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

Commentaries for Weekdays (Years I and II) and Sundays (Years A, B and C) and Solemnities

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 22, 2018

NOTE: Solemnities and feasts are listed at the end of this post. This part is not yet complete. If you are looking for commentaries on the Sunday readings in the Extraordinary Form go here.


Suggested Resources for the Gospel of Mark. The gospel primarily used in Year B.

Suggested Recourses on the Sunday Epistle Readings for Ordinary Time, Year B.


First Week of Advent.
Second Week of Advent.
Third Week of Advent.
Fourth Week of Advent.

Note: Traditionally Epiphany is celebrated on January 6. In the USA it is celebrated on the Sunday following January 6.

Dec. 25. Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Dec 24).
Dec. 25. Mass During the Night: The Nativity of the Lord (Midnight Mass).
Dec. 25. Mass at Dawn: The Nativity of the Lord.
Dec. 25. Mass During the Day: The Nativity of the Lord.

Sunday Within the Octave of Christmas (Feast of the Holy Family). If a Sunday does not fall between Dec. 26 and Dec 31 then the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on Dec. 30.

Dec. 26. The Feast of St Stephen, the Church’s First Martyr.
Dec. 27. The Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist.
Dec 28. Feast of the Holy Innocents, Martyrs.
Dec. 29. Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas.
Dec. 30. Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas. See next note.
!!! Dec 30. Feast of the Holy Family (Non-Sunday). If a Sunday does not fall between Dec 26-31 then the Feast of the Holy Family is celebrated on this date.
Jan 1. Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
Jan. 2. Memorial of St Basil the Great and St Gregory Nanzianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church.
Jan. 3. Christmas Weekday.
Jan . 4. Memorial St Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious.
Jan. 5. Memorial of St John Nuemann, Bishop.
Jan. 6. Christmas Weekday. Traditionally this is Epiphany. In the USA the Epiphany is celebrated on the first Sunday after Jan 6. For commentary on the Epiphany readings see below, following Jan 8.
Jan. 7. Christmas Weekday. NOTE: in 2018 this date falls on the Sunday after Jan 6. IN the USA this Sunday is celebrated as the Epiphany. See the link for the Epiphany below, following Jan 8.
Jan 8.

!!! The Epiphany of the Lord.
Epiphany to the Baptism of the Lord.

Each week contains the beginning and ending Sundays (e.g., the 4th week contains Sundays 4 and 5). We are currently in daily cycle 1 and Sunday cycle B. The new Sunday cycle always begins on the First Sunday of Advent; and the daily cycle on the next day.

1st WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
2nd WEEK: Year 1Year 2.
3rd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
4th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
5th WEEK: Year 1Year 2.
6th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
7th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
8th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
9th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
10th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
11th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
12th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
13th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
14th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
15th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
16th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
17th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
18th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
19th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
20th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
21st WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
22nd WEEK:  Year1Year 2.
23rd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
24th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
25th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
26th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
27th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
28th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
29th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
30th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
31st WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
32nd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
33rd WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.
34th WEEK:  Year 1Year 2.


Ash Wednesday Through Second Sunday of Lent.
Second Week of Lent.
Third Week of Lent.
Fourth Week of Lent.
Fifth Week of Lent.
!!! Holy Week.


Easter Sunday to Divine Mercy Sunday (Second Sunday of Easter).
Second Week of Easter.
Third Week of Easter.
Fourth Week of Easter.
Fifth Week of Easter.
Sixth Week of Easter. Includes Ascension Thursday.
Seventh Week of Easter. Includes Pentecost.

Some of these are also listed above (e.g., during the Christmas season).

December 8. Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Dec 12. Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Dec 24-25. Christmas: Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. 4 Masses below.

Dec 26. Feast of St Stephen the Proto-Martyr.

Dec 27. Feast of St John the Evangelist.

Dec 28. Feast of the Holy Innocents.

Jan 1. Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Mother of God (Octave of Christmas).

Jan 6. Solemnity of the Epiphany.

Jan 25. Feast of the Conversion of St Paul.

Feb 2. Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

Feb 22. Feast of the Chair of St Peter.

Mar 19. Feast of St Joseph, Husband of Mary.

Mar 25. Feast of the Annunciation.

Apr. 25. Feast of St Mark the Evangelist.

May 1. Feast of St Joseph the Worker.

May 3. Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles.

May 14. Feast of St Matthias, Apostle.

May 31. Feast of the Visitation.

Second Friday After Pentecost: Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Year A.  Year B.  Year C.

Jun 24. Vigil and Mass of the Day. Feast of the Birth of St John the Baptist.

Jun 29. Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles.

Jul 3. Feast of St Thomas the Apostle.

Jul 22. Feast of St Mary Magdalene.

Jul 25. Feast of St James the Elder, Apostle.

Aug 6. Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, Year A.

Aug 10. Feast of St Lawrence the Deacon.

Aug 15. Vigil and Mass of the Day. Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Aug 24. Feast of St Bartholomew, Apostle.

Sept 8. Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Sept 14. Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Sept 21. Feast of St Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.

Sept 29. Feast of Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels.

Oct 18. Feast of St Luke the Evangelist.

Oct 28. Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles.

Nov 1. Solemnity of All Saints.

Nov 2. The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed.

Nov 9. Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica.

Nov 30. The Feast of St Andrew, Apostle.

Last Sunday of the Year: Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. Always falls on last Sunday of the Year.

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthans 10:31-11:1

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 31, 2021

This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief overview of chapter 10 to help provide context. Scriopture links are to the Douay Rheims translation. Text in green represents the authors paraphrase of the scripture he is commenting on.

Scripture links are to the Douay Rheims translation

The Apostle continues, as far as verse 14 of this chapter, the subject referred to in the close of the preceding. He shows why both he and they should fear, lest they might be cast off and numbered amongst the reprobate; and, in order to guard them against relying too confidently on the signal favours which they heretofore received, he introduces the example of the Jews, who left Egypt, whose history—both as to favours conferred and punishment inflicted—was a type of the benefits conferred on us in the New Law, and of the punishment to be inflicted on ns, should we imitate them in sinning. Their passage through the desert was a figure of our passage through life, towards the true Chanaan. Their helps given them primarily, in reference to a temporal end, were a figure of ours given in reference to a spiritual; and, as all the Jews who, the year after leaving Egypt, reached the twentieth year of their age, to the number of six hundred thousand, died in the desert (Caleb and Joshua excepted), without entering the land of Chanaan, although they all partook of the same favours and privileges;—so there is cause for us to dread, should we follow their sinful example, the like exclusion from the Chanaan of Heaven (verse 14). He reverts, after a long digression, to the subject of Idolothytes, of which he treated (chap. 8), and classes the use of them, in certain circumstances, with Idol worship (14). He proves from examples drawn both from the Christian and Jewish laws, that, by partaking of Idolothytes, they join in Idol worship (1 Cor 10:14–19). He shows the enormity of this crime, as it is nothing short of joining in the worship of devils (1 Cor 10:19–22). He next considers the circumstance of scandal, resulting from the use of Idolothytes (1 Cor 10:22–25). He shows when the use of them is allowed (1 Cor 10:25–28). In case, however, a remark be made, either by believers or unbelievers, that the things set before us were offered to Idols, we should abstain from them in charity to our informants (1 Cor 10:28–30). The safest rule for avoiding scandal in every case is to refer all our actions to the glory of God without giving offence in any quarter, after the example of the Apostle himself.

1 Cor 10:31The safest rule then to follow, in order to avoid giving scandal either in eating or drinking, or in any of our actions, is, to do all for the glory of God.

The object of the Apostle in this verse is, to caution them against injuring the glory of God, by preventing the spread of the gospel through any act of their’s. “Whether you eat,” &c. Some say these words convey merely a counsel—others, a strict precept. The latter opinion is open to this difficulty, that from it would appear to follow, that all the actions of infidels are sins—because, not knowing God, they can offer no action to his glory. To this, it is replied by some, that the precept is binding only on Christians; others say, it is binding on all men, but that it only requires of us to refer to God’s glory our actions, either by express intention, or virtually, i.e., by performing such actions as are of themselves referrible to God’s glory, and the infidels perform many such actions, viz.—actions morally good, by the sole aid of nature, or by the aid of grace, which we know is sometimes given to infidels. The proposition put forward in the schismatical Council of Pistoia, fides est prima gratia, was condemned by Pius VI. in the Bull, Auctorem fidei, &c.

1 Cor 10:32Give no cause of offence to either Gentile, or Jew, or Christian.

“And to the Gentiles,” in Greek is, και Ἕλλησιν, and to the Greeks. The meaning is the same. Give no cause of offence to either believers or unbelievers, be they Jews or Gentiles. The former, if weak, would be scandalized; the latter would think the Christians joined in idol worship.

1 Cor 10:33As I in all things please all men, seeking not my own profit, but what is most conducive to the salvation of others.

He proposes himself as their model; he asks them to do nothing of which he himself had not given first the example.

1 Cor 11:1(Since, then, regardless of my own temporal ease and profit, I have had always in view, the glory of God, and my neighbour’s spiritual advantage); be you imitators of me, as I have been of Christ.

This is connected with the preceding chapter, in the last verse of which the Apostle encouraged the Corinthians to perform certain laudable actions after his own example. In this verse, he gives the reason for proposing his own example, viz., because he imitated Christ; and it is only inasmuch as they imitate their heavenly model, that we are to follow the example of superiors.

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Scripture on the Suffering of the Innocent

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 30, 2021

The apparent injustice of suffering: Hab 1:13. See also Job 19:7; Job 24:1; Job 24:12; Ps 59:3–4; Ps 74:1; Ps 74:11; Ps 88:5; Ps 88:14

The wrong answers to suffering:

(1) Those who suffer must necessarily be sinners: Job 4:7; Jn 9:2–3

(2) God is unjust: Eze 18:25.

The wrong reactions to suffering

(1)Anger at God: Job 2:9–10

(2) Terrified of God: Job 23:13–15

(3) Debating God: Job 40:2

(4) Envy of the prosperity, health, lifestyle, etc,, of the wicked: Ps 73:3

(5) Regretting leading a life according to God’s will because of the prosperity, health, lifestyle, etc., of the wicked: Ps 73:13

The right reactions to suffering

(1) Reverent submission: Job 1:21 See also Job 28:28; Job 34:12; Job 36:26; Job 37:19; Job 40:4; La 3:40; La 3:49– 50; Mt 10:28

(2)Trust in God: Gen 18:25; Ps 55:22–23 See also Ex 2:23; Ps 56:3–4; Ps 59:16; Ps 62:5; Ps 70:2; Ps 107:6; Ps 107:13; Ps 107:19; Ps 107:28; Ps 119:50; Ps 119:153

(3) Happiness in suffering for Christ: 1 Pt 2:19–21; Php 1:29–30; 1 Pt 3:14; Mt 5:10–12; He 11:24–26; Jn 15:18–21. He 13:13; 1 Pt 4:1.

Some examples of trust

(1) The three youths in the fiery furnace: Da 3:17–18

(2) The Prophet Habakkuk: Hab 3:17–18; 1 Pe 2:23

(3) David: Pss 3, 4, etc.

God’s reaction to suffering

(1) Concern for those who suffer: Ps 9:12. See also Ex 2:25; 2 Ki 14:26; Ps 1:6; Ps 33:18–19; Jas 5:4

(2) Anger at the wicked who cause suffering: Ps 11:5; Ps 59:8; Eze 36:6–7; Hab 2:9; Hab 2:12

God’s response to suffering

(1) Deliverance for those who suffer: Ps 34:19 See also Job 42:10–12; Re 7:16; Re 21:4

(2) Judgment for the wicked: Mal 3:5. See also Ex 3:19–20; Ps 73:16–18; Ps 141:10; Am 1:3; Na 3:1; Na 3:19; Hab 2:16; Mt 25:41–46; Jas 2:13; 1 Pe 4:18; Re 18:6–7

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Suggested Resources for the Sunday Epistle Readings, Year B, Ordinary Time

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 2, 2020

The new Sunday Lectionary Cycle (Year B) will begin on Sunday, November 29 2020. During the 34 Sundays of Ordinary Time the second (epistle) readings will come from the following letters (in order of use): 1 Corinthians, Second Corinthians, Ephesians, James, Hebrews. Below one will find some suggested resources to help you acquire a better understanding of these readings. You may also wish to consult this post of suggested resources for the Sunday Gospel readings for Year B. I hope to also post some suggested resources relating to the Daily Lectionary Cycle (Year I) readings of Ordinary Time. That cycle will begin on November 30, 2020.

1 CORINTHIANS: Note: This letter, along with Hebrews, is not read through in semi-continuous fashion during a single Sunday lectionary cycle. In Year B the readings are taken from chapters 6-10. The previous chapters open OT in Year A, and the following chapters open OT in Year C. During Daily Cycle II it is read in Ordinary Time, weeks 21-24.

Ignatius Study Bible: First and Second Letters of St Paul to the Corinthians. By Dr. Scott Hahn and Mitch Curtis. A good place for the beginner to begin his study of the two letters to Corinth. The Ignatius Catholic Bible Study on the NT is now available in a single volume. A sizable number of volumes on the Old Testament are now available, including Genesis, Exodus, and Isaiah.

Free. In the Footsteps of St Paul. 13 part, (one-half hour each) online audio presentation by Fr. Mitch Pacwa of EWTN.

Free.  St Irenaeus Ministries Study on 1 Corinthians. 18 part online audio series (parts vary in length).

Free St Thomas Aquinas’ Lectures on First Corinthians. Latin and English side by side, but the commentary on 7:15-10:33 is currently available only in Latin.

Free. You Tube Videos: First Corinthians. In six parts. Taught by Nicholas Lebish

Free. Father Callan’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians. On site.

Free. Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians. On site.

Free. Father Bernardine de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians. On site.

Free. Notes on St Paul. By Fr. Joseph Rickaby. Online book. Succinct notes on 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians and Romans. You can increase text size by clicking on the magnifying glass with the + sign located in the bottom right corner.

Father Kenneth Baker’s Sermons on St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians. Downloadable audio for purchase.

First Corinthians (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture Series). By Fr. George Montague. The CCSS is a new, fine series of commentaries on the New Testament from a Catholic perspective. You can view the preface for the entire series here.

First Corinthians (Sacra Pagina Series). By Fr. Raymond F. Collins. In depth, scholarly, not for the average person in the pew.

First Corinthians (Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries Series). By Father Joseph Fitzmyer. Scholarly, technical. You can search inside this book by placing your browser on the photo, then click “surprise me”.

Seven Pauline Letters. By Peter F. Ellis. Text and commentary on seven of St Paul’s letters, including First Corinthians. Succinct commentaries, very readable.

St Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians (Navarre Bible Commentary Series). Extremely popular and well written. This series was the brain child of St Jose Marie Escriva.

Invitation to the New Testament Epistles (Doubleday New Testament Commentary Series). By Fr. Eugene LaVerdierre. Based upon the Jerusalem Bible Translation. A basic commentary written in popular style. This volume is on 1 & 2 Thessalonians; 1 & 2, Corinthians; Philippians; Philemon.

SECOND CORINTHAINS: The first 5 resources were also posted above on 1 Cor.

Ignatius Study Bible: First and Second Letters of St Paul to the Corinthians. By Dr. Scott Hahn and Mitch Curtis. A good place for the beginner to begin his study of the two letters to Corinth. The Ignatius Catholic Bible Study on the NT is now available in a single volume. A sizable number of volumes on the Old Testament are now available, including Genesis, Exodus, and Isaiah.

Seven Pauline Letters. By Peter F. Ellis. Text and commentary on seven of St Paul’s letters, including Second Corinthians. Succinct commentaries, very readable.

St Paul’s Letters to the Corinthians (Navarre Bible Commentary Series). Extremely popular and well written. This series was the brain child of St Jose Marie Escriva.

Invitation to the New Testament Epistles (Doubleday New Testament Commentary Series). By Fr. Eugene LaVerdierre. Based upon the Jerusalem Bible Translation. A basic commentary written in popular style. This volume is on 1 & 2 Thessalonians; 1 & 2, Corinthians; Philippians; Philemon.

Free. Notes on St Paul. By Fr. Joseph Rickaby. Online book. Succinct notes on 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians and Romans. You can increase text size by clicking on the magnifying glass with the + sign located in the bottom right corner.

Free. St Irenaeus Ministries Audio Study of 2 Corinthians. 12 part audio. Varying length.

SECOND CORINTHIANS. By Fr. Thomas D. Stegman, S.J. Part of the new Catholic Commentary On Sacred Scripture.

SECOND CORINTHIANS (Sacra Pagina Series). By Fr. Jan Lambrecht, S.J. Somewhat technical, not for the beginner.

KEYS TO SECOND CORINTHIANS. By Fr. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P. Very expensive, scholarly, thorough. Not for the average reader.

THE THEOLOGY OF THE SECOND LETTER TO THE CORINTHIANS. By Fr. Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, O.P. Scholarly, not for the average reader.

Free. LECTURES ON SECOND CORINTHIANS. By St Thomas Aquinas. This work, available online for free, still continues to exert influence 8 centuries after it production. The medieval style may not appeal to many.


NOTES ON CORINTHIANS, GALATIANS, ROMANS. By Fr. Joseph Rickaby, S.J. Somewhat dated. Originally published in 1898. slightly technical. Rickaby was a prolific author and a noted authority on St Thomas Aquinas.

THE SECOND EPISTLE OF ST PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS. By R. D. Byles. Somewhat dated. Originally published in 1897. A very basic commentary.

AN EXPOSITION OF THE EPISTLE OF ST PAUL (Vol 2). By Bernardine de Picquigny. The author ((1633-1709) was a Capuchin monk who is also sometimes called Bernardin de Piconio. This volume contains commentary on 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that his 3 volume exposition of St Paul “has ever been popular among scripture scholars.”


Ignatius Study Bible: Galatians and Ephesians. Dr. Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch. A great place to begin for someone who has never studied the letter.

Free. Father Callan’s Commentary on Ephesians.

Free. Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Ephesians.

Free. A Devout Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians. Fr. A Bertrand Wilberforce. Online book. You can increase text size by clicking on the magnifying glass with the + sign located in the bottom right corner.

Ephesians: New Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture. Peter S Willaimson. Part of a fine commentary series on the NT.

Navarre Bible: Captivity Letters. Commentary on Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon.

Colossians and Ephesians (Sacra Pagina Series). Focuses on the text from the perspective of the social sciences.

Ephesians: New Testament Message Series.

Ephesians: New Testament for Spiritual Readings Series. Max Zerwick.

Further Notes on St Paul: The Epistles of the Captivity: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. Fr. Joseph Rickaby. Succinct notes.


Ignatius Study Bible: James, 1 & 2 Peter and Jude. Excellent for beginners.

James, 1, 2, & 3 John (New Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture Series). An outstanding series.

Anchor Bible Series: The Letter of James. Luke Timothy Johnson. Technical.

A Spirituality of Perfection: Faith in Action in the Letter of James.

Navarre Bible Commentary: The Catholic Letters. On James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1 ,2, & 3 John, Jude.

Sacra Pagina Series: James.

James and Jude: New Testament Message Series.

New Testament for Spiritual Readings Series: Hebrew and James.

HEBREWS: The first volume was also listed above.

New Testament for Spiritual Readings Series: Hebrew and James.

Free. Aquinas’ Lectures on Hebrews.

Free. St John Chrysostom’s Homilies on Hebrews.

Free. St Irenaeus Ministries Audio Study of Hebrews.

Free. You Tube: Catholic Bible Study: Hebrews. 12 episodes.

Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Hebrews.

Hebrews: Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture Series.

Sacra Pagina Series: Hebrews.

A Different Kind of Priest: The Epistle to the Hebrews. By Cardinal Albert Vanhoye.

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Suggested Resources for a Better Understanding the Gospel of Mark

Posted by Dim Bulb on November 2, 2020

The new “Liturgical Year” will begin on November 29, 2020. This year the bulk of the Sunday gospel readings will be taken from Mark. In addition–and this is always the case-the daily gospel reading for weeks 1 through 9 of Ordinary Time will also come from Mark. Since you will be getting an extra heavy dose of the Gospel of Mark this year I thought I’d offer the following suggestion for those seeking a better understanding of this gospel.

Free. The Catena Aurea of St Thomas Aquinas. Latin and English side by side.

Free. Audio Study of the Gospel of Mark. By Dr. Scott Hahn. You have to register an email and password to listen. Registration is free.

Free. The Way to Follow Jesus. Audio. 13 one half hour episodes.

Free. Agape Catholic Bible Study. Contains 9 lessons on Mark. Each lesson also includes a helpful handout.

Meeting St Mark Today: Understanding the Man, His Mission and His Message. By Fr. Daniel Harrington.

Gospel of Mark (Ignatius Study Bible). Very popular, basic introductory commentary on Mark.

The Navarre Bible: St Mark. Extremely popular study series which was the brainchild of St Jose Marie Escriva. The four Gospel and Acts can be purchased in a single volume, however, the commentary is truncated in this single volume.

Mark (New Testament Message Series). “Concentrates on bringing to the fore in understandable terms the specific message of each biblical author.” Non-technical.

Mark, Volume 1 (New Testament for Spiritual Reading). The two volumes on Mark in this series are hard to come by. The NTSR has been described as “Distinctly noteworthy!…an extended NT series that is within the reach of all.” Something spectacular!…Practical volumes which open up the spiritual depths of Sacred Scripture.”

Mark, Volume 2 (New Testament for Spiritual Reading).  See previous comment.

The Gospel of Mark (Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture). The CCSC is an outstanding new commentary series on the New Testament.

The Beginning of the Gospel, Vol. 1. Fr. Eugene LaVerdiere, S.S.S. A bit repetitive at times but this is necessitated-at least in part-by Mark’s frequent use of the word παλιν (“again”). Don’t know what that means? Buy the books and figure it out (two volumes, see next link).

The Beginning of the Gospel, Vol. 2. Fr. Eugene LaVerdiere, S.S.S. See previous comment.

A Costly Freedom: A Theological Reading of Mark’s Gospel. Fr. Brendan Byrne, S.J.

The Gospel of Mark (Sacra Pagina Series). A bit more advanced but not “unreachable” to the average person in the pew.

The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary. Fr. Francis J. Moloney. I’m not personally familiar with this well regarded commentary but it comes highly recommended; and I am familiar with a few other works by Father Moloney.

The Gospel of Mark As a Model for Action: A Reader-Response Commentary. Again, I’m not familiar with this work, but I am familiar with the author. The title clearly suggests that the work is concerned with the Markan theme of discipleship.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 38

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 11, 2020


1 A psalm for David, for a remembrance of the sabbath.
2 REBUKE me not, O Lord, in thy indignation; nor chastise me in thy wrath.

The penitent David prays to God not to punish him in his anger and his wrath, as the judge deals with the culprit; but in his mercy, as the physician does with the patient. See the beginning of Psalm 6, on the difference between indignation and wrath, where we make them to be synonymous; but we will make a difference, we would say with St. Augustine, that they who are condemned to hell “are rebuked in indignation;” and “are chastised in wrath:” but David prays to God to punish him for his sins neither in hell nor in purgatory, but here in this world. St. Augustine warns us not to make little of the fire of purgatory, as the fire there is more severe than anything one can suffer in this world. Another observation is, that though God’s justice is taken here in the retributive sense, as well as in Psalm 2, verse 3, and Psalm 6, verse 1, still, in other places, it is used to signify the zeal of a father angry with his children, not with a view to destroy, but to protect them.

3 For thy arrows are fastened in me: and thy hand hath been strong upon me.

Knowing that nothing is of greater use in obtaining pardon of sin than a full knowledge of the evil of it, and the deploring our misfortune before God; in this and the few following verses he mourns over the unhappiness that mortal sin brings with it. He says, then, “Rebuke me not in thy indignation;” for I know, from experience, how severe it is; for “thy arrows are fastened in me.” I have been scourged with many calamities by you for my sins; “and thy hand hath been strong upon me;” yes, “your arrows are fastened in me;” and not lightly, for “your hand hath been strong upon me,” to send them home, to drive them in deeper. By such punishments and troubles, he seems to allude to the death of his son by Bethsabee, the dishonor of his daughter, the murder of his son, his expulsion from his kingdom, and other troubles, which God, in his vengeance, poured upon him. Perhaps, by those “arrows” he also had in view those fearful rebukes he got from the prophet Nathan, 2 Sam 12, “Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee from the hand of Saul, and gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wife into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and Juda. Why, therefore, hast thou despised the word of the Lord, to do evil in my sight? Thou hast killed Urias the Hethite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife. Therefore the sword shall never depart from thy house.” Such a reproof for benefits conferred, and such threats, must have deeply affected David, and overwhelmed him with shame, fear, and sorrow.

4 There is no health in my flesh, because of thy wrath: there is no peace for my bones, because of my sins.

He describes the effect of God’s arrows, and says he is terribly confused, and cannot rest, while he brings to mind God’s anger, and his own sins that provoked it. “There is no health in my flesh, because of thy wrath,” your angry looks, that are always present to my mind, make my flesh to grieve and pine away; for interior trouble has its effect on the body, makes it to waste, languish, and decay. “There is no peace for my bones, because of my sins;” the deformity and hideousness of my sin so confuse me, that I cannot rest, my very bones tremble.

5 For my iniquities are gone over my head: and as a heavy burden are become heavy upon me.

He gives a reason for being so dreadfully confused when he reflects upon his sins, and says it is because they are so numerous and so great. As to their number, he states, “for they have gone over my head.” Have grown into such a heap, that they all but crush me, as one who goes into a deep river, so as to allow the water to rise over his head, is overwhelmed by them. In regard of their magnitude, “and as a heavy burden are become heavy upon me;” my sins, like an insupportable burden, weigh down the powers of my soul, it being beyond my strength to satisfy so great a debt. David’s sin was that of adultery, coupled with murder; and now, truly penitent, he sees the many aggravations of both. He had injured a faithful servant, in depriving him of his wife, as well as of his life; he had offended Bethsabee, whom he solicited to sin, and thus spiritually killed her; he had offended his own wives, by not remaining faithful to them; he had offended the whole kingdom, nay, even the very infidels, by his bad example, for which Nathan said to him, “Thou hast caused the enemy to blaspheme the name of the Lord;” he had, lastly, offended God himself, whose laws he had openly transgressed. Counting up, therefore, the number of crimes and offenses he had committed, and the number of persons he had injured by his sins, he could justly exclaim, “My iniquities have gone over my head.” The grievousness of the sin can be estimated from the circumstances. David put Urias to death; first, an innocent man; secondly, a most faithful man; thirdly, one actually in arms for him; fourthly, after committing adultery with his wife, he seeks to add to the disgrace; fifthly, because he sought to make the man his own executioner; sixthly, when he wrote to Joab to procure Urias’s death, he gave him to understand that Urias was guilty of some grievous crime, and thus he injured the man’s character. His ingratitude to God, however, was the blackest feature in the whole transaction. God had bestowed on him all manner of temporal and spiritual favors in the greatest abundance, made him a great king, an accomplished prophet, a brave general, endowed him with prudence, strength, beauty, riches, everything that the heart of man could desire; all of which contributed to aggravate the heinousness of his sins, and which he must have acutely felt when he exclaimed, “My iniquities, as a heavy burden, are become heavy on me;” and the reason why so few conceive the sorrow they ought for their sins is, that few look back upon them, and weigh them with the reflection that David did.

6 My sores are putrefied and corrupted, because of my foolishness.

This applies to the time between the commission of the sin of adultery and the admonition of Nathan the prophet, more than nine months. It was after the birth of the child that Nathan reproved David, and, therefore, during the nine months, David put off healing the wound through penance. Meanwhile, a sort of veil of forgetfulness had been drawn over the wound, which prevented its being seen while it never healed it; the wounds, however, remained, began to “putrefy and corrupt,” and to become more incurable, which he now deplores, saying, “My sores,” not by the fault of the physician, but through carelessness and forgetfulness, “are putrefied and corrupted, because of my foolishness.” My folly was the cause of not perceiving them, and the same folly caused me to allow them to putrefy, and thus spread the foul stench of the scandal in all quarters.

7 I am become miserable, and am bowed down even to the end: I walked sorrowful all the day long.

From the corruption and putrefaction of his sores he became “miserable and bowed down,” which can be understood in two senses, as regards the sin, or as regards the punishment. For he who sins grievously, especially against the sixth commandment, by the very fact becomes miserable, because he thereby abandons God, our supreme good; “bows himself down” to the earth, becomes like the beasts, and, therefore, miserable, very miserable, which is conveyed in the phrase, “even to the end;” namely, he is so miserable that he could not possibly be more so, or more “bowed down;” having given up the delights of the angels for the sensuality of the beasts. The expression, “to the end,” does not mean the end of life, or the world, or forever; but it means that he was so bowed down, that he could not be bowed down farther, as appears from the Hebrew. As regards the punishment, the passage may apply to that also; for the man guilty of sins of this class becomes “miserable, and is bowed down” very much, by remorse of conscience, by fear of God’s anger, and by the shame that so humbles and confounds him, that he has not the courage to raise his eyes to heaven. Both constructions of it can be united in this way. I am become miserable by reason of my sin, and the punishment consequent on it, and very much bowed down, because I have turned to carnal and groveling pleasure the face of that soul I should have fixed upon God; through shame, I dare not look up to heaven, and, thus humble and abject, I am forced to look upon the ground, and for all these reasons “I walked sorrowful all the day long,” my conscience always reproving and accusing one; for what pleasure can the wretch feel once he becomes cognizant of his own wretchedness.

8 For my loins are filled with illusions; and there is no health in my flesh.
9 I am afflicted and humbled exceedingly: I roared with the groaning of my heart.

He passes now from his own sins to the general corruption consequent on the sin of our first parents, which was the original source of his sin in particular; and from such corruption he says that he is afflicted and humbled, is continually roaring and groaning. “For my loins,” the seat of sensuality, having shaken off the yoke of original justice, are constantly bringing forth sinful and dangerous desires, and are thus “filled with illusions” of the evil spirits, “and there is no health in my flesh,” because nothing good is to be found therein,” but, on the contrary, a nest of evil passions that weaken it; therefore, “I am afflicted and humbled exceedingly,” because I am ashamed to have to say that I, a rational being, should not keep myself beyond the reach of such low concupiscence; and, therefore, “I roared,” through grief, “with the groaning of my heart,” which provoked me so to cry out and bemoan.

10 Lord, all my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not hidden from thee.

Having said that the groanings of his heart caused him to roar; he now tells us to whom those groans were directed, viz., to him who “searcheth the heart,” and knows “what the spirit desireth.” “Lord, all my desire is before thee;” you, O Lord alone, see the whole extent of my desires, which turn entirely on the being delivered from my evil concupiscence, that I may, at length, arrive at the sabbath of perfect rest; and, on this subject “my groaning is not hidden from thee,” similar to what the Apostle writes, Rom. 8, “Even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption of the sons of God, the redemption of our body.”

11 My heart is troubled, my strength hath left me, and the light of my eyes itself is not with me.

He goes on describing the corruption of human nature, and says, “My heart is troubled,” meaning, the intestinal war between his inferior and superior parts; and adds, “my strength hath left me;” for such is the weakness caused by the rebellion, that man must, whether he will or not, be subject to evil desires, and exclaim with the Apostle, Rom. 7, “For, to will good is present with me, but to accomplish that which is good I find not.” Finally, he adds, “and the light of my eyes itself is not with me.” The same rebellion has not only caused infirmity of purpose, but also blindness of intellect. We often judge of things not as they are, but as they appear to us; however badly disposed we may be, as those laboring under fever think what is sweet is bitter, and what is bitter is sweet; and, therefore, he does not say, the light of my eyes is extinct, but, “is not with me; for the light of prayer and of understanding is in the soul, but being oppressed by our corruptible body and our carnal desires, we cannot make use of it; and, therefore he says, the “light of my eyes,” meaning interior light, “is not with me,” to guide me though it is really within me. It is there in reality, but not practically.

12 My friends and my neighbours have drawn near, and stood against me. And they that were near me stood afar off:

Having described the internal war, that is constantly going on within man, he now speaks of the external war, the persecutions and sufferings that are consequent on sin. He first complains of his friends and neighbors rising up against him; particularly in Absalom’s rebellion; in which he was joined by a great number of David’s friends and neighbors. “And they that were near me stood afar off,” while some of his friends, such as Absalom and his companions, pressed in upon him to put him to death; his own servants and soldiers “who were near him,” stood aloof and did not protect him.

13 And they that sought my soul used violence. And they that sought evils to me spoke vain things, and studied deceits all the day long.
14 But I, as a deaf man, heard not: and as a dumb man not opening his mouth.
15 And I became as a man that heareth not: and that hath no reproofs in his mouth.

All these are true to the letter, as may be seen in the Second Book of Kings, where, when Semei railed at David, called him the son of Belial, the invader of the kingdom, he bore it with the most incredible patience, and would not allow one of his followers to harm or even reprove him; and thus, it was literally true of him that “he became as a deaf man, that heareth not; and as a dumb man, that hath no reproofs in his mouth.”

16 For in thee, O Lord, have I hoped: thou wilt hear me, O Lord my God.

He assigns three reasons for having been so deaf and so silent; the first is, because he considered it would be of more service to him to put his trust in God, than in any defense he could set up for himself. I was silent, “for in thee, O Lord, have I hoped.” I paid no attention to all the false and idle abuse so heaped upon me; because I was conscious that you, who are the just judge, giving to everyone according to their works, and in whom I have always hoped, was looking at, and hearing everything; and as I did put my trust in thee, “thou wilt hear me, O Lord, my God,” and deliver me from their “unjust lips, and deceitful tongue.”

17 For I said: Lest at any time my enemies rejoice over me: and whilst my feet are moved, they speak great things against me.

Another reason why he chose to be silent and deaf. It is better for me to have patience, and trust in God’s assistance, for fear, by getting into impatience, and returning malediction for malediction, God may desert me, and thus, “my enemies may rejoice over me;” may glory in my fall: “and whilst my feet are moved, they speak great things against me;” that is, I have much reason to fear my enemies would greatly rejoice at my downfall; for, “whilst my feet are moved,” when they begin to totter, and I appear inclined to fall, (as was the case in his son’s rebellion,) my “enemies spoke great things against me,” threatening me, and predicting the speedy loss of my kingdom.

18 For I am ready for scourges: and my sorrow is continually before me.

A third reason for being silent and deaf before his enemies. My sins make me “ready for scourges,” not only of the tongue, but also of the lash; because “my sorrow,” which I richly deserved, “is continually before me.” Or, if you will, because “my sorrow,” that is, my sin, which is the cause of continual sorrow to me, never left my heart.

19 For I will declare my iniquity: and I will think of my sin.

He assigns a reason for being prepared for the scourge, because I acknowledge and confess that I sinned, and thereby deserved it; “and I will think for my sin,” how I may make sufficient atonement for it. A salutary lesson to the sinner to use all efforts to make satisfaction, and gladly to seize on every opportunity of exercising their patience, when God is good enough to give them the opportunity.

20 But my enemies live, and are stronger than I: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.

Having explained the reasons why he thought proper to remain silent and deaf before his enemies, that by his patience he may propitiate the Almighty, he contrasts that patience with the malice of his enemies. He did not return evil for evil; they, on the contrary, returned evil for good; and yet they enjoyed life, they exulted and were strengthened, which are noted here by David, with a view of moving God to deal more mercifully with himself. “My enemies live, and are stronger than me;” I am humbled and afflicted, and yet bear everything as patiently as if I were deaf and dumb; in the meantime, “my enemies live;” are quite alive, and active, and exulting, “and are stronger than me;” have grown stronger and braver, and “are multiplied;” have increased in number “who hate me wrongfully,” without any just cause or provocation. He, probably, refers to Absalom’s conspiracy, who falsely persuaded the people that the king would appoint no judges but unjust ones, which he would remedy were he appointed king. Hence the people rebelled, and “with their whole heart followed Absalom.”

21 They that render evil for good, have detracted me, because I followed goodness.

He proves his assertion as to his enemies hating him without any just cause, “They that render evil for good have detracted me without cause, because I followed goodness.” Most truly have my enemies hated me without cause, for the very people that most detracted me were those that “returned evil for good;” for instance, his son Absalom, and his minister Achitophel. Absalom had received many favors from his father. A short time before, his life, which he had forfeited by the murder of his brother, had been spared; and still he denounced his father as unjust and careless, telling those who came to the king for justice, “Your case seems to be fair and just, but the king will appoint no one to hear you.” 2 Sam 15. Achitophel, also, who was raised to the greatest honors by David, to be even his prime minister, forgot all and revolted to Absalom, and gave him most pernicious advice against his father. “And they that render evil for good have detracted me;” but they did so, “because I followed goodness;” because I acted sincerely and honestly in everything, in striking contrast to their unjust and impious thoughts and desires.

22 For sake me not, O Lord my God: do not thou depart from me.
23 Attend unto my help, O Lord, the God of my salvation.

From what he said he infers that God will protect him, and prays he may, and nearly repeats the first verses of the Psalm. God punishes, in his indignation and in his wrath, when he deprives man of his grace, departs from him as from an enemy, and leaves him among his enemies, without giving him the slightest assistance. Having said in the beginning of the Psalm, “Rebuke me not, O Lord, in thy indignation,” so he now says again in the end, “forsake me not, O Lord my God.” Let not your grace desert me, for you are the Lord that made me, and the God that created me for yourself, the supreme happiness. “Do not depart from me,” as from an enemy; but rather, as a father, “attend unto my help;” look with care to my assistance; you, “O Lord, the God of my salvation,” you who are the source of my salvation, from whom alone I expect it, and in whom alone I trust. Such seems to be the literal meaning of this Psalm. However, as many of the holy fathers apply the Psalm to Christ, and it is possible that the whole Psalm was intended for Christ, we now give an explanation of it in that sense.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 36

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 11, 2020


1 Unto the end, for the servant of God, David himself.
2 THE unjust hath said within himself, that he would sin: there is no fear of God before his eyes.

The prophet tells us the two primary roots of sin, one of which is in the will, whereby we determine on committing sin; the other is in the understanding, that does not consider the fear of the Lord forbidding sin. “The unjust hath said within himself,” that is, with himself, in his heart he determined to sin; that is, consented in his heart to sin. “The fear of God is not before his eyes.” He so consented, because in his heart he did not think of the fear of the Lord, who sees everything. Fear is used here for the object of it; that is, he did not think that God was just, powerful, and all seeing; for if he did he would be more afraid of one so powerful. When we fear any one, we are afraid to do anything bad in his presence; and thus, he who fears God, dares not to sin interiorly, for God searches even our hearts.

3 For in his sight he hath done deceitfully, that his iniquity may be found unto hatred.

In this verse he proves his assertion, that the unjust man does not possess the fear of the Lord. For in his sight he hath done deceitfully with God himself, and with all men, “so that his iniquity may be found unto hatred,” and not for pardon, a thing he certainly would not have done had he feared God. For who would dare to transgress in the presence of a judge for whom he entertained the slightest fear?

4 The words of his mouth are iniquity and guile: he would not understand that he might do well.

He said the wicked man acted deceitfully; he now says he speaks deceitfully, and will presently add that he even thinks deceitfully, to show how remarkable is the perversity of him that feareth not God. The words of his mouth are in accordance with his acts; unjust, nay even so unjust that they are nothing but “iniquity and guile;” whatever he says tends to open injury or to deceit. “He would not understand that he might do well.” He cannot offer ignorance as an excuse, because it was voluntary; for he took no trouble to ascertain the law of justice, by self investigation, or by inquiring of others; having determined to lead a bad life, he despised the science of living well, that he may live badly.

5 He hath devised iniquity on his bed, he hath set himself on every way that is not good: but evil he hath not hated.

In a retrograde order, he describes unjust acts, then sinful words, and now evil thoughts and affections; for though it is from the heart, as we read in the Gospel, that bad words and actions spring, still it is from the bad acts and words that we see and hear that we know the bad thoughts and desires that we can neither see nor hear. “He hath devised iniquity in his bed;” the bad actions and words were not produced or given utterance to suddenly, without premeditation, but devised long before in the privacy of his chamber. “He hath set himself on every way that is not good, but evil he hath not hated.” While he was thinking in his heart, and devising various plans of operation, he approved of every bad counsel, and thus began to set himself, to enter on “every way that is not good;” and, his will being corrupted, instead of hating malice, he rather loved it, not because of its badness, but because of its utility. “Every way that is not good,” means every way that is bad; as if he said, No good counsel pleased him; on the contrary, he chose to follow every bad counsel; and thus stood in every way not good; that is, in every bad way.

6 O Lord, thy mercy is in heaven, and thy truth reacheth even to the clouds.
7 Thy justice is as the mountains of God, thy judgments are a great deep. Men and beasts thou wilt preserve, O Lord:

He now passes to another part of the Psalm, and shows that, however great the malice of some, still the goodness of God, which consists of his justice and his mercy, is greater. Of his mercy he says, “Thy mercy is in heaven.” So great is it that it reaches from the earth to the heavens, and fills all things, as is more clearly set forth in Psalm 108, “For thy mercy is great, above the heavens.” To mercy he unites truth; that is, faithfulness, by virtue of which he carries out whatsoever he promises in his mercy, and of which be says, in Psalm 145, “The Lord is faithful in all his words”—“and thy truth even to the clouds.” Mercy reaches even to the heavens with its attendant truth, which, too, reacheth to the clouds, that is, to heaven, where the clouds are. Nor is his justice, by virtue of which he gives to every one according to his works, less in God. For “thy justice is as the mountains of God;” great, like lofty mountains that sometimes out top the very clouds. Great things are often called “things of God;” as, “like the cedars of God.” To his justice he unites his judgments, being acts of justice, and says, “thy judgments are a great deep;” profound and inscrutable, like the deepest gulf, that is called an abyss, impenetrable to human eye. By all these similes of the height and the depth of the divine mercy and justice, as well as of his truth and judgments, we are given to understand that, as our corporeal eyes cannot scan those things above the clouds or below the earth, no more can we understand the greatness of the justice and of the mercy of God. “Men and beasts thou wilt preserve, O Lord.” The prophet now shows how boundless is God’s mercy, extending as it does to man and beasts; preserving, nourishing, filling with the gifts of this world, not only men, rational beings, but even beasts; that is, men who, like beasts, are led by their appetites and sensuality only—whose malice he had already explained. Truly infinite and stupendous is the mercy and goodness of God, who, when he could, with the greatest justice, destroy and reduce to nothing the wicked and the blasphemer; yet, at the very time that they are blaspheming, railing at, and breaking through all his commandments, is actually supporting, nourishing, feeding them, filling them with his delights, making his sun to shine on them, and watering their fields and their gardens with his rain from heaven.

8 O how hast thou multiplied thy mercy, O God! But the children of men shall put their trust under the covert of thy wings.

The first part of the verse is a burst of admiration. Having spoken of God’s mercy to the wicked and the carnal, whom he designates as beasts, he now speaks of his mercy towards the pious and the spiritual, called by him “the children of men,” which may be called justice, in regard of the wicked too, who, he justly decreed, should have no share in such blessings. “The children of men shall put their trust under the cover of thy wings.” The beasts ought to be contented with the safety of their bodies; it was the only thing they knew, sought, or cared for. But the children of men will be, like the chickens under the wings of the hen, O most loving God, gathered together in quiet, expecting all happiness from you alone. Such words tend to give us some idea of the special providence, and the singular benevolence of God towards the pious; and, on the other hand, of the perfect and unbounded confidence they have in God, like the solicitude of the hen in regard of her chickens, and their confidence when under her wings. Nothing can be more to the purpose than the same simile, and it is frequently used by the Psalmist, as in Psalm 91, “In the cover of thy wings will I hope, my soul adhered to thee;” and in Psalm 91, “He will overshadow thee with his shoulders, and under his wings shalt thou trust.” How delightful is it not, and how preferable to all earthly delights, to be fostered under God’s wings; to experience the love that exceeds that of a father or a mother, is a thing that no one knows, until they shall have experienced it.

9 They shall be inebriated with the plenty of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of thy pleasure.

Protection under the wings of God is had in this world, when there is danger from birds or beasts of prey; but he now speaks of the future rewards, and gives the best description he can of those unspeakable rewards, by similes drawn from corporeal objects; the first is taken from the recipient, the second from the thing received. The recipient of anything is then content when he is so full and laden, that he can desire no more. That plenty, satisfying the entire appetite, is most happily described here as inebriation. He that is fond of drink is never fully satisfied until he shall have got inebriated, for, instead of coveting more drink, he then falls asleep. So it is with us; we are never satisfied in this life, we never rest, no matter what the amount of our prosperity may be; then only do we become full, saturated, content, and therefore happy, when we “get inebriated with the plenty of God’s house;” for then, our appetite being thoroughly satisfied, we sink into the sleep of eternal rest. Observe, he says, shall “be inebriated by the plenty,” not by the wine, to give us to understand that the word is not to be taken in its literal sense or meaning. The next simile is drawn from the thing received: “Thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of thy pleasure.” Three things are to be observed in a torrent. A great body of water rolling down from the mountains; a sudden inundation, a great river, all of a sudden, appears where a drop of water was not to be seen a few moments before; the force of the rolling water, carrying everything before it. Such will be the happiness of heaven! A great body of wisdom and knowledge will come down from the mountain, of which Ecclesiasticus writes, “The word of God is high in the fountain of wisdom;” that means, in the high mountain of the Deity is the word of God, the fountain of wisdom, from which mountain and fountain the blessed are suddenly inundated; for we who, through great labor, find after a long time in this world, imbibed wisdom in the minutest drops, will then, on a sudden, all at once, in one moment, after a clear vision of God, so abound in all knowledge, not only of things created, but of the very attributes of the Creator, that by the abundance of such wisdom and knowledge the soul will be hurried on to the love and the enjoyment of the supreme good. For in our heavenly home, we will not be free to love, or not to love, to enjoy, or not to enjoy, a blessing so great, but, through a most felicitous necessity, we will be driven to adhere to our supreme good, and, by a most intimate attachment, to revel in its sweetness.

10 For with thee is the fountain of life; and in thy light we shall see light.

He assigns a reason for the great inundation of wisdom and knowledge that will pour in upon the blessed from the vision of the Deity. Simply because “he is the fountain of life,” which is the same as the fountain of wisdom. God then, from the fact of his being the fountain of wisdom, is the fountain of life, for wisdom is life to the wise; and being the fountain of life he is the fountain of existence, because, life is existence to those that do exist. God, then, is called the fountain of wisdom, of life, of existence, because he derives his wisdom, his life, his essence, from no one, but is himself wisdom, life, existence; and all other things, whatever wisdom, life, existence they have, derive it from him. David uses the word fountain here to keep up the metaphor, as if he said, “Thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of thy pleasure, for with thee is the fountain,” from which it rises. He calls it “the fountain of life,” when one would think he should have called it the fountain of wisdom, because he wanted to show that the eternal life promised to the just, and desired by all as the supreme good, consisted entirely in this supreme wisdom, according to the Lord himself, Jn. 17, “This is life everlasting, that they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” He then adds, “and in thy light we shall see light,” to explain, in plainer language, what he had metaphorically expressed; for it means, through you, who are the light and the source of light, we shall see you the inaccessible and never failing light. We see God now, but reflected through his creatures; we see him in our mind, but by reasoning, by inference from his works; finally, we see him in faith, but not in form; but then we will see God in himself, and, as the Apostle has it, face to face, or as St. John has it, “we will see him as he is,” and not in a picture. And, as the same St. John has it, “God is light, there is no darkness in him.” He therefore most properly says here, “in thy light,” that is, in thy divinity, which is light, and not in types and figures, “shall we see light,” that is, yourself who art the true light that “enlighteneth every man coming into the world.” From this passage theologians properly infer, that there is a light of glory necessary to see God. For, though God is light, according to St. Paul, he is an “inaccessible light;” and, therefore, unless the mind get a certain elevation, and be strengthened by a certain gift of God, called the light of glory, it cannot fix its gaze on that uncreated light. We shall, therefore, see the light which is God, but it will be “in his light;” that is, assisted by the light of his glory which he bestows on those he condescends to admit to the beatific vision. The first explanation, however, is more literal.

11 Extend thy mercy to them that know thee, and thy justice to them that are right in heart.

He now tells us that these great favors, of which he had been speaking, belong to the just alone, designated by him as the “children of men,” to distinguish them from the wicked, whom he called “beasts.” He uses the imperative for the indicative mood, a thing not infrequent with the prophets. “Extend thy mercy to them that know thee;” that is, those alone who are familiarly and intimately acquainted with you, who live with you, who invoke you, who fear you in your commandments, and whom you hear in their prayers, in which style of language we have in the gospel, “Amen, I say unto you, I know you not”—“and thy justice to them that are right in heart,” and hold out or extend the same mercy which is also a crown of justice “to them that are right in heart,” to the just and the pious, whose heart is right and agreeable to thy righteousness and are, therefore, delighted with thy commandments and thy judgments; for the prophets as usual, put up the same prayer in different terms.

12 Let not the foot of pride come to me, and let not the hand of the sinner move me.

Solicitous for himself, fearful of missing such blessings, he now prays for the gift of perseverance, especially against a vice to which persons of his rank are very much exposed. “Let not the foot of pride come to me.” Do not, pray thee, let the proud come near me, for fear they may, by words, or by example, or through any other channel, draw me from the state of grace into the mire of sin. By the proud and the sinner, whose hand and foot, that is, whose approach and power he fears, is meant, principally, the devil; who is the king of all the children of pride; and after him, his servants and ministers. St. Augustine’s explanation also will suit; which is: “Let not the foot of pride come to me.” Let me not have the gait, the affectation of pride; “and let not the hand of the sinner move me;” let not the sinner have any influence over me that may bring me to sin; and thus, through my own fault, or through the temptation of others, be brought down from my position, and miserably fall.

13 There the workers of iniquity are fallen, they are cast out, and could not stand.

He assigns a reason for his fear of pride; because, as Tobias says, chap. 4, “From pride all perdition took its beginning;” for the Angels and our first parents fell through pride, and through them sin entered into the world; and, after having so fallen from justice to iniquity, were banished from eternal happiness, and consigned to everlasting misery; for, “God resists the proud, and to the humble he gives his Grace.” “And could not stand,” in that place of happiness where they had been put by God, with a view of promoting them to better, should they persevere in virtue.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 35

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 11, 2020


1 For David himself. JUDGE thou, O Lord, them that wrong me: overthrow them that fight against me.

A petition for help against persecutors in general. To understand this verse properly we should understand Hebrew, from which it clearly appears that the verse means; “Judge them that judge me.” By a just judgment condemn them that unjustly condemned me, such as the chiefs of the Jews, Annas and Caiphas, and the chiefs of the gentiles, Pilate and Herod, who judged Christ most unjustly; and many kings and princes who, by most unjust judgments, condemned so many holy martyrs. And because the enemies of Christ and of his Church would have it appear that in their persecutions they were influenced only by a desire of upholding the law, and of acting agreeably to it; while they were, at the very time, acting as professed enemies, instead of impartial judges; and, with an assumption of piety, were only standing by their false superstitions, the Psalm adds: “Overthrow them that fight against me;” take up my cause, fight my battle; that when my enemies “are overthrown” by you, I may escape them, and depart the conqueror.

2 Take hold of arms and shield: and rise up to help me.

An explanation of the words, “Overthrow them that fight against me;” and as a warrior ought to be well armed with weapons defensive and offensive, he mentions the former in this verse, and the latter in the next; in the Hebrew the expression is, the shield and buckler; and to avoid a repetition of what appears to be much the same weapon, the Greeks and Latins translate it arms and the shield, that is, arms of protection and defense. The shield and buckler of God signify his good will, according to Psalm 5, “O Lord, thou hast crowned us as with a shield of thy good will.” They likewise signify justice and equity, as in Wisdom 5, “He will take equity for an invincible shield;” and, indeed, the benevolence with which God protects us is a real shield, for, any one loved by God is perfectly secure; and of him can be said, “Thou hast crowned him with a shield of thy good will.” The justice of God, called “equity” in the Scriptures, is the shield wherewith he protects from the judgments and the calumnies of the wicked; for, however severely and bitterly God may punish the wicked, he does so in justice, and, therefore, he regards not, and fears not, the sharpness or the bitterness of their tongues, or of their opinions, according to Psalm 50, “That thou mayest be justified in thy words, and mayest overcome when thou art judged;” and of it is said, “He will take equity for an invincible shield;” that is, when he shall come to the last judgment, and take up his arms to avenge himself on his enemies. There was, therefore, much significance in the repetition of the shield and buckler, since God takes up both, to protect us in his mercy and defend himself in his justice.

3 Bring out the sword, and shut up the way against them that persecute me: say to my soul: I am thy salvation.

He now speaks of offensive arms, and says, unsheath your sword, and draw it against my persecutors. The word “bring out,” in the Hebrew, signifies a prompt and ready pull, the sword being sharp and in good order, and, therefore, easily drawn, as having no rust on it; “and shut up the way against them that persecute me;” put so many obstacles before them, that they will not be able to come near. The sword signifies the vindictive justice of God, that prompts him to punish the wicked, as we read in Deut. 32, “If I shall whet my sword as the lightning, and my hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to my enemies, and repay them that hate me;” and in Wisdom 5, “He will sharpen his severe wrath for a spear;” for the sword and the spear are arms of offense. Wonderful reflection for a faithful soul, to feel that God stands there armed with sword, shield, and lance, for its protection and hears him speaking to the heart “I am thy salvation.” For, though the assurance of the apostle, “If God be for us, who is against us,” ought to give us the greatest security, however, the Holy Ghost, to provide more effectually for our weakness, describes God in arms for us; and, in all description of arms, fighting against both the visible and invisible enemies, not only of the Church in general, but of each of the faithful in particular. “Say to my soul: I am thy salvation.” God’s defense of us; and, therefore, Christ asks for his Church and his faithful, that they may be apprised of such defense; and thereby have the more confidence. And though the term physician may seem to be more applicable to God here than “salvation,” still it is, in reality, more appropriate, because physicians and medicine do not always cure, and do not penetrate the substance of what they mean to cure; but God always does; he enters into the very recesses of our souls; and as a man in perfect health cannot but feel so, however destitute he may be in other respects, so it is impossible for the soul, when God is present by his grace, and wishes to heal it, not to be healed, however destitute it may be otherwise.

4 Let them be confounded and ashamed that seek after my soul. Let them be turned back and be confounded that devise evil against me.

He tells us what is to happen to those against whom God takes up arms, saying, “Let them be confounded and ashamed.” Let those who thought to slay me be ashamed of losing the victory; for the two words, confounded and ashamed, have the same meaning, as here there is not question of reverential shame, but of the shame suffered by one that has been beaten; “that seek after my soul” is an ambiguous expression, sometimes taken in a good sense. “Flight hath failed me, and there is no one that hath regard to my soul,” Psalm 141; that is, I have no refuge; there is no one to know me, to “seek after” me, to defend me. Sometimes it is taken in a bad sense, as in this passage, and in various others, and means, to endeavor to take away one’s soul, that is, his life. “Let them be turned back, and be confounded.” Let them be not only confounded and overwhelmed with shame, but “let them be turned back;” retire in confusion, and conquered, “that desire evil against me;” they who planned my destruction.

5 Let them become as dust before the wind: and let the angel of the Lord straiten them.

He asks, in the third place, that they should not only be covered with confusion, and retire in confusion, but that the thing may be done quickly, and that they may be scattered in various places. Dust is carried by the wind with great force and with great speed to various places; and both force and speed are increased here by the terms used to designate them. For the term used for dust signifies the minutest, finest, lightest dust; and, therefore, the easier impelled; and it is not an ordinary wind that is to drive it, but “the Angel of the Lord, straitening them.”

6 Let their way become dark and slippery; and let the angel of the Lord pursue them.

He ultimately asks that they should not only be scattered and compelled to fly but that they should be irremediably hurried on to destruction. Fugitives are favored by a knowledge of the way, by a safe and firm road; or, if the way be slippery, by moving slowly on it. He prays they may have no one of those things in their favor, but, on the contrary, that they may be obliged to fly in “the dark,” and on a “slippery” road, when both eyes and feet will be powerless; with the Angel of the Lord pressing on them so urgently that they must, of necessity, be utterly ruined. This has been all fulfilled in regard of the Jews and the other persecutors of Christ and of his Church, who, by the just judgment of God, are enveloped in the darkness of ignorance, and in the slippery ways of concupiscence; and by the “pursuing” anger of God are daily falling into greater sins, and thus hasten in full speed to everlasting misery. This will be more fully developed on the day of judgment, for then the wicked will be confounded and made ashamed in so unspeakable a manner, that they will rush headlong into the infernal pit, under pressure of God’s vengeance; and forever, and as irremediably as the man who, in the dark, is hurled down a slippery precipice, from which he can never recover.

7 For without cause they have hidden their net for me unto destruction: without cause they have upbraided my soul.
8 Let the snare which he knoweth not come upon him: and let the net which he hath hidden catch him: and into that very snare let them fall.

In the first six verses the prophet spoke in the person of Christ and of all the just, on persecutions in general; he now details three sorts of persecutions, generally inflicted on the just by sinners. First, they harass them by frauds and conspiracies. Secondly, by false witnesses. Thirdly, by open force, and that not confined to mere words. Of the first he says, “For without cause they have hidden their net for me, to destruction.” As, without any provocation on my part, they have been incessantly laying snares for me, I pray God that he may, in his providence, turn those snares to their own destruction. Which imprecation, as we before remarked, is not to be looked upon as an imprecation, but rather a prophecy. God’s providence often brings about such conspiracies to be of more harm to the conspirators themselves, sometimes to harm themselves, alone; like a torch which, set to burn a house, is burned itself before the house; sometimes is burned itself without burning the house at all; thus, the malice of the conspirators at once harms themselves; others, perhaps, not at all; certainly, less than it does the plotters; because injuries suffered are not at all as grievous as the injuries devised. “They have hidden their net for me, to destruction.” They determined to hang me, to destroy me; they set a net to catch me for the purpose; “without cause,” when I did them no harm whatever; “they have upbraided,” offended, abused me; laying snares for me, as if I were a wild beast. “Let the snare which he knoweth not come upon him.” May some unknown, unforeseen calamity, come on himself; may he fall into the same calamity he intended for me.

9 But my soul shall rejoice in the Lord; and shall be delighted in his salvation.
10 All my bones shall say: Lord, who is like to thee? Who deliverest the poor from the hand of them that are stronger than he; the needy and the poor from them that strip him.

In these two verses the prophet describes the unspeakable joy of the just man when he finds himself delivered from those that lay in wait for him. The language is most poetic, metaphorical, and beautiful. The meaning is, When I shall have obtained my prayer, “my soul,” through which I live and move, through joy, “shall rejoice in the Lord,” in praise and thanksgiving, and will also “be delighted in his salvation,” which it sees now secure; or rather, will be delighted in God’s salvation, or its Savior; and not only my soul, but my body and all its members, even the lowest and most abject, such as the bones; and not only my bones, but “all my bones” even the very smallest of them will rejoice, and, if they could speak, would exclaim, Lord, who is like to thee? for there is nothing on earth or in heaven more powerful, more kind, more wise, or more amiable than you, who so powerfully and so mercifully rescue the poor from the grip of a much more powerful enemy, who sought, by violence, to take away not only his property, but his life. “All my bones shall say” is similar to the expression in Psalm 103, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and let all that is within me bless his holy name;” signifying the perfect joy that fills up the entire man. For sometimes the soul is in joy while the body is in pain, and then the joy is not complete and perfect; but when “God shall heal all our languor,” and “fill up all our desires in good things,” then, at length, shall the entire man, inspired by an unspeakable pleasure, diffused through all his members, even through his insensible bones, say to the Lord, “Who is like thee?” As insensible things are said to thirst when they need their necessary support, according to Psalm 63, “For thee my soul hath thirst, for thee my flesh, O how many ways;” thus, the same insensible things, when their wants are supplied, may be said to rejoice and be glad. “Who is like to thee?” who is equally disposed or powerful to “deliver the poor from the hand of them that are stronger?”

11 Unjust witnesses rising up have asked me things I knew not.
12 They repaid me evil for good: to the depriving me of my soul.

The prophet now comes to the second sort of persecutions, through which the wicked, by means of false witnesses, not privately, but openly persecute the just, and gives a highly wrought account of the wickedness of such witnesses. He says, “they rose up.” They did not wait to be summoned, they volunteered, accusing me of things “I knew not;” things I not only did not do, but even did not think of. For, we are said to “know not” what we do not approve, nor never did, as if we did not know how to do them. Thus, the Apostle says of Christ, 2 Cor. 3, “Him who knew no sin, he hath made sin for us.” Then he says, “They have asked me,” to show the forwardness and impudence of the said witnesses, who, not content with falsely accusing him before the judge, had the impudence to stand up and cross examine the accused themselves. Again, he says, “They repaid me evil for good.” These false witnesses, so far from having been injured by me, had been heaped with favors, and from pure malice thus calumniated me. He finally adds, “to the depriving me of my soul;” to show that it was no trifling injury they sought to inflict on him, but the greatest of all injuries. “The depriving him of his soul,” may have two meanings; first, by taking it as a general destruction and devastation, such as befell Job, who, in one day, lost his wealth, his children, his health; and even applies to the very destruction of his memory and of his name. It, secondly, may be taken as applying to one’s character, which, by the devil’s agency, or by that of his ministers, gets so damaged, that the just man is all but deprived of his soul.

13 But as for me, when they were troublesome to me, I was clothed with haircloth. I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer shall be turned into my bosom.

Before he begins to speak of the third class of persecutions, he tells us how he dealt with the second, and says that he neither did evil for evil, nor thought of revenge, but betook himself in great humility to pray to God. “When they were troublesome to me.” I have not proudly insulted them, but, clothed in sackcloth, I began to fast, to make my prayers more acceptable to God. Sackcloth and fasting are the wings of prayer. The king of the Ninivites, when he turned to prayer in fasting and sackcloth, was heard, Jonas 3. We read the same of King Achab, where the wise man says, “The prayer of him that humbled himself shall penetrate the clouds.” And he adds, “And my prayer shall be turned into my bosom;” to show he had no doubt of his prayers producing the desired effect. Prayers put up in such humility, will not come to me back in vain, but will fill my bosom with heavenly consolation.

14 As a neighbour and as an own brother, so did I please: as one mourning and sorrowful so was I humbled.

This verse is much more clearly expressed in the Hebrew, and the meaning of it is, in my affliction I not only abstained from doing evil for evil, but I even did good for evil, for I felt towards my enemies, as a friend would for his friend, as a brother for a brother, or rather as a mother for her ailing and languishing child. For, as a mother, when she sees her child ailing, in sorrow and sadness bends over it to raise it up, so did I in regard of my enemies. He could not give a more eloquent or a more touching account of his feelings to them. David actually carried out what he expresses here in the person of Christ, in his own person, and in that of all the perfect. He loved Saul as a brother, while he lived, and deplored him as a child when he died. Christ did the same in a higher degree, for, when he saw the city, he wept over it, and he compares his affection to that of the hen seeking to gather her little ones under her wings.

15 But they rejoiced against me, and came together: scourges were gathered together upon me, and I knew not.

He tells us now how his persecutors did evil for good, and at the same time passes on to the third sort of persecutions; for the wicked, not content with harassing the just, by frauds and calumnies, seek also to injure them by doing them personal harm. “But they rejoiced against me.” I was grieving for their troubles, they were rejoicing at mine; and, not content with such impiety, they “came together,” armed with scourges, to destroy me if they could; “and I knew not,” was quite ignorant of their designs; so that I could not take any means to protect myself; or I bore them with such patience as to make one think I was quite ignorant of what they were intending.

16 They were separated, and repented not: they tempted me, they scoffed at me with scorn: they gnashed upon me with their teeth.

He goes on to relate the malice of his enemies, and says they were not able to accomplish their designs, divine providence having undertaken the protection of his own to save them from harm. That still did not quiet them. What they could not effect by the infliction of personal injury, they sought to effect by foul language, derision, and insults. “They were separated.” The conventicle of those who came together to injure, to scourge me, “was separated,” scattered by the breath of God’s will, but still “they repented not,” as they should have done; on the contrary, “they tempted me, they scoffed at me with scorn, they gnashed upon me with their teeth.”

17 Lord, when wilt thou look upon me? rescue thou my soul from their malice: my only one from the lions.

Having thus exposed all his persecutors, he now, in the person of all the just who suffer persecution, returns to prayer, and thereby connects the end with the beginning of the Psalm. And as God, when he neglects to punish the wicked, would seem to overlook them entirely, he says, “Lord, when wilt thou look upon me?” when will you prove to us that you see their wickedness, by punishing it? “Rescue thou my soul from their malice.” Take my life out of the danger it is in, while I am in their power, and make me as secure as I was before; which he repeats and expresses more clearly, when he says, “my only one from the lions.” I have one life only, and, therefore, very dear to me; save that by taking it out of the power of my enemies, who, like so many lions, seek to devour me, “gnashing upon me with their teeth.” St. Augustine would apply the expression, “my only one,” to the Church which Christ prays may be delivered from its persecutors. That is true enough, but I think the word should be taken literally here, and that it means his soul, or his life, in the same sense in which we read it in Psalm 22, “Deliver, O God, my soul from the sword, my only one from the hand of the dog.” The soul is very properly called the “only one,” as if it were the only object of our love. This temporal life is the foundation of all temporal good, while life everlasting is that of all good, and, therefore, the Lord says in the gospel, “What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul, or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” and yet, such is the folly of many, that for a nothing they freely lose that soul that should have been the only object of their love.

18 I will give thanks to thee in a great church; I will praise thee in a strong people.

Should he be delivered from his enemies, he promises he will not be ungrateful. “I will give thanks to thee in a great church.” I will not be silent as to your favors, but in public, before the whole congregation, I will proclaim them, which he repeats when he says, “I will praise thee in a strong people;” for giving thanks and praising are synonymous terms, so are the expressions, “great church” and “strong people.” The Church is called great by reason of its numbers, so are the people called strong by reason of their number; for a people may be called strong when its numbers are such that they need have no fear of the enemy. The prophet would seem to have the Christian Church in view, in which God is daily praised for the delivery of the faithful. The Church of Christ is truly great, spread as it is all over the world, and truly strong, since “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The Church triumphant also will be a great Church, consisting, as it will, “of a great crowd, which nobody could count,” and of a strong people; for the same passage tells us they will all “have palms in their hands.”

19 Let not them that are my enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: who have hated me without cause, and wink with the eyes.

Returning to the prayer he had commenced, he begs to be delivered from his persecutors, especially from the hypocrites, who pretended to be his friends, while they were quite the reverse. “Let not them that are my enemies wrongfully,” they who, under the garb of friendship, still persecute me; which is the height of malice, to pretend to be one’s friend while they are plotting for his ruin. “Rejoice over me;” let them not glory in my downfall. “Who have hated me without cause, and wink with the eyes;” who hate me without any reason, when I did them no harm, yet pretend to be my friends, saluting me, nodding at me, winking in approbation of everything I say. St. Augustine asks, What is the meaning of “winking with the eyes?” Expressing, through their eyes, something very different from what they have in their heart.

20 For they spoke indeed peaceably to me; and speaking in the anger of the earth they devised guile.

He now explains the term “winking with the eyes.” They addressed me in terms of friendship, while they were bursting with anger within, and “devised guile” to destroy me.

21 And they opened their mouth wide against me; they said: Well done, well done, our eyes have seen it.

The prophet now shows how faithfully he described his enemies, and their fictitious friendship, when the very set who, a little before, were caressing, and winking with their eyes on him, the moment they found he had fallen into the trap they had laid for him, at once “they opened their mouth,” and began openly to insult him, and to congratulate each other, “Well done, well done, our eyes have seen it;” his downfall we were so long and so anxiously looking for. This was all fulfilled in Christ; sometimes his enemies addressed him in the most flattering manner, “We know that thou art truthful, and that thou teachest the way of God in truth;” at the very time they were planning to take a hold of his language; and when they saw him nailed to the cross, “they opened their mouths wide,” insulting him, and exclaiming, “Vah, you that destroy the temple of God, and in three days dost rebuild it; save thy own self.”

22 Thou hast seen, O Lord, be not thou silent: O Lord, depart not from me.
23 Arise, and be attentive to my judgment: to my cause, my God, and my Lord.
24 Judge me, O Lord my God according to thy justice, and let them not rejoice over me.

The prophet resumes his prayer, repeating it over and over, with a view to move God’s affections. “Thou hast seen, O Lord,” the extent of the oppression suffered by your poor servant; “be not thou silent,” as if you either did not see, or were not able, or were not willing, to defend those that hope in thee. “Depart not from me.” Do not desert me in my troubles; nay more, “arise,” and like a just and powerful judge, “be attentive to my judgment,” to the quarrel between me and my persecutors, and “Judge me, O Lord, according to my justice;” that is, if thy justice, which is supreme and infallible, decide that I am unjustly oppressed by my enemies, deliver me from their hands, that they may no longer “rejoice over me.”

25 Let them not say in their hearts: It is well, it is well, to our mind: neither let them say: We have swallowed him up.
26 Let them blush: and be ashamed to gether, who rejoice at my evils. Let them be clothed with confusion and shame, who speak great things against me.

He here explains the meaning of a former expression, “Let not my enemies wrongfully rejoice over me;” for here he asks that they may not be able to “say in their hearts;” that is, to exult over me as if I were extinguished. Nor “let them say: we have swallowed him up;” as if I had been devoured by lions; but, on the contrary, having lost all hope of victory, “Let them blush and be ashamed,” every one of them, and that in no slight degree; but, “let them be clothed with confusion and shame;” these people who “speak great things against me;” who boasted of the power they had over me.

27 Let them rejoice and be glad, who are well pleased with my justice, and let them say always: The Lord be magnified, who delights in the peace of his servant.
28 And my tongue shall meditate thy justice, thy praise all the day long.

As well as the prophet prayed for the confusion of the wicked, he now prays that the just, the men of good will, who wish to keep their innocence, and desire their justice should appear openly, should exult and rejoice. He also exhorts those who are desirous of their own peace, such as will follow from their being delivered from their evils, to praise God. He finishes the Psalm in thanksgiving to God for all his favors. “My tongue shall meditate thy justice;” will be employed in declaring it; which he again repeats, by saying he will spend the “whole day” in doing so; that means frequently, repeatedly. St. Augustine remarks on this passage, that he is always praising God, who is always doing what is right.

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Father Byles’ Commentary on 2 Corinthians 1:1-7

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 16, 2020

Father Thomas R. D. Byles (1870–1912) was educated at Leamington College, Rossall School, and Oxford. Following his bachelor’s, he converted to Catholicism and studied at Beda College in Rome. Ordained in 1902, he died aboard the Titanic while helping many third-class passengers board life boats. See here for more. 

2 Cor 1:1. PAUL, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother: to the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints that are in all Achaia: 

an apostle of JESUS CHRIST by the will of God. St. Paul begins by asserting that he had received the office of apostle by God’s will, a fact which had been denied by some of those who were trying to create a schism in the Corinthian Church by denying St. Paul’s apostolic authority. See Introduction, chap. iii. 3.

2 Cor 1:2. Grace unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Timothy had recently returned from Corinth, whither he had been sent by St. Paul from Ephesus (Acts 19:22). See Introduction, chap. ii.

our brother. Timothy is called here brother not merely because of the communion of faith, in which sense all the faithful are brethren. Here the expression is more particular and emphatic, and marks out St. Timothy as a sharer in St. Paul’s apostolic labours, though of course he was far inferior to the apostle himself. St. Thomas compares this with the custom observed by the Pope of addressing all bishops as “brethren.”

St. Timothy is united with St. Paul in the salutation only, not in the composition of the Epistle.

Corinth was the metropolis of Achaia, and its Church had been founded by St. Paul himself, who had spent eighteen months there. (See Introduction, iii.) It was the custom for epistles directed to one Church to be read there publicly during the Mass, and then forwarded to neighbouring Churches, which would take copies of them for preservation. In Achaia, however, no other Churches are known to have existed at this time, and the apostle probably refers only to scattered Christians.

saints. The term “saints” is frequently applied in the New Testament to all the faithful—both because they are sanctified in baptism, and also because of the profession of their lives, and the ideal at which they are bound to aim.

God. As God the Father corresponds most naturally to the idea of God as revealed to the Jews, so St. Paul commonly refers only to Him when he uses the name of God. (There are, however, some exceptions, as Rom. 9:5; Tit. 2:13; 3:4.) The divinity of our Lord seems to be here implied, in His being coupled with the Father as the source of grace and peace.

2 Cor 1:3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort: 

the God and Father of … God the Father is Father of our Lord in His Divine nature, because of His eternal generation, and “God of our Lord JESUS CHRIST” in His human nature because this owes its being to God as to its Creator and Preserver. For this reason our Lord cried out from the Cross, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” and after His resurrection He said to His disciples, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.” In His humanity He adored the Divine Father by prayer, and observance of the Jewish law, and by submitting His human will to the will of His Divine Father (cf. Matt. 26:39; John 4:34, 15:10; Rom. 15:3). According to some commentators there is a different meaning in the use of this phrase. As the Jews spoke of the “God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob,” in reference to the revelation of Himself which God had made through those patriarchs to the Jews, so the apostle may here intend to speak of the God who has revealed Himself to Christians through JESUS CHRIST (cf. Eph. 1:3, 17; 1 Pet. 1:3).

Father of mercies may mean only “merciful Father” according to the Hebrew idiom; but more probably, followed as it is by “God of all comfort,” it means that God distributes His mercies amongst men like a good Father.

the God of all comfort. The words translated “comfort,” “comforteth,” “exhortation,” “consolation,” in vv. 3–7, are in Greek the same word, (παρακαλέω, παράκλησις), or from the same root. It is not easy to render it into Latin or English by a single word, but “exhort” is nearer than “comfort” to the meaning of the Greek, which is rather “to call upon” us and “to encourage” us to make efforts, than “to afford us consolation.” It is rendered very well by Bp. McEvilly, “call on us to assume courage.” St. Chrysostom says that to be thus comforted is a greater benefit than not to be allowed to suffer adversity; because it both shows the power of God, and increases the patience of the sufferers.

2 Cor 1:4. Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we also may be able to comfort them who are in all distress, by the exhortation wherewith we also are exhorted by God. 

that we also may be able … St. Paul, in his humility and his zeal, considers the consolation he receives as given, not for his own merit, but to enable him to help others by sympathy.

2 Cor 1:5. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us: so also by Christ doth our comfort abound.

the sufferings of Christ abound in us. Some commentator suppose that the expression “the sufferings of Christ” means only sufferings endured for the name of Christ: but it is better to interpret it as meaning that the sufferings of the just for the name of Christ belong truly to Christ Himself, who suffers in His members. This truth was the first of the facts of faith which St. Paul learned, when, on his way to Damascus to persecute the Church, our Lord appeared to him saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?” (Acts 9:4). St. Anselm, following this interpretation, says that hardships which have to be borne are rightly called the sufferings of Christ, because they were first endured by Christ, and then transmitted by Him to His faithful for them to endure. This interpretation also agrees best with the Greek, which means rather abound or overflow “unto us” than “in us,” that is, the sufferings of Christ are passed on to His followers, who have to bear the Cross after Him, or rather with Him, and in Him (cf. Col. 1:24).

by Christ—rather “through Christ.” Christ affords the consolation as God, which He has merited by suffering as man.

2 Cor 1:6. Now whether we be in tribulation, it is for your exhortation and salvation: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation: or whether we be exhorted, it is for your exhortation and salvation, which worketh the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer. 

whether we be comforted … The Greek here in the manuscripts which we possess does not quite correspond to our translation. The Greek has only two clauses in place of three. As explained above, the words translated “exhortation” and “consolation” are the same in Greek, and the second clause may be translated thus: “or whether we be (comforted exhorted) it is for your (consolation exhortation) which …” It is probable that this one clause was expanded into two by the translator, so as to more fully express the Greek.

which worketh—that is, your consolation and hope of salvation give you courage to endure with patience. The words may, however, also be rendered, “which is effected by,” i.e., consolation and salvation are the result of the endurance of suffering. The faithful are to be encouraged (1) by the tribulations of the apostle, which ought to inspire them both in enduring their own lighter sufferings and in working out their salvation (cf. Heb. 12:1–6); (2) by his consolations, which enable him better to encourage them, and which lead them to hope for similar consolations if they are patient under suffering.

2 Cor 1:7. That our hope for you may be steadfast: knowing that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so shall you be also of the consolation. 

partakers of the sufferings: either by undergoing persecutions and hardships themselves, or, more probably, by their sympathy with his sufferings.


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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 32

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 11, 2020


Explanation of the Psalm

Ps 32:1–2 BLESSED are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

No one can fairly appreciate the value of health until they have had to deplore the loss of it. It was only when David tasted of the bitterness of sin that he first began to feel the sweetness of innocence. Hence, this Penitential Psalm starts in the praise of pardon and innocence; for they heal the soul, and are opposed to that sickness that is brought on by sin. He begins with pardon, as well for the sake of advancing from the inferior to the superior, as also, because it was only very lately his health had been restored. “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven.” How happy are they, who, notwithstanding their fall, are, still, not despised by God; but, roused by his grace, are converted to penance, and thus obtain pardon. “And whose sins are covered;” the same idea in different language; for sins, when forgiven, are covered and hidden, so as to appear no more; on which we shall presently have more to say. “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin.” A transition from pardon, which applies to the many, to innocence, which belongs to the few, exclaiming, O truly happy and lucky he; who has done nothing that can be counted sin; and to whom, therefore, the Lord, who is most just in his judgments, “hath not imputed sin.” And not only has been free from actual sin, but even “in whose spirit there is no guile;” never committed sin in thought or word; for the word “Spirit” embraces both; that is, thought and words, in the former sense, being called the heart or the mind; and, in the latter sense, the spirit of the mouth or lips. Of the former, the apostle speaks, 1 Cor 2, “For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man, that is in him?” Of the latter, 1 Cor. 14, “I will pray in the spirit, I will pray also with the understanding: I will sing with the spirit, I will also sing with the understanding.” By innocence, we are to understand here, not the natural innocence, without the intervention of divine grace, which is of no effect; but, that innocence which God, by a gift of singular grace, has given to a few; through which the sin committed by others, namely, original sin, is so condoned, as not to suffer them, voluntarily, to commit any mortal sin; and this is the highest order of forgiveness. All manner of innocence, then, has a certain amount of remission of sin in connection with it; and of all, with the exception of Christ, it may be said, “They all sinned, and need the grace of God.” St. Paul, therefore, quotes this passage to prove that nobody could be justified by any works, but those springing from grace; and says, Rom. 4, “But to him that worketh not, yet believeth in him who justifieth the impious, his faith is reputed to justice, according to the purpose of the grace of God.” As David also termeth the blessedness of a man, to whom God reputeth justice without works; “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin.” From which it would appear that the Apostle understands the prophet to say, that they are not blessed who, by their own strength, work out justice; but they, who, through God’s grace, have been pardoned; and thus acquired justice. The prophet seems to have particular individuals in view here. Job, for instance, who says, in chap. 27, “Till I die I will not depart from my innocence. My justifications which I have begun to hold, I will not forsake: for my heart doth not reprehend me in all my life.” Abel, Henoch, Noe, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who are said in the Scriptures to have been free from sin, come under this head; and, perhaps, in spirit, he foresaw Jeremias. Both John the Baptist, sanctified in the womb, and the Virgin Mother, by a higher privilege, preserved not only from actual, but even from original sin. Heretics of the present day seek to prove three false dogmas from these verses. The Psalm has the title of understanding; the Holy Ghost, perhaps, having foreseen it would be so misunderstood. They assert that justification consists solely in the remission of sin, and not in the infusion of justice; from David having absolutely said, “Blessed are they whose sins are forgiven.” They say also, that this remission of sins is not a real, but an apparent remission, which does not actually remove the sins, but covers them, hides them, and renders them not imputable. They furthermore assert, from this passage, that once the sin is forgiven, no satisfaction need follow; for, if God exact even temporal punishment of the person justified, how can he be said not to impute sin? How can he be said not to impute while he punishes?

The holy prophet, however, who chose for a title to the Psalm that of understanding, clearly understood that God remitted no sin whatever without an infusion of his justice, and understood that thereby men from being wicked became, not only not wicked, but truly just; for, as the sun cannot expel the darkness without pouring in his light, so the sun of justice, and the Father of Men does not forgive sin but through the grace or justice which he pours into them; and therefore St. Paul, quoting this very passage, says, “As David also termeth the blessedness of a man to whom God reputeth justice without works,” from which words of the Apostle may be clearly inferred, that justice is really and truly included in the remission or nonimputation of sin. Both errors are easily refuted by an explanation of the words, “covered,” and “not imputed.” Sins are said here to be “covered,” not that they exist though covered and hidden from us, but because they are entirely destroyed, and grace has taken their place, and thus they are truly covered, so that even God, from whom nothing can be hidden, cannot see them; and thus the prophet uses various metaphors, to signify the remission of sins, so that the deficiency of explanation in one, may be supplied by another. The most remarkable occurs in Psalm 50, where he says, “Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.” Here the forgiveness of sins is said not merely to cover the stain and to hide it, but really to wash it, and to wash it in such a way as even to make it white even whiter than snow. What means, then, the removal of a stain, and the increasing its whiteness, but the removal of sin, and the infusion of grace? What means the substitution of light for darkness, but the removal of sin, and substitution of justice? We have the same in Isaias, chap. 1, “If your sins be as scarlet, they shall be made white as snow; and if they be as red as crimson, they shall be white as wool.” All the holy fathers so understand this passage, for they say the sins are covered, not that they remain, though they don’t appear; but that they are entirely removed, and do not appear, because they are not there; just as a plaster not only hides the wound but even removes it. As to the word “imputed,” our adversaries are quite mistaken. In the Scripture, it means, that we will not be held accountable, as we read in Wisdom 12, “Or who shall accuse thee, (impute to thee.) if the nations perish which thou hast made;” that is, who can bring you to an account, if all mankind be lost? who will bring you in guilty? In Ezechiel, chap. 33, God says of the penitent sinner, “None of his sins which he had committed, shall be imputed to him,” that he shall not be brought to an account for them; and in 2 Paralip. 30, “The Lord, who is good, will show mercy to all them who with their whole heart seek the Lord God of their fathers, and will not impute it to them that they are not sanctified;” meaning that he will easily pardon, will not be over strict in settling with them, by reason of their being more or less unprepared. Job 42 has “That folly may not be imputed to you;” and in 2 Tim. 4, “But all forsook me; may it not be laid to their charge;” that is, imputed to them; and in his Epistle to Philemon, “And if he hath wronged thee in anything or is in thy debt, put it to my account, (impute it to me,) I will repay it;” that is, charge me with it, I wish to be your debtor thereon. Now, sin can be said to be not imputed in two ways. First, when one has committed no sin, in reality owes nothing, and in such sense we understand that passage of the Book of Wisdom, already quoted, “Who shall impute it to thee if the nations perish which thou hast made.” For though all mankind were to perish, God would not have been the cause, and therefore it could not be imputed to him. In a similar sense we have explained this expression of David, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin;” that is, who has willfully done no evil to make him a debtor and a culprit before God. Secondly, if the sins have been condoned and forgiven, so that there now remains nothing to be imputed, in which sense many interpret this passage, as if the prophet were to say, Blessed is the man whom God will not call to account for his sins, because they have been already condoned and forgiven; which exposition we do not reject, though we prefer the first, because it agrees better with the following words, “And in whose spirit there is no guile.” The third mode of imputation devised by the heretics is, that though the sin remains in the soul of the sinner, still it is not considered or looked upon as sin by God, a notion having nothing in Scripture to support it, but even totally disproved by the Scripture; for when it says in various places, especially in Psalm 5, “Thou hatest all the workers of iniquity, thou wilt destroy all that speak a lie;” and if he hears and wishes to destroy all the wicked, he certainly must impute sin to them, so long as they remain in that state. Who can imagine that God, the just judge, who has no regard of persons, will not impute sin but justice, at the very time the unfortunate is wallowing in the mire of sin; so that whatever he may do, according to the Lutherans, is a sin. St. Justin, Martyr, in his dialogue with Tripto, in refuting an error, similar to that of the Lutherans, says, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin;” that is, to the penitent, whose sins God hath forgiven; and not in the sense that you erroneously preach up, that is, that the mere knowledge of God will get forgiveness for you, however numerous your sins may be. What we have stated of the nonimputation of sin, may be applied also to the imputation of justice. For, in the Scripture, the imputation of justice does not mean the reputing one to be just, when he really is not just, but it means the being reputed just by God, who is infallible. That expression in Genesis, “Abraham believed in God, and it was reputed to him unto justice,” quoted by St. Paul, Rom. 4, and St. James, chap. 2, signifies nothing more than the act of faith by Abraham was a just work, and considered as such by God. That passage in Psalm 105, “Then Phinees stood up and pacified him, and the slaughter ceased. And it was reputed to him unto justice to generation and generation for evermore.” What does it mean, but that the zeal of Phinees, in destroying certain sinners, was a most meritorious act, was considered as such by God, so much so, that the priesthood was secured to him, to his sons, and posterity for a number of years after in consequence. Of the same import is that expression in Rom. 4, “Now, to him that worketh, the reward is not reckoned according to grace, but according to debt.” What does that mean, but that the reward is justly due to him that does a work worthy of reward. And what the Apostle frequently repeats in the same chapter, that “faith was reputed unto justice,” does not mean that faith was not actually, but was merely reputed justice; but it means, that faith working by charity was the very purest justice; not acquired by works previous to grace, but the gift and the infusion of God, and therefore reputed and accepted by God as true justice. The nonimputation of sin, then, does not mean that sin remains though not punished, but it signifies that there is nothing in the justified that can be accounted sin. Hence it can be seen how easily solved are the objections of the Lutherans on satisfaction; for if sin be not imputed by reason of the innocence of one’s life, no wonder that no satisfaction should be required of him that has done nothing to deserve it: but if the sin be not imputed by reason of pardon through grace, then the eternal punishment will not follow, but the temporal will, as we see happened David, to whom the prophet said, “The Lord also hath taken away thy sin; thou shalt not die: nevertheless, because thou hast given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, for this thing, the child that is born to thee shall surely die.” Here we see that the sin was not imputed to his own death, but to the death of his son; that David was justified, and yet he had to suffer much in the death of his son, as a punishment for the sin he had committed.

Ps 32:3 Because I was silent my bones grew old; whilst I cried out all the day long.

Having thus put the happiness of the just before us, he deplores his own wretchedness thus, Happy they, but wretched me, who have not only lost my innocence, but put off, for an indefinite time, the asking pardon of my sins, and when I did at length avow them, began to cry out so constantly, that my bones were ground and weakened, my whole strength consumed and wasted. “Because I was silent;” and a long time he was silent; for he not only did not avow his crime of adultery, but he sought by all means to stifle all knowledge of it. He first used all endeavors to induce Urias to cohabit with his wife, that the child begot by himself may be looked upon as the child of Urias; failing in that, he committed murder, in the hope that by marrying Urias’s widow at once, any issue there might be should be considered as begotten after, and not previous to, the death of Urias. And, even after his marriage, he did not repent of his sin he waited for the birth of the child; and even then showed no symptoms of repentance until the prophet Nathan aroused him. Thus, for nearly a year, or longer, did he wallow in the mire of sin, and put off his conversion. He, therefore, says, “Because I was silent.” Did not confess my sin at once, sought to hide and conceal it; therefore, “My bones grew old whilst I cried out all the day long.” When I did avow my sin, I cried out so long and so bitterly, that my very bones got weak and old.

Ps 32:4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: I am turned in my anguish, whilst the thorn is fastened. 

David suffered many misfortunes in punishment of his sins. The child born in adultery died an infant: his daughter Thamar was deflowered by her own brother, Amon: the same Amon was slain by his brother Absalom; and Absalom himself, in rebellion against his father, was slain, all matters of deep sorrow and grief to David; and it is to those scourges he alludes, when he says, “For day and night thy hand was heavy on me:” constantly, without ceasing, you laid on me. “I am turned in my anguish, whilst the thorn is fastened.” The scourge has been so severe, the thorn of tribulation has stuck so deep in me, that I have been brought to reflect on the enormity of my sins.

Ps 32:5 I have acknowledged my sin to thee, and my injustice I have not concealed. I said I will confess against my self my injustice to the Lord: and thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sin. 

His conversion brought him to a true knowledge of his sins, which he seeks no longer to conceal, but to proclaim before God and man. “I have acknowledged,” does not imply that God did not know them previously. The judge, who has seen the accused committing the crime, knows he did the act, still he does not know it judicially until the culprit shall have pleaded guilty, or it shall have been proved by evidence. Thus, God saw David, saw him sinning, but wanting him to plead guilty, he applied the scourge, and then David did plead guilty, and said, not only, “I have sinned before the Lord,” which, previous to those scourges, he said to Nathan in private; but now, in public, he makes it known to the whole world, through this Psalm; and, therefore, most justly adds, “And my injustice I have not concealed. I said I will confess against myself my injustice to the Lord, and thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sin.” To the comfort and consolation of all penitents, he enters into the unspeakable dealings of God in his mercy with himself. For, though God, “Who is light, and in whom there is no darkness,” has the most intense horror of the darkness of sinners, and is ready to cast the sinner into “external darkness” and everlasting punishment if he do not repent, is yet so ready to forgive when the penitent is sincere, that by his mercy and his clemency, he goes before or anticipates the confession or acknowledgment of our sins. He appears to refer to the time when Nathan, with God’s authority, upbraided him with his sins, and he at once, in a spirit of compunction, replied, “I have sinned;” and Nathan said, “The Lord also hath taken away thy sin, thou shalt not die.” Seeing the pardon so quickly granted, he considered, as was the fact, that the sin must have been forgiven before he confessed at all, but not before he had become internally contrite, which contrition embraced hatred of sin, love of God, and a desire of confessing, and making satisfaction. “I said I will confess.” In the bitterness of my heart I said, I will at once confess “against myself my injustice;” declare myself a culprit and a criminal, which you hardly waited for, as at once, with the clemency and the kindness of a father, “Thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sin;” as Nathan announced when he said, “The Lord also hath taken away thy sin.”

Ps 32:6 For this shall every one that is holy pray to thee in a seasonable time. And yet in a flood of many waters, they shall not come nigh unto him. 

The prophet now asserts that many will follow his example, and from it learn to have recourse to God, to ask pardon for their sins, and thus to be delivered from the great evils consequent on sin. The meaning is, As you so mercifully pardon those who do penance, “every one that is holy,” every pious person that is truly holy, truly penitent, and, having begun to hate sin, seeks to enter into the love of you, “shall pray to thee,” and will have confidence in their prayers, and that “in a seasonable time,” before the time of mercy shall have passed away; while we are here below, while God invites us to penance. “Seek the Lord while he can be found; invoke him while he is near,” says Isaias. The second part of the verse has a double meaning; one is, Every one that is holy shall pray to thee in a seasonable time, that “in the flood of many waters, they shall not come nigh unto him;” that is, that on the day of judgment, when all manner of punishments shall pour down upon the wicked like a deluge, and the opportune season of prayer and penance shall have passed, that then they may be saved from such punishments. This appears very clear in the Hebrew. The second meaning is, “Every one that is holy shall pray to thee in a seasonable time,” and will act well and wisely in doing so; because, “in the flood of many waters,” when the wicked shall be inundated with calamities, as the earth was with water in the time of Noe, then the wicked “shall not come nigh unto him;” that is, to God, having let their opportunity pass.

Ps 32:7 Thou art my refuge from the trouble which hath encompassed me: my joy, deliver me from them that surround me. 

Having obtained remission of the sin, he now asks for remission of the punishment due to it; namely, his deliverance from the tribulation brought on him by the sin. He seems to allude to the persecution he was suffering from his son Absalom, of which he had said so much in the previous Psalm. Alludes also, perhaps, to the temptations of the evil spirits, that perpetually surround and harass us. “Thou art my refuge from the trouble which hath encompassed me.” My friends have deserted me, my enemies hem me in and surround me on all sides, and I, therefore, have no certain refuge but in thy mercy, O God; you alone, then, are “my joy,” the cause of it, and deliver me, therefore, from them.

Ps 32:8 I will give thee understanding, and I will instruct thee in this way, in which thou shalt go: I will fix my eyes upon thee.

The Lord answers his prayer, and promises him the help he sought. He promises him three things. First, interior prudence, to enable him to guard against the snares of his enemies, and to distinguish them from his friends; that is conveyed in the words, “I will give thee understanding;” I will make thee intelligent and prudent. Secondly, the outward assistance of the singular providence of God, without which even the most prudent get into the greatest difficulties, and that is conveyed in the words, “I will instruct thee in this way in which thou shalt go.” Thirdly, perseverance in grace, which is the greatest favor of all, and peculiarly belongs to the elect. “I will fix my eyes upon thee;” I will not take them off you, but I will steadily and constantly look upon you with an eye of benignity, so that you shall never need the internal aid of prudence, or the external protection of providence.

Ps 32:9 Do not become like the horse and the mule, who have no understanding. With bit and bridle bind fast their jaws, who come not near unto thee. 

The prophet now exhorts all, both good and bad, to learn from his example the evils consequent on sin, and the blessings to be derived from penance and virtue, he having tasted of both. Turning to the wicked first, he says, “Do not become like the horse and the mule, who have no understanding.” Endowed with reason, but not guided by your animal propensities; be not like the horse and the mule in your licentious desires, as I was; be not like the horse and the mule, in tearing and lashing at your fellow creatures, as I have been in regard of Urias. “With bit and bridle bind fast their jaws, who come not near unto thee.” He foretells the calamities in store for those who will act the part of the horse and the mule towards their neighbor. They will be forced by tribulations either to return to God, or will be prevented from injuring their neighbors to the extent they intended; but, as usual, this prophetic warning is expressed as if it were an imprecation. You will force those wicked men to obey you, as you would subdue a horse or a mule, with a bit and bridle, and make them obedient to you. The words bit and bridle are used in a metaphorical sense to signify the crosses and trials that God has sometimes recourse to, as he explains in the following verse.

Ps 32:10 Many are the scourges of the sinner, but mercy shall encompass him that hopeth in the Lord. 

An explanation of the bit and bridle. The impenitent sinner, still attached to sin, will be flayed with many a lash, both in this world and in the next. For, though sinners sometimes prosper, their sinful state is, in reality, a most grievous punishment, bringing with it punishments innumerable, solicitudes, anxieties, fears, dangers, remorse of conscience, and the like; nay, more; God, being a just judge, adds many other scourges; and, unless the sinner repent, and pray to God in the fitting season, he will undoubtedly come under the lash of the scourge that is everlasting. On the other hand the just man, who confides in the Lord, and not in human vanity, is so surrounded on all sides by the divine mercy, that the scourge cannot touch him on any side. Now, the divine mercy is the fountain of all good, and, therefore, when he says, “Mercy shall encompass him that hopeth in the Lord,” he means to give us some idea of the immense amount of blessings that those who attach themselves to God alone shall abundantly enjoy.

Ps 32:11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye just, and glory, all ye right of heart. 

Having pronounced the just to be happy, in the beginning of the Psalm, he now in the end of it exhorts them to be glad, being a sort of indirect exhortation to persevere in justice, that their joy may be continuous also. “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye just, and glory all ye right of heart.” You just have great reason for rejoicing and gladness; but let it be “in the Lord,” who is the source of all the blessings you enjoy. Be not dejected by the losses or the rubs of this world, because in the world to come you will be amply repaid for them, in “a good measure, and pressed down, and shaken together, and running over;” while, in the meantime, you will not be left without spiritual consolation here below. “And glory all ye right of heart,” is a repetition of the same, for “glory” does not mean to be proud or puffed up, but to celebrate and sing God’s glory with joy; and the word is very generally used in the Scripture in such sense, as when the Apostle says, “We glory in tribulations.” The word glory, meaning pride and vanity, is to be found in Psalm 51, where he says, “Why do you glory in wickedness?” Here it has quite a different meaning, that of joy and gladness. By the “right of heart,” we understand the just; because, from righteousness of heart comes righteousness in word and in deed; and they are the just, whose hearts, words, and actions are conformable to that most righteous rule, the law of God, from which righteousness it comes that God becomes pleasing to man, and man to God; and whatever happens man, through God’s will or permission, is cheerfully received; and thus the heart becomes filled, not only with justice, but even “with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost,” which means the kingdom of God, as St. Paul, Rom. 14, explains it. With the greatest justice, then, David, having commenced with the expression, “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven,” now concludes with, “be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye just;” for the just alone are happy, and are in possession of true and solid joy.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 28

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 11, 2020


Explanation of the Psalm

Ps 28:1 UNTO thee will I cry, O Lord: O my God, be not thou silent to me: lest if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit

Words spoken by Christ as he hung on the cross, asking for a speedy resurrection. “Be not thou silent;” do not turn from me, as if you were deaf, and did not hear me. He asks in a few words, that he may be heard, and get an answer from God that his prayer would be heard. “Lest if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit;” he wishes for an answer, because if God will not hear him, and give him a favorable answer, he will be like all other mortals who die and go to the lower regions, never to return therefrom. “Lest if thou be silent to me;” for fear you may not hear me, and I may, in consequence, become like those “that go down into the pit,” never to come out of it but on the day of judgment. Another explanation may be offered, viz., If you do not hear me, I will be like the dead; for, as the dead can do nothing whatever, so man, without God’s assistance, can do nothing.

Ps 28:2 Hear, O Lord, the voice of my supplication, when I pray to thee; when I lift up my hands to thy holy temple.

The expression, “Be not silent,” is more clearly expressed, for now he says, “Hear, O Lord, the voice of my supplication,” for he wished for an answer from God, to show he had been heard. “When I pray to thee;” the Hebrew implies, that when he did pray, he had his hands stretched out, for both Hebrews and gentiles were wont so to extend their hands in prayer; and, in using this expression, the prophet had before him the hands of our Lord extended on the cross and raised to heaven; for then, with the greatest truth, could he say, “When I pray to thee, when I lift up my hands;” when he prayed from the cross.

Ps 28:3 Draw me not away together with the wicked; and with the workers of iniquity destroy me not: Who speak peace with their neighbour, but evils are in their hearts. 

Christ alone could say truly what this verse contains, because he was the only one, in every respect, “separated from sinners.” And, being the only person in whom sin could find no place, he, with the greatest justice, asks that he may not be judged; that he may not perish with sinners, but that he should rather slay death itself; and, by rising from the dead, bear away a most triumphant victory from the prince of death, and from death itself. The meaning then, is, Do not drag me to death with others who are sinners, for I am no sinner. “Who speak peace with their neighbor, but evils are in their hearts.” He describes sinners in general from the sin most common and most universal among them, as he says in Psalm 115, “Every man is a liar;” and in Palm 42, “Deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man;” and, speaking of Christ, 1 St. Peter 2, says, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth;” as if sin and guile in his mouth were nearly synonymous terms. And there are very many who wish to appear friends, to be full of good will to their neighbor; and are so blinded by self love, that they have malice in their heart, and are entirely absorbed in hatred or envy towards the same neighbor.

Ps 28:4 Give them according to their works, and according to the wickedness of their inventions. According to the works of their hands give thou to them: render to them their reward. 

This is not an imprecation, but a prophecy, as we before observed. The meaning is, that the wicked will have a wretched end of it, unless, from being wicked, they become good; and the meaning is, you will give them the punishment their works deserve; “And according to the wickedness of their inventions;” which means, that as they, in their malice, invented and devised various modes of harassing the just, so you, in your wisdom, will find various ways of tormenting the sinner. “Render to them their reward.” As they give the just evil for good, retort such conduct on them, by bringing down the evil they intended for the just, on their own heads.

Ps 28:5 Because they have not understood the works of the Lord, and the operations of his hands: thou shalt destroy them, and shalt not build them up. 

From this verse it is clear that the preceding verse was a prophecy, and not an imprecation; for, he does not say destroy them, but thou shalt destroy them, in the future tense. Here the root of all evil is declared, that root being an unwillingness to understand the works of the Lord, the non appliance of one’s mind to learn, know, and reflect upon the wonderful things God was pleased to do in the creation, redemption, and government of the human race; for any one reflecting on them could not fail to be wonderfully inflamed with the love of God. Hence, St. Paul, 1 Cor. 2, says, “For if they had known it, they never would have crucified the Lord of glory.” And the Lord himself says, Luke 19, “If thou also hadst known, and that in this thy day, the things that are for thy peace. They shall not leave in thee a stone upon a stone; because thou hast not known the time of thy visitation.” “Because they have not understood the works of the Lord, and the operations of his hands;” the latter words would seem to imply that in speaking of God’s works he means those that were directly done through himself, and not through secondary causes, such as the creation, the Incarnation, the miracles, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord, and the like; and he says, as sinners did not understand the works of the Lord, and particularly those produced by his own hands, namely, what he directly produced; therefore you, O Lord, “will destroy them;” and when you will destroy them, you will not regret having done so; and thus you will never “build them up.” The prophet takes up the words, “the operations of his hands,” as if it were a building God had in hands, and he says, As they did not understand the building of God, he will destroy them, and never again build them up; a thing that directly applies to the city, the temple, and the very kingdom of the Jews, which God, on account of their infidelity, destroyed, and which he will never build up again. It applies also to every sinner who does not bear in mind that he is an edifice raised by God, made to his own image, redeemed by his own blood, enriched with innumerable favors of nature and grace; but, nevertheless, will be so destroyed that they will never be rebuilt, and not more than a ruin of the edifice will be left, so that their punishment may be eternal.

Ps 28:6 Blessed be the Lord, for he hath heard the voice of my supplication. 

He now passes to foretell the glory of the Lord’s resurrection, and in the person of Christ he thanks God in this verse.

Ps 28:7 The Lord is my helper and my protector: in him hath my heart confided, and I have been helped. And my flesh hath flourished again, and with my will I will give praise to him.

He explains in what respect his prayer was heard, and says, “The Lord is my helper,” as he is wont to be. Therefore, “In him hath my heart confided;” which means, relying on the help and protection of God, I have not refused to engage in combat with the devil, and with death itself; nor have I been disappointed in my hope, for God’s help was such, that I had a very easy victory, “And my flesh hath flourished again.” He describes the effect of God’s help and protection, namely, his glorious resurrection, for which he praises God with his whole heart. My flesh, that had withered up in death, is not only restored to life, but to the bloom of youth, health, joy, and beauty. Therefore, “With my will, I will give praise to him” in praise and thanksgiving.

Ps 28:8 The Lord is the strength of his people, and the protector of the salvation of his anointed.

Such is to be the matter, the subject of the praise of which he spoke in the preceding verse, namely, “The Lord is the strength of his people,” a thing he proved when he so effectually protected the “salvation of the anointed,” (Christ,) who is the head of the whole people, and on whom the strength and safety of the whole people depend.

Ps 28:9 Save, O Lord, thy people, and bless thy inheritance: and rule them and exalt them for ever. 

Christ, the head of the Church, having been glorified, it remains that his body, the people of God, who are his peculiar inheritance, he having acquired it with his blood, should be equally glorified. Christ then says to his Father, or the prophet says to Christ, “Save thy people,” and, in order to save them, “Bless them,” by justifying them “Rule them,” by shielding, by protecting them on the road; “Exalt” them, by glorifying them by glorifying them to eternity.

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