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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. Good Friday: They parted My garments among them, and for My vesture did they cast lots.

Parisian. Good Friday: They gaped upon Me with their mouths, as it were a ramping and a roaring lion: the council of the wicked layeth siege against Me.

Mozarabic. My GOD, My GOD, look upon Me: why hast Thou forsaken Me?

1 My GOD, my GOD, look upon me; why hast thou forsaken me: and art so far from my health and from the words of my complaint?

There is a tradition that our LORD, hanging on the Cross, began—as we know from the Gospels—this Psalm: and repeating it and those that follow, gave up His most blessed Spirit when He came to the sixth verse of the 31st Psalm. However that may be, by taking these first words on His lips, He stamped the Psalm as belonging to Himself. We may notice that the words, Look upon Me, though in the Vulgate and in the Septuagint, are not in the Hebrew, and are not quoted by our LORD. Why hast Thou forsaken Me? Here we enter on one of the most difficult questions of Theology, (L.) how far, and in what sense, our LORD was forsaken by the FATHER: and how far, and in what sense, the Human Nature was forsaken by, or separated from, the WORD. The doctors of the Church have laboured to explain what is perhaps incomprehensible by the human understanding. S. Ambrose—and he is followed by the Master of the Sentences—explains these words in a sense which, if taken literally, would lead on to the most dangerous errors: “The Man CHRIST,” says he, “thus exclaims when about to die by the separation of the Divinity.” On the contrary, the whole Church agrees with the explanation of the Coptic Church, towards the end of the Liturgy,* “I believe, I believe, I believe and confess to the last breath of my life, that His Divinity was never separated from His Humanity, not even for one hour, or for the twinkling of an eye.” Others, as Venerable Bede, will have it that our LORD spoke these words to prove Himself true man, and to manifest that, as true man, He had all the natural revulsion of man from death; and that He complains of being forsaken thus far, that the Divinity did not exert itself to prevent the Humanity from dying. Others, again, in a very forced sense, and among these is Theophylact, suppose our LORD to have spoken in the person of the Jews as being Himself one of that nation: forsaken, indeed, by GOD as soon as they were guilty of the murder of the Only-begotten SON. The Master of the Sentences, again, proposes the explanation that our LORD merely spoke in a general way, as being so forsaken by the FATHER as to be delivered up into the hands of His enemies. But S. Jerome, and after him Dionysius the Carthusian, seems to give the truer meaning: that in the time of our LORD’s Passion there was no influx of consolation, either from His FATHER, nor on the part of the WORD, to the Human Nature of CHRIST. For, as he says, CHRIST suffered, the WORD being quiescent; which WORD, however, was not idle, but was present to His suffering Human Nature, so consenting to the Passion, and hypostatically supporting that nature. Scribanius beautifully writes on this verse:* “Who could believe it, unless the LORD Himself said it? Who could believe that the Heavenly FATHER could forsake His SON, and so to speak, forsake Himself in His SON? that this could have been endured by that great love wherewith the FATHER loveth the SON? or that for our sakes the FATHER could have forgotten the SON, His only SON, GOD of GOD? So that He seems to have embraced us with greater love than His SON; us His sworn enemies, than the SON of the same Substance, and the same Divinity with Himself. What can we repay for this love? Nay, rather, the SON willed to be forsaken by the FATHER for our love: both that by this very forsakenness He might merit that the FATHER should never forsake us, and that He might make atonement for all the forsaking by which we, prone to every kind of wickedness, have left the FATHER, and have adhered to His most bitter enemy, the devil; have forsaken GOD our Maker, and enrolled ourselves among the ranks with the foe of our salvation; have forsaken the LORD that would reward us, and joined ourselves to him that would torment us body and soul for ever.” And art so far from My health and from the words of My complaint. Or, as it is in the Vulgate: Far off from My salvation are the words of My sins. Eusebius says very well: “As John said,* ‘Behold the Lamb of GOD, Which taketh away the sins of the world;’* and Paul, ‘He made Him to be sin for us;’* and again, ‘CHRIST hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us.’ Therefore in like manner as,* though He was the fountain of righteousness, He took our sins upon Himself; and though He was the ocean of blessing, He endured the malediction pronounced upon us, and bare the Cross, despising the shame; so likewise for us He speaks here. For if He of His own accord endured the punishment destined to us, (for ‘the chastisement of our peace was upon Him,’* as the Prophet speaks.) much more doth He here speak in our person, and cry out, Far off from My salvation are the words of My sins. Look not, saith He, at the sins of man’s nature, (G.) but give salvation on account of My sufferings.” And Gerhohus speaks with equal beauty: “I, being a Man, owing nothing to death, yet obedient to Thee Who art My GOD, humbled Myself to death, even the death of the Cross. I, twice humbled,—firstly, by being born and living in the flesh; secondly, by dying in the flesh,—say twice, My God, My God, that Thou, in respect of two reasons, mayest look upon Me. Once, that Thou mayest raise Me up in the morning from simple death, that is, of the flesh alone; secondly, that Thou mayest raise up My members from the death of their souls and bodies; first destroying the death of their souls by the death of My Body, then restoring the life of their bodies by My resurrection: so that, as soon as I shall have died on this Cross, and the water and the Blood flowing from My side shall exist as the material whence My Bride shall be formed, immediately the faithful souls, whether in this world or in Hades, may perceive that the door of life is opened to them. And as a proof of this very thing, the soul of the thief that confesses Me shall to-day be with Me in Paradise; and when I shall rise in the body, the First-begotten of the dead, the door of the resurrection of the dead shall be opened; in proof whereof, many bodies of the Saints shall rise with Me.”

One thing more is to be observed. From these words Calvin and other heretics have drawn an argument that there was a moment when our LORD, hanging on the Cross, despaired. Whereas S. Chrysostom very well shows that these words, though words of agony, are also words of hope; and to this, he says, S. Paul might have referred, when he writes that our LORD made prayers and supplication with strong crying and tears to Him That was able to save Him from death,* and was heard in that He feared.

2 O my GOD, I cry in the day-time, but thou hearest not: and in the night-season also I take no rest.

Or, as it is in the Vulgate, And in the night, and not to My folly: that is, Though I seem not to be heard, yet am I not, therefore, unreasonable in making My supplication. Literally, I cry in the day-time, when He uttered those words on the Cross; and in the night-season also He took no rest, in the night of His Agony, in the night of His Betrayal, in the night when He was set before Annas and Caiaphas. But how could the Only-begotten SON cry, and the FATHER not hear? And they answer that the prayer of CHRIST was twofold. The one kind proceeding from deliberate will and foreknowledge, (Ay.) and that was always heard; as He saith Himself, “And I knew that Thou hearest Me always:”* the other proceeding from the affections and sensitive part of His human nature, and that was not always heard, as when He prayed that the chalice might pass from Him. The Master of the Sentences will have it that CHRIST is here speaking in the person of His Church, who is not always heard in the sense of her words,* but is always heard in the sense of her meaning. And not to My folly. S. Augustine explains this by another example from Holy Scripture. “Paul,”* says he, “prayed that the thorn in his flesh might be removed, and was not heard: but it was said to him, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee, that My strength may be perfect in weakness.’ Heard, therefore, he was not, but it was not to his folly, but to his wisdom: that man may understand that GOD is the great Physician, and that tribulation is His medicine to salvation, not His punishment to damnation. Under medical treatment thou art burnt, thou art cut, thou criest out; the physician hears not, so far as thy words are concerned, but he does hear so far as thy health is concerned.” One cannot but wonder at the audacity of Tertullian,* who, after laying down the general truth that CHRIST is always heard by the FATHER, proceeds to demonstrate it by this text amongst others, reading it thus: “I cry in the day-time, and Thou hearest.” S. Thomas Aquinas understands it to mean that CHRIST was heard for the predestinate, for whom He prayed with that deliberate will which is always granted; but not in the same sense for those who are not predestinate, though willing also, with a true and real will to save them, if they would have accepted of His salvation. Bellarmine has hit on a singular method of explanation: “I cry in the day-time of life, that I may escape death, and Thou hearest not, because that cup may not pass from Me: I cry in the night-time of death, namely, that I may rise again, and that prayer is not to My folly, because Thou wilt hear it.” S. Gregory sums up the lesson of the text very well.* “Let no one, when he is not instantly heard, believe that he is neglected by the Divine care. For it often happens that our desires are heard on this very account, because they are not granted at once; and that which we wish to be fulfilled instantly, sometimes prospers the better for its very tardiness. Our cry is often granted by means of its being delayed; and when our petition seems on the surface neglected, it is fulfilled in the deep root of our thought; just as the grain is compressed and hardened by frost, and the longer it is in sprouting above the earth, the larger is the crop which it brings forth. The labour of the battle is protracted, that the crown of the victory may be enriched. The LORD, when He hears not His own at once, while He seems to repel them, attracts them. He cuts off the diseased flesh with the knife of tribulation, and by the very means of being deaf to the cries of the sick man, He is bringing about the end of the sickness. Hence it is that the prophet saith, I cry in the day-time, and Thou hearest not, and in the night-season, and it is not to my folly.”

3 And thou continuest holy: O thou worship of Israel.

The Prophet teaches that whether GOD seems, (Ay.) or seems not, to hear, He is nevertheless always kind. Whether He hears not Saints when they cry to Him, like Paul, He is increasing their sanctity. Whether He hears the petition of the Devil, as in the case of Job, He is adding to Job’s reward. O Thou worship of Israel. For Israel is by interpretation, “He that sees GOD.” That is, the worship of those who see His love, as well in His apparent neglect, as in His manifested care. In the Vulgate it is, (G.) And Thou dwellest in the holy place. That is, chiefly and principally, in that holy temple which the Jews destroyed, but which after three days was to be raised again. And they draw a comparison between the first and the Second Adam. The first Adam, in the Paradise of pleasure, in the cool of the day, being called by GOD, was silent: the Second Adam, on the Tree of Agony, in the heat of the conflict, being forsaken by GOD, was not silent, but praised Him. Eusebius also explains the Thou dwellest in the holy place,* of the indwelling of the HOLY GHOST in the bodies of His servants. Justin Martyr, taking it as I just now did, of our LORD Himself, understands the appellation Israel of the same LORD, as if He said, “O Thou Whom I, beyond all others, worship, because I, beyond all others, know.”

[O Thou worship of Israel. The A. V. is better,* Thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel, or, with modern critics, that art throned amidst Israel’s songs of praise. Rabbi Ezra takes it of the Presence over the Ark of the Covenant. R. Kimchi, far better, as an appeal to Him Who is faithful and true, Whom Israel has so often before praised and blessed for His help in need, to hearken yet again to the same hymns and petitions.]

4 Our fathers hoped in thee: they trusted in thee, and thou didst deliver them.

5 They called upon thee, and were holpen: they put their trust in thee, and were not confounded.

It is the consolation which the Church stores up for the dying beds of her children.* “Deliver, O LORD, the soul of Thy servant, as Thou didst deliver Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees: as Thou didst deliver Enoch and Elijah from the common death of this world: as Thou didst deliver David out of the hand of Goliath; as Thou didst deliver the Three Children from the burning fiery furnace; as Thou didst deliver Susanna from a false accusation; as Thou didst deliver Thecla from the midst of her enemies.” And it may well comfort the death-bed of the servant since—as here—it comforted the death-bed of the Master. Thou didst deliver them, (G.) but Thou wilt not deliver Me: nay rather, Thou didst deliver them because Thou wilt not deliver Me. And if others of them were tortured, not accepting deliverance, it was to this end, that they might obtain a better Resurrection:* namely, Me Myself, Who am the Resurrection and the Life; and Who now thus suffer, (L.) that I may open the way to My own and to their Resurrection. In one sense, it has been most truly observed, this Psalm speaks more clearly of our LORD’s human nature than do the Gospels themselves. In the latter, our LORD never speaks of our Fathers, but of the Fathers, or your Fathers: here, as not being ashamed to call us brethren, and to testify to His true humanity, it is, “Our Fathers.”

6 But as for me, I am a worm, and no man: a very scorn of men, and the outcast of the people.

I am a worm. The metaphor has opened the door to all the luxuriance of mediæval symbolism.

The festal purple of the LORD,*—

It is no garment stately:

A vest, by very slaves abhorred,

The worm hath tinged it lately;

I am a worm,”—of old said He;

And what its toils have tinged, ye see.

Again, they see a type of our LORD in the worms which were generated by the manna. So S. Ambrose: so,* even more boldly, Rupert of Deutz. And so, in another sense,—a sense dwelt on at such length by S. Gregory in his Morals:* The humanity of our LORD was the bait which the spiritual Leviathan, Satan, swallowed, not seeing the hook of His Divinity. And so Hildebert of Tours, in one of his epigrams, says:

Fisher the FATHER is: the world the sea,*

His flesh the bait, the hook His Deity:*

The line His Resurrection. Satan took

The proffered bait, and perished by the hook.

And still in another sense they apply that verse of Habakkuk, “The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the worm out of the timber shall answer it:”* the stone out of the wall, (L.) being the Church; the worm in the timber, CHRIST the LORD: so S. Jerome. Some Commentators have abused this passage, as well as the text in Isaiah, “He hath no form nor comeliness,” to prove that our LORD’s human Body was destitute of all beauty: and accordingly, some mediæval paintings so represent Him. But the almost unanimous voice of the Church declares that the other text, “Thou art fairer than the children of men,”* is to be taken literally: and the earliest representations of our LORD, (showing, at all events, a very strong tradition,) and the letter of Lentulus (let whatever weight be attached to it,) speak to the same point. A very scorn of men. “See,” (D. C.) exclaims Dionysius the Carthusian, “see what was His contempt; see what the LORD of Glory bore, that His confusion, so painful to Himself, should become our glory and celestial beatitude. For was He not the reproach of the people, when the Jews said to Pilate, ‘Write not the King of the Jews, but that He said, I am the King of the Jews?’* Behold, O Christian, and consider in a faithful heart what CHRIST the King of Glory endured for thee! Unceasingly impress this thought on thy soul, as CHRIST Himself exhorts thee in the Canticles, ‘Set Me as a seal upon thine heart.’ ”*

7 All they that see me, laugh me to scorn: they shoot out their lips, and shake their heads, saying,

8 He trusted in GOD, that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, if he will have him.

It is marvellous that, with this Scripture before them, the Jews could use the very same words which the Psalmist had put into their mouths: an infatuation unparalleled, unless it be by those in the present day, who railing, if not against CHRIST, at least against one of the greatest gifts of CHRIST, use the very words of His enemies, rebuked and disproved by Himself, “Who can forgive sins but GOD only?”* But from the fact that the Jews did, in their blindness, thus fulfil this prophecy, the Doctors of the Church gather, (A.) that no prophecy will be intelligible till the fact to which it refers is become matter of history: that the Church will never be able to say, Now, at this moment, such a prediction is being fulfilled. In fact that, in this sense also, the Kingdom of GOD cometh not with observation.”* All they that see Me, for so it has always been, with the reproach of the Cross: so, (G.) from the time of S. Paul till now, the question has been asked: “If I preach Circumcision”*—or whatever for the time being may be the fashionable doctrine of the world—“why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the Cross ceased.”* He trusted in God. He did indeed. “I knew that Thou hearest Me always:” “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My FATHER, and He shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels?”* “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!”* But these new Chaldeans could find no fault against this true Daniel,* unless they found it concerning the law of His GOD. Let Him deliver Him, (D. C.) if He will have Him. And so from that time to this, have persecutors defied the Saints of GOD, or rather, the GOD of Saints: not knowing that a time will come when He will deliver them out of the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of GOD,* will have them in His own country, and His own city, in His own Presence; will have them, as it is written; “My FATHER Which gave them Me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of My FATHER’s Hand:”* will have them so that the prophecy shall be fulfilled, “Then shall the righteous man stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted him, and made no account of his labours.”*

9 But thou art he that took me out of my mother’s womb: thou wast my hope when I hanged yet upon my mother’s breasts.

10 I have been left unto thee ever since I was born: thou art my GOD, even from my mother’s womb.

There is a noble passage in Eusebius,* in which he shows* the connection between our LORD’s Incarnation and His Passion:* that He might well comfort Himself while hanging on the Cross by the remembrance that the very same body then “marred more than any man,* and His Form more than the sons of men,” was that which had been glorified by the FATHER with such singular honour, when the HOLY GHOST came upon Mary, and the power of the Highest overshadowed her: that this Body, therefore, though now so torn and so mangled, as it had once been the wonder, so it would for ever be the joy, of the Angels; and having put on immortality, would be the support of His faithful people to the end of time. So also, though at less length, S. Augustine.* I have been left unto Thee. S. Cyprian beautifully represents S. Mary as offering our LORD,* so to speak, on the Altar of the Manger, (when, as it is written, She brought forth her firstborn Son, and laid Him in the manger,) both to the FATHER and to men: to men, to work their will upon,—to reject, scourge, crown with thorns, and crucify: to the FATHER, to guard, (Ay.) console, and finally to make Him more than Conqueror. And the Doctors of the Church find in these verses an argument both for the hypostatical union of the WORD with the flesh, (A.) and also for the perpetual virginity of S. Mary.* But Thou. The Vulgate has, (L.) Because Thou: which they explain to be our LORD’s taking up, so to speak, the words of the Jews, “He trusted in GOD,” as if He said, “It is so, and it is meet and right that it should be so, because,” &c. With reference to this passage, the Fathers dispute at great length, and more especially Origen, S. Epiphanius, S. Chrysostom, and S. Ambrose, as to the manner of CHRIST’s birth: which, however, cannot he better expressed than in those words of S. Proclus: “Emmanuel opened the gates of nature as man, but burst not the bars of Virginity as GOD. So was He born as He was conceived: without human passion He entered,* without human corruption He came forth.”* Thou art my God: or, as it is in the Vulgate, My Hope: which can only be understood in an inferior and limited sense, and according to our LORD’s Manhood.

11 O go not from me, for trouble is hard at hand: and there is none to help me.

Trouble is hard at hand: that is, the last and secret part of My Passion, (Ay.) My departure out of this world. And there is none to help me. But why? Because for the exceeding great love He had to us,* He refused their help. To Peter it was, “Put up again thy sword into its place.” Of the angels ready to come to His assistance,* He said, “How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” Or, if we put these words into the mouth of the sinner: “I have been left unto Thee ever since I was born,” namely, born again in Baptism, “Thou art My GOD, even from my mother’s womb,”—that spiritual womb of the Church, namely, the Font. O go not from me. “While,” (D. C.) says Dionysius, “thou sayest or hearest this, O sinner, lament in the bitterness of thine heart that thou hast lost thy robe of innocence, that thou hast returned from the laver of Baptism to thy wallowing in the mire; and pray that at last GOD would not go far from thee, though thou hast gone so far from Him; that thy FATHER would bring forth for thee, His prodigal son, the first robe, and put it on thee.” Trouble is hard at hand. While we are beset with such enemies, the world, the flesh, (Ay.) and the devil, there cannot be a moment in which we may not so speak. And if, for a while it seems as though there were none to help, we have but to call to mind Him Who thus speaks here,* and Who says in another place, “I looked, and there was none to help, and I wondered that there was none to uphold; therefore Mine own arm brought salvation unto Me.”

12 Many oxen are come about me: fat bulls of Basan close me in on every side.

13 They gape upon me with their mouths: as it were a ramping and roaring lion.

Here the Champion of the human race, (L.) like one of His own martyrs in after years, is brought out on to the arena of His sufferings. They understand the fat bulls, of Satan and his hosts: the lions, in the next verse, of his ministers, the Jews, and the Roman soldiers, with their exclamations of “Crucify Him! Crucify Him! If thou let this man go, thou art not Cæsar’s friend: to have no king but Cæsar.”*

14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart also in the midst of my body is even like melting wax.

I am poured out like water. For water cleanses, (Ay.) and it is written, “In that day,”—namely, on that first Good Friday,—“there shall be a Fountain opened,”*—as it was on the Cross—“to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.”* I am poured out like water. For water fructifies; and this is that river of which it is written,* that it went out of Eden to water the garden, the whole garden of CHRIST’S Church. And in this sense also we may understand that prophecy, There,” namely upon the Cross, “the glorious LORD will be unto me a place of broad rivers and streams.”* Where He names them twice, rivers and streams, as if to signify their double virtue of cleansing and fructifying. I am poured out like water. So it was in the garden, (A.) when His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. So it was in the Prætorium, when the ploughers ploughed upon His back and made long furrows. So it was on the Cross, when the soldier with a spear pierced His side,* and forthwith came thereout blood and water. Wherefore, as the mediæval hymn says:

Wherefore,* sinner, haste to this Fountain of salvation:

Life thou mayest draw therefrom, and illumination:

Cure thou mayest find for sin,—strength to meet temptation;

Refuge mayest thou gain against Satan’s condemnation.

Or we may take it in another sense,—that of the wise woman of Tekoa: “I am poured out like water:”* that is,* in the thought of my enemies I am utterly destroyed. “For we must needs die, (L.) and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.” “What marvel,” asks S. Bernard,* “that the name of the Bridegroom should be as ointment poured forth, when He Himself, for the greatness of His love, was poured forth like water.” And in responding to that love, they warn us not to be like David, who, when the three mighties brought him the water of the well of Bethlehem, which was by the gate, poured it out upon the ground, (A.) figuring thereby the wickedness of the Jews, who accounted the Blood of the Covenant wherewith they were sprinkled, as an unclean thing: but rather, if we are not privileged to resist “unto blood, striving against sin,”* at all events to say with Jeremiah, “O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people:”* Slain, by their malice, but slain to be our Atonement. And all my bones are out of joint. Besides the literal sense of the tension and dislocation of our LORD’s members, (A.) when hanging on the Cross, they interpret it of the flight and dispersion of the Apostles,* who may truly be called the bones or chief supports of our LORD’s Body, the Church. In the literal meaning, these words have given rise to some of those long and patient disquisitions which have inquired into the component parts of the Cross, and the nature of our LORD’s suffering there. The Eastern Church, as well as some particular Doctors of the West, has always held that, besides the Cross and the nails, our LORD was supported by a smaller transverse bar beneath His Feet; and that in the convulsion of death,* this became slightly displaced, so as to present the form which surmounts all Oriental churches.


My heart also in the midst of My Body. And here, again, (A.) passing by our LORD’s own sufferings, they find a beautiful mystical interpretation. The Body is Holy Scripture: the heart signifies all things in Moses and the Prophets concerning Himself. And as wax, when melting, burns and gives light, so by the LORD’s Passion the obscurities of Holy Scripture were lighted up, and henceforth illuminated the Church. “And if thus,”* says S. Bernard, “the heart of the Bridegroom was melted with the love of the Bride, what ought to be the earnestness of her affection—what the fervour of her gratitude to Him? If such be the cry of His sufferings, speaking better things than that of Abel,* how ought she to cry to Him that she may not be deserted in her own passions,—that she may be so counted worthy to abide with Him on the Cross, that hereafter she may merit to claim the crown.” Is even like melting wax. Justin Martyr understands it of the Bloody Sweat by which our LORD was bedewed as with water: Eusebius, of the water and the blood that followed the Centurion’s spear: while S. Thomas refers more generally to the saying of the wise woman, “We must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.”*

15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaveth to my gums: and thou shalt bring me into the dust of death.

S. Gregory,* after S. Jerome and S. Augustine, understands the verse singularly enough. “As,” says he, “clay, when exposed to the fire, is at first soft and yielding, but by the heat of the furnace becomes hard and imperishable; so our LORD’s human nature, from His birth,—in that He was very man,—subject to corruption, became, by the virtue of His Passion, incorruptible and impassible.” Gerhohus finds a similitude between our LORD in His Passion and Job, (G.) when in the misery of his sickness, he took a potsherd to scrape himself withal. “The furnace,”* says the wise man, “proveth the potter’s vessel; so is the trial of man.” “In the lantern made of this potsherd,”* says S. Gregory, “is it that the Church lights her candle, and cleansing her house, seeks diligently for her lost children.” My tongue cleaveth to My gums: on account of His thirst on the Cross, says S. Athanasius. That tongue might well be silent, cries Didymus, when all the hearers had forsaken their Master and fled. (L.) But let us rather take it of that silence at the Judgment-seat, at which Pilate marvelled greatly; that silence so long ago foretold by the Prophet, when, as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so this Immaculate Lamb opened not His mouth.* And so the follower of CHRIST must, though for a very different reason, imitate his LORD. (D. C.) “My tongue cleaveth to my mouth,” because from the barrenness of my soul and my lack of grace, I have not a single word of consolation or doctrine, by which I may profit others. Wherefore the LORD saith to Ezekiel, “I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shall not be to them a reproval.”* O that He would rather cause me to say with Isaiah, “The LORD GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary!” And Thou shalt bring me into the dust of death. It is surprising how, not content with the plain meaning of our LORD’s words, the same as in that other Psalm, “I am counted as one of them who go down into the pit,”* they introduce so much besides of the circumstances of our LORD’s Passion. (C.) “Not death,” says Cassiodorus, “but the dust of death,—that is, the outward appearance of it, because His soul was not left in hell, neither did His flesh see corruption.” The dust of death: “that is,” says S. Thomas, (L.) “the vilest and most disgraceful death.” The dust of death: “that is,” explains Cajetan, “the multitude of the Jews, the seed of Abraham, made like the dust of the earth, and clamouring for His death.” The dust of death. “He knoweth whereof we are made; He remembereth that we are but dust.” And this dust also He will remember on the third day; will remember the many promises of the Old Testament,—“Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell,”—After three days He will revive us,”* and the like: will remember the many types, Abraham lifting up his eyes on the third day, and seeing the place of his deliverance; Jonah, three days and three nights in the whale’s belly. Shalt bring me into the dust of death, but shalt bring me forth again and exalt me to the Right Hand of the FATHER for ever and ever. (Ay.)

16 For many dogs are come about me: and the council of the wicked layeth siege against me.

Not very long ago, we found these same enemies likened to bees: (Ay.) “they came about me like bees:”* bees that make honey, indeed, but not for themselves. Now, they are compared to dogs,—dogs who keep watch, indeed, but not for themselves. Just as the Jews kept strict watch over the prophecies, that every tittle of them should be fulfilled; when unconscious of what they were doing, they uttered the very words as they surrounded the Cross, which the SPIRIT of GOD so many centuries before had put into their mouths. (G.) For this Hind,—not as yet, according to the title of the Psalm, the morning Hind, but rather the evening Hind, worn out and exhausted by the fatigues of the day, was now surrounded by these dogs. “The hart desireth the water-brooks,”* and so this Hart said, “I thirst.” Long before, He was weary when He sat by the well, and said, “Give Me to drink:” now, He was weary, even to death, but still athirst for that well of water which should spring up to everlasting life. “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and to cast it to the dogs.”* And so our LORD,*—

Verus panis filiorum,

Factus cibus viatorum,

became, as S. Peter Chrysologus well says,* “A stone to them instead of bread: a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence.” The council of the wicked layeth siege against me. Literally so, when in the morning the Chief Priests gathered a council together against JESUS.* But another Council had been gathered before that,—those evil spirits who had in their infernal conclave resolved on His death, not knowing that His death was their own destruction. The wicked: with an emphasis beyond all others; in like manner as we daily pray, Deliver us from the evil.

17 They pierced my hands and my feet, I may tell all my bones: they stand staring and looking upon me.

They pierced: the Latin is, they dug. (G.) And there seems a peculiar propriety in this word when spoken of the true Vine: “I am the True Vine,* and My FATHER is the Husbandman.” That FATHER Who first surrendered the well-beloved SON to death, or else His enemies would have had no power to hurt Him. Of that Body thus tilled, the LORD might well say, “I gave a sweet smell like cinnamon, (C.) and as the fume of frankincense in the tabernacle:* as the vine brought I forth pleasant savour, and my flowers are the fruit of honour and riches.” Of honour, when to the thief dying in misery and shame there budded forth from those branches the promise, “To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.”* Of riches, when to every human soul, wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, that glorious declaration was made once for all, “It is finished.” And why does He only mention His Hands and His Feet, and not His Side? Because, says one, (G.) He suffered to leave us an example of patience. And patience is not exercised in a dead, but only in a living body. My Hands and My Feet. (Ay.) And this double wound was long ago, say the Doctors of the Church, prefigured by Moses when he smote the rock twice. Whence the verses:

Bis silicem virgâ Dux percutit atque Propheta:

Ictio bina ducis sunt duo ligna crucis.

Fons est de petrâ populo datus absque metretâ;

Larga salus homini corpore de Domini.

Or Moses may stand as a type of the FATHER Himself, by Whose permission it was that the SON thus suffered. “And the rivers of the flood,”* that flowed from that double stroke, “make glad the city of GOD,” that city which has its double wall of Jews and Gentiles, For before the Hands, and Feet, (G.) and Side of CHRIST were opened, He was as it were “a sprint shut up, a fountain sealed.”* This was the book sealed with seven seals, which no man nor angel was found worthy to open till thus opened by the spear; this is the Rock, the salutary streams of which still follow the LORD’s people, though divided into seven rivers in the wilderness of this world, the seven graces of the HOLY GHOST. But as it has well been said,* not only did those wicked soldiers pierce the LORD’s Hands and Feet; but at this time His own valiant soldiers do the same thing, when they seek to investigate His actions and His goings forth. Whence one of the most valiant of them, by name Peter, says, “CHRIST also suffered for us, leaving an example that ye should follow His steps.”* They pierce them still, when they endeavour to draw forth the graces which flow thence:* when like Achsah, the daughter of Caleb, they ask for the nether springs and the upper springs: the nether springs of sorrow for sin; the upper springs of tears of longing for the celestial country.* This is to pierce His Heart: when we utter those ejaculations, By Thy Nativity, Good LORD, deliver us: By Thy Fasting and Temptation, by Thine Agony and Bloody Sweat, Good LORD, deliver us.

This clause has given occasion to the commentators to discuss all those questions connected with our LORD’s Crucifixion,* which it has been the comfort and delight of those who investigated His Passion to dwell upon. Thus, that He was indeed nailed, and not merely tied to the Cross, as some heretics have taught. For though it be true that the Jewish custom was to fasten the malefactor with ropes, and not with nails, yet our LORD was tried and condemned after the manner of the Romans and not of the Jews. Catholic painters have usually represented the thieves as tied; but this is also contrary to the fact that, in the invention of the Cross, no difference was to be discovered between the three in this respect. Again: by what law it was that our LORD suffered, when the punishment of blasphemy of which He was accused, was stoning, and not crucifixion. But here again, Pilate proceeded on the incidental charge of sedition: “Whosoever maketh himself a king, speaketh against Cæsar:”* and for this, by the Roman law, the Cross was the punishment.—Another, (L.) and that a more difficult question is: whether our LORD was first nailed to the Cross, while it lay on the ground, and then together with it erected: or whether it were first set up, and our SAVIOUR then fastened to it. The former method has been usually received by the Church: and is more especially defended by S. Jerome and S. Anselm. The latter receives a certain degree of confirmation from the mystical text, “I will go up to the Palm tree:”* is expressly maintained by S. Hilary, by S. Gregory Nazianzen, and S. Bonaventura; and it is clearly proved by Lipsius, that this was the more ordinary Roman use. The point can never be certainly settled: though Gretser’s authority, who is in favour of the common opinion, ought to carry great weight; and as S. Bonaventura observes, it is easier and more convenient for pious meditation to imagine that it was so. I put the revelation of S. Bridget, which represents the Cross as first erected, out of the question: because Catholic doctors are all agreed that, however beautiful and edifying such revelations are, they are not to be adduced in support of, or against, any historical fact: the so-called revelations of different Saints sometimes contradicting each other. Another question is, whether our LORD’s Hands or Feet were first nailed to the Cross: the Roman use was, to begin with the hands. Again, another question which has been much debated, is,—whether three or four nails were employed. The weight of evidence is in favour of three: though more than one learned book has been written in defence of the other opinion. It is a very ancient tradition that the nail which fastened our LORD’s Feet was driven in with thirty-six strokes of the hammer. Though we are not immediately concerned with another question on the words of the text, it may be well to observe, that the title is usually held to have been also nailed on to the Cross, and that the Cross itself was pierced with the holes intended afterwards to receive the nails, before the Crucifixion of the malefactor. We have already observed that the Wound in our LORD’s Side is not here mentioned: nevertheless, let it be remembered, that all but universal tradition represents it as inflicted on the right side. And these are some few of the many considerations which holy men have presented to us from: They pierced My Hands and My Feet.

I may tell all My bones. For, as the First Adam by his fall, (G.) lost the robe of innocence, and thenceforth needed other garments, so the Second Adam vouchsafed to be stripped of His earthly vestments, to the end it might hereafter be said to us, “Bring forth the first robe, and put it on him.”* They counted all My bones, it is in the Vulgate: in which there seems a particular emphasis, as if to signify that not one of all those bones was broken: as set forth so long before by the Paschal Lamb, and foretold in another place by David: “He keepeth all His bones, so that not one of them is broken.”* Origen relates that it was the custom among the Romans to strike the malefactors under the arm-pits,* in order, by the more violent dislocation, of the shoulders, to hasten death: a cruel mercy, which was denied to the greatest criminals:—that Pilate, in compliance with the express request of the Jews, forbad such a procedure in our LORD’s case; Who, in order to show that He had power to lay down His life, as well as to take it again, was notwithstanding pleased that His most blessed soul should depart from the body long before the usual time. The Chaldaic version reads, They beheld and despised Me: and S. Matthew expressly relates that, “Sitting down, they watched Him there:”* watched Him, no doubt, for the purpose of reviling and insulting: but watched Him also, lest, as He had so often miraculously escaped from their power, He might do so once more, even from the Cross. I cannot better conclude this verse, (D. C.) than with the beautiful words of Dionysius the Carthusian. “Thus speaks Jeremiah: ‘O the Hope of Israel, the Saviour thereof in time of trouble, why shouldest Thou be as a stranger in the land, and as a wayfaring man that turneth aside to tarry for a night.’* O how notable and beautiful are these words of blessed Jeremiah! For in them it is most clearly manifested that CHRIST is true GOD and Man. For that He speaks of GOD, Who by His Incarnation came into the world as a poor wayfaring man, that which goes before clearly proves. ‘O the Hope of Israel, the SAVIOUR thereof in time of tribulation!’ As a wayfaring man.* For CHRIST testifieth of Himself, ‘The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head.* And the blessed Apostle, speaking concerning CHRIST, ‘For our sakes,’ says he, ‘He was made poor, that we through His poverty might be rich.’* Let us then, brethren, impress firmly on our hearts the image of JESUS Crucified: let us fix all His Passions indelibly in our minds, so that we may each be able to say with the Apostle: ‘I am crucified with CHRIST; nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but CHRIST liveth in me.’* There is no more efficacious method of conquering all temptations—there is no more compendious way of gaining all virtues—than perpetually to contemplate, affectionately to consider, diligently to wait upon, CHRIST hanging on the Cross. For how can anything carnal delight him who ceaseth not to meditate on the most bitter pains of CHRIST That suffered for him? And how can he fail to love GOD, or to be thankful to CHRIST, who remembers that for his sins’ sake the FATHER spared not His own SON; that for his sake the SON was obedient to the FATHER, even unto death?”

[And as the sufferings of the Head were continued in the sorrows of His mystical Body, they take occasion to remind us how the Apostles, His feet, beautiful upon the mountains, carrying Him into many lands as they preached the gospel of peace, were pierced: Peter,* Andrew, and Philip, like Himself, with the nails of the Cross, Thomas with a spear, and all of them with one pang or another of martyrdom. They numbered all My bones (Vulg.) when they made out lists of Christians in every city of the Empire, that they might drag before the tribunals them who were “members of His flesh and His bones.”*]

18 They part my garments among them: and cast lots upon my vesture.

And what those soldiers did then, the enemies of our LORD do still. Instead of dividing His garments, they divide the Scriptures: as when the Manicheans receive the New Testament and reject the Old; or the Jews receive the Old, and reject the New. Nay, worse than the quaternion who stood by the Cross, and who at least said of the seamless robe, “Let us not rend it:”* heretics and schismatics now tear that undivided garment of CHRIST which is the Church. (G.) And it has been ingeniously observed, that each of the Evangelists speaks of our LORD’s vestment in different terms, and in those precise ones which represent the character of his own Gospel. S. Matthew says, “They put on Him a scarlet robe.”* Scarlet is the colour of love: that love which led our LORD from heaven to earth by the long ladder of generation which S. Matthew gives in his first chapter. S. Mark writes, “They clothed Him with purple.”* Purple is the royal colour: and the regal character of CHRIST is that which this Evangelist principally keeps in view; as the lion, his symbol, is king among the beasts. S. Luke says,* “They arrayed Him in a white robe:” white is the sacerdotal colour; and S. Luke principally sets before us our LORD’s priestly character; whence also he is signified by the ox, the creature appointed for sacrifice. S. John once more speaks of purple:* as he also tells of our LORD’s heavenly kingdom, as the eagle is king among the birds. It is worth while to observe, that this verse shows the minuteness of meaning which the Psalms possess. Did we not see by the fulfilment that each clause has its own separate signification, we should be apt to imagine that the two were merely a poetical parallelism to signify one and the same thing. The story is well known, that when Arius, afterwards the celebrated heresiarch, had been separated from the Church for some fault, and was refused readmission—it then seemed harshly—by Peter, the Patriarch of Alexandria, he assigned as his reason for the severity, that he had beheld our LORD, seated in majesty, but with His garment torn; and on inquiring, “LORD, who hath thus rent Thy robe?” he received for answer, “Arius.” The text is quoted by S. Matthew:* though in some MSS. that verse is omitted. S. Peter Chrysologus well compares this casting of lots with that,* in consequence of which the LORD’s great type, Jonah, was cast into the sea. (Ay.) There is a strange tale regarding the seamless coat, that it afterwards was purchased by Pilate; and that, in process of time, when tried before the Emperor Tiberius for malpractices, he twice appeared in it, and was acquitted: and the third time, appearing without it, was condemned.1 Parez says very prettily,* that this tunic fell to the lot of a Gentile soldier, to show that the faith of CHRIST was henceforth to belong to the Gentile world. S. Bernard says,* that, as Adam lost the four garments of mercy, truth, justice, and peace, so our LORD atoned for that loss by His own loss: but that the seamless vest represented that image of GOD which was not destroyed even by the fall, but still remains implanted in, and impressed on human nature, even unregenerate. The word My,—My garments, My vesture,—was once prominently brought forward in that long and weary theological discussion on the poverty of CHRIST, when, from the disputes among the Franciscans, the question was agitated, whether our LORD had anything that He could call His own. His garments having been thus parted, the question has been discussed, even from the time of Justin Martyr, what robes our LORD wore, after His resurrection. The general opinion is, that they were then created.

19 But be not thou far from me, O LORD: thou art my succour, haste thee to help me.

The force is on the word me: for we now come to speak of the Resurrection. That resurrection which, in all the followers of CHRIST, was to be deferred for so long and uncertain a time; (G.) but in Him was to be brought to pass on the third day. Haste Thee to help Me; and the prayer was indeed accomplished: for the three days and three nights were so shortened, as scarcely to embrace half the time that the words usually signify. Assume, as the tradition of the Church teaches, that our LORD rose about one on the morning of the Sunday, He lay in the grave but thirty-four hours. And notice this: His prayer on the Cross, Haste Thee to help Me, has been His Church’s daily and hourly prayer from then till now. O GOD, make speed to save us: O LORD, make haste to help us.

Surgit Christus e sepulchro,*

Solo Deitatis fulcro

Nixus, dum humanitas

Superat miserias:

Ut nos surgeremus rei,

In humilitate Dei

Nobis est victoria. Alleluia.

20 Deliver my soul from the sword: my darling from the power of the dog.

21 Save me from the lion’s mouth: thou hast heard me also from among the horns of the unicorns.

He prays for the Head and the Body: (L.) the Head,—Himself,—My Soul: the Church, (A.) My darling. And how truly He calls her by that name, unicam meam, My only one, as it is in the Vulgate, let the whole Book of Canticles speak. “There are threescore queens and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my undefiled, is but one.” One: for although,* as S. Cyprian well says, she may be multiplied in her branches, she remains one in her stem: though she may be diversified in her rays, she continues one in her light. And notice how here, as so often, that old argument is repeated: from past mercies to future deliverance: Save me from the lion’s mouth, because Thou hast heard me from among the unicorns. And from the less to the greater danger. It is GOD’s way of leading on His people. First, to run with the footmen:* then to contend with the chariots. Notice also, that the same animals are made the types both of our LORD and of His great adversary. There is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, as well as the lion that walketh about seeking whom he may devour: there is the unicorn, like whom each Christian is to be exalted, as well as the unicorn from whose horn we are to be delivered. Save me from the lion’s mouth. “O my GOD!” exclaims the Eastern Church;* “O WORD of GOD! O my only joy! How can I endure to see Thee given up to those lions of the Jews, to the perverse and crooked nation, to the impure stream, out of a most holy source! How can I endure, O Martyr of martyrs, to behold Thee rent to pieces by their bloodthirsty jaws; Thee, Who didst choose them for Thy peculiar people, set at nought and reviled by them beyond all malefactors!” Others will take the unicorn more especially to mean the Jews;* because its one horn signifies the one law given by Moses, its glory and its pride.

22 I will declare thy Name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee.

I will declare Thy Name: (Ay.) as He did to S. Mary Magdalene in the garden of Joseph, to S. James, and again to S. Peter, we know not where: to S. Luke and S. Cleophas, as they went to Emmaus: to the ten, as they were gathered in the large upper room: and finally, most gloriously of all, to S. Thomas. And notice the force in the brethren. They had denied Him, they had fled from Him, they had disbelieved His resurrection, but they were His brethren still. In the midst of the Church. This is one of the passages that S. Augustine pursues with irresistible force against the Donatists: (A.) according to whom, the words of David ought to have been, “in a corner of the Church:” as if the Bride of the LORD was to be found in a few provinces of Africa alone, instead of having dominion from sea to sea, and from the flood unto the world’s end. Dionysius, according to his custom, applies that which is said of CHRIST to the followers of CHRIST. In the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee. I will not, says he, (D. C.) be ashamed of Thy Name before men, lest Thou shouldest be ashamed of me before Thy FATHER Which is in heaven. Some declare GOD’s Name with their lips, but not in their deeds, because they do not that which they teach, and by the very fact of their thus teaching, they are guilty of mortal sin, because, as far as in them lies, they make void the intention of Holy Scripture, and of its Author, the HOLY GHOST. Others teach by their good life and good reputation only, as monks: and those do well and sufficiently, provided they are not bound to preach with their lips: for if they are, then comes in that saying of Isaiah, “They are dumb dogs, they cannot bark.”* And others teach, both by word and by action: of whom GOD saith to Daniel, “They that turn many to righteousness, shall shine as the stars for ever and ever.” In the midst of the Church. Here we still have the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden,—teaching them now by His Words, as before He taught by His sufferings: the Tree of Life on either side of the river,* the river of death; healing the nations on this side the river by His life-giving Wounds; on the further and immortal side of the stream, by His life-giving words.

23 O praise the LORD, ye that fear him: magnify him, all ye of the seed of Jacob, and fear him, all ye seed of Israel.

He speaks of the Church as a whole, in the first place; of the Church in its two great component parts, in the second. All ye that fear Him, whether Jews or Gentiles; (R.) the seed of Jacob, the Church of the Circumcision; the seed of Israel, the Church of the Gentiles. Or we may take it in a more glorious sense; the seed of Jacob; the Church militant: for Jacob is by interpretation, (Ay.) “a supplanter;” and her children have to supplant the world, the flesh, and the devil. But Israel is by interpretation,* “He that sees GOD:” and thus the happy estate of the Beatific Vision is expressed. Or we may take both Jacob and Israel to set forth our LORD Himself: the one in His suffering, the other in His glorified life. Fear Him. And here, again, the older Commentators are full of denunciation of that servile fear which the laxity of later ages has considered sufficient, when joined with absolution, (Lu.) for the sinner’s justification. “Not,” says Ludolph, “with servile fear, lest they should be punished: but with the chaste fear of sons;—that they may not be forsaken.”

24 For he hath not despised nor abhorred the low estate of the poor: he hath not hid his face from him, but when he called unto him, he heard him.

Not even when He was hanging on the Cross, (G.) so poor that His last earthly possessions—His garments—had been taken from Him; so poor that He was soon about to be beholden to the charity of Joseph of Arimathea for a place of burial. And notice how, though at the beginning of the Psalm He had complained that the poor was forgotten and despised, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? now, He seems to correct Himself, and to confess that that forgetfulness was only in appearance—only for a little moment. (Lu.) And what the LORD here says, is but what is said over and over again by the HOLY GHOST. “The prayer of the humble pierceth the clouds; until it come nigh, he will not be comforted.”* “The poor crieth, and the LORD heareth him.”* “The LORD heareth the poor.”* The low estate, or, as it is in the Vulgate, the prayer; and the same Hebrew word may signify both, and that very rightly; as if we were never so likely to be heard, as when in a low estate. It is a singular sense, in which S. Albertus explains that verse in Tobit, “Turn not away thy face from the poor man, and then the face of the LORD will not be turned from thee,”*—that, if we would be heard by the FATHER, we must keep our eyes steadfastly fixed on That Poor Man, Who hung upon the Cross for our sakes.

25 My praise is of thee in the great congregation: my vows will I perform in the sight of them that fear him.

Where observe that, (B.) though after His resurrection the number of the names together was only a hundred and twenty, yet even already he speaks of the Great Congregation. My praise, and yet it shall be of Thee: hereby marvellously illustrating His own words, “I and the FATHER are one.” My vows. The promise made before the world was, that He would be incarnate for the sake of man: that He would not only take our nature upon Himself, but would die in it; and on the Cross,* in the sight of them that feared Him, that little band amidst the multitude of revilers and blasphemers, those vows were accomplished. (A.) Here they take occasion to argue whether our LORD took upon Himself the three vows of the religious life. About poverty and chastity, there is no question: the only discussion arises on the point, whether He took the vow of obedience.* And S. Thomas teaches that He did not: because the vow of obedience, properly speaking, has for its object a human creature: whereas our LORD neither owed nor could pay obedience to such an one. Others, again, urging that He was subject to His parents, and obedient to the law, affirm that He also took this vow. And notice the plural vows: the full meaning of which we do not reach till the next verse. And to that S. Augustine more especially refers it. “What are his vows? The sacrifice which he offered to GOD. (A.) Do you know what sacrifice? The faithful know what are His vows in the sight of them that fear Him.” Wherein He plainly hints at the Blessed Eucharist, though in such a manner as not to explain it to the catechumens. And Ludolph does not forget to remind us that what He did we must do likewise. (Lu.) “Better,” says the Wise Man, “is it not to vow, than to vow, and not to pay.” But the baptismal vows by which all are bound, must be not only in the sight of them that fear Him, but in the sight of, and notwithstanding, them that fear Him not: as it is written, “Whosoever shall confess Me before men, Him also shall the Son of Man confess before the Angels of GOD.”*

26 The poor shall eat and be satisfied: they that seek after the LORD shall praise him; your heart shall live for ever.

And here we have the final and most glorious way in which these vows were performed: for none ever commented on this verse without referring it to the Holy Eucharist. Where notice, it is not the rich, but the poor, that shall so eat as to be satisfied. “He hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away.” Shall be satisfied, partly and imperfectly here, for there is but one full satisfaction; and that not with our LORD under the form of bread and wine. But,—“When I awake up after Thy likeness, (G.) I shall be satisfied with it.” And therefore it well follows: They that seek after the Lord shall praise Him. They that seek after the LORD here, feeling after Him, as it were, in this Sacrament, shall praise Him: not interruptedly—not brokenly, as here,—but with the full power of their heart, and of their love, where it is written that “His servants shall serve Him.” Your heart. Or, as it is in the Vulgate, (R.) Their heart. He Who is indeed the Heart of His people, dearer to them than life itself, shall indeed live for ever when He has once burst the bars of death. And then, as it is written, (Z.) “Because I live, ye shall live also.” And again: if we take the words in their more natural sense, there is no doubt a reference to the connection between the reception of the Blessed Eucharist and the Resurrection. Hence, the Second Council of Nicæa calls that Sacrament the symbol of the Resurrection: (L.) S. Ignatius,* the remedy of immortality. And Irenæus argues at length, against those who denied the Resurrection, that the body nourished by our LORD’s Flesh and Blood, cannot finally perish. Hence, holy men have discussed at great length the method in which the Holy Eucharist can be said to be the cause of the Resurrection, when it is certain that they who have never received it will equally rise. One pious opinion is, that for them who have received it worthily, it will occasion an additional aureole, as it were, of beauty and happiness to the glorified body. None has written on this subject better than Claude do Saintes.

27 All the ends of the world shall remember themselves, and be turned unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before him.

And why do they remember? Because the LORD turns and looks upon them. (Ay.) They must remember Him before they can remember themselves: it must be His love that draws them to look to Him. Whence it is well said: Not shall turn, but shall be turned unto the Lord. Remember. Because, indeed, they had forgotten Him: how widely they had wandered from Him, (B.) S. Paul sets forth to us in that awful chapter where he tells us that even the Gentiles are without excuse.* It is the same prophecy that we read in Zechariah: “They shall remember Me from afar, and shall be turned unto Me!”* The same exhortation which is given by Jeremiah: “Remember the LORD afar off, and let Jerusalem come into your mind.”* Whence Euthymius very justly argues, that the knowledge of GOD, (Z.) though hidden from, and clouded over, amongst the Gentiles, yet nevertheless exists, even among them: it is a thing which has to be recovered, not to be recreated. “The Gentiles,”* says S. Augustine, “had not so forgotten GOD, as not to be able, by an effort of recollection, to remember Him. In forgetting GOD, they forgat, as it were, their own life, and turned themselves towards death: When they shall remember GOD, it will be a return to the remembrance of life, yea, rather, to life itself.” The same Father pushes the Donatists hard with this text; that it is all the ends of the earth, not Africa alone, that is to belong to GOD.* S. Jerome has a singular mystical interpretation: “The ends of the earth,” says he, “are its highest parts, as the circumference of a wheel may be said to be higher than its centre.” Of these high ones—these proud hearts—it was once written,* “As for the proud, He beholdeth them afar off:” but now, even they, too, shall remember themselves. All the kindreds of the nations: because henceforth there shall be neither Jew nor Greek, neither male nor female, but CHRIST shall be all and in all: because in that eternal marriage supper, the banquet will not be set on for our true Joseph by Himself,* and for His brethren by themselves, and for them that did eat with them by themselves, but the whole family of heaven and earth shall sit down together at the celestial table. Shall remember themselves. S. Albertus ingeniously* connects this with the prophecy in the preceding verse, of the Blessed Eucharist, by reminding us of our LORD’s injunction, “This do in remembrance of Me.” Shall worship before Him. Where? In the true Galilee, where He has appointed His disciples hereafter to meet Him.

JESUS amantibus afferet omnibus alta trophæa:*

JESUS amabitur, atque videbitur in Galilæâ.

The ends of the earth. Once more;* Hugh of S. Victor would refer this to the Blessed Eucharist, because to those who receive it worthily, all earthly things have an end, and heaven is already begun.

28 For the kingdom is the LORD’s: and he is the governor among the people.

Where notice: he saith not, Shall be the LORD’s: though that also:* as it is written: “The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea;” but is,—is at this moment,—is, though Satan may be called the Prince of the Power of the Air: is, though His citizens hate Him and say, We will not have this man to reign over us. And so our LORD Himself says,* “Now is,” not, Now shall be, “the judgment of this world.”* Thou therefore, O Christian, though that banner of the Cross seem for a while overthrown, though that golden sceptre be for a time disregarded, take comfort in this, that, notwithstanding all, the kingdom is the Lord’s; that every suffering He calls thee to endure, is winning it for, and confirming it to, Him: and that, as the kingdom of the earth belongs now to the Head, (D. C.) so shall the kingdom of heaven ere long belong to the members. And He is the Governor among the people. Yes. Although they may say, as once of old, “We have no king but Cæsar,” (G.) it is to David that the LORD sware and will not repent,* “Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne.” Observe further, by the Kingdom, we may understand that of the Jews; by the People, (Ay.) the Church of the Gentiles.

29a (29) All such as be fat upon earth: have eaten and worshipped.

Thus it must be when “the Kingdom is the LORD’s:” that not only His real servants, those who are poor in spirit, (B.) and heirs not of this world, but of heaven, but all such as are fat upon earth also, shall eat of that blessed Sacrament, and shall pay external worship. Before, it was said that “the poor shall eat and be satisfied:” here, (A.) it is said that the rich shall eat, (R.) but not that “they shall be satisfied.” In this sense, (C.) the meaning would be the same with that saying, “Behold, My servants shall eat,* but ye shall be hungry: behold, My servants shall drink,* but ye shall be thirsty.” Others take it to mean, that they who were once poor, shall, by feeding on this Blessed Sacrament, become fat upon earth: that is, have an antepast of heaven, even here. From the former, which is probably the true signification, the Gloss collects that sinners are not to be repelled from the Sacrament, if they choose to present themselves to receive it: though S. Thomas warns us that public sinners do not come under this rule. Notice further the argument to be drawn from this verse for the adoration of the Sacrament: have eaten and worshipped.

29b (30) All they that go down into the dust shall kneel before him: and no man hath quickened his own soul.

Here the Vulgate translation is entirely different. In his Presence shall all fall that descend into the earth, and my soul shall live to Him. Here, they say, is the punishment of those who have worshipped with this external worship: when they stand before His Presence at the Last Day, they shall so fall as to descend into the earth: that is, shall receive the portion of those that are at the left hand. (L.) Contrasted with this, My soul, says David, speaking in the person of GOD’s true servants, liveth (Vulg. shall live) to Him. This meaning, however, is merely elicited by a supposed reading of the LXX. וְנַפְשִׁי לֹו יִחְיֶה for וְנַפְשׁו̇ לֹא חִיָּה. The Prayer Book Version, No man hath quickened his own soul, is without ancient authority of any kind. Of the Bible translation, that None can keep alive his own soul, the same thing may be said. A meaning which may be got out of the Hebrew, And shall revive without strength, agrees sufficiently well with the general idea presented by the Vulgate. These, the “fat upon earth,” who have worshipped with their lips and outward gestures, while their hearts were far from Him, shall revive indeed, because the bad, as well as the good, shall awake at the general resurrection: but it shall be without strength, that is, without the strength and beauty, and glory of eternal life. Or you may take it: Shall awake, not by their own strength, but by the Almighty Power of GOD, and at the voice of the Archangel. [The true sense of this difficult passage seems to be, And he who cannot prolong his own life, i.e. who is at the point of death, shall serve Thee, as well as the rich, who are fat, and the poor, brought by misery into the dust, and thus all classes of men are included.]

30 (31) My seed shall serve him: they shall be counted unto the LORD for a generation.

31 (32) They shall come, and the heavens shall declare his righteousness: unto a people that shall be born, whom the LORD hath made.

Here again, the Vulgate differs widely: My seed shall serve Him: the generation that is to come shall be announced to the Lord. But notwithstanding this false worship, My seed, (Ay.) the children who sprang from My sufferings on the Cross shall serve Him; and as one after another, forsaking his old superstitions, joins himself to the LORD’s people, they shall be announced to the LORD for a generation. It is the same thing that is elsewhere prophesied: “Of Sion it shall be reported that he,”* that is, that this and that man, “was born in her.” And the heavens shall declare His righteousness. Firstly and literally, by the glorious appearance and order of the stars; then, at the end of the world, when the heavens being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, (L.) and the LORD’s promises of coming again shall be made good, and thus His righteousness declared. Or, to take it in the mystical sense: The heavens, that is, as we saw when considering the 19th Psalm, the Apostles, shall declare His righteousness (and notice that it is exactly the same expression that S. Paul uses, “to declare, I say, at this time, His righteousness,”*) to a people that shall be born, that is, to the Church, not yet in existence: but,—and the change of tense is well worthy of observation, which the Lord hath made. Not yet in actual existence, but written in that book of Predestination, of which it is said, “Known unto GOD are all His works, from the beginning of the world.”*

And thus we finish this marvellous Psalm: the clearest prophecy ever delivered: the first open Revelation of the Gospel.

And therefore:

Glory be to the FATHER, to whom all the ends of the world, when they remember themselves, shall turn; and to the SON, Who hath made the people that shall be born; and to the HOLY GHOST, the Governor among the people.

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

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