Writings of Augustine. The Psalms.

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Expositions on the Book of Psalms.

by Saint Augustin, Bishop of Hippo.

Edited, with brief annotations, and condensed from the six volumes of the Oxford Translation,

by A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D., Editor of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, etc.

Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.

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Psalm X. [382]

"Why, O Lord," saith he, "hast Thou withdrawn afar off?" (ver. 1). Then he who thus inquired, as if all on a sudden he understood, or as if he asked, though he knew, that he might teach, adds, "Thou despisest in due seasons, in tribulations:" that is, Thou despisest seasonably, and causest tribulations to inflame men's minds with longing for Thy coming. For that fountain of life is sweeter to them that have much thirst. Therefore he hints the reason of the delay, saying, "Whilst the ungodly vaunteth himself, the poor man is inflamed" (ver. 2). Wondrous it is and true with what earnestness of good hope the little ones are inflamed unto an upright living by comparison with sinners. In which mystery it comes to pass, that even heresies are permitted to exist; not that heretics themselves wish this, but because Divine Providence worketh this result from their sins, which both maketh and ordaineth the light; but ordereth only the darkness, that by comparison therewith the light may be more pleasant, as by comparison with heretics the discovery of truth is more sweet. For so, by this comparison, the approved, who are known to God, are made manifest among men.

1. "They are taken in their thoughts, which they think:" that is, their evil thoughts become chains to them. But how become they chains? "For the sinner is praised," saith he, "in the desires of his soul" (ver. 3). The tongues of flatterers bind souls in sin. For there is pleasure in doing those things, in which not only is no reprover feared, but even an approver heard. "And he that does unrighteous deeds is blessed." Hence "are they taken in their thoughts, which they think."

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2. "The sinner hath angered the Lord" (ver. 4). Let no one congratulate the man that prospers in his way, to whose sins no avenger is nigh, and an approver is by. This is the greater anger of the Lord. For the sinner hath angered the Lord, that he should suffer these things, that is, should not suffer the scourging of correction. "The sinner hath angered the Lord: according to the multitude of His anger He will not search it out." Great is His anger, when He searcheth not out, when He as it were forgetteth and marketh not sin, and by fraud and wickedness man attains to riches and honours: which will especially be the case in that Antichrist, who will seem to man blessed to that degree, that he will even be thought God. [383] But how great this anger of God is, we are taught by what follows.

3. "God is not in his sight, his ways are polluted in all time" (ver. 5). He that knows what in the soul gives joy and gladness, knows how great an ill it is to be abandoned by the light of truth: since a great ill do men reckon the blindness of their bodily eyes, whereby this light is withdrawn. How great then the punishment he endures, who through the prosperous issue of his sins is brought to that pass, that God is not in his sight, and that his ways are polluted in all time, that is, his thoughts and counsels are unclean! "Thy judgments are taken away from his face." For the mind conscious of evil, whilst it seems to itself to suffer no punishment, believes that God doth not judge, and so are God's judgments taken away from its face; while this very thing is great condemnation. "And he shall have dominion over all his enemies." For so is it delivered, that he will overcome all kings, and alone obtain the kingdom; since too according to the Apostle, who preaches concerning him, "He shall sit in the temple of God, exalting himself above all that is worshipped and that is called God." [384]

4. And seeing that being delivered over to the lust of his own heart, and predestinated to extreme [385] condemnation, he is to come, by wicked arts, to that vain and empty height and rule; therefore it follows, "For he hath said in his heart, I shall not move from generation to generation without evil" (ver. 6): that is, my fame and my name will not pass from this generation to the generation of posterity, unless by evil arts I acquire so lofty a principality, that posterity cannot be silent concerning it. For a mind abandoned and void of good arts, and estranged from the light of righteousness, by bad arts devises a passage for itself to a fame so lasting, as is celebrated even in posterity. And they that cannot be known for good, desire that men should speak of them even for ill, provided that their name spread far and wide. And this I think is here meant, "I shall not move from generation to generation without evil." There is too another interpretation, if a mind vain and full of error supposes that it cannot come from the mortal generation to the generation of eternity, but by bad arts: which indeed was also reported of Simon, when he thought that he would gain heaven by wicked arts, and pass from the human generation to the generation divine by magic. [386] Where then is the wonder, if that man of sin too, who is to fill up all the wickedness and ungodliness, which all false prophets have begun, and to do such "great signs; that, if it were possible, he should deceive the very elect," [387] shall say in his heart, "I shall not move from generation to generation without evil"?

5. "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness and deceit" (ver. 7). For it is a great curse to seek heaven by such abominable arts, and to get together such earnings for acquiring the eternal seat. But of this cursing his mouth is full. For this desire shall not take effect, but within his mouth only will avail to destroy him, who dared promise himself such things with bitterness and deceit, that is, with anger and insidiousness, whereby he is to bring over the multitude to his side. "Under his tongue is toil and grief." Nothing is more toilsome than unrighteousness and ungodliness: upon which toil follows grief; for that the toil is not only without fruit, but even unto destruction. Which toil and grief refer to that which he hath said in his heart, "I shall not be moved from generation to generation without evil." And therefore, "under his tongue," not on his tongue, because he will devise these things in silence, and to men will speak other things, that he may appear good and just, and a son of God.

6. "He lieth in ambush with the rich" (ver. 8). What rich, but those whom he will load with this world's gifts? And he is therefore said to lie in ambush with them, because he will display their false happiness to deceive men; who, when with a perverted will they desire to be such as they, and seek not the good things eternal, will fall into his snares. "That in the dark he may kill the innocent." "In the dark," [388] I suppose, is said, where it is not easily understood what should be sought, or what avoided. Now to kill the innocent, is of an innocent to make one guilty.

7. "His eyes look against the poor," for he is chiefly to persecute the righteous, of whom it is said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" [389] (ver. 9). "He lieth in wait in a secret place, as a lion in his den." By a lion in a den, he means one in whom both violence and deceit will work. For the first persecution of the Church was violent, when by proscriptions, by torments, by murders, the Christians were compelled to sacrifice: another persecution is crafty, which is now conducted by heretics of any kind and false brethren: there remains a third, which is to come by Antichrist, than which there is nothing more perilous; for it will be at once violent and crafty. Violence he will exert in empire, craft in miracles. To the violence, the word "lion" refers; to craft, the words "in his den." And these are again repeated with a change of order. "He lieth in wait," he says, "that he may catch the poor;" this hath reference to craft: but what follows, "To catch the poor whilst he draweth him," is put to the score of violence. For "draweth" means, he bringeth him to himself by violence, by whatever tortures he can.

8. Again, the two which follow are the same. "In his snare he will humble him," is craft (ver. 10). "He shall decline and fall, whilst he shall have domination over the poor," is violence. For a "snare" naturally points to "lying in wait:" but domination most openly conveys the idea of terror. And well does he say, "He will humble him in his snare." For when he shall begin to do those signs, the more wonderful they shall appear to men, the more those Saints that shall be then will be despised, and, as it were, set at nought: he, whom they shall resist by righteousness and innocence, shall seem to overcome by the marvels that he does. But "he shall decline and fall, whilst he shall have domination over the poor;" that is, whilst he shall inflict whatsoever punishments he will upon the servants of God that resist him.

9. But how shall he decline, and fall? "For he hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten; He turneth away His face, that He see not unto the end" (ver. 11). This is declining, and the most wretched fall, while the mind of a man prospers as it were in its iniquities, and thinks that it is spared; when it is being blinded, and kept for an extreme and timely vengeance: of which the Psalmist now speaks: "Arise, O Lord God, let Thine hand be exalted" (ver. 12): that is, let Thy power be made manifest. Now he had said above, "Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail, let the heathen be judged in Thy sight:" [390] that is, in secret, where God alone seeth. This comes to pass when the ungodly have arrived at what seems great happiness to men: over whom is placed a lawgiver, such as they had deserved to have, of whom it is said, "Place a lawgiver over them, O Lord, let the heathen know that they are men." [391] But now after that hidden punishment and vengeance it is said, "Arise, O Lord God, let Thine hand be exalted;" not of course in secret, but now in glory most manifest. "That Thou forget not the poor unto the end;" that is, as the ungodly think, who say, "God hath forgotten, He turneth away His face, that He should not see unto the end." Now they deny that God seeth unto the end, who say that He careth not for things human and earthly, for the earth is as it were the end of things; in that it is the last element, in which men labour in most orderly sort, but they cannot see the order of their labours, which specially belongs to the hidden things of the Son. The Church then labouring in such times, like a ship in great waves and tempests, awaketh the Lord as if He were sleeping, that He should command the winds, and calm should be restored. [392] He says therefore, "Arise, O Lord God, let Thine hand be exalted, that Thou forget not the poor unto the end."

10. Accordingly understanding now the manifest judgment, and in exultation at it, they say, "Wherefore hath the ungodly angered God?" (ver. 13); that is, what hath it profited him to do so great evil? "For he said in his heart, He will not require it." Then follows, "For Thou seest toil and considerest anger, to deliver them into Thine hands" (ver. 14). This sentence looks for distinct explanation, wherein if there shall be error it becomes obscure. For thus has the ungodly said in his heart, God will not require it, as though God regarded toil and anger, to deliver them into His hands; that is, as though He feared toil and anger, and for this reason would spare them, lest their punishment be too burdensome to Him, or lest He should be disturbed by the storm of anger: as men generally act, excusing themselves of vengeance, to avoid toil or anger.

11. "The poor hath been left unto Thee." For therefore is he poor, that is, hath despised all the temporal goods of this world, that Thou only mayest be his hope. "Thou wilt be a helper to the orphan," that is, to him to whom his father this world, by whom he was born after the flesh, dies, and who can already say, "The world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world." [393] For of such orphans God becomes the Father. The Lord teaches us in truth that His disciples do become orphans, to whom He saith, "Call no man father on earth." [394] Of which He first Himself gave an example in saying, "Who is my mother, and who my brethren?" [395] Whence some most mischievous heretics [396] would assert that He had no mother; and they do not see that it follows from this, if they pay attention to these words, that neither had His disciples fathers. For as He said, "Who is my mother?" so He taught them, when He said, "Call no man your father on earth."

12. "Break the arm of the sinner and of the malicious" (ver. 15); of him, namely, of whom it was said above, "He shall have dominion over all his enemies." He called his power then, his arm; to which Christ's power is opposed, of which it is said, "Arise, O Lord God, let Thine hand be exalted. His fault shall be required, and he shall not be found because of it;" [397] that is he shall be judged for his sins, and himself shall perish because of his sin. After this, what wonder if there follow, "The Lord shall reign for ever and world without end; ye heathen shall perish out of His earth"? (ver. 16). He uses heathen for sinners and ungodly.

13. "The Lord hath heard the longing of the poor" (ver. 17): that longing wherewith they were burning, when in the straits and tribulations of this world they desired the day of the Lord. "Thine ear hath heard the preparation of their heart." This is the preparation of the heart, of which it is sung in another Psalm, "My heart is prepared, O God, my heart is prepared:" [398] of which the Apostle says, "But if we hope for what we see not, we do with patience wait for it." [399] Now, by the ear of God, we ought, according to a general rule of interpretation, to understand not a bodily member, but the power whereby He heareth; and so (not to repeat this often) by whatever members of His are mentioned, which in us are visible and bodily, must be understood powers of operation. For we must not suppose it anything bodily, in that [400] the Lord God hears not the sound of the voice, but the preparation of the heart.

14. "To judge for the orphan and the humble" (ver. 18): that is, not for him who is conformed to this world, nor for the proud. For it is one thing to judge the orphan, another to judge for the orphan. He judges the orphan even, who condemns him; but he judges for the orphan, who delivers sentence for him. "That man add not further to magnify himself upon earth." For they are men, of whom it was said, "Place a lawgiver over them, O Lord: let the heathen know that they are men." [401] But he too, who in this same passage is understood to be placed over them, will be man, of whom it is now said, "That man add not further to magnify himself upon earth:" namely, when the Son of Man shall come to judge for the orphan, who hath put off from himself the old man, and thus, as it were, buried his father.

15. After the hidden things then of the Son, of which, in this Psalm, many things have been said, will come the manifest things of the Son, of which a little has been now said at the end of the same Psalm. But the title is given from the former, which here occupy the larger portion. Indeed, the very day of the Lord's advent may be rightly numbered among the hidden things of the Son, although the very presence of the Lord itself will be manifest. For of that day it is said, that no man knoweth it, neither angels, nor powers, nor the Son of man. [402] What then so hidden, as that which is said to be hidden even to the Judge Himself, not as regards knowledge, but disclosure? But concerning the hidden things of the Son, even if any one would not wish to understand the Son of God, but of David himself, to whose name the whole Psalter is attributed, for the Psalms we know are called the Psalms of David, let him give ear to those words in which it is said to the Lord, "Have mercy on us, O Son of David:" [403] and so even in this manner let him understand the same Lord Christ, concerning whose hidden things is the inscription of this Psalm. For so likewise is it said by the Angel: "God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David." [404] Nor to this understanding of it is the sentence opposed in which the same Lord asks of the Jews, "If Christ be the Son of David, how then doth he in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand, until I put Thine enemies under Thy feet." [405] For it was said to the unskilled, who although they looked for Christ's coming, yet expected Him as man, not as the Power and Wisdom of God. He teacheth then, in that place, the most true and pure faith, that He is both the Lord of king David, in that He is the Word in the beginning, God with God, [406] by which all things were made; and Son, in that He was made to him of the seed of David according to the flesh. For He doth not say, Christ is not David's Son, but if ye already hold that He is his Son, learn how He is his Lord: and do not hold in respect of Christ that He is the Son of Man, for so is He David's Son; [407] and leave out that He is the Son of God, for so is He David's Lord. [408]

Footnotes

[382] The two Psalms are combined in the Vulgate. But here the verses begin again, treating this as "Ps. x. secundum Hebræos." [And so our English version.--C.] [383] [Compare Hippolytus, A.N.F. vol. v. pp. 205-219.--C.] [384] 2 Thess. ii. 4. [385] Ultimæ. [386] Acts viii. 9. [387] Matt. xxiv. 24. [388] In occultis. [389] Matt. v. 3. [390] Ps. ix. 19. [391] Ps. ix. 20. [392] Matt. viii. 24-26. [393] Gal. vi. 14. [394] Matt. xxiii. 9. [395] Matt. xii. 48. [396] [Manichees. See A.N.F. vol. vi. p. 252.--C.] [397] LXX. var. lect. di' auten, "because of it." These words should be marked as part of the text, as some mss. are pointed. [398] Ps. lvii. 7. [399] Rom. viii. 25. [400] Al. wherewith. [401] Ps. ix. 20. [402] Mark xiii. 32. [403] Matt. xx. 30. [404] Luke i. 32. [405] Matt. xxii. 43, 44. [406] John i. 1. [407] Rom. i. 3. [408] [On the "hidden things" compare Isa. xlv. 15 with 1 Pet. i. 10-12.--C.] .


Psalm XI. [409]

To the end, a psalm of David himself. [410]

1. This title does not require a fresh consideration: for the meaning of, "to the end," has already been sufficiently handled. [411] Let us then look to the text itself of the Psalm, which to me appears to be sung against the heretics, [412] who, by rehearsing and exaggerating the sins of many in the Church, as if either all or the majority among themselves were righteous, strive to turn and snatch us away from the breasts of the one True Mother Church: affirming that Christ is with them, and warning us as if with piety and earnestness, that by passing over to them we may go over to Christ, whom they falsely declare they have. Now it is known that in prophecy Christ, among the many names in which notice of Him is conveyed in allegory, is also called a mountain. [413] We must accordingly answer these people, and say, "I trust in the Lord: how say ye to my soul, Remove into the mountains as a sparrow?" (ver. 1). I keep to one mountain wherein I trust, how say ye that I should pass over to you, as if there were many Christs? Or if through pride you say that you are mountains, I had indeed need to be a sparrow winged with the powers and commandments of God: but these very things hinder my flying to these mountains, and placing my trust in proud men. I have a house where I may rest, in that I trust in the Lord. For even "the sparrow hath found her a house," [414] and, "The Lord hath become a refuge to the poor." [415] Let us say then with all confidence, lest while we seek Christ among heretics we lose Him, "In the Lord I trust: how say ye to my soul, Remove into the mountains as a sparrow?"

2. "For, lo, sinners have bent the bow, they have prepared their arrows in the quiver, that they may in the obscure moon shoot at the upright in heart" (ver. 2). These be the terrors of those who threaten us as touching sinners, that we may pass over to them as the righteous. "Lo," they say, "the sinners have bent the bow:" the Scriptures, I suppose, by carnal interpretation of which they emit envenomed sentences from them. "They have prepared their arrows in the quiver:" the same words, that is, which they will shoot out on the authority of Scripture, they have prepared in the secret place of the heart. "That they may in the obscure moon [416] shoot at the upright in heart:" that when they see, from the Church's light being obscured by the multitude of the unlearned and the carnal, that they cannot be convicted, they may corrupt good manners by evil communications. [417] But against all these terrors we must say, "In the Lord I trust."

3. Now I remember that I promised to consider in this Psalm with what suitableness the moon signifies the Church. [418] There are two probable opinions concerning the moon: but of these which is the true, I suppose it either impossible or very difficult for a man to decide. For when we ask whence the moon has her light, some say that it is her own, but that of her globe half is bright, and half dark: and when she revolves in her own orbit, that part wherein she is bright gradually turns towards the earth, so as that it may be seen by us; and that therefore at first her appearance is as if she were horned....According to this opinion the moon in allegory signifies the Church, because in its spiritual part the Church is bright, but in its carnal part is dark: and sometimes the spiritual part is seen by good works, but sometimes it lies hid in the conscience, and is known to God alone, since in the body alone is it seen by men....But according to the other opinion also the moon is understood to be the Church, because she has no light of her own, but is lighted by the only-begotten Son of God, who in many places of holy Scripture is allegorically called the Sun. [419] Whom certain heretics [420] being ignorant of, and not able to discern Him, endeavour to turn away the minds of the simple to this corporeal and visible sun, which is the common light of the flesh of men and flies, and some they do pervert, who as long as they cannot behold with the mind the inner light of truth, will not be content with the simple Catholic faith; which is the only safety to babes, and by which milk alone they can arrive in assured strength at the firm support of more solid food. Whichever then of these two opinions be the true, the moon in allegory is fitly understood as the Church. Or if in such difficulties as these, troublesome rather than edifying, there be either no satisfaction or no leisure to exercise the mind, or if the mind itself be not capable of it, it is sufficient to regard the moon with ordinary [421] eyes, and not to seek out obscure causes, but with all men to perceive her increasings and fulnesses and wanings; and if she wanes to the end that she may be renewed, even to this rude multitude she sets forth the image of the Church, in which the resurrection of the dead is believed.

4. Next we must enquire, what in this Psalm is meant by "the obscure moon," in which sinners have prepared to shoot at the upright in heart? For not in one way only may the moon be said to be obscure: for when her monthly course is finished, and when her brightness is interrupted by a cloud, and when she is eclipsed at the full, the moon may be called obscure. It may then be understood first of the persecutors of the Martyrs, for that they wished in the obscure moon to shoot at the upright in heart; whether it be yet in the time of the Church's youth, because she had not yet shone forth in greatness on the earth, and conquered the darkness of heathen superstitions; or by the tongues of blasphemers and such as defame the Christian name, when the earth was as it were beclouded, the moon, that is, the Church, could not be clearly seen; or when by the slaughter of the Martyrs themselves and so great effusion of blood, as by that eclipse and obscuration, wherein the moon seems to exhibit a bloody face, the weak were deterred from the Christian name; in which terror sinners shot out words crafty and sacrilegious to pervert even the upright in heart. And secondly, it can be understood of these sinners, whom the Church contains, because at that time, taking the opportunity of this moon's obscurity, they committed many crimes, which are now tauntingly objected to us by the heretics, whereas their founders are said to have been guilty of them. [422] But howsoever that be which was done in the obscure moon, now that the Catholic name is spread and celebrated throughout the whole world, what concern of mine is it to be disturbed by things unknown? For "in the Lord I trust;" nor do I listen to them that say to my soul, "Remove into the mountains as a sparrow. For, lo, sinners have bent the bow, that they may in the obscure moon shoot at the upright in heart." Or if the moon seem even [423] now obscure to them, because they would make it uncertain which is the Catholic Church, and they strive to convict her by the sins of those many carnal men whom she contains; what concern is this to him, who says in truth, "In the Lord I trust"? By which word every one shows that he is himself wheat, and endures the chaff with patience unto the time of winnowing.

5. "In the Lord," therefore, "I trust." Let them fear who trust in man, and cannot deny that they are of man's party, by whose grey hairs they swear; and when in conversation it is demanded of them, of what communion they are, unless they say that they are of his party, they cannot be recognised....Or perhaps you will say that it is written, "Ye shall know them by their works"? [424] I see indeed marvellous works the daily violences of the Circumcelliones, [425] with the bishops and presbyters for their leaders, flying about in every direction, and calling their terrible clubs "Israels;" which men now living daily see and feel. But for the times of Macarius, [426] respecting which they raise an invidious cry, [427] most men have not seen them, and no one sees them now: and any Catholic who saw them could say, if he wished to be a servant of God, "In the Lord I trust."...

6. Let the Catholic soul then say, "In the Lord I trust; how say ye to my soul, Remove into the mountains as a sparrow? For, lo, the sinners have bent the bow, they have prepared their arrows in the quiver, that they may in the obscure moon shoot at the upright in heart:" and from them let her turn her speech to the Lord and say, "For they have destroyed what Thou hast perfected" [428] (ver. 3). And this let her say not against these only, but against all heretics. For they have all, as far as in them lies, destroyed the praise which God hath perfected out of the mouth of babes and sucklings, [429] when they disturb the little ones with vain and scrupulous questions, and suffer them not to be nourished with the milk of faith. As if then it were said to this soul, why do they say to you, "Remove into the mountains as a sparrow;" why do they frighten you with sinners, who "have bent the bow, to shoot in the obscure moon at the upright in heart"? She answers, Therefore it is they frighten me, "because they have destroyed what Thou hast perfected." Where but in their conventicles, where they nourish not with milk, but kill with poison the babes and ignorant of the interior light. "But what hath the Just done?" [430] If Macarius, if Cæcilianus, offend you, what hath Christ done to you, who said, "My peace I give unto you, My peace I leave with you;" [431] which ye with your abominable dissensions have violated? What hath Christ done to you? who with such exceeding patience endured His betrayer, as to give to him, as to the other Apostles, the first Eucharist consecrated [432] with His own hands, and blessed with His own mouth. [433] What hath Christ done to you? who sent this same betrayer, whom He called a devil, [434] who before betraying the Lord could not show good faith even to the Lord's purse, [435] with the other disciples to preach the kingdom of heaven; [436] that He might show that the gifts of God come to those that with faith receive them, though he, through whom they receive them, be such as Judas was.

7. "The Lord is in His holy temple" (ver. 4), yea in such wise as the Apostle saith, "For the temple of God is holy, which" temple "ye are." [437] "Now if any man shall violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy." He violateth the temple of God, who violateth unity: for he "holdeth not the head, from which the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth [438] according to the working after the measure of every part maketh increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love." [439] The Lord is in this His holy temple; which consisteth of His many members, fulfilling each his own separate duties, by love built up into one building. Which temple he violateth, who for the sake of his own pre-eminence separateth himself from the Catholic society. "The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord, His seat is in heaven." If you take heaven to be the just man, as you take the earth to be the sinner, to whom it was said, "Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou go;" [440] the words, "The Lord is in His holy temple" you will understand to be repeated, whilst it is said, "The Lord, His seat is in heaven."

8. "His eyes look upon the poor." [441] His to Whom the poor man hath been left, and Who hath been made a refuge to the poor. [442] And therefore all the seditions and tumults within these nets, [443] until they be drawn to shore, concerning which heretics upbraid us to their own ruin and our correction, are caused by those men, who will not be Christ's poor. But do they turn away God's eyes from such as would be so? "For His eyes look upon the poor." Is it to be feared lest, in the crowd of the rich, He may not be able to see the few poor, whom He brings up in safe keeping in the bosom of the Catholic Church? "His eyelids question the sons of men." Here by that rule I would wish to take "the sons of men" [444] of those that from old men have been regenerated by faith. For these, by certain obscure passages of Scripture, as it were the closed eyes of God, are exercised that they may seek: and again, by certain clear passages, as it were the open eyes of God, are enlightened that they may rejoice. And this frequent closing and opening in the holy Books are as it were the eyelids of God; which question, that is, which try the "sons of men;" who are neither wearied with the obscurity of the matter, but exercised; nor puffed up by knowledge, but confirmed.

9. "The Lord questioneth the righteous and ungodly" (ver. 5). Why then do we fear lest the ungodly should be any hurt to us, if so be they do with insincere heart share the sacraments with us, seeing that He "questioneth the righteous and the ungodly." "But whoso loveth iniquity, hateth his own soul:" that is, not him who believeth God, and putteth not his hope in man, but only his own soul doth the lover of iniquity hurt.

10. "He shall rain snares upon the sinners" (ver. 6). If by clouds are understood prophets generally, whether good or bad, who are also called false prophets: false prophets are so ordered by the Lord God, that by them He may rain snares upon sinners. [445] For no one, but the sinner, falls into a following of them, whether by way of preparation for the last punishment, if he shall choose to persevere in sin; or to dissuade from pride, if in time he shall come to seek God with a more sincere intent. But if by clouds are understood good and true prophets only; by these too it is clear that God raineth snares upon sinners, although by them He watereth also the godly unto fruitfulness. "To some," saith the Apostle, "we are the savour of life unto life; to some the savour of death unto death." [446] For not prophets only, but all who with the word of God water souls, may be called clouds. Who when they are understood amiss, God raineth snares upon sinners; but when they are understood aright, He maketh the hearts of the godly and believing fruitful. As, for instance, the passage, "and they two shall be in one flesh," [447] if one interpret it with an eye to lust, He raineth a snare upon the sinner. But if you understand it, as he who says, "But I speak concerning Christ and the Church," [448] He raineth a shower on the fertile soil. Now both are effected by the same cloud, that is, holy Scripture. Again the Lord says, "Not that which goeth into your mouth defileth you, but that which cometh out." [449] The sinner hears this, and makes ready his palate for gluttony: the righteous hears it, and is guarded against the superstitious distinction in meats. Here then also out of the same cloud of Scripture, according to the several desert of each, upon the sinner the rain of snares, upon the righteous the rain of fruitfulness, is poured.

11. "Fire and brimstone and the blast of the tempest is the portion of their cup." This is their punishment and end, by whom the name of God is blasphemed; that first they should be wasted by the fire of their own lusts, then by the ill savour of their evil deeds cast off from the company of the blessed, at last carried away and overwhelmed suffer penalties unspeakable. For this is the portion of their cup: as of the righteous, "Thy cup inebriating how excellent is it! for they shall be inebriated with the richness of Thine house." [450] Now I suppose a cup is mentioned for this reason, that we should not suppose that anything is done by God's providence, even in the very punishments of sinners, beyond moderation and measure. And therefore as if he were giving a reason why this should be, he added, "For the Lord is righteous, and hath loved righteousnesses" (ver. 7). The plural not without meaning, but only because he speaks of men, is as that righteousnesses be understood to be used for righteous men. For in many righteous men there seem, so to say, to be righteousnesses, whereas there is one only righteousness of God whereof they all participate. Like as when one face looks upon many mirrors, what in it is one only, is by those many mirrors reflected manifoldly. Wherefore he recurs to the singular, saying, "His face hath seen equity." Perhaps, "His face hath seen equity," is as if it were said, Equity hath been seen in His face, that is, in knowledge of Him. For God's face is the power by which He is made known to them that are worthy. Or at least, "His face hath seen equity," because He doth not allow Himself to be known by the evil, but by the good; and this is equity.

12. But if any one would understand the moon of the synagogue, let him refer the Psalm to the Lord's passion, and of the Jews say, "For they have destroyed what Thou hast perfected;" [451] and of the Lord Himself, "But what hath the Just done?" whom they accused as the destroyer of the Law: whose precepts, by their corrupt living, and by despising them, and by setting up their own, they had destroyed, so that the Lord Himself may speak as Man, as He is wont, saying, "In the Lord I trust; how say ye to my soul, Remove into the mountains as a sparrow?" [452] by reason, that is, of the fear of those who desire to apprehend and crucify Him. Since the interpretation is not unreasonable of sinners wishing to "shoot at the upright in heart," [453] that is, those who believed in Christ, "in the obscure moon," that is, the Synagogue filled with sinners. To this too the words, "The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord, His seat is in heaven," [454] are suitable; that is, the Word in Man, or the very Son of Man who is in heaven. [455] "His eyes look upon the poor;" either on to Him whom He assumed as God, or for whom He suffered as Man. "His eyelids question the sons of men." The closing and opening of the eyes, which is probably meant by the word eyelids, we may take to be His death and resurrection, whereby He tried the sons of men His disciples, terrified at His passion, and gladdened by the resurrection. "The Lord questioneth the righteous and ungodly," [456] even now from out of Heaven governing the Church. "But whoso loveth iniquity, hateth his own soul." Why it is so, what follows teaches us. For "He shall rain snares upon the sinners:" [457] which is to be taken according to the exposition above given, and so on with all the rest to the end of the Psalm.

Footnotes

[409] Lat. X. [410] [It has been most aptly supposed that this Psalm is based on Lot's escape to the mountain. Gen. xix. 20. The imagery of the Psalm strikingly corresponds with his story.--C.] [411] See on Ps. iv. [412] Donatists. [413] See on Ps. iii. 3. [414] Ps. lxxxiv. 3. [415] Ps. ix. 9. [416] [This appears to be from the African Psalter, following the Sept.--C.] [417] 1 Cor. xv. 33. [418] [See on Ps. viii. p. 30, supra.--C.] [419] Mal. iv. 2, etc. [420] Manichees. [421] Popularibus. [422] He alludes to the charge of having surrendered the Holy Scriptures, alleged by the Donatists as the ground of their separation. See Ep. 76, 2, and 105, 2. "We would prove to you," he says, "that those were rather the betrayers who condemned Cæcilianus (Bishop of Carthage) and his companions on a false charge of betrayal;" referring to the municipal records.--Ben. [423] So Oxford mss. [424] Matt. vii. 16. [425] [i.e., "Circum cellas rusticorum ientes." Concerning these miscreants, see enough in Smith's popular Student's Ecclesiastical History, vol. i. p. 250.--C.] [426] Of the mission of Macarius and Paulus into Africa by Constans, about A.D. 348, and the complaint of persecution, see S. Optatus, lib. 3, and St. Augustin, Ep. 44, etc.--Ben. [427] De quibus invidiam faciunt. [428] [Here Jerome reads: Quia leges dissipatæ sunt: justus quid operatus est?--C.] [429] Ps. viii. 2. [430] ["Delivered just Lot." 2 Pet. ii. 7; Acts xxii. 14.--C.] [431] John xiv. 27. [432] Confectam. [433] Luke xxii. 19, 21. [434] John vi. 70. [435] John xii. 6. [436] Matt. x. 5-7. [437] 1 Cor. iii. 17. [438] dia pEURses /=phes tes epichoregias. Per omnem tactum subministrationis. [439] Col. ii. 19; Eph. iv. 16. [440] Gen. iii. 19. [441] [Here, too, is a striking correspondence with Gen. xviii. 21: "I will go down and see."--C.] [442] Ps. x. 14, ix. 9. [443] Matt. xiii. 47. [444] Cf. S. Aug. Ps. viii. 4, 10, on the words, "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him; or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?" and Ps. ix. 20, 19, on the words, "Let the heathen know that they are men." [445] Matt. xxiv. 24. [446] 2 Cor. ii. 16. [447] Eph. v. 31. [448] Eph. v. 32. [449] Matt. xv. 11. [450] Ps. xxxvi. 8. [451] Ps. xi. 3. [452] Ps. xi. 1. [453] Ps. xi. 2. [454] Ps. xi. 4. [455] John iii. 13. [456] Ps. xi. 5. [457] Ps. xi. 6. .


Psalm XII. [458]

To the end, for the eighth, a psalm of David.

1. It has been said on the sixth Psalm, [459] that "the eighth" may be taken as the day of judgment. "For the eighth" may also be taken "for the eternal age;" for that after the time present, which is a cycle of seven days, it shall be given to the Saints.

2. "Save me, O Lord, for the holy hath failed;" that is, is not found: as we speak when we say, Corn fails, or, Money fails. "For the truths have been minished from among the sons of men" (ver. 1). The truth is one, whereby holy souls are enlightened: but forasmuch as there are many souls, there may be said in them to be many truths: as in mirrors there are seen many reflections from one face.

3. "He hath talked vanity each man to his neighbour" (ver. 2). By neighbour we must understand every man: for that there is no one with whom we should work evil; "and the love of our neighbour worketh no evil." [460] "Deceitful lips, with a heart and a heart they have spoken evil things." [461] The repetition, "with a heart and a heart," signifies a double heart.

4. "May the Lord destroy all deceitful lips" (ver. 3). He says "all," that no one may suppose himself excepted: as the Apostle says, "Upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and of the Greek." [462] "The tongue speaking great things:" the proud tongue.

5. "Who have said, We will magnify our tongue, our lips are our own, who is Lord over us?" (ver. 4). Proud hypocrites are meant, putting confidence in their speech to deceive men, and not submitting themselves to God.

6. "Because of the wretchedness of the needy and the sighing of the poor, now I will arise, saith the Lord" [463] (ver. 5). For so the Lord Himself in the Gospel pitied His people, because they had no ruler, when they could well obey. Whence too it is said in the Gospel, "The harvest is plenteous, but the labourers are few." [464] But this must be taken as spoken in the person of God the Father, who, because of the needy and the poor, that is, who in need and poverty were lacking spiritual good things, vouchsafed to send His own Son. From thence begins His sermon on the mount to Matthew, where He says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." [465] "I will place in salvation." He does not say what He would place: but, "in salvation," must be understood as, in Christ; according to that, "For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." [466] And hence He is understood to have placed in Him what appertains to the taking away the wretchedness of the needy, and the comforting the sighing of the poor. "I will deal confidently in Him:" according to that in the Gospel, "For He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes." [467]

7. "The words of the Lord" are "pure words" (ver. 6). This is in the person of the Prophet himself, "The words of the Lord" are "pure words." He says "pure," without the alloy of pretence. For many preach the truth impurely; [468] for they sell it for the bribe of the advantages of this life. Of such the Apostle says, that they declared Christ not purely. "Silver tried by the fire for the earth." [469] These words of the Lord by means of tribulations approved to sinners. "Purified seven times:" by the fear of God, by godliness, by knowledge, by might, by counsel, by understanding, by wisdom. [470] For seven steps also of beatitude there are, which the Lord goes over, according to Matthew, in the same sermon which He spake on the Mount, "Blessed" are "the poor in spirit, blessed the meek, blessed they that mourn, blessed they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, blessed the merciful, blessed the pure in heart, blessed the peacemakers." [471] Of which seven sentences, it may be observed how all that long sermon was spoken. For the eighth where it is said, "Blessed" are "they which suffer persecution for righteousness' sake," [472] denotes the fire itself, whereby the silver is proved seven times. And at the termination of this sermon it is said, "For He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes." [473] Which refers to that which is said in this Psalm, "I deal confidently in Him."

8. "Thou, O Lord, shalt preserve us, and keep us from this generation to eternity" (ver. 7): here as needy and poor, there as wealthy and rich.

9. "The ungodly walk in a circle round about" (ver. 8): that is, in the desire of things temporal, which revolves as a wheel in a repeated circle of seven days; and therefore they do not arrive at the eighth, that is, at eternity, for which this Psalm is entitled. [474] So too it is said by Solomon, "For the wise king is the winnower of the ungodly, and he bringeth on them the wheel of the wicked.--After Thine height Thou hast multiplied the sons of men." [475] For there is in temporal things too a multiplication, which turns away from the unity of God. Hence "the corruptible body weigheth down the soul, and the earthy tabernacle presseth down the mind that museth upon many things." [476] But the righteous are multiplied "after the height of God," when "they shall go from strength to strength." [477]

Footnotes

[458] Lat. XI. [459] [A.N.F., vol. i. p. 63, note 2. The world created in seven days; and the Fathers take the eighth to mean the new creation, or "regeneration." Matt. xix. 28, with which compare Acts iii. 21.--C.] [460] Rom. xiii. 10. [461] LXX. Al. kakEUR. [462] Rom. ii. 9. [463] [Here the Anglican Psalter is inimitable for rhythm and pathos and for its archaic charm: "Now for the comfortless troubles' sake of the needy, and because of the deep sighing of the poor, I will up, saith the Lord."--C.] [464] Matt. ix. 37. [465] Matt. v. 3. [466] Luke ii. 30. [467] Matt. vii. 29. [468] Phil. i. 16. [469] [Or, "from the earth." So St. Jerome. The earthen crucible may be the figure.--C.] [470] Isa. xi. 2. [471] Matt. v. 3-9. [472] Matt. v. 10. [473] Matt. vii. 29. [474] [So the Septuagint and Vulgate, "in a cycle." Contrasted by the Fathers with the straightforward march of the (Prov. iv. 18) just. This Psalm was used by the Hebrews on the eighth day, for circumcision.--C.] [475] Prov. xx. 26. See LXX. [476] Wisd. ix. 15. [477] Ps. lxxxiv. 7. .


Psalm XIII. [478]

Unto the end, a psalm of David.

1. "For Christ is the end of the law to every one that believeth." [479] "How long, O Lord, wilt Thou forget me unto the end?" (ver. 1) that is, put me off as to spiritually understanding Christ, who is the Wisdom of God, and the true end of all the aim of the soul. "How long dost Thou turn away Thy face from me?" As God doth not forget, so neither doth He turn His face away: but Scripture speaks after our manner. Now God is said to turn away His face, when He doth not give to the soul, which as yet hath not the pure eye of the mind, the knowledge of Himself.

2. "How long shall I place counsel in my soul?" (ver. 2). There is no need of counsel but in adversity. Therefore "How long shall I place counsel in my soul?" is as if it were said, How long shall I be in adversity? Or at least it is an answer, so that the meaning is this, So long, O Lord, wilt Thou forget me to the end, and so long turn away Thy face from me, until I shall place counsel in mine own soul: so that except a man place counsel in his own soul to work mercy perfectly, God will not direct him to the end, nor give him that full knowledge of Himself, which is "face to face." "Sorrow in my heart through the day?" How long shall I have, is understood. And "through the day" signifies continuance, so that day is taken for time: from which as each one longs to be free, he has sorrow in his heart, making entreaty to rise to things eternal, and not endure man's day.

3. "How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?" either the devil, or carnal habit.

4. "Look on me, and hear me, O Lord my God" (ver. 3). "Look on me," refers to what was said, "How long" dost "Thou turn away Thy face from me." "Hear," refers to what was said, "How long wilt Thou forget me to the end? Lighten mine eyes, that I sleep not in death." The eyes of the heart must be understood, that they be not closed by the pleasurable eclipse of sin.

5. "Lest at any time mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him" (ver. 4). The devil's mockery is to be feared. "They that trouble me will exult, if I be moved;" the devil and his angels; who exulted not over that righteous man, Job, when they troubled him; because he was not moved, that is, did not draw back from the stedfastness of his faith. [480]

6. "But I have hoped in Thy mercy" (ver. 5). Because this very thing, that a man be not moved, and that he abide fixed in the Lord, he should not attribute to self: lest when he glories that he hath not been moved, he be moved by this very pride. "My heart shall exult in Thy salvation;" in Christ, in the Wisdom of God. "I will sing [481] to the Lord who hath given me good things;" spiritual good things, not belonging to man's day. "And I will chant [482] to the name of the Lord most high" (ver. 6); that is, I give thanks with joy, and in most due order employ my body, which is the song of the spiritual soul. But if any distinction is to be marked here, "I will sing" with the heart, "I will chant" with my works; "to the Lord," that which He alone seeth, but "to the name of the Lord," that which is known among men, which is serviceable not for Him, but for us.

Footnotes

[478] Lat. XII. [Regarded by the critics as a link between Ps. xii. and xiv.--C.] [479] Rom. x. 4. [480] Job ii. 3. [481] Cantabo. [482] Psallam. .


Psalm XIV. [483]

To the end, a psalm of David himself.

1. What "to the end" means, must not be too often repeated. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth;" [484] as the Apostle saith. We believe on Him, when we begin to enter on the good road: we shall see Him, when we shall get to the end. And therefore is He the end.

2. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God" (ver. 1). For not even have certain sacrilegious and abominable philosophers, who entertain perverse and false notions of God, dared to say, "There is no God." Therefore it is, hath said "in his heart;" for that no one dares to say it, even if he has dared to think it. "They are corrupt, and become abominable in their affections:" that is, whilst they love this world and love not God; these are the affections which corrupt the soul, and so blind it, that the fool can even say, "in his heart, There is no God. For as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind." [485] "There is none that doeth goodness, no not up to one." "Up to one," can be understood either with that one, so that no man be understood: or besides one, that the Lord Christ may be excepted. As we say, This field is up to the sea; we do not of course reckon the sea together with the field. And this is the better interpretation, so that none be understood to have done goodness up to Christ; for that no man can do goodness, except He shall have shown it. And that is true; for until a man know the one God, he cannot do goodness.

3. "The Lord from heaven looked out upon the sons of men, to see if there be one understanding, or seeking after God" (ver. 2). It may be interpreted, upon the Jews; as he may have given them the more honourable name of the sons of men, by reason of their worship of the One God, in comparison with the Gentiles; of whom I suppose it was said above, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God," etc. Now the Lord looks out, that He may see, by His holy souls: which is the meaning of, "from heaven." For by Himself nothing is hid from Him.

4. "All have gone out of the way, they have together become useless:" that is, the Jews have become as the Gentiles, who were spoken of above. "There is none that doeth good, no not up to one" (ver. 3), must be interpreted as above. "Their throat is an open sepulchre." [486] Either the voracity of the ever open palate is signified: or allegorically those who slay, and as it were devour those they have slain, into whom they instil the disorder of their own conversation. Like to which with the contrary meaning is that which was said to Peter, "Kill and eat;" [487] that he should convert the Gentiles to his own faith and good conversation. "With their tongues they have dealt craftily." Flattery is the companion of the greedy and of all bad men. "The poison of asps is under their lips." By "poison," he means deceit; and "of asps," because they will not hear the precepts of the law, as asps "will not hear the voice of the charmer;" [488] which is said more clearly in another Psalm. "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:" this is, "the poison of asps." "Their feet are swift to shed blood." He here shows forth the habit of ill doing. "Destruction and unhappiness" are "in their ways." For all the ways of evil men are full of toil and misery. Hence the Lord cries out, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart. For My yoke is easy and My burden light." [489] "And the way of peace have they not known:" that way, namely, which the Lord, as I said, mentions, in the easy yoke and light burden. "There is no fear of God before their eyes." These do not say, "There is no God;" but yet they do not fear God.

5. "Shall not all, who work iniquity, know?" (ver. 4). He threatens the judgment. "Who devour My people as the food of bread:" that is, daily. For the food of bread is daily food. Now they devour the people, who serve their own ends out of them, not referring their ministry to the glory of God, and the salvation of those over whom they are.

6. "They have not called upon the Lord." For he doth not really call upon Him, who longs for such things as are displeasing to Him. "There they trembled for fear, where no fear was" (ver. 5): that is, for the loss of things temporal. For they said, "If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him; and the Romans will come, and take away both our place and nation." [490] They feared to lose an earthly kingdom, where no fear was; and they lost the kingdom of heaven, which they ought to have feared. And this must be understood of all temporal goods, the loss of which when men fear, they come not to things eternal.

7. "For God is in the just generation." It refers to what went before, so that the sense is, "shall not all they that work iniquity know that the Lord is in the just generation;" [491] that is, He is not in them who love the world. For it is unjust to leave the Maker of the worlds, and "serve the creature more than the Creator." [492] Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, for the Lord is his hope" (ver. 6): that is, ye have despised the humble coming of the Son of God, because ye saw not in Him the pomp of the world: that they, whom he was calling, should put their hope in God alone, not in the things that pass away.

8. "Who will give salvation to Israel out of Sion?" (ver. 7). Who but He whose humiliation ye have despised? is understood. For He will come in glory to the judgment of the quick and the dead, and the kingdom of the just: that, forasmuch as in that humble coming "blindness hath happened in part unto Israel, that the fulness of the Gentiles might enter in," [493] in that other should happen what follows, "and so all Israel should be saved." For the Apostle too takes that testimony of Isaiah, where it is said, "There shall come out of Sion He who shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:" [494] for the Jews, as it is here, "Who shall give salvation to Israel out of Sion?" "When the Lord shall turn away the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad." [495] It is a repetition, as is usual: for I suppose, "Israel shall be glad," is the same as, "Jacob shall rejoice."

Footnotes

[483] Lat. XIII. [484] Rom. x. 4. [485] Rom. i. 28. [486] [Here the author quotes the African Psalter, no doubt, from which the three verses have passed into the Vulgate. They are in the Septuagint, from which St. Paul quotes them (Rom. iii. 13-18); but St. Jerome omits them, as not in the Hebrew of his day. They are, nevertheless, to be found in other parts of the original, and the passage may be compiled from Ps. v. 10, cxl. 3, x. 7, xxxvi. 1; from Prov. i. 16 and Isa. lix. 7 come the clauses, "their feet," etc.--C.] [487] Acts x. 13. [488] Ps. lviii. 5. [489] Matt. xi. 28-30. [490] John xi. 48. [491] Thus far the sentence is quoted from the Oxford mss. [492] Rom. i. 25. [493] Rom. xi. 25. [494] Isa. lix. 20. [495] [A prophetic prolepsis of the Captivity; but stretching forward to the final restoration, in our author's view.--C.] .


Psalm XV. [496]

A psalm of David himself.

1. Touching this title there is no question. "O Lord who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle?" (ver. 1). Although tabernacle be sometimes used even for an everlasting habitation: yet when tabernacle is taken in its proper meaning, it is a thing of war. Hence soldiers are called tent-fellows, [497] as having their tents together. This sense is assisted by the words, "Who shall sojourn?" For we war with the devil for a time, and then we need a tabernacle wherein we may refresh ourselves. Which specially points out the faith of the temporal Dispensation, which was wrought for us in time through the Incarnation of the Lord. "And who shall rest in Thy holy mountain?" Here perhaps he signifies at once the eternal habitation itself, [498] that we should understand by "mountain" the supereminence of the love of Christ in life eternal. [499]

2. "He who walketh without stain, and worketh righteousness" (ver. 2). Here he has laid down the proposition; in what follows he sets it forth in detail.

3. "Who speaketh the truth in his heart." For some have truth on their lips, and not in their heart. As if one should deceitfully point out a road, knowing that there were robbers there, and should say, If you go this way, you will be safe from robbers; and it should turn out that in fact there were no robbers found there: he has spoken the truth, but not in his heart. For he supposed it to be otherwise, and spoke the truth in ignorance. Therefore it is not enough to speak the truth, unless it be so also in heart. "Who hath practised no deceit in his tongue" (ver. 3). Deceit is practised with the tongue, when one thing is professed with the mouth, another concealed in the breast. "Nor done evil to his neighbour." It is well known that by "neighbour," every man should be understood. "And hath not entertained slander against his neighbour," that is, hath not readily or rashly given credence to an accuser.

4. "The malicious one hath been brought to nought in his sight" [500] (ver. 4). This is perfection, that the malicious one have no force against a man; and that this be "in his sight;" that is, that he know most surely that the malicious is not, save when the mind turns itself away from the eternal and immutable form [501] of her own Creator to the form of the creature, which was made out of nothing. "But those that fear the Lord, He glorifieth:" the Lord Himself, that is. Now "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." [502] As then the things above belong to the perfect, so what he is now going to say belongs to beginners.

5. "Who sweareth unto his neighbour, and deceiveth him not." "Who hath not given his money upon usury, and hath not taken rewards against the innocent" (ver. 5). These are no great things: but he who is not able to do even this, much less able is he to speak the truth in his heart, and to practise no deceit in his tongue, but as the truth is in the heart, so to profess and have it in his mouth, "yea, yea; nay, nay;" [503] and to do no evil to his neighbour, that is, to any man; and to entertain no slander against his neighbour: all which are the virtues of the perfect, in whose sight the malicious one hath been brought to nought. Yet he concludes even these lesser things thus, "Whoso doeth these things shall not be moved for ever:" that is, he shall attain unto those greater things, wherein is great and unshaken stability. For even the very tenses are, perhaps not without cause, so varied, as that in the conclusion above the past tense should be used, but in this the future. For there it was said, "The malicious one hath been brought to nought in his sight:" but here, "shall not be moved for ever."

Footnotes

[496] Lat. XIV. [497] Contubernales. [498] 2 Cor. v. 1, 2. [499] [This Psalm is called by some of the Fathers "the Ladder of Jacob," by which the righteous ascend to God. It is the octave of Ps. viii., which is appropriate to the ascension of humanity in Christ.--C.] [500] [Malignus in the Vulgate, which the Anglican Psalter does not follow here.--C.] [501] Specie. [502] Ps. cxi. 10; Ecclus. i. 14; Prov. i. 7. [503] Matt. v. 37. .


Psalm XVI. [504]

The inscription of the title, of David himself. [505]

1. Our King in this Psalm speaks in the character of the human [506] nature He assumed, of whom the royal title at the time of His passion was eminently set forth.

2. Now He saith as follows; "Preserve me, O Lord, for in Thee have I hoped" (ver. 1): "I have said to the Lord, Thou art my God, for Thou requirest not my goods" (ver. 2): for with my goods Thou dost not look to be made blessed.

3. "To the saints who are on His earth" (ver. 3): to the saints who have placed their hope in the land of the living, the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, whose spiritual conversation is, by the anchor of hope, fixed in that country, which is rightly called God's earth; although as yet in this earth too they be conversant in the flesh. "He hath wonderfully fulfilled all My wishes in them." To those saints then He hath wonderfully fulfilled all My wishes in their advancement, whereby they have perceived, how both the humanity of My divinity hath profited them that I might die, and the divinity of the humanity that I might rise again.

4. "Their infirmities have been multiplied" [507] (ver. 4): their infirmities have been multiplied not for their destruction, but that they might long for the Physician. "Afterwards they made haste." Accordingly after infirmities multiplied they made haste, that they might be healed. "I will not gather together their assemblies by blood." For their assemblies shall not be carnal, nor will I gather them together as one propitiated by the blood of cattle. [508] "Nor will I be mindful of their names within My lips." But by a spiritual change what they have been shall be forgotten; nor by Me shall they be any more called either sinners, or enemies, or men; but righteous, and My brethren, and sons of God through My peace.

5. "The Lord is the portion of Mine inheritance, and of My cup" (ver. 5). For together with Me they shall possess the inheritance, the Lord Himself. Let others choose for themselves portions, earthly and temporal, to enjoy: the portion of the Saints is the Lord eternal. Let others drink of deadly pleasures, the portion of My cup is the Lord. In that I say, "Mine," I include the Church: for where the Head is, there is the body also. For into the inheritance will I gather together their assemblies, and by the inebriation of the cup I will forget their old names. "Thou art He who will restore to Me My inheritance:" that to these too, whom I free, may be known "the glory wherein I was with Thee before the world was made." [509] For Thou wilt not restore to Me that which I never lost, but Thou wilt restore to these, who have lost it, the knowledge of that glory: in whom because I am, Thou wilt restore to Me.

6. "The lines have fallen to me in glorious places" (ver. 6). The boundaries of my possession have fallen in Thy glory as it were by lot, like as God is the possession of the Priests and Levites. [510] "For Mine inheritance is glorious to Me." "For Mine inheritance is glorious," not to all, but to them that see; in whom because I am, "it is to Me."

7. "I will bless the Lord, who hath given Me understanding" (ver. 7): whereby this inheritance may be seen and possessed. "Yea moreover too even unto night my reins have chastened Me." Yea besides understanding, even unto death, My inferior part, the assumption of flesh, hath instructed Me, that I might experience the darkness of mortality, which that understanding hath not.

8. "I foresaw the Lord in My sight always" (ver. 8). But coming into things that pass away, I removed not Mine eye from Him who abideth ever, foreseeing this, that to Him I should return after passing through the things temporal. "For He is on My right hand, that I should not be moved." For He favoureth Me, that I should abide fixedly in Him.

9. "Wherefore My heart was glad, and My tongue exulted" (ver. 9). Wherefore both in My thoughts is gladness, and in my words exultation. "Moreover too My flesh shall rest in hope." Moreover too My flesh shall not fail unto destruction, but shall sleep in hope of the resurrection.

10. "For Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell" (ver. 10). For Thou wilt neither give My soul for a possession to those parts below. "Neither wilt Thou grant Thine Holy One to see corruption." Neither wilt Thou suffer that sanctified body, whereby others are to be also sanctified, to see corruption. "Thou hast made known to Me the paths of life" (ver. 11). Thou hast made known through Me the paths of humiliation, that [511] men might return to life, from whence they fell through pride; in whom because I am, "Thou hast made known to Me." "Thou wilt fill Me with joy with Thy countenance." Thou wilt fill them with joy, that they should seek nothing further, when they shall see Thee "face to face;" in whom because I am, "Thou wilt fill Me." "Pleasure is at Thy right hand even to the end." Pleasure is in Thy favour and mercy in this life's journey, leading on even to the end of the glory of Thy countenance. [512]

Footnotes

[504] Lat. XV. [505] ["Michtam of David," which Bishop Wordsworth derives from Catham, and illustrates by Job xix. 23.--C.] [506] Susceptionis humanæ. [507] So Oxford mss. [508] Isa. i. 11, 12. [509] John xvii. 5. [510] Numb. xviii. 20. [511] Oxford mss. "that by it." [512] [Compare Acts ii. 25 and xiii. 34.--C.] .


Psalm XVII. [513]

A prayer of David himself.

1. This prayer must be assigned to the Person of the Lord, with the addition of the Church, which is His body.

2. "Hear My righteousness, O God, consider My supplication" (ver. 1). "Hearken unto My prayer, not in deceitful lips:" not going forth to Thee in deceitful lips. "Let My judgment from Thy countenance go forth" (ver. 2). From the enlightening of the knowledge of Thee, let Me judge truth. Or at least, let My judgment go forth, not in deceitful lips, from Thy countenance, that is, that I may not in judging utter aught else than I understand in Thee. "Let Mine eyes see equity:" the eyes, of course, of the heart.

3. "Thou hast proved and visited Mine heart in the night-season" (ver. 3). For this Mine heart hath been proved by the visitation of tribulation. "Thou hast examined Me by fire, and iniquity hath not been found in Me." Now not night only, in that it is wont to disturb, but fire also, in that it burns, is this tribulation to be called; whereby when I was examined I was found righteous.

4. "That My mouth may not speak the works of men" (ver. 4). That nothing may proceed out of My mouth, but what relates to Thy glory and praise; not to the works of men, which they do beside Thy will. "Because of the words of Thy lips." [514] Because of the words of Thy peace, or of Thy prophets. "I have kept hard ways." I have kept the toilsome ways of human mortality and suffering.

5. "To perfect My steps in Thy paths" (ver. 5). That the love of the Church might be perfected in the strait ways, whereby she arrives at Thy rest. "That My footsteps be not moved." That the signs of My way, which, like footsteps, have been imprinted on the Sacraments and Apostolical writings, be not moved, that they may mark them who would follow Me. Or at least, that I may still abide fixedly in eternity, after that I have accomplished the hard ways, and have finished My steps in the straits of Thy paths.

6. "I have cried out, for Thou hast heard Me, O God" (ver. 6). With a free and strong effort have I directed My prayers unto Thee: for that I might have this power, Thou hast heard Me when praying more weakly. "Incline Thine ear to Me, and hear My words." Let not Thy hearing forsake My humiliation.

7. "Make Thy mercies marvellous" (ver. 7). Let not Thy mercies be disesteemed, lest they be loved too little.

8. "Who savest them that hope in Thee from such as resist Thy right hand:" from such as resist the favour, whereby Thou favourest Me. "Keep Me, O Lord, as the apple of Thine eye" (ver. 8): which seems very little and minute: yet by it is the sight of the eye directed, whereby the light is distinguished from the darkness; as by Christ's humanity, the divinity of the Judgment [515] distinguishing between the righteous and sinners. "In the covering of Thy wings protect Me." In the defence of Thy love and mercy protect Me. "From the face of the ungodly who have troubled Me" (ver. 9).

9. "Mine enemies have compassed about My soul;" "they have shut up their own fat" (ver. 10). They have been covered with their own gross joy, after that their desire hath been satiated with wickedness. "Their mouth hath spoken pride." And therefore their mouth spoke pride, in saying, "Hail, King of the Jews," [516] and other like words.

10. "Casting Me forth they have now compassed Me about" (ver. 11). Casting Me forth outside the city, they have now compassed Me about on the Cross. "Their eyes they have determined to turn down on the earth." The bent of their heart they have determined to turn down on these earthly things: deeming Him, who was slain, to endure a mighty evil, and themselves, that slew Him, none.

11. "As a lion ready for prey, have they taken Me" (ver. 12). They have taken Me, like that adversary who "walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." [517] "And as a lion's whelp dwelling in secret places." And as his whelp, the people to whom it was said, "Ye are of your father the devil:" [518] meditating on the snares, whereby they might circumvent and destroy the just One.

12. "Arise, O Lord, prevent them, and cast them down" (ver. 13). Arise, O Lord, Thou whom they suppose to be asleep, and regardless of men's iniquities; be they blinded before by their own malice, that vengeance may prevent their deed; and so cast them down.

13. "Deliver My soul from the ungodly." Deliver My soul, by restoring Me after the death, which the ungodly have inflicted on Me. "Thy weapon: from the enemies of Thine hand" (ver. 14). For My soul is Thy weapon, which Thy hand, that is, Thy eternal Power, hath taken to subdue thereby the kingdoms of iniquity, and divide the righteous from the ungodly. This weapon then "deliver from the enemies of Thine hand," that is, of Thy Power, that is, from Mine enemies. "Destroy them, O Lord, from off the earth, scatter them in their life." O Lord, destroy them from off the earth, which they inhabit, scatter them throughout the world in this life, which only they think their life, who [519] despair of life eternal. "And by Thy hidden things their belly hath been filled." Now not only this visible punishment shall overtake them, but also their memory hath been filled with sins, which as darkness are hidden from the light of Thy truth, that they should forget God. "They have been filled with swine's flesh." They have been filled with uncleanness, treading under foot the pearls of God's words. "And they have left the rest to their babes:" crying out, "This sin be upon us and upon our children." [520]

14. "But I shall appear in Thy righteousness in Thy sight" (ver. 15). But I, Who have not appeared to them that, with their filthy and darkened heart, cannot see the light of wisdom, "I shall appear in Thy righteousness in Thy sight."

"I shall be satiated, when Thy glory shall be manifested." And when they have been satiated with their uncleanness, that they could not know Me, I shall be satiated, when Thy glory shall be manifested, in them that know Me. In that verse indeed where it is said, "filled with swine's flesh," some copies have, "filled with children:" for from the ambiguity of the Greek [521] a double interpretation has resulted. Now by "children" we understand works; and as by good children, good works, so by evil, evil.

Footnotes

[513] Lat. XVI. [514] See on Ps. xlv. 2: "the word of grace, the kiss of grace." [515] Al. "the judgment of Godhead." [516] Matt. xxvii. 29. [517] 1 Pet. v. 8. [518] John viii. 44. [519] Al. "because they." [520] Matt. xxvii. 25. [521] huion, hu?n, hueion, various readings.--Ben. .


Psalm XVIII. [522]

To the end, for the servant of the Lord, David himself.

1. That is, for the strong of hand, Christ in His Manhood. [523] "The words of this song which he spoke to the Lord on the day when the Lord delivered him out of the hands of his enemies, and of the hand of Saul; and he said, On the day when the Lord delivered him out of the hands of his enemies and of the hand of Saul:" namely, the king of the Jews, whom they had demanded for themselves. [524] For as "David" is said to be by interpretation, strong of hand; so "Saul" is said to be demanding. Now it is well known, how that People demanded for themselves a king, and received him for their king, not according to the will of God, but according to their own will.

2. Christ, then, and the Church, that is, whole Christ, the Head and the Body, saith here, "I will love Thee, O Lord, My strength" (ver. 1). I will love Thee, O Lord, by whom I am strong. [525]

3. "O Lord, My stay, and My refuge, and My deliverer" (ver. 2). O Lord, who hast stayed Me, because I sought refuge with Thee: and I sought refuge, because Thou hast delivered Me. "My God is My helper; and I will hope in Him." My God, who hast first afforded me the help of Thy call, that I might be able to hope in Thee. "My defender, and the horn of My salvation, and My redeemer." My defender, because I have not leant upon Myself, lifting up as it were the horn of pride against Thee; but have found Thee a horn indeed, that is, the sure height of salvation: and that I might find it, Thou redeemedst Me.

4. "With praise will I call upon the Lord, and I shall be safe from Mine enemies" (ver. 3). Seeking not My own but the Lord's glory, I will call upon Him, and there shall be no means whereby the errors of ungodliness can hurt Me.

5. "The pains of death," that is, of the flesh, have "compassed Me about. And the overflowings of ungodliness have troubled Me" (ver. 4). Ungodly troubles [526] stirred up for a time, like torrents of rain which will soon subside, have come on to trouble Me.

6. "The pains of hell compassed Me about" (ver. 5). Among those that compassed Me about to destroy Me, were pains of envy, which work death, and lead on to the hell of sin. "The snares of death prevented Me." They prevented Me, so that they wished to hurt Me first, which shall afterwards be recompensed unto them. Now they seize unto destruction such men as they have evilly persuaded by the boast of righteousness: in the name but not in the reality of which they glory against the Gentiles.

7. "And in Mine oppression I called upon the Lord, and cried unto My God. And He heard My voice from His holy temple" (ver. 6). He heard from My heart, wherein He dwelleth, My voice. "And My cry in His sight entered into His ears;" and My cry, which I utter, not in the ears of men, but inwardly before Him Himself, "entered into His ears."

8. "And the earth was moved and trembled" (ver. 7). When the Son of Man was thus glorified, sinners were moved and trembled. "And the foundations of the mountains were troubled." And the hopes of the proud, which were in this life, were troubled. "And were moved, for God was wroth with them." That is, that the hope of temporal goods might have now no more establishment in the hearts of men.

9. "There went up smoke in His wrath" (ver. 8). The tearful supplication of penitents went up, when they came to know God's threatenings against the ungodly. "And fire burneth from His face." And the ardour of love after repentance burns by the knowledge of Him. "Coals were kindled from Him." They, who were already dead, abandoned by the fire of good desire and the light of righteousness, and who remained in coldness and darkness, re-enkindled and enlightened, have come to life again.

10. "And He bowed the heaven, and came down" (ver. 9). And He humbled the just One, that He might descend to men's infirmity. "And darkness under His feet." And the ungodly, who savour of things earthly, in the darkness of their own malice, knew not Him: for the earth under His feet is as it were His footstool.

11. "And He mounted above the cherubim, and did fly" (ver. 10). And He was exalted above the fulness of knowledge, that no man should come to Him but by love: for "love is the fulfilling of the law." [527] And full soon He showed to His lovers that He is incomprehensible, lest they should suppose that He is comprehended by corporeal imaginations. "He flew above the wings of the winds." But that swiftness, whereby He showed Himself to be incomprehensible, is above the powers of souls, whereon as upon wings they raise themselves from earthly fears into the air of liberty.

12. "And hath made darkness His hiding place" (ver. 11). And hath settled the obscurity of the Sacraments, and the hidden hope in the heart of believers, where He may lie hid, and not abandon them. In this darkness too, wherein "we yet walk by faith, and not by sight," [528] as long as "we hope for what we see not, and with patience wait for it." [529] "Round about Him is His tabernacle." Yet they that believe Him turn to Him and encircle Him; for that He is in the midst of them, since He is equally the friend of all, in whom as in a tabernacle He at this time dwells. "Dark water in clouds of air." Nor let any one on this account, if he understand the Scripture, imagine that he is already in that light, which will be when we shall have come out of faith into sight: for in the prophets and in all the preachers of the word of God there is obscure teaching.

13. "In respect of the brightness in His sight" (ver. 12): in comparison with the brightness, which is in the sight of His manifestation. "His clouds have passed over." The preachers of His word are not now bounded by the confines of Judæa, but have passed over to the Gentiles. "Hail and coals of fire." Reproofs are figured, [530] whereby, as by hail, the hard hearts are bruised: but if a cultivated and genial soil, that is, a godly mind, receive them, the hail's hardness dissolves into water, that is, the terror of the lightning-charged, [531] and as it were frozen, reproof dissolves into satisfying doctrine; and hearts kindled by the fire of love revive. All these things in His clouds have passed over to the Gentiles.

14. "And the Lord hath thundered from heaven" (ver. 13). And in confidence of the Gospel the Lord hath sounded forth from the heart of the just One. "And the Highest gave His voice;" that we might entertain it, and in the depth of human things, might hear things heavenly.

15. "And He sent out His arrows, and scattered them" (ver. 14). And He sent out Evangelists traversing straight paths on the wings of strength, not in their own power, but His by whom they were sent. And "He scattered them," to whom they were sent, that to some of them they should be "the savour of life unto life, to others the savour of death unto death." [532] "And He multiplied lightnings, and troubled them." And He multiplied miracles, and troubled them.

16. "And the fountains of water were seen. And the fountains of water springing up into everlasting life," [533] which were made in the preachers, were seen. "And the foundations of the round world were revealed" (ver. 15). And the Prophets, who were not understood, and upon whom was to be built the world of believers in the Lord, were revealed. "At Thy chiding, O Lord:" crying out, "The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." [534] "At the blasting of the breath of Thy displeasure;" saying, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." [535]

17. "He hath sent down from on high, and hath fetched Me (ver. 16): by calling out of the Gentiles for an inheritance "a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle." [536] "He hath taken Me out of the multitude of waters." He hath taken Me out of the multitude of peoples.

18. "He hath delivered Me from My strongest enemies" (ver. 17). He hath delivered Me from Mine enemies, who prevailed to the afflicting and overturning of this temporal life of Mine. "And from them which hate Me; for they are too strong for Me:" as long as I am under them knowing not God.

19. "They have prevented Me in the day of My affliction" (ver. 18). They have first injured Me, in the time when I am bearing a mortal and toilsome body. "And the Lord hath become My stay." And since the stay of earthly pleasure was disturbed and torn up by the bitterness of misery, the Lord hath become My stay.

20. "And hath brought Me forth into a broad place" (ver. 19). And since I was enduring the straits of the flesh, He brought Me forth into the spiritual breadth of faith. "He hath delivered Me, because He desired Me." Before that I desired Him, He delivered Me from My most powerful enemies (who were envious of Me when I once desired Him), and from them that hated Me, because I do desire Him.

21. "And the Lord shall reward Me according to My righteousness" (ver. 20). And the Lord shall reward Me according to the righteousness of My good will, who first showed mercy, before that I had the good will. "And according to the cleanness of My hands He will recompense Me." And according to the cleanness of My deeds He will recompense Me, who hath given Me to do well by bringing Me forth into the broad place of faith.

22. "Because I have kept the ways of the Lord" (ver. 21). That the breadth of good works, that are by faith, and the long-suffering of perseverance should follow after.

23. "Nor have I walked impiously apart from My God." "For all His judgments are [537] in My sight" (ver. 22). "For" with persevering contemplation I weigh "all His judgments," that is, the rewards of the righteous, and the punishments of the ungodly, and the scourges of such as are to be chastened, and the trials of such as are to be proved. "And I have not cast out His righteousness from Me:" as they do that faint under their burden of them, and return to their own vomit.

24. "And I shall be undefiled with Him, and I shall keep Myself from Mine iniquity" (ver. 23).

25. "And the Lord shall reward Me according to My righteousness (ver. 24). Accordingly not only for the breadth of faith, which worketh by love; but also for the length of perseverance, will the Lord reward Me according to My righteousness. "And according to the cleanness of My hands in the sight of His eyes." Not as men see, but "in the sight of His eyes." For "the things that are seen are temporal; but the things that are not seen are eternal:" [538] whereto the height of hope appertains.

26. "With the holy Thou shalt be holy" (ver. 25). There is a hidden depth also, wherein Thou art known to be holy with the holy, for that Thou makest holy. "And with the harmless Thou shalt be harmless." For Thou harmest no man, but each one is bound by the bands of his own sins. [539]

27. "And with the chosen Thou shalt be chosen." (ver. 26). And by him whom Thou choosest, Thou art chosen. "And with the froward Thou shalt be froward." And with the froward Thou seemest froward: for they say, "The way of the Lord is not right:" [540] and their way is not right.

28. "For Thou wilt make whole the humble people" (ver. 27). Now this seems froward to the froward, that Thou wilt make them whole that confess their sins. "And Thou wilt humble the eyes of the proud." But them that are "ignorant of God's righteousness, and seek to establish their own," [541] Thou wilt humble.

29. "For thou wilt light My candle, O Lord" (ver. 28). For our light is not from ourselves; but "Thou wilt light my candle, O Lord. O my God, Thou wilt enlighten my darkness." For we through our sins are darkness; but "Thou, O my God, wilt enlighten my darkness."

30. "For by Thee shall I be delivered from temptation" (ver. 29). For not by myself, but by Thee, shall I be delivered from temptation. "And in my God shall I leap over the wall." And not in myself, but in my God shall I leap over the wall, which sin has raised between men and the heavenly Jerusalem.

31. "My God, His way is undefiled" (ver. 30). My God cometh not unto men, except they shall have purified the way of faith, whereby He may come to them; for that "His way is undefiled." "The words of the Lord have been proved by fire." The words of the Lord are tried by the fire of tribulation. "He is the Protector of them that hope in Him." And all that hope not in themselves, but in Him, are not consumed by that same tribulation. For hope followeth faith.

32. "For who is God, but the Lord?" (ver. 31) whom we serve. "And who God, but our God?" And who is God, but the Lord? whom after good service we sons shall possess as the hoped-for inheritance.

33. "God, who hath girded me with strength" (ver. 32). God, who hath girded me that I might be strong, lest the loosely flowing folds of desire hinder my deeds and steps. "And hath made my way undefiled." And hath made the way of love, whereby I may come to Him, undefiled, as the way of faith is undefiled, whereby He comes to me.

34. "Who hath made my feet perfect like harts' feet" (ver. 33). Who hath made my love perfect to surmount the thorny and dark entanglements of this world. "And will set me up on high." And will fix my aim on the heavenly habitation, that "I may be filled with all the fulness of God." [542]

35. "Who teacheth my hands for battle" (ver. 34). Who teacheth me to work for the overthrow of mine enemies, who strive to shut the kingdom of heaven against us. "And Thou hast made mine arms as a bow of steel." And Thou hast made my earnest striving after good works unwearied.

36. "And Thou hast given me the defence of my salvation, and Thy right hand hath held me up" (ver. 35). And the favour of Thy grace hath held me up. "And Thy discipline hath directed me to the end." And Thy correction, not suffering me to wander from the way, hath directed me that whatsoever I do, I refer to that end, whereby I may cleave to Thee. "And this Thy discipline, it shall teach me." And that same correction of Thine shall teach me to attain to that, whereunto it hath directed me.

37. "Thou hast enlarged my steps under me" (ver. 36). Nor shall the straits of the flesh hinder me; for Thou hast enlarged my love, working in gladness even with these mortal things and members which are under me. "And my footsteps have not been weakened." And either my goings, or the marks which I have imprinted for the imitation of those that follow, have not been weakened.

38. "I will follow up mine enemies, and seize them" (ver. 37). I will follow up my carnal affections, and will not be seized by them, but will seize them, so that they may be consumed. "And I will not turn, till they fail." And from this purpose I will not turn myself to rest, till they fail who make a tumult about me.

39. "I will break them, and they shall not be able to stand" (ver. 38): and they shall not hold out against me. "They shall fall under my feet." When they are cast down, I will place before me the loves [543] whereby I walk for evermore.

40. "And Thou hast girded me with strength to the war" (ver. 39). And the loose desires of my flesh hast Thou bound up with strength, that in such a fight I may not be encumbered. "Thou hast supplanted under me them that rose up against me." Thou hast caused them to be deceived, who followed upon me, that they should be brought under me, who desired to be over me.

41. "And thou hast given mine enemies the back to me" (ver. 40). And thou hast turned mine enemies, and hast made them to be a back to me, that is, to follow me. "And Thou hast destroyed them that hate me." But such other of them as have persisted in hatred, Thou hast destroyed.

42. "They have cried out, and there was none to save them" (ver. 41). For who can save them, whom Thou wouldest not save? "To the Lord, and He did not hear them." Nor did they cry out to any chance one, but to the Lord: and He did not judge them worthy of being heard, who depart not from their wickedness.

43. "And I will beat them as small as dust before the face of the wind" (ver. 42). And I will beat them small; for dry they are, receiving not the shower of God's mercy; that borne aloft and puffed up with pride they may be hurried along from firm and unshaken hope, and as it were from the earth's solidity and stability. "As the clay of the streets I will destroy them." In their wanton and loose course along the broad ways of perdition, which many walk, will I destroy them.

44. "Thou wilt deliver Me from the contradictions of the people" (ver. 43). Thou wilt deliver Me from the contradictions of them who said, "If we send Him away, all the world will go after Him." [544]

45. "Thou shalt make Me the head of the Gentiles. A people whom I have not known have served Me." The people of the Gentiles, whom in bodily presence I have not visited, have served Me. "At the hearing of the ear they have obeyed Me" (ver. 44). They have not seen Me with the eye: but, receiving my preachers, at the hearing of the ear they have obeyed Me.

46. "The strange children have lied unto Me." Children, not to be called Mine, but rather strange children, to whom it is rightly said, "Ye are of your father the devil," [545] have lied unto Me. "The strange children have waxen old" (ver. 45). The strange children, to whom for their renovation I brought the new Testament, have remained in the old man. "And they have halted from their own paths." And like those that are weak in one foot, for holding the old they have rejected the new Testament, they have become halt, even in their old Law, rather following their own traditions, than God's. For they brought frivolous charges of unwashen hands, [546] because such were the paths, which themselves had made and worn by long use, in wandering from the ways of God's commands.

47. "The Lord liveth, and blessed be my God." "But to be carnally minded is death:" [547] for "the Lord liveth, and blessed be my God. And let the God of my salvation be exalted" (ver. 46). And let me not think after an earthly fashion of the God of my salvation; nor look from Him for this earthly salvation, but that on high.

48. "O God, who givest Me vengeance, and subduest the people under Me" (ver. 47). O God, who avengest Me by subduing the people under Me. "My Deliverer from My angry enemies:" the Jews crying out, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him." [548]

49. "From them that rise up against Me Thou wilt exalt Me" (ver. 48). From the Jews that rise up against Me in My passion, Thou wilt exalt Me in My resurrection. "From the unjust man Thou wilt deliver Me." From their unjust rule Thou wilt deliver Me.

50. "For this cause will I confess to Thee among the Gentiles, O Lord" (ver. 49). For this cause shall the Gentiles confess to Thee through Me, O Lord. "And I will sing unto Thy Name." And Thou shalt be more widely known by My good deeds.

51. "Magnifying the salvation of His King" (ver. 50). God, who magnifieth, so as to make wonderful, the salvation, which His Son giveth to believers. [549] "And showing mercy to His Christ:" God, who showeth mercy to His Christ: "To David and to His seed for evermore:" to the Deliverer Himself strong of hand, who hath overcome this world; and to them whom, as believers in the Gospel, He hath begotten for evermore. What things soever are spoken in this Psalm which cannot apply to the Lord Himself personally, that is to the Head of the Church, must be referred to the Church. For whole Christ speaks here, in whom are all His members.

Footnotes

[522] Lat. XVII. [523] Secundum Hominem. [524] 1 Sam. viii. 5. [525] [2 Sam. xxii.--C.] [526] Or, "crowds." [527] Rom. xiii. 10. [528] 2 Cor. v. 7. [529] Rom. viii. 25. [530] Read "full lightning-charged reproofs." [531] Fulguratæ. [532] 2 Cor. ii. 16. [533] John iv. 14. [534] Luke x. 9. [535] Luke xiii. 5. [536] Eph. v. 27. [537] Oxford mss. "are always." [538] 2 Cor. iv. 18. [539] Prov. v. 22. [540] Ezek. xviii. 25. [541] Rom. x. 3. [542] Eph. iii. 19. [543] See p. 37. "The foot of sinners; that is, their love." [544] John xi. 48, xii. 19. [545] John viii. 44. [546] Matt. xv. 2. [547] Rom. viii. 6. [548] John xix. 6. [549] [The epigraph of this Psalm in 2 Sam. xxiii. 1-5 seems to connect with Isa. lv. 3, and so with Acts xiii. 34.--C.] .


Psalm XIX. [550]

To the end, a psalm of David himself.

1. It is a well-known title; nor does the Lord Jesus Christ say what follows, but it is said of Him.

2. "The heavens tell out the glory of God" (ver. 1). The righteous Evangelists, in whom, as in the heavens, God dwelleth, set forth the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, or the glory wherewith the Son glorified the Father upon earth. "And the firmament showeth forth the works of His hands." And the firmament showeth forth the deeds of the Lord's power, that now made heaven by the assurance of the Holy Ghost, which before was earth by fear.

3. "Day unto day uttereth word" (ver. 2). To the spiritual the Spirit giveth out the fulness of the unchangeable Wisdom of God, the Word which in the beginning is God with God. [551] "And night unto night announceth knowledge." And to the fleshly, as to those afar off, the mortality of the flesh, by conveying faith, announceth future knowledge.

4. "There is no speech nor language, in which their voices are not heard" (ver. 3). In which the voices of the Evangelists have not been heard, seeing that the Gospel was preached in every tongue.

5. "Their sound is gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world" [552] (ver. 4).

6. "In the sun hath He set His tabernacle." Now that He might war against the powers of temporal error, the Lord, being about to send not peace but a sword on earth, [553] in time, or in manifestation, set so to say His military dwelling, that is, the dispensation of His incarnation. "And He as a bridegroom coming forth out of His chamber" (ver. 5). And He, coming forth out of the Virgin's womb, where God was united to man's nature as a bridegroom to a bride. "Rejoiced as a giant to run His way." Rejoiced as One exceeding strong, and surpassing all other men in power incomparable, not to inhabit, but to run His way. For, "He stood not in the way of sinners." [554]

7. "His going forth is from the highest heaven" (ver. 6). From the Father is His going forth, not that in time, but from everlasting, whereby He was born of the Father. "And His meeting is even to the height of heaven." And in the fulness of the Godhead He meets even to an equality with the Father. [555] "And there is none that may hide himself from His heat." But whereas, "the Word was even made flesh, and dwelt in us," [556] assuming our mortality, He permitted no man to excuse himself from the shadow of death; for the heat of the Word penetrated even it.

8. "The law of the Lord is undefiled, converting souls" (ver. 7). The law of the Lord, therefore, is Himself who came to fulfil the law, not to destroy it; [557] an undefiled law, "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth," [558] not oppressing souls with the yoke of bondage, but converting them to imitate Him in liberty. "The testimony of the Lord is sure, giving wisdom to babes." "The testimony of the Lord is sure;" for, "no man knoweth the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him," [559] which things have been hidden from the wise and revealed to babes; [560] for, "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble." [561]

9. "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart" (ver. 8). All the statutes of the Lord are right in Him who taught not what He did not; that they who should imitate Him might rejoice in heart, in those things which they should do freely with love, not slavishly with fear. "The commandment of the Lord is lucid, enlightening the eyes." "The commandment of the Lord is lucid," with no veil of carnal observances, enlightening the sight of the inner man.

10. "The fear of the Lord is chaste, enduring for ever" (ver. 9). "The fear of the Lord;" not that distressing [562] fear under the law, dreading exceedingly the withdrawal of temporal goods, by the love of which the soul commits fornication; but that chaste fear wherewith the Church, the more ardently she loves her Spouse, the more carefully does she take heed of offending Him, and therefore, "perfect love casteth" not "out" this "fear," [563] but it endureth for ever.

11. "The judgments of the Lord are true, justified together." The judgments of Him, who "judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son," [564] are justified in truth unchangeably. For neither in His threatenings nor His promises doth God deceive any man, nor can any withdraw either from the ungodly His punishment, or from the godly His reward. "To be desired more than gold, and much precious stone" (ver. 10). Whether it be "gold and stone itself much," or "much precious," or "much to be desired;" still, the judgments of God are to be desired more than the pomp of this world; by desire of which it is brought to pass that the judgments of God are not desired, but feared, or despised, or not believed. But if any be himself gold and precious stone, that he may not be consumed by fire, but received into the treasury of God, more than himself does he desire the judgments of God, whose will he preferreth to his own. "And sweeter than honey and the honey comb." And whether one be even now honey, who, disenthralled already from the chains of this life, is awaiting the day when he may come up to God's feast; or whether he be yet as the honey comb, wrapped about with this life as it were with wax, not mixed and become one with it, but filling it, needing some pressure of God's hand, not oppressing but expressing it, whereby from life temporal it may be strained out into life eternal: to such an one the judgments of God are sweeter than he himself is to himself, for that they are "sweeter than honey and the honey comb."

12. "For Thy servant keepeth them" (ver. 11). For to him who keepeth them not the day of the Lord is bitter. "In keeping them there is great reward." Not in any external benefit, but in the thing itself, that God's judgments are kept, is there great reward; great because one rejoiceth therein.

13. "Who understandeth sins?" (ver. 12.) But what sort of sweetness can there be in sins, where there is no understanding? For who can understand sins, which close the very eye, to which truth is pleasant, to which the judgments of God are desirable and sweet? yea, as darkness closes the eye, so do sins the mind, and suffer it not to see either the light, or itself.

14. "Cleanse me, O Lord, from my secret faults." From the lusts which lie hid in me, cleanse me, O Lord. "And from the" faults "of others preserve Thy servant" (ver. 13). Let me not be led astray by others. For he is not a prey to the faults of others, who is cleansed from his own. Preserve therefore from the lusts of others, not the proud man, and him who would be his own master, but, Thy servant. "If they get not the dominion over me, then shall I be undefiled." If neither my own secret sins, nor those of others, get the dominion over me, then shall I be undefiled. For there is no third source of sin, but one's own secret sin, by which the devil fell, and another's sin, by which man is seduced, so as by consenting to make it his own. "And I shall be cleansed from the great offence." What but pride? for there is none greater than apostasy from God, which is "the beginning of the pride of man." [565] And he shall indeed be undefiled, who is free from this offence also; for this is the last to them who are returning to God, which was the first as they departed from Him.

15. "And the words of my mouth shall be pleasing, and the meditation of my heart is always in Thy sight" (ver. 14). The meditation of my heart is not after the vain glory of pleasing men, for now there is pride no more, but in Thy sight alway, who regardest a pure conscience. "O Lord, my Helper, and my Redeemer" [566] (ver. 15). O Lord, my Helper, in my approach to Thee; for Thou art my Redeemer, that I might set out unto Thee: lest any attributing to his own wisdom his conversion to Thee, or to his own strength his attaining to Thee, should be rather driven back by Thee, who resistest the proud; for he is not cleansed from the great offence, nor pleasing in Thy sight, who redeemest us that we may be converted, and helpest us that we may attain unto Thee.

Footnotes

[550] Lat. XVIII. [551] John i. 1. [552] [Rom. x. 18. "And therefore are we even speaking here" says our author in his second homily (omitted) on this Psalm.--C.] [553] Matt. x. 34. [554] Ps. i. 1. [555] Vid. in Psalm lviii (lix. E.V.). Enarrat. i. 10. [556] John i. 14. [557] Matt. v. 17. [558] 1 Pet. ii. 22. [559] Matt. xi. 27. [560] Luke x. 21. [561] Jas. iv. 6. [562] Poenalis. [563] 1 John iv. 18. [564] John v. 22. [565] Ecclus. x. 12. [566] [Here the word is rendered "Redeemer" in the Septuagint, and is the same in the Hebrew as in Job xix. 25.--C.] .


Psalm XX. [567]

To the end, a psalm of David.

1. This is a well-known title; and it is not Christ who speaks; but the prophet speaks to Christ, under the form of wishing, foretelling things to come. [568]

2. "The Lord hear Thee in the day of trouble" (ver. 1). The Lord hear Thee in the day in which Thou saidst, "Father glorify Thy Son." [569] "The name of the God of Jacob protect Thee." For to Thee belongeth the younger people. Since "the elder shall serve the younger." [570]

3. "Send Thee help from the Holy, and from Sion defend Thee" (ver. 2). Making for Thee a sanctified Body, the Church, from watching [571] safe, which waiteth when Thou shalt come from the wedding.

4. "Be mindful of all Thy sacrifice" (ver. 3). Make us mindful of all Thy injuries and despiteful treatment, which Thou hast borne for us. "And be Thy whole burnt offering made fat." And turn the cross, whereon Thou wast wholly offered up to God, into the joy of the resurrection.

5. "Diapsalma." The Lord render to Thee according to Thine Heart" (ver. 4). The Lord render to Thee, not according to their heart, who thought by persecution they could destroy Thee; but according to Thine Heart, wherein Thou knewest what profit Thy passion would have. [572] "And fulfil all Thy counsel." "And fulfil all Thy counsel," not only that whereby Thou didst lay down Thy life for Thy friends, [573] that the corrupted grain might rise again to more abundance; [574] but that also whereby "blindness in part hath happened unto Israel, that the fulness of the Gentiles might enter in, and so all Israel might be saved." [575]

6. "We will exult in Thy salvation" (ver. 5). We will exult in that death will in no wise hurt Thee; for so Thou wilt also show that it cannot hurt us either. "And in the name of the Lord our God will we be magnified." And the confession of Thy name shall not only not destroy us, but shall even magnify us.

7. "The Lord fulfil all Thy petitions." The Lord fulfil not only the petitions which Thou madest on earth, but those also whereby Thou intercedest for us in heaven. "Now have I known that the Lord hath saved his Christ" (ver. 6). Now hath it been shown to me in prophecy, that the Lord will raise up His Christ again. "He will hear Him from His holy heaven." He will hear Him not from earth only, where He prayed to be glorified; [576] but from heaven also, where interceding for us at the Right Hand of the Father, [577] He hath from thence shed abroad the Holy Spirit on them that believe on Him. "In strength is the safety of His right hand." Our strength is in the safety of His favour, when even out of tribulation He giveth help, that "when we are weak, then we may be strong." [578] "For vain is" that "safety of man," [579] which comes not of His right hand but of His left: for thereby are they lifted up to great pride, whosoever in their sins have secured a temporal safety.

8. "Some in chariots, and some in horses" (ver. 7). Some are drawn away by the ever moving succession of temporal goods; and some are preferred to proud honours, and in them exult: "But we will exult in the name of the Lord our God." But we, fixing our hope on things eternal, and not seeking our own glory, will exult in the name of the Lord our God.

9. "They have been bound, and fallen" (ver. 8). And therefore were they bound by the lust of temporal things, fearing to spare the Lord, lest they should lose their place by "the Romans:" [580] and rushing violently on the stone of offence and rock of stumbling, they fell from the heavenly hope: to whom the blindness in part of Israel hath happened, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and wishing to establish their own. [581] "But we are risen, and stand upright." But we, that the Gentile people might enter in, out of the stones raised up as children to Abraham, [582] who followed not after righteousness, have attained to it, and are risen; [583] and not by our own strength, but being justified by faith, we stand upright.

10. "O Lord, save the King:" that He, who in His Passion hath shown us an example of conflict, should also offer up our sacrifices, the Priest raised from the dead, and established in heaven. "And hear us in the day when we shall call on Thee" (ver. 9). And as He now offereth for us, "hear us in the day when we shall call on Thee."

Footnotes

[567] Lat. XIX. [568] [This and the next Psalm are a prelude to the great Psalm of the expiation which is to follow.--C.] [569] John xvii. 5 and xii. 28. [570] Gen. xxv. 23; Rom. ix. 12. [571] "Sion," "beholding," p. 13, ver. 6. [572] John xii. 32. [573] John xv. 13. [574] John xii. 24. [575] Rom. xi. 25, 26. [576] John xvii. 1. [577] Heb. vii. 25. [578] 2 Cor. xii. 10. [579] Ps. lx. 11. [580] John xi. 48. [581] Rom. xi. 25; Rom. x. 3. [582] Matt. iii. 9. [583] Rom. ix. 30. .


Psalm XXI. [584]

To the end, a psalm of David himself.

1. The title is a familiar one; the Psalm is of Christ. [585]

2. "O Lord, the King shall rejoice in Thy strength" (ver. 1). O Lord, in Thy strength, whereby the Word was made flesh, the Man Christ Jesus shall rejoice. "And shall exult exceedingly in Thy salvation." And in that, whereby Thou quickenest all things, shall exult exceedingly.

3. "Thou hast given Him the desire of His soul" (ver. 2). He desired to eat the Passover, [586] and to lay down His life when He would, and again when He would to take it; and Thou hast given it to Him. [587] "And hast not deprived Him of the good pleasure of His lips." "My peace," saith He, "I leave with you:" [588] and it was done.

4. "For Thou hast presented Him with the blessings of sweetness" (ver. 3). Because He had first quaffed the blessing of Thy sweetness, the gall of our sins did not hurt Him. "Diapsalma. Thou hast set a crown of precious stone on His Head." [589] At the beginning of His discoursing precious stones were brought, and compassed Him about; [590] His disciples, from whom the commencement of His preaching should be made.

5. "He asked life; and Thou gavest Him:" He asked a resurrection, saying, "Father, glorify Thy Son;" [591] and Thou gavest it Him, "Length of days for ever and ever" (ver. 4). The prolonged ages of this world which the Church was to have, and after them an eternity, world without end.

6. "His glory is great in Thy salvation" (ver. 5). Great indeed is His glory in the salvation, whereby Thou hast raised Him up again. "Glory and great honour shalt Thou lay upon Him." But Thou shalt yet add unto Him glory and great honour, when Thou shalt place Him in heaven at Thy right hand.

7. "For Thou shalt give Him blessing for ever and ever." This is the blessing which Thou shalt give Him for ever and ever: "Thou shalt make Him glad in joy together with Thy countenance" (ver. 6). According to His manhood, Thou shalt make Him glad together with Thy countenance, which He lifted up to Thee.

8. "For the King hopeth in the Lord." For the King is not proud, but humble in heart, he hopeth in the Lord. "And in the mercy of the Most Highest He shall not be moved" (ver. 7). And in the mercy of the Most Highest His obedience even unto the death of the Cross shall not disturb His humility.

9. "Let Thy hand be found by all Thine enemies." Be Thy power, O King, when Thou comest to judgment, found by all Thine enemies; who in Thy humiliation discerned it not. "Let Thy right hand find out all that hate Thee" (ver. 8). Let the glory, wherein Thou reignest at the right hand of the Father, find out for punishment in the day of judgment all that hate Thee; for that now they have not found it.

10. "Thou shalt make them like a fiery oven:" Thou shalt make them on fire within, by the consciousness of their ungodliness: "In the time of Thy countenance:" in the time of Thy manifestation. "The Lord shall trouble them in His wrath, and the fire shall devour them" (ver. 9). And then, being troubled by the vengeance of the Lord, after the accusation of their conscience, they shall be given up to eternal fire, to be devoured.

11. "Their fruit shalt Thou destroy out of the earth." Their fruit, because it is earthly, shalt Thou destroy out of the earth. "And their seed from the sons of men" (ver. 10). And their works; or, whomsoever they have seduced, Thou shalt not reckon among the sons of men, whom Thou hast called into the everlasting inheritance.

12. "Because they turned evils against Thee." Now this punishment shall be recompensed to them, because the evils which they supposed to hang over them by Thy reign, they turned against Thee to Thy death. "They imagined a device, which they were not able to establish" (ver. 11). They imagined a device, saying, "It is expedient that one die for all:" [592] which they were not able to establish, not knowing what they said.

13. "For Thou shalt set them low." For Thou shalt rank them among those from whom in degradation and contempt Thou wilt turn away. "In Thy leavings [593] Thou shalt make ready their countenance" (ver. 12). And in these things that Thou leavest, that is, in the desires of an earthly kingdom, Thou shalt make ready their shamelessness for Thy passion.

14. "Be Thou exalted, O Lord, in Thy strength" (ver. 13). Be Thou, Lord, whom in humiliation they did not discern, exalted in Thy strength, which they thought weakness. "We will sing and praise Thy power." In heart and in deed we will celebrate and make known Thy marvels.

Footnotes

[584] Lat. XX. [585] [Prophetic of His ascension.--C.] [586] Luke xxii. 15. [587] John x. 18. [588] John xiv. 27. [589] [Rev. xix. 12. Our author agrees with the Septuagint and the Vulgate here, as to "precious stone." Jerome gives coronam obrizam. Gr. obruzon.--C.] [590] Matt. v. 1. [Compare Mal. iii. 17.--C.] [591] John xvii. 1. [592] John xi. 50. [593] [In reliquiis tuis. So Vulgate.--C.] .


Psalm XXII. [594]

To the end, for the taking up of the morning, a psalm of David. [595]

1. "To the end," for His own resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself speaketh. [596] For in the morning on the first day of the week was His resurrection, whereby He was taken up, into eternal life, "Over whom death shall have no more dominion." [597] Now what follows is spoken in the person of The Crucified. For from the head of this Psalm are the words, which He cried out, whilst hanging on the Cross, sustaining also the person of the old man, whose mortality He bare. For our old man was nailed together with Him to the Cross. [598]

2. "O God, my God, look upon me, why hast Thou forsaken [599] me far from my salvation?" (ver. 1). Far removed from my salvation: for "salvation is far from sinners." [600] "The words of my sins." For these are not the words of righteousness, but of my sins. For it is the old man nailed to the Cross that speaks, ignorant even of the reason why God hath forsaken him: or else it may be thus, The words of my sins are far from my salvation.

3. "My God, I will cry unto Thee in the daytime, and Thou wilt not hear (ver. 2). My God, I will cry unto Thee in the prosperous circumstances of this life, that they be not changed; and Thou wilt not hear, because I shall cry unto Thee in the words of my sins. "And in the night-season, and not to my folly." And so in the adversities of this life will I cry to Thee for prosperity; and in like manner Thou wilt not hear. And this Thou doest not to my folly, but rather that I may have wisdom to know what Thou wouldest have me cry for, not with the words of sins out of longing for life temporal, but with the words of turning to Thee for life eternal.

4. "But Thou dwellest in the holy place, O Thou praise of Israel" (ver. 3). But Thou dwellest in the holy place, and therefore wilt not hear the unclean words of sins. The "praise" of him that seeth Thee; not of him who hath sought his own praise in tasting of the forbidden fruit, that on the opening of his bodily eyes he should endeavour to hide himself from Thy sight.

5. "Our Fathers hoped in Thee." All the righteous, namely, who sought not their own praise, but Thine. "They hoped in Thee, and Thou deliveredst them" (ver. 4).

6. "They cried unto Thee, and were saved." They cried unto Thee, not in the words of sins, from which salvation is far; and therefore were they saved. "They hoped in Thee, and were not confounded" (ver. 5). "They hoped in Thee," and their hope did not deceive them. For they placed it not in themselves.

7. "But I am a worm, and no man" (ver. 6). But I, speaking now not in the person of Adam, but I in My own person, Jesus Christ, was born without human generation in the flesh, that I might be as man beyond men; that so at least human pride might deign to imitate My humility. "The scorn of men, and outcast of the people." In which humility I was made the scorn of men, so as that it should be said, as a reproachful railing, "Be thou His disciple:" [601] and that the people despise Me.

8. "All that saw Me laughed Me to scorn" (ver. 7). All that saw Me derided Me. "And spake with the lips, and shook the head." [602] And they spoke, not with the heart, but with the lips.

9. For they shook their head in derision, saying, "He trusted in the Lord, let Him deliver Him:" [603] "let Him save Him, since He desireth Him" (ver. 8). These were their words; but they were spoken "with the lips."

10. "Since Thou art He who drew Me out of the womb" (ver. 9). Since Thou art He who drew Me, not only out of that Virgin womb (for this is the law of all men's birth, that they be drawn out of the womb), but also out of the womb of the Jewish nation; by the darkness whereof he is covered, and not yet born into the light of Christ, whosoever places his salvation in the carnal observance of the Sabbath, and of circumcision, and the like. "My hope from My mother's breasts." "My hope," O God, not from the time when I began to be fed by the milk of the Virgin's breasts; for it was even before; but from the breasts of the Synagogue, as I have said, out of the womb, Thou hast drawn Me, that I should not suck in the customs of the flesh.

11. "I have been strengthened in Thee from the womb" (ver. 10). It is the womb of the Synagogue, which did not carry Me, but threw Me out: but I fell not, for Thou heldest me. "From My mother's womb Thou art My God." "From My mother's womb: My mother's womb did not cause that, as a babe, I should be forgetful of Thee.

12. "Thou art My God," "depart not from Me; for trouble is hard at hand" (ver. 11). Thou art, therefore, My God, depart not from Me; for trouble is nigh unto Me; for it is in My body. "For there is none to help." For who helpeth, if Thou helpest not?

13. "Many calves came about Me." The multitude of the wanton populace came about Me. "Fat bulls closed Me in" (ver. 12). And their leaders, glad at My oppression, "closed Me in."

14. "They opened their mouth upon Me" (ver. 13). They opened their mouth upon Me, not out of Thy Scripture, but of their own lusts. "As a ravening and roaring lion." As a lion, whose ravening is, that I was taken and led; and whose roaring, "Crucify, Crucify." [604]

15. "I was poured out like water, and all My bones were scattered" (ver. 14). "I was poured out like water," when My persecutors fell: and through fear, the stays of My body, that is, the Church, My disciples were scattered from Me. [605] "My heart became as melting wax, in the midst of my belly." My wisdom, which was written of Me in the sacred books, was, as if hard and shut up, not understood: but after that the fire of My Passion was applied, it was, as if melted, manifested, and entertained in the memory of My Church.

16. "My strength dried up as a potsherd" (ver. 15). My strength dried up by My Passion; not as hay, but a potsherd, which is made stronger by fire. "And My tongue cleaved to My jaws." And they, through whom I was soon to speak, kept My precepts in their hearts. "And Thou broughtest Me down to the dust of death." And to the ungodly appointed to death, whom the wind casteth forth as dust from the face of the earth, [606] Thou broughtest Me down.

17. "For many dogs came about Me" (ver. 16). For many came about Me barking, not for truth, but for custom. "The council of the malignant came about Me." The council of the malignant besieged Me. [607] "They pierced My hands and feet." They pierced with nails My hands and feet.

18. "They numbered distinctly all My bones" (ver. 17). They numbered distinctly all My bones, while extended on the wood of the Cross. "Yea, these same regarded, and beheld Me." Yea, these same, that is, unchanged, regarded and beheld Me.

19. "They divided My garments for themselves, and cast the lot upon My vesture" [608] (ver. 18).

20. "But Thou, O Lord, withhold not Thy help far from Me" (ver. 19). But Thou, O Lord, raise Me up again, not as the rest of men, at the end of the world, but immediately. "Look to My defence." "Look," that they in no wise hurt Me.

21. "Deliver My soul from the sword." "Deliver My soul" from the tongue of dissension. "And My only One from the hand of the dog" (ver. 20). And from the power of the people, barking after their custom, deliver My Church.

22. "Save Me from the lion's mouth:" save Me from the mouth of the kingdom of this world: "and my humility from the horns of the unicorns" [609] (ver. 21). And from the loftiness of the proud, exalting themselves to special pre-eminence, and enduring no partakers, save My humility.

23. "I will declare Thy name to My brethren" [610] (ver. 22). I will declare Thy name to the humble, [611] and to My Brethren that love one another as they have been beloved by Me. [612] "In the midst of the Church will I sing of Thee." In the midst of the Church will I with rejoicing preach Thee.

24. "Ye that fear the Lord, praise Him." "Ye that fear the Lord," seek not your own praise, but "praise Him." "All ye seed of Jacob, magnify Him" (ver. 23). All ye seed of him whom the elder shall serve, magnify Him.

25. "Let all the seed of Israel fear Him." Let all who have been born to a new life, and restored to the vision of God "fear Him." "Since He hath not despised, nor disregarded the prayer of the poor man" (ver. 24). Since He hath not despised the prayer, not of him who, crying unto God in the words of sins was loath to overpass a vain life, but the prayer of the poor man, not swollen up with transitory pomps. "Nor hath He turned away His face from Me." As from him who said, I will cry unto Thee, but Thou wilt not hear. "And when I cried unto Him He heard Me."

26. "With Thee is My praise" (ver. 25). For I seek not Mine own praise, [613] for Thou art My praise, who dwellest in the holy place; and, praise of Israel, Thou hearest The Holy One now beseeching Thee. "In the great Church I will confess Thee." In the Church of the whole world "I will confess Thee." "I will offer My vows in the sight of them that fear Him." I will offer the sacraments of My Body and Blood in the sight of them that fear Him.

27. "The poor shall eat, and be filled" (ver. 26). The humble and the despisers of the world shall eat, and imitate Me. For so they will neither desire this world's abundance, nor fear its want. "And they shall praise the Lord, who seek Him." For the praise of the Lord is the pouring out of that fulness. "Their hearts shall live for ever and ever." For that food is the food of the heart.

28. "All the borders of the earth shall remember themselves, and be turned to the Lord" (ver. 27). They shall remember themselves: for, by the Gentiles, born in death and bent on outward things, God had been forgotten; and then shall all the borders of the earth be turned to the Lord. "And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship in His sight." And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship in their own consciences.

29. "For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He shall rule over the nations" (ver. 28). For the kingdom is the Lord's, not proud men's: and He shall rule over the nations.

30. "All the rich of the earth have eaten, and worshipped" [614] (ver. 29). The rich of the earth too have eaten the Body of their Lord's humiliation, and though they have not, as the poor, been filled even to imitation, yet they have worshipped. "In His sight shall fall all that descend to earth." For He alone seeth how all they fall, who abandoning a heavenly conversation, make choice, on earth, to appear happy to men, who see not their fall.

31. "And My Soul shall live to Him." And My Soul, which in the contempt of this world seems to men as it were to die, shall live, not to itself, but to Him. "And My seed shall serve Him" (ver. 30). And My deeds, or they who through Me believe on Him, shall serve Him.

32. "The generation to come shall be declared to the Lord" (ver. 31). The generation of the New Testament shall be declared to the honour of the Lord. "And the heavens shall declare His righteousness." And the Evangelists shall declare His righteousness. "To a people that shall be born, whom the Lord hath made." To a people that shall be born to the Lord through faith.

Footnotes

[594] Lat. XXI. [595] [This was read on the anniversary of our Lord's passion, as appears from the (omitted) Second Exposition.--C.] [596] John xx. 1-17. [597] Rom. vi. 9. [598] Rom. vi. 6. [599] Vid. Ps. xxxvii. 6 and xliii. 2, and Enarr. i. Ps. lviii. 2, and Ep. 149. [Opp. S. August. ed Migne, tom. iv. pp. 399, 483, 691, etc.--C.] [600] Ps. cxix. 155. [601] John ix. 28. [602] Matt. xxvii. 39. [603] Matt. xxvii. 43. [604] John xix. 6. [605] Matt. xxvi. 56. [606] Ps. i. 4. [607] These seven words from the Oxford ms. [608] [The garments he elsewhere makes the sacraments, his vesture the undivided unity of the Church. See his Second Exposition, here omitted.--C.] [609] [The original Hebrew seems to me a foreshadowing of the Romans, as Peres (Dan. v. 28) points to the Persians.--C.] [610] [Here he makes Part II. to begin; i.e., the triumph over death and the grave.--C.] [611] Or, "to My Brethren that are humble, and," etc. [612] John xvii. 6, 21. [613] John viii. 50. [614] [Here the African Psalter reads, "divites terræ," the counterpart of pauperes in ver. 26. Would this had been followed in our English, which makes a ludicrous transition in this sublime prophecy.--C.] .


Psalm XXIII. [615]

A psalm of David himself.

1. The Church speaks to Christ: "The Lord feedeth me, and I shall lack nothing" (ver. 1). The Lord Jesus Christ is my Shepherd, "and I shall lack nothing."

2. "In a place of pasture there hath He placed me" (ver. 2). In a place of fresh pasture, leading me to faith, [616] there hath He placed me to be nourished. "By the water of refreshing hath He brought me up." By the water of baptism, whereby they are refreshed who have lost health and strength, hath He brought me up.

3. "He hath converted my soul: He hath led me forth in the paths of righteousness, for His Name's sake" (ver. 3). He hath brought me forth in the narrow ways, wherein few walk, of His righteousness; not for my merit's sake, but for His Name's sake.

4. "Yea, though I walk in the midst of the shadow of death" (ver. 4). Yea, though I walk in the midst of this life, which is the shadow of death. [617] "I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me." I will fear no evil, for Thou dwellest in my heart by faith: and Thou art now with me, that after the shadow of death I too may be with Thee. "Thy rod and Thy staff, they have comforted me." Thy discipline, like a rod for a flock of sheep, and like a staff for children of some size, and growing out of the natural into spiritual life, they have not been grievous to me; rather have they comforted me: because Thou art mindful of me.

5. "Thou hast prepared a table in my sight, against them that trouble me" (ver. 5). Now after the rod, whereby, whilst a little one, and living the natural life, I was brought up among the flock in the pastures; after that rod, I say, when I began to be under the staff, Thou hast prepared a table in my sight, that I should no more be fed as a babe with milk, [618] but being older should take meat, strengthened against them that trouble me. "Thou hast fattened my head with oil." Thou hast gladdened my mind with spiritual joy. "And Thy inebriating cup, how excellent is it!" And Thy cup yielding forgetfulness of former vain delights, how excellent is it!

6. "And Thy mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:" that is, as long as I live in this mortal life, not Thine, but mine. "That I may dwell in the house of the Lord [619] for length of days" (ver. 6). Now Thy mercy shall follow me not here only, but also that I may dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Footnotes

[615] Lat. XXII. [616] Pascuæ incipientis. [617] [Note this very comprehensive comment on the real meaning of the valley.--C.] [618] 1 Cor. iii. 2. [619] [He applies the figures of ver. 5 and here to the Lord's Table, the chrism (i.e., confirmation), and the Church in time and eternity.--C.] .


Psalm XXIV. [620]

A psalm of David himself, on the first day of the week. [621]

1. A Psalm of David himself, touching the glorifying and resurrection of the Lord, which took place early in the morning on the first day of the week, which is now called the Lord's Day.

2. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, the compass of the world, and all they that dwell therein" (ver. 1); when the Lord, being glorified, is announced for the believing of all nations; and the whole compass of the world becomes His Church. "He hath founded it above the seas." He hath most firmly established it above all the waves of this world, that they should be subdued by it, and should not hurt it. "And hath prepared it above the rivers" (ver. 2). The rivers flow into the sea, and men of lust lapse into the world: these also the Church, which, when worldly lusts have been conquered by the grace of God, hath been prepared by love for the reception of immortality, subdues.

3. "Who shall ascend into the mount of the Lord?" Who shall ascend to the height of the righteousness of the Lord? "Or who shall stand in His holy place?" (ver. 3). Or who shall abide in that place, whither He shall ascend, [622] founded above the seas, and prepared above the rivers?

4. "The innocent of hand, and the pure in heart" (ver. 4). Who then shall ascend thither, and abide there, but the guiltless in deed, and pure in thought? "Who hath not received his soul in vain." Who hath not reckoned his soul among things that pass away, but feeling it to be immortal, hath longed for an eternity stedfast and unchangeable. "And hath not sworn in deceit to his neighbour." And therefore without deceit, as things eternal are simple and undeceiving, hath so behaved himself to his neighbour.

5. "This man shall receive blessing from the Lord, and mercy from the God of his salvation" [623] (ver. 5).

6. "This is the generation of them that seek the Lord" (ver. 6). For thus are they born that seek Him. "Of them that seek the face of the God of Jacob. [624] Diapsalma." Now they seek the face of God, who gave the pre-eminence to the younger born. [625]

7. "Take away your gates, ye princes" (ver. 7). All ye, that seek rule among men, remove, that they hinder not, the entrances which ye have made, of desire and fear. "And be ye lift up, ye everlasting gates." And be ye lift up, ye entrances of eternal life, of renunciation of the world, and conversion to God. "And the King of glory shall come in." And the King, in whom we may glory without pride, shall come in: who having overcome the gates of death, and having opened for Himself the heavenly places, fulfilled that which He said, "Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world." [626]

8. "Who is this King of glory?" Mortal nature is awe-struck in wonder, and asks, "Who is this King of glory?" "The Lord strong and mighty." He whom thou didst deem weak and overwhelmed. "The Lord mighty in battle" (ver. 8). Handle the scars, and thou wilt find them made whole, and human weakness restored to immortality. The glorifying of the Lord, which was owing to earth, where It warred with death, hath been paid.

9. "Take away your gates, ye princes." [627] Let us go hence straightway into heaven. Again, let the Prophet's trumpet cry aloud, "Take away too, ye princes of the air, the gates, which ye have in the minds of men who `worship the host of heaven.'" [628] "And be ye lift up, ye everlasting gates." And be ye lift up, ye doors of everlasting righteousness, of love, and chastity, through which the soul loveth the One True God, and goeth not a-whoring with the many that are called gods. "And the King of glory shall come in" (ver. 9). "And the King of glory shall come in," that He may at the right hand of the Father intercede for us.

10. "Who is this King of glory?" What! dost thou too, prince of the power of this air, [629] marvel and ask, "Who is this King of glory?" "The Lord of powers, He is the King of glory" (ver. 10). Yea, His Body now quickened, He who was tempted marches above thee; He who was tempted by the angel, the deceiver, goes above all angels. Let none of you put himself before us and stop our way, that he may be worshipped as a god by us: neither principality, nor angel, nor power, separateth us from the love of Christ. [630] It is good to trust in the Lord, rather than to trust in a prince; [631] that he who glorieth, should glory in the Lord. [632] These indeed are powers in the administration of this world, but "the Lord of powers, He is the King of glory."

Footnotes

[620] Lat. XXIII. [621] [Surely a foretokening of our Sunday.--C.] [622] Al. "hath ascended." [623] [Light, resurrection, and sanctification are the glories of the Lord's Day, and "this man" inherits all this.--C.] [624] ["God of Jacob." So the Vulgate, after the Septuagint.--C.] [625] Rom. ix. 12. [626] John xvi. 33. [627] ["Ye princes." So Septuagint and Vulgate.--C.] [628] 2 Kings xvii. 16. [629] Eph. ii. 2. [630] Rom. viii. 39. [631] Ps. cxviii. 9. [632] 1 Cor. i. 31. .


Psalm XXV. [633]

To the end, a psalm of David himself. [634]

1. Christ speaks, but in the person of the Church: for what is said has reference rather to the Christian People turned unto God.

2. "Unto Thee, O Lord, have I lift up my soul" (ver. 1): with spiritual longing have I lift up the soul, that was trodden down on the earth with carnal longings. "O my God, in Thee I trust, I shall not be ashamed" (ver. 2). O my God, from trusting in myself I was brought even to this weakness of the flesh; and I who on abandoning God wished to be as God, fearing death from the smallest insect, was in derision ashamed for my pride; now, therefore, "in Thee I trust, I shall not be ashamed."

3. "And let not my enemies mock me." And let them not mock me, who by ensnaring me with serpent-like and secret suggestions, and prompting me with "Well done, well done," have brought me down to this. "For all that wait upon Thee shall not be confounded" (ver. 3).

4. "Let them be confounded who do vain things unrighteously." Let them be confounded who act unrighteously for the acquiring things that pass away. "Make Thy ways, O Lord, known to me, and teach me Thy paths" (ver. 4): not those which are broad, and lead the many to destruction; [635] but Thy paths, narrow, and known to few, teach Thou me.

5. "In Thy truth guide me:" avoiding error. "And teach me:" for by myself I know nothing, but falsehood. "For Thou art the God of my salvation; and for Thee have I waited all the day" (ver. 5). For dismissed by Thee from Paradise, and having taken my journey into a far country, [636] I cannot by myself return, unless Thou meetest the wanderer: for my return hath throughout the whole tract of this world's time waited for Thy mercy.

6. "Remember Thy compassions, O Lord" (ver. 6). Remember the works of Thy mercy, O Lord; for men deem of Thee as though Thou hadst forgotten. "And that Thy mercies are from eternity." And remember this, that Thy mercies are from eternity. For Thou never wast without them, who hast subjected even sinful man to vanity indeed, but in hope; [637] and not deprived him of so many and great consolations of Thy creation.

7. "Remember not the offences of my youth and of my ignorance" (ver. 7). The offences of my presumptuous boldness and of my ignorance reserve not for vengeance, but let them be as if forgotten by Thee. "According to Thy mercy, be mindful of me, O God." Be mindful indeed of me, not according to the anger of which I am worthy, but according to Thy mercy which is worthy of Thee. "For Thy goodness, O Lord." Not for my deservings, but for Thy goodness, O Lord.

8. "Gracious and upright is the Lord" (ver. 8). The Lord is gracious, since even sinners and the ungodly He so pitied, as to forgive all that is past; but the Lord is upright too, who after the mercy of vocation and pardon, which is of grace without merit, will require merits meet for the last judgment. "Wherefore He will establish a law for them that fail in the way." For He hath first bestowed mercy to bring them into the way.

9. "He will guide the meek in judgment." He will guide the meek, and will not confound in the judgment those that follow His will, and do not, in withstanding It, prefer their own. "The gentle He will teach His ways" (ver. 9). He will teach His ways, not to those that desire to run before, as if they were better able to rule themselves; but to those who do not exalt the neck, nor lift the heel, when the easy yoke and the light burden is laid upon them. [638]

10. "All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth" (ver. 10). And what ways will He teach them, but mercy wherein He is placable, and truth wherein He is incorrupt? Whereof He hath exhibited the one in forgiving sins, the other in judging deserts. And therefore "all the ways of the Lord" are the two advents of the Son of God, the one in mercy, the other in judgment. He then attaineth unto Him holding on His ways, who seeing himself freed by no deserts of his own, lays pride aside, and henceforward bewares of the severity of His trial, having experienced the clemency of His help. "To them that seek His testament and His testimonies." For they understand the Lord as merciful at His first advent, and as the Judge at His second, who in meekness and gentleness seek His testament, when with His Own Blood He redeemed us to a new life; and in the Prophets and Evangelists, His testimonies.

11. "For Thy Name's sake, O Lord, Thou wilt be favourable to my sin; for it is manifold" (ver. 11). Thou hast not only forgiven my sins, which I committed before I believed; but also to my sin, which is manifold, since even in the way there is no lack of stumbling, Thou wilt be made favourable by the sacrifice of a troubled spirit. [639]

12. "Who is the man that feareth the Lord?" from which fear he begins to come to wisdom. "He shall establish a law for him in the way, which he hath chosen" (ver. 12). He shall establish a law for him in the way, which in his freedom he has taken, that he may not sin now with impunity.

13. "His soul shall dwell in good, and his seed shall, by inheritance, possess the earth" (ver. 13). And his work shall possess the stable inheritance of a renewed body.

14. "The Lord is the stay of them that fear Him" (ver. 14). Fear seems to belong to the weak, but the Lord is the stay of them that fear Him. And the Name of the Lord, which hath been glorified throughout the whole world, is a stay to them that fear Him. "And His testament, that it may be manifested unto them." And He maketh His testament to be manifested unto them, for the Gentiles and the bounds of the earth are Christ's inheritance.

15. "Mine eyes are ever unto the Lord; for He shall pluck my feet out of the snare" (ver. 15). Nor would I fear the dangers of earth, while I look not upon the earth: for He upon whom I look, will pluck my feet out of the snare.

16. "Look upon me, and have mercy upon me; for I am single and poor" (ver. 16). For I am a single people, keeping the lowliness of Thy single Church, which no schisms or heresies possess.

17. "The tribulations of my heart have been multiplied" (ver. 17). The tribulations of my heart have been multiplied by the abounding of iniquity and the waxing cold of love. [640] "O bring Thou me out of my necessities." Since I must needs bear this, that by enduring unto the end I may be saved, bring Thou me out of my necessities.

18. "See my humility and my travail" (ver. 18). See my humility, whereby I never, in the boast of righteousness, break off from unity; and my travail, wherein I bear with the unruly ones that are mingled with me. "And forgive all my sins." And, propitiated by these sacrifices, forgive all my sins, not those only of youth and my ignorance before I believed, but those also which, living now by faith, I commit through infirmity, or the darkness of this life.

19. "Consider mine enemies, how they are multiplied" (ver. 19). For not only without, but even within, in the Church's very communion, they are not wanting. "And with an unrighteous hate they hate me." And they hate me who love them.

20. "Keep my soul, and deliver me." Keep my soul, that I turn not aside to imitate them; and draw me out from the confusion wherein they are mingled with me. "Let me not be confounded, for I have put my trust in Thee" (ver. 20). Let me not be confounded, if haply they rise up against me: for not in myself, but in Thee have I put my trust.

21. "The innocent and the upright have cleaved to me, for I have waited for Thee, O Lord" (ver. 21). The innocent and the upright, not in bodily presence only, as the evil, are mingled with me, but in the agreement of the heart in the same innocence and uprightness cleave to me: for I have not fallen away to imitate the evil; but I have waited for Thee, expecting the winnowing of Thy last harvest. [641]

22. "Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles" (ver. 22). "Redeem Thy people, O God," whom Thou hast prepared to see Thee, out of his troubles, not those only which he bears without, but those also which he bears within.

Footnotes

[633] Lat. XXIV. [634] [Alphabetical Psalm.--C.] [635] Matt. vii. 13. [636] Luke xv. 13. [637] Rom. viii. 20. [638] Matt. xi. 30. [639] [Here our author, as did St. Chrysostom, treats true contrition as completed by pardon, without sacramental absolution.--C.] [640] Matt. xxiv. 12. [641] [So the dying Jacob, Gen. xlix. 18.--C.] .


Psalm XXVI. [642]

Of David himself.

1. It may be attributed to David himself, not the Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus, but the whole Church now perfectly established in Christ.

2. "Judge me, O Lord, for I have walked in my innocence" (ver. 1). Judge me, O Lord, for, after the mercy which Thou first showedst [643] me, I have some desert of my innocence, the way whereof I have kept. "And trusting in the Lord I shall not be moved." And yet not even so trusting in myself, but in the Lord, I shall abide in Him.

3. "Prove me, O Lord, and try me" (ver. 2). Lest, however, any of my secret sins should be hid from me, prove me, O Lord, and try me, making me known, not to Thee from whom nothing is hid, but to myself, and to men. "Burn my reins and my heart." Apply a remedial purgation, as it were fire, to my pleasures and thoughts. "For Thy mercy is before mine eyes" (ver. 3). For, that I be not consumed by that fire, not my merits, but Thy mercy, whereby Thou hast brought me on to such a life, is before my eyes. "And I have been pleasing in Thy truth." And since my own falsehood hath been displeasing to me, but Thy truth pleasing, I have myself been pleasing also with it and in it.

4. "I have not sat with the council of vanity" (ver. 4). I have not chosen to give my heart to them who endeavour to provide, what is impossible, how they may be blessed in the enjoyment of things transitory. "And I will not enter in with them that work wickedly." And since this is the very cause of all wickedness, therefore I will not have my conscience hid, with them that work wickedly.

5. "I have hated the congregation of evil doers." But to arrive at this council of vanity, congregations of evil doers are formed, which I have hated. "And I will not sit with the ungodly" (ver. 5). And, therefore, with such a council, with the ungodly, I will not sit, that is, I will not place my consent. [644] "And I will not sit with the ungodly."

6. "I will wash mine hands amid the innocent" (ver. 6). I will make clean my works among the innocent: among the innocent will I wash mine hands, with which I shall embrace Thy glorious gifts. [645] "And I will compass Thy altar, O Lord." [646]

7. "That I may hear the voice of Thy praise." That I may learn how to praise Thee. "And that I may declare all Thy wondrous works" (ver. 7). And after I have learnt, I may set forth all Thy wondrous works.

8. "O Lord, I have loved the beauty of Thy house:" of Thy Church. "And the place of the habitation of Thy glory" (ver. 8): where Thou dwellest, and art glorified.

9. "Destroy not my soul with the ungodly" (ver. 9). Destroy not then, together with them that hate Thee, my soul, which hath loved the beauty of Thy house. "And my life with the men of blood." And with them that hate their neighbour. For Thy house is beautified with the two commandments. [647]

10. "In whose hands is wickedness." Destroy me not then with the ungodly and the men of blood, whose works are wicked. "Their right hand is full of gifts" (ver. 10). And that which was given them to obtain eternal salvation, they have converted into the receiving this world's gifts, "supposing that godliness is a trade." [648]

11. "But I have walked in mine innocence: deliver me, and have mercy on me" (ver. 11). Let so great a price of my Lord's Blood avail for my complete deliverance: and in the dangers of this life let not Thy mercy leave me.

12. "My foot hath stood in uprightness." My Love hath not withdrawn from Thy righteousness. "In the Churches I will bless Thee, O Lord" (ver. 12). I will not hide Thy blessing, O Lord, from those whom Thou hast called; for next to the love of Thee I join the love of my neighbour.

Footnotes

[642] Lat. XXV. [643] Prærogasti. [644] Placitum non collocabo. [645] Sublimia tua. [646] [We are "made unto our God, priests."--C.] [647] [Matt. xxii. 40.--C.] [648] 1 Tim. vi. 5. .


Psalm XXVII. [649]

Of David himself, before he was anointed. [650]

1. Christ's young soldier speaketh, on his coming to the faith. "The Lord is my light, and my salvation: whom shall I fear?" (ver. 1). The Lord will give me both knowledge of Himself, and salvation: who shall take me from Him? "The Lord is the Protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?" The Lord will repel all the assaults and snares of mine enemy: of no man shall I be afraid.

2. "Whilst the guilty approach unto me to eat up my flesh" (ver. 2). Whilst the guilty come near to recognise and insult me, that they may exalt themselves above me in my change for the better; that with their reviling tooth they may consume not me, but rather my fleshly desires. "Mine enemies who trouble me." Not they only who trouble me, blaming me with a friendly intent, and wishing to recall me from my purpose, but mine enemies also. "They became weak, and fell." [651] Whilst then they do this with the desire of defending their own opinion, they became weak to believe better things, and began to hate the word of salvation, whereby I do what displeases them.

3. "If camps stand together against me, my heart will not fear." But if the multitude of gain-sayers conspire to stand together against me, my heart will not fear, so as to go over to their side. "If war rise up against me, in this will I trust" (ver. 3). If the persecution of this world arise against me, in this petition, which I am pondering, will I place my hope.

4. "One have I asked of the Lord, this will I require." For one petition have I asked the Lord, this will I require. "That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life" (ver. 4). That as long as I am in this life, no adversities may exclude me from the number of them who hold the unity and the truth of the Lord's faith throughout the world. "That I may contemplate the delight of the Lord." With this end, namely, that persevering in the faith, the delightsome vision may appear to me, which I may contemplate face to face. "And I shall be protected, His temple." And death being swallowed up in victory, I shall be clothed with immortality, being made His temple. [652]

5. "For He hath hidden me in His tabernacle in the day of my evils" (ver. 5). For He hath hidden me in the dispensation of His Incarnate Word in the time of temptations, to which my mortal life is exposed. "He hath protected me in the secret place of His tabernacle." He hath protected me, with the heart believing unto righteousness.

6. "On a rock hath He exalted me." And that what I believed might be made manifest for salvation, He hath made my confession to be conspicuous in His own strength. "And now, lo! He hath exalted mine head above mine enemies" (ver. 6). What doth He reserve for me at the last, when even now the body is dead because of sin, lo! I feel that my mind serves the law of God, and is not led captive under the rebellious law of sin? "I have gone about, and have sacrificed in His tabernacle the sacrifice of rejoicing." I have considered the circuit of the world, believing on Christ; and in that for us God was humbled in time, I have praised Him with rejoicing: for with such sacrifice He is well pleased. "I will sing and give praises to the Lord." In heart and in deed I will be glad in the Lord.

7. "Hear my voice, O Lord, wherewith I have cried unto Thee" (ver. 7). Hear, Lord, my interior voice, which with a strong intention I have addressed to Thy ears. "Have mercy upon me, and hear me." Have mercy upon me, and hear me therein.

8. "My heart hath said to Thee, I have sought Thy countenance" (ver. 8). For I have not exhibited myself to men; but in secret, where Thou alone hearest, my heart hath said to Thee; I have not sought from Thee aught without Thee as a reward, but Thy countenance. "Thy countenance, O Lord, will I seek." In thus search will I perseveringly persist: for not aught that is common, but Thy countenance, O Lord, will I seek, that I may love Thee freely, since nothing more precious do I find.

9. "Turn not away Thy face from me" (ver. 9): that I may find what I seek. "Turn not aside in anger from Thy servant:" lest, while seeking Thee, I fall in with somewhat else. For what is more grievous than this punishment to one who loveth and seeketh the truth of Thy countenance? "Be Thou my Helper." How shall I find it, if Thou help me not? "Leave me not, neither despise me, O God my Saviour." Scorn not that a mortal dares to seek the Eternal; for Thou, God, dost heal the wound of my sin.

10. "For my father and my mother have left me" (ver. 10). For the kingdom of this world and the city of this world, of which I was born in time and mortality, have left me seeking Thee, and despising what they promised, since they could not give what I seek. "But the Lord took me up." But the Lord, who can give me Himself, took me up.

11. "Appoint me a law, O Lord, in Thy way" (ver. 11). For me then who am setting out toward Thee, and commenting so great a profession, of arriving at wisdom, from fear, appoint, O Lord, a law in Thy way, lest in my wandering Thy rule abandon me. "And direct me in the right path because of mine enemies." And direct me in the right way of its straits. For it is not enough to begin, since enemies cease not until the end is attained.

12. "Deliver me not up unto the souls of them that trouble me" (ver. 12). Suffer not them that trouble me to be satiated with my evils. "For unrighteous witnesses have risen up against me." For there have risen up against me they that speak falsely of me, to remove and call me back from Thee, as if I seek glory of men. "And iniquity hath lied unto itself." Therefore iniquity hath been pleased with its own lie. For me it hath not moved, to whom because of this there hath been promised a greater reward in heaven.

13. "I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living" (ver. 13). And since my Lord hath first suffered these things, if I too despise the tongues of the dying ("for the mouth that lieth slayeth the soul" [653] ), I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living, where there is no place for falsity.

14. "Wait on the Lord, quit thyself like a man: and let thy heart be strong, yea wait on the Lord" (ver. 14). But when shall this be? It is arduous for a mortal, it is slow to a lover: but listen to the voice, that deceiveth not, of him that saith, "Wait on the Lord." Endure the burning of the reins manfully, and the burning of the heart stoutly. Think not that what thou dost not as yet receive is denied thee. That thou faint not in despair, see how it is said, "Wait on the Lord." [654]

Footnotes

[649] Lat. XXVI. [650] [In the Second Exposition he dwells on the spiritual chrism, from which the Son of David is called Christ; affirms that Christians partake of the same anointing; speaking of confirmation as their sacramental anointing and what it implies.--C.] [651] [A minute prophecy. John xviii. 6.--C.] [652] [The Old Latin of this charming verse seems to have read, "One hope have I desired," etc. See Cyprian, A.N.F. vol. v. p. 501.--C.] [653] Wisd. i. 11. [654] [On the first three verses of this Psalm, see Origen, A.N.F. vol. iv. pp. 333, 575, 649. Compare Cyprian, A.N.F. vol. iv. p. 501.--C.] .


Psalm XXVIII. [655]

Of David himself.

1. It is the Voice of the Mediator Himself, strong of hand in the conflict of the Passion. Now what He seems to wish for against His enemies, is not the wish of malevolence, but the declaration of their punishment; as in the Gospel, [656] with the cities, in which though He had performed miracles, yet they had not believed on Him, He doth not wish in any evil will what He saith, but predicteth what is impending over them.

2. "Unto Thee, O Lord, have I cried; [657] My God, be not silent from me" (ver. 1). Unto Thee, O Lord, have I cried; My God, separate not the unity of Thy Word from that which as Man I am. "Lest at any time Thou be silent from me: and I shall be like them that go down into the pit." For from this, that the Eternity of Thy Word ceaseth not to unite Itself to Me, it comes that I am not such a man as the rest of men, who are born into the deep misery of this world: where, as if Thou art silent, Thy Word is not recognised. "Hear, O Lord, the voice of my supplication, whist I pray unto Thee, whilst I hold up my hands to Thy holy temple" (ver. 2). Whilst I am crucified for their salvation, who on believing become Thy holy temple.

3. "Draw not My Soul away with sinners, and destroy me not with them that work iniquity, with them that speak peace with their neighbours" (ver. 3). With them that say unto Me, "We know that Thou art a Master come from God." [658] "But evil in their hearts." But they speak evil in their hearts.

4. "Give unto them according to their works" (ver. 4). Give unto them according to their works, for this is just. "And according to the malice of their affections." [659] For aiming at evil, they cannot discover good. "According to the works of their hands give Thou unto them." Although what they have done may avail for salvation to others, yet give Thou unto them according to the works of their wills. "Pay them their recompense." Because, for the truth which they heard, they wished to recompense deceit; let their own deceit deceive them.

5. "For they have not had understanding in the works of the Lord" (ver. 5). And whence is it clear that this hath befallen them? From this forsooth, "for they have not had understanding in the works of the Lord." This very thing, in truth, hath been, even now, their recompense, that in Him whom they tempted with malicious intent as a Man, they should not recognise God, with what design the Father sent Him in the Flesh. "And the works of His hands." Nor be moved by those visible works, which are laid out before their very eyes. "Thou shalt destroy them, and not build them up." Let them do Me no hurt, nay, nor again in their endeavour to raise engines against My Church, let them aught avail.

6. "Blessed be the Lord, for He hath heard the voice of My prayer" (ver. 6).

7. "The Lord My Helper and My Protector" (ver. 7). The Lord helping Me in so great sufferings, and protecting Me with immortality in My resurrection. "In Him hath My Heart trusted, and I have been helped." "And My Flesh hath flourished again:" that is, and My Flesh hath risen again. "And of my will I will confess unto Him." Wherefore, the fear of death being now destroyed, not by the necessity of fear under the Law, but with a free will with the Law, shall they who believe on Me, confess unto Him; and because I am in them, I will confess.

8. "The Lord is the strength of His people" (ver. 8). Not that people "ignorant of the righteousness of God, and willing to establish their own." [660] For they thought not themselves strong in themselves: for the Lord is the strength of His people, struggling in this life's difficulties with the devil. "And the protector of the salvation of His Christ." That, having saved them by His Christ after the strength of war, He may protect them at the last with the immortality of peace.

9. "Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance" (ver. 9). I intercede therefore, after My Flesh hath flourished again, because Thou hast said, "Desire of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance;" [661] "Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance:" for "all Mine are Thine." [662] "And rule them, and set them up even for ever." And rule them in this temporal life, and raise them from hence into life eternal.

Footnotes

[655] Lat. XXVII. [656] Matt. xi. 20-24. [657] [The Greek and Vulgate omit the epithet of the Hebrew, "My Rock," which is the link with the Psalm foregoing (ver. 5), and the key to other parallels. St. Jerome renders it, fortis meus.--C.] [658] John iii. 2. [659] Al. affectationum, "aims." [660] Rom. x. 3. [661] Ps. ii. 8. [662] John xvii. 10. .


Psalm XXIX. [663]

A psalm of David himself, of the consummation of the tabernacle.

1. A Psalm of the Mediator Himself, strong of hand, of the perfection of the Church in this world, where she wars in time against the devil.

2. The Prophet speaks, "Bring unto the Lord, O ye Sons of God, bring unto the Lord the young of rams" (ver. 1). Bring unto the Lord yourselves, whom the Apostles, the leaders of the flocks, have begotten by the Gospel. [664] "Bring unto the Lord glory and honour" (ver. 2). By your works let the Lord be glorified and honoured. "Bring unto the Lord glory to His name." Let Him be made known gloriously throughout the world. "Worship the Lord in His holy court." Worship the Lord in your heart enlarged and sanctified. For ye are His regal holy habitation.

3. "The Voice of the Lord is upon the waters" (ver. 3). The Voice of Christ is upon the peoples. "The God of majesty hath thundered." The God of majesty, from the cloud of the flesh, hath awfully preached repentance. "The Lord is upon many waters." The Lord Jesus Himself, after that He sent forth His Voice upon the peoples, and struck them with awe, converted them to Himself, and dwelt in them.

4. "The Voice of the Lord is in power" (ver. 4). The Voice of the Lord now in them themselves, making them powerful. "The Voice of the Lord is in great might." The Voice of the Lord working great things in them.

5. "The Voice of the Lord breaking the cedars" (ver. 5). The Voice of the Lord humbling the proud in brokenness of heart. "The Lord shall break the cedars of Libanus." The Lord by repentance shall break them that are lifted on high by the splendour of earthly nobility, when to confound them He shall have "chosen the base things of this world," [665] in the which to display His Divinity.

6. "And shall bruise them as the calf of Libanus" (ver. 6). And when their proud exaltation hath been cut off, He will lay them low after the imitation of His Own humility, who like a calf was led to slaughter [666] by the nobility of this world. "For the kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers agreed together against the Lord, and against His Christ." [667] "And the Beloved is as the young of the unicorns." For even He the Beloved, and the Only One of the Father, "emptied Himself" of His glory; and was made man, [668] like a child of the Jews, that were "ignorant of God's righteousness," [669] and proudly boasting of their own righteousness as peculiarly theirs.

7. "The Voice of the Lord cutting short the flame of fire" (ver. 7). The Voice of the Lord, without any harm to Himself, passing through all the excited ardour of them that persecute Him, or dividing the furious rage of His persecutors, so that some should say, "Is not this haply the very Christ;" others, "Nay; but He deceiveth the people:" [670] and so cutting short their mad tumult, as to pass some over into His love, and leave others in their malice.

8. "The Voice of the Lord moving the wilderness" (ver. 8). The Voice of the Lord moving to the faith the Gentiles once "without hope, and without God in the world;" [671] where no prophet, no preacher of God's word, as it were, no man had dwelt. "And the Lord will move the desert of Cades." And then the Lord will cause the holy word of His Scriptures to be fully known, which was abandoned by the Jews who understood it not.

9. "The Voice of the Lord perfecting the stags" [672] (ver. 9). For the Voice of the Lord hath first perfected them that overcame and repelled the envenomed tongues. [673] "And will reveal the woods." And then will He reveal to them the darknesses of the Divine books, and the shadowy depths of the mysteries, where they feed with freedom. "And in His temple doth every man speak of His glory." And in His Church all born again to an eternal hope praise God, each for His own gift, which He hath received from the Holy Spirit.

10. "The Lord inhabiteth the deluge" (ver. 10). The Lord therefore first inhabiteth the deluge of this world in His Saints, kept safely in the Church, as in the ark. "And the Lord shall sit a King for ever." And afterward He will sit reigning in them for ever.

11. "The Lord will give strength to His people" [674] (ver. 11). For the Lord will give strength to His people fighting against the storms and whirlwinds of this world, for peace in this world He hath not promised them. [675] "The Lord will bless His people in peace." And the same Lord will bless His people, affording them peace in Himself; for, saith He, "My peace I give unto you, My peace I leave with you." [676]

Footnotes

[663] Lat. XXVIII. [664] 1 Cor. iv. 15. [665] 1 Cor. i. 28. [666] Isa. liii. 7. [667] Ps. ii. 2. [668] Phil. ii. 7. [669] Rom. x. 3. [670] John vii. 41, 12. [671] Eph. ii. 12. [672] [Jerome's Hebraic version reads, Vox Domini obstetricans cervas, which the Authorized English follows.--C.] [673] Plin. Hist. Nat. viii. 32 and xxviii. 9 says, that they bring serpents out of their holes with their breath, and kill and eat them. See S. Greg. Mor. xxx. 36. [674] [This Psalm was referred to Pentecost by the Jews, and to the giving of the law. Heb. xii. 18-21.--C.] [675] John xvi. 33. [676] John xiv. 27. .


Psalm XXX. [677]

To the end, the psalm of the canticle [678] of the dedication of the house, of David himself.

1. To the end, a Psalm of the joy of the Resurrection, and the change, the renewing of the body to an immortal state, and not only of the Lord, but also of the whole Church. For in the former Psalm the tabernacle was finished, wherein we dwell in the time of war: but now the house is dedicated, which will abide in peace everlasting.

2. It is then whole Christ who speaketh. "I will exalt Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast taken Me up" (ver. 1). I will praise Thy high Majesty, O Lord, for Thou hast taken Me up. "Thou hast not made Mine enemies to rejoice over Me." And those, who have so often endeavoured to oppress Me with various persecutions throughout the world, Thou hast not made to rejoice over Me.

3. "O Lord, My God, I have cried unto Thee, and Thou hast healed Me" (ver. 2). O Lord, My God, I have cried unto Thee, and I no longer bear about a body enfeebled and sick by mortality.

4. "O Lord, Thou hast brought back My Soul from hell, and Thou hast saved Me from them that go down into the pit" (ver. 3). Thou hast saved Me from the condition of profound darkness, and the lowest slough of corruptible flesh.

5. "Sing to the Lord, O ye saints of His." The prophet seeing these future things, rejoiceth, and saith, "Sing to the Lord, O ye saints of His. And make confession of the remembrance of His holiness" (ver. 4). And make confession to Him, that He hath not forgotten the sanctification, wherewith He hath sanctified you, although all this intermediate period belong to your desires.

6. "For in His indignation is wrath" (ver. 5). For He hath avenged against you the first sin, for which you have paid by death. "And life in His will." And life eternal, whereunto you could not return by any strength of your own, hath He given, because He so would. "In the evening weeping will tarry." Evening began, when the light of wisdom withdrew from sinful man, when he was condemned to death: from this evening weeping will tarry, as long as God's people are, amid labours and temptations, awaiting the day of the Lord. "And exultation in the morning." Even to the morning, when there will be the exultation of the resurrection, which hath shone forth by anticipation in the morning resurrection of the Lord.

7. "But I said in my abundance, I shall not be moved for ever" (ver. 6). But I, that people which was speaking from the first, said in mine abundance, suffering now no more any want, "I shall not be moved for ever."

8. "O Lord, in Thy will Thou hast afforded strength unto my beauty" (ver. 7). But that this my abundance, O Lord, is not of myself, but that in Thy will Thou hast afforded strength unto my beauty, I have learnt from this, "Thou turnedst away Thy Face from me, and I became troubled;" for Thou hast sometimes turned away Thy Face from the sinner, and I became troubled, when the illumination of Thy knowledge withdrew from me.

9. "Unto Thee, O Lord, will I cry, and unto my God will I pray" (ver. 8). And bringing to mind that time of my trouble and misery, and as it were established therein, I hear the voice of Thy First-Begotten, my Head, about to die for me, and saying "Unto Thee, O Lord, will I cry, and unto My God will I pray."

10. "What profit" is there in the shedding of My blood, whilst I go down to corruption? "Shall dust confess unto Thee?" For if I shall not rise immediately, and My body shall become corrupt, "shall dust confess unto Thee?" that is, the crowd of the ungodly, whom I shall justify by My resurrection? "Or declare Thy truth?" Or for the salvation of the rest declare Thy truth?

11. "The Lord hath heard, and had mercy on Me, the Lord hath become My helper." Nor did "He suffer His holy One to see corruption" [679] (ver. 10).

12. "Thou hast turned My mourning into joy to Me" (ver. 11). Whom I, the Church, having received, the First-Begotten from the dead, [680] now in the dedication of Thine house, say, "Thou hast turned my mourning into joy to me. Thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness." Thou hast torn off the veil of my sins, the sadness of my mortality; and hast girded me with the first robe, with immortal gladness.

13. "That my glory should sing unto Thee, and I should not be pricked" (ver. 12). That now, not my humiliation, but my glory should not lament, but should sing unto Thee, for that now out of humiliation Thou hast exalted me; and that I should not be pricked with the consciousness of sin, with the fear of death, with the fear of judgment. "O Lord, my God, I will confess unto Thee for ever." And this is my glory, O Lord, my God, that I should confess unto Thee for ever, that I have nothing of myself, but that all my good is of Thee, who art "God, All in all." [681]

Footnotes

[677] Lat. XXIX. [678] [A shir, or "song." So Psalm xviii.=shirah, the only two instances in the first division of the Psalter, forty-one Psalms.--C.] [679] Ps. xvi. 10. [680] Rev. i. 5. [681] 1 Cor. xv. 28. [This Psalm was used at Easter and Pentecost. Compare Cyprian, vol. v. p. 525, A.N.F.--C.] .


Psalm XXXI. [682]

To the end, a psalm of David himself, an ecstasy. [683]

1. To the end a Psalm of David Himself, the Mediator strong of hand in persecutions. For the word ecstasy, which is added to the title, signifies a transport of the mind, which is produced either by a panic, or by some revelation. But in this Psalm the panic of the people of God troubled by the persecution of all the heathen, and by the failing of faith throughout the world, is principally seen. But first the Mediator Himself speaks: then the People redeemed by His Blood gives thanks: at last in trouble it speaks at length, which is what belongs to the ecstasy; but the Person of the Prophet himself is twice interposed, near the end, and at the end.

2. "In Thee, O Lord, have I trusted, let Me not be put to confusion for ever" (ver. 1). In Thee, O Lord, have I trusted, let Me never be confounded, whilst they shall insult Me as one like other men. "In Thy righteousness rescue Me, and deliver Me." And in Thy righteousness rescue Me from the pit of death, and deliver Me out of their company.

3. "Bend down Thine ear unto Me" (ver. 2). Hear Me in My humiliation, nigh at hand unto Me. "Make haste to deliver Me." Defer not to the end of the world, as with all who believe on Me, My separation from sinners. "Be unto Me a God who protecteth Me." Be unto Me God, and Protector. "And a house of refuge, that Thou mayest save Me." And as a house, wherein taking refuge I may be saved.

4. "For Thou art My strength, and My refuge" (ver. 3). For Thou art unto Me My strength to bear My persecutors, and My refuge to escape them. "And for Thy Name's sake Thou shalt be My guide, and shalt nourish Me." And that by Me Thou mayest be known to all the Gentiles. I will in all things follow Thy will; and, by assembling, by degrees, Saints unto Me, Thou shalt fulfil My body, and My perfect stature.

5. "Thou shalt bring Me out of this trap, which they have hidden for Me" (ver. 4). Thou shalt bring Me out of these snares, which they have hidden for Me. "For Thou art My Protector."

6. "Into Thy hands I commend My Spirit" (ver. 5). To Thy power I commend My Spirit, soon to receive It back. "Thou hast redeemed Me, O Lord God of truth." Let the people too, redeemed by the Passion of their Lord, and joyful in the glorifying of their Head, say, "Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth."

7. "Thou hatest them that hold to vanity uselessly" (ver. 6). Thou hatest them that hold to the false happiness of the world. "But I have trusted in the Lord."

8. "I will be glad, and rejoice in Thy mercy:" which doth not deceive me. "For Thou hast regarded My humiliation:" wherein Thou hast subjected me to vanity in hope. [684] "Thou hast saved my soul from necessities" (ver. 7). Thou hast saved my soul from the necessities of fear, that with a free love it may serve Thee.

9. "And hast not shut me up into the hands of the enemy" (ver. 8). And hast not shut me up, that I should have no opening for recovering unto liberty, and be given over for ever into the power of the devil, ensnaring me with the desire of this life, and terrifying me with death. "Thou hast set my feet in a large room." The resurrection of my Lord being known, and mine own being promised me, my love, having been brought out of the straits of fear, walks abroad in continuance, into the expanse of liberty.

10. "Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am troubled" (ver. 9). But what is this unlooked-for cruelty of the persecutors, striking such dread into me? "Have mercy on me, O Lord." For I am now no more alarmed for death, but for torments and tortures. "Mine eye hath been disordered by anger." I had mine eye upon Thee, that Thou shouldest not abandon me: Thou art angry, and hast disordered it. "My soul, and my belly." By the same anger my soul hath been disturbed, and my memory, whereby I retained what my God hath suffered for me, and what He hath promised me.

11. "For my life hath failed in pain" (ver 10). For my life is to confess Thee, but it failed in pain, when the enemy had said, Let them be tortured until they deny Him. "And my years in groanings." The time that I pass in this world is not taken away from me by death, but abides, and is spent in groanings. "My strength hath been weakened by want." I want the health of this body, and racking pains come on me: I want the dissolution of the body, and death forbears to come: and in this want my confidence hath been weakened. "And my bones have been disturbed." And my stedfastness hath been disturbed.

12. "I have been made a reproach above all mine enemies" (ver 11). All the wicked are my enemies; and nevertheless they for their wickednesses are tortured only till they confess: I then have overpassed their reproach, I, whose confession death doth not follow, but racking pains follow upon it. "And to my neighbours too much." This hath seemed too much to them, who were already drawing near to know Thee, and to hold the faith that I hold. "And a fear to mine acquaintance." And into my very acquaintance I struck fear by the example of my dreadful tribulation. "They that did see me, fled without from me." Because they did not understand my inward and invisible hope, they fled from me into things outward and visible.

13. "I have been forgotten, as one dead from the heart" (ver. 12). And they have forgotten me, as if I were dead from their hearts. "I have become as a lost vessel." I have seemed to myself to be lost to all the Lord's service, living in this world, and gaining none, when all were afraid to join themselves unto me.

14. "For I have heard the rebuking of many dwelling by in a circuit" (ver. 13). For I have heard many rebuking me, in the pilgrimage of this world near me, following the circuit of time, and refusing to return with me to the eternal country. "Whilst they were assembling themselves together against me, they conspired that they might take my soul." That my soul, which should by death easily escape from their power, might consent unto them, they imagined a device, whereby they would not suffer me even to die.

15. "But I have hoped in Thee, O Lord; I have said, Thou art my God" (ver. 14). For Thou hast not changed, that Thou shouldest not save, Who dost correct.

16. "In Thy hands" are "my lots" (ver. 15). In Thy power are my lots. For I see no desert for which out of the universal ungodliness of the human race Thou hast elected me particularly to salvation. And though there be with Thee some just and secret order in my election, yet I, from whom this is hid, have attained by lot unto my Lord's vesture. [685] "Deliver me from the hands of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me."

17. "Make Thy Face to shine upon Thy servant" (ver. 16). Make it known to men, who do not think that I belong unto Thee, that Thy Face is bent upon me, and that I serve Thee. "Save me in Thy mercy."

18. "O Lord, let me not be confounded, for I have called upon Thee" (ver. 17). O Lord, let me not be put to shame by those who insult me, for that I have called upon Thee. "Let the ungodly be ashamed, and be brought down to hell." Let them rather who call upon stones be ashamed, and made to dwell with darkness. [686]

19. "Let the deceitful lips be made dumb" (ver. 18). In making known to the peoples Thy mysteries wrought in me, strike with dumb amazement the lips of them that invent falsehood of me. "Which speak iniquity against the Righteous, in pride and contempt." Which speak iniquity against Christ, in their pride and contempt of Him as a crucified man.

20. "How great" is "the multitude of Thy sweetness, O Lord" (ver. 19). Here the Prophet exclaims, having sight of all this, and admiring how manifoldly plenteous is Thy sweetness, O Lord. "Which Thou hast hid for them that fear Thee." Even those, whom Thou correctest, Thou lovest much: but lest they should go on negligently from relaxed security, Thou hidest from them the sweetness of Thy love, for whom it is profitable to fear Thee. "Thou hast perfected it for them that hope in Thee." But Thou hast perfected this sweetness for them that hope in Thee. For Thou dost not withdraw from them what they look for perseveringly even unto the end. "In sight of the sons of men." For it does not escape the notice of the sons of men, who now live no more after Adam, but after the Son of Man. "Thou wilt hide them in the hidden place of Thy Countenance:" which seat Thou shalt preserve for everlasting in the hidden place of the knowledge of Thee for them that hope in Thee. "From the troubling of men." So that now they suffer no more trouble from men.

21. "Thou wilt protect them in Thy tabernacle from the contradiction of tongues" (ver. 20). But here meanwhile whilst evil tongues murmur against them, saying, Who hath come thence? Thou wilt protect them in the tabernacle, that of faith in those things, which the Lord wrought and endured for us in time.

22. "Blessed be the Lord; for He hath made His mercy marvellous, in the city of compassing" (ver. 21). Blessed be the Lord, for after the correction of the sharpest persecutions He hath made His mercy marvellous to all throughout the world, in the circuit of human society. [687]

23. "I said in my ecstasy" [688] (ver. 22). Whence that people again speaking saith, I said in my fear, when the heathen were raging horribly against me. "I have been cast forth from the sight of Thine eyes." For if Thou hadst regard to me, Thou wouldest not suffer me to endure these things. "Therefore Thou heardest, O Lord, the voice of my prayer, when I cried unto Thee." Therefore putting a limit to correction, and showing that I have part in Thy care, Thou heardest, O Lord, the voice of my prayer, when I raised it high [689] out of tribulation.

24. "Love the Lord, all ye His saints" (ver. 23). The Prophet again exhorts, having sight of these things, and saith, "Love the Lord, all ye His saints; for the Lord will require truth." Since "if the righteous shall scarcely be saved, where shall the sinner and the ungodly appear?" [690] "And He will repay them that do exceeding proudly." And He will repay them who even when conquered are not converted, because they are very proud.

25. "Quit you like men, and let your heart be strengthened" (ver. 24): working good without fainting, that ye may reap in due season. "All ye who trust in the Lord:" that is, ye who duly fear and worship Him, trust ye in the Lord.

Footnotes

[682] Lat. XXX. [683] [Borrowed from the Septuagint, where it is anticipated from ver. 22. See p. 70, infra.--C.] [684] Rom. viii. 20. [685] John xix. 24. [686] Umbris socientur. [687] [Compare Hippolytus, vol. v. p. 202, A.N.F.--C.] [688] [Elsewhere St. Augustin explains the word "ecstasy" as sometimes=transport, sometimes=panic. See his sermon on this Psalm, usually following this exposition.--C.] [689] Nimis. [690] 1 Pet. iv. 18. .


Psalm XXXII. [691]

To David himself; for understanding.

1. To David himself; for understanding; by which it is understood that not by the merits of works, but by the grace of God, man is delivered, confessing his sins.

2. "Blessed are they whose unrighteousness is forgiven, and whose sins are covered" (ver. 1): and whose sins are buried in oblivion. "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin, nor is there guile in his mouth" (ver. 2): nor has he in his mouth boastings of righteousness, when his conscience is full of sins.

3. "Because I kept silence, my bones waxed old:" because I made not with my mouth "confession unto salvation," [692] all firmness in me has grown old in infirmity. "Through my roaring all the day long" (ver. 3): when I was ungodly and a blasphemer, crying against God, as though defending and excusing my sins.

4. "Because day and night Thy Hand was heavy upon me:" because, through the continual punishment of Thy scourges, "I was turned in misery, while a thorn was fixed through me" (ver. 4): I was made miserable by knowing my misery, being pricked with an evil conscience.

5. "I acknowledged my sin, and my unrighteousness have I not hid:" that is, my unrighteousness have I not concealed. [693] "I said, I will confess against myself my unrighteousness to the Lord:" I said, I will confess, not against God (as in my ungodly crying, when I kept silence), but against myself, my unrighteousness to the Lord. "And Thou forgavest the iniquity of my heart" (ver. 5); hearing the word of confession in the heart, before it was uttered with the voice.

6. "For this shall every one that is holy pray unto Thee in an acceptable time:" for this wickedness of heart shall every one that is righteous pray unto Thee. For not by their own merits will they be holy, but by that acceptable time, that is, at His coming, who redeemed us from sin. "Nevertheless in the flood of great waters they shall not come nigh him" (ver. 6): nevertheless, let none think, when the end has come suddenly, as in the days of Noah, [694] that there remaineth a place of confession, whereby he may draw nigh unto God.

7. "Thou art my refuge from the pressures, which have compassed me about:" Thou art my refuge from the pressure of my sins, which hath compassed my heart. "O Thou, my Rejoicing, deliver me from them that compass me about" (ver. 7): in Thee is my joy: deliver me from the sorrow which my sins bring upon me.

8. Diapsalma. The answer of God: "I will give thee understanding, and will set thee in the way in which thou shalt go;" I will give thee understanding after confession, that thou depart not from the way in which thou shouldest go; lest thou wish to be in thine own power. "I will fix Mine Eyes upon thee" (ver. 8); so will make sure upon thee My Love.

9. "Be not ye like unto horse or mule, which have no understanding:" and therefore would govern themselves. But saith the Prophet, "Hold in their jaws with bit and bridle." Do Thou then, O God, unto them "that will not come nigh Thee" (ver. 9), what man doth to horse and mule, that by scourges Thou make them to bear Thy rule.

10. "Many are the scourges of the sinner:" much is he scourged, who, confessing not his sins to God, would be his own ruler. "But he that trusteth in the Lord, mercy compasseth him about" (ver. 10); but he that trusteth in the Lord, and submitteth himself to His rule, mercy shall compass him about.

11. "Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous:" be glad, and rejoice, ye righteous, not in yourselves, but in the Lord. "And glory, all ye that are right in heart" (ver. 11): and glory in Him, all ye who understand that it is right to be subject unto Him, that so ye may be placed above all things beside.

Footnotes

[691] Lat. XXXI. [692] Rom. x. 10. [693] [Here in our Psalter version is verse 6; not so the Authorized, nor the Vulgate, nor the other versions.--C.] [694] Matt. xxiv. 37-41. .


Psalm XXXIII. [695]

1. "Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous:" rejoice, O ye righteous, not in yourselves, for that is not safe; but in the Lord. "For praise is comely to the upright" (ver. 1): these praise the Lord, who submit themselves unto the Lord; for else they are distorted and perverse.

2. "Praise the Lord with harp:" praise the Lord, presenting unto Him your bodies a living sacrifice. [696] "Sing unto Him with the psaltery for ten strings" (ver. 2): let your members be servants to the love of God, and of your neighbour, in which are kept both the three and the seven commandments. [697]

3. "Sing unto Him a new song:" sing unto Him a song of the grace of faith. "Sing skilfully unto Him with jubilation" (ver. 3): sing skillfully unto Him with rejoicing.

4. "For the Word of the Lord is right:" for the Word of the Lord is right, to make you that which of yourselves ye cannot be. "And all His works are done in faith" (ver. 4): lest any think that by the merit of works he hath arrived at faith, when in faith are done all the works which God Himself loveth.

5. "He loveth Mercy and Judgment:" for He loveth Mercy, which now He showeth first; and Judgment, wherewith He exacteth that which He hath first shown. "The earth is full of the Mercy of the Lord" (ver. 5): throughout the whole world are sins forgiven unto men by the Mercy of the Lord.

6. "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made firm:" for not by themselves, but by the Word of the Lord were the righteous made strong. "And all the strength [698] of them by the Breath of His Mouth" (ver. 6). And all their faith by His Holy Spirit.

7. "He gathereth the waters of the sea together as into a bottle:" He gathered the people of the world together, to confession of mortified sin, lest through pride they flow too freely. "He layeth up the deep in storehouses" (ver. 7): and keepeth in them His secrets for riches.

8. "Let all the earth fear the Lord:" let every sinner fear, that so he may cease to sin. "Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him" (ver. 8): not of the terrors of men, or of any creature, but of Him let them stand in awe.

9. "For He spake, and they were made:" for no other one made those things which are to fear; but He spake, and they were made. "He commanded, and they were created" (ver. 9): He commanded by His Word, [699] and they were created.

10. "The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought;" of them that seek not His Kingdom, but kingdoms of their own. "He maketh the devices of the people of none effect:" of them that covet earthly happiness. "And reproveth the counsels of princes" (ver. 10): of them that seek to rule over such peoples.

11. "But the counsel of the Lord standeth for ever;" but the counsel of the Lord, whereby He maketh none blessed but him that submitteth unto Himself, standeth for ever. The thoughts of His Heart to all generations" (ver. 11): the thoughts of His Wisdom are not mutable, but endure to all generations.

12. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord:" one nation is blessed, belonging to the heavenly city, which hath not chosen save the Lord for their God: "And the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance" (ver. 12): and which not of itself, but by the gift of God, hath been chosen, that He by possessing it may not suffer it to be uncared for and miserable.

13. "The Lord looketh from Heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men" (ver. 13). From the souls of the righteous, the Lord looketh mercifully upon all who would rise to newness of life.

14. "From His prepared habitation:" from His habitation of assumed Humanity, which He prepared for Himself. "He looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth" (ver. 14): He looketh mercifully upon all who live in the flesh, that He may be over them in ruling them.

15. "He fashioneth their hearts singly:" He giveth spiritually to their hearts their proper gifts, so that neither the whole body may be eye, nor the whole hearing; [700] but that one in this manner, another in that manner, may be incorporated with Christ. "He understandeth all their works" (ver. 15). Before Him are all their works understood.

16. "A king shall not be saved by much strength:" he shall not be saved who ruleth his own flesh, if he presume much upon his own strength. "Neither shall a giant be saved by much strength" (ver. 16): nor shall he be saved whoever warreth against the habit of his own lust, or against the devil and his angels, if he trust much to his own might.

17. "A horse is a deceitful thing for safety:" he is deceived, who thinketh either that through men he gaineth salvation received among men, or that by the impetuosity of his own courage he is defended from destruction. "In the abundance of his strength shall he not be saved" (ver. 17).

18. "Behold, the Eyes of the Lord are upon them that fear Him:" because if thou seek salvation, behold, the love of the Lord is upon them that fear Him. "Upon them that hope in His mercy" (ver. 18): that hope not in their own strength, but in His mercy.

19. "To deliver their souls from death, and to keep them alive in famine" (ver. 19). To give them the nourishment of the Word, and of Everlasting Truth, which they lost while presuming on their own strength, and therefore have not even their own strength, from lack of righteousness.

20. "My soul shall be patient for the Lord:" that hereafter it may be filled with dainties incorruptible, meanwhile, whilst here it remaineth, my soul shall be patient for the Lord. "For He is our Helper and Defender" (ver. 20): our Helper He is, while we endeavour after Him; and our Defender, while we resist the adversary.

21. "For our heart shall rejoice in Him:" for not in ourselves, wherein without Him there is great need; but in Himself shall our heart rejoice. "And we have trusted in His holy Name" (ver. 21); and therefore have we trusted that we shall come to God, because unto us absent hath He sent, through faith, His own Name.

22. "Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in Thee" (ver. 22): let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us; for hope confoundeth not, because we have hoped in Thee.

Footnotes

[695] Lat. XXXII. [696] Rom. xii. 1. [697] See St. Augustin on Faith and Works, 17, Tr. note h. He takes our first and second as one, dividing the tenth. [Compare St. Augustin, Sermon ix. cap. 5. He is credited with introducing this division into the Western churches. Compare Irenæus (Adv. Hæres. ii. 24, 4, note 9), A.N.F. vol. i. p. 395; also Clement, Stromata, A.N.F. vol. ii. p. 512.--C.] [698] Virtus. [699] See De Genesi ad Lit. b. i. 5, 6. [700] 1 Cor. xii. 17. .


Psalm XXXIV. [701]

A psalm of David, when he changed his countenance before Abimelech, and he sent him away, and he departed.

1. Because there was there a sacrifice after the order of Aaron, and afterwards He of His Own Body and Blood appointed a sacrifice after the order of Melchizedek; He changed then His Countenance in the Priesthood, and sent away the kingdom of the Jews, and came to the Gentiles. What then is, "He affected"? [702] He was full of affection. For what is so full of affection as the Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, seeing our infirmity, that He might deliver us from everlasting death, underwent temporal death with such great injury and contumely? "And He drummed:" because a drum is not made, except when a skin is extended on wood; and David drummed, to signify that Christ should be crucified. But, "He drummed upon the doors of the city:" what are "the doors of the city," but our hearts which we had closed against Christ, who by the drum of His Cross hath opened the hearts of mortal men? "And was carried in His Own Hands:" how "carried in His Own Hands"? Because when He commended His Own Body and Blood, He took into His Hands that which the faithful know; and in a manner carried Himself, when He said, "This is My Body." [703] "And He fell down at the doors of the gate;" that is, He humbled Himself. For this it is, to fall down even at the very beginning of our faith. For the door of the gate is the beginning of faith; whence beginneth the Church, and arriveth at last even unto sight: that as it believeth those things which it seeth not, it may deserve to enjoy them, when it shall have begun to see face to face. So is the title of the Psalm; briefly we have heard it; let us now hear the very words of Him that affecteth, and drummeth upon the doors of the city.

2. "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall be ever in my mouth" (ver. 1). So speaketh Christ, so also let a Christian speak; for a Christian is in the Body of Christ; and therefore was Christ made Man, that that Christian might be enabled to be an Angel, who saith, "I will bless the Lord at all times." When shall I "bless the Lord"? When He blesseth thee? When the goods of this world abound? When thou hast great abundance of corn, oil, and wine, of gold and silver, of servants and cattle; when this mortal health remaineth unwounded and sound; when all that are born to thee grow up, nothing is withdrawn by immature death, happiness wholly reigneth in thy house, and all things overflow around thee; then shalt thou bless the Lord? No; but "at all times." Therefore both then, and when according to the time, or according to the scourges of our Lord God, these things are troubled, are taken away, are seldom born to thee, and born pass away. For these things come to pass, and thence followeth penury, need, labour, pain, and temptation. But thou, who hast sung, "I will bless the Lord at all times: His praise shall be ever in my mouth," both when He giveth them, bless; and when He taketh them away, bless. For it is He that giveth, it is He that taketh away: but Himself from him that blesseth Him He taketh not away.

3. But who is it that blesseth the Lord at all times, except the humble in heart. For very humility taught our Lord in His Own Body and Blood: because when He commendeth His Own Body and Blood, He commendeth His Humility, in that which is written in this history, in that seeming madness of David, which we have passed by, "And his spittle ran down over his beard." [704] When the Apostle was read, [705] Ye heard the same spittle, but running down over the beard. One saith perhaps, What spittle have we heard? Was it not read but now, where the Apostle saith, "The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom?" But now it was read, "But we preach," saith he, "Christ crucified" (for then He drummed), "unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God. Because the Foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the Weakness of God is stronger than men." [706] For spittle signifieth foolishness; spittle signifieth weakness. But if the Foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the Weakness of God is stronger than men; let not the spittle as it were offend thee, but observe that it runneth down over the beard: for as by the spittle, weakness; so by the beard, strength is signified. He covered then His Strength by the body of His Weakness, and that which without was weak, appeared as it were in spittle; but within His Divine Strength was covered as a beard. Therefore humility is commended unto us. Be humble if thou wouldest bless the Lord at all times, and that His praise should be ever in thy mouth....

4. But wherefore doth man bless the Lord at all times? Because he is humble. What is it to be humble? To take not praise unto himself. Who would himself be praised, is proud: who is not proud, is humble. Wouldest thou not then be proud? That thou mayest be humble, say what is here written; "In the Lord shall my soul be praised: the humble shall hear thereof and be glad" (ver. 2). Those then who will not be praised in the Lord, are not humble, but fierce, rough, lifted up, proud. Gentle cattle would the Lord have; be thou the Lord's jumentum; that is, be thou humble. He sitteth upon thee, He ruleth thee: fear not lest thou stumble, and fall headlong: that indeed is thy infirmity; but consider Who sitteth upon thee. Thou art an ass's colt, but thou carriest Christ. For even He on an ass's colt came into the city; and that beast was gentle...."Be not ye as the horse or as the mule, which have no understanding." [707] For horse and mule sometimes lift up their neck, and by their own fierceness throw off their rider. They are tamed with the bit, with bridle, with stripes, until they learn to submit, and to carry their master. But thou, before thy jaws are bruised with the bridle, be humble, and carry thy Lord: wish not praise for thyself, but praised be He who sitteth upon thee, and say thou, "In the Lord shall my soul be praised; the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad."...

5. Now followeth, "O magnify the Lord with me" (ver. 3). Who is this that exhorteth us, that we should magnify the Lord with him? Whoever, Brethren, is in the body of Christ, ought for this to labour, that the Lord may be magnified with him. For he loveth the Lord, whoever he is. And how doth he love Him? So as not to envy his fellow-lover....Let them blush who so love God as to envy others. Abandoned men love a charioteer, and whoever loveth a charioteer or hunter, wisheth the whole people to love with him, and exhorteth, saying, Love with me this pantomime, love with me this or that shame. He calleth among the people that shame may be loved with him; and doth not a Christian call in the Church, that the Truth of God may be loved with him? Stir up then love in yourselves, Brethren; and call to every one of yours, and say, "O magnify the Lord with me." Let there be in you that fervour. Wherefore are these things recited and explained? If ye love God, bring quickly to the love of God all who are joined unto you, and all who are in your house; if the Body of Christ is loved by you, that is, if the unity of the Church, bring them quickly to enjoy, and say, "O magnify the Lord with me."

6. "And let us exalt His Name together." [708] What is, "let us exalt His Name together"? That is, in one. For many copies so have it, "O magnify the Lord with me; and let us exalt His Name in one." [709] Whether it be said, "together," or "in one," it is the same thing. Therefore bring quickly whom ye can, by exhorting, by transporting, [710] by beseeching, by disputing, by rendering a reason, with meekness, with gentleness. Bring them quickly unto love; that if they magnify the Lord, they may magnify Him in one....

7. "I sought the Lord, and He heard me" (ver. 4). Where heard the Lord? Within. Where giveth He? Within. There thou prayest, there thou art heard, there thou art blessed. Thou hast prayed, thou art heard, thou art blessed; and he knoweth not who standeth by thee: it is all carried on in secret, as the Lord saith in the Gospel, "Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." [711] When therefore thou enterest into thy chamber, thou enterest into thy heart. Blessed are they who rejoice when they enter into their heart, and find therein nought of evil....

8. "I sought the Lord, and He heard me." Who then are not heard, seek not the Lord. Attend, Holy Brethren; [712] he said not, I sought gold from the Lord, and He heard me; I sought from the Lord long life, and He heard me; I sought from the Lord this or that, and He heard me. It is one thing to seek anything from the Lord, another to seek the Lord Himself. "I sought" (saith he) "the Lord, and He heard me." But thou, when thou prayest, saying, Kill that my enemy, seekest not the Lord, but, as it were, makest thyself a judge over thy enemy, and makest thy God an executioner. [713] How knowest thou that he is not better than thou, whose death thou seekest? In that very thing haply he is, that he seeketh not thine. Therefore seek not from the Lord anything without, but seek the Lord Himself, and He will hear thee, and while thou yet speakest, He will say, "Lo, here I am." [714] ...

9. I have said who was the exhorter, namely, that lover who would not alone embrace what he loveth, and saith, "Approach unto Him, and be ye lightened" (ver. 5). For he saith what he himself proved. For some spiritual person in the Body of Christ, or even our Lord Jesus Christ Himself according to the flesh, the Head exhorting His Own Members, saith; what? "Approach unto Him, and be ye lightened." Or rather some spiritual Christian inviteth us to approach to our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. But let us approach to Him and be lightened; not as the Jews approached to Him, that they might be darkened; for they approached to Him that they might crucify Him: let us approach to Him that we may receive His Body and Blood. They by Him crucified were darkened; we by eating and drinking The Crucified are lightened. "Approach unto Him, and be ye lightened." Lo, this is said to the Gentiles. Christ was crucified amid the Jews raging and seeing; the Gentiles were absent; lo, they have approached who were in darkness, and they who saw not are lightened. Whereby approach the Gentiles? By following with faith, by longing with the heart, by running with charity. Thy feet are thy charity. Have two feet, be not lame. What are thy two feet? The two commandments of love, of thy God, and of thy Neighbour. With these feet run thou unto God, approach unto Him, for He hath both exhorted thee to run, and hath Himself shed His Own Light, as he hath magnificently and divinely continued. [715] "And your faces shall not be ashamed." "Approach" (saith he) "unto Him, and be ye lightened; and your faces shall not be ashamed." No face shall be ashamed but of the proud. Wherefore? Because he would be lifted up, and when he hath suffered insult, or ignominy, or mischance in this world, or any affliction, he is ashamed. But fear not thou, approach unto Him, and thou shalt not be ashamed....

10. As the Prophet testifieth, "The poor man cried, and the Lord heard him" (ver. 6). He teacheth thee how thou mayest be heard. Therefore art thou not heard, because thou art rich. Lest haply thou say, thou criedst and wast not heard, hear wherefore; "The poor man cried, and the Lord heard him." As poor cry thou, and the Lord heareth. And how shall I cry as poor? By not, if thou hast aught, presuming therefrom upon thy own strength: by understanding that thou art needy; by understanding that so long art thou poor, as thou hast not Him who maketh thee rich. But how did the Lord hear him? "And saved him out of all his troubles." And how saveth He men out of all their troubles? "The Angel of the Lord shall send [716] round about them that fear Him, and shall deliver them" (ver. 7). So it is written, brethren, not as some bad copies have it, "The Lord shall send His Angel round about them that fear Him, and He shall deliver them:" but thus, "The Angel of the Lord shall send round about them that fear Him, and shall deliver them." Whom called He here the Angel of the Lord, who shall send round about them that fear Him, and shall deliver them? Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself is called in Prophecy, the Angel of the great Counsel, the Messenger of the great Counsel; [717] so the Prophets called Him. [718] Even He then, the Angel of the great Counsel, that is, the Messenger, shall send unto them that fear the Lord, and shall deliver them. Fear not then lest thou be hid: wheresoever thou hast feared the Lord, there doth that Angel know thee, who shall send to succour thee, and shall deliver thee.

11. Now will He speak openly of the same Sacrament, whereby He was carried in His Own Hands. "O taste and see that the Lord is good" (ver. 8). Doth not the Psalm now open itself, and show thee that seeming insanity and constant madness, the same insanity and sober inebriety of that David, who in a figure showed I know not what, when in the person of king Achis they said to him, How is it? [719] When the Lord said, "Except a man eat My Flesh and drink My Blood, he shall have no life in him"? [720] And they in whom reigned Achis, that is, error and ignorance, said; what said they? "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" [721] If thou art ignorant, "Taste and see that the Lord is good:" but if thou understandest not, thou art king Achis: David shall change His Countenance and shall depart from thee, and shall quit thee, and shall depart. [722]

12. "Blessed is the man that trusteth in Him." Why needeth this to be explained at length? Whoever trusteth not in the Lord, is miserable. Who is there that trusteth not in the Lord? He that trusteth in himself....

13. "O fear the Lord, all ye His saints, for there is no want to them that fear Him" (ver. 9). For many therefore will not fear God the Lord, lest they suffer hunger. It is said to them, Defraud not; and they say, Whence can I feed myself? No art can be without imposture; no business can be without fraud. But fraud God punisheth: fear God. But if I should fear God, I shall not have whence to live. "O fear the Lord, all ye His saints, for there is no want to them that fear Him." He promiseth plenty to him that trembleth, and doubteth, lest haply if he should fear God, he should lose things superfluous. The Lord fed thee despising Him, and will He desert thee fearing Him? Attend, and say not, Such an one is rich, and I am poor. I fear the Lord, he by not fearing how much has he gained, and I by fearing am bare! See what follows; "The rich [723] do lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing" (ver. 10). If thou receive it according to the letter, He seemeth to deceive thee, for thou seest that many rich men that are wicked die in their riches, and are not made poor while they live; thou seest them grow old, and come even to the end of life amid great abundance and riches. Thou seest their funeral pomp celebrated with great profusion, the man himself brought rich even to the sepulchre, having expired in beds of ivory, his family weeping around; and thou sayest in thy mind, if haply thou knowest some both sins and crimes done by him: I know what things that man hath done; lo, he hath grown old, he hath died in his bed, his friends follow him to the grave, his funeral is celebrated with all this pomp; I know what he hath done; the Scripture has deceived me, and has spoken falsely, where I hear and sing; "The rich do lack and suffer hunger." When was this man in need? when did he suffer hunger? "But they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing." Daily I rise up to Church, daily I bend the knee, daily I seek the Lord, and have nothing good: this man sought not the Lord, and he hath died in the midst of all these good things! Thus thinking, the snare of offence choketh him; for he seeketh mortal food on the earth, and seeketh not a true reward in heaven, and so he putteth his head into the devil's noose, his jaws are tied close, and the devil holdeth him fast unto evil doing, that so he may imitate the evil men, whom he seeth to die in such plenty.

14. Therefore understand it not so....When thou art filled with spiritual riches, canst thou be poor? And was he therefore rich, because he had a bed of ivory; and art thou poor who hast the chamber of thy heart filled with such jewelry of virtues, justice, truth, charity, faith, endurance? Unfold thy riches, if thou hast them, and compare them with the riches of the rich. But such an one has found in the market mules of great value, and has bought them. If thou couldest find faith to be sold, how much wouldest thou give for that, which God willeth that thou shouldest have gratis, and thou art ungrateful? Those rich then lack, they lack, and what is heavier, they lack bread....For He hath said, "I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven." [724] And again, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled." [725] "But they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing:" but what manner of good, I have already said.

15. "Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (ver. 11). Ye think, [726] brethren, that I say this: think that David saith it; think that an Apostle saith it; nay think that our Lord Jesus Christ Himself saith it; "Come, ye children, hearken unto Me." Let us hearken unto Him together: hearken ye unto Him through us. For He would teach us; He the Humble, He that drummeth, He that affecteth, would teach us....

16. "What man is he that desireth life, and loveth to see good days?" (ver. 12). He asketh a question. Doth not every one among you answer, I? Is there any man among you that loveth not life, that is, that desireth not life, and loveth not to see good days? Do ye not daily thus murmur, and thus speak; How long shall we suffer these things? Daily are they worse and worse: in our fathers' time were days more joyful, were days better. O if thou couldest ask those same, thy fathers, in like manner would they murmur to thee of their own days. Our fathers were happy, miserable are we, evil days have we: such an one ruled over us, we thought that after his death might some refreshing be given to us; worse things have come: O God, show unto us good days! "What man is he that desireth life, and loveth to see good days?" Let him not seek here good days. A good thing he seeketh, but not in its right place doth he seek it. As, if thou shouldest seek some righteous man in a country, wherein he lived not, it would be said to thee, A good man thou seekest, a great man thou seekest, seek him still, but not here; in vain thou seekest him here, thou wilt never find him. Good days thou seekest, together let us seek them, seek not here....Read the Scriptures....

17. Let not a Christian then murmur, let him see whose steps he followeth: but if he loveth good days, let him hearken unto Him teaching and saying, "Come, ye children, hearken unto Me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord." What wouldest thou? Life and good days. Hear, and do. "Keep thy tongue from evil" (ver. 13). This do. I will not, saith a miserable man, I will not keep my tongue from evil, and yet I desire life and good days. If a workman of thine should say to thee, I indeed lay waste this vineyard, yet I require of thee my reward; thou broughtest me to the vineyard to lop and prune it, I cut away all the useful wood, I will cut short also the very trunks of the vines, that thou have thereon nothing to gather, and when I have done this, thou shalt repay to me my labour. Wouldest thou not call him mad? Wouldest thou not drive him from thy house or ever he put his hand to the knife? Such are those men who would both do evil, and swear falsely, and speak blasphemy against God, and murmur, and defraud, and be drunken, and dispute, and commit adultery, and use charms, and consult diviners, and withal see good days. To such it is said, thou canst not doing ill seek a good reward. If thou art unjust, shall God also be unjust? What shall I do, then? What desirest thou? Life I desire, good days I desire. "Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips that they speak no guile," that is, defraud not any, lie not to any.

18. But what is, "Depart from evil"? (ver. 14). It is little that thou injure none, murder none, steal not, commit not adultery, do no wrong, speak no false witness; "Depart from evil." When thou hast departed, thou sayest, Now I am safe, I have done all, I shall have life, I shall see good days. Not only saith he, "Depart from evil," but also, "and do good." It is nothing that thou spoil not: clothe the naked. If thou hast not spoiled, thou hast declined from evil; but thou wilt not do good, except thou receive the stranger into thine house. So then depart from evil, as to do good. "Seek peace, and ensue it." He hath not said, Thou shalt have peace here; seek it, and ensue it. Whither shall I ensue it? Whither it hath gone before. For the Lord is our peace, hath risen again, and hath ascended into Heaven. "Seek peace, and ensue it;" because when thou also hast risen, this mortal shall be changed, and thou shalt embrace peace there where no man shall trouble thee. For there is perfect peace, where thou wilt not hunger....

19. "The Eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous:" fear not then; labour; the eyes of the Lord are upon thee. "And His Ears are open unto their prayers" (ver. 15). What wouldest thou more? If an householder in a great house should not hearken to a servant murmuring, he would complain, and say, What hardship do we here suffer, and none heareth us. Canst thou say this of God, What hardships I suffer, and none heareth me? If He heard me, haply, sayest thou, He would take away my tribulation: I cry unto Him, and yet have tribulation. Only do thou hold fast His ways, and when thou art in tribulation, He heareth thee. But He is a Physician, and still hast thou something of putrefaction; thou criest out, but still He cutteth, and taketh not away His Hand, until He hath cut as much as pleaseth Him. For that Physician is cruel who heareth a man, and spareth his wound and putrefaction. How do mothers rub their children in the baths for their health. Do not the little ones cry out in their hands? Are they then cruel because they spare not, nor hearken unto their tears? Are they not full of affection? And yet the children cry out, and are not spared. So our God also is full of charity, but therefore seemeth He not to hear, that He may spare and heal us for everlasting.

20. Haply say the wicked, I securely do evil, because the Eyes of the Lord are not upon me: God attendeth to the righteous, me He seeth not, and whatever I do, I do securely. Immediately added the Holy Spirit, seeing the thoughts of men, and said, "But the Face of the Lord is against them that do evil; to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth" (ver. 16).

21. "The righteous cried, and the Lord heard them, and delivered them out of all their troubles" (ver. 17). Righteous were the Three Children; out of the furnace cried they unto the Lord, and in His praises their flames cooled. The flame could not approach nor hurt the innocent and righteous Children praising God, and He delivered them out of the fire. [727] Some one saith, Lo, truly righteous were those who were heard, as it is written, "The righteous cried, and the Lord heard them, and delivered them out of all their troubles:" but I have cried, and He delivereth me not; either I am not righteous, or I do not [728] the things which He commandeth me, or haply He seeth me not. Fear not: only do what He commandeth; and if He deliver thee not bodily, He will deliver thee spiritually. For He who took out of the fire the Three Children, did He take out of the fire the Maccabees? [729] Did not the first sing hymns in the flames, these last in the flames expire? The God of the Three Children, was not He the God also of the Maccabees? The one He delivered, the other He delivered not. Nay, He delivered both: but the Three Children He so delivered, that even the carnal were confounded; but the Maccabees therefore He delivered not so, that those who persecuted them should go into greater torments, while they thought that they had overcome God's Martyrs. He delivered Peter, when the Angel came unto him being in prison, and said, "Arise, and go forth," [730] and suddenly his chains were loosed, and he followed the Angel, and He delivered him. Had Peter lost righteousness when He delivered him not from the cross? Did He not deliver him then? Even then He delivered him. Did his long life make him unrighteous? Haply He heard him more at last than at first, when truly He delivered him out of all his troubles. For when He first delivered him, how many things did he suffer afterwards! For thither He sent him at last, where he could have suffered no evil.

22. "The Lord is nigh unto them that have broken their heart; and saveth such as be lowly in spirit" (ver. 18). God is High: let a Christian be lowly. If he would that the Most High God draw nigh unto him, let him be lowly. A great mystery, Brethren. God is above all: thou raisest thyself, and touchest not Him: thou humblest thyself, and He descendeth unto thee. "Many are the troubles of the righteous" (ver. 19): doth He say, "Therefore let Christians be righteous, therefore let them hear My Word, that they may suffer no tribulation? He promiseth not this; but saith, "Many are the troubles of the righteous." Rather, if they be unrighteous they have fewer troubles, if righteous they have many. But after few tribulations, or none, these shall come to tribulation everlasting, whence they shall never be delivered: but the righteous after many tribulations shall come to peace everlasting, where they shall never suffer any evil. "Many are the tribulations of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of all."

23. "The Lord keepeth all their bones: not one of them shall be broken" (ver. 20): this also, Brethren, let us not receive carnally. Bones are the firm supports of the faithful. For as in flesh our bones give firmness, so in the heart of a Christian it is faith that gives firmness. [731] The patience then which is in faith, is as the bones of the inner man: this is that which cannot be broken. "The Lord keepeth all their bones: not one of them shall be broken." If of our Lord God Jesus Christ he had said this, "The Lord keepeth all the bones of His Son; not one of them shall be broken;" as is prefigured of Him also in another place, when the lamb was spoken of that should be slain, and it was said of it, "Neither shall ye break a bone thereof:" [732] then was it fulfilled in the Lord, because when He hung upon the Cross, He expired before they came to the Cross, and found His Body lifeless already, and would not break His legs, that it might be fulfilled which was written. [733] But He gave this promise to other Christians also, "The Lord keepeth all their bones; not one of them shall be broken." Therefore, Brethren, if we see any Saint suffer tribulation, and haply either by a Physician so cut, or by some persecutor so mangled, that his bones be broken; let us not say, This man was not righteous, for this hath the Lord promised to His righteous, of whom He said, "The Lord keepeth all their bones; not one of them shall be broken." Wouldest thou see that He spoke of other bones, those which we called the firm supports of faith, that is, patience and endurance in all tribulations? For these are the bones which are not broken. Hear, and see ye in the very Passion of our Lord, what I say. The Lord was in the middle Crucified; near Him were two thieves: the one mocked, the other believed: the one was condemned, the other justified: the one had his punishment both in this world, and that which shall be, but unto the other said the Lord, "Verily I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise;" [734] and yet those who came brake not the bones of the Lord, but of the thieves they brake: as much were broken the bones of the thief who blasphemed, as of the thief who believed. Where then is that which is spoken, "The Lord keepeth all their bones; not one of them shall be broken"? Lo, unto whom He said, "To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise," could He keep all his bones? The Lord answereth thee: Yea, I kept them: for the firm support of his faith could not be broken by those blows whereby his legs were broken.

24. "The death of sinners is the worst" (ver. 21). Attend, Brethren, for the sake of those things which I said. Truly Great is the Lord, and His Mercy, truly Great is He who gave to us to eat His Body, wherein He suffered such great things, and His Blood to drink. How regardeth He them that think evil and say, "Such an one died ill, by beasts was he devoured: he was not a righteous man, therefore he perished ill; for else would he not have perished." Is he then righteous who dieth in his own house and in his own bed? This then (sayest thou) it is whereat I wonder; because I know the sins and the crimes of this same man, and yet he died well; in his own house, within his own doors, with no injury of travel, with none even in mature [735] age. Hearken, "The death of sinners is worst." What seemeth to thee a good death, is worst if thou couldest see within. Thou seest him outwardly lying on his bed, dost thou see him inwardly carried to hell? Hearken, Brethren, and learn from the Gospel what is the "worst death" of sinners. Were there not two in that age, [736] a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day; another a poor man who lay at his door full of sores, and the dogs came and licked his sores, and he desired to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table? Now it came to pass that the poor man died (righteous was that poor man), and was carried by Angels into Abraham's bosom. He who saw his body lying at the rich man's door, and no man to bury it, what haply said he? So die he who is my enemy; and whoever persecutes me, so may I see him. His body is accursed with spitting, his wounds stink; and yet in Abraham's bosom he resteth. [737] If we are Christians, let us believe: if we believe not, Brethren, let none feign himself a Christian. Faith bringeth us to the end. As the Lord spake these things, so are they. Doth indeed an astrologer [738] speak unto thee, and it is true, and doth Christ speak, and it is false? But by what sort of death died the rich man? What sort of death must it not be in purple and fine linen, how sumptuous, how pompous! What funeral ceremonies were there! In what spices was that body buried! And yet when he was in hell, being in torments, from the finger of that despised poor man he desired one drop of water to be poured upon his burning tongue, and obtained it not. Learn then what meaneth, "The death of sinners is worst;" and ask not beds covered with costly garments, and to have the flesh wrapped in many rich things, friends exhibiting a show of lamentation, a household beating their breasts, a crowd of attendants going before and following when the body is carried out, marble and gilded memorials. For if ye ask those things, they answer you what is false, that of many not light sinners, but altogether wicked, the death is best, who have deserved to be so lamented, so embalmed, so covered, so carried out, so entombed. But ask the Gospel, and it will show to your faith the soul of the rich man burning in torments, which was nothing profited by all those honours and obsequies, which to his dead body the vanity of the living did afford.

25. But because there are many kinds of sinners, and not to be a sinner is difficult, or perhaps in this life impossible, he added immediately, of what kind of sinners the death is worst. "And they that hate the righteous one" (saith he) "shall perish." What righteous one, but "Him that justifieth the ungodly"? [739] Whom, but our Lord Jesus Christ, who is also "the propitiation for our sins"? [740] Who then hate Him, have the worst death; because they die in their sins, who are not through Him reconciled to our God. "For the Lord redeemeth the souls of His servants." But according to the soul is death to be understood either the worst or best, not according to bodily either dishonour, or honours which men see. "And none of them which trust in Him shall perish" (ver. 22); this is the manner of human righteousness, that mortal life, however advanced, because without sin it cannot be, in this perisheth not, while it trusteth in Him, in whom is remission of sins. Amen.

Footnotes

[701] Lat. XXXIII. [702] [1 Sam. xxi. 13. He follows the Septuagint, which differs from the Vulgate.--C.] [703] Matt. xxvi. 26. [704] 1 Sam. xxi. 13. [705] [This expression, so frequent in St. Augustin, refers to the Epistle for the day. As the Law and Prophets in the synagogue, so also the Evangelists and Apostles were read ceremonially in the Church.--C.] [706] 1 Cor. i. 22-25. [707] Ps. xxxii. 9. [708] In idipsum. [709] In unum. [In the Septuagint epi to auto, as in Acts ii. 1.--C.] [710] Al. "by working." [711] Matt. vi. 6. [712] [He makes the same exhortation to a brother bishop who was present: attendat, Sanctitas Vestra.--C.] [713] Quæstionarium. [714] Isa. lxv. 24. [715] So our mss. and others, as Ed. Ben. says, magno consensu. Sicut magnifice et divine secutus est. Ben. however reads, "so that ye may be able magnificently and divinely to follow Him." Sic, ut magnifice et divine se sequi possitis. See on Ps. xxii. Exp. ii. 16. "Gloriously expressed." The word is magnifice. [716] Immittet. LXX. parembalei, "shall encamp." [717] Isa. ix. 6, LXX.; Mal. iii. 1. [718] [See Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. i. p. 223, note 7; also vol. v. p. 628, note 2, and passim.--C.] [719] Al. "when those wretched ones before king Achis said, How is it?" [720] John vi. 53. [721] John vi. 52. [722] [Luther's doctrine, and even Calvin's, admits of this language. Rhetorically, even Zwinglians might use the same. For the primitive doctrine see Justin Martyr and Irenæus, A.N.F. vol. i. p. 185, note 6, and 528, note 4. Observe also the fragment (xiii.) on p. 570.--C.] [723] E.V. "The young lions do lack," etc. [724] John vi. 51. [725] Matt. v. 6; Luke i. 53; 1 Sam. ii. 5. [726] Most mss. "Think," imperative, as in the other clauses. [727] Dan. iii. 28. [728] Al. "and do not." [729] 2 Macc. vii. 3. [730] Acts xii. 7. [731] ["Let us not receive carnally" is language which reflects light upon ver. 8, p. 75, supra. Note also what is here said of faith.--C.] [732] Exod. xii. 46. [733] John xix. 33. [734] Luke xxiii. 43. [735] Al. "even at no premature." [736] Al. "in this world." [737] Luke xvi. 19-22. [738] Mathematicus. [739] Rom. iv. 5. [740] 1 John ii. 2.


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