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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.

Monastic.

              And all * his weakness. [Christmas Day: Of the fruit * of thy body shall I set upon thy seat. Com. Conf. Bp.: Servant good * and faithful, enter thou into the joy of thy LORD.]

 

Ambrosian. First verse. [Easter Eve: Arise, O LORD * into Thy resting-place, Thou, and the ark of Thy strength.]

Parisian. First portion: Arise, O LORD, into Thy resting-place, and let Thy saints rejoice. Second portion: Sion shall he My rest for ever, her saints shall rejoice and sing.

Lyons. The LORD hath chosen Sion, He hath chosen her for an habitation for Himself.

Mozarabic. First portion: First verse. Second portion: (vv. 11–17) I have ordained an habitation for Mine household.

There is no very distinct indication in this Psalm of its date and occasion. The Rabbinical view, accepted by S. Jerome, is that it is by David himself,* composed either at the bringing up of the Ark, or after the cessation of the pestilence, and the purchase of the threshing-floor of Araunah as a site for the future temple. But this seems excluded by the manner in which David is apparently referred to,* as dead already. Another, somewhat more probable, ascribes it to Solomon, or a Psalmist of his reign, at the dedication of the Temple; a theory to some extent supported by the citation of some verses (the first, eighth, ninth, and tenth) in the account of that ceremony as given in the Chronicles,* which establishes at least that the compiler of that part of the historical books believed the Psalm to have been used on that occasion, if not actually written for it. Another theory is that the Psalm belongs to a somewhat later day,* perhaps to the great Passover of Hezekiah or Josiah, when there was a special fitness in putting the claims of the House of David prominently forward.* The Greek Fathers bring the composition down still later,* and take the Psalm as a prayer of the captives in Babylon for the restoration of the Kingdom and religion of Judah; and modern critics have generally agreed that it is a Post-Captivity Psalm,* referring either to Zerubbabel or to some later prince of the Davidic race, and to the revival of the Temple-worship. The objection to this last view is that there is not any note of contrast between the past and present state of the royal house, such as occurs in Ps. 89, and that the whole Psalm breathes a spirit of confident thankfulness which agrees very well, no doubt, with the religious side of the return from exile, but does not harmonize with its civil aspect, in which the influence of the royal house flickers but for a moment in the person of Zerubbabel (himself no more than a satrap of the Persian king) and then dies down practically till long after the fall of the Second Temple. The choice seems thus restricted to either the second or third view; while the insertion of the Psalm in the Pilgrim-ritual proves that the Post-Captivity Rabbins applied it in the sense of the last hypothesis,* as a song of thanksgiving for the restoration of the Temple.

1 LORD, remember David: and all his trouble;

2 How he sware unto the LORD: and vowed a vow unto the Almighty GOD of Jacob.

If the Jew could rightly appeal to GOD to show mercy to his Church and nation for the sake of that shepherd youth whom He had advanced to the Kingdom,* much more shall we justly plead our cause in the Name of David’s Son (called David four times in the Prophets), (C.) and of all His trouble,* all the sorrows of His birth and infancy,* His ministry, and Passion and death, which He bore as a consequence of His self-dedication to His FATHER’S will, when His Priesthood,* foreordained from all eternity, was confirmed with an oath (“for those [Levitical] priests were made without [swearing] an oath,* but this with an oath by Him that said unto Him, The LORD sware and will not repent, Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”*)

For trouble (A. V. and S. Jerome, affliction) the LXX. (A.) and Vulgate have meekness,1 and the commentators refer it to David’s conduct towards Saul, and others of his enemies, but Cassiodorus observes that the one matter of Uriah is enough to tell us that in that case we must refer the Psalm to another and greater David than the son of Jesse; (H.) the One Who said of Himself, “I am meek and lowly of heart,”* and to Whom the Evangelist applies the prophecy of Isaiah, “Behold My servant, whom I have chosen, My beloved, in whom My soul is well pleased; He shall not strive nor cry; neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment to victory.”*

3 I will not come within the tabernacle of mine house: nor climb up into my bed;

4 I will not suffer mine eyes to sleep, nor mine eye-lids to slumber: neither the temples of mine head to take any rest;

5 Until I find out a place for the temple of the LORD: an habitation for the mighty GOD of Jacob.

The Jewish literalists here contend, on the one part,* that this vow was exactly carried out to the letter; while others understand it as meaning only that the King abstained from entering the state apartments of his cedar palace, contenting himself with a more modest lodging; and that further, he denied himself the usual noonday siesta, in order to give more time to the plans for the Temple. But the idea implied seems no more than the incessant care and anxiety the proposed construction caused him, so that he could not rest day or night till it was in process of accomplishment, feeling a voice saying to him, as Haggai did to the Jews of a later day, “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste?”* so that he in turn spake to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in an house of cedar, but the Ark of GOD dwelleth within curtains.”* But the early Christian commentators take the words first in the strongest literal sense, to show that the endurance promised is more than human nature could possibly perform, and then show us their true accomplishment in the Incarnation. (H.) The LORD JESUS, humbling Himself, and taking upon Him the form of a servant, coming down to earth, and abiding here, came no more within those heavens which He has spread out like the curtains of a tent;* climbed not up by Ascension to His place of rest in the bosom of the FATHER, (C.) continued long nights waking in prayer, laid Himself not down in the sleep of death, gave no rest to His temples against the rugged pillow of the Cross, till He had made a temple for the Spirit of GOD in the hearts and bodies of men, His Apostles and other disciples;* till He had founded the Church Militant here on earth; fit habitation for Him Who is the GOD of all that wrestle in prayer against their sins. And so it was prophesied of Him, “Behold the Man whose name is The Branch, and He shall grow out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the LORD.”*

They tell us, too, how all this part of the Psalm belongs to CHRIST’S members, and to every soul of the righteous, as well as to their Head. They too, in prayer and Eucharist, make their requests known to GOD through the merits of their Shepherd King,* through the memorial of His affliction, shown forth daily till He come.* They too swear unto the LORD and vow themselves to Him, in Baptism, in Confirmation, in Eucharist, to give themselves no rest in this world till they raise each of them a place in their own hearts for Him to dwell in, till they can bring others to submit to His sway. And the first step towards this is self-renunciation, I will not come within the tabernacle of mine house; whereas it is written of those who are selfishly intent on their private interests, “Mine house is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.”* Next follows the subjugation of the flesh, I will not climb up into my bed. “And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab,* and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.”* I will give up thoughts of mere worldly things, (A.) for I will not suffer mine eyes to sleep, nor dream of blessings which do not last,* but vanish away, as it is written of those worldlings who make war against the Church of GOD: “And the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel, even all that fight against her and her munition, and that distress her, shall be as a dream of a night vision. It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite: so shall the multitude of all the nations be, that fight against mount Zion.”* I will be steadfast and constant,* I will not suffer mine eyelids to slumber, by being wakeful and zealous only for a time, and then relapsing into languor and indifference. Neither the temples of my head to take any rest,1 for I will not be slothful, but will watch and pray,* and that until I find, not until I make, a place for the temple of the Lord, that is, a permanent abode in contemplation, and a tabernacle for the God of Jacob, a moving tent of active warfare on GOD’S side in the battle of life.

6 Lo, we heard of the same at Ephrata: and found it in the wood.

That is,* we heard tidings at Ephrata (which is Bethlehem) that the Ark was very near us, hidden in the wood, in the “forest-town” of Kirjath-jearim,* the city of the descendants of Ephratah, wife of Caleb. It is said found,* for it is clear that the very existence of the Ark was well nigh forgotten by the generation that grew up after its capture and restoration by the Philistines,* “For we inquired not at it in the days of Saul.”* But only the commentators of a later age pause any time on this primary literalism. (H.) The earlier ones, hasting to seek for CHRIST, pass at once to the glorious fulfilment of Micah’s prophecy: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”* The Jews heard of Him, the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD, in Ephratah, what time the Angel brought the glad tidings to the shepherds abiding in the field;* and when the chief priests and scribes of the people answered the question of Herod as to Messiah’s birth-place;* but if they would fain find Him now, they must seek Him in the wood, shrined in the midst of those Gentile nations once wild and uncultured, given over to idolatry, and devastated by Satan, the “wild boar out of the wood,”* but now, more than ever Jewry was, the vineyard of the LORD of Hosts, for while the Jew

threw a pearl away,*

Richer than all his tribe,”

we have sought for and found that pearl of great price, and given ourselves, our souls, and bodies, to possess it: crying, with the Holy Eastern Church at Christmas-tide:

Bethlehem hath opened Eden,*

Come! let us behold:

Sweetness we have found, once hidden,

Pearl of price untold,

Gifts of Paradise, all precious,

Stored within the cave, refresh us.

It is not enough to find, (A.) for that which is found is GOD, and claims our homage, wherefore it follows:

7 We will go into his tabernacle: and fall low on our knees before his footstool.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the LORD hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.”* We will go into His tabernacle, (A.) because we love Him, and by entering in, we are ourselves made part of that tabernacle, grafted into His Body, made members thereof, built as living stones into that temple, and become ourselves thereby the dwelling of GOD. We enter too, at our Baptism, into that tabernacle of His, the warrior-tent of the Church Militant; and that in order to worship on our knees at His footstool, (C.) the Human Nature in and on which His Godhead is throned, for it is to no purpose to call ourselves members of the Church, and yet refuse supreme adoration to the SON of GOD, or continue to hold communion in religious things with those who deny Him the honour and worship which are His due. (D. C.) For footstool the LXX. and Vulgate paraphrase the place where His feet have stood; and these words (which literally refer to the mercy-seat over the Ark) are explained of compliance with the precepts laid down by the Apostles, (B.) who are as it were the feet which bore CHRIST into many lands, as it is written, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace!”* But in this case the Christian Church has, contrary to her wont in dealing with the Psalter, delighted to take the Greek and Latin rendering of the verse in its most literal sense, and to go on pilgrimage to the scenes of the life and death of JESUS,* and especially to the spot where His feet rested last on earth at Bethany ere He ascended into heaven.

8 Arise, O LORD, into thy resting-place: thou, and the ark of thy strength.

These words, used in the first instance,* so far as we know, at the ceremony of bringing up the Ark into the Holy of holies of Solomon’s temple, as a prayer that GOD’S actual abiding Presence might accompany that which was its symbol, have a nobler application under the New Covenant; being an address to the LORD, as He lies sleeping in the grave, to arise, and then to ascend into His resting-place, where death hath no more dominion over Him; (A.) that the Ark of His strength (or as LXX. and Vulgate prefer to take the word, His sanctification), His Church, containing, like the Ark of Noah, (C.) His elect saved from the flood of sin, His precepts, His Kingdom and priesthood, and Sacraments, (as the Ark of the Covenant had the Tables of the Law, (R.) the rod of Aaron, and the vase of manna,) may arise and ascend with Him; for no members of the Body would dare to hope for the resurrection of the flesh, had not the Head risen first; but now, “if we believe that JESUS died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in JESUS will GOD bring with Him.”* And there is another sense in which they delight to take these words; explaining them of the falling asleep here on earth of that most pure and hallowed shrine of the LORD, His own dear Mother, that she might wake in heaven. “Today,”* exclaims the last great Doctor of the Eastern Church, preaching on that festival with which East and West alike commemorate the event,* “that sacred and animate Ark of the Living GOD, which conceived her Creator in her womb, resteth in the temple of the LORD built without hands, and David her ancestor rejoices, and together with him Angels lead the choir, Archangels celebrate the feast, Powers applaud, Principalities rejoice, Dominations are glad, Thrones keep festival, Cherubim praise, Seraphim proclaim her glory, Eden receives to-day the living Paradise of the new Adam, wherein condemnation was loosed, wherein the Tree of Life was planted, wherein our nakedness was covered.”

They laid her down, all womanhood’s crown, with holy Mass and prayer,

And they carved the sign of the Cross divine above her with loving care,

They deemed she would lie till the trumpet-cry shall waken the dead from gloom:

But He who in fight hath quelled Death’s might, hath opened His Mother’s tomb.

From the dwelling of Obed-Edom,

Midst those who serve below,1

Unto David’s City of freedom,

The Ark of GOD must go:

Must go with shouting and gladness,

With the King Himself before,

Till it pass from the land of sadness

Through the open heavenly door.

The Heavens are ringing

With musical tones

Of Archangels singing,

Of Virtues and Thrones:

More intense grows the hymn

Of the rapt Seraphim,

For she on whose bosom their Monarch lay

Is welcomed home by her Son to-day.

9 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness: and let thy saints sing with joyfulness.

This verse is one of those most frequently recited by the Church.* Divided into a Versicle and Response, it forms part of the Ferial Preces of Lauds, and formerly of Vespers too, in the Breviary, whence it has been transferred to the Matins and Evensong of the Book of Common Prayer; and it appears also in various other forms, such as the Præparatio ad Missam, (A.) &c. S. Augustine takes the two members of the verse to mean the same thing, the whole royal priesthood of Christians,* who daily sacrifice themselves to GOD, robed in the white ephod of holiness, that is clothed with faith; the whole company of the elect, enriched with gifts of the HOLY GHOST, and “rejoicing in hope”* of the Resurrection. But the more usual explanation follows the literal meaning, whereby the sons of Aaron and the subordinate Levites are severally denoted;* and distinguishes the persons named as the prelates and clergy of the Church on the one hand, and the faithful laity on the other.* And they enter into much detail on the symbolical meaning of the official dress of the Jewish priesthood, in order to show that each part of it denoted some grace or virtue which ought to be found in the service of GOD, so that the very raiment itself cried to them, “Be ye clean, ye that bear the vessels of the LORD.”* The Psalmist does not say, Let the priests clothe themselves with righteousness, for this dress of honour must be the King’s gift, and put on them with the King’s own hands, as we read of Joshua the High Priest: “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him.* And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments.” And if this was needful under the Law, (D. C.) much more does holiness of life befit those who handle those sacred mysteries of which the Mosaic oblations were but the type and shadow.* If the guest who came unto the King’s marriage feast without a wedding garment was cast out and punished,* much more will a priest be judged, seeing that he is not a mere guest, but the Bridegroom’s friend and groomsman, if he enter with soiled and worldly vesture into the sanctuary.* For as S. Augustine reminds us, the Sacrament of Orders alone, without righteousness, does not make a true Priest, since he who is merely ordained, and not holy in life, is a priest after the fashion of Caiaphas, who persecuted the one true High Priest. (L.) And thus they remind us how Christian priests, like the Jewish ones, are taught their duty by their official garb, intended to bring their Master to their mind. So the verses run:

Tu quicunque voles Missam celebrare Sacerdos,

Sis memor, et totâ devotus mente revolvas,

Qualia sit CHRISTUS pro te certamina passus.

Velatum capite, et derisum signet Amictus:

Linea vestis item quod sit despectus in Alba:

Vincula significant fera tortaque Zona, Maniplus:

Est Stola imago crucis, quam humeris gestat IESUS.

Cernis Amictu, atque inde quater tu cernis in Alba,

Signa terebrati Capitis, manuumque, pedumque:

Purpureæ, spectans Casulam, vestis memor esto,

Ut rubro fuerit perfusus Sanguine CHRISTUS.

Cumque Sacerdotem ad aram cernis properantem

Tunc volvas animo memori, ut conscenderit ultro

Calvariæ montem moriturus de Cruce pro te.

Priest, whensoe’er thou celebratest Mass,

Remember, and devoutly bear in mind,

What conflicts for thy sake CHRIST hath endured.

The Amice marks Him blindfolded and mocked,

The linen vest Him in white robe despised,

The Zone and Maniple are His cruel bonds,

The Stole the image of the Cross He bore.

The marks of wounded Head, pierced hands and feet,

See in the Amice, four times in the Alb;

Chasuble brings to mind the purple robe,

How CHRIST was covered with His ruddy gore.

And as the Priest unto the altar hastes,

Think in a grateful mind how CHRIST went up

To Calvary’s mount, to die on Cross for thee.

10 For thy servant David’s sake: turn not away the presence of thine Anointed.

That is,* in the literal sense, reject not the worship offered to Thee by king or priest, nor refuse the petition which either of them makes to Thee.* The Rabbinical expositors take the words as a prayer on behalf of Solomon, and add a curious legend that when Solomon had reached the thirteenth step of the stairs leading up to the Temple, the great gates closed in his face of their own accord, and could not be opened till he had recited these words, when they flew open again as suddenly and mysteriously as they had closed. The most usual Christian exposition is that of S. Augustine, (A.) that the words are to be taken by us as a prayer of the Church to GOD the FATHER, that for CHRIST’S sake, He will not utterly abandon the Jewish nation, away from which the SAVIOUR has turned His Face towards the Gentiles; and they add that the prayer was heard in that the Apostles and others of the most famous Saints and Doctors of the Church in her earliest days were of the Hebrew race; (C.) and that it will yet be heard even more fully. (H.) Others, however, take it as a prayer of the Church for her own members,* her priests and saints,* that the light of CHRIST’S countenance and grace may never be turned away from them,* that, as this was originally a petition for His first Advent, lest it should be delayed, so we may plead it for the hastening of His kingdom now.

11a (11) The LORD hath made a faithful oath unto David: and he shall not shrink from it;

11b (12) Of the fruit of thy body: shall I set upon thy seat.

Here is the answer to the prayer in the preceding verse:* There is no likelihood that GOD will turn away the face of His Anointed, because He has pledged Himself to the contrary by the most solemn promise, when He declared to David by the mouth of Nathan that the establishment of the kingdom in the person of David’s offspring should be perpetual,* and without any condition of forfeiture whatsoever, a prophecy which has obviously failed if the literal sense be followed. (H.) But we have an inspired gloss on the passage,* from the Prince of the Apostles himself, in his great Pentecostal address to the Jewish nation, where he saith of David: “Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that GOD had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up CHRIST to sit on his throne: he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of CHRIST, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption.”* And whereas the expression “fruit of the loins,”* denoting the father’s relationship, is used by S. Peter, some of the commentators observe that the literal Hebrew in the Psalm here,* as exactly rendered by LXX. and Vulgate, (A.) is fruit of the womb, which in strictness applies only to the mother (although used of both parents, according to the suffix, in Hebrew,) and therefore shadows out the Virgin-birth of CHRIST, (C.) born of no human father. Cassiodorus, followed by several others, taking David to mean CHRIST throughout,* explains fruit of the body here to mean the true disciples of the LORD, sprung as it were from Him by spiritual generation, and understands the promise in the sense of that saying in the Apocalypse: “To him that over-cometh, will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My FATHER in His throne.”*

12 (13) If thy children will keep my covenant, and my testimonies that I shall learn them: their children also shall sit upon thy seat for evermore.

Here, (C.) whatever question may be raised as to the spiritual meaning of the previous verse, (A.) there is no doubt that the Apostles and their successors in the Faith are designated. The condition is annexed to the promise, lest we should boast ourselves in that, and omit our part of the compact. No degenerate person retains the right to call himself a son of David, and the LORD Himself hath said plainly: “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.”* My covenant refers to the moral law of the Old Testament,* My testimonies that I shall learn them,* to the further precepts delivered in the New. And it is said I, for there were other testimonies added to the Law by the Pharisees, (G.) mere traditions of men, keeping which was of no avail in GOD’S sight, since He did not give nor teach them Himself, whereas the WORD of GOD was the Teacher of the Gospel. And to those who did keep His covenant and testimonies, so taught, He said, “Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations, and I appoint unto you a kingdom, as MY FATHER hath appointed unto Me: that ye may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”* And the pledge extends not only to those first disciples, (R.) but to all who imitate their faith and works to the end of time, each of them being crowned as king by divine right to rule over his passions and affections, and bring them into subjection to CHRIST. There is a farther interpretation of the words as applying to any faithful soul. That which we do not possess ourselves, but which we look for as the future inheritance of our children, is matter of hope; (A.) and therefore, S. Augustine tells us, Hope is the child, the son of our faith, and the children of that son are holy works done for the love of GOD, in sure expectation of reward, and works of this kind shall abide for ever.

14 For the LORD hath chosen Sion to he a habitation for himself: he hath longed for her.

15 This shall be my rest for ever: here will I dwell, for I have a delight therein.

It is the establishment of the Church Militant, (G.) that great military order of which CHRIST is Founder and Sovereign. It is well said chosen, for He spake to His Apostles: “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.”* It is to be a habitation for Himself, for He hath said also, “Where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them;”* and again: “If a man love Me, he will keep My words; and My FATHER will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”* He hath longed for her, (or with A. V., desired her,) as it is written of that special bond of union He established with His people, “With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer;”* it shall be His rest for ever, (A.) for He hath said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”* And in that it is added, I have a delight therein, we are taught the tender love of GOD for us, that He desires more to dwell in our hearts, than we to open them to such a Guest. And when it is said that GOD rests in us, the meaning is that we shall rest perfectly in Him, when the pilgrim Church reaches the end of her toilsome journey, and is united to the Church triumphant in heaven.

15 (16) I will bless her victuals with increase: and will satisfy her poor with bread.

Here is the promise of abundant grace to be stored up in the City of GOD. (H.) Her victuals, all her provisions (ἐπισιτισμόν, Aquila,) all the produce of her chase (θήραν, LXX.,) all the converts of her fisher Apostles, shall be more abundant than of old, that is, the means of grace and the aids to devotion in the Christian Church will be more than the Jewish Synagogue ever possessed; while for all who hunger after righteousness, all the poor in spirit, there will be a living Bread in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. The Latin rendering here is her widow.1 And they explain it of any soul which has ceased to be joined to the world, (A.) or still better, (G.) as the Church or any faithful believer who mourns as a widow here for the absent Bridegroom.* And whereas the LXX. and Vulgate read breads or loaves in the plural, they tell us that GOD will feed His poor in more ways than one. There are the two loaves of Old and New Testament, the three loaves of the parable,* faith, hope, and charity; the five loaves of the miracle in the wilderness, first, that of penitence, (“I have eaten ashes as it were bread,”)* typified by the cake baken on the coals for Elijah,* secondly, that of teaching, “with the bread of understanding shall she feed him;”* thirdly, with the Bread of the Holy Eucharist; fourthly, with the bread of Grace, for which we pray daily in the Our FATHER; and fifthly, the bread of glory; whereof is written, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of GOD.”*

16 (17) I will deck her priests with health: and her saints shall rejoice and sing.

Here GOD answers the prayer of the Psalmist in ver. 9, (L.) and according to His wont, (A.) gives more than He is asked for. The petition was that the priests might be clothed with righteousness; the answer is that He will clothe them with salvation, (A. V., LXX., Vulg.,) that is, that so many of them as shall be baptized into CHRIST, shall put on CHRIST, if we take the words of the whole royal priesthood of Christians; and if we limit the clause to the teaching body in the Church, then it speaks of them as so replenished with the doctrine of CHRIST that they can teach others fully of His ways.* And we are clothed with CHRIST in a twofold time and fashion; (Ay.) here by conforming ourselves to the pattern of His life, when we “put on the new Man, which after GOD is created in righteousness and true holiness,”* and in the world to come by being vested in His glory, when Sion’s saints shall rejoice and sing, saying, “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my GOD, for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels.”*

17 (18) There shall I make the horn of David to flourish: I have ordained a lantern for mine Anointed.

That is, in the literal sense, I shall make the dynasty of David’s race firm, the royal power shall continue in his lineage; and in the darkest time of chastisement and sorrow, and even of death, the House of David shall have some light, some lineal representative. The two senses of the latter clause are well brought out in other passages: “Unto his son will I give one tribe, that David My servant may have a lamp alway before Me in Jerusalem,” spoken of the continuance of the kingdom, albeit of dimmer glory than it was; and again, “Nevertheless for David’s sake did the LORD his GOD give him a lamp in Jerusalem, to set up his son after him, and to establish Jerusalem.”* There are thus two distinct notions suggested by the lantern, its shining in the dark, and the kindling of a fresh lamp as the previous one wanes to extinction. So we find in the Gospels the two figures of this verse meet in CHRIST, of Whom Zacharias prophesied, “He hath raised up an horn of salvation for us, in the house of His servant David;”* and of Whom the Beloved disciple adds, that “the Light shineth in darkness.”* Even the Rabbins saw thus much. “The Horn of David is the Messiah,”* is the confession of one;* “the Lamp is the King Who giveth light unto the nations,” is the like acknowledgment of the others. The horn of David shall flourish, not only because CHRIST’S, Manhood shall be exalted, but because the Church of GOD, wherein is the royal dignity and power of CHRIST, (taking the horn either as a type of strength, or, with S. Hilary, as the vessel of coronation oil,) will go on increasing and waxing stronger through the ages; there will be always a lamp for the Anointed, because even in the darkest ages of coldness and reaction in the Church, there will always be true Saints to shine before men; and because their succession will be unbroken. (A.) Another sense of the latter clause is to take it of S. John Baptist, that “burning and shining light,”* which was a lantern to show the way before the advancing steps of CHRIST.* And they mention a symbolical usage of the Church bearing on this interpretation, (Ay.) that on ordinary days, only one lighted taper was borne before the Gospel, as a type of the Forerunner; but on festivals two, since after John’s preaching, when CHRIST Himself came, He sent His Apostles two and two before Him. And whereas the Vulgate rendering is I will extend, or lengthen out, the horn, &c., they take it, not only in the sense already assigned, but in that of the judicial power over quick and dead to be entrusted to the LORD JESUS, and further, explaining the horn as those Priests and Saints in whom He is pleased to manifest His power, (R.) it is said. I will extend, will bring them unto conformity and likeness to their Head, “unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of CHRIST,”* and will make them lanterns also, that is, vessels having no light of themselves, but radiant with the shining of Him Who is in the midst of them, that Treasure which they have in the earthen vessels of their hearts,* whose brightness is kept alive by the unction of the HOLY GHOST. (Ay.) In yet another sense, Holy Scripture is the lantern ordained for GOD’S anointed, as shedding light prospectively in the Law and Prophets, and retrospectively in the Gospels and Epistles, on the one central Figure of all time. And of this the Apostle saith: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do dwell that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts.”*

18 (19) As for his enemies, I shall clothe them with shame: but upon himself shall his crown flourish.

The first clause is spoken of the judgments on the rebellious Hebrew nation in this world for the rejection of their Messiah,* and also of the final sentence on the wicked at the Last Day, (C.) if we take it in the harsher sense, (R.) and of the salutary shame of repentance, if the gentler school of exposition be followed. Upon Himself shall His crown flourish. The word for crown here is נֶזֶר,* which is used of the mitre of the High Priest in some places,* and of the diadem of a king in others,* so that it fitly stands for the union of the two offices in CHRIST,* ever unfading in their blooming strength and beauty. (P.) But the LXX. and Vulgate, instead of this, read My sanctification,1 and the general consent of the commentators sees in the word the saints whom GOD has sanctified in CHRIST, and made a royal crown for Him,* Who is already diademed with the hallowing of Godhead, and Whose new crown of Saints will blossom out of the earth in the Resurrection. (Lu.)

Wherefore:

Glory be to the FATHER, the Almighty GOD of Jacob; glory be to the SON, His Anointed, Who was found at Ephrata; glory be to the HOLY GHOST, Who clothes His royal priesthood with righteousness and salvation.

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








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