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Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 12

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 30, 2016

Text in red, if any, are my additions.

With this chapter commences the Moral Part of the Epistle. The principles already laid down in the foregoing portion are now viewed in their consequences and influences upon the Christian life. Having shown that faith is the only way to salvation the Apostle goes on in the remainder of his letter to point out what faith demands in practical ways from Christians.

This last part of the Epistle has two main sections. The first of these (Rom 12:1-13:14) contains general instructions for all Christians; the second (Rom 14:1-15:13) has particular counsels for the Christians in Rome.


A Summary of Romans 12:1-2~The practical consequences to be drawn from what has been said regarding the mercy of God toward man is the duty of entire consecration to God’s service, and of a radical interior transformation, as a means to the perfect execution of God’s will. 

Rom 12:1  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service.  

I beseech (παρακαλω) , i.e., I exhort, I counsel. 

Brethren, i.e., all you Christians of Rome. The term αδελφοι refers not to the Jewish Christians only, as Zahn pretends; but, as in Rom 11:25, to all the Christians in Rome. 

By the mercy, or, according to the Greek, “by the mercies” (2 Cor 1:3), i.e., on account of the mercy of God about which we have just spoken in the preceding chapter, and of which you Romans have been the object. 

That you present. The word παραστησαι means to present as a sacrifice, as the Jews were accustomed to bring their victims and present them to the altar for immolation (Lev 16:6; Luke 2:22). 

Your bodies. The Christian should consecrate his whole being to the service of God. The Apostle begins with the body, because man’s spiritual ruin began with the bodily organs, the senses. 

A living sacrifice, for a sacrifice under the Old Law, the victim had to be living, because the sacrificial act consisted principally in the immolation of the victim; it had to be holy, that is, without defect (Lev 19:2), suitable to be offered to God and pleasing in God’s sight. Likewise the Christian’s body, dead to sin through Baptism, should be living the life of grace which makes it holy and pleasing to God and renders it a fit instrument to be used by the mind and soul in God’s service. 

Your reasonable service. These words are in apposition to the whole preceding clause. The Apostle wishes to say that the sacrifice we make to God in offering Him our bodies, living, holy, etc., is a reasonable service, i.e., a real spiritual (Cornely) worship which proceeds from the interior man, and not a mere external sensible worship like the sacrifices of animals in the Old Testament; or that when man gives his body, i.e., his external moral actions to the service of God, he is rendering to God a worship truly reasonable and rational, i.e., suited to the nature of God and of man, unlike the sensible homage which was paid to God by the ancient sacrifices of brute animals (Lagr.). Whether we take “reasonable” (λογικην) here to mean spiritual or rational, it is clear that the offering to God of all our bodily activities and moral actions is a service based on a reasonable consideration of our nature and of God’s nature. 

Rom 12:2  And be not conformed to this world: but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and the acceptable and the perfect will of God. 

This verse develops the thought of the preceding one, passing from the dispositions of the body to those of the mind. The Christian’s service of God involves a change in his mental attitude. He must no longer adapt himself to the standards and manners, the thoughts and sentiments of this world of sin and corruption; but must, through the assistance of grace, be reformed, i.e., transformed (μεταμορφουσθε) by the renovation of his mind so as to live according to his true, rational, spiritual nature. This change and renovation in man’s higher nature is to the end that man may know what is the good, the acceptable and the perfect will of God (Vulgate); or, as the Greek text has it, that he may know what is the object of God’s will, namely, that it is something morally good (το αγαθον), something well-pleasing (ευαρεστον) to God, something perfect (τελειον). These three adjectives, αγαθον, ευαρεστον, and τελειον are taken substantively (Cornely, Lagr., Zahn, etc.), to explain that which God’s will respects. Hence the “will of God” means not the faculty which wills, but the object of that will, the thing willed.


A Summary of Romans 12:3-8~The sacrifice that we should make of our body and the corresponding renovation of our mind ought to be guarded by humility, which excludes all self-importance and enforces self-restraint in our dealings with one another. Let each Christian, by a faithful discharge of his duties, contribute his part to the common good of the Church. 

Rom 12:3. For I say, by the grace that is given me, to all that are among you, not to be more wise than it behoveth to be wise, but to be wise unto sobriety, and according as God hath divided to every one the measure of faith.

By the grace, etc., i.e., by my authority as an Apostle (Rom 1:5; 15:15; 1 Cor 3:10; Gal 2:9, etc.). 

To all that are among you, i.e., to each individual among you Roman Christians. 

Not to be more wise, etc. φρονειν here describes the quality of one’s thought or mind. There is a play in this place, on the words in Greek, which does not appear in Latin or English. The sense is that no one should esteem himself beyond that which is his due, but that each one should esteem himself according to sober-mindedness. 

The measure of faith. “Faith” here does not mean the theological virtue, but rather the gratuitous and miraculous gifts that were often conferred on the early Christians at Baptism,—the charismata, of which there is question in the following verses, and in 1 Cor 7:7 (Cornely, Lagr., Zahn, etc.). These gifts
were various in kind, and were conferred as the will of God disposed. Each one, therefore, should use the gifts God has bestowed upon him with fidelity and humility, not interfering with the gifts and duties of others. 

Rom 12:4. For as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office: 
Rom 12:5. So we being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

With ancient writers the comparison of a social organism to the body was very common. St. Paul now compares the Christian society to a natural physical body. As in the latter there are many members performing different functions for the benefit of the whole, so in the former, the Church, each member has his proper office and gifts with which he ought to be content, and which he ought to utilize for the good of the entire Church. This thought is much further developed in 1 Cor 12:12-31, where the Apostle considers the Church as a living mystical body, and compares it in detail to a natural physical organism. The unity of the one, as of the other, comes from the soul, and Christ is the soul of His mystical body the Church. In Eph 4:15 St. Paul speaks of Christ as the head, but this is only a different way of showing the mysterious and gracious relations of Christians with Christ and His Spirit.

The faithful are many, but form only one body in Christ, by whose spirit they are united and vivified. All, therefore, are dependent on the life that comes from Christ, their head and soul; and all the members are interdependent one on another, as sharing in the common work to which life in Christ is ordained.

Rom 12:6. And having different gifts, according to the grace that is given us, either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith; 

In the next two paragraphs Fr. Callan talks in general concerning verses 6-8, he then moves on to look at the verses in more detail.

In verses 6-8 St. Paul illustrates the different gifts of the Christians, and the different uses of these gifts. The sentences are elliptical and need to be completed by the understanding of different verbs or phrases; e.g., after prophecy we should understand, let us prophesy; after ministry, let us serve; after teacheth, let him excel; after exhorteth, let him be assiduous; after giveth, let him give; after ruleth, let him rule; after mercy, let him show mercy.

There is question in these verses of what theologians call gratiae gratis datae, i.e., extraordinary and supernatural gifts, which God sometimes confers on certain persons, not on account of personal merits, nor for the spiritual advantage of the recipient, but rather for the general benefit of the Church. In the early days of the Church, when there was greater need of such extraordinary happenings, these gifts were often bestowed on the faithful. St. Paul makes particular mention of them in his First Epistle to the Corinthians. There he enumerates nine gifts, while here he speaks of only seven; but in neither place does he intend to do more than call the attention of the faithful to a few for the sake of illustration.

(6) According to the grace. This shows that the bestowal of the charismata does not depend on the personal merits of the recipient, but only on the free will of God. God distributes them as He will and to whom He will. Each one, therefore, should content himself with the gift he has received, and not desire that of another. 

Prophecy, i.e., a supernatural gift by which one knows hidden and future things, and which one uses to edify the Church (1 Cor 14:3 ff., 1 Cor 14:24) in explaining the sacred mysteries and stimulating the faithful to virtue. 

To be used is not in the Greek. 

According to the rule of faith. “Rule of faith” should be rather measure of faith, according to the Greek. By these words St. Paul cautions the prophet not to exceed the limits of his supernatural gift, that is, not to mix up his own personal thoughts with the suggestions that come from the Holy Ghost (Lagrange). The prophet is to use his gift for the benefit of the faith, and consequently in conformity with the teaching of faith; that is, he must use it secundum rationem fidei, id est non in vanum, sed ut per hoc fides confirmetur; non autem contra fidem (St. Thomas). This interpretation, following the Latin Fathers, regards the rule of faith as an objective measure, rather than as a subjective disposition. Cornely and the Greek Fathers, however, prefer this latter view; but it is difficult to see how one subjectively, could know whether or not he was exceeding the revelation given him (Lagrange).

In the Vulgate rationem fidei should be mensuram fidei. 

Rom 12:7. Or ministry, in ministering; or he that teacheth, in doctrine; 

Ministry, διακονιαν, is a general term embracing all ecclesiastical functions, but used here to designate certain services in the community, which are going to be enumerated. The offices about which there is question in this verse were of an extraordinary and supernatural kind, which required corresponding supernatural gifts in those who exercised them (Cornely). 

He that teacheth, etc. The change of construction may be merely for literary reasons, or because the different ways of ministering are now to be spoken of. The teacher (διδασκων) occupies the third place, after the Apostles and prophets (1 Cor 12:28; Eph 4:11). His office is to expound, elucidate and systematically explain the truths of Christianity. It does not appear that the teacher or doctor was inspired like the prophet, whose function was to discover and to declare. 

In doctrine, i.e., let the teacher faithfully exercise his office. 

Rom 12:8. He that cxhorteth, in exhorting; he that giveth, with simplicity; he that ruleth, with carefulness; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 

He that exhorteth (παρακαλων) . Nowhere else is this gift spoken of. It seems to have consisted in the special grace of imparting counsel and stimulus, or encouragement to others, thus moving them to the practice of virtue. 

He that giveth (ο μεταδιδους) is he that is moved by the Holy Ghost to give alms to the poor (1 Cor 13:3). 

With simplicity, i.e., not seeking one’s own interest, but only the welfare of his neighbor for God’s sake. 

He that ruleth (ο προισταμενος) does not refer to ecclesiastical superiors, properly speaking, but to those who were charged with various duties, such as looking after the widows, the orphans, the poor and the like (Cornely, Lagrange, etc.). 

With carefulness, i.e., let the office be exercised with zeal and fidelity. 

He that sheweth mercy (οG3588 T-NSM  ελεων) means one who gives personal care and attention to the miserable, the poor and the sick. 

With cheerfulness, i.e., with pleasantness and sweetness of manner, in order to show fulness of affection for those in distress, and to inspire hope (2 Cor 9:7).


A Summary of Romans 12:9-21~As in 1 Cor 12:31; 1 Cor 13:1 ff., so also here, after treating of the charismata or special gifts of Christians, St. Paul passes on to an enumeration of the general qualities of the faithful, beginning with charity (αγαπη), the most excellent gift of God to the soul. While the counsels that follow are not arranged in any very determinate and logical order, yet it can be said that the Apostle treats first of the mutual exercise of charity among the Christians (Rom 12:9-16), and then of duties toward
all men, especially one’s enemies (Rom 12:17-21). 

Rom 12:9. Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good. 

Love (η αγαπη), i.e., charity toward God and the neighbor. 

Without dissimulation, i.e., without hypocrisy (ανυποκριτος), sincere, and not from the lips only (2 Cor 6:6; 1 John 3:18). 

Hating that which is evil, etc. Our love for our neighbor should be regulated according to a stern and uncompromising moral standard, and so should detest evil and seek good wherever they are found. 

Rom 12:10. Loving one another with the charity of brotherhood, with honour preventing one another.

In verses 10-21 there is a remarkable series of coordinated participles, adjectives, infinitives (verse 15) and imperatives,—all of which have an imperative sense. The participles are expressive of habits which manifest themselves in daily life. 

With the charity of brotherhood. The Christians, being all of one faith and of one family, whose head is Christ, should have a fraternal love for one another. And this brotherly love among the Christians should prompt them to be eager to exhibit mutual signs of respect, one trying to get a start on the other, in external manifestations of honor and esteem (Cornely). Fr. Lagrange and others think St. Paul is speaking here of interior sentiments, rather than of external demonstrations. Naturally, however, the internal habit would show itself in external actions.

The fraternitatis of the Vulgate would better be fraterna. 

Rom 12:11. In carefulness not slothful. In spirit fervent. Serving the Lord. 

In carefulness, etc., i.e., in regard to solicitude we should be active and diligent in helping others and in executing our private duties. 

In spirit fervent, i.e., acting with great fervor of mind under the influence of the Holy Spirit. 

Serving the Lord. We should be animated with a spirit of great fervor, because we are serving our Lord Jesus Christ, to whose service we are entirely dedicated. The reading of the Vulgate, Domino servientes, is according to the best Greek reading, τω κυριω δουλευοντες; rather than serving the time, i.e., making good use of one’s time and opportunities. 

Rom 12:12. Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer. 

Rejoicing in hope, i.e., be joyous in the hope of heavenly rewards which wait upon the fervent Christian; be patient in tribulation, i.e., be constant and persevering (υπομενοντες) in trials, which lead to hope (v. 4) and increase your merits for future blessedness; be instant in prayer, i.e., be habitually devoted to prayer by which you obtain from God the grace necessary to observe all the other precepts of the law. 

Rom 13:13. Communicating to the necessities of the saints. Pursuing hospitality. 

Communicating, etc., i.e., imparting aid, when necessary, to your fellow-Christians, the saints, regarding their need as your own. 

Pursuing hospitality. The practice of hospitality is often inculcated in the New Testament (Heb 13:3; Titus 1:8; 1 Tim 3:2; 1 Pet 4:9), and was most necessary, because many of the Christians had been forced to leave all things to follow Christ. 

Rom 12:14. Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. 

Bless, etc. Although the Christians were subject to more or less constant persecution for their faith, still it was their duty to return good for evil, to love those that hated them, etc., as our Lord had commanded (Matt 5:44; Luke 6:27, etc.). The Apostle admonishes the Christians to wish their enemies well, and not to curse them. This was a vastly different spirit from that of the Jews who introduced into their official prayers maledictions against the Christians (cf. Lagrange, Le Messianisme, etc., p. 294). 

Rom 12:15. Rejoice with them that rejoice; weep with them that weep. 

Rejoice . . . weep. The infinitives here in Greek have an imperative meaning. Since the Christians are all members of one body, each one should share in the joy or sorrow of each other one. The Apostle says first, rejoice with them that rejoice, because, as St. Chrys. observes, “it requires a very generous soul, when your neighbor prospers, not only not to envy him, but even to rejoice with him; whereas only a stony heart is unmoved by the distress of another.” 

Rom 12:16. Being of one mind one towards another. Not minding high things, but consenting to the humble. Be not wise in your own conceits. 

Being of one mind, etc. The Apostle again counsels the Christians to cultivate modesty and humility—virtues which will promote mutual agreement among them, causing each one to feel and act towards his neighbor as towards himself. No one should on account of birth, riches or the like, consider himself better than his neighbor, because all are one with Christ (Gal 3:28), and there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, rich nor poor. 

Not minding high things, etc., i.e., in the social order, not in the intellectual and moral orders. 

Consenting to the humble, i.e., condescending to humble offices, being contented with humble gifts, not refusing to do anything, however lowly, provided it be good. Another interpretation understands the Apostle to mean that the Christians should condescend to live on a level and associate with those of lower condition of life and of lower culture. This interpretation makes τοις ταπεινοις (“but consenting to the humble”)  masculine here, as it is everywhere else in the Old and New Testaments, with the possible exception of Psalm 136:6; whereas the other understands it to be neuter, to refer to things and not to persons. Those who make the phrase neuter are influenced by the antithesis to τα υψηλα (“not minding higher things”).

Be not wise, etc., i.e., do not entertain so high an opinion of your own judgment as to despise and refuse the counsel of others; avoid self-conceit.

Rom 12:17. To no man rendering evil for evil. Providing good things, not only in the sight of God, but also in the sight of all men.

There is a turning now to the Christian’s attitude toward his enemies outside the community of the faithful.

To no man rendering evil for evil. This had been already forbidden by the Psalmist (Ps. 7:5) and by the sane moral code of the ancients (Lagr.). Cf. also Matt. 5:38; 1 Thess. 5:15; 1 Pet. 3:9, where all private revenge is prohibited.

Providing good things in the sight of all men, i.e., giving edification to all men, whether of the fold or not (Matt. 5:15).

The words, not only in the sight of God, but also, are most probably a gloss from 2 Cor. 8:21. Consequently the corresponding words of the Vulgate here ought to be omitted.

Rom 12:18. If it be possible, as much as in you, having peace with all men.

If it be possible, etc. St. Paul implies that it may be impossible always to live in peace with all men, because to do so would at times mean the forfeiture of the rights of conscience and of faith. In such a case, however, the disturber is the sinner who wishes wrong to triumph over right.

Rom 12:19. Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.

Revenge not, etc. One sure way of guarding peace is to forego all private revenge.

Give place unto wrath, i.e., avoid anger, leaving vindictive justice to God, who will finally avenge the injuries done to His saints.

It is written, in Deut. 32:35. The citation follows neither the Hebrew nor the LXX literally.

The defendentes of the Vulgate has the meaning of vindicantes, or of ulciscentes (Lagr.).

Rom 12:20. But if thy enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. For, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.

Not only should the Christian refrain from revenge, but he should positively succor his needy enemy. St. Paul backs up this precept with a quotation from Prov. 25:21 ff., cited according to the LXX. The meaning is that we are to be willing and ready to help our enemy, if we can, in any and every necessity.

Heap coals of fire, etc., means that, by the aforesaid generosity towards our enemy, we shall unintentionally inflict upon him healing pains of remorse and repentance for his past conduct, and thus effect his conversion (St. Aug., St. Jerome). Nothing is farther from the doctrine of Paul and the context of Prov. than to think we should be beneficent to our enemy for the sake of causing him pain. Such an attitude and intention on our part, if at all perceived by the enemy, would defeat its own purpose.

Rom 12:21. Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.

This verse confirms the interpretation given of the preceding verse. Evil feeds and thrives upon evil, but is wasted and conquered by good.

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Father Callan’s Commentary on Romans Chapter 11

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 30, 2016

Text in red, if any, are my additions

A Summary of Romans 11:1-10

Having shown in the preceding chapter that the rejection of the Jews was due to their own persistent disobedience and obstinacy to the will of God and the divine overtures, St. Paul now is at pains to observe that God, notwithstanding, has by no means ceased to be merciful to His chosen people. For their rejection is not complete; a good number have been converted, although the others have been hardened.

Rom 11:1. I say then: Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

After all the Apostle has said about the culpability and responsibility of the Jews (Rom 9:30-10:21), one would be inclined to think that Israel had been entirely rejected and had ceased to be the people of God. But even before this, when speaking of the absolute right of God to choose or to reject whom He will (Rom 9:6-26), the Apostle had insinuated, in a passing way, that there was still, as in former times of apostasy, a faithful remnant in whom the mercy of God was manifest. Here, borrowing the words of Psalm 94:14, he asks the question plainly whether God hath cast away his people. The answer must be negative, first because the Apostle’s teaching cannot be contrary to the promise of the inspired Psalmist. In the second place, he refers to himself, who was an Israelite of the seed of Abraham, i.e., a carnal descendant of the father of the Jewish race, and a member of the tribe of Benjamin which, with the tribes of Juda and Levi, had, in the past, remained faithful to the Lord (2 Cor. 11:22; Philip, 3:5). Finally, if God had entirely rejected the Jews, He would not have selected from among them “the ministers of Christ, and the dispensers of his mysteries” (1 Cor. 4:1), and sent them out to preach the faith to the Gentiles (Rom 1:5). So much for an indirect reply to the question proposed

Rom 11:2. God hath not cast away his people, which he foreknew. Know you not what the scripture saith of Elias; how he calleth on God against Israel?

St. Paul now responds directly to the above question. It is impossible that God should reject entirely and definitely all the Jews, because God does not thus change His eternal decrees (see Rom 11:28-29).

Which he foreknew, i.e., which he formerly recognized and willingly approved as His own people. There is no question here of those who God foreknew would be faithful to Him, or of the predestined (Cornely), but of the Jewish people as a whole, who would not be finally cast off by God.

Know you not, etc. The Apostle draws an example from the history of Elijah (1 Kings 19:10) to illustrate the designs of God in the present instance. It seemed to Elijah that the whole people had fallen into idolatry and had been rejected by God; but God revealed to the Prophet that a remnant had been preserved. So it is now. While it seems that all Israel has been rejected, there is no doubt that some will be saved.

The scripture, i.e., that section of the Old Testament which deals with Elijah (cf. Mark 12:26; Luke 20:37

Against Israel, i.e., accusing Israel.

Rom 11:3. Lord, they have slain thy prophets, they have dug down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.

The words of Elijah and the reply of God (1 Kings 19:10, 14, 18) are here abbreviated and cited according to the LXX. They have slain, i.e., the Israelites, at the command of the impious Jezabel, killed the Prophets (2 Kings 18:4).

They have dug down, etc., likely refers to private altars erected by pious Israelites on high places for good purposes, although contrary to the Law (Deut. 12:4 ff.). Living under an idolatrous king these Israelites were not able to adore God in Jerusalem (1 Kings 18:30), and so felt justified in building private altars. At any rate, to destroy these altars, as was done, out of hatred toward God, was very impious.

Alone, of the faithful who adored the true God; or of those faithful who were able to act for God, that is, of the Prophets (Lagrange, Beelen).

Rom 11:4. But what saith the divine answer to him? I have left me seven thousand men, that have not bowed their knees to Baal.

Answer. The word χρηματισμός (= chrēmatismos) here has the sense of an oracle; but it may also have the meaning of answer or reply, because generally the oracles responded to questions proposed. In reality there was an interrogation at the bottom of Elijah’s words to God: he was imploring God to intervene. To this God replied: I have left me, etc. In 1 Kings 19:18 we have the future: “I will leave me,” etc. The fact remains that seven thousand were preserved from idolatry. The divine reply makes manifest the power of God’s grace. In spite of the extraordinary persecution instituted by Ahab and Jezebel, under which it seemed that all Israel had suffered defection, the grace of God was able to preserve from idolatry and hold fast in the worship of the true God seven thousand men, i.e., an indeterminate but very great number (cf. Gen. 4:15; Lev. 26:18, 24, etc.).

Baal was the chief God of all the Canaanite tribes. Baal or Bel means the Lord, and especially the husband. We have here the feminine article with the masculine name, τη βααλ (= ho Baal), most probably because the Hellenist Jews wished to avoid the utterance of the idol’s name, and substituted in the reading, the shame, just as the name YHWH was written with the pointing of Adonai. Likely the LXX MS. which Paul was using had the reading τη βααλ (= ho Baal).

Rom 11:5. Even so then at this present time also, there is a remnant saved according to the election of grace.

Applying to his purpose the lesson of the preceding verses St. Paul says that, as in the time of Elias a number were preserved faithful, so now there is a remnant of the Jews saved, i.e., brought to Christianity.

According to the election of grace, i.e., in virtue of an election altogether gratuitous, and independent of merit on the part of the saved. The grace of justification can never be merited (Cone. Trid., Sess. VI, cap. 8).

St. Paul leaves all indeterminate the number of Jews that were actually converted to the faith. He is satisfied to note, (a) that the designs of God were not frustrated, because a remnant has been saved, which is a pledge of future restoration; and (b) that grace is the sole principle of one’s call.

In the Vulgate salvae should be omitted, and factae sunt should be fuerunt (Lagrange).

Rom 11:6. And if by grace, it is not now by works: otherwise grace is no more grace.

Having spoken of grace the Apostle takes occasion again to insist that grace and works are two opposing principles. What is of grace is entirely gratuitous; that which is from works is due as a recompense. The Council of Trent (1. c.) says: Nihil eorum, quae justificationem praecedunt, neque fidem neque opera, ipsam justifications gratiam promereri.

While St. Paul is speaking here of the call of God to Christianity, the principle he lays down is absolute. Both the call to justification and to eternal glory are equally gratuitous; but when one is already justified and living the life of grace there is no opposition between the works he performs, proceeding from grace, and grace itself. Therefore, works performed under the influence of grace are meritorious of life eternal. Of these latter works, however, there is no question in the present verse. Some of the Greek MSS. and a Syriac version add here: “But if of works, it is no longer grace: otherwise the work is no longer a work.” The addition contributes nothing to the sense already expressed.

Rom 11:7. What then? That which Israel sought, he hath not obtained: but the election hath obtained it; and the rest have been blinded.

This verse concludes what precedes in the present chapter.

What then, i.e., what should we say of Israel? As a nation the great majority of the Jews have not attained that which they sought; namely justification, because they sought it through works without the aid of faith and grace.

But the election, i.e., those who were chosen by God have obtained justification through faith and the grace of their divine election.

The rest have been blinded, hardened (επωρωθησαν = eporothesan), so that they have not recognized the Messiah and the true way of salvation.

That which Israel sought should be “that which Israel is seeking”; and hence also the quaerebat of the Vulgate ought to be present, quaerit, to correspond with the Greek.

Rom 11:8. As it is written: God hath given them the spirit of insensibility; eyes that they should not see; and ears that they should not hear, until this present day

The blindness of the Jews had already been foretold. St. Paul is citing freely, according to the LXX, and combining two texts,—the first from Isa. 29:10, the second from Deut. 29:3.

God hath given them, etc., i.e., on account of their own perversity and infidelity God withdrew His grace from the Jews, thus permitting them to have a spirit of insensibility, or moral torpor which made them incapable of seeing, hearing or understanding the truth, although it was in their very midst. The term κατανυξεως (= katanyexeos) (Vulg., compunctio) properly means a violent puncture (from κατάνυξις = katanuxis), and therefore great, numbing pain; but in its figurative sense, as used here by St. Paul and in the LXX (Isa 29:10; Ps. 60:5), it signifies torpor, profound sleep, deafness, etc. By reason of their blindness and deafness the Jews failed utterly to recognize Christ and His preaching, or the Apostles and their preaching, in spite of all the miracles that were worked in their presence in confirmation of that preaching.

Until this present day. These words show the persistence of the divine plan, and that the Jews of the time of Moses and Isaias were a type of the Jews in the time of our Lord (Matt 23:32).

Rom 11:9. And David saith: Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompense unto them.
Rom 11:10. Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see: and bow down their back always.

The better to point out the blindness of the Jews, St. Paul now cites the testimony of the Psalmist (Ps. 69:23-24), whose imprecated curses on the Jews of his own time were typical of the punishment that had justly fallen on those of the Apostle’s time. The Jews, says the Apostle, have come to regard as advantageous for themselves that which is their ruin.

Let their table be made a snare, etc., i.e., let their table be like a bait which draws the bird to the trap (Cornely); or let their table be set with poisoned dishes destined for certain guests who, nevertheless, will oblige the hosts themselves to consume those dishes (Lagrange). The term “table” principally means the Sacred Scriptures, which were spread out before the Jews as spiritual nourishment, but which were converted by them into sources of error and mischief, and were turned by the Christians against them (MacEvilly).

Let their eyes be darkened, etc. What the Psalmist imprecates for his enemies, who were also his own people, St. Paul applies to the Jews. The Law, which was intended to be a help and a guide for the Jews, and to lead them to Christ, on account of their willful perversity became a grievous yoke and burden that bowed them down to earthly things.

According to St. Paul the hardening of the Jews was the chastisement of a first fault (Rom 1:26). It was, therefore, voluntary (Rom 10), but was not directly relative to life eternal. It prevented the Jews from recognizing the Messiah; but, being only temporary, it can always be changed for the nation as a whole, to say nothing of individuals, for whose conversion the Apostle was ever solicitous (Lagrange).


A Summary of Romans 11:11-24~The rejection of the majority of the Jews is a source of great mystery and profound sorrow. And yet there is reason for consolation, because, in the first place, a few have been saved already, and then, the rejection of the nation as a whole is only a temporary evil which, in the designs of God, is made to serve for the conversion of the Gentiles.

Rom 11:11. I say then, have they so stumbled, that they should fall? God forbid. But by their offence, salvation is come to the Gentiles, that they may be emulous of them.

Have they so stumbled, that, etc. Comely and others give to “that” (ινα) the sense of finality, as if St. Paul wished to ask if God, by justly withdrawing His graces from the Jews, blinded their greater number and permitted them to stumble for the purpose of making them fall without any hope of reparation. In this opinion, there is question here, not of the gravity, but of the purpose or end of the Jews’ fall. But St. Chrysostom,  Lagrange, etc., hold that ινα has not a final meaning here, and that the sense is rather, whether the fall of the Jews is so great as to admit of no cure or remedy. At any rate, the stumbling of the Jews was not just that they might fall, nor that their fall should be irremediable, as the Apostle’s reply, vigorously negative, plainly shows, and as is clear from what follows in the verse. St. Paul then goes on to explain the designs of God in permitting the Jews to go astray.

By their offence, etc., i.e., through the blindness of the Jews in not recognizing the Messiah and their unwillingness to accept the Apostle’s preaching (Acts 13:45-48) the Gospel was carried to the Gentiles, and the error of the Jews became the occasion of the salvation of the pagans. This is the first and immediate result of the fall of the Jews. The second result is the salvation of the Jews themselves; for the salvation given to the Gentiles will finally rouse Israel to competition and emulation (παραζηλωσαι αυτους). The Jews will at length understand that their God has become the God of the Gentiles, that the Scriptures given to them have passed to others, and that God has withdrawn His blessings from His chosen people and bestowed them upon their pagan neighbors. When this takes place, the anger and jealousy of the Jews will have reached their climax and will be the occasion of a reaction against past errors, and a consequent return to the God of their forefathers. Thus, the hardening of Israel permitted by God was ordained to the salvation of the Gentiles, and the salvation of the Gentiles is ordained in turn to that of the Jews themselves (cf.

Lagrange, h. 1.).

Rom 11:12. Now if the offence of them be the riches of the world, and the diminution of them, the riches of the Gentiles; how much more the fulness of them?

If the failure of Israel has brought such great benefits to the world, how enormous will be the benefit of the final conversion of all the Jews! 

If the offence (παραπτωμα) of them (αυτων), i.e., of those hardened, be the riches of the world, i.e., be the occasion of the conversion of the Gentiles to the faith, and the diminution (ηττημα) of them (αυτων), i.e., the defeat, the loss of those hardened, be the means of inestimable blessings to the pagans, how much more the fulness (πληρωμα) of them (αυτων), i.e., how much greater blessings will come to the world from the total conversion to the faith of all the Jews!

In this interpretation, following Lagrange, we have given to the first and second αυτων (“them”) the meaning of those hardened, and to the third, the meaning of all the Jews. We have understood ηττημα (“diminution”) here to mean, not the remnant, a small number; but defeat, loss.  πληρωμα (“fulness”) means the completing of Israel, i.e., the adding of the hardened (who will cease to be such) to the faithful Jews.

Rom 11:13. For I say to you, Gentiles : as long indeed as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I will honour my ministry,
Rom 11:14. If, by any means, I may provoke to emulation them who are my flesh, and may save some of them. 

I say to you, Gentiles. Continuing the theme of verses 11, 12 St. Paul openly speaks to the Gentiles, showing that the community to which he was writing was chiefly composed of them. He tells them that as long as, i.e., inasmuch as (εφ οσον not followed by χρóνον) he is the apostle of the Gentiles he honors his ministry, by consecrating himself entirely to it, with the ulterior purpose of exciting the jealousy of his fellow-Jews and moving them to emulate the faithful Gentiles, thus saving some of them now, and all in the end (verse 25). In St. Paul’s mind there is question of the design of God which cannot be fully accomplished, even to the profit of the Gentiles, if the ultimate salvation of the Jews is not first assured. His zeal for the one would work also the profit of the other, and the profit of the latter would in turn add to and complete that of the former (Lagrange).

I will honour should be “I do honour” (δοξαζω) my ministry, by devoting myself entirely to the services of the Gentiles, but not for their profit alone, as explained above.

In the Vulgate quamdiu would better be quatenus, and honorificabo should be honorifico, to agree with the Greek. 

Rom 11:15. For if the loss of them be the reconciliation of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

The thought of verse 12 is taken up here and developed more vividly. If the loss, etc., i.e., if the rejection of the Jews from the Messianic kingdom be the reconciliation, etc., i.e., be the occasion of bringing the Gentiles into the Church of Christ, what great joy and spiritual benefits will result to Christ’s kingdom from the receiving of them in mass into the Church. 

But life from the dead, ει μη ζωη εκ νεκρων. These words have been variously interpreted. Some say they refer to the final consummation before the Second Coming of Christ, and consequently to the general resurrection of the dead, of which the conversion in mass of the Jews will be the signal (Origen, St. Chrysostom, St. Thomas, Lagrange, etc.). But as the terms here used are not very precise, one cannot well conjecture what relation of time there will be between the final conversion of the Jews and the general resurrection of the dead (Lagrange). Others think there is reference in the above words to an increase of spiritual life, among the Christians already converted, that will come from the final conversion of the Jews (MacEvilly). Cornely rejects this last explanation. He disapproves of the first one also, because he says that St. Paul, when speaking of the general resurrection uses a different phrase, η αναστασις or εκ νεκρων. He therefore believes the Apostle is speaking indeterminately here, as in verse 12, of some wonderful benefit and happiness that are to result from the final and total conversion of the Jews; or that this final restoration of the Jews will be a good so great, as to be comparable to the resurrection of the dead.

Rom 11: 16. For if the firstfruit be holy, so is the lump also: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

Although the Law has been abrogated and the mass of the Jews have been rejected, still, St. Paul reminds his Roman readers, the designs of God regarding His people have not failed, nor has the Jewish race ceased to belong, in a certain sense, to God, and to be consecrated to Him. This the Apostle proves by two comparisons.

The firstfruit and the root mean the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc., who were holy men and faithful servants of God.

The lump and the branches are the Jewish people, the descendants of the Patriarchs. When the Jews made bread they were accustomed to put aside a piece of the dough which they baked into a small cake to be offered to God and burnt, or given to the priest (Num. 15:19-21). The whole mass was considered to have a part in the consecration of this portion that was offered to God. Thus the Jews, by reason of their natural connection with their ancestors, the Patriarchs, who were holy men consecrated to God, have also a kind of holiness and consecration to God, even though it be only an external relation like that of the lump and the branches.

Rom 11:17. And if some of the branches be broken, and thou, being a wild olive, art ingrafted in them, and art made partaker of the root and of the fatness of the olive tree,
Rom 11:18. Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee

Lest any of the Romans should feel puffed up and boastful over their call to the faith, and should therefore be inclined to despise the rejected Jews, St. Paul reminds them that they owe their inclusion in the stock of Israel only to that mercy of God which first looked with favor on the chosen people, and that if they guard not with fidelity the gratuitous gift they have received, they too will come short of their destined prizes (see Rom 11:20). No Gentile, therefore, should boast of his own condition or rejoice at that of the fallen Jew, but should rather fear for himself, while hoping for mercy toward the Jews.

The broken branches are the rejected Jews.

The wild olive represents the Gentile whom St. Paul has in mind, and who, like all the converted Gentiles, has, by the mercy of God and without any merit of his own, been ingrafted in them, i.e., has been ingrafted among (Cornely) the converted Jews and become partaker of the root, etc., i.e., of the blessings which were the Jews’ by right of inheritance.

Boast not, etc., because you remember that once you were a stranger to the covenant with God, without hope or promise in this world (Eph. 2:11-12), and that you were liberated from your misery only by being grafted on the true stock. The Gentile has nothing, then, whereof to boast, because salvation is from the Jews to the Gentiles (John 4:22), and not from the Gentiles to the Jews.

The branches (verse 18) refers to all the Jews (St. Thomas). The verbs “be broken” and “art ingrafted” should be in the past tense, according to the Greek.

St. Paul here speaks of the wild olive being grafted upon the cultivated variety. This causes some difficulty, inasmuch as the ordinary process of grafting was to graft a domestic shoot on a stock of the same kind, after cutting away all the original branches. But Prof. Fischer (Ramsay, Pauline Studies, p. 223 ff.) relates an exceptional process which was employed to invigorate an old olive tree that was failing; the branches of the old tree having been cut away, a shoot of the wild olive was grafted on the domestic stock to invigorate and render fertile the old tree. This process of grafting is witnessed to by two Roman writers, Columella, De re rustica, V. 9, and Palladius, De incisione, XIV. 53, and, according to Prof. Fischer, is in practice in Palestine at the present day.

Rom 11:19. Thou wilt say then : The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.

The Gentile is here represented as justifying his triumph by the fact that his inclusion was the purpose of the Jews’ rejection. As the gardener cuts away the branches in order to insert the new shoot, so the Jews were rejected in order that the Gentiles might be brought in. The role of the Jews, therefore, like that of the Law, was only preparatory; in the designs of God they have been replaced by the Gentiles (Lagr.).

Rom 11:20. Well: because of unbelief they were broken off. But thou standest by faith: be not highminded, but fear.

There was something of truth in the above argument of the supposed boastful Gentile, and St. Paul replies, not without irony, καλως, well. But he at once observes that the Jews were cut off and rejected for the precise reason that they did not believe, they had not sufficient humility to accept on faith the Gospel teaching; whereas the Gentiles, by believing, have come into the inheritance which was primarily intended for the Jews. It was, then, the faith, the humility, the obedience and submission of the Gentiles that made possible for them the bestowal of God’s gratuitous gift of faith. But this gift can be retained only by profound humility and fidelity, and hence the necessity of eschewing all pride and high-mindedness, and of cultivating the fear of God.

Because of unbelief should rather be “by unbelief” τη απιστια, corresponding to “by faith.” τη πιστει,—datives of cause or occasion (Cornely).

In the Vulgate propter incredulitatem should be incredulitate.

Rom 11:21. For if God hath not spared the natural branches, fear lest perhaps he also spare not thee.

St. Paul admonishes the Gentile whom he has before his mind to give up all high thoughts of self and to school himself in humility and fear, lest what happened to the Jews happen to him also. The Apostle is not saying here that the Gentile is going to be cut off, nor that he could be rejected more easily than the Jews were rejected (Lagr.).

Rom 11:22. See then the goodness and the severity of God: towards them indeed that are fallen, the severity; but towards thee, the goodness of God, if thou abide in goodness, otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

In order still more to inculcate salutary sentiments of humility and fear, St. Paul draws the Gentile’s attention to God’s actions toward the Jews and Gentiles respectively. Toward the Jews, in punishment of their unbelief, God has shown severity; but to the Gentiles, for contrary reasons, He has exhibited goodness and mercy by calling them gratuitously to the faith. 

If thou abide, etc., i.e., if the Gentile perseveres in the faith received, and continues to live under the divine influence of the Goodness that blessed him with faith, God will also continue to manifest His mercy toward him. 

Otherwise thou also shalt be cut off, because the just man can fall from the state of grace and justice, and no one, apart from special revelation, can be infallibly certain of his own perseverance
(Conc. Trid., Sess. VI. cap. 16, 23).

Canon 16 of Trent reads; If anyone says that a man who is born again and justified is bound ex fide to believe that he is certainly in the number of the predestined, let him be anathema.

Canon 23: If anyone says that a man once justified can sin no more, nor lose grace,[124] and that therefore he that falls and sins was never truly justified; or on the contrary, that he can during his whole life avoid all sins, even those that are venial, except by a special privilege from God, as the Church holds in regard to the Blessed Virgin, let him be anathema. (source). On may also consult chapters 13 & 14 of the decree here.

Rom 11:23. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.

If the Jews will give up their unbelief, they also will be grafted on the faithful stock; the obstacle comes from them, because they refuse to believe in Jesus Christ. But God is able to triumph over their unbelief, since His power is infinite. St. Paul’s hope for Israel, hinted in Rom 11:12, is here explicitly declared.

Rom 11:24. For if thou wert cut out of the wild olive tree, which is natural to thee; and, contrary to nature, were grafted into the good olive tree; how much more shall they that are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

It is more natural, and therefore easier to graft on a tree a homogeneous than a heterogeneous shoot. In fact, for successful grafting there must be some affinity of nature between the subject and the shoot; one can only use for grafting, therefore, varieties of the same species, or at least of the same genus. If the Gentiles, who were like the wild olive, have been grafted on the domestic tree of Israel, how much more natural, and how much easier, to our way of thinking, will it be to graft the Israelites, who are the natural branches, into their own olive tree.

Contrary to nature, i.e., beside the natural course of nature, praeter naturam.

The natural branches. The Jews were the natural descendants of Abraham and the Patriarchs, and as such, the natural heirs of the Messianic promises and blessings.


A Summary of Romans 11:25-32~God’s final purpose is to save both Gentiles and Jews. They both have sinned and have been made to feel the wrath of God (1:18-2:29), but infinite mercy outstretches man’s wickedness and in the end will triumph over all; God’s designs do not change, nor does His will go unfulfilled. The salvation of all Israel is closely connected with the conversion of the Gentiles, as was foretold by the Prophets. It is according to the divine plan that Israel and the pagans should mutually help each other, and that both in the end should be objects of the divine mercy. 

Rom 11:25. For I would not have you ignorant, brethren, of this mystery (lest you should be wise in your own conceits), that blindness in part has happened in Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in. 

I would not have you ignorant, brethren. This is a favorite phrase of St. Paul’s when he wishes to speak confidentially and announce some matter of great importance (Rom 1:13; 1 Cor 10:1; 12:1; 2 Cor 1:8; 1 Thess 4:13). He is speaking to the Gentile Christians, and he wishes to remind them of doctrines already familiar to the Church in general, namely, that the Jews were to be hardened (Matt 12:38-48; 13:11-16; 23:29-36), that the failure of Israel would bring in the Gentiles (Matt 20:1-16; 24:14), and that the Jews themselves would at last turn to Christ (Matt 23:39; Luke 13:35). 

This mystery, i.e., the final conversion of Israel to Christianity, which will take place after the conversion of the Gentiles, but before the end of the world. St. Paul calls this great truth a mystery, because it could not be known short of revelation, and was in fact revealed to him by God along with the other truths of the Gospel of Christ (Gal 1:12, 16; Eph 2:11-22; 3:1-13). 

Lest you be wise, etc. The quotation is from Prov 3:7. The Apostle is admonishing the Gentiles to guard against self-conceit, as if they had merited their call to the faith, and also against despising the rejected Jews. 

Blindness in part, etc. While the Jews as a people had failed to accept the Gospel, a number of them had been converted. And the blindness or obduracy of the majority is not to last forever; but until the fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, i.e., until the other nations of the world have accepted the Gospel and entered the Church of Christ. It is to be noted that this fulness of the Gentiles relates to peoples, not to individuals: all the nations or peoples of the earth will be converted to Christ before the end of the world, but not all the individuals of each nation (St. Thomas, Cornely, Lagrange, etc.).

God, therefore, in His all-wise designs has called a few of the Jews to the faith already. He has made the incredulity of the majority the occasion of the conversion of the Gentiles, and this latter He will make in turn the occasion for the final call to the faith of all the Jews. We have no sign, however, that this general conversion of the world will be soon. Here it may be useful to recall what Origen said on this subject: “God only knows, and His Only-begotten Son, and any friends that may be privy to His secrets, what is all Israel that is to be saved, and what is the fulness of the Gentiles that is to come in.” 

Rom 11:26. And so all Israel should be saved, as it is written: There shall come out of Sion, he that shall deliver, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. 

All Israel does not mean the predestined (St. Augustine), nor all the Jews taken individually (St. Thomas), but the mass of the people, as opposed to individuals who are converted during the time that intervenes before the last days come. Israel then as a nation, like the other nations of the world, will finally embrace the faith; but it will not be until after all those others have been gathered in that she shall enter the fold of Christ. What fate has overtaken or awaits those Jews who have been hardened meanwhile, St. Paul does not anywhere tell us. 

As it is written. The Apostle has been speaking of a mystery which he has learned through revelation, and he confirms the truth of it by showing that it was already more or less clearly foretold in the Old Test. (Isa 59:20). The citation is fairly literal from the LXX, which faithfully follows the Hebrew with the exception that where the latter has “out of Sion,” the LXX has “for Sion’s sake.” In the best MSS. the quotation is read as follows: “There shall come out of Sion the deliverer: he shall turn away impieties from Jacob.” St. Paul seems to make the citation refer in a general way to the Second Coming of Christ, although the conversion of the Jews will just precede that Second Coming, and will be a consequence of the first advent of the Saviour. 

Rom 11:27. And this is to them my covenant: when I shall take away their sins. 

The first part of this verse is from Isa 59:21, and the second from Isa 27:9. God promises to make a new alliance with the people of Israel, when He will take away their sins and confer upon them forever His spirit and His doctrine.

In verses 25-27 we have the following unfulfilled prophecies: (a) Before the end of the world all Gentile nations shall be converted to Christianity, that is, the greater part of all nations, not all the individuals of each nation (St. Thomas); (b) after the conversion of the Gentiles, but before the end of the world, the Jews as a people will embrace Christianity. The fulfillment of these prophecies, and therefore the end of all things seem yet far off. 

Rom 11:28. As concerning the gospel, indeed, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are most dear for the sake of the fathers.

The present incredulity of the Jews will not hinder the final realization of God’s promises to them. God still loves them in their faithful ancestors. 

As concerning the gospel, i.e., inasmuch as they have wilfully rejected the Gospel, the only means of salvation, they are enemies (εχθροι, odiosi), i.e., hateful to God (St. Thomas, Lagrange, etc.), and so have been excluded by God from their Messianic inheritance. This has happened to them, in the designs of God, for your sake, i.e., for the benefit of you Gentiles, because their unfaithfulness has been the occasion of your call to the Gospel (Rom 11:11, 12, 15). 

But as touching the election, i.e., as regards their election from among all other peoples, by which they were made God’s chosen people and the depositories and custodians of God’s special revelation and divine promises, they are most dear to God for the sake of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob— God’s special friends and faithful servants. 

Rom 11:29. For the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance. 

God will not forsake His people forever, because His special gifts and calling are without repentance, and are consequently not subject to change (cf. 2 Cor 7:10). The Apostle is not speaking here of an invariable rule of Providence as regards creatures, but only of the great designs of God, such as respected the gifts and privileges of Israel and the latter’s call to be the adopted people of the Most High. As regards these privileges God will never change, or repent of having conceded them, because He pledged them to the Patriarchs with an oath (Deut 7:6-11). Despite, therefore, the unfaithfulness of the Jews, God will be true to His promises and will one day convert them as a whole to the faith. The call still holds if Israel will hear.

We read in 1 Kings 15:11 that God repented that He had chosen Saul; but the rejection of this king was only an episode, comparable to the temporary hardening of the Jews (Lagrange). 

Rom 11:30. For as you also in times past did not believe God, but now have obtained mercy, through their unbelief;
Rom 11:31. So these also now have not believed, for your mercy, that they also may obtain mercy.

As mercy has found the Gentiles and led them to the faith, so at last it will seek out the Jews and bring them to Christianity. 

As you Gentiles in times past were rebellious to the call of God and thus became an object of mercy, thanks to the obstinacy of the Jews, which has facilitated your conversion; so the Jews, now hardened, will become obedient to the Gospel on account of the mercy which you have experienced (Cornely, Lipsius, Julicher, etc.). In this interpretation the mercy shown to the Gentiles will be the occasion of showing mercy to the Jews, because it will excite the latter to jealous emulation. But since St. Paul has insisted on this thought several times before, and since it does not so well fit in with verse 32, it would seem that the Apostle is here rather drawing out a general idea, namely, that it is the purpose of God to permit all to fall into disobedience, so as to give play to the exercise of mercy. The ancient disobedience of the Gentiles has been followed by mercy, and likewise the disobedience of the Jews will finally issue in a display of mercy (Lagr., Kuhl, S. H., etc.).

Modern interpreters generally suppose ηπειθησαν to signify to be disobedient, and απειθειαν to mean disobedience. 

Rom 11:32. For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that he may have mercy on all. 

Hath concluded (συνεκλεισεν) , has enslaved. 

All (τους παντας) refers not to the hardened Jews only, nor to individuals among the Gentiles and Jews, but to all classes, as explained above. 

In unbelief (απειθειαν), i.e., in disobedience. All, therefore,—Jews and Gentiles, have sinned and need justification, which only the mercy of God can procure; the sinful Gentiles have already been touched by God’s mercy, and the wayward Jews shall later yield to the same merciful Providence.

The omnia of the Vulgate should be omnes here, to agree with the Greek. In incredulitate should be in inobedientiam. 


A Summary of Romans 11:33-36~These verses conclude the Dogmatic Part of the Epistle, but they are suited in a special manner to terminate chapters 9-11. In these chapters something has been said of the purposes and ways of God in dealing with humanity. Enough has been shown to confirm our faith and hope in God, the veil has been drawn aside sufficiently to give us dim glimpses of the great realities that lie behind; but with and around it all, as the Apostle now says, deep clouds of mystery hang: the infinite knowledge and wisdom of God, His inscrutable judgments and far-off deep counsels are not only but faintly reached, but are of their very nature so far beyond our utmost human capacities of comprehension that we can only bow our heads in faith and humble obedience, ever trusting, in the dire problems and experiences of life, to God’s infinite goodness, wisdom and mercy for the solution of all our difficulties. 

Rom 11:33. O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How  incomprehensible are his judgments, and how unsearchable his ways

O the depth. All the Greek MSS. and the Fathers read: “O depth of riches and of wisdom and of knowledge of God.” “Depth” may signify height, as well as profundity; here it means the immensity of God’s riches, wisdom, etc. 

Riches represents the treasures of God’s goodness and mercy (Rom 10:12; Eph 3:8, etc.). 

Wisdom indicates the divine prudence with which God governs all creatures and leads them to their ends which have been ordained from all eternity. 

Knowledge means the science with which God penetrates all things, knowing and choosing the means most fitted to their ends. The end here in question is the salvation of souls, to which God has ordered faith in Christ as a means. 

How incomprehensible, etc. The reasons which underlie God’s judgments in showing mercy to some rather than to others are altogether inscrutable to the mind of man. 

How unsearchable, etc. The ways which God takes and the means He employs in executing the decrees of His infinite knowledge are beyond the power of any creature to trace.

In the Vulgate et should precede sapientiae. 

Rom 11:34. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been his counsellor?
Rom 11:35. Or who hath first given to him, and recompense shall be made him? 

St. Paul confirms the profundity of God’s divine attributes by three citations from the Old Testament, the first two of which are almost literally from the LXX of Isaiah 40:13, 14, and the third from the Hebrew text of Job 41:3. God reveals to some extent, but His mind is open to no one, because none can penetrate the divine thoughts; He draws His counsels from no one, for He has no need of counselors; to none is He indebted, since He is the source and ruler and end of all. 

Rom 11:36. For of him, and by him, and in him, are all things: to him be glory for ever. Amen.

We can neither penetrate the knowledge of God, nor aid Him with our counsels, nor help Him with our resources, because all things are of him, i.e., they depend upon Him as upon their cause and creator; all things are by him, i.e., they are sustained by Him; all things are in him, or unto him (εις αυτον), i.e., they tend to Him as to their last end (Comely, Lagr., Zahn). Origen, St. Aug. and others have seen an allusion to the Trinity in the three expressions of him, by him, and in him; but there is no good reason for this opinion (Cornely, Lagr.). 

To him be glory, etc. Thus, by calling on all creatures to give glory to God, does the Apostle terminate the Dogmatic Portion of this great Epistle.

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Commentaries for the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time, Year II

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 29, 2016


Year A: Commentaries for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Year B: Commentaries for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Year C: Commentaries for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Haydock Bible Commentary on 1 Kings 21:1-16.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Kings 21:1-16.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 5.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 5.

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 5.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 5.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 5.

Psalm 5 and the Catholic Encyclopedia. Greek, English & Latin text hyperlinked to the C E.

My Notes on Psalm 5.

Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 5:38-42.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 5:38-42.

St Augustine’s Commentary on Matthew 5:38-42.

St John Chrysostom’s Commentary Matthew 5:38-42.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 5:38-42.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 5:38-42.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Kings 21:17-29.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 51.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 51.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 51.

Part 1 of St John Fisher’s Commentary on Psalm 51.

Part 2 of St John Fisher’s Commentary on Psalm 51.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 51.

Psalm 51 and the Catholic Encyclopedia. Greek, English & Latin text hyperlinked to the C E.

Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 5:43-48.

St John Chrysostom’s Homiletic Commentary on Matthew 5:43-48.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 5:43-48.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 5:43-48.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 5:43-48.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Kings 2:1, 6-14.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 31.

Pending (maybe) My Notes on Psalm 31:20, 21, 24).

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 31.

Psalm 31 and the Catholic Encyclopedia. Greek, English and Latin text hyerlinked to the C E.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18.

John MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18.

My Notes on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18. Originally posted for Ash Wednesday.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Sirach 48:1-14.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 97.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 97.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 97.

Psalm 97 and the Catholic Encyclopedia. Greek, English & Latin text hyperlinked to the C E.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 6:7-15.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 6:7-15.

John MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 6:7-15.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 6:7-15.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Kings 11:1-4, 9-18, 20.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 132.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 132.

St Albert the Great’s Commentary on Psalm 132.

Pope Benedict XVI”s Commentary on Psalm 132. You can scroll down to part two which deals with the verses used today.

Psalm 132 and the Catholic Encyclopedia. Greek, English & Latin text hyperlinked to the C E.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 6:19-23.

John MacEvilly’s Commentary on Matthew 6:19-23.

Pending: Father Maas’ Commentary on Matthew 6:19-23.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 6:19-23.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Today’s Divine Office.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Chronicles 24:17-25.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 89.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 89.

Psalm 89 and the Catholic Encyclopedia. Greek, English & Latin text hyperlinked to the C E.

Bishop Knecht’s Practical Commentary on Matthew 6:24-34.

Father MacEvily’s Commentary on Matthew 6:24-34.

Maldonado’s Commentary on Matthew 6:24-34.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Matthew 6:24-34.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Matthew 6:24-34.


Year A: Commentaries for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Year B: Commentaries for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Year C: Commentaries for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Daily Catholic Lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Commentaries for the Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 29, 2016



Today’s Mass Readings (NABRE). Translation used in the USA.

Today’s Mass Readings (NJB). Scroll down slightly. The NJB is used in most other English speaking countries.

Today’s Divine Office.

Anglican Use Daily Office. ”Briefly, it is a provision for an “Anglican style” liturgy similar to the Book of Common Prayer as an ecclesiastically approved variant on the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.” More info.

COMMENTARIES ON THE FIRST READING: Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1.

Word Sunday’s Notes on Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1.

Homilist’s Catechism on Zechariah 12:10-11, 13:1.


Father Boylan’s Introduction and Notes to Psalm 63. Whole psalm.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 63. Whole psalm.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 63. Whole psalm.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 63. Whole Psalm.

Pending (maybe): My notes on Psalm 63: 2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9.

Word Sunday Notes on Psalm 63. Whole Psalm.


Navarre Bible Commentary on Galatians 3:26-29.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Galatians 3:26-29. On 23-29.

Bishop MacEvilly’s Commentary on Galatians 3:26-29. On 23-29.

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on Galatians 3:26-29. On 23-29.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Galatians 3:26-29. On 22-29.

St Thomas Aquinas Lecture on Galatians 3:26-29.

Word Sunday’s Notes on Galatians 3:26-29.

Homilist’s Catechism on Galatians 326-29.


Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 9:18-24. On 18-27.

St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Luke 9:18-24.

Word Sunday’s Notes on Luke 9:18-24.

Homilist’s Catechism on Luke 9:18-24.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 9:18-24.


Sacred Page Blog: A Turn Toward the Passion. Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma on the readings.

Sacerdos. Gives theme of the readings, doctrinal message, suggested pastoral applications.

The Bible Workshop. Guide to the Gospel; review of the readings, suggestions for a lesson (i.e., homily).

Scripture in Depth. Succinct summary of the readings.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background.

Thought From the Early Church. Brief commentary on the Gospel from an St Cyril of Alexandria.


Dr. Scott Hahn’s Podcast. Very brief. does good job of highlighting the major theme(s).

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast on Galatians 3:23 ff. Covers today’s second reading and the first 7 or 8 verses of chapter 4.

Institute of Catholic Culture’s Podcast Lectures on Galatians. Two lectures.

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast Study of Luke 8 & 9.

Update: Sunday Gospel Scripture Study. Very good study of the gospel.

Father Robert Barron’s Podcast Homily: Zechariah’s Story. From a noted speaker and theologian.

Father Francis Martin’s Reflections on the Sunday Readings in 4 Parts: Run time approximate.

Part 1: Introduction: Redemptive Suffering. 15 minutes.
Part 2: On the First Reading and the Psalm. 15 minutes.
Part 3: On the Second Reading. 15 minutes.
Part 4: On the Gospel Reading. 15 minutes.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic Sunday Lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 5

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 29, 2016

The following is under copyright and appears courtesy of Dr. Stephen Loughlin and the Aquinas Translation Project.

Psalm 5

a. In finem, pro ea quae consequitur haereditatemVerba mea auribus percipe Domine: intellige clamorem meum. Intende voci orationis meae, rex meus, et Deus meus. Quoniam ad te orabo Domine. Unto the end. For her that obtaineth the inheritance.Give ear, O Lord, to my words, understand my cry. Hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God. For to thee will I pray: O Lord,
b. Mane exaudies vocem meam. Mane astabo tibi et videbo, quoniam non Deus volens iniquitatem tu es. Neque habitabit iuxta te malignus, neque permanebunt iniusti ante oculos tuos. in the morning thou shalt hear my voice. In the morning I will stand before thee, and will see: because thou art not a God that willest iniquity. Neither shall the wicked dwell near thee: nor shall the unjust abide before thy eyes.
c. Odisti omnes qui operantur iniquitatem: perdes omnes qui loquuntur mendacium. Virum sanguinum et dolosum abominabitur Dominus. Thou hatest all the workers of iniquity: thou wilt destroy all that speak a lie. The bloody and the deceitful man the Lord will abhor.
d. Ego autem in multitudine misericordiae tuae, introibo in domum tuam, adorabo ad templum sanctum tuum in timore tuo. But as for me in the multitude of thy mercy, I will come into thy house; I will worship towards thy holy temple, in thy fear.
e. Domine deduc me in iustitia tua, propter inimicos meos: dirige in conspectu tuo viam meam. Conduct me, O Lord, in thy justice: because of my enemies, direct my way in thy sight.
f. Quoniam non est in ore eorum veritas: cor eorum vanum est. Sepulcrum patens est guttur eorum, linguis suis dolose agebant. For there is not truth in their mouth: their heart is vain. Their throat is an open sepulcher: they dealt deceitfully with their tongues:
g. Iudica illos Deus. Decidant a cogitationibus suis, secundum multitudinem impietatum eorum expelle eos: quoniam irritaverunt te Domine. judge them, O God. Let them fall from their devices: according to the multitude of their wickednesses cast them out: for they have provoked thee, O Lord.
h. Et laetentur omnes qui sperant in te: in aeternum exultabunt, et habitabis in eis. Et gloriabuntur in te omnes, qui diligunt nomen tuum. But let all them be glad that hope in thee: they shall rejoice for ever, and thou shalt dwell in them. And all they that love thy name shall glory in thee:
i. Quoniam tu benedices iusto. Domine, ut scuto bonae voluntatis tuae coronasti nos. For thou wilt bless the just. O Lord, thou hast crowned us, as with a shield of thy good will.
a. Supra Psalmista orationem proposuit contra persequentes manifeste; hic contra dolosos orat, ne decipiatur. Et circa hoc duo facit. Primo ponit petitionem contra dolosos, ne decipiatur. Secundo, ut lapsus reparetur, ibi, Domine ne in furore etc. Previously, the Psalmist set forth his prayer in no uncertain terms against those who were pursuing him. Here, he prays against those who perpetrate deceptions, that he might not be deceived. Concerning this he does two things. First, he puts forth his petition against these deceivers, that he might not be deceived, and secondly, that he might be restored from a failure on his part, at, O Lord, rebuke me not (Psalm 6:2).
Hic psalmus habet titulum in quo est aliquid novi, qui talis est; In finem pro ea quae consequitur hereditatem. Ubi tangitur figura et mysterium. Figura quidem intelligi potest dupliciter. Primo, secundum quod glossa exponit, et habetur in historia Genesis 21, quod Sara videns ludentem Ismaelem cum Isaac filio suo, turbata est, et dixit ad Abraham: Ejice ancillam hanc et filium ejus: non enim erit heres filius ancillae cum filio meo Isaac. Intellexit quidem Sara ludum illum persecutionem esse contra Isaac; Abraham autem dure accepit quod dixerat Sara de filio suo Ismaele; sed dixit ei Deus: Non tibi videatur asperum super puero et ancilla tua: omnia quae dixerit tibi Sara, audi vocem ejus, quia in Isaac vocabitur tibi semen, etc.: quasi dicat: Isaac tibi haeres erit tuus, non Ismael. Unde infra 25, dicitur: Dedit Abraham cuncta quae possederat filio suo Isaac, filiis autem concubinarum largitus est munera etc. Potest ergo hic psalmus referri ad hoc: quod populus Judaeorum secundum figuram consequebatur hereditatem promissam Abrahae, cujus erat caput David, et rex. Secundum mysterium vero populus Christianus: Gal. 4: Nos autem, fratres, secundum isaac promissionis filii sumus. Ergo psalmus iste tendit In finem, idest in Christum quem laudat Pro ea, scilicet pro ecclesia, Quae consequitur hereditatem, reprobata synagoga. This psalm has in its title something new, namely, Unto the end. For her that obtaineth the inheritance. This can be referred to here in both a literal and mystical way. With regard to the former, this can be understood in two ways. First, as the Gloss explains it and as it is found in history recounted in Genesis 21, namely that Sara, seeing Ismael playing with Isaac her son, was troubled and said to Abraham: Cast out this bondwoman, and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with my son Isaac. (Genesis 12:10) Sara thought that this play was in fact a persecution directed against Isaac. Abraham accepted, with duress, what Sara had said concerning Ismael his son. But God said to him: Let it not seem grievous to thee for the boy, and for thy bondwoman: in all that Sara hath said to thee, hearken to her voice: for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. (Genesis 12:12) It is as if he were saying: “Isaac will be your heir, not Ismael.” Whence it is said at Genesis 25:5-6, that Abraham gave all his possession to Isaac. And to the children of the concubines he gave gifts (and separated them from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, to the east country). Therefore, this psalm can be referred to the foregoing, that, in the literal sense, the Jewish people obtained the inheritance promised to Abraham, whose head and king was David. According to the mystical sense, the foregoing is referred to the Christian people: Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of the promise. (Galatians 4:28) Therefore, this psalm tends Unto the end, that is to say, to Christ whom it praises, For her, namely for the Church, That obtaineth the inheritance, rejected by the synagogue.
Alio modo, secundum litteram Hieronymi, titulus est, Victori pro heredibus canticum David: et sic potest intelligi, quod iste psalmus factus est pro victoria quam David habuit ad litteram. Et sciendum, quod David fugiens haereditatem amisit per Absalonem, sicut habetur 2 Reg. 16. Unde sicut praecedens psalmus fuit pro liberatione et victoria contra Absalonem, ita hunc fecit pro recuperatione hereditatis: quia David reverso in Hierusalem, adhuc malitiose insurrexerant sibi et quidam alii contra eum. Unde 2 Reg. 20, mandavit David Amasae, quod usque in diem tertium convocaret omnes viros Juda, ut persequeretur Siba filium Bochri: quia magis afflicturus est nos filius Bochri quam Absalon. Pertransiverat enim omnes tribus Israel usque Abelam, omnesque electi congregati erant ad eum: quo decapitato regnavit David super omnem Israelem. (We can consider all this) in another way according to Jerome’s version. Its title is For the conquerer on behalf of those receiving inheritances. A song of David. This can be understood in a literal way, namely that this psalm was made for the victory that David had won. It should be understood that David in fleeing lost his inheritance because of Absalom, as recounted at 2 Kings 16. Hence as the preceding psalm was on behalf of the liberation from and victory over Absalom, in like manner he composed this one for the recovery of his inheritance. For although David had returned to Jerusalem, his own still rebelled maliciously, some of them even rising up against him. Thus David (at 2 Kings 20) ordered Amasa to assemble all the men of Juda until the third day so that Seba the son of Bochri might be pursued, for the son of Bochri will do us more harm than did Absalom…He had passed through all tribes of Israel unto Abela…and all the chosen men were gathered together unto him. (2 Kings 20: 4, 5, 14) Upon his decapitation, David ruled over the whole of Israel.
In hoc ergo psalmo secundum litteram tria considerantur. Primo petit exaudiri. Secundo ostendit fiduciam suae exauditionis, ibi, Mane exaudies. Tertio proponit petitionem, ibi, Domine deduc me. Circa primum duo facit. Primo petit exaudiri. Secundo signat rationem exauditionis, ibi, Rex meus. Therefore, in this psalm three things are to be considered according to the literal sense. First, the Psalmist prays to be heard. Second, he shows his confidence in his being heard, at, In the morning. Third, he puts forward his petition, at, Conduct me, O Lord. Concerning the first, he does two things. First, he prays to be heard. Second, he designates the reason for his being heard, at, My king.
Notandum, quod qui vult petere aliquid ab aliquo, sic procedit. Primo desiderat quod vult petere. Secundo meditatur verba proponenda. Tertio proponit ea apud exaudientem. Et e converso auditor. Primo percipit verba auditu. Secundo intellectu capit sensum verborum. Tertio inclinatur ad implendum desiderium petentis. Loquitur ergo David ad Deum, secundum similitudinem hanc. Et primo petit primum, scilicet ut audiat verba ejus exteriori auditu, cum dicit, Verba mea auribus percipe, Domine. Secundo petit sensum, scilicet intellectum verborum, cum dicit, Intellige clamorem meum, non exteriorem, sed interiorem affectum: Ps. 17: Clamor meus in conspectu ejus: Hieronymus: Intellige murmur meum, quod cogitavi proponendum: et consonat illi translationi quae dicit Meditationem. Tertio petit tertium, scilicet exauditionem: Intende voci orationis meae, idest velis exaudire orationem meam: Psal. 69: Deus in adjutorium meum intende. Sed numquid Deus haec seorsum facit, audit, intendit, exaudit? Dicendum, quod metaphorice loquitur: scilicet ut omnia haec approbet, verba exteriora, meditationem interiorem, et quae proponit. It should be noted that he who wishes to ask something from another, proceeds in the following way. First, he desires that for which he wishes to ask. Second, he thinks about the words he is going to use. Third, he sets them before the one listening (to his appeal). On the part of the one listening, the procedure is reversed: First, he hears the words that have been spoken. Second, he grasps intellectually the sense of the words. Third, he is inclined to fulfill the desire of the one asking. Therefore, David speaks to God in this fashion. He begins by asking for the first (of these three), namely that He hear his words with the outer ear when he says, Give ear, O Lord, to my words. Second, he asks for the sense, that is to say, the understanding of his words, when he says, Understand my cry, not made externally, but rather felt within: My cry came before him. (Psalm 17:7) Jerome’s version has: Understand my murmuring which I thought to put forth: and this agrees with that translation which says Meditation. Finally, he asks for the third (of these three), namely that he be heard: Hearken to the voice of my prayer, that is to say, “May you wish to listen to my prayer:” O God, come to my assistance. (Psalm 69:2) But does God do these three separately? Does he hear, consider, and then grant? One ought to say that the Psalmist speaks metaphorically, namely that God approves of all these acts, namely of spoken words, interior meditation, and of what he sets forth.
Secundo ponit rationem exauditionis, cum dicit, Rex meus. Et est hoc principium versus secundum graecum. Ponitur autem triplex ratio exauditionis, scilicet ex parte Dei. Quarum una est Rex meus. Regis enim est gubernare. Ex quo ergo ad Deum pertinet, pertinet ad eum necessaria providere: Hier. 10: Quis non timebit te o rex gentium? Alia ratio est, quia Deus: Deus enim finis est voluntatum nostrarum et conservator: Ps. 27: In Deo speravit cor meum, et adjutus sum etc. Et ideo dicit Deus meus: Isa. 8: Numquid non populus a Deo suo requiret visionem pro vivis et mortuis etc. Tertia ratio sumitur ex parte orantis, cum dicit: Quoniam ad te orabo, Domine; quasi dicat: Conveniens est, quia promisisti orantibus exauditionem. Matth. 7: Omnis qui petit accipit, et qui quaerit invenit, et pulsanti aperietur. Nec refertur quod dicit Hieronymus, Deprecor, et hic dicitur, Orabo: quia hoc designat continuationem orationis sine intermissione: quasi dicat: Ita Orabo, quod tamen semper deprecor: Luc. 18: Oportet semper orare, et non deficere. Secondly, he designates the reason for his being heard when he says, My king. And in the Greek version this is the first verse. He sets forth a three-fold reason for his being heard, namely by God. The first of these is My king. It is the business of a king to govern. For this reason, therefore, this pertains to God, pertains to him to provide for the necessities of life: Who shall not fear thee, O king of nations? (Jeremiah 10:7) Another reason is that that he is God. For God is the end of our willing and is our defender: (The Lord is my helper and my protector:) in him hath my heart confided, and I have been helped. (Psalm 27:7) And so he says My God: Should not the people seek (a sight) of their God, for the living of the dead. (Isaiah 8:19) The third reason is taken from the perspective of the one praying, when he says, For to thee will I pray, O Lord. It is as if he were saying: “It is fitting that you have promised to listen to those who pray: For every one that asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. (Matthew 7:8) It does not matter that Jerome says “I beseech” (deprecor) and our version says “I will pray” (orabo), since either word designates the continuation of prayer without ceasing, as if to say: “In this manner Will I pray, that in spite of (what may occur) I beseech (the Lord) continuously”: (And he spoke also a parable to them,) that we ought always to pray, and not to faint. (Luke 18:1)
b. Haec est secunda pars psalmi. Ubi primo ostendit fiduciam se habere de exauditione. Secundo fiduciae rationem, ibi, Mane astabo etc. Dicit ergo: Exaudies vocem meam mane: secundum literam, idest celeriter, quasi dicat tempestive. Hoc enim sperare debemus de Deo quod cito exaudiet: Isa. 30: Ad vocem clamoris tui statim ut audierit respondebit tibi. Idem penul. Adhuc illis loquentibus ego audiam. Ratio fiduciae ponitur cum dicit, Mane astabo etc. This is the psalm’s second part where the psalmist shows, first, the confidence he has in being heard, and second the reason for this confidence, at, In the morning, I will stand. Thus he says: Thou shalt hear my voice in the morning, that is to say quickly, as if to say, at the right time. For we ought to hope this of God that he will hearken to us quickly: At the voice of thy cry, as soon as he shall hear, he will answer thee. (Isaiah 30:19). And again: (before they call, I will hear;) as they are yet speaking, I will hear. (Isaiah 65:24) The reason for his confidence he sets forth when he says, In the morning, I will stand.
Nota quod Mane quadrupliciter dicitur: scilicet naturalis diei: Gen. 1: Factus est vespere et mane dies unus. Item vitae humanae; et sic juventus dicitur mane: Psal. 89: Mane floreat et transeat. Item diei gratiae in prima conversione hominis ad deum, quia tunc incipit habere lumen gratiae: Ps. 89: Repleti sumus mane misericordia tua. Item aeternitatis: Ps. 29. Ad vesperam, scilicet in vita praesenti, Demorabitur fletus, et ad matutinum, scilicet aeternitatis, Laetitia. Duplex ergo ratio assignatur confidentiae. Primo, quia mane astat, idest Deo adhaeret, et ad Deum se praeparat; unde Hieronymus habet, Praeparabor: Eccl. 18: Ante orationem praepara animam tuam, et noli esse quasi homo qui tentat Deum. Mane ergo diei, idest in matutinis, Astabo tibi, idest tibi intendam. Et hoc, quia tunc est homo liber a solicitudinibus, et magis habet cor liberum ad cogitandum de Deo: Psal. 62: In matutinis Domine meditabor in te: Isaiae 26: Sed et spiritu meo in praecordiis meis de mane vigilabo ad te, et exaudies vocem meam etc. Quia devotos audit. Mane, scilicet gratiae, propulsis tenebris culpae, Astabo, et Contemplabor, ut habet littera Hieronymi. 2 Reg. 23: Sicut lux aurorae mane absque nubibus rutilat oriente sole etc. Exaudies vocem meam, scilicet liberando a culpa et poena. Vel Mane, scilicet in die aeternitatis: Job 38: Ubi eras cum me laudarent astra matutina etc. Et tunc homo totaliter exauditur. Vel Mane, idest a juventute: Astabo tibi: Thren. 3: Bonum est viro cum portaverit jugum Domini ab adolescentia sua: Eccl. ult. Memento creatoris tui in diebus juventutis tuae etc. Exaudies voces meam, quia Prov. 8: Diligentes me diligo: et qui mane vigilaverint ad me, inveniet me. Secunda ratio fiduciae est, quod videt; unde dicit, Et videbo: et exponit hoc primo quomodo astet, cum dicit: Ego autem in multitudine. Primo dicit quid videt: scilicet qui sunt illi qui impediuntur ab exauditione, et quae sunt hujusmodi impedimenta: et isti sunt mali; unde dicit Videbo, scilicet Quoniam Deus etc. Ubi notanda sunt duo. Primo, quod mali excluduntur ab istis. Secundo quod inducuntur in mala poenae, ibi, Odisti omnes etc. Circa primum loquitur de Deo sicut de aliquo homine qui diligit aliquos seu odit. Ubi triplex gradus potest esse: quia alicui peccatoris placet peccatum, alicui placet persona peccantis, alicui neutrum: sed tamen libenter et sine indignatione videt eum. Hoc autem non est in Deo: quia Deo non placet peccatum, nec respicit ad familiaritatem peccatoris. Item dedignatur eum videre: et ideo dicit quantum ad primum, Videbo quoniam tu non es Deus volens iniquitatem, idest non placet tibi. Quantum ad secundum dicit: Neque habitabit juxta te malignus, idest non habes eum in familiaritate tua: Ps. 100: Non habitabit in medio domus meae etc. Item ibidem 25: Odivi ecclesiam malignantium. Quantum ad tertium dicit, Neque permanebunt injusti, idest peccatores, Ante oculos tuos, scilicet approbationis: Habacuc 1: Mundi sunt oculi tui, et respicere ad iniquitatem non poteris. Note that In the morning can be said in a fourfold way: namely, of the natural day itself: And there was evening and morning one day (Genesis 1:5); secondly, of human life: and so one is said to be in the morning of one’s youth: In the morning man shall grow up like grass (Psalm 89:6); thirdly, of the day of grace in the first conversion of man to God, since at that point he begins to have the light of grace: We are filled in the morning with thy mercy (Psalm 89:14); and fourth, of eternity: In the evening, that is to say, in the present life, Weeping shall have place, and in the morning, that is to say, in eternity, gladness. (Psalm 29:6) A twofold reason is assigned for his confidence. First, because in the morning he stands near, that is to say, he clings to and prepares himself for God. Hence, Jerome’s version has, I will prepare for: Before prayer prepare they soul: and be not as a man that tempteth God. (Ecclesiasticus 18:23) Therefore, In the morning of day, that is, at dawn, I will stand before thee, that is, I will be intent upon you. And this because at that time, man is free from responsibilities, and has a heart more free to meditate upon God: I will meditate on thee in the morning (Psalm 62:7); And with my spirit within me in the morning early I will watch to thee (Isaiah 26:9) because he hears those devoted to him. In the morning, that is (of the day) of grace, having repelled the darkness of guilt, I will stand and I will contemplate, as Jerome’s version renders it: As the light of the morning, when the sun riseth… (2 Kings 23:4) Thou shalt hear my voice, having been freed from blame and punishment. Or, In the morning, namely on the day of eternity: When the morning stars praised me altogether. (Job 38:7) At that time man, man is wholly regarded. Or, In the morning, that is, of his youth: I will stand before thee: It is good for a man, when he hath borne the yoke (of the Lord) from his youth. (Lamentations 3:27); Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Thou shalt hear my voice, for I love them that love me: and they that in the morning early watch for me, shall find me. (Proverbs 8:17) The second reason for his confidence is that he sees. Hence he says, And I will see. And he sets forth first how he will present himself, when he says, But as for me in the multitude of thy mercy. First he says that he sees, namely who those people are that are prevented from being heard, and what these impediments are. These people are evil. Hence he says, I will see, namely, Because thou art not a God that willest iniquity. Two things are to be noted here. First, that the evil are excluded from (the very things that the good enjoy). Second, that they are brought to the evils associated with their punishment, at, Thou hatest. Concerning the first, the psalmist speaks of God as a man who delights in some and hates others. (For a man) there can be a threefold approach to this (situation). First, that he is pleased with the sin of the one sinning, second, that he is pleased with the person of the one sinning, and third, that he does neither of these but gladly and without indignation associates with him. But these approaches are not to be found in God who neither is pleased with sin, nor cares to be familiar with a sinner. Furthermore, he disdains to associate with him. Thus he says, with respect to the first, that I will see because thou art not a God that willest iniquity, that is to say, it is not pleasing to you. With respect to the second, he says, Neither shall the wicked dwell near thee, that is to say, you do not have him in your company: He that worketh pride shall not dwell in the midst of my house (Psalm 100:7); I have hated the assembly of the malignant (and with the wicked I will not sit). (Psalm 25:5) With respect to the third, he says, Nor shall the unjust, that is to say sinners, abide before thy eyes, namely receive your approval: Thy eyes are too pure to behold evil, and thou canst not look on iniquity. (Habacuc 1:13)
c. Hic ostendit quomodo inducuntur ad poenam: et ponit triplicem ordinem. Triplex enim gradus est, quo modo aliquis odit aliquem. Primo habet eum odio, volendo ei malum in corde. Secundo hoc exequitur inferendo poenam. Tertio si quando punivit, tamen reconciliat eum sibi. Sed Deus primo odit; unde dicit, Odisti omnes etc. Sap. 14: Similiter est odio Deo impius et impietas ejus. Sed contra, Sap. 2: Diligis omnia quae sunt etc. Respondeo: quod Deus fecit, non odit; sed quod non fecit, scilicet peccatum. Sed si nos pertinaciter insistamus, peccatorem odit inquantum non revocat, et per poenas ordinat. At this point, he shows how the wicked are brought to punishment. He sets forth a threefold order, for there is a threefold process by which one hates another. First, one carries a hatred directed at the other, wishing evil to the other from one’s heart. Second, this hatred is carried out by inflicting punishment. Lastly, although punished, one nevertheless reconciles oneself to the other. But God hates at the start; hence the Psalmist says, Thou hatest: But to God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful alike. (Wisdom 14:9) However, contrary to this is the following: For thou lovest all things that are, and hatest none of the things which thou hast made. (Wisdom 11:25) I respond to this (seeming contradiction) by saying that God does not hate what he has made. Rather he hates what he did not make, namely sin. And if we insist stubbornly upon our sin, we can say that God hates the sinner insofar as the sinner does not turn away from his sin, and God sets the situation aright through punishments.
Secundo infert poenam; et ideo dicit: Perdes omnes qui loquuntur mendacium: Sap. 1: Os quod mentitur occidit animam. Nota quod triplex est mendacium: scilicet perniciosum, quod fit in nocumentum alterius sive spiritualis sive temporalis rei, puta in doctrina; et hoc est gravissimum. Jocosum, quod dicitur ad delectandum. Officiosum, quo quis loquitur ad proficiendum sive temporaliter sive spiritualiter. Et secundum Augustinum, nullum mendacium officiosum est sine peccato: quia si mentiris ut liberes aliquem, hoc non est bonum: quia Apostolus dicit Rom. 3: Non sunt facienda mala ut veniant bona. Praeterea omne malum posset fieri propter bonum; potest tamen officiosum esse aliquando veniale. Sed jocosum semper est veniale. Perniciosum vero semper est mortale: et de isto hic intelligitur. Next, He inflicts the punishment. And so the Psalmist says, Thou wilt destroy all that speak a lie: The mouth that belieth, killeth the soul. (Wisdom 1:11) Note that a lie is of three kinds. There is the pernicious lie, since it results in the harming of another’s spiritual or temporal things (for example in the area of doctrine), and this is most grave; secondly, there is the humorous lie, since it is said in order to please; lastly, there is the officious lie which is proffered for some temporal or spiritual advantage. According to Augustine, no officious lie is without sin. For if you lie to free another, this is not good, since the Apostle says at Romans 3:8 that Let us not do evil, that there may come good. Besides, all evil could be done for the sake of good. Nevertheless, the officious lie can sometimes be venial. But the humorous lie is always venial. The pernicious lie is always mortal. And it is this last sort of lie that is understood here (in the psalm passage currently under consideration).
Tertio Deus sic odit sicut poenas inferens qui non reconciliatur; unde subdit: Virum sanguinum et dolosum abominabitur Dominus. Illa abominamur quae in cognitione nostra non patimur. Viri sanguinum dicuntur illi quorum affectus est ad effundendum sanguinem: Prov. 1: Pedes eorum ad malum currunt, et festinant ut effundant sanguinem: 2 Reg. 16: Egredere vir sanguinum. Dolosus est qui in dolo loquitur. Sed advertendum, quod ordinate procedit Psalmista: quia primo homo simpliciter operatur malum cogitando; et hos Deus odit. Sed quando addunt malitiam exequendo, provocant Deum ad puniendum. Sed quando perdurant, tunc Deus abominatur: Prov. 15: Abominatio est Deo vita impii etc. Thirdly, God hates as he inflicts punishments upon those who are not reconciled to him; hence he adds, The bloody and the deceitful man the Lord will abhor. We abhor those who in our understanding we cannot bear. “Bloody men” are those whose passion it is to shed blood: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. (Proverbs 1:16); Come out, thou man of blood. (2 Kings 16:7) A deceitful man is one who speaks in a fraudulent manner. It should be noted that the Psalmist proceeds in an ordered way, that, first, man effects evil at the start simply by thinking, and these God hates. But when they add malice by carrying out (this evil so thought), they provoke God to punishment (of them). But when they continue in their malice, then God abhors (them): The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. (Proverbs 15:9)
d. Consequenter cum dicit, Ego, ostendit, quomodo astat Domino: et circa hoc duo facit. Primo ostendit quomodo accedit ad Deum. Secundo, quam orationem porrigit, ibi, Adorabo. Dicet ergo aliquis sibi: tu dicis quod Non habitabit juxta te malignus. Sed numquid non tu es peccator? Quomodo ergo astabis? Et ideo dicit, non secundum merita, sed In multitudine misericordiae tuae introibo, idest appropinquabo tibi, In domum tuam. Vel ad litteram dicitur templum, vel congregatio fidelium: 1 Tim. 3: Quomodo oporteat te in domo dei conversari, quae est ecclesia Dei. Dan. 9: Non enim in justificationibus nostris prosternimus preces ante faciem tuam etc. Sed tu cum sis peccator, idest vir sanguinum, quomodo appropinquas vel adoras? Certe, In timore tuo: Eccl. 1: Qui sine timore est, non poterit justificari; ideo dicit, In timore tuo, scilicet cum reverentia. Consequently, when he says, But as for me, he sets forth how he stands before God. Concerning this he does two things. First, he shows how he approaches God, and secondly, what prayer he makes, at, I will worship. And so, someone might say the following to himself: “You say that Neither shall the wicked dwell near thee. But are you not a sinner? How, therefore, will you stand before Him?” And thus the Psalmist says, “Not according to my own merits, but rather In the multitude of thy mercy, I will come,” that is to say, I will approach you, Into thy house. Or, in the literal sense, (I will come into your) temple, or the congregation of the faithful: (But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know) how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God (1 Timothy 3:15); For it is not for our justifications that we present our prayers before thy face, but for the multitude of thy tender mercies. (Daniel 9:18) “But you, although a sinner, that is to say, a bloody man, how do you approach or adore Him?”; Certainly In thy fear: For he that is without fear, cannot be justified (Ecclesiasticus 1:28), for which reason he says In thy fear, namely with reverence.
e. Supra petivit orationem exaudiri; hic proponit eam. Et primo orat pro se. Secundo pro aliis. Circa primum duo facit. Primo proponit orationem. Secundo ponit ejus rationem, ibi, Quoniam non est. Circa primum duo petit; scilicet deduci et dirigi; et hoc ideo, quia homo in mundo est sicut in via: Isa. 30: Haec est via: ambulabitis in ea. Qui autem vadunt per viam, indigent duobus: quia si via non sit secura, indigent ducatu; vel dirigente, si sit dubia. In mundo undique sunt hostes: Psal. 141: In via hac qua ambulabam, absconderunt laqueum mihi. Item ignota est via: Job 3: Viro cujus abscondita est via etc. Et ideo primo petit, Domine, deduc me in justitia tua, secundum justitiam tuam, vel ut ambulem in tua justitia: et hoc, Propter inimicos meos: Ps. 142: Spiritus tuus bonus deducet me in terram rectam: propter nomen tuum Domine vivificabis me in aequitate tua. Dirige in conspectu tuo viam meam. Alia translatio habet, Dirige in conspectu meo viam tuam: prima concordat cum Hieronymo: secunda cum graeco; sed tamen idem est sensus: quasi dicat: Domine, sum in via occulta: Prov. 14: Est via quae videtur homini recta, novissime autem deducit ad mortem: et ideo, Dirige me in conspectu tuo, idest secundum tuam providentiam, quia tibi nihil est occultum. Vel In conspectu tuo, ut tibi semper placeam. Vel In conspectu meo viam tuam, ut scilicet semper sit in corde meo, ut te semper sequi possim. Previously, the Psalmist asked that his prayer be heard. Here, he sets this prayer forth. First, he prays for himself, and then for others. Concerning the first he does two thing. First, sets forth his prayer, and second, he describes his reason for it, at, For there is not truth. Concerning the first, he seeks two things, namely to be conducted and be directed, and for this reason, that man while in this world is, as it were, on the way: This is the way, walk ye in it. (Isaiah 30:21) Those who walk in this way need two things. For if the way is not safe, they need guidance, or if it is uncertain, then direction. In this world, there are enemies everywhere: In this way wherein I walked, they have hidden a snare for me. (Psalm 141:4) Furthermore, the way is unknown: To a man whose way is hidden. (Job 3:23) For this reason, he first asks, Conduct me, O Lord, in thy justice, according to your justice, or that I may walk in your justice; and this, Because of my enemies: Thy good spirit shall lead me into the right land: for thy name’s sake, O Lord, thou wilt quicken me in thy justice. (Psalm 142:10-11) Direct my way in thy sight. Another translation has Direct thy way in my sight. The first agrees with Jerome’s version, the second with the Greek. Nevertheless, the sense is the same in both. It is as if the Psalmist were saying: “O Lord, I am on a hidden way”: There is a way which seemeth just to a man: but the ends thereof lead to death. (Proverbs 14:12) And for this reason, Direct my way in thy sight, that is, according to your providence, for nothing is hidden from you. Or, In thy sight, so that I may always be pleasing to you. Or, In thy sight direct my way, namely so that it is always in my heart so that I may always be able to follow you.
f. Deinde cum subjungit, Quoniam, assignat rationem petitionis, et describit inimicos, et periculum imminens. Primo ex defectu boni. Secundo ex abundantia mali, ibi, quia cor eorum etc. Then, when he adds, For, he designates the reason for his petition and describes his enemies and the danger that is imminent, first, because of the absence of good, and second, because of the abundance of evil, at, Their heart is vain.
Defectus quidem est, quia si servarent pacem, possem eis pacificari et secure incedere. Sed Non est in ore eorum veritas; quia aliud habent in ore, et aliud in corde: Osee 4: Non est veritas: et ideo non possum secure incedere. Goodness is indeed lacking because if they were keeping the peace, I could be at peace with them and approach them safely. But There is not truth in their mouth, because they have one thing in their mouth and another in their heart: (The Lord shall enter into judgment with the inhabitants of the land: for) there is no truth (and there is no mercy, and their is no knowledge of God in the land). (Hosea 4:1) For this reason, then, I am not able to approach them safely.
Item ex abundantia mali. Et primo quantum ad meditationem, cum dicit: Cor eorum vanum est, idest vana meditantur, ad quae attingere non possunt, scilicet decipere pauperes qui custodiuntur a te: Eccl. 11: Multae insidiae sunt dolosis. Furthermore, because of the abundance of evil. First, as to their meditations, when he says, Their heart is vain, that is to say, they reflect upon vain matters to which they are not able to attain, namely to deceive the poor who are guarded by you: (Bring not every man into thy house:) for many are the snares of the deceitful. (Ecclesiasticus 11:31)
Secundo ex aviditate: quia, Sepulcrum patens est guttur eorum. Guttur servit ad gustum et locutionem. Uno modo potest legi, ut exponatur secundum quod ordinatur ad locutionem; quasi dicat: Guttur eorum est sepulcrum patens: nam sicut sepulcrum est locus mortuorum, et de eo egreditur foetor, ita locutiones eorum mortificant alios, vel spiritualiter vel corporaliter: 1 Cor. 15: Corrumpunt bonos mores colloquia prava. Item foetida sunt eloquia talium, quia turpia loquuntur: Eccl. 11: Eructant praecordia foetentium. Alio modo ut exponatur quantum ad comestionem et aviditatem: et hoc possumus accipere vel ad litteram; et sic sunt Sepulcrum patens, quia sunt voraces. Et propter hoc ut impleant voracitatem suam, adulantur, et inique agunt. Vel figuraliter: et sicut sepulcrum quantum est de se paratum est ad suscipiendum mortuos, sic isti semper sunt parati ad decipiendum: Hier. 5: Pharetra ejus quasi sepulcrum patens. Second, because of their avidity, for Their throat is an open sepulcher. The throat is employed for taste and speech. This can be read in one way, that it is set forth as it is ordered to speech: Their throat is an open sepulcher, for just as a sepulcher is a place for the dead and from which a stench comes, so too does their speech spiritually or corporeally destroy others: Evil communications corrupt good manners. (1 Corinthians 15:33) Furthermore, eloquence of this sort is fetid since they speak of base things: As corrupted bowels send forth stinking breath. (Ecclesiasticus 11:32) It can be read in another way, namely that it is set forth as to their eating of food and their avidity, and we can take this either in a literal way; and so they are An open sepulcher, because they are voracious. On account of this, they flatter and act iniquitously so that they might satisfy their voraciousness; or we can take this figuratively; and so, just as much as a sepulcher is prepared to receive the dead, so too these evil people are always open to deceiving others: Their quiver is as an open sepulcher. (Jeremiah 5:16)
Tertio quantum ad eorum oppressionem, Linguis suis etc.: quasi dicat: Per verba blanda ducunt ad mortem: Rom. 16: Per dulces sermones et blande seducunt corda innocentium: Hier. 9: Sagitta vulnerans lingua eorum etc. Haec potest esse oratio justi et ecclesiae. Third, as to their oppression, They dealt deceitfully with their tongues, as if to say: “Through their flattering words they lead us to death”: By pleasing speeches and good words, seduce the hearts of the innocent. (Romans 16:18); Their tongue is a piercing arrow. (Jeremiah 9:8) This prayer can be of the just and of the Church.
g. Consequenter cum dicit, Judica, orat pro aliis. Et primo contra malos. Secundo pro bonis, ibi, Et laetentur. Circa primum tria facit. Primo petit eorum judicium. Secundo determinat judicii modum, ibi, Decidant etc. Tertio assignat judicii causam, ibi, Quoniam irritaverunt. Then when the Psalmist says, Judge, he prays for others, first against those who are evil, and then, at, Let them all be glad, for those who are good. Concerning the first he does three things. First, he asks for their judgment. Second, he determines the mode of their judgment, at, Let them fall. Third, he indicates the cause of their judgment, at, For they have provoked thee, O Lord.
Dicit ergo, Judica illos, ex quo sunt mali. Sed advertendum, quod duplex est judicium: scilicet discretionis, quo etiam boni judicantur: Psalm. 42: Judica me Deus, et discerne causam meam etc. Secundo condemnationis: Jo. 3: Qui non credit, jam judicatus est. Hic loquitur de judicio condemnationis, quo mali judicabuntur in extremo judicio: unde Hieronymus habet, Condemna eos Deus. And so, he says, Judge them, because they are evil. But it should be noted that judgment is of two kinds, namely, that of discretion, by which the good are also judged: Judge me, O God, and distinguish my cause from the nation (that is not holy: deliver me from the unjust and deceitful man) (Psalm 42:1); and secondly, that of condemnation: He that does not believe is judged. (John 3:18) Here, the Psalmist speaks of the judgment of condemnation with which the evil will be judged at the last judgment. Hence Jerome’s version has, Condemn them, O God.
Sed contra: Matth. 5: Orate pro persequentibus et calumniantibus vos. Respondeo. Dicendum, quod prophetae in sua prophetia non loquebantur voluntate propria: 2 Pet. 1: Non enim voluntate humana allata est aliquando prophetia, sed Spiritu sancto etc. Et ideo quae proferebant, dicebant secundum intellectum divinae justitiae: et ideo haec erant magis praedictiones futurorum quam orationes eorum: unde Iudica, idest scio quod judicabis. However, on the contrary, there is Matthew 5:44: Pray for them that persecute and calumniate you. I respond by saying that the prophets did not speak in accordance with their own will in their prophecies: For prophecy came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:21) And it is in this way that they brought forth what they did, that they spoke according to the mind of divine justice. And it is for this reason that what they said was cast more in predictions for the future than in the prayers they made. Hence, Judge, that is, I know that you will judge.
Modus justitiae duplex ponitur. Primo, ut deficiant ab intento. Secundo, ut removeantur a loco. Per primum impediuntur mala quae intendunt: et ideo dicit, Decidant a cogitationibus suis, idest consiliis: Job 5: Qui apprehendit sapientes in astutia eorum, etc. Vel Decidant, idest puniantur propter cogitationes suas: Rom. 2: Cogitationum accusantium etc. Sed per secundum expelluntur a societate bonorum; unde sequitur: Secundum multitudinem etc. Hoc erit tunc quando Matth. 25, dicetur: Ite maledicti etc. Job 18: Expellet eum de luce in tenebras etc. Et dicit Secundum multitudinem impietatum, quia secundum eas erit modus condemnativus: Deut. 25: Pro mensura delicti erit et plagarum modus. A two-fold mode of justice1 is set forth, the first, so that they might cease from their intent, the second, so that they might be removed from their presence. Through the first the evil are prevented from what they intend to do. For this reason he says, Let them fall from their devices, that is to say, from their counsels: Who catcheth the wise in their craftiness, (and disappointeth the counsel of the wicked). (Job 5:13) Or, Let them fall, that is to say, let them be punished according to their own thoughts: (Their conscience bearing witness to them, and) their thoughts between themselves accusing, or also defending one another. (Romans 2:15) But through the second (mode of justice), they are expelled from the society of the good. Hence the Psalmist next says, According to the multitude of their wickednesses cast them out. This will occur at that time when it is said in Matthew 25:41: Depart from me, you cursed (into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels); He shall drive him out of light into darkeness (and shall remove him out of the world). (Job 18:18) And the Psalmist says, According to the multitude of their wickednesses, because it will be according to these that the manner of condemnation will take place: According to the measure of the sin shall the measure also of the stripes be. (Deuteronomy 25:2)
Causa ponitur, Quoniam irritaverunt, idest ad iram provocaverunt. Hoc in Deo non iram, sed voluntatem puniendi ostendit. Alia litera Amaricaverunt te, qui dulcis es, in te pertinaciter peccando. Peccatores primo peccant, post aggravant peccatum suum ex pertinacia, et Deus tunc non parcit, sed irritatur, idest inducitur ad vindictam: Rom. 2: An ignoras quod benignitas Dei ad poenitentiam te adducit? Tu autem secundum duritiam tuam: Deut. 32: Ipsi me provocaverunt in eo qui non est Deus etc. The cause (of their judgment) he sets forth at, For they have provoked thee, O Lord, that is to say, they have roused Him to anger. This does not indicate that there is anger in God, but rather the will to punish. Other versions have They have made you bitter, you who are sweet, in sinning obstinately against you. Sinners aggravate a sin that they have first committed by their obstinacy, and God at that point does not forbear but is angered, that is to say, is lead to vengeance: Knowest thou not that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance? But according to thy hardness (and impenitent heart, thou treasurest upto thyself wrath, against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God. Who will render to every man according to this works. (Romans 2:4-6); They have provoked me with that which was no god etc. (Deuteronomy 32:21)
h. Consequenter cum dicit, Et laetentur, ponit petitionem. Et primo ponit eam. Secundo subdit expositionem, In aeternum. Circa primum duo facit. Primo enim ponit quid petit, quia laetitiam; unde dicit Laetentur: hoc est enim finis bonorum omnium. Ps. 67: Justi epulentur et exultent in conspectu Dei, et delectentur in laetitia. Secundo, quibus petit, quia sperantibus: unde, Qui sperant in te. Consequenter cum dicit, In aeternum exultabunt, exponit primo, et dicit, Laetentur. Secundo, cum dicit, Sperent, ibi, Quoniam tu benedixisti justo. Then when he says, But let them all be glad, he puts forth his petition. He begins by putting it forth and then qualifies it by adding, Forever. Concerning the former he does two things. First, he sets forth that for which he asks, namely gladness. Hence he says, Let glad, for this is the end of all the good: And let the just feast, and rejoice before God: and be delighted with gladness. (Psalm 67:4) Secondly, he puts forth those for whom he prays, namely for those who hope. Hence he says, That hope in thee. Consequently, when he says, They shall rejoice forever, he qualifies the first and says, Let them…be glad, and then the second, when he says, That hope in thee, at, For thou wilt bless the just.
Laetitia namque sanctorum in patria est sempiterna: et ideo dicit, In aeternum: et secura; unde addit, Et habitabis in eis: plena, propter quod subdit, Et gloriabuntur etc. Sempiterna quidem est, non temporalis: Isa. 51: Laetitia sempiterna super capita eorum etc. Secura absque perturbatione: Isa. 32: Sedebit populus meus in pulchritudine pacis, et in tabernaculis fiduciae; et ideo dicit, Et habitabis in eis, sicut protector: unde Hieronymus habet, Et proteges eos: Apoc. 21: Ecce tabernaculum Dei cum hominibus, et habitabit cum eis. Est etiam plena: et hoc patet ex quatuor. Primo ex gloria inde concepta; unde, Gloriabuntur, quia non gloriatur quis de re nisi habeat eam excellenter. Sancti vero excellentissime Deum habent; ideo dicit, Gloriabuntur. Secundo ex materia: quia gloriantur de re plenissima, et de omni bono: Joan. 16: Usque modo non petistis quidquam in nomine meo; petite et accipietis, ut gaudium vestrum sit plenum: Jo. 15: Ut gaudium meum in vobis sit etc. Et ideo dicit In te. Tertio ex societate: quia solus homo non potest bene gaudere de aliquo, sed quando amicos habet secum participes illius boni: et ideo dicit, Omnes. Ps. 86: Sicut laetantium omnium habitatio est in te. Quarto ex perfectione, Qui diligunt: hoc enim proprium est amicorum gaudere de bono amici, nec facile homo dimittit quod diligit. The joy of the saints in their homeland is everlasting. It is for this reason that the Psalmist says, Forever. This joy is secure; hence he adds And thou shalt dwell in them. And it is complete, according to which he adds, They shall glory. This joy is indeed everlasting and not temporal: And joy everlasting shall be upon their heads (they shall obtain joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning shall flee away). (Isaiah 51:11) It is secure without perturbation: And my people shall sit in the beauty of peace, and in the tabernacles of confidence. (Isaiah 32:18) It is for this reason that he says, And thou shalt dwell in them, as a protector. Hence Jerome has, And you will protect them: Behold the tabernacle of God with men, and he will dwell with them. (Apocalypse 21:3) And this joy is complete, something that is clear for four reasons. First, by reason of the glory conceived at that time. Hence, They shall glory, since one does not glory in a thing unless he possesses it excellently. The saints, however, possess God most excellently, for which reason he says, They shall glory. Second, because of the situation, for they glory in a thing most complete, and of every good: Hitherto you have not asked anything in my name. Ask, and you shall receive; that you joy may be full (John 16:24); (These things I have spoken to you) that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be filled. (John 15:11) And for this reason he says, In thee. Third, because of community, for a solitary man cannot rejoice well in something, but when he has friends with him sharing in that good (his enjoyment will be full). For this reason he says, All: The dwelling in thee is as it were of all rejoicing. (Psalm 86:7) Fourth, by reason of perfection, And all they that love. For it is proper for friends to rejoice in the good of a friend, and not easily does a man loose that which he loves.
i. Consequenter cum dicit, Quoniam, ostendit quare sperant. Quia primo de dono gratiae. Secundo ex misericordia praedestinationis etc. Ex dono namque gratiae; unde ait, Quoniam tu benedixisti justo, dando scilicet ei specialem gratiam: Ephes. 1: Benedixit nos omni benedictione spirituali in caelestibus. Et misericordia praedestinationis: Ephe. 1: Praedestinati sumus secundum propositum voluntatis ejus, qui operatur omnia in omnibus: et hoc est quod ait, Scuto bonae voluntatis, scilicet aeterna voluntate misericordiae suae, quae ab aeterno disposuit salvare: Ephes. 1: Elegit nos ante mundi constitutionem, ut essemus sancti et immaculati. Quod autem ait: Ut scuto, innuit quod ipsa voluntas Dei bona est sicut scutum contra omnia mala: 2 Reg. 23: Dominus scutum et robur meum etc. Vel est hic ut scutum protegens, in patria vero ut scutum coronans. Consuetudo namque fuit romanis antiquitus uti scutis rotundis, et in illis habebant spem victoriae; et quando triumphabant, illomet scuto utebantur ut corona. Et inde sancti pinguntur cum scuto rotundo in capite: quia de hostibus adepti triumphum, scutum rotundum ad instar Romanorum gerunt in capite pro corona. Dicit ergo: Scuto bonae voluntatis tuae coronasti nos; quasi dicat, Pro scuto coronationis nostrae habemus bonam voluntatem tuam, quae nos hic defendit, et ibi coronat. Then when he says, For, he declares why they hope, first because of the gift of grace, and second because of the mercy of predestination. Hence, because of the gift of grace, he says, For thou wilt bless the just, namely by giving him a particular grace: (Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ) who hath blessed us with spiritual blessings in heavenly places. (Ephesians 1:3) And because of the mercy of predestination (In whom we also are called by lot) being predestined according to the purpose of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his will (Ephesians 1:11), he thus says, As with a shield of thy good will, that is to say, with the everlasting will of his mercy by which he ordained from eternity to save: As he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and unspotted (in his sight in charity). (Ephesians 1:4) But when he says, As with a shield, he announces that the will of God itself is like a good shield against all manner of evil: The Lord is (my rock, and) my strength and (my savior. God is my strong one, in him will I trust:) my shield (and the horn of my salvation: he lifteth me up, and is my refuge: my savior, thou wilt deliver me from iniquity.) (2 Kings 22:2-3) Or, he is here as a protecting shield, but in heaven as a crowning shield. For it was the custom of ancient Romans to use a round shield and to place in these their hope for victory. And when they were triumphant, they used the same shield as a crown. And for this reason the saints are represented with a round shield about their heads; for having won a victory over their enemies, they bear upon their heads a round shield for a crown just like the Romans. Therefore he says, Thou hast crowned us, as with a shield of thy good will. It is as if he were saying, “For the shield of our coronation we have your good will which defended us in this world, and crowns us in the next.”

© Dr. Stephen Loughlin

The Aquinas Translation Project

1 or judgment, as indicated earlier at the beginning of g.


Posted in Bible, Catholic, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture, St Thomas Aquinas | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 5

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 29, 2016

1. The title of the Psalm is, “For her who receiveth the inheritance.” The Church then is signified, who receiveth for her inheritance eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ; that she may possess God Himself, in cleaving to whom she may be blessed, according to that, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth.”4 What earth, but that of which it is said, “Thou art my hope, my portion in the land of the living”?5 And again more clearly, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup.”6 And conversely the word Church is said to be God’s inheritance according to that, “Ask of Me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance.”7 Therefore is God said to be our inheritance, because He feedeth and sustaineth8 us: and we are said to be God’s inheritance, because He ordereth and ruleth us. Wherefore it is the voice of the Church in this Psalm called to her inheritance, that she too may herself become the inheritance of the Lord.

2. “Hear my words, O Lord” (ver. 1). Being called she calleth upon the Lord; that the same Lord being her helper, she may pass through the wickedness of this world, and attain unto Him. “Understand my cry.” The Psalmist well shows what this cry is; how from within, from the chamber of the heart, without the body’s utterance,9 it reaches unto God: for the bodily voice is heard, but the spiritual is understood. Although this too may be God’s hearing, not with carnal ear, but in the omnipresence of His Majesty.

3. “Attend Thou to the voice of my supplication;” that is, to that voice, which he maketh request that God would understand: of which what the nature is, he hath already intimated, when he said, “Understand my cry. Attend Thou to the voice of my supplication, my King, and my God” (ver. 2). Although both the Son is God, and the Father God, and the Father and the Son together One God; and if asked of the Holy Ghost, we must give no other answer than that He is God; and when the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are mentioned together, we must understand nothing else, than One God; nevertheless Scripture is wont to give the appellation of King to the Son. According then to that which is said, “By Me man cometh to the Father,”10 rightly is it first, “my King;” and then, “my God.” And yet has not the Psalmist said, Attend Ye; but, “Attend Thou.” For the Catholic faith preaches not two or three Gods, but the Very Trinity, One God. Not that the same Trinity can be together, now the Father, now the Son, now the Holy Ghost, as Sabellius believed: but that the Father must be none but the Father, and the Son none but the Son, and the Holy Ghost none but the Holy Ghost, and this Trinity but One God. Hence when the Apostle had said, “Of whom are all things, by whom are all things, in whom are all things,”11 he is believed to have conveyed an intimation of the Very Trinity; and yet he did not add, to Them be glory; but, “to Him be glory.”

4. “Because I will pray unto Thee (ver. 3). O Lord, in the morning Thou wilt hear my voice.” What does that, which he said above, “Hear Thou,” mean, as if he desired to be heard immediately? But now he saith, “in the morning Thou wilt hear;” not, hear Thou: and, “I will pray unto Thee;” not, I do pray unto Thee: and, as follows, “in the morning I will stand by Thee, and will see;” not, I do stand by Thee, and do see. Unless perhaps his former prayer marks the invocation itself: but being in darkness amidst the storms of this world, he perceives that he does not see what he desires, and yet does not cease to hope, “For hope that is seen, is not hope.”1 Nevertheless, he understands why he does not see, because the night is not yet past, that is, the darkness which our sins have merited. He says therefore, “Because I will pray unto Thee, O Lord;” that is, because Thou art so mighty to whom I shall make my prayer, “in the morning Thou wilt hear my voice.” Thou art not He, he says, that can be seen by those, from whose eyes the night of sins is not yet withdrawn: when the night then of my error is past, and the darkness gone, which by my sins I have brought upon myself, then “Thou wilt hear my voice.” Why then did he say above not, “Thou wilt hear,” but “hear Thou”? Is it that after the Church cried out, “hear Thou,” and was not heard, she perceived what must needs pass away to enable her to be heard? Or is it that she was heard above, but doth not yet understand that she was heard, because she doth not yet see by whom she hath been heard; and what she now says, “In the morning Thou wilt hear,” she would have thus taken, In the morning I shall understand that I have been heard? Such is that expression, “Arise, O Lord,”2 that is, make me arise. But this latter is taken of Christ’s resurrection: but at all events that Scripture, “The Lord your God proveth you, that He may know whether ye love Him,”3 cannot be taken in any other sense, than, that ye by Him may know, and that it may be made evident to yourselves, what progress ye have made in His love.

5. “In the morning I will stand by Thee, and will see” (ver. 3). What is, “I will stand,” but “I will not lie down”? Now what else is, to lie down, but to take rest on the earth, which is a seeking happiness in earthly pleasures? “I will stand by,” he says, “and will see.” We must not then cleave to things earthly, if we would see God, who is beheld by a clean heart. “For Thou art not a God who hast pleasure in iniquity. The malignant man shall not dwell near Thee, nor shall the unrighteous abide before Thine eyes. Thou hast hated all that work iniquity, Thou wilt destroy all that speak a lie. The man of blood, and the crafty man, the Lord will abominate” (vers. 4–6). Iniquity, malignity, lying, homicide, craft, and all the like, are the night of which we speak: on the passing away of which, the morning dawns, that God may be seen. He has unfolded the reason, then, why he will stand by in the morning, and see: “For,” he says, “Thou art not a God who hast pleasure in iniquity.” For if He were a God who had pleasure in iniquity, He could be seen even by the iniquitous, so that He would not be seen in the morning, that is, when the night of iniquity is over.

6. “The malignant man shall not dwell near Thee:” that is, he shall not so see, as to cleave to Thee. Hence follows, “Nor shall the unrighteous abide before Thine eyes.” For their eyes, that is, their mind is beaten back by the light of truth, because of the darkness of their sins; by the habitual practice of which they are not able to sustain the brightness of right understanding. Therefore even they who see sometimes, that is, who understand the truth, are yet still unrighteous, they abide not therein through love of those things, which turn away from the truth. For they carry about with them their night, that is, not only the habit, but even the love, of sinning. But if this night shall pass away, that is, if they shall cease to sin, and this love and habit thereof be put to flight, the morning dawns, so that they not only understand, but also cleave to the truth.

7. “Thou hast hated all that work iniquity.” God’s hatred may be understood from that form of expression, by which every sinner hates the truth. For it seems that she too hates those, whom she suffers not to abide in her. Now they do not abide, who cannot bear the truth. “Thou wilt destroy all that speak a lie.” For this is the opposite to truth. But lest any one should suppose that any substance or nature is opposite to truth, let him understand that “a lie” has relation to that which is not, not to that which is. For if that which is be spoken, truth is spoken: but if that which is not be spoken, it is a lie.4 Therefore saith he, “Thou wilt destroy all that speak a lie;” because drawing back from that which is, they turn aside to that which is not. Many lies indeed seem to be for some one’s safety or advantage, spoken not in malice, but in kindness: such was that of those midwives in Exodus,5 who gave a false report to Pharaoh, to the end that the infants of the children of Israel might not be slain.6 But even these are praised not for the fact, but for the disposition shown; since those who only lie in this way, will attain in time to a freedom from all lying. For in those that are perfect, not even these lies are found. For to these it is said, “Let there be in your mouth, yea, yea; nay, nay; whatsoever is more, is of evil.”7 Nor is it without reason written in another place, “The mouth that lieth slayeth the soul:”8 lest any should imagine that the perfect and spiritual man ought to lie for this temporal life, in the death of which no soul is slain, neither his own, nor another’s. But since it is one thing to lie, another to conceal the truth (if indeed it be one thing to say what is false, another not to say what is true), if haply one does not wish to give a man up even to this visible death, he should be prepared to conceal what is true, not to say what is false; so that he may neither give him up, nor yet lie, lest he slay his own soul for another’s body. But if he cannot yet do this, let him at all events admit only lies of such necessity, that he may attain to be freed even from these, if they alone remain, and receive the strength of the Holy Ghost, whereby he may despise all that must be suffered for the truth’s sake. In fine, there are two kinds of lies, in which there is no great fault,1 and yet they are not without fault, either when we are in jest, or when we lie that we may do good. That first kind, in jest, is for this reason not very hurtful, because there is no deception. For he to whom it is said knows that it is said for the sake of the jest. But the second kind is for this reason the more inoffensive, because it carries with it some kindly intention. And to say truth, that which has no duplicity, cannot even be called a lie. As if, for example, a sword be intrusted to any one, and he promises to return it, when he who intrusted it to him shall demand it: if he chance to require his sword when in a fit of madness, it is clear it must not be returned then, lest he kill either himself or others, until soundness of mind be restored to him. Here then is no duplicity, because he, to whom the sword was intrusted, when he promised that he would return it at the other’s demand, did not imagine that he could require it when in a fit of madness. But even the Lord concealed the truth, when He said to the disciples, not yet strong enough, “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now:”2 and the Apostle Paul, when he said, “I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.”3 Whence it is clear that it is not blamable, sometimes not to speak what is true. But to say what is false, is not found to have been allowed to the perfect.

8. “The man of blood, and the crafty man, the Lord will abominate.” What he said above, “Thou hast hated all that work iniquity, Thou wilt destroy all that speak a lie,” may well seem to be repeated here: so that one may refer “the man of blood” to “the worker of iniquity,” and “the crafty man” to; the “lie.” For it is craft, when one thing is done, another pretended. He used an apt word too, when he said, “will abominate.” For the disinherited are usually called abominated. Now this Psalm is, “for her who receiveth the inheritance;” and she adds the exulting joy of her hope, in saying, “But I, in the multitude of Thy mercy, will enter into Thine house” (ver. 7). “In the multitude of mercy:” perhaps he means in the multitude of perfected and blessed men, of whom that city shall consist, of which the Church is now in travail, and is bearing few by few. Now that many men regenerated and perfected, are rightly called the multitude of God’s mercy, who can deny; when it is most truly said, “What is man that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou visitest him?4 I will enter into Thine house:” as a stone into a building, I suppose, is the meaning. For what else is the house of God than the Temple of God, of which it is said, “for the temple of God is holy,5 which temple ye are”? Of which building He is the cornerstone,6 whom the Power and Wisdom of God coeternal with the Father assumed.

9. “I will worship at Thy holy temple, in Thy fear.” “At the temple,” we understand as, “near” the temple. For he does not say, I will worship “in” Thy holy temple; but, “I will worship at Thy holy temple.” It must be understood too to be spoken not of perfection, but of progress toward perfection: so that the words, “I will enter into Thine house,” should signify perfection. But that this may come to a happy issue, “I will” first, he says, “worship at Thy holy temple.” And perhaps on this account he added, “in Thy fear;” which is a great defence to those that are advancing toward salvation. But when any one shall have arrived there, in him comes to pass that which is written, “perfect love casteth out fear.”7 For they do not fear Him who is now their friend, to whom it is said, “henceforth I will not call you servants, but friends,”8 when they have been brought through to that which was promised.

10. “O Lord, lead me forth in Thy justice because of mine enemies” (ver. 8). He has here sufficiently plainly declared that he is on his onward road, that is, in progress toward perfection, not yet in perfection itself, when he desires eagerly that he may be led forth. But, “in Thy justice,” not in that which seems so to men. For to return evil for evil seems justice: but it is not His justice of whom it is said, “He maketh His sun to rise on the good and on the evil:” for even when God punishes sinners, He does not inflict His evil on them, but leaves them to their own evil. “Behold,” the Psalmist says, “he travailed with injustice, he hath conceived toil, and brought forth iniquity: he hath opened a ditch, and digged it, and hath fallen into the pit which he wrought: his pains shall be turned on his own head, and his iniquity shall descend on his own pate.”1 When then God punishes, He punishes as a judge those that transgress the law, not by bringing evil upon them from Himself, but driving them on to that which they have chosen, to fill up the sum of their misery. But man, when he returns evil for evil, does it with an evil will: and on this account is himself first evil, when he would punish evil.

11. “Direct in Thy sight my way.” Nothing is clearer, than that he here sets forth that time, in which he is journeying onward. For this is a way which is traversed not in any regions of the earth, but in the affections of the heart. “In Thy sight,” he says, “direct my way:” that is, where no man sees; who are not to be trusted in their praise or blame. For they can in no wise judge of another man’s conscience, wherein the way toward God is traversed. Hence it is added, “for truth is not in their mouth” (ver. 9). To whose judgment of course then there is no trusting, and therefore must we fly within to conscience, and the sight of God. “Their heart is vain.” How then can truth be in their mouth, whose heart is deceived by sin, and the punishment of sin? Whence men are called back by that voice, “Wherefore do ye love vanity, and seek a lie?”

12. “Their throat is an open sepulchre.” It may be referred to signify gluttony, for the sake of which men very often lie by flattery. And admirably has he said, “an open sepulchre:” for this gluttony is ever gaping with open mouth, not as sepulchres, which, on the reception of corpses, are closed up. This also may be understood hereby, that with lying and blind flattery men draw to themselves those whom they entice to sin; and as it were devour them, when they turn them to their own way of living. And when this happens to them, since by sin they die, those by whom they are led along, are rightly called open sepulchres: for themselves too are in a manner lifeless, being destitute of the life of truth; and they take in to themselves dead men, whom having slain by lying words and a vain heart, they turn unto themselves. “With their own tongues they dealt craftily:” that is, with evil tongues. For this seems to be signified, when he says “their own.” For the evil have evil tongues, that is, they speak evil, when they speak craftily. To whom the Lord saith, “How can ye, being evil, speak good things?”2

13. “Judge them, O God: let them fall from their own thoughts” (ver. 10). It is a prophecy, not a curse. For he does not wish that it should come to pass; but he perceives what will come to pass. For this happens to them, not because he appears to have wished for it, but because they are such as to deserve that it should happen. For so also what he says afterwards, “Let all that hope in Thee rejoice,” he says by way of prophecy; since he perceives that they will rejoice. Likewise is it said prophetically, “Stir up Thy strength, and come:”3 for he saw that He would come. Although the words, “Let them fall from their own thoughts,” may be taken thus also, that it may rather be believed to be a wish for their good by the Psalmist, whilst they fall from their evil thoughts, that is, that they may no more think evil. But what follows, “drive them out,” forbids this interpretation. For it can in no wise be taken in a favourable sense, that one is driven out by God. Wherefore it is understood to be said prophetically, and not of ill will; when this is said, which must necessarily happen to such as chose to persevere in those sins, which have been mentioned. “Let them,” therefore, “fall from their own thoughts,” is, let them fall by their self-accusing thoughts, “their own conscience also bearing witness,” as the Apostle says, “and their thoughts accusing or excusing, in the revelation of the just judgment of God.”4

14. “According to the multitude of their ungodlinesses drive them out:” that is, drive them out far away. For this is “according to the multitude of their ungodlinesses,”5 that they should be driven out far away. The ungodly then are driven out from that inheritance, which is possessed by knowing and seeing God: as diseased eyes are driven out from the shining of the light, when what is gladness to others is pain to them. Therefore these shall not stand in the morning,6 and see. And that expression is as great a punishment, as that which is said, “But for me it is good to cleave to the Lord,”7 is a great reward. To this punishment is opposed, “Enter thou into the joy of Thy Lord;”8 for similar to this expulsion is, “Cast him into outer darkness.”9

15. “Since they have embittered Thee, O Lord: I am,” saith He, “the Bread which came down from heaven;”10 again, “Labour for the meat which wasteth not;”11 again, “Taste and see that the Lord is sweet.”12 But to sinners the bread of truth is bitter. Whence they hate the mouth of him that speaketh the truth. These then have embittered God, who by sin have fallen into such a state of sickliness, that the food of truth, in which healthy souls delight, as if it were bitter as gall, they cannot bear.

16. “And let all rejoice that hope in Thee;” those of course to whose taste the Lord is sweet. “They will exult for evermore, and Thou wilt dwell in them” (ver. 11). This will be the exultation for evermore, when the just become the Temple of God, and He, their Indweller, will be their joy. “And all that love Thy name shall glory in Thee:” as when what they love is present for them to enjoy. And well is it said, “in Thee,” as if in possession of the inheritance, of which the title of the Psalm speaks: when they too are His inheritance, which is intimated by, “Thou wilt dwell in them.” From which good they are kept back, whom God, according to the multitude of their ungodlinesses, driveth out.

17. “For Thou wilt bless the just man” (ver. 12). This is blessing, to glory in God, and to be inhabited by God. Such sanctification is given to the just. But that they may be justified, a calling goes before: which is not of merit, but of the grace of God. “For all have sinned, and want the glory of God.”1 “For whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He, justified, them He also glorified.”2 Since then calling is not of our merit, but of the goodness and mercy of God, he went on to say, “O Lord, as with the shield of Thy good will Thou hast crowned us.” For God’s good will goes before our good will, to call sinners to repentance. And these are the arms whereby the enemy is overcome, against whom it is said, “Who will bring accusation against God’s elect?” Again, “if God be for us, who can be against us? Who spared not His Only Son, but delivered Him up for us all.”3 “For if, when we were enemies, Christ died for us; much more being reconciled, shall we be saved from wrath through Him.”4 This is that unconquerable shield, whereby the enemy is driven back, when he suggests despair of our salvation through the multitude of tribulaions and temptations.

18. The whole contents of the Psalm, then, are a prayer that she may be heard, from the words, “hear my words, O Lord,” unto, “my King, and my God.” Then follows a view of those things which hinder the sight of God, that is, a knowledge that she5 is heard, from the words, “because I shall pray unto Thee, O Lord, in the morning Thou wilt hear my voice,” unto, “the man of blood and the crafty man the Lord will abominte.” Thirdly, she hopes that she, who is to be the house of God, even now begins to draw near to Him in fear, before that perfection which casteth out fear, from the words, “but I in the multitude of Thy mercy,” unto, “I will worship at Thy holy temple in Thy fear.” Fourthly, as she is progressing and advancing amongst those very things which she feels to hinder her, she prays that she may be assisted within, where no man seeth, lest she be turned aside by evil tongues, for the words, “O Lord, lead me forth in Thy justice because of my enemies,” unto, “with their tongues they dealt craftily.” Fifthly, is a prophecy of what punishment awaits the ungodly, when the just man shall scarcely be saved; and of what reward the just shall obtain, who, when they were called, came, and bore all things manfully, till they were brought to the end, from the words, “judge them, O God,” unto the end of the Psalm.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, fathers of the church, Notes on the Lectionary, NOTES ON THE PSALMS, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Commentaries for the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 29, 2016



Today’s Mass Readings (NABRE). Translation used in the USA.

Today’s Mass Readings (NJB). Scroll down slightly. The NJB is used in most other English speaking countries.

Today’s Divine Office.

Anglican Use Daily Office. ”Briefly, it is a provision for an “Anglican style” liturgy similar to the Book of Common Prayer as an ecclesiastically approved variant on the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church.” More info.


Bishop Knecht’s Practical Commentary on David’s Sin, Fall and Punishment. St Joe of O Blog.

Word-Sunday Notes on 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Sam 12:7-10, 13.


Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 32.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 32. Whole psalm.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 32. Whole psalm.

St John Fisher’s Commentary on Psalm 32. Online book.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 32.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 32.

Pending: Father McSwiney’s Commentary on Psalm 32.

Haydock Commentary on Psalm 32. Psalm 31 according to the old numbering.


Father Callan’s Commentary on Gal 2:16, 19-21. Notes on all of chapter 2. Post includes suggested readings at the end.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Gal 2:16, 19-21.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Gal 2:16, 19-21. On 16-21.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Gal 2:16, 19-21. On 16-21.

Father Rickaby’s Commentary on Gal 2:16, 19-21. On 16-21.

Word-Sunday Notes on Gal 2:16, 19-21.


St Cyril of Alexandria’s Commentary on Luke 7:36-8:3.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 7:36-8:3.

Pending: Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 7:36-8:3

Father Leopold Fonck’s Commentary on Luke 7:36-8:3.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 7:36-8:3.

Word-Sunday Notes on Luke 7:36-8:3.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 7:36-8:3.


Sacred Page Blog. Catholic biblical scholar Dr. John Bergsma on the readings.

Doctrinal Homily Outlines. Gives theme of the readings, doctrinal message, suggested pastoral applications.

Scripture in Depth. Succinct summary of the readings.

Lector Notes. Brief historical and theological background.

Thought From the Early Church. Brief commentary on the Gospel from an early homily.


Dr Scott Hahn’s Podcast. Very brief. Does good job of highlighting major theme(s).

Update: Jesus and the Sinful Woman: The Mass Readings ExplainedJesus and the Sinful Woman: The Mass Readings Explained. From Catholic biblical scholar Dr. Brant Pitre.

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast Study of Galatians 2.

Institute of Catholic Culture’s Lectures on Galatians. Two lectures on Galatians.

St Irenaeus Ministries Podcast Study of Luke Chapters 6 & 7.

Fr. Francis Martin’s Video: In 4 Parts:

Part 1: Pardon and Forgiveness.
Part 2: First Reading and Psalm.
Part 3: Second Reading.
Part 4: Gospel Reading.

St Martha’s Parish Bible Study Podcast.

Father Robert Barron’s Podcast Homily. Noted speaker and theologian.

Posted in Bible, Catholic, Catholic lectionary, Catholic Sunday Lectionary, Notes on the Lectionary, Scripture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 25

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 29, 2016

A Psalm of David.


Arg. Thomas. That Christ, when the temple of His Body was destroyed, should raise it again after three days. He hath sent a song to His elect. The song of the elect. Concerning the doctrine of Confession. The voice of the Church repenting with her whole soul. The voice of the Church against her enemies. By fasting. A song for the catechumens and elect.

Ven. Bede. Through the whole Psalm the Church prays that she may not, before the Presence of the Lord, appear contemptible to her enemies. In the first part she makes supplication that she may be taught the commandments of the Lord, and His ways: Unto Thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. Secondly, she asks for the favours which He hath bestowed on the Holy Fathers from the beginning: Call to remembrance, O Lord, Thy tender mercies, &c. Thirdly, she showeth how they that keep the commandments of the Lord merit eternal rewards, and protesteth that she will constantly remain in the will of the same Lord. The first portion, therefore, consists of five letters; the second of six; the third of nine.

S. Jerome. The 25th Psalm contains the prayer of the Mediator offered to the Father: it may also be the clamour of the Church making her requests to God.


This is the first of the Alphabetic Psalms: that is, of those in which each verse, or each clause, commences consecutively with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The others are the 34th, the 37th, the 111th, the 112th, the 119th, and the 145th. Besides these, the Lamentations of Jeremiah are written on the same system, and the 31st chapter of the Book of Proverbs. Some of the Psalms, of which this is one, are not absolutely perfect in this acrostic arrangement. It is a more ingenious than likely suggestion of Cassiodorus, that those in which the acrostic is maintained without a flaw are intended to describe the state of the perfect; the Psalms in which it is not unbroken, of those who are only striving after perfection.

Probably from these Psalms arose the ABCdarian hymns of the Latin, and Canons of the Eastern Church. The former are by no means uncommon: as, for example, that of Sedulius, A solis ortus cardine: that beginning, Æterna cœli gloria: the A Patre Unigenitus: that of Ethelwald, Alma lucerna micat: the Altissimi verbum Patris: the Agni Genitor Domine. In the Greek Canons many might be quoted: it will suffice to mention those in the Octoechus, and one on the Metastasis of S. John (Sept. 27) antistrophic: (i.e., beginning at the end.)

1–2 Unto thee, O Lord, will I lift up my soul; my (א) God, I have put my trust in thee: O let me not be (ב) confounded, neither let mine enemies triumph over me.

The Apostle commands us, “Cast not away, therefore, your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.”* Acting in agreement with that command, the Psalmist begins with the expression of his own confidence: My God, I have put my trust in Thee. And if we take the words as spoken by our Lord, (Ay.) they merely assert that which He said on the Saturday before His Passion: “I knew that Thou hearest Me always.”* He says Himself, I have put My trust in Thee. He commands it to us: “Ye believe,* or rather ye have confidence in God; have confidence also in Me.”1 Do I lift up my soul. It is well and wisely commanded by Isaiah,* “Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem:” because by nature our soul “cleaveth unto the dust.” In the very beginning of this his prayer, David commences by raising his mind. It is the Sursum corda which has commenced the Christian sacrifice from the very beginning. Well says S. John Damascene:* “Prayer is the elevation or ascent of the soul to God.” O let me not be confounded. It is the Second Adam that speaks. The first had said, (G.) “I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”* Of the second it is written, “Not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon.”* Let not mine enemies triumph. You may take it of Satan and his hosts, as S. Athanasius does: or, as S. Jerome, of temporal enemies; as Gentiles against the Jews, (L.) or heretics against the Church. Let them not triumph, when we are beginning some holy work, as Tobiah against Nehemiah: “Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall:”* or as the Jews at the day of Pentecost, “These men are full of new wine.”* Unto Thee, O Lord.* Erchembert says, beautifully enough: “It is the voice of the Church to Christ: that Church, which lay low in the valley of tears, before Christ came into the world; but by His Advent, He hath raised her in faith, in hope, and in love. It is just the same thing as corn, which, if it lies low in the ground, rots: if it sprouts up, it shall be preserved. Thus the soul which perseveres in its sins goes to decay, and perishes; if it is raised up, and amends itself, and stands in faith, hope, and love, it is guarded by the Lord.”

3 For all they that hope in thee shall not be ashamed: (ג) but such as transgress without a cause shall be put to confusion.

The wise man is the best Commentator. “Look at the generations of old, and see: did ever any trust in the Lord, and was confounded? or did any abide in His fear, and was forsaken? or whom did He ever despise that called upon Him?”* The multitudes, as the Fathers remind us, hoped in Christ for three days, and were rewarded by being fed with five loaves and two small fishes. S. Albertus Magnus well says:* They that hope in Thee; but it must be with courage, as it is written, “O tarry thou the Lord’s leisure: be strong, and He shall comfort thine heart; and put thy trust in the Lord.”* It must be even under correction; according to that saying, “Yea, in the way of Thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for Thee.”* It must be, although He seem to procrastinate, giving us that for which we hope; according to that saying, “Reward them that wait for Thee.” And the end of this waiting the wise man tells us: “The patient man will bear for a time, and afterward joy shall spring up unto him.”* And again: “Yea, I am with him in trouble: I will deliver him and bring him to honour.”* Deliver him, that is, liberating him from the punishment he has deserved by nature; bring him to honour, bestowing on him the glory that he has merited by Christ. And notice that this verse begins with the letter Gimel. Now Gimel,* by interpretation, is perfection; because patience is the perfection and crown of all virtues. As S. James saith,* “Let patience have her perfect work.” And again it is written in the Epistle to the Hebrews, “Through patience the promises are inherited.”* Shall be put to confusion. Thus He turns back the shame on His enemies which they have poured upon Him. And so the Church applies in Passiontide those words of Jeremiah, “Let them be confounded that persecute me, but let not me be confounded; let them be dismayed, but let not me be dismayed; bring upon them the day of evil, and destroy them with double destruction.”* The translation of the Vulgate is somewhat different. Confounded be all they that do wickedness vainly. S. Augustine understands it of those who so vainly toil to acquire those earthly riches which make themselves wings and fly away. Ruffinus takes it to show how vain is every work of the wicked, (A.) seeing that it cannot be carried on in the next world; that there its contriver may say with Job, “My days are past,* my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.”

4 Show me thy ways, O Lord: and teach me thy (ד) paths.

Notice the difference between ways and paths. By ways, (Ay.) we understand God’s laws, that are common to all men; by paths, which are straighter and narrower than ways, those evangelical counsels, such as poverty, chastity, and obedience, of which it is written, “All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.”* Observe also the difference of the verbs to show and to teach: as, if once shown, the ways were comparatively easy, but the paths must be taught with difficulty and perseverance. Or, as Gerhohus puts it neatly, (G.) Show me Thy ways by the most shining example of Thy conversation among men in the active life: and teach me Thy paths, in the contemplative life, by which the saints desire to behold Thy divine face in heaven.* Thy ways, not any of which lead to destruction, but all are ways of life. S. Bernard teaches that the soul desirous of God is said in the Psalms to be continually searching out these things,* namely, justice, judgment, and the place of the dwelling of God’s glory, as the way in which she is to walk, the rule by which she is to journey, and the goal to which she is to tend. S. Augustine, the Doctor of Grace, who never misses one clause that tells of grace, takes occasion to deduce its necessity from this verse. Show me, because I cannot show myself: teach me, for without Thee I can never learn. Thy ways: and principally Him Who said, “I am the Way;” and Whom Solomon calls the Beginning of God’s ways. Show me Thy ways; according as it is written, “The Lord directeth the steps;”* and teach me Thy paths, according to that saying,* “Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth:” the motive, as S. Albertus speaks, thus coming before the apprehension. Teach me. Corderius well observes that we are not here to understand the word teaching in the way in which Scripture or any external authority is said to teach; for in that sense the prophet had already been taught the ways of the Lord: but of the inward teaching of the Spirit of God, (Cd.) and that twofold. The first, that by which He persuades men to embrace His ways as really desirable, and to be followed for the sake of happiness; the other, that by which He takes advantage of every little external circumstance or accident to draw His own lessons therefrom. After all, I know not but that I prefer the brief comment of Ludolph to any other, (Lu.) who, after quoting the text, merely says, “O Lord, let me not err.”

5 Lead me forth in thy truth, and learn me: (ה) for thou art the God of my salvation; (ו) in thee hath been my hope all the day long.

And here we have what we always must have in the service of God—progress:* Lead me forth. There is among the works of S. Chrysostom a homily on this verse; which, however, is not Chrysostom’s, but some Latin author’s. He dwells on the principal means by which God does learn us, namely, by that Church which cannot err. Learn me, that I may understand what I believe: for faith precedes,* understanding follows: as it is written, “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.”* Learn me; not in the book of nature, as the philosophers, for so it is written, “The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made:”* nor yet in the book of Scripture, in which Thou teachest theologians; as it is written, “The vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee, and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed:”* but in Thy very truth, (C.) which is the book of life. For Thou art the God of my salvation. “There are two things,” says Cassiodorus, “which make good Christians: the first, that we should believe God to be the God of our salvation; the other, (Z.) that we constantly set His final retribution before our eyes.” In Thee hath been my hope. It is the voice of the saints before the Advent waiting and expecting the Coming of the Lord. And in this sense it may well be said, For Thou art the God of my salvation. For who is the God of our salvation but Jesus?* All the day long. S. Chrysostom takes it as opposed to night, of our Lord Himself, the true Day. As if the Prophet said. In Thee hath been my hope, on account of that Saviour Who is to come.1 For Thou art the God. Notice the twofold pleading in this petition for help: the one on the part of God,* the other on the part of ourselves. On the part of God, love; on the part of ourselves, patience. And these both taken together, make good the initial letter of the verse, He, which is life.2

It would seem, as Dr. Good very well observes, that from the latter clause of this verse has been separated the clause which now forms the end of the sixth. According to most mediæval commentators, the Vau verse has accidentally been lost. He would arrange the Psalm so that it should take its proper place, and the fourth verse be relieved of its third member thus:

He. Lead me forth in Thy truth, and learn me: for Thou art the God of my salvation.

Vau. In Thee hath been my hope all the day long: for Thy goodness, O Lord.”

The sixth verse (according to our numbering) will then stand: “O remember not the sins of my youth: but according to Thy mercy think Thou upon me.”

6 Call to remembrance, O Lord, thy tender mercies: (ז) and thy lovingkindnesses, which have been ever of old.

And here we may notice the manner in which the Psalmist carries on his supplication. For this Psalm is the pattern of all prayer. 1. He calls on the mercy of God to pity him. 2. He exposes his own infirmity that it may be helped,* in verse 7. 3. He tells how He has been heard, that others may be comforted, in verse 8. Call to remembrance, O Lord, Thy tender mercies; and God makes answer, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”* Why does He say lovingkindnesses in the plural, rather than lovingkindness? And they give the answer, Because it is written,* “How multiplied” (our version reads excellent) “is Thy mercy, O God!”* And it has been well said that this very verse, in its method of addressing God, is another proof of His mercy: that He allows Himself to be asked to call to remembrance; as if He, the omniscient, ever could forget. Think Thou upon me. We cannot read such words without remembering the most marvellous as well as the most touching time that they ever were uttered, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom!”

7 O remember not the sins and offences of my youth: (ח) but according to thy mercy think thou upon me, O Lord, for thy goodness.

Notice the difference of sins and offences: as the Vulgate has it, delicta et ignorantiœ: following the LXX., ἁμαρτίαι καὶ ἄγνοιαι. The greater part of the commentators take the sins, in the full force of the Latin word, to mean sins of omission: but Cassiodorus, though not employing the word, (C.) understands them to be venial sins. So early a passage on that subject is curious, and worth quoting: “They will have delictum to be something that is of less moment than a sin, and is so called because it leaves the way of strict justice, but yet is not conversant in any deep depravity of crime. For it is a delictum to take one’s food too greedily; to give way to immoderate laughter; to waste time in idle words, and other matters of the same sort, which do not appear to be very heavy sins, but which nevertheless are manifestly prohibited.” Dionysius observes that all sins may be divided into three classes,—the three bands of the Chaldæans again,—the three companies of spoilers that came out from the camp of the Philistines: (D. C.) sins of ignorance, sins of infirmity, and sins of presumption. Sins of ignorance, he says, are especially directed against the Son, as the personification of wisdom; sins of infirmity against the Father, as that of power; sins of presumption against the Holy Ghost, as that of goodness. Hence the expositors take occasion to discuss the question,* how far ignorance exempts from or palliates sin. “I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”* Those are noble words of the Second Council of Utrecht, directed against the miserable laxity of later times, that ignorance exempts from sin, properly so called. “The eternal law, naturally implanted in all, can only be matter of ignorance, from the blindness and corruptions of the heart; therefore this ignorance can never, in the case of adults, who have the use of their reason, be properly, fully, and entirely invincible, nor can it excuse from sin. Wherefore the Psalmist saith with tears,* O remember not the sins of my youth and my ignorances. ‘Which class of offences,’ says S. Augustine, ‘unless they were imputed by a just God, would not need the prayers of a faithful man for forgiveness.’ “Euthymius ingeniously asks why he prays especially for forgiveness of ignorances? And replies, (Z.) Because sins of malice are not to be removed by prayer alone. Of my youth. Many do not take it of the literal season of youth, but of those passions which are most common to that season; (Ay.) and so regard it as a prayer for the remission of the sins of concupiscence. Youth. Gerhohus sees in this, as in the preceding verses, (G.) a reference to S. Peter, and refers to that text, “When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldst;”* which he ingeniously compares with Ahab’s reprimand of the Syrian’s boast, “Let not him that girdeth on his harness, boast himself as he that putteth it off.”* This accidental resemblance is worked out by him at very great length, and with more ingenuity than probability. Parez sees a reference to the sin of Adam, (P.) which was indeed the sin of the youth of the world: Theodorus of Heraclea, to the sins of the people in Egypt, (Cd.) the youth of the Israelitish Church.* S. Augustine has a noble passage on the blessedness of those whose youth has passed without any special outbreak of mortal sin; and bitterly laments in his Confessions his own crimes at that age, when he was tantillus puer, sed tantus peccator. I will end with a fine passage (though containing a different view of the text) from Vieyra with reference to this verse. He is preaching on S. Augustine’s day,* and telling of the confessions of that saint.

David, when he is asking God’s pardon for the offences of his youth, (such as those of Augustine also were,) makes his prayer after this fashion: O remember not the offences of my youth, nor my ignorances. These, which in the first place he calls offences, in the second he names ignorances: and the reason of his calling sins ignorances, is because he desired to palliate and excuse them under that name. But it seems that it neither ought so to have been, nor ought he so to have spoken. Ignorances are defects of the understanding: sins are defects of the will: and having to excuse one defect by another defect, it seems as if he ought to have charged it on the less noble power, which is the understanding; and not on the more noble, which is the will. And so David would have done, had he spoken and meant like a man; but he spoke and meant like a saint. The saints, as they know the weight and nature of sin, and how much more ugly are the defects of the will than those of the understanding, are more ashamed of being wicked than of being foolish; and had rather seem ignorant than sinners. Wherefore David, confessing his sins, alleges his ignorances as their excuse. Delicta juventutis meœ et ignorantias meas.”

8 Gracious and righteous is the Lord: (ט) therefore will he teach sinners in the way.

Gracious and righteous. Gracious, (Ay.) says one, in respect of the mercy whereby He forgiveth sin; righteous in respect of the justice whereby He will by no means clear the guilty: gracious, in respect of His saying, “Behold, thou art made whole;”* righteous, in respect of His adding, “Go, and sin no more:”* gracious, when we look back to His first Advent, in great humility; righteous, when we look forward to His second Advent, in great justice. Gracious. It is in the Vulgate, sweet. But yet the wise man advises us well: “Say not,* I have sinned, and what harm hath happened unto me? for the Lord is long-suffering; He will in no wise let thee go. And say not, His mercy is great, He will be pacified for the multitude of my sins: for mercy and wrath come from Him, and His indignation resteth against sinners.” Will He teach: or, as it is in the Vulgate, Will He give the law to. “God,” says Dionysius, “hath given a threefold law to man: (D. C.) the law of nature, the ceremonial law, and the evangelical law; and every one of these comes of His sweetness and of His love.” Sinners in the way. They understand this expression in many different senses. Some take it to mean, He will teach sinners, who, though they are constantly offending, falling seven times a day, turning to the right hand or to the left hand, nevertheless, and on the whole, are keeping His commandments; and in this sense the Western Church prays by the side of the dying,* “For although he hath sinned, yet he hath not denied the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost, but hath believed; and had a zeal for God, and hath faithfully adored God, Who made all things.” Others, again, (G.) take the way to mean our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Way; so that the sense should be, Therefore will He teach sinners in, or because of, the Way, namely, our Lord. And yet again they take the way, after its common ecclesiastical meaning, (P.) to signify this life, so as to make the signification, (Lu.) Therefore will He teach sinners, while yet there is time and space for repentance, (C.) according to that saying,* “He is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by Him.”

9 Them that are meek shall he guide in judgment: (י) and such as are gentle, them shall he learn his way.

Meek. And who are they? Those who do not resist the leading grace of God. As it is written: (Ay.) “So then it is not of him that willeth,* nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” And again: (Cd.) “A man’s heart deviseth his way,* but the Lord directeth his steps.” It is the same command that is given by S. James, “Receive with meekness the engrafted word.”* In judgment. It may be understood in two different ways: either He will direct them by judgment, or prudence, so that they shall not turn to the right hand nor to the left,* which is the usual interpretation of the later commentators; or He shall so direct them, (Lu.) that in the last judgment they shall stand unblamed before Him. We may apply to the Psalmist’s declaration, that the meek shall be guided in judgment, the explanation which S. Augustine gives of a similar passage. When he had written in his book,* De Verâ Religione, the following sentence: “Attend therefore to that which follows as diligently and piously as thou canst; for it is such that God helps,”* he explained it in his Retractations thus: “I do not wish to be understood as if God only helps those that give all their attention with the greatest diligence; for He sometimes so assists those that do not, that they may become among the number of those who do.” So here God does not only guide the meek, but sometimes also He so directs the unmeek and ungentle, as that they may become meek; as S. John, who once demanded, “Wilt Thou that we call down fire from heaven?” was afterwards guided and taught, till he became the Apostle of love. Such as are gentle: or, as S. Augustine will have it,* humble. In his commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, he tells us, in imitation of the famous saying of Demosthenes about action, that for those who would learn God’s ways, humility is the first thing, (Z.) humility is the second, humility is the third. And therefore our Lord Himself says, “Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart.”* Shall He learn His way. Well says S. Gregory: “The preacher can pronounce words which shall enter into the ears,* but he cannot open the heart; and unless by internal grace God, only omnipotent, invisibly causes the spirits of the hearers to receive the words of the preacher, the latter labours in vain.” Them shall He learn His way. Wherefore David proceeds to show us what are God’s ways: saying,

10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth: (כ) unto such as keep his covenant, and his testimonies.

This, (Ay.) then, explains the conclusion of the last verse. The Gloss says, “Although the ways of the Lord, are, as it were, (Gl.) infinite, yet all are included in these two: whereof He exhibits the one by forgiving sin, the other by rewarding according to merit.” All the paths of the Lord. “Those ways,” says S. Bernard, “which are everlasting, and under which, as Habakkuk says,* the perpetual hills did bow: the hills being understood of those evil spirits who are to be cast down at the Coming of the Lord.” Mercy and truth. They are here joined by God Himself; and those whom God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. S. Thomas, treating on this subject with a depth worthy of himself, explains mercy of the free, unmerited forgiveness of sins bestowed on us in Baptism; truth, of the reward given us according to our works, when the grace to do those works has once been put into our power. S. Anselm beautifully says: “Thy mercy springs from Thy justice,* because it is just that Thou shouldest so be good as to manifest Thy goodness by sparing. But if we consider justice, how it awards prizes and punishments according to our merits, mercy comes first: for God is moved by Himself and by the primary act of His will; in giving a reward or a punishment, He takes the occasion from ourselves. And that is a secondary and consequent act of His will.” Rupert understands the two columns that stood before the temple to mean the same thing. “There are,” says he, “but two paths of the Lord;* the whole house leans on two pillars; the whole edifice of Holy Scripture is supported by these two attributes. For whatever we have heard of all the ways of the Lord may be referred either to mercy or to truth.” Again, as in a preceding verse, we may understand mercy and truth of the first and second Advent. And with this verse we may compare the expostulation in Ezekiel, “Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel: is not My way equal? are not your ways unequal?”* Unto such as. Not to all; for as the house of Israel in that text, (G.) there are those who will persist in calling them harsh and unjust. His covenant and His testimonies. Here, again, the commentators differ as to the meaning of these two phrases. Some, as Venerable Bede, will have them to signify the Old and New Testaments: others, as S. Jerome and S. Albertus, by covenant understand the writings, by testimonies the human authors of Holy Scripture. On the whole, this chiefly, (D. C.) as Dionysius the Carthusian tells us, are we to learn from this verse, to pray that we may be kept from presumption, because all the paths of the Lord are truth; to pray that we may be kept away from despair, because all the paths of the Lord are mercy. “But why God chooses justly to have mercy on one evil man rather than on another, cannot be discovered by us: nay,” S. Augustine saith, “do not thou investigate this matter, (A.) if thou wouldst not err.”

11 For thy Name’s sake, O Lord: be merciful (ל) unto my sin, for it is great.

I cannot do better than quote one of those beautiful passages of the great Vieyra, which gave him the character of the first preacher of his age. “I confess, my God,* that it is so; that we all are sinners in the highest degree.” He is preaching on a fast on occasion of the threatened destruction of the Portuguese dominion in Brazil by the Dutch. “But so far am I from considering this any reason why I should cease from my petition, that I behold in it a new and convincing argument which may influence Thy goodness. All that I have said before is based on no other foundation than the glory and honour of Thy most holy Name. Propter Nomen Tuum. And what motive can I offer more glorious to that same Name, than that our sins are many and great? For Thy Name’s sake, O Lord, be merciful unto my sin, for it is great. I ask Thee, saith David, to pardon, not every-day sins, but numerous sins, but great sins: multum est enim. O motive worthy of the breast of God! O consequence which can have force only when it bears on Supreme Goodness! So that, in order to obtain remission of his sins, the sinner alleges to God that they are many and great. “Verily so; and that not for love of the sinner, nor for the love of sin, but for the love of the honour and glory of God; which glory, by how much the sins He forgives are greater and more numerous, by so much the more ennobles and exalts itself. The same David distinguishes in the mercy of God greatness and multitude: greatness,* secundum magnam misericordiam tuam; multitude, et secundum multitudinem miserationum tuarum. And as the greatness of the Divine mercy is immense, and the multitude of His loving-kindnesses infinite; and forasmuch as the immense cannot be measured, nor the infinite counted, in order that the one and the other may in a certain manner have a proportionate material of glory, it is necessary to the very greatness of mercy that the sins to be pardoned should be great, and necessary to the very multitude of loving-kindnesses that they should be many. Multum est enim. Reason have I, then, O Lord, not to be dismayed because our sins are many and great. Reason have I also to demand the reason from Thee, why Thou dost not make haste to pardon them?”

12 What man is he, that feareth the Lord: (מ) him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose.

That feareth the Lord. There are three principal effects of the fear of God. It purifies, according to that saying, (Ay.) “The fear of the Lord driveth away sin.”* It fortifies, as it is written,* “Whoso feareth the Lord shall not fear nor be afraid.” Thirdly, it sanctifies, as Cassiodorus says: “The law of God begins in fear, and ends in love.” What man is he? “Is there such a man!” exclaims one of the Fathers, (Z.) “if there be,—but I much fear whether any hearers will be found,—let him attend.” In the way that He shall choose. And here they dispute to whom the pronoun belongs: whether to God, or to him that feareth the Lord. The greater number of interpreters,* headed by S. Jerome, understand it in the latter sense. Thus, for example, when the soldiers demanded of John Baptist, What shall we do? the publicans, What shall we do? and the common people also, he gave them an answer applicable to the way of life which each of them had chosen. Thus, also, there must be special rules for those that have chosen the secular and the religious life. And this affords a very good meaning, and may well teach priests how, in giving their advice, they follow the example of the great High Priest, and teach each man who comes to them in the way that he shall choose. But surely it is better to understand the verse in the other sense: in the way, namely, which God shall choose. Thus Gerhohus and Jansenius expound the clause.

13 His soul shall dwell at ease: (נ) and his seed shall inherit the land.

Shall tarry in good things, (G.) as it is in the Vulgate. Unlike the soul of Adam, who, being put into possession of the delights of Paradise, tarried there but a few days or hours. His soul must indeed at first sojourn in Mesech, and dwell among the tents of Kedar; but it shall tarry for ever in those good things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard. S. Ambrose takes it in the sense that the righteous man,* however surrounded by affliction,—nay, however oppressed and encircled by the wicked,—does even at that very moment tarry among good things; because “all things shall work together for good to them that love God.” Cassiodorus, rejecting every idea of a purgatory, applies it to the state of the righteous immediately after death: surrounded, indeed, with good things, but yet tarrying for the completion of happiness, the Beatific Vision. To the same purpose speaks the Eastern Liturgy,* when it asks a place for the departed “in tabernacles of light and gladness, in habitations of shade and quiet, amidst the treasures of happiness, whence all sorrow is banished afar, where the souls of the righteous expect without labour the guerdon of life, and the spirits of the just wait for the end of the promised reward, in that country where the workers and the weary look on to Paradise, and they that are invited to the wedding long for the Celestial Bridegroom, and ardently desire to receive that new state of glory.” Others explain it of the possession of heaven itself,* and its three principal blessednesses—vision, love, fruition. But, taking it in the sense which would see in it a promise on earth,* Hugh of S. Victor says admirably, “He expresses with great sweetness spiritual delectation, where He says, His soul shall tarry in good things. For whatever is carnally sweet yields without doubt a delectation for the time to such as enjoy it, but cannot tarry long with them; because, while by its taste it provokes appetite, by its transit it cheats desire. But spiritual delights, which neither pass away as they are tasted, nor decrease while they refresh, nor cloy while they satiate, can tarry for ever with their possessors.” And his seed shall inherit the land.* Almost all the commentators take his seed to signify his good works;* and S. Albertus collects, in illustration of this sense,* the texts which I append in the margin. And with this may be compared the verse,* “That when ye fail,* they may receive you into everlasting habitations,” if by the they we are to understand the good works we have sent afore.*

Et virtute meritorum*
Illic introducitur
Omnis, qui ob Christi Nomen
Hoc in mundo premitur.

Others, again, (D. C.) will have the earth to mean the body of him of whom the Psalmist speaks; and the sense to be, that his seed, his higher self, his new nature, shall keep that body under subjection, and rule over it with an absolute sway. Others, again, (L.) see in the earth a figurative expression for our Lord’s Body, which the righteous possess in the Blessed Sacrament here, (G.) and shall more gloriously and entirely possess there. And if we apply the whole text to our Lord, His blessed soul, now no more “troubled,” now no more “exceeding sorrowful,” dwells in everlasting ease in the kingdom which His might has won for Him; and His seed—for “now are we the sons of God,”—shall one day possess the earth, the new earth, the ἀντίχθονα, as the Pythagoreans express it, which He Himself has purchased for them.

14 The secret of the Lord is among them that fear him: (ס) and he will show them his covenant.

Here again the Vulgate differs: (R.) The Lord is a strong foundation1 to them that fear Him. For the fear of men weakens, says one;* but the fear of the Lord strengthens. “In the way of God,” says S. Gregory, “we begin in fear, (G.) and we end in fortitude.” Gerhohus takes the firmamentum of the Vulgate, and sees in it a reference to the separation of the waters from the waters, and of the firmament which was called heaven. But, if we take our own translation, we shall find it authorized by the secretum Domini of S. Jerome, the ἀπόῤῥητον of Aquila, and the μυστήριον of Theodotion. And they quote the “Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,”* of our Lord: and again, (L.) His “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what things his Lord doeth; but I have called you friends: for all things that I have heard of My Father, I have made known unto you.”* Think again, too, of the declaration in Amos: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret to His servants the Prophets;”* and the equally loving question in Genesis, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation?”* We may take it, if we will, as spoken of Him Who once said, “Why askest thou thus after My Name, seeing it is secret?”* and then, in the next clause, He, He Whose Name is thus wonderful, shall show them His covenant; His Cross, which is to be their crown; His imprisonment in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, which is to be their everlasting peace.

[Yet again, the secret of the Lord dwelt within her who feared Him, His lowly handmaiden, to whom He showed His covenant by the voice of the Archangel.

Castæ parentis viscera*
Cœlestis intrat gratia;
Venter puellæ bajulat
Secreta quæ non noverat.

His secret,* the mystery of the Sacrament of the Altar, “latens Deitas,” as the hymn says, abides amongst His faithful ones, to whom He discloses Himself in that bond of the New Covenant, when they feed on Him in faith.

Mary’s womb the folded bloom of Sharon’s Rose contained,* And I may share the load she bare, though not like her unstained: Joy such as hers my spirit stirs, the hungry Thou hast fed, My God, my King, to Thee I sing, Who art the Living Bread.]

15 Mine eyes are ever looking unto the Lord: for (ע) he shall pluck my feet out of the net.

And this is the same thing which is written in Ecclesiastes: (G.) “The wise man’s eyes are in his head:” that is,* in our True Head, our Lord Jesus Christ. Out of the net, which Satan, that diligent fisher of souls, spreads in the troublesome waters of this world,* “wherein,” as they remind us, “are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts,” all manner of temptation, both in its tremendous and in its meanest forms. “The eye,” says Hugh of S. Victor,* “is the active intention: he therefore hath his eyes ever to the Lord, who directs, by intention to the Law of God, all that he does. And his feet are set loose from the net, because that cannot be an evil action which is set on foot by the law of God.” S. Chrysostom remarks, “Birds, while they cleave the air at a height,* are not easily taken. Thus thou, if thou wilt only fix thine eyes on the things that are above, wilt not easily be taken with any snares. Birds have wings given to them to this end,—that they may avoid snares: men have reason,”—but he should rather have said the power of prayer—“that they may avoid the temptations of the devil.”

16 Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me: (פ) for I am desolate and in misery.

Thou, Who causest mine eyes to turn to Thee, turn Thine also to me. Thou once, when Thou didst create Adam, (G.) didst only see a noble creature, formed after Thine own Image, in Thine own likeness, endued with every glorious power of soul, when man was very good. Now Thou beholdest one of whom Thy Prophet saith well, “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it, but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores.”* Nevertheless, turn Thee unto me! If Thou turnest from me, who will turn to me?

The Priest beheld,* and passed
The way he had to go:
A careless eye the Levite cast
And left me to my woe:
But Thou, O Good, O Loving One, draw nigh;
Have pity on me! say, Thou shalt not die!

If Thou turn to me, Thine own love will compel Thee to have mercy on me, as on the woman that had had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years:* as on the impotent man that had none to put him into the pool when it had been stirred up by the Angel: have mercy on me as Thou didst on her of old, of whom it is written, “I said unto thee when thou wast in thy blood, Live.”* Ven. Bede well says, “For God to look upon us is to have mercy upon us: for He looks not only on us when we turn to Him, but looks on us also that we may turn to Him.”* And notice: God is said to look in three ways. There is the glance of His Wisdom, which He throws on all His creatures; “God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good:”* the glance of His anger, which He casts on the ungodly; as it is written,—“His look resteth upon sinners:”* and the glance of His love on the righteous, according to that saying,—“He hath respect unto His elect.”* And this verse well answers the 14th: (C.) for on whom can God look, save on one who is always looking to Him?

For I am desolate: or as it is in the Vulgate, The only one: in the LXX., The Only-begotten. And here, then, we have a key to the true sense. Who is this that cares to be looked upon, and to receive mercy, save He Who is the Only-begotten Son of the Father? Some take it indeed, (Ay.) to mean the only one, as not having a double heart: and that is true also: but far better it is to understand the verse of Him Who, being the Only and Eternal Son, yet became, of His own free will, subject to such misery as none else ever knew: Who was desolate beyond all earthly desolation, when He cried out, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” And then to Him, as to none else, the verses that follow will apply.

17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged: (צ) O bring thou me out of my distresses.

Enlarged, indeed! From the moment that He was born “in the manger, because there was no room for Him in the inn,” how did they increase, and gather, and multiply, till they found their full accomplishment in the Cross! And He speaks of the sorrows of His heart first, (Ay.) because that Agony in the Garden where they all found vent preceded in time, and—if we may without irreverence compare that which is infinite—exceeded in heaviness, the troubles of Mount Calvary. Out of my necessities, it is in the Vulgate: (G.) and Gerhohus beautifully dwells on the expression. “I know that it is necessary for me to eat, to sleep, to drink, to be clothed, if I desire to live: but, in order that I may be set free from the bonds of such necessities, therefore, ‘to me to die is gain:’ and therefore I ‘desire to depart and to be with Christ.” I ask for a happy death, then, O my God! When I say, Deliver me out of my necessities. That rich man, who died ill, and in hell lift up his eyes being in torments, was not delivered from them, since, being athirst, he desired a drop of water to cool his tongue. But I desire so to die, that I may be with Christ. For if Lazarus, before the Advent of Christ, was free, in the bosom of Abraham, from these necessities, how much more I shall be liberated from them, if when dissolved I am with the Lord?” And then he goes on in a passage, the antithetical beauty of which could not be preserved in a translation: “O Domine! sic de necessitatibus meis eripe me, ut quæ non possunt mihi viventi deesse, non possint obesse: sic insint, ut non obsint: serviant, non dominentur: sint mihi ad usum, non ad abusionem.” The Italic version has dilatatæ1 instead of multiplicatæ: and Cassiodorus, who applies it to the Church, ingeniously observes, (C.) and like a consular as he was,—“Necesse est enim ut copioso fasce depuniatur,* qui pro multis affligitur.” The Saints take occasion from this verse to dwell on the danger of turning what are necessities into sins. Perimus licitis. And S. Augustine in his Confessions sadly complains that he had often sinned in this way. It is surely rather a hard construction put by the same Saint on this verse, where he understands sins to be signified by necessities,* because through the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright. Are enlarged. Many they are in kind, many in species, many in number, says the Biblical S. Albertus. Many in kind: Eccles. 4:4. Many in species: Isa. 38:15, 2 Cor. 11:29, Ecclus. 25:15. And in number: Ps. 120:5, Job 4:20, Ps. 42.

18 Look upon my adversity and misery: (ק2) and forgive me all my sins.

Or, as it is in the Vulgate, (G.) my humility and my labour. And what humility ever like His Who left the Throne for the Manger, the utmost bound of the everlasting hills for the womb of the Virgin? And what labour ever like His Who taught the multitude by day, continued all night in prayer to God, fainted under the weight of the Cross on which His own weight was so soon to be hung? Nor must we be afraid of applying the verse to our Lord because of its conclusion: forgive me all my sins. My sins,—those which for our sakes He bare,—those which bearing He atoned for,—those which, (Ay.) more than anything else, wrung from Him the Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? But we may well also take the prayer into our own mouths. Adversity, (G.) every man that has a soul to save must expect from the enemy of that soul: misery is pledged to us by that saying, uttered too by him who was called the Son of Consolation, “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”* S. Augustine ingeniously turns the verse against the Donatists: (A.) “See my humility, whereby I never, through the boasts of righteousness, break off from unity.” Abbat Antiochus tells us, quoting this passage, that labour, undertaken for the sake of God, (L.) is one of the most favourable breezes which can carry us into the everlasting harbour. And S. Bernard affirms that humility and toil are the two uprights of the ladder by which we ascend to Paradise.

19 Consider mine enemies, how many they are: (ר) and they bear a tyrannous hate against me.

Consider: and why? Because,* as Job says, (Ay.) “He looketh upon men; and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profiteth me not: He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.” Consider Mine enemies. As He saith, “Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do.” How many they are. Look upon Me the Only One (ver. 16) on the one side: Mine enemies, banded together on the other: on Pharisees and Scribes, Jewish Rulers and Roman soldiers, Pilate and Herod: and they bear a tyrannous hate against Me, “that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, They hated Me without a cause.”* Or, if we understand the words as uttered by any afflicted Christian soul, (G.) then Gerhohus will explain them for us. “Look upon the demons as the soldiers of Pharaoh, look upon the crowds of malignant men as the chariots and horses of the same devils, look on the concupiscences implanted in my flesh and senses, look upon those undisciplined motives, of which I might well say, ‘A man’s foes shall be they of his own household.’* Consider all these mine enemies. And since I know not what I should wish with regard to each of them, since, as saith Thine Apostle, ‘we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered,’* let that good and benign Spirit teach me what I should desire to happen to each of mine enemies; whether to devils, that they may be kept off, or to men, that they may be converted, or to carnal concupiscences, that they may be extinguished, or to those men who will not be converted, and are hardened in their nature like the Pharaoh, (C.) that they may be hindered from their evil effects,” Cassiodorus ingeniously joins the multitude of the enemies with the prayer that they may be considered and so pardoned. The destruction of a few might not have seemed so great a matter: but the greatness of their ruin itself cries out to, and claims, mercy.

20 O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be (ש) confounded, for I have put my trust in thee.

Keep my soul in the first place from sin, and then deliver me, (G.) if it be Thy will, from affliction. If I am cast into the raging sea of this world, deliver me by sending the whale that, however unlikely a minister of safety, shall bear me securely to the shore: If I am thrown into the furnace of Babylon, deliver me, and let the Angel of the Covenant stand by me. If I am cast into the lion’s den, deliver me by sending Thy Angel, who shall shut the mouths of those beasts.* Let me not be confounded. “How should I be confounded?” asks the great hymnographer, Joseph of the Studium: “when Thou didst stretch forth Thine Hands on the Cross, to atone for the ill actions of my hands: when Thy heart was wounded with the spear, to propitiate for the crime of my wicked thoughts: when Thou didst taste of vinegar, to do away the pleasurable sins to which I have yielded?”

21 (20) Let perfectness and righteous dealing wait upon (ת) me: for my hope hath been in thee,1 O Lord.

The Vulgate gives it differently. The innocent and the right adhere to me, because I have waited for Thee. See, they say, (Ay.) the efficacy of prayer! But two verses back, the Psalmist had interceded,—“Consider mine enemies;” and here those very enemies are become the innocent and right. According to Cassiodorus, (C.) it is the Church Triumphant that is speaking. Because in the days of my warfare I waited for Thee, therefore now the innocent, those little ones that have been called from earth in their baptismal purity, and the right, those who have been tried and found true in their many struggles, adhere to me: have a portion and an inheritance with me: are denizens in the “many mansions” prepared for them in the heavenly Jerusalem. There may again be a reference to that 15th verse, (L.) where he describes himself as alone. Now he stands no longer alone, but girt about with the assembly of the innocent and upright.

22 Deliver Israel, O God: out of all his troubles.

As that first Israel, after his compelled flight from his father’s house, after his hard bondage with Laban, (G.) after his marvellous escape from Esau, after the ruin of Dinah, after the loss of his best-beloved Joseph, was at length brought into the best of the land, into the country of Goshen, while that same Joseph was raised to be lord over all Egypt. “Therefore,” cries Gerhohus, “in the same way in which Thou, O God, didst then deliver that Israel, now deliver Thy whole Israel: leave not off consoling him, by showing him the glory of the True Joseph reigning over the Egypt of this world, till that glorious and beautiful sight shall make him cry out, ‘It is enough; I will go and see Him before I die.’* I will see him, in types and riddles, before I die: but face to face, after I die: now I see Him reigning over the whole land of Egypt, but then I shall see Him reigning in Heaven, when the kingdom of Egypt shall have been destroyed. Now I shall see Him in Egypt feeding His brethren, and distributing corn to all people: but then I shall see Him, the Living Bread of Angels, and feeding both Angels and men with the glorious Vision.” The Roman version has, Deliver me, O God of Israel, from all my afflictions: but far nobler is the common reading, which winds up this Psalm of prayer with a supplication, no longer for one, but for the whole Church!

And therefore:

Glory be to the Father, Who is gracious and righteous; and to the Son, the Way in Whom sinners are taught; and to the Holy Ghost, the Secret of the Lord.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.


Gregorian. Tuesday; originally Sunday: Prime. [Office for the Dead: II. Nocturn.]

Parisian. Monday: Tierce.

Lyons. Wednesday: Prime.

Ambrosian. Tuesday of the First Week: II. Nocturn.

Quignon. Monday: Prime.

Eastern Church. Ferial: Terce. In Lent: Compline.

Benedictine. Sunday: I. Nocturn.


Gregorian. [Office of the Dead: The sins * of my youth and my ignorances, remember not, O Lord.]

Ambrosian. My God, my God, look upon me. K. K. K.

Mozarabic. My God, I have put my trust in Thee: O let me not be confounded.

Benedictine. Mine eyes * are ever looking unto the Lord.


Deliver us,* O most merciful God, from all our miseries, because we lift up our souls unto Thee; remember not, we pray Thee, the offences of our youth and our former ignorance; and if we have through negligence offended Thee, do Thou, of Thy clemency, pardon us. Through (1.)

To Thee,* O Lord, we raise our soul by the assistance of hope; and we beseech Thee so to embue it with celestial desires, that it may cease to have its conversation upon earth. Let not the enemy deceive it by promising terrestrial pleasures, but do Thou draw it to Thyself by offering celestial joys. Grant to it, O Almighty God, such wisdom, that it may cleave to the truth rather than to a lie: may follow after humility, and be on its watch against pride, and participate Thy rewards with the Saints. Amen. Through (11.)

Remember us, (D. C.) O Lord, according to Thy mercy and goodness, and set free our feet from the nets of our enemies: that, once ready to run in the path of evil, they may at length take hold of the path of righteousness, and constantly and perseveringly follow the same. Through (1.)

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A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 123

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 29, 2016

A Song of Degrees.


Arg. Thomas. That Christ, having pity on us, may deliver us from the contempt of the proud. The Voice of Christ to the Father, or of the Church to Christ, which, like a good servant, seeks the mercy of her Lord. The first step then is Faith, the second Hope, the third Charity; and here now the fourth declares the perseverance of him that prayeth.

Ven. Bede. He who previously lifted his eyes up unto the hills, now hath raised his heart’s eyes to the Lord Himself. The Prophet, fearing to lose what he held, and cautious in the very place where he had advanced, in the first part devoutly engages in persevering prayers, that he may retain the gifts he has acquired by Divine bounty. Unto Thee lift I up mine eyes. In the second place, he beseeches the Lord to give him mercy, because he has been suffering many troubles from those who insult him at the instigation of the devil, in order that as they have been unable to defile him by their fellowship, they may at any rate defile him with their haughty despisings.

Syriac Psalter. Of David, one of the Psalms of going-up. And it is spoken in the person of Zerubbabel, Prince of the Captivity, and is a prayer of supplication.

Eusebius of Cæsarea. Of prayer.

S. Athanasius. A Psalm in solitary address.


1 Unto thee lift I up mine eyes: O thou that dwellest in the heavens.

There is a great spiritual advance made in this Psalm, (H.) since from merely lifting up the eyes unto the hills, the singer raises them to God Himself. Captivity and the ruin of the Temple had taught this lesson,* that it was not needful to turn to Zion or Moriah in order to find God, but that He could and would hear the cry of a suppliant directed to Him from any quarter.* A Greek commentator understands this whole Psalm of the weariness of the returning exiles, worn out with the toil of their long journey, and exposed to the ridicule of the heathen tribes amongst which they had to pass to their home. It is probable, also, as noted before, that peril of attack from banditti is here expressed and prayed against. (Ay.) They tell us that the two eyes which the faithful soul lifts up to God are the contemplative and the active functions of it, the first to learn His will, the second to do it; and are further careful to note that the words dwellest in the heavens do not imply any localisation of God, (H.) as though limited by place, but mean that He is immanent in all holy persons,* especially the heavenly powers. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also:”* and therefore the Saint, whose treasure is Jesus, will look up to heaven, where He is at the right hand of God,* and thus “wisdom is before him which hath understanding, but the eyes of a fool are in the ends of the earth.”*

I would I were some bird, or star,
Fluttering in woods or lifted far
Above this inn,
And road of sin!
Then either star or bird should be
Shining or singing still to Thee!

2 Behold, even as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress: even so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until he have mercy upon us.

The image is taken from the usual attitude of Eastern slaves when in attendance, ranged as they are at the end of the room in which their master is, standing with hands crossed upon the breast, and with their eyes fixed on him, to await the slightest gesture.* Slaves, too, depending on their owners for food, look to their hand, that is, their bounty, when in need of bread, as we depend on God for nourishment. They look, moreover, wistfully and imploringly when they are being chastised for their faults,* that further punishment may be remitted; and besides, if wrong have been done to them by others, they are not empowered to avenge themselves, but must needs appeal to their masters to obtain redress for them. They assign various reasons for the double simile of men-servants and a maiden. (C.) First, literally, that the share of both sexes in the duties and rewards of faithful service may be asserted; then to teach that the strong and the weak are alike called on, and that diligent fidelity and faithfulness in bringing forth the offspring of good works, severally typified by the two sexes, are expected from every Christian soul.* And finally, whereas servants are spoken of in the plural, and the maiden in the singular, we are taught that all the various mighty nations of the world, with all their masculine vigour, are to be united in that one single Church which is the handmaid, before being the Bride, (A.) of the Lamb, and is chastened by Him that she may be made pure. (C.) It is added, Until He have mercy upon us, but that does not mean that we are to cease looking unto Him when He has shown us His pity. The phrase until is used here,* as in other places of Scripture,* not to denote that there is any change subsequent to the time named, but that there is no change before it. Rather the Church, our mistress, will command her servants to look always, in earth or heaven, to the eyes of her and their Master, as the Latin dramatist has it:

Edico tibi
Ut hujus oculos in oculis habeas tuis,*
Quoquo hic spectabit, et tu spectato simul.

I give thee charge
That thou keep His eyes in those eyes of thine,
Whereso He looks, look thou too at that time.

And if we do, He will see His image in our eyes, and we shall be like Him,* for we shall see Him as He is, and behold our own likeness in His glorious face; never removing from it our adoring gaze. (Lu.) Even here on earth we may look to His hand,* by seeking to know His will by careful and assiduous study of those Holy Scriptures which He has given for our learning, that guiding our conduct thereby we may please Him and obtain His mercy.

3 Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us: for we are utterly despised.
4 Our soul is filled with the scornful reproof of the wealthy: and with the despitefulness of the proud.

When Israel returned from exile, with all the hope and gladness inspired by the deliverance, and with the great promises of future glory in the Messianic prophecies to buoy them up; what really lay before them was the scorn and ridicule of Samaritans and Arabians, to be followed, before very long, by the savage persecution under the Seleucid kings. When the Lord came back to His Apostles from the grave,* they looked for a speedy restoration of the kingdom to Israel, yet almost their first experience after the Ascension was the imprisonment and scourging of two of their chiefs;* while several years later the great Apostle of the Gentiles, writing when two centuries and a half more of persecution awaited the followers of the Nazarene, said, “I think that God hath set forth us the Apostles last, (H.) as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men: we are made as the filth of the earth, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day,”* the mark for scorn and oppression from Jews and Gentiles, kings and mobs, pursued with insults, stripes, fire, steel, and every other engine of malice. Well might the Church in that long three hundred years of suffering, cry again and again, “Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us, for we are exceedingly filled with contempt.” (A. V.) And what was true of the collective Church holds good also of individual Saints, (P.) for men of a devout and contemplative temper have no care either to win or to retain earthly riches, and are thus for the most part poor; and are looked down on as dreamy and unpractical by pushing, busy, money-making men; thus incurring the scornful reproof of the wealthy; and as in like manner they have no ambition to attain rank and dignity, they move for the most part in obscure spheres, and are humble and peaceable, whence they are subject to the despitefulness of the proud, who contemn them as sluggish and feeble, and as poor in spirit, not considering that this last reproach is in truth their title-deed to the kingdom of heaven.*


Glory be to the Father, Who dwelleth in the heavens; glory be to the Son, the Hand of the Lord; glory be to the Holy Ghost, Who hath mercy on the despised.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.






Thou that dwellest* in the heavens, have mercy upon us.





Our eyes are unto the Lord our God, till He have mercy upon us.


O God, (Lu.) dweller in the heavens, unto Thee do we lift up our eyes in prayer, that Thou mayest put to silence the reproaches of the proud, and graciously bestow on us Thy wonted mercy. (1.)

Unto Thee,* O Lord, we lift up our eyes, Whom we confess to dwell in the heavenly places, and to uphold by Thy might the fabric of the earth. Have mercy on us, therefore, O Lord, have mercy, and pardon our sins, by reason of which we fear Thee, that Thou mayest look with merciful loving-kindness on the contempt wherein we are held, and by Thy right hand of power deliver us from the reproach of wickedness. (11.)

As the eyes of servants look unto the hands of their masters,* so do ours unto Thee, O Lord, until Thou pardon the guilt of us sinners, and minister the stripes of the chastised, grant food to the needy, and bestow healing on the wounded. (11.)

Have mercy on us,* O Lord, bestow the help we have sought upon us who wait for it, that we who are filled with the contempt of the proud, may be defended by the aid of Thy defence. (11.)

O Lord our God, (D. C.) Who dwellest in the heavens, we Thy servants lift up our eyes unto Thee; have mercy upon us, and deliver us from the reproach and from the everlasting destruction of the proud. (1.)

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A Patristic/Medieval commentary on Psalm 90

Posted by Dim Bulb on May 29, 2016

Hebrew: A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
Chaldee Targum: A Prayer wherewith Moses the Prophet of God prayed when the people, the house of Israel, sinned in the wilderness; he spoke and said thus:


Arg. Thomas. That Christ, become the refuge of the people, satisfies us early with His mercy. The Voice of the Apostles to the Father. The Apostolic Voice to the Lord. Here the Prophet showeth that man can hope little from this life.

Ven. Bede. There can be no doubt that such names are attached to the titles as serve to clear up the text of the Psalms by their interpretation. For this reason the name of Moses is fitly prefixed to show the force of this supplication, for he ofttimes appeased the Lord’s wrath by his prayer, and he was also a minister of the Old Testament, and a Prophet of the New. And because this Psalm united both these, it is entitled by his name: which is itself radiant with a twofold mystery. For Moses is interpreted Taken up, because he was lifted out of the waters by Pharaoh’s daughter; which thing, by reason of the Red Sea, denotes the Israelites, and by reason of Baptism, the Christians. Otherwise: Because the Psalmist was about to speak of God, eternal before the ages, Creator and Ruler of the world, and of mankind as subject to death by reason of sins; all which things he had learned from the sayings of Moses, he consecrated by his name, not undeservedly, what he had obtained knowledge of from him.

Moses in the first part begins with praise of the Judge: briefly commemorating His benefits and power: Lord, Thou hast been our refuge. Then he beseeches Him to help our infirmity, which he describes in many ways: Turn not man, &c. Thirdly: He asks that the Advent of the Saviour may quickly appear; Who, as he knew, would bestow blessings on mankind: Make Thy right hand so known.

Eusebius of Cæsarea. The rejection of the Jews.

S.Athanasius. A Psalm of narrative and prayer.


It is to be observed, before entering on the exposition of this glorious Psalm, the opening one of the Fourth Book of the Psalter, that the ancient and mediæval Christian commentators, with almost one voice, adjudge it away from Moses, and decline to accept the title as any authority in the matter. S. Athanasius, S. Augustine, S. Jerome, Beda, Euthymius Zigabenus (who usually follows S. Basil and Theodoret) are agreed on this head with Cardinal Bellarmine, Grotius, and the great majority of modern critics.1 Bellarmine, after citing S. Augustine’s remark, that if the title were genuine, we should find the Psalm in the Pentateuch along with the other songs of Moses, and not in the Psalter; adds another objection, that the verse fixing the age of man at eighty years for its extreme limit is incompatible with the history of Moses himself, who, if he wrote the Psalm at all, did so at the close of the forty years’ wandering in the desert, when he was a hundred and twenty years old, yet hale and vigorous, and perfectly competent for the conduct of affairs. Nor is it probable that he would have been chosen as leader at eighty years of age, or Aaron as High Priest at eighty-three, if such seniority then implied decrepitude. Further, it may be noted that the Rabbinical tradition, which lays down a canon that uninscribed Psalms are to be taken as the composition of the last person named in the titles, assigns the nine following Psalms to Moses also; a position at once refuted by the mention of Samuel in 99:6. And we shall thus most fitly take the title to be merely a personification of Moses by the Psalmist, who speaks in his character.

1 Lord, thou hast been our refuge: from one generation to another.

Our refuge. The A. V. more exactly, with Syriac and S. Jerome,* our habitation. The word refuge, then, here signifies a house well fortified and set on a high place, in which such as take refuge are most secure from all harm of enemies, wild beasts, rain, or winds. And truly they who take refuge with God, and who dwell by faith, hope, and charity in Him, as in a fenced citadel, through steadfast meditation and continual desire, are very safe from all attacks of evil, since all things work together for their good.* The whole Psalm is a prayer of the Church to the Eternal Son, for His Incarnation, that He may deliver man from the condition of mortality. (C.) In the person of Moses the Psalmist recalls God’s mercies to him when he was drawn out of the water, when he overcame Pharaoh and his magicians, bringing the children of Israel out of the Red Sea, and when he strove with the rebellious people in the wilderness.* Also, as a prayer of the whole Jewish nation to God, it reminds Him of His deliverances wrought in the time of Pharaoh,* then under Joshua and the Judges; and lastly, in the return from Babylon. And we, (B.) in applying the Psalm to our dear Lord, are confessing Him to be our defence from all eternity, in contradiction to those Jews who said to Him,* “Thou art not yet fifty years old.” He is our refuge from one generation to another, because He is shadowed in type and prophecy under the Old Testament, and is revealed in flesh under the New; because He lifts us out of the carnal generation into the spiritual; (R.) because He is not only the Creator of heaven and earth, the providential Ruler of man from his first origin, (D. C.) but the Creator of the new heaven and earth of grace, of the new man born again in virtue of the Incarnation.* He is our refuge from the world, the flesh, and the devil; He is the refuge of penitents, who flee from sin; of advancing Christians, who flee from the face of temptation;* and of the perfect, who flee from the anxicties and bustle of the world. And this is said relatively of Him, not that any change is wrought in His nature, but that we, being changed, seek shelter with Him,* and know Him to be that refuge which He always was. He is our city of refuge, wherein we are safe from the avenger of blood; He is our tower,* for “the Name of the Lord is a strong tower:* the righteous runneth into it and is safe;”* He is that Captain of the host, Who saith, “If the children of Ammon be too strong for thee,* then I will come and help thee.” He is the Teacher, to Whom we cry,* “I flee unto Thee to hide me, teach me to do the thing that pleaseth Thee.” He is the dove-cot, to Whom pure souls fly,* “as the doves to their windows.”* He is that tender parent Who exclaimed, “How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings.” And all this not in type alone, but in very deed; in His stooping to us by the humility of His Incarnation, (Ay.) by His endurance of temptation for us, by His prayers, especially in the Agony, and by His Cross, all which are a sure refuge for us from the destructive sin of pride. (P.) And on this a Spanish writer says very well, that the one remarkable prayer of Moses to God includes three petitions:* first, that God would come in person to lead His people into the land of promise; secondly, that His presence might be a visible one; thirdly, that He would show His glory to His chosen; all which requests are made anew in this psalm, and granted in the coming of the Lord Jesus.

2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made: thou art God from everlasting, and world without end.

Besides the obvious literal meaning of these words,* whence S. Athanasius and other Fathers draw an argument for the Eternal Godhead of the Son, begotten before all worlds; there are mystical senses indicated, as that the mountains denote the exalted angelic powers, and the earth the lowliness of man, teaching us thereby that Christ was anterior to both. And in the second creation, that of the Church, (A.) He was before the Apostles, those great mountains of His,* and the whole body of the faithful. His eternity is marked by the threefold form of the latter clause; time past, in that He was from everlasting; time present, for we say,* Thou art God; time future, world without end. And when we say from everlasting, (A.) we do not thereby imply that He had a beginning, nor in using the word end, do we hint at a close of His existence, but we signify only His changelessness, that He is eternally the same, and therefore we do not here say Thou wast God from everlasting, (D. C.) nor Thou wilt be God world without end, but Thou art God, the same, past, present, and to come. Wherefore Christ saith, “Before Abraham was, I am.”* Bellarmine points out a certain fitness in the reference to mountains in this verse,* after the phrase refuge in the preceding one, inasmuch as they are not only the strongest and most prominent objects on earth, but also are refuges in many ways; the first places to be left dry after deluges, the most difficult for enemies to attack with success. And thus, as they are often used as types of the Saints in Holy Writ, we learn that God’s love and protection are older,* stronger, and higher than even theirs.

3 Thou turnest man to destruction: again thou sayest, Come again, ye children of men.

Here is the curse pronounced against Adam for his sin,* and the removal of that curse by Christ; the doom of death, and the promise of resurrection. It would be of little avail to us that God is our habitation, if He were not an everlasting one, sufficient for the generation of the world to come, as well as for that of this mortal life; but herein we are taught that He is our eternal Home, for He unites us to Himself, saying, Come again, and that from the destruction and dissolution of sin, to the restoration of penitence and the renewal of the defaced Image of God. And here too we see how God, as He causes each generation to pass away into dust, calls a new one into being. But the LXX. and Vulgate read, Turn not man away to humiliation.1 In this we are not to understand the virtue of lowliness, but either the punishment of dissolution or the sin of earthly and carnal thoughts. (A.) S. Augustine, taking the latter sense, interprets the verse as a prayer that God will not suffer man to turn away from eternal and lofty things to base and fleeting desires, but may give him grace to glory in God alone.* And He saith yet in another place, lest we should doubt His meaning: “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings.”* What answer can we make then save that which follows? “Behold, we come unto Thee, for Thou art the Lord our God;” a stronger refuge than the mountains, for it continues: “Truly in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of mountains: truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.”

4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday: seeing that is past as a watch in the night.

The Apostle S. Peter supplies us with a gloss on this passage, (L.) telling us that its meaning is that God does not really delay when He seems to us so to do, but is exhibiting His patience towards mankind:* “Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (A.) S. Augustine bids us note that the thousand years are compared to yesterday, not to to-morrow, albeit of equal length, in order to impress upon us the lesson of forgetting things that are behind, and counting them as done with for ever,* but that we should “reach forth unto those things which are before,”* where it is always to-day. And a mediæval commentator observes that the whole life of a sinner (typified, as so often, by the symbolical number a thousand,) is as yesterday, however long he may live. For if you ask a worldly man, How will you spend to-morrow? he will answer, in word or in fact, As I did yesterday. And how was that? I ate, I drank, I talked, I amused myself, I slept. And so it would be with him, were his life prolonged a thousand years. Thus Isaiah speaks of the blind watchmen, who keep not a good watch in the night,* “We will fill ourselves with strong drink, and to-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant.” But if man persist in sinning,* God is no less persistent in mercy, and therefore the Greek Fathers remind us that if a man will but hear God’s voice saying, Come again, and will repent, then, although his life may have been so crowded with sins as to seem as if a thousand years had been needed for their commission, yet they will be nought in His sight, and be blotted out as yesterday is.* Eusebius goes into a calculation here, from the literalist point of view, noting that from the building of Solomon’s temple to the overthrow of Ezra’s second erection, is in round numbers a thousand years, the for ever past yesterday of the Mosaic dispensation. If he had said that a thousand years elapsed from the dedication of the first Temple to the Nativity, he would have been more precise; and a similar cycle embraces the time between the conquests of Joshua and the return of Nehemiah. The life of mankind is here said to be as a watch in the night, (C.) for three reasons: its briefness, for there were four night watches, of but three hours each; its toilsome anxiety, fitly signifying the perpetual warfare of this mortal state;* and its darkness.

5 As soon as thou scatterest them, they are even as a sleep: and fade away suddenly like the grass.

6 In the morning it is green, and groweth up: but in the evening it is cut down, dried up, and withered.

The first half of the fifth verse runs quite differently in LXX. and Vulgate, and is, with little variance, Their years shall be nothingness. The clause is for the most part taken with the preceding verse,* and the first interpretation which calls for notice is that of Diodorus, who enforces from the words the lesson of the completeness of God’s pardon for repented sins, so that all the years which have been spent in them shall be utterly blotted out of His records. Another observes that we live by only infinitesimal parts of time.* Our past life is non-existent, for its days and years are dead; our future life is non-existent, for its hours are not yet born, and therefore we can count only the present instant, which slips from us as we try to grasp it, and is nothing. But the truer sense is given by the A. V. agreeing with Symmachus, Thou carriest them away as with a flood, they are as a sleep. And the first of these clauses may be taken in two ways,* either that the comparison is of life to a river, hurrying resistlessly into the ocean, and unable to stay for an instant in its course, or else that the idea is that of a sudden storm of rain,* washing the sky free of clouds, and the ground of light and unfixed objects lying casually about,* which are borne away in the torrent, while the word sleep reminds us of the manner in which our senses and reason are bound in slumber here on earth, so that we take fictions for truth, and have no power to undeceive ourselves, as well as of the manner in which these visions of the night vanish with our awakening. And so Pindar moralizes—

ἐπάμεροι· τί δέ τις; τί δʼ οὔ τις; σκιᾶς ὄναρ


We are creatures of a day. What is any one? what is he not?

The dream of a shadow, man.

But of the Saints we may remember that it is spoken, “Thou shalt give them drink of Thy pleasures as out of the river;”* and again, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground;”* and yet further, “He giveth His beloved sleep,”* so that they are hurried away in rapt delight at the thought of God, and sleep, with waking heart, in that contemplation wherein they dream of Him. Like the grass. Here they take the morning and evening to be youth and old age, or, with little difference of meaning, life and death. We are cut down in death, dried up as corpses, withered into dust. (A.) And this is more awfully true of those lives which merely flourish and pass (Vulg.) without ever bringing forth actual fruit, (R.) for after the morning of this world,* when the night of judgment is come, they shall be cut down and cast into hell, suffered to harden (Vulg.) in their wickedness, and be dried up in the fierce flame of God’s wrath against sin. Once more, they take the grass to be the Mosaic Law, given in the morning youth of the nation by Christ on Mount Sinai, and abolished in the evening of time, when He came in the flesh. The whole figure is one frequently met in the classical poets, (Cd.) notably in Homer’s comparison of men to the successive leaves of a tree, but perhaps the closest parallel to this passage is supplied by Plautus:

Quasi solstitialis herba paulisper fui,*

Repente exortus sum, repentino occidi.

Like to a summer plant brief space I was,

I sprang up suddenly, and sudden fell.

Although the words of our Lord, wherein He speaks of “the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven,”* may be taken as explaining this sudden decay as the result of external violence, as the action of the scythe, not of natural causes, yet there are not wanting those who prefer to see a reference to those ephemeral plants whose bloom and fading are comprised in a single day. But the most natural explanation is to see noted here the rapid effects of an Eastern sun on the herbage. And so the Apostle S. James, “The sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof fadeth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth,”* an apt type of the sinner in the presence of God.

7 For we consume away in thy displeasure: and are afraid at thy wrathful indignation.

The double chastisement of body and soul is here set before us;* the gradual wasting of our physical frame under the attacks of disease and age,* and the mental terrors brought upon us by the thought of God’s divine anger against sin.* Those who take the whole Psalm as a dirge over the vanished glories of the Hebrew race, explain this verse as denoting that a heavier punishment than falls to the lot of other men had smitten the chosen nation; whether we take the words as referring specially to the death in the wilderness of all but two of the great host of armed men that came up out of Egypt, to the Babylonian captivity, (L.) or to the final dispersion under Titus and Hadrian. (D. C.) And others again prefer to understand it of the gradual shortening of the span of human life, from the centuries of the earliest race to the decades of later times.*

8 Thou hast set our misdeeds before thee: and our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

Inasmuch as misdeeds are obliquities, (L.) perversities, and deviations from the right, God is said to set them before Him when, instead of hiding His face from them,* or covering them, He does, as it were, turn them round towards Himself, and fixes His eyes upon them, so that they cannot escape nor be concealed, but be detected and punished.* And in this He acts like earthly judges, who summon criminals before their tribunal, and submit them there to close examination, bringing hidden things into the light of judgment. Our secret sins. There is some variety of rendering the Hebrew עֲלֻמֵנוּ, the LXX. and Vulgate taking it as our whole duration (αἰὼν, sæculum,) S. Jerome rendering negligentias, the Chaldee and some others as youth, that is, as elsewhere, youthful sins. But the Prayer Book version appears the most satisfactory, and in any case the ultimate meaning will be the same, that it is precisely what seems to us most obscure and forgotten, that will be placed in the full blaze of God’s countenance,* which does not, like our sight, derive its rays from external objects, but is itself the source of light. The Syriac version, however, keeping to the idea of youth, beautifully turns the second clause into a prayer: Because Thou hast set our misdeeds before Thee, make us grow young in the light of Thy countenance. Put away from us the old man with his sins; renew in us the image of the New Man, and that by showing Him to us visibly in the flesh, that we may see Him as He is,* and thereby become like Him, as the pool becomes like the sun which shines on it.

9 For when thou art angry, all our days are gone: we bring our years to an end, as it were a tale that is told.

The previous verse is taken by several commentators to have a special reference either to the sin of Adam,* visited on his posterity,* or to the rejection of Christ by the Jews, and, consequently, this passage is explained by some to have general reference to the sentence of death pronounced against all mankind for the one cause, or of national overthrow against the Jews specially,* for the other. Had it not been for this, the days and years would have still flowed on, but they would, have brought none of the evils of age and weakness, far less of decay and death, in their course. As it were a tale that is told. There is a considerable variety of interpretation of the Hebrew text here, both amongst ancient and modern critics. The Chaldee turns it,* As the breath of the mouth in winter. S. Jerome, not unlike our rendering, As one uttering a speech. Others again, as a meditation (A. V. marg.) or reverie;1 or further, as a sigh or groan, a meaning which is the most probable, and agrees with the sense of הֶגֶה in the two other places where it occurs, Job 37:2, and Ezek. 2:10. But the LXX., Æthiopic, and Vulgate agree in translating the whole clause, meditated (or shall meditate) as a spider, i.e., a spiders web, which fuller form the Arabic gives, agreeing with the Syriac. however, in making the verb mean fail, or glide away.1 The fanciful nature of this simile has given birth to a crowd of interpretations. (C.) First may be placed that of Cassiodorus, that the lives of sinners are compared to spiders, because their intricate, subtle and yet frail devices for evil ends are like the webs woven to catch flies, while the word meditate is used in opposition to worked, to show the inutility and vanity of their existence.* The web of the spider is very slender, and of no value, like worldly cunning, of which we may take those words of the Prophet, “Moreover, they that work in fine flax, and they that weave net works, shall be confounded.”* The spider spins its web out of its own entrails, and is thus like the covetous. Its toil is laborious, but rapidly swept away; just as the hypocrite’s “hope shall be cut off, and whose trust shall be a spider’s web.”* It weaves its web high up in corners, not on level spots, and thus denotes secrecy and cunning. It prefers to spin in deserted houses, and so they whose soul was been abandoned by God, delight in sinister occupations. It works chiefly in the dark, and thus resembles those who shun the light, because their deeds are evil.* It hangs downwards from its web by a slender thread, denoting those who are in constant suspense and anxiety about earthly trifles, and it labours hard for a very small result, (Z.) giving much meditation thereto. Others, however, take the word meditated in the sense that the years of man shall be reputed or esteemed as no better than spider’s webs.* Eusebius, reminding us of that saying of Isaiah concerning the wicked Jews, “They hatch cockatrice’ eggs, and weave the spider’s web.… their webs shall not become garments;”* observes that in ancient times the children of Israel wove rich vestments for the High Priests, but that when the Great High Priest came, they wove instead subtle plots against Him with cunning use of Scriptural texts and traditional comments, meaning to snare Him therewith, but vainly.

10 The days of our age are threescore years and ten; and though men be so strong that they come to fourscore years: yet is their strength then but labour and sorrow; so soon passeth it away, and we are gone.

Omitting the obvious literal interpretation of the verse, let us turn to the spiritual lessons which they draw from it. And first, let us hear S. Augustine explaining, (A.) according to his wont, the mystical significance of the numbers. Seventy and eighty make one hundred and fifty, which the Book of Psalms itself proves to be a sacred number. And its proportional meaning is the same as that of the number fifteen, made up of seven and eight; whereof the former, by reason of the observance of the Sabbath, denotes the Old Testament; the other, the New Testament, because of the Lord’s Resurrection. Hence are there fifteen steps of the Temple, the fifteen Songs of degrees amongst the Psalms, hence the waters of the flood prevailed fifteen cubits above the tops of the mountains. Seventy years is the temporal life of the Old Testament; eighty, which is in power (Vulg.) that is, in things eternal, is the new life of the New Testament in the hope of renewal and resurrection to immortality, while anything beyond (Vulg.) this, anything which transgresses the faith, and seeks for something else, is but labour and sorrow. (B.) Not very dissimilarly, others say that the word seventy denotes active life, as we number our existence here by the seven days of the week, while eighty, as suggesting the eighth day, the beginning of a new week, typical of a new life, implies contemplation on earth, and the Beatific Vision in the life to come. So soon passeth it away, and we are gone. The A. V. more exactly, with Targum and S. Jerome,* we fly away. This at once suggests the famous parable of the heathen Thane in the Witan assembled by Edwin of Northumbria to debate on the mission of S. Paulinus. “The present life of man, O King, may be likened to what often happens when thou art sitting at supper with thy thanes and nobles in winter-time. A fire blazes on the hearth, and warms the chamber; outside rages a storm of wind and snow; a sparrow flies in at one door of thy hall, and quickly passes out at the other. For a moment, and while it is within, it is unharmed by the wintry blast, but this brief season of happiness over, it returns to that wintry blast whence it came, and vanishes from thy sight. Such is the brief life of man; we know not what went before it, and we are utterly ignorant as to what shall follow it. If, therefore, this new doctrine contain anything more certain, it justly deserves to be followed.” But the LXX. and Vulgate diverge completely from the existing Hebrew text, reading as they do, For gentleness hath come upon[us, LXX.] and we shall be corrected [instructed LXX.] That is,* as they tell us, we derive at least this advantage from old age, that it breaks down the pride and obstinacy of youth, and we become gentle through consciousness of our feeble condition, and are corrected or instructed into submitting ourselves under the mighty and chastening, but loving hand of God. (C.) Or, as another, yet more beautifully, teaches, He Who is gentleness itself, our dear and tender Lord, hath come to us, and will correct us, if we obey not His teachings, but more gently than under the harshness of the Law. Another, accepting gentleness as the special epithet of Christ, (R.) takes the coming and correction to be that of the last Judgment, when He Who has been so long-suffering with us, saying to us, like His Apostle, “What, shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and the spirit of meekness?”* will punish the impenitent.

The Lord shall come,* but not the same
As once in lowliness He came,—
A silent Lamb before His foes,
A weary Man, and full of woes.
The Lord shall come, a glorious Form,
With wreath of flame and robe of storm,
On cherub wings and wings of wind,
Appointed Judge of all mankind.

But one writer who follows the Vulgate reading,* brings us back to the real force, saying, The phrase We shall be corrected means we shall die, and we shall be amended. For death is a general correction, which amends our vices in us, and in what way? By means of gentleness, for it pacifies all. For gentleness hath come upon us. The lion dies, the tiger dies, the adder dies, and where then is the lion’s valour, the tiger’s fierceness, the adder’s poison? Now, the lion is not brave, the tiger is not fierce, the adder is not venomous, and all those untamed beasts and monsters are docile now, for death hath tamed them. And if death can work such amendment and change in wild beasts, why should it not do the like in man? A better change, too, than mere stilling of our passions, but like that of which one of our own poets has sung—

.… from the Golden Throne the Lord of death*
With love benignant on Ladurlad smiled,
And gently on his head his blessing laid.
As sweetly as a child,
Whom neither thought disturbs nor care encumbers,
Tired with long play, at close of summer day,
Lies down and slumbers,
Even thus as sweet a boon of sleep partaking,
By Yamen blest, Ladurlad sank to rest.
Blessed that sleep, more blessed was the waking,
For on that night a heavenly morning broke,
The light of heaven was round him when he woke.

11 But who regardeth the power of thy wrath: for even thereafter as a man feareth, so is thy displeasure.
12 So teach us to number our days: that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

This rendering is very obscure, and it is simpler to take the A. V., Who knoweth the power of Thine anger? even according to Thy fear, so is Thy wrath.* That is, what man can tell the awfulness of God’s indignation against sin? seeing that His wrath is proportionable to His majesty, and to the reverential fear we ought to entertain for Him, to guard us from transgressing His precepts.* And because no man can do this except God teach him, we then pray Him so to instruct us to understand our brief sojourn here, so to order our lives that we may understand His might and holiness, His justice and wrath as our Judge, our own weakness as miserable sinners, that we may truly repent, and with softened hearts turn to the Eternal Wisdom, the Word of God Himself, and sit meekly at His feet to learn the way of holiness. But the LXX. and Vulgate follow a different reading, and join on the word number to the preceding verse, thus: Who knoweth … to number Thine anger in comparison with Thy fear? which, so far, does not affect the general sense of the passage. (A.) But they continue: So make known Thy right hand,1 and the instructed in heart in wisdom. That is, reveal unto us Thy Christ, the Right Hand of Thy power, that He, in turn, may make known to us that everlasting felicity which is prepared for those who shall be set on His right hand in the Judgment. And show us not only Him, but as further lessons and examples for us, those Apostles, Martyrs, (C.) and Saints who have drunk His wisdom in with thirsty hearts, and have thereby in their lives and doctrine taught us what it is to follow Him.*

13 Turn thee, O Lord, at the last: and be gracious unto thy servants.

At the last. LXX.* and Vulg. rightly, with A. V., How long? As long as is Thy good pleasure, so that Thou be gracious unto Thy servants, (R.) or as long as is needful for Thee to turn unto us for our salvation; or again,* for a time equal to that during which Thou wast turned from us; and, we pray, keep Thyself so turned with the light of Thy countenance shining on us, (D. C.) till we reach our desired end. But the Chaldee takes the sentence as incomplete,* and fills it up thus: How long wilt Thou afflict us? And He gives us a plain answer: “Return unto Me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.”* Then, when we are willing to forsake our sins, He will be entreated for His servants, and repent Him (A. V.) of His severity; that is, will like a strict loving parent show tenderness to His converted children, in proportion to the weight of His chastening hand so long as they continued froward.

14 O satisfy us with thy mercy, and that soon: so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.
15 Comfort us again now after the time that thou hast plagued us: and for the years wherein we have suffered adversity.

Soon. Rather, early,* which the Vulgate turns, in the morning. It is not of the way, (A.) but of our Country that these words are spoken. Here, God’s love and grace are as a light that shineth in a dark place, in the night and sorrow of this world, in our dimly enlightened hearts, but there, in the morning, when we shall see “the day dawn, and the Day-star arise in our hearts,”* nevermore to set, we shall be satisfied with the mercy of God, (C.) that is, with His dear Son. So shall we rejoice, “for Thou delightest not in our destruction, inasmuch as Thou makest a calm after the storm, and after crying and tears, Thou pourest in gladness.”* Wherefore it is added, After the time that Thou hast plagued us. “This kind of rejoicing,”* observes a Saint, “the heavenly citizens would never have known were it not for the children of the Church. For joy comes in good time after sorrow, rest after toil, a haven after shipwreck. All love safety, but he most who has been afraid. Light is pleasant to all, but most to him who escapeth out of the power of darkness. By the passage from death to life grace is doubled in its delightfulness. This is my special portion in the heavenly banquet, apart from those blessed spirits. I am bold to say that the very life of blessedness itself is augmented, and obtains some addition to its perfection through me, by reason of what it enjoys through its love for me, and that to no small extent, for the angels rejoice at the repentance of a sinner. But if my tears are delightful to the angels, what will my delight be to them?” (D. C.) There is a sense in which the prayer was granted even in this world, by the early morning Resurrection of Christ, by the descent of the Holy Spirit in fiery tongues at the third hour of the Day of Pentecost.* It is granted also to those on whom God bestows the grace of penitence, and inspires with the hope of pardon and salvation after He has chastised them for their sins; nay, with thankful rejoicing in the very chastisements which have testified His fatherly love, and they learn to “rejoice in the Lord alway”* all the days of their earthly life, in preparation for the unending gladness of their promised immortality, in that morning which begins an unending series of days that have no evening.

The night was dark with terror,*
The morn is bright with gladness;
The Cross becomes our harbour,
And we triumph after sadness;
And Jesus to His true ones
Brings trophies fair to see:
And Jesus shall be loved, and
Beheld in Galilee:
Beheld, when morn shall waken
And shadows shall decay,
And each true-hearted servant
Shall shine as doth the day.

16 Show thy servants thy work: and their children thy glory.

Not works, in the plural, like the many sacrifices of the Law.* The covenant of grace knows only one work, that of Christ. Thy work. The especial work of God is the salvation of man, to be wrought out by the merits of Christ. It is therefore a prayer for His coming, His Resurrection and Ascension, the sending of the Holy Ghost, and the foundation of the Church, for “this is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.”* And note that the prayer is twofold, that we may see the work, and our children the glory, teaching us thereby that the triumph of the Church is not to be looked for till the work is ended, that the sufferings of the Saints must precede their victories, that the martyrdom of the Apostles is the needful preliminary to the conversion of the Empire.* Or, if we take the words of God’s work in the soul, their meaning will be, “Work in Thy servants by Thy grace, that they may do good works, and let Thy work in the matter be so plain, that others may see their good deeds, and glorify Thee, their Father in heaven, and that this holy operation may not cease with them, but be continued for their children too. The LXX. and Vulgate are, however, slightly different here, and read, Look upon Thy servants, and Thy works, and guide their children. It is, observes Cassiodorus, (C.) a prayer to God to spare the Jewish nation, once His servants, though now rebels, and to guide into the way of salvation the children of those who slew Him.* Bless, as another will have it, the work of Thy servants in the ministry of souls, and guide their spiritual children, their converts and pupils, in the right way.

17 And the glorious majesty of the Lord our God be upon us: prosper thou the work of our hands upon us, O prosper thou our handywork.

There is a twofold Rabbinical tradition respecting this verse and the preceding one;* that they were the original prayer recited by Moses as a blessing on the work of making the Tabernacle and its ornaments, and that subsequently he employed them as the usual formula of benediction for any newly undertaken task, whenever God’s glorious majesty was to be consulted for an answer by Urim and Thummim. For us that glorious majesty is Christ our King Himself,* Whose splendour has enlightened us for ever; it is, further, the illumination of the Holy Ghost, Whom He has sent us, it is even His own triumphal Cross, wherein we glory, wherewith we sign ourselves as a safeguard against evil.* So enlightened, so fortified by His prevenient grace, we may begin our part of the great undertaking. (C.) When He has shown us His work, and given us clear light wherein to see it, (P.) then we may ask for wisdom and strength to carry it on, (A.) always under His guidance, to the one perfect work and end of charity, wherein He co-operates throughout with His grace,* as He bestowed on us the will and power necessary for a beginning.


Glory be to the Father, Who is God from everlasting; glory be to the Son, His Mercy, Who saith to us, Come again, ye children of men; glory be to the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.


Gregorian and Monastic. Thursday: Lauds.

Ambrosian. Wednesday of Second Week: III. Nocturn.

Parisian. Thursday: Prime.

Lyons. Friday: Compline.

Quignon. Wednesday: Nones.

Eastern Church. Prime.


Gregorian and Monastic. Lord,* Thou hast been our refuge.

Ambrosian. As preceding Psalm.

Mozarabic. The glorious majesty of the Lord our God be upon us.


Almighty God, Creator of the star of light,* Who drivest away the night and bringest back the light anew to the world, satisfy us, we beseech Thee, with the renewed shining of Thy mercy, that we may, through Thine illumination, drive away all the darkness of sin. (1.)

Keep us, O Lord, from one generation to another,* and let not us, who have clung to Thy foundation, be carried away with this present world, but arise to be our Comforter in trouble, and by the bestowal of joy wipe away our sorrows. (11.)

Let Thy glorious majesty, O Lord, be upon us, and guide Thou the work of our hands,* look graciously upon Thy servants, and with Thy light direct the beginnings of good works in us. (11.)

Be Thou our Refuge, O Lord, and guide Thy people with Thy fatherly governance,* that as the times of our fathers felt Thy cares, so ours also may know Thy bounties towards them. (11.)

We beseech Thee, O Lord our Saviour, that Thy glory may shine in our hearts,* that Thou mayest cast out from us all assaults of darkness and all foul thoughts, and drive away all sins from our hearts; so enlighten our darkness that the shades may flee, and glorious light dwell in our hearts. (5.)

O Lord, Who art God from everlasting and world without end, (D. C.) be Thou in all places our Refuge; look mercifully upon us Thy servants, and let the glory of Thy godhead be upon us, that our works may alway be guided by Thee, and be finished by Thee when begun. (1.)

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