend, when death shall have been swallowed up in victory. Peace shall conquer, and war shall be ended. But when peace shall conquer, that city shall conquer which is called the vision of peace. On the part of death therefore shall be no contention. Now with how great a death do we contend! For thence are carnal pleasures, which to us even unlawfully do suggest many things: to which we give no consent, but nevertheless in giving no consent we contend.…

5. “Hearken,” he saith, “to my prayer, unto Thee every flesh shall come”. (ver. 2). And we have the Lord saying, that there was given to Him “power over every flesh.”5 That King therefore began even now to appear, when there was being said, “Unto Thee every flesh shall come.” “To Thee,” he saith, “every flesh shall come.” Wherefore to Him shall “every” flesh come? Because flesh He hath taken to Him. Whither shall there come every flesh? He took the first-fruits thereof out of the womb of the Virgin; and now that the first-fruits have been taken to Him, the rest shall follow, in order that the holocaust may be completed. Whence then “every flesh”? Every man. And whence every man? Have all been foretold, as going to believe in Christ? Have not many ungodly men been foretold, that shall be condemned also? Do not daily men not believing die in their own unbelief? After what manner therefore do we understand, “Unto Thee every flesh shall come”? By “every flesh” he hath signified, “flesh of every kind:” out of every kind of flesh they shall come to Thee. What is, out of every kind of flesh? Have there come poor men, and have there not come rich men? Have there come humble men, and not come lofty men? Have there come unlearned men, and not come learned men? Have there come men, and not come women? Have there come masters, and not come servants? Have there come old men, and not come young men; or have there come young men, and not come youths; or have there come youths, and not come boys; or have there come boys, and have there not been brought infants? In a word, have there come Jews6 (for thence were the Apostles, thence many thousands of men at first betraying, afterwards believing7), and have there not come Greeks; or have there come Greeks, and not come Romans; or have there come Romans, and not come Barbarians? And who could number all nations coining to Him, to whom hath been said, “Unto Thee every flesh shall come”?

6. “The discourses of unjust men have prevailed over us, and our iniquities Thou shalt propitiate”8 (ver. 3).… Every man, in whatsoever place he is born, of that same land or region or city learneth the language, is habituated to the manners and life of that place. What should a boy do, born among Heathens, to avoid worshipping a stone, inasmuch as his parents have suggested that worship from them the first words he hath heard, that error with his milk he hath sucked in; and because they that used to speak were elders, and the boy that was learning to speak was an infant, what could the little one do but follow the authority of elders, and deem that to be good which they recommended? Therefore nations that are converted to Christ afterwards, and taking to heart the impieties of their parents, and saying now what the prophet Jeremias himself said, “Truly a lie our fathers have worshipped, vanity which hath not profited them”9—when, I say, they now say this, they renounce the opinions and blasphemies of their unjust parents.… There have led us away men teaching evil things, citizens of Babylon they have made us, we have left the Creator, have adored the creature: have left Him by whom we were made, have adored that which we ourselves have made. For “the discourses of unjust men have prevailed over us:” but nevertheless they have not crushed us. Wherefore? “Our impieties Thou shalt propitiate,” is not said except to some priest offering somewhat, whereby impiety may be expiated and propitiated. For impiety is then said to be propitiated, when God is made propitious to the impiety. What is it for God to be made propitious to impiety? It is, His becoming forgiving, and giving pardon. But in order that God’s pardon may be obtained, propitiation is made through some sacrifice. There hath come forth therefore, sent from God the Lord, One our Priest; He took upon Him from us that which He might offer to the Lord we are speaking of those same first-fruits of the flesh from the womb of the Virgin. This holocaust He offered to God. He stretched out His hands on the Cross, in order that He might say, “Let My prayer be directed as incense in Thy sight, and the lifting up of My hands an evening sacrifice.”1 As ye know, the Lord about eventide hung on the Cross:2 and our impieties were propitiated; otherwise they had swallowed up: the discourses of unjust men had prevailed over us; there had led us astray preachers of Jupiter, and of Saturn, and of Mercury: “the discourses of ungodly men had prevailed over us.” But what wilt Thou do? “Our impieties Thou wilt propitiate.” Thou art the priest, Thou the victim; Thou the offerer, Thou the offering.3 …

7. “Blessed is he whom Thou hast chosen, and hast taken to Thee” (ver. 4). Who is he that is chosen by Him and taken to Him? Was any one chosen4 by our Saviour Jesus Christ, or was Himself after the flesh, because He is man, chosen and taken to Him?… Or hath not rather Christ Himself taken to Him some blessed one, and the same whom He hath taken to Him is not spoken of in the plural number but in the singular? For one man He hath taken to Him, because unity He hath taken to Him. Schisms He hath not taken to Him, heresies He hath not taken to Him: a multitude they have made of themselves, there is not one to be taken to Him. But they that abide in the bond of Christ and are the members of Him, make in a manner one man, of whom saith the Apostle, “Until we all arrive at the acknowledging of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ.”5 Therefore one man is taken to Him, to which the Head is Christ; because “the Head of the man is Christ.”6 The same is that blessed man that “hath not departed in the counsel of ungodly men,”7 and the like things which there are spoken of: the same is He that is taken to Him. He is not without us, in His own members we are, under one Head we are governed, by one Spirit we all live, one fatherland we all long for.… And to us He will give what? “He shall inhabit,” he saith, “in Thy courts.” Jerusalem, that is, to which they sing that begin to go forth from Babylon: “He shall inhabit in Thy courts: we shall be filled with the good things of Thy House.” What are the good things of the House of God? Brethren, let us set before ourselves some rich house, with what numerous good things it is crowded, how abundantly it is furnished, how many vessels there are there of gold and also of silver; how great an establishment of servants, how many horses and animals, in a word, how much the house itself delights us with pictures, marble, ceilings, pillars, recesses, chambers:—all such things are indeed objects of desire, but still they are of the confusion of Babylon, Cut off all such longings, O citizen of Jerusalem, cut them off; if thou wilt return, let not captivity delight thee. But hast thou already begun to go forth? Do not look back, do not loiter on the road. Still there are not wanting foes to recommend thee captivity and sojourning: no longer let there prevail against thee the discourses of ungodly men. For the House of God long thou, and for the good things of that House long thou: but do not long for such things as thou art wont to long for either in thy house, or in the house of thy neighbour, or in the house of thy patron.…

8. “Thy holy Temple is marvellous in righteousness” (ver. 5). These are the good things of that House. He hath not said, Thy holy Temple is marvellous in pillars, marvellous in marbles, marvellous in glided ceilings; but is “marvellous in righteousness.” Without thou hast eyes wherewith thou mayest see marbles, and gold: within is an eye wherewith may be seen the beauty of righteousness. If there is no beauty in righteousness, why is a righteous old man loved? What bringeth he in body that may please the eyes? Crooked limbs, brow wrinkled, head blanched with gray hairs, dotage everywhere full of plaints. But perchance because thine eyes this decrepit old man pleaseth not, thine ears he pleaseth: with what words with what song? Even if perchance when a young man he sang well, all with age hath been lost. Doth perchance the sound of his words please thine ears, that can hardly articulate whole words for loss of teeth? Nevertheless, if righteous he is, if another man’s goods he coveteth not, if of his own that he possesseth he distributeth to the needy, if he giveth good advice, and soundly judgeth, if he believeth the entire faith, if for his belief in the faith he is ready to expend even those very shattered limbs, for many Martyrs are even old men; why do we love him? What good thing in him do we see with the eyes of the flesh? Not any. There is therefore a kind of beauty in righteousness, which we see with the eye of the heart, and we love, and we kindle with affection: how much men found to love in those same Martyrs, though beasts tare their limbs! Is it possible but that when blood was staining all parts, when with the teeth of monsters their bowels gushed out, the eyes had nothing but objects to shudder at? What was there to be loved, except that in that hideous spectacle of mangled limbs, entire was the beauty of righteousness? These are the good things of the House of God, with these prepare thyself to be satisfied.… “Blessed they which hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”1 “Thy holy Temple is marvellous in righteousness.” And that same temple, brethren, do not imagine to be aught but yourselves. Love ye righteousness, and ye are the Temple of God.

9. “Hearken to us, O God, our Saviour” (ver. 5). He hath disclosed now Whom he nameth as God. The “Saviour” specially is the Lord Jesus Christ. It hath appeared now more openly of Whom he had said, “Unto Thee every flesh shall come.”2 That One Man that is taken unto Him into the Temple of God, is both many and is One. In the person of One he hath said, “Hearken, O God, i.e., to my hunger:”3 and because the same One of many is composed, now he saith, “Hearken to us, O God, our Saviour.” Hear Him now more openly preached: “Hearken to us, O God, our Saviour the Hope of all the ends of the earth and in the sea afar.” Behold wherefore hath been said “Unto Thee every flesh shall come.” From every quarter they come. “Hope of all the ends of the earth,” not hope of one corner, not hope of Judæa alone, not hope of Africa alone, not hope of Pannonia, not hope of East or of West: but “Hope of all the ends of the earth, and in the sea afar:” of the very ends of the earth. “And in the sea afar:” and because in the sea, therefore afar. For the sea by a figure is spoken of this world, with saltness bitter, with storms troubled; where men of perverse and depraved appetites have become like fishes devouring one another. Observe the evil sea, bitter sea, with waves violent, observe with what sort of men it is filled. Who desireth an inheritance except through the death of another? Who desireth gain except by the loss of another? By the fall of others how many men wish to be exalted? How many, in order that they may buy, desire for other men to sell their goods? How they mutually oppress, and how they that are able do devour! And when one fish hath devoured, the greater the less, itself also is devoured by some greater.… Because evil fishes that were taken within the nets they said they would not endure; they themselves have become more evil than they whom they said4 they could not endure. For those nets did take fishes both good and evil. The Lord saith, “The kingdom of Heaven is like to a sein cast into the sea, which gathereth of every kind, which, when it had been filled, drawing out, and sitting on the shore, they gathered the good into vessels, but the evil they cast out: so it shall be,” He saith, “in the consummation of the world.”5 He showeth what is the shore, He showeth what is the end of the sea. “The angels shall go forth, and shall sever the evil from the midst of the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Ha! ye citizens of Jerusalem that are within the nets, and are good fishes; endure the evil, the nets break ye not: together with them ye are in a sea, not together with them will ye be in the vessels. For “Hope” He is “of the ends of the earth,” Himself is Hope “also in the sea afar.” Afar, because also in the sea.

10. “Preparing mountains in His strength” (ver. 6). Not in their strength. For He hath prepared great preachers, and those same He hath called mountains; humble in themselves, exalted in Him. “Preparing mountains in His strength.” What saith one of those same mountains? “We ourselves in our own selves have had the answer of death, in order that in ourselves we should not trust, but in God that raiseth the dead.”6 He that in himself doth trust, and in Christ trusteth not, is not of those mountains which He hath prepared in His strength. “Preparing mountains in His strength: girded about in power.” “Power,” I understand: “girded about,” is what? They that put Christ in the midst, “girded about” they make Him, that is on all sides begirt. We all have Him in common, therefore in the midst He is: all we gird Him about that believe in Him: and because our faith is not of our strength, but of His power; therefore girded about He is in His power; not in our own strength.

11. “That troublest the bottom of the sea” (ver. 7). He hath done this: it is seen what He hath done. For He hath prepared mountains in His strength, hath sent them to preach: girded about He is by believers in power: and moved is the sea, moved is the world, and it beginneth to persecute His saints. “Girded about in power: that troublest the bottom of the sea.” He hath not said, that troublest the sea; but “the bottom of the sea.” The bottom of the sea is the heart of ungodly men. For just as from the bottom more thoroughly all things are stirred, and the bottom holdeth firm all things: so whatsoever hath gone forth: by tongue, by hands, by divers powers for the persecution of the Church, from the bottom hath gone forth. For if there were not the root of iniquity in the heart, all those things would not have gone forth against Christ. The bottom He troubled, perchance in order that the bottom He might also empty: for in the case of certain evil men He emptied the sea from the bottom, and made the sea a desert place. Another Psalm saith this, “That turneth sea into dry land.”1 All ungodly and heathen men that have believed were sea, have been made land; with salt waves at first barren, afterwards with the fruit of righteousness productive. “That troublest the bottom of the sea: the sound of its waves who shall endure?” “Who shall endure,” is what? What man shall endure the sound of the waves of the sea, the behests of the high powers of the world? But whence are they endured? Because He prepareth mountains in His strength. In that therefore which he hath said “who shall” endure? he saith thus: We ourselves of our own selves should not be able to endure those persecutions, unless He gave strength.

12. “The nations shall be troubled” (ver. 8). At first they shall be troubled: but those mountains prepared in the strength of Christ, are they troubled? Troubled is the sea, against the mountains it dasheth: the sea breaketh, unshaken the mountains have remained. “The nations shall be troubled, and all men shall fear.” Behold now all men fear: they that before have been troubled do now all fear. The Christians feared not, and now the Christians are feared. All that did persecute do now fear. For He hath overcome that is girded about with power, to Him hath come every flesh in such sort, that the rest by their very minority do now fear. And all men shall fear, that inhabit the ends of the earth, because of Thy signs. For miracles the Apostles wrought, and thence all the ends of the earth have feared and have believed. “Outgoings in morning and in evening Thou shall delight:” that is, Thou makest delightful. Already in this life what is there being promised to us? There are outgoings in morning, there are outgoings in the evening. By the morning he signifieth the prosperity of the world, by the evening he signifieth the trouble of the world.… At first when he was promising gain, it was morning to thee: but now evening draweth on, sad thou hast become. But He that hath given thee an outgoing in the morning, will give one also in the evening. In the same manner as thou hast contemned the morning of the world by the light of the Lord, so contemn the evening also by the sufferings of the Lord, in saying to thy soul, What more will this man do to me, than my Lord hath suffered for me? May I2 hold fast justice, not consent to iniquity. Let him vent his rage on the flesh, the trap will be broken, and I will fly to my Lord, that saith to me, “Do not fear them that kill the body, but the soul are not able to kill.”3 And for the body itself He hath given security, saying, “A hair of your head shall not perish.”4 Nobly here he hath set down, “Thou wilt delight outgoings in morning and in evening.” For if thou take not delight in the very outgoing, thou wilt not labour to go out thence. Thou runnest thy head into the promised gain, if thou art not delighted with the promise of the Saviour. And again thou yieldest to one tempting and terrifying, if thou find no delight in Him that suffered before thee, in order that He might make an outgoing for thee.

13. “Thou hast visited the earth, and hast inebriated it” (ver. 9). Whence hast inebriated the earth? “Thy cup inebriating how glorious it is!”5 “Thou hast visited the earth, and hast inebriated it.” Thou hast sent Thy clouds, they have rained down the preaching of the truth, inebriated is the earth. “Thou hast multiplied to enrich it.” Whence? “The river of God is filled with water.” What is the river of God? The people of God. The first people was filled with water, wherewith the rest of the earth might be watered. Hear Him promising water: “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink: he that believeth on Me, rivers of living water from his belly shall flow:”6 if rivers, one river also; for in respect of unity many are one. Many Churches and one Church, many faithful and one Bride of Christ: so many rivers and one river. Many Israelites believed, and were fulfilled with the Holy Spirit; from thence they were scattered abroad through the nations, they began to preach the truth, and from the river of God that was filled with water, was the whole earth watered. “Thou hast prepared food for them: because thus is Thy preparing.” Not because they have deserved of Thee, whom Thou hast forgiven sins: the merits of them were evil, but Thou for Thy mercy’s sake, “because thus is Thy preparing,” thus “Thou hast prepared food for them.”

14. “The furrows thereof inebriate Thou” (ver. 10). Let there be made therefore at first furrows to be inebriated: let the hardness of our breast be opened with the share of the word of God, “The furrows thereof inebriate Thou: multiply the generations thereof.” We see, they believe, and by them believing other men believe, and because of those others believe; and it is not sufficient for one man, that having become himself a believer, he should gain one. So is multiplied seed too: a few grains are scattered, and fields spring up. “In the drops thereof it shall rejoice, when it shall rise up.” That is, before it be perchance enlarged to the bulk of a river, “when it shall rise up, in its drops,” that is, in those meet for it, “it shall rejoice.” For upon those that are yet babes, and upon the weak, are dropped some portions of the sacraments, because they cannot receive the fulness of the truth. Hear in what manner he droppeth upon babes, while they are rising up, that is, in their recent rising having small capacities: the Apostle saith, “To you I could not speak as if to spiritual, but as if to carnal, as if to babes in Christ.”1 When he saith, “to babes in Christ,” he speaketh of them as already risen up, but not yet meet to receive that plenteous wisdom, whereof he saith, “Wisdom we speak among perfect men.”2 Let it rejoice in its drops, while it is rising up and is growing, when strengthened it shall receive wisdom also: in the same manner as an infant is fed with milk, and becometh fit for meat, and nevertheless at first out of that very meat for which it was not fit, for it milk is made.

15. “Thou shalt bless the crown of the year of Thy goodness” (ver. 11). Seed is now sowing, that which is sown is growing, there will be the harvest too. And now over the seed the enemy hath sown tares; and there have risen up evil ones among the good, false Christians, having like leaf, but not like fruit. For those are properly called tares,3 which spring up in the manner of wheat, for instance darnel, for instance wild oats, and all such as have the first leaf the same. Therefore of the sowing of the tares thus saith the Lord: “There hath come an enemy, and hath sown over them tares;”4 but what hath he done to the grain? The wheat is not choked by the tares, nay, through endurance of the tares the fruit of the wheat is increased. For the Lord Himself said to certain workmen desiring to root up the tares, “Suffer ye both to grow unto the harvest.”5 … Conquer the devil, and thou wilt have a crown. “Thou shalt bless the crown of the year of Thy goodness.” Again he maketh reference to the goodness of God, lest any one boast of his own merits. “Thy plains shall be filled with abundance.”

16. “The ends of the desert shall grow fat, and the hills shall be encircled with exultation” (ver. 12). Plains, hills, ends of the desert, the same are also men. Plains, because of the equality: because of equality, I say, from thence just peoples have been called plains. Hills, because of lifting up: because God doth lift up in Himself those that humble themselves. Ends of the desert are all nations. Wherefore ends of the desert? Deserted they were, to them no Prophet had been sent: they were in like case as is a desert where no man passeth by. No word of God was sent to the nations: to the people Israel alone the Prophets preached. We came to the Lord;6 the wheat believed among that same people of the Jews. For He said at that time to the disciples, “Ye say, far off is the harvest: look back, and see how white are the lands to harvest.” There hath been therefore a first harvest, there will be a second in the last age. The first harvest was of Jews, because there were sent to them Prophets proclaiming a coming Saviour. Therefore the Lord said to His disciples, “See how white are the lands to harvest:”7 the lands, to wit, of Judæa. “Other men,” He saith, “have laboured, and into their labours ye have entered.”8 The Prophets laboured to sow, and ye with the sickle have entered into their labours. There hath been finished therefore the first harvest, and thence, with that very wheat which then was purged, hath been sown the round world; so that there ariseth another harvest, which at the end is to be reaped. In the second harvest have been sown tares, now here there is labour. Just as in that first harvest the Prophets laboured until the Lord came: so in that second harvest the Apostles laboured, and all preachers of the truth labour, even until at the end the Lord send unto the harvest His Angels. Aforetime, I say, a desert there was, “but the ends of the desert shall grow fat.” Behold where the Prophets had given no sound, the Lord of the Prophets hath been received, “The ends of the desert shall grow fat, and with exultation the hills shall be encircled.”

17. “Clothed have been the rams of the sheep” (ver. 13): “with exultation” must be understood. For with what exultation the hills are encircled, with the same are clothed the rams of the sheep. Rams are the very same as hills. For hills they are because of more eminent grace; rams, because they are leaders of the flocks.… “They shall shout:” thence they shall abound with wheat, because they shall shout. What shall they shout? “For a hymn they shall say.” For one thing it is to shout against God, another thing to say a hymn; one thing to shout iniquities, another thing to shout the praises of God. If thou shout in blasphemy, thorns thou hast brought forth: if thou shoutest in a hymn, thou aboundest in wheat.

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 93

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 4, 2014

1. … It is entitled, “The Song of praise of David himself, on the day before the Sabbath, when the earth was founded.” Remembering then what God did through all those days, when He made and ordained all things, from the first up to the sixth day (for the seventh He sanctified, because He rested on that day after all the works, which He made very good), we find that He created on the sixth day (which day is here mentioned, in that he saith, “before the Sabbath”) all animals on the earth; lastly, He on that very day created man in His own likeness and image. For these days were not without reason ordained in such order, but for that ages also were to run in a like course, before we rest in God.2 But then we rest if we do good works. As a type of this, it is written of God, “God r rested on the seventh day,” when He had made all His works very good (Gen 1 and Gen 2:1-3) For He was not wearied, so as to need rest, nor hath He now left off to work, for our Lord Christ saith openly, “My Father worketh hitherto” (Jn 5:17). For He saith this unto the Jews, who thought carnally of God, and understood not that God worketh in quiet, and always worketh, and is always in quiet. We also, then, whom God willed then to figure in Himself, shall have rest after all good works.… And because these good works are doomed to pass away, that sixth day also, when those very good works are perfected, hath an evening; but in the Sabbath we find no evening, because our rest shall have no end: for evening is put for end. As therefore God made man in His own image on the sixth day: thus we find that our Lord Jesus Christ came into the sixth age, that man might be formed anew after the image of God. For the first period, as the first day, was from Adam until Noah: the second, as the second day, from Noah unto Abraham: the third, as the third day, from Abraham unto David: the fourth, as the fourth day, from David unto the removal to Babylon: the fifth period, as the fifth day, from the removal to Babylon unto the preaching of John. The sixth day beginneth from the preaching of John, and lasteth unto the end: and after the end of the sixth day, we reach our rest. The sixth day, therefore, is even now passing. And it is now the sixth day, see what the title hath; “On the day before the Sabbath, when the earth was founded.” Let us now listen to the Psalm itself: let us enquire of it, how the earth was made, whether perhaps the earth was then made: and we do not read so in Genesis. When, therefore, was the earth founded? when, unless when that which hath been but now read in the Apostle taketh place: “If,” he saith, “ye are stedfast, immovable” (1 Cor 15:58) When all who believe throughout all the earth are stedfast in faith, the earth is founded: then man is made in the image of God. That sixth day in Genesis signifieth this.…

2. “The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with beauty; the Lord is clothed with strength, and is girded” (ver. 1). We see that He hath clothed Himself with two things: beauty and strength. But why? That He might found the earth. So it followeth, “He hath made the round world so sure, that it cannot be moved.” Whence hath He made it so sure? Because He hath clothed Himself in beauty. He would not make it so sure, if He put on beauty only, and not strength also. Why therefore beauty, why strength? For He hath said both. Ye know, brethren, that when our Lord had come in the flesh, of those to whom He preached the Gospel, He pleased some, and displeased others. For the tongues of the Jews were divided against one another: “Some said, He is a good Man; others said, Nay, but He deceiveth the people” (Jn 7:12) Some then spoke well, others detracted from Him, tore Him, bit and insulted Him. Towards those therefore whom He pleased, “He put on beauty;” towards those whom He displeased, “He put on strength.” Imitate then thy Lord, that thou mayest become His garment: be with beauty towards those whom thy good works please: show thy strength against detractors.…

3. Perhaps we should enquire respecting this word also, why he said, “He is girded.” Girding signifieth work: for every man then girdeth himself, when he is about to work. But wherefore did he use the word præcinctus, instead of cinctus? For he saith in another Psalm (i.e., Ps 45:3), “Gird Thee with Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O Thou most mighty: the people shall fall under Thee:” using the word accingere, not cingere, nor præcingere: this word being applied to the act of attaching anything to the side by girding it. The sword of the Lord, wherewith He conquered the round world by killing iniquity, is the Spirit of God in the truth of the word of God. Wherefore is He said to bind His sword around His thigh? In another place, on another Psalm we have spoken in another manner of girding: but nevertheless, since it hath been mentioned, it ought not to be passed over. What is the girding on of the sword around the thigh? He meaneth the flesh by the thigh. For the Lord would not otherwise conquer the round world, unless the sword of truth came into the flesh. Why therefore is He here said to be girded in front (præcinctus)? He who girdeth himself before, placeth something before himself, wherewith he is girded; whence it is said, He girded Himself before with a towel, and began to wash the disciples’ feet. Because He was humble when He girded Himself with a towel. He washed the feet of His own disciples. But all strength is in humility: because all pride is fragile: therefore when He was speaking of strength, he added, “He is girded:” that thou mayest remember how thy God was girded in humility, when He washed His disciples’ feet (Jn 13:4-15). … After He had washed their feet, again He sat down; He said unto them, “Ye call me Lord and Master: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; how ought ye also to do to one another’s feet?” If therefore strength is in humility, fear not the proud. The humble are like a rock: the rock seems to lie downwards: but nevertheless it is firm. What are the proud? Like smoke: although they are lofty, they vanish. We ought therefore to ascribe our Lord’s being girded to His humility, according to the mention of the Gospel, that He was girded, that He might wash His disciples’ feet.

4. … “For He hath made the round world sure, which cannot be moved.” … What then is the round world, “which cannot be moved”? This He would not mention specially, if there were not also a round world that can be moved. There is a round world that shall not be moved. There is a round world that shall be moved. For the good who are stedfast in the faith are the round world: that no man may say, they are only in part of it (as the Donatists did); while the wicked who abide not in faith, when they have felt any tribulation, are throughout the whole world. There is therefore a round world movable: there is a world immovable: of which the Apostle speaketh. Behold, the round world movable. I ask thee, of whom speaketh the Apostle in these words, “Of whom is Hymenæus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already: and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim 2:17-19)? Did these belong to the round world, that shall not be moved? But they were chaff: and as he saith, “they overthrow the faith of some.” … “Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure; having his seal,”—what seal hath it as its sure foundation?—“The Lord knoweth them that are His.” This is the round world that shall not be moved; “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” And what seal hath it? “And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from unrighteousness.” Let him depart from unrighteousness: for he cannot depart from the unrighteous, for the chaff is mixed with the wheat until it is fanned.…

5. “Thy throne is established from thence, O Lord” (ver. 2). What is, “from thence”? From that time. As if he said, What is the throne of God? Where doth God sit? In His Saints. Dost thou wish to be the throne of God? Prepare a place in thy heart where He may sit. What is the throne of God, except where God dwelleth? Where doth God dwell, except in His temple? What is His temple? Is it surrounded with walls? Far from it. Perhaps this world is His temple, because it is very great, and a thing worthy to contain God. It contains not Him by whom it was made. And wherein is He contained? In the quiet soul, in the righteous soul: that is it that containeth Him.… He who said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (Jn 8:58): not before Abraham only, but before Adam: not only before Adam, but before all the angels, before heaven and earth; since all things were made through Him: he added, lest thou, attending to the day of our Lord’s nativity, mightest think He commenced from that time, “Thy throne is established, O God.” But what God? “Thou art from everlasting:” for which he uses ἀπ’ αἰῶνος, in the Greek version; that word being sometimes used for an age, sometimes for everlasting. Therefore, O Thou who seemest to be born “from thence,” Thou art from everlasting! But let not human birth be thought of, but Divine eternity. He began then from the time of His birth; He grew (Lk 2:40, 52): ye have heard the Gospel. He chose disciples, He replenished them, His disciples began to preach. Perhapsthis is what he speaketh of in the following verse.

6. “The floods lift up their voices” (ver. 3). What are these floods, which have lift up their voices? We heard them not: neither when our Lord was born, did we hear rivers speak, nor when He was baptized, nor when He suffered; we heard not that rivers did speak. Read the Gospel, ye find not that rivers spoke. It is not enough that they spoke: “They have lift up their voice:” they have not only spoken, but bravely, mightily, in a lofty voice. What are those rivers which have spoken?… The Spirit itself was a mighty river, whence many rivers were filled. Of that river the Psalmist saith in another passage, “The rivers of the flood thereof shall make glad the city of God” (Ps 46:4). Rivers then were made to flow from the belly of the disciples, when they received the Holy Spirit: themselves were rivers, when they had received that Holy Spirit. Whence did those rivers lift their voices? wherefore did they lift them up? Because at first they feared. Peter was not yet a river, when at the question of the maid-servant he thrice denied Christ: “I do not know the man” (Mt 26:69-74).  Here he lieth through fear: he lifteth not his voice as yet: he is not yet the river. But when they were filled with the Holy Spirit, the Jews sent for them, and enjoined them not to preach at all, nor to teach in the name of Jesus.… For when the Apostles had been dismissed from the council of the Jews, they came to their own friends, and told them what the priests and elders said unto them: but they on hearing lifted up their voices with one accord unto the Lord, and said, “Lord, it is Thou who hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is” (Acts 4:24); and the rest which floods lifting up their voices might say, “Wonderful are the hangings of the sea” (ver. 4). For when the disciples had lifted up their voices unto Him, many believed, and many received the Holy Spirit, and many rivers instead of few began to lift up their voice. Hence there followeth, “from the voices of many waters, wonderful are the hangings of the sea;” that is, the waves of the world. When Christ had begun to be preached by so powerful voices, the sea became enraged, persecutions began to thicken. When therefore the rivers had lift up their voice, “from the voices of many waters, wonderful” were “the hangings of the sea.” To be hung aloft is to be lifted up; when the sea rages, the waves are hung as from above. Let the waves hang over as they choose; let the sea roar as it chooseth; the hangings of the sea indeed are mighty, mighty are the threatenings, mighty the persecutions; but see what followeth: “but yet the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier.” Let therefore the sea restrain itself, and sometime become calmed; let peace be granted by Christians. The sea was disturbed, the vessel was tossed; the vessel is the Church: the sea, the world. The Lord came, He walked over the sea, and calmed the waves. How did the Lord walk over the sea? Above the heads of those mighty foaming waves. Principalities and kings believed; they were subdued unto Christ. Let us not therefore be frightened; because “the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier.”

7. “Thy testimonies, O Lord, are very surely believed” (ver. 5). The Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier than the mighty overhangings of the sea. “Thy testimonies are very surely believed.” “Thy testimonies,” because He had said beforehand, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation.” … He added, “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). If then He saith, “I have overcome the world,” cling unto Him who overcame the world, who overcame the sea. Rejoice in Him, because the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier, and, “Thy testimonies are very surely believed.” And what is the end of all these? “Holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord!” Thine house, the whole of Thine house, not here and there: but the whole of Thine house, throughout the whole world. Why throughout the whole of the round world? “Because He hath set aright the round world, which cannot be moved” (Ps 96:10). The Lord’s house will be strong: it will prevail throughout the whole world: many shall fall: but that house standeth; many shall be disturbed, but that house shall not be moved. Holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord!” For a short time only? No. “Unto length of days.”

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Christ, Devotional Resources, fathers of the church, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

My Notes on Psalm 5

Posted by Dim Bulb on June 30, 2014

Please note that the verse numbering follows that of the RSVCE. The first three verses are my own translation; the remainder of the verses are from the RSVCE which is under copyright: “The Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1965, 1966 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”.

We saw that Psalm 4 was characterized as an evening prayer. Psalm 5 is generally held to be a morning prayer on the basis of verse 4. Perhaps we are to see a connection between the two psalms (Note the similar openings: Psalm 4:1 = Psalm 5:1-3. Also, note that both close with the theme of God providing security: Ps 4:8 = Ps 5:11-12).

Ps 5:1. Bend your ear to my speaking, O Lord, consider my complaint.
Ps 5:2. Prick up your ears to the call of my cry, my king and my God, for to you do I pray.
Ps 5:3. O LORD, at the dawn hear my voice, at the dawn I lay down preparations and look up. (my translation).

The opening shows that this is a song of lament or, as it is sometimes termed, a song of complaint (see footnote 1, NAB). The Psalmist calls upon God with four imperatives: “bend you ear“, “consider“, and “prick up your ears“, “hear my voice“. The imperatives are closely connected with the psalmist’s actions (“to you do I pray,” I make preparations“), and his expectations (i.e., his watching). Such imperatives are typical of complaint psalms and serve to highlight the petitioners confidence in God. Such confidence is also seen in his referring to the Lord as “my King and my God.” This confidence and insistent prayer is typical of biblical prayers (see Luke 11:5-13; and 18:1-8. See also CCC 2610 and 2613).

Vs 2 My king and my God. Personalizes the prayer. In ancient Israel a king wasn’t just a ruler, he was also a judge and defender of those who were in the right regarding legal and religious laws (see 1 Kings 3:18-27; 2 Sam 14:4-24). It appears that the psalmist is engaged in some form of legal contention with his adversaries and expects God to judge the case (see notes on vs 3). My God is the more personal part of the address. It is followed by the words for to you do I pray. Why this emphasis? Are we to understand that his enemies are in the habit of praying to other Gods?.

The Hebrew word for pray in verse 2 is related to a word for “judge.” The psalmist is here portrayed as a humble servant of a mighty potentate from whom he is begging a hearing on a legal matter because he desires the king’s judgment.

O LORD, at the dawn hear my voice. Both the liturgy and legal proceedings were heard in the morning. Some scholars suggest that the psalmist is facing an unjust legal accustation but is confident that he will receive a favorable judgment and as a result will offer a morning sacrifice in the temple (see below).

At the dawn I make preparations.  The Hebrew ערך (‛ârak) has a wide range of meaning, including the preparation for making a sacrifice; a fact reflected in translations such as the RSV and ESV. But the word also has a legal sense, i.e., preparing a legal defense or presentation. This is reflected in various translations also (NIV, NLT). Many translations employ a reference to prayer (KJV, RV).

The Psalmist will look up to God for an answer (see Psalm 123). Again the psalmist expresses confidence that God will hear and answer him, because he knows that the Lord watches over the way of the just (see psalm 1:6. Also Psalm 121). This Looking up to God with confidence is based also on the Psalmist’s knowledge of the state of the wicked, they may not stand before God’s eyes. (see verse 6)

Ps 5:4. For thou art not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not sojourn with thee.  ‎
Ps 5:5. The boastful may not stand before thy eyes; thou hatest all evildoers.  ‎
Ps 5:6. Thou destroyest those who speak lies; the LORD abhors bloodthirsty and deceitful men.

Vs 4 For- acts as a conjunctive linking up what is said here about God with the confidence expressed by the Psalmist in verse 3. Wickedness- the Hebrew word is resha (reh-shah) which is often used in the Bible to describe those who pervert ethics or civil law.

Evil may not sojourn with thee.  This could mean that no evil dwells in God. However, since the word is also used for dwelling in God’s tent (Psalm 15:1; 61:4) the meaning could be that evil men will sooner or later be exposed and cast out from worshiping at the temple (contrast with verse 7).

Vs 5 The boastful may not stand before thy eyes.  Forms a nice contrast with the Psalmist’s attitude in verse 3. The Psalmist humbly lays down preparations before the Lord and watches (looks up) expectantly for a response; on the other hand, the boastful (those who make a spectacle of themselves in relation to God and men) cannot b stand in God’s sight.

thou hatest all evildoers. See3 Job 31:2-3–”For what is the portion from God above, and the heritage from the Almighty on high? Is it not calamity to the unrighteous, and disaster to the workers of iniquity?”

Vs 6 Thou destroyest those who speak lies. Again, this is probably referring to false accusers or witnesses in a legal (civil or religious) case. The prophets of the OT often condemned perjury and giving false witness, along with other perversions of the legal system (see Amos 5:7, 10; Isa 1:23; 5:18-24).

2476 False witness and perjury. When it is made publicly, a statement contrary to the truth takes on a particular gravity. In court it becomes false witness. 276 When it is under oath, it is perjury. Acts such as these contribute to condemnation of the innocent, exoneration of the guilty, or the increased punishment of the accused. 277 They gravely compromise the exercise of justice and the fairness of judicial decisions. (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Ps 5:7. But I through the abundance of thy steadfast love will enter thy house, I will worship toward thy holy temple in the fear of thee.

But I. establishes a strong contrast with the preceding verses which described both the sinners state and God’s attitude towards sinners. Because of the Lord’s steadfast love the Psalmist will enter thy (God’s) house, unlike the wicked whom the God of steadfast love is said to take no delight in, for evil will not sojourn with God (4). Only those who, like the psalmist, whorship toward God’s holy temple (vs 7) can stand before God’s eyes (vs 5).

Ps 5:8. Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of my enemies; make thy way straight before me.  ‎
Ps 5:9. 9 For there is no truth in their mouth; their heart is destruction, their throat is an open sepulchre, they flatter with their tongue.  ‎
Ps 5:10 Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of their many transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against thee.  ‎

Vs 8 Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness. Having established God’s superiority and power over the unrighteous, the psalmist calls upon God to make his (God’s) way straight before him. The psalmist, in other words, is asking God to direct his moral/religious life (the way of God).

Vs 9. For. Supplies the reason for the petition in verse 8. The moral/religious way of  life of sinners is diametrically opposed to God’s way and leads to ruin (Psalm 1:1-6). Here we see the reason why.

There is no truth in their mouth, their heart is destruction, their throat is an open sepulchre. Everything about them is corruption and death. as the psalmist has previously mentioned, God has nothing to do with such people (Ps 5:4-6).

Vs 10 Let them fall by their own counsels…cast them out. That those who do evil trap themselves in their wickedness is a very common motif in the wisdom literature (see Ps 7:14-16). As we have seen, the wicked may not sojourn with God (4) and so it is fitting that the psalmist here asks that they be cast out. The boastful may not stand before God’s eyes (5) and so the psalmists pleads that they fall.

Ps 5:11 But let all who take refuge in thee rejoice, let them ever sing for joy; and do thou defend them, that those who love thy name may exult in thee.  ‎
Ps 5:12 For thou dost bless the righteous, O LORD; thou dost cover him with favor as with a shield.

Vs 11 But let all who take refuge in thee rejoice…and do thou defend them.  The opening word “but” establishes a contrast with verse 10. The fate of the rebel against God (he is cast out) is very different from the fate of the refugee who rejoices in, and is defended by, God. God’s favor covers the righteous like a protecting shield and is an effect of his (God’s) own righteousness (verse 8)

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »


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