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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 49

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

Verse 1

For Asaph. The preposition L is placed before his name, as it is before David’s. (Haydock) --- Yet whether he was the author of the psalm, (Calmet) or only set it to music, (Worthington) is uncertain. (Menochius) --- The 72d, and ten following psalms, bear his name, and it is observed, that the style is not so flowing as those which are attributed to the royal prophet [David]. (Moller.) --- It is certain, that Asaph was a prophet, and chief musician in the days of David, 1 Paralipomenon vi. 39., xxv. 2., and 2 Paralipomenon xxix. 30. (Berthier) --- But the psalms that have this title relate to the captives, and may have been composed by some of his descendants. This and the following seem designed to shew, that something more than bloody victims is required by God; and thus the Israelites, who could not offer sacrifices at Babylon, were comforted; and the people taught by degrees, to look for something more excellent than the law of Moses. (Calmet) --- The first and second coming of Christ are here described. (Du Hamel) --- God’s angels, just men, judges, (Calmet) idols, &c. (Worthington) --- Hebrew El Elohim, Yehova, "the mighty God, the Lord." (Haydock) --- From these three titles, some of the Fathers have proved the blessed Trinity. (Estius) --- But this argument is not conclusive. (Berthier) --- They ought, however, to fill us with awe, when he shall come to judge the earth, his chosen people, (ver. 4.; Calmet) or all mankind. (Berthier) (Menochius) --- Christ will come, surrounded by many legions of angels. (Haydock)

Verse 2

Beauty. This may refer to God, or to Sion, (Calmet) where the Church of Christ began. (Worthington)

Verse 3

Silence. Christ displayed the light of truth from Sion, at his first coming. But he would not judge any till the second, John iii. 17., and viii. 15. (St. Jerome) (Calmet) --- Before him, at the last day, (Haydock) or in hell. (St. Athanasius) --- Our Saviour appeared formerly with great mildness: but he will come with majesty and terror, after fire shall have destroyed all transitory things. (Worthington)

Verse 4

Earth. As if they were animated, Deuteronomy iv. 26., and xxxii. 1., Isaias i. 2., and Jeremias ii. 12. --- Some understand the angels and apostles by heaven. (Calmet) --- Judge. Literally, "to divide," discernere, (Haydock) the goats from the sheep, Matthew xxv. 32. (Calmet) (Menochius) --- The whole earth, particularly the elect, will approve of God’s decree, 1 Corinthians vi. 2.

Verse 5

His saints. Hebrew, "my merciful ones," (Haydock) the chosen people, (Calmet) particularly priests, (Theodoret) who might have too high an opinion of the legal sacrifices, (St. Chrysostom) or all the elect are meant, Matthew xxiv. 30. (Eusebius) --- The Hebrews were the only nation which then offered sacrifices to the true God, though some individuals might do it among the Gentiles. (Calmet) --- Before, super, or, "who make a covenant with him respecting sacrifices." --- Protestants, "those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice," Malachias i. 12. (Haydock) --- The Septuagint seem to have read v for i, more accurately, as the prophet speaks till ver. 7. (Berthier) --- Judgment should begin at the house of God. And if first at us, what shall be the end of them that believe not the gospel of God? (1 Peter iv. 17., and Romans ii. 9.) (Haydock) --- Those who believe not, are already judged, John iii. --- Sacrifice generally precedes a covenant, Genesis xv. 17. (Menochius)

Verse 6

Heavens. Apostles, (St. Jerome) or angels. (Chaldean) (St. Athanasius) --- God is judge. His sentence must therefore be just, (Menochius) and we ought to tremble, 1 Corinthians iv. 4. (Haydock)

Verse 7

Testify. I will require thee to speak the truth, and attest the world, Psalm lxxx. 9. (Calmet)

Verse 8

Sight. I complain of no neglect (Menochius) in these outward ceremonies. (Haydock) --- God required no victims during the captivity; but he always demanded praise, (ver. 14.; Calmet) a contrite heart, Psalm l. 19., &c. (Haydock) --- The prophets often admonished the people of this truth, (Isaias i. 2., and Jeremias vii. 20.; Calmet) that they might not set too high a value on sacrifices, (Haydock) which, though pleasing to God, are of no service to him; as all the world is his property. (Worthington)

Verse 10

Oxen. St. Jerome and Protestants, "the cattle upon a thousand hills." But our version is very good, and adopted by the Syriac, Ferrand, &c. (Calmet) --- Aleph means an ox as well as a thousand; and i may have been added to the preceding word, instead of u, at the beginning of this. (Berthier) --- We find u here improperly in either, "beast." (Houbigant) --- No mention is made of fishes, because they were not used as victims. (Calmet)

Verse 11

I know your number, and have absolute dominion over all, Isaias xxxvii. 28. (Calmet) --- Field. Ripe fruits. (St. Cyril) (Alexandrian) --- With God all things are present. (St. Augustine; Lombard, 1 dist. 35.; F.; Amama)

Verse 13

Goats? Can any of you be so stupid? (Menochius) --- Some of the pagans believed, that their idols delighted in the smell of victims. (Haydock)

Verse 14

Vows. A faithless promise is very displeasing, Ecclesiastes v. 3. True religion must be interior, (Calmet) also 1 Corinthians xiv. 15. (Haydock) --- We must discharge, not only our general, (Menochius) but also our particular vows, (Worthington) and obligations. (Haydock)

Verse 15

Call. Prayer is a perfect act of religion, and a confession of God’s dominion. Qui fingit sacros auro vel marmore vultus,

Non facit ille Deos: qui rogat, ille facit. (Martial viii. v. 24.)

To neglect prayer is, in some sense, to deny God. (Calmet) --- He is pleased to exercise our confidence, (Haydock) and will have us to call upon him in distress. (Menochius)

Verse 16

Sinner. He is not blamed for praying: but his hypocrisy is condemned. (Berthier) --- The world is full of such hypocrites, who have God in their mouths, but not in their hearts, and whose voice alone is the voice of Jacob, Genesis xxvii. 22., Isaias xxix. 13., and Titus i. 16. --- The wicked judges, who condemned Susanna, (Daniel xiii.) should have attended to these lessons. (Calmet) --- Thou that teachest another, teachest not thyself, Romans ii. 21. --- It is surely to be expected, (Haydock) that those who undertake to teach others, should shew good example, and serve God with sincerity, (Worthington) and not content themselves with the glory of their vocation. (Menochius)

Verse 20

Lay. Hebrew, "slanderest." (Protestants) But dophi occurs on where else. (Berthier) --- The sinner sits to detract, or with pleasure, (Menochius) habitually offends. (Haydock)

Verse 21


The coming of Christ: who prefers virtue and inward purity before the blood of victims.

Silent, and deferred punishment, (St. Augustine) waiting for thy conversion, Romans ii. 4. --- Unjustly, is not expressed in Hebrew. (Berthier) --- Face, judgment and hell, (Chaldean) or all these things, (St. Jerome) and thy manifold transgressions. The sight will be most intolerable. (Calmet)

Verse 22

Lest he. Hebrew, "I tear you in pieces." (Protestants) (Haydock) --- Rapiat ut Leo. (St. Augustine) --- It may be understood of death, (Theodoret) or of God. (Calmet)

Verse 23

Praise. This king of improper sacrifice, and those of justice, and of a contrite heart, (Psalm iv., and l.) must accompany outward sacrifices, to make them acceptable. The latter has always been obligatory, (Worthington) as well as the former. (Haydock) --- This psalm proves, that the old victims should give place to one far more excellent, the body of Christ, the sacrifice of praise which the Church offers. (St. Augustine, con. advers. xx. orat. con Jud. vi. and ep. cxx. 18.) (Worthington) --- Eucharist means "good grace," or thanksgiving, being intended to enable us to render that tribute of praise, which he requires. (Haydock) --- There. Hebrew, " to him that ordereth his conversation aright, will I," &c. (Protestants) --- The difference consists only in the points. (Berthier) --- Syriac, "There I will shew him the way of his salvation," or, according to St. Chrysostom, "even my salvation." (Calmet) --- By adoring God in spirit and truth, (Haydock) we may be saved. (Menochius)

Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 49". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/psalms-49.html. 1859.
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