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Bible Commentaries

Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Psalms 143

Verse 1

Goliath. Hebrew has simply, "of David." (Haydock) --- St. Hilary thinks that the Septuagint added the rest by inspiration, (Calmet) because this was David's first exploit in war. (Worthington) --- But others pay no deference to this part of the title. The Chaldean, however, seems to allude to the same victory, (ver. 10.) and the Syriac to that which David obtained over Asaph, brother of Goliath, 1 Paralipomenon xx. 5. (Calmet) --- David prays that he may overcome the Philistines, and give thanks in Psalm xvii. (Ferrand) --- These two psalms are very much alike, and this seems to have been written after the rebels were discomfited, while the 17th expresses the sentiments of the prophet, towards the end of his life, for all his victories. (Calmet) --- Zorobabel after the defeat of God, (Ezechiel xxxviii.; Origen) or the Machabees; (Greek paraphrast.) or Jesus Christ might adopt these sentiments. (Holy Fathers) --- Kimchi and Goan refer the psalm to the Messias. (Calmet) --- God. Hebrew, "rock." --- Fingers. Which chose the five pebbles. He was to exert himself, and yet to acknowledge that all success came from God. (Berthier) --- He had not been trained to war, when he overcame Goliath. (Worthington)

Verse 2

Mercy. "All the titles of God remind us of his benefits." (St. Jerome) --- My people. After the defeat of the rebels, (Calmet) and the death of Isboseth. (Berthier) --- Hebrew may also be "peoples," as Psalm xvii, (Syriac, &c.) including them, and the various nations that were subdued by David. (Calmet) --- Conquerors are generally in confusion, while those who keep their passions under are free, 2 Corinthians iii. 17. (Berthier)

Verse 3

To him. Hebrew, "thou dost acknowledge him." (St. Jerome) (Haydock) --- In the transport of gratitude, he reflects on his own weakness, Job vii. 17., and Romans viii. 31. (Calmet) --- Before Christ, all mankind were undeserving of revelation. (Worthington)

Verse 4

Vanity. Hebrew hebel, "nothing, a vapour," &c., Ecclesiastes i. 1., and James iv. 15. (Haydock) --- Our lives resemble a shadow, which is the less distinct, the more it increases. (Berthier) --- As it cannot subsist of itself, so neither can man without God. (Worthington)

Verse 5

Mountains. The proud, (Origen) spirits. (St. Hilary) --- Come to my assistance, as thou didst appear on Sinai, Exodus xix. 16., and Psalm xvii. 8. (Calmet) --- This is a poetical description of God's aid.

Verse 7

Waters. Of tribulation. (Worthington) --- Children. My rebellious subjects, (Haydock) who lead bad lives in the true Church. (Worthington) --- Foreign nations continued faithful, while Israel rose up against their sovereign.

Verse 8

Iniquity. Hebrew, "lying." The have sworn fidelity, and have prevaricated. (Calmet) --- They adhere not to their engagements of keeping God's law. (Worthington)

Verse 9

New. More excellent. (Berthier) --- Psaltery. Hebrew, "on the Nebel of ten strings," (Haydock) the chief instrument, fit for a new canticle of thanksgiving. (Worthington)

Verse 10

Kings. Their power cannot protect them. (Haydock) --- Hast. Several read, "wilt redeem." --- Malicious. Hebrew, "his servant from the evil sword" (Montanus) of Goliath, (Chaldean) or of Saul, (Berthier) and all his other enemies. (Haydock) --- He represents himself in the midst of danger, from the rebels. (Calmet)

Verse 11

Children. Both Jews and Christians who live ill, are like strangers, who frame to themselves a temporal felicity, making riches and pleasures their god. (Worthington)

Verse 12


The prophet praiseth God, and prayeth to be delivered from his enemies. No worldly happiness is to be compared with that of serving God.

Whose. Hebrew, "our." This makes quite a different sense from the ancient versions, which refer what follows to the rebels, who had no cause to complain of David's government, ver. 14. (Calmet) --- St. Jerome, however, agrees with the Hebrew, "that our sons may be, " &c. Protestants asher means "whose (ver. 11.) and that." (Haydock) --- If we supply, they said, the text and versions will give the same sense, (Genebrard; Berthier) as it is inserted [in] ver. 15. (Haydock) --- Decked. Hebrew, "our daughters, like corner-stones cut like a temple," (Montanus) or "palace." (Protestants)

Verse 13

That. The partitions are too small; or fresh fruit come before the old ones are consumed, Leviticus xxvi. 10. (Calmet) --- Fruitful. Hebrew, "our sheep (or small cattle, pecudes ) producing a thousand, bringing forth ten thousand, in our streets." (Pagnin)

Verse 14

Fat. Hebrew, "our bulls (oxen or cows) are burdened." &c. --- Of wall. Symmachus, "nor burying nor mourning in their places." The other interpreters cited by Theodoret, have also "their." (Calmet) --- Passage. Of the enemy. (Haydock)

Verse 15

They. Hebrew, "happy the people, to which such things belong; happy," &c. (St. Jerome) (Haydock) --- This text speaks all along of the temporal blessings attending the virtuous. (Calmet) --- But the Septuagint, being convinced that these were rather the sentiments of David's enemies, give it this turn, (Berthier) and shew, that real happiness consists rather in the possession of God, as the psalmist intimates, by the concluding sentence. (Haydock) --- Worldlings are satisfied with temporal advantages, Psalm lxxii. 4. --- But the saints take God for their reward. (Calmet) --- The devil promises riches, that he may kill, and Christ promises poverty, to save us. (St. Jerome) --- True happiness consists in preferring God before all. (Worthington)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 143". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.