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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. As for preceding Psalm.

Parisian. From them that rise up against me * defend me, O LORD, for the mighty men are gathered against me.

Monastic. As for preceding Psalm.

Ambrosian. From them that rise up against me * defend me, O LORD.

1 Deliver me from mine enemies, O GOD: defend me from them that rise up against me.

2 O deliver me from the wicked doers: and save me from the bloodthirsty men.

That, (A.) as S. Augustine says, which our LORD suffered, we must also suffer; whether from the temptations of evil spirits, or of evil men,* we have equal need to be delivered. The four petitions with which the Psalm begins, are interpreted of the four different stages to which the servants of Satan are allowed to proceed. Mine enemies: there you have the wish to hurt, even though the power be absent. Them that rise up against me; then, those who by their words or writings, (L.) do what harm they can to the cause of GOD. The wicked doers, made the confessors: and the bloodthirsty men, the martyrs.

3 For lo, they lie waiting for my soul: the mighty men are gathered against me, without any offence or fault of me, O LORD.

Who lie waiting? (Ay.) They explain it differently. Some take it of the night in which the LORD was betrayed; other some, of our LORD’S descent into hell;* others, and probably in a truer way, (D. C.) take the they lie waiting for my soul, of all the reproaches, slanders, troubles, which He bore, Who, for our sake,* not His own, (L.) was the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. There cannot, they say, be a better commentary on this verse, than the declaration of Pilate: “Take ye Him, and judge Him; for I find no fault in Him.”

4 They run and prepare themselves without my fault: arise thou therefore to help me, and behold.

How they ran, how they prepared themselves, (Ay.) those emissaries of Pharisees, Sadducees, and Herodians, may well teach us: especially in that matter of the tribute money, when the two sects meet in opposition with each other, united against Him. If He had said that tribute to Cæsar was lawful, the Pharisees would have cried out against Him: if He had said that it was unlawful, the Herodians would have done the same thing. (D. C.) Arise Thou therefore to help me. In the first and highest sense, it is the prayer of our LORD to the FATHER: but there is a clear sense also, for all those who, treading in His footsteps, are reaching forward to His promises. And behold. Just as when Hezekiah had received the blasphemous letter of Rabshakeh, he “went up into the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD.”*

5 Stand up, O LORD GOD of hosts, thou GOD of Israel, to visit all the heathen: and be not merciful unto them that offend of malicious wickedness.

Stand up. In the first place from the grave; then, in Thine Ascent into the kingdom of heaven, (Ay.) when Thou wilt not leave us orphans; (for Israel, as we have seen, is by interpretation, he that sees GOD;) and also to visit all the heathen. (D. C.) We know not what,—we know not when,—the day of that visitation will be. Take it as you will, either of the day of our own death, or of the Day of Judgment. And then,—then most truly,—will the prophecy be fulfilled; then, will the heathen be,—those that have seldom, or have never been, “visited:” and as regards such, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do rights?”*

Or, as regards the rest; see how David prays, with the whole force of his soul, for those enemies, only excepting them that offend of malicious wickedness. “There is a sin unto death: I do not say that ye shall pray for it.”*1

6 They go to and fro in the evening: they grin like a dog, and run about through the city.

Rather, with the Bible Version, the LXX., and the Vulgate, They return at evening—convertentur ad vesperam. And the commentators all interpret it of the conversion of sinners, and especially of the Jews, at the evening of the world. (Ay.) For the doctors lay down that there are seven ages of the world: the first, from Adam to Noah; the second, from Noah to Abraham; the third, from Abraham to Moses; the fourth, from Moses to David; the fifth, from David till the carrying away to Babylon; the sixth, from the carrying away till CHRIST; the seventh, from CHRIST to the end of the world. So, then, the last age of the world begins from CHRIST, and is therefore called the evening. Up to that time the Gentiles abode in unbelief and idolatry; but at the Advent of CHRIST, and the preaching of the Apostles, they were converted. And though the Jews are not yet obedient to the faith, still the Prophet foretells their late return: (D. C.) “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their GOD, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.”* That was the evening in which CHRIST brought peace to the world. “The dove came in the evening, bearing an olive-leaf.”* In that evening the light of grace was given to the Gentiles, as Zechariah foretold, “at evening time it shall be light.”* Or it may be that last awful evening of the world, when the LORD is coming to judgment, (G.) and those who have refused to seek Him before, must soon behold Him. They will then be moved to repentance, though they did not turn early in the morning to see that “in the beginning was the WORD, the Life and Light of men;”* nor at noon-day to behold the Sun of Righteousness in the mid-heaven of His brightness; that vision which is prepared for those elect who search for Him, asking, “where Thou feedest, where Thou makest Thy flock to rest at noon.”* They grin like a dog. More, they howl, (הָמָה) and that for hunger, as the LXX., λιμώξουσιν, and the Vulgate, famem patientur. What that hunger is, let the Prophet tell us: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD GOD, that I will send a famine in the land; not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.”* Dogs the Jews called the Gentiles, as if being unclean. For even the LORD Himself, when after Him there cried a certain woman of Canaan, saith, (A.) “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” “Truth,” she saith, “LORD,” surely a true thing Thou sayest, a dog I am, “yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”* And immediately the LORD: “O woman, great is thy faith.” Therefore the nations are dogs, and for this reason they are hungry. And will go about the city. (H.) S. Hilary and Euthymius explain this of the Jews, mourning over the desolate ruins of Jerusalem, and seeking to trace the remains of its sacred places. But others more happily take it of the Church, (B.) and of those who go up and down in it, guarding it from visible enemies by preaching the Word, and from invisible ones by prayer, who are indeed “the watchmen that go about the city.”* Even if these dogs be dumb and not preachers, yet they can go about the city with prayers for all, (G.) and especially for the afflicted members of the Church; in teaching whom they are like the dogs which licked the sores of Lazarus, not wounding them afresh with the tooth of calumny, but soothing and healing them with gentle words of consolation, teaching, warning, and prayer.

7 Behold, they speak with their mouth, and swords are in their lips: for who doth hear?

Not merely believing in their heart, nor recording in their writing, but preaching the Word boldly. And swords are in their lips. So Isaiah: “He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword.”* Here is that sword twice whetted, whereof the Apostle saith, (A.) “And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of GOD.”* Wherefore twice whetted? Because smiting out of both Testaments. With this sword were slain those whereof it was said to Peter, “Kill, and eat.”* This is that sharp two-edged sword which goes out of the mouth of the Son of Man, “piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit,”* cutting away carnal sins in the Old Testament, and spiritual ones in the New, and parting the bad from the good. And of it the LORD spake, saying, “I am not come to send peace on earth, but a sword.”* And again: “He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”* And, spoken of the Passion, these words fitly apply to those children of Israel who killed the Paschal Lamb at evening, (G.) with their wicked cry, Crucify Him.” (Z.) For who doth hear—to believe? That is, the preachers shall be wroth with men that are slow to believe. Thou seest a man slow before he is made Christian; (A.) suppose him to be converted, and then he would have all men to be Christians, and wondereth that not yet they are. It hath chanced to him at evening to have been concerted; but because he hath been made hungering like a dog, he hath also on his lips, a sword; he saith, Who doth hear? What is, Who doth hear? “Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the Arm of the LORD revealed?”* The Jews did not believe, and nevertheless, through believing Jews, the Gospel went round about the city; and they said, For who doth hear?

8 But thou, O LORD, shalt have them in derision: and thou shalt laugh all the heathen to scorn.

Not only the unbelievers shall be derided, but those preachers who are discouraged, (G.) and doubt the spread of the Gospel; since far more will hear and believe than they suppose. Thou shalt laugh all the heathen to scorn. Because a most easy thing it will be for all nations to believe in Thee. And the chief reason why the heathen shall be laughed to scorn is, (H.) that while in the folly of worldly wisdom they reproach Him Who was crucified, dead, and buried, not understanding the mystery of His great loving-kindness, they do not believe Him to be the SON of GOD rising again from the dead, and the LORD of Majesty.

9 My strength will I ascribe unto thee: for thou art the GOD of my refuge.

The Hebrew is rather, I will wait on Thee, my strength. But the LXX. and the Vulgate both render it, I will keep my strength to Thee. (L.) And it is expounded of CHRIST, Who would not use His power against His persecutors, but delayed their punishment according to the FATHER’S dispensation. That He could have punished them, yet did not, He showed,* by making the soldiers fall to the ground by a single word, and yet praying on the Cross for His enemies. And He kept His strength, says S. Hilary, (H.) by taking again His life which He laid down, but which no man took from Him, and because His might and refuge were of Him into Whose Hands He commended His Spirit. (Z.) And we may take it primarily of David, who, though entitled to the kingdom on the death of Saul, is content to leave the issue of events in GOD’S hands. It holds, too, observes S. Augustine, of every soul of man. (A.) For those strong men have fallen for this reason; because their strength to Thee they have not kept: that is, they that upon me have risen up and rushed, on themselves have relied. But I my strength to Thee will keep, because, if I withdraw, I fall; if I draw near, stronger I am made. For see, brethren, what there is in a human soul. It hath not of itself light, hath not of itself powers, but all that is fair in a soul is virtue and wisdom; but it neither is wise for itself, nor strong for itself, nor itself is light to itself, nor itself is virtue to itself. There is a certain origin and fountain of virtue, there is a certain root of wisdom, there is a certain region of unchangeable truth: from this the soul withdrawing is made dark, drawing near is made light. “They had an eye unto Him, and were lightened,”* because by withdrawing ye are made dark. Therefore, my strength will I keep to Thee: not from Thee will I withdraw, not on myself will I rely. For where was I, and where am I? Whence hast Thou taken me up? What iniquities of mine hast Thou remitted? Where was I lying? To what have I been raised up? I ought to have remembered these things: because in another Psalm is said, “When my father and my mother forsake me, the LORD taketh me up.”* My strength to Thee will I keep. And we are not left to seek for the cause of this confidence: for Thou art the God of my refuge. My high place, as the Hebrew; (Ay.) my lifter up, as the LXX. and Vulgate. And either truly, for it is spoken in the person of CHRIST, Whom the FATHER took up to the highest place, even the hypostatic union with Godhead. And because He hath so gone up on high, Who is our Head, we, His members, know that we shall follow. So runs the hymn of the Paris Breviary:

Nos membra, quo nostrum caput,

Quo dux præivit, ibimus;*

Si jungat una mens simul,

Nos una junget gloria.

10 GOD showeth me his goodness plenteously: and GOD shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies.

The Bible Version here agrees more nearly with the LXX. and Vulgate, The God of my mercy shall prevent me. And S. Augustine, (A.) arguing against the Pelagians, explains it of prevenient grace, saying, “What good thing have I brought, that Thou shouldest have mercy on me, and shouldest justify me? What in me hast Thou found, save sins alone? Of Thine there is nothing else but the nature which Thou hast created; the other things are mine own evil things, which Thou hast blotted out. I have not first risen up to Thee, but to awake me Thou hast come: for His mercy shall prevent me.* Before that anything of good I shall do, His mercy shall prevent me.” And S. Bernard draws the same, conclusion “My God, he says, His mercy shall prevent me. And again, speaking to the LORD, he says. ‘Let Thy tender mercies speedily prevent us, for we are brought very low.’* Beautifully does the Bride later (if I err not) place these same words not in the same order, but follows herself the order of the Prophet, speaking in this wise: ‘I am my Beloved’s, and my Beloved is mine.’* Why thus? Doubtless that she may prove herself the more full of grace when she attributes all to grace, ascribing alike the first and last parts to it. Otherwise, how could she be full of grace, if she had aught that is not of grace? For grace cannot enter in where merit has already established itself. Therefore the full confession of grace denotes the fulness of grace itself in the soul of the confessor.” And so the greatest of Latin poets, in his own lowly epitaph, acknowledges the sinfulness of man apart from the grace of GOD:

Hærcs peccati, naturâ filius iræ,*

Exiliique reus nascitur omnis homo.

Unde superbit homo, cujus conceptio culpa,

Nasci pœna, labor vita, necesse mori?

And the words, His mercy shall prevent me, (D. C.) are especially applied to the Manhood of CHRIST, united to Godhead from the first instant of its creation, before the very possibility of merit existed. And God shall let me see my desire upon mine enemies. That desire is twofold—mercy and justice. Mercy up to the last possible moment, “FATHER, forgive them, for they know not what they do;”* justice for the finally impenitent, “But those Mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before Me.”* The LXX. and Vulgate are different. The former has, My God will show to me [His mercy] amongst mine enemies. And this may be most fitly taken of the descent into hell, when He came amongst His ghostly enemies in the guise of a captive, but really as a conqueror. And so S. Peter the Venerable:

Mortis portis fractis, fortis

Fortior vim sustulit,*

Et per crucem regem trucem

Infernorum perculit.

Lumen clarum tenebrarum

Sedibus resplenduit.

The Vulgate is: My God will show to me over [or concerning] mine enemies. And if we take the Chaldee Paraphrase as a guide, we shall supply the word vengeance. (D. C.) But it is better to explain it of the Divine foreknowledge of CHRIST, as to the destiny of the Jews, revealed to Him by the FATHER, and treated of in the following verse. But these are not the only variants. The old Roman Psalter reads, Show me good things amongst mine enemies: that is, Help me, while they persecute. Or, with S. Peter Damiani,* take it of the involuntary witness borne to CHRIST by the Jews by the very fact of their unbelief. The Gallican Psalter reads, Show me amongst mine enemies. And it may be taken of His being made a show of by Pilate, when he said, “Behold the Man;”* or of His manifestation in the person of His martyrs, or of His appearing at the Last Day, when His enemies shall look on Him “Whom they pierced.”*

11 Slay them not, lest my people forget it: but scatter them abroad among the people, and put them down, O LORD, our defence.

It is not surprising that almost all the commentators agree in explaining this verse of the dispersion of the Jews, (A.) and their mysterious preservation, distinct from all nations among whom they dwell,* according to the saying of Moses, “And the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth unto the other.”* Slay them not, but drive them forth, to wander, as Cain, with the stain of righteous blood upon their hands. And yet not altogether in vengeance, but in mercy, “for in death no man remembereth Thee,”* that a remnant may be preserved which may return and believe. Lest my people forget it. And so the Apostle: “Because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear; for if GOD spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spared not thee.”* But the LXX. and Vulgate read, Lest they forget Thy law. (A.) And this is to be the especial sign of their separation. This is the mark which the Jews have: they hold fast by the remnant of their law; they are circumcised, they keep the Sabbaths, they sacrifice the Passover, they eat unleavened bread. These are therefore Jews; they have not been slain; they are necessary to believing nations. Why so? In order that He may show to us amongst our enemies His mercy. And there is yet another reason: “It is divinely appointed,”* observes S. Peter Damiani, “by the providential arrangement of our Redeemer, that the remnant of the Jews should be preserved, as it were, to keep the house of the Law; that they should be in a measure our librarians, and carry with them everywhere over the world the books of sacred speech in the same tongue as that in which they were composed, in order that they, who are our enemies, should take from us all doubt, if any doubtful scruple should appear.”* Wherefore it is said by the Psalmist, My God, show me good among mine enemies; slay them not, lest they forget Thy law. And then follows: Scatter them abroad among the people. The LXX. and Vulgate are closer to the Hebrew, and read, Scatter them in Thy might; or, as the Bible Version, by Thy power. Not merely by the power of the Romans, but with punishments dealt by the same mighty Arm which once brought them out of the house of bondage. And so S. Gregory Nazianzen speaks:* “Who of all those skilled in writing lamentations, and who could express suffering itself in speech, could lament their troubles fittingly? What books could contain it? The whole world itself, throughout which they are diversely scattered and dispersed, is the sole monument of their calamity.” But there is another way in which we may take this verse. It is spoken also of the Apostles and their converts. Slay them not by martyrdom till they have preached the Word, teaching all nations; but scatter them in Thy might. And so S. Paul answers the question, For who doth hear? in this wise: “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.”* And put them down, from prosperity and temporal glory, from their kingdom, (D. C.) from their priesthood, and all the honour of the law of their fathers. But let it be as it was to one of themselves, (C.) even Saul of Tarsus: bring them down in humility, that they may arise again in faith. As the hymn runs:

Quam bene, Saule, sterneris,*

Qui melius crigeris,

In te cadit superbia,

Erigitur humilitas.

O Lord, our defence. Because, if they be not put down,—if a rival temple and sacrifice, (G.) an Aaronic priesthood instead of the order of Melchizedek, continue—the wheels of the Gospel chariot will be stayed; (D. C.) therefore, O Lord, My defence, FATHER of My Manhood, put them down, and hinder them from working such a result.

12 For the sin of their mouth, and for the words of their lips, they shall be taken in their pride: and why? their preaching is of cursing and lies.

Here the Hebrew, LXX., and Roman Psalter all have—The sin of their mouth is the word of their lips: that which they spake, saying to Pilate, “If He were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee.”* And again, “Sir, we remember that that Deceiver said, while He was yet alive, After three days I will rise again.”* (A.) The Vulgate reads sermonem. labiorum in the accusative, governed either by the word slay or by put down. Therefore, slay not them, lest they forget Thy law; but there is something in them for Thee to slay, in order that Thou mayest fulfil that which hath been said above, “Be not merciful unto them that offend of malicious wickedness.”* What, therefore, wilt Thou slay? The sins of their mouth, the word of their lips. What in them wilt Thou slay? The “Crucify, crucify”* which they cried out, not them that so cried out. For they willed to blot out, cut off, destroy CHRIST; but Thou, by raising to life CHRIST, Whom they willed to destroy, dost slay the sins of their mouth, the word of their lips. And further:* they shall be taken in their pride. “A man is taken in his pride,” observes the Master of the Sentences, “when, viewing the greatness of his sin, he perceives that he has dealt proudly, and that in vain.” (H.) And S. Hilary takes it therefore of the compunction with which the remnant of the Jews will confess their sin when “there shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.”* So the quasi-Jerome explains it:* they shall be made humble. (D. C.) But it may also be spoken of the judgments upon them in despite of their boasting, “We are Abraham’s children, and were never in bondage to any man,”* and their saying, “Who gave Thee this power?” whereon the LORD foretold,* “The days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side;”* and “If ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.”* And why? their preaching is of cursing and lies. Cursing, when they said, “He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye Him?” and “His blood be upon us.”* Lies, declaring, “Behold a man gluttonous and a wine-bibber;” and “He stirreth up the people;”* and again, “His disciples came by night, and stole Him away.”* The LXX. and Vulgate render the passage differently. They shall be declared of cursing and lying, in the consummation. That is, at the Last Day their blasphemy and falsehood shall be judged. (D. C.) But it may also be taken of the remnant which shall return. They shall have tidings brought to them by preaching, concerning Him Who was made a curse, as it is written, “He that is hanged is accursed of GOD,”* and Who was the subject of their lying. Touching all these things they shall be declared, (R.) that is, taught, that they may learn not to curse the Name of CHRIST, may learn not to speak falsely of Him, that they may be in the consummation—that is, perfected in the number of the good. And with this agrees the reading of Cassiodorus, They shall be torn away from cursing and lying. And so, (H.) turned from impiety, they shall be drawn from their cursing and lying, and this in the consummation, because, when the fulness of the Gentiles enters in, then shall the remnant of Israel be saved.

13 Consume them in thy wrath, consume them, that they may perish: and know that it is GOD that ruleth in Jacob, and unto the ends of the world.

And so it is written in another place, “They shall know that I am the LORD, when I shall scatter them among the nations, and disperse them in the countries.”* And yet again a further reason is given, “I will consume the filthiness out of thee.”* But the LXX. and Vulgate read it differently. In the consummation, in the wrath of consummation, and they shall not be. That is, the final conversion of the Jews will be worked out by GOD’S remedial punishments, in His wrath which maketh perfect; (Ay.) for there is a wrath of consummation wherewith GOD sometimes punishes that He may perfect, and a wrath of consummation which punisheth that it may destroy. Their sins, then, are forgiven them in the wrath of consummation, whoso are willing to be converted. And there follows, And they shall not be: doubtless because, thus perfected in the wrath of consummation, they shall no more be in their pride. For so the Scripture explains not to be, saying, “The wicked are overthrown, and are not.”* It is, however, also spoken of the finally impenitent, and thus sounds a note of warning as well as of hope. (D. C.) For they shall be convicted by CHRIST, their Judge, in the consummation, that is, in the end of the world and the Last Judgment. Touching which consummation CHRIST speaks in the Gospels, “So shall it be in the consummation of the world.”* For then shall they look on Him Whom they pierced. Whence the Psalmist adds more plainly, in the wrath of consummation, that is, in the Divine vengeance and rebuke of the Day of Judgment, they shall be convicted by CHRIST; for He will then say to them, “Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire.”* And they shall not be in the number of the elect, nor in glory, according to that saying, “The wicked will not behold the Majesty of the LORD.”* And know that it is God that ruleth in Jacob. Whereas formerly, not made subject to the righteousness of GOD, but going about to establish their own, they were puffed up against the Gentiles, whom they counted unclean as dogs, and thought that GOD had no care save for the Jews, justified, as they deemed, by the righteousness of the Law; now, purified by the wrath of consummation, and enlightened by grace, they will know that, as all have sinned, Jews and Gentiles, (G.) so all have come short of the glory and grace of GOD. For as He ruleth in Jacob by saving whom He will of the stock of Jacob, so also He ruleth unto the ends of the world, by saving whom He will, not only in all Judea and Samaria, but hearkening unto the voices of all that cry to Him from the ends of the earth, whether Jews or Gentiles, of all whom is formed that one Church, which is that Queen who came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. (Ay.) They did not know at first that He ruleth in Jacob; for when Pilate wrote the title on the Cross, they said, “Write not, The King of the Jews; but that He said, I am King of the Jews;”* and again, “We have no king but Cæsar.”* Nor did they remember His lordship over the ends of the world, according to the words of the Prophet,* “Thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; the GOD of the whole earth shall He be called.”*

14 And in the evening they will return: grin like a dog, and will go about the city.

15 They will run here and there for meat; and grudge if they be not satisfied.

This is the second part of the latter portion of the whole Psalm, wherein, after a first statement touching the conversion of the Jews, here the full conversion of the same Jews is added,* and four things are spoken of: First, their conversion. Next, the affection of the converted, and their longing to convert others, They shall hunger. Thirdly, their anxiety to fulfil their longing, And will go about. Fourth and lastly, their compassion and distress for those whom they shall not be able to convert, and grudge if they be not satisfied. They will hunger to convert souls, accounting themselves as dogs, and not as sheep. So their humility is indicated, that they are not like the proud Pharisee, who counted himself a sheep, and not a dog. Or, as dogs, in the capacity of preachers eager to devour the fleshliness of others, “Come, that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains.”* And hence it was said to Peter, “Kill, and eat.”* And note, that a good preacher is a good dog. First, because with his mouth he barks against tyrants and heretics, who are wolves and robbers; with his teeth he rends sins like flesh; with his tongue he heals the wounds left in the soul by sin, “And the dogs came and licked his sores;”* with the sense of smell he follows his prey, ever pressing on the track. So the preacher follows CHRIST, keeping in His steps, “because CHRIST also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in His steps.”* Such a dog was blessed Job, “My foot hath held His steps.”* He dies for his Master: “For Thy sake also are we killed all the day long.”* He is born blind, and remains so till he have for awhile sucked his mother’s teats; so the preacher, till he have sucked the breasts of his mother, the Church. For the Church has two breasts, which are the two Testaments.

They will run here and there for meat. The LXX. and Vulgate render it, They shall he scattered, that they may eat. S. Hilary takes it to mean the hungering of the Jews after the oblations and sacrifices of the Temple, (H.) and their murmuring against the Divine decrees which deprive them of this food of their souls. But others for the most part explain it of the dispersion of preachers seeking to make converts, and their regret when the harvest is small. Therefore they who have acquired the true learning, (C.) are scattered, to eat, to wit, spiritual food, that the Gentiles may be converted, coming to the Catholic faith, as was said to Peter the Apostle in his vision, “Kill, and eat.”* It is meat they long for, because, as natural eating is to incorporate in one’s self food from without, (Ay.) and to assimilate it, so spiritual eating is to incorporate one’s neighbour by means of love, and to convert him to that true faith which the preacher holds. There follows, they will grudge if they be not satisfied. Teachers are satisfied when they see the people eagerly accept their preaching. On the other hand, (G.) they hunger and grudge if they see their words failing to bear fruit in the minds of unbelievers.1 So their grudge or murmur (as the Vulgate has it) is thus taken in a good sense, and means that they shall grieve, and show that grief by reproaching men, by imploring GOD, and by ascribing their unsuccess to their own sins.

16 As for me, I will sing of thy power, and will praise thy mercy betimes in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.

The words mystically apply to CHRIST giving thanks to the FATHER for the conversion of the Jews and Gentiles. (L.) For the justification of the unrighteous is a work of vast power and mercy, exceeding the quickening of a dead body, or the creation of heaven and earth out of nothing. (D. C.) Dionysius will have it that CHRIST the SON here speaks of His Resurrection through the power of the FATHER, and because it was given Him to announce the tidings with joy and gladness on the first day of the week, when “joy cometh in the morning.”* And others prefer to attribute the words to each elect soul, when it comes to that morning which knows no evening of its blessedness,* or of the glory of the Resurrection. And so speaks S. Augustine of the unending sabbath of heavenly rest. “The seventh day is without evening, and hath no sunset, because Thou hast hallowed it for everlasting continuance.” And of this meaning the Cluniac sings:

Spe modo nitimur; ubere paseimur hic,* ibi pane;

Nox mala plurima dat, dabit intima gaudia Mane.

In the morning, when temptations have been overcome; in the morning, when the night of this world shall have passed away; in the morning, when no longer the lyings in wait of robbers and of the devil and of his angels we dread; (A.) in the morning, when no more by the lamp of prophecy we walk, but Himself, the WORD of GOD, as it were a sun, we contemplate. With reason in another Psalm is said, “Early in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.”* With reason also of the LORD Himself the Resurrection was at dawn, that there should be fulfilled that which hath been said in another Psalm, “Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”* For Thou hast been my defence (Vulg. lifter up) and refuge in the day of my trouble. (D. C.) It is spoken of CHRIST in the mystery of His Passion, for then He took refuge with His FATHER, praying and saying, “FATHER, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me.”* And also, when dying, He cried, “FATHER, into Thy Hands I commend My Spirit.* And this befitted CHRIST, in so far as He was subject to passions, and in some wise a pilgrim. It also explains why humanity rejoices in CHRIST the LORD, (C.) because He has been its lifter up. For He Himself is lifted up when the whole Church is saved, according to that saying, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.”* He adds: And My refuge in the day of My trouble. O how pleasant is that refuge, when granted in the time of trouble! For all flesh is under suspicion until it hear, “Come, ye blessed of My FATHER.”* But when we arrive at that most longed for speech, our refuge becomes eternal: a refuge from the devil and his angels, from the whirlwind of Divine wrath, from everlasting burning, as it is written, “Thou hast been a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.”*

17 Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for thou, O GOD, art my refuge, and my merciful GOD.

Here he gives thanks by works; (Ay.) for to sing is to praise by works. And observe that good men sing to GOD both in this life and in glory, because they have good works both here and there. My strength, or as the LXX. and Vulgate read, my helper. “What was I,” exclaims S. Augustine, (A.) “unless Thou didst succour? How much despaired of was I, unless Thou didst heal? Where was I lying, unless Thou didst come to me? Later with a huge wound I was endangered, but that wound did call for an Almighty Physician.” For Thou, O God, art my refuge. The Bible Version has it, my defence, coming nearer to the LXX. and Vulgate, my lifter up. (Lu.) Lifting up, first to grace, and then to glory. And that because Thou art my merciful God. For by Thy goodness I was created, (D. C.) by Thine Incarnation I was deified, by Thy conversation I was hallowed, by Thy Passion redeemed, by Thine Ascension glorified. And all this is of Thy mercy,* “for the gift of GOD is eternal life;” and, moreover, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us.”* S. Gregory the Great, commenting on the words of the Psalmist, observes, “Let us recall before our eyes the evils which we have done,* and ponder how great is that goodness of GOD by which we are tolerated. Let us mark what are the bowels of His loving-kindness, that He does not merely pardon our faults,* but promises the kingdom of heaven to penitents even after their faults; and let us say, from all the marrow of our hearts, My merciful God.”


Glory be to the FATHER, strong and merciful, Whose power and mercy I will sing; glory be to the SON, Who is the Power of the FATHER, Which I will sing; glory be to the HOLY GHOST, Who is the Mercy of the FATHER and the SON, which I set before me as the subject of my song.

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

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