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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



PSALM 16

 

PSALM XVI.  (EXAUDI DOMINE JUSTITIAM.)

A just man's prayer in tribulation, against the malice of his enemies.

 

Ver. 1.  Prayer.  This psalm contains the model of a fervent prayer, (H.) which may be used by any person under affliction.  W. --- The Rabbins say David expresses too much confidence in his own integrity, and therefore was soon after permitted to fall; while others assert that he spoke thus after the murder of Urias, to avert God's wrath from his army before Rabbath.  But this supposition is  improbable, (C.) as well as the other.  H. --- The Fathers think that this psalm was composed during the persecution of Saul, and that it contains the sentiments of Jesus Christ and of his Church, under the persecution of infidels.  There are some very difficult passages in it.  C. --- My justice.  Heb. "attend to justice," (H.) which amounts to the same thing; as no one would make this petition, unless he supposed that he was in the right.  "Here the justice of my cause."  Principes.  Bert. --- "Hear the just man."  S. Jer.  H. --- Lips.  I do not attempt to deceive thee, like the hypocrite; or rather I have not acted with deceit, or endeavoured to excite rebellion, as I have been accused.  C. --- In my just cause, hear my unfeigned petition.  W.

 

Ver. 2.  Countenance.  Pronounce sentence, (Est. i. 19.  C.) if I have done wrong.  I do not refuse punishment.  Ps. vii. 5. H. --- The Gr. and Lat. copies vary.  Some read correctly with the Heb. "Let thy eyes behold what is wrong."  Yet S. Jer. (ep. ad Sun.) has "right," with the Syr. &c.  Others more commonly read, "Let mine eyes behold justice."  C. --- Montanus, however, substitutes rectitudines for iniquitates, as Pagnin had rendered mesharim, and Prot. "the things that are equal."  H. --- "Holy preachers are the eyes of Christ...let them see what is just...and fulfil the justice which they preach."  S. Jer. --- God sees all things, and will pass a just sentence.  W.

 

Ver. 3.  Fire.  I have experienced all sorts of misery.  C. --- Iniquity.  Heb. "Thou hast not found; I have thought."  But the same word without points, zamothi, (H.) has the sense given by the Sept. and they knew nothing of these points.  Bert. --- We may also translate, "Thou hast not found in me any criminal thoughts.  My mouth has not transgressed thy orders."  If some thoughts of taking revenge by killing Saul, presented themselves involuntarily, David repressed them; (C.) and when he was alone with him at night in a cave, he would not suffer him to be hurt, 1 K. xxvi. 7.  Theod. --- He asserts that he had gone through tribulations without offending.  Those who are innocent or penitent, may pray with this confidence; as the Church may, which has always some saints, on which account she is styled holy.  W.

 

Ver. 4.  Men.  Houb. "My mouth shall not pass to the pretexts of Adam."  I will not seek for excuses in sin.  H. --- "My mouth utters not vows to the vain works of men."  Prin. disc. --- But these versions are singular.  Bert. --- Hard.  Heb. "way of the robber."  Purits, or prits,  (S. Jer.  H.) means also "fracture."  Bert. --- David was ordered by God to retire into the wilderness, and to caves, where he was obliged to live like robbers, (C.) and was branded (C.) with the title of a fugitive slave by Nabal, 1 K. xxv. 10.  H. --- Yet the actions of David were very different from theirs.  Bert. --- He did not speak about the works of men, in power to condemn Saul, or any other, being averse to all detraction, and prescribing to himself the strictest laws, (C.) which God had ever promulgated.  Prot. "I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.  (4) Concerning the works of men, by the word of thy lips, I have kept me from the paths of the destroyer."  The division of the verses is arbitrary.  H. --- David kept the narrow path of virtue.  W.

 

Ver. 5.  Perfect.  Heb. "support" me in these hard ways, where I am in continual danger of falling.  C. --- A Deo est incipere, a Deo est finire.  S. Jer. --- God's grace enables us to begin and to perfect every good work.  H. --- None can walk right of themselves.  W.

 

Ver. 6.  Heard me, of former occasions.  This encourages me to pray with more confidence (Bert.) and fervour.  Bona vota quoties effectum percipiunt, multiplicantur.  S. Greg. Mor. xxxv. 3. --- Heb. also, "thou wilt hear me favourably."  S. Jer.  H.

 

Ver. 7.  Mercies.  We become accustomed to the ordinary effects of grace, which are always admirable; and we are astonished only at miraculous conversions and occurrences.  Orig. --- Some such manifestation of the divine power seemed now requisite, to deliver David from such a powerful rival as Saul.  C. --- Syr. "Lord, make thy holy one appear as a prodigy, as the Saviour of those who hope in thee."  S. Jer. --- "O thou Saviour of those who hope."  H.

 

Ver. 8.  Eye.  God has shewn particular attention to protect the apple of the eye.  He watches still more over his servants, (Zac. ii. 8.) for whom all things procure good.  Rom. viii. 28.  Saul had declared himself against David, because he had been chosen to succeed him, and thus he opposed the designs of God.  C. --- The prophet prays that he may never give way to such  impiety.  W. --- Wings, as a hen does her chickens.  H. --- Defend me from the furious countenance of my enemies.  W.

 

Ver. 10.  Their fat.  That is, their bowels of compassion: for they have none for me.  Ch. --- They have become fat, and have given way to greater insolence, as we see too often verified.  Deut. xxxii. 15.  Job xv. 26.  Ps. lxxii. 7.  Chal.  C. --- Proudly.  Libertines are often prompted by vanity to speak as they do against God and man.  H. --- If Collins, Tindal, &c. had been cast upon some desert island, they would probably never have written such irreligious works as there would have been none to applaud them.  Bert.

 

Ver. 11.  Earth, to testify their wrath.  So Virgil describes Juno.

                            Diva solo fixos oculos aversa tenebat.  Æn. l.

--- Hebrew, ashurenu, is rendered "by out step," (Mont.) or contemplation.  But the Sept. have explained it as a verb, as well as S. Jerom, (Bert.) who reads, "marching against me; now they have surrounded me," (H.) like wild bulls.  C. --- Sym. "blessing me, the have presently cast down their eyes, they have prepared snares, to throw me down upon the ground."  They have sought my ruin both by craft and by open force.  Even those who were once my friends and admirers, are now turned against me.  H. --- He alludes particularly to the courtiers of Saul.  C. --- They intend utterly to destroy me, even to the ground.  W. --- Heb. "by our step they have now surrounded us," (Mont.) conformably to Keri; though the text, followed by Pagnin, has, "In our path, they have surrounded me."

 

Ver. 12.  They have taken me, is not expressed in Heb.  H.

 

Ver. 13.  Disappoint.  Heb. "meet him," as an enemy.  Lev. xxvi. 23. --- Thy sword.  The wicked are employed by God to chastise the just, and will then be thrown into the fire.  Isai. x. 5.  Jer. l. 23.  C. --- They little think that they are subservient to the designs of Providence, as they attribute their success to their own might.  Whether we beg that God would take his sword from the wicked, or that we may be freed from their malice, is much the same.  Bert. --- Hebrew may express the latter sentiment, "Deliver my soul from the wicked, thy sword, (14) the men of thy hand, worldings, whose portion is temporal, in this life," &c.  H. --- Many other versions may be given: (C.) by they all tend to shew the fleeting pleasures of God's enemies, who are thus rewarded for their transient virtues, and reserved for eternal torments.  H. --- Man is not sufficient to resist that power, which they exercise by God's permission.  Hence David begs that it may be taken away. W.

 

Ver. 14.  Divide them from the few, &c.  That is, cut them off from the earth, and the few trifling things thereof; which they are so proud of, or, divide them from the few; that is, from thy elect, who are but few; that they may no longer have it in their power to oppress them.  It is not meant by way of a curse or imprecation; but, as many other similar passages in the psalms, by way of a prediction, or prophecy of what should come upon them, in punishment of their wickedness. --- Thy hidden stores: thy secret treasures, out of which thou furnishest those earthly goods, which with a bountiful hand thou hast distributed both to the good and the bad.  Ch. --- Of children.  Heb. "their children are satiated."  Houb.  Bert. --- Some copies read ueiwn, (Rom. Sept.) instead of uiwn.  "They have been filled with hogs' flesh."  The mistake was easy in Greek.  C.  S. Jerom agrees with the Vulg.  H. --- A numerous family was the great desire of the Jews.  David is willing to forego every temporal advantage, and only prays that he may live in his own country, and attend the divine worship in the tabernacle.  This was the glory of Israel, v. 15.  1 K. iv. 21.  C. --- He predicts the final separation of the wicked from the elect, which sometimes begins in this life.  Their worldly joys are hidden or disapproved by God.  W. --- The feed on the poor servants of our Lord, (H.) whose life is hidden.  M.

 

Ver. 15.  Appear.  S. Jer. "I shall be filled, when I shall awake in thy likeness," (H.) at the resurrection: (Phil. iii. 21. and 1 Cor. xiii. 12.) or "when thy likeness, the Messias, shall rise again:" or (as the same expression is used by the Sept. as Num. xii. 8.) David begs for actual inspiration, "thou wilt comfort my with the prophetic spirit."  C. --- Perhaps he might also desire to see the tabernacle again, or even now prepare to erect a temple unto the Lord; (2 K. vii. 2.  H.) or he begs for the gifts of grace and glory, which will restore the image of God, effaced by sin.  1 Jo. iii. 2.  Bert. --- Then the just being approved, will taste that joy which alone can satiate the heart of man, when he shall behold God.  W.

 

 








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