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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



PSALM 118

 

PSALM CXVIII.  (BEATI IMACULATI.)

Of the excellence of virtue, consisting in the love and observance of the commandments of God.

 

Ver. 1.  Alleluia.  There is no title in Heb.  But (H.) this psalm contains the praises of the Lord, and of his holy law, under fourteen different names, (W.) of way, testimony, &c. repeated in every verse, except the 122d, (Muis.) with surprising variety, so as to avoid tautology, and to give a most perfect system of moral doctrine.  It is written according to the order of the Heb. alphabet, (H.) that we may learn it from our infancy.  S. Hil. --- Eight verses begin with each of the twenty-two letters.  S. Jerom (ad Paulam Urb. & Proem. in Lam.) moralizes on the signification of these letters, which he renders, 1. Aleph, &c. "the doctrine---2. of the house; 3. the plenitude, 4. of the tables (or holy scripture)---5. This 6. and 7. this 8. of life---9. a good 10. beginning---11. the hand 12. of discipline (or the heart)---13. from them 14. everlasting 15. help---16. the fountain (or eye) 17. of the mouth 18. of justice---19. the calling 20. of the head 21. of teeth 22. the signs."  By thus connecting the letters, he forms sentences to shew that the holy Scriptures bring us to the knowledge of the Church, and of Christ, &c.  See W.  Thus every thing serves to excite the devotion of the saints, though the proud may deride their ingenuity.  The sacred writers have certainly found some pleasure and utility in writing so frequently in the alphabetical order, though we may not perceive the advantages of it.  H. --- David is supposed to have written this psalm for the instruction of Solomon in his youth, (Bert.) though others believe that he composed it while he himself was young, and persecuted by Saul.  Muis.  Bossuet, &c. --- It seems very probable, that David wrote it for the consolation of the captives.  C.  Dan. ix. 2. --- Origen and Ven. Bede refer it to those times; though it seems in reality to appertain to all who desire to live piously, (H.) and it is only a conjecture that any other but David was the author, to whom it is generally attributed.  Its excellency cannot be denied, and the Church has adopted it for her daily office, dividing it into eleven psalms.  Bert. --- S. Aug. has written thirty-two, and S. Amb. twenty-two sermons on the contents; and S. Basil observes, that David has here composed in one psalm the sum of all that he has written in the rest.  Among other points of morality and doctrine, we  may remark, that the psalmist insists on the necessity of God's grace, and the co-operation of free will, (W.) and overturns the Prot. system of justification.  D. --- The Israelites might recite this psalm on their journey, three times a-year, to the temple, as the fifteen gradual canticles which follow, were to be sung on the steps leading to the house of God.  Bellar.  M. --- Lord.  Such only are happy here, (W.) or hereafter.  H. --- All aim at happiness, but only the virtuous take the proper means to attain it.  S. Aug. --- The way may here designate this life, (W.) or the law, (S. Aug.) or Jesus Christ.  Jo. xiv. 6.  S. Amb.  The psalmist evidently presupposes, that some can and do keep the law. W.

 

Ver. 2.  His testimonies.  The commandments of God are called his testimonies, because they testify his holy will unto us.  Note here, that in almost every verse of this psalm, (which in number are 176) the word and law of God, and the love and observance of it, are perpetually inculcated, under a variety of denominations, all signifying the same thing.  Ch. --- We must search the law, not out of curiosity, but to practise it; (H.) otherwise we shall become more guilty.  W.  Jam. iv. 17.

 

Ver. 3.  Ways.  They may, however, repent.  The just are subject to fall.  1 Jo. i. 8.  But venial faults are not incompatible with justice.  C. --- Heb. "They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways."  Prot.  Bert.

 

Ver. 4.  Diligently.  Nimis.  Lit. "too much."  But this is a Heb. idiom, to imply the greatest diligence.  H. --- Some would refer it to "God's strong injunction;" which is not necessary.  The psalmist henceforward speaks to God.  Bert.

 

Ver. 5.  O! that.  Conscious of his own insufficiently, he prays for grace to be justified.  W. --- Moses acknowledged, that man could not observe the law, without Christ.  Deut. xxx 11.  Rom. x. 6.

 

Ver. 6.  All.  At the day of judgment, it will not suffice to have observed only some of the commandments.  See S. Jer.  S. Amb. &c. who all seem to follow Origen.  C. --- The breach of any law brings confusion.  W.

 

Ver. 7.  Justice.  That all thy ordinances are most equitable, (W.) and when I shall have faithfully put them in practice.  Eccli. xv. 9.  Theod.

 

Ver. 8.  Utterly.  Heb. nimis, as v. 4.  H. --- It may be advantageous to us to be left awhile, that we may know our own weakness.  S. Greg. Mor. xx. 21.  W. --- He does not beg never to be tempted, or in tribulation; (H.) but only that he may not yield to sin.  S. Hil. --- He may always at least have recourse to prayer.  1 Thes. v. 17. --- The neglect of this duty occasions so many falls.  Bert.

 

Ver. 9.  Correct.  Sym. "illustrate."  C. --- The observance of the law is the only method to preserve innocence, or to regain it.  H. --- The Holy Ghost gives this direction to youth, and to all who are exposed to the dangers of pleasure, (W.) as David might do to his son, 2 K. ii. 3.  Bert. --- In the same sense as we pray, Lead us not into temptation.

 

Ver. 10.  Let.  Lit. "do not cast me off."  H. --- God rejects none but the negligent.  S. Hil. S. Amb. &c. --- The just, or the Church in general, here confess (W.) that perseverance is a gift of God.  H. --- Deprived of grace, we should fall, no less than if God "made us err," as the Heb. strictly implies.  Bert.

 

Ver. 11.  Heart.  To guard against the temptations of vanity.  C. --- Christians formerly concealed the mysteries of religion with the utmost care.  S. Hil. and S. Amb. --- Moses had given the letter of the law only, insinuating, that it must be kept with all the heart, as David here more fully explains.  Bert.

 

Ver. 12.  Justifications.  He considers himself as placed at the feet of his divine Master.  C. --- Though just, he wished to increase in virtue.  Apoc. xxii.  W.

 

Ver. 13.  Mouth.  I have concealed them in my heart.  Now I am not ashamed to publish them.  C.

 

Ver. 14.  Riches.  I give thy law the preference.  Ps. xviii. 9.  C.

 

Ver. 17.  Give.  Heb. "avenge."  Ps. xii. 6. and cxxxvii. 9.  Draw me from this state of oppression, (C.) or rather, give me abundant grace, (Bert.) and eternal life.  S. Hil. --- I cannot fulfil the law, without thy grace.  W. --- Enliven me.  So the Sept. of Aldus reads, though the Roman and Heb. have, "I shall live."  Deut. xxx. 19.  Bert.

 

Ver. 18.  Law.  In rewarding, punishing, &c.  This thou wilt enable me to perceive, (W.) as thy law is too much above my comprehension.  C.

 

Ver. 19.  Earth.  At Babylon, or in the world, which is a pilgrimage, (C.) and I am unacquainted with the roads.  M. --- The latter sense is much better.  2 Cor. v. 6. and Heb. xi. 10.  Bert.

 

Ver. 20.  Coveted.  Heb. "burns, (Aquila; Houbig.) or is bruised, (Bert.) and faints through the desire of thy laws," (C.) or "judgments."  S. Jer. --- If I have but a short time to live, I ardently seek for instruction, (W.) and wish to advance daily in virtue.  C. --- His humility makes him fear, lest his desire should not be sincere.  Bert.

 

Ver. 21.  Cursed.  Becoming victims of hell.  Matt. xxiv.  Bert.  Deut. xxvii. 26.  M.

 

Ver. 23.  Princes.  Thus Daniel, (vi. 5.) was treated.  C. --- All who would live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution.  2 Tim. iii. 12.  H. --- The servant of God will adhere to his duty, though his adversaries may be very powerful.  W.

 

Ver. 24.  Counsel.  Heb. "the princes of my counsel." (Houbig.) in opposition to those who endeavoured to make him fall, v. 23.  H. --- The laws of God afford the best advice.  An ancient king observed, that the dead were the best counsellors, as they will not flatter, &c.  C. --- In every trial, we must reflect on the rewards and punishments held out.  W.

 

Ver. 25.  Pavement.  Heb. "dust," (Bert.) weighed down by concupiscence, (S. Aug.) and infected by the union with the body.  S. Amb. --- The just, in great distress, beg to be delivered, conformably to God's promise.  W.  Wisd. ix. 15.  Rom. vii. 24.

 

Ver. 26.  Ways.  Or sins, (Theod.) or miserable condition, v. 25.  C.

 

Ver. 28.  Slumbered.  Enustaxen, for which Origen, thinking it a mistake of copyists, substituted estaxen, "has melted," (C.) or "distilled," (Aquila, &c. Heracleot.) as more conformable to the original, though the sense is much the same.  Loss of blood often causes people to slumber.  Bert. --- S. Hil. would not abandon the Sept.  C. --- Heaviness, being such anxiety, as to be almost distracted.  W. --- Chal. "has been in an agony."  Sleep is often put for death.  C. --- My soul perishes through grief.  Houbig. --- Hence the three apostles slept.  Lu. xxii.  H. --- Akhdia, or torpor of mind, hinders the persecution of any business.  M.

 

Ver. 29.  Iniquity.  Heb. "lying."  Let me not imitate the wicked.  H. --- Remit the punishment of my sins, (Ps. cvi. 17.  C.) also original sin, and its effects.  S. Hill. --- Protect me from falling.  W.

 

Ver. 32.  Heart.  Man runs, but God must impart grace.  W. --- An enlarged heart sometimes denotes the capacity of understanding.  3 K. iv. 29.  C. --- But it is a singular mercy of God to make us love his commands.  S. Aug.

 

Ver. 33.  Always.  Heb. hekeb, means also, "for the reward," (Pagn.  H.  v. 112.) or step by step.  S. Jer.  C. --- Make me love thy commandments.  W.

 

Ver. 34.  Heart.  Enable me to keep and to understand thy law, v. 1. 2.  W. --- We must observe what we know, that we may receive greater lights.  H.

 

Ver. 35.  Desired.  Free-will concurs with grace.  W.

 

Ver. 36.  Covetousness.  Either of money, or any unlawful object.  1 Tim. vi. 10.  H.  The word is very comprehensive.  Bert. --- Batsah is rendered mammon by the Chal.  C.

 

Ver. 37.  Vanity.  Idols, worldly prosperity, &c. (Ps. xxxvi. 1. 7.  C.) shews, (S. Amb.) and all dangerous objects.  H. --- We must pray that God will take away the occasions of sin, and help us to advance in virtue.  W.

 

Ver. 39.  Reproach.  Hidden sins of thought, (S. Amb.) or the sarcasms of the Babylonians.  C. --- Sin is odious, because it is contrary to God's law, which is most delightful.  W. --- The saints have been often ridiculed.  Jer. xx. 7.  Acts xxvi. 24.  H.

 

Ver. 40.  Quicken.  The just prays for greater perfection, and for perseverance.  W.

 

Ver. 41.  Salvation.  The Messias, foretold by the prophets, (Gen. xlix.  Rom. iii. 23.  Tit. ii. 13.  Bert.) or grace, freely promised to all who ask for it.  W.

 

Ver. 42.  In any thing.  Lit. "the word" that I, &c.  Thus he stops their mouths, by professing his confidence in God.  H. --- The Babylonians insultingly ask, Where is their God?  If thou free me from captivity, I may reply that my hopes were not vain.  C. --- This answer I will give boldly, if I obtain thy grace, which will strengthen my weakness.  W.

 

Ver. 43.  Mouth.  Let those who preach the truth, live up to it.  S. Hil. and S. Amb. --- Though the psalmist may be under some fear, he prays that he may not omit to make open profession of his faith.  W. --- God never hinders his servants from doing this, though he sometimes suffers them to fall.  But the Church will never cease to proclaim the truth.  She will not give up one article of faith, though all heretics would thus embrace every other part of her doctrine.  She will never open her bosom to those who would alter one point, nor say that such can enter heaven.  Bert.

 

Ver. 44.  Ever.  Heb. "and after."  The sanction of the law will remain after this world is at an end.  These expressions relate to the Church.  Bert.

 

Ver. 45.  Large.  The Jews could not practise the law out of their country, (C.) as to the ceremonial part.  H. --- He hopes to be soon set at liberty.  The verb should be explained in the future, as S. Jerom has them, (C.) though this is immaterial.  Bert. --- David had already observed this line of conduct, which he resolved always to pursue, (H.) or he speaks in the person of all confessors, as he had not to be tried by any kings.  Bert. --- Those who suffer for the faith, receive great joy.  W.

 

Ver. 46.  Of thy, (de, &c.) but the true reading is, in testimoniis, "conformably to," &c. as in the Heb. Sept. and Vulg.  H.  Bert. --- Ashamed.  Thus many even of the female sex have professed their faith boldly, with S. Agnes, S. Catharine, S. Winefrid, &c. answering the reproachful objections that were put to them, as if it were dishonourable to be a Christian, Catholic or Papist.  No.  These are most glorious titles, importing the true service of Christ, in unity with the Catholic Church, and under the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the Pope.  W. --- But as Prot. mean an undue attachment to the Pope by the last title, we shew, that in that sense it is unjustly and illiberally applied to us, (H.) and no gentlemen or scholar would not make use of it.  Nightingale. --- See N.G.'s letters to J. Slack, Whitby, 1813.  H. --- Daniel spoke with great freedom to Nabuchodonosor, &c.  c. ii. 27. and v. 17. and vi. 22.

 

Ver. 48.  Hands.  To pray, labour, or rather to swear an eternal fidelity.  C. --- Confessors rejoice in meditation on God's words, which they shew forth in all their actions.  W.

 

Ver. 49.  Mindful.  He does not intimate that God can forget, but shews his fervour, (S. Aug.) and begs that he may be worthy to receive the effects of God's promises.  S. Hil. --- Though his decrees be most certain, means must be employed, which the just pray may not be wanting.  W.

 

Ver. 50.  This hope, hæc, though some would suppose it is put for hoc.  Bert. --- "This is my consolation in my distress."  S. Jer.  H. --- Word.  The expectation of thy promises has given me courage.  W.

 

Ver. 51.  Did.  Heb. "greatly derided me."  H. --- But I continued to observe thy law (C.) with patience, notwithstanding their provocations.  W.

 

Ver. 52.  Of old.  Upon the rebel angels, and sinful men, whom thou wilt punish for ever.  This encourages me to adhere to the cause of virtue.  W. --- In many dangers our ancestors have been protected by God.  Is his arm shortened, or are we no longer his people?  C.  1 Pet. iv. 12.

 

Ver. 53.  Fainting.  So much was the psalmist grieved at the sight of sinners!  Bert. --- He would have died through zeal, if he had not seen God's justice.  W. --- Apostates particularly filled him with horror.  C.

 

Ver. 54.  Song.  Here on earth I am comforted with singing the praises of thy law, which makes the observers just.  W. --- The captives would not give holy things to dogs: but, among themselves, they sung canticles.  Ps. cxxxvi.  C.  Col. iii. 16.  1 Par. xxix. 15.  Heb. xi. 16. --- These pious exercises were opposed to the scandalous discourses of sinners.  Bert.

 

Ver. 55.  Night.  Of tribulation, (W.) and captivity.  C.

 

Ver. 56.  This.  Hæc facta est mihi.  The feminine is put for the neuter, (C.) which the Heb. have not.  Bert. --- We may also understand, This night of calamity, v. 55.  H.

 

Ver. 57.  Portion.  With the just tending to perfection, I desire no other inheritance.  W. --- "He who possesses God, has all things."  S. Amb.

 

Ver. 59.  My ways.  Many read, "thy ways."  Sept. Arab. --- But this is the true sense of the Heb. &c.  The consciousness of having adhered to thy commands, makes me hope that thou wilt not abandon me.  C. --- I have bewailed my past transgressions, and am resolved henceforward to live piously.  S. Amb. --- I have reflected on my former actions, and taken up this firm determination, trusting in thy mercy, v. 58.  W.

 

Ver. 60.  And am.  Heb. "and delay not."  For cursed is he who does the work of God negligently, (Sept.) or with deceit.  Jer. xlviii. 10.  C.

 

Ver. 61.  Cords.  Temptations of the devil, (S. Aug.) and of the wicked, who strive by force, or by caresses, to ensnare the virtuous, v. 110.  C.

 

Ver. 62.  Midnight.  Under tribulation, (S. Aug.) or to avoid the malice of those who pried into my conduct.  I was so delighted with thy law, that I meditated on it both in the day-time, and at night.  C. --- This pious custom was observed by S. Paul, (Acts xvi.) as it is still by many religious orders, v. 164.  W.

 

Ver. 63.  Partaker.  Heb. "a friend."  I do not fear to approve of their conduct, (C.) and condole with them.  S. Hil. --- The true living members of Christ enjoy the great benefit of partaking in the prayers and good works of the whole Church militant and triumphant, in the communion of saints.  W. --- See S. Aug. Conf. iv. 4.

 

Ver. 66.  Goodness to others (M.) in want.  W. --- Discipline, or patience under chastisement.  S. Aug.  Theod. --- Heb. "wisdom," or discernment how to act, and knowledge of what regards thy law and revealed truths.  Bert.

 

Ver. 67.  Humbled.  S. Jer. "before I heard, I was ignorant."  He speaks of the gift of prophecy: or "before I was afflicted, I went astray."  C. --- Therefore, chastisements are very salutary.  Bert.  v. 71. and Jer. x. 24. and 31. 19.  C. --- Before, I often fell; but sorrow has made me understand.  W.

 

Ver. 68.  Goodness, or sweetness, denoting the unction of grace.  S. Aug.

 

Ver. 69.  Iniquity.  Heb. "the proud have forged lies against me," (H.) which was verified in Daniel, (C.) and David, &c.  H.

 

Ver. 70.  Curdled.  Grown hard, like milk that is curdled and turned to cheese.  Ch. --- Heb. "like fat."  They have no compassion or wisdom.  Is. vi. 10.  C. --- Without the points, cheleb means also milk.  Bert. --- The wicked combine together for my ruin: but I will still be faithful.  W.

 

Ver. 71.  Humbled me.  "It is good for the proud to fall into some open sin, (C.) whence they may be displeased at themselves."  S. Aug. --- A patient thanks his physician for having used a necessary severity.  Theod.  C.

 

Ver. 72.  Silver, above all the world.  W.

 

Ver. 73.  Hands.  Power (Bert.) and love.  Theodoret --- We may confidently pray to our Creator for light, (W.) and that he may perfect his work.  M.

 

Ver. 74.  See me advance in virtue.  W. --- The angels rejoice at the conversion of a sinner, (Lu. xv. 10.) as the Church does at her children's progress.  S. Jer. --- All the just will be glad to see me delivered.  C.

 

Ver. 75.  Truth.  Though we may not discern the particular causes of our suffering, we must be convinced that they are right.  W. --- Sinners are afflicted that they may amend, and the just for their advancement.  C.

 

Ver. 76.  Mercy.  Jesus Christ, according to S. Jerom.

 

Ver. 78.  Ashamed.  Lit. "confounded," not accomplishing their wicked designs.  C. --- Thus may they be induced to entertain that shame for sin which bringeth life, (H.) and cease to offend.  Theod. --- Let them be converted: though it be also (H.) lawful to desire that obstinate sinners may undergo just punishment.  W. --- The saints pray thus out of zeal for their good.  It may also be a prediction, as the Heb. word (Bert.) yebshu is in the future.  H. --- Done.  Heb. "falsely perverted," (Mont.) in desire; (C.) or "having wished to pervert me without cause."  Pagn. --- But to pervert, means also to treat ill; and hivvethuni has that sense here, (H.) according to the best authors.  Bert.

 

Ver. 79.  Turn to me.  Let the wicked (W.) among those who adore the true God, enter into themselves, that we may form a holy league to support each other.  H. --- May we all obtain our liberty, (C.) or may they imitate my constancy.  S. Amb.

 

Ver. 81.  Salvation.  All the saints sighed after our Saviour's coming, (Matt. xiii. 17.) as they still do, 2 Tim. iv. 8.  W. --- The deliverance from Babylon was a figure of redemption.  The next verse is of the same import.  C.

 

Ver. 83.  Like a bottle in the frost.  In the Hebrew, like a bottle in the smoke.  That is, I am become, through my sufferings in this mortal pilgrimage, as a leathern bottle, shrunk up because of being exposed to the frost or smoke.  Ch. --- So the bodies of the just are exposed to mortification, that they may become like new bottles, capable of containing the new wine of the gospel doctrine.  Matt. ix. 17.  W. --- Goats' skins, with the hair inward, are still used in some places to contain liquors.  C. --- They were hung over the smoke, to make the wine old, or fit for drinking sooner.  Colum. i. 6.

                            Amphoræ fumum bibere institutæ,

                            Consule Tullo. Hor. 3. Od. 8.  C.

 

Ver. 84.  Servant.  The just may lawfully desire the term of their sufferings, with submission to God's will, (W.) and to be freed from the power of persecutors, (Heb. "the proud."  Bert.) and from exile, after their enemies are punished.  Ps. xxxviii. 5.  C.

 

Ver. 85.  Fables.  Idle tales, not agreeable to God's law.  W. --- Such were the theology and histories of the pagans.  C. --- Such are still the false maxims of the world, and many books designed to corrupt the morals of the age.  H. --- The Jews confined themselves to their own divine books.  Heb. Chal. &c. "The proud have dug pits for me, which is not conformable to thy law," (C.) but forbidden expressly.  H. --- The Sept. seem to have followed a better reading.  C. --- Houbigant rejects the word pits, and in effect, we may understand the Heb. in the sense of the Vulg.  "They have prepared (or told me) vain discourses."  Bert.

 

Ver. 86.  Help me.  He does not pray to be exempted from trials, but that he may have grace to gain the victory.  S. Hil.

 

Ver. 87.  Earth.  Babylon; (C.) though this is never styled simply the earth.  It refers to all the enemies of salvation, particularly to our own passions.  Bert.

 

Ver. 89.  In heaven.  In the faithful angels, (S. Aug.) or Jesus Christ.  Bellanger. --- The promises seem not to have their effect here; but they will in heaven.  Bert. --- The word of God is as unchangeable as heaven.  C. --- The psalmist praises God's works, which observe the order established by him.  W. --- How then can we doubt but his law and promises shall be accomplished?  H.

 

Ver. 90.  All.  Lit. "unto generation and generation," which the fathers explain of the true faith, which has subsisted in the synagogue and in the Church of Christ alone.  S. Hil. S. Amb. &c.  C. --- Those who did not belong to the former, in the first ages of the world, might still form a part of the latter, like Job, &c.  Without faith it is, and always was, impossible to please God.  Heb. xi. 6.

 

Ver. 91.  Serve thee.  Except  man, (W.) and angels who rebel; and yet they also are forced to serve as victims of justice, if they have refused to accept of mercy.  H.

 

Ver. 92.  Abjection.  Man cannot rise from sin without grace, and attention to the law.  W. --- This supports him under the punishment of sin.  H. --- Meditation alleviates his grief, which might otherwise have proved mortal.  Bert.

 

Ver. 95.  Understand.  Or "shall understand."  I am already able to encounter my enemies.  Phil. ii. 15.  C.

 

Ver. 96.  Perfection, of a worldly nature.  H. --- All have their limits.  But God's law bindeth for ever, as the rewards and punishments are eternal.  W. --- Broad.  Charity, which extends both to God and our neighbour.  S. Aug. --- The law is above  my comprehension, though I am able to discern its superiority over all created things.  Some understand Jesus Christ, the end of the law; or martyrdom, the height of charity; or extreme distress, by the word perfection.  Bert. --- Lit. "consummation."  H. --- I have been exposed to the greatest misery: but thy law has set me at large.  Soph. i. 18.  C.

 

Ver. 97.  Loved.  Constraint takes away all merit.  S. Hil. --- Son, give me thy heart.  Prov. xxiii. 26.  H. --- The just man wonders that he should feel such love, as he knows it is not his own growth, but a gift of God.  W.

 

Ver. 98.  Enemies of salvation, (Bert.) or the Babylonians, whom Daniel far surpassed; thou we would not absolutely assert that it refers to him.  Dan. i. 19. and xiii. 1.  Ezec. xxviii. 3.  C. --- David was no less enlightened (Bert.) by the prophetic spirit above his earthly instructor, how aged soever.  H.

 

Ver. 99.  Teachers.  Who do not follow the rules of virtue.  The ancients, (v. 100.) of the same description, must yield the palm to those who are less advanced in years, but more observant of God's law.  W.

 

Ver. 101.  Every.  We cannot follow both the broad and the narrow path.  Theod.  Jam. ii. 10.

 

Ver. 103.  Honey.  S. Amb. &c. add, "and the honeycomb."  Ps. xviii. 11.  Homer (Il. A.) compares the speech of Nestor with honey.  C. --- See Prov. xvi. 24.  Ezec. iii. 3.  Apoc. x. 10.

 

Ver. 104.  Hated.  We must come to the practice of the law, (C.) and hate sin.  W. --- Iniquity.  Heb. "lying."  But every sin is contrary to truth.  Bert.

 

Ver. 105.  Thy word.  Jesus Christ, (S. Hil.) who enlightens every man.  Jo. i. --- Lamp, (2 Pet. i. 19.  Prov. vi. 23.) while sin is the light of the wicked.  Prov. xxi. 4. and xxiv. 20.  Bert. --- The law of God, proposed by his prophets and pastors, in the ordinary method of instruction.  W.

 

Ver. 106.  Sworn.  By the ceremony of circumcision, &c. as we now engage by vows in baptism, to observe all the commandments.  W. --- Those who receive not the sacrament, are still under a strict obligation to obey the truth; as all were created only for this purpose.  H. --- The psalmist means thus to express his firm determination to do all that God should require of him, (S. Aug.) and renews the solemn covenant entered into with the Deity by his ancestors.  C.  Jos. xxiv.

 

Ver. 107.  Quicken.  This petition, with the praise of the law, is the subject of this psalm.  C. --- All the godly must suffer, 2 Tim. iii. 12.  W.

 

Ver. 108.  Free offerings of praise and thanks, (S. Aug.) or the works of supererogation, (S. Hil.  Theod. &c.) which are not commanded, though acceptable to God, (W.) and undertaken for the sake of greater perfection.  C. --- The evangelical counsels of voluntary poverty, &c. are of this nature.  Still we acknowledge that we are useless servants, (Lu. xvii. 10.) with regard to God.  We can give him nothing, which he has not first given us.  Our piety will redound to our own advantage.  H. --- The psalmist may allude to his solemn engagement, (v. 106.  C.) which he made with perfect freedom and willingness, though it was not a matter of choice.  Bert.

 

Ver. 109.  My hands.  In danger of being thrown by, or of falling, (W.) ready to appear before God's tribunal.  I watch over myself, and strive to keep my soul tranquil.  The prophet might have all this in view.  Bert. --- Most of the fathers read, "in thy hands," under God's protection.  This is denied by S. Jer. (ad Sun.) though the commentary which goes under his name, and was written in the same age, has thy.  The other reading is, however, more correct.  The Greeks made use of a similar expression, to shew the danger of losing a treasure.  Athen. xiii. 4.  C. --- Such is our soul, which we must fear to lose.  S. Greg. Mor. vii. 6.  Bert.

 

Ver. 110.  Snare, v. 67.  In such dangers, I still remain faithful.  C.

 

Ver. 111.  Inheritance.  I will strive to imitate the faith of Abraham, &c.  H. --- I will stick to the law as to my portion, through pure love.

 

Ver. 112.  Inclined.  He had said, (v. 36.) incline, as the work proceeds from grace and free-will.  S. Aug. --- Reward.  S. Jer. "for the eternal reward."  All agree, that the Heb. may have this sense.  He is influenced by hope, though the motive of charity is place first.  Whether both motives can produce the same act, is an useless inquiry.  The Scriptures frequently propose reward, the second, though less excellent motive.  Matt. v. 12.  Gen. xv. 1.  Rom. viii. 18.  Bert. --- This text evidently shews, that the keeping of the commandments merits a reward, for which we may labour.  W. --- Prot. evade this, by reading, "always, even unto the end;" because hekeb is ambiguous, and means also, the end.  H. --- "As if the Sept. were not sufficient to determine the same...But...they are resolved to take their liberty, though contrary to S. Jerom, and the ancient Fathers."  Ward's Errat. p. 75. --- God authorizes us to aim at the reward, though he would not have this to be they only motive, v. 33.  C.

 

Ver. 113.  Unjust.  Inasmuch as they oppose thy law.  Bert. --- So Christ orders us to hate our parents, when they are an obstacle to our salvation.  We must love their persons and welfare, (S. Aug.) but hate their iniquity.  W. --- Heb. "the turbulent."  S. Jer. "vain thoughts," and inconstant men.  The meaning of sehaphim is not well ascertained.  C. --- But the psalmist might have all these senses (H.) in view, as they are all good; and hence we may admire the copiousness of the Hebrew language.  Bert.

 

Ver. 114.  Helper.  Heb. "asylum and buckler."  We must keep in his presence, (H.) and avoid the society of the wicked, if we would search the law, v. 115.  W.

 

Ver. 116.  Live.  S. Aug. (tr. 124. in Joan.) beautifully describes the life of the just here and in heaven.  Bert. --- We may thus pray for grace, and spiritual life with confidence, if we be resolved to keep the commandments.  Yet we must not fail to entreat God not to suffer us to be confounded, which will not be the case, if we entertain hope, and charity be poured on our hearts.  Rom. v. 5.  W.

 

Ver. 119.  Prevaricators.  For though they be not acquainted with revelation, (H.) they have the natural law written in their hearts by God.  Rom. ii. 12.  S. Aug. --- There is no such thing as the philosophic sin, (Bert.) which abstracts from every offence of the Deity, though it be allowed to be contrary to reason.  H. --- Sept. seem to have read differently éssbothi, "I have," &c. instead of hishbatta, "thou hast destroyed."  Sigim, scorias, may have been sugim in their copies, though both may be derived from sug, "he departed."  Bert. --- "Thou hast accounted as dross, or froth," &c.  S. Jer. --- Calmet says, that S. Jerom and Heb. read in the first person, which is inaccurate.  Bert. --- The just entertain the same sentiments of the wicked as God does.  W.

 

Ver. 120.  Afraid.  Servile fear is therefore profitable, though perfect charity expel it, and move us to do well for the love of God.  1 Jo. iv.  W. --- Yet fear sometimes returns, that the just may not give way to presumption.  C.

 

Ver. 121.  Justice.  This he declares out of zeal, praying to be freed from calumniators, (W.) particularly the devil.  Apoc. xii. 9.  The Babylonians probably laid falsehoods to the charge of the Jews, in order to oppress them, as they frequently accused Daniel.

 

Ver. 122.  Uphold.  Heb. "answer for," (S. Jer.) as a bondsman. --- Unto good.  Thus the law is insinuated, though it is not here expressed.  Bert. --- In attacking the devil, who is so experienced, we must take God with us, or we shall surely be overcome.  S. Aug. tr. 4. in Joan.

 

Ver. 123.  Salvation.  The Messias, (S. Hil.  v. 41.) or liberty.  v. 82.  I have been fatigued with looking up to heaven for aid, like a woman who looks for the return of her husband to port.  C.

 

Ver. 124.  Mercy.  When we have been most diligent, there still remains much to be done, and in many things we offend.  S. Amb.

 

Ver. 126.  To do.  Our best, since so many prove rebellious, (Heb. iv. 11.  Eccli. v. 8.  Bert.) or we stand in the utmost need of the Messias, since even the Jews give erroneous explanations of the law.  S. Amb. --- Heb. &c. "it is time for the Lord to act," by punishing the guilty; or, "to act for the Lord," faciendi Domino, by striving to repair the injuries done to his name and worship.  C.

 

Ver. 127.  Topaz.  Heb. paz, which denotes "the purest gold" of Phison.  Gen. ii. 11.  C. --- The topaz was discovered only in the reign of Ptolemy, father of Philadelphus.  S. Hil.  Pliny xxvii. 8. --- Yet S. Jerom and others have the topaz, (Bert.) which S. Amb. represents as the finest of precious stones.  C. --- The more the law is despised by the wicked, the more are the just in love with it.  W.

 

Ver. 128.  Directed.  In my steps.  Bert. --- Pagn. "I judged all, yea all thy precepts to be right."  H. --- The hatred of the wicked made the love of the beauty of the law increase in my breast.  W.

 

Ver. 129.  Wonderful.  Under the letter, I discovered many mysteries, which makes me study them diligently.  C. --- God's works and laws deserve our most serious attention.  W.

 

Ver. 130.  Declaration.  By God's ministers renders them intelligible, though so wonderful in themselves.  Heb. styles this "the door of opening."  Bert. --- The Scriptures are full of difficulties, and Daniel (ix. 2.) made them his study.  Since the coming of Christ, the mysteries and prophecies have been more developed.  But those who refuse to acknowledge him, grope at mid-day.  Matt. xi. 25. and xviii. 5. and 1 Cor. xiv. 20.  C. --- The first entrance into the knowledge of holy Scripture illuminates the understanding of the humble, whence they proceed to  know more.  W.

 

Ver. 131.  Panted.  Like one afflicted with the asthma, (Bert.) or most eager to obtain something.  W. --- He asked and obtained the holy Spirit, (S. Aug.) enabling him to understand the law, (H.) and to comply with it.  See Ezec. iii. 2.  Ps. lxxx 11.  C.

 

Ver. 132.  Judgment.  Or custom, (C.) as thou art wont to treat such.  W. --- Let us not be looked upon as criminals.  C. --- The just are persuaded, that God will not reject the humble, (Bert.) according to the opinion (sententiam) of, &c.  Chal.

 

Ver. 134.  Calumnies.  That they may not cause me to abandon virtue.  S. Aug. --- A person must be well grounded not to yield on such occasions, when he is exposed to ridicule, &c. v. 122.  C. --- Even the psalmist dreaded this situation.  Bert.

 

Ver. 135.  Shine.  (v. 133.)  Let  me never go astray.  Bert. --- But shew me favour.  W.

 

Ver. 136.  Law.  This shews that David composed this psalm, as he fell by seeing Bethsabee. --- They.  Men.  Duport.  Sept. "I."  But this is unnecessary.  The eyes and all our senses lead to our ruin.  Rom. vii. 18. 24.  Bert. --- True repentance requires lamentation, as well as a firm purpose of amendment, (W.) commissa diluere & abluta non interare.  S. Jer.

 

Ver. 137.  Right.  He therefore makes people just indeed, and does not barely impute justice to them.  W.

 

Ver. 138.  Truth.  Thy laws are just and true in all respects, though we may not be able to discern it always.  Rom. ix. 20. and xi. 33.  Bert. --- God punishes the wicked in his justice, and rewards the just in his truth, or according to his promises.  Theod.

 

Ver. 139.  My.  Sept. "thy zeal."  The just are animated with the zeal of God, like S. Paul.  The enemies here mentioned were the Israelites, who attacked David, and not the Babylonians, who never knew God's law, or apostate captives, since we do not find that they attempted to injure Daniel, &c.  Bert. --- Many, however, both at Ninive and Babylon prevaricated.  Tob. i. 12.  C.

 

Ver. 140.  Refined.  Lit. "fire."  H. --- Pure as any thing which has passed through the fire.  W. --- "It consumes sin, and enlightens the penitent."  S. Jer.

 

Ver. 141.  Young.  The Fathers explain this of David, who was preferred before his brothers; and of the Gentiles, who were chosen by Jesus Christ.  W. --- It may refer to Daniel, who was enabled to prophesy very soon, or to the disciples, for whom this psalm was composed, (C.) whether Solomon, or any of the faithful.  Bert. --- The just are often judged to be ignorant by the worldly wise; but they follow the law, the true wisdom.  W.

 

Ver. 143.  Trouble.  Such is the portion of the just.  Rom. v. 3. --- Mediation.  Heb. "joy."  Sym.  C. --- The sense is the same.  Sept. generally give the former meaning, as they render by seeking what moderns would restrain to signify observing.  v. 145. &c.  Bert.

 

Ver. 144.  Live.  In justice, as thy law enjoins.  W. --- Christ is the life.  Bert.

 

Ver. 145.  Cried.  With requisite fervour, (W.) and attention.  S. Aug.

 

Ver. 147.  The.  Lit. "in maturity."  Some think that we should read immaturitate, awria, (S. Aug.) "in the dead of the night."  The psalmist not only rose at midnight, but before sun-rise to meditate.  H. --- Kimchi says, he only indulged sleep the first three hours.  But others believe, that he arose in the third and last watch.  v. 148.  C. --- He got up before the ordinary time, and prayed with earnestness.  W. --- S. Amb. encourages people to come early to the church, to offer the first-fruits of their hearts, and voice to God; (C.) and S. Aug. informs us, that such was the practice of S. Monica.  Conf. ix. 7.  You are not in a higher station than the holy king who said, I rose, &c.  v. 22.  S. Chrys. ser. 42. ad pop.  Bert.

 

Ver. 148.  Morning.  Both night and morning, I prevented the usual hours of prayer.  W. --- To thee, is not in Heb. "my eyes prevented the watches."  H.

 

Ver. 149.  Judgment.  Or wonted mercy.  W.

 

Ver. 150.  Law.  There is no medium between faith and infidelity.  If we do not observe the law, we sin.  Not to advance is to go back.  C. --- Shall we hesitate whether to follow the narrow or the broad road?  Bert.

 

Ver. 151.  Near.  To reward or punish.  We wander from thee, yet there is no place between.  S. Aug. x. 26. 27.  Bert. --- God is ever ready to hear our just requests.  W. --- His law may be easily known.  Deut. xxx. 11.  C.

 

Ver. 152.  Ever.  God's law is always the same in substance.  W. --- That of Moses receives its perfection in Christianity.  C. --- Though after this life we can no longer observe them, the reward of our past virtue will remain for ever.  Bert.

 

Ver. 153.  Humiliation.  Or "humility," as S. Aug. understands it of that virtue.  C.

 

Ver. 155.  Sinners.  Such cannot expect to be liberated.  C. --- Yet, as the captivity was fixed for seventy years, and many who were almost ignorant of the law, and had married strange wives, returned, this verse overturns that system, and shews that eternal salvation is meant.  Bert.

 

Ver. 157.  Many.  the Babylonians on one hand, and false brethren on the other, attack me: but I am grieved most to see God offended.  C. --- All the earth is stained with the blood of martyrs, whom the Church honours with festivals, and whose intercession heals many sick.  S. Aug.

 

Ver. 158.  Transgressors.  Sept. "fools," asunetountaV.  If o were placed before e, the exact meaning of the Heb. would be preserved, though the wicked are often styled fools.  H. --- The prevaricating Jews are here designated.  v. 136.  C.

 

Ver. 159.  Behold.  A person may profess his innocence without arrogance.

 

Ver. 160.  Truth.  Hence all such commandments are immutable.  W. --- The threats of God have been put in execution, and we cannot doubt but the promised liberation  will soon take place.  C.

 

Ver. 161.  Princes.  Of darkness, or the chiefs of the Philistines, &c.  Bert. --- Daniel was much exposed to the fury of the Babylonian princes, but he was more afraid of the terrors of the law, (Lev. xxvi.) than of all that they could do against him.  C. --- Thus the martyrs despised the threats of tyrants.  S. Aug. --- Cause.  The powerful men of this world have no just reason to persecute the just, nor can they make them abandon virtue.  W. --- S. Basil answered Valens with great intrepidity, shewing how little he apprehended what the emperor could take from him, as we read in S. Greg. Naz. (or. 20.) who says, (or. 6.) let us fear only one thing, which is, to fear any person more than God.  Bert.

 

Ver. 162.  Spoil.  Having just mentioned fear; lest any should think that he entertained any secret dislike for the law; he adds, that it gives him more content than the greatest treasures or conquests can the miser or the hero.  v. 14. 72. and 127.  C. --- He rejoiceth thus in keeping the commandments, how difficult soever they may be.  W.

 

Ver. 163.  Iniquity.  Heb. "lying."  The Babylonians have attempted to draw me over to their false religion; but I perceived its vanity, (C.) and stick closer to the truth, (H.  v. 85.) and to thy holy law.  C.

 

Ver. 164.  Seven.  Often, (W.) as the word signifies, Prov. xxiv. 16. &.  Vat. --- Yet here it may determine the precise number, as the Church seems to have taken it, by instituting the seven canonical hours of the day, and matins and lauds for the night, in imitation of the psalmist.  Bert. v. 147 --- R. Solomon understands it literally, prescribing prayer twice before the reading of the decalogue, and once after in the morning; and in the afternoon, twice before and after the same lecture.  The Church has enjoined matins to be said at night, lauds in the morning, prime, tierce, sext, none, vespers and complin, in the course of the day.  S. Ben. reg. 8. and 16.  C. --- This ecclesiastical office consists of hymns, psalms, &c.  S. Isid. --- Against it some have risen up, particularly against that part which was said in the night, pretending that God had made the night for rest; and  hence they were called nuctazontes, or "drowsy" heretics.  S. Isid. Of. i. 22. --- S. Jerom styles Vigilantius Dormitantius, for the same reason; as if it were better to sleep than to watch.  Wycliff (Wald. iii.  Tit. iii. 21.) and Luther have oppugned the same holy practice, though it be so conformable to Scripture and to the fathers.  S. Bas. reg. fus. 37.  S. Greg. dial. iii. 14.  Ven. Bede. Hist. iv. 7. &c. --- S. Clement, as many suppose, (W.) or at least some author before the fourth century, (H.) explains the reason why we should pray at these set times; but cautions us not to join with heretics, neither in the Church nor at home.  Const. Apost. viii. 40. --- For what society is there between light and darkness?  2 Cor. vi.  S. Cyprian, (or. Dom.) S. Jerom, (ep. ad Eust.) and S. Aug. (ser. 55. de Temp.) mention several of these hours, and exhort the faithful to be diligent in attending these public prayers.  W.

 

Ver. 165.  Peace, in their own conscience, (W.) and prosperity, without fear of danger.  Not even death can disturb those who belong to God.  Rom. viii. 38.  C. --- But all things work together for their good.  ib. 28.  H. --- The perfect are not moved to imitate bad example, and the weak are not excused for so doing, as they ought to be constant.  W. --- The virtuous man is neither scandalized at the law, though he may not understand it perfectly nor at the fall of those who had been most eminent for sanctity.  S. Aug.

 

Ver. 166.  Loved.  Heb. &c. "performed."  C. --- The difference is but small.  Bert. --- He is actuated by real charity.  W.

 

Ver. 168.  Sight, whom I would not offend.  W. --- The presence of God ought to deter us most effectually from sin.  H.  Tit. ii. 13.

 

Ver. 169.  Supplication.  Heb. "cry."  Eusebius reads axiwma, "dignity," which S. Amb. thinks has been substituted for axiwsiV, "prayer;" though all our copies of the Sept. have dehsiV, (C.) a word of the same import.  H.

 

Ver. 171.  A hymn.  Heb. also, "praise."  H. --- Like a spring sending forth a copious stream.  C.

 

Ver. 173.  Save me.  Though a person be endued with grace, he requireth  more grace to resist temptations.  W. --- Actual grace is requisite.  H.

 

Ver. 175.  Live in grace and glory.  To serve God, it was not requisite that one should be at Jerusalem.  Daniel, Tobias, &c. were saints elsewhere.  Bert. --- Yet it was more easy to worship God in his temple, where every thing moved to piety; (H.) and this the psalmist desires, deeming it a new life.  C.

 

Ver. 176.  Lost.  I am in captivity.  C. --- All men have been involved in sin, and Christ came to save them; but only such as keep the law will obtain salvation.  W. --- The conclusion contains a confession of misery in the name of all, and an allusion to Christ, the good shepherd.  The prophet admits that notwithstanding his love of the law, he may have still many ways transgressed; and that without faith in the Messias, he could not belong to his fold, or escape the many dangers of the world, 1 Cor. iv. 4. and ix. 27.  Bert. --- Seek.  S. Hilary and some Greek copies have read incorrectly "quicken."  C.

 

 








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