Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Psalms 38

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

Verse 1

Idithun was one of the four chief masters of music, called Ethan, 1 Paralipomenon vi. 44., and Idithun, 1 Paralipomenon xvi. 41. Some think that he was the author of this psalm; but it was rather given to him by David to sing. (Calmet) --- The title shews that the psalms were designed for the public service of the Church, and not for David alone. (Berthier) --- This refers to the Christian Church, though some explain it of the Jews in captivity, (Worthington) with R. Salomon, while others think that it was composed during some of David’s persecutions. It is connected with the preceding, and with the two next psalms. (Calmet)

Verse 2

Tongue. The matter is very delicate and important, James iii. 2., Proverbs xviii. 21., Isaias xxxii. 17., and Ecclesiasticus xxii. 33., and xxviii. 28. --- Me, and was treating me with injustice and calumny. (Haydock) --- Chilo, the sage, said: "I know how to bear ill treatment," (Laertius 1.) and this is a proof of "the greatest wisdom and virtue." (Haydock) --- Greek: Outos kratistos. (Menander) (Calmet) --- Weak men seek revenge; but the wise resolve to govern their tongues, and do not stand up in their own just defence, though they be, therefore, more persecuted. (Worthington)

Verse 3

Renewed. I was conscious of no offence against my enemies, (Haydock) but I reflected that I had forfeited my virtue, (Eusebius) and therefore gave vent to my grief. (Haydock) --- Being afraid of saying anything amiss, I refrained from saying what was good. But I perceived that this was wrong. (St. Augustine) --- I deprived myself of all pleasure. (Calmet) --- The seven first verses detail the arguments used by philosophers to comfort men, which all prove of little service. We must have recourse to God, ver. 8. (Berthier)

Verse 4

Out. This alludes to his sorrow for his sins, (Origen) or to the fire of charity, which is enkindled by meditation on the last end, &c., (ver. 5.) or rather it means, that while he repressed his tongue, he could not but feel an inward zeal and indignation, (Calmet) in consequence of grief suppressed. (Worthington) --- See Jeremias xx. 9. (Menochius)

Verse 5

End, as I desire to die, like Elias, 3 Kings xix. (Worthington) --- The just have frequently expressed such sentiments, to move God to pity, (Job vii. 1., and Psalm ci. 4.) though they wished to live, that they might praise God on earth, (Calmet) if it were his will. (Haydock) --- This text may indicate the impatience (Berthier) of the mere philosopher, (Haydock) or David desires to know to what a decree of perfection he must arrive. (Origen; St. Ambrose)

Verse 6

Measurable. Hebrew, "of a hand’s breadth." (Haydock) --- Symmachus, "a spithame, or twelve fingers’ breadth," perhaps in allusion to the Greek proverb, a "spithame of life;" which denotes one very short. (Drusius) --- The Greek copies vary: some read, (Calmet) with the Vatican Greek: palaias, "ancient;" and others of the palestra with the Alexandrian Greek:palaistas, or "contentious." I am obliged always to wrestle with my adversaries. (Grotius) --- My days are short, and spent in conflicts. (Haydock) --- St. Chrysostom, St. Ambrose, &c., mention both. The former word is adopted by the Arabic, Ethiopic, &c.; but the Hebrew has tephachoth, "of a palm," or four fingers’ breadth; (Calmet) and St. Jerome breves, "short." (Haydock) --- Substance. St. Jerome, "life." Hebrew, "age." --- Living. Hebrew, "standing," how well soever he may seem to be established. Protestants, "at his best estate, is altogether vanity. Selah." (Haydock) --- The wisest of men confirms this at large, Ecclesiastes i. 1. (Calmet) (James iv. 14.) --- "What is this long while which has an end?" (Cicero, pro. Marcel.) (Menochius)

Verse 7

Image, "of God." (St. Gregory, &c.) Hebrew, "in a shadow or darkness," where the fall of a leaf affrights him. Life is so short and miserable, why should we strive to heap up riches? (Calmet) --- For whom. Hebrew, "who shall gather," &c. (Haydock) --- The term is used respecting harvest rather than money. (Calmet) --- Hebrew has disquieted in the plural, and the rest of the words in the singular; but St. Jerome agrees with us, conturbatur....& ignorat cui dimittat ea. (Haydock) --- The prophet still utters complaints. One step farther is necessary to ensure peace. (Berthier) --- He acknowledges that his life is but a shadow, and what we ought not to grieve for temporal losses. (Worthington)

Verse 8

Substance. Septuagint hypostasis. Hebrew, "hope." (Haydock) --- I can depend only on thee. (Calmet)

Verse 9

Thou hast. Hebrew lo, "do not;" ne, or nonne; or "hast thou not made?" &c., as the following verse intimates. (Berthier) --- Thou hast suffered me to be reproached by the foolish, who prosper in this world. (Worthington) --- The fool may denote the devil, (St. Jerome; Origen) and all the lovers of iniquity. (Flaminius) (Calmet)

Verse 10

It. St. Augustine reads "me," conformably to some copies of the Septuagint, Arabic, &c. (Calmet) --- He is at a loss to explain the reason of the prophet, and suggests that this perhaps ought to be referred to the following sentence, "Because thou hast made me, remove," &c. (Haydock) --- Such is the inconvenience of having incorrect copies. (Amama) --- The Alexandrian and Vatican Septuagint both have me, (Haydock) which his omitted in Complutensian. (Calmet) --- David knew that he was scourged by divine Providence. (Worthington)

Verse 11

In (thy) rebukes, belongs to the next verse in Hebrew and Septuagint, referring to man in general, unless the prophet mean himself. (Berthier)

Verse 12

Spider. St. Jerome, "moth." Symmachus, "thou dissolvest like corruption his desirable thing;" (Haydock) which means the soul, (Berthier) or "beauty." (Protestants) Remorse of conscience and God’s judgments make a man pine away. --- Disquieted is obelized in the Septuagint. (St. Jerome, ad Sun.) (Calmet) --- It is not found in the Alexandrian and Complutensian edition (Haydock) and seems to be taken from ver. 7. It does not alter the sense. (Berthier) --- "Man is vanity always." (St. Jerome) --- As a spider which has consumed its moisture, so he decays. (Worthington)

Verse 13

Were. 1 Paralipomenon xxix. 15. I can expect aid from no other but thee. (Calmet) --- Heaven is our home. (Worthington) --- "Life is a travelling from home." (Plato in Axiocho.)

Verse 14

More. In a state to do good. (Worthington) --- Grant me relief, Ecclesiastes ix. 10., and Job vii. 8. (Calmet)

Verse 23


A just man’s peace and patience in his sufferings; considering the vanity of the world, and the providence of God.

Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 38". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/psalms-38.html. 1859.
Ads FreeProfile