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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



PSALM 103

 

PSALM CIII.  (BENEDIC ANIMA.)

God is to be praised for his mighty works, and wonderful providence.

 

Ver. 1.  Himself.  Sept. Comp. adds, "a psalm of the creation," (H.) as this is the subject; but there is no title in the original.  Bert.  The psalm contains "a divine and natural philosophy," (Euseb.) respecting the creation and providence.  Plato has written something similar in his Tim├Žus, (C.) though this comparison is indecent.  Bert. --- The imitation is no disparagement, however, to this divine word, and we may surely notice the concord between the inspired and profane writers.  H. --- This psalm seems to be a continuation of the preceding one.  C. --- Great.  Lit. "magnified," in the same sense as we say, hallowed be thy name, praying that God may be honoured by all his creatures; (H.) though He cannot increase in holiness, &c.  S. Aug. --- We become acquainted with his greatness, by considering his works.  C. --- Praise.  Lit. "confession," (H.) Heb. "glory."  C. --- Thou art entitled to all praise.  W.

 

Ver. 2.  Light.  In this manner he always appeared.  1 Tim. vi. 16.  Ex. iii. 2.  C. --- Christ only once assumed such a glorious form at this transfiguration, because he came to instruct our mind and heart.  Bert. --- Stretchest.  Heb. and Sept. have the verbs in the third person, till v. 6. as the Vulg. has here extendens.  But S. Jerom and others agree with us, though S. Paul quotes according to the Heb.  v. 4.  H. --- Pavilion.  The idea of the heavens resting like a tent upon the earth was very prevalent.  Job ix. 8.  Is. xl. 22.

 

Ver. 3.  Water.  The Fathers are not agreed about the nature or situation of these waters.  Some take them to be angels.  S. Jer.  Gen. i. 7. --- Others suppose that the waters in the clouds, (C.) or the crystalline substance in the region of the stars are designated.  W. --- These waters are represented as the roof of God's palace.  Euseb. --- Winds.  With surprising velocity, his providence being every where.  Theod. --- The psalmist accommodates himself to our capacity, to shew that God does all with the utmost ease.  W.

 

Ver. 4.  Fire.  The elements execute his will, (C.) or rather, as the apostle, and Chal. &c. intimate, the angels do this (Bert.) with zeal and activity, (Heb. i. 7.  H.) and ease.  W. --- Some would attribute to the angels some sort of light bodies, and Grotius attempted to revive this opinion, which never could prevail over the contrary one, which is universally received.  C.

 

Ver. 5.  Ever.  The established order shall subsist, though the earth may move.  Ps. ci. 27.  Bert. --- It is fixed by its own gravity in the centre.  W.

 

Ver. 6.  The deep.  Heb. "thou hast covered it with the abyss."  This proves that there was no pre-existent matter, otherwise God would not have begun with the plunging his work in the abyss, and in confusion.  But he chose to bring this beautiful world out of a state of disorder in the space of six days, as Moses and the psalmist relate.  Bert. --- At first, all was created, covered with the waters.  Gen. i.

 

Ver. 7.  Fear.  Heb. "retire precipitately" to their beds, at thy counsel, (H.) on the third day.  C. --- Some think that a storm or the deluge are here described, (S. Chrys.) which is less probable.  Bert.  C. --- The waters would naturally cover the earth; but are confined to their proper channels by God.  W.

 

Ver. 8-9.  The...descend.  This sho8uld be within a parenthesis, (Bert.) as the sequel speaks of the waters.  H. --- Earth.  This seemed miraculous to those who supposed that the earth was flat.  S. Amb.  Hex. iii. 22.  Job vii. 12.  Amos v. 8.  C. --- Providence points out the place for every thing.  H. ---

                            Jussit et extendi campos, &c.  Ovid, Met. i.

--- God derogated from this law, which he had appointed for the waters, when he brought them again to overwhelm the guilty earth.  H.

 

Ver. 10.  Pass, to supply the wants of all creatures.  Springs and rain afford the necessary moisture.

 

Ver. 11.  Except, waiting for one another, as all cannot drink at the fountains at the same time.  The Chal. has the same idea, though the Heb. is explained, "shall break" (Houbig. "shall satisfy") their thirst.  Bert.)

 

Ver. 13.  Rooms, with rain, v. 3.  C. --- Earth, or its inhabitants.  T.

 

Ver. 14.  Service.  Cattle, or beasts of burden, are thus fed for man's service, though he may also eat legumes, &c.  C. --- Bring.  God gives the increase.  1 Cor. iii. 7.  H.

 

Ver. 15.  Oil.  This was an article of food, (Bert.) and deeded almost as requisite for anointing the body, as bread and wine to support nature.  Pliny xiv. 22.  Hence it was prohibited in days of fasting.  C. --- These three things are put for all sorts of food.  W.

 

Ver. 16.  Field.  Heb. "of Jehova."  Houbigant would substitute ssodi, "field," (H.) as this name of God is never used to denote "high" trees, &c.  Bert. --- God provides for the wants of all the creation, even of those things which seem less necessary to us.  C.

 

Ver. 17.  Sparrows, or "birds" (Ps. ci. 8.  H.) in general.  Bert. --- Highest; or, literally, "the tribe of the heron is their leader," (H.) first making their nests.  Sept. seem to have read better than the present Heb. "the stork, the fir-trees are its house."  Bert.

 

Ver. 18.  Irchins.  S. Aug. reads also, "hares."  These desert places are not useless.  C.

 

Ver. 19.  Seasons and festivals, which it points out: mohadim.  H. --- During the night wild beasts seek their prey, as men and cattle may  labour in the day-time.  The sun, &c. were made for man's use, (C.) and not to be adored.  Euseb. --- These bodies move with the same regularity as if they had intelligence.  Heracleot.

 

Ver. 21.  God, like all other creatures.  Ps. cxliv. 15. and cxlvi. 9.  C.

 

Ver. 24.  Riches.  Lit. "possession."  H. --- Heb. "The fulness of the earth is thy possession."  Sept. and ancient psal. "creature;" ktisewV.  The other interpreters read kthsewV, (C.) which the Vulg. adopts.  H. --- The world derided Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God, and Creator of all.  S. Aug.

 

Ver. 25.  Arms.  Man acts thus to denote something very extensive.  H. --- The sea is frequently put for the same purpose.  Job xi. 9.  Lam. ii. 13.  Arms is omitted in the Sept. and the ancient psalters. --- Creeping.  Fishes, (Gen. i. 20.  C.) and all animals without feet (W.) in the waters.  H. --- Nothing multiplies so fast as fishes.  Arist. Anim. ix. 17.  W.

 

Ver. 26.  Go.  The sea, which seems to be placed as a barrier, tends, by means of navigation, to the general convenience of nations.  C. --- Dragon.  Leviathan, a huge fish, (Job xl. 20.  W.) which Bochart takes to be the crocodile; though that monster is found rather in rivers.  Bert. --- It designates here all whales, and other great fishes which play in the sea without experiencing any fear like mortals.  Some translate "to play with it," (C.) as autw cannot agree with Qalassa.  Bert. --- The prodigious size of these fishes costs God nothing.  C. --- The whole creation is but a plaything for him, ludens in orbe terrarum.  Prov. viii. 31.  H. --- Some Jews impiously pretend that God plays three hours a day with the leviathan, and that he only created two; one of which he killed to make a feast for the elect, and the other causes the tides, by turning itself, &c.  See 4 Esdras, written at least in the second century.  S. Jer.  Muis.  C. --- Though this monster be too strong for man, it cannot defend itself out of water; (W.) and even in its own element man gains the victory by his skill.  H.

 

Ver. 28.  All, is not in Heb. Sept.  C. --- But the sense is the same.  H.

 

Ver. 30.  Thy.  Chal. adds, "holy;" and the Fathers explain it of a spiritual renovation, or of the resurrection of the body.  Bert. --- Animals are still preserved by Providence.  Euseb.  C.

 

Ver. 31.  Works.  Seeing that they are good.  Gen. i. 31.  May all continue to answer the end for which they were created.  C.

 

Ver. 32.  Smoke.  Exod. xix. 18. and xx. 18.  God is terrible as well as clement.  C.

 

Ver. 35.  No more.  So S. Paul pronounced sentence on those who did not love the Lord Jesus, (1 Cor. xvi. 22.) yet without any animosity.  Bert. --- The saints thus pray for the conversion of all, (S. Athan.) or express the approbation of God's sentence against the damned.  W.

 

 








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