TITLE. English Version : To the chief Musician upon Nehiloth,
A Psalm of David. LXX. : To the end : for the heiress, a Psalm of
David. Vulgate : In finem, pro eA qusB hiereditatem consequitor
Psalm of David. Or, as modem critics: To the Supreme ; on the
wind instruments a Psalm of David.
Thomas. That Christ is the inhabiter of Saints, the
hearer of the Church. The voice of the Church. Christ speaketh
to the Father concerning the Jews, and to the Church which hath
received the heritage of Paradise, not of the old Testament, as the
title of the Psalm proves.
Venerable. Bede. To the end : for her that obtaineth the inheritance.
That is for the Church, who, by the Resurrection of Christ, has
received the gift of spiritual good ; and who herself is sometimes
called the heritage of the Lord, since by His precious Blood she
hath been redeemed. Whence it is written in the 2nd Psalm:
Desire of Me, and I shall give thee the Gentiles for thine heritage.”
All this Psalm is spoken in the person of the Church. In
the first section she desireth that her prayer may be heard, and
showeth how heretics and schismatics are shat out firom the gifts of
the Lobd. In the second, she maketh request that, through the
understanding of HoW Scripture, she may be led in a right path to
that happy country, oom whence she knoweth that they who are
treacherous will be for ever shut out. In the last she setteth forth
the rewards of the blessed, that in one and the same discourse she
may convert the wicked by the prediction of their punishment, and
excite the good by the promise of their reward.
Syriac Psalter. a prayer of David in the person of the Church
when in the morning he went up to the temple of the Lobd.
Gregorian. Monday: Lauds. [Feasts of Invention and Exaltation
of the Cross : IL Nocturn. Feasts of Crown of Thorns| and
of Nails and Spear : II. Nootum. Feasts of SS. Agnes and Aga-
tha : II. Noctum. Common of One Martyr : IL Noctum. Com-
mon of Confsssors : II. Noctum. Office of the Dead : Lauds.]
Monastic, Ferial; Monday: Lauds. [Common of One Martyr
and of Confessors : I. Noctum.]
Parisian. Wednesday: Lauds.
Lyons, Monday: Lauds.
Ambrosian, Monday of the First Week : Matins.
Quignon, Tuesday : Prime.
Eastern Church, Prime.
Gregorian, Ponder * my words, O Lord. Office for the Dead.
Make Thy way plain, * O Lord, my God, before Thy face. [Common
of One Martyr: Thou hast crowned him with the shield of
Thy eood will, O Lord. Common of Confessors : Let ail them that
put uieir trust in Thee, O Lobd, rejoice, for Thou hast blessed the
righteous, and crowned him with the shield of Thy good will.]
Parisian, All they that hope in Thee * shall eyer be giving of
thanks, and Thou shalt dwell in them.
Lyons. Consider * my crying, O Lobd.
Mozarabic, “Mj Toice shaJt Thou hear betimes, O Lobd. Early
in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.
1. Ponder my words, O Lord : consider my meditation.
Here we distinguish two kinds of prayer: words and
meditations. Words may refer both to that form of prayer
which our blessed Lord has left us, and to those prayers
which, by His teaching. His Church has provided for her
children. Meditations, to the thoughts and desires of our
heart, whether put into, or ascending without, words. We
call upon God to ponder the first, to weigh their full mean-
ing, oftentimes more than we are aware of, and to give us
according to that : to consider the second, bestowing on us
what He sees to be good among the things which we ask, and
regarding our meaning rather man our expressions.
2 O hearken thou unto the voice of my calling,
my king and my God : for unto thee will I make my
Note; there are three things which make prayer accept-
able to God ; faithfulness, humility, and assiduity; and we
have them all here. Faithfulness : My King, showing that
we are subjects to none other. Humility : I will look up.
Assiduity : Early in the morning. My King and my God.
By King, we understand the Son, by God, the Father.
AM the reason of this order of the words may be, that by
Jesus Christ we draw near to the Father, as He saith, ” No man
cometh unto the Father but by Me.”
[All Three Persons of the Holy Trinity are marked in the
opening of this Psalm, in the three titles, Lord, King, and
God, but the verb is singular, denoting the indivisible Unity.]
3 My voice shalt thou hear betimes O Lord :
early in the morning will I direct my prayer unto
thee and will look up.
In the morning. This may be expounded in several
different ways, first, of diligence in seeking God, not only in the
morning, but early in ike morning. Again, of purity ; the
morning being the clearest and purest time of the day.
Again, the night may be taken of the darkness of original sin :
then the illumination of Baptism is signified by the morning.
And literally, David appointed the Levites to stand every
morning, to thank and praise the Lord (1 Chron 23:30). Look up, because
ooking down to the earth we can obtain no real help.
[Early in the morning, that is, as soon as Christ, Who is
the bright and morning Star, arises on my darkened heart, I
will begin to pray. Early in the Resurrection morning, which
has no night, I will stand by Thee (Vulg.) at Thy right hand,
and will behold (Vulg.) Thy righteous judgments. Early,
because Divine grace is like the manna, which had to be
gathered before the sun arose to melt it. Early in the morning
says Rabbi Rashi, because we are guilty sinners, and that
is the time of judgment and execution, according to that saying
of the Prophet (Jer 21:12), ” Execute judgment in the morning.”
Observe further, that the seven stages of true prayer are all
set before us in these verses, and in the seventh. First, right
intention. My voice shalt Thou hear: secondly, eagerness,
betimes; thirdly, constancy, Early in the morning will I
direct my prayer unto Thee; fourthly, a pure conscience, and
will look up. The three other stages are, — union with God, I
will come into Thy house; confidence, in the multitude of Thy
mercies; and reverence, I will worship. Look up, in this
life, for help, and yet more to ponder on the Divine mysteries
p, of the New Law. Look up, in the life to come, on the ineffable
glory and the Beatific Vision. Some Greek texts, and
. the Arabic version, read here, Thou shalt see me: and the
Syriac and Ethiopic are nearly the same, I shall appear
unto Thee. It is David, observes a Saint, calling on God in
trouble, and saying. Thou hast seen me a shepherd. Thou wilt
see me a king, Thou hast seen me harping. Thou wilt see
4 For thou art the God that hast no pleasure in
wickedness : neither shall any evil dwell with thee.
The God, Not like the gods many and lords many of the
heathen, which were so often served by, and took pleasure in,
wickedness. He saith not, Come unto Thee, but dwell with Thee;
Thee; for it was in order that, being made clean, they might
dwell with Him for ever that the publicans and sinners came
into the presence of the Lord.
5 Such as be foolish shall not stand in thy sight :
for thou hatest all them that work vanity.
In this and the next verse are set forth three kinds of sinners
who are not to stand in the presence of God; the foolish,
that is, sinners in thought (for ” The fool hath said in his
heart. There is no God :”) them that work wickedness, that
is, sinners in deed : and them that speak leasing, that is, sinners
in words. Shall not stand in Thy sight. They shall
not in this world, even in His holy temple, because they will
not ; and they will not stand in His sight before His Judgment
seat, because they shall not. That work vanity. Not
that have worked it, or where could any hope to appear?
6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing : the
Lord will abhor both the blood-thirsty and deceitful
Will abhor. That is, though He now abhors them. He
will in the last day manifest His abhorrence by condemning
them to everlasting destruction. Note : the sins of the heart Ay.
are visited as if they were sins of action. Blood-thirsty, not
bloody : deceitful, not an open liar.
7 But as for me, I will come into thine house,
even upon the multitude of thy mercy : and in thy
fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.
And yet, nevertheless, we who have so often and so grievously
offended both in thought, word, and deed, will come
into the House of God ; and can only do so upon the multitude
of His mercy. Or if prevented from actually going
up thither, like Daniel, who when he made his prayer looked
towards Jerusalem, we will worship toward His holy temple.
Again, the words may be taken of that heavenly house into
which we one day hope to enter, and of the Lanb Who is
the Temple thereof.
[Into Thine house. As a stone let into the very substance
of the building, never more to go out, towards, not in. Thy
holy temple, doing reverence to the human Body of Christ
Jesus, the true sanctuary of God, in which dwelt all His
fulness, the temple destroyed by the Jews, and raised up
again in three days.]
8 Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness,because
of mine enemies : make thy way plain before my
And because in attaining to this celestial dwelling, we
are surrounded by many enemies, we therefore call upon
God to lead us in His righteousness, even Christ Who is
the Way. Because of mine enemies. In a twofold sense;
that they may be preserved from hurting us, or that we may
be enabled to do them good. Before my face. That there
may be no turning back from it; no ”ye did run well.”
Or again, that the true Way, our blessed Lord, may be more
and more plainly manifested to us ; and that we may more
and more Trustfully look to Him.
[Make Thy way plain. There is an especial pathos in
selecting this verse as the Antiphon for that Office of the
Dead which takes its name Dirge from the Vulgate Dirge,
here found. It is the cry of the parting soul, about to be
its mvstic journey to another world, by a road beset with
ghostly enemies, and calling on God for help against them
and for light and guidance by the way.
Through death’s valley, dim and dark,
Jesus guide thee in the gloom,
Show thee where His footprints mark
Tracks of glory through the tomb.
Grant him, Lord, eternal rest,
With the spirits of the blest
It is Thy way before my face in the Hebrew and in the English
versions. The LXX. and Vulgate, and Ethiopic read
it conversely, my way before Thy face, God’s Way is before
our face when we are following Christ, Who is that Way ;
our way is before God’s Face, when, having gone in that
Way from strength to strength, we appear at the last unto
the God of gods m Sion.]
9 For there is no faithfulness in his mouth : their
inward parts are very wickedness.
For there is no faithfulness. And therefore, since there
are so many that would lead us into error, we the more require
that God’s way may be made plain to us. In his mouth,
and “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth
10 Their throat is an open sepulchre : they flatter
with their tongue.
An open sepulchre. Dangerous and noisome, and as silent
in the praises of God, as the tomb. The two clauses set
forth the open and secret endeavours of her enemies to destroy
or injure the Church, and they thus also doubly attacked
our Lord. Openly, as when they said, ‘*He hath a
devil;” as when ” they took up stones to stone Him ;” as
when they ” led Him to the brow of the hill.” Secretly, as
when tempting Him, they said, ‘We know that Thou art true ;
and as when Judas betrayed Him with a kiss.
[An open sepulchre. And so more dangerous even than
hypocrites, who are like sepulchres closed and whited out.
Open, because they are gaping to swallow up the
labors of others, as the grave gapes for bodies. Open, because
their soul is not only dead m sins, but emits its noisome
savour in evil words of heresy, which bring others down into
the same tomb of unrighteousness. They would do less harm
were they silent.]
11 Destroy thou them O God; let them perish
through their own imaginations : cast them out in
the multitude of their ungodliness; for they have
rebelled against thee.
Let them perish. This is the first instance of that praying
for evil on others which has so much perplexed some with
the Psalms, and which, as clearly as anything else, shows
that they are to be taken in a sense above that of the letter. a
(This subject is referred to in the Third Dissertation.) But
if we always apply such expressions to our spiritual enemies,
the difficulty will disappear. Through their own imaginations.
Like Gehazi, who thought to obtain the gold, and was
visited with the leprosy, of Naaman.
[Destroy them. The LXX. and Vulgate read. Judge them:
modem critics, far better, Make them repent, let them
perish through their own imaginations. The LXX. and Vulgate
are somewhat nearer to the Hebrew, reading, as they
do. Let them fall away from their thoughts, that is, let them
abandon, or be baffled in, their evil plans, or, let their own Q..
consciences accuse and condemn them. Cast them out. So
long as the sinner hides his guilt, he is within the grave. But
when the voice of the Lord calls on any Lazarus to come
forth, then, moving him to confession. He casts him out
of darkness mto light in this life, that he may not be cast out
of light into outer darkness in the world to come. Rebelled.
The LXX. and Vulgate read, embittered Thee, By their
own sin, making that Bread of Life which is sweet to the taste
of the righteous, a bitter poison to them.
Hio est panis, sumptuB digne,
A gehenn« servans igne,
Qui, si sumptus Bit indigne,
Mortem dat perpetuam.
12 And let all them that put their trust in thee
rejoice : they shall ever be giving of thanks because
thou defendest them ; they that love thy name shall
be joyful in thee.
[Thou defendest them, LXX., Syriac, and Vulgate, Thou
shalt dwell in them. The Ethiopic, yet better, Thou shalt
dwell over them. As a shelteriiig tent, notes Cardinal Bellarmine,
but we may better take the Lord’s own simile, as a bird
gathering her young under her wings.]
18 For thou, Lord wilt give thy blessing unto
the righteous : and with thy favourable kindness wilt
thou defend him as with a shield.
In these verses we have the help of God promised to His
Church. Where note three things. 1. It is eternal: they
shall EVER be giving Thee thanks. 2. Divine : Thou defendest
them. 3. Free: Thou wilt give Thy blessing, And what
then matters it who scorns or injures us? God be for
us, who can be against us? The Vulgate translation some-
what differs from ours. For Thou shalt give Thy blessings
to the righteous : O Lord, Thou hast crowned us as with
the shield cf Thy good-will. ” In the life of this world,”
says S. Jerome, ” a shield is one thing, and a crown another :
God Himself is both Crown and Shield. As a shield. He
defends ; as a crown. He rewards.” Well, then, may the
Church pray in one of her sweetest hymns :
Septnun tu tuum inclytum
Tuo defende cljpeo.
Glory be to the Father, unto Whom is said, Ponder my
words, O Lord ; glory be to the Son, unto Whom is said.
Consider my meditation ; Glory be to the Holy Ghost, unto
Whom is said, Hearken Thou unto the voice of my calling.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
world without end. Amen.]
O merciful God, Who understandest the groaning of the
contrite heart before it is expressed, make us, we pray Thee,
the Temple of the Paraclete, to the end that we may merit to
be crowned with the shield of celestial mercy.
Our King and our God, repel from our hearts the night of
error and ignorance, so that renewing us into a new man.
Thou mayest in the morning hear our voice. Grant that we
may very early by good works present ourselves to Thee,
ana vouchsafe that we may contemplate Thee in the Sacrament
of Thy Resurrection.
O God, Who hatest all that work iniquity, fiU us with the
strength of Thy love ; that they may at some time turn to
Thee and bitterly lament their sin, who now speak falsely against Thee.
O Lord, the expectation of our salvation, receive the
prayers of them that call upon Thee: Though that art the discoverer
of hidden things, give ear to the hidden dry of the
heart; that those things which we tremble to have committed
and blush to confess, Thou, are King, mayest forgive of Thy
clemency, and blot out of Thy goodness; so that our supplication
may arise to Thee in the morning, and the good
gifts of Thy mercy may descend on us right early.
O our King and God, lead us into Thy righteousness because
of our enemies, and direct my way in Thy sight, that
Thou mayest ever rejoice and dwell in us, who are crowned
with the shield of Thy goodwill.