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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



PSALM 77

 

PSALM LXXVII.  (ATTENDITE.)

God's great benefits to the people of Israel, notwithstanding their ingratitude.

 

Ver. 1.  Asaph.  David composed this, to declare the rights of Juda to the throne, in preference to the tribe of Ephraim, (Lyran.) which had kept possession of the ark a long time; which was henceforth to be on Mount Sion.  H. --- It seems to relate to the times of Asa, who reunited several of the other tribes to his dominion, (2 Par. xv. 8.  C.) and contains a moral instruction, delivered in the person of Christ, (v. 2.  Euseb.  Bert.) and submitted to the attentive consideration of the faithful.  W. --- Law.  Given to Moses, (Bert.) and sanctioned by the divine authority.  H. --- The law, and the people were not David's, but God's, in whose name he speaks.  S. Greg. in Job ii.  W.

 

Ver. 2.  Propositions.  Deep and mysterious sayings.  By this it appears, that the historical facts of ancient times, commemorated in this psalm, were deep and mysterious; as being figures of great truths appertaining to the time of the New Testament.  Ch. --- S. Matthew, xiii. 35. has, things hidden from the foundation of the world.  Heb. minni kedem, "from of old."  S. Jer. "ancient riddles."  H. --- Mashal and chidoth, "parables and enigmas." frequently denote things very plain, but spoken in a sententious poetic style.  Num. xxiii. 7.  C. --- The facts, &c. of the Old Testament, prefigured the mysteries of the New.  W.

 

Ver. 3.  Fathers.  Christ  might thus speak as man, and he enforces tradition in the strongest terms.  Bert. --- Only some things were written.  W. --- The most ancient and universal mode of instruction, was by word of mouth.  H.

 

Ver. 5.  Testimony.  The tabernacle, (Euseb.) or the law which notifies his will.  C.  M. --- He also thrice required the Israelites to perpetuate the memory of what he had done for them, by instructing their children.  Deut. iv. 9. and vi. 7. and xi. 19.  Both the written and the unwritten word must be carefully preserved.  2 Thes. ii. 14.  God had freely chosen Abraham, and given him the law of circumcision; as he directed his posterity by the mouth of Moses.  W.

 

Ver. 7.  That, &c.  This was the end of all the laws and monuments of religion, (C.) to increase our confidence, (W.) gratitude, and observance of our duty.  H.

 

Ver. 8.  Fathers.  Some were virtuous, like Moses, Josue, Samuel, &c.  v. 3. and 5.  Bert. --- But the majority proved faithless.  H. --- To God.  Or did not confide in him, or know that without God's grace, no good can be done.  S. Aug.  Bert. --- Abraham instructed his house, (Gen. xviii.) and David his subjects, that they might avoid bad example.  The same advice regards Christians, 1 Cor. x.  W.

 

Ver. 9.  Battle.  Many of this tribe were cut off by the men of Geth, (1 Par. vii. 21.  Chal. Geier.) as they fought without God's command.  Num. xiv.  W. --- They did not defend the ark against the Philistines, though they seemed more bound to do so than the rest, since it was brought from their city, Silo, and they also set the others a pattern of infidelity; (1 K. iv.  Abenezra.) whence they are singled out likewise by Osee.  Bert. --- The famous victory of Abia against Jeroboam may be also designated.  2 Par. xiii.  C. --- This had not yet taken place, no more than (H.) their captivity, under Salmanazar, which is enigmatically foretold.  After this reproach, the whole body of the Israelites is condemned.  v. 10.  Bert.

 

Ver. 12.  Taneos.  Heb. Tsohan, (H.) which means, "spreading," either because the plagues spread from this capital, or because it was in a plain, (Bert.) or very extensive, (H.) on the eastern branch of the Nile, in the Delta.  C. --- Here Moses wrought his wonders.  W.

 

Ver. 13.  Vessel.  Lit. "bottle," like walls on either side.

 

Ver. 14.  By day.  Lit. "of the day."  H. --- But this is the real import of the Greek.  The same cloud (C.) was both luminous and obscure.  When the light side was turned towards Israel, the Egyptians were in darkness.  H. --- The eternal Son of God guided this pillar, and the Israelites tempted him, (v. 18. and 1 Cor. x.  Ex. xiii. 21.  Bert.) forgetting their baptism or initiation in the service of God.  H.

 

Ver. 15.  Deep.  Water was so abundant, and followed them in streams.  1 Cor. x. 4.  C. --- The first miraculous grant of water was at Horeb, the second at Cades.  v. 20.  Bert.

 

Ver. 18.  Desires.  Lit. "souls," as if they were dying for hunger, though they had plenty of manna.  Num. xi. 4.  C.

 

Ver. 19.  Ill.  Heb. "against," (Num. xi.  C.) still distrusting in God's power.  M.

 

Ver. 20.  Bread.  Including all sorts of food.  W. --- Table.  Heb. "flesh."  It is true we have water and manna, but we want something more solid and agreeable.  C.

 

Ver. 21.  Angry.  This is the sense of the Heb.  Distulit means, "he deferred" (H.) to put his threats, (Bert.) or promises, in execution.  M. --- The destroyer punished those who gave way to murmuring,. 1 Cor. x.  Num. xi. 1.  C. --- Their incredulity was punished (W.) for nearly forty years, and all the guilty who were twenty years old at the first numbering, were cut off in the desert.  H.

 

Ver. 23.  And.  Or "though he had."  Bert. has mandavit.  "He commanded," would be better rendered, this order being given before the complaints.  God had supplied them abundantly with manna from the clouds, as from his granaries.  C. --- Therefore they ought to have trusted in his power and goodness.  M.

 

Ver. 25.  Angels.  Heb. also, "of the strong ones."  Aquila. --- Such is the blessed Eucharist, of which manna was only a figure, John vi.  The angels prepared this food.  C. --- It was an effect of the divine bounty, not of the power of Moses.  Jo. xi. 32.  How it could be inferior (Bert.) to the bread which Christ would give, was a riddle to the Jews, as it must be still to all who do not admit the real presence.  If both were figures, surely manna was better than common bread.  H.

 

Ver. 26.  West wind.  Lit. Africum, which blows "from Africa," in this direction, with respect to Jerusalem.  H. --- The same wind may be styled the south wind.  Heb. Kadim, "strong, eastern," &c.  Bert. --- These quails came from the banks of the southern ocean, or from the Red Sea, as the Israelites were still in Arabia, when they were furnished with them a second time, (Num. xi. 31.) for a whole month, (C.) though there were about three million people.  Bert. --- God changed the wind, so as to bring them into the camp.  Ex. xvi.  W. --- It was before blowing from the south-east.  M.

 

Ver. 31.  Israel.  S. Jerom applies this to those who receive unworthily, particularly if they be priests.  1 Cor. xi. 29.  C. --- God selected the most guilty (Bert.) having allowed them to feast for a whole month.  W. --- Then he brought down by death, or "hindered," as it were, "by shackles," (Sept.) the most valiant.  H.

 

Ver. 32.  Still.  Notwithstanding this instance of God's severity, they fell shortly after into greater sins, and would have stoned Moses, &c. despairing of ever taking possession of the promised land, which highly displeased God, so that he swore, that none of the rebels should enter it.  Many were also slain in the sedition of Core, (Num. xiii. 17.) and the rest did not live about thirty-eight years.  C. --- Thus about 600,000 perished, (W.) having done nothing worthy of praise.  M.

 

Ver. 34.  Morning.  Those who were spared pretended to repent.  H. --- Afflictions are the source of much good.  But the Israelites are blamed for their inconstancy and deceit.  C. --- They came with apparent earnestness (H.) to offer the morning sacrifice (W.) under affliction.  M.

 

Ver. 38.  Their and them, is supplied also by Prot.  H. --- Heb. "he...will forgive sin," &c.  This seems more beautiful.  Bert.

 

Ver. 39.  Flesh.  The inferior appetite wars against the spirit.  Gal. v. 17.  Matt. xxvi. 41.  H. --- Not, in the ordinary course.  This does not contradict the faith of the resurrection, which is elsewhere clearly expressed.  S. Jer.  C. --- Man may go astray, but cannot be converted by his own efforts.  Prov. ii. 19.  S. Aug.  Bert. --- God will never abandon the whole Church.  The Jews here mark the middle of the psalter, and the 1263d verse, (W.) or the division of the book.  H.

 

Ver. 40.  How often.  It would be difficult to specify.  God mentions ten times.  Num. xiv. 22.  W.

 

Ver. 41.  Grieved.  Heb. "set bounds to," or "marked," holding up to scorn.  Heb. vi. 6.  Genebrard thinks we might translate, "crucified," hithvu, as this is the root of Thau, which formerly resembled a cross.  C. --- This would surely be one of the most striking enigmas.  S. Jerom agrees with us.  Bert. --- "They pushed on," concitaverunt, as God's wrath must be greatly excited by setting limits to his power and goodness.  H.

 

Ver. 42.  Not.  How could they so soon forget these prodigies?  We might ask, how came Adam to pay so little attention to God's command?  How do many act contrary to their better knowledge?  Upon occasion of this forgetfulness, the psalmist repeats many of the chief miracles recorded.  Ex. vii. and xiii.  Bert.

 

Ver. 43.  Signs.  The turning the rod into a serpent.  The rest of the signs were also plagues.  W.

 

Ver. 44.  Showers.  Heb. "floods."  H. --- Many have asserted that it does not rain in Egypt: but pretty heavy showers fall, even above Cairo, (Vansleb.  C.) though seldom.  W.

 

Ver. 45.  Flies.  Cænomyiam.  Many copies of the Sept. have kynomiam, "the dog-fly," which S. Jerom, (C.) and S. Aug. properly correct.  Bert.  Ex. viii. 24.

 

Ver. 46.  Blast.  Heb. also "the bruchus," (H.) a sort of locust, which does great damage in the East.  C. --- Chasil may signify both.  Bert. --- Ovid speaks of the blast:

                            Interea crescat scabræ rubiginis expers.  Fast. 1.

 

Ver. 47.  Vineyards.  Herodotus (i. 77.) says, the Egyptians use "ale, because they have no vines."  But he is contradicted by Athenæus, &c. --- Trees.  Heb. shikmoth, is supposed to mean sycamore trees.  C.

 

Ver. 48.  Fire.  S. Jer. "who gave their pastures to the hail, and their cattle to the birds."  Reshaphim is also rendered "coals," by Pagnin.  It may denote the thunderbolts.  H.

 

Ver. 49.  Angels.  Heb. "messengers of evil," (T.) as the Sept. may also signify the good angels.  Amama. --- He ordered Moses and Aaron to denounce his judgments, which he executed either by the devils, (Origen.  W.) or by the blessed spirits.  S. Amb.  Ex. xii. 29.  Wisd. xviii. 14. --- Hence from the effect, (Bellar.) they may have the appellation of evil.  Theod.  C. --- The other plagues are thus briefly mentioned.  M.  W.

 

Ver. 51.  Labour.  "The first-born," (S. Jer.  Gen. xlix. 3.  Prov. v. 9.) and their best effects.  C. --- This was the tenth plague.  Cham was the father of Misraim, who peopled Egypt.  W.

 

Ver. 53.  Not, after they saw the Egyptians destroyed, whom they had feared greatly before.  In the desert they enjoyed rest, while their enemies were in the utmost confusion, (Bert.) having lost their king.  H.

 

Ver. 54.  Mountain.  Heb. "term."  OroV, with the soft spirit, means a mountain, (Bert.) and the Vulg. has taken it in this sense in both places, as the Greek accents and spirits are not of greater antiquity or consequence than the Heb. vowel points.  H. --- The land of Chanaan was very different from that of Egypt, being full of mountains.  Deut. iii. 25.  Ezec. xxxvi. 2.  But Sion may be here meant. --- Line.  Thus were lands measured.  Jos. xiii. 8. and xvii. 5.  C. --- God had made a particular choice of this hilly country for his people, (W.) and for the chief seat of religion.  M.

 

Ver. 57.  The covenant, is omitted in many Greek and Latin copies, as well as in Heb.  S. Jer. ad Sun. --- Yet it is found in the Vatican edition, (C.) as well as in the Alex. hsunqethsan.  H. --- Bow, which hits not the mark.  It alludes to the faithless Israelites, (C.) particularly to Ephraim, v. 9.  Os. vii. 6.  Jer. ix. 3.  The bow of Jonathan was not such, 2 K. i. 22.  C. --- A bad bow misses the aim, or breaking, wounds the person who uses it.  M. --- These people hurt themselves by their treachery.  W.

 

Ver. 58.  Hills.  The high places, in which they imitated the pagans, and which brought on their ruin.  Lev. xxvi. 30.  With so  much difficulty are people taught to serve God in spirit and truth.  They foolishly imagined that they would be nearer the gods.  Bert. --- Things.  Prot. "images."  They have not forgotten to insert this word as usual, to make the ignorant believe that all images are forbidden!  H.

 

Ver. 59.  Heard.  So he did the crimes of Sodom.  Gen. xviii. 20.  C. --- Reduced.  Heb. "abhorred exceedingly several in Israel."  H. --- The people were not exterminated; but greatly reduced in the time of the judges.  W.

 

Ver. 60.  Silo.  Where it had remained about 350 years, (Bert.) before the ark was removed, never to be replaced there.  H. --- The tabernacle was afterwards at Nobe, and at Gabaon; whence it was probably removed to the treasury of the temple, (C.) and was hidden by Jeremias, 2 Mac. i.  Jos. xvii. 1.  Bert. --- God gave his oracles more particularly where the ark, (W.) or the tabernacle, was found.  H.

 

Ver. 61.  Their.  Heb. "his."  Houb. --- The ark was an earnest of God's protection, (H.) and the glory of Israel, 1 K. iv. 21.

 

Ver. 62.  Sword.  So that they could not escape. --- Despised.  Heb. hithhabar,is rendered distulit by S. Jerom, (v. 21. 59.  C.) or non distulit, "he did not delay" to punish, as Erasmus reads.  H.

 

Ver. 63.  Fire of God's indignation, (M.  W.) or of war. --- Lamented.  S. Jer. "its virgins no one bewailed."  H. --- He seems to have read eullu, with the Sept.  Others translate, (Bert.) "did not mourn," though they were now deprived of the hopes of marriage, (C.) or "the virgins were not praised" in the canticles used at the marriage-feast, (Chal. &c.) non epithalamio celebratæ sunt, (Mont.) or "married."  Pagnin.  H. --- There was no time to bewail the death of the young men, or the captivity of the women.  C. --- Each one was too solicitous for his own safety.  H.

 

Ver. 64.  Priests.  Ophni and Phinees, (1 K. iv. 11.  C.) the origin of this calamity, (H.) and the high priest himself broke his neck.  W. --- Mourn, plorabantur, intimates rather that the people did not mourn for him.  But the Heb. has this  meaning also, fleverunt, (Mont.) sunt fletæ.  S. Jer.  H. --- The widow of Phinees died on hearing  the sad news; and Eusebius seems to think that grief killed Ophni's widow likewise.  C.

 

Ver. 65.  Surfeited.  S. Jerom, Chal. &c. agree in this sense.  But Heb. may admit another, not quite so harsh, (C.) "like a hero who shouts for (Mont.) or sing after wine;" (H.) dialalwn ex oinou, "rendered talkative by wine."  Sym. --- God allowed the Philistines to prosper for a time; but, at last, he covered them with ignominy.  H. --- We must reflect that the Oriental languages are bolder in their expressions than ours, and that this is simply a comparison, not more astonishing than that used by our Saviour, when he says that he will come like a thief in the night.  Bert. --- If the Spirit of God had not consecrated such comparisons, no one durst have used them.  S. Aug. --- God rose to punish the infidels, and to preserve his Church.  W. --- The psalmist speaks of him as of a man invigorated by wine, and filled all with confusion.  M.

 

Ver. 66.  Parts.  As they were fleeing, (Bert.) or with emerods.  Chal. &c.  C.  1 K.  v. 10.

 

Ver. 67.  Ephraim.  Who had been preferred before his elder brother, and yet proved the most inclined to idolatry, v. 9.  H. --- This tribe was deprived first of the ark, and then of the tabernacle, which were its greatest glory, and this strongly indicated the divine displeasure.  C.

 

Ver. 68.  Sion.  The ark was removed from Cariathiarim, in the tribe of Juda, to the house of Obededom, for three months, and afterwards to the palace or tabernacle on Sion, (H.) which God had probably chosen for its fixed abode, towards the beginning of David's reign.  C.

 

Ver. 69.  As of unicorns.  That is, firm and strong, like the horn of the unicorn.  This is one of the chief of the propositions of this psalm, fore-shewing the firm establishment of the one, true, and everlasting sanctuary of God, in his Church.  Ch.  M. --- It was preserved before Christ, and will remain till the end of time.  W. --- The temple was not built by David: but the spot was consecrated for it, (2 K. xxiv.) and the ark was placed on Sion; which was the land which he had founded for ever for this purpose.  Heb. ramim, means "unicorns, (Chal.  S. Jer.) heights, (Mont.) palaces," (Pagn.) &c.  Santificium and sanctuarium, have the same import.  H. --- In the land.  Heb. "as the land."  Sept. have read b for c, as well; (Bert.) and it is observable that Montanus translates the latter, though the former occur in the Heb. text below, edit. 1632: so easily may these letter be confounded!  H. --- The temple was to have the same stability as the earth, and was but one, like the horn of the unicorn, which is most solid and beautiful.  C. --- Yet this could not be understood of the material temple, which was the most magnificent structure in the world.  It was fulfilled in the Church of Jesus Christ, who is also the true David, v. 72.  H. --- The crowning of David, who was his figure, was a great blessing to Israel.  W.

 

Ver. 70.  Young.  Heb. also, "giving milk."  David was actually with his father's flocks, when he was sent for by Samuel.  Saul was also engaged in the pursuits of a country life when he was chosen king: and it would indeed have been difficult to find people of another description among the Israelites, as all followed some business.  Crœsus observed that he first of his race (Gyges) obtained his liberty and the throne at the same time, as he had kept the flocks of the preceding king.  Xenoph. vii.

 

Ver. 72.  Skilfulness.  Lit. "intelligences."  Plural words are used to express the greatness of the thing.  David was very upright and intelligent.  H. --- This enhances the ingratitude of Ephraim, &c. who divided the kingdom.  C. --- Yet David had fallen into some grievous mistakes, so that this can only belong strictly to Jesus Christ, who is the good shepherd, without sin.  Bert. --- He has here detailed what may serve to illustrate the law and the gospel, and may fill us either with confidence or with alarm.  H. --- We are astonished at the repeated infidelities of the Israelites.  But if three million Christians were placed in the same circumstances, would they behave better?  Bert.

 

 








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