The Divine Lamp

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 23 (Latin and English Side by Side)

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 17, 2012

PLEASE NOTE that the numbering of the Psalms in Aquinas’ day differs from the numbering scheme generally employed today, this is why, in the post below, the Psalm is identified as number 22.

This post appears courtesy of the generous copyright policy of the Aquinas Translation Project. The translator is Steven Loughlin.

Psalm 22 

a. [Psalmus David] Dominus regit me, et nihil mihi deerit: in loco pascuae ibi me collocavit. Super aquam refectionis educavit me: animam meam convertit. Deduxit me super semitas iustitiae, propter nomen suum. a. [A psalm for David] The Lord ruleth me: and I shall want nothing. He hath set me in a place of pasture. He hath brought me up, on the water of refreshment: he hath converted my soul. He hath led me on the paths of justice, for his own name’s sake.
b. Nam et si ambulavero in medio umbrae mortis, non timebo mala, quoniam tu mecum es. Virga tua et baculus tuus, ipsa me consolata sunt: parasti in conspectu meo mensam adversus eos qui tribulant me. Impiguasti in oleo caput meum: et calix meus inebrians quam praeclarus est. b. For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me. Thy rod and thy staff, they have comforted me. Thou hast prepared a table before me against them that afflict me. Thou hast anointed my head with oil; and my chalice which inebriatheth me, how goodly is it!
c. Et misericordia tua subsequetur me, omnibus diebus vitae meae. Et ut inhabitem in domo Domini in longitudinem dierum. c. And thy mercy will follow me all the days of my life. And that I may dwell in the house of the Lord unto length of days.
a. Psalmista supra in persona Christi dixit de sua tribulatione multa; hic autem dicit de remedio quo in ea sustentatur. Et primo commemorat beneficia quibus sustentatur. Secundo potentiam sustentationis, ibi, Domini est terra. a. Previously, the Psalmist spoke in the person of Christ concerning his many tribulations. Here, he speaks of the assistance by which he is preserved in these (tribulations). He remembers, first, the kindnesses by which he is preserved, and second, the strength of (his) preservation, at, The earth is the Lord’s (Psalm 23).
Psalmus iste non habet novum titulum, sed videtur designare aliquos in via ambulantes: unde potest significare reditum populi de Babylone, et signat reditum Christi de mundo ad caelum. This psalm does not have a new title, but seems to describe those walking upon a path: whence it can signify the return of the people from Babylon, and the return of Christ to heaven from earth.
Circa hoc duo facit. Primo commemorat beneficia praeterita. Secundo commemorat beneficia futura, ibi, Et misericordia tua. Circa primum duo facit. Primo commemorat beneficia quae consistunt in consolatione bonorum. Secundo ea quae consistunt in adiutorio contra mala, ibi, Nam et si ambulavero. Circa primum tria tangit. Primo commemorat sufficientiam divinae promissionis. Secundo eius abundantiam, ibi, In loco pascuae. Tertio eius effectus, ibi, Animam meam convertit. Concerning (the present psalm), he does two things. First, he brings past kindnesses to mind, and then future ones, at, And thy mercy. Concerning the first he does two things. He brings to mind those kindnesses which consist, first, in the comfort of goods, and secondly in aid against evils, at, For though I should walk. Concerning the first, he does three things. He calls to mind, first, the sufficiency of the divine promise, second, its fullness, at, In a place of pasture, and third, its effect, at, He hath converted my soul.
Ponit ergo primo divinam provisionem: unde dicit, Dominus regit me. Hieronymus, Dominus pascit me. Et idem est; quia qui pascit, regit. Et intelligitur in persona ecclesiae, dici de Christo qui est pastor noster: Ioan. 10: Ego sum pastor bonus: Matth. 6: Respicite volatilia caeli etc. quia Deus dicitur pastor noster: ipse enim pascit etiam volatilia caeli, ut dictum est Mich. 7: Pasce populum tuum in virga tua, gregem hereditatis tuae: Rom. 15: Qui exurget regere gentes. Et sufficienter pascit; unde dicit, Nihil mihi deerit: scilicet de eo quod est necessarium ad salutem: et in temporalibus Luc. 22: Quando misi vos sine sacculo et pera etc. numquid aliquid etc.. Matth. 6: Primum quaerite regnum Dei, et haec omnia adiicientur vobis. Tum in futuro omnem sufficientiam habebimus, quia Nihil deerit nobis, quoniam habebimus Deum. Therefore, he first sets forth the divine providence: whence he says, The Lord ruleth me. Jerome(‘s version has), The Lord shepherds me. And this (amounts to) the same (thing), for he who shepherds, rules. And this is understood on the part of the Church, (and is) to be said of Christ who is our shepherd: John 10:11: I am the good shepherd; Matthew 6:26: Behold the birds of the air etc.; for God is called our shepherd: He Himself shepherds even the birds of the air, as (His shepherding) is spoken of at Micheas 7:14: (Feed) Shepherd thy people with thy rod, the flock of thy inheritance: Romans 15:12: He that shall rise up to rule the Gentiles. And he shepherds sufficiently; whence (the psalmist) says, I shall want nothing: namely concerning that which is necessary for (his) salvation; and in temporal matters, there is Luke 22:35: When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, did you want any thing? But they said: Nothing etc.; Matthew 6:33: Seek ye first…the kingdom of God…and all these things shall be added unto you. At that time in the future, we will have every sufficiency, since I shall want nothing, for we will have God.
Abundantiam omnem designat metaphorice per abundantiam cibi et potus. Quia si pascit, habet se ad nos sicut pastor ad oves; quae duobus pascuntur, scilicet herbis et aqua. Quantum ad primum dicit, In loco pascuae ibi me collocavit, idest pascuoso, ubi est abundantia herbarum. Haec abundantia sunt sacra documenta divinae scripturae et spiritualium abundantia: Ezech. 34: In herbis virentibus et in pascuis pinguibus pascentur. Quantum ad secundum dicit, Super aquam refectionis educavit me. He describes every abundance metaphorically through an abundance of food and drink. For if he pastures us, he is related to us as a shepherd to (his) sheep, who are nourished in two ways, namely by grass and water. With respect to the first, he says, He hath set me in a place of pasture, that is, fit for pasture where there is an abundance of grass. These abundances are the sacred writings of divine scripture and spiritual things: Ezechiel 34:14: …on green grass, and be fed in fat pastures… With respect to the second, he states, He hath brought me up on the water of refreshment.
Et dicit Collocavit, quia sermo divinus duo facit: scilicet incipientes instruit, et perficientes firmat. Propter primum dicit, In loco pascuae. Propter secundum dicit, ibi Me collocavit. Quantum ad secundum dicit, Super aquam refectionis educavit me. Haec est aqua baptismi: Ezech. 36: Effundam super vos aquam mundam etc. And he says He has set, because the divine word does two things, namely it instructs beginners, and strengthens the accomplished. With respect to the first, he says, In a place of pasture. With respect to the second, he says, He has set me there. As for the second he says, He hath brought me up on the water of refreshment. This is the water of baptism: Ezechiel 36:25: I will pour upon you clean water etc.
Vel est aqua sapientiae sacrae doctrinae; quae quidem et est cibus, quia confortat; et aqua, quia refrigerat: Eccl. 15: Aqua sapientiae salutaris potavit illum. Or, it is the water of the wisdom of holy scripture; which is certainly food and water, because it strengthens much and refreshes respectively: Ecclesiasticus 15:3: The water of wholesome wisdom to drink.
Animam meam convertit. Hic est effectus pascuae, quia animam meam convertit. Vel dicit, quae sint haec pascua; quia conversio animae. Est autem duplex effectus spiritualis doctrinae. Primus est interior, in conversione animae ad Deum, quando totaliter se a rebus mundi trahit. Psal. 18: Lex Domini immaculata convertens animas, testimonium etc. Et conversio fit virtute Dei. Thren. ult.: Converte nos Domine ad te. He hath converted my soul. Here is the effect of pasture, that it Hath converted my soul. Or, he says what these pastures are that (effect this) conversion of soul. There is a twofold effect of spiritual teaching. The first is interior, in the conversion of the soul to God, when it draws itself completely from the things of (this) world. Psalm 18:8: The law of the Lord is unspotted, converting souls, the testimony (of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones). And conversion is effected by the power of God. Lamentations 5:21: Convert us, O Lord, to thee.
Alius effectus est exterior, ut opera exteriora exequatur; unde dicit: Deduxit me super semitas justitiae; haec autem sunt bona opera. Isa. 40: Rectas facite semitas Dei nostri. The second effect (of spiritual teaching) is external, that he carry out external works; whence he says, He hath led me on the paths of justice; these are good works. Isaiah 40:3: Make straight…the paths of our God.
Vel semitae sunt consilia. Prov. 4: Deducam te per semitas aequitatis; et hoc, Propter nomen tuum, idest gloriam nominis tui. Psal. 43: Propter gloriam nominis tui libera nos. Or, the paths are counsels. Proverbs 4:11: I will lead thee by the paths of equity; and this, For his own name’s sake, that is, for the glory of your name. Psalm 78:9: For the glory of your name…deliver us.
b. Nam. Hic ponit beneficia contra mala. Et primo in generali; secundo in speciali, ibi, Virga tua. Et loquitur ad similitudinem hominis euntis per loca periculosa, cui necesse est securitas; et haec beneficia ponit hic, Nam et si ambulavero in medio umbrae mortis, non timebo mala, quoniam tu mecum es, tamquam dux et protector; et sic securus ero. Umbra mortis dicitur praesens tribulatio: est enim umbra praesagium corporis subsequentis. Col. 2: Lex umbra futurorum, corpus autem Christi; sic tribulatio est quasi mortis indicium. In medio, idest in intimo sive vehementia tribulationis. Psal. 137. Si ambulavero in medio tribulationis vivificabis me etc. Sed Umbra mortis dicitur praesentis vita caligine peccatorum obscura. Iob 3: Occupet eum caligo etc. b. For. Here he sets forth the kindnesses (which aid him) against evils, first in general, and then, specifically, at, Thy rod. He speaks like a man going through a dangerous place for whom security is necessary; and he sets forth these kindnesses here (at), For though I should walk in the midst of the shadow of death, I will fear no evils, for thou art with me, as guide and protector; and thus I will be secure. The shadow of death signifies present trouble: for a shadow is a presage of the body which follows. Colossians 2:17: Which are a shadow of things to come,but the body is of Christ; thus tribulation is a sort of sign of death. Psalm 137:7: If I shall walk in the midst of tribulation, thou wilt quicken me etc. But, The shadow of death, signifies the present life, obscure, full with the mist of sins. Job 3:5: Let a mist overspread it.
Vel Umbra mortis dicuntur facta haereticorum portantium in se imaginem diaboli. Iob 28: Lapidem caliginis et umbram mortis dividit torrens etc. Dicitur autem Umbra mortis, quod non infert malum Deo praesente. Iob 17: Pone me juxta te etc. Isa. 43: Cum transieris per aquas, tecum ero, ne flumina operiant te: cum ambulaveris in igne, non combureris. Or, The shadow of death, signifies the deeds of heretics bearing within themselves the likeness of a devil. Job 28:3: (He hath set a time for darkness, and the end of all things he considereth,) the stone also that is in the dark and the shadow of death etc. It is said, however, that The shadow of death does not bring evil to those present to God. Job 17:3: (Deliver me, O Lord, and) set me beside thee etc.; Isaiah 43:2: When thou shalt pass through the waters, I will be with thee, and the rivers shall not cover thee: when thou shalt walk in the fire, thou shalt not be burnt, and the flames shall not burn in thee.
Sed praeter dictam securitatem ponit tria beneficia quae Deus facit in eis. Primo sustentat: unde dicit, Virga tua et baculus tuus. Et hoc potest dupliciter intelligi. Uno modo, ut per Virgam intelligamus directionem viae. Ps. 44: Virga directionis, virga regni tui. Per Baculum intelligamus sustentaculum. Tob. 5: Baculum senectutis nostrae. Littera Hieronymi habet, Fulcimentum: quasi dicat, ostensio et sustentatio ipsa me consolata sunt; idest dederunt mihi consolationem in via. 2 Cor. 1: Deus totius consolationis qui consolatur nos. Alio modo, ut exponatur hoc pertinere ad correctionem, quia virga fit correctio. Prov. 13: Qui parcit virgae etc. But in addition to the aforesaid security, he sets forth three kindnesses which God does in these conditions. First, he supports: whence he says, Thy rod and thy staff. And this can be understood in two ways. (In) the first way, by Rod, let us understand guidance of life. A rod of direction is the scepter of thy kingdom (Hebrews 1:9). By Staff, let us understand a prop. Tobias 5:23: The staff of our old age. Jerome’s version has Support: as if to say, “(Your) manifestation and sustenance themselves have comforted me;” that is, they have given me comfort along the way. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4: (Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and) the God of all comfort. Who comforteth us (in all our tribulation). In the second way, that this may be shown to pertain to correction, that the rod corrects. Proverbs 13:24: He that spareth the rod (hateth his son: but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes).
Et baculus tuus, scilicet senioris disciplinae; quasi dicat, mitis et dura correctio tua dedit mihi consolationem: Prov. 3: Quem diligit corripit, et quasi pater in filio complacet sibi. Quantum ad secundum dicit, Parasti in conspectu meo mensam, duplicis quidem doctrinae. Prov. 9: Proposuit mensam, misit ancillas suas vocare ad arcem: ubi sunt diversa fercula, scilicet diversa documenta spiritualia. Et hoc, In conspectu meo, quia In lege meditatur die ac nocte (Ps. 1). And thy staff, namely of the discipline of an elder; as if he were saying, “Your gentle and also firm correction gave me comfort;” Proverbs 3:12: For whom the Lord loveth, he chastiseth: and as a father in the son pleaseth himself. With respect to the second, he says, Thou hast prepared a table before me, of a twofold doctrine. Proverbs 9:2-3: She set forth her table. She hath sent her maids to invite to the tower: where there are diverse dishes, namely diverse spiritual writings. And this, Before me, because, On his law he shall meditate day and night (Psalm 1:2).
Vel, Mensam sacramentalem, scilicet altaris. Triplex enim mensa legitur in sacra scriptura. Prima est mensa veteris legis. Exod. 25: Facies mensam de lignis setim: et pones super mensam panes propositionis. Alia est novi testamenti. 1 Cor. 10: Non potestis mensae Domini esse participes, et mensae daemoniorum; et haec mensa fuit res et figura. Tertia mensa est in patria. Luc. 22: Ego dispono vobis regnum, ut edatis et bibatis super mensam meam in regno meo. Or, the sacramental Table, namely of the altar. Table is found in holy scriptures in three ways. First, there is the table of the old law. Exodus 25:23, 30: Thou shalt make a table…of setim wood…And thou shalt set upon the table loaves of proposition. Next, there is the (table of the) New Testament. 1 Corinthians 10:21: You cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord, and of the table of devils; and this table was both an actuality and a symbol. Finally, there is the table in our homeland. Luke 22:29-30: And I dispose to you…a kingdom; that you may eat and drink at my table, in my kingdom.
Et utraque mensa pugnamus contra inimicos nostros; unde dicit, Adversus eos qui tribulant me; quia per mensam, quae est sacra scriptura, expellimus tentationes. Eph. ult.: In omnibus sumentes scutum fidei, in quo possitis omnia tela nequissimi ignea extinguere. And with each table, we fight against our enemies; whence he says, Against them that afflict me; for by the table, which is holy scriptures, we drive away temptations. Ephesians 6:16: In all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.
Item corpus Christi contra inimicos tuetur, ut dicit Chrysostomus Super Ioan. Again, the body of Christ defends against enemies, as Chrysostom says (in his Homilies) upon the Gospel of John.
Impinguasti in oleo, idest laetitia, caput meum. Hoc autem per duo signatur, scilicet per oleum inungens, et vinum inebrians. Et hoc dicit ad similitudinem antiquorum orientalium qui in festis ungebant capita oleo. Isa. 61: Ut daret eis coronam pro cinere, et oleum gaudii pro luctu. Thou hast anointed my head with oil, that is with joy. (One’s head) is marked by two things, namely by anointing oil, and inebriating wine. And he says that this is similar to the eastern people of old who on a festive day used to anoint (their) heads with oil. Isaiah 61:3: To give them a crown for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning.
Caput meum, idest Christum, impinguasti, idest replesti abundantissime, oleo spiritualis gratiae, ut ex eo ad nos gratia diffunderetur. 1 Cor. 8: Unus Dominus Iesus Christus per quem omnia, et nos per ipsum. Psal. 44: Unxit te etc. My head, that is Christ, Thou hast anointed, that is, you have filled most abundantly, With oil, (that is) with spiritual grace, so that grace may pour out upon us from him. 1 Corinthians 8:6: One Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Psalm 44:8: (God, thy God,) hath anointed thee etc.
Vel, Caput meum, idest mentem meam. Matth. 6: Tu autem cum ieiunas, unge caput tuum, idest mentem oleo, idest spirituali devotione, Or, My head, that is, my intellect. Matthew 6:17: When thou fastest anoint thy head, that is, (your) intellect, With oil, that is, with spiritual devotion,
Et calix tuus, vel meus, idest mihi datus, vel tuus, idest a te datus. Hic calix est donum divini amoris qui inebriat: quia ebrius non est in se, nec secundum se loquitur, sed secundum impetum vini; sic ille qui est plenus divino amore, loquitur secundum Deum: est enim in extasim factus. Cant. 5: Comedite amici, et inebriamini. Isa. 55: Quomodo descendit imber et nix de caelo, et inebriat terram, et germinare eam facit; sic erit verbum quod egredietur de ore meo. Hier. 23: Factus sum quasi vir ebrius, et quasi homo madidus vino a facie Domini. And your chalice, or My (chalice), that is, having been given to me, or Your (chalice), given by you. This chalice is a gift of divine love which inebriates. For the person who is drunk is not in control of his faculties, nor does he speak according to himself, but (rather) according to the impulse of the wine; in such a manner does the one who is filled with divine love speak according to God: for he has been enraptured. Canticle of Canticles 5:1: …eat, O friends, and drink, and be inebriated. Isaiah 55:10-11: As the rain and the snow come down from heaven…and inebriate the earth…and make it to spring; so shall my word be, which shall go forth from my mouth. Jeremiah 23:9: I am become as a drunken man, and as a man full of wine, at the presence of the Lord.
Vel calix dicitur sanguis Christi, quia debet inebriare. Et hic quam praeclarus est, idest maxime clarus. Or, Chalice, is said of the blood of Christ, because it ought to inebriate. How goodly is it, that is, most glorious.
c. Et misericordia etc. Hic ponit beneficia futura. Et primo quantum ad participationem divinorum donorum; secundo quantum ad fruitionem ipsius Dei. c. And thy mercy etc. Here he sets forth the future kindnesses. First, with respect to (our) participation in the divine gifts, and second to the enjoyment of God Himself.
Dicit ergo, Haec omnia praedicta mihi fecisti; sed rogo ut, Misericordia tua subsequatur me. Alias petivit ut praeveniat, hic quod subsequatur: et utraque est necessaria: quia praeveniens est necessaria, quia inspirat animum, subsequensque iuvat ut efficiatur. Therefore he states, “All these things of which I have spoken, you have given to me; but I pray (now) so that Your mercy will follow me.” He asks for other things so that he might anticipate this which follows. And both are necessary, anticipating, because it arouses the soul, and following, (because) it supports (the soul) so that it may be effective.
Ut inhabitem in domo Domini, hoc est in ecclesia, In longitudinem dierum, idest semper per gratiam, et in caelo per gloriam. Psal. 26: Unam petii a Domino etc. Isa. 65: Gaudebitis et exultabitis usque in sempiternum. And that I may dwell in the house of the Lord, that is, within the Church, Unto length of days, that is, always by grace, and in heaven by glory. Psalm 26:4: One thing I have asked of the Lord (…that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life); Isaiah 65:18: You shall be glad and rejoice for ever in these things.

© Stephen Loughlin

The Aquinas Translation Project

3 Responses to “St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 23 (Latin and English Side by Side)”

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