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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



PSALM 54

 

PSALM LIV.  (EXAUDI DEUS.)

A prayer of a just man under persecution from the wicked.  It agrees to Christ persecuted by the Jews, and betrayed by Judas.

 

Ver. 1.  David.  It alludes to some of his persecutions, particularly to that of Absalom, as well as to that of the Church, and of Jesus Christ.  Bede explains it of Onias: who, being excluded from the high priesthood, retired into Egypt, and built the temple of Onion.  2 Mac. xiii.  C.

 

Ver. 3.  Hear me.  He repeats the same petition four times, (H.) to testify his fervour, and  humility.  Eccli. xxxv. 21. --- Exercise, among the wicked, (S. Aug.) or while I consider the sufferings of Christ.  Euseb. --- David was perplexed what course to take, when he first heard of his son's revolt.  Our Saviour was sorrowful unto death.  Matt. xxvi. 37.  C. --- This life is a warfare.  W. --- Ldolescia.  Heb. sichi, denotes serious (H.) meditation.  Gen. xxiv. 63.  M.

 

Ver. 4.  Upon me.  When a person has fallen into distress, the world is ever ready to attribute it it some fault.  Absalom accused his father of neglecting to judge, &c.  2 K. xv. 2.  The Jews calumniated and sought the death of Christ, whose agony in the garden is well described, (v. 5.) as well as the consternation of David, at the sight of such a general revolt, (C.) which almost overwhelmed him.  W.

 

Ver. 5.  Troubled, like a woman in labour, (M.) as yachil implies, (C.) in Hiphel.  M.

 

Ver. 7.  Dove, which flies swiftly.  He now adored the judgments of God, which chastised him, as he had threatened; (2 K. xii. 11.) though, while innocent, he had rejected a similar proposal.  Ps. x. 1.  The event shewed, that he  acted wisely in retiring beyond the Jordan.  C. --- O that I could fly, and in the simplicity of the dove, be removed from these afflictions!  W. --- As I could not go to heaven, I retired into the wilderness.  M.

 

Ver. 9.  Storm.  The first fury of the rebels, which is most dangerous, is thus specified.  David was convinced, that his son's party would dwindle away, when he was informed that he did not pursue him, following the advice of Chusai.  C. --- Heb. "I would hasten my escape from the  impetuous wind and tempest."  But the Sept. may be equally correct.  Bert. --- God protected his weak servant in the greatest dangers.  W.

 

Ver. 10.  Cast down.  Heb. "swallow up," as the earth did Dathan.  C. --- Sept. "drown."  H. --- Tongues, as at Babel, that they may not know how to proceed.  C. --- Heb. "swallow up...the torrent of their tongue."  Bate. --- Pallag, means also to "divide."  Absalom was accordingly infatuated by David's friend.  2 K. xv. 31. and xvii. 7.  M. --- City of Hebron, or even of Jerusalem, which caused the king to leave no garrison in it.  The city was still more abandoned in our Saviour's regard.  C. --- Contradiction.  Their counsels agree not.  They have their troubles, yet will not amend; but strive to oppress the poor.  W.

 

Ver. 13.  From him.  But how shall we guard against a traitor?  C. --- The injury received from a friend is most cutting.  W.

 

Ver. 14.  Guide, the prime minister, (Bert.) and chief of the council.  M. --- Such was Achitophel, who had nevertheless been long (C.) secretly disaffected.  See 2 K. xv. 12. and xvi. 23.  He professed the same religion, and was trusted with the most important affairs, as Judas carried the purse.  H.

 

Ver. 15.  Consent, or with expedition, as the Rabbins order people to go to the temple, though they must return slowly.  All this designates Judas.  C. --- Dreadful lesson for all sacred ministers, who prove faithless! (Bert.) participating of the holy sacraments of the Catholic Church, (W.) and yet betraying themselves, and their master!  Achitophel had probably to attend David in the temple, as Naaman did Benadad.  4 K. v. 18.  H.

 

Ver. 16.  Let death, &c.  This, and such like imprecations, which occur in the psalms, are delivered prophetically; that is, by way of foretelling the punishments which shall fall upon the wicked from divine justice, and approving the righteous ways of God: but not by way of ill-will, or uncharitable curses, which the law of God disallows.  Ch. --- David shewed even too much tenderness towards the rebels, in the opinion of Joab, &c.  He would not hurt Saul.  His predictions were verified; as Achitophel became a suicide, Absalom perished miserably, suspended between heaven and earth, as an object of horror to both, while many of his accomplices were either slain, or fell into precipices.  2 K. xvii. 23. and xviii. 8.  H. --- Hell, by a sudden death, like Antiochus, Core, &c.  Num. xvi. 30.  They just are already dead to this world.  Bert. --- Those who sin on purpose, descend, as it were, alive into hell.  W.

 

Ver. 18.  Evening.  The Hebrew then began the day.  C.  Gen. i. 5.  H. --- They had three times allotted for prayer, (Dan. vi. 10.) as the Church had afterwards.  Const. Ap. vii. 25.  C. --- Evening song, matins, and the sacrifice of the mass, are the principal times for divine service.  W. --- David comprises all times, because his prayer was continual.  Bert.  C.

 

Ver. 19.  Among many, &c.  That is, they that drew near to attack me, were many in company, all combining to fight against me.  Ch. --- Or, many also joined themselves to me with Joab, and the holy angels, (4 K. vi. 16.) though almost all Israel followed Absalom.  2 K. xv. 13.  C. --- In many things, schismatics agree with the Church; but their crime is the breaking of unity.  S. Aug.

 

Ver. 20.  Change, or redemption for them, (Ps. xliii. 13.  Euseb.) or they will not amend, (W.) nor cease to blaspheme God, and to calumniate me.  C. --- Eternal.  Lit. "He who is before ages."  H.

 

Ver. 21.  Repay.  Heb. bishlomaiv, "in his tribulations," or "against his peaceable ones."  Houbigant too arbitrarily translates, "they have sent forth their hand against, "  &c.  Bert.

 

Ver. 22.  They are divided, &c.  Dispersed, scattered, and brought to nothing, by the wrath of God, who looks with indignation on their wicked and deceitful ways.  Ch. --- They are separated from the good, (S. Jer.) slain by a look.  2 Thess. ii. 8. --- Near, or fought, v. 19.  C. --- Some translate, "they have divided the butter, like words of his mouth."  But this is less accurate, and the same idea is conveyed in the next words.  Bert. --- Prot. "The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart.  His words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords."  H. --- My enemy has violated every law, under his appearance of friendship.  C. --- Darts.  Absalom kissed the men of Israel to delude them, (2 K. xv. 2.) and the traitor gave this sign to those who came to seize our Saviour.  Matt. xxvi. 48.  C. --- The words of God are most excellent in themselves, but they seem hard to the incredulous.  Thus the Capharnaites gave rise to the first heresy against the words of Christ, which S. Peter piously believed, though, as yet, he did not comprehend their meaning.  Jo. vi.  S. Aug.  W. --- His heart and words  may thus be understood of God: but they more probably relate to any one of David's numerous enemies, who is thus singled out.  H.

 

Ver. 23.  Cast.  The prophet had experienced the happy effect of this conduct.  C. --- In all troubles and doubts, we must have recourse to God.  W.  1 Pet. v. 7.

 

Ver. 24.  Destruction; "into gehenna," (Chal.) or "hell," (S. Jer.) to which the judge sentences the reprobate, without promoting their crimes.  S. Aug.  C. --- Days.  It is rare that murderers and  notorious malefactors escape punishment in this world; but in the next, they will surely be requited.  Absalom perished in the flower of his age.  Bert. --- Achitophel, and may others, have been suddenly cut off.  God sometimes permits such to reign for a time, to exercise his servants, or that they may repent.  S. Aug. --- The Scripture often threatens sinners in this manner.  Job xxi. 21.  Is. lxv. 20.  C. --- Their days are indeed spent, when they die.  But if they had altered their conduct, they might have prolonged their life, (H.) according to the usual course of nature.  W.  M.

 

 








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