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

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 17

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 30, 2012

A Prayer Of David Himself.

Psa 17:1  The prayer of David. Hear, O Lord, my justice: attend to my supplication. Give ear unto my prayer, which proceedeth not from deceitful lips.
Psa 17:2  Let my judgment come forth from thy countenance: let thy eyes behold the things that are equitable.

The Prayer of David.This prayer must be assigned to the Person of the Lord, with the addition of the Church, which is His body.

From the enlightening of the knowledge of Thee, let Me judge truth. Or at least, let My judgment go forth, not in deceitful lips, from Thy countenance, that is, that I may not in judging utter aught else than I understand in Thee. “Let thy eyes behold the things that are equitable. ” the eyes, of course, of the heart.

Psa 17:3  Thou hast proved my heart, and visited it by night, thou hast tried me by fire: and iniquity hath not been found in me.

Thou hast proved my heart, and visited it by night. For this Mine heart hath been proved by the visitation of tribulation. Thou hast tried Me by fire, and iniquity hath not been found in Me. Now not night only, in that it is wont to disturb, but fire also, in that it burns, is this tribulation to be called; whereby when I was examined I was found righteous.

Psa 17:4  That my mouth may not speak the works of men: for the sake of the words of thy lips, I have kept hard ways.

That My mouth may not speak the works of men. That nothing may proceed out of My mouth, but what relates to Thy glory and praise; not to the works of men, which they do beside Thy will. For the sake of the words of Thy lips (Ps 45:2). Because of the words of Thy peace, or of Thy prophets. I have kept hard ways. I have kept the toilsome ways of human mortality and suffering.

Psa 17:5  Perfect thou my goings in thy paths: that my footsteps be not moved.

To perfect thou My goings in Thy paths. That the love of the Church might be perfected in the strait ways, whereby she arrives at Thy rest. That My footsteps be not moved. That the signs of My way, which, like footsteps, have been imprinted on the Sacraments and Apostolical writings, be not moved, that they may mark them who would follow Me. Or at least, that I may still abide fixedly in eternity, after that I have accomplished the hard ways, and have finished My steps in the straits of Thy paths.

Psa 17:6  I have cried to thee, for thou, O God, hast heard me: O incline thy ear unto me, and hear my words.

I have cried to Thee, for thou, O God hast heard Me. With a free and strong effort have I directed My prayers unto Thee: for that I might have this power, Thou hast heard Me when praying more weakly. “Incline Thy ear unto Me, and hear My words.” Let not Thy hearing forsake My humiliation.

Psa 17:7  Shew forth thy wonderful mercies; thou who savest them that trust in thee.

Shew forth Thy wonderful mercies. Let not Thy mercies be disesteemed, lest they be loved too little.

Psa 17:8  From them that resist thy right hand keep me, as the apple of thy eye. Protect me under the shadow of thy wings.
Psa 17:9  From the face of the wicked who have afflicted me.
(The rest of verse 9 continued below)

From them that resist thy right hand: from such as resist the favour, whereby Thou favourest Me. Keep Me, as the apple of Thine eye: which seems very little and minute: yet by it is the sight of the eye directed, whereby the light is distinguished from the darkness; as by Christ’s humanity, the divinity of the Judgment distinguishing between the righteous and sinners. Protect Me undr the shadow of Thy wings. In the defence of Thy love and mercy protect Me. From the face of the wicked who have afflicted me.

Verse 9 cont. My enemies have surrounded my soul:
Psa 17:10  They have shut up their fat: their mouth hath spoken proudly.

Verse 9 cont. My enemies have surrounded My soul; they have shut up their fat. They have been covered with their own gross joy, after that their desire hath been satiated with wickedness. Their mouth hath spoken proudly. And therefore their mouth spoke pride, in saying, “Hail, King of the Jews,” and other like words (see Matt 27:29).

Psa 17:11  They have cast me forth, and now they have surrounded me: they have set their eyes bowing down to the earth.

They have cast Me forth, and now they have surrounded Me. Casting Me forth outside the city, they have now compassed Me about on the Cross. They have set their eyes bowing down to the earth. The bent of their heart they have determined to turn down on these earthly things: deeming Him, who was slain, to endure a mighty evil, and themselves, that slew Him, none.

Psa 17:12  They have taken me, as a lion prepared for the prey; and as a young lion dwelling in secret places.

They have taken Me, as a lion prepared for the prey. They have taken Me, like that adversary who “walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet 5:8). And as a young lion dwelling in secret places. And as his whelp, the people to whom it was said, “Ye are of your father the devil” (Jn 8:44): meditating on the snares, whereby they might circumvent and destroy the just One.

Psa 17:13  Arise, O Lord, disappoint him and supplant him; deliver my soul from the wicked one; thy sword
Psa 17:14  From the enemies of thy hand. O Lord, divide them from the few of the earth in their life: their belly is filled from thy hidden stores. They are full of children
(swine’s flesh in Augustine’s version): and they have left to their little ones the rest of their substance.

Arise, O Lord, disappoint and supplant him. Arise, O Lord, Thou whom they suppose to be asleep, and regardless of men’s iniquities; be they blinded before by their own malice, that vengeance may prevent their deed; and so cast them down.

Deliver My soul from the wicked one. Deliver My soul, by restoring Me after the death, which the ungodly have inflicted on Me.

Thy sword from the enemies of Thy hand. For My soul is Thy weapon, which Thy hand, that is, Thy eternal Power, hath taken to subdue thereby the kingdoms of iniquity, and divide the righteous from the ungodly. This weapon then deliver from the enemies of Thy hand, that is of Thy Power that is from Mine enemies. O Lord, divide them from the few of the earth in their life. O Lord, destroy them from off the earth, which they inhabit, scatter them throughout the world in this life, which only they think their life, who despair of life eternal. Their belly is filled from thy hidden stores. Now not only this visible punishment shall overtake them, but also their memory hath been filled with sins, which as darkness are hidden from the light of Thy truth, that they should forget God. They are full of swine’s flesh. They have been filled with uncleanness, treading under foot the pearls of God’s words. And they have left to their little ones the rest of their substance, crying out, “This sin be upon us and upon our children” (Matt 27:25).

Concerning the translation “swine’s flesh,” Augustine appended the following to the end of his notes: In that verse indeed where it is said, “filled with swine’s flesh,” some copies have, “filled with children:” for from the ambiguity of the Greek a double interpretation has resulted. Now by “children” we understand works; and as by good children, good works, so by evil, evil.

Psa 17:15  But as for me, I will appear before thy sight in justice: I shall be satisfied when thy glory shall appear.

But as for me, I will appear before thy sight in justice. But I, Who have not appeared to them that, with their filthy and darkened heart, cannot see the light of wisdom, I will appear before Thy sight in justice.

I shall be satisfied when Thy glory shall appear. And when they have been satiated with their uncleanness, that they could not know Me, I shall be satiated, when Thy glory shall be manifested, in them that know Me.

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2 Responses to “St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 17”

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