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St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 3 (English and Latin Text)

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2012

The following post appears here courtesy of the Aquinas Translation Project and is in accordance with their generous copyright policy: The copyright for these translations are held by the individuals who have translated them. They are offered for public use with the provision that, if copied, they not be altered from their present form, and that the copyright notice remain at the bottom of each translation to ensure that appropriate credit be given to both individual and the Project. Links should be established to this index page. All Biblical translations are taken from the Douay-Rheims version.

Psalm 3 

Cum fugeret a facie Absalon filii eius. Psalmus David III. A psalm of David when he was fleeing from the face of his son Absalon.
a. Domine quid multiplicati sunt qui tribulant me? multi insurgunt adversum me. Multi dicunt animae meae, non est salus ipsi in Deo eius. Why, O Lord, have those who afflict me increased in number? Many rise up against me. Many say to my soul, There is no salvation for him in his God.
b. Tu autem Domine susceptor meus es, gloria mea, et exaltans caput meum. But you, O Lord, are my protector, my glory and the one who lifts up my head.
c. Voce mea ad Dominum clamavi, et exaudivit me de monte sancto suo. Ego dormivi et soporatus sum, et exurrexi, quia Dominus suscepit me. I have cried to the Lord with my voice, and he heard me from his holy mountain. I have slept and deeply; and I have risen up because the Lord has protected me.
d. Non timebo millia populi circumdantis me, exurge Domine, salvum me fac Deus meus. Quoniam tu percussisti omnes adversantes mihi sine causa: dentes peccatorum contrivisti. I will not fear the thousands of people surounding me: arise, O Lord, make me safe, O my God. For you have struck all those opposing me without cause, and have broken the teeth of sinners.
e. Domini est salus, et super populum tuum benedictio tua. Salvation is of the Lord, and your blessing is upon your people.
a. Superior Psalmus ostendit conatum adversariorum, hic contra eorum conatum implorat auxilium divinum. Et est hic psalmus editus per modum orationis. The former psalm showed the effort of his adversaries. Here, he implores divine help against their effort. And this psalm is presented in the mode of a prayer.
In quo psalmo possumus ponere fundamentum historiae, et postea ponere sensum allegoricum, et ulterius moralem. We can describe it first as based in history, second in an allegorical sense, and lastly in a moral sense.
Sensus historicus patet per titulum qui est, Cum fugeret a facie Absalon filii sui. Ut 2. Reg. 5. habetur Absalon filius David persequens patrem suum quaerebat eum occidere; cui David cessit cum suis exiens de Hierusalem nudis plantis. The historical sense is clear from its title which is When he was fleeing from the face of his son Absalon, as is treated of at 2 Kings 15 – David’s son, Absalon, persecuting his father, desired to kill him. David yielded to him, leaving Jerusalem on foot with his household.
Intellexit hoc sibi contingere propter peccatum homicidii et adulterii, sicut Nathan propheta ei praedixerat: 2. Reg. 12. Non recedet gladius de domo tua in sempiternum, eo quod despexeris me. He understood that this would happen to him on account of the sins of murder and adultery, as the Prophet Nathan had foretold to him: 2 Kings 12: The sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me.
Dum autem Absalon persequeretur David, conversus est contra eum exercitus David; Absalon autem impetu muli ductus est sub ramosam quercum, ubi circumnectentibus ramis collum eius, ibique capite intercepto pendens a Ioab principe militiae David, interfectus est. Quo mortuo David restituto in regnum in pace regnavit. When Absalon was persecuting David, he turned David’s army against him. However, in the assault, Absalon drove his mule under the boughs of an oak tree, where he was captured, hanging by his head, his kneck having been enveloped by the boughs. He was killed by Joab, a leader of David’s militia. On account of this death, David was restored to his kingship and reigned in peace.
Contra istam ergo persecutionem est iste psalmus, Domine quid etc. Per hanc tamen praefigurabatur persecutio quam Christus passus est a filio suo Iuda: Io. 13. Filioli adhuc modicum vobiscum sum. Et interum Matth. 9. Nunquid possunt filii sponsi lugere etc. Therefore, this psalm, Why, O Lord, is against this very persecution. Through it, however, was prefigured the persecution which Christ suffered from his child Judas – John 13: Little children, yet a little while I am with you. And again at Matthew 9: Can the children of the bridegroom mourn etc.
A quo Iuda Christus fugit, quando illo discendente cum caeteris apostolis in montem Oliveti secessit imminente passione. Christ fled from Judas when he withdrew from his approaching passion by departing with the rest of the apostles to the mountain of Olivet.
Et sicut David pacem exhibuit iniquo filio, quando praecepit populo eunti ad bellum, Servate puerum Absalon, et eo interempto dixit, Quis mihi det, ut moriar pro te fili mi Absalon etc., ita Christus Iudae proditori, ut patet in convivio et in osculo, propter quod bene Absalon pax patris dicitur. Abba enim hebraice, latine pater interpretatur. Salon vero pax. And just as David offered peace to his wicked son, when he admonished the people going to war, Save the boy Absalon, and said when he was killed, Would he grant to me that I might die for you, O my son Absalon etc., so too did Christ offer peace to Judas the betrayer, as is clear at the supper and in his kiss. On account of this, Absalon is well called the peace of the father. For Abba, in hebrew, is translated by father in latin, and Salon, by peace.
Et ipse Iudas cum prolatione pacis prodidit Christum. Et sicut Absalon, ita et Iudas suspensus interiit. And Judas himself betrayed Christ with an extension of peace. And as Absalon, so too did Judas die suspended.
Quo mortuo Christus in pace regnavit, quia in gloria resurrexit. Et potest ad omnes tribulationes ecclesiae referri. Potest et moraliter contra tribulationes, quas quis ab inimicis sive temporalibus sive spiritualibus patitur. Et ideo exprimitur affectus hominis implorantis. On account of death, Christ reigned in peace, because he rose in glory. And this can be referred to all the tribulations of the Church, and it can be referred morally against the tribulations which it suffers either from temporal or spiritual enemies. And for this reason, the desire of the imploring man is expressed.
Circa hoc ergo duo facit. Primo praemittit adversariorum conatum, sive exponit Deo suum tormentum. Secundo confitetur adesse sibi divinum auxilium, Tu autem Domine etc. Therefore concerning this the psalmist does two things. First he puts forward the effort of his adversaries, or explains his anguish to God, and second, acknowledges that divine help goes to him, at, But you O Lord etc.
Persecutionem autem ponit, quantum ad nocentium numerum, Multiplicati sunt, scilicet gentes, populi, reges, et principes. Et non solum hi extranei, sed etiam filius: Ps. 36. Multiplicatae sunt super caput meum etc. He describes his persecution with respect to the number of those doing harm, they have increased, namely the Gentiles, the people, kings and princes. And not only these outsiders, but his son as well – Psalm 39: They are multiplied above my head etc.
Et quantum ad nocendum, motivum, quia sine causa. Unde quid 2 Reg. 10 et 26. Quid feci, aut quod est in manu mea malum? With respect to the harming, the motive, because it is without cause. Thus, what is written at (?): What have I done, or what evil is in my hand?
Et quantum ad multiplex tormentum, quia vexant multipliciter tribulando. Unde Tribulant. With respect to the manifold torment, because they injure by afflicting him in many ways. Thus, they afflict.
Tribulus est erba pungitiva: Ge. 3. Spinas et tribulos germinabit tibi. Illi igitur tribulant, qui pungunt. A thistle is a stinging herb – Genesis 3: Thorns and thistles shall the earth bring forth to you. Therefore, those afflict who sting.
Christum autem punxerunt colaphizando, flagellando, conspuendo, et illudendo, et mortem intentando. They stung Christ by beating, scourging, spitting upon and ridiculing him, and by aiming at his death.
Et hoc est quod dicit, Multi insurgunt, scilicet factis. Absalon enim voluit occidere David, ut patet in consilio Chusi, 2. Reg. 17. Similiter et Iudas tradidit Christum ad mortem. And this is what he says, Many rise up, namely, (factis – in their deeds ?). Absalon wanted to kill David, as is clear in Chusai’s advice, at, 2 Kings 17. Likewise did Judas hand Christ over to death.
Item tribulant verbis detrahendo, sive falsa proponendo: unde Multi dicunt etc. Again, they afflict by disparaging words, or by proposing lies. Hence Many say etc.
Contra illud quod dicitur Ps. 36. Salus autem iustorum a Domino. Si enim hoc considerarent impii, non de facili insurgerent contra iustos; sed quia hoc non credunt, vel quia contemnunt Dei potentiam vel hominis iustitiam, ideo dicunt ore, et opere, Non est salus illi etc., idest in eo quem colit, et sibi Deum facit. Against that is what is said at Psalm 36: But the salvation of the just is from the Lord. For if the impious considered this, they would not easily rise up against the just; but because they do not believe, or because they despise the power of God or the justice of man, for this reason they say, in word and deed, There is no salvation for him etc., that is, in him whom he worships, and takes as God to himself.
Hoc dicunt etiam persecutores de Christo: si enim resurrecturum sperarent, nec Iudas traderet, nec illi occiderent. Et est sensus. Even the persecutors of Christ say this: for if they were expecting him to rise again shortly, Judas would not have betrayed him, nor would they have killed him. And this is the sense:
Non salvabit eum, nec est filius Dei: unde dicebant Matth. 17. Si filius Dei es, descende de cruce: et infra, Si rex Israel est, descendat nunc de cruce, et credimus ei? He will not save him, nor is he the son of God. Thus they said at Matthew 17: If you are the son of God, come down from the cross; and in the same place, If he is the king of Israel, let him come down from the cross and we will believe him?
b. Haec est pars secunda. Ubi ostendit sibi a Deo paratum auxilium. Et circa hoc duo facit. Primo ostendit sibi specialiter adesse divinum auxilium. Secundo generaliter omnibus, ibi, Domini est salus. This is the second part wherein he shows the help prepared for him by God. And concerning this he does two things. First, he shows that the divine help is present to him especially, and secondly to everyone in general, at, Salvation is of the Lord.
Et circa primum tria proponit. Primo auxilium divinum. Secundo auxilii experimentum, ibi, Voce mea. Tertio securitatis conceptum, ibi, Non timebo. And concerning the first, he sets forth three things. First, the divine help, second, the experience of this help, at, with my voice, and third, the conceptum (conception, thought ?) of safety, at, I will not fear.
Dicit ergo, Tu autem Domine; quasi dicat, Isti insurgunt ad bellandum, sed tu suscipis ad protegendum. Therefore, he says, But you, O Lord; as if he were saying, Those people rise up to wage war, but you undertake to defend.
Et hoc est melius per literam Hieronymi quae dicit, Clypeus meus circa me, quasi defendens me sicut clypeus. This is better rendered by Jerome’s version which states, My shield around me, as it were, defending me like a shield.
Item non solum servans in vita contra delere volentes, sed etiam in gloria contra infamantes; unde ait Gloria mea: 2. Cor. 10. Qui gloriatur, in Domino glorietur: Hier. 9. In hoc glorietur qui gloriatur scire, et nosse me. Furthermore, not only preserving against those wanting to destroy in life, but also against those defaming in glory; thus he says My Glory – 2 Cor. 10: He who would glory, let him glory in the Lord; Jeremiah 9: Let him that glories, glory in this, that he understands and know me.
Et non solum contra infamantes mihi assistis, sed etiam praevalere me facis contra opprimentes; unde subiungit Exaltans caput meum: Ps. 26. Et nunc exaltavi caput meum super inimicos meos. Not only do you defend me against those defaming, but you also make me to prevail against those oppressing me; thus he adds, The one who lifts up my head – Psalm 26: And now I have lifted up my head above my enemies.
Haec possunt referri ad Christum, qui conceptus fuit secundum humanam naturam in incarnatione, quoniam Verbum caro factum est, Io. 1. Isa. 42. Ecce servus meus suscipiam eum, electus meus complacuit sibi in illo anima mea: Ps. 40. Beatus quem elegisti et assumpsisti. These things can be referred to Christ, who was conceived in accordance with human nature at the Incarnation; for The Word was made flesh (John 1) – Isaiah 42: Behold my servant, I will uphold him: my elect, my soul delights in him; Psalm 64: Blessed is he who you have choosen and taken to yourself.
Item gloriosus fuit in resurrectione: Io. 16. Clarifica me tu pater. Furthermore, he was glorified in his resurrection (John 16: Glorify me, Father),
Item exaltatus in ascensione: Phi. 2. Propter quod et Deus etc. and exalted in his ascension (Philipians 2: On account of which God has also exalted him).
c. Deinde cum dicit, Voce, ostendit experimentum auxilii. Et ponit tria, scilicet orationem, Voce mea. Secundo exauditionem, Et exaudivit me. Tertio ostendit in quo est exauditus, ubi ait, Ego dormivi etc. Next, when he says, With my voice, he shows the experience of this help. He describes three things, namely his prayer, at, With my voice, second, the hearkening, at, And he heard me, and third, where (?) he was heard, where he says, I have slept.
Circa primum duo tangit quae debent esse in oratione: nam debet esse attenta. Et ideo dicit, Voce mea, scilicet cordis quae sonat Deo, qua Moyses tacens ore, clamabat corde ad Dominum: Ex. 14. Dixit Dominus, Quid clamas ad me etc. Concerning the first, he treats of two things which must appear in prayer. First, it must be attended to. And thus he says, With my voice, namely of the heart which speaks to God, and with which Moses used to cry out to the Lord, while keeping his mouth silent – Exodus 14: The Lord said, Why do you cry out to me etc.
Hac etiam voce clamans Susanna est exaudita: Dan. 13. Quae flens suspexit in caelum, erat enim cor eius habens fiduciam in Domino etc. 1. Reg. 1. Porro Anna loquebatur in corde suo etc. 1. Cor. 15. Orabo spiritu, orabo et mente. Et ideo dicit Mea. Vox enim quando non procedit ex corde, non est mea. Susanna was also heard crying out with this voice – Daniel 13: And she weeping, looked up to heaven, for her heart had confidence in the Lord etc.; 1 Kings 1: Now Anna spoke in her heart etc.; 1 Cor. 14: I will pray with the spirit, I will pray also with the understanding. And thus he says My. For when the voice does not go out from the heart, it is not mine.
Item debet esse recta: tunc enim est recta, quando tendit ubi debet: et ideo dicit, Ad Dominum, ubi est auxilium: 2. Paral. 20. Cum ignoramus quid agere debeamus, hoc solum habemus residium, ut oculos nostros dirigamus ad te: Ps. 102. Auxilium meum a Domino. Furthermore, it must be right: for it is then right when it tends to where it must: and thus he says, To the Lord, where help is – 2 Paralipomenon 20: But as we know not what we ought to do, this alone remains to us, that we turn our eyes to you; Psalm 120: My help is from the Lord.
Item debet esse devota. Unde addidit Clamavi: clamosa namque dicitur oratio, propter magnitudinem affectus: Ps. 10. Clamor meus ad te veniat etc. Heb. 5. Cum clamore valido et lacrymis etc. Furthermore, it must be devout. Thus he adds, I have cried: for a prayer is called loud (or clamoring) according to the magnitude of one’s longing – Psalm 101: Let my cry come to you etc.; Hebrews 5: With a strong cry and tears etc.
Deinde ponitur exauditio cum dicit, Et exaudivit de monte, idest de sublimitate divinae maiestatis, quae inaccessibilis est: Ps. 23. Quis ascendet in montem Domini, idest ad omnipotentiam suam, vel de altitudine iustitiae suae, quia incomprehensibilis est: Ps. 17. Iudicia tua abyssus multa: vel in monte sancto, idest de me qui eram mons sanctus, de quo Isa. 2. Et erit in novissimis diebus praeparatus mons domus Domini etc. The hearkening is described next when he says, And he heard me from his mountain, that is, from the loftiness of his divine majesty, which is unapproachable – Psalm 23: Who shall ascend to the mountain of the Lord, that is, to his omnipotence; or from the height of his justice, which is incomprehensible or boundless – Psalm 35: Your judgments are a great deep; or on your holy mountain, that is, (de me qui eram mons sanctus), concerning which there is Isaiah 2: And in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be prepared etc.
Sequitur, Ego dormivi. Ubi ostendit in quo sit exauditus. Quia surrexi. Est autem differentia inter mortuum et dormientem, quia mortuus non resurgit: Iob 14. Putasne mortuus homo rursum vivet; dormiens vero resurgit: Ps. 40. Nunquid qui dormit non adiiciet ut resurgat? I have slept follows, wherein he describes where (?) he was heard. For I have risen. There is a difference between the dead and those sleeping, for the dead do not get up – Job 14: Do you think that a man that is dead shall live again? – while those sleeping do get up – Psalm 40: Shall he that sleeps rise again no more?
Sic ergo quando tribulatio est tanta ut homo non redeat ad statum priorem, dicitur mors. Sed quando tribulatus, vel tentatus cadit in peccatum et resurgit, dicitur dormire. Sic David quasi dormivit, quia liberatus est a filio et peccato. So therefore when tribulation is so great that a person does not return to his prior condition, this is called death. But when the one suffering tribulation or trial falls into sin but rises (again from it), this is called sleep. In this way David slept, as it were, because he was freed from his son and from sin.
Dicitur autem dormire, quasi parum, soporari vero, quasi multum: unde alia litera dicit, Somnum cepi, idest profunde dormivi. However one is said to sleep, as if a little, but to sleep deeply, as if greatly: another version says, I have taken sleep, that is, I have slept deeply.
Sic Chrstus dicitur dormivisse, quia sponte se passioni obtulit: et quia soporatus est, mors subsecuta est. Unde a dormitione transivit ad somnum. Christ is said to have slept thus since he bore the passion on his own accord: and since he slept deeply, death ensued. Hence, he travelled from sleep to a deep sleep.
Iste sopor signatur in sopore Adam: Gen. 2. Immisit Dominus soporem in Adam etc. quia de latere Christi in cruce mortui formata est ecclesia. This deep sleep is signified in the deep sleep of Adam – Genesis 2: The Lord cast a deep sleep upon Adam etc., because from the side of Christ in his death on the cross was built the Church.
Ait ergo, Et exurrexi, propria scilicet virtute: Io. 10. Potestatem habeo ponendi animam meam, et potestatem habeo iterum sumendi eam. Et hoc est, quia Dominus suscepit me. Therefore he says, And I have risen up, namely by my own power – John 10: I have the power to lay my soul down, and I have the power to take it up again. And this happens because The Lord has protected me.
Alia litera, Sustentavit. Habuit enim virtutem divinitatis, quod surgeret: Ps. 25. Cum ceciderit iustus, non collidetur, quia Dominus supponit manum suam. Another version has, He has sustained (me). For he had the power of divinity because he rose – Psalm 36: When he falls, he shall not be bruised, for the Lord puts his hand under him.
d. Deinde cum dicit, Non timebo, ponitur fiducia securitatis, quasi dicat ex quo sum exauditus, Non timebo etc. infra. Ps. 26. Si consistant adversum me castra etc. Next, when he says, I will not fear, he describes the confidence of safety, as if he were saying, Since I was heard, I will not fear etc. – Psalm 26: If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear.
In quo signatur, quod Christi ecclesia non potest omnino deprimi. Christo etiam post resurrectionem multitudo populi, quae crucifixum circumstetit, nihil nocere potuit: nam Christus resurgens ex mortuis iam non moritur, Rom. 6. It is here signified that the Church of Christ cannot be wholly overwhelmed. For the multitude of people, who stood round the crucifix, were in no way able to harm Christ after the resurrection: for Christ rising from the dead, dies now no more (Romans 6).
Et unde habeat istam fiduciam, ostendit cum dicit, Exurge, scilicet manifesta virtutem tuam faciendo me resurgere a morte: et hoc est, Salvum me fac etc. And thus he has this confidence, which he shows when he says, Arise, namely, manifest your power by making me rise up from the dead: and this is at Make me safe etc.
Quoniam pater etc. Supra duo dixerat. Quod tribulant eum: Ps. 3. Domine quid multiplicati sunt, qui tribulant me, et contra hos dicit, Quoniam tu percussisti, item infamabant, Non est salus illi etc. et contra hos, Dentes peccatorum, idest maledica verba in irritum deduxisti: Iob 19. Conterebam molas iniqui etc. Litera Hieronymi habet, Percussit molas. For the father etc. Previously, he had said two things. First, that they distress him – Psalm 3: Why, O Lord, have those who afflict me increased in number? – and against these he says, For you have struck. Second, they were defaming, There is no salvation for them etc., and against these he says, The teeth of sinners, that is, you have rendered their lying words ineffectual – Job 29: I broke the jaws of the wicked etc. Jerome’s version has, I struck the jaws.
Et dentes; quasi dicat, Ita fortiter percussisti quod dentes contriti sunt. Maxilla fuit Absalon, dentes vero adhaerentes sibi. Unde destructo Absalone, alii sunt contriti. And the teeth; as if he were saying, Thus you have strongly struck because their teeth have been crushed. The jaw was Absalon, but the teeth were those clinging to him. Thus, when Absalon was destroyed, the others were crushed.
e. Ultimo cum dicit Domini ostendit auxilium divinum esse toti populo. Et primo quantum ad conservationem a malo; et ideo dicit, Domini est salus. Et ideo oratio dirigi debet ad Deum. Finally, when he says Of the Lord, he shows divine help to be present to all the people. And first, with respect to preservation from evil; thus he says, Salvation is of the Lord. And for this reason prayer ought to be directed to God.
Secundo quantum ad multiplicationem bonorum; et ideo dicit: Super populum tuum benedictio tua, idest super populum, quidem te, et in te sperat, et non in alio. Second, with respect to the multiplication of goods; and thus he says, Your blessing is upon your people, that is, upon the people who hope in you and not in another.
Benedictio tua. Benedictio Domini semper importat multiplicationem bonorum: Prov. 10. Benedictio Domini divites facit. Your blessing. The blessing of the Lord always includes the multiplication of goods – Proverbs 10: The blessing of the Lord makes men rich.
Potest autem aliter legi psalmus iste secundum glossam, ut scilicet loquatur hoc totus Christus, idest ecclesia, et caput eius inter procellas persecutionum constituta. However, this very psalm can be read in another way according to a gloss, namely so that by it, all of Christ, that is the Church, speaks and is appointed as his head during the storms of persecution.
Vel moraliter potest legi psalmus iste in persona uniuscuiusque fidelis, qui a vitiis et cupiditatibus impugnatur. Or this psalm can be read morally in the person of all the faithful, who are attacked by sinful habits and desires.
Et secundum hoc per David accipitur quilibet fidelis, per Absalon vitia carnalis concupiscentiae, sicut patet in glossa. And according to this, by David is understood the faithful, and by Absalon, the vices of carnal desire, as is clear in the gloss.

© Stephen Loughlin

The Aquinas Translation Project

5 Responses to “St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 3 (English and Latin Text)”

  1. […] St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Today’s Psalm (3). […]

  2. […] St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Today’s Psalm (3). […]

  3. […] Joseph Kenny, O.P.) on this page of his website. The Divine Lamp reproduces the commentaries on Psalm 3, Psalm 8, Psalm 10(9), Psalm 11(10), Psalm 15(14), Psalm 22(21), Psalm 23(22), Psalm 27(26), Psalm […]

  4. […] Joseph Kenny, O.P.) on this page of his website. The Divine Lamp reproduces the commentaries on Psalm 3, Psalm 8, Psalm 10(9), Psalm 11(10), Psalm 15(14), Psalm 22(21), Psalm 23(22), Psalm 27(26), Psalm […]

  5. […] Joseph Kenny, O.P.) on this page of his website. The Divine Lamp reproduces the commentaries on Psalm 3, Psalm 8, Psalm 10(9), Psalm 11(10), Psalm 15(14), Psalm 22(21), Psalm 23(22), Psalm 27(26), Psalm […]

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