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

Gregorian. The LORD hear thee * in the day of trouble. [Corpus Christi: The LORD remember our offering, and let our burnt-sacrifice be fat.]

Mozarabic. The Name of the GOD of Jacob protect thee: send thee help from the Sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Sion.

1 The LORD hear thee in the day of trouble: the Name of the GOD of Jacob defend thee;

The Church speaks to her LORD, (Ay.) going forth to His final war, in the day of His trouble,—the day when the moon was confounded and the sun ashamed,—the day of the Cross. Where note: CHRIST, in the time of His Passion, offered a threefold prayer: for Himself, for His disciples, and for His enemies; and He was heard in all. For Himself: “FATHER, the hour is come: glorify Thy SON, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee:”* and He was heard when the heathen began to be given Him for an inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession.* For His disciples, when He said, “That they all may be one:”* and He was heard when “the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul.”* For His enemies, when He said, “FATHER, forgive them, for they know not what they do:”* and He was heard, when “He received gifts for men, yea, even for His enemies.”* The Name of God defend Thee: “for He said, I am the SON of GOD.” The Name of the God of Jacob: for as Jacob prevailed over his brother by guile, (G.) and was rightfully named a supplanter, so the LORD, by the depth of His eternal counsel, confounded Satan,*

And the multiform deceiver’s

Art by art would overthrow.

With such a prayer, with such a yearning, ardent wish, go forth, O “Man of war,” to Thy last battle! go forth, O “Man of sorrows,” to Thy last agony! Never can conflict be sorer; never can necessity be more overwhelming: The Lord hear Thee in the day of trouble: the Name of the God of Jacob defend Thee!

2 Send thee help from the sanctuary: and strengthen thee out of Sion;

Easy enough to take it in the sense in which they usually understand it: that the LORD’s help in that hour of darkness still came from the FATHER, from Whom, not even in the depth of His humiliation, was He severed. But then we must go counter to the whole rule of the Psalms, by understanding Sion of the Heavenly Jerusalem. Therefore, best, (L.) with other holy men, to take this help of the foreknowledge which the LORD had that, by His bitter Death and Passion, the foundation of that spiritual temple would be laid; that, not till the second Adam slept in death, could that dear Bride be formed out of His wounded Side. Help, indeed, (A.) from the sanctuary: from the foresight of the innumerable souls to be sanctified in that future Church, all then hanging on His victory; all to be elect or reprobate, according as He won or lost. Strength, indeed, out of Sion, when for no less a purpose than this was that fearful battle waged: all His saints, (Cd.) all His redeemed, His martyrs, His confessors, His virgins, hanging on the result of that day.

3 Remember all thy offerings: and accept thy burnt-sacrifice;

All Thy offerings: the humiliation that brought Him from heaven to earth; (D. C.) the patient tabernacling in the womb of the ever Virgin; the poor Nativity: the hard manger: ox and ass for courtiers; the weary flight into Egypt; the poor cottage in Nazareth; the doing all good, and bearing all evil; the miracles, the sermons, the teachings; the jeerings; the being called a man gluttonous and a wine-bibber, the friend of publicans and sinners; the attribution of His wondrous deeds to Beelzebub. And accept Thy burnt sacrifice. As every part of the victim was consumed in a burnt sacrifice,* so what limb, what sense of our dear LORD did not agonise in His Passion? The thorny crown on His head; the nails in His hands and feet; the reproaches that filled His ears; the gloating multitude on whom His dying gaze rested; the vinegar and the gall; the evil odours of the hill of death and corruption. The ploughers ploughed upon His back, (G.) and made long furrows; His most sacred Face was smitten with the palm of the hand, His Head with the reed. What could have been done more for the vineyard that He did not do in it?* So, what more could have been borne by the Vine, that this dear Vine did not bear? Remember them now, O FATHER; call to mind, for us sinners, for us miserable sinners, and for our salvation, all these offerings; accept, instead of our eternal punishment, who are guilty, His burnt sacrifice, Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth!

[And taking these words as spoken to the Church,* as well as to her Head, they remind us of that Holy Oblation of the Eucharist, (D. C.) wherein the Passion is represented and pleaded, acceptable to GOD,* reverenced by Angels, adored by men, because therein are the Soul of the Righteous, the Flesh of the Most Pure, the Godhead of the Most High. This is fat, for it burns with the clear flame of love,* warming our chill souls; it is moist, softening our dry hearts, and melting them into tears, and joyful, making our faces to shine.]

4 Grant thee thy heart’s desire: and fulfil all thy mind.

The desire of that heart,* the well of all pity and all love; the desire of that heart which for us was pierced with the spear; the desire, of which He said, “How am I straitened till it be accomplished?”* Thy heart’s desire. Not the cruel malice of the Jews; not the counsel of the Scribes and Pharisees; but the eternal purpose, purposed before the world began; but the mystery hid from ages and from generations, and only revealed on Calvary. And that not barely;—as if the desire granted, but that all; the wish accomplished, but that the outside. Fulfil ALL Thy mind. O LORD JESU, fulfil Thou all Thy mind in us! Grant that we may stay for nothing, fear nothing, shrink from nothing, be seduced by nothing, be deceived by nothing, till we are both almost and altogether such as Thou art,—especially in the bonds of Thy love!

5 We will rejoice in thy salvation, and triumph in the Name of the LORD our GOD: the LORD perform all thy petitions.

Still the Church sits “under His shadow with great delight,”* And it is well said, “We will rejoice.” She watches by that agonised Form; she sees the eyes filming over, and the Face growing grey, and the Head bowed in death, and for the present it is agony such as the world never knew before, nor can know again; but for all that, we will rejoice: we see the joy ineffable of the ransomed souls,—we behold the exceeding great multitude, which no man can number,—we see the Church a glorious kingdom, and we will rejoice. And triumph in the Name of the Lord our God. That Name which was set up over the Cross: that Name which in the hour of deepest humiliation asserted the title of a King; (Ay.) of uttermost dereliction, claimed the prerogatives of a SAVIOUR (for so is JESUS by interpretation;) of being reckoned among the transgressors, made mention of separation from sinners; of reproach and blasphemy, yet boasted of them that should praise Him (“King of the Jews,” “For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly,” &c.) The Lord perform all Thy petitions. That petition, “FATHER, forgive them!”* that petition, “That where I am, there they may be also;”* that petition, “That they all may be one!”

[Triumph. The A. V. here gives us the true meaning, In, the Name of our God we will set up our banners. What that means we may learn from the old Crusading march:

Lignum Crucis,*

Signum Ducis

Sequitur exercitus;

Quod non cessit,

Sed præcessit

In vi Sancti SPIRITUS.]

6 Now know I, that the LORD helpeth his Anointed, and will hear him from his holy heaven: even with the wholesome strength of his right hand.

It is said of the Resurrection, (Cd.) but said of the Ascension also. The bursting of the bars of death has changed the title that was on the Cross: now it is not only “the SAVIOUR,” but the “Anointed,”—anointed to be a triumphant King, as well as an eternal Priest. Hitherto He has been heard from earth; henceforth He shall be heard from heaven, from His heaven; and because His, therefore ours. Hitherto He has been heard from the mountain, from the sea shore, from the Cross; henceforth He shall be heard from the Right Hand of the FATHER. Now the sufferings and humiliation of that Right Hand have ended in its wholesome strength. “They pierced My hands and My feet”* is now lost in the hymn of triumph: “Thy Right Hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: Thy Right Hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.”*

[CHRIST is called the Right Hand of the FATHER, because the right hand is given as a pledge of peace,* for it is stronger than the left, and he who gives it deprives himself thereby of power to hurt. So when the FATHER gave us the SON, He put away His chastisements from us, nay, for our greater safety, He suffered that Right Hand of His to be nailed to the Cross, so that It could not strike us sinners. When we fear the anger of GOD, let us then seize hold of CHRIST, His Right Hand, and not let Him go. For then, if GOD should strike us, it will be only with the left hand of temporal punishments and deprivations, for in His left hand are riches and honour,* but in His right hand length of days.]

7 Some put their trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the Name of the LORD our GOD.

His Name, (L.) Who entering into Jerusalem, entered not with the pomp of chariot and horse, but “on an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass:” His Name, of Whom it is written, “The horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea.”* “Pharaoh’s chariots are cast into the Red Sea.” “We,” says Origen, “who would rightly fight under the LORD JESUS, must extirpate all vices in ourselves; and seizing the spiritual sword, must hough (compare 2 Sam. 8:4) that evil cavalry of wickedness, and burn all the chariots,—that is, abolish all pride and elation of soul,—so that, no longer trusting in chariots and horses, we may invoke the Name of the LORD our GOD.” Remember the Name: how it was set up over the Head of the dying SON as the title of accusation: how it is exalted to the Right Hand of the FATHER as the title of all glory.

8 They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen, and stand upright.

Brought down, (L.) or bound:1 for what binds and fetters a man more than sin? Take it of the Jews, bound indeed in the fetters of their own unbelief: brought down in that most terrible of all terrible sins: (Ay.) brought down by their dispersion through all the kingdoms of the earth; brought down in being the proverb of reproach, and the offscouring of all men to this day. We, who are “sinners of the Gentiles,”—we, once “without CHRIST, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenant of promise, having no hope,”* are risen: risen from hopelessness, risen from misery, risen to Him Who, being lifted up on the Cross, was to draw all men to Him; and rising by His most dear and precious Passion, by His continual and prevailing intercession stand upright.

9 Save, LORD, and hear us, O King of heaven: when we call upon thee.

The chariots and horses reminded us of the lowly entrance into Jerusalem: (G.) here we call to mind the Hosanna of the exulting crowd that attended it. But we call not on the King of the Jews, (A.) but on the King of Heaven: we fall down, not before Him That was mounted on the ass, but before “Him that rideth upon the Heavens.”* As S. Theodulph’s hymn says:

Thou wast hastening to Thy Passion

When they poured their hymn of praise:*

Thou art reigning in Thy glory,

When our melody we raise.

And therefore:

Glory be to the FATHER, Who hears us in the day of trouble; and to the SON, Whose Name defends us: and to the HOLY GHOST, in Whose salvation we will rejoice.

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

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