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Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

1. STRUCTURE OF THE PSALM.—According to the metrical analysis of Prof. Bickell, the psalm consists of two parts, the first of which comprises vv. 1–6, the second vv. 7–14. The first contains seven stanzas, each consisting of four alternately heptasyllabic and tetrasyllabic lines; the second contains six stanzas, each containing four pentasyllabic lines. Owing to this difference of rhythm, Prof. Cheyne contends that two psalms have been linked together: the one full of inward calm delight, regular in form and gracefully simple in style; the other a psalm of anxious supplication, which is inferior in rhythm and diction. Olshausen and Baur agree with Cheyne in making two psalms of the sacred song. But Riehm is right in maintaining that the psalm resembles Ps. 9, and that there is no good reason for dividing it into two. The difference of rhythm and of contents may be easily explained by supposing that the author wrote the psalm under the sway of a sentiment of divine trustfulness, but at different times and under slightly varied circumstances.

2. AUTHOR OF THE PSALM.—a. David is the author of the psalm. Reasons: 1. The title of the psalm reads: “The psalm of David before he was anointed.” It is true that the last part of the title “before he was anointed” is not found in the Hebrew text. But we do not need that circumstance in order to establish our argument, which rests on the first phrase, “the psalm of David.” Still, the second part of the title, too, has its weight of authority, based as it is on the tradition that is preserved in the LXX. version. However, it seems that not all the copies of the version contained the words “before he was anointed,” since Theodoret declares that he found the title only in certain copies, but not in the Hexapla. But whatever authority we may attribute to this statement, we must inquire to which anointing of David the words refer, since the king was anointed three different times: first by Samuel (1 Kings 16:13); secondly, when he received the royal power over Juda (2 Kings 2:4); the third time, when he became king over all Israel (2 Kings 5:3). It is plain that there can be no question of the first anointing of David, but that either the second or the third must be referred to. The circumstances mentioned in the psalm lead us to suppose that most probably the second anointing was intended by the superscription of the psalm.

2. The contents of the psalm fit well into the history of King David. In v. 5 there is probably an allusion to David’s reception in the shelter of the priest (1 Kings 21); v. 12 probably refers to Doeg and his accomplices, who are rightly called false witnesses (1 Kings 22:9); the enemies in general of whom the psalm speaks may be identified with Saul and his adherents. There is, therefore, no need of referring the psalm to the period of Absolom’s rebellion, as is done by Delitzsch, Perowne, Speaker’s Comment., etc.; the dwelling of the Lord does not necessarily imply that the temple or the tabernacle stood on Mount Sion when the psalm was written.

3. In the third place, the psalm contains several allusions, or at least parallelisms, to other psalms that are acknowledged to be of Davidic authorship. Cf. 26:3 with 3:3; 25:14 with 31:24; 26:11 with 25:4; 26:11 with 86:11, etc.

4. Finally, it is generally admitted that the first book of psalms is of Davidic origin; since, then, the present psalm has been received into the first book, it must have been regarded as a psalm of the royal prophet.

b. The author of the psalm is an unknown writer (Ewald). While the learned writer acknowledges the similarity between the style of this psalm and that of David’s, he still assigns this and the twenty-second (twenty-third) psalm to some unknown author, because he imagines that the psalmist must have been a warrior, carrying on a desperate struggle on the frontiers of Palestine. Notwithstanding the applicability of even this characteristic to the person of David in exile, he contends that David is not the author.

c. Hitzig attributes the psalm to Jeremias, disregarding the plain indications of warfare contained in the song. This writer, too, admits the connection between this psalm and the preceding one. We need not add any arguments against the opinion of either Ewald or Hitzig, since their positions are fanciful rather than scientific.

3. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PSALM.—a. It follows from what has been said that the literal meaning of the psalm is not Messianic, but Davidic. But since David is one of the most prominent Messianic types, his sufferings too must typify the sufferings of his divine antitype. Since, then, David’s sufferings are treated in this psalm, it may well be regarded as Messianic.

b. The possibility of the psalm’s typical reference to the Messias established, we know from the testimony of the Church that she really considers the psalm as Messianic. It is for this reason that it is read in the first Nocturn for Good Friday and in the second Nocturn for Holy Saturday. The vv. 12, 13 are thus referred to Jesus unjustly accused by his enemies and descending to limbo after death. The circumstance that the psalm is also read in the second Nocturn of the Office for the Dead confirms the Messianic bearing of the song; for the perfection of the suffering endured by the souls in purgatory nearest approaches the perfection of Christ’s own suffering and passion.

PS. 26 (27)

The Lord is my light and my salvation,

Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is the protector of my life,

Of whom shall I be afraid?

Whilst the wicked draw near against me

To eat my flesh,

My enemies that trouble me

Have themselves been weakened, and have fallen.

If armies in camp should stand together against me,

My heart shall not fear;

If a battle should rise up against me,

In this will I be confident.

One thing I have asked of the Lord,

This will I seek after,

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord

All the days of my life.

That I may see the delight of the Lord,

And may visit his temple;

For he hath hid me in his tabernacle

In the day of evils.

He hath protected me in the secret place of his tabernacle,

He hath exalted me upon a rock;

And now he hath lifted up my head above my enemies,

I have gone round—

And have offered up in his tabernacle

A sacrifice of jubilation;

I will sing and recite

A psalm to the Lord.

Hear, O Lord, my voice with which I have cried to thee,

Have mercy on me and hear me;

My heart hath said to thee,

My face hath sought thee: thy face, O Lord, will I seek.

Turn not away thy face from me,

Decline not in thy wrath from thy servant;

Be thou my helper,

Forsake me not.

Do not thou despise me,

O God, my Saviour;

For my father and my mother have left me,

But the Lord hath taken me up.

Set me, O Lord, a law

In thy way,

And guide me in the right path,

Because of my enemies.

Deliver me not over

To the will of them that trouble me;

For unjust witnesses have risen up against me,

And iniquity hath lied to itself.

I believe to see

The good things of the Lord in the land of the living;

Expect the Lord, do manfully, and let thy heart take courage,

And wait thou for the Lord.

It is true that St. Augustine applies v. 12 in particular, to the suffering of Christ and to the false witnesses that were brought up against him. But the whole psalm may be easily applied to the history of the passion: The Father is the light of the Son; Jesus begins his struggle against his enemies, the powers of darkness, without fear; though he was all alone, he overcame all: all fall down before him in Gethsemani, Judas hangs himself, the soldiers flee from Calvary, Herod and Pilate die most wretchedly. Only one thing Jesus desired from his Father, to satisfy for suffering humanity, and this petition was granted him. Lifted up on a rock he offers his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in the most complete abandonment. “O God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” But his entire trust in the goodness of God is rewarded by his final victory and supreme elevation over all creation.








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