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

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 19

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 22, 2016

Ps 19:2 The heavens shew forth the glory of God, and the firmament declareth the work of his hands.

Being about to institute a comparison between the law of God and his heavens, and thence to extol his law, he sets out by saying, that such are the grandeur of the heavens, that they at once proclaim the grandeur of their Maker. The heavens show forth the glory of God;” that is to say, the heavens preeminently, beyond all the other works of God, by their grandeur and beauty make his glory known to us; “and the firmament declareth the work of his hands.” The same repeated, for heavens and firmament signify the same thing, namely, the whole celestial display, consisting of son, moon, stars, etc., for we read in Genesis, that “God called the firmament heaven,” and in it placed the sun, moon, and stars. The word “heaven,” and “heavens,” are used indiscriminately in the Psalms, and governed by verbs in the plural, as well as the singular number, as are all nouns of multitude. The firmament, comprising all the heavenly bodies, announces and declares to men the work of the hands of God; that is his principal and most beautiful work, from which we may form some idea of his greatness and his glory.

Ps 19:3 Day to day uttereth speech, and night to night sheweth knowledge.

What a beautiful announcement is that of God’s glory by the heavens. For three reasons. First because they announce it incessantly. Second, because they do it in the language of all nations. Third, because they announce it to the whole world. How do they do it incessantly? This verse shows us how, for the heavens announce his glory day and night by the beauty of the sun in the day, and that of the stars by night; but as the days and nights pass away, and are succeeded by others, the Psalmist most beautifully and poetically imagines one day having performed his course, and spent it in announcing the glory of God, and then hands over the duty to the following day to do likewise; and so with the night, having done her part, gives in charge to the following night to do the same; and thus, “Day to day uttereth speech:” when its course has run, it warns the following to be ready, “And night to night indicates knowledge.” When the night too has finished her task of praising God, she warns the following to be ready for the duty; and thus, without intermission, without interruption, day and night fall in, and lead the choir in chanting the praises of their Creator.

Ps 19:4 There are no speeches nor languages, where their voices are not heard.

He now proves that the preaching of the heavens is delivered in all languages, that is to say, can be understood by all nations, as if the heavens spoke in the language of every one of them: because all nations, when they behold the beauty and the excellence of the heavens, cannot but understand the excellence and the superiority of him who made them.

Ps 19:5 Their sound hath gone forth into all the earth: and their words unto the ends of the world.

The third source of praise of the eloquence of the heavens is, that they announce God’s glory, not only without intermission, and in all languages, but they do it, furthermore, all over the world. By sound is not meant noise, but the announcement of that glory that arises from beholding the beauty of the heavenly bodies. “Into all the earth,” and “Into the ends of the world,” mean the same, and is only a repetition of frequent use in the Psalms. St. Paul quotes this passage in proof of the preaching of Christ having reached all nations; from which we are to understand, that the apostles are allegorically meant here by the heavens. And in truth, the holy apostles and other holy preachers of the word, may deservedly be so compared to the heavens. For, by contemplation they are raised above the earth, ample through their charity, splendid through their wisdom, always serene through their peace of mind, through their intelligence quickly moved by obedience, thundering in their reproofs, flashing by their miracles, profuse in their gifts to others; and, in the spirit of true liberality, seeking nothing from them; free from the slightest speck, as regards sanctity of life; and, finally, the resting place of the supreme king, by reason of their perfect sanctity. “For the soul of the just is the seat of wisdom.”

19:6 He hath set his tabernacle in the sun: and he as a bridegroom coming out of his bridechamber, Hath rejoiced as a giant to run the way:

Though the whole heavens declare the glory of God, the most splendid object in them, the sun, does so especially. The sun, then, being the most excellent object in the entire world, there God “Set his tabernacle.” He calls it a tabernacle, not a house, because he dwells there only for a while, during this short time of our peregrination, when we see him “Through a glass,” the glass of creatures, of which the sun is the principal. But when we shall come to our country, we shall see God, not “In his tabernacle in the sun,” but in his own home, the home of eternity. The prophet proves that God “Set his tabernacle in the sun,” by three arguments: the first, derived from its beauty, the second, from its strength, the third, from its beneficence. “And he as a bridegroom coming out of his bride chamber.” Here is the argument from his beauty. He rises, beautiful, bright, ornamented as a bridegroom in his wedding garments; and what can be grander, more beautiful, or more striking than the rising sun?

Ps 19:7 His going out is from the end of heaven, And his circuit even to the end thereof: and there is no one that can hide himself from his heat.

A second argument front the sun’s power and strength, which performs an immeasurable journey daily at such speed, without the smallest fatigue. “He rejoiced as a giant,” or as a stout, robust person, full of alacrity, (for such is the force of the Hebrew,) such as is peculiar to those who enter on anything with pleasure. “His going out is from the end of heaven, and his circuit even to the end thereof.” By the end of heaven is meant the east, for there he rises, and never stops till he comes there again; and thus, “His circuit is even to the end thereof: and there is no one that can hide himself from his heat.” The last argument, taken from the service rendered unto all created things by the sun. For the sun, by his enlivening heat, so fosters and nourishes all things, that he may be called the common parent of all things, on land and in the sea. Hence, the sun so assiduously and carefully traverses the entire globe, visits all creation, “That nothing can hide itself;” that is, lose a share of his wonderful favors.

Ps 19:8 The law of the Lord is unspotted, converting souls: the testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones.

The comparison is now applied. Beautiful are the heavens, more beautiful is the sun, but far and away more beautiful is the law of the Lord. Bright are the heavens, more bright is the sun, but much more bright is the law of the Lord. Useful are the heavens to man, more useful is the sun, but more useful than any is the law of the Lord. He then enumerates six encomiums of the divine law. First, “The law of the Lord is unspotted, converting souls.” Most beautiful is the law of the Lord, without spot, without stain tolerating nothing sinful, as the laws of man do; and thus, when properly studied and considered, brings the soul to love it, and consequently to love God, its author. The second encomium is in the words, “The testimony of the Lord is faithful, giving wisdom to little ones.” By “testimony” we are to understand the same law, because, in the Scriptures, and especially in the Psalms, God’s law is not only called the law, the precept, the commandment, and the like, which other writers also apply to it; but is further styled the testimony, the justice, the justification, the judgment, as any one can see, especially in Psalm 118. It is called the “testimony,” because it bears testimony to men, what the will of God is, what he requires of us, what punishments he has in store for the wicked, what rewards for the just. He says then, “The testimony of the Lord is faithful;” that is, God’s law, that will most assuredly reward the good and punish the wicked. “Giving wisdom to little ones;” that means, giving to the poor in understanding the light of prudence to direct them in doing good, and avoiding evil. By “little ones” he means those who do not abound in the wisdom of the world; and by “wisdom” he means that spiritual prudence that helps us to reform our habits, and mould them to the shape of the law of God.

Ps 19:9 The justices of the Lord are right, rejoicing hearts: the commandment of the Lord is lightsome, enlightening the eyes.

The third encomium on the divine law is, that once we begin to love it, of which the first encomium treats, and to observe it, as treated of in the second, it diffuses a most extraordinary joy in the person, for nothing can be pleasanter than a good conscience. “The justices of the Lord;” that is, his law, his commandments, being most just, and making the observer of them just, “are right” and gladful; that is, “rejoicing the hearts;” for upright hearts harmonize with “right” precepts; and they, therefore, are glad, and rejoice when an occasion offers for the observance of the commandments. The fourth encomium is, “The commandment of the Lord is lightsome, enlightening the eyes.” The law of the Lord, through the bright light of divine wisdom, illuminates our intellectual vision, because it makes us understand God’s will, and what is really good and really bad. God’s law illuminates also in a preparatory manner, for wisdom will not approach the malevolent soul; and nothing proves such an obstacle to our knowing God, which is the essence of wisdom, as impurity of heart. “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.”

Ps 19:10 The fear of the Lord is holy, enduring for ever and ever: the judgments of the Lord are true, justified in themselves.

The fifth encomium is, that the law of the Lord causes the above named goods to be not only temporal but eternal; for the fear of the Lord, that makes one tremble at the idea of offending God, “endures forever and ever:” as to its reward, the rewards to be had from the observance of the law do not terminate with death, but hold forever, as he says in Psalm 9, “The patience of the poor shall not perish forever.” Both Greek and Hebrew imply, that the fear spoken of here is not that of a slave, but that of a child, without any admixture of servility; that of which Psalm 111 speaks, “Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord; he shall delight exceedingly in his commandments.” For he who works from servile fear does not observe the commandments freely, but unwillingly; but he who is influenced by filial fear “Delights exceedingly in his commandments;” that is, is most anxious and desirous to observe them. The last encomium is, that the law of the Lord, being true and just in itself, needs no justification from any other quarter. “The judgments of the Lord are true, justified in themselves.” “The judgments of the Lord”—meaning his commandments, because through them God judges man, and they are the standard and the rule whereby to distinguish virtue from vice, and good works from bad—“are justified in themselves;” they require no one to prove they are just, the pure fact of their being God’s commands being quite sufficient for it. Along with that, the ten commandments, that are mainly alluded to here being nothing more than the principles of the natural law, so abound in justice, that they hold in all times, places, and circumstances, so as to admit of no dispensation; whereas other laws are obliged to yield betimes to circumstances.

Ps 19:11 More to be desired than gold and many precious stones: and sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.

The conclusion from the foregoing. Since God’s law is so good, so much preferable to all the riches and delicacies of this world, for they are “More to be desired than gold and many precious stones: and sweeter than honey and the honey comb;” that is, not only sweeter than honey itself, but sweeter than it is in its purest state, when it is overflowing the honeycomb. The word honey comb is introduced to correspond with the words, “many precious stones,” in the first part of the verse. How far removed is this truth from the ideas of the carnal! What a number of such people to be found who, for a small lucre, or a trifling gratification, are ready to despise God’s commandments! And yet, nothing can be more true than that the observance of God’s law is of more service, and confers greater happiness than any amount of wealth or worldly pleasure.

Ps 19:12 For thy servant keepeth them, and in keeping them there is a great reward.

He proves by an example, or rather by his own experience, the truth of what he asserted. For, says he, your servant knows it by his own experience, having received innumerable favors from you, so long as he observed your commandments.

Ps 19:13 Who can understand sins? from my secret ones cleanse me, O Lord:

Having stated that he observed the commandments of God, he now corrects himself, and excepts sins of ignorance, which can hardly be guarded against, such as arise from human frailty.

Ps 19:14 And from those of others spare thy servant. If they shall have no dominion over me, then shall I be without spot: and I shall be cleansed form the greatest sin.

The meaning of “From those of others spare thy servant,” is not to ask of God to forgive us the sins of others, in which sense this passage is commonly quoted but we ask God to protect us from the company of the wicked. For men of good will, such as David was, should especially guard against being ignorant of their own offenses, and especially against being seduced by the wicked; and the meaning of the prayer is, from those of others, that is, from men of other habits, “Spare thy servant;” that is, by sparing him, keep those ill disposed people from the friendship of thy servant. He next assigns a reason for his fear of keeping up any familiarity with the wicked, for if those bad men “shall have no dominion over me,” that is to say, by their familiarity get no hold of and master me, and thus bring me to act with them, “then shall I be without spot,” and “cleansed from the greatest sin;” namely, mortal sin; for every mortal sin may be called “the greatest crime,” because it turns us away from our good and great God; and directly leads us to the fearful punishment of hell.

Ps 19:15 And the words of my mouth shall be such as may please: and the meditation of my heart always in thy sight. O Lord, my helper and my Redeemer.

Then shall I not only “be without spot,” but even the words of my mouth will be agreeable; and the hymns I chant to your praise, both with heart and voice, will be always pleasing to thee, coming as they will from a clear heart and simple mouth. May my canticles find favor with thee, through your own grace, and not through my merits; for, if I am “without spot,” “cleansed from the greatest sin,” and if my words are “such as may please,” the whole is thy gift, thy work, thy action, thou who art “my helper, my Redeemer:” my helper in prosperity, my Redeemer in adversity.

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

Commentaries for the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Includes Christmas Vigil and Day Masses)

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 17, 2016

We are in Year A

Year A Commentaries.

Year B Commentaries.

Year C Commentaries.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Judges 13:2-7, 24-25a.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 71.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 71.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 71.

My Notes on Psalm 71:3-4a,5-6ab, 16-17.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:5-25.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:5-25.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:5-25.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Father Maas’ Commentary on Isaiah 7:10-14.

Word-Sunday Notes on Isaiah 7:10-14.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Isaiah 7:10-14.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 24.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 24:1-6.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 24.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 24.

Word-Sunday Notes on Psalm 24.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:26-38.

Father Callan’s Commentary on Luke 1:26-38.

Aquinas’ Commentary on Luke 1:26-38.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:26-38.


Today’s Mass Readings. Note there is a choice between two first readings.

1st reading: Navarre Bible Commentary on Song of Songs 2:8-14.

Alt 1st reading: My Notes on Zephaniah 3:14-18.

Alt. 1st reading: Navarre Bible Commentary on Zephaniah 3:14-18.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 33.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 33.

St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 33.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Psalm 33.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:39-45.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:39-45.

Father Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary on Luke 1:39-45.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:39-45.


Today’s Mass Reading.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 1 Samuel 1:24-28.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Today’s Responsorial (1 Samuel 2:1, 4-8). On 1-10.

Cornelius a Lapide’s Commentary Luke 1:46-56.

Pope Benedict XVI’s Commentary on Luke 1:46-56.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:46-56.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:46-56.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Today’s Gospel Luke 1:46-56.


Today’s Mass Readings.

My Notes on Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Malachi 3:1-4, 23-24.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 25.

Fatheer Berry’s Introduction to Psalm 25.

St Augustine on Psalm 25.

Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 25.

Lection Divina Notes on Psalm 25.

Some Rambling on Psalm 25. “Off the top of my head” reflections on St John the Baptist in relation to today’s first reading (the Baptist is the focal point of both the first and Gospel readings today).

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:57-66.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:57-66.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:57-66.


Today’s Mass Readings.

Navarre Bible Commentary on 2 Samuel 7:1-5a, 8b-12, 14a, 16.

St Augustine on 2 Samuel 7:4-5a, 12-14a, 16 and Psalm 89.

Father Boylan’s Introduction to Psalm 89.

St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 89.

Aquinas’ Catena Aurea on Luke 1:67-79.

Pope John Paul II’s Commentary on Luke 1:67-79.

Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on Luke 1:67-79.

Navarre Bible Commentary on Luke 1:67-79.


Vigil Mass for the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Dec 24).

Mass During the Night: The Nativity of the Lord (Midnight Mass).

Mass at Dawn: The Nativity of the Lord.

Mass During the Day: The Nativity of the Lord.

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My Summary Notes on the Prophet Malachi

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 15, 2016

The Book of Malachi is written in diatribe style, the purpose of which is to exhort and admonish both priests and people to embrace and do the will of God. The book was written during the post-exilic period, after the return from Babylon which occurred in 538 BC, and after the construction of the temple (circa 518 BC) but (according to some scholars) before the return of Ezra, whose date of return is disputed. The NABRE suggests the book was written around 445 BC, after the return of Ezra but just before the return of Nehemiah.

The work contains six diatribes, with the first providing the foundation for the rest: 1.   God loves Israel and wishes to maintain covenant relations with his people (Mal 1:2-5).  2.  For this relationship to continue the priests must offer proper sacrifices at the temple (Mal 1:6-2:9).  3.  The people must maintain their marriages as if safeguarding their own lives (Mal 2:10-16).  4.  God will send a messenger of righteousness to refine the people (i.e., make them repentant) before He returns in judgment (Mal 2:17-3:5).  5.  God, through His prophet, exhorts the people to offer tithes that are not fraudulent. If they try this they will find blessing (Mal 3:6-12).  6.  Exhortations and warning to remember the covenant (Mal 3:13-4:5 [i3:13-24 in NABRE]).

FIRST DIATRIBE, Mal 1:2-5. After a brief superscription (Mal 1:1) the body of the book opens with its first diatribe which is directed against those who say and act as if God doesn’t love them. But God insists that His love is manifested by the fact that He chose their father Jacob (also called Israel) rather than his brother Esua (father of the Edomites). By the time of Malachi the People of God had been exiled, their land destroyed; but they had returned and rebuilt. The country of Edom was desolate and would never be rebuilt.

Proof of God’s love for his people is the point of this first diatribe and it establishes the basis for all the rest. Further, each subsequent diatribe prepares for the one following it, or, is related to the one preceding it.

SECOND DIATRIBE, Mal 1:6-2:9. Because of his abiding love (first diatribe) God deserves from the priests the honor due a father, and reverential fear due to a master. But the priests have begun offering impure and sick animals which even the pagan governor then ruling over the land would not be pleased with (Mal 1:7-8). Thus–and this calls to mind the first diatribe–they are shown treating with contempt the God who chose them (Jacob) over pagan peoples (Esau). The prophet looks forward to a time when God’s name will be great and feared among the nations and a pure sacrifice will be continually offered to Him (Mal 1:11, 14).

THIRD DIATRIBE, Mal 2:10-16. Just as the priests have broken the covenant with Levi and profaned the Temple (second diatribe),  so too have the men of Judah broken the covenant of the fathers and defiled the sanctuary, here possibly referring to the legitimate wife as a temple (Mal 2:10-11). this they have done by breaking the marriage covenant with their wives to marry the daughters of foreign gods. (Mal 2:14-16). The Lord desires Godly offspring (Mal 2:15).

FOURTH DIATRIBE, Mal 2:17-3:5. The God who hates divorce and desires Godly offspring (third diatribe) is a God who demands justice among people (Mal 2:17). He will purify those who have broken the covenant with Levi (Mal 3:3-4, referring to diatribe 2); and He will judge those who deal wickedly, especially those guilty of perverting marriage (adulterers), and those who oppress people who have lost their family (widows and orphans, Mal 3:5).

FIFTH DIATRIBE, Mal 3:6-12. The God of justice who always seeks to bring His people to repentance and judges those who refuse (fourth diatribe) does not change, and this keeps His people from being consumed (Mal 3:6). Thus God challenges His people to challenge Him, put Him to the test by offering tithes rightly, then they will see Him fulfill His covenant promises (Mal 3:10-12, see Deut 28:1-15).

SIXTH DIATRIBE: Mal 3:13-4:6 [3:13-24 in NABRE]. The God who challenged His people to challenge Him (fifth diatribe) now critiques those who say that the wicked prosper when they put God to the test (Mal 3:13-15). By divine judgement those who heed the Lord will be distinguished from those who do not (Mal 3:16-4:3). The Lord who promised not  to destroy the fruit of the soil and the abundance of the fields if His people responded to him (fifth diatribe), ends His last diatribe by telling His people to remember the Covenant with Moses, and assures them that He will send them Elijah to preach repentance, “lest I come and smite the land with a curse” (Mal 4:5-6).

In my opinion the first three diatribes parallel sequentially the second three (note the color coding).

1 Mal 1:2-5. God made a distinction between Jacob (Israel) and Esau (Edom). Esau is punished forever, his land desolate.
2 Mal 1:6-2:9. The priests are not offering right sacrifices. They have also turned aside from the way and perverted the instructions they gave to the people. A curse is invoked.
3 Mal 2:10-16. The people have polluted the sanctuary that the Lord loves (a reference to the legitimate wife?) by not maintaining the family relationship of marriage. Marriage is for the purpose of Godly offspring (family).
4 Mal 2:17-3:5.  The Day of the Lord. The Messenger of the Covenant will come to refine the priests and people in preparation for the Lord’s coming to His Temple (sanctuary). The Lord will judge sinners, including those who pervert marriage (adulterers), and those who oppress people without families (widows and orphans).
5 Mal 3:6-12. The people are not offering tithes rightly. They have turned aside from the Lord’s statutes. A curse is invoked.
6 Mal 3:13-4:5 [3:13-24 in NABRE]. God will make a distinction between the righteous who are His special possession, and the wicked who will be utterly destroyed. The people must stay turned toward God lest he come and smite (make desolate) the land.

The book began by emphasizing the fact that God had specially chosen Jacob (Israel) over Esau (Edomites); and it highlighted the fact that the land of the latter had been thoroughly destroyed (Mal 1:2-5). The book ends with the Lord distinguishing between the righteous and the wicked; between those who serve God and those who don’t; and a warning is given to repent, lest God smite the land with an Edom-like curse (Mal 3:13-4:5). The lesson here is quite simple: you cannot treat being chosen by God as if it were a cheap gift.  Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required (Lk 12:48). You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people (1 Pet 2:9), and it is for this very reason that it is imperative to understand that judgement begins with the household of God (1 Pet 4:17). God’s grace and favor bring great responsibilities: You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities (Amos 3:2)

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 98

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 15, 2016


Ps 98:1A psalm for David himself. SING ye to the Lord a new canticle: because he hath done wonderful things. His right hand hath wrought for him salvation, and his arm is holy. ‎

He invites all men to praise God for his wonderful works. “Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle,” for there is not only new but great and wonderful matter for it, “because he hath done wonderful things;” for he was wonderfully, and in an unheard of manner, conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of a virgin, committed no sin, justified sinners, made the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, nay, even the blind to see, the lame to walk, cured the sick, raised the dead; and, what is the most strange and wonderful of all, showed himself alive within three days after he was buried, took his body up to heaven, sent the Holy Ghost from heaven, and through the agency of poor, humble men, persuaded the prudent and the wise to worship the crucified, to despise the things of the present, and to look forward to the things of the future; and, finally, as St. Augustine says, conquered the world, not by the sword but by the cross. All this may be referred to the Father, who in the Son, and through the Son, effected all these wonderful things; for the Lord says, “But the Father, who abideth in me, he doth the works.” “His right hand hath wrought for him salvation, and his arm is holy.” He explains what those wonderful things are, and instances one of them that comprehends the whole. The wonderful thing God did consisted in his having saved the world purely by his own power, without associates, without an army, without arms; he alone cast out the prince of this world, and delivered mankind from his power. Such was the object of all the wonderful things enumerated above; and thus, this one thing comprehends all. The expression, “hath wrought for him salvation,” may apply to the Son, who saved the world by his own power; and to the Father who, through Christ, his right hand, saved it; but it comes to the same thing; “and his arm is holy,” is merely a repetition of the foregoing; right hand and arm being nearly synonymous, and they signify virtue and power; but the word “holy” is added, for fear we should suppose carnal, not spiritual, strength is intended; for Christ did not overcome his enemy by the force of arms or by bodily strength, but by love and patience, by humility and obedience, by the merits of his most holy life, by his most precious blood spilled for love of us, and not by the spear or the sword, and obtained a signal victory over a most powerful enemy. So, says the Apostle, “He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

Ps 98:2 The Lord hath made known his salvation: he hath revealed his justice in the sight of the Gentiles.

This verse, too, may be referred to the Father, “who made known his salvation;” that is, the Savior he sent; first, through the prophets, then through the Apostles, and through the same “revealeth his justice.” It may also be referred to the Son, who made known the salvation effected by himself, through himself, and through his Apostles; for he preached it openly for three entire years and more, and then he sent his Apostles, who announced his Gospel to the entire world. The Lord, therefore, by his own preaching, “made his salvation known;” that is, the salvation he brought on earth to confer on those who would believe in him; then, “in the sight of the gentiles,” through his Apostles, “he hath revealed his justice;” that is, he made known and revealed to the gentiles that mystery that was hidden from the world; and the mystery is his own justice; that is, the fulfillment of that promise that was formerly made to the fathers concerning the redemption of the human race. This I consider to be the meaning of justice here; for in the following verse it means truth, as we shall see. However, if anyone wishes justice to be understood of the satisfaction Christ had to offer, in the rigor of justice, for the sins of the whole world, I do not object, whether in reference to the Father, or to the Son. For truly did the Father, through the passion of the Son, and the Son through his own sufferings, “reveal” how iniquity required to be punished, and how rigorously God’s justice required satisfaction. On this mystery the Apostle writes as follows to the Ephesians, “To me, the least of all the saints, is given this grace to preach among the gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. And to enlighten all men what is the dispensation of the mystery, which hath been hidden from eternity in God.”

Ps 98:‎3 He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. ‎

He assigns a reason for God’s having “made known his salvation,” and “revealed his justice.” Because he promised such to the fathers; and though he delayed the fulfillment of his promise for some time, he at length “remembered” it; that is, he acted as those do who remember a thing. God cannot forget, but he is figuratively said to remember when he does a thing after a while, as if he had forgotten it. The expression often occurs in the Scriptures; thus, “The Lord remembered Noe;” and, Luke 1, “He hath remembered his mercy.” God the Father, then, “remembered his mercy,” through which he promised a Savior to the fathers; and God the Son “remembered his mercy,” that induced him to promise to come as a Savior; and both remembered “their truth,” their honor and justice in fulfilling the promise “toward the house of Israel;” for the promise was made to them, and not to the gentiles; although God had determined, and often announced it through the prophets, that he would have mercy on the gentiles, too. Hence our Savior, Mat. 15, says, “I was not sent out to the sheep that are lost of the house of Israel.” And the Apostle, Rom. 15, “For I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers; but that the gentiles are to glorify God for his mercy, as it is written. Therefore will I confess to thee, O Lord, among the gentiles.”—“All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” See the fruit of the preaching of the Apostles! It was not in vain that God made his salvation known through their preaching, for the gentiles heard them, and believed in Christ; and thus, the interior eye of the heart having been purified through faith and grace, “all the ends of the earth,” the whole world, to its remotest boundaries, “have seen the salvation of our God,” or the Savior sent by him. There is a degree of point in the expression, “have seen;” it implies actual faith, united with knowledge, that moves the will to love and to desire; for they cannot be said to have seen God’s salvation, who, content with habitual faith, never bestow a thought on the Savior, and take no trouble whatever in accomplishing the salvation to be had through him. The expression, “all the ends of the earth,” is not to be read literally, for it does not mean each and every individual, but a great many from every nation and people.

Ps 98:4 Sing joyfully to God, all the earth; make melody, rejoice and sing. ‎

The giving thanks to God, and exulting and singing in spiritual joy, is a sign of faith. Thus, he that found the treasure “went, and, through joy, sold all he had.” Thus when Philip preached in Samaria, and the inhabitants received the word of God, “there was great joy in that city;” and the eunuch, when converted and baptized, “went his way rejoicing” thus also St. Peter says, “And believing, shall rejoice with an unspeakable and glorious joy.” This joy is now predicted by the prophet, as if he were inviting and exhorting the faithful to it, “Sing joyfully to God, all the earth.” All you faithful, all over the world, who have been brought from darkness to “the admirable light,” to the knowledge of the true God and our Savior Jesus Christ, praise and thank with a loud voice; sing, exult, and play upon musical instruments.

Ps 98:5 Sing praise to the Lord on the harp, on the harp, and with the voice of a psalm:
Ps 98:6 With long trumpets, and sound of cornet. Make a joyful noise before the Lord our king:

Four instruments are enumerated for those who have seen God by faith, and, desire to see him by sight; they are the harp, the psaltery, long trumpets, and sound of cornet. These were, literally, the instruments most in use among the Jews, and a spiritual signification has been attached to each instrument. They seem to be to represent the cardinal virtues, the harp implying prudence; the psaltery, justice; the long trumpet, fortitude, and the cornet temperance. The harp, having various strings, blends their sounds together, and produces a sweet harmony; and thus prudence unites good works with various circumstances, and produces a perfect work. The psaltery of ten strings represents the decalogue, containing all the precepts of justice. The long trumpet is beaten out and formed by repeated blows of the hammer, until it produces the sweet sounds required; thus, fortitude, by patiently bearing all trials and tribulations, so draws out and perfects the man of God, that, with holy Job, it is no trouble to him to give out that sweet sound, “If we have received good things at the hand of God, why should we not receive evil?” Finally, temperance, like a hard horn, from which the cornet was made, rising above and out topping the flesh; that is, chastising the body, by fasting and watching, and by bringing it under subjection to the spirit, forms it into a spiritual cornet. Such was the precursor of our Lord, who, with wild honey and locusts for his food, and a garment of camel’s hair with a leathern girdle for his dress, called out, “A voice of one crying in the desert.” Such, too, was the most blessed Paul, who, instructed as he was by long continued temperance, gave out the following sweet sounds, “But having food and wherewith to be covered, with these we are content;” and again, “The meat for the belly, and the belly for the meats; but God shall destroy both it and them.” And truly, “piety with sufficiency is great gain.” “Make a joyful noise before our King.” Be sure to strike up all the aforesaid instruments the moment the great King, who is Lord of all, shall have made his appearance.

Ps 98:‎7 Let the sea be moved and the fullness thereof: the world and they that dwell therein. ‎

As the coming of the Lord was a blessing to all in general, the prophet calls, not only on the whole earth, but on all its parts, separately, to praise and sing to God. “Let the sea be moved,” heaving and swelling with exultation, as if it were animated; “and the fulness thereof;” its waters, islands, fishes; “the world, and they that dwell therein.” Let them, too, rejoice and exult because the Lord is the Savior of all men, especially of the faithful.

Ps 98:8 The rivers shall clap their hands, the mountains shall rejoice together ‎

Having invited the sea and the earth, he now summons the rivers and the mountains to unite in their expressions of joy. He said, however, “Let the sea be moved,” in the Hebrew, let it thunder; whereas to the rivers he says, they shall “clap their hands,” thereby expressing the difference between the noise of the one and of the other; and when he calls upon “the mountains to rejoice together,” we can easily understand that the prophet does not ask those inanimate things to speak, to praise, or to sing, but that he is so carried away and inflamed with love for the coming Messias, that he calls upon and wishes all created things to unite with him, as far as possible, in praising and thanking God.

Ps 98:9 At the presence of the Lord: because he cometh to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with justice, and the people with equity.

“Because he cometh to judge the earth” may be referred either to his first or his second coming. If to his first, the meaning will be, Let all the aforesaid rejoice, “because he cometh to judge the earth,” to rule and govern the earth through most just and wise laws, not only as of old, in the majesty of his invisible divinity, but in visible and corporal appearance, “being made to the likeness of men, and in shape found as a man.”—If we refer it to his second coming, the meaning would be, Let all these rejoice, because “the Lord cometh to judge the earth,” and he will exterminate all the sinners in it, and renew all its elements, “and he will deliver it from the servitude of corruption, under which it now groans and is in labor.”—“He shall judge the world with justice.” The same as the conclusion of Psalm 95, which see.

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St Cyril of Alexandria’s Homiletic Commentary on Luke 21:5-13

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 15, 2016

21:5-13. And as some spoke of the temple, that it was adorned with goodly stones and offerings, He said; As for these things that you behold, the days will come in which there shall not be left here stone upon stone which shall not be thrown down. And they asked Him, saying, Teacher, when therefore shall these things be, and what is the sign when these things are about to happen? But He said, Look! Be not deceived: for many shall come in My name, saying, That I am He: and the time is near. Go you therefore not after them. And when you have heard of wars and commotions, be not troubled: for these things must first happen; but the end is not immediately. Then said He to them, Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: great earthquakes shall be in all places, and famines, and pestilences: and terrors from, heaven, and there shall be great signs. But before all these things they shall lay their hands upon you, and persecute you, delivering you up to synagogues and prisons, and bringing you before kings and rulers for My name sake: but this shall prove to you a witnessing.

FROM Christ we have received the knowledge of things about to happen: for it is even He Who “reveals the deep things out of darkness,” and knows those that are hidden: and “in Him are all the treasures of wisdom, and the hidden things of knowledge.'” He changes times and seasons: and refashions the creation to that which it was at the beginning. For it was by His means that when it existed not, it was brought into existence according to the will of God the Father: for He is His living and personal power and wisdom: and again by His means it will easily be changed into that which is better. For as His disciple says, “We expect new heavens, and a new earth, and His promises.” |651

Now the cause of this digression has been in part the question put to our common Saviour Christ respecting the temple, and the things therein, and partly the answer He made thereto. For some of them showed Him the mighty works that were in the temple, and the beauty of the offerings; expecting that He would admire as they did the spectacle, though He is God, and heaven is His throne. But He deigned, so to speak, no regard whatsoever to these earthly buildings, trifling as they are, and absolutely nothing, compared I mean to the mansions that are above; and dismissing the conversation respecting them, turned Himself rather to that which was necessary for their use. For He forewarned them, that however worthy the temple might be accounted by them of all admiration, yet at its season it would be destroyed from its foundations, being thrown down by the power of the Romans, and all Jerusalem burnt with fire, and retribution exacted of Israel for the slaughter of the Lord. For after the Saviour’s crucifixion, such were the things which it was their lot to suffer.

They however understood not the meaning of what was said, but rather imagined that the words He spoke referred to the consummation of the world. They asked therefore, “When shall these things be? and what is the sign when they are about to happen? What therefore is Christ’s answer? He meets the view of those who put to Him the enquiry, and omitting for the present what He was saying about the capture of Jerusalem, He explains what will happen at the consummation of the world, and, so to speak, warns them and testifies, saying, “Look! Be not deceived: for many shall come in My Name, saying, that I am He, and the time is near. Go you not after them.'” For before the advent of Christ the Saviour of us all from heaven, various false Christs and false prophets will appear preceding Him, falsely assuming to themselves His person, and coming into the world like eddies of smoke springing up from a fire about to break forth. “But follow them not,” He says. For the Only-begotten Word of God consented to take upon Him our likeness, and to endure the birth in the flesh of a woman, in order that He might save all under heaven. And this to Him was an emptying of Himself, and a humiliation. For what is the measure of humanity compared with |652 the divine and supreme majesty and glory? As one therefore Who had humbled Himself to emptiness, He deigned to remain unknown, even charging the holy apostles before His precious cross that they should not reveal Him. For it was necessary that the manner of His dispensation in the flesh should remain hid, that by enduring as a man for our sakes even the precious cross, He might abolish death, and drive away Satan from his tyranny over us all. For, as Paul says; “The wisdom that was in Christ, by which is meant that which is by Christ, none of the rulers of this world knew: for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” It was necessary therefore that He should remain unknown during the time that preceded His passion: but His second advent from heaven will not happen secretly as did His coming at first, but will be illustrious and terrible. For He shall descend with the holy angels guarding Him, and in the glory of God the Father, to judge the world in righteousness. And therefore He says, “when there arise false Christs and false prophets, go you not after them.'”

And He gives them clear and evident signs of the time when the consummation of the world is now near. “For there shall be wars, He says, and tumults: and famines and pestilences everywhere: and terrors from heaven, and great signs.” For, as another evangelist says, “all the stars shall fall: and the heaven be rolled up like a scroll, and its powers shall be shaken.”

But in the middle the Saviour places what refers to the capture of Jerusalem: for He mixes the accounts together in both parts of the narrative. “For before all these things, He says, they shall lay their hands upon you, and persecute you, delivering you up to synagogues and to prisons, and bringing you before kings and rulers for My Name’s sake. But this shall prove to you a witnessing.” For before the times of consummation the land of the Jews was taken captive, being overrun by the Roman host; the temple was burnt, their national government overthrown, the means for the legal worship ceased;—-for they no longer had sacrifices, now that the temple was destroyed,—-and, as I said, the country of the Jews, together with Jerusalem itself, was utterly laid waste. And before those things happened, the blessed disciples were |653 persecuted by them. They were imprisoned: had part in unendurable trials: were brought before judges: were sent to kings; for Paul was sent to Rome to Caesar. But these things that were brought upon them were to them for a witnessing, even to win for them the glory of martyrdom.

And He testifies to them, ‘Meditate not beforehand what defence you will make: for you shall receive of Me wisdom and a tongue which all those who stand against you shall not be able to resist or to speak against.’ And cutting away the grounds of human pusillanimity, He tells them, ‘that they shall be delivered up by brethren and friends and kinsfolk:’ but He promises that certainly and altogether He will deliver them, saying, that “a hair of your head shall not perish.”

And, to make His prediction yet again more clear, and more plainly to mark the time of its capture, He says, “When you have seen Jerusalem girt about with armies, then know that its destruction is nigh.” And afterwards again He transfers His words from this subject to the time of the consummation, and says; “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity: from the sound of the sea, and its surging, as the souls of men depart: from fear and expectation of the things which are coming upon the world: for the hosts of heaven shall be shaken.” For inasmuch as creation begins, so to speak, to be changed, and brings unendurable terrors upon the inhabitants of earth, there will be a certain fearful tribulation, and a departing of souls to death. For the unendurable fear of those things that are coming will suffice for the destruction of many.

“Then, He says, they shall see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” Christ therefore will come not secretly nor obscurely, but as God and Lord, in glory |654 such as becomes Deity; and will transform all things for the better. For He will renew creation, and refashion the nature of man to that which it was at the beginning. “For when these things, He says, come to pass, lift up your heads, and look upwards: for your redemption is near.” For the dead shall rise, and this earthly and infirm body shall put off corruption, and shall clothe itself with incorruption by Christ’s gift, Who grants to those that believe in Him to be conformed to the likeness of His glorious body. As therefore His disciple says, “The day of the Lord will come as a thief; in which the heavens indeed shall suddenly pass away, and the elements being on fire shall be dissolved, and the earth and all the works that are therein shall be burnt up.” And further, he adds thereunto, “Since therefore all these things are being dissolved, what sort of persons ought we to be, that we may be found holy, and without blame, and unreproved before Him?” And Christ also Himself says, “Be you therefore always watching, supplicating that you may be able to escape from all those things that are about to happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.” “For we shall all stand before His judgment seat,” to give an account of those things that we have done. But in that He is good and loving to mankind, Christ will show mercy on those that love Him; by Whom and with Whom to God the Father be praise and dominion, with the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever, Amen.3 |655 (source)

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Father MacEvilly’s Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 10, 2016

To help provide context this post includes Fr. MacEvilly’s brief summaries of chapters 2 & 3. Text in purple indicates his interpretive paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.


Chapter 2: It appears, that certain expressions employed by the Apostle in chapters 4, 5, of the preceding Epistle, as implying the near approach of the day of judgment, produced feelings of terror and alarm in the minds of the Thessalonians. They, in consequence, became indifferent about their temporal concerns and their duties to society. This state of feeling had been artfully employed by the false teachers, to confirm them in these erroneous impressions; these also alleged certain expressions and epistles as emanating from the Apostle, to the same effect. To remedy this state of things, the Apostle beseeches them to be no way affrighted, and to pay no attention to any assertion or epistle purporting to emanate from himself, on this subject (1, 2).

In the next place, he gives two precursory signs, that are to usher in the day of judgment viz., a general apostacy, and the coming of Antichrist (3). He describes the sacrilegious impiety and wicked morals of Antichrist, and reminds the Thessalonians of his oral instructions on the subject, when amongst them, and also of the cause which, he told them, was to retard the public appearance of this impious man, who, at present, works clandestinely and privately by means of his wicked precursors, until the obstacle to his public appearance is removed (4–8). But when this obstacle, whatever it be, is removed, then, this wicked impostor will appear, performing wonders and prodigies, and leading into error those who, in punishment of their resistance to God’s light, will be delivered over by him to the spirit of error (9–11).

He calms any apprehension which the character given of Antichrist might be apt to beget in the minds of the Thessalonians, by assuring them, that there is room for dread on the part of the incredulous, but none whatever as regards those, who are the first fruits of the faithful, or of God’s elect (12, 13). He exhorts them to persevere and firmly hold to the traditions which they have learned (14). He, finally, wishes them perseverance in grace and good works (15, 16).

Chapter 3: The Apostle had been informed that, notwithstanding his instructions, when at Thessalonica, and his injunctions conveyed in his former Epistle, some able-bodied men among the Thessalonians continued to go about, begging, when they might procure means of support by manual labour; indulging in idle curiosity, prying into the concerns of others and neglecting their own, to the great disedification and estrangement of the unbelievers. Hence, in this chapter, after recommending himself to their prayers (1, 2); and promising them the aid of the Almighty (3); and praying to God in turn for them (4, 5); he repeats his former injunctions on this important subject, and conjures these disorderly men, in the most solemn manner, to devote themselves to a life of labour.

He quotes himself as an example in this matter, and refers to the laborious life which he led amongst them; but should any person, after this admonition, continue refractory, he enjoins on the rulers of the Church to separate such a one from the society of the faithful. He tells them that severity should, however, be blended with tenderness and brotherly compassion (6–15). He concludes, by wishing them the abundance of peace and grace.

2 Th 2:16 Exhort your hearts and confirm you in every good work and word. ‎

May he, I say, increase your consolation and strengthen your hearts (amidst the persecutions you endure), and confirm you in the belief of sound doctrine, and in the practice of all sort of good works.

May he “exhort your hearts.” The Greek word for “exhort” (ταρακαλέσαι), means also to console. Hence, it means, may he increase in your hearts that “eternal consolation,” which in the preceding verse he says, has been already imparted to them.

“In every good work and word.” The order is inverted in the common Greek, which runs thus: The Codex Vaticanus has the order of the Vulgate.

2 Th 3:1 FOR the rest, brethren, pray for us that the word of God may run and may be glorified, even as among you:

For the rest, brethren, pray for us (ministers of the Gospel), that the word of God, the true doctrine of Christ, may be successfully propagated by our ministry, and may be received with reverence and honour elsewhere, as it has been with you.

“For the rest.” A form of transition from one subject to another, usual with the Apostle.

‎2 Th 3:2 And that we may be delivered from importunate and evil men: for all men have not faith.

Pray, therefore, that we may be delivered from the annoyance caused us by importunate and wicked men, who everywhere oppose us, and resist the progress of the Gospel; and no wonder, for all men to whom the Gospel is preached, do not believe; or, all who profess the faith, do not in reality believe.

“Importunate.” The Greek word, τῶν ἀτοπων, unsteady; remaining in no one place. He probably alludes to the Jews, his chief adversaries, who persecuted him from place to place, and everywhere excited commotions against him. Others understand him to refer to the Judaizantes and false Christians, by whom the name of Christ was brought into disrepute.

“For all men have not faith.” If we understand the word “importunate,” of the obstinate and unbelieving Jews; then, these words mean, all to whom the Gospel is preached, do not believe: if, of bad Christians, then, they mean, all who profess the faith externally, have not faith in reality.—(Vide Paraphrase).

2 Th ‎3:3 But God is faithful, who will strengthen and keep you from evil. ‎

(Still, notwithstanding the many domestic and foreign enemies whom the faith has to encounter, you should not be afraid), for God is faithful to his engagements, and will confirm you in the faith, and deliver you from the power of the wicked adversary (Satan).

“God is faithful.” In Greeks, the Lord is faithful. God will perfect what he began in those whom he has elected to salvation: hence, as each one should hope, that God has predestined him, so ought he trust that God will strengthen him in faith, guard him from the wiles, and protect him from the power of Satan, the evil one, by nature.

2 Th 3:4 And we have confidence concerning you in the Lord that the things which we command, you both do and will do. ‎

But we have the greatest hopes regarding you, and we trust, that aided by God’s grace and succour, you fulfil, and will continue to fulfil, the precepts which we have given you.

But, nevertheless, all does not rest with God, human co-operation is required; hence, we should not grow idle or apathetic, in reference to our salvation. “You do,” shows that their co-operation is required; and “will do,” shows that they must co-operate perseveringly, to the end of life. “In the Lord,” i.e., by the aid of God’s grace and succour, “we command.” In Greek, command you.

2 Th 3:5 And the Lord direct your hearts, in the charity of God and the patience of Christ.

But may the Lord direct your hearts unto the love of God, and the patient expectation of Christ’s coming.

He again recurs to God, the source of all justice and the author of our salvation; and he prays him to grant them, to arrive straightway at salvation, by observing God’s precepts, which is the test of the “love of God,” and by patiently enduring the evils of this life, after the example of Christ. “Patience of Christ,” probably means the patient expectation of Christ’s coming to remunerate us. In this, however, patient suffering of evils is implied; so that the meaning is the same, whether we make it the patience of Christ in enduring suffering, or the patient expectation, &c. (as in Paraphrase), “in the charity of God.” In Greek, unto the charity, &c.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 72

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 8, 2016

Note: The verse numbering used here may differ from the numbering system in bibles. Text in red are my additions.


Psa 72:1 A psalm on Solomon. Give to the king thy judgment, O God, and to the king’s son thy justice:

A kind prayer of David’s, imploring the divine assistance on his son Solomon to judge with justice. The holy man does not ask for riches or power for his son, as the children of this world are wont to ask; but he asks to give him the grace of properly discharging his duties. He knew that kings were created for the people, not the people for kings; and, therefore, that he alone could be called a good king who ruled the people with justice. Solomon himself, no doubt, instructed by his father, asked the very same thing of God, as we read in 3 Kings 3. He, therefore, says, “Give to the king thy judgment.” Give my son Solomon, just anointed king, “thy judgment;” judgment like your own, right, wise, just; or rather the grace of judgment, of judging agreeable to your wish, according to your laws; and repeating the same, he adds, “and to the king’s son thy justice.” Give it to him, that he may “judge thy people with justice;” “and thy poor;” that is, thy people, “with judgment.” A mere repetition of the first sentence. He designates God’s people as God’s poor; for all men, however rich they may appear to be, are poor in God’s sight. They need his assistance in everything, and whatever they have, they have from God, not as a gift, but as a loan; and, therefore God can demand it back, and take it away from them without offering them any injury; and though the heathens do not understand these things, God’s people should understand it, and profit by it. This seems to me to be the literal sense of this passage, still I will not say that it may not be taken to apply to Solomon’s authority as a king and a judge, so that the meaning would be, grant, O my God, to me, and to my son, the king elect, such judiciary power that he may justly judge your people; or if one choose to apply the passage to Christ, the meaning will be, O God the Father, grant to Christ your Son, the King, the grace of judgment; for according to John 3, “The Father does not judge any one, but has given all judgment to the Son.” Between judgment and justice there is a difference, justice being a virtue, and judgment is an act of justice; here, however, they are synonymous, are taken for the same thing, for the power or the grace of judging rightly, or the actual judgment. St. Augustine remarks that in this Psalm, and throughout the Psalms, the same idea is repeated in different words, and thus not only here, but in various other parts of the Scriptures, justice and judgment are used to convey the same idea. Titus, in 2 Kings 8, “And David did justice and judgment to all his people;” and in Psalm 118, “I have done judgment and justice, give me not up to them that slander me.”

Psa 72:2 To judge thy people with justice, and thy poor with judgment
Psa 72:3 Let the mountains receive peace for the people: and the hills justice.
Psa 72:4 He shall judge the poor of the people, and he shall save the children of the poor: and he shall humble the oppressor.

He continues to pray for his son king Solomon, begging that during his reign peace and justice may settle on the land, and on all its inhabitants; and as the country was a hilly, mountainous country, he says, “Let the mountains receive peace;” that is, may peace descend on all its hills and mountains, and may all its inhabitants receive it. “He shall judge the poor of the people;” where peace and justice reign, few are found to injure their neighbor by word or deed; and, therefore, the king of such a place will have no great trouble in protecting the poor from the few oppressors, who must, of necessity, be found in every community.

Psa 72:5 And he shall continue with the sun and before the moon, throughout all generations.

He now begins to pass from Solomon to Christ, this verse being quite inapplicable to Solomon, but not so to Christ, a descendant of Solomon, whose kingdom is to flourish for all eternity. And Christ, of the family of Solomon, “shall continue;” shall govern the world “with the sun;” so long as the sun shall shine, “and before the moon,” which means in presence of the moon; “throughout all generations;” to the end of time. We are to observe here, that when the prophet says, that Christ’s kingdom would continue as long as the sun would shine, he by no means implies that there would be an end to it when the sun would cease to shine, for Christ’s kingdom will endure forever, though the sun will one day cease to shine. The expression, “throughout all generations,” is to be understood in a similar sense; when all generations shall have passed away, Christ’s kingdom will not also pass away, no more than Christ meant to tell his Apostles he would desert them at a given time, when he said, “Behold, I am with you all days, to the end of the world;” which meant, that as he would be with them here, through his grace and his help, so they would be with him in the world to come, in happiness and glory.

Psa 72:6 He shall come down like rain upon the fleece; and as showers falling gently upon the earth.

As he said that Solomon’s reign was to continue to the end of the world; looking upon Solomon as the type of Christ, he now describes the coming of Christ, the propagation and the peculiarities of his kingdom; and he describes his coming, first to the Jews, and then to the gentiles, under the figures of rain, a fleece, and earth; such as the signs Gedeon got formerly of the liberation of the people; for, when he asked a sign from God, it happened that the fleece of wool, placed on the floor for the purpose, was completely saturated by dew from heaven, the whole floor around remaining perfectly dry; while, on the following night, the fleece remained quite dry, while the whole floor around was completely wet; in like manner, Christ first descended on or came to the Jews, represented by the fleece of wool; while the whole world beside was perfectly arid and dry; for Christ himself said, “I am not sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then he came to the gentiles, through the preaching of the Apostles, and then the earth all round was saturated with the rain of the truths of salvation; for the same Lord said, “Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;” and the fleece alone remained dry, in the dryness of incredulity, even to the present day. Such is the interpretation of St. Augustine, to which St. Bernard adds, that Christ came “like rain upon the fleece;” when he came silently into his mother’s womb, as rain would upon the purest wool, by virtue of his heavenly power, and that he came “as showers falling gently upon the earth,” when, through the miracles of the Apostles, and through their preaching, he made the earth resound as it would under a torrent of rain.

Psa 72:7 In his days shall justice spring up, and abundance of peace, till the moon be taken away.

The first fruit of Christ’s coming will be true justification, and the most perfect peace with God and with all men. “In his days shall justice spring up,” which means, when the Savior shall have come all sin will be destroyed, and instead of it, “everlasting justice will be brought.” For, though truly just persons appeared from the beginning of the world, such as Abel, Henock, Noe, Abraham, and others; they were all, however, justified through the merits of Christ; for the Angel truly said to Joseph, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins;” and that was the joy the Angel announced to the shepherds when he said, “For today is born a Savior unto you.” “Justice,” then, will “spring up” in the hearts of men, through faith in Jesus Christ; and thence will follow “an abundance of peace,” because real justice consists in love, and the offspring of love is peace, that peace which the world cannot give, but true, permanent peace; and in such abundance as to fill the heavens and the earth; and as a sign of it, universal peace existed under Augustus Caesar at the time of the birth of Christ. That justice and peace will continue in the world “till the moon be taken away,” that is to say, the justice of faith and peace with the conscience, but not without persecution from abroad, will continue as long as the moon, that is, to the end of the world.

Psa 72:8 And he shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.

The propagation of Christ’s kingdom, which is the Church spread all over the world, is now described; taking it as to length, from the Indian Ocean to the Sea of Gibraltar; and as to breadth, from the river Tanais in the north, to the extreme boundaries of Ethiopia on the south. Others say the river means the Euphrates, which is not probable, because Christ’s kingdom neither begins nor ends at it; but lies at both sides of it. A better interpretation is that which makes the river to be the Jordan, where Christ was called “my beloved Son,” where he was baptized, where he commenced his preaching, and where his kingdom had its rise; and thus, according to St. Augustine, the words, “from the river unto the ends of the earth,” are only an explanation of “from sea to sea;” as if he said, he will rule over the whole world, from sea to sea; for the earth is everywhere surrounded by the ocean; and that will come to pass, because the preaching will commence at the river Jordan, and will be spread throughout all countries, even to the ocean that surrounds it on every side.

Psa 72:9 Before him the Ethiopians shall fall down: and his enemies shall lick the ground.

The Ethiopians are specially named, either because Ethiopia lies in the ends of the earth, and to which he alluded in the preceding verse, or because the Ethiopian eunuch was the first convert among the gentiles, or because the Ethiopians, looking at the  savageness of their manners, seemed to be the farthest removed from the worship of the true God. The next sentence, “And his enemies shall lick the ground,” is a mere explanation of the preceding, for they who fall down become as prostrate as if they were licking the ground; and it conveys to us the total subjection and prostration of Christ’s enemies; that is, of the sinners and infidels, converted through faith to do penance. And they who will not willingly fall down before Christ, and piously, and faithfully adore him, will be compelled, on the last day, to fall down before him, and “to lie under his footstool.”

Psa 72:10 The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents: the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts:

Having said that Christ would rule from sea to sea; that is, throughout the whole earth surrounded by the sea, lest it may be supposed that the islands were excluded, he adds, “The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents.” The meaning of the “kings of Tharsis” has been explained in Psalm 47, and the most probable opinion is, that the islands alluded to are those in the eastern sea, which are very large and very numerous, and from which a great quantity of gold and spices were, every third year, brought to Solomon, as we read in 3 Kings 18; and the meaning is, “the kings of Tharsis;” that is, of the islands in the east; “and the islands;” that is, the people of the islands also, shall offer precious gifts to Christ their king. To these kings and people he then unites “the kings of the Arabians and of Saba,” these being the countries from whence was had the greatest quantity of gold, silver, precious stones, and all sorts of spices; for, as we read in the passage just cited, 3 Kings 18, “The queen of Saba brought Solomon an immense quantity of gold, silver, precious stones, and spices.” We cannot avoid considering here what presents we should offer to Christ, and what presents are most agreeable to him; and they are the gold of love, the incense of prayer, and the myrrh of patience, or rather, faith united with prayer, hope with a longing for the things above, charity with the fruit of good works, which charity causes those who are inflamed by it to offer, without difficulty, not only the wealth of this world, and all manner of hardships, but even their very life to Christ their master.

Psa 72:11 And all kings of the earth shall adore him: all nations shall serve him.

All this, to a certain extent, has been accomplished as regards Christ, and will, unquestionably, to the letter, be ultimately accomplished. It is not unusual in the Scriptures to speak in such general terms, though there may be many exceptions. Thus, we read in Genesis, “that all flesh had corrupted its way;” and yet, in the very same place, we find Noe called “a just and perfect man;” so we read in Matthew, that “Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him;” still we know that Simeon the just man, and Anna the prophetess, and many other just people, so far from being troubled, were just as glad as the wise men who came in search of the Redeemer. In a similar manner, then, it is said, that all the kings of the earth will adore Christ, and all nations will serve him; because a great many princes and nations will be converted to the service and worship of Christ. If we refer the passage to the day of judgment, it is true to the letter; for then every knee will be bent to Christ. Finally, if we refer it to the actual power that Christ has over all princes and all nations, so that, with or without their knowledge, with or without their consent, he may deal as he pleases with them, treat them as he likes, and compel them to do his bidding, the prophecy will be always fulfilled in him; “For all power is given to him in heaven and on earth,” Mat. 28. And Apoc. 1, “He is the prince of the kings of the earth;” and Apoc. 19, “And he hath on his garment and on his thigh written king of kings, and Lord of Lords.”

Psa 72:12 For he shall deliver the poor from the mighty: and the needy that had no helper.

Kings and people will serve Christ for this reason, because, through him they will be delivered from the power of the devil, from the cruel tyranny of the prince of darkness, and will be introduced to his own most peaceful kingdom. The poor man named here signifies the human race, despoiled of all the blessings enjoyed in a state of innocence, by the devil. The mighty is the devil, turned from a crafty into a mighty one by our iniquity; for, if man had not yielded to temptation he never could have been subdued by the devil. By his sin, though, he became the captive of the devil, and the devil acquired a mastery over him. Now, man begins to acquire his liberty when he begins to see his own poverty, and thereby to humble himself, and to trust in the Lord, and not in himself. He will, therefore, deliver the poor man from the powerful devil; “and the needy that hath no helper;” whom neither man nor Angel, nor any other creature could have helped.

Psa 72:13 He shall spare the poor and needy: and he shall save the souls of the poor.

He now tells us in what manner, Christ will deliver men from the devil, by forgiveness of their sins, and restoration of grace; for, when the sins are forgiven, the chain which held them captives to the devil is broken. Our king, therefore, “shall spare the poor and the needy;” will forgive the sins of those who acknowledge them, avowing their inability of discharging their debts, and he will, along with it, bestow grace and justice on them, and so “save the souls of the poor.”

Psa 72:14 He shall redeem their souls from usuries and iniquity: and their names shall be honourable in his sight.

Man, through original sin, became a debtor to the extent of everlasting death. Such was the original debt, and so long as it remains unpaid, the devil, a remorseless creditor, exacts usury thereon, daily urging us to the commission of fresh sin, that being the punishment of the first sin; and, so long as the punishment of those sins is deferred, the interest is added to the principal. Thus, the longer the sinner lives, the more the debt increases. Christ, then, that kindest of masters, not only remits, through his grace, the original sin, which may be called the original debt, but he even frees from the usury; that is, from the actual sins added thereto, and from the iniquity of so severe an exactor. This was foretold by Isaias when he said, “for the yoke of their burden, and the rod of their shoulders, and the scepter of their oppressor thou hast overcome.” “And their name shall he honorable in his sight.” The word “and” is to be read as “because;” for the meaning is, God has such love for man, because the very name of the poor is honorable in the sight of God; and by their “name” we are to understand men created to God’s image. For, though man became very wretched and despicable through sin, still, human nature and man’s name is not vile before God, nor does he despise his own image. And, in truth, the Incarnation of the Son of God is a manifest proof how precious is human nature in his sight, a consideration that should move all mankind to love him, when they see themselves so dealt with, beyond their merits far and away.

Psa 72:15 And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Arabia, for him they shall always adore: they shall bless him all the day.

Having alluded to Christ’s death in the preceding verse, which was the redemption and a propitiation for our sins, he now thinks proper to allude to his resurrection, and his life eternal; and, therefore, he says, and “he shall live;” that is, after he shall have redeemed them by his death, he shall live again. “And to him shall be given of the gold of Arabia;” he shall be worshipped with most costly presents; “for him they shall always adore;” those that shall have been redeemed by him will adore the true God according to his own rite, doctrine, and institution, to the end of the world. “They shall bless him all the day;” constantly praise and glorify him.

Psa 72:16 And there shall be a firmament on the earth on the tops of mountains, above Libanus shall the fruit thereof be exalted: and they of the city shall flourish like the grass of the earth.

He now describes the fruit of the Apostle’s preaching after Christ’s resurrection and ascension. The word “firmament,” however, requires some notice previous to an explanation of the text. It means such a supply of corn, oil, and other necessaries as may supply a family; but here it is to be understood in a spiritual sense, and means an abundance of spiritual graces, as may be inferred from the words, “and they of the city shall flourish like the grass of the earth,” where the metaphor contained in the preceding words is explained. The meaning of the passage, then, obscure enough as it is, seems to be, “There shall be a firmament on the earth;” an abundance of spiritual food, the word of God; “on the tops of the mountains;” in places naturally barren; for it is in the valleys, and not on the tops of mountains, that corn usually abounds. “The fruit thereof shall be exalted;” the fruit of such corn, when sown, shall increase and multiply “above Libanus.” The fruit of this seed so committed to the earth will rise higher than the cedars of Libanus, the tallest in the world; “and they of the city shall flourish like the grass of the earth,” and such fruit will not consist in mere ears of corn, but in the crowd of believers; for, out of the city of God, Jerusalem, of which Isaias, chap. 2, says, “From Sion will go forth a law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem;” and the believers will flourish, and be multiplied in such numbers as to resemble the growth of the grass on the land. And that such was the case St. Luke tells us, Acts 6, where he says, “And the word of God increased, and the number of believers was greatly multiplied.”

Psa 72:17 Let his name be blessed for evermore: his name continueth before the sun. And in him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed: all nations shall magnify him.

The prophet concludes the Psalm with prayer and praise of the future Messias. “Let his name be blessed forevermore.” Let Christ’s name be blessed by all, everywhere and at all times. “His name continueth before the sun;” will continue as long as the sun exists. His persecutors may endeavor to extinguish that name, but they never will succeed. “And in him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;” words taken from Genesis 22. “And in thy seed shall the nations of the earth be blessed;” and explained by the Apostle, in Gal. 3, “He saith not And to his seeds, as of many, but as of one, And to thy seed, who is Christ;” all nations, then, will be blessed by Christ, who is God; that is to say, nobody will be blessed but through Christ, and in him will be blessed as many as shall have been regenerated, and persevered in him. To them will be said on the judgment day, “Come, you blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world,” That benediction, then, is justification and adoption of children, through Christ. And, as all the tribes of the earth shall be blessed in him, so, on the other hand, “all nations shall magnify him;” will praise and glorify him.

Psa 72:18 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone doth wonderful things.

Such is the praise in which all nations will magnify him, for they will acknowledge and proclaim that the wonders Christ did in justifying the wicked, rescuing them from the power of darkness, and transferring them to his own kingdom could have been done but by him alone.

Psa 72:19 And blessed be the name of his majesty for ever: and the whole earth shall be filled with his majesty. So be it. So be it.

“And blessed be the name of his majesty forever: and the whole earth shall be filled with his majesty. So be it. So be it.” The prophet ultimately wishes, that the name of the Divine Majesty may be blessed to all eternity by all, not only in heaven, where he is constantly blessed by the Angels, but also on earth, so that all the earth may be filled with the glory of the Lord; and that all men may acknowledge and praise the Lord; and he concludes with great affection, by repeating: So be it. So be it.

Psa 72:20 The praises of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.

This final statement is not proper to Psalm 72 but is a notation marking the end of “Book II” of the Psalter (e.g., Pss 42-72).

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 122

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 8, 2016


Psa 122:1 A gradual canticle. I rejoiced at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord.

Such is the language of God’s people, expressive of their joy on hearing the welcome news of their return to their country. Jeremias was the person to announce that, after seventy years, there would be an end to the captivity, and that the city and the temple would be rebuilt. Daniel, Aggeus, and Zacharias, who lived at the time the captivity was ended, foretold it more clearly; and they, therefore, created much joy among the people, when, on the completion of the seventy years, they said, “We shall go into the house of the Lord;” that is to say, we shall return to our country, where we shall get to see mount Sion and the site of the house of the Lord; and then, when we shall have rebuilt the temple, we will again “go into the house of the Lord.” Christ, however, was the bearer of a far and away more happy message when he announced, “Do penance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand;” and when he said more clearly, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you; because I go to prepare a place for you. And if I shall go and prepare a place for you I will come again, and will take you to myself, that where I am, you also may be.” Such news fills with unspeakable joy those who have learned the value “of going into the house of the Lord;” and to hold in that house, not the position “of a stranger or a foreigner, but of a fellow citizen with the saints and a domestic of God’s.” That must be well known to anyone reflecting seriously on the saying of David, “They shall be inebriated with the plenty of thy house;” and in another Psalm, “We shall be filled with the good things of thy house;” as also on that saying of the Apostle, “That you may know what is the hope of his calling, and what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” Such is the man who, from his heart, desires to go into the house of the Lord; and, therefore, from his heart sings, “I rejoiced at the things that were said to me. We shall go into the house of the Lord.” Now, “the sensual man perceiveth not the things that are of the spirit of God,” and, therefore, on the approach of death, or the termination of his exile and pilgrimage, instead of rejoicing, is troubled and laments, and justly, because, as he did not choose during his life time “to dispose in his heart to ascend by steps,” he cannot possibly expect to go up to the house of the Lord on high, but rather fears to go down to the prison of the damned, there to be punished forever.

Psa 122:2 Our feet were standing in thy courts, O Jerusalem.

He tells us why the Jews were so overjoyed at the idea of their return to their country, and he says it arose from their remembrance of the time previous to the captivity, when they saw Jerusalem in her extent and in her splendor; for many who had been carried off captives in their youth could have remembered Jerusalem as she then was; and in 1 Esdras 3 we read, that many returned from the captivity who had seen the city and the temple. These men, therefore, say, “Our feet were standing in thy courts, O Jerusalem;” that is to say, because we recollected the time when we stood in your courts or in your gates, as it is more clearly expressed in the Hebrew. He names the courts or the gates, being, as it were, the vestibules of the city, rather than the public buildings or the streets, because it was at the gates that business was mostly transacted; it was there that the citizens mostly assembled, as we may infer from that verse in Proverbs, “Her husband is honorable in the gates, when he sitteth among the senators of the land.” It also appears, from 2 Kings 18, that the gates of Jerusalem were not plain, ordinary gates, but that they were double gates, with a considerable space between them, which, perhaps, is here called “thy courts.” Thus we read in 2 Kings 24, “And David sat between the two gates.” And again, Jeremias 39, “And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in and sat in the middle gate;” and, certainly, no small space was necessary to accommodate all those princes with their retinue. But how can we Christians say, “Our feet were standing in thy courts, O Jerusalem,” when we were never in her courts? Well, we have been in her courts, otherwise we would not be now exiles and pilgrims, nor would Christ have redeemed us from captivity had we not been torn from our country and captives in a foreign land. We have been, then, in the courts of the heavenly Jerusalem, when, through our father Adam, we had possession of paradise, that was the gate of the paradise above; and the state of innocence then and there was the gate and the court to the state of glory; and that, perhaps, was the reason why the Holy Spirit made David write “in the courts,” instead of the streets of Jerusalem, that we may understand that the Psalm treats of the celestial, and not the earthly Jerusalem. “We have (therefore) rejoiced at the things that were said of thee,” when they said, “we shall go into the house of the Lord,” because we remembered the time when “our feet were standing” in paradise, and, consequently, in the courts of the paradise above; and, from the idea we got of happiness in the place below, we can guess at the happiness that awaits us above. And though this great place in question is sometimes called the house of the Lord, sometimes the city of Jerusalem, still it is all one and the same place; for our heavenly country is one time called a kingdom, sometimes a city, and at other times a house. It is a kingdom by reason of the multitude and the variety of its inhabitants, as St. John observes, Apoc. 7, “It is a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues.” It is a city by reason of the friendship and fellowship that exist between the saints and the blessed; for, however great their number may be, they know, recognize, and love each other as so many fellow citizens; and, finally, it is a house by reason of the elect having only one father, one inheritance, in which they are all brethren, under the one Father, God.

Psa 122:3 Jerusalem, which is built as a city, which is compact together.

The prophet now, in the person of the pilgrims hastening to Jerusalem, begins to enumerate its praises, with a view of thereby stirring himself up to make greater haste in his ascent to it. He praises it, first, by reason of the supreme peace enjoyed by all its inhabitants, who were so united in the love of each other that they held all their property in common. “Our feet were standing in thy courts, O Jerusalem;” that same Jerusalem whose buildings have so increased, and are daily increasing, that it has now become a city “which is compact together;” which is enjoyed and shared in common by all. Referring the passage to a future state it is much more beautiful and more sublime, for the heavenly Jerusalem is truly built up as a city; not that it is, strictly speaking, a city, nor that there were stones used in the building; still, it is built up as a city so long as the living stones, dressed by a consummate workman, and, after being actually squared and fitted, are placed on the building of the celestial habitation; from which it follows, that they who understand it not only bear all manner of persecutions with equanimity, but they even rejoice and glory in their tribulations, being perfectly sensible that it is in such manner they are squared and fitted for being built into and raised upon the heavenly habitation. One of these living stones, St. James, thus admonishes us, “My brethren, count it great joy when you shall fall into diverse temptations.” Again, in our heavenly country, we shall have the real community of property; for, in the earthly Jerusalem such community of property was more a matter of fact than a matter of right, and arose from the mutual love of the inhabitants for each other; the same held for a time, in the infancy of the Church, as we read in the Acts, “Neither did any of them say, that of the things which he possessed, anything was his own, but all things were common to them;” which still holds among those religious orders that observe the spirit of their institute. But in the heavenly Jerusalem there is complete community of property, the one God being all unto all; that is, the one and the same God being the honor, the riches, and the delight of all those who dwell in his house; and that most happy and most supreme abundance is really always the same, subject to no diminution or alteration whatever.

Psa 122:4 For thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord: the testimony of Israel, to praise the name of the Lord.

The second subject of praise in Jerusalem is the number of its inhabitants; and this verse has a connection with the second verse, because he now assigns a reason for having said, or rather, for having put in the mouth of God’s people, “Our feet were standing in thy courts, O Jerusalem;” for, though they were not all citizens of Jerusalem, but inhabitants of different cities, still they all came up to Jerusalem three times in every year. He, therefore, says, “Our feet were standing in thy courts, O Jerusalem; for thither did the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord;” that is, a great many tribes; such repetitions, in the Hebrew, being indicative of multitude; and thus, a great multitude assembled in Jerusalem, “the testimony of Israel to praise the name of the Lord;” explaining the cause of such an assemblage in Jerusalem. It was according to “the testimony,” that is, the law that obliged all Israel to visit the temple of the Lord at stated times, it being the only temple in the land of promise; and there “praise the name of the Lord,” in acts of thanksgiving and praise. From another point of view, which we consider was more intended by the Holy Ghost, the meaning is, A reason is assigned for having said, “Jerusalem which is built as a city;” because it was built as a city, by reason of “the tribes that go up there;” that is, the holy souls from all tribes and nations, who go up to be built into the spiritual structures, that St. Peter writes of in his first epistle, chap. 2. Now, those blessed souls have gone up to that heavenly Jerusalem, “to praise the name of the Lord;” for that is their whole occupation there, to the exclusion of every other business. Hence, in Psalm 83, we have, “Blessed are they that dwell in thy house, O Lord: they shall praise thee forever and ever;” and Tobias, speaking of the heavenly Jerusalem, has, “And Alleluia shall be sung in its streets;” and such is “the testimony,” that is, the command, “to Israel,” that is, to the soul enjoying the beatific vision, that it should never desist from praise, inasmuch as it never ceases to love.

Psa 122:5 Because their seats have sat in judgment, seats upon the house of David.

The third matter for praise in Jerusalem is its being the seat of government, and having a royal palace in it; and the word “because” would seem to connect this verse with the preceding; for it looks like assigning a reason why God wished to have a temple, which the people were bound to visit three times a year, in Jerusalem, in consequence of being the residence of royalty, and the metropolis of the kingdom. He, therefore, says, “Because there,” in Jerusalem, “seats have sat in judgment;” seats of kings in succession, whose business it was to judge the people, “have sat,” have been firmly settled and fixed, not like that of Saul’s, which was for a while in Gabaa of Benjamin, and made no great stay there either; nor, like that of the judges who preceded the kings, who never had any certain fixed place for “sitting,” or delivering judgment, while the kings of the family of David sat permanently in Jerusalem; and he, therefore, adds, “seats upon the house of David;” that is, the seat of royalty founded on the family of David, met with rest and stability; for God said to David, 2 Kings 7, “And thy house shall be faithful, and thy kingdom forever before thy face; and thy throne shall be firm forever.” From the expression, “seats upon the house of David,” we are not to infer that they sat in judgment on the family of David alone; for they had authority over the whole family of Jacob, that is, over the twelve tribes of Israel; but they are called seats upon the house of David, because all the kings of God’s people sprang from the family of David. All this is much more applicable to Christ and the heavenly Jerusalem. Because, lest the Jews may imagine that the words of the Psalm apply to that earthly Jerusalem, and not to the celestial Jerusalem, of which it was a figure, God permitted the seat of government to be removed from Jerusalem, and, furthermore, Jerusalem itself to be destroyed. The promise, then, applies to the Jerusalem above, and to Christ, according to the prophecy of Isaias, chap. 9; of Daniel, chap. 9; and of the Angel to the Virgin, Lk. 1, “The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” In the strictest acceptance, then, of the words have “the seats sat in judgment” in the heavenly Jerusalem; because Christ’s throne and the thrones of those who reign with him have been established most firmly in heaven; and because those very saints who reign and judge with Christ are a throne for God; for “the soul of the just is the seat of wisdom;” and those seats really sit in judgment, according to the promise of our Lord, “You that have followed me shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And those seats are upon the house of David, because all the power of the saints, royal as well as judiciary, is derived from Christ, who is called the son of David in the Gospel, and who got the seat of David his father, and who will reign forever in the house of Jacob, and of whose kingdom there shall be no end.

Psa 122:6 Pray ye for the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem: and abundance for them that love thee.

The prophet now exhorts the exiles, on their return from their captivity, to salute, even from afar, the city of Jerusalem, praying for peace and abundance on it, two things that contribute principally to the happiness of cities; for peace, without abundance, is only a firm hold of misery; and abundance, without peace, amounts to doubtful and uncertain happiness; but when both are combined, the city needs nothing necessary for its happiness. He, therefore, says, “Pray for the things that are for the peace of Jerusalem.” Pray ye to God for true and solid peace for your country, and for “abundance,” not only for the city of Jerusalem, but also “to them that love thee,” you holy city.

Psa 122:7 Let peace be in thy strength: and abundance in thy towers.
Psa 122:8 For the sake of my brethren, and of my neighbours, I spoke peace of thee.

Psa 122:9 Because of the house of the Lord our God, I have sought good things for thee.

He dictates the very words in which those who pray for peace and abundance to Jerusalem are to salute her. When you salute her say ye, “Let peace be in thy strength, and abundance in thy towers;” that is to say, may your walk be always secure and fortified, thereby ensuring perfect peace and quiet to all who dwell within them; “and abundance in thy towers;” no lack of meat or drink in your public buildings and private houses. Now, the two last verses, in reference to the heavenly Jerusalem, though they imply prayers for peace and abundance, still they do not mean to insinuate that there can ever possibly be a want of either there, when we read in Psalm 147, “Who hath placed peace in thy borders; and filleth thee with the fat corn?” they, therefore, merely express the pious affection we cherish for the blessings of the Jerusalem above, just as we have in the Apocalypse, “Salvation to our God who sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 6

Posted by Dim Bulb on October 8, 2016


Ps 6:1 Unto the end, in verses, a psalm for David, for the octave. ‎

Ps 6:1 O Lord, rebuke me not in thy indignation, nor chastise me in thy wrath.

The prayer of one truly penitent and contrite, and hating sin supremely. For God then chastises the sinner in anger and rage, when the chastisement does not proceed from the fatherly love he bears us, with a view to our correction, but to annihilate the sinner, and to satisfy his own justice. This happens in this world, when the sinner is struck with blindness and obstinacy, so that sin becomes the punishment of sin; and in the other world, when the soul is consigned to hell’s flames; stricken with such horror, and fearing the abyss of the judgments of God, he does not say against the scourge of punishment which, instead of separating from, rather brings us nearer to God; but he dreads the supreme evil and misfortune of being abandoned to the desires of his heart, to his ignominious passions, to obduracy, and blindness, and finally to eternal separation from God. Anger and fury are here synonymous, so are reprove and rebuke; for the prophets not infrequently use such repetitions, by way of emphasis or explanation.

Ps 6:‎2 Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak: heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.

The penitent uses some arguments to move God not to rebuke him in his fury, the first drawn from his own weakness, as if he said, Lord, do not look upon my sins as offenses against yourself; but as my own wretchedness and infirmity; and, therefore, punish me not as a judge, but as a physician heal me. Burn me, cut me, if you will; but with a view to heal me in your mercy, and not to destroy me in your justice. For our sins are real miseries, and the more malice we have in committing them, the greater do they become; while the less knowledge and fear we have of them, the greater is the misery it entails on us. Therefore, says he, “Have mercy on me, for I am weak;” that is to say, look with mercy on my sins, however great and numerous, in the light of so many diseases and infirmities, that make me weak and feeble. “Heal me O Lord, for my bones are troubled.” The same idea in different language; for when God does have mercy, he removes the misery, and consequently, heals the sore; and thus, “having mercy” is synonymous with “healing.” The same applies to “because I am infirm,” and “my bones are troubled;” for bones denote health and strength, and one’s bones are said to be troubled when one’s health fails, or his strength is impaired or debilitated.

Ps 6:3 And my soul is troubled exceedingly: but thou, O Lord, how long?‎

A second argument from the consciousness of his sin, as he has it in Psalm 1, “For I know my iniquity.” In other words, I am not only wretched, but I acknowledge it; and therefore, my soul, looking in upon its wretchedness and deformity, is so horrified, confused, and filled with wholesome fear, that it becomes impatient and clamorous; “but thou, O Lord, how long?” Why not pity me; why not heal me? The word “how long,” without any other word, is very significant, for it indicates the expression of a troubled soul unable to utter a full sentence.

Ps 6:4 Turn to me, O Lord, and deliver my soul: O save me for thy mercy’s sake. ‎

The third argument, drawn from God’s mercy; “Turn to me;” that is, look on me; for God’s look is the source of all our good. “Turn thy face, and we will be saved;” and in another, Psalm 29, he says, “You turned away your face, and I became confused;” and when the “Lord looked on Peter, he began to weep bitterly;” and St. James, chap. 1, calls “God the Father of lights;” for as the sun by its light enlightens, warms, and enlivens our bodies, so God, looking upon us with an eye of affection, illuminates, inflames, and warms our souls. “And deliver my soul;” rescue it from the pit into which it has fallen; from the noose of the hunter, in which it is held bound and captive; deliver it from the hands of its enemies, into which sin has consigned it. “Save me;” that is, deliver me from the imminent damnation of hell; for, properly speaking, to save one, means to save them from the imminent danger of death. Observe the order followed here. First, God turns to us, and looks upon us with his grace. Secondly, we turn to him, and thus the soul is rescued from sin. Thirdly, so saved from sin, we are saved from the danger of imminent damnation. And all these stages in the process of justification, turn up, not from any previous merits of ours, (for what does a sinner merit but punishment?) but through the mercy of God; and he therefore adds, “for thy mercy’s sake,” as if he said, I dare to ask so great a favor, having no reliance whatever on my own merits, but on your mercy.

Ps 6:5 For there is no one in death, that is mindful of thee: and who shall confess to thee in hell?

A fourth argument, deduced from the glory of God. I ask, he says, not “to be rebuked in thy fury,” because in such case I should undoubtedly be consigned to eternal death; and thus both your praise and your memory would be partly lost, for the damned have no recollection of God, so as to praise him; nor is there any one in hell to confess to God, that is, to praise him by confessing his prodigies and his goodness. Some will have the death spoken of here, to the death of the body only; and by hell, they mean the grave; and make the sense to be, that the dead lying in their graves do not praise God, and are not mindful of him, as they have no feeling, and they quote the words of Ezechias, chap. 38, “For hell will not confess to thee, nor will death praise thee,” while it is pretty clear that Ezechias only asked to be delivered from the danger of corporal death. But I consider that the passage should be understood to mean everlasting death and the hell of the damned. For, though Ezechias feared the death of the body, he feared also the death of the soul, and, therefore, in his thanksgiving to God, he sang the canticle, because he felt that the restoration of his bodily health was a sort of intimation to him, that God in his goodness had remitted his sins, and delivered him from the danger of hell, and therefore, he says: “But you have rescued my soul that it may not be lost: you have cast all my sins behind your back, because hell will not confess to thee, nor death praise thee; they who descend into the lake will not expect thy truth.” All these arguments would be of no weight, were the death of the body alone in question here. For though the dead in the body and lying in their graves, are incapable of praising God, yet their souls live and praise him, and even their very bodies in the grave expect God’s truth, that is, his faithful promise of resuscitating them. They alone who descend into the lake of eternal damnation neither expect God’s truth, nor remember his benefices, nor give him present or future praise. So said passage of Ezechias has been understood by St. Jerome and the other fathers.

Ps 6:‎6 I have laboured in my groanings, every night I will wash my bed: I will water my couch with my tears.

The fifth argument, drawn from fruits worthy of penance. For, as the apostle has it, 1 Cor. 11, “If we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged;” that is to say, if we would condemn and punish ourselves, God would not condemn nor punish us. For he spares those who do not spare themselves. He, therefore says, that he not only understands and detests his guilt, but that he will also, as far forth as he can, punish himself, both now and for the future. “I have labored in my groanings,” which means, I have deplored my sins with such a flood of tears, that I am thoroughly tired, though I do not still cease to shed them; for, “I will wash my bed every night,” means that every night, instead of enjoying sleep or rest, I will copiously deplore my sins, and water my couch with my tears. Here we must notice the profusion of tears and the long duration of them. For the Hebrew for washing conveys the idea, that the quantity of tears shed was so great that one might swim in them, and even the word watering implies a large quantity, when the whole bed was washed with them. “I will water” also is very significant, for it implies the quantity of tears shed to be so great that they ran like a stream. The words “every night” are ambiguous in the Hebrew, for they may signify the whole night, in which sense St. Jerome has taken it, or every night, as it is understood by the Septuagint. In either sense, wonderful to be told, and, perhaps, true in both senses, namely, that every night a long time was spent by him in shedding tears. A serious consideration for those who, after the commission of many and grievous sins, can scarce bring themselves to shed a single tear when they come to ask pardon for them.

Ps 6:7 My eye is troubled through indignation: I have grown old amongst all my enemies. ‎

The effect of such a profuse effusion of tears. The Hebrew, instead of the word “trouble,” has “worn out” or “grown dark,” to show how great was his anger and indignation with himself for the hideousness of his sins; and so profuse his tears in consequence, that his eyes grew dim and melted. “I have grown old amongst my enemies;” that means, I cannot but be highly indignant with myself for never having perfectly conquered any vice, never subdued any of my spiritual enemies, but have grown old among them all. By enemies, he means all who provoke one to sin, be they demons or men, or vice itself, and evil habits.

Ps 6:8 Depart from em, all ye workers of iniquity: for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping.

Having taken to heart so much his having grown old amid his enemies, he exclaims, “Depart from me;” that is to say, relying on the divine assistance, I will consort no more with you, I will not yield to your temptations. “For the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping;” that is to say, the Lord, moved to mercy by my tears, has not only forgiven them, but has given me greater grace to resist you.

Ps 6:‎9 The Lord hath heard my supplication: the Lord hath received my prayer. ‎

An explanation of the former verse, and repeated two or three times, to show the certainty of his having been heard; and that thereby he may gather fresh courage to resist temptation.

Ps 6:10 Let all my enemies be ashamed, and be very much troubled: let them be turned back, and be ashamed very speedily.

A final prayer for a total end to his spiritual difficulties. “Let them be ashamed and very much troubled” for having effected nothing, but, on the contrary, having labored in vain. “Let them be turned back” to their own place from whence they came, “And be ashamed very speedily;” that is, let them be off as quickly as possible, and in confusion at my determination not to defer my conversion; but on the contrary, from this hour, this moment, I enter on the straight and perfect way of the Lord.

This conclusion may also be looked upon as a prayer for the conversion of those who, by their persecutions or their temptations, had been the cause of his sins. He prays that they too, by coming to know the truth, and to hate sin, “May be ashamed, and very much troubled,” and thus the more quickly converted to God. Finally, these words may be taken in the nature of an imprecation, to take effect on the day of judgment; for on that day all the wicked, whether men or demons, who attempted to stir up the just to impatience or to any other sin, “Will be ashamed, and very much troubled,” and will “Be turned back” to see the truth, but without benefiting themselves thereby. Then shall they say, as it is in Wisd. 5, “We therefore have strayed, from the way of truth.” That will come about very quickly, because “The day of the Lord tarrieth not,” though we may think otherwise. But when it shall come, and come all of a sudden, then will be seen how quickly it came.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 5

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2016


Title: Unto the end, for her that obtaineth the inheritance. A psalm for David.

Psa 5:1 Give ear, O Lord, to my words, understand my cry. Psa 5:2 Hearken to the voice of my prayer, O my King and my God.

In three ways one is not heard by another; either because the words are not heard; or because the words are not understood; or because the person to whom they are addressed is otherwise engaged. God sees everything, understands everything, and looks after everything; but he is said, sometimes, to see not, to understand not, to abandon everything, because he so despises the intercessor; as if he did not see, understand, or care about his prayers. Therefore, the holy prophet, when about to pray, commences by asking that God may see, understand, and attend to him. Now God despises the suppliant as if he did not see him or hear him, when the one who puts up the prayer, puts it up in so distracted a way that he does not actually feel what he is saying, or prays so coldly that his prayer cannot possibly ascend. In such cases God holds himself as if he did not know what was wanted, when the petitioner himself did not seem to know, in his asking for things of no possible use to him, however urgent and ardent he may have been in asking for them. Then finally, God is like one paying no attention to the suppliant, when the suppliant is unworthy of being heard, by reason of his want of humility, confidence, or other requisites; or by reason of the sinful state in which he is still, and his having no idea of penance. The prophet then, inspired by the Holy Ghost, with consummate skill asks God for the gift of perfect prayer; that is to say, that when he shall pray, his prayers may not be repulsed, but that they may be heard, understood, and attended to adding, “My King,” for a king is supposed to hear his people; and “My God,” raising up an additional claim as a creature, and therefore depending on his Creator for everything.

Psa 5:3 For to thee will I pray: O Lord, in the morning thou shalt hear my voice.
Psa 5:4 In the morning I will stand before thee, and I will see: because thou art not a God that willest iniquity.

I will not only pray, but I will stand up in contemplation; in the morning, before the cares of the world obtrude; and the principal subject of my meditation shall be your hatred of sin; your great regard for innocence and justice; and therefore, you being justice and the light, if I wish to please you, I must aim at justice and innocence, and hate iniquity.

Psa 5:5 Neither shall the wicked dwell near thee: nor shall the unjust abide before thy eyes.

God not only hates sin, but sinners too; and therefore, the wicked shall receive no hospitality from him: “Nor shall the unjust abide before thy eyes;” that is; you will not look long upon them with an eye of clemency, He may look upon them for a while with eye of clemency and give them much of the goods of this world; but such will not be of long continuance, for in a short time he will fling them from his face unto eternal perdition.

Psa 5:6 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.

God’s hatred of evil, or evil doers, is not only negative, but he positively hates, seeks to destroy them, and, actually, will do so: and as sin is committed by act, word, thought, or desire, each is here enumerated; first, the “Workers of iniquity;” secondly, they that “Speak a lie;” thirdly, “The bloody and the deceitful.”

Psa 5:7 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.

After saying, that in the morning he would meditate on the hatred God bears to sin and to sinners, he now tells us the fruit of such meditation, saying, “But as for me, in the multitude of thy mercy” as much as to say, relying on thy great mercy, and not on my own strength, to avoid sin, “I will come into thy house,” the house of prayer. “I will worship towards thy holy temple,” that is to say, I will throw myself prostrate in presence of thy tabernacle, “in thy fear,” for in fear and trembling will I implore your assistance.

Psa 5:8 Conduct me, O Lord, in thy justice: because of my enemies, direct my way in thy sight.

From God’s house he now puts up the prayer that God may lead him in his justice; that is, through the paths of justice, by causing him to keep all his commandments, and thus to avoid all sin; which is the same as “Direct my way in thy sight;” in other words, make me walk the straight road, having God always before me. And he makes therein special mention of his enemies; for divine grace is needed against them, to direct, to protect, to anticipate, and to follow up the number of enemies who lie in wait for us, and seek to lead us to sin, be they demons or mortals, making use of threats or allurements. He includes in the word enemies all those who, however friendly they may appear to be, come in the way of our salvation. For, “Man’s domestics are his enemies.” The meaning, then, is, make me walk the straight road before thee. We should always ask the grace of God to walk in the way of his commandments.

Psa 5:9 For there is no truth in their mouth: their heart is vain.
Psa 5:10 Their throat is an open sepulchre: they dealt deceitfully with their tongues: 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.

He assigns a reason for his praying for help against his insidious enemies, namely, their purpose of injuring him, and the difficulty of avoiding their stratagems. “There is no truth in their mouth,” he says, because, when they want to deceive, they terrify, seeking to make one avoid some trifling evil, that thereby they may be led into a greater one; when they want to deceive us in another shape, they allure by persuading us to go after some good of no value, and thereby lose one of great value. “Their heart is vain” within, and they are perverse without. They relish nothing, desire nothing, and can, therefore, speak of nothing but what is vain. And he repeats the same in the following verse, but inverting the order of it. “Their heart is an open sepulchre,” being a repetition of, “their heart is vain;” and “they dealt deceitfully with their tongues,” being a repetition of, “there is no truth in their mouth.” In making use then, of the words, “throat,” “open sepulchre,” he implies that the mouth, throat, and tongue, being the members wherewith speech is pronounced or issued, are, as it were, the mouth of the sepulchre; and that the soul or heart, the seat of the bad, foul, horrid thoughts and desires, like fetid and putrid corpses, and exhaling the foul odors of sinful language form the interior of the sepulchre. And he therefore adds, “They dealt deceitfully with their tongues;” that is, my enemies, having no truth in their hearts, not only say what is false, but also what is deceitful, because they would, under the show of rectitude, persuade me to what is bad. “Judge them, O Lord,” etc. This must be taken more as a prophecy than an imprecation. It means that the enemies of the just will not only be excluded from the inheritance, but they will be condemned to eternal punishment, and will accomplish none of the objects they seek for. “Judge them” is more significant in the Hebrew, which makes it, “condemn them.” “Let them fall from their devices,” that is, let them be disappointed in the hope they had of perverting the elect. “According to the multitude of their wickedness cast them out.” that is, their sins will drive them from the inheritance into everlasting darkness: “for they have provoked thee, O Lord,” that is to say, because when they thought themselves they were injuring others, it was in reality God they injured, as we have in 1 Kings 8, “They have not cast you, but me out;” and in Acts 5, “You have not lied to men, but to God.”

Psa 5:11 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.
Psa 5:12 For thou wilt bless the just. O Lord, thou hast crowned us, as with a shield of thy good will.

The happy inheritance of the just, as promised in the Psalm, is here predicted. “Let them all be glad that hope in thee,” that is to say, though the just are now engaged in a laborious contest, let them rejoice in hope; not putting their hope in the vanities of this world, but in the true God, through whom, in the proper time, they will exult forever in his praise. “And thou shalt dwell in them,” making them, as it were, your habitation; they will, therefore, be in God, as he is in them; and he will be all unto all in them. And this external praise and exultation will arise from the immense internal joy and glory which will be their lot. “For all they that love thy name shall glory in thee:” namely, all the truly just, love making them the just, the friends, the sons of God. Their glory will arise from “your blessing the just,” that is, from your blessing every just man; and with the blessing, conferring favors on them, by giving them the crown of glory they deserve. And as the benevolence of God, who elected us before the foundation of the world, is the root of all good, inasmuch as from it proceed vocation, justification, merit, and glory itself, he thus concludes, “O Lord, thou hast crowned us as with a shield of thy good will.” I acknowledge, O Lord, that all our happiness comes from thy grace and goodness, which, like the shield of the soldier, surrounds and protects us. The same idea is expressed in Psalm 102, “Who crowneth thee in mercy and compassion.”

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