St. Aurelius Augustine

 

       Expositions on the Psalms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                Digital Psalms version 2007 (public domain)

 

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    St. Aurelius Augustin on the Psalms

 

Compiled from the public domain on the Internet with great thanks to the

work of Harry Plantinga and the board of the Christian Classics Ethereal

Library, an incredible useful digital library residing at Calvin College.

http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF1-08/TOC.htm

 

Also New Advent at: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1801.htm

which also has full text of many of the church fathers.

 

Augustine’s commentary on Psalms has also been recently been published in

a series of 3 volumes available at www.Amazon.com from New City Press,

2000-4 under the title Expositions of the Psalms (vols. 1-3) ed. by John

Rotelle, Maria Boulding and Michael Fiedrowicz (ca. $16 paperback). It is

also available in the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers classic series of the

Church Fathers. St. Augustine vol. 8 is on the volume on the Psalms

published by Eerdmans. The Greek font used is Greekth.ttf freely available

at: http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/index.cfm

 

 

This electronic version was compiled from online sources in January 2007

by Ted Hildebrandt. – Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Table of Contents: Augustine Psalms:

 

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,

 

11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,

 

21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30,

 

31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40,

 

41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50,

 

51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60,

 

61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 69, 70,

 

71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 80,

 

81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90,

 

91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100,

 

101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110,

 

111, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120,

 

121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 128, 129, 130,

 

131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 136, 137, 138, 139, 140,

 

141, 142, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150.

 

 

 

 

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                                                 Psalm 1                                                               4

 

                                   Exposition on Psalm 1

 

1. "Blessed is the man that has not gone away in the counsel of the ungodly" (ver.

1). This is to be understood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Man. "Blessed is

the man that has not gone away in the counsel of the ungodly," as "the man of

earth did," 1 Corinthians 15:47 who consented to his wife deceived by the serpent,

to the transgressing the commandment of God. "Nor stood in the way of sinners."

For He came indeed in the way of sinners, by being born as sinners are; but He

"stood" not therein, for that the enticements of the world held Him not. "And has

not sat in the seat of pestilence." He willed not an earthly kingdom, with pride,

which is well taken for "the seat of pestilence;" for that there is hardly any one

who is free from the love of rule, and craves not human glory. For a "pestilence" is

disease widely spread, and involving all or nearly all. Yet "the seat of pestilence"

may be more appropriately understood of hurtful doctrine; "whose word spreads as

a canker." 2 Timothy 2:17 The order too of the words must be considered: "went

away, stood, sat." For he "went away," when he drew back from God. He "stood,"

when he took pleasure in sin. He "sat," when, confirmed in his pride, he could not

go back, unless set free by Him, who neither "has gone away in the counsel of the

ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the seat of pestilence."

 

2. "But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law will he meditate by day

and by night (ver. 2). The law is not made for a righteous man," 1 Timothy 1:9

says the Apostle. But it is one thing to be in the law, another under the law. Whoso

is in the law, acts according to the law; whoso is under the law, is acted upon

according to the law: the one therefore is free, the other a slave. Again, the law,

which is written and imposed upon the servant, is one thing; the law, which is

mentally discerned by him who needs not its "letter," is another thing. "He will

meditate by day and by night," is to be understood either as without ceasing; or

"by day" in joy, "by night" in tribulations. For it is said, "Abraham saw my day,

and was glad:" John 8:5-6 and of tribulation it is said, "my reins also have

instructed me, even unto the night."

 

3. "And he shall be like a tree planted hard by the running streams of waters" (ver.

3); that is either Very "Wisdom," Proverbs viii which vouchsafed to assume man's

nature for our salvation; that as man He might be "the tree planted hard by the

running streams of waters;" for in this sense can that too be taken which is said in

another Psalm, "the river of God is full of water." Or by the Holy Ghost, of whom

it is said, "He shall baptize you in the Holy Ghost;" Matthew 3:11 and again, "If

any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink;" John 7:37 and again, "If you

knew the gift of God, and who it is that asks water of you, you would have asked

 

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                                                    Psalm 1                                                          5

 

of Him, and He would have given you living water, of which whoso drinks shall

never thirst, but it shall be made in him a well of water springing up into

everlasting life." Or, "by the running streams of waters" may be by the sins of the

people, because first the waters are called "peoples" in the Apocalypse;

Revelation 17:15 and again, by "running stream" is not unreasonably understood

"fall," which has relation to sin. That "tree" then, that is, our Lord, from the

running streams of water, that is, from the sinful people's drawing them by the way

into the roots of His discipline, will "bring forth fruit," that is, will establish

Churches; "in His season," that is, after He has been glorified by His Resurrection

and Ascension into heaven. For then, by the sending of the Holy Ghost to the

Apostles, and by the confirming of their faith in Him, and their mission to the

world, He made the Churches to "bring forth fruit." "His leaf also shall not fall,"

that is, His Word shall not be in vain. For, "all flesh is grass, and the glory of man

as the flower of grass; the grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the

Lord abides for ever. Isaiah 40:6-8 And whatsoever He does shall prosper" that is,

whatsoever that tree shall bear; which all must be taken of fruit and leaves, that is,

deeds and words.

 

4. "The ungodly are not so," they are not so, "but are like the dust which the wind

casts forth from the face of the earth" (ver. 4). "The earth" is here to be taken as

that steadfastness in God, with a view to which it is said, "The Lord is the portion

of mine inheritance, yea, I have a goodly heritage." With a view to this it is said,

"Wait on the Lord and keep His ways, and He shall exalt you to inherit the earth."

With a view to this it is said, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the

earth." Matthew 5:5 A comparison too is derived hence, for as this visible earth

supports and contains the outer man, so that earth invisible the inner man. "From

the face of" which "earth the wind casts forth the ungodly," that is, pride, in that it

puffs him up. On his guard against which he, who was inebriated by the richness

of the house of the Lord, and drunken of the torrent stream of its pleasures, says,

"Let not the foot of pride come against me." From this earth pride cast forth him

who said, "I will place my seat in the north, and I will be like the Most High."

Isaiah 14:13-14 From the face of the earth it cast forth him also who, after that he

had consented and tasted of the forbidden tree that he might be as God, hid himself

from the Face of God. Genesis 3:8 That his earth has reference to the inner man,

and that man is cast forth thence by pride, may be particularly seen in that which is

written, "Why is earth and ashes proud? Because, in his life, he cast forth his

bowels." Sirach 10:9 For, whence he has been cast forth, he is not unreasonably

said to have cast forth himself.

 

5. "Therefore the ungodly rise not in the judgment" (ver. 5): "therefore," namely,

because "as dust they are cast forth from the face of the earth." And well did he

say that this should be taken away from them, which in their pride they court,

namely, that they may judge; so that this same idea is more clearly expressed in

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                                                     Psalm 1                                                              6

 

the following sentence, "nor sinners in the counsel of the righteous." For it is usual

for what goes before, to be thus repeated more clearly. So that by "sinners" should

be understood the "ungodly;" what is before "in the judgment," should be here "in

the counsel of the righteous." Or if indeed the ungodly are one thing, and sinners

another, so that although every ungodly man is a sinner, yet every sinner is not

ungodly; "The ungodly rise not in the judgment," that is, they shall rise indeed, but

not that they should be judged, for they are already appointed to most certain

punishment. But "sinners" do not rise "in counsel of the just," that is, that they

may judge, but peradventure that they may be judged; so as of these it were said,

"The fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, he

shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall then suffer loss:

but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."

 

6. "For the Lord knows the way of the righteous" (ver. 6). As it is said, medicine

knows health, but knows not disease, and yet disease is recognised by the art of

medicine. In like manner can it be said that "the Lord knows the way of the

righteous," but the way of the ungodly He knows not. Not that the Lord is ignorant

of anything, and yet He says to sinners, "I never knew you." Matthew 7:23 "But

the way of the ungodly shall perish;" is the same as if it were said, the way of the

ungodly the Lord knows not. But it is expressed more plainly that this should be

not to be known of the Lord, namely, to "perish;" and this to be known of the

Lord, namely, to "abide;" so as that to be should appertain to the knowledge of

God, but to His not knowing not to be. For the Lord says, "I Am that I Am," and,

"I Am has sent me."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                 Psalm 2                                                                 7

 

                                   Exposition on Psalm 2

 

1. "Why do the heathen rage, and the people meditate vain things?" (ver. 1). "The

kings of the earth have stood up, and the rulers taken counsel together, against the

Lord, and against His Christ" (ver. 2). It is said, "why?" as if it were said, in vain.

For what they wished, namely, Christ's destruction, they accomplished not; for this

is spoken of our Lord's persecutors, of whom also mention is made in the Acts of

the Apostles. Acts 4:26

 

2. "Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their yoke from us" (ver. 3).

Although it admits of another acceptation, yet is it more fitly understood as in the

person of those who are said to "meditate vain things." So that "let us break their

bonds asunder, and cast away their yoke from us," may be, let us do our

endeavour, that the Christian religion do not bind us, nor be imposed upon us.

 

3. "He that dwells in the heavens shall laugh them to scorn, and the Lord shall

have them in derision" (ver. 4). The sentence is repeated; for "He who dwells in

the heavens," is afterwards put, "the Lord;" and for "shall laugh them to scorn," is

afterwards put, "shall have them in derision." Nothing of this however must be

taken in a carnal sort, as if God either laughs with cheek, or derides with nostril;

but it is to be understood of that power which He gives to His saints, that they

seeing things to come, namely, that the Name and rule of Christ is to pervade

posterity and possess all nations, should understand that those men "meditate a

vain thing." For this power whereby these things are foreknown is God's

"laughter" and "derision." "He that dwells in the heavens shall laugh them to

scorn." If by "heavens" we understand holy souls, by these God, as foreknowing

what is to come, will "laugh them to scorn, and have them in derision."

 

4. "Then He shall speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore

displeasure" (ver. 5). For showing more clearly how He will "speak unto them," he

added, He will "vex them;" so that "in His wrath," is, "in His sore displeasure."

But by the "wrath and sore displeasure" of the Lord God must not be understood

any mental perturbation; but the might whereby He most justly avenges, by the

subjection of all creation to His service. For that is to be observed and

remembered which is written in the Wisdom of Solomon, "But You, Lord of

power, judgest with tranquillity, and with great favour orderest us." Wisdom 12:18

The "wrath" of God then is an emotion which is produced in the soul which knows

the law of God, when it sees this same law transgressed by the sinner. For by this

emotion of righteous souls many things are avenged. Although the "wrath" of God

can be well understood of that darkening of the mind, which overtakes those who

transgress the law of God.

 

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                                                          Psalm 2                                                    8

 

5. "Yet am I set by Him as King upon Sion, His holy hill, preaching His decree"

(ver. 6). This is clearly spoken in the Person of the very Lord our Saviour Christ.

But if Sion signify, as some interpret, beholding, we must not understand it of

anything rather than of the Church, where daily is the desire raised of beholding

the bright glory of God, according to that of the Apostle, "but we with open face

beholding the glory of the Lord." 2 Corinthians 3:18 Therefore the meaning of this

is, Yet I am set by Him as King over His holy Church; which for its eminence and

stability He calls a mountain. "Yet I am set by Him as King." I, that is, whose

"bands" they were meditating "to break asunder," and whose "yoke" to "cast

away." "Preaching His decree." Who does not see the meaning of this, seeing it is

daily practised?

 

6. "The Lord has said unto me, You are My Son, today have I begotten You" (ver.

7). Although that day may also seem to be prophetically spoken of, on which Jesus

Christ was born according to the flesh; and in eternity there is nothing past as if it

had ceased to be, nor future as if it were not yet, but present only, since whatever

is eternal, always is; yet as "today" intimates presentiality, a divine interpretation

is given to that expression, "Today have I begotten You," whereby the uncorrupt

and Catholic faith proclaims the eternal generation of the power and Wisdom of

God, who is the Only-begotten Son.

 

7. "Ask of Me, and I shall give You the nations for Your inheritance" (ver. 8). This

has at once a temporal sense with reference to the Manhood which He took on

Himself, who offered up Himself as a Sacrifice in the stead of all sacrifices, who

also makes intercession for us; so that the words, "ask of Me," may be referred to

all this temporal dispensation, which has been instituted for mankind, namely, that

the "nations" should be joined to the Name of Christ, and so be redeemed from

death, and possessed by God. "I shall give You the nations for Your inheritance,"

which so possess them for their salvation, and to bear unto You spiritual fruit.

"And the uttermost parts of the earth for Your possession." The same repeated,

"The uttermost parts of the earth," is put for "the nations;" but more clearly, that

we might understand all the nations. And "Your possession" stands for "Your

inheritance."

 

8. "You shall rule them with a rod of iron," with inflexible justice, and "You shall

break them like a potter's vessel" (ver. 9); that is, "You shall break" in them

earthly lusts, and the filthy doings of the old man, and whatsoever has been

derived and inured from the sinful clay. "And now understand, you kings" (ver.

10). "And now;" that is, being now renewed, your covering of clay worn out, that

is, the carnal vessels of error which belong to your past life, "now understand," ye

who now are "kings;" that is, able now to govern all that is servile and brutish in

you, able now too to fight, not as "they who beat the air, but chastening your

bodies, and bringing them into subjection." 1 Corinthians 9:26-27 "Be instructed,

 

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                                                     Psalm 2                                                         9

 

all you who judge the earth." This again is a repetition; "Be instructed" is instead

of "understand;" and "ye who judge the earth" instead of "ye kings." For He

signifies the spiritual by "those who judge the earth." For whatsoever we judge, is

below us; and whatsoever is below the spiritual man, is with good reason called

"the earth;" because it is defiled with earthly corruption.

 

9. "Serve the Lord with fear;" lest what is said, "You kings and judges of the

earth," turn into pride: "And rejoice with trembling" (ver. 11). Very excellently is

"rejoice" added, lest "serve the Lord with fear" should seem to tend to misery. But

again, lest this same rejoicing should run on to unrestrained inconsiderateness,

there is added "with trembling," that it might avail for a warning, and for the

careful guarding of holiness. It can also be taken thus, "And now ye kings

understand;" that is, And now that I am set as King, be ye not sad, kings of the

earth, as if your excellency were taken from you, but rather "understand and be

instructed." For it is expedient for you, that you should be under Him, by whom

understanding and instruction are given you. And this is expedient for you, that

you lord it not with rashness, but that you "serve the Lord" of all "with fear," and

"rejoice" in bliss most sure and most pure, with all caution and carefulness, lest ye

fall therefrom into pride.

 

10. "Lay hold of discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and you perish

from the righteous way" (ver. 12). This is the same as, "understand," and, "be

instructed." For to understand and be instructed, this is to lay hold of discipline.

Still in that it is said, "lay hold of," it is plainly enough intimated that there is some

protection and defence against all things which might do hurt unless with so great

carefulness it be laid hold of. "Lest at any time the Lord be angry," is expressed

with a doubt, not as regards the vision of the prophet to whom it is certain, but as

regards those who are warned; for they, to whom it is not openly revealed, are

wont to think with doubt of the anger of God. This then they ought to say to

themselves, let us "lay hold of discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and

we perish from the righteous way." Now, how "the Lord be angry" is to be taken,

has been said above. And "ye perish from the righteous way." This is a great

punishment, and dreaded by those who have had any perception of the sweetness

of righteousness; for he who perishes from the way of righteousness, in much

misery will wander through the ways of unrighteousness.

 

11. "When His anger shall be shortly kindled, blessed are all they who put their

trust in Him;" that is, when the vengeance shall come which is prepared for the

ungodly and for sinners, not only will it not light on those "who put their trust in"

the Lord, but it will even avail for the foundation and exaltation of a kingdom for

them. For he said not, "When His anger shall be shortly kindled," safe "are all they

who put their trust in Him," as though they should have this only thereby, to be

exempt from punishment; but he said, "blessed;" in which there is the sum and

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                                                  Psalm 2                                                       10

 

accumulation of all good things. Now the meaning of "shortly" I suppose to be

this, that it will be something sudden, while sinners will deem it far off and long to

come.


                                                      Psalm 3                                                   11

 

                                       Exposition on Psalm 3

 

A psalm of David, when he fled from the face of Absalom his son.

 

1. The words, "I slept, and took rest; and rose, for the Lord will take me up," lead

us to believe that this Psalm is to be understood as in the Person of Christ; for they

sound more applicable to the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord, than to that

history in which David's flight is described from the face of his rebellious son.

And, since it is written of Christ's disciples, "The sons of the bridegroom fast not

as long as the bridegroom is with them;" Matthew 9:15 it is no wonder if by his

undutiful son be here meant that undutiful disciple who betrayed Him. From

whose face although it may be understood historically that He fled, when on his

departure He withdrew with the rest to the mountain; yet in a spiritual sense, when

the Son of God, that is the Power and Wisdom of God, abandoned the mind of

Judas; when the Devil wholly occupied him; as it is written, "The Devil entered

into his heart," John 13:27 may it be well understood that Christ fled from his

face; not that Christ gave place to the Devil, but that on Christ's departure the

Devil took possession. Which departure, I suppose, is called a flight in this Psalm,

because of its quickness; which is indicated also by the word of our Lord, saying,

"That you do, do quickly." John 13:27 So even in common conversation we say of

anything that does not come to mind, it has fled from me; and of a man of much

learning we say, nothing flies from him. Wherefore truth fled from the mind of

Judas, when it ceased to enlighten him. But Absalom, as some interpret, in the

Latin tongue signifies, Patris pax, a father's peace. And it may seem strange,

whether in the history of the kings, when Absalom carried on war against his

father; or in the history of the New Testament, when Judas was the betrayer of our

Lord; how "father's peace" can be understood. But both in the former place they

who read carefully, see that David in that war was at peace with his son, who even

with sore grief lamented his death, saying, "O Absalom, my son, would God I had

died for you!" 2 Samuel 18:33 And in the history of the New Testament by that so

great and so wonderful forbearance of our Lord; in that He bore so long with him

as if good, when He was not ignorant of his thoughts; in that He admitted him to

the Supper in which He committed and delivered to His disciples the figure of His

Body and Blood; finally, in that He received the kiss of peace at the very time of

His betrayal; it is easily understood how Christ showed peace to His betrayer,

although he was laid waste by the intestine war of so abominable a device. And

therefore is Absalom called "father's peace," because his father had the peace,

which he had not.

 

2. "O Lord, how are they multiplied that trouble me!" (ver. 1). So multiplied

indeed were they, that one even from the number of His disciples was not wanting,

who was added to the number of His persecutors. "Many rise up against me; many

say unto my soul, There is no salvation for him in his God" (ver. 2). It is clear that

 

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                                              Psalm 3                                                           12

 

if they had had any idea that He would rise again, assuredly they would not have

slain Him. To this end are those speeches, "Let Him come down from the cross, if

He be the Son of God;" and again, "He saved others, Himself He cannot save."

Matthew 27:42 Therefore, neither would Judas have betrayed Him, if he had not

been of the number of those who despised Christ, saying, "There is no salvation

for Him in His God."

 

3. "But You, O Lord, art my taker." It is said to God in the nature of man, for the

taking of man is, the Word made Flesh. "My glory." Even He calls God his glory,

whom the Word of God so took, that God became one with Him. Let the proud

learn, who unwillingly hear, when it is said to them, "For what have you that thou

did not receive? Now if you received it, why do you glory as if you had not

received it?" 1 Corinthians 4:7 "And the lifter up of my head" (ver. 3). I think that

this should be here taken of the human mind, which is not unreasonably called the

head of the soul; which so inhered in, and in a sort coalesced with, the

supereminent excellency of the Word taking man, that it was not laid aside by so

great humiliation of the Passion.

 

4. "With my voice have I cried unto the Lord" (ver. 4); that is, not with the voice

of the body, which is drawn out with the sound of the reverberation of the air; but

with the voice of the heart, which to men speaks not, but with God sounds as a cry.

By this voice Susanna was heard; and with this voice the Lord Himself

commanded that prayer should be made in closets, Matthew 6:6 that is, in the

recesses of the heart noiselessly. Nor would one easily say that prayer is not made

with this voice, if no sound of words is uttered from the body; since even when in

silence we pray within the heart, if thoughts interpose alien from the mind of one

praying, it cannot yet be said, "With my voice have I cried unto the Lord." Nor is

this rightly said, save when the soul alone, taking to itself nothing of the flesh, and

nothing of the aims of the flesh, in prayer, speaks to God, where He only hears.

But even this is called a cry by reason of the strength of its intention. "And He

heard me out of His holy mountain." We have the Lord Himself called a mountain

by the Prophet, as it is written, "The stone that was cut out without hands grew to

the size of a mountain." Daniel 2:34-35 But this cannot be taken of His Person,

unless peradventure He would speak thus, out of myself, as of His holy mountain

He heard me, when He dwelt in me, that is, in this very mountain. But it is more

plain and unembarrassed, if we understand that God out of His justice heard. For it

was just that He should raise again from the dead the Innocent who was slain, and

to whom evil had been recompensed for good, and that He should render to the

persecutor a meet reward, who repaid Him evil for good. For we read, "Your

justice is as the mountains of God."

 

5. "I slept, and took rest" (ver. 5). It may be not unsuitably remarked, that it is

expressly said, "I," to signify that of His own Will He underwent death, according

 

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                                                       Psalm 3                                                     13

 

to that, "Therefore does My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I

might take it again. No man takes it from Me; I have power to lay it down, and I

have power to take it again." John 10:17-18 Therefore, says He, you have not

taken Me as though against My will, and slain Me; but "I slept, and took rest; and

rose, for the Lord will take me up." Scripture contains numberless instances of

sleep being put for death; as the Apostle says, "I would not have you to be

ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep." Nor need we make any

question why it is added, "took rest," seeing that it has already been said, "I slept."

Repetitions of this kind are usual in Scripture, as we have pointed out many in the

second Psalm. But some copies have, "I slept, and was cast into a deep sleep." And

different copies express it differently, according to the possible renderings of the

Greek words, egw de ekokoimhqhn kei upnwse. Unless perhaps sleeping may be

taken of one dying, but sleep of one dead: so that sleeping may be the transition

into sleep, as awakening is the transition into wakefulness. Let us not deem these

repetitions in the sacred writings empty ornaments of speech. "I slept, and took

rest," is therefore well understood as "I gave Myself up to My Passion, and death

ensued." "And I rose, for the Lord will take Me up." This is the more to be

remarked, how that in one sentence the Psalmist has used a verb of past and future

time. For he has said, both "I rose," which is the past, and "will take Me up,"

which is the future; seeing that assuredly the rising again could not be without that

taking up. But in prophecy the future is well joined to the past, whereby both are

signified. Since things which are prophesied of as yet to come in reference to time

are future; but in reference to the knowledge of those who prophesy they are

already to be viewed as done. Verbs of the present tense are also mixed in, which

shall be treated of in their proper place when they occur.

 

6. "I will not fear the thousands of people that surround me" (ver. 6). It is written

in the Gospels how great a multitude stood around Him as He was suffering, and

on the cross. "Arise, O Lord, save me, O my God" (ver. 7). It is not said to God,

"Arise," as if asleep or lying down, but it is usual in holy Scripture to attribute to

God what He does in us; not indeed universally, but where it can be done suitably;

as when He is said to speak, when by His gift Prophets speak, and Apostles, or

whatsoever messengers of the truth. Hence that text, "Would you have proof of

Christ, who speaks in me?" 2 Corinthians 13:3 For he does not say, of Christ, by

whose enlightening or order I speak; but he attributes at once the speaking itself to

Him, by whose gift he spoke.

 

7. "Since You have smitten all who oppose me without a cause." It is not to be

pointed as if it were one sentence, "Arise, O Lord, save me, O my God; since You

have smitten all who oppose me without a cause." For He did not therefore save

Him, because He smote His enemies; but rather He being saved, He smote them.

Therefore it belongs to what follows, so that the sense is this; "Since You have

smitten all who oppose me without a cause, You have broken the teeth of the

 

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                                                 Psalm 3                                                            14

 

sinners;" that is, thereby have You broken the teeth of the sinners, since You have

smitten all who oppose me. It is forsooth the punishment of the opposers, whereby

their teeth have been broken, that is, the words of sinners rending with their

cursing the Son of God, brought to nought, as it were to dust; so that we may

understand "teeth" thus, as words of cursing. Of which teeth the Apostle speaks,

"If you bite one another, take heed that you be not consumed one of another."

Galatians 5:15 The teeth of sinners can also be taken as the chiefs of sinners; by

whose authority each one is cut off from the fellowship of godly livers, and as it

were incorporated with evil livers. To these teeth are opposed the Church's teeth,

by whose authority believers are cut off from the error of the Gentiles and various

opinions, and are translated into that fellowship which is the body of Christ. With

these teeth Peter was told to eat the animals when they had been killed, that is, by

killing in the Gentiles what they were, and changing them into what he was

himself. Of these teeth too of the Church it is said, "Your teeth are as a flock of

shorn sheep, coming up from the bath, whereof every one bears twins, and there is

not one barren among them." These are they who prescribe rightly, and as they

prescribe, live; who do what is written, "Let your works shine before men, that

they may bless your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16 For moved by their

authority, they believe God who speaks and works through these men; and

separated from the world, to which they were once conformed, they pass over into

the members of the Church. And rightly therefore are they, through whom such

things are done, called teeth like to shorn sheep; for they have laid aside the

burdens of earthly cares, and coming up from the bath, from the washing away of

the filth of the world by the Sacrament of Baptism, every one bears twins. For they

fulfil the two commandments, of which it is said, "On these two commandments

hang all the Law and the Prophets;" Matthew 22:40 loving God with all their

heart, and with all their soul, and with all their mind, and their neighbour as

themselves. "There is not one barren among them," for much fruit they render unto

God. According to this sense then it is to be thus understood, "You have broken

the teeth of the sinners," that is, You have brought the chiefs of the sinners to

nought, by smiting all who oppose Me without a cause. For the chiefs according to

the Gospel history persecuted Him, while the lower people honoured Him.

 

8. "Salvation is of the Lord; and upon Your people be Your blessing" (ver. 8). In

one sentence the Psalmist has enjoined men what to believe, and has prayed for

believers. For when it is said, "Salvation is of the Lord," the words are addressed

to men. Nor does it follow, "And upon Your people" be "Your blessing," in such

wise as that the whole is spoken to men, but there is a change into prayer

addressed to God Himself, for the very people to whom it was said, "Salvation is

of the Lord." What else then does he say but this? Let no man presume on himself,

seeing that it is of the Lord to save from the death of sin; for, "Wretched man that I

am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through

 

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                                              Psalm 3                                                               15

 

Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 7:24-25 But do Thou, O Lord, bless Your people,

who look for salvation from You.

 

9. This Psalm can be taken as in the Person of Christ another way; which is that

whole Christ should speak. I mean by whole, with His body, of which He is the

Head, according to the Apostle, who says, "You are the body of Christ, and the

members." 1 Corinthians 12:27 He therefore is the Head of this body; wherefore in

another place he says, "But doing the truth in love, we may increase in Him in all

things, who is the Head, Christ, from whom the whole body is joined together and

compacted." Ephesians 4:15-16 In the Prophet then at once, the Church, and her

Head (the Church founded amidst the storms of persecution throughout the whole

world, which we know already to have come to pass), speaks, "O Lord, how are

they multiplied that trouble me! many rise up against me;" wishing to exterminate

the Christian name. "Many say unto my soul, There is no salvation for him in his

God." For they would not otherwise hope that they could destroy the Church,

branching out so very far and wide, unless they believed that God had no care

thereof. "But You, O Lord, art my taker;" in Christ of course. For into that flesh

the Church too has been taken by the Word, "who was made flesh, and dwelt in

us;" John 1:14 for that "In heavenly places has He made us to sit together with

Him." Ephesians 2:6 When the Head goes before, the other members will follow;

for, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Romans 8:35 Justly then

does the Church say, "You are my taker. My glory;" for she does not attribute her

excellency to herself, seeing that she knows by whose grace and mercy she is what

she is. "And the lifter up of my head," of Him, namely, who, "the First-born from

the dead," Colossians 1:18 ascended up into heaven. "With my voice have I cried

unto the Lord, and He heard me out of His holy mountain." This is the prayer of

all the Saints, the odour of sweetness, which ascends up in the sight of the Lord.

For now the Church is heard out of this mountain, which is also her head; or, out

of that justice of God, by which both His elect are set free, and their persecutors

punished. Let the people of God also say, "I slept, and took rest; and rose, for the

Lord will take me up;" that they may be joined, and cleave to their Head. For to

this people is it said, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and

Christ shall lay hold on you." Ephesians 5:14 Since they are taken out of sinners,

of whom it is said generally, "But they that sleep, sleep in the night." Let them say

moreover, "I will not fear the thousands of people that surround me;" of the

heathen verily that compass me about to extinguish everywhere, if they could, the

Christian name. But how should they be feared, when by the blood of the martyrs

in Christ, as by oil, the ardour of love is inflamed? "Arise, O Lord, save me, O my

God." The body can address this to its own Head. For at His rising the body was

saved; who "ascended up on high, led captivity captive, gave gifts unto men." For

this is said by the Prophet, in the secret purpose of God, until that ripe harvest

Matthew 9:37 which is spoken of in the Gospel, whose salvation is in His

Resurrection, who vouchsafed to die for us, shed out our Lord to the earth. "Since

 

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                                                  Psalm 3                                                         16

 

You have smitten all who oppose me without a cause, You have broken the teeth

of the sinners." Now while the Church has rule, the enemies of the Christian name

are smitten with confusion; and, whether their curses or their chiefs, brought to

nought. Believe then, O man, that "salvation is of the Lord: and," Thou, O Lord,

may "Your blessing" be "upon Your people."

 

10. Each one too of us may say, when a multitude of vices and lusts leads the

resisting mind in the law of sin, "O Lord, how are they multiplied that trouble me!

many rise up against me." And, since despair of recovery generally creeps in

through the accumulation of vices, as though these same vices were mocking the

soul, or even as though the Devil and his angels through their poisonous

suggestions were at work to make us despair, it is said with great truth, "Many say

unto my soul, There is no salvation for him in his God. But You, O Lord, art my

taker." For this is our hope, that He has vouchsafed to take the nature of man in

Christ. "My glory;" according to that rule, that no one should ascribe ought to

himself. "And the lifter up of my head;" either of Him, who is the Head of us all,

or of the spirit of each several one of us, which is the head of the soul and body.

For "the head of the woman is the man, and the head of the man is Christ."

1 Corinthians 11:3 But the mind is lifted up, when it can be said already, "With the

mind I serve the law of God;" Romans 7:25 that the rest of man may be reduced to

peaceable submission, when in the resurrection of the flesh "death is swallowed up

in victory." 1 Corinthians 15:54 "With my voice I have cried unto the Lord;" with

that most inward and intensive voice. "And He heard me out of His holy

mountain;" Him, through whom He has succoured us, through whose mediation

He hears us. "I slept, and took rest; and rose, for the Lord will take me up." Who

of the faithful is not able to say this, when he calls to mind the death of his sins,

and the gift of regeneration? "I will not fear the thousands of people that surround

me." Besides those which the Church universally has borne and bears, each one

also has temptations, by which, when compassed about, he may speak these

words, "Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God:" that is, make me to arise. "Since You

have smitten all who oppose me without a cause:" it is well in God's determinate

purpose said of the Devil and his angels; who rage not only against the whole

body of Christ, but also against each one in particular. "You have broken the teeth

of the sinners." Each man has those that revile him, he has too the prime authors of

vice, who strive to cut him off from the body of Christ. But "salvation is of the

Lord." Pride is to be guarded against, and we must say, "My soul cleaved after

You." "And upon Your people" be "Your blessing:" that is, upon each one of us.

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                    Psalm 4                                                         17

 

                                   Exposition on Psalm 4

 

To the end, a psalm song to David.

 

1. "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes."

Romans 10:4 For this "end" signifies perfection, not consumption. Now it may be

a question, whether every Song be a Psalm, or rather every Psalm a Song; whether

there are some Songs which cannot be called Psalms, and some Psalms which

cannot be called Songs. But the Scripture must be attended to, if haply "Song" do

not denote a joyful theme. But those are called Psalms which are sung to the

Psaltery; which the history as a high mystery declares the Prophet David to have

used. Of which matter this is not the place to discourse; for it requires prolonged

inquiry, and much discussion. Now meanwhile we must look either for the words

of the Lord Man after the Resurrection, or of man in the Church believing and

hoping on Him.

 

2. "When I called, the God of my righteousness heard me" (ver. 1). When I called,

God heard me, the Psalmist says, of whom is my righteousness. "In tribulation

You have enlarged me." You have led me from the straits of sadness into the

broad ways of joy. For, "tribulation and straitness is on every soul of man that

does evil." Romans 2:9 But he who says, "We rejoice in tribulations, knowing that

tribulation works patience;" up to that where he says, "Because the love of God is

shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us;" he has no

straits of heart, they be heaped on him outwardly by them that persecute him. Now

the change of person, for that from the third person, where he says, "He heard," he

passes at once to the second, where he says, "You have enlarged me;" if it be not

done for the sake of variety and grace, it is strange why the Psalmist should first

wish to declare to men that he had been heard, and afterwards address Him who

heard him. Unless perchance, when he had declared how he was heard, in this very

enlargement of heart he preferred to speak with God; that he might even in this

way show what it is to be enlarged in heart, that is, to have God already shed

abroad in the heart, with whom he might hold converse interiorly. Which is rightly

understood as spoken in the person of him who, believing on Christ, has been

enlightened; but in that of the very Lord Man, whom the Wisdom of God took, I

do not see how this can be suitable. For He was never deserted by It. But as His

very prayer against trouble is a sign rather of our infirmity, so also of that sudden

enlargement of heart the same Lord may speak for His faithful ones, whom He has

personated also when He said, "I was an hungered, and you gave Me no meat; I

was thirsty, and you gave Me no drink," Matthew 25:42 and so forth. Wherefore

here also He can say, "You have enlarged me," for one of the least of His, holding

converse with God, whose "love" he has "shed abroad in his heart by the Holy

Ghost, which is given unto us." Romans 5:5 "Have mercy upon me and hear my

prayer." Why does he again ask, when already he declared that he had been heard

 

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                                                     Psalm 4                                                        18

 

and enlarged? It is for our sakes, of whom it is said, "But if we hope for that we

see not, we wait in patience;" Romans 8:25 or is it, that in him who has believed

that which is begun may be perfected?

 

3. "O you sons of men, how long heavy in heart" (ver. 2). Let your error, says he,

have lasted at least up to the coming of the Son of God; why then any longer are

you heavy in heart? When will you make an end of crafty wiles, if now when the

truth is present ye make it not? "Why do ye love vanity, and seek a lie?" Why

would ye be blessed by the lowest things? Truth alone, from which all things are

true, makes blessed. For, "vanity is of deceivers, and all is vanity."

Ecclesiastes 1:2 "What profit has a man of all his labour, wherewith he labours

under the sun?" Why then are you held back by the love of things temporal? Why

follow ye after the last things, as though the first, which is vanity and a lie? For

you would have them abide with you, which all pass away, as does a shadow.

 

4. "And know ye that the Lord has magnified his Holy One" (ver. 3). Whom but

Him, whom He raised up from below, and placed in heaven at His right hand?

Therefore does he chide mankind, that they would turn at length from the love of

this world to Him. But if the addition of the conjunction (for he says, "and know

ye") is to any a difficulty, he may easily observe in Scripture that this manner of

speech is usual in that language, in which the Prophets spoke. For you often find

this beginning, "And" the Lord said unto him, "And" the word of the Lord came to

him. Which joining by a conjunction, when no sentence has gone before, to which

the following one may be annexed, peradventure admirably conveys to us, that the

utterance of the truth in words is connected with that vision which goes on in the

heart. Although in this place it may be said, that the former sentence, "Why do ye

love vanity, and seek a lie?" is as if it were written, Do not love vanity, and seek a

lie. And being thus read, it follows in the most direct construction, "and know ye

that the Lord has magnified His Holy One." But the interposition of the Diapsalma

forbids our joining this sentence with the preceding one. For whether this be a

Hebrew word, as some would have it, which means, so be it; or a Greek word,

which marks a pause in the psalmody (so as that Psalma should be what is sung in

psalmody, but Diapsalma an interval of silence in the psalmody; that as the

coupling of voices in singing is called Sympsalma, so their separation Diapsalma,

where a certain pause of interrupted continuity is marked): whether I say it be the

former, or the latter, or something else, this at least is probable, that the sense

cannot rightly be continued and joined, where the Diapsalma intervenes.

 

5. "The Lord will hear me, when I cry unto Him." I believe that we are here

warned, that with great earnestness of heart, that is, with an inward and

incorporeal cry, we should implore help of God. For as we must give thanks for

enlightenment in this life, so must we pray for rest after this life. Wherefore in the

 

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                                                         Psalm 4                                                       19

 

person, either of the faithful preacher of the Gospel, or of our Lord Himself, it may

be taken, as if it were written, the Lord will hear you, when you cry unto Him.

 

6. "Be angry, and sin not" (ver. 4). For the thought occurred, Who is worthy to be

heard? or how shall the sinner not cry in vain unto the Lord? Therefore, "Be

angry," says he, "and sin not." Which may be taken two ways: either, even if you

be angry, do not sin; that is, even if there arise an emotion in the soul, which now

by reason of the punishment of sin is not in our power, at least let not the reason

and the mind, which is after God regenerated within, that with the mind we should

serve the law of God, although with the flesh we as yet serve the law of sin,

Romans 7:25 consent thereunto; or, repent ye, that is, be ye angry with yourselves

for your past sins, and henceforth cease to sin. "What you say in your hearts:"

there is understood, "say ye:" so that the complete sentence is, "What ye say in

your hearts, that say ye;" that is, be ye not the people of whom it is said, "with

their lips they honour Me, but their heart is far from Me. Isaiah 29:13 In your

chambers be ye pricked." This is what has been expressed already "in heart." For

this is the chamber, of which our Lord warns us, that we should pray within, with

closed doors. Matthew 6:6 But, "be ye pricked," refers either to the pain of

repentance, that the soul in punishment should prick itself, that it be not

condemned and tormented in God's judgment; or, to arousing, that we should

awake to behold the light of Christ, as if pricks were made use of. But some say

that not, "be ye pricked," but, "be ye opened," is the better reading; because in the

Greek Psalter it is katanughte, which refers to that enlargement of the heart, in

order that the shedding abroad of love by the Holy Ghost may be received.

 

7. "Offer the sacrifice of righteousness, and hope in the Lord" (ver. 5). He says the

same in another Psalm, "the sacrifice for God is a troubled spirit." Wherefore that

this is the sacrifice of righteousness which is offered through repentance it is not

unreasonably here understood. For what more righteous, than that each one should

be angry with his own sins, rather than those of others, and that in self-punishment

he should sacrifice himself unto God? Or are righteous works after repentance the

sacrifice of righteousness? For the interposition of Diapsalma not unreasonably

perhaps intimates even a transition from the old life to the new life: that on the old

man being destroyed or weakened by repentance, the sacrifice of righteousness,

according to the regeneration of the new man, may be offered to God; when the

soul now cleansed offers and places itself on the altar of faith, to be encompassed

by heavenly fire, that is, by the Holy Ghost. So that this may be the meaning,

"Offer the sacrifice of righteousness, and hope in the Lord;" that is, live uprightly,

and hope for the gift of the Holy Ghost, that the truth, in which you have believed,

may shine upon you.

 

8. But yet, "hope in the Lord," is as yet expressed without explanation. Now what

is hoped for, but good things? But since each one would obtain from God that

 

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                                             Psalm 4                                                           20

 

good, which he loves; and they are not easy to be found who love interior goods,

that is, which belong to the inward man, which alone should be loved, but the rest

are to be used for necessity, not to be enjoyed for pleasure; excellently did he

subjoin, when he had said, "hope in the Lord" (ver. 6), "Many say, Who shows us

good things?" This is the speech, and this the daily inquiry of all the foolish and

unrighteous; whether of those who long for the peace and quiet of a worldly life,

and from the frowardness of mankind find it not; who even in their blindness dare

to find fault with the order of events, when involved in their own deservings they

deem the times worse than these which are past: or, of those who doubt and

despair of that future life, which is promised us; who are often saying, Who knows

if it's true? or, who ever came from below, to tell us this? Very exquisitely then,

and briefly, he shows (to those, that is, who have interior sight), what good things

are to be sought; answering their question, who say, "Who shows us good things?"

"The light of Your countenance," says he, "is stamped on us, O Lord." This light is

the whole and true good of man, which is seen not with the eye, but with the mind.

But he says, "stamped on us," as a penny is stamped with the king's image. For

man was made after the image and likeness of God, Genesis 1:26 which he

defaced by sin: therefore it is his true and eternal good, if by a new birth he be

stamped. And I believe this to be the bearing of that which some understand

skilfully; I mean, what the Lord said on seeing Cæsar's tribute money, "Render to

Cæsar the things that are Cæsar's; and to God the things that are God's."

Matthew 22:21 As if He had said, In like manner as Cæsar exacts from you the

impression of his image, so also does God: that as the tribute money is rendered to

him, so should the soul to God, illumined and stamped with the light of His

countenance. (Ver. 7.) "You have put gladness into my heart." Gladness then is not

to be sought without by them, who, being still heavy in heart, "love vanity, and

seek a lie;" but within, where the light of God's countenance is stamped. For Christ

dwells in the inner man, Ephesians 3:16-17 as the Apostle says; for to Him does it

appertain to see truth, since He has said, "I am the truth." John 14:6 And again,

when He spoke in the Apostle, saying, "Would you receive a proof of Christ, who

speaks in me?" 2 Corinthians 13:3 He spoke not of course from without to him,

but in his very heart, that is, in that chamber where we are to pray.

 

9. But men (who doubtless are many) who follow after things temporal, know not

to say anything else, than, "Who shows us good things?" when the true and certain

good within their very selves they cannot see. Of these accordingly is most justly

said, what he adds next: "From the time of His corn, of wine, and oil, they have

been multiplied." For the addition of His, is not superfluous. For the corn is God's:

inasmuch as He is "the living bread which came down from heaven." John 6:51

The wine too is God's: for, "they shall be inebriated," he says, "with the fatness of

your house." The oil too is God's: of which it is said, "You have fattened my head

with oil." But those many, who say, "Who shows us good things?" and who see

not that the kingdom of heaven is within them: these, "from the time of His corn,

 

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                                                       Psalm 4                                                    21

 

of wine, and oil, are multiplied." For multiplication does not always betoken

plentifulness, and not, generally, scantiness: when the soul, given up to temporal

pleasures, burns ever with desire, and cannot be satisfied; and, distracted with

manifold and anxious thought, is not permitted to see the simple good. Such is the

soul of which it is said, "For the corruptible body presses down the soul, and the

earthly tabernacle weighs down the mind that muses on many things."

Wisdom 9:15 A soul like this, by the departure and succession of temporal goods,

that is, "from the time of His corn, wine, and oil," filled with numberless idle

fancies, is so multiplied, that it cannot do that which is commanded, "Think on the

Lord in goodness, and in simplicity of heart seek Him." Wisdom 1:1 For this

multiplicity is strongly opposed to that simplicity. And therefore leaving these,

who are many, multiplied, that is, by the desire of things temporal, and who say,

"Who shows us good things?" which are to be sought not with the eyes without,

but with simplicity of heart within, the faithful man rejoices and says, "In peace,

together, I will sleep, and take rest" (ver. 8). For such men justly hope for all

manner of estrangement of mind from things mortal, and forgetfulness of this

world's miseries; which is beautifully and prophetically signified under the name

of sleep and rest, where the most perfect peace cannot be interrupted by any

tumult. But this is not had now in this life, but is to be hoped for after this life.

This even the words themselves, which are in the future tense, show us. For it is

not said, either, I have slept, and taken rest; or, I do sleep, and take rest; but, "I

will sleep, and take rest." Then shall "this corruptible put on incorruption, and this

mortal shall put on immortality; then shall death be swallowed up in victory."

1 Corinthians 15:54 Hence it is said, "But if we hope for that we see not, we wait

in patience." Romans 8:25

 

10. Wherefore, consistently with this, he adds the last words, and says, "Since

Thou, O Lord, in singleness hast made me dwell in hope." Here he does not say,

wilt make; but, "hast made." In whom then this hope now is, there will be

assuredly that which is hoped for. And well does he say, "in singleness." For this

may refer in opposition to those many, who being multiplied from the time of His

corn, of wine, and oil, say, "Who shows us good things?" For this multiplicity

perishes, and singleness is observed among the saints: of whom it is said in the

Acts of the Apostles, "and of the multitude of them that believed, there was one

soul, and one heart." Acts 4:32 In singleness, then, and simplicity, removed, that

is, from the multitude and crowd of things, that are born and die, we ought to be

lovers of eternity, and unity, if we desire to cleave to the one God and our Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                       Psalm 5                                                      22

 

                                      Exposition on Psalm 5

 

1. The title of the Psalm is, "For her who receives the inheritance." The Church

then is signified, who receives for her inheritance eternal life through our Lord

Jesus Christ; that she may possess God Himself, in cleaving to whom she may be

blessed, according to that, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the earth."

Matthew 5:5 What earth, but that of which it is said, "You are my hope, my

portion in the land of the living"? And again more clearly, "The Lord is the portion

of mine inheritance and of my cup." And conversely the word Church is said to be

God's inheritance according to that, "Ask of Me, and I shall give you the heathen

for your inheritance." Therefore is God said to be our inheritance, because He

feeds and sustains us: and we are said to be God's inheritance, because He orders

and rules us. Wherefore it is the voice of the Church in this Psalm called to her

inheritance, that she too may herself become the inheritance of the Lord.

 

2. "Hear my words, O Lord" (ver. 1). Being called she calls upon the Lord; that the

same Lord being her helper, she may pass through the wickedness of this world,

and attain unto Him. "Understand my cry." The Psalmist well shows what this cry

is; how from within, from the chamber of the heart, without the body's utterance, it

reaches unto God: for the bodily voice is heard, but the spiritual is understood.

Although this too may be God's hearing, not with carnal ear, but in the

omnipresence of His Majesty.

 

3. "Attend Thou to the voice of my supplication;" that is, to that voice, which he

makes request that God would understand: of which what the nature is, he has

already intimated, when he said, "Understand my cry. Attend Thou to the voice of

my supplication, my King, and my God" (ver. 2). Although both the Son is God,

and the Father God, and the Father and the Son together One God; and if asked of

the Holy Ghost, we must give no other answer than that He is God; and when the

Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost are mentioned together, we must

understand nothing else, than One God; nevertheless Scripture is wont to give the

appellation of King to the Son. According then to that which is said, "By Me man

comes to the Father," John 14:6 rightly is it first, "my King;" and then, "my God."

And yet has not the Psalmist said, Attend You; but, "Attend Thou." For the

Catholic faith preaches not two or three Gods, but the Very Trinity, One God. Not

that the same Trinity can be together, now the Father, now the Son, now the Holy

Ghost, as Sabellius believed: but that the Father must be none but the Father, and

the Son none but the Son, and the Holy Ghost none but the Holy Ghost, and this

Trinity but One God. Hence when the Apostle had said, "Of whom are all things,

by whom are all things, in whom are all things," Romans 11:36 he is believed to

have conveyed an intimation of the Very Trinity; and yet he did not add, to Them

be glory; but, "to Him be glory."

 

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                                                        Psalm 5                                                     23

 

4. "Because I will pray unto You (ver. 3). O Lord, in the morning You will hear

my voice." What does that, which he said above, "Hear Thou," mean, as if he

desired to be heard immediately? But now he says, "in the morning You will

hear;" not, hear Thou: and, "I will pray unto You;" not, I do pray unto You: and, as

follows, "in the morning I will stand by You, and will see;" not, I do stand by You,

and do see. Unless perhaps his former prayer marks the invocation itself: but being

in darkness amidst the storms of this world, he perceives that he does not see what

he desires, and yet does not cease to hope, "For hope that is seen, is not hope."

Romans 8:24 Nevertheless, he understands why he does not see, because the night

is not yet past, that is, the darkness which our sins have merited. He says therefore,

"Because I will pray unto You, O Lord;" that is, because You are so mighty to

whom I shall make my prayer, "in the morning You will hear my voice." You are

not He, he says, that can be seen by those, from whose eyes the night of sins is not

yet withdrawn: when the night then of my error is past, and the darkness gone,

which by my sins I have brought upon myself, then "You will hear my voice."

Why then did he say above not, "You will hear," but "hear Thou"? Is it that after

the Church cried out, "hear Thou," and was not heard, she perceived what must

needs pass away to enable her to be heard? Or is it that she was heard above, but

does not yet understand that she was heard, because she does not yet see by whom

she has been heard; and what she now says, "In the morning You will hear," she

would have thus taken, In the morning I shall understand that I have been heard?

Such is that expression, "Arise, O Lord," that is, make me arise. But this latter is

taken of Christ's resurrection: but at all events that Scripture, "The Lord your God

proves you, that He may know whether ye love Him," Deuteronomy 13:3 cannot

be taken in any other sense, than, that you by Him may know, and that it may be

made evident to yourselves, what progress you have made in His love.

 

5. "In the morning I will stand by You, and will see" (ver. 3). What is, "I will

stand," but "I will not lie down"? Now what else is, to lie down, but to take rest on

the earth, which is a seeking happiness in earthly pleasures? "I will stand by," he

says, "and will see." We must not then cleave to things earthly, if we would see

God, who is beheld by a clean heart. "For You are not a God who hast pleasure in

iniquity. The malignant man shall not dwell near You, nor shall the unrighteous

abide before Your eyes. You have hated all that work iniquity, You will destroy all

that speak a lie. The man of blood, and the crafty man, the Lord will abominate"

(vers. 4-6). Iniquity, malignity, lying, homicide, craft, and all the like, are the night

of which we speak: on the passing away of which, the morning dawns, that God

may be seen. He has unfolded the reason, then, why he will stand by in the

morning, and see: "For," he says, "You are not a God who hast pleasure in

iniquity." For if He were a God who had pleasure in iniquity, He could be seen

even by the iniquitous, so that He would not be seen in the morning, that is, when

the night of iniquity is over.

 

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                                                       Psalm 5                                                        24

 

6. "The malignant man shall not dwell near You:" that is, he shall not so see, as to

cleave to You. Hence follows, "Nor shall the unrighteous abide before Your eyes."

For their eyes, that is, their mind is beaten back by the light of truth, because of the

darkness of their sins; by the habitual practice of which they are not able to sustain

the brightness of right understanding. Therefore even they who see sometimes,

that is, who understand the truth, are yet still unrighteous, they abide not therein

through love of those things, which turn away from the truth. For they carry about

with them their night, that is, not only the habit, but even the love, of sinning. But

if this night shall pass away, that is, if they shall cease to sin, and this love and

habit thereof be put to flight, the morning dawns, so that they not only understand,

but also cleave to the truth.

 

7. "You have hated all that work iniquity." God's hatred may be understood from

that form of expression, by which every sinner hates the truth. For it seems that

she too hates those, whom she suffers not to abide in her. Now they do not abide,

who cannot bear the truth. "You will destroy all that speak a lie." For this is the

opposite to truth. But lest any one should suppose that any substance or nature is

opposite to truth, let him understand that "a lie" has relation to that which is not,

not to that which is. For if that which is be spoken, truth is spoken: but if that

which is not be spoken, it is a lie. Therefore says he, "You will destroy all that

speak a lie;" because drawing back from that which is, they turn aside to that

which is not. Many lies indeed seem to be for some one's safety or advantage,

spoken not in malice, but in kindness: such was that of those midwives in Exodus,

Exodus 1:19 who gave a false report to Pharaoh, to the end that the infants of the

children of Israel might not be slain. But even these are praised not for the fact, but

for the disposition shown; since those who only lie in this way, will attain in time

to a freedom from all lying. For in those that are perfect, not even these lies are

found. For to these it is said, "Let there be in your mouth, yea, yea; nay, nay;

whatsoever is more, is of evil." Matthew 5:37 Nor is it without reason written in

another place, "The mouth that lies slays the soul:" Wisdom 1:11 lest any should

imagine that the perfect and spiritual man ought to lie for this temporal life, in the

death of which no soul is slain, neither his own, nor another's. But since it is one

thing to lie, another to conceal the truth (if indeed it be one thing to say what is

false, another not to say what is true), if haply one does not wish to give a man up

even to this visible death, he should be prepared to conceal what is true, not to say

what is false; so that he may neither give him up, nor yet lie, lest he slay his own

soul for another's body. But if he cannot yet do this, let him at all events admit

only lies of such necessity, that he may attain to be freed even from these, if they

alone remain, and receive the strength of the Holy Ghost, whereby he may despise

all that must be suffered for the truth's sake. In fine, there are two kinds of lies, in

which there is no great fault, and yet they are not without fault, either when we are

in jest, or when we lie that we may do good. That first kind, in jest, is for this

reason not very hurtful, because there is no deception. For he to whom it is said

 

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                                                       Psalm 5                                                      25

 

knows that it is said for the sake of the jest. But the second kind is for this reason

the more inoffensive, because it carries with it some kindly intention. And to say

truth, that which has no duplicity, cannot even be called a lie. As if, for example, a

sword be intrusted to any one, and he promises to return it, when he who intrusted

it to him shall demand it: if he chance to require his sword when in a fit of

madness, it is clear it must not be returned then, lest he kill either himself or

others, until soundness of mind be restored to him. Here then is no duplicity,

because he, to whom the sword was intrusted, when he promised that he would

return it at the other's demand, did not imagine that he could require it when in a

fit of madness. But even the Lord concealed the truth, when He said to the

disciples, not yet strong enough, "I have many things to say unto you, but ye

cannot bear them now:" John 16:12 and the Apostle Paul when he said, "I could

not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal." 1 Corinthians 3:1 Whence

it is clear that it is not blamable, sometimes not to speak what is true. But to say

what is false is not found to have been allowed to the perfect.

 

8. "The man of blood, and the crafty man, the Lord will abominate." What he said

above, "You have hated all that work iniquity, You will destroy all that speak a

lie," may well seem to be repeated here: so that one may refer "the man of blood"

to "the worker of iniquity," and "the crafty man" to the "lie." For it is craft, when

one thing is done, another pretended. He used an apt word too, when he said, "will

abominate." For the disinherited are usually called abominated. Now this Psalm is,

"for her who receives the inheritance;" and she adds the exulting joy of her hope,

in saying, "But I, in the multitude of Your mercy, will enter into Your house" (ver.

7). "In the multitude of mercy:" perhaps he means in the multitude of perfected

and blessed men, of whom that city shall consist, of which the Church is now in

travail, and is bearing few by few. Now that many men regenerated and perfected,

are rightly called the multitude of God's mercy, who can deny; when it is most

truly said, "What is man that You are mindful of him, or the son of man that Thou

visitest him? I will enter into Your house:" as a stone into a building, I suppose, is

the meaning. For what else is the house of God than the Temple of God, of which

it is said, "for the temple of God is holy, 1 Corinthians 3:17 which temple you

are"? Of which building He is the cornerstone, Ephesians 2:20 whom the Power

and Wisdom of God coeternal with the Father assumed.

 

9. "I will worship at Your holy temple, in Your fear." "At the temple," we

understand as, "near" the temple. For he does not say, I will worship "in" Your

holy temple; but, "I will worship at Your holy temple." It must be understood too

to be spoken not of perfection, but of progress toward perfection: so that the

words, "I will enter into Your house," should signify perfection. But that this may

come to a happy issue, "I will" first, he says, "worship at Your holy temple." And

perhaps on this account he added, "in Your fear;" which is a great defence to those

that are advancing toward salvation. But when any one shall have arrived there, in


                                                        Psalm 5                                                       26

 

him comes to pass that which is written, "perfect love casts out fear." 1 John 4:18

For they do not fear Him who is now their friend, to whom it is said, "henceforth I

will not call you servants, but friends," John 15:15 when they have been brought

through to that which was promised.

 

10. "O Lord, lead me forth in Your justice because of mine enemies" (ver. 8). He

has here sufficiently plainly declared that he is on his onward road, that is, in

progress toward perfection, not yet in perfection itself, when he desires eagerly

that he may be led forth. But, "in Your justice," not in that which seems so to men.

For to return evil for evil seems justice: but it is not His justice of whom it is said,

"He makes His sun to rise on the good and on the evil:" for even when God

punishes sinners, He does not inflict His evil on them, but leaves them to their

own evil. "Behold," the Psalmist says, "he travailed with injustice, he has

conceived toil, and brought forth iniquity: he has opened a ditch, and dug it, and

has fallen into the pit which he wrought: his pains shall be turned on his own head,

and his iniquity shall descend on his own pate." When then God punishes, He

punishes as a judge those that transgress the law, not by bringing evil upon them

from Himself, but driving them on to that which they have chosen, to fill up the

sum of their misery. But man, when he returns evil for evil, does it with an evil

will: and on this account is himself first evil, when he would punish evil.

 

11. "Direct in Your sight my way." Nothing is clearer, than that he here sets forth

that time, in which he is journeying onward. For this is a way which is traversed

not in any regions of the earth, but in the affections of the heart. "In Your sight,"

he says, "direct my way:" that is, where no man sees; who are not to be trusted in

their praise or blame. For they can in no wise judge of another man's conscience,

wherein the way toward God is traversed. Hence it is added, "for truth is not in

their mouth" (ver. 9). To whose judgment of course then there is no trusting, and

therefore must we fly within to conscience, and the sight of God. "Their heart is

vain." How then can truth be in their mouth, whose heart is deceived by sin, and

the punishment of sin? Whence men are called back by that voice, "Wherefore do

ye love vanity, and seek a lie?"

 

12. "Their throat is an open sepulchre." It may be referred to signify gluttony, for

the sake of which men very often lie by flattery. And admirably has he said, "an

open sepulchre:" for this gluttony is ever gaping with open mouth, not as

sepulchres, which, on the reception of corpses, are closed up. This also may be

understood hereby, that with lying and blind flattery men draw to themselves those

whom they entice to sin; and as it were devour them, when they turn them to their

own way of living. And when this happens to them, since by sin they die, those by

whom they are led along, are rightly called open sepulchres: for themselves too are

in a manner lifeless, being destitute of the life of truth; and they take in to

themselves dead men, whom having slain by lying words and a vain heart, they

 

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                                                 Psalm 5                                                        27

 

turn unto themselves. "With their own tongues they dealt craftily:" that is, with

evil tongues. For this seems to be signified, when he says "their own." For the evil

have evil tongues, that is, they speak evil, when they speak craftily. To whom the

Lord says, "How can you, being evil, speak good things?" Matthew 12:34

 

13. "Judge them, O God: let them fall from their own thoughts" (ver. 10). It is a

prophecy, not a curse. For he does not wish that it should come to pass; but he

perceives what will come to pass. For this happens to them, not because he

appears to have wished for it, but because they are such as to deserve that it should

happen. For so also what he says afterwards, "Let all that hope in You rejoice," he

says by way of prophecy; since he perceives that they will rejoice. Likewise is it

said prophetically, "Stir up Your strength, and come:" for he saw that He would

come. Although the words, "Let them fall from their own thoughts," may be taken

thus also, that it may rather be believed to be a wish for their good by the Psalmist,

while they fall from their evil thoughts, that is, that they may no more think evil.

But what follows, "drive them out," forbids this interpretation. For it can in no

wise be taken in a favourable sense, that one is driven out by God. Wherefore it is

understood to be said prophetically, and not of ill will; when this is said, which

must necessarily happen to such as chose to persevere in those sins, which have

been mentioned. "Let them," therefore, "fall from their own thoughts," is, let them

fall by their self-accusing thoughts, "their own conscience also bearing witness,"

as the Apostle says, "and their thoughts accusing or excusing, in the revelation of

the just judgment of God." Romans 2:15-16

 

14. "According to the multitude of their ungodlinesses drive them out:" that is,

drive them out far away. For this is "according to the multitude of their

ungodlinesses," that they should be driven out far away. The ungodly then are

driven out from that inheritance, which is possessed by knowing and seeing God:

as diseased eyes are driven out from the shining of the light, when what is

gladness to others is pain to them. Therefore these shall not stand in the morning,

and see. And that expression is as great a punishment, as that which is said, "But

for me it is good to cleave to the Lord," is a great reward. To this punishment is

opposed, "Enter thou into the joy of Your Lord;" Matthew 25:21 for similar to this

expulsion is, "Cast him into outer darkness." Matthew 25:30

 

15. "Since they have embittered You, O Lord: I am," says He, "the Bread which

came down from heaven;" John 6:51 again, "Labour for the meat which wasts

not;" John 6:27 again, "Taste and see that the Lord is sweet." But to sinners the

bread of truth is bitter. Whence they hate the mouth of him that speaks the truth.

These then have embittered God, who by sin have fallen into such a state of

sickliness, that the food of truth, in which healthy souls delight, as if it were bitter

as gall, they cannot bear.

 

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                                                        Psalm 5                                                         28

 

16. "And let all rejoice that hope in You;" those of course to whose taste the Lord

is sweet. "They will exult for evermore, and You will dwell in them" (ver. 11).

This will be the exultation for evermore, when the just become the Temple of God,

and He, their Indweller, will be their joy. "And all that love Your name shall glory

in You:" as when what they love is present for them to enjoy. And well is it said,

"in You," as if in possession of the inheritance, of which the title of the Psalm

speaks: when they too are His inheritance, which is intimated by, "You will dwell

in them." From which good they are kept back, whom God, according to the

multitude of their ungodlinesses, drives out.

 

17. "For You will bless the just man" (ver. 12). This is blessing, to glory in God,

and to be inhabited by God. Such sanctification is given to the just. But that they

may be justified, a calling goes before: which is not of merit, but of the grace of

God. "For all have sinned, and want the glory of God." Romans 3:23 "For whom

He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified."

Romans 8:30 Since then calling is not of our merit, but of the goodness and mercy

of God, he went on to say, "O Lord, as with the shield of Your good will You have

crowned us." For God's good will goes before our good will, to call sinners to

repentance. And these are the arms whereby the enemy is overcome, against

whom it is said, "Who will bring accusation against God's elect?" Again, "if God

be for us, who can be against us? Who spared not His Only Son, but delivered

Him up for us all." "For if, when we were enemies, Christ died for us; much more

being reconciled shall we be saved from wrath through Him." Romans 5:10 This is

that unconquerable shield, whereby the enemy is driven back, when he suggests

despair of our salvation through the multitude of tribulations and temptations.

 

18. The whole contents of the Psalm, then, are a prayer that she may be heard,

from the words, "hear my words, O Lord," unto, "my King, and my God." Then

follows a view of those things which hinder the sight of God, that is, a knowledge

that she is heard, from the words, "because I shall pray unto You, O Lord, in the

morning You will hear my voice," unto, "the man of blood and the crafty man the

Lord will abominate." Thirdly, she hopes that she, who is to be the house of God,

even now begins to draw near to Him in fear, before that perfection which casts

out fear, from the words, "but I in the multitude of Your mercy," unto, "I will

worship at Your holy temple in Your fear." Fourthly, as she is progressing and

advancing amongst those very things which she feels to hinder her, she prays that

she may be assisted within, where no man sees, lest she be turned aside by evil

tongues, for the words, "O Lord, lead me forth in Your justice because of my

enemies," unto, "with their tongues they dealt craftily." Fifthly, is a prophecy of

what punishment awaits the ungodly, when the just man shall scarcely be saved;

and of what reward the just shall obtain, who, when they were called, came, and

bore all things manfully, till they were brought to the end, from the words, "judge

them, O God," unto the end of the Psalm.

 

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                                                   Psalm 6                                                        29

 

                                    Exposition on Psalm 6

 

To the end, in the hymns of the eighth, a psalm to David.

 

1. "Of the eighth," seems here obscure. For the rest of this title is more clear. Now

it has seemed to some to intimate the day of judgment, that is, the time of the

coming of our Lord, when He will come to judge the quick and dead. Which

coming, it is believed, is to be, after reckoning the years from Adam, seven

thousand years: so as that seven thousand years should pass as seven days, and

afterwards that time arrive as it were the eighth day. But since it has been said by

the Lord, "It is not yours to know the times, which the Father has put in His own

power:" Acts 1:7 and, "But of the day and that hour knows no man, no, neither

angel, nor Power, neither the Son, but the Father alone:" Mark 13:32 and again,

that which is written, "that the day of the Lord comes as a thief," shows clearly

enough that no man should arrogate to himself the knowledge of that time, by any

computation of years. For if that day is to come after seven thousand years, every

man could learn its advent by reckoning the years. What comes then of the Son's

even not knowing this? Which of course is said with this meaning, that men do not

learn this by the Son, not that He by Himself does not know it: according to that

form of speech, "the Lord your God tries you that He may know;"

Deuteronomy 13:3 that is, that He may make you know: and, "arise, O Lord;" that

is, make us arise. When therefore the Son is thus said not to know this day; not

because He knows it not, but because He causes those to know it not, for whom it

is not expedient to know it, that is, He does not show it to them; what does that

strange presumption mean, which, by a reckoning up of years, expects the day of

the Lord as most certain after seven thousand years?

 

2. Be we then willingly ignorant of that which the Lord would not have us know:

and let us inquire what this title, "of the eighth," means. The day of judgment may

indeed, even without any rash computation of years, be understood by the eighth,

for that immediately after the end of this world, life eternal being attained, the

souls of the righteous will not then be subject unto times: and, since all times have

their revolution in a repetition of those seven days, that peradventure is called the

eighth day, which will not have this variety. There is another reason, which may

be here not unreasonably accepted, why the judgment should be called the eighth,

because it will take place after two generations, one relating to the body, the other

to the soul. For from Adam unto Moses the human race lived of the body, that is,

according to the flesh: which is called the outward and the old man, and to which

the Old Testament was given, that it might prefigure the spiritual things to come

by operations, albeit religious, yet carnal. Through this entire season, when men

lived according to the body, "death reigned," as the Apostle says, "even over those

that had not sinned." Now it reigned "after the similitude of Adam's

 

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                                                   Psalm 6                                                          30

 

transgression," Romans 5:14 as the same Apostle says; for it must be taken of the

period up to Moses, up to which time the works of the law, that is, those

sacraments of carnal observance, held even those bound, for the sake of a certain

mystery, who were subject to the One God. But from the coming of the Lord, from

whom there was a transition from the circumcision of the flesh to the circumcision

of the heart, the call was made, that man should live according to the soul, that is,

according to the inner man, who is also called the "new man" Colossians 3:10 by

reason of the new birth and the renewing of spiritual conversation. Now it is plain

that the number four has relation to the body, from the four well known elements

of which it consists, and the four qualities of dry, humid, warm, cold. Hence too it

is administered by four seasons, spring, summer, autumn, winter. All this is very

well known. For of the number four relating to the body we have treated elsewhere

somewhat subtly, but obscurely: which must be avoided in this discourse, which

we would have accommodated to the unlearned. But that the number three has

relation to the mind may be understood from this, that we are commanded to love

God after a threefold manner, with the whole heart, with the whole soul, with the

whole mind: of each of which severally we must treat, not in the Psalms, but in the

Gospels: for the present, for proof of the relation of the number three to the mind, I

think what has been said enough. Those numbers then of the body which have

relation to the old man and the Old Testament, being past and gone, the numbers

too of the soul, which have relation to the new man and the New Testament, being

past and gone, a septenary so to say being passed; because everything is done in

time, four having been distributed to the body, three to the mind; the eighth will

come, the day of judgment: which assigning to deserts their due, will transfer at

once the saint, not to temporal works, but to eternal life; but will condemn the

ungodly to eternal punishment.

 

3. In fear of which condemnation the Church prays in this Psalm, and says,

"Reprove me not, O Lord, in Your anger" (ver. 1). The Apostle too mentions the

anger of the judgment; "Thou treasurest up unto yourself," he says, "anger against

the day of the anger of the just judgment of God." Romans 2:5 In which he would

not be reproved, whosoever longs to be healed in this life. "Nor in Your rage

chasten me." "Chasten," seems rather too mild a word; for it avails toward

amendment. For for him who is reproved, that is, accused, it is to be feared lest his

end be condemnation. But since "rage" seems to be more than "anger," it may be a

difficulty, why that which is milder, namely, chastening, is joined to that which is

more severe, namely, rage. But I suppose that one and the same thing is signified

by the two words. For in the Greek qumoj, which is in the first verse, means the

same as orgh, which is in the second verse. But when the Latins themselves too

wished to use two distinct words, they looked out for what was akin to "anger,"

and "rage" was used. Hence copies vary. For in some "anger" is found first, and

then "rage:" in others, for "rage," "indignation" or "choler" is used. But whatever

the reading, it is an emotion of the soul urging to the infliction of punishment. Yet


                                                        Psalm 6                                                       31

 

this emotion must not be attributed to God, as if to a soul, of whom it is said, "but

Thou, O Lord of power, judgest with tranquillity." Wisdom 12:18 Now that which

is tranquil, is not disturbed. Disturbance then does not attach to God as judge: but

what is done by His ministers, in that it is done by His laws, is called His anger. In

which anger, the soul, which now prays, would not only not be reproved, but not

even chastened, that is, amended or instructed. For in the Greek it is, Paideuhj,

that is, instruct. Now in the day of judgment all are "reproved" that hold not the

foundation, which is Christ. But they are amended, that is, purged, who "upon this

foundation build wood, hay, stubble. For they shall suffer loss, but shall be saved,

as by fire." What then does he pray, who would not be either reproved or amended

in the anger of the Lord? what else but that he may be healed? For where sound

health is, neither death is to be dreaded, nor the physician's hand with caustics or

the knife.

 

4. He proceeds accordingly to say, "Pity me, O Lord, for I am weak: heal me, O

Lord, for my bones are troubled" (ver. 2), that is, the support of my soul, or

strength: for this is the meaning of "bones." The soul therefore says, that her

strength is troubled, when she speaks of bones. For it is not to be supposed, that

the soul has bones, such as we see in the body. Wherefore, what follows tends to

explain it, "and my soul is troubled exceedingly" (ver. 3), lest because he

mentioned bones, they should be understood as of the body. "And You, O Lord,

how long?" Who does not see represented here a soul struggling with her diseases;

but long kept back by the physician, that she may be convinced what evils she has

plunged herself into through sin? For what is easily healed, is not much avoided:

but from the difficulty of the healing, there will be the more careful keeping of

recovered health. God then, to whom it is said, "And You, O Lord, how long?"

must not be deemed as if cruel: but as a kind convincer of the soul, what evil she

has procured for herself. For this soul does not yet pray so perfectly, as that it can

be said to her, "Whilst you are yet speaking I will say, Behold, here I am."

Isaiah 65:24 That she may at the same time also come to know, if they who do

turn meet with so great difficulty, how great punishment is prepared for the

ungodly, who will not turn to God: as it is written in another place, "If the

righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the sinner and ungodly appear?"

1 Peter 4:18

 

5. "Turn, O Lord, and deliver my soul" (ver. 4). Turning herself she prays that God

too would turn to her: as it is said, "Turn ye unto Me, and I will turn unto you,

says the Lord." Zechariah 1:3 Or is it to be understood according to that way of

speaking, "Turn, O Lord," that is make me turn, since the soul in this her turning

feels difficulty and toil? For our perfected turning finds God ready, as says the

Prophet, "We shall find Him ready as the dawn." Since it was not His absence who

is everywhere present, but our turning away that made us lose Him; "He was in

this world," it is said, "and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him

 

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                                                      Psalm 6                                                       32

 

not." John 1:10 If, then, He was in this world, and the world knew Him not, our

impurity does not endure the sight of Him. But while we are turning ourselves,

that is, by changing our old life are fashioning our spirit; we feel it hard and

toilsome to be wrested back from the darkness of earthly lusts, to the serene and

quiet and tranquillity of the divine light. And in such difficulty we say, "Turn, O

Lord," that is, help us, that that turning may be perfected in us, which finds You

ready, and offering Yourself for the fruition of them that love You. And hence

after he said, "Turn, O Lord," he added, "and deliver my soul:" cleaving as it were

to the entanglements of this world, and suffering, in the very act of turning, from

the thorns, as it were, of rending and tearing desires. "Make me whole," he says,

"for Your pity's sake." He knows that it is not of his own merits that he is healed:

for to him sinning, and transgressing a given command, was just condemnation

due. Heal me therefore, he says, not for my merit's sake, but for Your pity's sake.

 

6. "For in death there is no one that is mindful of You" (ver. 5). He knows too that

now is the time for turning unto God: for when this life shall have passed away,

there remains but a retribution of our deserts. "But in hell who shall confess to

You?" Luke xvi That rich man, of whom the Lord speaks, who saw Lazarus in

rest, but bewailed himself in torments, confessed in hell, yea so as to wish even to

have his brethren warned, that they might keep themselves from sin, because of

the punishment which is not believed to be in hell. Although therefore to no

purpose, yet he confessed that those torments had deservedly lighted upon him;

since he even wished his brethren to be instructed, lest they should fall into the

same. What then is, "But in hell who will confess to You?" Is hell to be

understood as that place, whither the ungodly will be cast down after the

judgment, when by reason of that deeper darkness they will no more see any light

of God, to whom they may confess anything? For as yet that rich man by raising

his eyes, although a vast gulf lay between, could still see Lazarus established in

rest: by comparing himself with whom, he was driven to a confession of his own

deserts. It may be understood also, as if the Psalmist calls sin, that is committed in

contempt of God's law, death: so as that we should give the name of death to the

sting of death, because it procures death. "For the sting of death is sin."

1 Corinthians 15:56 In which death this is to be unmindful of God, to despise His

law and commandments: so that by hell the Psalmist would mean that blindness of

soul which overtakes and enwraps the sinner, that is, the dying. "As they did not

think good," the Apostle says, "to retain God in" their "knowledge, God gave them

over to a reprobate mind." Romans 1:28 From this death, and this hell, the soul

earnestly prays that she may be kept safe, while she strives to turn to God, and

feels her difficulties.

 

7. Wherefore he goes on to say, "I have laboured in my groaning." And as if this

availed but little, he adds, "I will wash each night my couch" (ver. 6). That is here

called a couch, where the sick and weak soul rests, that is, in bodily gratification

 

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                                                  Psalm 6                                                       33

 

and in every worldly pleasure. Which pleasure, whoso endeavours to withdraw

himself from it, washes with tears. For he sees that he already condemns carnal

lusts; and yet his weakness is held by the pleasure, and willingly lies down therein,

from whence none but the soul that is made whole can rise. As for what he says,

"each night," he would perhaps have it taken thus: that he who, ready in spirit,

perceives some light of truth, and yet, through weakness of the flesh, rests

sometime in the pleasure of this world, is compelled to suffer as it were days and

nights in an alternation of feeling: as when he says, "With the mind I serve the law

of God," he feels as it were day; again when he says, "but with the flesh the law of

sin," Romans 7:25 he declines into night: until all night passes away, and that one

day comes, of which it is said, "In the morning I will stand by You, and will see."

For then he will stand, but now he lies down, when he is on his couch; which he

will wash each night, that with so great abundance of tears he may obtain the most

assured remedy from the mercy of God. "I will drench my bed with tears." It is a

repetition. For when he says, "with tears," he shows with what meaning he said

above, "I will wash." For we take "bed" here to be the same as "couch" above.

Although, "I will drench," is something more than, "I will wash:" since anything

may be washed superficially, but drenching penetrates to the more inward parts;

which here signifies weeping to the very bottom of the heart. Now the variety of

tenses which he uses; the past, when he said, "I have laboured in my groaning;"

and the future, when he said, "I will wash each night my couch;" the future again,

"I will drench my bed with tears;" this shows what every man ought to say to

himself, when he labours in groaning to no purpose. As if he should say, It has not

profited when I have done this, therefore I will do the other.

 

8. "My eye is disordered by anger" (ver. 7): is it by his own, or God's anger, in

which he makes petition that he might not be reproved, or chastened? But if anger

in that place intimate the day of judgment, how can it be understood now? Is it a

beginning of it, that men here suffer pains and torments, and above all the loss of

the understanding of the truth; as I have already quoted that which is said, "God

gave them over to a reprobate mind"? Romans 1:28 For such is the blindness of

the mind. Whosoever is given over thereunto, is shut out from the interior light of

God: but not wholly as yet, while he is in this life. For there is "outer darkness,"

Matthew 25:30 which is understood to belong rather to the day of judgment; that

he should rather be wholly without God, whosoever while there is time refuses

correction. Now to be wholly without God, what else is it, but to be in extreme

blindness? If indeed God "dwell in inaccessible light," 1 Timothy 6:16 whereinto

they enter, to whom it is said, "Enter thou into the joy of your Lord." It is then the

beginning of this anger, which in this life every sinner suffers. In fear therefore of

the day of judgment, he is in trial and grief; lest he be brought to that, the

disastrous commencement of which he experiences now. And therefore he did not

say, my eye is extinguished, but, "my eye is disordered by anger." But if he mean

that his eye is disordered by his own anger, there is no wonder either in this. For

 

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                                                       Psalm 6                                                           34

 

hence perhaps it is said, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath;"

Ephesians 4:26 because the mind, which, from her own disorder, is not permitted

to see God, supposes that the inner sun, that is, the wisdom of God, suffers as it

were a setting in her.

 

9. "I have grown old in all mine enemies." He had only spoken of anger (if it were

yet of his own anger that he spoke): but thinking on his other vices, he found that

he was entrenched by them all. Which vices, as they belong to the old life and the

old man, which we must put off, that we may put on the new man, Colossians 3:9-

 

10 it is well said, "I have grown old." But "in all mine enemies," he means, either

amidst these vices, or amidst men who will not be converted to God. For these,

even if they know them not, even if they bear with them, even if they use the same

tables and houses and cities, with no strife arising between them, and in frequent

converse together with seeming concord: notwithstanding, by the contrariety of

their aims, they are enemies to those who turn unto God. For seeing that the one

love and desire this world, the others wish to be freed from this world, who sees

not that the first are enemies to the last? For if they can, they draw the others into

punishment with them. And it is a great grace, to be conversant daily with their

words, and not to depart from the way of God's commandments. For often the

mind which is striving to go on to God-ward, being rudely handled in the very

road, is alarmed; and generally fulfils not its good intent, lest it should offend

those with whom it lives, who love and follow after other perishable and transient

goods. From such every one that is whole is separated, not in space, but in soul.

For the body is contained in space, but the soul's space is her affection.

 

10. Wherefore after the labour, and groaning, and very frequent showers of tears,

since that cannot be ineffectual, which is asked so earnestly of Him, who is the

Fountain of all mercies, and it is most truly said, "the Lord is nigh unto them that

are of a broken heart:" after difficulties so great, the pious soul, by which we may

also understand the Church, intimating that she has been heard, see what she adds:

"Depart from me, all you that work iniquity; for the Lord has heard the voice of

my weeping" (ver. 8). It is either spoken prophetically, since they will depart, that

is, the ungodly will be separated from the righteous, when the day of judgment

arrives, or, for this time present. For although both are equally found in the same

assemblies, yet on the open floor the wheat is already separated from the chaff,

though it be hid among the chaff. They can therefore be associated together, but

cannot be carried away by the wind together.

 

11. "For the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping; The Lord has heard my

supplication; the Lord has received my prayer" (ver. 9). The frequent repetition of

the same sentiments shows not, so to say, the necessities of the narrator, but the

warm feeling of his joy. For they that rejoice are wont so to speak, as that it is not

enough for them to declare once for all the object of their joy. This is the fruit of

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                                               Psalm 6                                                           35

 

that groaning in which there is labour, and those tears with which the couch is

washed, and bed drenched: for, "he that sows in tears, shall reap in joy:" and,

"blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted."

 

12. "Let all mine enemies be ashamed and vexed" (ver. 10). He said above, "depart

from me all you:" which can take place, as it has been explained, even in this life:

but as to what he says, "let them be ashamed and vexed," I do not see how it can

happen, save on that day when the rewards of the righteous and the punishments

of the sinners shall be made manifest. For at present so far are the ungodly from

being ashamed, that they do not cease to insult us. And for the most part their

mockings are of such avail, that they make the weak to be ashamed of the name of

Christ. Hence it is said, "Whosoever shall be ashamed of Me before men, of him

will I be ashamed before My Father." But now whosoever would fulfil those

sublime commands, to disperse, to give to the poor, that his righteousness may

endure for ever; and selling all his earthly goods, and spending them on the needy,

would follow Christ, saying, "We brought nothing into this world, and truly we

can carry nothing out; having food and raiment, let us be therewith content;"

1 Timothy 6:7-8 incurs the profane raillery of those men, and by those who will

not be made whole, is called mad; and often to avoid being so called by desperate

men, he fears to do, and puts off that, which the most faithful and powerful of all

physicians has ordered. It is not then at present that these can be ashamed, by

whom we have to wish that we be not made ashamed, and so be either called back

from our proposed journey, or hindered, or delayed. But the time will come when

they shall be ashamed, saying as it is written, "These are they whom we had

sometimes in derision, and a parable of reproach: we fools counted their life

madness, and their end to be without honour: how are they numbered among the

children of God, and their lot is among the saints? Therefore have we erred from

the way of truth, and the light of righteousness has not shined into us, nor the sun

risen upon us: we have been filled with the way of wickedness and destruction,

and have walked through rugged deserts, but the way of the Lord we have not

known. What has pride profited us, or what has the vaunting of riches brought us?

All those things are passed away like a shadow." Wisdom 5:3-9

 

13. But as to what he says, "Let them be turned and confounded," who would not

judge it to be a most righteous punishment, that they should have a turning unto

confusion, who would not have one unto salvation? After this he added,

"exceeding quickly." For when the day of judgment shall have begun to be no

longer looked for, when they shall have said, "Peace, then shall sudden destruction

come upon them." Now whensoever it come, that comes very quickly, of whose

coming we give up all expectation; and nothing makes the length of this life be felt

but the hope of living. For nothing seems more quick, than all that has already

passed in it. When then the day of judgment shall come, then will sinners feel how

that all the life which passes away is not long. Nor will that any way possibly

 

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                                                         Psalm 6                                                     36

 

seem to them to have come tardily, which shall have come without their desiring,

or rather without their believing. Although it can too be taken in this place thus,

that inasmuch as God has heard, so to say, her groans, and her long and frequent

tears, she may be understood to be freed from her sins, and to have tamed every

disordered impulse of carnal affection: as she says, "Depart from me, all you that

work iniquity, for the Lord has heard the voice of my weeping:" and when she has

had this happy issue, it is no marvel if she be already so perfect as to pray for her

enemies. The words then, "Let all mine enemies be ashamed, and vexed," may

have this meaning; that they should repent of their sins, which cannot be effected

without confusion and vexation. There is then nothing to hinder us from taking

what follows too in this sense, "let them be turned and ashamed," that is, let them

be turned to God, and be ashamed that they sometime gloried in the former

darkness of their sins; as the Apostle says, "For what glory had ye sometime in

those things of which you are now ashamed?" Romans 6:21 But as to what he

added, "exceeding quickly," it must be referred either to the warm affection of her

wish, or to the power of Christ; who converts to the faith of the Gospel in such

quick time the nations, which in their idols' cause did persecute the Church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                Psalm 7                                                            37

 

                                  Exposition on Psalm 7

 

A psalm to David himself, which he sung to the Lord, for the words of Chusi, son

of Jemini.

 

1. Now the story which gave occasion to this prophecy may be easily recognised

in the second book of Kings. 2 Samuel 15:34-37 For there Chusi, the friend of

king David, went over to the side of Absalom, his son, who was carrying on war

against his father, for the purpose of discovering and reporting the designs which

he was taking against his father, at the instigation of Achitophel, who had revolted

from David's friendship, and was instructing by his counsel, to the best of his

power, the son against the father. But since it is not the story itself which is to be

the subject of consideration in this Psalm, from which the prophet has taken a veil

of mysteries, if we have passed over to Christ, let the veil be taken away.

2 Corinthians 3:16 And first let us inquire into the signification of the very names,

what it means. For there have not been wanting interpreters, who investigating

these same words, not carnally according to the letter, but spiritually, declare to us

that Chusi should be interpreted silence; and Gemini, right-handed; Achitophel,

brother's ruin. Among which interpretations, Judas, that traitor, again meets us,

that Absalom should bear his image, according to that interpretation of it as a

father's peace; in that his father was full of thoughts of peace toward him: although

he in his guile had war in his heart, as was treated of in the third Psalm. Now as

we find in the Gospels that the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ are called sons,

Matthew 9:15 so in the same Gospels we find they are called brethren also. For the

Lord on the resurrection says, "Go and say to My brethren." John 20:17 And the

Apostle calls Him "the first begotten among many brethren." The ruin then of that

disciple, who betrayed Him, is rightly understood to be a brother's ruin, which we

said is the interpretation of Achitophel. Now as to Chusi, from the interpretation of

silence, it is rightly understood that our Lord contended against that guile in

silence, that is, in that most deep secret, whereby "blindness happened in part to

Israel," Romans 11:25 when they were persecuting the Lord, that the fulness of the

Gentiles might enter in, and "so all Israel might be saved." When the Apostle came

to this profound secret and deep silence, he exclaimed, as if struck with a kind of

awe of its very depth, "O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of

God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For

who has known the wind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor?"

Romans 11:33-34 Thus that great silence he does not so much discover by

explanation, as he sets forth its greatness in admiration. In this silence the Lord,

hiding the sacrament of His adorable passion, turns the brother's voluntary ruin,

that is, His betrayer's impious wickedness, into the order of His mercy and

providence: that what he with perverse mind wrought for one Man's destruction,

He might by providential overruling dispose for all men's salvation. The perfect

soul then, which is already worthy to know the secret of God, sings a Psalm unto

 

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                                                       Psalm 7                                                           38

 

the Lord, she sings "for the words of Chusi," because she has attained to know the

words of that silence: for among unbelievers and persecutors there is that silence

and secret. But among His own, to whom it is said, "Now I call you no more

servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does; but I have called you

friends, for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you:

John 15:15 among His friends, I say, there is not the silence, but the words of the

silence, that is, the meaning of that silence set forth and manifested. Which

silence, that is, Chusi, is called the son of Gemini, that is, righthanded. For what

was done for the Saints was not to be hidden from them. And yet He says, "Let not

the left hand know what the right hand does." Matthew 6:3 The perfect soul then,

to which that secret has been made known, sings in prophecy "for the words of

Chusi," that is, for the knowledge of that same secret. Which secret God at her

right hand, that is, favourable and propitious unto her, has wrought. Wherefore this

silence is called the Son of the right hand, which is, "Chusi, the son of Gemini."

 

2. "O Lord my God, in You have I hoped: save me from all them that persecute

me, and deliver me" (ver. 1). As one to whom, already perfected, all the war and

enmity of vice being overcome, there remains no enemy but the envious devil, he

says, "Save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me (ver. 2): lest at any

time he tear my soul as a lion." The Apostle says, "Your adversary the devil, as a

roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour." 1 Peter 5:8 Therefore

when the Psalmist said in the plural number, "Save me from all them that

persecute me:" he afterwards introduced the singular, saying, "lest at any time he

tear my soul as a lion." For he does not say, lest at any time they tear: he knew

what enemy and violent adversary of the perfect soul remained. "Whilst there be

none to redeem, nor to save:" that is, lest he tear me, while Thou redeemest not,

nor savest. For, if God redeem not, nor save, he tears.

 

3. And that it might be clear that the already perfect soul, which is to be on her

guard against the most insidious snares of the devil only, says this, see what

follows. "O Lord my God, if I have done this" (ver. 3). What is it that he calls

"this"? Since he does not mention the sin by name, are we to understand sin

generally? If this sense displease us, we may take that to be meant which follows:

as if we had asked, what is this that you say, "this"? He answers, "If there be

iniquity in my hands." Now then it is clear that it is said of all sin, "If I have repaid

them that recompense me evil" (ver. 4). Which none can say with truth, but the

perfect. For so the Lord says, "Be perfect, as your Father which is in heaven; who

makes His sun to rise upon the good and the evil, and rains on the just and the

unjust." Matthew 5:43, 45 He then who repays not them that recompense evil, is

perfect. When therefore the perfect soul prays "for the words of Chusi, the son of

Jemini," that is, for the knowledge of that secret and silence, which the Lord,

favourable to us and merciful, wrought for our salvation, so as to endure, and with

all patience bear, the guiles of this betrayer: as if He should say to this perfect

 

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                                                    Psalm 7                                                          39

 

soul, explaining the design of this secret, For you ungodly and a sinner, that your

iniquities might be washed away by My blood-shedding, in great silence and great

patience I bore with My betrayer; will you not imitate me, that you too may not

repay evil for evil? Considering then, and understanding what the Lord has done

for him, and by His example going on to perfection, the Psalmist says, "If I have

repaid them that recompense me evil:" that is, if I have not done what You have

taught me by Your example: "may I therefore fall by mine enemies empty." And

he says well, not, If I have repaid them that do me evil; but, who "recompense."

For who so recompenses, had received somewhat already. Now it is an instance of

greater patience, not even to repay him evil, who after receiving benefits returns

evil for good, than if without receiving any previous benefit he had had a mind to

injure. If therefore he says, "I have repaid them that recompense me evil:" that is,

If I have not imitated You in that silence, that is, in Your patience, which You

have wrought for me, "may I fall by mine enemies empty." For he is an empty

boaster, who, being himself a man, desires to avenge himself on a man; and while

he openly seeks to overcome a man, is secretly himself overcome by the devil,

rendered empty by vain and proud joy, because he could not, as it were, be

conquered. The Psalmist knows then where a greater victory may be obtained, and

where "the Father which sees in secret will reward." Matthew 6:6 Lest then he

repay them that recompense evil, he overcomes his anger rather than another man,

being instructed too by those writings, wherein it is written, "Better is he that

overcomes his anger, than he that takes a city." Proverbs 16:32 "If I have repaid

them that recompense me evil, may I therefore fall by my enemies empty." He

seems to swear by way of execration, which is the heaviest kind of oath, as when

one says, If I have done so and so, may I suffer so and so. But swearing in a

swearer's mouth is one thing, in a prophet's meaning another. For here he mentions

what will really befall men who repay them that recompense evil; not what, as by

an oath, he would imprecate on himself or any other.

 

4. "Let the enemy" therefore "persecute my soul and take it" (ver. 5). By again

naming the enemy in the singular number, he more and more clearly points out

him whom he spoke of above as a lion. For he persecutes the soul, and if he has

deceived it, will take it. For the limit of men's rage is the destruction of the body;

but the soul, after this visible death, they cannot keep in their power: whereas

whatever souls the devil shall have taken by his persecutions, he will keep. "And

let him tread my life upon the earth:" that is, by treading let him make my life

earth, that is to say, his food. For he is not only called a lion, but a serpent too, to

whom it was said, "Earth shall you eat." Genesis 3:14 And to the sinner was it

said, "Earth you are, and into earth shall you go." Genesis 3:19 "And let him bring

down my glory to the dust." This is that dust which "the wind casts forth from the

face of the earth," to wit, vain and silly boasting of the proud, puffed up, not of

solid weight, as a cloud of dust carried away by the wind. Justly then has he here

spoken of the glory, which he would not have brought down to dust. For he would

 

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                                                    Psalm 7                                                     40

 

have it solidly established in conscience before God, where there is no boasting.

"He that glories," says the Apostle, "let him glory in the Lord." 1 Corinthians 1:31

This solidity is brought down to the dust if one through pride despising the secrecy

of conscience, where God only proves a man, desires to glory before men. Hence

comes what the Psalmist elsewhere says, "God shall bruise the bones of them that

please men." Now he that has well learned or experienced the steps in overcoming

vices, knows that this vice of empty glory is either alone, or more than all, to be

shunned by the perfect. For that by which the soul first fell, she overcomes the

last. "For the beginning of all sin is pride:" and again, "The beginning of man's

pride is to depart from God."

 

5. "Arise, O Lord, in Your anger" (ver. 6). Why yet does he, who we say is

perfect, incite God to anger? Must we not see, whether he rather be not perfect,

who, when he was being stoned, said, "O Lord, lay not this sin to their charge"?

Acts 7:60 Or does the Psalmist pray thus not against men, but against the devil and

his angels, whose possession sinners and the ungodly are? He then does not pray

against him in wrath, but in mercy, whosoever prays that that possession may be

taken from him by that Lord "who justifies the ungodly." Romans 4:5 For when

the ungodly is justified, from ungodly he is made just, and from being the

possession of the devil he passes into the temple of God. And since it is a

punishment that a possession, in which one longs to have rule, should be taken

away from him: this punishment, that he should cease to possess those whom he

now possesses, the Psalmist calls the anger of God against the devil. "Arise, O

Lord; in Your anger." "Arise" (he has used it as "appear"), in words, that is, human

and obscure; as though God sleeps, when He is unrecognised and hidden in His

secret workings. "Be exalted in the borders of mine enemies." He means by

borders the possession itself, in which he wishes that God should be exalted, that

is, be honoured and glorified, rather than the devil, while the ungodly are justified

and praise God. "And arise, O Lord my God, in the commandment that You have

given:" that is, since You have enjoined humility, appear in humility; and first

fulfil what You have enjoined; that men by Your example overcoming pride may

not be possessed of the devil, who against Your commandments advised to pride,

saying, "Eat, and your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods." Genesis 3:5

 

6. "And the congregation of the people shall surround You." This may be

understood two ways. For the congregation of the people can be taken, either of

them that believe, or of them that persecute, both of which took place in the same

humiliation of our Lord: in contempt of which the multitude of them that persecute

surrounded Him; concerning which it is said, "Why have the heathen raged, and

the people meditated vain things?" But of them that believe through His

humiliation the multitude so surrounded Him, that it could be said with the

greatest truth, "blindness in part is happened unto Israel, that the fulness of the

Gentiles might come in:" Romans 11:25 and again, "Ask of me, and I will give

 

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                                                       Psalm 7                                                       41

 

You the Gentiles for Your inheritance, and the boundaries of the earth for Your

possession." "And for their sakes return Thou on high:" that is, for the sake of this

congregation return Thou on high: which He is understood to have done by His

resurrection and ascension into heaven. For being thus glorified He gave the Holy

Ghost, which before His exaltation could not be given, as it is written in the

Gospel, "for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet

glorified." John 7:39 Having then returned on high for the sake of the

congregation of the people, He sent the Holy Ghost: by whom the preachers of the

Gospel being filled, filled the whole world with Churches.

 

7. It can be taken also in this sense: "Arise, O Lord, in Your anger, and be exalted

in the borders of mine enemies:" that is, arise in Your anger, and let not mine

enemies understand You; so that to "be exalted," should be this, become high, that

You may not be understood; which has reference to the silence spoken of above.

For it is of this exaltation thus said in another Psalm, "And He ascended upon

Cherubim, and flew:" and, "He made darkness His secret place." In which

exaltation, or concealment, when for their sins' desert they shall not understand

You, who shall crucify You, "the congregation" of believers "shall surround You."

For in His very humiliation He was exalted, that is, was not understood. So that,

"And arise, O Lord my God, in the commandment that You have given:" may

have reference to this, that is, when Thou showest Yourself, be high or deep that

mine enemies may not understand You. Now sinners are the enemies of the just

man, and the ungodly of the godly man. "And the congregation of the people shall

surround You:" that is, by this very circumstance, that those who crucify You

understand You not, the Gentiles shall believe in You, and so "shall the

congregation of the people surround You." But what follows, if this be the true

meaning, has in it more pain, that it begins already to be perceived, than joy that it

is understood. For it follows, "and for their sakes return Thou on high," that is, and

for the sake of this congregation of the human race, wherewith the Churches are

crowded, return Thou on high, that is, again cease to be understood. What then is,

"and for their sakes," but that this congregation too will offend You, so that You

may most truly foretell and say, "Thinkest Thou when the Son of man shall come,

He will find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8 Again, of the false prophets, who are

understood to be heretics, He says, "Because of their iniquity the love of many

shall wax cold." Matthew 24:12 Since then even in the Churches, that is, in that

congregation of peoples and nations, where the Christian name has most widely

spread, there shall be so great abundance of sinners, which is already, in great

measure, perceived; is not that famine of the word Amos 8:11 here predicted,

which has been threatened by another prophet also? Is it not too for this

congregation's sake, who, by their sins, are estranging from themselves that light

of truth, that God returns on high, that is, so that faith, pure and cleansed from the

corruption of all perverse opinions, is held and received, either not at all, or by the

very few of whom it was said, "Blessed is he that shall endure to the end, the same

 

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                                                          Psalm 7                                                   42

 

shall be saved"? Mark 13:13 Not without cause then is it said, "and for the sake of

this" congregation "return Thou on high:" that is, again withdraw into the depth of

Your secrecy, even for the sake of this congregation of the peoples, that has Your

name, and does not Your deeds.

 

8. But whether the former exposition of this place, or this last be the more suitable,

without prejudice to any one better, or equal, or as good, it follows very

consistently, "the Lord judges the people." For whether He returned on high,

when, after the resurrection, He ascended into heaven, well does it follow, "The

Lord judges the people:" for that He will come from thence to judge the quick and

the dead. Or whether He return on high, when the understanding of the truth leaves

sinful Christians, for that of His coming it has been said, "Do you think the Son of

Man on His coming will find faith on the earth?" Luke 18:8 "The Lord" then

"judges the people." What Lord, but Jesus Christ? "For the Father judges no man,

but has committed all judgment unto the Son." John 5:22 Wherefore this soul

which prays perfectly, see how she fears not the day of judgment, and with a truly

secure longing says in her prayer, "Your kingdom come: judge me," she says, "O

Lord, according to my righteousness." In the former Psalm a weak one was

entreating, imploring rather the mercy of God, than mentioning any desert of his

own: since the Son of God came "to call sinners to repentance." Matthew 9:13

Therefore he had there said, "Save me, O Lord, for Your mercy's sake;" that is, not

for my desert's sake. But now, since being called he has held and kept the

commandments which he received, he is bold to say, "Judge me, O Lord,

according to my righteousness, and according to my harmlessness, that is upon

me." This is true harmlessness, which harms not even an enemy. Accordingly,

well does he require to be judged according to his harmlessness, who could say

with truth, "If I have repaid them that recompense me evil." As for what he added,

"that is upon me," it can refer not only to harmlessness, but can be understood also

with reference to righteousness; that the sense should be this, Judge me, O Lord,

according to my righteousness, and according to my harmlessness, which

righteousness and harmlessness is upon me. By which addition he shows that this

very thing, that the soul is righteous and harmless, she has not by herself, but by

God who gives brightness and light. For of this he says in another Psalm, "You, O

Lord, wilt light my candle." And of John it is said, that "he was not the light, but

bore witness of the light." John 1:8 "He was a burning and shining candle."

John 5:35 That light then, whence souls, as candles, are kindled, shines forth not

with borrowed, but with original, brightness, which light is truth itself. It is then so

said, "According to my righteousness, and according to my harmlessness, that is

upon me," as if a burning and shining candle should say, Judge me according to

the flame which is upon me, that is, not that wherewith I am myself, but that

whereby I shine enkindled of you.

 

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                                                          Psalm 7                                                    43

 

9. "But let the wickedness of sinners be consummated" (ver. 9). He says, "be

consummated," be completed, according to that in the Apocalypse, "Let the

righteous become more righteous, and let the filthy be filthy still."

Revelation 22:11 For the wickedness of those men appears consummate, who

crucified the Son of God; but greater is theirs who will not live uprightly, and hate

the precepts of truth, for whom the Son of God was crucified. "Let the wickedness

of sinners," then he says, "be consummated," that is, arrive at the height of

wickedness, that just judgment may be able to come at once. But since it is not

only said, "Let the filthy be filthy still;" but it is said also, "Let the righteous

become more righteous;" he joins on the words, "And You shall direct the

righteous, O God, who searches the hearts and reins." How then can the righteous

be directed but in secret? when even by means of those things which, in the

commencement of the Christian ages, when as yet the saints were oppressed by the

persecution of the men of this world, appeared marvellous to men, now that the

Christian name has begun to be in such high dignity, hypocrisy, that is pretence,

has increased; of those, I mean, who by the Christian profession had rather please

men than God. How then is the righteous man directed in so great confusion of

pretence, save while God searches the hearts and reins; seeing all men's thoughts,

which are meant by the word heart; and their delights, which are understood by the

word reins? For the delight in things temporal and earthly is rightly ascribed to the

reins; for that it is both the lower part of man, and that region where the pleasure

of carnal generation dwells, through which man's nature is transferred into this life

of care, and deceiving joy, by the succession of the race. God then, searching our

heart, and perceiving that it is there where our treasure is, that is, in heaven;

searching also the reins, and perceiving that we do not assent to flesh and blood,

but delight ourselves in the Lord, directs the righteous man in his inward

conscience before Him, where no man sees, but He alone who perceives what each

man thinks, and what delights each. For delight is the end of care; because to this

end does each man strive by care and thought, that he may attain to his delight. He

therefore sees our cares, who searches the heart. He sees too the ends of cares, that

is delights, who narrowly searches the reins; that when He shall find that our cares

incline neither to the lust of the flesh, nor to the lust of the eyes, nor to the pride of

life, 1 John 2:16 all which pass away as a shadow, but that they are raised upward

to the joys of things eternal, which are spoilt by no change, He may direct the

righteous, even He, the God who searches the hearts and reins. For our works,

which we do in deeds and words, may be known unto men; but with what mind

they are done, and to what end we would attain by means of them, He alone

knows, the God who searches the hearts and reins.

 

10. "My righteous help is from the Lord, who makes whole the upright in heart"

(ver. 10). The offices of medicine are twofold, on the curing infirmity, the other

the preserving health. According to the first it was said in the preceding Psalm,

"Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak;" according to the second it is said in

 

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                                              Psalm 7                                                          44

 

this Psalm, "If there be iniquity in my hands, if I have repaid them that

recompense me evil, may I therefore fall by my enemies empty." For there the

weak prays that he may be delivered, here one already whole that he may not

change for the worse. According to the one it is there said, "Make me whole for

Your mercy's sake;" according to this other it is here said, "Judge me, O Lord,

according to my righteousness." For there he asks for a remedy to escape from

disease; but here for protection from falling into disease. According to the former

it is said, "Make me whole, O Lord, according to Your mercy:" according to the

latter it is said, "My righteous help is from the Lord, who makes whole the upright

in heart." Both the one and the other makes men whole; but the former removes

them from sickness into health, the latter preserves them in this health. Therefore

there the help is merciful, because the sinner has no desert, who as yet longs to be

justified, "believing on Him who justifies the ungodly;" Romans 4:5 but here the

help is righteous, because it is given to one already righteous. Let the sinner then

who said, "I am weak," say in the first place, "Make me whole, O Lord, for Your

mercy's sake;" and here let the righteous man, who said, "If I have repaid them

that recompense me evil," say, "My righteous help is from the Lord, who makes

whole the upright in heart." For if he sets forth the medicine, by which we may be

healed when weak, how much more that by which we may be kept in health. For if

"while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, how much more being now

justified shall we be kept whole from wrath through Him." Romans 5:8-9

 

11. "My righteous help is from the Lord, who makes whole the upright in heart."

God, who searches the hearts and reins, directs the righteous; but with righteous

help makes He whole the upright in heart. He does not as He searches the hearts

and reins, so make whole the upright in heart and reins; for the thoughts are both

bad in a depraved heart, and good in an upright heart; but delights which are not

good belong to the reins, for they are more low and earthly; but those that are good

not to the reins, but to the heart itself. Wherefore men cannot be so called upright

in reins, as they are called upright in heart, since where the thought is, there at

once the delight is too; which cannot be, unless when things divine and eternal are

thought of. "You have given," he says, "joy in my heart," when he had said, "The

light of Your countenance has been stamped on us, O Lord." For although the

phantoms of things temporal, which the mind falsely pictures to itself, when tossed

by vain and mortal hope, to vain imagination oftentimes bring a delirious and

maddened joy; yet this delight must be attributed not to the heart, but to the reins;

for all these imaginations have been drawn from lower, that is, earthly and carnal

things. Hence it comes, that God, who searches the hearts and reins, and perceives

in the heart upright thoughts, in the reins no delights, affords righteous help to the

upright in heart, where heavenly delights are coupled with clean thoughts. And

therefore when in another Psalm he had said, "Moreover even to-night my reins

have chided me;" he went on to say as touching help, "I foresaw the Lord alway in

my sight, for He is on my right hand, that I should not be moved." Where he

 

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                                                          Psalm 7                                                      45

 

shows that he suffered suggestions only from the reins, not delights as well; for he

had suffered these, then he would of course be moved. But he said, "The Lord is

on my right hand, that I should not be moved;" and then he adds, "Wherefore was

my heart delighted;" that the reins should have been able to chide, not delight him.

The delight accordingly was produced not in the reins, but there, where against the

chiding of the reins God was foreseen to be on the right hand, that is, in the heart.

 

12. "God the righteous judge, strong (in endurance) and long-suffering" (ver. 11).

What God is judge, but the Lord, who judges the people? He is righteous; who

"shall render to every man according to his works." Matthew 16:27 He is strong

(in endurance); who, being most powerful, for our salvation bore even with

ungodly persecutors. He is long-suffering; who did not immediately, after His

resurrection, hurry away to punishment, even those that persecuted Him, but bore

with them, that they might at length turn from that ungodliness to salvation: and

still He bears with them, reserving the last penalty for the last judgment, and up to

this present time inviting sinners to repentance. "Not bringing in anger every day."

Perhaps "bringing in anger" is a more significant expression than being angry (and

so we find it in the Greek copies); that the anger, whereby He punishes, should not

be in Him, but in the minds of those ministers who obey the commandments of

truth through whom orders are given even to the lower ministries, who are called

angels of wrath, to punish sin: whom even now the punishment of men delights

not for justice' sake, in which they have no pleasure, but for malice' sake. God then

does not "bring in anger every day," that is, He does not collect His ministers for

vengeance every day. For now the patience of God invites to repentance: but in the

last time, when men "through their hardness and impenitent heart shall have

treasured up for themselves anger in the day of anger, and revelation of the

righteous judgment of God, Romans 2:5 then He will brandish His sword."

 

13. "Unless ye be converted," He says, "He will brandish His sword" (ver. 12).

The Lord Man Himself may be taken to be God's double-edged sword, that is, His

spear, which at His first coming He will not brandish, but hides as it were in the

sheath of humiliation: but He will brandish it, when at the second coming to judge

the quick and dead, in the manifest splendour of His glory, He shall flash light on

His righteous ones, and terror on the ungodly. For in other copies, instead of, "He

shall brandish His sword," it has been written, "He shall make bright His spear:"

by which word I think the last coming of the Lord's glory most appropriately

signified: seeing that is understood of His person, which another Psalm has,

"Deliver, O Lord, my soul from the ungodly, Your spear from the enemies of Your

hand. He has bent His bow, and made it ready." The tenses of the words must not

be altogether overlooked, how he has spoken of "the sword" in the future, "He will

brandish;" of "the bow" in the past, "He has bent:" and these words of the past

tense follow after.

 

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                                                Psalm 7                                                        46

 

14. "And in it He has prepared the instruments of death: He has wrought His

arrows for the burning" (ver. 13). That bow then I would readily take to be the

Holy Scripture, in which by the strength of the New Testament, as by a sort of

string, the hardness of the Old has been bent and subdued. From thence the

Apostles are sent forth like arrows, or divine preachings are shot. Which arrows

"He has wrought for the burning," arrows, that is, whereby being stricken they

might be inflamed with heavenly love. For by what other arrows was she stricken,

who says, "Bring me into the house of wine, place me among perfumes, crowd me

among honey, for I have been wounded with love"? By what other arrows is he

kindled, who, desirous of returning to God, and coming back from wandering,

asks for help against crafty tongues, and to whom it is said, "What shall be given

you, or what added to you against the crafty tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty,

with devastating coals:" that is, coals, whereby, when you are stricken and set on

fire, you may burn with so great love of the kingdom of heaven, as to despise the

tongues of all that resist you, and would recall you from your purpose, and to

deride their persecutions, saying, "Who shall separate me from the love of Christ?

shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or

sword? For I am persuaded," he says, "that neither death, nor life, nor angel, nor

principality, nor things present, not things to come, nor power, nor height, nor

depth, nor other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which

is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Thus for the burning has He wrought His arrows. For

in the Greek copies it is found thus, "He has wrought His arrows for the burning."

But most of the Latin copies have "burning arrows." But whether the arrows

themselves burn, or make others burn, which of course they cannot do unless they

burn themselves, the sense is complete.

 

15. But since he has said that the Lord has prepared not arrows only, but

"instruments of death" too, in the bow, it may be asked, what are "instruments of

death"? Are they, per-adventure, heretics? For they too, out of the same bow, that

is, out of the same Scriptures, light upon souls not to be inflamed with love but

destroyed with poison: which does not happen but after their deserts: wherefore

even this dispensation is to be assigned to the Divine Providence, not that it makes

men sinners, but that it orders them after they have sinned. For through sin

reaching them with an ill purpose, they are forced to understand them ill, that this

should be itself the punishment of sin: by whose death, nevertheless, the sons of

the Catholic Church are, as it were by certain thorns, so to say, aroused from

slumber, and make progress toward the understanding of the holy Scriptures. "For

there must be also heresies, that they which are approved," he says, "may be made

manifest among you:" 1 Corinthians 11:19 that is, among men, seeing they are

manifest to God. Or has He haply ordained the same arrows to be at once

instruments of death for the destruction of unbelievers, and wrought them burning,

or for the burning, for the exercising of the faithful? For that is not false that the

Apostle says, "To the one we are the savour of life unto life, to the other the

 

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                                                Psalm 7                                                           47

 

savour of death unto death; and who is sufficient for these things?"

2 Corinthians 2:16 It is no wonder then if the same Apostles be both instruments

of death in those from whom they suffered persecution, and fiery arrows to

inflame the hearts of believers.

 

16. Now after this dispensation righteous judgment will come: of which the

Psalmist so speaks, as that we may understand that each man's punishment is

wrought out of his own sin, and his iniquity turned into vengeance: that we may

not suppose that that tranquillity and ineffable light of God brings forth from Itself

the means of punishing sin; but that it so orders sins, that what have been delights

to man in sinning, should be instruments to the Lord avenging. "Behold," he says,

"he has travailed with injustice." Now what had he conceived, that he should

travail with injustice? "He has conceived," he says, "toil." Hence then comes that,

"In toil shall you eat your bread." Genesis 3:17 Hence too that, "Come unto Me all

you that toil and are heavy laden; for My yoke is easy, and My burden light." For

toil will never cease, except one love that which cannot be taken away against his

will. For when those things are loved which we can lose against our will, we must

needs toil for them most miserably; and to obtain them, amid the straitnesses of

earthly cares, while each desires to snatch them for himself, and to be beforehand

with another, or to wrest it from him, must scheme injustice. Duly then, and quite

in order, has he travailed with injustice, who has conceived toil. Now he brings

forth what, save that with which he has travailed, although he has not travailed

with that which he conceived? For that is not born, which is not conceived; but

seed is conceived, that which is formed from the seed is born. Toil is then the seed

of iniquity, but sin the conception of toil, that is, that first sin, to "depart from

God." Sirach 10:12 He then has travailed with injustice, who has conceived toil.

"And he has brought forth iniquity." "Iniquity" is the same as "injustice:" he has

brought forth then that with which he travailed. What follows next?

 

17. "He has opened a ditch, and dug it" (ver. 15). To open a ditch is, in earthly

matters, that is, as it were in the earth, to prepare deceit, that another fall therein,

whom the unrighteous man wishes to deceive. Now this ditch is opened when

consent is given to the evil suggestion of earthly lusts: but it is dug when after

consent we press on to actual work of deceit. But how can it be, that iniquity

should rather hurt the righteous man against whom it proceeds, than the

unrighteous heart whence it proceeds? Accordingly, the stealer of money, for

instance, while he desires to inflict painful harm upon another, is himself maimed

by the wound of avarice. Now who, even out of his right mind, sees not how great

is the difference between these men, when one suffers the loss of money, the other

of innocence? "He will fall" then "into the pit which he has made." As it is said in

another Psalm, "The Lord is known in executing judgments; the sinner is caught in

the works of his own hands."

 

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                                                  Psalm 7                                                              48

 

18. "His toil shall be turned on his head, and his iniquity shall descend on his pate"

(ver. 16). For he had no mind to escape sin: but was brought under sin as a slave,

so to say, as the Lord says, "Whosoever sinneth is a slave." John 8:34 His iniquity

then will be upon him, when he is subject to his iniquity; for he could not say to

the Lord, what the innocent and upright say, "My glory, and the lifter up of my

head." He then will be in such wise below, as that his iniquity may be above, and

descend on him; for that it weighs him down and burdens him, and suffers him not

to fly back to the rest of the saints. This occurs, when in an ill regulated man

reason is a slave, and lust has dominion.

 

19. "I will confess to the Lord according to His justice" (ver. 17). This is not the

sinner's confession: for he says this, who said above most truly, "If there be

iniquity in my hands:" but it is a confession of God's justice, in which we speak

thus, Verily, O Lord, You are just, in that Thou both so protectest the just, that

Thou enlightenest them by Yourself; and so orderest sinners, that they be punished

not by Yours, but by their own malice. This confession so praises the Lord, that

the blasphemies of the ungodly can avail nothing, who, willing to excuse their evil

deeds, are unwilling to attribute to their own fault that they sin, that is, are

unwilling to attribute their fault to their fault. Accordingly they find either fortune

or fate to accuse, or the devil, to whom He who made us has willed that it should

be in our power to refuse consent: or they bring in another nature, which is not of

God: wretched waverers, and erring, rather than confessing to God, that He should

pardon them. For it is not fit that any be pardoned, except he says, I have sinned.

He, then, that sees the deserts of souls so ordered by God, that while each has his

own given him, the fair beauty of the universe is in no part violated, in all things

praises God: and this is not the confession of sinners, but of the righteous. For it is

not the sinner's confession when the Lord says, "I confess to You, O Lord of

heaven and earth, because You have hid these things from the wise, and revealed

them to babes." Matthew 11:25 Likewise in Ecclesiasticus it is said, "Confess to

the Lord in all His works: and in confession you shall say this, All the works of the

Lord are exceeding good." Which can be seen in this Psalm, if any one with a

pious mind, by the Lord's help, distinguish between the rewards of the righteous

and the penalties of the sinners, how that in these two the whole creation, which

God made and rules, is adorned with a beauty wondrous and known to few. Thus

then he says, "I will confess to the Lord according to His justice," as one who saw

that darkness was not made by God, but ordered nevertheless. For God said, "Let

light be made, and light was made." Genesis 1:3 He did not say, Let darkness be

made, and darkness was made: and yet He ordered it. And therefore it is said,

"God divided between the light, and the darkness: and God called the light day,

and the darkness He called night." Genesis 1:4-5 This is the distinction, He made

the one and ordered it: but the other He made not, but yet He ordered this too. But

now that sins are signified by darkness, so is it seen in the Prophet, who says,

"And your darkness shall be as the noon day:" Isaiah 5 8: 10 and in the Apostle,

 

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                                                     Psalm 7                                                         49

 

who says, "He that hates his brother is in darkness:" 1 John 2:11 and above all that

text, "Let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light."

Romans 13:12 Not that there is any nature of darkness. For all nature, in so far as

it is nature, is compelled to be. Now being belongs to light: not being to darkness.

He then that leaves Him by whom he was made, and inclines to that whence he

was made, that is, to nothing, is in this sin endarkened: and yet he does not utterly

perish, but he is ordered among the lowest things. Therefore after the Psalmist

said, "I will confess unto the Lord:" that we might not understand it of confession

of sins, he adds lastly, "And I will sing to the name of the Lord most high." Now

singing has relation to joy, but repentance of sins to sadness.

 

20. This Psalm can also be taken in the person of the Lord Man: if only that which

is there spoken in humiliation be referred to our weakness, which He bore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                Psalm 8                                                       50

 

                                Exposition on Psalm 8

 

To the end, for the wine-presses, a psalm of David himself.

 

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," says he, "He will lay up in garners; but the chaff He will burn with

fire unquenchable." Luke 3:17 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. Numbers 13:23 Accordingly, when the Divine Word

makes 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. John 19:29 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, Matthew 26:29 must needs be most sweet and most sound.


                                                  Psalm 8                                                      51

 

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 admirable is Your Name in all

the earth!" (ver. 1). I ask, how is His Name wonderful in all the earth? The answer

is, "For Your 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 You! for

Your glory has been raised from earthly humiliation above the heavens. For hence

it appeared who You were that descended, when it was by some seen, and by the

rest believed, whither it was that You ascended.

 

5. "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings You have made perfect praise,

because of Your 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." 1 Corinthians 3:1-2 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 You have made perfect praise?"

Matthew 21:16 Now with good reason He says not, You have made, but, "You

have 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;" 1 Corinthians 2:6 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 believes; 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." Ephesians 3:17-19

 

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6. "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings You have made perfect praise,

because of Your 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 Corinthians 2:6-10 and promise certain

knowledge: 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 You have made perfect praise," Thou, our Lord, declaring first by the

Apostle, "Except ye believe, you shall not understand;" and saying by His own

mouth, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and shall believe." John 20:29

"Because of the enemies:" against whom too that is said, "I confess to You, O

Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hid these things from the wise, and

revealed them unto babes." Matthew 11:25 "From the wise," he says, not the really

wise, but those who deem themselves such. "That You may destroy the enemy and

the defender." Whom but the heretic? 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 Your heavens, the works of Your 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. 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 works 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." Exodus 8:19 And what is

written, "The heavens shall be rolled up as a book." Although it be said of this

æthereal 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 Your

fingers:" that is, I shall discern and understand the Scriptures, which Thou, by the

operation of the Holy Ghost, hast written by Your ministers.

 

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8. Accordingly the heavens named above also may be interpreted as the same

books, where he says, "For Your glory has been raised above the heavens:" so that

the complete meaning should be this, "For Your glory has been raised above the

heavens;" for Your glory has exceeded the declarations of all the Scriptures: "Out

of the mouth of babes and sucklings You have made perfect praise," that they

should begin by belief in the Scriptures, who would arrive at the knowledge of

Your glory: which has been raised above the Scriptures, in that it passes by and

transcends the announcements of all words and languages. Therefore has 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:" 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,

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. 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 bowels of the

mercy of God.

 

9. "For I shall see the heavens, the works of Your fingers, the moon and the stars,

which You have 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. 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."

 

10. "What is man, that You are 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 You are

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-

 

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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, 1 Corinthians 15:49 should be rather called

sons of men; for the former again is called the old man 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; 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 visits, with whom being

present He enlightens him with His countenance. For "salvation is far from

sinners;" and, "The light of Your countenance has been stamped upon us, O Lord."

So in another Psalm he says, 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 reaches 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 speaks thus: "Men and beasts You will make whole, O Lord, as Your

mercy has been multiplied, O God. But the sons of men shall put their trust in the

covering of Your wings. They shall be inebriated with the richness of Your house,

and of the torrent of Your pleasures You shall make them drink. For with You is

the fountain of life, and in Your light shall we see light. Extend Your mercy to

them that know You." Through the multiplication of mercy then He is mindful of

man, as of beasts; for that multiplied mercy reaches even to them that are afar off;

but He visits the son of man, over whom, placed under the covering of His wings,

He extends mercy, and in His light gives light, and makes him drink of His

pleasures, and inebriates 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, while 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?"

 

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,

 

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it is justly said, "You have 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 have You 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. "You have 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 Corinthians 15:27 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. Hebrews 2:8 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 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? For if we take the one lost sheep to be the human soul in

Adam, since Eve even was made out of his side, Genesis 2:21-22 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, "You shall not

muzzle the ox that treads out the corn." 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? "You have 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.

 

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13. "Yea moreover," says he, "the beasts of the field." 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: 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 leads to destruction:" Matthew 7:13 and in a field is Abel slain. Genesis 4:8

Wherefore there is cause to fear, lest one coming down from the mountains of

God's righteousness ("for your righteousness," he says, "is as the mountains of

God") 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." 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?" 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

walks or swims. 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 John 2:15-16 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:" Matthew 4:3 by vain boasting, where, when stationed on

a mountain, all the kingdoms of this earth are shown Him, and promised if He

would worship: Matthew 4:8-9 by curiosity, where, from the pinnacle of the

temple, He is advised to cast Himself down, for the sake of trying whether He

 

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would be borne up by Angels. Matthew 4:6 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." Luke 4:13 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, "O

Lord our Lord, how wonderful is Your 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                Exposition on Psalm 9

 

1. The inscription of this Psalm is, "To the end for the hidden things of the Son, a

Psalm of David himself." 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,

"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. 2 Samuel xv 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. 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 you be free indeed." John 8:36 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." Romans 11:25

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." 1 Peter 4:17 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 believes in Me has

passed from death unto life, and shall not come into judgment;" John 5:24 into the

 

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manifest judgment, that is. For that which passes from death unto life by means of

some affliction, whereby "He scourges every son whom He receives,"

Hebrews 12:6 is the hidden judgment. "But whoso believes not," says He, "has

been judged already:" John 3:18 that is, by this hidden judgment has 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, You gave a judgment to mock them; But they that have not been corrected

by this judgment have felt a judgment worthy of God." Wisdom 12:25-26 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 You, O Lord, with my whole heart" (ver. 1). He does not,

with a whole heart, confess unto God, who doubts of His Providence in any

particular: but he who sees already the hidden things of the wisdom of God, how

great is His invisible reward, who says, "We rejoice in tribulations;" Romans 5:3

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

Your 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 calls the soul to the light, but the invisible

enlightens 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 You" (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 You," namely, in the hidden things of the Son, where "the light of Your

countenance has been stamped on us, O Lord:" for, "You will hide them," says he,

"in the hiding place of Your countenance." He then will be glad and exult in You,

who tells all Your marvels. And He will tell all Your marvels (since it is now

spoken of prophetically), "who came not to do His own will, but the will of Him

who sent Him." John 6:3 8

 

4. For now the Person of the Lord begins to appear speaking in this Psalm. For it

follows, "I will sing to Your Name, O Most High, in turning mine enemy behind."

 

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His enemy then, where was he turned back? Was it when it was said to him, "Get

behind, Satan"? Matthew 16:23 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." 1 Corinthians 15:47 But from

this stock he came by whom it was said, "He who comes after me is preferred

before me." John 1:15 And the Apostle forgets "those things that are behind, and

reaches forth unto those things that are before." Philippians 3:13 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 must 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 has been

made a refuge for us."

 

5. "They will be weakened, and perish from Your 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 lives in me." Galatians 2:20 But why will

the ungodly "be weakened and perish from your face?" "Because," he says, "You

have made my judgment, and my cause:" that is, the judgment in which I seemed

to be judged, You have made mine; and the cause in which men condemned me

just and innocent, You have 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 sat on the throne Who judgest equity" (ver. 4). Whether the Son say this

to the Father, who said also, "You could have no power against Me, except it were

given you from above," John 19:11 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 sat 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:" Isaiah 66:1 for "God was in Christ,

reconciling the world unto Himself:" 2 Corinthians 5:19 or whether the soul of the

Church, perfect now and without spot and wrinkle, Ephesians 5:27 worthy, that is,

of the hidden things of the Son, in that "the King has brought her into His

chamber," Song of Songs 1:4 say to her spouse, "Thou sat upon the throne Who

judgest equity," in that You have risen from the dead, and ascended up into

 

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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. "You have rebuked the heathen, and the ungodly has perished" (ver. 5). We take

this to be more suitably said to the Lord Jesus Christ, than said by Him. For who

else has 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. "You have effaced their name for the world, and for the world's

world. The name of the ungodly has 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, while the

moon is on the wane, and again on the increase, while the sun each year returns to

his quarter, while spring, or summer, or autumn, or winter passes away only to

return, is in 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 passes away, it were added "for the

world's world." For in the Greek copies it is thus, eid ton aiwna, kai eij ton aipna ton aipnoj 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 You have 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 various 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 you 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 works secretly, but in the last judgment it will be brandished openly.

 

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                                                  Psalm 9                                                       62

 

By it the cities are destroyed. For so it follows, "The swords of the enemy have

failed at the end: and You have 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,"

John 12:31 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," Romans 6:12 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 passes 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 abides 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 abides for ever. He has 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 and the dead, He has 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. Matthew 25:33 "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."

Romans 2:15

 

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                                             Psalm 9                                                             63

 

10. "And the Lord has become a refuge to the poor" (ver. 9). Whatsoever be the

persecutions of that enemy, who has been turned behind, what harm shall he do to

them whose refuge the Lord has 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 has the Lord become a refuge, "an Helper in

due season, in tribulation." Lo, He makes poor, for "He scourges every son whom

He receives." Hebrews 12:6 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 Your Name, hope in You" (ver. 10), when they shall

have ceased hoping in wealth, and in the other enticements of this world. For the

soul indeed that seeks 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 has 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, has known this name.

"And let them who know Your Name hope in You" (ver. 10). Again, the Lord says

to Moses, "I am That I am; and You shall say to the children of Israel, I Am, has

sent me." Exodus 3:14 "Let them" then "who know Your Name, hope in You;"

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 has 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 has sent me." Exodus 3:14 "For You have not forsaken them that seek

You, O Lord." Whoso seek Him, seek no more things transient and perishable;

"For no man can serve two masters." Matthew 6:24

 

12. "Sing to the Lord, who dwells in Sion" (ver. 11), is said to them, whom the

Lord forsakes not as they seek Him. He dwells in Sion, which is interpreted

watching, and which bears the likeness of the Church that now is; as Jerusalem

bears 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

 

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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 you are:"

1 Corinthians 3:17 again, "that Christ may dwell in the inner man in your hearts by

faith." Ephesians 3:17 It is enjoined us then, that we sing to the Lord who dwells

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 has 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 has believed our report?" Isaiah 53:1 and again, "For Your 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 has 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 has 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 has

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 has forgotten, because He does not act so speedily as

they wish. To such is said what follows also, "He has not forgotten the cry of the

poor:" that is, He has not, as you suppose, forgotten. As if they should on hearing,

"He has remembered," say, Then He had forgotten; No, "He has not forgotten,"

says the Psalmist, "the cry of the poor."

 

14. But I ask, what is that cry of the poor, which God forgets 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 intercedes for the Saints, "who" first

"for our sakes became poor, though He was rich;" 2 Corinthians 8:9 and it is He

who says, "Who exaltest me from the gates of death (ver. 14), that I may declare

all Your praises in the gates of the daughter of Sion"? For man is exalted in Him,

not that Man only which He bears, 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

has in abandoned wilfulness coveted: for "coveting is the root of all evil:"

 

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                                                   Psalm 9                                                        65

 

1 Timothy 6:10 and therefore is the gate of death, for "the widow that lives in

pleasures is dead." 1 Timothy 5:6 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, Genesis 3:7... 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 Your salvation:" that is, with blessedness shall I

be holden by Your 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 Your 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, while 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, you may be able to take

in." Ephesians 3:17-18 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 under this

pain they refuse to withdraw from pernicious delights. "In the snare" then "which

they have hid," that is, in deceitful counsel, "their foot has 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 may be tormented: but

how are they tormented, and how does the Lord do judgment? "In the works," he

says, "of his own hands has 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

 

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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." Romans 1:28

 

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," says 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," says he, "be judged in Your 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                          Psalm 10                                                 67

 

                                        Exposition on Psalm 10

 

"Why, O Lord," says he, "have You 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 Your 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 vaunts 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 works this result from their sins, which both makes

and ordains the light; but orders 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,"

says 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 has 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 has angered the Lord, that he should

suffer these things, that is, should not suffer the scourging of correction. "The

sinner has angered the Lord: according to the multitude of His anger He will not

search it out." Great is His anger, when He searches not out, when He as it were

forgets and marks 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! "Your judgments are taken away from his


                                                  Psalm 10                                                    68

 

face." For the mind conscious of evil, while it seems to itself to suffer no

punishment, believes that God does 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 has 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. Acts 8:9 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," Matthew 24:24 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 has 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.

 

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                                                   Psalm 10                                                       69

 

6. "He lies 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" Matthew 5:3 (ver. 9). "He lies 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

lies in wait," he says, "that he may catch the poor;" this has reference to craft: but

what follows, "To catch the poor while he draws him," is put to the score of

violence. For "draws" means, he brings 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, while 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, while he shall have domination over the poor;" that is, while 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 has said in his heart, God has

forgotten; He turns 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 Your hand be exalted" (ver. 12): that is, let Your power be made

manifest. Now he had said above, "Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail, let the

 

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                                                     Psalm 10                                                    70

 

heathen be judged in Your sight:" that is, in secret, where God alone sees. 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 Your 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 has forgotten, He turns away His face, that He

should not see unto the end." Now they deny that God sees unto the end, who say

that He cares 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, awakes the Lord as if He were sleeping, that He should

command the winds, and calm should be restored. Matthew 8:24-26 He says

therefore, "Arise, O Lord God, let Your 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 has the ungodly angered God?" (ver. 13); that is, what has it

profited him to do so great evil? "For he said in his heart, He will not require it."

Then follows, "For You see 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 has been left unto You." For therefore is he poor, that is, has

despised all the temporal goods of this world, that Thou only may be his hope.

"You will 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

has been crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 6:14 For of such

orphans God becomes the Father. The Lord teaches us in truth that His disciples

do become orphans, to whom He says, "Call no man father on earth."

Matthew 23:9 Of which He first Himself gave an example in saying, "Who is my

mother, and who my brethren?" Matthew 12:48 Whence some most mischievous

heretics 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."

 

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                                                        Psalm 10                                                   71

 

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 Your 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 has 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 has 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." Romans 8:25 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 hears; 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 has

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

knows it, neither angels, nor powers, nor the Son of man. Mark 13:32 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,

 

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                                                  Psalm 10                                                  72

 

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:" Matthew 20:30 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." Luke 1:32 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 does he in spirit call Him Lord,

saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit on my right hand, until I put Your

enemies under Your feet." Matthew 22:43-44 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 teaches 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, John 1:1 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 does

not say, Christ is not David's Son, but if you 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; Romans 1:3 and leave out that He is the Son of God, for

so is He David's Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                              Psalm 11                                                          73

 

                              Exposition on Psalm 11

 

To the end, a psalm of David himself.

 

1. This title does not require a fresh consideration: for the meaning of, "to the

end," has already been sufficiently handled. Let us then look to the text itself of

the Psalm, which to me appears to be sung against the heretics, 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. 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 has found her a house," and,

"The Lord has become a refuge to the poor." 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 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. 1 Corinthians 15:33 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. 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:

 

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                                                    Psalm 11                                                        74

 

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. Whom certain heretics 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 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. But howsoever that be which was done in the obscure moon, now that the

 

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                                                 Psalm 11                                                            75

 

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 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, "You shall know them by their works"? Matthew 7:16 I see indeed

marvellous works the daily violences of the Circumcelliones, 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, respecting which they raise an invidious cry, 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 You have perfected" (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 has perfected out of the mouth of

babes and sucklings, when they disturb the little ones with vain and 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 You have 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 has the Just done?" If Macarius,

if Cæcilianus, offend you, what has Christ done to you, who said, "My peace I

give unto you, My peace I leave with you;" John 14:27 which you with your

abominable dissensions have violated? What has 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 with His own hands, and blessed with His

 

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                                                            Psalm 11                                                   76

 

own mouth. What has Christ done to you? who sent this same betrayer, whom He

called a devil, John 6:70 who before betraying the Lord could not show good faith

even to the Lord's purse, John 12:6 with the other disciples to preach the kingdom

of heaven; Matthew 10:5-7 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 says,

"For the temple of God is holy, which" temple "you are." 1 Corinthians 3:17 "Now

if any man shall violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy." He violates the

temple of God, who violates unity: for he "holds not the head, from which the

whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies

according to the working after the measure of every part makes increase of the

body to the edifying of itself in love." The Lord is in this His holy temple; which

consists of His many members, fulfilling each his own separate duties, by love

built up into one building. Which temple he violates, who for the sake of his own

pre-eminence separates 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 you are,

and unto earth shall you go;" Genesis 3:19 the words, "The Lord is in His holy

temple" you will understand to be repeated, while it is said, "The Lord, His seat is

in heaven."

 

8. "His eyes look upon the poor." His to Whom the poor man has been left, and

Who has been made a refuge to the poor. And therefore all the seditions and

tumults within these nets, Matthew 13:47 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" 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 questions 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 "questions the righteous and the

 

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                                                     Psalm 11                                                    77

 

ungodly." "But whoso loves iniquity, hates his own soul:" that is, not him who

believes God, and puts not his hope in man, but only his own soul does 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. Matthew 24:24 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 rains snares upon sinners, although by them

He waters also the godly unto fruitfulness. "To some," says the Apostle, "we are

the savour of life unto life; to some the savour of death unto death."

2 Corinthians 2:16 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 rains

snares upon sinners; but when they are understood aright, He makes the hearts of

the godly and believing fruitful. As, for instance, the passage, "and they two shall

be in one flesh," Ephesians 5:31 if one interpret it with an eye to lust, He rains a

snare upon the sinner. But if you understand it, as he who says, "But I speak

concerning Christ and the Church," Ephesians 5:32 He rains 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 goes into your mouth defiles you, but that which

comes out." Matthew 15:11 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 blasphemed; 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, "Your cup inebriating how excellent is it! for they shall be

inebriated with the richness of Your house." 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 has 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

 

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                                                   Psalm 11                                                         78

 

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 has seen equity." Perhaps, "His face has

seen equity," is as if it were said, Equity has 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 has seen equity," because He does 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

You have perfected;" and of the Lord Himself, "But what has 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?" 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," 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," are suitable; that is, the Word in Man, or

the very Son of Man who is in heaven. John 3:13 "His eyes look upon the poor;"

either on to 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 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 questions the righteous and

ungodly," even now from out of Heaven governing the Church. "But whoso loves

iniquity, hates his own soul." Why it is so, what follows teaches us. For "He shall

rain snares upon the sinners:" which is to be taken according to the exposition

above given, and so on with all the rest to the end of the Psalm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                            Psalm 12                                                       79

 

                             Exposition on Psalm 12

 

To the end, for the eighth, a psalm of David.

 

1. It has been said on the sixth Psalm, 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 has 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 has 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 works no evil." Romans 13:10 "Deceitful lips,

with a heart and a heart they have spoken evil things." 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 does

evil, of the Jew first, and of the Greek." Romans 2:9 "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, says the Lord" (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."

Matthew 9:37 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." Matthew 5:3 "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 my eyes have seen Your

salvation." Luke 2:30 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

 

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                                                 Psalm 12                                                         80

 

Gospel, "For He taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes."

Matthew 7:29

 

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;

Philippians 1:16 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." 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. Isaiah 11:2 For seven steps also of

beatitude there are, which the Lord goes over, according to Matthew, in the same

sermon which He spoke 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." Matthew 5:3-9 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," Matthew 5:10 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." Matthew 7:29 Which refers to that which is said in this Psalm, "I deal

confidently in Him."

 

8. "You, O Lord, shall 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. So too it is said by Solomon, "For the wise king is the winnower of the

ungodly, and he brings on them the wheel of the wicked.—After Thine height You

have multiplied the sons of men." For there is in temporal things too a

multiplication, which turns away from the unity of God. Hence "the corruptible

body weighs down the soul, and the earthy tabernacle presses down the mind that

muses upon many things." Wisdom 9:15 But the righteous are multiplied "after the

height of God," when "they shall go from strength to strength."

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                  Psalm 13                                                   81

 

                                 Exposition on Psalm 13

 

Unto the end, a psalm of David.

 

1. "For Christ is the end of the law to every one that believes." Romans 10:4 "How

long, O Lord, will You 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 Your face from me?" As God

does not forget, so neither does He turn His face away: but Scripture speaks after

our manner. Now God is said to turn away His face, when He does not give to the

soul, which as yet has 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, will You forget me to the end, and so

long turn away Your face from me, until I shall place counsel in my 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 Your face from me." "Hear,"

refers to what was said, "How long will You forget me to the end? Lighten my

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

steadfastness of his faith. Job 2:3

 

6. "But I have hoped in Your 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 has not been moved, he be moved by this very pride.

"My heart shall exult in Your salvation;" in Christ, in the Wisdom of God. "I will

 

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                                                      Psalm 13                                                  82

 

sing to the Lord who has given me good things;" spiritual good things, not

belonging to man's day. "And I will chant 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 sees, but "to the name of the Lord," that which is known among men, which

is serviceable not for Him, but for us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                               Psalm 14                                                         83

 

                                 Exposition on Psalm 14

 

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 believes;" Romans 10:4 as the

Apostle says. We believe in 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 has 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, has 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, while 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." Romans 1:28 "There is none that does 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 has 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

does good, no not up to one" (ver. 3), must be interpreted as above. "Their throat is

an open sepulchre." 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;" Acts 10:13 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;

 

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                                              Psalm 14                                                            84

 

and "of asps," because they will not hear the precepts of the law, as asps "will not

hear the voice of the charmer;" 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 you 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." Matthew 11:28-30 "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 does 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 in Him; and the Romans will come,

and take away both our place and nation." John 11:48 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;" 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."

Romans 1:25 You have shamed the counsel of the poor, for the Lord is his hope"

(ver. 6): that is, you have despised the humble coming 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 you 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 has happened in part unto Israel, that the

fulness of the Gentiles might enter in," Romans 11:25 in that other should happen

what follows, "and so all Israel should be saved." For the Apostle too takes that

 

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                                                   Psalm 14                                                         85

 

testimony of Isaiah, where it is said, "There shall come out of Sion He who shall

turn away ungodliness from Jacob:" Isaiah 59:20 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." It is a

repetition, as is usual: for I suppose, "Israel shall be glad," is the same as, "Jacob

shall rejoice."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                 Psalm 15                                                     86

 

                                   Exposition on Psalm 15

 

A psalm of David himself.

 

1. Touching this title there is no question. "O Lord who shall sojourn in Your

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, 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

Your holy mountain?" Here perhaps he signifies at once the eternal habitation

itself, 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 that we should understand by "mountain" the

supereminence of the love of Christ in life eternal.

 

2. "He who walks without stain, and works righteousness" (ver. 2). Here he has

laid down the proposition; in what follows he sets it forth in detail.

 

3. "Who speaks 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 has practised no deceit in his tongue" (ver. 3). Deceit is practised

with the tongue, when one thing is professed with the mouth, another concealed in

the breast. "Nor done evil to his neighbour." It is well known that by "neighbour,"

every man should be understood. "And has not entertained slander against his

neighbour," that is, has not readily or rashly given credence to an accuser.

 

4. "The malicious one has been brought to nought in his sight" (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 of her own

Creator to the form of the creature, which was made out of nothing. "But those

that fear the Lord, He glorifies:" the Lord Himself, that is. Now "the fear of the

Lord is the beginning of wisdom." As then the things above belong to the perfect,

so what he is now going to say belongs to beginners.

 

5. "Who swears unto his neighbour, and deceives him not." "Who has not given

his money upon usury, and has 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

 

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                                                    Psalm 15                                                       87

 

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;"

Matthew 5:37 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 has been brought to nought. Yet he concludes

even these lesser things thus, "Whoso does 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 has been brought to nought in his

sight:" but here, "shall not be moved for ever."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                   Psalm 16                                                     88

 

                                    Exposition on Psalm 16

 

The inscription of the title, of David himself.

 

1. Our King in this Psalm speaks in the character of the human nature He assumed,

of whom the royal title at the time of His passion was eminently set forth.

 

2. Now He says as follows; "Preserve me, O Lord, for in You have I hoped" (ver.

1): "I have said to the Lord, You are 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 land 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 has wonderfully fulfilled all My wishes in them." To those saints

then He has wonderfully fulfilled all My wishes in their advancement, whereby

they have perceived, how both the humanity of My divinity has profited them that

I might die, and the divinity of the humanity that I might rise again.

 

4. "Their infirmities have been multiplied" (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. Isaiah 1:11-12 "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. "You

are He who will restore to Me My inheritance:" that to these too, whom I free,

may be known "the glory wherein I was with You before the world was made."

John 17:5 For You will not restore to Me that which I never lost, but You will

restore to these, who have lost it, the knowledge of that glory: in whom because I

am, You will restore to Me.

 

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                                                 Psalm 16                                                            89

 

6. "The lines have fallen to me in glorious places" (ver. 6). The boundaries of my

possession have fallen in Your glory as it were by lot, like as God is the

possession of the Priests and Levites. Numbers 18:20 "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 has 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, has instructed Me, that I might experience

the darkness of mortality, which that understanding has not.

 

8. "I foresaw the Lord in My sight always" (ver. 8). But coming into things that

pass away, I removed not My eye from Him who abides 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 favours 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 You will not leave My soul in hell" (ver. 10). For You will neither give

My soul for a possession to those parts below. "Neither will You grant Thine Holy

One to see corruption." Neither will You suffer that sanctified body, whereby

others are to be also sanctified, to see corruption. "You have made known to Me

the paths of life" (ver. 11). You have made known through Me the paths of

humiliation, that men might return to life, from whence they fell through pride; in

whom because I am, "You have made known to Me." "You will fill Me with joy

with Your countenance." You will fill them with joy, that they should seek nothing

further, when they shall see You "face to face;" in whom because I am, "You will

fill Me." "Pleasure is at Your right hand even to the end." Pleasure is in Your

favour and mercy in this life's journey, leading on even to the end of the glory of

Your countenance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                  Psalm 17                                                   90

 

                                   Exposition on Psalm 17

 

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 You in deceitful lips. "Let

My judgment from Your countenance go forth" (ver. 2). From the enlightening of

the knowledge of You, let Me judge truth. Or at least, let My judgment go forth,

not in deceitful lips, from Your countenance, that is, that I may not in judging utter

anything else than I understand in You. "Let My eyes see equity:" the eyes, of

course, of the heart.

 

3. "You have proved and visited Mine heart in the night-season" (ver. 3). For this

Mine heart has been proved by the visitation of tribulation. "You have examined

Me by fire, and iniquity has 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 Your glory and praise; not to the

works of men, which they do beside Your will. "Because of the words of Your

lips." Because of the words of Your peace, or of Your prophets. "I have kept hard

ways." I have kept the toilsome ways of human mortality and suffering.

 

5. "To perfect My steps in Your paths" (ver. 5). That the love of the Church might

be perfected in the strait ways, whereby she arrives at Your 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 Your paths.

 

6. "I have cried out, for You have heard Me, O God" (ver. 6). With a free and

strong effort have I directed My prayers unto You: for that I might have this

power, You have heard Me when praying more weakly. "Incline Thine ear to Me,

and hear My words." Let not Your hearing forsake My humiliation.

 

7. "Make Your mercies marvellous" (ver. 7). Let not Your mercies be

disesteemed, lest they be loved too little.

 

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                                                Psalm 17                                                            91

 

8. "Who savest them that hope in You from such as resist Your right hand:" from

such as resist the favour, whereby Thou favourest Me. "Keep Me, O Lord, as the

apple of Your 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 distinguishing between the

righteous and sinners. "In the covering of Your wings protect Me." In the defence

of Your 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 has been satiated with wickedness. "Their mouth has spoken pride." And

therefore their mouth spoke pride, in saying, "Hail, King of the Jews,"

Matthew 27:29 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 "walks about, seeking whom he may devour." 1 Peter 5:8

"And as a lion's whelp dwelling in secret places." And as his whelp, the people to

whom it was said, "You are of your father the devil:" John 8:44 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. "Your weapon: from the

enemies of Your hand" (ver. 14). For My soul is Your weapon, which Your hand,

that is, Your eternal Power, has taken to subdue thereby the kingdoms of iniquity,

and divide the righteous from the ungodly. This weapon then "deliver from the

enemies of Your hand," that is, of Your 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 despair of life eternal. "And

by Your hidden things their belly has been filled." Now not only this visible

punishment shall overtake them, but also their memory has been filled with sins,

 

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                                                      Psalm 17                                                        92

 

which as darkness are hidden from the light of Your 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."

Matthew 27:25

 

14. "But I shall appear in Your righteousness in Your 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 Your righteousness in Your sight."

"I shall be satiated, when Your glory shall be manifested." And when they have

been satiated with their uncleanness, that they could not know Me, I shall be

satiated, when Your 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 a double interpretation has resulted.

Now by "children" we understand works; and as by good children, good works, so

by evil, evil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                             Psalm 18                                                       93

 

                              Exposition on Psalm 18

 

To the end, for the servant of the Lord, David himself.

 

1. That is, for the strong of hand, Christ in His Manhood. "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.

1 Samuel 8:5 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, says

here, "I will love You, O Lord, My strength" (ver. 1). I will love You, O Lord, by

whom I am strong.

 

3. "O Lord, My stay, and My refuge, and My deliverer" (ver. 2). O Lord, who hast

stayed Me, because I sought refuge with You: and I sought refuge, because You

have delivered Me. "My God is My helper; and I will hope in Him." My God, who

hast first afforded me the help of Your call, that I might be able to hope in You.

"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 You; but have found You a horn indeed, that is, the sure height of

salvation: and that I might find it, You redeemed 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 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.

 

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                                                  Psalm 18                                                          94

 

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 dwells, 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 angry 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 burns 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." Romans 13:10 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 has made darkness His hiding place" (ver. 11). And has 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," 2 Corinthians 5:7 as long as "we hope for what we see

not, and with patience wait for it." Romans 8:25 "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

 

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                                              Psalm 18                                                               95

 

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 Judæa,

but have passed over to the Gentiles. "Hail and coals of fire." Reproofs are figured,

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, 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 has thundered from heaven" (ver. 13). And in confidence of the

Gospel the Lord has 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." 2 Corinthians 2:16 "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," John 4:14 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 Your chiding, O Lord:" crying out, "The

kingdom of God is come nigh unto you." Luke 10:9 "At the blasting of the breath

of Your displeasure;" saying, "Except ye repent, you shall all likewise perish."

Luke 13:5

 

17. "He has sent down from on high, and has fetched Me (ver. 16): by calling out

of the Gentiles for an inheritance "a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle."

Ephesians 5:27 "He has taken Me out of the multitude of waters." He has taken

Me out of the multitude of peoples.

 

18. "He has delivered Me from My strongest enemies" (ver. 17). He has delivered

Me from Mine enemies, who prevailed to the afflicting and overturning of this

 

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                                              Psalm 18                                                             96

 

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 has become My stay." And since the stay of earthly pleasure was

disturbed and torn up by the bitterness of misery, the Lord has become My stay.

 

20. "And has 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 has 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" (ver. 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 has 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

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 works 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:" 2 Corinthians 4:18

whereto the height of hope appertains.

 

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                                                       Psalm 18                                                    97

 

26. "With the holy You shall be holy" (ver. 25). There is a hidden depth also,

wherein You are known to be holy with the holy, for that Thou makest holy. "And

with the harmless You shall be harmless." For Thou harmest no man, but each one

is bound by the bands of his own sins. Proverbs 5:22

 

27. "And with the chosen You shall be chosen." (ver. 26). And by him whom Thou

choosest, You are chosen. "And with the froward You shall be froward." And with

the froward Thou seemest froward: for they say, "The way of the Lord is not

right:" Ezekiel 18:25 and their way is not right.

 

28. "For You will make whole the humble people" (ver. 27). Now this seems

froward to the froward, that You will make them whole that confess their sins.

"And You will humble the eyes of the proud." But them that are "ignorant of

God's righteousness, and seek to establish their own," Romans 10:3 You will

humble.

 

29. "For you will light My candle, O Lord" (ver. 28). For our light is not from

ourselves; but "You will light my candle, O Lord. O my God, You will enlighten

my darkness." For we through our sins are darkness; but "You, O my God, wilt

enlighten my darkness."

 

30. "For by You shall I be delivered from temptation" (ver. 29). For not by myself,

but by You, 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 comes 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 follows 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 has girded me with strength" (ver. 32). God, who has girded me

that I might be strong, lest the loosely flowing folds of desire hinder my deeds and

steps. "And has made my way undefiled." And has made the way of love, whereby

I may come to Him, undefiled, as the way of faith is undefiled, whereby He comes

to me.

 

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                                               Psalm 18                                                              98

 

34. "Who has made my feet perfect like harts' feet" (ver. 33). Who has 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." Ephesians 3:19

 

35. "Who teaches my hands for battle" (ver. 34). Who teaches me to work for the

overthrow of mine enemies, who strive to shut the kingdom of heaven against us.

"And You have made mine arms as a bow of steel." And You have made my

earnest striving after good works unwearied.

 

36. "And You have given me the defence of my salvation, and Your right hand has

held me up" (ver. 35). And the favour of Your grace has held me up. "And Your

discipline has directed me to the end." And Your correction, not suffering me to

wander from the way, has directed me that whatsoever I do, I refer to that end,

whereby I may cleave to You. "And this Your discipline, it shall teach me." And

that same correction of Thine shall teach me to attain to that, whereunto it has

directed me.

 

37. "You have enlarged my steps under me" (ver. 36). Nor shall the straits of the

flesh hinder me; for You have 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 whereby I walk for evermore.

 

40. "And You have girded me with strength to the war" (ver. 39). And the loose

desires of my flesh have You bound up with strength, that in such a fight I may not

be encumbered. "You have supplanted under me them that rose up against me."

You have caused them to be deceived, who followed upon me, that they should be

brought under me, who desired to be over me.

 

41. "And you have given mine enemies the back to me" (ver. 40). And you have

turned mine enemies, and hast made them to be a back to me, that is, to follow me.

"And You have destroyed them that hate me." But such other of them as have

persisted in hatred, You have destroyed.

 

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                                                    Psalm 18                                                       99

 

42. "They have cried out, and there was none to save them" (ver. 41). For who can

save them, whom You would 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. "You will deliver Me from the contradictions of the people" (ver. 43). You will

deliver Me from the contradictions of them who said, "If we send Him away, all

the world will go after Him."

 

45. "You 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, "You are of your father the

devil," John 8:44 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, Matthew 15:2 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 lives, and blessed be my God." "But to be carnally minded is

death:" Romans 8:6 for "the Lord lives, 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

 

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                                                    Psalm 18                                                  100

 

from My angry enemies:" the Jews crying out, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him."

John 19:6

 

49. "From them that rise up against Me You will exalt Me" (ver. 48). From the

Jews that rise up against Me in My passion, You will exalt Me in My resurrection.

"From the unjust man You will deliver Me." From their unjust rule You will

deliver Me.

 

50. "For this cause will I confess to You among the Gentiles, O Lord" (ver. 49).

For this cause shall the Gentiles confess to You through Me, O Lord. "And I will

sing unto Your Name." And You shall be more widely known by My good deeds.

 

51. "Magnifying the salvation of His King" (ver. 50). God, who magnifies, so as to

make wonderful, the salvation, which His Son gives to believers. "And showing

mercy to His Christ:" God, who shows mercy to His Christ: "To David and to His

seed for evermore:" to the Deliverer Himself strong of hand, who has overcome

this world; and to them whom, as believers in the Gospel, He has 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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                                          Psalm 19                                                        101

 

                            Exposition on Psalm 19

 

To the end, a psalm of David himself.

 

1. It is a well-known title; nor does the Lord Jesus Christ say what follows, but it

is said of Him.

 

2. "The heavens tell out the glory of God" (ver. 1). The righteous Evangelists, in

whom, as in the heavens, God dwells, set forth the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ,

or the glory wherewith the Son glorified the Father upon earth. "And the

firmament shows forth the works of His hands." And the firmament shows forth

the deeds of the Lord's power, that now made heaven by the assurance of the Holy

Ghost, which before was earth by fear.

 

3. "Day unto day utters word" (ver. 2). To the spiritual the Spirit gives out the

fulness of the unchangeable Wisdom of God, the Word which in the beginning is

God with God. John 1:1 "And night unto night announces knowledge." And to the

fleshly, as to those afar off, the mortality of the flesh, by conveying faith,

announces future knowledge.

 

4. "There is no speech nor language, in which their voices are not heard" (ver. 3).

In which the voices of the Evangelists have not been heard, seeing that the Gospel

was preached in every tongue.

 

5. "Their sound is gone out into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the

world" (ver. 4).

 

6. "In the sun has He set His tabernacle." Now that He might war against the

powers of temporal error, the Lord, being about to send not peace but a sword on

earth, Matthew 10:34 in time, or in manifestation, set so to say His military

dwelling, that is, the dispensation of His incarnation. "And He as a bridegroom

coming forth out of His chamber" (ver. 5). And He, coming forth out of the

Virgin's womb, where God was united to man's nature as a bridegroom to a bride.

"Rejoiced as a giant to run His way." Rejoiced as One exceeding strong, and

surpassing all other men in power incomparable, not to inhabit, but to run His

way. For, "He stood not in the way of sinners."

 

7. "His going forth is from the highest heaven" (ver. 6). From the Father is His

going forth, not that in time, but from everlasting, whereby He was born of the

Father. "And His meeting is even to the height of heaven." And in the fulness of

the Godhead He meets even to an equality with the Father. "And there is none that

may hide himself from His heat." But whereas, "the Word was even made flesh,

and dwelt in us," John 1:14 assuming our mortality, He permitted no man to

 

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                                                  Psalm 19                                                      102

 

excuse himself from the shadow of death; for the heat of the Word penetrated even

it.

 

8. "The law of the Lord is undefiled, converting souls" (ver. 7). The law of the

Lord, therefore, is Himself who came to fulfil the law, not to destroy it;

Matthew 5:17 an undefiled law, "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His

mouth," 1 Peter 2:22 not oppressing souls with the yoke of bondage, but

converting them to imitate Him in liberty. "The testimony of the Lord is sure,

giving wisdom to babes." "The testimony of the Lord is sure;" for, "no man knows

the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him,"

Matthew 11:27 which things have been hidden from the wise and revealed to

babes; Luke 10:21 for, "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

James 4:6

 

9. "The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart" (ver. 8). All the statutes

of the Lord are right in Him who taught not what He did not; that they who should

imitate Him might rejoice in heart, in those things which they should do freely

with love, not slavishly with fear. "The commandment of the Lord is lucid,

enlightening the eyes." "The commandment of the Lord is lucid," with no veil of

carnal observances, enlightening the sight of the inner man.

 

10. "The fear of the Lord is chaste, enduring for ever" (ver. 9). "The fear of the

Lord;" not that distressing fear under the law, dreading exceedingly the

withdrawal of temporal goods, by the love of which the soul commits fornication;

but that chaste fear wherewith the Church, the more ardently she loves her Spouse,

the more carefully does she take heed of offending Him, and therefore, "perfect

love casts" not "out" this "fear," 1 John 4:18 but it endures for ever.

 

11. "The judgments of the Lord are true, justified together." The judgments of

Him, who "judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son,"

John 5:22 are justified in truth unchangeably. For neither in His threatenings nor

His promises does God deceive any man, nor can any withdraw either from the

ungodly His punishment, or from the godly His reward. "To be desired more than

gold, and much precious stone" (ver. 10). Whether it be "gold and stone itself

much," or "much precious," or "much to be desired;" still, the judgments of God

are to be desired more than the pomp of this world; by desire of which it is

brought to pass that the judgments of God are not desired, but feared, or despised,

or not believed. But if any be himself gold and precious stone, that he may not be

consumed by fire, but received into the treasury of God, more than himself does he

desire the judgments of God, whose will he preferrs to his own. "And sweeter than

honey and the honey comb." And whether one be even now honey, who,

disenthralled already from the chains of this life, is awaiting the day when he may

come up to God's feast; or whether he be yet as the honey comb, wrapped about

 

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                                                  Psalm 19                                                        103

 

with this life as it were with wax, not mixed and become one with it, but filling it,

needing some pressure of God's hand, not oppressing but expressing it, whereby

from life temporal it may be strained out into life eternal: to such an one the

judgments of God are sweeter than he himself is to himself, for that they are

"sweeter than honey and the honey comb."

 

12. "For Your servant keeps them" (ver. 11). For to him who keeps them not the

day of the Lord is bitter. "In keeping them there is great reward." Not in any

external benefit, but in the thing itself, that God's judgments are kept, is there great

reward; great because one rejoices therein.

 

13. "Who understands sins?" (ver. 12.) But what sort of sweetness can there be in

sins, where there is no understanding? For who can understand sins, which close

the very eye, to which truth is pleasant, to which the judgments of God are

desirable and sweet? yea, as darkness closes the eye, so do sins the mind, and

suffer it not to see either the light, or itself.

 

14. "Cleanse me, O Lord, from my secret faults." From the lusts which lie hid in

me, cleanse me, O Lord. "And from the" faults "of others preserve Your servant"

(ver. 13). Let me not be led astray by others. For he is not a prey to the faults of

others, who is cleansed from his own. Preserve therefore from the lusts of others,

not the proud man, and him who would be his own master, but, Your servant. "If

they get not the dominion over me, then shall I be undefiled." If neither my own

secret sins, nor those of others, get the dominion over me, then shall I be

undefiled. For there is no third source of sin, but one's own secret sin, by which

the devil fell, and another's sin, by which man is seduced, so as by consenting to

make it his own. "And I shall be cleansed from the great offence." What but pride?

for there is none greater than apostasy from God, which is "the beginning of the

pride of man." Sirach 10:12 And he shall indeed be undefiled, who is free from

this offence also; for this is the last to them who are returning to God, which was

the first as they departed from Him.

 

15. "And the words of my mouth shall be pleasing, and the meditation of my heart

is always in Your sight" (ver. 14). The meditation of my heart is not after the vain

glory of pleasing men, for now there is pride no more, but in Your sight alway,

who regardest a pure conscience. "O Lord, my Helper, and my Redeemer" (ver.

15). O Lord, my Helper, in my approach to You; for You are my Redeemer, that I

might set out unto You: lest any attributing to his own wisdom his conversion to

You, or to his own strength his attaining to You, should be rather driven back by

You, who resistest the proud; for he is not cleansed from the great offence, nor

pleasing in Your sight, who redeemest us that we may be converted, and helpest us

that we may attain unto You.

 

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                                                Psalm 20                                                104

 

                                Exposition on Psalm 20

 

To the end, a psalm of David.

 

1. This is a well-known title; and it is not Christ who speaks; but the prophet

speaks to Christ, under the form of wishing, foretelling things to come.

 

2. "The Lord hear You in the day of trouble" (ver. 1). The Lord hear You in the

day in which Thou said, "Father glorify Your Son." "The name of the God of

Jacob protect You." For to You belongs the younger people. Since "the elder shall

serve the younger."

 

3. "Send You help from the Holy, and from Sion defend You" (ver. 2). Making for

You a sanctified Body, the Church, from watching safe, which waits when You

shall come from the wedding.

 

4. "Be mindful of all Your sacrifice" (ver. 3). Make us mindful of all Your injuries

and despiteful treatment, which You have borne for us. "And be Your whole burnt

offering made fat." And turn the cross, whereon You were wholly offered up to

God, into the joy of the resurrection.

 

5. "Diapsalma." The Lord render to You according to Thine Heart" (ver. 4). The

Lord render to You, not according to their heart, who thought by persecution they

could destroy You; but according to Thine Heart, wherein Thou knew what profit

Your passion would have. John 12:32 "And fulfil all Your counsel." "And fulfil all

Your counsel," not only that whereby Thou laid down Your life for Your friends,

John 15:13 that the corrupted grain might rise again to more abundance;

John 12:24 but that also whereby "blindness in part has happened unto Israel, that

the fulness of the Gentiles might enter in, and so all Israel might be saved."

Romans 11:25-26

 

6. "We will exult in Your salvation" (ver. 5). We will exult in that death will in no

wise hurt You; for so You will also show that it cannot hurt us either. "And in the

name of the Lord our God will we be magnified." And the confession of Your

name shall not only not destroy us, but shall even magnify us.

 

7. "The Lord fulfil all Your petitions." The Lord fulfil not only the petitions which

You made on earth, but those also whereby Thou intercedest for us in heaven.

"Now have I known that the Lord has saved his Christ" (ver. 6). Now has it been

shown to me in prophecy, that the Lord will raise up His Christ again. "He will

hear Him from His holy heaven." He will hear Him not from earth only, where He

prayed to be glorified; John 17:1 but from heaven also, where interceding for us at

the Right Hand of the Father, Hebrews 7:25 He has from thence shed abroad the

 

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                                                   Psalm 20                                                  105

 

Holy Spirit on them that believe in Him. "In strength is the safety of His right

hand." Our strength is in the safety of His favour, when even out of tribulation He

gives help, that "when we are weak, then we may be strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10

"For vain is" that "safety of man," which comes not of His right hand but of His

left: for thereby are they lifted up to great pride, whosoever in their sins have

secured a temporal safety.

 

8. "Some in chariots, and some in horses" (ver. 7). Some are drawn away by the

ever moving succession of temporal goods; and some are preferred to proud

honours, and in them exult: "But we will exult in the name of the Lord our God."

But we, fixing our hope on things eternal, and not seeking our own glory, will

exult in the name of the Lord our God.

 

9. "They have been bound, and fallen" (ver. 8). And therefore were they bound by

the lust of temporal things, fearing to spare the Lord, lest they should lose their

place by "the Romans:" John 11:48 and rushing violently on the stone of offence

and rock of stumbling, they fell from the heavenly hope: to whom the blindness in

part of Israel has happened, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and wishing to

establish their own. "But we are risen, and stand upright." But we, that the Gentile

people might enter in, out of the stones raised up as children to Abraham,

Matthew 3:9 who followed not after righteousness, have attained to it, and are

risen; Romans 9:30 and not by our own strength, but being justified by faith, we

stand upright.

 

10. "O Lord, save the King:" that He, who in His Passion has shown us an

example of conflict, should also offer up our sacrifices, the Priest raised from the

dead, and established in heaven. "And hear us in the day when we shall call on

You" (ver. 9). And as He now offers for us, "hear us in the day when we shall call

on You."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                          Psalm 21                                          106

 

                          Exposition on Psalm 21

 

To the end, a psalm of David himself.

 

1. The title is a familiar one; the Psalm is of Christ.

 

2. "O Lord, the King shall rejoice in Your strength" (ver. 1). O Lord, in Your

strength, whereby the Word was made flesh, the Man Christ Jesus shall rejoice.

"And shall exult exceedingly in Your salvation." And in that, whereby Thou

quickenest all things, shall exult exceedingly.

 

3. "You have given Him the desire of His soul" (ver. 2). He desired to eat the

Passover, Luke 22:15 and to lay down His life when He would, and again when

He would to take it; and You have given it to Him. John 10:18 "And hast not

deprived Him of the good pleasure of His lips." "My peace," says He, "I leave

with you:" John 14:27 and it was done.

 

4. "For You have presented Him with the blessings of sweetness" (ver. 3). Because

He had first quaffed the blessing of Your sweetness, the gall of our sins did not

hurt Him. "Diapsalma. You have set a crown of precious stone on His Head." At

the beginning of His discoursing precious stones were brought, and compassed

Him about; His disciples, from whom the commencement of His preaching should

be made.

 

5. "He asked life; and You gave Him:" He asked a resurrection, saying, "Father,

glorify Your Son;" John 17:1 and You gave it Him, "Length of days for ever and

ever" (ver. 4). The prolonged ages of this world which the Church was to have,

and after them an eternity, world without end.

 

6. "His glory is great in Your salvation" (ver. 5). Great indeed is His glory in the

salvation, whereby You have raised Him up again. "Glory and great honour shall

Thou lay upon Him." But You shall yet add unto Him glory and great honour,

when You shall place Him in heaven at Your right hand.

 

7. "For You shall give Him blessing for ever and ever." This is the blessing which

You shall give Him for ever and ever: "You shall make Him glad in joy together

with Your countenance" (ver. 6). According to His manhood, You shall make Him

glad together with Your countenance, which He lifted up to You.

 

8. "For the King hopes in the Lord." For the King is not proud, but humble in

heart, he hopes in the Lord. "And in the mercy of the Most Highest He shall not be

moved" (ver. 7). And in the mercy of the Most Highest His obedience even unto

the death of the Cross shall not disturb His humility.

 

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                                                   Psalm 21                                          107

 

9. "Let Your hand be found by all Your enemies." Be Your power, O King, when

Thou comest to judgment, found by all Your enemies; who in Your humiliation

discerned it not. "Let Your right hand find out all that hate You" (ver. 8). Let the

glory, wherein Thou reignest at the right hand of the Father, find out for

punishment in the day of judgment all that hate You; for that now they have not

found it.

 

10. "You shall make them like a fiery oven:" You shall make them on fire within,

by the consciousness of their ungodliness: "In the time of Your countenance:" in

the time of Your manifestation. "The Lord shall trouble them in His wrath, and the

fire shall devour them" (ver. 9). And then, being troubled by the vengeance of the

Lord, after the accusation of their conscience, they shall be given up to eternal fire,

to be devoured.

 

11. "Their fruit shall Thou destroy out of the earth." Their fruit, because it is

earthly, shall Thou destroy out of the earth. "And their seed from the sons of men"

(ver. 10). And their works; or, whomsoever they have seduced, You shall not

reckon among the sons of men, whom You have called into the everlasting

inheritance.

 

12. "Because they turned evils against You." Now this punishment shall be

recompensed to them, because the evils which they supposed to hang over them by

Your reign, they turned against You to Your death. "They imagined a device,

which they were not able to establish" (ver. 11). They imagined a device, saying,

"It is expedient that one die for all:" John 11:50 which they were not able to

establish, not knowing what they said.

 

13. "For You shall set them low." For You shall rank them among those from

whom in degradation and contempt You will turn away. "In Your leavings You

shall make ready their countenance" (ver. 12). And in these things that Thou

leavest, that is, in the desires of an earthly kingdom, You shall make ready their

shamelessness for Your passion.

 

14. "Be Thou exalted, O Lord, in Your strength" (ver. 13). Be Thou, Lord, whom

in humiliation they did not discern, exalted in Your strength, which they thought

weakness. "We will sing and praise Your power." In heart and in deed we will

celebrate and make known Your marvels.

 

 

 

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                                                   Psalm 22                                                   108

 

                                        Exposition on Psalm 22

 

To the end, for the taking up of the morning, a psalm of David.

 

1. "To the end," for His own resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself speaks.

John 20:1-17 For in the morning on the first day of the week was His resurrection,

whereby He was taken up, into eternal life, "Over whom death shall have no more

dominion." Romans 6:9 Now what follows is spoken in the person of The

Crucified. For from the head of this Psalm are the words, which He cried out,

while hanging on the Cross, sustaining also the person of the old man, whose

mortality He bare. For our old man was nailed together with Him to the Cross.

Romans 6:6

 

2. "O God, my God, look upon me, why have You forsaken me far from my

salvation?" (ver. 1). Far removed from my salvation: for "salvation is far from

sinners." "The words of my sins." For these are not the words of righteousness, but

of my sins. For it is the old man nailed to the Cross that speaks, ignorant even of

the reason why God has forsaken him: or else it may be thus, The words of my

sins are far from my salvation.

 

3. "My God, I will cry unto You in the daytime, and You will not hear (ver. 2). My

God, I will cry unto You in the prosperous circumstances of this life, that they be

not changed; and You will not hear, because I shall cry unto You in the words of

my sins. "And in the night-season, and not to my folly." And so in the adversities

of this life will I cry to You for prosperity; and in like manner You will not hear.

And this Thou doest not to my folly, but rather that I may have wisdom to know

what You would have me cry for, not with the words of sins out of longing for life

temporal, but with the words of turning to You for life eternal.

 

4. "But Thou dwellest in the holy place, O Thou praise of Israel" (ver. 3). But

Thou dwellest in the holy place, and therefore will not hear the unclean words of

sins. The "praise" of him that sees You; not of him who has sought his own praise

in tasting of the forbidden fruit, that on the opening of his bodily eyes he should

endeavour to hide himself from Your sight.

 

5. "Our Fathers hoped in You." All the righteous, namely, who sought not their

own praise, but Yours. "They hoped in You, and You delivered them" (ver. 4).

 

6. "They cried unto You, and were saved." They cried unto You, not in the words

of sins, from which salvation is far; and therefore were they saved. "They hoped in

You, and were not confounded" (ver. 5). "They hoped in You," and their hope did

not deceive them. For they placed it not in themselves.

 

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                                                   Psalm 2                                                   109

 

7. "But I am a worm, and no man" (ver. 6). But I, speaking now not in the person

of Adam, but I in My own person, Jesus Christ, was born without human

generation in the flesh, that I might be as man beyond men; that so at least human

pride might deign to imitate My humility. "The scorn of men, and outcast of the

people." In which humility I was made the scorn of men, so as that it should be

said, as a reproachful railing, "Be thou His disciple:" John 9:28 and that the people

despise Me.

 

8. "All that saw Me laughed Me to scorn" (ver. 7). All that saw Me derided Me.

"And spoke with the lips, and shook the head." Matthew 27:39 And they spoke,

not with the heart, but with the lips.

 

9. For they shook their head in derision, saying, "He trusted in the Lord, let Him

deliver Him:" Matthew 27:43 "let Him save Him, since He desires Him" (ver. 8).

These were their words; but they were spoken "with the lips."

 

10. "Since You are He who drew Me out of the womb" (ver. 9). Since You are He

who drew Me, not only out of that Virgin womb (for this is the law of all men's

birth, that they be drawn out of the womb), but also out of the womb of the Jewish

nation; by the darkness whereof he is covered, and not yet born into the light of

Christ, whosoever places his salvation in the carnal observance of the Sabbath, and

of circumcision, and the like. "My hope from My mother's breasts." "My hope," O

God, not from the time when I began to be fed by the milk of the Virgin's breasts;

for it was even before; but from the breasts of the Synagogue, as I have said, out

of the womb, You have drawn Me, that I should not suck in the customs of the

flesh.

 

11. "I have been strengthened in You from the womb" (ver. 10). It is the womb of

the Synagogue, which did not carry Me, but threw Me out: but I fell not, for Thou

heldest me. "From My mother's womb You are My God." "From My mother's

womb: My mother's womb did not cause that, as a babe, I should be forgetful of

You.

 

12. "You are My God," "depart not from Me; for trouble is hard at hand" (ver. 11).

You are, therefore, My God, depart not from Me; for trouble is nigh unto Me; for

it is in My body. "For there is none to help." For who helps, if Thou helpest not?

 

13. "Many calves came about Me." The multitude of the wanton populace came

about Me. "Fat bulls closed Me in" (ver. 12). And their leaders, glad at My

oppression, "closed Me in."

 

14. "They opened their mouth upon Me" (ver. 13). They opened their mouth upon

Me, not out of Your Scripture, but of their own lusts. "As a ravening and roaring

 

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                                                   Psalm 22                                                   110

 

lion." As a lion, whose ravening is, that I was taken and led; and whose roaring,

"Crucify, Crucify." John 19:6

 

15. "I was poured out like water, and all My bones were scattered" (ver. 14). "I

was poured out like water," when My persecutors fell: and through fear, the stays

of My body, that is, the Church, My disciples were scattered from Me.

Matthew 26:56 "My heart became as melting wax, in the midst of my belly." My

wisdom, which was written of Me in the sacred books, was, as if hard and shut up,

not understood: but after that the fire of My Passion was applied, it was, as if

melted, manifested, and entertained in the memory of My Church.

 

16. "My strength dried up as a potsherd" (ver. 15). My strength dried up by My

Passion; not as hay, but a potsherd, which is made stronger by fire. "And My

tongue cleaved to My jaws." And they, through whom I was soon to speak, kept

My precepts in their hearts. "And You brought Me down to the dust of death."

And to the ungodly appointed to death, whom the wind casts forth as dust from the

face of the earth, You brought Me down.

 

17. "For many dogs came about Me" (ver. 16). For many came about Me barking,

not for truth, but for custom. "The council of the malignant came about Me." The

council of the malignant besieged Me. "They pierced My hands and feet." They

pierced with nails My hands and feet.

 

18. "They numbered distinctly all My bones" (ver. 17). They numbered distinctly

all My bones, while extended on the wood of the Cross. "Yea, these same

regarded, and beheld Me." Yea, these same, that is, unchanged, regarded and

beheld Me.

 

19. "They divided My garments for themselves, and cast the lot upon My vesture"

(ver. 18).

 

20. "But You, O Lord, withhold not Your help far from Me" (ver. 19). But You, O

Lord, raise Me up again, not as the rest of men, at the end of the world, but

immediately. "Look to My defence." "Look," that they in no wise hurt Me.

 

21. "Deliver My soul from the sword." "Deliver My soul" from the tongue of

dissension. "And My only One from the hand of the dog" (ver. 20). And from the

power of the people, barking after their custom, deliver My Church.

 

22. "Save Me from the lion's mouth:" save Me from the mouth of the kingdom of

this world: "and my humility from the horns of the unicorns" (ver. 21). And from

the loftiness of the proud, exalting themselves to special pre-eminence, and

enduring no partakers, save My humility.

 

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                                                   Psalm 22                                                   111

 

23. "I will declare Your name to My brethren" (ver. 22). I will declare Your name

to the humble, and to My Brethren that love one another as they have been

beloved by Me. John 17:6, 21 "In the midst of the Church will I sing of You." In

the midst of the Church will I with rejoicing preach You.

 

24. "You that fear the Lord, praise Him." "You that fear the Lord," seek not your

own praise, but "praise Him." "All you seed of Jacob, magnify Him" (ver. 23). All

you seed of him whom the elder shall serve, magnify Him.

 

25. "Let all the seed of Israel fear Him." Let all who have been born to a new life,

and restored to the vision of God "fear Him." "Since He has not despised, nor

disregarded the prayer of the poor man" (ver. 24). Since He has not despised the

prayer, not of him who, crying unto God in the words of sins was loath to overpass

a vain life, but the prayer of the poor man, not swollen up with transitory pomps.

"Nor has He turned away His face from Me." As from him who said, I will cry

unto You, but You will not hear. "And when I cried unto Him He heard Me."

 

26. "With You is My praise" (ver. 25). For I seek not My own praise, John 8:50

for You are My praise, who dwellest in the holy place; and, praise of Israel, You

hear The Holy One now beseeching You. "In the great Church I will confess

You." In the Church of the whole world "I will confess You." "I will offer My

vows in the sight of them that fear Him." I will offer the sacraments of My Body

and Blood in the sight of them that fear Him.

 

27. "The poor shall eat, and be filled" (ver. 26). The humble and the despisers of

the world shall eat, and imitate Me. For so they will neither desire this world's

abundance, nor fear its want. "And they shall praise the Lord, who seek Him." For

the praise of the Lord is the pouring out of that fulness. "Their hearts shall live for

ever and ever." For that food is the food of the heart.

 

28. "All the borders of the earth shall remember themselves, and be turned to the

Lord" (ver. 27). They shall remember themselves: for, by the Gentiles, born in

death and bent on outward things, God had been forgotten; and then shall all the

borders of the earth be turned to the Lord. "And all the kindreds of the nations

shall worship in His sight." And all the kindreds of the nations shall worship in

their own consciences.

 

29. "For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He shall rule over the nations" (ver. 28).

For the kingdom is the Lord's, not proud men's: and He shall rule over the nations.

 

30. "All the rich of the earth have eaten, and worshipped" (ver. 29). The rich of the

earth too have eaten the Body of their Lord's humiliation, and though they have

 

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                                                   Psalm 22                                                   112

 

not, as the poor, been filled even to imitation, yet they have worshipped. "In His

sight shall fall all that descend to earth." For He alone sees how all they fall, who

abandoning a heavenly conversation, make choice, on earth, to appear happy to

men, who see not their fall.

 

31. "And My Soul shall live to Him." And My Soul, which in the contempt of this

world seems to men as it were to die, shall live, not to itself, but to Him. "And My

seed shall serve Him" (ver. 30). And My deeds, or they who through Me believe in

Him, shall serve Him.

 

32. "The generation to come shall be declared to the Lord" (ver. 31). The

generation of the New Testament shall be declared to the honour of the Lord.

"And the heavens shall declare His righteousness." And the Evangelists shall

declare His righteousness. "To a people that shall be born, whom the Lord has

made." To a people that shall be born to the Lord through faith.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                    Psalm 23                                                   113

 

                                         Exposition on Psalm 23

 

A psalm of David himself.

 

1. The Church speaks to Christ: "The Lord feeds me, and I shall lack nothing"

(ver. 1). The Lord Jesus Christ is my Shepherd, "and I shall lack nothing."

 

2. "In a place of pasture there has He placed me" (ver. 2). In a place of fresh

pasture, leading me to faith, there has He placed me to be nourished. "By the water

of refreshing has He brought me up." By the water of baptism, whereby they are

refreshed who have lost health and strength, has He brought me up.

 

3. "He has converted my soul: He has led me forth in the paths of righteousness,

for His Name's sake" (ver. 3). He has brought me forth in the narrow ways,

wherein few walk, of His righteousness; not for my merit's sake, but for His

Name's sake.

 

4. "Yea, though I walk in the midst of the shadow of death" (ver. 4). Yea, though I

walk in the midst of this life, which is the shadow of death. "I will fear no evil, for

You are with me." I will fear no evil, for Thou dwellest in my heart by faith: and

You are now with me, that after the shadow of death I too may be with You.

"Your rod and Your staff, they have comforted me." Your discipline, like a rod for

a flock of sheep, and like a staff for children of some size, and growing out of the

natural into spiritual life, they have not been grievous to me; rather have they

comforted me: because You are mindful of me.

 

5. "You have prepared a table in my sight, against them that trouble me" (ver. 5).

Now after the rod, whereby, while a little one, and living the natural life, I was

brought up among the flock in the pastures; after that rod, I say, when I began to

be under the staff, You have prepared a table in my sight, that I should no more be

fed as a babe with milk, 1 Corinthians 3:2 but being older should take meat,

strengthened against them that trouble me. "You have fattened my head with oil."

You have gladdened my mind with spiritual joy. "And Your inebriating cup, how

excellent is it!" And Your cup yielding forgetfulness of former vain delights, how

excellent is it!

 

6. "And Your mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:" that is, as long as I

live in this mortal life, not Yours, but mine. "That I may dwell in the house of the

Lord for length of days" (ver. 6). Now Your mercy shall follow me not here only,

but also that I may dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

 

 

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                                                   Psalm 24                                                   114

 

                                       Exposition on Psalm 24

 

A psalm of David himself, on the first day of the week.

 

1. A Psalm of David himself, touching the glorifying and resurrection of the Lord,

which took place early in the morning on the first day of the week, which is now

called the Lord's Day.

 

2. "The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, the compass of the world, and

all they that dwell therein" (ver. 1); when the Lord, being glorified, is announced

for the believing of all nations; and the whole compass of the world becomes His

Church. "He has founded it above the seas." He has most firmly established it

above all the waves of this world, that they should be subdued by it, and should

not hurt it. "And has prepared it above the rivers" (ver. 2). The rivers flow into the

sea, and men of lust lapse into the world: these also the Church, which, when

worldly lusts have been conquered by the grace of God, has been prepared by love

for the reception of immortality, subdues.

 

3. "Who shall ascend into the mount of the Lord?" Who shall ascend to the height

of the righteousness of the Lord? "Or who shall stand in His holy place?" (ver. 3).

Or who shall abide in that place, whither He shall ascend, founded above the seas,

and prepared above the rivers?

 

4. "The innocent of hand, and the pure in heart" (ver. 4). Who then shall ascend

thither, and abide there, but the guiltless in deed, and pure in thought? "Who has

not received his soul in vain." Who has not reckoned his soul among things that

pass away, but feeling it to be immortal, has longed for an eternity steadfast and

unchangeable. "And has not sworn in deceit to his neighbour." And therefore

without deceit, as things eternal are simple and undeceiving, has so behaved

himself to his neighbour.

 

5. "This man shall receive blessing from the Lord, and mercy from the God of his

salvation" (ver. 5).

 

6. "This is the generation of them that seek the Lord" (ver. 6). For thus are they

born that seek Him. "Of them that seek the face of the God of Jacob. Diapsalma."

Now they seek the face of God, who gave the pre-eminence to the younger born.

Romans 9:12

 

7. "Take away your gates, you princes" (ver. 7). All you, that seek rule among

men, remove, that they hinder not, the entrances which you have made, of desire

and fear. "And be lifted up, you everlasting gates." And be lifted up, you entrances

of eternal life, of renunciation of the world, and conversion to God. "And the King

 

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                                                   Psalm 24                                                   115

 

of glory shall come in." And the King, in whom we may glory without pride, shall

come in: who having overcome the gates of death, and having opened for Himself

the heavenly places, fulfilled that which He said, "Be of good cheer, for I have

overcome the world." John 16:33

 

8. "Who is this King of glory?" Mortal nature is awe-struck in wonder, and asks,

"Who is this King of glory?" "The Lord strong and mighty." He whom you

deemed weak and overwhelmed. "The Lord mighty in battle" (ver. 8). Handle the

scars, and you will find them made whole, and human weakness restored to

immortality. The glorifying of the Lord, which was owing to earth, where It

warred with death, has been paid.

 

9. "Take away your gates, you princes." Let us go hence straightway into heaven.

Again, let the Prophet's trumpet cry aloud, "Take away too, you princes of the air,

the gates, which you have in the minds of men who 'worship the host of heaven.'"

2 Kings 17:16 "And be lifted up, you everlasting gates." And be lifted up, you

doors of everlasting righteousness, of love, and chastity, through which the soul

loves the One True God, and goes not a-whoring with the many that are called

gods. "And the King of glory shall come in" (ver. 9). "And the King of glory shall

come in," that He may at the right hand of the Father intercede for us.

 

10. "Who is this King of glory?" What! do you too, prince of the power of this air,

Ephesians 2:2 marvel and ask, "Who is this King of glory?" "The Lord of powers,

He is the King of glory" (ver. 10). Yea, His Body now quickened, He who was

tempted marches above you; He who was tempted by the angel, the deceiver, goes

above all angels. Let none of you put himself before us and stop our way, that he

may be worshipped as a god by us: neither principality, nor angel, nor power,

separates us from the love of Christ. Romans 8:39 It is good to trust in the Lord,

rather than to trust in a prince; that he who glories, should glory in the Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:31 These indeed are powers in the administration of this world,

but "the Lord of powers, He is the King of glory."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                   Psalm 25                                                   116

 

                                         Exposition on Psalm 25

 

To the end, a psalm of David himself.

 

1. Christ speaks, but in the person of the Church: for what is said has reference

rather to the Christian People turned unto God.

 

2. "Unto You, O Lord, have I lift up my soul" (ver. 1): with spiritual longing have

I lift up the soul, that was trodden down on the earth with carnal longings. "O my

God, in You I trust, I shall not be ashamed" (ver. 2). O my God, from trusting in

myself I was brought even to this weakness of the flesh; and I who on abandoning

God wished to be as God, fearing death from the smallest insect, was in derision

ashamed for my pride; now, therefore, "in You I trust, I shall not be ashamed."

 

3. "And let not my enemies mock me." And let them not mock me, who by

ensnaring me with serpent-like and secret suggestions, and prompting me with

"Well done, well done," have brought me down to this. "For all that wait upon

You shall not be confounded" (ver. 3).

 

4. "Let them be confounded who do vain things unrighteously." Let them be

confounded who act unrighteously for the acquiring things that pass away. "Make

Your ways, O Lord, known to me, and teach me Your paths" (ver. 4): not those

which are broad, and lead the many to destruction; Matthew 7:13 but Your paths,

narrow, and known to few, teach Thou me.

 

5. "In Your truth guide me:" avoiding error. "And teach me:" for by myself I know

nothing, but falsehood. "For You are the God of my salvation; and for You have I

waited all the day" (ver. 5). For dismissed by You from Paradise, and having taken

my journey into a far country, Luke 15:13 I cannot by myself return, unless Thou

meetest the wanderer: for my return has throughout the whole tract of this world's

time waited for Your mercy.

 

6. "Remember Your compassions, O Lord" (ver. 6). Remember the works of Your

mercy, O Lord; for men deem of You as though You had forgotten. "And that

Your mercies are from eternity." And remember this, that Your mercies are from

eternity. For Thou never wast without them, who hast subjected even sinful man to

vanity indeed, but in hope; Romans 8:20 and not deprived him of so many and

great consolations of Your creation.

 

7. "Remember not the offences of my youth and of my ignorance" (ver. 7). The

offences of my presumptuous boldness and of my ignorance reserve not for

vengeance, but let them be as if forgotten by You. "According to Your mercy, be

mindful of me, O God." Be mindful indeed of me, not according to the anger of

 

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                                                   Psalm 25                                                   117

 

which I am worthy, but according to Your mercy which is worthy of You. "For

Your goodness, O Lord." Not for my deservings, but for Your goodness, O Lord.

 

8. "Gracious and upright is the Lord" (ver. 8). The Lord is gracious, since even

sinners and the ungodly He so pitied, as to forgive all that is past; but the Lord is

upright too, who after the mercy of vocation and pardon, which is of grace without

merit, will require merits meet for the last judgment. "Wherefore He will establish

a law for them that fail in the way." For He has first bestowed mercy to bring them

into the way.

 

9. "He will guide the meek in judgment." He will guide the meek, and will not

confound in the judgment those that follow His will, and do not, in withstanding

It, prefer their own. "The gentle He will teach His ways" (ver. 9). He will teach

His ways, not to those that desire to run before, as if they were better able to rule

themselves; but to those who do not exalt the neck, nor lift the heel, when the easy

yoke and the light burden is laid upon them. Matthew 11:30

 

10. "All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth" (ver. 10). And what ways will

He teach them, but mercy wherein He is placable, and truth wherein He is

incorrupt? Whereof He has exhibited the one in forgiving sins, the other in judging

deserts. And therefore "all the ways of the Lord" are the two advents of the Son of

God, the one in mercy, the other in judgment. He then attains unto Him holding on

His ways, who seeing himself freed by no deserts of his own, lays pride aside, and

henceforward bewares of the severity of His trial, having experienced the

clemency of His help. "To them that seek His testament and His testimonies." For

they understand the Lord as merciful at His first advent, and as the Judge at His

second, who in meekness and gentleness seek His testament, when with His Own

Blood He redeemed us to a new life; and in the Prophets and Evangelists, His

testimonies.

 

11. "For Your Name's sake, O Lord, You will be favourable to my sin; for it is

manifold" (ver. 11). You have not only forgiven my sins, which I committed

before I believed; but also to my sin, which is manifold, since even in the way

there is no lack of stumbling, You will be made favourable by the sacrifice of a

troubled spirit.

 

12. "Who is the man that fears the Lord?" from which fear he begins to come to

wisdom. "He shall establish a law for him in the way, which he has chosen" (ver.

12). He shall establish a law for him in the way, which in his freedom he has

taken, that he may not sin now with impunity.

 

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                                                   Psalm 25                                                    118

 

13. "His soul shall dwell in good, and his seed shall, by inheritance, possess the

earth" (ver. 13). And his work shall possess the stable inheritance of a renewed

body.

 

14. "The Lord is the stay of them that fear Him" (ver. 14). Fear seems to belong to

the weak, but the Lord is the stay of them that fear Him. And the Name of the

Lord, which has been glorified throughout the whole world, is a stay to them that

fear Him. "And His testament, that it may be manifested unto them." And He

makes His testament to be manifested unto them, for the Gentiles and the bounds

of the earth are Christ's inheritance.

 

15. "My eyes are ever unto the Lord; for He shall pluck my feet out of the snare"

(ver. 15). Nor would I fear the dangers of earth, while I look not upon the earth:

for He upon whom I look, will pluck my feet out of the snare.

 

16. "Look upon me, and have mercy upon me; for I am single and poor" (ver. 16).

For I am a single people, keeping the lowliness of Your single Church, which no

schisms or heresies possess.

 

17. "The tribulations of my heart have been multiplied" (ver. 17). The tribulations

of my heart have been multiplied by the abounding of iniquity and the waxing cold

of love. Matthew 24:12 "O bring Thou me out of my necessities." Since I must

needs bear this, that by enduring unto the end I may be saved, bring Thou me out

of my necessities.

 

18. "See my humility and my travail" (ver. 18). See my humility, whereby I never,

in the boast of righteousness, break off from unity; and my travail, wherein I bear

with the unruly ones that are mingled with me. "And forgive all my sins." And,

propitiated by these sacrifices, forgive all my sins, not those only of youth and my

ignorance before I believed, but those also which, living now by faith, I commit

through infirmity, or the darkness of this life.

 

19. "Consider mine enemies, how they are multiplied" (ver. 19). For not only

without, but even within, in the Church's very communion, they are not wanting.

"And with an unrighteous hate they hate me." And they hate me who love them.

 

20. "Keep my soul, and deliver me." Keep my soul, that I turn not aside to imitate

them; and draw me out from the confusion wherein they are mingled with me.

"Let me not be confounded, for I have put my trust in You" (ver. 20). Let me not

be confounded, if haply they rise up against me: for not in myself, but in You have

I put my trust.

 

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                                                   Psalm 25                                                   119

 

21. "The innocent and the upright have cleaved to me, for I have waited for You,

O Lord" (ver. 21). The innocent and the upright, not in bodily presence only, as

the evil, are mingled with me, but in the agreement of the heart in the same

innocence and uprightness cleave to me: for I have not fallen away to imitate the

evil; but I have waited for You, expecting the winnowing of Your last harvest.

 

22. "Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles" (ver. 22). "Redeem Your

people, O God," whom You have prepared to see You, out of his troubles, not

those only which he bears without, but those also which he bears within.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                   Psalm 26                                                   120

 

                                        Exposition on Psalm 26

 

Of David himself.

 

1. It may be attributed to David himself, not the Mediator, the Man Christ Jesus,

but the whole Church now perfectly established in Christ.

 

2. "Judge me, O Lord, for I have walked in my innocence" (ver. 1). Judge me, O

Lord, for, after the mercy which You first showed me, I have some desert of my

innocence, the way whereof I have kept. "And trusting in the Lord I shall not be

moved." And yet not even so trusting in myself, but in the Lord, I shall abide in

Him.

 

3. "Prove me, O Lord, and try me" (ver. 2). Lest, however, any of my secret sins

should be hid from me, prove me, O Lord, and try me, making me known, not to

You from whom nothing is hid, but to myself, and to men. "Burn my reins and my

heart." Apply a remedial purgation, as it were fire, to my pleasures and thoughts.

"For Your mercy is before my eyes" (ver. 3). For, that I be not consumed by that

fire, not my merits, but Your mercy, whereby You have brought me on to such a

life, is before my eyes. "And I have been pleasing in Your truth." And since my

own falsehood has been displeasing to me, but Your truth pleasing, I have myself

been pleasing also with it and in it.

 

4. "I have not sat with the council of vanity" (ver. 4). I have not chosen to give my

heart to them who endeavour to provide, what is impossible, how they may be

blessed in the enjoyment of things transitory. "And I will not enter in with them

that work wickedly." And since this is the very cause of all wickedness, therefore I

will not have my conscience hid, with them that work wickedly.

 

5. "I have hated the congregation of evil doers." But to arrive at this council of

vanity, congregations of evil doers are formed, which I have hated. "And I will not

sit with the ungodly" (ver. 5). And, therefore, with such a council, with the

ungodly, I will not sit, that is, I will not place my consent. "And I will not sit with

the ungodly."

 

6. "I will wash mine hands amid the innocent" (ver. 6). I will make clean my

works among the innocent: among the innocent will I wash mine hands, with

which I shall embrace Your glorious gifts. "And I will compass Your altar, O

Lord."

 

7. "That I may hear the voice of Your praise." That I may learn how to praise You.

"And that I may declare all Your wondrous works" (ver. 7). And after I have

learned, I may set forth all Your wondrous works.

 

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                                                   Psalm 26                                                   121

 

8. "O Lord, I have loved the beauty of Your house:" of Your Church. "And the

place of the habitation of Your glory" (ver. 8): where Thou dwellest, and art

glorified.

 

9. "Destroy not my soul with the ungodly" (ver. 9). Destroy not then, together with

them that hate You, my soul, which has loved the beauty of Your house. "And my

life with the men of blood." And with them that hate their neighbour. For Your

house is beautified with the two commandments.

 

10. "In whose hands is wickedness." Destroy me not then with the ungodly and the

men of blood, whose works are wicked. "Their right hand is full of gifts" (ver. 10).

And that which was given them to obtain eternal salvation, they have converted

into the receiving this world's gifts, "supposing that godliness is a trade."

1 Timothy 6:5

 

11. "But I have walked in mine innocence: deliver me, and have mercy on me"

(ver. 11). Let so great a price of my Lord's Blood avail for my complete

deliverance: and in the dangers of this life let not Your mercy leave me.

 

12. "My foot has stood in uprightness." My Love has not withdrawn from Your

righteousness. "In the Churches I will bless You, O Lord" (ver. 12). I will not hide

Your blessing, O Lord, from those whom You have called; for next to the love of

You I join the love of my neighbour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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                                                   Psalm 27                                                   122

 

                                       Exposition on Psalm 27

 

Of David himself, before he was anointed.

 

1. Christ's young soldier speaks, on his coming to the faith. "The Lord is my light,

and my salvation: whom shall I fear?" (ver. 1). The Lord will give me both

knowledge of Himself, and salvation: who shall take me from Him? "The Lord is

the Protector of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?" The Lord will repel all the

assaults and snares of mine enemy: of no man shall I be afraid.

 

2. "Whilst the guilty approach unto me to eat up my flesh" (ver. 2). Whilst the

guilty come near to recognise and insult me, that they may exalt themselves above

me in my change for the better; that with their reviling tooth they may consume

not me, but rather my fleshly desires. "Mine enemies who trouble me." Not they

only who trouble me, blaming me with a friendly intent, and wishing to recall me

from my purpose, but mine enemies also. "They became weak, and fell." Whilst

then they do this with the desire of defending their own opinion, they became

weak to believe better things, and began to hate the word of salvation, whereby I

do what displeases them.

 

3. "If camps stand together against me, my heart will not fear." But if the

multitude of gain-sayers conspire to stand together against me, my heart will not

fear, so as to go over to their side. "If war rise up against me, in this will I trust"

(ver. 3). If the persecution of this world arise against me, in this petition, which I

am pondering, will I place my hope.

 

4. "One have I asked of the Lord, this will I require." For one petition have I asked

the Lord, this will I require. "That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the

days of my life" (ver. 4). That as long as I am in this life, no adversities may

exclude me from the number of them who hold the unity and the truth of the

Lord's faith throughout the world. "That I may contemplate the delight of the

Lord." With this end, namely, that persevering in the faith, the delightsome vision

may appear to me, which I may contemplate face to face. "And I shall be

protected, His temple." And death being swallowed up in victory, I shall be

clothed with immortality, being made His temple.

 

5. "For He has hidden me in His tabernacle in the day of my evils" (ver. 5). For He

has hidden me in the dispensation of His Incarnate Word in the time of

temptations, to which my mortal life is exposed. "He has protected me in the

secret place of His tabernacle." He has protected me, with the heart believing unto

righteousness.

 

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                                                   Psalm 27                                                   123

 

6. "On a rock has He exalted me." And that what I believed might be made

manifest for salvation, He has made my confession to be conspicuous in His own

strength. "And now, lo! He has exalted mine head above mine enemies" (ver. 6).

What does He reserve for me at the last, when even now the body is dead because

of sin, lo! I feel that my mind serves the law of God, and is not led captive under

the rebellious law of sin? "I have gone about, and have sacrificed in His tabernacle

the sacrifice of rejoicing." I have considered the circuit of the world, believing on

Christ; and in that for us God was humbled in time, I have praised Him with

rejoicing: for with such sacrifice He is well pleased. "I will sing and give praises

to the Lord." In heart and in deed I will be glad in the Lord.

 

7. "Hear my voice, O Lord, wherewith I have cried unto You" (ver. 7). Hear, Lord,

my interior voice, which with a strong intention I have addressed to Your ears.

"Have mercy upon me, and hear me." Have mercy upon me, and hear me therein.

 

8. "My heart has said to You, I have sought Your countenance" (ver. 8). For I have

not exhibited myself to men; but in secret, where Thou alone hearest, my heart has

said to You; I have not sought from You anything without You as a reward, but

Your countenance. "Your countenance, O Lord, will I seek." In thus search will I

perseveringly persist: for not anything that is common, but Your countenance, O

Lord, will I seek, that I may love You freely, since nothing more precious do I

find.

 

9. "Turn not away Your face from me" (ver. 9): that I may find what I seek. "Turn

not aside in anger from Your servant:" lest, while seeking You, I fall in with

somewhat else. For what is more grievous than this punishment to one who loves

and seeks the truth of Your countenance? "Be Thou my Helper." How shall I find

it, if Thou help me not? "Leave me not, neither despise me, O God my Saviour."

Scorn not that a mortal dares to seek the Eternal; for Thou, God, dost heal the

wound of my sin.

 

10. "For my father and my mother have left me" "But the Lord took me up." But

the Lord, who can give me Himself, took me up.

 

11. "Appoint me a law, O Lord, in Your way" (ver. 11). For me then who am

setting out toward You, and commenting so great a profession, of arriving at

wisdom, from fear, appoint, O Lord, a law in Your way, lest in my wandering

Your rule abandon me. "And direct me in the right path because of mine enemies."

And direct me in the right way of its straits. For it is not enough to begin, since

enemies cease not until the end is attained.

 

12. "Deliver me not up unto the souls of them that trouble me" (ver. 12). Suffer not

them that trouble me to be satiated with my evils. "For unrighteous witnesses have

 

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                                                   Psalm 27                                                   124

 

risen up against me." For there have risen up against me they that speak falsely of

me, to remove and call me back from You, as if I seek glory of men. "And iniquity

has lied unto itself." Therefore iniquity has been pleased with its own lie. For me it

has not moved, to whom because of this there has been promised a greater reward

in heaven.