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Bible Commentaries

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary
Psalms 118

 

 

Verse 1

Alleluia. There is no title in Hebrew. But (Haydock) this psalm contains the praises of the Lord, and of his holy law, under fourteen different names, (Worthington) of way, testimony, &c., repeated in every verse, except the 122d, (Muis) with surprising variety, so as to avoid tautology, and to give a most perfect system of moral doctrine. It is written according to the order of the Hebrew alphabet, (Haydock) that we may learn it from our infancy. (St. Hilary) --- Eight verses begin with each of the twenty-two letters. St. Jerome (ad Paulam Urb. & Proem. in Lam.) moralizes on the signification of these letters, which he renders, 1. Aleph, &c., "the doctrine---2. of the house; 3. the plenitude, 4. of the tables (or holy scripture)---5. This 6. and 7. this 8. of life---9. a good 10. beginning---11. the hand 12. of discipline (or the heart)---13. from them 14. everlasting 15. help---16. the fountain (or eye) 17. of the mouth 18. of justice---19. the calling 20. of the head 21. of teeth 22. the signs." By thus connecting the letters, he forms sentences to shew that the holy Scriptures bring us to the knowledge of the Church, and of Christ, &c. See Worthington. Thus every thing serves to excite the devotion of the saints, though the proud may deride their ingenuity. The sacred writers have certainly found some pleasure and utility in writing so frequently in the alphabetical order, though we may not perceive the advantages of it. (Haydock) --- David is supposed to have written this psalm for the instruction of Solomon in his youth, (Berthier) though others believe that he composed it while he himself was young, and persecuted by Saul. (Muis; Bossuet, &c.) --- It seems very probable, that David wrote it for the consolation of the captives. (Calmet) (Daniel ix. 2.) --- Origen and Ven. Bede refer it to those times; though it seems in reality to appertain to all who desire to live piously, (Haydock) and it is only a conjecture that any other but David was the author, to whom it is generally attributed. Its excellency cannot be denied, and the Church has adopted it for her daily office, dividing it into eleven psalms. (Berthier) --- St. Augustine has written thirty-two, and St. Ambrose twenty-two sermons on the contents; and St. Basil observes, that David has here composed in one psalm the sum of all that he has written in the rest. Among other points of morality and doctrine, we may remark, that the psalmist insists on the necessity of God's grace, and the co-operation of free will, (Worthington) and overturns the Protestant system of justification. (Du Hamel) --- The Israelites might recite this psalm on their journey, three times a-year, to the temple, as the fifteen gradual canticles which follow, were to be sung on the steps leading to the house of God. (Bellarmine) (Menochius) --- Lord. Such only are happy here, (Worthington) or hereafter. (Haydock) --- All aim at happiness, but only the virtuous take the proper means to attain it. (St. Augustine) --- The way may here designate this life, (Worthington) or the law, (St. Augustine) or Jesus Christ, John xiv. 6. (St. Ambrose) The psalmist evidently presupposes, that some can and do keep the law. (Worthington)


Verse 2

His testimonies. The commandments of God are called his testimonies, because they testify his holy will unto us. Note here, that in almost every verse of this psalm, (which in number are 176) the word and law of God, and the love and observance of it, are perpetually inculcated, under a variety of denominations, all signifying the same thing. (Challoner) --- We must search the law, not out of curiosity, but to practise it; (Haydock) otherwise we shall become more guilty. (Worthington) (James iv. 17.)


Verse 3

Ways. They may, however, repent. The just are subject to fall, 1 John i. 8. But venial faults are not incompatible with justice. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways." (Protestants) (Berthier)


Verse 4

Diligently. Nimis. Literally, "too much." But this is a Hebrew idiom, to imply the greatest diligence. (Haydock) --- Some would refer it to "God's strong injunction;" which is not necessary. The psalmist henceforward speaks to God. (Berthier)


Verse 5

O! that. Conscious of his own insufficiently, he prays for grace to be justified. (Worthington) --- Moses acknowledged, that man could not observe the law, without Christ, Deuteronomy xxx 11., and Romans x. 6.


Verse 6

All. At the day of judgment, it will not suffice to have observed only some of the commandments. See St. Jerome, St. Ambrose, &c., who all seem to follow Origen. (Calmet) --- The breach of any law brings confusion. (Worthington)


Verse 7

Justice. That all thy ordinances are most equitable, (Worthington) and when I shall have faithfully put them in practice, Ecclesiasticus xv. 9. (Theodoret)


Verse 8

Utterly. Hebrew nimis, as ver. 4. (Haydock) --- It may be advantageous to us to be left awhile, that we may know our own weakness. (St. Gregory, Mor. xx. 21.) (Worthington) --- He does not beg never to be tempted, or in tribulation; (Haydock) but only that he may not yield to sin. (St. Hilary) --- He may always at least have recourse to prayer, 1 Thessalonians v. 17. --- The neglect of this duty occasions so many falls. (Berthier)


Verse 9

Correct. Symmachus, "illustrate." (Calmet) --- The observance of the law is the only method to preserve innocence, or to regain it. (Haydock) --- The Holy Ghost gives this direction to youth, and to all who are exposed to the dangers of pleasure, (Worthington) as David might do to his son, 2 Kings ii. 3. (Berthier) --- In the same sense as we pray, Lead us not into temptation. [Matthew vi. 13.]


Verse 10

Let. Literally, "do not cast me off." (Haydock) --- God rejects none but the negligent. (St. Hilary; St. Ambrose, &c.) --- The just, or the Church in general, here confess (Worthington) that perseverance is a gift of God. (Haydock) --- Deprived of grace, we should fall, no less than if God "made us err," as the Hebrew strictly implies. (Berthier)


Verse 11

Heart. To guard against the temptations of vanity. (Calmet) --- Christians formerly concealed the mysteries of religion with the utmost care. (St. Hilary and St. Ambrose) --- Moses had given the letter of the law only, insinuating, that it must be kept with all the heart, as David here more fully explains. (Berthier)


Verse 12

Justifications. He considers himself as placed at the feet of his divine Master. (Calmet) --- Though just, he wished to increase in virtue, Apocalypse xxii. (Worthington)


Verse 13

Mouth. I have concealed them in my heart. Now I am not ashamed to publish them. (Calmet)


Verse 14

Riches. I give thy law the preference, Psalm xviii. 9. (Calmet)


Verse 17

Give. Hebrew, "avenge," Psalm xii. 6., and cxxxvii. 9. Draw me from this state of oppression, (Calmet) or rather, give me abundant grace, (Berthier) and eternal life. (St. Hilary) --- I cannot fulfil the law, without thy grace. (Worthington) --- Enliven me. So the Septuagint of Aldus reads, though the Roman and Hebrew have, "I shall live," Deuteronomy xxx. 19. (Berthier)


Verse 18

Law. In rewarding, punishing, &c. This thou wilt enable me to perceive, (Worthington) as thy law is too much above my comprehension. (Calmet)


Verse 19

Earth. At Babylon, or in the world, which is a pilgrimage, (Calmet) and I am unacquainted with the roads. (Menochius) --- The latter sense is much better, 2 Corinthians v. 6., and Hebrews xi. 10. (Berthier)


Verse 20

Coveted. Hebrew, "burns, (Aquila; Houbigant) or is bruised, (Berthier) and faints through the desire of thy laws," (Calmet) or "judgments." (St. Jerome) --- If I have but a short time to live, I ardently seek for instruction, (Worthington) and wish to advance daily in virtue. (Calmet) --- His humility makes him fear, lest his desire should not be sincere. (Berthier)


Verse 21

Cursed. Becoming victims of hell, Matthew xxiv. (Berthier) (Deuteronomy xxvii. 26.) (Menochius)


Verse 23

Princes. Thus Daniel, (vi. 5.) was treated. (Calmet) --- All who would live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution, 2 Timothy iii. 12. (Haydock) --- The servant of God will adhere to his duty, though his adversaries may be very powerful. (Worthington)


Verse 24

Counsel. Hebrew, "the princes of my counsel." (Houbigant) in opposition to those who endeavoured to make him fall, ver. 23. (Haydock) --- The laws of God afford the best advice. An ancient king observed, that the dead were the best counsellors, as they will not flatter, &c. (Calmet) --- In every trial, we must reflect on the rewards and punishments held out. (Worthington)


Verse 25

Pavement. Hebrew, "dust," (Berthier) weighed down by concupiscence, (St. Augustine) and infected by the union with the body. (St. Ambrose) --- The just, in great distress, beg to be delivered, conformably to God's promise. (Worthington) (Wisdom ix. 15., and Romans vii. 24.)


Verse 26

Ways. Or sins, (Theodoret) or miserable condition, ver. 25. (Calmet)


Verse 28

Slumbered. Greek: Enustaxen, for which Origen, thinking it a mistake of copyists, substituted Greek: estaxen, "has melted," (Calmet) or "distilled," (Aquila, &c., Heracleot.) as more conformable to the original, though the sense is much the same. Loss of blood often causes people to slumber. (Berthier) --- St. Hilary would not abandon the Septuagint. (Calmet) --- Heaviness, being such anxiety, as to be almost distracted. (Worthington) --- Chaldean, "has been in an agony." Sleep is often put for death. (Calmet) --- My soul perishes through grief. (Houbigant) --- Hence the three apostles slept, Luke xxii. (Haydock) --- Greek: Akedia, or torpor of mind, hinders the persecution of any business. (Menochius)


Verse 29

PSALM CXVIII. (BEATI IMACULATI.)

Of the excellence of virtue, consisting in the love and observance of the commandments of God.

Iniquity. Hebrew, "lying." Let me not imitate the wicked. (Haydock) --- Remit the punishment of my sins, (Psalm cvi. 17.; Calmet) --- also original sin, and its effects. (St. Hilary) --- Protect me from falling. (Worthington)


Verse 32

Heart. Man runs, but God must impart grace. (Worthington) --- An enlarged heart sometimes denotes the capacity of understanding, 3 Kings iv. 29. (Calmet) --- But it is a singular mercy of God to make us love his commands. (St. Augustine)


Verse 33

Always. Hebrew hekeb, means also, "for the reward," (Pagnin; Haydock; ver. 112.) or step by step. (St. Jerome) (Calmet) --- Make me love thy commandments. (Worthington)


Verse 34

Heart. Enable me to keep and to understand thy law, ver. 1, 2. (Worthington) --- We must observe what we know, that we may receive greater lights. (Haydock)


Verse 35

Desired. Free-will concurs with grace. (Worthington)


Verse 36

Covetousness. Either of money, or any unlawful object, 1 Timothy vi. 10. (Haydock) The word is very comprehensive. (Berthier) --- Batsah is rendered mammon by the Chaldean. (Calmet)


Verse 37

Vanity. Idols, worldly prosperity, &c., (Psalm xxxvi. 1, 7.; (Calmet) shews, (St. Ambrose) and all dangerous objects. (Haydock) --- We must pray that God will take away the occasions of sin, and help us to advance in virtue. (Worthington)


Verse 39

Reproach. Hidden sins of thought, (St. Ambrose) or the sarcasms of the Babylonians. (Calmet) --- Sin is odious, because it is contrary to God's law, which is most delightful. (Worthington) --- The saints have been often ridiculed, Jeremias xx. 7., and Acts xxvi. 24. (Haydock)


Verse 40

Quicken. The just prays for greater perfection, and for perseverance. (Worthington)


Verse 41

Salvation. The Messias, foretold by the prophets, (Genesis xlix., Romans iii. 23., and Titus ii. 13.; Berthier) or grace, freely promised to all who ask for it. (Worthington)


Verse 42

In any thing. Literally, "the word" that I, &c. Thus he stops their mouths, by professing his confidence in God. (Haydock) --- The Babylonians insultingly ask, Where is their God? If thou free me from captivity, I may reply that my hopes were not vain. (Calmet) --- This answer I will give boldly, if I obtain thy grace, which will strengthen my weakness. (Worthington)


Verse 43

Mouth. Let those who preach the truth, live up to it. (St. Hilary and St. Ambrose) --- Though the psalmist may be under some fear, he prays that he may not omit to make open profession of his faith. (Worthington) --- God never hinders his servants from doing this, though he sometimes suffers them to fall. But the Church will never cease to proclaim the truth. She will not give up one article of faith, though all heretics would thus embrace every other part of her doctrine. She will never open her bosom to those who would alter one point, nor say that such can enter heaven. (Berthier)


Verse 44

Ever. Hebrew, "and after." The sanction of the law will remain after this world is at an end. These expressions relate to the Church. (Berthier)


Verse 45

Large. The Jews could not practise the law out of their country, (Calmet) as to the ceremonial part. (Haydock) --- He hopes to be soon set at liberty. The verb should be explained in the future, as St. Jerome has them, (Calmet) though this is immaterial. (Berthier) --- David had already observed this line of conduct, which he resolved always to pursue, (Haydock) or he speaks in the person of all confessors, as he had not to be tried by any kings. (Berthier) --- Those who suffer for the faith, receive great joy. (Worthington)


Verse 46

Of thy, (de, &c.) but the true reading is, in testimoniis, "conformably to," &c., as in the Hebrew, Septuagint, and Vulgate. (Haydock) (Berthier) --- Ashamed. Thus many even of the female sex have professed their faith boldly, with St. Agnes, St. Catharine, St. Winefrid, &c., answering the reproachful objections that were put to them, as if it were dishonourable to be a Christian, Catholic or Papist. No. These are most glorious titles, importing the true service of Christ, in unity with the Catholic Church, and under the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the Pope. (Worthington) --- But as Protestants mean an undue attachment to the Pope by the last title, we shew, that in that sense it is unjustly and illiberally applied to us, (Haydock) and no gentlemen or scholar would not make use of it. (Nightingale) --- See N. G.'s letters to J. Slack, Whitby, 1813. (Haydock) --- Daniel spoke with great freedom to Nabuchodonosor, &c., Daniel ii. 27., and v. 17., and vi. 22.


Verse 48

Hands. To pray, labour, or rather to swear an eternal fidelity. (Calmet) --- Confessors rejoice in meditation on God's words, which they shew forth in all their actions. (Worthington)


Verse 49

Mindful. He does not intimate that God can forget, but shews his fervour, (St. Augustine) and begs that he may be worthy to receive the effects of God's promises. (St. Hilary) --- Though his decrees be most certain, means must be employed, which the just pray may not be wanting. (Worthington)


Verse 50

This hope, hæc, though some would suppose it is put for hoc. (Berthier) --- "This is my consolation in my distress." (St. Jerome) (Haydock) --- Word. The expectation of thy promises has given me courage. (Worthington)


Verse 51

Did. Hebrew, "greatly derided me." (Haydock) --- But I continued to observe thy law (Calmet) with patience, notwithstanding their provocations. (Worthington)


Verse 52

Of old. Upon the rebel angels, and sinful men, whom thou wilt punish for ever. This encourages me to adhere to the cause of virtue. (Worthington) --- In many dangers our ancestors have been protected by God. Is his arm shortened, or are we no longer his people? (Calmet) (1 Peter iv. 12.)


Verse 53

Fainting. So much was the psalmist grieved at the sight of sinners! (Berthier) --- He would have died through zeal, if he had not seen God's justice. (Worthington) --- Apostates particularly filled him with horror. (Calmet)


Verse 54

Song. Here on earth I am comforted with singing the praises of thy law, which makes the observers just. (Worthington) --- The captives would not give holy things to dogs: but, among themselves, they sung canticles, Psalm cxxxvi. (Calmet) (Colossians iii. 16., 1 Paralipomenon xxix. 15., and Hebrews xi. 16.) --- These pious exercises were opposed to the scandalous discourses of sinners. (Berthier)


Verse 55

Night. Of tribulation, (Worthington) and captivity. (Calmet)


Verse 56

This. Hæc facta est mihi. The feminine is put for the neuter, (Calmet) which the Hebrew have not. (Berthier) --- We may also understand, This night of calamity, ver. 55. (Haydock)


Verse 57

Portion. With the just tending to perfection, I desire no other inheritance. (Worthington) --- "He who possesses God, has all things." (St. Ambrose)


Verse 59

My ways. Many read, "thy ways." (Septuagint; Arabic) --- But this is the true sense of the Hebrew, &c. The consciousness of having adhered to thy commands, makes me hope that thou wilt not abandon me. (Calmet) --- I have bewailed my past transgressions, and am resolved henceforward to live piously. (St. Ambrose) --- I have reflected on my former actions, and taken up this firm determination, trusting in thy mercy, ver. 58. (Worthington)


Verse 60

And am. Hebrew, "and delay not." For cursed is he who does the work of God negligently, (Septuagint) or with deceit, Jeremias xlviii. 10. (Calmet)


Verse 61

Cords. Temptations of the devil, (St. Augustine) and of the wicked, who strive by force, or by caresses, to ensnare the virtuous, ver. 110. (Calmet)


Verse 62

Midnight. Under tribulation, (St. Augustine) or to avoid the malice of those who pried into my conduct. I was so delighted with thy law, that I meditated on it both in the day-time, and at night. (Calmet) --- This pious custom was observed by St. Paul, (Acts xvi.) as it is still by many religious orders, ver. 164. (Worthington)


Verse 63

Partaker. Hebrew, "a friend." I do not fear to approve of their conduct, (Calmet) and condole with them. (St. Hilary) --- The true living members of Christ enjoy the great benefit of partaking in the prayers and good works of the whole Church militant and triumphant, in the communion of saints. (Worthington) --- See St. Augustine, Confessions iv. 4.


Verse 66

Goodness to others (Menochius) in want. (Worthington) --- Discipline, or patience under chastisement. (St. Augustine) (Theodoret) --- Hebrew, "wisdom," or discernment how to act, and knowledge of what regards thy law and revealed truths. (Berthier)


Verse 67

Humbled. St. Jerome, "before I heard, I was ignorant." He speaks of the gift of prophecy: or "before I was afflicted, I went astray." (Calmet) --- Therefore, chastisements are very salutary. (Berthier) (ver. 71., and Jeremias x. 24., and 31, 19.) (Calmet) --- Before, I often fell; but sorrow has made me understand. (Worthington)


Verse 68

Goodness, or sweetness, denoting the unction of grace. (St. Augustine)


Verse 69

Iniquity. Hebrew, "the proud have forged lies against me," (Haydock) which was verified in Daniel, (Calmet) and David, &c. (Haydock)


Verse 70

Curdled. Grown hard, like milk that is curdled and turned to cheese. (Challoner) --- Hebrew, "like fat." They have no compassion or wisdom, Isaias vi. 10. (Calmet) --- Without the points, cheleb means also milk. (Berthier) --- The wicked combine together for my ruin: but I will still be faithful. (Worthington)


Verse 71

Humbled me. "It is good for the proud to fall into some open sin, (Calmet) whence they may be displeased at themselves." (St. Augustine) --- A patient thanks his physician for having used a necessary severity. (Theodoret) (Calmet)


Verse 72

Silver, above all the world. (Worthington)


Verse 73

Hands. Power (Berthier) and love. (Theodoret) --- We may confidently pray to our Creator for light, (Worthington) and that he may perfect his work. (Menochius)


Verse 74

See me advance in virtue. (Worthington) --- The angels rejoice at the conversion of a sinner, (Luke xv. 10.) as the Church does at her children's progress. (St. Jerome) --- All the just will be glad to see me delivered. (Calmet)


Verse 75

Truth. Though we may not discern the particular causes of our suffering, we must be convinced that they are right. (Worthington) --- Sinners are afflicted that they may amend, and the just for their advancement. (Calmet)


Verse 76

Mercy. Jesus Christ, according to St. Jerome.


Verse 78

Ashamed. Literally, "confounded," not accomplishing their wicked designs. (Calmet) --- Thus may they be induced to entertain that shame for sin which bringeth life, (Haydock) and cease to offend. (Theodoret) --- Let them be converted: though it be also (Haydock) lawful to desire that obstinate sinners may undergo just punishment. (Worthington) --- The saints pray thus out of zeal for their good. It may also be a prediction, as the Hebrew word (Berthier) yebshu is in the future. (Haydock) --- Done. Hebrew, "falsely perverted," (Montanus) in desire; (Calmet) or "having wished to pervert me without cause." (Pagnin) --- But to pervert, means also to treat ill; and hivvethuni has that sense here, (Haydock) according to the best authors. (Berthier)


Verse 79

Turn to me. Let the wicked (Worthington) among those who adore the true God, enter into themselves, that we may form a holy league to support each other. (Haydock) --- May we all obtain our liberty, (Calmet) or may they imitate my constancy. (St. Ambrose)


Verse 81

Salvation. All the saints sighed after our Saviour's coming, (Matthew xiii. 17.) as they still do, 2 Timothy iv. 8. (Worthington) --- The deliverance from Babylon was a figure of redemption. The next verse is of the same import. (Calmet)


Verse 83

Like a bottle in the frost. In the Hebrew, like a bottle in the smoke. That is, I am become, through my sufferings in this mortal pilgrimage, as a leathern bottle, shrunk up because of being exposed to the frost or smoke. (Challoner) --- So the bodies of the just are exposed to mortification, that they may become like new bottles, capable of containing the new wine of the gospel doctrine, Matthew ix. 17. (Worthington) --- Goats' skins, with the hair inward, are still used in some places to contain liquors. (Calmet) --- They were hung over the smoke, to make the wine old, or fit for drinking sooner. (Colum. i. 6.) Amphoræ fumum bibere institutæ,

Consule Tullo. (Horace 3. Od. 8.) (Calmet)


Verse 84

Servant. The just may lawfully desire the term of their sufferings, with submission to God's will, (Worthington) and to be freed from the power of persecutors, (Hebrew, "the proud;" Berthier) and from exile, after their enemies are punished, Psalm xxxviii. 5. (Calmet)


Verse 85

Fables. Idle tales, not agreeable to God's law. (Worthington) --- Such were the theology and histories of the pagans. (Calmet) --- Such are still the false maxims of the world, and many books designed to corrupt the morals of the age. (Haydock) --- The Jews confined themselves to their own divine books. Hebrew, Chaldean, &c., "The proud have dug pits for me, which is not conformable to thy law," (Calmet) but forbidden expressly. (Haydock) --- The Septuagint seem to have followed a better reading. (Calmet) --- Houbigant rejects the word pits, and in effect, we may understand the Hebrew in the sense of the Vulgate, "They have prepared (or told me) vain discourses." (Berthier)


Verse 86

Help me. He does not pray to be exempted from trials, but that he may have grace to gain the victory. (St. Hilary)


Verse 87

Earth. Babylon; (Calmet) though this is never styled simply the earth. It refers to all the enemies of salvation, particularly to our own passions. (Berthier)


Verse 89

In heaven. In the faithful angels, (St. Augustine) or Jesus Christ. (Bellanger.) --- The promises seem not to have their effect here; but they will in heaven. (Berthier) --- The word of God is as unchangeable as heaven. (Calmet) --- The psalmist praises God's works, which observe the order established by him. (Worthington) --- How then can we doubt but his law and promises shall be accomplished? (Haydock)


Verse 90

All. Literally, "unto generation and generation," which the fathers explain of the true faith, which has subsisted in the synagogue and in the Church of Christ alone. (St. Hilary, St. Ambrose, &c.) (Calmet) --- Those who did not belong to the former, in the first ages of the world, might still form a part of the latter, like Job, &c. Without faith it is, and always was, impossible to please God, Hebrews xi. 6.


Verse 91

Serve thee. Except man, (Worthington) and angels who rebel; and yet they also are forced to serve as victims of justice, if they have refused to accept of mercy. (Haydock)


Verse 92

Abjection. Man cannot rise from sin without grace, and attention to the law. (Worthington) --- This supports him under the punishment of sin. (Haydock) --- Meditation alleviates his grief, which might otherwise have proved mortal. (Berthier)


Verse 95

Understand. Or "shall understand." I am already able to encounter my enemies, Philippians ii. 15. (Calmet)


Verse 96

Perfection, of a worldly nature. (Haydock) --- All have their limits. But God's law bindeth for ever, as the rewards and punishments are eternal. (Worthington) --- Broad. Charity, which extends both to God and our neighbour. (St. Augustine) --- The law is above my comprehension, though I am able to discern its superiority over all created things. Some understand Jesus Christ, the end of the law; or martyrdom, the height of charity; or extreme distress, by the word perfection. (Berthier) --- Literally, "consummation." (Haydock) --- I have been exposed to the greatest misery: but thy law has set me at large, Sophonias i. 18. (Calmet)


Verse 97

Loved. Constraint takes away all merit. (St. Hilary) --- Son, give me thy heart, Proverbs xxiii. 26. (Haydock) --- The just man wonders that he should feel such love, as he knows it is not his own growth, but a gift of God. (Worthington)


Verse 98

Enemies of salvation, (Berthier) or the Babylonians, whom Daniel far surpassed; thou we would not absolutely assert that it refers to him, Daniel i. 19., and xiii. 1., and Ezechiel xxviii. 3. (Calmet) --- David was no less enlightened (Berthier) by the prophetic spirit above his earthly instructor, how aged soever. (Haydock)


Verse 99

Teachers. Who do not follow the rules of virtue. The ancients, (ver. 100.) of the same description, must yield the palm to those who are less advanced in years, but more observant of God's law. (Worthington)


Verse 101

Every. We cannot follow both the broad and the narrow path. (Theodoret) (James ii. 10.)


Verse 103

Honey. St. Ambrose, &c., add, "and the honeycomb," Psalm xviii. 11. Homer (Iliad A.) compares the speech of Nestor with honey. (Calmet) --- See Proverbs xvi. 24., Ezechiel iii. 3., and Apocalypse x. 10.


Verse 104

Hated. We must come to the practice of the law, (Calmet) and hate sin. (Worthington) --- Iniquity. Hebrew, "lying." But every sin is contrary to truth. (Berthier)


Verse 105

Thy word. Jesus Christ, (St. Hilary) who enlightens every man, John i. --- Lamp, (2 Peter i. 19., and Proverbs vi. 23.) while sin is the light of the wicked, Proverbs xxi. 4., and xxiv. 20. (Berthier) --- The law of God, proposed by his prophets and pastors, in the ordinary method of instruction. (Worthington)


Verse 106

Sworn. By the ceremony of circumcision, &c., as we now engage by vows in baptism, to observe all the commandments. (Worthington) --- Those who receive not the sacrament, are still under a strict obligation to obey the truth; as all were created only for this purpose. (Haydock) --- The psalmist means thus to express his firm determination to do all that God should require of him, (St. Augustine) and renews the solemn covenant entered into with the Deity by his ancestors. (Calmet) (Josue xxiv.)


Verse 107

Quicken. This petition, with the praise of the law, is the subject of this psalm. (Calmet) --- All the godly must suffer, 2 Timothy iii. 12. (Worthington)


Verse 108

Free offerings of praise and thanks, (St. Augustine) or the works of supererogation, (St. Hilary, Theodoret, &c.) which are not commanded, though acceptable to God, (Worthington) and undertaken for the sake of greater perfection. (Calmet) --- The evangelical counsels of voluntary poverty, &c., are of this nature. Still we acknowledge that we are useless servants, (Luke xvii. 10.) with regard to God. We can give him nothing, which he has not first given us. Our piety will redound to our own advantage. (Haydock) --- The psalmist may allude to his solemn engagement, (ver. 106.; Calmet) which he made with perfect freedom and willingness, though it was not a matter of choice. (Berthier)


Verse 109

My hands. In danger of being thrown by, or of falling, (Worthington) ready to appear before God's tribunal. I watch over myself, and strive to keep my soul tranquil. The prophet might have all this in view. (Berthier) --- Most of the fathers read, "in thy hands," under God's protection. This is denied by St. Jerome (ad Sun.) though the commentary which goes under his name, and was written in the same age, has thy. The other reading is, however, more correct. The Greeks made use of a similar expression, to shew the danger of losing a treasure. (Atheneus xiii. 4.) (Calmet) --- Such is our soul, which we must fear to lose. (St. Gregory, Mor. vii. 6.) (Berthier)


Verse 110

Snare, ver. 67. In such dangers, I still remain faithful. (Calmet)


Verse 111

Inheritance. I will strive to imitate the faith of Abraham, &c. (Haydock) --- I will stick to the law as to my portion, through pure love.


Verse 112

Inclined. He had said, (ver. 36.) incline, as the work proceeds from grace and free-will. (St. Augustine) --- Reward. St. Jerome, "for the eternal reward." All agree, that the Hebrew may have this sense. He is influenced by hope, though the motive of charity is place first. Whether both motives can produce the same act, is an useless inquiry. The Scriptures frequently propose reward, the second, though less excellent motive, Matthew v. 12., Genesis xv. 1., and Romans viii. 18. (Berthier) --- This text evidently shews, that the keeping of the commandments merits a reward, for which we may labour. (Worthington) --- Protestants evade this, by reading, "always, even unto the end;" because hekeb is ambiguous, and means also, the end. (Haydock) --- "As if the Septuagint were not sufficient to determine the same....But....they are resolved to take their liberty, though contrary to St. Jerome, and the ancient Fathers." (Ward's Errat. p. 75.) --- God authorizes us to aim at the reward, though he would not have this to be they only motive, ver. 33. (Calmet)


Verse 113

Unjust. Inasmuch as they oppose thy law. (Berthier) --- So Christ orders us to hate our parents, when they are an obstacle to our salvation. We must love their persons and welfare, (St. Augustine) but hate their iniquity. (Worthington) --- Hebrew, "the turbulent." St. Jerome, "vain thoughts," and inconstant men. The meaning of sehaphim is not well ascertained. (Calmet) --- But the psalmist might have all these senses (Haydock) in view, as they are all good; and hence we may admire the copiousness of the Hebrew language. (Berthier)


Verse 114

Helper. Hebrew, "asylum and buckler." We must keep in his presence, (Haydock) and avoid the society of the wicked, if we would search the law, ver. 115. (Worthington)


Verse 116

Live. St. Augustine (tr. 124. in Joan.) beautifully describes the life of the just here and in heaven. (Berthier) --- We may thus pray for grace, and spiritual life with confidence, if we be resolved to keep the commandments. Yet we must not fail to entreat God not to suffer us to be confounded, which will not be the case, if we entertain hope, and charity be poured on our hearts, Romans v. 5. (Worthington)


Verse 119

Prevaricators. For though they be not acquainted with revelation, (Haydock) they have the natural law written in their hearts by God, Romans ii. 12. (St. Augustine) --- There is no such thing as the philosophic sin, (Berthier) which abstracts from every offence of the Deity, though it be allowed to be contrary to reason. (Haydock) --- Septuagint seem to have read differently essbothi, "I have," &c., instead of hishbatta, "thou hast destroyed." Sigim, scorias, may have been sugim in their copies, though both may be derived from sug, "he departed." (Berthier) --- "Thou hast accounted as dross, or froth," &c. (St. Jerome) --- Calmet says, that St. Jerome and Hebrew read in the first person, which is inaccurate. (Berthier) --- The just entertain the same sentiments of the wicked as God does. (Worthington)


Verse 120

Afraid. Servile fear is therefore profitable, though perfect charity expel it, and move us to do well for the love of God, 1 John iv. (Worthington) --- Yet fear sometimes returns, that the just may not give way to presumption. (Calmet)


Verse 121

Justice. This he declares out of zeal, praying to be freed from calumniators, (Worthington) particularly the devil, Apocalypse xii. 9. The Babylonians probably laid falsehoods to the charge of the Jews, in order to oppress them, as they frequently accused Daniel.


Verse 122

Uphold. Hebrew, "answer for," (St. Jerome) as a bondsman. --- Unto good. Thus the law is insinuated, though it is not here expressed. (Berthier) --- In attacking the devil, who is so experienced, we must take God with us, or we shall surely be overcome. (St. Augustine, tr. 4. in Joan.)


Verse 123

Salvation. The Messias, (St. Hilary; ver. 41.) or liberty, ver. 82. I have been fatigued with looking up to heaven for aid, like a woman who looks for the return of her husband to port. (Calmet)


Verse 124

Mercy. When we have been most diligent, there still remains much to be done, and in many things we offend. (St. Ambrose)


Verse 126

To do. Our best, since so many prove rebellious, (Hebrews iv. 11., and Ecclesiasticus v. 8.; Berthier) or we stand in the utmost need of the Messias, since even the Jews give erroneous explanations of the law. (St. Ambrose) --- Hebrew, &c., "it is time for the Lord to act," by punishing the guilty; or, "to act for the Lord," faciendi Domino, by striving to repair the injuries done to his name and worship. (Calmet)


Verse 127

Topaz. Hebrew paz, which denotes "the purest gold" of Phison, Genesis ii. 11. (Calmet) --- The topaz was discovered only in the reign of Ptolemy, father of Philadelphus. (St. Hilary) (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxvii. 8.) --- Yet St. Jerome and others have the topaz, (Berthier) which St. Ambrose represents as the finest of precious stones. (Calmet) --- The more the law is despised by the wicked, the more are the just in love with it. (Worthington)


Verse 128

Directed. In my steps. (Berthier) --- Pagnin, "I judged all, yea all thy precepts to be right." (Haydock) --- The hatred of the wicked made the love of the beauty of the law increase in my breast. (Worthington)


Verse 129

Wonderful. Under the letter, I discovered many mysteries, which makes me study them diligently. (Calmet) --- God's works and laws deserve our most serious attention. (Worthington)


Verse 130

Declaration. By God's ministers renders them intelligible, though so wonderful in themselves. Hebrew styles this "the door of opening." (Berthier) --- The Scriptures are full of difficulties, and Daniel (ix. 2.) made them his study. Since the coming of Christ, the mysteries and prophecies have been more developed. But those who refuse to acknowledge him, grope at mid-day, Matthew xi. 25., and xviii. 5., and 1 Corinthians xiv. 20. (Calmet) --- The first entrance into the knowledge of holy Scripture illuminates the understanding of the humble, whence they proceed to know more. (Worthington)


Verse 131

Panted. Like one afflicted with the asthma, (Berthier) or most eager to obtain something. (Worthington) --- He asked and obtained the holy Spirit, (St. Augustine) enabling him to understand the law, (Haydock) and to comply with it. See Ezechiel iii. 2., and Psalm lxxx 11. (Calmet)


Verse 132

Judgment. Or custom, (Calmet) as thou art wont to treat such. (Worthington) --- Let us not be looked upon as criminals. (Calmet) --- The just are persuaded, that God will not reject the humble, (Berthier) according to the opinion (sententiam) of, &c. (Chaldean)


Verse 134

Calumnies. That they may not cause me to abandon virtue. (St. Augustine) --- A person must be well grounded not to yield on such occasions, when he is exposed to ridicule, &c., ver. 122. (Calmet) --- Even the psalmist dreaded this situation. (Berthier)


Verse 135

Shine. (ver. 33.) Let me never go astray. (Berthier) --- But shew me favour. (Worthington)


Verse 136

Law. This shews that David composed this psalm, as he fell by seeing Bethsabee. --- They. Men. (Duport.) Septuagint, "I." But this is unnecessary. The eyes and all our senses lead to our ruin, Romans vii. 18, 24. (Berthier) --- True repentance requires lamentation, as well as a firm purpose of amendment, (Worthington) commissa diluere & abluta non interare. (St. Jerome)


Verse 137

Right. He therefore makes people just indeed, and does not barely impute justice to them. (Worthington)


Verse 138

Truth. Thy laws are just and true in all respects, though we may not be able to discern it always, Romans ix. 20., and xi. 33. (Berthier) --- God punishes the wicked in his justice, and rewards the just in his truth, or according to his promises. (Theodoret)


Verse 139

My. Septuagint, "thy zeal." The just are animated with the zeal of God, like St. Paul. The enemies here mentioned were the Israelites, who attacked David, and not the Babylonians, who never knew God's law, or apostate captives, since we do not find that they attempted to injure Daniel, &c. (Berthier) --- Many, however, both at Ninive and Babylon prevaricated, Tobias i. 12. (Calmet)


Verse 140

Refined. Literally, "fire." (Haydock) --- Pure as any thing which has passed through the fire. (Worthington) --- "It consumes sin, and enlightens the penitent." (St. Jerome)


Verse 141

Young. The Fathers explain this of David, who was preferred before his brothers; and of the Gentiles, who were chosen by Jesus Christ. (Worthington) --- It may refer to Daniel, who was enabled to prophesy very soon, or to the disciples, for whom this psalm was composed, (Calmet) whether Solomon, or any of the faithful. (Berthier) --- The just are often judged to be ignorant by the worldly wise; but they follow the law, the true wisdom. (Worthington)


Verse 143

Trouble. Such is the portion of the just, Romans v. 3. --- Mediation. Hebrew, "joy." (Symmachus) (Calmet) --- The sense is the same. Septuagint generally give the former meaning, as they render by seeking what moderns would restrain to signify observing, ver. 145, &c. (Berthier)


Verse 144

Live. In justice, as thy law enjoins. (Worthington) --- Christ is the life. (Berthier)


Verse 145

Cried. With requisite fervour, (Worthington) and attention. (St. Augustine)


Verse 147

The. Literally, "in maturity." Some think that we should read immaturitate, Greek: aoria, (St. Augustine) "in the dead of the night." The psalmist not only rose at midnight, but before sun-rise to meditate. (Haydock) --- Kimchi says, he only indulged sleep the first three hours. But others believe, that he arose in the third and last watch, ver. 148. (Calmet) --- He got up before the ordinary time, and prayed with earnestness. (Worthington) --- St. Ambrose encourages people to come early to the church, to offer the first-fruits of their hearts, and voice to God; (Calmet) and St. Augustine informs us, that such was the practice of St. Monica. (Confessions ix. 7.) You are not in a higher station than the holy king who said, I rose, &c., ver. 22. (St. Chrysostom, ser. 42. ad pop.) (Berthier)


Verse 148

Morning. Both night and morning, I prevented the usual hours of prayer. (Worthington) --- To thee, is not in Hebrew, "my eyes prevented the watches." (Haydock)


Verse 149

Judgment. Or wonted mercy. (Worthington)


Verse 150

Law. There is no medium between faith and infidelity. If we do not observe the law, we sin. Not to advance is to go back. (Calmet) --- Shall we hesitate whether to follow the narrow or the broad road? (Berthier)


Verse 151

Near. To reward or punish. We wander from thee, yet there is no place between. (St. Augustine, [Confessions?] x. 26, 27.) (Berthier) --- God is ever ready to hear our just requests. (Worthington) --- His law may be easily known, Deuteronomy xxx. 11. (Calmet)


Verse 152

Ever. God's law is always the same in substance. (Worthington) --- That of Moses receives its perfection in Christianity. (Calmet) --- Though after this life we can no longer observe them, the reward of our past virtue will remain for ever. (Berthier)


Verse 153

Humiliation. Or "humility," as St. Augustine understands it of that virtue. (Calmet)


Verse 155

Sinners. Such cannot expect to be liberated. (Calmet) --- Yet, as the captivity was fixed for seventy years, and many who were almost ignorant of the law, and had married strange wives, returned, this verse overturns that system, and shews that eternal salvation is meant. (Berthier)


Verse 157

Many. the Babylonians on one hand, and false brethren on the other, attack me: but I am grieved most to see God offended. (Calmet) --- All the earth is stained with the blood of martyrs, whom the Church honours with festivals, and whose intercession heals many sick. (St. Augustine)


Verse 158

Transgressors. Septuagint, "fools," Greek: asunetountas. If Greek: o were placed before Greek: e, the exact meaning of the Hebrew would be preserved, though the wicked are often styled fools. (Haydock) --- The prevaricating Jews are here designated, ver. 136. (Calmet)


Verse 159

Behold. A person may profess his innocence without arrogance.


Verse 160

Truth. Hence all such commandments are immutable. (Worthington) --- The threats of God have been put in execution, and we cannot doubt but the promised liberation will soon take place. (Calmet)


Verse 161

Princes. Of darkness, or the chiefs of the Philistines, &c. (Berthier) --- Daniel was much exposed to the fury of the Babylonian princes, but he was more afraid of the terrors of the law, (Leviticus xxvi.) than of all that they could do against him. (Calmet) --- Thus the martyrs despised the threats of tyrants. (St. Augustine) --- Cause. The powerful men of this world have no just reason to persecute the just, nor can they make them abandon virtue. (Worthington) --- St. Basil answered Valens with great intrepidity, shewing how little he apprehended what the emperor could take from him, as we read in St. Gregory of Nazianzus (or. 20.) who says, (or. 6.) let us fear only one thing, which is, to fear any person more than God. (Berthier)


Verse 162

Spoil. Having just mentioned fear; lest any should think that he entertained any secret dislike for the law; he adds, that it gives him more content than the greatest treasures or conquests can the miser or the hero, ver. 14, 72, and 127. (Calmet) --- He rejoiceth thus in keeping the commandments, how difficult soever they may be. (Worthington)


Verse 163

Iniquity. Hebrew, "lying." The Babylonians have attempted to draw me over to their false religion; but I perceived its vanity, (Calmet) and stick closer to the truth, (Haydock; ver. 85.) and to thy holy law. (Calmet)


Verse 164

Seven. Often, (Worthington) as the word signifies, Proverbs xxiv. 16., &. (Vatable) --- Yet here it may determine the precise number, as the Church seems to have taken it, by instituting the seven canonical hours of the day, and matins and lauds for the night, in imitation of the psalmist. (Berthier; ver. 147) --- R. Solomon understands it literally, prescribing prayer twice before the reading of the decalogue, and once after in the morning; and in the afternoon, twice before and after the same lecture. The Church has enjoined matins to be said at night, lauds in the morning, prime, tierce, sext, none, vespers and complin, in the course of the day. (St. Benedict, reg. 8., and 16.) (Calmet) --- This ecclesiastical office consists of hymns, psalms, &c. (St. Isidore) --- Against it some have risen up, particularly against that part which was said in the night, pretending that God had made the night for rest; and hence they were called nuctazontes, or "drowsy" heretics. (St. Isidore, Of. i. 22.) --- St. Jerome styles Vigilantius Dormitantius, for the same reason; as if it were better to sleep than to watch. Wycliff (Wald. iii. Tit. iii. 21.) and Luther have oppugned the same holy practice, though it be so conformable to Scripture and to the fathers. (St. Basil, reg. fus. 37.; St. Gregory, dial. iii. 14.; Ven. Bede, Hist. iv. 7., &c.) --- St. Clement, as many suppose, (Worthington) or at least some author before the fourth century, (Haydock) explains the reason why we should pray at these set times; but cautions us not to join with heretics, neither in the Church nor at home. (Apostolic Constitutions viii. 40.) --- For what society is there between light and darkness? (2 Corinthians vi.) St. Cyprian, (or. Dom.) St. Jerome, (ep. ad Eust.) and St. Augustine (ser. 55. de Temp.) mention several of these hours, and exhort the faithful to be diligent in attending these public prayers. (Worthington)


Verse 165

Peace, in their own conscience, (Worthington) and prosperity, without fear of danger. Not even death can disturb those who belong to God, Romans viii. 38. (Calmet) --- But all things work together for their good, Romans viii. 28. (Haydock) --- The perfect are not moved to imitate bad example, and the weak are not excused for so doing, as they ought to be constant. (Worthington) --- The virtuous man is neither scandalized at the law, though he may not understand it perfectly nor at the fall of those who had been most eminent for sanctity. (St. Augustine)


Verse 166

Loved. Hebrew, &c., "performed." (Calmet) --- The difference is but small. (Berthier) --- He is actuated by real charity. (Worthington)


Verse 168

Sight, whom I would not offend. (Worthington) --- The presence of God ought to deter us most effectually from sin. (Haydock) (Titus ii. 13.)


Verse 169

Supplication. Hebrew, "cry." Eusebius reads axioma, "dignity," which S. Ambrose thinks has been substituted for axiosis, "prayer;" though all our copies of the Septuagint have deesis, (Calmet) a word of the same import. (Haydock)


Verse 171

A hymn. Hebrew also, "praise." (Haydock) --- Like a spring sending forth a copious stream. (Calmet)


Verse 173

Save me. Though a person be endued with grace, he requireth more grace to resist temptations. (Worthington) --- Actual grace is requisite. (Haydock)


Verse 175

Live in grace and glory. To serve God, it was not requisite that one should be at Jerusalem. Daniel, Tobias, &c., were saints elsewhere. (Berthier) --- Yet it was more easy to worship God in his temple, where every thing moved to piety; (Haydock) and this the psalmist desires, deeming it a new life. (Calmet)


Verse 176

Lost. I am in captivity. (Calmet) --- All men have been involved in sin, and Christ came to save them; but only such as keep the law will obtain salvation. (Worthington) --- The conclusion contains a confession of misery in the name of all, and an allusion to Christ, the good shepherd. The prophet admits that notwithstanding his love of the law, he may have still many ways transgressed; and that without faith in the Messias, he could not belong to his fold, or escape the many dangers of the world, 1 Corinthians iv. 4., and ix. 27. (Berthier) --- Seek. St. Hilary and some Greek copies have read incorrectly "quicken." (Calmet)

 


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Bibliography Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 118:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/psalms-118.html. 1859.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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