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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 5

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2016

PSALM 5
A PRAYER TO GOD AGAINST THE INIQUITIES OF MEN

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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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 4

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2016

PSALM 4
THE PROPHET TEACHES US TO FLY TO GOD IN TRIBULATION, WITH CONFIDENCE IN HIM

Psa 4:1 Unto the end, in verses. A psalm for David. When I called upon him, the God of my justice heard me: when I was in distress, thou hast enlarged me. Have mercy on me: and hear my prayer.

David, in the person of the Church, or any faithful soul advising sinners to follow its example, exhorts them to be converted, to put their confidence in God, to abandon evil, and do good, giving himself as an example—for when he was in trouble, he invoked the Almighty, and was heard. “The God of my justice heard me,” that is to say, the God from whom all my justice proceeds, whose grace makes me just. He then tells how he was heard, “When I was in distress thou hast enlarged me.” God sometimes hears us by removing the tribulation; sometimes by giving patience to bear it, which is a greater favor; sometimes by not only giving the patience to bear it, but even to be glad of it, which is the greatest favor of all, and it is that of which the prophet speaks here. Tribulation hems us in; joy enlarges our hearts; but when one glories in tribulation, his sadness is changed into joy, and tribulations bring to such persons not hemming in, but enlargement. “Have mercy on me; and hear my prayer.” He asks for continuation of the grace, as if he said, Hear me always, pity me always, as you have done hitherto. The holy prophet knew that while here below we are always exposed to danger, if his mercy do not only go before, but also accompany and follow us.

Psa 4:2 O ye sons of men, how long will you be dull of heart? why do you love vanity, and seek after lying?

That is to say, how long will you have a heart of stone, a hard one, inclined to the earth, thinking of nothing but the goods of this world? For, according to the Lord, “The hearts are weighed down by excess, drunkenness, and the cares of this world;” and because hardened hearts are not susceptible of celestial thoughts, but only of terrestrial and transitory, they only love what is terrestrial and transitory; and as we take trouble only in seeking for the things we ardently love, the prophet adds, “Why do you love vanity, and seek after lying?” The goods of this world are called vain and fallacious, because they are neither stable nor solid, though they may seem to be so; and are therefore, with justice, designated as false and fallacious, especially when compared to those of eternity.

Psa 4:3 Know ye also that the Lord hath made his holy one wonderful: the Lord will hear me when I shall cry unto him.

This is the strongest reason that can be advanced for man holding himself disengaged from temporal things. Because the Holy One of God, meaning the Son of God, the only one among men free from sin, came from heaven to us. Hence the demon, in Mark 4, exclaimed: “I know you are the Holy One of God.” And this Holy One went his way, doing good, suffering persecutions, despising the things of this world, holding up those of the other, and by such a new route arrived at eternal happiness, corporally reigning in heaven, and spiritually happy forever. And as he is our guide, and went before us to prepare a place for us; undoubtedly, if we walk in his footsteps, we will come to true and everlasting happiness. And as he is not only our Leader, but also our Advocate and Mediator, David therefore adds: “The Lord will hear me when I shall cry unto him;” that is to say, I am now quite sure of being heard when I know there is on the right hand of God an intercessor on my behalf.

Psa 4:4 Be ye angry, and sin not: the things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds.

The Holy Ghost having severely reproved and admonished mankind, and advised them to repent, tells them now what they ought to do, and instructs them to have a holy horror of sin, to resist their evil desires, and, by such means, to avoid sin; and, should they happen to fall, at once to be sorry and contrite; and not to stop at the doing no harm, but to go further, by offering the sacrifice of justice in doing good. “Be angry, and sin not;” that is to say, when your wicked and rebellious temper, the top and bottom of all our sins, stirs us up, let your anger vent itself on your own poor corrupt self; contend with it, so that you shall not fall into sin. St. Basil tells us that anger was implanted in us by God, to be a source of merit. “The things you say in your hearts, be sorry for them upon your beds;” that is to say, in the dead hour of night, when you shall be alone in your bedchamber, free from all cares; then turn over all your shortcomings, and in God’s presence be sorry for them, imitating the example of David himself, who in Psalm 6 says, “Every night I will wash my bed; I will water my couch with my tears,” thus carrying out the advice he gave to others.

Psa 4:5 Offer up the sacrifice of justice, and trust in the Lord: many say, Who sheweth us good things?

The second part of sanctity is here portrayed, namely, the going farther than doing no evil, but producing good. Good works are here called the sacrifice of justice, by reason of their being highly agreeable to God, and their contributing to his glory. “Let them see your good works, that they may glorify your Father who is in heaven,” saith our Lord. St. Paul on alms says: “I have received your offerings in the odor of sweetness;” on fasting, and other corporal works he has, Romans 12, “I beseech you, therefore, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God;” observe, though, how he adds: “and trust in the Lord,” for fear of presumption, which is always lying in wait on our good works. We must work well, but in such manner as not to be proudly confident in our works, like the Pharisee, “Who gave thanks to God, that he was not like other men,” etc. Let us rather hope in the Lord, who will enable us to avoid sin, to produce good works, and arrive at the harbor of eternal salvation. For, as presumption is like a poison destroying the merit of our good works, so humble diffidence in our own strength, and a reliance on God, is like salt, seasoning and preserving all our good actions. “Many say, Who showeth us good things?” A common objection of the carnal, who are numerous, hence “many.” When we preach to them the contempt of things here below, and exhort them to innocence and justice, many reply, Who will show us what is good, if the things we see and handle be not good? Who has come up from hell? Who has gone up to heaven?

Psa 4:6 The light of thy countenance, O Lord, is signed upon us: thou hast given gladness in my heart.

The prophet replies by saying that the path of justice has been pointed out to us by God; that we have a master within us, the light of natural reason, to point out the real truth, for “this light is signed upon us” indelibly, that is, on our superior part; for we consist of two parts, the soul, the superior, and the body, the inferior. In the superior part is the light that puts us above the brutes, a light derived from the countenance of God, and wherein we are the image and likeness of God. By means of this light we can, in the first place, understand the road that leads to happiness; for the natural law, so written on our hearts, that even iniquity itself cannot blot it out, teaches that we should not do to another what we would not have done to ourselves, and therefore, that we must not steal, commit adultery, etc. Through the grace of God we can also understand that real happiness consists in making ourselves as like as possible to God, for the perfection of an image is to be as like as possible to the original. Such considerations produce great joy, hope, and love of God in the mind, for what is more pleasing than the reflection of one’s being the living image of a thing of infinite beauty, and that he is dearly beloved by that same omnipotent original? However, as all have not such emotions, David concludes the verse by saying, thou hast “given gladness,” not in their hearts, but “in mine,” which all just and pious people equally experience.

Psa 4:7 By the fruit of their corn, their wine, and oil, they rest:

Another argument from which men may understand that God is the author of all good, for it is he who, in the fitting time, multiplies the grain and produces the fruit, as St. Paul has it, Acts 14, “Nevertheless he left not himself without testimony, doing good from heaven, giving rains and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”

Psa 4:8 In peace in the self same I will sleep, and I will rest: 

David’s conclusion then is, whatever the conduct of those whom I have been exhorting may be, my desire is to confide entirely in God, and rest altogether in him. “In peace,” that is, in the most perfect tranquillity; “in the self same” that is, in union, along with. “I will sleep and rest,” that is, I will securely lie down, and profoundly sleep. Observe the word “self same,” a word of frequent use in the Psalms, and signifies with, or in union with.

Psa 4:9For thou, O Lord, singularly hast settled me in hope.

A reason for his casting all his solicitude on God, and for his saying that he would sleep and rest in peace in the other world, because God, by his most true and faithful promises, made him to settle himself in hope alone. Thus the just man, the friend of God, dwells in divine hope alone, as he would in a fortified house, doing what in him lies for this world as well as for the next, not confiding in his own strength nor in anything created, but in God alone, and, therefore, is not confounded, but securely sleeps, and will sleep with equal security in the world to come.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 3

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2016

PSALM 3
THE PSALM OF DAVID WHEN HE FLED FROM THE FACE OF HIS SON ABSALOM

Psa 3:1 The psalm of David when he fled from the face of his son Absalom. Why, O Lord, are they multiplied that afflict me? many are they who rise up against me.

David, addressing himself in prayer to God, complains of and wonders at the number of his enemies, for, as we read in 2 Kings 15, “All Israel was then most cordially following Absalom.” Such was the case with Christ, especially in his passion, for then his son, that is, his people, rebelled against him, crying out: “we have no king but Caesar;” and he, like a sick man and a fugitive, was obliged to fly from them through his death; but speedily returned through his resurrection. Absalom signifies the peace of the father, because, in fact, it was the son only that stirred up the war; but the father was always at peace, both as regards David, who wept at the death of his son, and as regards Christ, who prayed for his persecutors; and as Achitophel, the intimate friend and counselor of David, was the person to betray him in the rebellion of his son, and afterwards hanged himself, similar was the end of Judas, one of Christ’s most familiar friends, who also hanged himself.

Psa 3:2 Many say to my soul: There is no salvation for him in his God.

This would appear to apply to the inward temptations of the devil, seeking to make him despair, as if his confidence in God had been to no purpose. To it also may be referred what the people were then naturally saying, namely, that notwithstanding David’s great confidence in God, he was then apparently entirely abandoned by him; a thing quite common for the ignorant to take up, when they see pious people in trouble. Thus, Job’s wife reproaches him, “Do you still remain in your simplicity?” So with Tobias’s wife, when she said, “Your hope is now evidently come to nothing, and your alms now appear.” And so they said of Christ: “He has confided in God, let him free him now if he will.”

Psa 3:3 But thou, O Lord, art my protector, my glory, and the lifter up of my head.

What one in trouble, a just man such as David, and especially what Christ, the head of all the just, would say. The meaning is, many tell me I put my hope in God to no purpose; but they are quite mistaken, for you, Lord, never desert those that confide in thee; therefore you are “my protector,” to ward off the weapons of my enemies, not content with which you become “my glory,” that is to say, the cause of my glory. Hence it arises that you come to be “the lifter up of my head;” that is to say, you make me, who a while ago hung my head in grief and sorrow, hold it up now in joy and exultation.

Psa 3:4 I have cried to the Lord with my voice: and he hath heard me from his holy hill.

A proof of David’s confidence. He appealed to the Almighty, and, at once, he was heard. Observe the expression, “I have cried with my voice;” as much as to say, not silently, indifferently, or passively, but loudly, emphatically. “From his holy hill,” means either Sion, or, more probably, the kingdom of heaven.

Psa 3:5 I have slept and have taken my rest: and I have risen up, because the Lord hath protected me.

In the persecution of Absalom David made no resistance, but lay down as one would to sleep, but soon after awoke, strengthened by the Lord to recover his kingdom, “because the Lord hath protected” him.

Psa 3:6 I will not fear thousands of the people surrounding me: arise, O Lord; save me, O my God.

Clearly applicable to David, who, on recovering courage, rose up and got ready to meet his enemies; and, therefore, now exclaims he has no fear of the countless enemy, confiding, as he does, not in his own power, or the arms of his allies, but in God; and he therefore supplicates him to rise and save him from the hands of the enemy. Observe the connection between the word “arise,” in this verse, and “I have risen,” in the preceding, as much as to say, I have on your inspiration arisen, and do you now at my request arise in my defense.

Psa 3:7 For thou hast struck all them who are my adversaries without cause: thou hast broken the teeth of sinners.

An acknowledgment of the divine protection, and his deliverance from his enemies, whose teeth were so broken that, though they may bark, they could not possibly injure or bite.

Psa 3:8 Salvation is of the Lord: and thy blessing is upon thy people.

An invocation of the divine blessing, and thanksgiving for the benefits conferred by him.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 2

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2016

PSALM 2
THE VAIN EFFORTS OF PERSECUTORS AGAINST CHRIST AND HIS CHURCH

Psa 2:1 Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things?

David, recognizing in spirit the coming Messias, the many persecutions he was to undergo, to end in his most successful reign, commences by taunting his persecutors. “And the people devised vain things,” foreshadowing the folly of the Jews, “when they took counsel to destroy Jesus.”

Psa 2:2 The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ.

After saying in general, that both gentiles and people rose up against Christ, he now descends to particulars, and attributes the excitement not so much to the people as to those placed over them. The first of whom was Herod. Next the princes and the people, as the gospel has it, “All Jerusalem was troubled with him.” Then Pontius Pilate and the princes of that day. Then, after the passion and resurrection of our Lord, all the persecutions of the Roman emperors. So clearly foreshadowed is the Messias in this verse that the apostles, in the fourth chapter of the Acts, not only literally applied it to our Savior, but even the old Jewish Rabbis hold it to apply to the Savior the infatuated Jews are still foolishly looking out for! Observe the propriety of the words used here. The gentiles are said “to rage,” as if they were animals void of reason; while the Jewish people are made “to meditate vain things,” having taken counsel to destroy Jesus.

Psa 2:3 Let us break their bonds asunder: and let us cast away their yoke from us.

The prophet assigns a reason for such rage and conspiracy; it was for fear they may be subjected to the law of Christ, so opposed to their carnal desires, and the wisdom of the world. These words are then, as it were, spoken by the kings and princes. The law here gets the name of bonds and yoke, because such it is, in point of fact, to the wicked; whereas, to the just, it is “sweeter than honey, and more desirable than gold and precious stones,” as we read in Ps. 19.

Psa 2:4 He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them: and the Lord shall deride them.

Here the prophet shows again how vain was the labor of the kings and princes in assailing the Christian religion. For the religion of Christ is of divine origin, and nobody can offer resistance to God. “He that dwelleth in heaven” is very appropriate, inasmuch as it shows that God sees all, is above all, and without any trouble can baffle all their counsels, and demolish all their plans. “Shall laugh at and deride them,” means that God in his wisdom, by means of signs and wonders, through the patience of the martyrs, through the conversion of nations and peoples, and through other means known to himself alone, will so confound them that they shall be an object of laughter and ridicule to every one. That we see fulfilled. The pagan and the Jewish priesthood are now ridiculed by all. They have neither temples nor sacrifice; and all the persecutors of the Church have met a miserable end.

Psa 2:5 Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage.

He explains the manner in which God has held the enemies of Christ up to ridicule, not in language, but in the most grievous punishments and afflictions; for instance, Herod, stricken by the Angel; Maximinus, eaten up by vermin, and others. Strictly speaking, God is not subject to anger or fury; his judgments are always tranquil; but he is metaphorically said to rage and to be angry, when he punishes with severity, especially when the correction does not conduce to the salvation of the culprit. Such anger and fury belong to those who do not, like physicians, hurt to heal, but hurt to kill. Thus, when David says, “Lord, reprove me not in thy fury, nor correct me in thy anger,” he prays for the reproof and correction of a father, not of an enemy; and that it may tend to his salvation, and not to his detriment.

Psa 2:6 But I am appointed king by him over Sion, his holy mountain, preaching his commandment.

Having spoken of the rebellious sentiments and expressions of Christ’s enemies, he introduces the Redeemer now, as if answering them. I am appointed king, not by man, but by God, and therefore, man’s threats I regard not. I am ordained king on Sion, his holy mountain; that is, on his Church, the city built on a mountain, of which Jerusalem was the type; the principal part of which, and most beloved and sanctified by God, was Sion, as he says in Ps. 86, “The Lord loveth the gates of Sion beyond all the tabernacles of Jacob.”

Psa 2:7 The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.

Here is the beginning and the foundation of God’s decree. For to Christ, as being the true and natural Son of God, is due all power in heaven and on earth. Three generations are here alluded to. The first, when in the day of eternity, I God begot you God. The second, when, on the day of your birth, I begot thee according to the flesh, made you God Man, without the seed of man, your mother remaining inviolate, without the stain of sin. Thirdly, I begot you today, that is, on the day of your resurrection, when, by my divine power, I restored you to life, and that a glorious and immortal one.

Psa 2:8 Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.

As if God the Father were to say: You my natural Son, the incarnation of my power raised from the dead, have just right to ask me for power over all nations as your inheritance, and the whole world, even to its remotest boundaries, as your possession of right.

We have to observe here, that the word inheritance is frequently applied in the Scripture to one’s property, even though it may not have come to them by inheritance, and thus the people of God are called his inheritance, and he theirs. And as property was frequently divided among brothers by lot, and then measured by chains, the words inheritance, part, lot, chain, possession, became synonymous; two of them even are sometimes united, as, “The Lord is the part of my inheritance,” that is, the part that came to me by inheritance; and in another place, Deut. 32, “Jacob, the lot of his inheritance,” meaning that the people of Israel were the Lord’s inheritance, which he selected for himself, measured with chains, and separated from the inheritance of others. Thus all nations are here said to be the inheritance of Christ, as the words, “The utmost parts of the earth for thy possession,” evidently convey. We are to observe, secondly, that by the kingdom of Christ is meant his spiritual kingdom, that is, his Church, which was to be spread over the whole world. The meaning of the verse then is, that Christ was placed king over Sion, that is, over God’s people; but that his kingdom was not, like that of David or Solomon, confined to the kingdoms of Judea or Palestine, but was to extend over all nations, and to include all the kingdoms of the world, according to Daniel’s prophecy, chap. 2, infidels even included, for “All power on earth and in heaven is granted unto me,” and he is “appointed judge of the living and of the dead,” Acts 10.

Psa 2:9 Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron, and shalt break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

The extreme and most just power of Christ over his Church, and over all mankind, through which he can as easily reward the good and punish the wicked, as a potter can make and break the vessels of clay, is here indicated. In the first part, the iron rod expresses the most just, inflexible, and irresistible power of Christ; in the second, the vessels of clay expose the frailty of the human race. The word “Break them in pieces” does not imply that Christ will actually do so, but that he can do so if he wills; breaking their sins and infidelities in pieces, through his mercy, and from vessels of reproach forming them into vessels of honor; or breaking them in pieces in everlasting fire, in all justice, they having richly deserved it.

Psa 2:10 And now, O ye kings, understand: receive instruction, you that judge the earth.

The prophet now exhorts the kings of this world on whom the people depend as their resistance to Christ has been in vain, to freely subject themselves to him, the true and supreme king of all kings; and as, generally speaking, from wrong judgment proceed wrong affections, he first exhorts them to correct their judgment, to understand the truth and be rightly informed. Then he exhorts them to correct their evil affections, and, instead of hating Christ, to begin to serve, to love, and to revere him. Hence he adds:

Psa 2:11 Serve ye the Lord with fear: and rejoice unto him with trembling.

A wonderful admixture of love and fear, as if he were to say, blend love with your fear, and fear with your love. The Hebrew for “fear” signifies filial not slavish fear, and thus the meaning of the first part of the sentence is, serve the Lord as a son would his father; but also, when you exult as a child before him, forget not to fear him, as is beautifully conveyed in the second part of this verse.

Psa 2:12 Embrace discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and you perish from the just way.

The meaning of these words is, that the kings should not only correct their judgment and affections, and that they should be instructed and obedient but that they should do so with great fervor; because the Hebrew word implies that they should not only do the thing, but do it with all their might, their strength, and their desire, assigning a very cogent reason for it, “lest at any time the Lord be angry, “and you perish from the just way.” The most grievous punishment inflicted on princes is when God, on account of their sins, gives them up to the “reprobate sense,” Rom. 1, permits them to be deceived by wicked counselors, and do much evil, for which they are lost to this world and the next; such were Pharaoh, Roboam, Achab, and others, in whom the most grievous sins became the punishment of other sins, such being not a small slip from the straight road, but an entire loss and extermination of the path of justice.

Psa 2:13 When his wrath shall be kindled in a short time, blessed are all they that trust in him.

The conclusion of the Psalm, in which the holy prophet pronounces how it may be inferred from the preceding, how good and useful it is to love God and serve him with one’s whole heart, for, in the day of judgment, which cannot be far distant, such people alone can have any confidence. He says, “in a short time,” to signify that the terrible day is shortly to come; for a thousand years are like yesterday that passed; nor can that be called long that has an end. “His wrath shall be kindled,” to give us to understand that the day of judgment will be exclusively a day of justice and revenge, leaving no place for mercy. “Blessed are all they that trust in him;” not that confidence will suffice—it will only when it is based on true friendship.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 98

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2016

PSALM 98
All are again invited to praise the Lord, for the victories of Christ

Psa 98:1 A 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.”

Psa 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.”

Psa 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.

Psa 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.

Psa 98:5 Sing praise to the Lord on the harp, on the harp, and with the voice of a psalm:
Psa 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.

Psa 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.

Psa 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.

Psa 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 94, which see.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 96

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2016

Psa 96:1 A canticle for David himself, when the house was built after the captivity. Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: sing to the Lord, all the earth.

He begins by exhorting the whole world to unite in thanksgiving to God for the favors bestowed on them in general. He repeats the expression, “Sing ye,” three times, as he also in a subsequent part of the Psalm repeats another expression, “Bring ye to the Lord,” three times, in order to glance remotely at a mystery, that of the Most Holy Trinity, that was to be openly promulgated in the new testament. “Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle,” praise and thank him in joy and song, and it must be “a new canticle,” a beautiful canticle, and elegantly composed; also a canticle for fresh favors; in like manner, a canticle befitting men who have been regenerated, in whom avarice has been supplanted by charity; and, finally, a canticle not like that of Moses, or Deborah, or any of the old canticles that could not be sung outside the land of promise according to Psalm 136, “How shall we sing the song of the Lord in a strange land?” but a new canticle that may be sung all over the world; and he, therefore, adds, “Sing to the Lord all the earth,” not only Judea, but the whole world.

Psa 96:2 Sing ye to the Lord and bless his name: shew forth his salvation from day to day.

Having promised this general exhortation, he proceeds to tell the subject of his praise and song, which is the advent of the Savior. “Sing to the Lord and bless his name,” in song, praise the power and bless the name of him, “whose salvation you are to show forth from day to day;” that is, every day be sure to celebrate the coming salvation or Savior.

Psa 96:3 Declare his glory among the Gentiles: his wonders among all people.

Having said he should be praised at all times, he now adds, that he should be praised in all places. “Declare his glory among the gentiles.” Make known God’s glory, not only to the Jews, as did the prophets of old, but also to the gentiles, which he expresses more clearly, when he says, “his wonders among all people,” tell all nations of the wonderful works of God, that so manifest his glory. Though this exhortation applies to all who know his wonders, it specially applies to the Apostles of the Lord, for it was they that made God’s glory known to all nations, as well as the wonderful works, not only of the Creator, but also of the Redeemer, and of the sanctifier; that is, of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Psa 96:4 For the Lord is great, and exceedingly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.
Psa 96:5 For all the gods of the Gentiles are devils: but the Lord made the heavens.

He now informs us what glory of the Lord, and what wonderful works of his deserve such praise as he just spoke of. “For the Lord is great and exceedingly to be praised.” In this consists his glory, that he is absolutely great, whether in regard of his power, his wisdom, his goodness, his authority, his riches, or in any other point of view; and that he should be, and is actually praised in proportion to such greatness, and hence the heavens and the earth are full of his glory. Then, “he is to be feared above all gods;” that is, that he rises so far above all who have the remotest claim to be called gods, that so far from their presuming to compare themselves to him, they rather tremble like slaves or serfs before his majesty. The Church, in speaking of the good Angels, who are sometimes called gods, says, “The Angels praise, the dominations adore, the powers tremble before thy majesty;” and of the fallen angels, who, too, are improperly called gods by the ignorant, St. James says, “the devils also believe and tremble;” and, as David alludes to false gods, especially in this Psalm, he, therefore, assigns a reason for our God being feared above all gods, when he says, “For all the gods of the gentiles are devils; but the Lord made the heavens;” that is to say, God is to be feared above all false gods, erroneously adored by the gentiles, because the gods of the gentiles are not true gods, but demons, who, through pride, have revolted from the God who created them, and have been doomed by him to eternal punishment; “but the Lord,” instead of being a spirit created, is a creating spirit, who “made the heavens,” the greatest and the most beautiful things in nature, as well as everything under its canopy, that is, all things created.

Psa 96:6 Praise and beauty are before him: holiness and majesty in his sanctuary.

Having said that God was great and to be feared; he now adds, that he is most worthy of praise in all points of view, that he is most beautiful, glorious, and holy; and that all this is particularly seen in his heavenly sanctuary, where he shows himself to the Angels and other blessed spirits. The second verse of Psalm 104 will throw some light on this verse, which is rather obscure; that verse is, “Thou hast put on praise and beauty, and art clothed with light like a garment;” for God is said to have put on praise and beauty, because from every point of view he is seen to be worthy of praise, and that by reason of his being all fair and beautiful, both in his essence, his attributes, his judgments, his thoughts, or his works; which St. John briefly summed up, when he said, “God is light and there is no darkness in him.” The prophet, then, says of God, “Praise and beauty are before him;” that is, praise, or matter of praise, and beauty, or comeliness, and glory, are encircling God, for he has put on praise and beauty, and, therefore, sees his own praise and beauty about him, and it is seen by all; just as the sun, if it had the sense of seeing, would see all the rays of his own light; as they are seen by all, bright and beautiful. “Holiness and majesty in his sanctuary;” the holiness, or the purity, and magnificence, or the majesty and glory, with which God is clothed, as it were, with vestments, is seen in his sanctuary, or in the holy temple which he has in heaven.

Psa 96:7 Bring ye to the Lord, O ye kindreds of the Gentiles, bring ye to the Lord glory and honour:

He had already prophesied that the knowledge of God would be preached to all nations, through the coming of Christ; and he now predicts that all nations will be converted, and will glorify God. And, as he predicted the former by way of exhortation, saying, “Declare his glory among the gentiles,” he now predicts the latter in the same form, saying, “Bring to the Lord, O ye kindreds of the gentiles;” ye families of gentiles scattered all over the world, so soon as the glory of the Lord, who descended from heaven, and, after having accomplished your redemption, returned again in glory to heaven, shall have been announced to you, be not incredulous, nor slow in acting thereon, but run in all haste to the tabernacle of the Lord, and bring to him glory and honor, by glorifying and honoring God and his holy name in your actions and in your words. He calls upon them to come in kindreds or families, in allusion to the Jewish custom of families coming by themselves on the several festival days to worship in Jerusalem; and the Holy Ghost gives us here to understand that such custom was to serve as a model for Christians, whose families should unite in coming to the Church to give glory and honor to God for all the wonderful things he accomplished in the redemption of man; for it was not by our own industry, or by our merits, that we have come to grace, and to be the adopted children of God, but through God’s mercy, to whom, therefore, is due all honor and glory.

Psa 96:8 Bring to the Lord glory unto his name. Bring up sacrifices, and come into his courts:

He alludes here to a custom of the Jews, who, when they went up to the temple, offered their victims, and after having adored God, returned to their homes. Now, as the gentiles are here invited to come to the Church of the Lord, such sacrifices are to be understood of those spiritual sacrifices of which St. Peter speaks, “to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Those spiritual sacrifices are, the sacrifices of a contrite heart, confession of sins, prayer, fasting, alms, and the like. This may also apply to the Eucharistic sacrifice, that took the place of all the Jewish sacrifices, according to the prophecy of Malachy, and which is offered, “from the rising of the sun even to the going down,” to God, by the converted gentiles, through the hands of the priests of the New Testament.

Psa 96:9 Adore ye the Lord in his holy court. Let all the earth be moved at his presence.

He had hitherto seen, as it were, from afar, the kingdom of the Messias, and he exhorted preachers to announce, and people to acknowledge, the coming King; he now beholds him, as it were, at hand, sees him approaching; and, exulting in spirit, he calls upon not only all nations, but even the heavens and the earth, the seas, the very trees, to exult, and to adore him; not that he looked upon such things as imbued with reason, but in order to express the extent of his own feelings, and the universal joy that would be felt all over the world on the coming of Christ. Some will refer this passage to the first, others to the second, coming of Christ; but we see no reason why it should not take in both. He, therefore, says, “Let all the earth be moved at his presence.” Let all the inhabitants of the earth be full of fear and reverence on the approach of the Lord.

Psa 96:10 Say ye among the Gentiles, the Lord hath reigned. For he hath corrected the world, which shall not be moved: he will judge the people with justice.

In order to stir the people up, preach to them that the coming Lord has taken possession of his kingdom, which kingdom means his spiritual one, through which he reigns by faith in the hearts of men. God always reigns in heaven, and he reigns on earth through his power and majesty; but he began to reign, through faith, among the gentiles, from the coming of the Messias, where the devil previously reigned, through the errors of idolatry; hence the Lord himself said, “Now is the prince of this world cast out.” “For he hath corrected the world, which shall not be moved.” He proves that this kingdom belongs to Christ, by two arguments. The first is, because it was Christ, as God, that made, confirmed, and established the world, so that it cannot be moved, and that it is only just that he who made it should reign in it. This, then, may have reference to the creation of the world; and the word “corrected” means that he established the world so firmly that it cannot, even for a minute, go out of its place. The word “corrected” may also apply to correction of morals, and the wholesome reformations introduced by the Gospel, and then the meaning would be, that Christ should justly and deservedly reign upon earth, because, when it had gone astray, and fallen into the pernicious errors of the gentiles, he, by his evangelical precepts, that prohibit all manner of vices, corrected, reformed, and so established it that it can never possibly lapse into error, so long as his rules and precepts shall be observed. One precept alone, that of love, if properly observed, would correct the whole world, and keep it in profound peace. The second reason is contained in the words, “he will judge the people with justice;” that is, he has not only corrected the world by his most holy laws, but he will also, in the fitting time, judge the world with the greatest justice; for, to those who shall have observed the precepts of the Gospel, he will give most ample rewards, and to those who shall not, most condign punishment.

Psa 96:11 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, let the sea be moved, and the fulness thereof:
Psa 96:12 The fields and all things that are in them shall be joyful. Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice

He calls upon all creation to be glad and to rejoice, by reason of the first as well as the second coming of the Messias; for while the first coming consecrated, the second will glorify, all things. “For we know that every creature groaneth and is in labor even till now, but it shall afterwards be delivered from the servitude of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.” Therefore “Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad,” as being the principal parts of the world; “let the sea be moved” with the same feelings of joy and exultation; “and the fulness thereof,” all the living things of which it is full, the fishes. “The fields and all things that are in them shall be joyful,” whether cattle or plants, nay, even the very “trees of the woods,” however barren and uncultivated, “shall rejoice.”

Psa 96:13 before the face of the Lord, because he cometh: because he cometh to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with justice, and the people with his truth.

All the things above named will rejoice in the presence of the Lord, “because he cometh” to redeem the world in his mercy, and because he will come again to judge it in his justice. Then they will have to say that the last judgment will be, at once, most terrible and most joyous; terrible to the wicked, a source of unbounded joy to the just. Hence, in the sacred Scripture, the last judgment is sometimes described as a fearful, frightful, and saddening occasion, for, according to St. Luke, “There will be signs in the sun and in the moon and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, by reason of the confusion of the roaring of the sea and of the waves. Men withering away for fear and expectation of what shall come upon the whole world. For the powers of heaven shall be moved.” At other times it is described as something pleasant and delightful, by reason of the glory of the elect, which will produce a certain effect on the very heavens, earth, and sea, all of which will be renovated and placed in a better position, and, therefore, in a few verses after, in the same chapter, our Savior says, “But when these things come to pass, look up, and lift up your head, because your redemption is at hand.”—“He shall judge the world with justice, and the people with his truth.” He concludes by predicting what sort the judgment will be; one that will be in accordance with the justice and the truth that always characterized him, and by virtue of which he always fulfills what he promises, and he has promised to reward every one according to his works; to have no regard of persons, and to judge in all justice. Such will be his mode of judging, and in no other way will he judge. Such an expression ought to knock the sleep out of men’s eyes and arouse them; nor should we imagine, for a moment, that because God deals patiently with us, and defers the sentence, that we will escape the judgment; for he that promised so much, and was so true to his promises, cannot possibly lead us astray in this one thing of so much importance. Is it possible, says St. Augustine, that God could have been so faithful in everything, and so false as to the day of judgment?

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 24

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 24, 2016

Psalm 24
Who are they that shall ascend to heaven; Christ’s triumphant ascension thither

Psa 24:1 On the first day of the week, a psalm for David. The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof: the world, and all they that dwell therein.

David proposes proving that of the immense family of the human race, Christ alone, and a few, very few others, as compared with the crowd, will enter God’s most holy and happy house; and for fear people may think they were not God’s creatures, but belonged to some other creator, as the Marcionists and Manicheans afterwards thought, he premises those two verses, in which he lays down that God is the Creator and Lord of the entire world, and of everything in it. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof;” that is, everything that is on or in it, and fills it. The second part of the verse explains the first, in which he states that it is principally to man he alludes, for to man alone the words, “that dwell therein,” can be applied.

Psa 24:2 For he hath founded it upon the seas; and hath prepared it upon the rivers.

He proves God to be Lord of the earth, and of all that dwell thereon, because it was he created the earth, and made it out top the waters so as to be habitable; for had he not made it higher than the sea and the rivers, they would have rushed in upon and overwhelmed it. God, then, having made the earth habitable, it follows that he is the Lord of all, both because man was made from the earth, and to the earth will return; and because man holds the earth here not as its Lord and master, but as a husbandman placed there by God to till and cultivate it.

Psa 24:3 Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord: or who shall stand in his holy place?

Whereas all men are servants and husbandmen of God, and all equally till the land which is God’s. “Who shall ascend into the mountains of the Lord:” Will there be any one, and who will he be, worthy of ascending to the place where God is said peculiarly to dwell?

Psa 24:4 The innocent in hands, and clean of heart, who hath not taken his soul in vain, nor sworn deceitfully to his neighbour.

There will; they will ascend into the mountain of the Lord who have the four conditions here specified: First, they must be “Innocent in hands;” must have committed no sin. Second, must be “Clean of heart,” free from sinful thoughts or desires. Third, “Who hath not taken his soul in vain;” who not only has neither done nor thought any evil, but has done and thought everything that God could require of him, in order to obtain the end for which he was created. Fourth, “Nor sworn deceitfully to his neighbor;” easily understood. And thus the man who seeks to be worthy of “ascending into the mountain of the Lord,” must be perfect in every respect in his heart, in his language, in his actions, in the perfect discharge of all the duties that appertain to his station in life. Such conditions are to be found in Christ alone. He is the only one of whom it can be said, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth;” and as David says, in Psalm 13, “There is none that doeth good, no not one;” and Isaias, “We have all strayed like sheep;” and St. Paul, Rom. 3, “All have sinned and need the glory of God;” and, therefore, the Lord himself justly says, John 3, “And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended from heaven, the Son of Man, who is in heaven.” All others are terrestrials, sprung from the earth. He alone is celestial, come from heaven; holy, innocent, unpolluted, set aside from sinners, and by his ascension, higher than the heavens. And it was not Christ alone that was to ascend to the mountain of the Lord, but his body too, the Church, which he “Cleansed with his blood, that he might present it to himself, a glorious church; not having spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish,” Ephes. 5; and, therefore, in the next verse, he says:

Psa 24:5 He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, and mercy from God his Saviour.

“He,” that is, Christ, “shall receive a blessing from the Lord,” favors in abundance, “and mercy from God his Savior,” for his body, the Church, in whose regard he is the Savior, because life everlasting in the kingdom of heaven, though justice to Christ, is mercy to the faithful; for, though the just deserve eternal life, by reason of God’s goodness, their own merits have the effect, through God’s mercy only, and thus are truly called the gifts of God. Hence, in Psalm 102, we have, “Who crowneth thee in mercy and compassion;” and in Rom. 6, “For the wages of sin is death: but the grace of God, everlasting life.”

Psa 24:6 This is the generation of them that seek him, of them that seek the face of the God of Jacob.

The prophet now declares that the one he spoke of, “The innocent in hands,” the “clean of heart, who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord,” and “shall receive a blessing,” and “mercy from God” is Christ, the head, and not only the head, but the head with the body of the Church. “This is the generation of them that seek him;” that means, he that ascends to heaven, is the generator of those that are regenerated in Christ, whose principal study is to seek God, to thirst for a sight of his face, and to make for his holy mountain, with all their strength. And, in fact, a unique and perhaps characteristic sign of the elect of God, is to have a longing desire for their home, their country—heaven. The generation of the children of this world seek everything in preference to God, dread nothing more than death; and, if they got their choice, would prefer living always in this world, to “being dissolved and being with Christ.”

Psa 24:7 Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in.

The holy prophet, having foreseen that one would be found worthy of “going up into the mountain of the Lord,” namely, Christ, declares that he will go up at once, and that the eternal gates of heaven will be opened to him. And in a poetic strain he at once addresses now the “Princes” of heaven, the Angels; then the “gates” themselves; orders the Angels to open, and the gates to be opened, nay, even spontaneously to admit the approaching King of Glory. He makes use of the words, “Lift up,” and “be ye lifted,” to show these are not ordinary gates, hanged to a wall or a post, but to the roof or ceiling, to show they should be raised up for admission.

Psa 24:8 Who is this King of Glory? the Lord who is strong and mighty: the Lord mighty in battle.

He introduces him to the Princes of the heavenly Jerusalem as King, “Who is this king of glory?” not that the Angels, on the day of his ascension, were ignorant of Christ’s being the King of Glory, but to express their admiration at the novelty of human flesh ascending to the highest heavens, not as a guest or a stranger, but as the Lord of a glorious and everlasting community. The prophet answers, that Christ is the King of Glory, the Lord most valiant and powerful, who showed his power in battle against the prince of darkness, whom he conquered, despoiled, and left in chains.

Psa 24:9 Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in.
Psa 24:10 Who is this King of Glory? the Lord of hosts, he is the King of Glory.

The prophet imagines some hesitation on the part of the Angels in opening the gates, and he, therefore, second time thunders. “Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates,” thereby giving us to understand the great novelty of the matter, to find a terrestrial rising above celestial bodies—human flesh soaring above the angelic spirits themselves, to the amazement, wonder, and admiration of all nature. The Angels ask again, Who is this King of Glory? “The Lord of Hosts is the King of Glory,” is the reply. At the sound of that most familiar name, they at once open, and with joy receive the King of Glory. “Lord of hosts” is the peculiar title of the Creator, and never applied to any one in the Scriptures, but to God exclusively. The Hebrew word has been sometimes translated God of armies, as God really is, presiding over his armies of Angels, that are innumerable and most powerful; and besides, having all created beings serving under him, as we read in Psalm 148, “Fire, hail, snow, ice, stormy winds which fulfill his word.” Pharaoh had a fair experience of his being the God of armies, when not only the Angels were brought to war upon him, but even the minutest animals, such as frogs, flies, and gnats, and along with them things inanimate, such as hail, fire, darkness, pestilence, and the like. Some have translated “Lord of Hosts,” “Lord of virtues;” but those who do, take “virtues” in the same sense as “Hosts,” and not in the sense of what is generally understood by virtues, namely, good moral actions or qualities.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 18, 2016

The responsorial psalm for today consists of Psalm 119:14, 24, 72, 103, 111, 131. Due to the structure of the commentary this post includes note on 13, 15-16, 71

Psa 119:13 With my lips I have pronounced all the judgments of thy mouth.
Psa 119:14 I have been delighted in the way of thy testimonies, as in all riches.
Psa 119:15 I will meditate on thy commandments: and I will consider thy ways.
Psa 119:16 I will think of thy justifications: I will not forget thy words.

In those four verses he expresses his love for God’s law, possibly by reason of his having got that benediction of the lawgiver, that he had just asked for. He says he has the law of God in his mouth, his will, his understanding, and his memory, and thus, in every part of his soul. As to his mouth he says, “With my lips I have pronounced all the judgments of thy mouth.” I have constantly spoken of, and constantly preached, your commandments to all who may choose to hear them; “judgments,” here, mean commandments, and he adds, “of thy mouth,” to remind us they are not the precepts of man, but of God, having been declared by his mouth. In regard of his will, he says, “I have been delighted in the way of thy testimonies, as in all riches.” I have taken a great delight in walking in the way of thy testimonies, as misers take in amassing riches. Great and rare is such affection, when man, in general, for a very trifling lucre, is wont to despise all God’s commandments. As to his understanding or reflection he says, “I will meditate on thy commandments: I will consider thy ways.” I will be constantly occupied in meditation and turning over in my mind all you have commanded or prohibited; and, as regards another affection of the heart, he says, “I will think of thy justifications.” The Hebrew here implies that he will be delighted in chanting them. Having previously said that “I have been delighted in the way of thy testimonies, as in all riches.” Where his delight seems to arise from the utility of the subject, he now says that he will be delighted with them by reason of the pleasure to be derived from them, just as the law of the Lord is compared in Psalm 18, to gold and to honey, as being both useful and agreeable. The meaning of the passage, then, is, “I will think of thy justifications;” I will occupy myself in chanting the praises of your commandments, in order to delight myself, as I would with sweet and pleasant songs. He now ultimately comes to the memory, saying, “I will not forget thy words;” because, by frequent meditation on them, and pleasing chant of them, I cannot possibly forget “thy words,” or your law. Hence, we infer that to those who have the benediction of the lawgiver, that is, the spirit of true charity, the law of the Lord is neither heavy nor severe, but that it is, as the Lord himself said, “a sweet yoke and a light burden.”

Psa 119:24 For thy testimonies are my meditation: and thy justifications my counsel.

An explanation of the words from verse 23: “I was employed in thy justifications;” for he says they were a sweet consolation to him in his troubles, and a faithful counsellor in his doubts.

Psa 119:71 It is good for me that thou hast humbled me, that I may learn thy justifications.
Psa 119:72 The law of thy mouth is good to me, above thousands of gold and silver.

From the abundance of the first gift that had been conferred on him, he now declares, “It is good for me that thou hast humbled me,” no one but one truly meek and humble of heart, and thus truly good, and who from experience could form an opinion of what is good, could give expression to such a sentiment. For he that is truly good looks upon any humiliation, arising from tribulation, as a great good, inasmuch as it leads to a better observance of God’s law, the value of which he expresses, when he says, “The law of thy mouth is good to me above thousands of gold and silver,” and so it is, because through the observance of the law we acquire life everlasting, to which no treasures can be compared.

Psa 119:103 How sweet are thy words to my palate! more than honey to my mouth.

The fourth advantage is, that God’s law confers extreme happiness on those that observe it; for “thy words,” that is, God’s commandments, are sweeter to the palate of the soul than honey is to that of the body. Nothing can be sweeter than a good conscience, and the hope of everlasting happiness, derived from the observance of God’s law.

Psa 119:111 I have purchased thy testimonies for an inheritance for ever: because they are the joy of my heart.

The reason for my not having “erred from thy precepts” was because “I have purchased thy testimonies for an inheritance forever;” that is, I have chosen your law as an everlasting inheritance, because it is most sweet and most agreeable to me, and the source of supreme joy and delight.

Psa 119:131 I opened my mouth, and panted: because I longed for thy commandments.

And I, as one of those little ones, “opened my mouth,” the mouth of my interior, by asking and praying, “and panted,” longed for the spirit of knowledge and piety, that I may understand and observe your commandments, for I longed both to understand and to observe them. The metaphor is taken from our natural respiration, for when we are worked hard, and nearly suffocated in consequence, we open our mouth and pant, on which we draw breath and get better.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 149

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 18, 2016

PSALM 149
THE CHURCH IS PARTICULARLY BOUND TO PRAISE GOD

Psa 149:1 Sing ye to the Lord a new canticle: let his praise be in the church of the saints.

This first verse is directed to those he addressed in the last verse of the preceding Psalm, when he said, “A hymn to all his saints, to a people approaching to him;” for these three last Psalms are so connected, and one appears to be such a continuation of the other, that they appear to form one Psalm, which, perhaps, is the reason that the three are read under one antiphon in the end of lauds. He, therefore, says, O you saints, the people approaching to God, “Sing to the Lord a new canticle;” let other creatures sing a canticle for their creation, which is an old canticle, but sing you a canticle for your regeneration, justification, glorification, which is “a new canticle,” on a new subject, and to be chanted by new men. “Let his praise be in the church of the saints;” a reason assigned for having asked them to sing in such manner, being as much as to say, You saints, “sing ye to the Lord a new canticle,” because it is but meet that God’s praise should be heard, especially in the congregation of the saints.

Psa 149:2 Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: and let the children of Sion be joyful in their king.

The new canticle is calculated to inspire great joy; for it announces the favor of perfect happiness, and springs from most ardent love. Israel, the chosen people of God, therefore, that sings this new canticle, rejoice in singing “in him that made him;” in their Creator, who not only called them into existence, but endowed them with grace, thus giving them not only existence, but to be Israel. “And let the children of Sion be joyful in their king,” which is no more than a repetition of the above.

Psa 149:3 Let them praise his name in choir: let them sing to him with the timbrel and the psaltery.

Not content with singing this new canticle with joy and gladness, they will blend instrumental with vocal music, so that their hands, as well as their tongues, or in other words, their actions, as well as their words, shall be directed to God’s praise and glory. The following Psalm would seem to indicate that the ‘choir” named here is a musical instrument as well as the timbrel and the psaltery; but it may also signify a number of voices in concert, and in such sense it has been understood by the fathers

Psa 149:4 For the Lord is well pleased with his people: and he will exalt the meek unto salvation.

The reason for singing this new canticle is because the Lord hath been well pleased with his people, that is to say, loved them from eternity, from his own pure kindness, which good will of God is the foundation and primary source of all our blessings; for predestination, vocation, justification, glorification, all are owing to God’s having been “well pleased with his people;” and, touching on this, the Lord himself said, “Fear not, little flock; for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom.” This good pleasure of God is frequently alluded to by St. Paul, and it justly forms the subject of the new canticle; “and he will exalt the meek unto salvation;” God not only resolved in his mind to deal thus kindly with his people, but he will carry it into immediate effect, because “he will exalt the meek unto salvation,” he will exalt to the highest degree possible, to eternal happiness, his meek and humble people, as being true members of him who said, “I am meek and humble of heart.”

Psa 149:5 The saints shall rejoice in glory: they shall be joyful in their beds.

He now describes the future glory of the elect, for which they are with all their hearts to sing this new canticle. “The saints shall rejoice in glory,” to which none but the truly just arrive, and at the same time “shall be joyful in their beds,” in that place of supreme rest, “from henceforth now, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labors,” Apoc. 14. Thus, “the saints in glory” shall rest from their labors, but not from their praise; they will “be in their beds,” to rest there, but not to sleep.

Psa 149:6 The high praises of God shall be in their mouth: and two-edged swords in their hands:

The saints in their supreme felicity will not be altogether idle, for they will find occupation in chanting God’s praise and brandishing their swords, and the latter refers to the judiciary power with which they will be invested on the last day, to strike down all their persecutors, according to Deut. 32, “If I shall whet my sword as the lightning, and my hand take hold on judgment.”

Psa 149:7 To execute vengeance upon the nations, chastisements among the people:

The use the saints will make of the two edged swords will be to wreak vengeance on their enemies on the day of judgment, to chastise them and to reproach them with their iniquities, for “Then shall the just stand with great constancy against those that have afflicted them.”

Psa 149:8 To bind their kings with fetters, and their nobles with manacles of iron.

Having said that “the two edged swords” represent the judiciary power entrusted to the saints on the last day, it will not appear strange they should use such power “to execute vengeance,” and “to bind kings in fetters,” for such power includes the one as well as the other, and both will be fully exercised on the last day, when, in union with Christ, they will pass sentence on the Antiochuses, the Herods, the Neros, the Diocletians, and the other infidel princes, and will say, “Having bound their hands and feet, cast them into the exterior darkness.”

Psa 149:9 To execute upon them the judgment that is written: this glory is to all his saints. Alleluia.

The prophet now explains clearly why he said “to execute vengeance,” and “to bind kings in fetters.” That the saints, who on earth have suffered unjust persecution, may now “execute the judgment” that was long since “written” like a decree or a resolution, deeply engraved on a pillar, one that could not be changed or erased. “This glory is to all his saints,” the glory of sitting with Christ on the clouds, and judging the world; and its ruler will be the peculiar privilege of the saints, as St. Paul has it, “Know you not that the saints shall judge this world? And if the world shall be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters?” Truly, therefore, “is this glory to all his saints.”

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 150

Posted by Dim Bulb on September 18, 2016

Psa 150:1 Praise ye the Lord in his holy places: praise ye him in the firmament of his power.

You saints and elect, praise the Lord who dwell in the heavenly sanctuary, “praise him in the firmament of his power,” a repetition of the first part of the verse, Praise him who resides in the heavens as he would in a highly fortified palace or on a splendid throne, for the Lord says, in Mt. 5, “Swear not by heaven for it is God’s throne.”

Psa 150:2 Praise ye him for his mighty acts: praise ye him according to the multitude of his greatness.

He now teaches that God is to be praised, not because he simply resides in heaven, but because he resides there as the all powerful Ruler and Lord of all things. Praise him for his mighty acts, for his great strength and power, “Praise ye him according to the multitude of his greatness,” praise him beyond measure, for such is his greatness, being simply and absolutely great.

Psa 150:3 Praise him with the sound of trumpet: praise him with psaltery and harp.

Praise him with all manner of instruments, wind instruments such as the trumpet, and stringed such as the psaltery and harp.

Psa 150:4 Praise him with timbrel and choir: praise him with strings and organs.

All sorts of instruments are now enumerated, for though there is no certainty what sort of instrument their organ was, the probability is, that it was an instrument composed of a number of pipes joined together, such as our organ of the present day.

Psa 150:5 Praise him on high sounding cymbals: praise him on cymbals of joy: Let every spirit praise the Lord. Alleluia.

Cymbals are musical instruments, whose music is elicited by shaking them; and they are called “cymbals of joy,” as being used on festive occasions, as peals of bells are with Christians. “Let every spirit praise the Lord.” Various are the interpretations offered of this sentence; but in my mind, the most satisfactory is to take the words, “every spirit,” as comprehending everything that has life, be it spiritual, such as that of the Angels, or animal, such as that of animals, or both united, such as that of man; or even a figurative life, such as that of material objects, which, inanimate as they may be, are still said “to live” in reference to God; because they serve and obey him, as if they had sense and feeling, and understood the commands of the Creator. Hence the invitatory, “The king to whom all things live;” and in Baruch, “The stars were called, and they said: Here we are.” Such is also the expression in the Gospel, “He commanded the fever, and it left her;” and, in Mk. 4, “And he rebuked the wind, and said to the sea: Peace, be still. And the wind ceased; and there was made a great calm.” The prophet, then, after having summoned a number of persons and things to praise God, and finding that he could not severally enumerate and invite every person and thing in one general invitation, he comprehends all, and calls upon them to praise the Lord. “Let every spirit praise the Lord.” But, then, if he wanted to include everything, why not say, Let everything, instead of every spirit, praise the Lord? The reason is, because it is only the living that are able to praise, and it would appear absurd to invite dead things or souls to join in choir, especially when the same prophet said, in Psalm 113, “The dead will not praise thee, O Lord;” and Ezechias exclaims, “The living, the living, he shall give praise to thee.” David, then, preferred the expression, Every spirit or living thing, to everything existing, to show that he invited everything that has life in any respect to unite in praising God. Here, then, is the end of this Commentary. I pray Almighty God, that, as he enabled us to explain those divine Psalms somehow, so he may grant us, in his mercy, after this our pilgrimage here below, to arrive at our true country, where, face to face, we may love him with our whole heart, and praise him without end. Amen. Praise be to God. “But piety with sufficiency is great gain.” (1 Tim. 6.)

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