The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

St Robert Cardinal Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 113

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 17, 2016


Ps 113:1 Praise the Lord, ye children: praise ye the name of the Lord. 

Children, here, represent the servants of the Lord who worship him in all sincerity. That is clear from the Hebrew for children. Children and servants, however, are so clearly allied that the term may be applied indiscriminately to both, for servants should be as obedient to their masters as children are to their parents. Hence, St. Paul says, “As long as the heir is a child he differeth nothing from a servant.” We are, therefore, reminded by the term “children,” that we should be the pure and simple servants of God, and be directed by his will, without raising any question whatever about it. “Praise the Lord, ye children; praise ye the name of the Lord.” Let it be your principal study, all you who claim to be servants of God, to reflect with a pure mind on the greatness of your Lord, and with all the affections of your heart to praise his infinite name. A similar exhortation is to be found in Psalm 133, “Behold now bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord;” and in Psalm 134, “Praise ye the name of the Lord: O you his servants, praise the Lord.”

Ps 113:2 Blessed be the name of the Lord, from henceforth now and for ever.

As we, creeping, wretched things, know not how to praise God as we ought, he now tells us how it should be done, and says it should be done at least with affection and desire. Say, therefore, with all the affections of your heart, “Blessed be the name of the Lord,” “from henceforth,” at the present time, “and forever,” to all future generations, so that there shall never be any cessation to his praise.

Ps 113:3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise. 

In this and the following verses he explains the subject of God’s praise, which he says is to be found everywhere, all his works being so replete with wonders, which, on diligent reflection, redound so much praise on their wonderful Maker. “From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same;” throughout the whole world, from one end of it to the other, “the name of the Lord is worthy of praise,” by reason of his great works that so abound throughout the world.

Ps 113:4 The Lord is high above all nations; and his glory above the heavens.

Matter for God’s praise is to be found not only through the length and breadth, but even through the height of the world; for, though there may be many great kings and powerful princes therein, God far out tops them all, and he lords it over, not only “all the nations,” but even over all the Angels, for “his glory is above the heavens,” and all who dwell therein.

Ps 113:5 Who is as the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high:
Ps 113:6 And looketh down on the low things in heaven and in earth? 

He now praises God by reason of his wonderful kindness, which, when looked at in conjunction with such sublimity, appears the more extraordinary. “Who is as the Lord our God who dwelleth on high,” in the highest heavens, and still “looketh down on the low things;” on man who dwells on the earth. The words, “in heaven,” according to the Hebrew, should be referred to the first verse. We are here instructed that God, by reason of his excellence, has everything subject to him; and yet, such is his goodness, that he looks after, and attends to the minutest matters, things, and persons, and especially to the meek and humble of heart.

Ps 113:7 Raising up the needy from the earth, and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill: 
Ps 113:8 That he may place him with princes, with the princes of his people. 

He explains why God “looks down” on the humble, and says it is to exalt them; and though this is most applicable to individuals raised by God from the lowest to the highest position, such as Joseph, Moses, David, and others, it is also most true of the whole human race, that is, of the little flock of the elect, to whom our Savior said, “Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom.” Now, mankind lay prostrate on the earth, wallowing on the dunghill of original sin, and its consequent evils, and yet God, who is seated in heaven, looked down on the earth, and raised up the needy, that is, the man despoiled by the robbers, who was lying on the dunghill of misery, to “place him with princes;” not in the general acceptation of the word; but with “the princes of his people,” the possessors of the heavenly Jerusalem, the citizens of the kingdom of heaven. The being raised from the poverty of this world to an abundance of its riches, however great and desirable it may appear in our eyes, is in reality a thing of no value, such things being perishable, given to us merely to make good use of them, and bringing great obligations with them, which, if not properly discharged, will, on the day of judgment, bring down great trouble and affliction of spirit on those who got them. But the elevation from a state of sin and death to that of glory and immortality, to an equality with the Angels, to share in that happiness that forms a part of God’s own happiness, that, indeed, is the true, the truly great, and the most to be sought for elevation.

Ps 113:9 Who maketh a barren woman to dwell in a house, the joyful mother of children. 

With mankind a low and contemptible position is considered a misfortune, while barrenness is looked upon in the same light by womankind; but, as God looks down on the humble man so as to raise him from the lowest to the highest position, he also looks down on the humble woman, thereby changing her barrenness into fertility. This is quite applicable to several females, such as Sara, Rebecca, Rachel, Anne, and others; but it applies, in a higher sense, to the Church gathered from the gentiles, that remained barren a long time, but ultimately begot many children, as the Apostle has it, “Rejoice thou barren, that bearest not; break forth and cry out, thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the desolate, more than that of her that hath a husband.”


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