Augustine on the Psalms. Psalms 8 - 18
TO THE END, FOR THE WINE-PRESSES, A PSALM OF DAVID HIMSELF. (12)
1. He seems to say nothing of wine-presses in the text of the Psalm of which this is the title. By which it appears, that one and the same thing is often signified in Scripture by many and various similitudes. We may then take wine-presses to be Churches, on the same principle by which we understand also by a threshing-floor the Church. For whether in the threshing-floor, or in the wine-press, there is nothing else done but the clearing the produce of its covering; which is necessary, both for its first growth and increase, and arrival at the maturity either of the harvest or the vintage. Of these coverings or supporters then; that is, of chaff, on the threshing-floor, the corn; and of husks, in the presses, the wine is stripped: as in the Churches, from the multitude of worldly men, which is collected together with the good, for whose birth and adaptating to the divine word that multitude was necessary, this is effected, that by spiritual love they be separated through the operation of God's ministers. For now so it is that the good are, for a time, separated from the bad, not in space, but in affection: although they have converse together in the Churches, as far as respects bodily presence. But another time will come, the corn will be stored up apart in the granaries, and the wine in the cellars. "The wheat," saith he, "He will lay up in garners; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable."(1) The same thing may be thus understood in another similitude: the wine He will lay up in cellars, but the husks He will cast forth to cattle: so that by the bellies of the cattle we may be allowed by way of similitude to understand the pains of hell.
2. There is another interpretation concerning the wine-presses, yet still keeping to the meaning of Churches. For even the Divine Word may be understood by the grape: for the Lord even has been called a Cluster of grapes; which they that were sent before by the people of Israel brought from the land of promise hanging on a staff, crucified as it were.(2) Accordingly, when the Divine Word maketh use of, by the necessity of declaring Himself, the sound of the voice, whereby to convey Himself to the ears of the hearers; in the same sound of the voice, as it were in husks, knowledge, like the wine, is enclosed: and so this grape comes into the ears, as into the pressing machines of the wine-pressers. For there the separation is made, that the sound may reach as far as the ear; but knowledge be received in the memory of those that hear, as it were in a sort of vat; whence it passes into discipline of the conversation and habit of mind, as from the vat into the cellar: where if it do not through negligence grow sour, it will acquire soundness by age. For it grew sour among the Jews, and this sour vinegar they gave the Lord to drink.(3) For that wine, which from the produce of the vine of the New Testament the Lord is to drink with His saints in the kingdom of His Father.(4) must needs be most sweet and most sound.
3. "Wine-presses" are also usually taken for martyrdoms, as if when they who have confessed the name of Christ have been trodden down by the blows of persecution, their mortal remains as husks remained on earth, but their souls flowed forth into the rest of a heavenly habitation. Nor yet by this interpretation do we depart from the fruitfulness of the Churches. It is sung then, "for the wine-presses," for the Church's establishment; when our Lord after His resurrection ascended into heaven. For then He sent the Holy Ghost: by whom the disciples being fulfilled preached with confidence the Word of God, that Churches might be collected.
4. Accordingly it is said," O Lord, our Lord, how admirarble is Thy Name in all the earth!" (ver. 1). I ask, how is His Name wonderful in all the earth? The answer is, "For Thy glory has been raised above the heavens." So that the meaning is this, O Lord, who art our Lord, how do all that inhabit the earth admire Thee! for Thy glory hath been raised from earthly humiliation above the heavens. For hence it appeared who Thou wast that descendedst, when it was by some seen, and by the rest believed, whither it was that Thou ascendedst.
5. "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast made perfect praise, because of Thine enemies" (ver. 2). I cannot take babes and sucklings to be any other than those to whom the Apostle says, "As unto babes in Christ I have given you milk to drink, not meat."(5) Who were meant by those who went before the Lord praising Him, of whom the Lord Himself used this testimony, when He answered the Jews who bade Him rebuke them," Have ye not read, out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast made perfect praise?"(6) Now with good reason He says not, Thou hast made, but," Thou hast made perfect praise." For there are in the Churches also those who now no more drink milk, but eat meat: whom the same Apostle points out, saying, "We speak wisdom among them that are perfect;"(7) but not by those only are the Churches perfected; for if there were only these, little consideration would be had of the human race. But consideration is had, when they too, who are not as yet capable of the knowledge of things spiritual and eternal, are nourished by the faith of the temporal history, which for our salvation after the Patriarchs and Prophets was administered by the most excellent Power and Wisdom of God, even in the Sacrament of the assumed Manhood, in which there is salvation for every one that believeth; to the end that moved by Its authority each one may obey Its precepts, whereby being purified and "rooted and grounded in love," he may be able to run with Saints, no more now a child in milk, but a young man in meat, "to comprehend the breadth, the length, the height, and depth, to know also the surpassing knowledge of the love of Christ."(8)
6. "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast made perfect praise, because of Thine enemies." By enemies to this dispensation, which has been wrought through Jesus Christ and Him crucified, we ought generally to understand all who forbid belief in things unknown,(1) and promise certain knowledge:(2) as all heretics do, and they who in the superstition of the Gentiles are called philosophers. Not that the promise of knowledge is to be blamed; but because they deem the most healthful and necessary step of faith is to be neglected, by which we must needs ascend to something certain, which nothing but that which is eternal can be. Hence it appears that they do not possess even this knowledge, which in contempt of faith they promise; seeing that they know not so useful and necessary a step thereof. "Out of the mouth," then "of babes and sucklings Thou hast made perfect praise," Thou, our Lord, declaring first by the Apostle, "Except ye believe, ye shall not understand;"(3) and saying by His own mouth," Blessed are they that have not seen, and shall believe."(4) "Because of the enemies: "against whom too that is said, "I confess to Thee, O Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise, and revealed them unto babes."(5) "From the wise," he saith, not the really wise, but those who deem themselves such. "That Thou mayest destroy the enemy and the defender." Whom but the heretic?(6) For he is both an enemy and a defender, who when he would assault the Christian faith, seems to defend it. Although the philosophers too of this world may be well taken as the enemies and defenders: forasmuch as the Son of God is the Power and Wisdom of God by which every one is enlightened who is made wise by the truth: of which they profess themselves to be lovers, whence too their name of philosophers; and therefore they seem to defend it, while they are its enemies, since they cease not to recommend noxious superstitions, that the elements of this world should be worshipped and revered.
7. "For I shall see Thy heavens, the works of Thy fingers" (ver. 3). We read that the law was written with the finger of God, and given through Moses, His holy servant: by which finger of God many understand the Holy Ghost.(7) Wherefore if, by the fingers of God, we are right in understanding these same ministers filled with the Holy Ghost, by reason of this same Spirit which worketh in them, since by them all holy Scripture has been completed for us; we understand consistently with this, that, in this place, the books of both Testaments are called "the heavens." Now it is said too of Moses himself, by the magicians of king Pharaoh, when they were conquered by him, "This is the finger of God."(8) And what is written," The heavens shall be rolled up as a book."(9) Although it be said of this aethereal heaven, yet naturally, according to the same image, the heavens of books are named by allegory. "For I shall see," he says, "the heavens, the works of Thy fingers:" that is, I shall discern and understand the Scriptures, which Thou, by the operation of the Holy Ghost, hast written by Thy ministers.
8. Accordingly the heavens named above also may be interpreted as the same books, where he says, "For Thy glory hath been raised above the heavens:" so that the complete meaning should be this, "For Thy glory hath been raised above the heavens;" for Thy glory hath exceeded the declarations of all the Scriptures: "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast made perfect praise," that they should begin by belief in the Scriptures, who would arrive at the knowledge of Thy glory: which hath been raised above the Scriptures, in that it passeth by and transcends the announcements of all words and languages. Therefore hath God lowered the Scriptures even to the capacity of babes and sucklings, as it is sung in another Psalm, "And He lowered the heaven, and came down:"(10) and this did He because of the enemies, who through pride of talkativeness, being enemies of the cross of Christ, even when they do speak some truth, still cannot profit babes and sucklings. So is the enemy and defender destroyed, who, whether he seem to defend wisdom, or even the name of Christ, still, from the step of this faith,(11) assaults that truth, which he so readily makes promise of. Whereby too he is convicted of not possessing it; since by assaulting the step thereof, namely faith, he knows not how one should mount up thereto. Hence then is the rash and blind promiser of truth, who is the enemy and defender, destroyed, when the heavens, the works of God's fingers, are seen, that is, when the Scriptures, brought down even to the slowness of babes, are understood; and by means of the lowness of the faith of the history, which was transacted in time, they raise them, well nurtured and strengthened, unto the grand height of the understanding of things eternal, up to those things which they establish.(12) For these heavens, that is, these books, are the works of God's fingers; for by the operation of the Holy Ghost in the Saints they were completed. For they that have regarded their own glory rather than man's salvation, have spoken without the Holy Ghost, in whom are the bowel: of the mercy of God.
9. "For I shall see the heavens, the works of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained." The moon and stars are ordained in the heavens; since both the Church universal, to signify which the moon is often put, and Churches in the several places particularly, which I imagine to be intimated by the name of stars, are established in the same Scriptures, which we believe to be expressed by the word heavens.(1) But why the moon justly signifies the Church, will be more seasonably considered in another Psalm, where it is said, "The sinners have bent their bow, that they may shoot in the obscure moon the upright in heart."(2)
10. "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him?" (ver. 4). It may be asked, what distinction there is between man and son of man. For if there were none, it would not be expressed thus," man, or son of man," disjunctively. For if it were written thus, "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him, and son of man, that Thou visitest him?" it might appear to be a repetition of the word "man." But now when the expression is, "man or son of-man," a distinction is more clearly intimated. This is certainly to be remembered, that every son of man is a man; although every man cannot be taken to be a son of man. Adam, for instance, was a man, but not a son of man. Wherefore we may from hence consider and distinguish what is the difference in this place between man and son of man; namely, that they who bear the image of the earthy man, who is not a son of man, should be signified by the name of men; but that they who bear the image of the heavenly Man(3) should be rather called sons of men; for the former again is called the old man(4) and the latter the new; but the new is born of the old, since spiritual regeneration is begun by a change of an earthy, and worldly life;(5) and therefore the latter is called son of man. "Man" then in this place is earthy, but "son of man" heavenly; and the former is far removed from God, but the latter present with God; and therefore is He mindful of the former, as in far distance from Him; but the latter He visiteth, with whom being present He enlighteneth him with His countenance. For "salvation is far from sinners;"(6) and, "The light of Thy countenance hath been stamped upon us, O Lord."(7) So in another Psalm he saith, that men in conjunction with beasts are made whole together with these beasts, not by any present inward illumination, but by the multiplication of the mercy of God, whereby His goodness reacheth even to the lowest things; for the wholeness of carnal men is carnal, as of the beasts; but separating the sons of men from those whom being men he joined with cattle, he proclaims that they are made blessed, after a far more exalted method, by the enlightening of the truth itself, and by a certain inundation of the fountain of life. For he speaketh thus: "Men and beasts Thou wilt make whole, O Lord, as Thy mercy hath been multiplied, O God. But the sons of men shall put their trust in the covering of Thy wings. They shall be inebriated with the richness of Thine house, and of the torrent of Thy pleasures Thou shall make them drink. For with Thee is the fountain of life, and in Thy light shall we see light. Extend Thy mercy to them that know Thee."(8) Through the multiplication of mercy then He is mindful of man, as of beasts; for that multiplied mercy reacheth even to them that are afar off; but He visiteth the son of man, over whom, placed under the covering of His wings, He extendeth mercy, and in His light giveth light, and maketh him drink of His pleasures, and inebriateth him with the richness of His house, to forget the sorrows and the wanderings of his former conversation. This son of man, that is, the new man, the repentance of the old man begets with pain and tears. He, though new, is nevertheless called yet carnal, whilst he is fed with milk; "I would not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal," says the Apostle. And to show that they were already regenerate, he says, "As unto babes in Christ, I have given you milk to drink, not meat." And when he relapses, as often happens, to the old life, he hears in reproof that he is a man; "Are ye not men," he says, "and walk as men?"(9)
11. Therefore was the son of man first visited in the person of the very Lord Man, born of the Virgin Mary. Of whom, by reason of the very weakness of the flesh, which the Wisdom of God vouchsafed to bear, and the humiliation of the Passion, it is justly said, "Thou hast lowered Him a little lower than the Angels" (ver. 5). But that glorifying is added, in which He rose and ascended up into heaven; "With glory," he says, "and with honour hast Thou crowned Him; and hast set Him over the works of Thine hands" (ver. 6). Since even Angels are the works of God's hands, even over Angels we understand the Only-begotten Son to have been set; whom we hear and believe, by the humiliation of the carnal generation and passion, to have been lowered a little lower than the Angels.
12. "Thou hast put," he says, "all things in subjection under His feet." When he says, "all things," he excepts nothing. And that he might not be allowed to understand it otherwise, the Apostle enjoins it to be believed thus, when he says, "He being excepted which put all things under Him."(1) And to the Hebrews he uses this very testimony from this Psalm, when he would have it to be understood that all things are in such sort put under our Lord Jesus Christ, as that nothing should be excepted.(2) And yet he does not seem, as it were, to subjoin any great thing, when he says, "All sheep and oxen, yea, moreover, the beasts of the field, birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, which walk through the paths of the sea" (ver. 7). For, leaving the heavenly excellencies and powers, and all the hosts of Angels, leaving even man himself, he seems to have put under Him the beasts merely; unless by sheep and oxen we understand holy souls, either yielding the fruit of innocence, or even working that the earth may bear fruit, that is, that earthly men may be regenerated unto spiritual richness. By these holy souls then we ought to understand not those of men only, but of all Angels too, if we would gather from hence that all things are put under our Lord Jesus Christ. For there will be no creature that will not be put under Him, under whom the pre-eminent(3) spirits, that I may so speak, are put. But whence shall we prove that sheep can be interpreted even, not of men, but of the blessed spirits of the angelical creatures on high? May we from the Lord's saying that He had left ninety and nine sheep in the mountains, that is, in the higher regions, and had come down for one?(4) For if we take the one lost sheep to be the human soul in Adam, since Eve even was made out of his side,(5) for the spiritual handling and consideration of all which things this is not the time, it remains that, by the ninety and nine left in the mountains, spirits not human, but angelical, should be meant. For as regards the oxen, this sentence is easily despatched; since men themselves are for no other reason called oxen, but because by preaching the Gospel of the word of God they imitate Angels, as where it is said, "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn."(6) How much more easily then do we take the Angels themselves, the messengers of truth, to be oxen, when Evangelists by the participation of their title are called oxen? "Thou hast put under" therefore, he says, "all sheep and oxen," that is, all the holy spiritual creation; in which we include that of holy men, who are in the Church, in those wine-presses to wit, which are intimated under the other similitude of the moon and stars.(7)
13. "Yea moreover," saith he, "the beasts of the field."(8) The addition of "moreover" is by no means idle. First, because by beasts of the plain may be understood both sheep and oxen: so that, if goats are the beasts of rocky and mountainous regions, sheep may be well taken to be the beasts of the field. Accordingly had it been written even thus, "all sheep and oxen and beasts of the field;" it might be reasonably asked what beasts of the plain meant, since even sheep and oxen could be taken as such. But the addition of "moreover" besides, obliges us, beyond question, to recognise some difference or another. But under this word, "moreover," not only "beasts of the field," but also "birds of the air, and fish of the sea, which walk through the paths of the sea" (ver. 8), are to be taken in. What is then this distinction? Call to mind the "wine-presses," holding husks and wine; and the threshing-floor, containing chaff and corn; and the nets, in which were enclosed good fish and bad; and the ark of Noah, in which were both unclean and clean animals:(9) and you will see that the Churches for a while, now in this time, unto the last time of judgment, contain not only sheep and oxen, that is, holy laymen and holy ministers, but "moreover beasts of the field, birds of the air, and birds of the sea, that walk through the paths of the sea." For the beasts of the field were very fitly understood, as men rejoicing in the pleasure of the flesh where they mount up to nothing high, nothing laborious. For the field is also "the broad way, that leadeth to destruction:"(10) and in a field is Abel slain.(11) Wherefore there is cause to fear, test one coming down from the mountains of God's righteousness ("for thy righteousness," he says, "is as the mountains of God"(12)) making choice of the broad and easy paths of carnal pleasure, be slain by the devil. See now too "the birds of heaven," the proud, of whom it is said, "They have set their mouth against the heaven."(13) See how they are carried on high by the wind, "who say, We will magnify our tongue, our lips are our own, who is our Lord?"(14) Behold too the fish of the sea, that is, the curious; who walk through the paths of the sea, that is, search in the deep after the temporal things of this world: which, like: paths in the sea, vanish and perish, as quickly as the water comes together again after it has given room, in their passage, to ships, or to whatsoever walketh or swimmeth. For he said not merely, who walk the paths of the sea; but "walk through," he said; showing the very determined earnestness of those who seek after vain and fleeting things. Now these three kinds of vice, namely, the pleasure of the flesh, and pride, and curiosity, include all sins. And they appear to me to be enumerated by the Apostle John, when he says, "Love not the world; for all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life."(1) For through the eyes especially prevails curiosity. To what the rest indeed belong is clear. And that temptation of the Lord Man was threefold: by food, that is, by the lust of the flesh, where it is suggested, "command these stones that they be made bread:"(2) by vain boasting, where, when stationed on a mountain, all the kingdoms of this earth are shown Him, and promised if He would worship:(3) by curiosity, where, from the pinnacle of the temple, He is advised to cast Himself down, for the sake of trying whether He would be borne up by Angels.(4) And accordingly after that the enemy could prevail with Him by none of these temptations, this is said of him, "When the devil had ended all his temptation."(5) With a reference then to the meaning of the wine-presses, not only the wine, but the husks too are put under His feet; to wit, not only sheep and oxen, that is, the holy souls of believers, either in the laity, or in the ministry; but moreover both beasts of pleasure, and birds of pride, and fish of curiosity. All which classes of sinners we see mingled now in the Churches with the good and holy. May He work then in His Churches, and separate the wine from the husks: let us give heed, that we be wine, and sheep or oxen; not husks, or beasts of the field, or birds of heaven, or fish of the sea, which walk through the paths of the sea. Not that these names can be understood and explained in this way only, but the explanation of them must be according to the place where they are found. For elsewhere they have other meanings. And this rule must be kept to in every allegory, that what is expressed by the similitude should be considered agreeably to the meaning of the particular place: for this is the manner of the Lord's and the Apostles' teaching. Let us repeat then the last verse, which is also put at the beginning of the Psalm, and let us praise God, saying, "0 Lord our Lord, how wonderful is Thy name in all the earth!" For fitly, after the matter of the discourse, is the return made to the heading, whither all that discourse must be referred.
1. The inscription of this Psalm is, "To the end for the hidden things of the Son, a Psalm of David himself."(6) As to the hidden things of the Son there may be a question: but since he has not added whose, the very only-begotten Son of God should be understood. For where a Psalm has been inscribed of the son of David,(7) "When," he says, "he fled from the face of Absalom his son;" although his name even was mentioned, and therefore there could be no obscurity as to whom it was spoken of: yet it is not merely said, from the face of son Absalom; but "his" is added. But here both because "his" is not added, and much is said of the Gentiles, it cannot properly be taken of Absalom.(8) For the war which that abandoned one waged with his father, no way relates to the Gentiles, since there the people of Israel only were divided against themselves. This Psalm is then sung for the hidden things of the only-begotten Son of God.(9) For the Lord Himself too, when, without addition, He uses the word Son, would have Himself, the Only-begotten to be understood; as where He says, "If the Son shall make you free, then shall ye be free indeed."(10) For He said not, the Son of God; but in saying merely, Son, He gives us to understand whose Son it is. Which form of expression nothing admits of, save His excellency of whom we so speak, that, though we name Him not, He can be understood. For so we say, it rains, clears up, thunders, and such like expressions; and we do not add who does it all; for that the excellency of the doer spontaneously presents itself to all men's minds, and does not want words. What then are the hidden things of the Son? By which expression we must first understand that there are some things of the Son manifest, from which those are distinguished which are called hidden. Wherefore since we believe two advents of the Lord, one past, which the Jews understood not: the other future, which we both hope for; and since the one which the Jews understood not, profited the Gentiles; "For the hidden things of the Son" is not unsuitably understood to be spoken of this advent, in which "blindness in part is happened to Israel, that the fulness of the Gentiles might come in."(11)
For notice of two judgments is conveyed to us throughout the Scriptures, if any one will give heed to them, one hidden, the other manifest. The hidden one is passing now, of which the Apostle Peter says, "The time is come that judgment should begin from the house of the Lord." (12) The hidden judgment accordingly is the pain, by which now each man is either exercised to purification, or warned to conversion, or if he despise the calling and discipline of God, is blinded unto damnation. But the manifest judgment is that in which the Lord, at His coming, will judge the quick and the dead, all men confessing that it is He by whom both rewards shall be assigned to the good, and punishments to the evil. But then that confession will avail, not to the remedy of evils, but to the accumulation of damnation. Of these two judgments, the one hidden, the other manifest, the Lord seems to me to have spoken, where He says, "Whoso believeth on Me hath passed from death unto life, and shall not come into judgment; into the manifest judgment, that is. For that which passes from death unto life by means of some affliction, whereby "He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth,"is the hidden judgment. "But whoso believeth not," saith He, "hath been judged already:" that is, by this hidden judgment hath been already prepared for that manifest one. These two judgments we read of also in Wisdom, whence it is written, "Therefore unto them, as to children without the use of reason, Thou didst give a judgment to mock them; But they that have not been corrected by this judgment have felt a judgment worthy of God." Whoso then are not corrected by this hidden judgment of God, shall most worthily be punished by that manifest one. ...
2. "I will confess unto Thee, O Lord, with my whole heart" (ver. 1). He doth not, with a whole heart, confess unto God, who doubteth of His Providence in any particular: but he who sees already the hidden things of the wisdom of God, how great is Iris invisible reward, who saith, "We rejoice in tribulations;" and how all torments, which are inflicted on the body, are either for the exercising of those that are converted to God, or for warning that they be converted, or for just preparation of the obdurate unto their last damnation: and so now all things are referred to the governance of Divine Providence, which fools think done as it were by chance and at random, and without any Divine ordering. "I will tell all Thy marvels." He tells all God's marvels, who sees them performed not only openly on the body, but invisibly indeed too in the soul, but far more sublimely and excellently. For men earthly, and led wholly by the eye, marvel more that the dead Lazarus rose again in the body, than that Paul the persecutor rose again in soul. But since the visible miracle calleth the soul to the light, but the invisible enlighteneth the soul that comes when called, he tells all God's marvels, who, by believing the visible, passes on to the understanding of the invisible.
3. "I will be glad and exult in Thee" (ver. 2). Not any more in this world, not in pleasure of bodily dalliance, not in relish of palate and tongue, not in sweetness of perfumes, not in joyousness of passing sounds, not in the variously coloured forms of figure, not in vanities of men's praise, not in wedlock and perishable offspring, not in superfluity of temporal wealth, not in this world's getting, whether it extend over place and space, or be prolonged in time's succession: but, "I will be glad and exult in Thee," namely, in the hidden things of the Son, where "the light of Thy countenance hath been stamped on us, O Lord:" for, "Thou wilt hide them," saith he, "in the hiding place of Thy countenance." He then will be glad and exult in Thee, who tells all Thy marvels. And He will tell all Thy marvels (since it is now spoken of prophetically), "who came not to do His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him."
4. For now the Person of the Lord begins to appear speaking in this Psalm. For it follows, "I will sing to Thy Name, O Most High, in turning mine enemy behind." His enemy then, where was he turned back? Was it when it was said to him, "Get thee behind, Satan"? For then he who by tempting desired to put himself before, was turned behind, by failing in deceiving Him who was tempted, and by availing nothing against Him. For earthly men are behind: but the heavenly man is preferred before, although he came after. For "the first man is of the earth, earthy: the second Man is from heaven, heavenly." But from this stock he came by whom it was said, "He who cometh after me is preferred before me."  And the Apostle forgets "those things that are behind, and reaches forth unto those things that are before." The enemy, therefore, was turned behind, after that he could not deceive the heavenly Man being tempted; and he turned himself to earthy men, where he can have dominion....For in truth the devil is turned behind, even in the persecution of the righteous, and he, much more to their advantage, is a persecutor, than if he went before as a leader and a prince. We midst sing then to the Name of the Most High in turning the enemy behind: since we ought to choose rather to fly from him as a persecutor, than to follow him as a leader. For we have whither we may fly and hide ourselves in the hidden things of the Son; seeing that "the Lord hath been made a refuge for us."
5. "They will be weakened, and perish from Thy face" (ver. 3). Who will be weakened and perish, but the unrighteous and ungodly? "They will be weakened," while they shall avail nothing; "and they shall perish," because the ungodly will not be; "from the face" of God, that is, from the knowledge of God, as he perished who said," But now I live not, but Christ liveth in me." But why will the ungodly "be weakened and perish from thy face ?" "Because," he saith, "Thou hast made my judgment, and my cause:" that is, the judgment in which I seemed to be judged, Thou hast made mine; and the cause in which men condemned me just and innocent, Thou hast made mine. For such things served Him for our deliverance: as sailors too call the wind theirs, which they take advantage of for prosperous sailing.
6. "Thou satest on the throne Who judgest equity" (ver. 4). Whether the Son say this to the Father, who said also, "Thou couldest have no power against Me, except it were given thee from above," referring this very thing, that the Judge of men was judged for men's advantage, to the Father's equity and His own hidden things: or whether man say to God, "Thou satest on the throne Who judgest equity," giving the name of God's throne to his soul, so that his body may peradventure be the earth, which is called God's "footstool: " for "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself:" or whether the soul of the Church, perfect now and without spot and wrinkle, worthy, that is, of the hidden things of the Son, in that "the King hath brought her into His chamber," say to her spouse, "Thou satest upon the throne Who judgest equity," in that Thou hast risen from the dead, and ascended up into heaven, and sittest at the right hand of the Father: whichsoever, I say, of those opinions, whereunto this verse may be referred, is preferred, it transgresses not the rule of faith.
7. "Thou hast rebuked the heathen, and the ungodly hath perished" (ver. 5). We take this to be more suitably said to the Lord Jesus Christ, than said by Him. For who else hath rebuked the heathen, and the ungodly perished, save He, who after that He ascended up into heaven, sent the Holy Ghost, that, filled by Him, the Apostles should preach the word of God with boldness, and freely reprove men's sins? At which rebuke the ungodly perished; because the ungodly was justified and was made godly. "Thou hast effaced their name for the world, and for the world's world. The name of the ungodly hath been effaced. For they are not called ungodly who believe in the true God. Now their name is effaced "for the world," that is, as long as the course of the temporal world endures. "And for the world's world." What is "the world's world," but that whose image and shadow, as it were, this world possesses? For the change of seasons succeeding one another, whilst the moon is on the wane, and again on the increase, whilst the sun each year returns to his quarter, whilst spring, or summer, or autumn, or winter passes away only to return, is m some sort an imitation of eternity. But this world's world is that which abides in immutable eternity. As a verse in the mind, and a verse in the voice, the former is understood, the latter heard; and the former fashions the latter; and hence the former works in art and abides, the latter sounds in the air and passes away. So the fashion of this changeable world is defined by that world unchangeable which is called the world's world. And hence the one abides in the art, that is, in the Wisdom and Power of God: but the other is made to pass in the governance of creation. If after all it be not a repetition, so that after it was said "for the world," lest it should be understood of this world that passeth away, it were added "for the world's world." For in the Greek copies it is thus, eid ton aiwna, kai eis ton aipna ton aipnos Which the Latins have for the most rendered, not, "for the world, and for the world's world;" but, "for ever, and for the world's world," that in the words "for the world's world," the, words "for ever," should be explained. "The name," then, "of the ungodly Thou hast effaced for ever," for from henceforth the ungodly shall never be. And if their name be not prolonged unto this world, much less unto the world's world."
8. "The swords of the enemy have failed at the end" (ver. 6). Not enemies in the plural, but this enemy in the singular. Now what enemy's swords have failed but the devil's? Now these are understood to be divers erroneous opinions, whereby as with swords he destroys souls, In overcoming these swords, and in bringing them to failure, that sword is employed, of which it is said in the seventh Psalm, "If ye be not converted, He will brandish His sword." And peradventure this is the end, against which the swords of the enemy fail; since up to it they are of some avail. Now it worketh secretly, but in the last judgment it will be brandished openly. By it the cities are destroyed. For so it follows, "The swords of the enemy have failed at the end: and Thou hast destroyed the cities." Cities indeed wherein the devil rules, where crafty and deceitful counsels hold, as it were, the place of a court, on which supremacy attend as officers and ministers the services of all the members, the eyes for curiosity, the ears for lasciviousness, or for whatsoever else is gladly listened to that bears on evil, the hands for rapine or any other violence or pollution soever, and all the other members after this manner serving the tyrannical supremacy, that is, perverse counsels. Of this city the commonalty, as it were, are all soft affections and disturbing emotions of the mind, stirring up daily seditions in a man. So then where a king, where a court, where ministers, where commonalty are found, there is a city. Now again would such things be in bad cities, unless they were first in individual men, who are, as it were, the elements and seeds of cities. These cities He destroys, when on the prince being shut out thence, of whom it was said, "The prince of this world" has been "cast out," these kingdoms are wasted by the word of truth, evil counsels are laid to sleep, vile affections tamed, the ministries of the members and senses taken captive, and transferred to the service of righteousness and good works: that as the Apostle says, "Sin should no more reign in" our "mortal body," and so forth. Then is the soul at peace, and the man is disposed to receive rest and blessedness. "Their memorial has perished with uproar:" with the uproar, that is, of the ungodly. But it is said, "with uproar," either because when ungodliness is overturned, there is uproar made: for none passeth to the highest place, where there is the deepest silence, but he who with much uproar shall first have warred with his own vices: or "with uproar," is said, that the memory of the ungodly should perish in the perishing even of the very uproar, in which ungodliness riots.
9. "And the Lord abideth for ever" (ver. 7). "Wherefore" then "have the heathen raged, and the people imagined vain things against the Lord, and against His anointed:" for" the Lord abideth for ever. He hath prepared His seat in judgment, and He shall judge the world in equity." He prepared His seat when He was judged. For by that patience Man purchased heaven, and God in Man profited believers. And this is the Son's hidden judgment. But seeing He is also to come openly and in the sight of all to judge the quick arid the dead, He hath prepared His seat in the hidden judgment: and He shall also openly "jUdge the world in equity:" that is, He shall distribute gifts proportioned to desert, setting the sheep on His right hand, and the goats on His left. "He shall judge the people with justice "(ver. 8). This is the same as was said above, "He shall judge the world in equity." Not as men judge who see not the heart, by whom very often worse men are acquitted than are condemned: but "in equity" and "with justice "shall the Lord judge, "conscience bearing witness, and thoughts accusing, or else excusing."
10. "And the Lord hath become a refuge to the poor" (ver. 9). Whatsoever be the persecutions of that enemy, who hath been turned behind, what harm shall he do to them whose refuge the Lord hath become? But this will be, if in this world, in which that one has an office of power, they shall choose to be poor, by loving nothing which either here leaves a man while he lives and loves, or is left by him when he dies. For to such a poor man hath the Lord become a refuge, "an Helper in due season, in tribulation." Lo, He maketh poor, for "He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." For what "an Helper in due season "is, he explained by adding "in tribulation." For the soul is not turned to God, save when it is turned away from this world: nor is it more seasonably turned away from this world, except toils and pains be mingled with its trifling and hurtful and destructive pleasures.
11. "And let them who know Thy Name, hope in Thee" (ver. 10), when they shall have ceased hoping in wealth, and in the other enticements of this world. For the soul indeed that seeketh where to fix her hope, when she is torn away from this world, the knowledge of God's Name seasonably receives. For the mere Name of God hath now been published everywhere: but the knowledge of the name is, when He is known whose name it is. For the name is not a name for its own sake, but for that which it signifies. Now it has been said, "The Lord is His Name." Wherefore whoso willingly submits himself to God as His servant, hath known this name. "And let them who know Thy Name hope in Thee" (ver. 10), Again, the Lord saith to Moses, "I am That I am; and Thou shalt say to the children of Israel, I AM, hath sent me." "Let them" then "who know Thy Name, hope in Thee;" that they may not hope in those things which flow by in time's quick revolution, having nothing but" will be" and "has been." For what in them is future, when it arrives, straightway becomes the past; it is awaited with eagerness, it is lost with pain. But in the nature of God nothing will be, as if it were not yet; or hath been, as if it were no longer: but there is only that which is, and this is eternity. Let them cease then to hope in and love things temporal, and let them apply themselves to hope eternal, who know His name who said, "I am That I am;" and of whom it was said, "I AM hath sent me." "For Thou hast not forsaken them that seek Thee, O Lord." Whoso seek Him, seek no more things transient and perishable; "For no man can serve two masters."
12. "Sing to the Lord, who dwelleth in Sion" (ver. 11), is said to them, whom the Lord forsakes not as they seek Him. He dwelleth in Sion, which is interpreted watching, and which beareth the likeness Of the Church that now is; as Jerusalem beareth the likeness of the Church that is to come, that is, the city of Saints already enjoying life angelical; for Jerusalem is by interpretation the vision of peace. Now watching goes before vision, as this Church goes before that one which is promised, the city immortal and eternal. But in time it goes before, not in dignity: because more honourable is that whither we are striving to arrive, than what we practise, that we may attain to arrive; now we practise watching, that we may arrive at vision. But again this same Church which now is, unless the Lord inhabit her, the most earnest watching might run into any sort of error. And to this Church it was said, "For the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are:" again," that Christ may dwell in the inner man in your hearts by faith." It is enjoined us then, that we sing to the Lord who dwelleth in Sion, that with one accord we praise the Lord, the Inhabitant of the Church. "Show forth His wonders among the heathen." It has both been done, and will not cease to be done.
13. "For requiring their blood He hath remembered" (ver. 12). As if they, who were sent to preach the Gospel, should make answer to that injunction which has been mentioned, "Show forth His wonders among the heathen," and should say, "O Lord, who hath believed our report?" and again, "For Thy sake we are killed all the day long ;" the Psalmist suitably goes on to say, That Christians not without great reward of eternity will die in persecution, "for requiring their blood He hath remembered." But why did he choose to say, "their blood"? Was it, as if one of imperfect knowledge and less faith should ask, How will they "show them forth," seeing that the infidelity of the heathen will rage against them; and he should be answered, "For requiring their blood He hath remembered," that is, the last judgment will come, in which both the glory of the slain and the punishment of the slayers shall be made manifest? But let no one suppose "He hath remembered"to be so used, as though forgetfulness can attach to God; but since the judgment will be after a long interval, it is used in accordance with the feeling of weak men, who think God hath forgotten, because He doth not act so speedily as they wish. To such is said what follows also, "He hath not forgotten the cry of the poor:" that is, He hath not, as you suppose, forgotten. As if they should on hearing," He hath remembered," say, Then He had forgotten; No, "He hath not forgotten," says the Psalmist, "the cry of the poor."
14. But I ask, what is that cry of the poor, which God forgetteth not? Is it that cry, the words whereof are these, "Pity me, O Lord, see my humiliation at the hands of my enemies "? (ver. 13). Why then did he not say, Pity "us" O Lord, see our humiliation at the hands of "our" enemies, as if many poor were crying; but as if one, Pity "me," O Lord? Is it because One intercedeth for the Saints, "who" first "for our sakes became poor, though He was rich;" and it is He who saith, "Who exaltest me from the gates of death (ver. 14), that I may declare all Thy praises in the gates of the daughter of Sion"? For man is exalted in Him, not that Man only which He beareth, which is the Head of the Church; but whichsoever one of us also is among the other members, and is exalted from all depraved desires; which are the gates of death, for that through them is the road to death. But the joy in the fruition is at once death itself, when one gains what he hath in abandoned wilfulness coveted: for "coveting is the root of all evil: " and therefore is the gate of death, for "the widow that liveth in pleasures is dead." At which pleasures we arrive through desires as it were through the gates of death. But all highest purposes are the gates of the daughter of Sion, through which we come to the vision of peace in the Holy Church.... Or haply are the gates of death the bodily senses and eyes, which were opened when the man tasted of the forbidden tree, ... and are the gates of the daughter of Sion the sacraments and beginnings of faith, which are opened to them that knock, that they may arrive at the hidden things of the Son? ..
15. Then follows, "I will exult for Thy salvation:'' that is, with blessedness shall I be holden by Thy salvation, which is our Lord Jesus Christ, the Power and Wisdom of God. Therefore says the Church, which is here in affliction and is saved by hope, as long as the hidden judgment of the Son is, in hope she says," I will exult for Thy salvation:" for now she is worn down either by the roar of violence around her, or by the errors of the heathen. "The heathen are fixed in the corruption, which they made" (ver. 15). Consider ye how punishment is reserved for the sinner, out of his own works; and how they that have wished to persecute the Church, have been fixed in that corruption, which they thought to inflict. For they were desiring to kill the body, whilst they themselves were dying in soul. "In that snare which they hid, has their foot been taken." The hidden snare is crafty devising. The foot of the soul is well understood to be its love: which, when depraved, is called coveting or lust; but when upright, love or charity ....And the Apostle says, "That being rooted and grounded in love, ye may be able to take in." The foot then of sinners, that is, their love, is taken in the snare, which they hide: for when delight shall have followed on to deceitful dealing, when God shall have delivered them over to the lust of their heart; that delight at once binds them, that they dare not tear away their love thence and apply it to profitable objects; for when they shall make the attempt, they will be pained in heart, as if desiring to free their foot from a fetter: and giving way trader this pain they refuse to withdraw from pernicious delights. "In the snare" then "which they have hid," that is, in deceitful counsel, "their foot hath been taken," that is, their love, which through deceit attains to that vain joy whereby pain is purchased.
16. "The Lord is known executing judgments" (ver. 16). These are God's judgments. Not from that tranquillity of His blessedness, nor from the secret places of wisdom, wherein blessed souls are received, is the sword, or fire, or wild beast, or any such thing brought forth, whereby sinners maybe tormented: but how are they tormented, and how does the Lord do judgment? "In the works," he says, "of his own hands hath the sinner been caught."
17. Here is interposed, "The song of the diapsalma" (ver. 16): as it were the hidden joy, as far as we can imagine, of the separation which is now made, not in place, but in the affections of the heart, between sinners and the righteous, as of the corn from the chaff, as yet on the floor. And then follows, "Let the sinners be turned into hell" (ver. 17): that is, let them be given into their own hands, when they are spared, and let them be ensnared in deadly delight. "All the nations that forget God." Because "when they did not think good to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind."
18. "For there shall not be forgetfulness of the poor man to the end" (ver. 18); who now seems to be in forgetfulness, when sinners are thought to flourish in this world's happiness, and the righteous to be in travail: but "the patience," saith He, "of the poor shall not perish for ever." Wherefore there is need of patience now to bear with the evil, who are already separated in will, till they be also separated at the last judgment.
19. "Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail" (ver. 19). The future judgment is prayed for: but before it come, "Let the heathen," saith he, "be judged in Thy sight:" that is, in secret; which is called in God's sight, with the knowledge of a few holy and righteous ones. "Place a lawgiver over them, O Lord." (ver. 20). He seems to me to point out Antichrist: of whom the Apostle says, "When the man of sin shall be revealed." "Let the heathen know that they are men." That they who will be set free by the Son of God, and belong to the Son of Man, and be sons of men, that is, new men, may serve man, that is, the old man the sinner, "for that they are men."
20. And because it is believed that he is to arrive at so great a pitch of empty glory, and he will be permitted to do so great things, both against all men and against the Saints of God, that then some weak ones shall indeed think that God cares not for human affairs, the Psalmist interposing a diapsalma, adds as it were the voice of men groaning and asking why judgment is deferred.
"Why, O Lord," saith he, "hast Thou withdrawn afar off?" (ver. 1). Then he who thus inquired, as if all on a sudden he understood, or as if he asked, though he knew, that he might teach, adds, "Thou despisest in due seasons, in tribulations:" that is, Thou despisest seasonably, and causest tribulations to inflame men's minds with longing for Thy coming. For that fountain of life is sweeter to them that have much thirst. Therefore he hints the reason of the delay, saying, "Whilst the ungodly vaunteth himself, the poor man is inflamed" (ver. 2). Wondrous it is and true with what earnestness of good hope the little ones are inflamed unto an upright living by comparison with sinners. In which mystery it comes to pass, that even heresies are permitted to exist; not that heretics themselves wish this, but because Divine Providence worketh this result from their sins, which both maketh and ordaineth the light; but ordereth only the darkness, that by comparison therewith the light may be more pleasant, as by comparison with heretics the discovery of truth is more sweet. For so, by this comparison, the approved, who are known to God, are made manifest among men.
1. "They are taken in their thoughts, which they think:" that is, their evil thoughts become chains to them. But how become they chains? "For the sinner is praised," saith he, "in the desires of his soul" (ver. 3). The tongues of flatterers bind souls in sin. For there is pleasure in doing those things, in which not only is no reprover feared, but even an approver heard. "And he that does unrighteous deeds is blessed." Hence "are they taken in their thoughts, which they think."
2. "The sinner hath angered the Lord" (ver. 4). Let no one congratulate the man that prospers in his way, to whose sins no avenger is nigh, and an approver is by. This is the greater anger of the Lord. For the sinner hath angered the Lord, that he should suffer these things, that is, should not suffer the scourging of correction. "The sinner hath angered the Lord: according to the multitude of His anger He will not search it out." Great is His anger, when He searcheth not out, when He as it were forgetteth and marketh not sin, and by fraud and wickedness man attains to riches and honours: which will especially be the case in that Antichrist, who will seem to man blessed to that degree, that he will even be thought God. But how great this anger of God is, we are taught by what follows.
3. "God is not in his sight, his ways are polluted in all time" (ver. 5). He that knows what in the soul gives joy and gladness, knows how great an ill it is to be abandoned by the light of truth: since a great ill do men reckon the blindness of their bodily eyes, whereby this light is withdrawn. How great then the punishment he endures, who through the prosperous issue of his sins is brought to that pass, that God is not in his sight, and that his ways are polluted in all time, that is, his thoughts and counsels are unclean ! "Thy judgments are taken away from his face." For the mind conscious of evil, whilst it seems to itself to suffer no punishment, believes that God cloth not judge, and so are God's judgments taken away from its face; while this very thing is great condemnation. "And he shall have dominion over all his enemies." For so is it delivered, that he will overcome all kings, and alone obtain the kingdom; since too according to the Apostle, who preaches concerning him, "He shall sit in the temple of God, exalting himself above all that is worshipped and that is called God."
4. And seeing that being delivered over to the lust of his own heart, and predestinated to extreme condemnation, he is to come, by wicked arts, to that vain and empty height and rule; therefore it follows, "For he hath said in his heart, I shall not move from generation to generation without evil" (ver. 6): that is, my fame and my name will not pass from this generation to the generation of posterity, unless by evil arts I acquire so lofty a principality, that posterity cannot be silent concerning it. For a mind abandoned and void of good arts, and estranged from the light of righteousness, by bad arts devises a passage for itself to a fame so lasting, as is celebrated even in posterity. And they that cannot be known for good, desire that men should speak of them even for ill, provided that their name spread far and wide. And this I think is here meant, "I shall not move from generation to generation without evil." There is too another interpretation, if a mind vain and full of error supposes that it cannot come from the mortal generation to the generation of eternity, but by bad arts: which indeed was also reported of Simon, when he thought that he would gain heaven by wicked arts, and pass from the human generation to the generation divine by magic. Where then is the wonder, if that man of sin too, who is to fill up all the wickedness and ungodliness, which all false prophets have begun, and to do such" great signs; that, if it were possible, he should deceive the very elect," shall say in his heart, "I shall not move from generation to generation without evil"?
5. "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness and deceit" (ver. 7). For it is a great curse to seek heaven by such abominable arts, and to get together such earnings for acquiring the eternal seat. But of this cursing his mouth is full. For this desire shall not take effect, but within his mouth only will avail to destroy him, who dared promise himself such things with bitterness and deceit, that is, with anger and insidiousness, whereby he is to bring over the multitude to his side. "Under his tongue is toil and grief." Nothing is more toilsome than unrighteousness and ungodliness: upon which toil follows grief; for that the toil is not only without fruit, but even unto destruction. Which toil and grief refer to that which he hath said in his heart, "I shall not be moved from generation to generation without evil." And therefore, "under his tongue," not on his tongue, because he will devise these things in silence, and to men will speak other things, that he may appear good and just, and a son of God.
6. "He lieth in ambush with the rich" (ver. 8). What rich, but those whom he will load with this world's gifts? And he is therefore said to lie in ambush with them, because he will display their false happiness to deceive men; who, when with a perverted will they desire to be such as they, and seek not the good things eternal, will fall into his snares. "That in the dark he may kill the innocent." "In the dark," I suppose, is said, where it is not easily understood what should be sought, or what avoided. Now to kill the innocent, is of an innocent to make one guilty.
7. "His eyes look against the poor," for he is chiefly to persecute the righteous, of whom it is said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (ver. 9). "He lieth in wait in a secret place, as a lion in his den." By a lion in a den, he means one in whom both violence and deceit will work. For the first persecution of the Church was violent, when by proscriptions, by torments, by murders, the Christians were compelled to sacrifice: another persecution is crafty, which is now conducted by heretics of any kind and false brethren: there remains a third, which is to come by Antichrist, than which there is nothing more perilous; for it will be at once violent and crafty. Violence he will exert in empire, craft in miracles. To the violence, the word "lion" refers; to craft, the words "in his den." And these are again repeated with a change of order. "He lieth in wait," he says, "that he may catch the poor;" this hath reference to craft: but what follows, "To catch the poor whilst he draweth him," is put to the score of violence. For "draweth" means, he bringeth him to himself by violence, by whatever tortures he can.
8. Again, the two which follow are the same "In his snare he will humble him," is craft (ver. 10). "He shall decline and fall, whilst he shall have domination over the poor," is violence. For a "snare" naturally points to "lying in wait:" but domination most openly conveys the idea of terror. And well does he say, "He will humble him in his snare." For when he shall begin to do those signs, the more wonderful they shall appear to men, the more those Saints that shall be then will be despised, and, as it were, set at nought: he, whom they shall resist by righteousness and innocence, shall seem to overcome by the marvels that he does. But "he shall decline and fall, whilst he shall have domination over the poor;" that is, whilst he shall inflict whatsoever punishments he will upon the servants of God that resist him.
9. But how shall he decline, and fall? "For he hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten; He turneth away His face, that He see not unto the end" (ver. 11). This is declining, and the most wretched fall, while the mind of a man prospers as it were in its iniquities, and thinks that it is spared; when it is being blinded, and kept for an extreme and timely vengeance: of which the Psalmist now speaks: "Arise, O Lord God, let Thine hand be exalted" (ver. 12): that is, let Thy power be made manifest. Now he had said above, "Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail, let the heathen be judged in Thy sight:" that is, in secret, where God alone seeth. This comes to pass when the ungodly have arrived at what seems great happiness to men: over whom is placed a lawgiver, such as they had deserved to have, of whom it is said," Place a lawgiver over them, O Lord, let the heathen know that they are men." But now after that hidden punishment and vengeance it is said, "Arise, O Lord God, let Thine hand be exalted;" not of course in secret, but now in glory most manifest. "That Thou forget not the poor unto the end ;" that is, as the ungodly think, who say, "God hath forgotten, He turneth away His face, that He should not see unto the end." Now they deny that God seeth unto the end, who say that He careth not for things human and earthly, for the earth is as it were the end of things; in that it is the last element, in which men labour in most orderly sort, but they cannot see the order of their labours, which specially belongs to the hidden things of the Son. The Church then labouring in such times, like a ship in great waves and tempests, awaketh the Lord as if He were sleeping, that He should command the winds, and calm should be restored. He says therefore, "Arise, O Lord God, let Thine hand be exalted, that Thou forget not the poor unto the end."
10. Accordingly understanding now the manifest judgment, and in exultation at it, they say, "Wherefore hath the ungodly angered God?" (ver. 13); that is, what hath it profiled him to do so great evil ? "For he said in his heart, He will not require it." Then follows, "For Thou seest toil and considerest anger, to deliver them into Thine hands" (ver. 14). This sentence looks for distinct explanation, wherein if there shall be error it becomes obscure. For thus has the ungodly said in his heart, God will not require it, as though God regarded toil and anger, to deliver them into His hands; that is, as though He feared toil and anger, and for this reason would spare them, lest their punishment be too burdensome to Him, or lest He should be disturbed by the storm of anger: as men generally act, excusing themselves of vengeance, to avoid toil or anger.
11. "The poor hath been left unto Thee." For therefore is he poor, that is, hath despised all the temporal goods of this world, that Thou only mayest be his hope. "Thou wilt be a helper to the orphan," that is, to him to whom his father this world, by whom he was born after the flesh, dies, and who can already say, "The world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world." For of such orphans God becomes the Father. The Lord teaches us in truth that His disciples do become orphans, to whom He saith, "Call no man father on earth." Of which He first Himself gave an example in saying," Who is my mother, and who my brethren?" Whence some most mischievous heretics 3 would assert that He had no mother; and they do not see that it follows from this, if they pay attention to these words, that neither had His disciples fathers. For as He said, "Who is my mother?" so He taught them, when He said, "Call no man your father on earth."
12. "Break the arm of the sinner and of the malicious" (ver. 15); of him, namely, of whom it was said above, "He shall have dominion over all his enemies." He called his power then, his arm; to which Christ's power is opposed, of which it is said, "Arise, O Lord God, let Thine hand be exalted. His fault shall be required, and he shall not be found because of it;" that is he shall be judged for his sins, and himself shall perish because of his sin. After this, what wonder if there follow, "The Lord shall reign for ever and world without end; ye heathen shall perish out of His earth"? (ver. 16). He uses heathen for sinners and ungodly.
13. "The Lord hath heard the longing of the poor"(ver. 17): that longing wherewith they were burning, when in the straits and tribulations of this world they desired the day of the Lord. "Thine ear hath heard the preparation of their heart." This is the preparation of the heart, of which it is sung in another Psalm, "My heart is prepared, O God, my heart is prepared:" of which the Apostle says, "But if we hope for what we see not, we do with patience wait for it." Now, by the ear of God, we ought, according to a general rule of interpretation, to understand not a bodily member, but the power whereby He heareth; and so (not to repeat this often) by whatever members of His are mentioned, which in us are visible and bodily, must be understood powers of operation. For we must not suppose it anything bodily, in that the Lord God hears not the sound of the voice, but the preparation of the heart.
14. "To judge for the orphan and the humble" (ver. 18): that is, not for him who is conformed to this world, nor for the proud. For it is one thing to judge the orphan, another to judge for the orphan. He judges the orphan even, who condemns him; but he judges for the orphan, who delivers sentence for him. "That man add not further to magnify himself upon earth." For they are men, of whom it was said, "Place a lawgiver over them, O Lord: let the heathen know that they are men." But he too, who in this same passage is understood to be placed over them, will be man, of whom it is now said, "That man add not further to magnify himself upon earth:" namely, when the Son of Man shall come to judge for the orphan, who hath put off from himself the old man, and thus, as it were, buried his father.
15. After the hidden things then of the Son, of which, in this Psalm, many things have been said, will come the manifest things of the Son, of which a little has been now said at the end of the same Psalm. But the title is given from the former, which here occupy the larger portion. Indeed, the very day of the Lord's advent may be rightly numbered among the hidden things of the Son, although the very presence of the Lord itself will be manifest. For of that day it is said, that no man knoweth it, neither angels, nor powers, nor the Son of man. What then so hidden, as that which is said to be hidden even to the Judge Himself, not as regards knowledge, but disclosure? But concerning the hidden things of the Son, even if any one would not wish to understand the Son of God, but of David himself, to whose name the whole Psalter is attributed, for the Psalms we know are called the Psalms of David, let him give ear to those words in which it is said to the Lord, "Have mercy on us, O Son of David:" and so even in this manner let him understand the same Lord Christ, concerning whose hidden things is the inscription of this Psalm. For so likewise is it said by the Angel: "God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David." Nor to this understanding of it is the sentence opposed in which the same Lord asks of the Jews," If Christ be the Son of David, how then doth he in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand, until I put Thine enemies under Thy feet." For it was said to the unskilled, who although they looked for Christ's coming, yet expected Him as man, not as the Power and Wisdom of God. He teacheth then, in that place, the most true and pure faith, that He is both the Lord of king David, in that He is the Word in the beginning, God with God, by which all things were made; and Son, in that He was made to him of the seed of David according to the flesh. For He doth not say, Christ is not David's Son, but if ye already hold that He is his Son, learn how He is his Lord: and do not hold in respect of Christ that He is the Son of Man, for so is He David's Son; and leave out that He is the Son of God, for so is He David's Lord. 
TO THE END, A PSALM OF DAVID HIMSELF.(2)
1. This title does not require a fresh consideration: for the meaning of, "to the end," has already been sufficiently handled.(3) Let us then look to the text itself of the Psalm, which to me appears to be sung against the heretics,(4) who, by rehearsing and exaggerating the sins of many in the Church, as if either all or the majority among themselves were righteous, strive to turn and snatch us away from the breasts of the one True Mother Church: affirming that Christ is with them, and warning us as if with piety and earnestness, that by passing over to them we may go over to Christ, whom they falsely declare they have. Now it is known that in prophecy Christ, among the many names in which notice of Him is conveyed in allegory, is also called a mountain.(5) We must accordingly answer these people, and say, "I trust in the Lord: how say ye to my soul, Remove into the mountains as a sparrow?" (ver. 1). I keep to one mountain wherein I trust, how say ye that I should pass over to you, as if there were many Christs? Or if through pride you say that you are mountains, I had indeed need to be a sparrow winged with the powers and commandments of God: but these very things hinder my flying to these mountains, and placing my trust in proud men. I have a house where I may rest, in that I trust in the Lord. For even "the sparrow hath found her a house,"(6) and, "The Lord hath become a refuge to the poor."(7) Let us say then with all confidence, lest while we seek Christ among heretics we lose Him, "In the Lord I trust: how say ye to my soul, Remove into the mountains as a sparrow?"
2. "For, lo, sinners have bent the bow, they have prepared their arrows in the quiver, that they may in the obscure moon shoot at the upright in heart" (ver. 2). These be the terrors of those who threaten us as touching sinners, that we may pass over to them as the righteous. "Lo," they say, "the sinners have bent the bow:" the Scriptures, I suppose, by carnal interpretation of which they emit envenomed sentences from them. "They have prepared their arrows in the quiver:" the same words, that is, which they will shoot out on the authority of Scripture, they have prepared in the secret place of the heart. "That they may in the obscure moon(8) shoot at the upright in heart:" that when they see, from the Church's light being obscured by the multitude of the unlearned and the carnal, that they cannot be convicted, they may corrupt good manners by evil communications.(9) But against all these terrors we must say, "In the Lord I trust."
3. Now I remember that I promised to consider in this Psalm with what suitableness the moon signifies the Church.(10) There are two probable opinions concerning the moon: but of these which is the true, I suppose it either impossible or very difficult for a man to decide. For when we ask whence the moon has her light, some say that it is her own, but that of her globe half is bright, and half dark: and when she revolves in her own orbit, that part wherein she is bright gradually turns towards the earth, so as that it may be seen by us; and that therefore at first her appearance is as if she were horned. ...According to this opinion the moon in allegory signifies the Church, because in its spiritual part the Church is bright, but in its carnal part is dark: and sometimes the spiritual part is seen by good works, but sometimes it lies hid in the conscience, and is known to God alone, since in the body alone is it seen by men. ... But according to the other opinion also the moon is understood to be the Church, because she has no light of her own, but is lighted by the only-begotten Son of God, who in many places of holy Scripture is allegorically called the Sun.(11) Whom certain heretics(12) being ignorant of, and not able to discern Him, endeavour to turn away the minds of the simple to this corporeal and visible sun, which is the common light of the flesh of men and flies, and some they do pervert, who as long as they cannot behold with the mind the inner light of truth, will not be content with the simple Catholic faith; which is the only safety to babes, and by which milk alone they can arrive in assured strength at the firm support of more solid food. Whichever then of these two opinions be the true, the moon in allegory is fitly understood as the Church. Or if in such difficulties as these, troublesome rather than edifying, there be either no satisfaction or no leisure to exercise the mind, or if the mind itself be not capable of it, it is sufficient to regard the moon with ordinary(13) eyes, and not to seek out obscure causes, but with all men to perceive her increasings and fulnesses and wanings; and if she wanes to the end that she may be renewed, even to this rude multitude she sets forth the image of the Church, in which the resurrection of the dead is believed.
4. Next we must enquire, what in this Psalm is meant by "the obscure moon," in which sinners have prepared to shoot at the upright in heart? For not in one way only may the moon be said to be obscure: for when her monthly course is finished, and when her brightness is interrupted by a cloud, and when she is eclipsed at the full, the moon may be called obscure. It may then be understood first of the persecutors of the Martyrs, for that they wished in the obscure moon to shoot at the upright in heart; whether it be yet in the time of the Church's youth, because she had not yet shone forth in greatness on the earth, and conquered the darkness of heathen superstitions; or by the tongues of blasphemers and such as defame the Christian name, when the earth was as it were beclouded, the moon, that is, the Church, could not be clearly seen; or when by the slaughter of the Martyrs themselves and so great effusion of blood, as by that eclipse and obscuration, wherein the moon seems to exhibit a bloody face, the weak were deterred from the Christian name; in which terror sinners shot out words crafty and sacrilegious to pervert even the upright in heart. And secondly, it can be understood of these sinners, whom the Church contains, because at that time, taking the opportunity of this moon's obscurity, they committed many crimes, which are now tauntingly objected to us by the heretics, whereas their founders are said to have been guilty of them.(1) But howsoever that be which was done in the obscure moon, now that the Catholic name is spread and celebrated throughout the whole world, what concern of mine is it to be disturbed by things unknown? For "in the Lord I trust;" nor do I listen to them that say to my soul, "Remove into the mountains as a sparrow. For, lo, sinners have bent the bow, that they may in the obscure moon shoot at the upright in heart." Or if the moon seem even(2) now obscure to them, because they would make it uncertain which is the Catholic Church, and they strive to convict her by the sins of those many carnal men whom she contains; what concern is this to him, who says in truth, "In the Lord I trust"? By which word every one shows that he is himself wheat, and endures the chaff with patience unto the time of winnowing.
5. "In the Lord," therefore, "I trust." Let them fear who trust in man, and cannot deny that they are of man's party, by whose grey hairs they swear; and when in conversation it is demanded of them, of what communion they are, unless they say that they are of his party, they cannot be recognised. ...Or perhaps you will say that it is written, "Ye shall know them by their works"?(3) I see indeed marvellous works the daily violences of the Circumcelliones,(4) with the bishops and presbyters for their leaders, flying about in every direction, and calling their terrible clubs "Israels;" which men now living daily see and feel. But for the times of Macarius,(5) respecting which they raise an invidious cry,(6) most men have not seen them, and no one sees them now: and any Catholic who saw them could say, if he wished to be a servant of God, "In the Lord I trust."...
6. Let the Catholic soul then say, "In the Lord I trust; how say ye to my soul, Remove into the mountains as a sparrow? For, lo, the sinners have bent the bow, they have prepared their arrows in the quiver, that they may in the obscure moon shoot at the upright in heart:" and from them let her turn her speech to the Lord and say, "For they have destroyed what Thou hast perfected"(7) (ver. 3). And this let her say not against these only, but against all heretics. For they have all, as far as in them lies, destroyed the praise which God hath perfected out of the mouth of babes and sucklings,(8) when they disturb the little ones with vain and I scrupulous questions, and suffer them not to be nourished with the milk of faith. As if then it were said to this soul, why do they say to you, "Remove into the mountains as a sparrow;" why do they frighten you with sinners, who "have bent the bow, to shoot in the obscure moon at the upright in heart"? She answers, Therefore it is they frighten me, "because they have destroyed what Thou hast perfected." Where but in their conventicles, where they nourish not with milk, but kill with poison the babes and ignorant of the interior light. "But what hath the Just done?"(9) If Macarius, if Caecilianus, offend you, what hath Christ done to you, who said, "My peace I give unto you, My peace I leave with you;"(10) which ye with your abominable dissensions have violated? What hath Christ done to you? who with such exceeding patience endured His betrayer, as to give to him, as to the other Apostles, the first Eucharist consecrated(11) with His own hands, and blessed with His own mouth.(12) What hath Christ done to you? who sent this same betrayer, whom He called a devil,(13) who before betraying the Lord could not show good faith even to the Lord's purse,(14) with the other disciples to preach the kingdom of heaven;(15) that He might show that the gifts of God come to those that with faith receive them, though he, through whom they receive them, be such as Judas was.
7. "The Lord is in His holy temple" (ver. 4), yea in such wise as the Apostle saith, "For the temple of God is holy, which" temple "ye are."(1) "Now if any man shall violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy." He violateth the temple of God, who violateth unity: for he "holdeth not the head, from which the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth(2) according to the working after the measure of every part maketh increase of the body to the edifying of itself in love."(3) The Lord is in this His holy temple; which consisteth of His many members, fulfilling each his own separate duties, by love built up into one building. Which temple he violateth, who for the sake of his own pre-eminence separateth himself from the Catholic society. "The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord, His seat is in heaven." If you take heaven to be the just man, as you take the earth to be the sinner, to whom it was said, "Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou go;"(4) the words, "The Lord is in His holy temple" you will understand to be repeated, whilst it is said, "The Lord, His seat is in heaven."
8. "His eyes look upon the poor."(5) His to Whom the poor man hath been left, and Who hath been made a refuge to the poor.(6) And therefore all the seditions and tumults within these nets,(7) until they be drawn to shore, concerning which heretics upbraid us to their own ruin and our correction, are caused by those men, who will not be Christ's poor. But do they turn away God's eyes from such as would be so? "For His eyes look upon the poor." Is it to be feared lest, in the crowd of the rich, He may not be able to see the few poor, whom He brings up in safe keeping in the bosom of the Catholic Church? "His eyelids question the sons of men." Here by that rule I would wish to take "the sons of men"(8) of those that from old men have been regenerated by faith. For these, by certain obscure passages of Scripture, as it were the closed eyes of God, are exercised that they may seek: and again, by certain clear passages, as it were the open eyes of God, are enlightened that they may rejoice. And this frequent closing and opening in the holy Books are as it were the eyelids of God; which question, that is, which try the "sons of men;" who are neither wearied with the obscurity of the matter, but exercised; nor puffed up by knowledge, but confirmed.
9. "The Lord questioneth the righteous and ungodly" (ver. 5). Why then do we fear lest the ungodly should be any hurt to us, if so be they do with insincere heart share the sacraments with us, seeing that He "questioneth the righteous and the ungodly." "But whoso loveth iniquity, hateth his own soul:" that is, not him who believeth God, and putteth not his hope in man, but only his own soul doth the lover of iniquity hurt.
10. "He shall rain snares upon the sinners" (ver. 6). If by clouds are understood prophets generally, whether good or bad, who are also called false prophets: false prophets are so ordered by the Lord God, that by them He may rain snares upon sinners.(9) For no one, but the sinner, falls into a following of them, whether by way of preparation for the last punishment, if he shall choose to persevere in sin; or to dissuade from pride, if in time he shall come to seek God with a more sincere intent. But if by clouds are understood good and true prophets only; by these too it is clear that God raineth snares upon sinners, although by them He watereth also the godly unto fruitfulness. "To some," saith the Apostle, "we are the savour of life unto life; to some the savour of death unto death."(10) For not prophets only, but all who with the word of God water souls, may be called clouds. Who when they are understood amiss, God raineth snares upon sinners; but when they are understood aright, He maketh the hearts of the godly and believing fruitful. As, for instance, the passage, "and they two shall be in one flesh,"(11) if one interpret it with an eye to lust, He raineth a snare upon the sinner. But if you understand it, as he who says, "But I speak concerning Christ and the Church,"(12) He raineth a shower on the fertile soil. Now both are effected by the same cloud, that is, holy Scripture. Again the Lord says, "Not that which goeth into your mouth defileth you, but that which cometh out."(13) The sinner hears this, and makes ready his palate for gluttony: the righteous hears it, and is guarded against the superstitious distinction in meats. Here then also out of the same cloud of Scripture, according to the several desert of each, upon the sinner the rain of snares, upon the righteous the rain of fruitfulness, is poured.
11. "Fire and brimstone and the blast of the tempest is the portion of their cup." This is their punishment and end, by whom the name of God is blaspbemed; that first they should be wasted by the fire of their own lusts, then by the ill savour of their evil deeds cast off from the company of the blessed, at last carried away and overwhelmed suffer penalties unspeakable. For this is the portion of their cup: as of the righteous, "Thy cup inebriating how excellent is it! for they shall be inebriated with the richness of Thine house."(1) Now I suppose a cup is mentioned for this reason, that we should not suppose that anything is done by God's providence, even in the very punishments of sinners, beyond moderation and measure. And therefore as if he were giving a reason why this should be, he added, "For the Lord is righteous, and hath loved righteousnesses" (ver. 7). The plural not without meaning, but only because he speaks of men, is as that righteousnesses be understood to be used for righteous men. For in many righteous men there seem, so to say, to be righteousnesses, whereas there is one only righteousness of God whereof they all participate. Like as when one face looks upon many mirrors, what in it is one only, is by those many mirrors reflected manifoldly. Wherefore he recurs to the singular, saying, "His face hath seen equity." Perhaps, "His face hath seen equity," is as if it were said, Equity hath been seen in His face, that is, in knowledge of Him. For God's face is the power by which He is made known to them that are worthy. Or at least, "His face hath seen equity," because He doth not allow Himself to be known by the evil, but by the good; and this is equity.
12. But if any one would understand the moon of the synagogue, let him refer the Psalm to the Lord's passion, and of the Jews say, "For they have destroyed what Thou hast perfected;(2) and of the Lord Himself, "But what hath the Just done?" whom they accused as the destroyer of the Law: whose precepts, by their corrupt living, and by despising them, and by setting up their own, they had destroyed, so that the Lord Himself may speak as Man, as He is wont, saying, "In the Lord I trust; how say ye to my soul, Remove into the mountains as a sparrow?"(3) by reason, that is, of the fear of those who desire to apprehend and crucify Him. Since the interpretation is not unreasonable of sinners wishing to "shoot at the upright in heart,"(4) that is, those who believed in Christ, "in the obscure moon," that is, the Synagogue filled with sinners. To this too the words, "The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord, His seat is in heaven,"(5) are suitable; that is, the Word in Man, s or the very Son of Man who is in heaven.(6) "His eyes look upon the poor;" either on t Him whom He assumed as God, or for whom He suffered as Man. "His eyelids question the sons of men." The closing and opening of the d eyes, which is probably meant by the word eyelids, we may take to be His death and resurrection, whereby He tried the sons of men His disciples, terrified at His passion, and gladdened by the resurrection. "The Lord questioneth the righteous and ungodly,"(7) even now from out of Heaven governing the Church. "But whoso loveth iniquity, hateth his own soul." Why it is so, what follows teaches us. For "He shall rain snares upon the sinners:"(8) which is to be taken according to the exposition above given, and so on with all the rest to the end of the Psalm.
TO THE END, FOR THE EIGHTH, A PSALM OF DAVID.
1. It has been said on the sixth Psalm,(10) that "the eighth" may be taken as the day of judgment. "For the eighth" may also be taken "for the eternal age;" for that after the time present, which is a cycle of seven days, it shall be given to the Saints.
2. "Save me, O Lord, for the holy hath failed;" that is, is not found: as we speak when we say, Corn fails, or, Money fails. "For the truths have been minished from among the sons of men" (ver. 1). The truth is one, whereby holy souls are enlightened: but forasmuch as there are many souls, there may be said in them to be many truths: as in mirrors there are seen many reflections from one face.
3. "He hath talked vanity each man to his neighbour" (ver. 2). By neighbour we must understand every man: for that there is no one with whom we should work evil; "and the love of our neighbour worketh no evil."(11) "Deceitful lips, with a heart and a heart they have spoken evil things."(12) The repetition, "with a heart and a heart," signifies a double heart.
4. "May the Lord destroy all deceitful lips" (ver. 3). He says "all," that no one may suppose himself excepted: as the Apostle says, "Upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and of the Greek."(13) "The tongue speaking great things:" the proud tongue.
5. "Who have said, We will magnify our tongue, our lips are our own, who is Lord over us?" (ver. 4). Proud hypocrites are meant, putting confidence in their speech to deceive men, and not submitting themselves to God.
6. "Because of the wretchedness of the needy and the sighing of the poor, now I will arise, saith the Lord"(14) (ver. 5). For so the Lord Himself in the Gospel pitied His people, because they had no ruler, when they could well obey. Whence too it is said in the Gospel, "The harvest is plenteous, but the labourers are few."(1) But this must be taken as spoken in the person of God the Father, who, because of the needy and the poor, that is, who in need and poverty were lacking spiritual good things, vouchsafed to send His own Son. From thence begins His sermon on the mount to Matthew, where He says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."(2) "I will place in salvation." He does not say what He would place: but, "in salvation," must be understood as, in Christ; according to that, "For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation."(3) And hence He is understood to have placed in Him what appertains to the taking away the wretchedness of the needy, and the comforting the sighing of the poor. "I will deal confidently in Him:" according to that in the Gospel, "For He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes."(4)
7. "The words of the Lord" are "pure words" (ver. 6). This is in the person of the Prophet himself, "The words of the Lord" are "pure words." He says "pure," without the alloy of pretence. For many preach the truth impurely;(5) for they sell it for the bribe of the advantages of this life. Of such the Apostle says, that they declared Christ not purely. "Silver tried by the fire for the earth."(6) These words of the Lord by means of tribulations approved to sinners. "Purified seven times:" by the fear of God, by godliness, by knowledge, by might, by counsel, by understanding, by wisdom.(7) For seven steps also of beatitude there are, which the Lord goes over, according to Matthew, in the same sermon which He spake on the Mount, "Blessed" are "the poor in spirit, blessed the meek, blessed they that mourn, blessed they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, blessed the merciful, blessed the pure in heart, blessed the peacemakers."(8) Of which seven sentences, it may be observed how all that long sermon was spoken. For the eighth where it is said, "Blessed" are "they which suffer persecution for righteousness' sake,"(9) denotes the fire itself, whereby the silver is proved seven times. And at the termination of this sermon it is said, "For He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes."(4) Which refers to that which is said in this Psalm, "I deal confidently in Him."
8. "Thou, O Lord, shalt preserve us, and keep us from this generation to eternity" (ver. 7): here as needy and poor, there as wealthy and rich.
9. "The ungodly walk in a circle round about" (ver. 8): that is, in the desire of things temporal, which revolves as a wheel in a repeated circle of seven days; and therefore they do not arrive at the eighth, that is, at eternity, for which this Psalm is entitled.(10) So too it is said by Solomon, "For the wise king is the winnower of the ungodly, and he bringeth on them the wheel of the wicked.--After Thine height Thou hast multiplied the sons of men."(11) For there is in temporal things too a multiplication, which turns away from the unity of God. Hence "the corruptible body weigheth down the soul, and the earthy tabernacle presseth down the mind that museth upon many things."(12) But the righteous are multiplied "after the height of God," when "they shall go from strength to strength."13
UNTO THE END, A PSALM OF DAVID.
1. "For Christ is the end of the law to every one that believeth."(15) "How long, O Lord, wilt Thou forget me unto the end?" (ver. 1) that is, put me off as to spiritually understanding Christ, who is the Wisdom of God, and the true end of all the aim of the soul. "How long dost Thou turn away Thy face from me?" As God doth not forget, so neither doth He turn His face away: but Scripture speaks after our manner. Now God is said to turn away His face, when He doth not give to the soul, which as yet hath not the pure eye of the mind, the knowledge of Himself.
2. "How long shall I place counsel in my soul?" (ver. 2). There is no need of counsel but in adversity. Therefore "How long shall I place counsel in my soul?" is as if it were said, How long shall I be in adversity? Or at least it is an answer, so that the meaning is this, So long, O Lord, wilt Thou forget me to the end, and so long turn away Thy face from me, until I shall place counsel in mine own soul: so that except a man place counsel in his own soul to work mercy perfectly, God will not direct him to the end, nor give him that full knowledge of Himself, which is "face to face." "Sorrow in my heart through the day?" How long shall I have, is understood. And "through the day" signifies continuance, so that day is taken for time: from which as each one longs to be free, he has sorrow in his heart, making entreaty to rise to things eternal, and not endure man's day.
3. "How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?" either the devil, or carnal habit.
4. "Look on me, and hear me, O Lord my God" (ver. 3). "Look on me," refers to what was said, "How long" dost "Thou turn away Thy face from me." "Hear," refers to what was said," How long wilt Thou forget me to the end? Lighten mine eyes, that I sleep not in death." The eyes of the heart must be understood, that they be not closed by the pleasurable eclipse of sin.
5. "Lest at any time mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him" (ver. 4). The devil's mockery is to be feared. "They that trouble me will exult, if I be moved;" the devil and his angels; who exulted not over that righteous man, Job, when they troubled him; because he was not moved, that is, did not draw back from the stedfastness of his faith.(1)
6. "But I have hoped in Thy mercy" (ver. 5). Because this very thing, that a man be not moved, and that he abide fixed in the Lord, he should not attribute to self: lest when he glories that he hath not been moved, he be moved by this very pride. "My heart shall exult in Thy salvation;" in Christ, in the Wisdom of God. "I will sing(2) to the Lord who hath given me good things;" spiritual good things, not belonging to man's day. "And I will chant(3) to the name of the Lord most high" (ver. 6); that is, I give thanks with joy, and in most due order employ my body, which is the song of the spiritual soul. But if any distinction is to be marked here, "I will sing" with the heart, "I will chant" with my works; "to the Lord," that which He alone seeth, but "to the name of the Lord," that which is known among men, which is serviceable not for Him, but for us.
TO THE END, A PSALM OF DAVID HIMSELF.
1. What "to the end" means, must not be too often repeated. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth;"(5) as the Apostle saith. We believe on Him, when we begin to enter on the good road: we shall see Him, when we shall get to the end. And therefore is He the end.
2. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God" (ver. 1). For not even have certain sacrilegious and abominable philosophers, who entertain perverse and false notions of God, dared to say, "There is no God." Therefore it is, hath said "in his heart;" for that no one dares to say it, even if he has dared to think it. "They are corrupt, and become abominable in their affections:" that is, whilst they love this world and love not God; these are the affections which corrupt the soul, and so blind it, that the fool can even say, "in his heart, There is no God. For as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind."(6) "There is none that doeth goodness, no not up to one." "Up to one," can be understood either with that one, so that no man be understood: or besides one, that the Lord Christ may be excepted. As we say, This field is up to the sea; we do not of course reckon the sea together with the field. And this is the better interpretation, so that none be understood to have done goodness up to Christ; for that no man can do goodness, except He shall have shown it. And that is true; for until a man know the one God, he cannot do goodness.
3. "The Lord from heaven looked out upon the sons of men, to see if there be one understanding, or seeking after God" (ver. 2). It may be interpreted, upon the Jews; as he may have given them the more honourable name of the sons of men, by reason of their worship of the One God, in comparison with the Gentiles; of whom I suppose it was said above, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God," etc. Now the Lord looks out, that He may see, by His holy souls: which is the meaning of, "from heaven." For by Himself nothing is hid from Him.
4. "All have gone out of the way, they have together become useless:" that is, the Jews have become as the Gentiles, who were spoken of above. "There is none that doeth good, no not up to one" (ver. 3), must be interpreted as above. "Their throat is an open sepulchre."(7) Either the voracity of the ever open palate is signified: or allegorically those who slay, and as it were devour those they have slain, into whom they instil the disorder of their own conversation. Like to which with the contrary meaning is that which was said to Peter, "Kill and eat; "a that he should convert the Gentiles to his own faith and good conversation. "With their tongues they have dealt craftily." Flattery is the companion of the greedy and of all bad men. "The poison of asps is under their lips." By "poison," he means deceit; and "of asps," because they will not hear the precepts of the law, as asps "will not hear the voice of the charmer;"(9) which is said more clearly in another Psalm. "Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness:" this is, "the poison of asps." "Their feet are Swift to shed blood." He here shows forth the habit of ill doing. "Destruction and unhappiness" are "in their ways." For all the ways of evil men are full of toil and misery. Hence the Lord cries out, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart. For My yoke is easy and My burden light."(1) "And the way of peace have they not known:" that way, namely, which the Lord, as I said, mentions, in the easy yoke and light burden. "There is no fear of God before their eyes." These do not say, "There is no God;" but yet they do not fear God.
5. "Shall not all, who work iniquity, know?" (ver. 4). He threatens the judgment. "Who devour My people as the food of bread:" that is, daily. For the food of bread is daily food. Now they devour the people, who serve their own ends out of them, not referring their ministry to the glory of God, and the salvation of those over whom they are.
6. "They have not called upon the Lord." For he doth not really call upon Him, who longs for such things as are displeasing to Him. "There they trembled for fear, where no fear was" (ver. 5): that is, for the loss of things temporal. For they said, "If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him; and the Romans will come, and take away both our place and nation."(2) They feared to lose an earthly kingdom, where no fear was; and they lost the kingdom of heaven, which they ought to have feared. And this must be understood of all temporal goods, the loss of which when men fear, they come not to things eternal.
7. "For God is in the just generation." It refers to what went before, so that the sense is, "shall not all they that work iniquity know that the Lord is in the just generation;"(3) that is, He is not in them who love the world. For it is unjust to leave the Maker of the worlds, and "serve the creature more than the Creator."(4) Ye have shamed the counsel of the poor, for the Lord is his hope" (ver. 6): that is, ye have despised the humble coining of the Son of God, because ye saw not in Him the pomp of the world: that they, whom he was calling, should put their hope in God alone, not in the things that pass away.
8. "Who will give salvation to Israel out of Sion?" (ver. 7). Who but He whose humiliation ye have despised? is understood. For He will come in glory to the judgment of the quick and the dead, and the kingdom of the just: that, forasmuch as in that humble coming "blindness hath happened in part unto Israel, that the fulness of the Gentiles might enter in,"(5) in that other should happen what follows, "and so all Israel should be saved." For the Apostle too takes that testimony of Isaiah, where it is said, "There shall come out of Sion He who shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:"(6) for the Jews, as it is here, "Who shall give salvation to Israel out of Sion?" "When the Lord shall turn away the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad."(7) It is a repetition, as is usual: for I suppose, "Israel shall be glad," is the same as, "Jacob shall rejoice."
A PSALM OF DAVID HIMSELF.
1. Touching this title there is no question. "0 Lord who shall sojourn in Thy tabernacle?" (ver. 1). Although tabernacle be sometimes used even for an everlasting habitation: yet when tabernacle is taken in its proper meaning, it is a thing of war. Hence soldiers are called tent-fellows,(9) as having their tents together. This sense is assisted by the words, "Who shall sojourn?" For we war with the devil for a time, and then we need a tabernacle wherein we may refresh ourselves. Which specially points out the faith of the temporal Dispensation, which was wrought for us in time through the Incarnation of the Lord. "And who shall rest in Thy holy mountain?" Here perhaps he signifies at once the eternal habitation itself,(10) that we should understand by "mountain" the supereminence of the love of Christ in life eternal.(11)
2. "He who walketh without stain, and worketh righteousness" (ver. 2). Here he has laid down the proposition; in what follows he sets it forth in detail.
3. "Who speaketh the truth in his heart." For some have truth on their lips, and not in their heart. As if one should deceitfully point out a road, knowing that there were robbers there, and should say, If you go this way, you will be safe from robbers; and it should turn out that in fact there were no robbers found there: he has spoken the truth, but not in his heart. For he supposed it to be otherwise, and spoke the truth in ignorance. Therefore it is not enough to speak the truth, unless it be so also in heart. "Who hath practised no deceit in his tongue" (vet. 3). Deceit is practised with the tongue, when one thing is professed with the mouth, another concealed in the breast. "Nor tone evil to his neighhour." It is well known that by "neighbour," every man should be understood. "And hath not entertained slander against his neighbour," that is, hath not readily or rashly given credence to an accuser.
4. "The malicious one hath been brought to nought in his sight"(1) (ver. 4). This is perfection, that the malicious one have no force against a man; and that this be "in his sight;" that is, that he know most surely that the malicious is not, save when the mind turns itself away from the eternal and immutable form(2) of her own Creator to the form of the creature, which was made out of nothing. "But those that fear the Lord, He glorifieth:" the Lord Himself, that is. Now "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."(3) As then the things above belong to the perfect, so what he is now going to say belongs to beginners.
5. "Who sweareth unto his neighbour, and deceiveth him not." "Who hath not given his money upon usury, and hath not taken rewards against the innocent" (ver. 5). These are no great things: but he who is not able to do even this, much less able is he to speak the truth in his heart, and to practise no deceit in his tongue, but as the truth is in the heart, so to profess and have it in his mouth, "yea, yea; nay, nay;"(4) and to do no evil to his neighbour, that is, to any man; and to entertain no slander against his neighbour: all which are the virtues of the perfect, in whose sight the malicious one hath been brought to nought. Yet he concludes even these lesser things thus, "Whoso doeth these things shall not be moved for ever:" that is, he shall attain unto those greater things, wherein is great and unshaken stability. For even the very tenses are, perhaps not without cause, so varied, as that in the conclusion above the past tense should be used, but in this the future. For there it was said, "The malicious one hath been brought to nought in his sight:"but here, "shall not be moved for ever."
THE INSCRIPTION OF THE TITLE, OF DAVID HIMSELF.(6)
1. Our King in this Psalm speaks in the character of the human(7) nature He assumed, of whom the royal title at the time of His passion was eminently set forth.
2. Now He saith as follows; "Preserve me, O Lord, for in Thee have I hoped" (ver. 1): "I have said to the Lord, Thou art my God, for Thou requirest not my goods" (ver. 2): for with my goods Thou dost not look to be made blessed.
3. "To the saints who are on His earth" (ver. 3): to the saints who have placed their hope in the laud of the living, the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, whose spiritual conversation is, by the anchor of hope, fixed in that country, which is rightly called God's earth; although as yet in this earth too they be conversant in the flesh. "He hath wonderfully fulfilled all My wishes in them." To those saints then He hath wonderfully fulfilled all My wishes in their advancement, whereby they have perceived, how both the humanity of My divinity hath profited them that I might die, and the divinity of the humanity that I might rise again.
4. "Their infirmities have been multiplied"(8) (ver. 4): their infirmities have been multiplied not for their destruction, but that they might long for the Physician. "Afterwards they made haste." Accordingly after infirmities multiplied they made haste, that they might be healed. "I will not gather together their assemblies by blood." For their assemblies shall not be carnal, nor will I gather them together as one propitiated by the blood of cattle.(9) "Nor will I be mindful of their names within My lips." But by a spiritual change what they have been shall be forgotten; nor by Me shall they be any more called either sinners, or enemies, or men; but righteous, and My brethren, and sons of God through My peace.
5. "The Lord is the portion of Mine inheritance, and of My cup" (ver. 5). For together with Me they shall possess the inheritance, the Lord Himself. Let others choose for themselves portions, earthly and temporal, to enjoy: the portion of the Saints is the Lord eternal. Let others drink of deadly pleasures, the portion of My cup is the Lord. In that I say, "Mine," I include the Church: for where the Head is, there is the body also. For into the inheritance will I gather together their assemblies, and by the inebriation of the cup I will forget their old names. "Thou art He who will restore to Me My inheritance:" that to these too, whom I free, may be known "the glory wherein I was with Thee before the world was made."(10) For Thou wilt not restore to Me that which I never lost, but Thou wilt restore to these, who have lost it, the knowledge of that glory: in whom because I am, Thou wilt restore to Me.
6. "The lines have fallen to me in glorious places" (ver. 6). The boundaries of my possession have fallen in Thy glory as it were by lot, like as God is the possession of the Priests and Levites.(11) "For Mine inheritance is glorious to Me." "For Mine inheritance is glorious," not to all, but to them that see; in whom because I am, "it is to Me."
7. "I will bless the Lord, who hath given Me understanding" (ver. 7): whereby this inheritance may be seen and possessed. "Yea moreover too even unto night my reins have chastened Me." Yea besides understanding, even unto death, My inferior part, the assumption of flesh, hath instructed Me, that I might experience the darkness of mortality, which that understanding hath not.
8. "I foresaw the Lord in My sight always" (ver. 8). But coming into things that pass away, I removed not Mine eye from Him who abideth ever, foreseeing this, that to Him I should return after passing through the things temporal. "For He is on My right hand, that I should not be moved." For He favoureth Me, that I should abide fixedly in Him.
9. "Wherefore My heart was glad, and My tongue exulted" (ver. 9). Wherefore both in My thoughts is gladness, and in my words exultation. "Moreover too My flesh shall rest in hope." Moreover too My flesh shall not fail unto destruction, but shall sleep in hope of the resurrection.
10. "For Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell" (ver. 10). For Thou wilt neither give My soul for a possession to those parts below. "Neither wilt Thou grant Thine Holy One to see corruption." Neither wilt Thou suffer that sanctified body, whereby others are to be also sanctified, to see corruption. "Thou hast made known to Me the paths of life" (ver. 11). Thou hast made known through Me the paths of humiliation, that(1) men might return to life, from whence they fell through pride; in whom because I am, "Thou hast made known to Me." "Thou wilt fill Me with joy with Thy countenance." Thou wilt fill them with joy, that they should seek nothing further, when they shall see Thee "face to face;" in whom because I am, "Thou wilt fill Me." "Pleasure is at Thy right hand even to the end." Pleasure is in Thy favour and mercy in this life's journey, leading on even to the end of the glory of Thy countenance.(2)
A PRAYER OF DAVID HIMSELF.
1. This prayer must be assigned to the Person of the Lord, with the addition of the Church, which is His body.
2. "Hear My righteousness, O God, consider My supplication" (ver. 1). "Hearken unto My prayer, not in deceitful lips:" not going forth to Thee in deceitful lips. "Let My judgment from Thy countenance go forth" (ver. 2). From the enlightening of the knowledge of Thee, let Me judge truth. Or at least, let My judgment go forth, not in deceitful lips, from Thy countenance, that is, that I may not in judging utter aught else than I understand in Thee. "Let Mine eyes see equity:" the eyes, of course, of the heart.
3. "Thou hast proved and visited Mine heart in the night season" (ver. 3). For this Mine heart hath been proved by the visitation of tribulation. "Thou hast examined Me by fire, and iniquity hath not been found in Me." Now not night only, in that it is wont to disturb, but fire also, in that it burns, is this tribulation to be called; whereby when I was examined I was found righteous.
4. "That My mouth may not speak the works of men" (ver. 4). That nothing may proceed out of My mouth, but what relates to Thy glory and praise; not to the works of men, which they do beside Thy will. "Because of the words of Thy lips."(4) Because of the words of Thy peace, or of Thy prophets. "I have kept hard ways." I have kept the toilsome ways of human mortality and suffering.
5. "To perfect My steps in Thy paths" (ver. 5). That the love of the Church might be perfected in the strait ways, whereby she arrives at Thy rest. "That My footsteps be not moved." That the signs of My way, which, like footsteps, have been imprinted on the Sacraments and Apostolical writings, be not moved, that they may mark them who would follow Me. Or at least, that I may still abide fixedly in eternity, after that I have accomplished the hard ways, and have finished My steps in the straits of Thy paths.
6. "I have cried out, for Thou hast heard Me, O God" (ver. 6). With a free and strong effort have I directed My prayers unto Thee: for that I might have this power, Thou hast heard Me when praying more weakly. "Incline Thine ear to Me, and hear My words." Let not Thy hearing forsake My humiliation.
7. "Make Thy mercies marvellous" (ver. 7). Let not Thy mercies be disesteemed, lest they be loved too little.
8. "Who savest them that hope in Thee from such as resist Thy right hand:" from such as resist the favour, whereby Thou favourest Me. "Keep Me, O Lord, as the apple of Thine eye" (ver. 8): which seems very little and minute: yet by it is the sight of the eye directed, whereby the light is distinguished from the darkness; as by Christ's humanity, the divinity of the Judgment s distinguishing between the righteous and sinners. "In the covering of Thy wings protect Me." In the defence of Thy love and mercy protect Me. "From the face of the ungodly who have troubled Me" (ver. 9).
9. "Mine enemies have compassed about My soul;" "they have shut up their own fat" (ver.10). They have been covered with their own gross joy, after that their desire hath been satiated with wickedness. "Their mouth hath spoken pride." And therefore their mouth spoke pride, in saying, "Hail, King of the Jews,"(1) and other like words.
10. "Casting Me forth they have now compassed Me about" (ver. 11). Casting Me forth outside the city, they have now compassed Me about on the Cross. "Their eyes they have determined to turn down on the earth." The bent of their heart they have determined to turn down on these earthly things: deeming Him, who was slain, to endure a mighty evil, and themselves, that slew Him, none.
11. "As a lion ready for prey, have they taken Me" (ver. 12). They have taken Me, like that adversary who "walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."(2) "And as a lion's whelp dwelling in secret places." And as his whelp, the people to whom it was said, "Ye are of your father the devil:"(3) meditating on the snares, whereby they might circumvent and destroy the just One.
12. "Arise, O Lord, prevent them, and cast them down" (ver. 13). Arise, O Lord, Thou whom they suppose to be asleep, and regardless of men's iniquities; be they blinded before by their own malice, that vengeance may prevent their deed; and so cast them down.
13. "Deliver My soul from the ungodly." Deliver My soul, by restoring Me after the death, which the ungodly have inflicted on Me. "Thy weapon: from the enemies of Thine hand" (ver. 14). For My soul is Thy weapon, which Thy hand, that is, Thy eternal Power, hath taken to subdue thereby the kingdoms of iniquity, and divide the righteous from the ungodly. This weapon then "deliver from the enemies of Thine hand" that is of Thy Power that is from Mine enemies. "Destroy them, O Lord, from off the earth, scatter them in their life." O Lord, destroy them from off the earth, which they inhabit, scatter them throughout the world in this life, which only they think their life, who(4) despair of life eternal. "And by Thy hidden things their belly hath been filled." Now not only this visible punishment shall overtake them, but also their memory hath been filled with sins, which as darkness are hidden from the light of Thy truth, that they should forget God. "They have been filled with swine's flesh." They have been filled with uncleanness, treading under foot the pearls of God's words. "And they have left the rest to their babes:" crying out, "This sin be upon us and upon our children."(5)
14. "But I shall appear in Thy righteousness in Thy sight" (ver. 15 ). But I, Who have not appeared to them that, with their filthy and darkened heart, cannot see the light of wisdom, "I shall appear in Thy righteousness in Thy sight."
I shall be satiated, when Thy glory shall be manifested." And when they have been satiated with their uncleanness, that they could not know Me, I shall be satiated, when Thy glory shall be manifested, in them that know Me. In that verse indeed where it is said, "filled with swine's flesh," some copies have, "filled with children:" for from the ambiguity of the Greek(6) a double interpretation has resulted. Now by "children" we understand works; and as by good children, good works, so by evil, evil.
TO THE END, FOR THE SERVANT OF THE LORD, DAVID HIMSELF.
1. That is, for the strong of hand, Christ in His Manhood.(8) "The words of this song which he spoke to the Lord on the day when the Lord delivered him out of the hands of his enemies, and of the hand of Saul; and he said, On the day when the Lord delivered him out of the hands of his enemies and of the hand of Saul:" namely, the king of the Jews, whom they had demanded for themselves.(9) For as "David" is said to be by interpretation, strong of hand; so "Saul" is said to be demanding. Now it is well known, how that People demanded for themselves a king, and received him for their king, not according to the will of God, but according to their own will.
2. Christ, then, and the Church, that is, whole Christ, the Head and the Body, saith here, "I will love Thee, O Lord, My strength" (ver. 1). I will love Thee, O Lord, by whom I am strong.(10)
3. "O Lord, My stay, and My refuge, and My deliverer" (ver. 2). O Lord, who hast stayed Me, because I sought refuge with Thee: and I sought refuge, because Thou hast delivered Me. "My God is My helper; and I will hope in Him." My God, who hast first afforded me the help of Thy call, that I might be able to hope in Thee. "My defender, and the horn of My salvation, and My redeemer." My defender, because I have not leant upon Myself, lifting up as it were the horn of pride against Thee; but have found Thee a horn indeed, that is, the sure height of salvation: and that I might find it, Thou redeemedst Me. 4. "With praise will I call upon the Lord, and I shall be safe from Mine enemies" (ver. 3). Seeking not My own but the Lord's glory, I will call upon Him, and there shall be no means whereby the errors of ungodliness can hurt Me.
5. "The pains of death," that is, of the flesh, have "compassed Me about. And the overflowings of ungodliness have troubled Me" (ver. 4). Ungodly troubles(1)stirred up for a time, like torrents of rain which will soon subside, have come on to trouble Me.
6. "The pains of hell compassed Me about" (ver. 5). Among those that compassed Me about to destroy Me, were pains of envy, which work death, and lead on to the hell of sin. "The snares of death prevented Me." They prevented Me, so that they wished to hurt Me first, which shall afterwards be recompensed unto them. Now they seize unto destruction such men as they have evilly persuaded by the boast of righteousness: in the name but not in the reality of which they glory against the Gentiles.
7. "And in Mine oppression I called upon the Lord, and cried unto My God. And He heard My voice from His holy temple" (ver. 6). He heard from My heart, wherein He dwelleth, My voice. "And My cry in His sight entered into His ears;" and My cry, which I utter, not in the ears of men, but inwardly before Him Himself, "entered into His ears."
8. "And the earth was moved and trembled" (ver. 7). When the Son of Man was thus glorified, sinners were moved and trembled. "And the foundations of the mountains were troubled." And the hopes of the proud, which were in this life, were troubled. "And were moved, for God was wroth with them." That is, that the hope of temporal goods might have now no more establishment in the hearts of men.
9. "There went up smoke in His wrath" (ver. 8). The tearful supplication of penitents went up, when they came to know God's threatenings against the ungodly. "And fire burneth from His face." And the ardour of love after repentance burns by the knowledge of Him. "Coals were kindled from Him." They, who were already dead, abandoned by the fire of good desire and the light of righteousness, and who remained in coldness and darkness, re-enkindled and enlightened, have come to life again.
10. "And He bowed the heaven, and came down" (ver. 9). And He humbled the just One, that He might descend to men's infirmity. "And darkness under His feet." And the ungodly, who savour of things earthly, in the darkness of their own malice, knew not Him: for the earth under His feet is as it were His footstool.
11. "And He mounted above the cherubim, and did fly" (ver. 10). And He was exalted above the fulness of knowledge, that no man should come to Him but by love: for "love is the fulfilling of the law."(2) And full soon He showed to His lovers that He is incomprehensible, lest they should suppose that He is comprehended by corporeal imaginations. "He flew above the wings of the winds." But that swiftness, whereby He showed Himself to be incomprehensible, is above the powers of souls, whereon as upon wings they raise themselves from earthly fears into the air of liberty.
12. "And hath made darkness His hiding place" (ver. 11). And hath settled the obscurity of the Sacraments, and the hidden hope in the heart of believers, where He may lie hid, and not abandon them. In this darkness too, wherein "we yet walk by faith, and not by sight,"(3) as long as "we hope for what we see not, and with patience wait for it."(4) Round about Him is His tabernacle." Yet they that believe Him turn to Him and encircle Him; for that He is in the midst of them, since He is equally the friend of all, in whom as in a tabernacle He at this time dwells. "Dark water in clouds of air." Nor let any one on this account, if he understand the Scripture, imagine that he is already in that light, which will be when we shall have come out of faith into sight: for in the prophets and in all the preachers of the word of God there is obscure teaching.
13. "In respect of the brightness in His sight" (ver. 12): in comparison with the brightness, which is in the sight of His manifestation. "His clouds have passed over." The preachers of His word are not now bounded by the confines of Judaea, but have passed over to the Gentiles. "Hail and coals of fire." Reproofs are figured,(5) whereby, as by hail, the hard hearts are bruised: but if a cultivated and genial soil, that is, a godly mind, receive them, the hail's hardness dissolves into water, that is, the terror of the lightning-charged,(6) and as it were frozen, reproof dissolves into satisfying doctrine; and hearts kindled by the fire of love revive. All these things in His clouds have passed over to the Gentiles.
14. "And the Lord hath thundered from heaven" (ver. 13). And in confidence of the Gospel the Lord hath sounded forth from the heart of the just One. "And the Highest gave His voice;" that we might entertain it, and in the depth of human things, might hear things heavenly.
15. "And He sent out His arrows, and scattered them" (ver. 14). And He sent out Evangelists traversing straight paths on the wings of strength, not in their own power, but His by whom they were sent. And "He scattered them," to whom they were sent, that to some of them they should be "the savour of life unto life, to others the savour of death unto death."(1) "And He multiplied lightnings, and troubled them." And He multiplied miracles, and troubled them.
16. "And the fountains of water were seen. And the fountains of water springing up into everlasting life,"(2) which were made in the preachers, were seen. "And the foundations of the round world were revealed" (ver. 15). And the Prophets, who were not understood, and upon whom was to be built the world of believers in the Lord, were revealed. "At Thy chiding, O Lord:" crying out, "The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you."(3) "At the blasting of the breath of Thy displeasure;" saying, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."(4)
17. "He hath sent down from on high, and hath fetched Me (ver. 16): by calling out of the Gentiles for an inheritance "a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle."(5) "He hath taken Me out of the multitude of waters." He hath taken Me out of the multitude of peoples.
18. "He hath delivered Me from My strongest enemies" (ver. 17). He hath delivered Me from Mine enemies, who prevailed to the afflicting and overturning of this temporal life of Mine. "And from them which hate Me; for they are too strong for Me:" as long as I am under them knowing not God.
19. "They have prevented Me in the day of My affliction" (ver. 18). They have first injured Me, in the time when I am bearing a mortal and toilsome body. "And the Lord hath become My stay." And since the stay of earthly pleasure was disturbed and torn up by the bitterness of misery, the Lord hath become My stay.
20. "And hath brought Me forth into a broad place" (ver. 19). And since I was enduring the straits of the flesh, He brought Me forth into the spiritual breadth of faith. "He hath delivered Me, because He desired Me." Before that I desired Him, He delivered Me from My most powerful enemies (who were envious of Me when I once desired Him), and from them that hated Me, because I do desire Him.
21. "And the Lord shall reward Me according to My righteousness" (vet. 20). And the Lord shall reward Me according to the righteousness of My good will, who first showed mercy, before that I had the good will. "And according to the cleanness of My hands He will recompense Me." And according to the cleanness of My deeds He will recompense Me, who hath given Me to do well by bringing Me forth into the broad place of faith.
22. "Because I have kept the ways of the Lord" (ver. 21). That the breadth of good works, that are by faith, and the long-suffering of perseverance should follow after.
23. "Nor have I walked impiously apart from My God." "For all His judgments are(6) in My sight" (ver. 22). "For" with persevering contemplation I weigh "all His judgments," that is, the rewards of the righteous, and the punishments of the ungodly, and the scourges of such as are to be chastened, and the trials of such as are to be proved. "And I have not cast out His righteousness from Me:" as they do that faint under their burden of them, and return to their own vomit.
24. "And I shall be undefiled with Him, and I shall keep Myself from Mine iniquity" (ver. 23 ).
25. "And the Lord shall reward Me according to My righteousness (ver. 24). Accordingly not only for the breadth of faith, which worketh by love; but also for the length of perseverance, will the Lord reward Me according to My righteousness. "And according to the cleanness of My hands in the sight of His eyes." Not as men see, but "in the sight of His eyes." For "the things that are seen are temporal; but the things that are not seen are eternal:"(7) whereto the height of hope appertains.
26. "With the holy Thou shalt be holy" (ver. 25). There is a hidden depth also, wherein Thou art known to be holy with the holy, for that Thou makest holy. "And with the harmless Thou shalt be harmless." For Thou harmest no man, but each one is bound by the bands of his own sins.(8)
27. "And with the chosen Thou shalt be chosen." (ver. 26). And by him whom Thou choosest, Thou art chosen. "And with the froward Thou shalt be froward." And with the froward Thou seemest froward: for they say, "The way of the Lord is not right: "(9) and their way is not right.
28. "For Thou wilt make whole the humble people" (ver. 27). Now this seems froward to the froward, that Thou wilt make them whole that confess their sins. "And Thou wilt humble the eyes of the proud." But them that are "ignorant of God's righteousness, and seek to establish their own,"(10) Thou wilt humble.
29. "For thou wilt light My candle, O Lord" (ver. 28). For our light is not from ourselves; but "Thou wilt light my candle, O Lord. O my God, Thou wilt enlighten my darkness." For we through our sins are darkness; but "Thou, O my God, wilt enlighten my darkness."
30. "For by Thee shall I be delivered from temptation" (ver. 29). For not by myself, but by Thee, shall I be delivered from temptation. "And in my God shall I leap over the wall." And not in myself, but in my God shall I leap over the wall, which sin has raised between men and the heavenly Jerusalem.
31. "My God, His way is undefiled "(ver. 30). My God cometh not unto men, except they shall have purified the way of faith, whereby He may come to them; for that" His way is undefiled." "The words of the Lord have been proved by fire." The words of the Lord are tried by the fire of tribulation. "He is the Protector of them that hope in Him." And all that hope not in themselves, but in Him, are not consumed by that same tribulation. For hope followeth faith.
32. "For who is God, but the Lord?" (ver. 31) whom we serve. "And who God, but our God?" And who is God, but the Lord? whom after good service we sons shall possess as the hoped-for inheritance.
33. "God, who hath girded me with strength" (ver. 32). God, who hath girded me that I might be strong, lest the loosely flowing folds of desire hinder my deeds and steps. "And hath made my way undefiled." And hath made the way of love, whereby I may come to Him, undefiled, as the way of faith is undefiled, whereby He comes to me.
34. "Who hath made my feet perfect like harts' feet" (ver. 33). Who hath made my love perfect to surmount the thorny and dark entanglements of this world. "And will set me up on high." And will fix my aim on the heavenly habitation, that "I may be filled with all the fulness of God."(1)
35. "Who teacheth my hands for battle" (ver. 34). Who teacheth me to work for the overthrow of mine enemies, who strive to shut the kingdom of heaven against us. "And Thou hast made mine arms as a bow of steel." And Thou hast made my earnest striving after good works unwearied.
36. "And Thou hast given me the defence of my salvation, and Thy right hand hath held me up" (ver. 35). And the favour of Thy grace hath held me up. "And Thy discipline hath directed me to the end." And Thy correction, not suffering me to wander from the way, hath directed me that whatsoever I do, I refer to that end, whereby I may cleave to Thee. "And this Thy discipline, it shall teach me." And that same correction of Thine shall teach me to attain to that, whereunto it hath directed me.
37. "Thou hast enlarged my steps under me" (ver. 36). Nor shall the straits of the flesh hinder me; for Thou hast enlarged my love, working in gladness even with these mortal things and members which are under me. "And my footsteps have not been weakened." And either my goings, or the marks which I have imprinted for the imitation of those that follow, have not been weakened.
38. "I will follow up mine enemies, and seize them" (ver. 37). I will follow up my carnal affections, and will not be seized by them, but will seize them, so that they may be consumed. "And I will not turn, till they fail." And from this purpose I will not turn myself to rest, till they fail who make a tumult about me.
39. "I will break them, and they shall not be able to stand" (ver. 38): and they shall not hold out against me. "They shall fall under my feet." When they are cast down, I will place before me the loves(2) whereby I walk for evermore.
40. "And Thou hast girded me with strength to the war" (ver. 39). And the loose desires of my flesh hast Thou bound up with strength, that in such a fight I may not be encumbered. "Thou hast supplanted under me them that rose up against me." Thou hast caused them to be deceived, who followed upon me, that they should be brought under me, who desired to be over me.
41. "And thou hast given mine enemies the back to me" (ver. 40). And thou hast turned mine enemies, and hast made them to be a back to me, that is, to follow me. "And Thou hast destroyed them that hate me." But such other of them as have persisted in hatred, Thou hast destroyed.
42. "They have cried out, and there was none to save them" (ver. 41). For who can save them, whom Thou wouldest not save? "To the Lord, and He did not hear them." Nor did they cry out to any chance one, but to the Lord: and He did not judge them worthy of being heard, who depart not from their wickedness.
43. "And I will beat them as small as dust before the face of the wind" (ver. 42). And I will beat them small; for dry they are, receiving not the shower of God's mercy; that borne aloft and puffed up with pride they may be hurried along from firm and unshaken hope, and as it were from the earth's solidity and stability. "As the clay of the streets I will destroy them." In their wanton and loose course along the broad ways of perdition, which many walk, will I destroy them.
44. "Thou wilt deliver Me from the contradictions of the people" (ver. 43). Thou wilt deliver Me from the contradictions of them who said, "If we send Him away, all the world will go after Him."(1)
45. "Thou shall make Me the head of the Gentiles. A people whom I have not known have served Me." The people of the Gentiles, whom in bodily presence I have not visited, have served Me. "At the hearing of the ear they have obeyed Me" (ver. 44). They have not seen Me with the eye: but, receiving my preachers, at the hearing of the ear they have obeyed Me.
46. "The strange children have lied unto Me." Children, not to be called Mine, but rather strange children, to whom it is rightly said, "Ye are of your father the devil,"(2) have lied unto Me. "The strange children have waxen old" (ver. 45). The strange children, to whom for their renovation I brought the new Testament, have remained in the old man. "And they have halted from their own paths." And like those that are weak in one foot, for holding the old they have rejected the new Testament, they have become halt, even in their old Law, rather following their own traditions, than God's. For they brought frivolous charges of unwashen hands,(3) because such were the paths, which themselves had made and worn by long use, in wandering from the ways of God's commands.
47. "The Lord liveth, and blessed be my God." "But to be carnally minded is death:"(4) for "the Lord liveth, and blessed be my God. And let the God of my salvation be exalted" (ver. 46). And let me not think after an earthly fashion of the God of my salvation; nor look from Him for this earthly salvation, but that on high.
48. "O God, who givest Me vengeance, and subduest the people under Me" (ver. 47). O God, who avengest Me by subduing the people under Me. "My Deliverer from My angry enemies:" the Jews crying out, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him."(5)
49. "From them that rise up against Me Thou wilt exalt Me" (ver. 48). From the Jews that rise up against Me in My passion, Thou wilt exalt Me in My resurrection. "From the unjust man Thou wilt deliver Me."From their unjust rule Thou wilt deliver Me.
50. "For this cause will I confess to Thee among the Gentiles, O Lord" (ver. 49). For this cause shall the Gentiles confess to Thee through Me, O Lord. "And I will sing unto Thy Name." And Thou shall be more widely known by My good deeds.
51. "Magnifying the salvation of His King" (ver. 50). God, who magnifieth, so as to make wonderful, the salvation, which His Son giveth to believers.(6) "And showing mercy to His Christ: "God, who showeth mercy to His Christ: "To David and to His seed for evermore:" to the Deliverer Himself strong of hand, who hath overcome this world; and to them whom, as believers in the Gospel, He hath begotten for evermore. What things soever are spoken in this Psalm which cannot apply to the Lord Himself personally, that is to the Head of the Church, must be referred to the Church. For whole Christ speaks here, in whom are all His members.
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