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HAYDOCK CATHOLIC BIBLE COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT



PSALM 140

 

PSALM CXL.  (DOMINE CLAMAVI.)

A prayer against sinful words, and deceitful flatterers.

 

Ver. 1.  David.  When persecuted by Saul.  C. --- It is very difficult, and was used in the evening service in the oriental churches, (S. Chrys.) as it is on Friday in the Rom. Breviary.  The psalm may be applicable to all  in distress, (Bert.) who are members of Christ.  S. Aug. --- Hearken.  Heb. "hasten to me, hear my voice," &c.  H. --- god approves such cries.  C.

 

Ver. 2.  As.  May be understood.  "My prayer is an evening sacrifice," or equally acceptable.  H. --- Sacrifice.  Heb. "offering," which may be the same with the incense, or the evening holocaust.  C. --- The Church prays that her petitions may ascend to the throne of God, and be accepted.  The morning sacrifice was rather more solemn.  But the evening one is here specified, in allusion to Christ's, at the last supper, and on the cross, (W.) which was consummated in the evening.  S. Aug.  T. --- It may denote a perfect worship.  S. Chrys.  Bert.

 

Ver. 3.  And.  Heb. "keep guard at the door of my lips," (Mont.) or "on the poverty of," &c. (S. Jer.) that I may not speak too much, or imprudently; as I shall do, if left to myself.  H. --- Houbigant rejects this version, which is very expressive.  Bert.  Eccli. xxviii. 28. --- Heb. dal is rendered "elevation," (Chal.) and may here stand for "a door."  Nature has included the tongue within a double restraint of the teeth and lips, to counteract its too great volubility.  Theod. --- David prays that he may not be unguarded in his speech.  He always spoke to Saul with the greatest respect.  1 K. xxiv. 18.  C. --- The lips must be like a door, neither always open, when we ought to be silent, nor always shut, when we should confess our sins.  W.

 

Ver. 4.  Sins.  Such excuses are always vain.  S. Jer. --- God does not incline any to sin, as the Manichee elect pretended.  S. Aug. --- The pride of the human heart would throw the blame of sin on any but itself.  H. --- Sometimes, fate, predestination, &c. are charged with it.  Our first parents excused themselves; but David candidly confessed his sins, and was presently pardoned.  Bert. --- Choicest.  Heb. also, "I will not eat of their  most delicious meats."  I will have no society with libertines, (Bert.) nor with those who teach false doctrine.  2 Jo. 10. and Tit. iii. 10.

 

Ver. 5.  In mercy.  Prov. xxvii. 16. and Ezec. xix. 8.  H. --- Let not the oil of the sinner, &c.  That is, the flattery, or deceitful praise.  Ch. --- This is pernicious; while the reprehension of the just may do us good.  W. --- Sinner.  Heb. "of poison, or of the head, (vass) break, or fatten, (S. Jer.) or be broken upon my head."  The vessel was usually broken.  Mar. xiv. 3.  Bert. --- Prot. "Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness, and let him reprove me, it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break," &c.  H. --- Or "he shall not," &c. as his only aim tends to my advantage.  Many other senses may be given.  C. --- For my prayer, &c.  So far from coveting their praises, who are never well pleased but with things that are evil; I shall continually pray to be preserved from such things as they are delighted with.  Ch. --- Against.  Lit. "in or concerning their desirable things."  H. --- I pray to God that I  may be preserved from their malice, in which they take delight, (M.) and that they may cease to run on to their ruin.  H. --- The Church still prays for sinners, though as yet they delight in their criminal pursuits, (W.) in order that a wholesome bitterness may wean them from such things.  S. Chrys. --- My prayer shall subsist amid their pleasures.  Bert.

 

Ver. 6.  Their judges, &c.  Their rulers, or chiefs, quickly vanish and perish, like ships dashed against the rocks, and swallowed up by the waves.  Let them then hear my words, for they are powerful and will prevail; or, as it is in the Hebrew, for they are sweet.  Ch. --- The Israelites were long governed by judges, and the supreme magistrates at Carthage had the same title.  C. --- Sept. "their strong ones" have or shall become victims of the divine justice.  H. --- They shall know that the prayers of the Church are effectual, and obtain the grace of constancy for her children, whom she instructs in the doctrines of peace, which cannot injure the commonwealth.  W. --- Prevailed. Or, "been able" to hear.  Israel submitted to David, after Saul's death.  Bert.

 

Ver. 7.  As when the thickness, &c.  If this is to be connected with what goes before, it declares the efficacy of those powerful words, capable to break up the thick and hard earth, of the hearts of man.  But if it is to be connected with the following words, our bones are scattered, &c. it means, that the malice of our enemies has, as it were, scattered our bones near the confines of death and hell; as the husbandman, plowing up or digging the earth, scatters and breaks the clods.  Ch. --- These are made small, that they may bear fruit, which is the effect of persecution upon the faithful.  S. Aug.  W. --- Heb. "like the labourer breaking up the earth, so our," &c.  C. --- Houbigant would read, "their," (Bert.) with the Arab, and many Greek copies.  David alludes to his distress, (C.) while his people were still divided into parties, (H.) whose union he foretells.  Bert. --- Dry bones point out the state of the captives.  Ezec. xxxvii. 11.  C. --- Some persecutors rage against the bones and relics of the saints, which they would willingly hurl into hell.  But the Church places her confidence in God.  W.

 

Ver. 10.  His.  "Own," (Prot.) the devil's, (S. Hil.) or God's net.  S. Chrys. &c. --- Saul twice fell into David's power.  C. --- Alone.  Singularly protected by the Almighty, until I pass all their nets and snares.  Ch. --- Though alone, I fear no danger.  H. --- I will have no connection with the wicked in this life, (S. Chrys.) which is beset with snares.  C. --- Heb. "I will be a witness till I pass."  Houbig. --- Yachad means, "together," &c.  Bert. --- Sinners shall at last be entrapped; but the Church shall be for ever protected.  W.

 

 








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