HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







A Commentary On The Psalms From Primitive and Mediæval Writers Volumes 1 To 4 by Rev. J.M. Neale D.D.

Gregorian. Our help * is in the Name of the LORD.

Monastic. As Psalm 123.

Ambrosian. As Gregorian.

Parisian. Our help is in the Name of the LORD * Who hath made heaven and earth. [Good Friday: When JESUS saw His Mother, and the disciple standing by, whom He loved, He saith unto His Mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith He to the disciple, Behold thy Mother!]

Lyons. As Gregorian.

Mozarabic. The snare is broken, * and we are delivered.

1 If the LORD himself had not been on our side, now may Israel say: 2 if the LORD himself had not been on our side; when men rose up against us;

3 (2) They had swallowed us up quick: when they were so wrathfully displeased at us.

The view of Origen and Theodoret, which has much to commend it,* is that this Psalm expresses thankfulness for deliverance from the various tribes which had settled in or around Palestine, and harassed the returning exiles, as we read in the Book of Nehemiah.* According to the theory advanced in the remarks prefixed to Psalm 120., its place here in the Pilgrim-ritual denotes the escape of the caravan, either by successful avoidance or successful battle, from the roving bands of the desert.* From a very early time its appropriateness to the sufferings of the Church in her martyrs has been noted.* The words on our side represent one Hebrew vocable, לָנוּ, which may be translated either for us, or, as by LXX., (G.) Vulg., and Arabic, in us, or among us. This is something more and nearer than even being at our side. Taken of the Church, it is as when Israel went out of Egypt, “the shout of a King is among them;”* taken of the individual Christian, it recalls the words of the LORD, “The kingdom of GOD is within you.”* When GOD is the possessor and inhabitant of our heart,* then, and then only, are we safe from every foe.* In us, as a Pilot of a storm-tossed ship; in us, as Captain of an army in battle; in us, as head and heart to the body, (A.) directing its thoughts and affections; and it is said in us, not in me, because as the Pilgrims go up, they sing at times one by one, and at other times in chorus; because the many are one, since CHRIST is One, and the members of CHRIST are one in Him. They had swallowed us up quick, that is, alive, a metaphor taken from the fiercer beasts of prey, rending and devouring their victims almost before death; and the explanation given of it is that alive here means conscious, in that the persecuted believers were fully aware of the heinousness of the sin of idolatry into which their enemies tried to force them, and therefore if they did give way, they could not plead ignorance, but only fear; so that they first shut GOD out of their hearts, and when He was no longer within them, yielded and offered sacrifice. Had they really believed, as Pagans themselves did, that the idols were true objects of worship, then they would have been swallowed up dead. Believing and resisting, they could not be swallowed up at all, for even the slaying of the body did but free the soul. (G.) And the later commentators, living in an age far removed from the era of martyrdom, take the verse of any yielding to what is known to be sin.

4 (3) Yea, the waters had drowned us: and the stream had gone over our soul.

5 (4) The deep waters of the proud: had gone even over our soul.

The LXX. attaches the first clause of verse 3 to the end of the preceding; and inverts the construction of the remainder, translating,* Our soul passed over the torrent, surely our soul passed over the irresistible water; thus taking the whole clause, not as a description of the peril, but of the escape from it; understanding the passage in the sense of that place in Isaiah where we read: “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.”* The Vulgate, agreeing for the most part, alters the last phrase thus: Perchance our soul would have had to pass through water unbearable: that is, We did indeed escape over the river, but we should have found it unfordable, had not GOD helped us; (A.) a sense which comes back close to the true meaning of the verse. Our safety is because the Lord is among us, and He Himself drank of “the brook in the way,”* and paused not then, but lifted up His head in the Resurrection, and pursued after His enemies to overcome them.* As usual in Holy Scripture, waters stand for nations, formed, like the winter-torrents, from many separate rills rushing in one headlong stream, (C.) foul and discoloured with the earth they carry down, and sweeping away everything not built upon a Rock, which attempts to bar their way; (A.) but, with all their fierce violence, they last but a little time, as did the persecutions which fell upon the Church in Pagan days. This sense is apparently enforced by the version found above, deep waters of the proud, but the words ought to run, as in A. V., the proud waters, that is, the angry, swollen torrent, precisely the ὑβριστὴς ποταμός of the Greek tragic poet.* How many were swept away by it in the course of the long Passion of the Church,* especially under Decius and in the Arian troubles, no man can tell, yet however individuals fell away, the Church emerged safely, and therefore it follows:

6 (5) But praised be the LORD: who hath not given us over for a prey unto their teeth.

The best comment on the verse is that saying of the Prince of the Apostles, (C.) “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”* But he has his allies and instruments amongst men too, of whom is written: “There is a generation whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw-teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth,* and the needy from among men.”* These “bite and devour one another”* and the Saints too,* with slander and detraction, and endeavour to make their prey as evil as themselves, by incorporating them into their own body, as the natural teeth prepare food for digestion by the stomach.

7 (6) Our soul is escaped even as a bird out of the snare of the fowler: the snare is broken, and we are delivered.

A snare needs to be baited, (A.) and the devil’s bait for the souls of men is usually the pleasure of life. (H.) He hides it in some unsuspected place, (Ay.) not on the highway, where it may be soon detected and destroyed, but in some place near to it; he masks it carefully with grass or leaves, he putsease, wealth, (A.) self-indulgence over it to tempt us. And as men who know of a trap, shout loudly to scare away any man, or bird, or beast which they wish to save from falling into it, so GOD calls aloud with His warnings and threats in our souls lest we should give way to the tempter. He cries to us, as He cried to many of His martyrs when on the point of yielding: “O silly bird, set thy feet upon the rock, go not near the snare. Thou wilt be taken, devoured, destroyed. Let the LORD be in thee, and He will deliver thee from yet greater perils, out of the snare of the fowlers.” (C.) It is no caution and wariness on the part of the bird itself (as some of the commentators inaptly suggest) that saves it.* Nothing is more helpless than a bird once entangled in a net or snare,* and therefore it is added, The snare is broken. When? What time CHRIST broke the power of Satan, and laid him low, so that ever since he has power over none but cowards. The weakest of men can overcome a sleeper, but the same act that weakened Satan strengthened thee, and thou art mightier now than he is. Why fearest thou? Knowest thou not Who is thine Helper?* Yes, answer CHRIST’S true soldiers, we know well it is not our own strength or skill which has saved us,* we have not broken the net ourselves.

8 (7) Our help is in the Name of the LORD: who hath made heaven and earth.

He hath made the earth where the snare lies, so that He can destroy that snare of right, as laid unlawfully in His domain, He hath made the heaven, the true sphere for the soaring wings of those souls which He has delivered, so that they may fly upwards from their late prison,* rejoicing. He came down to earth Himself, that LORD JESUS in Whose Name is our help, that He might break the snare; He returned to heaven, that we might “fly as the doves to their windows,”* following where He showed the way.

And therefore:

Glory he to the FATHER, Who hath made heaven and earth; glory be to the SON, Who hath broken the snare of the fowlers; glory be to the HOLY GHOST, Who is within us when men rise up against us.

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








Copyright ©1999-2016 e-Catholic2000.com