(Updated) Commentaries on the Sunday Readings: 18th Through 30th Sundays of Ordinary Time, Year C

Commentaries on the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

Commentaries on the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

Aug 14. Commentaries for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

Aug 21. Commentaries for the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

Aug 28. Commentaries for the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

Sept. 4. Commentaries for the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

Sept 11. Commentaries for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

Sept 18. Commentaries for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

Sept 25. Commentaries for the Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

Oct. 2. Commentaries for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

Oct 9. Commentaries for the Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

Oct. 16. Commentaries for the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

Oct. 23. Commentaries for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 118

Psalm 117
The psalmist praises God for his delivery from evils; puts his whole trust in him, and foretells the coming of Christ

Psa 118:1 Give praise to the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

David invites all to praise God, and assigns a reason for their doing so, “for he is good;” nothing more brief, and at the same time more sublime, could be said of him, for God alone can be said to be intrinsically good, and it is such goodness only that deserves to be praised; he adds, “for his mercy endureth forever;” to show that God, even in his actions, is good, and as such, is deserving of praise; for the wretched have no better way of coming at a knowledge of God’s goodness than through his mercy. For it was his mercy that created, redeemed, protects, and will crown us; and, thus, “his mercy endureth forever.”

Psa 118:2 Let Israel now say, that he is good: that his mercy endureth for ever.
Psa 118:3 Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Psa 118:4 Let them that fear the Lord now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

He tells who he had invited to praise God, namely, the people of Israel first, from whom the Apostles were descended, and who were the first believers in Christ. He names the house of Aaron in the second place, next to the Apostles, “A great multitude of the priests obeyed the faith,” Acts 6; and all the gentiles, finally, who believed and united with the rising Church. He thus invites the whole Church, formed of Jews and gentiles, to praise God.

Psa 118:5 In my trouble I called upon the Lord: and the Lord heard me, and enlarged me.

He now begins to tell what he is going to praise God for, and it is for his having been in trouble, or, as the Hebrew has it, angustiated, or compassed in a narrow place, and that when he prayed to God he was heard at once, and was enlarged. “In my trouble I called upon the Lord;” without boasting of my own merits, or complaining of being unjustly persecuted, I had recourse to God’s mercy; “and the Lord heard me, and enlarged me,” by delivering me from all the dangers that encompassed me. Anyone reading Psalms 17 and 33, will at once see how applicable all this was to David himself; and it is equally so to the Church, because in its infancy, when Herod threw St. Peter, the chief head and pastor of the Church into prison, “and when prayer was made without ceasing by the Church to God for him,” it was heard at once, and by a most wonderful miracle it was enlarged from the depth of tribulation to the fullest extent of peace and consolation; and as often as the same Church was delivered from the persecutions of Nero, Decius, and Diocletian, and such persecutors, it might exclaim with David, “In my trouble I called upon the Lord; and the Lord heard me, and enlarged me.”

Psa 118:6 The Lord is my helper: I will not fear what man can do unto me.
Psa 118:7 The Lord is my helper: and I will look over my enemies.

David, or God’s people, if you will, being taught by experience, exults in great confidence, but does not say, the Lord is my helper, and I shall suffer no more, knowing that while he is a pilgrim here below he will have much to suffer from his daily enemies; but be says, “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man can do unto me.” I will not be troubled in regard of any annoyance I may meet with from man, because the Lord will turn all such things to good, for so he reminded us when he said, “Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do;” and again, “A hair from your head shall not perish;” and the Apostle tells us, “For our present tribulation, which is momentary and light, worketh for us above measure, exceedingly, an eternal weight of glory.” He, therefore, justly adds, “and I will look over my enemies;” for their persecutions only tend to increase my glory.

Psa 118:8 It is good to confide in the Lord, rather than to have confidence in man.
Psa 118:9 It is good to trust in the Lord, rather than to trust in princes.

He draws a useful admonition from what he has said, on placing all our hope in God, and not in man, however powerful. For God is always both able and willing to help those who put their trust in him; while men are very often unable, or when they are able, being influenced by various passions, are unwilling to offer any help. David knew that by experience, for he confided in Saul his king, at another time in Achis, the Certhean, at another time in Achitophel, his own most prudent minister, besides several others, and they all failed him, but he never confided in God, without feeling the benefit of it. He, therefore, says, strongly advising all, “It is good to confide in the Lord, rather than to have confidence in men.” Such a comparison is just suited to man’s infirmity, as we are well acquainted with the power of man, and especially of princes; while God’s power is hidden to many, who neither see it, nor reflect upon it; perhaps, even disbelieve God’s greatness, otherwise he should have had to say, it is good to hope in the Lord, and evil to hope in man. So Jeremias says, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man.” It is not, however, sinful to put our trust, to a certain extent, in the help of the Angels, or of pious people, because such hope has reference to God, who helps those who trust in him, not only directly through himself; but also indirectly through others.

Psa 118:10 All nations compassed me about; and, in the name of the Lord I have been revenged on them.
Psa 118:11 Surrounding me they compassed me about: and in the name of the Lord I have been revenged on them.
Psa 118:12 They surrounded me like bees, and they burned like fire among thorns: and in the name of the Lord I was revenged on them.

From his own example, he shows the advantage of putting one’s trust in God; for it was not once, but several times, that he was beset by a most powerful enemy on all sides, and was most miraculously so rescued by God, as to behold them all laid prostrate about him. If we refer the passage to David, everyone knows how often he was overpowered by Saul with a numerous army, and most unexpectedly and miraculously rescued; and it is better known how often God’s people have suffered the direst persecutions from powerful kings and innumerable people, and seen God’s vengeance wreaked on the instigators of such persecutions. To show it was no ordinary persecution, he adds, “Surrounding me, they compassed me about,” so as to leave no chance of escape, “They surrounded me like bees,” to show their number and their fury; for bees surrounding a hive can scarcely be numbered; and to show their fury, he says, “They burned like fire among thorns,” that can scarcely be checked or extinguished once it gets a hold of them, and destroys them in a minute.

Psa 118:13 Being pushed I was overturned that I might fall: but the Lord supported me.
Psa 118:14 The Lord is my strength and my praise: and he is become my salvation.

Having hitherto expatiated on the multitude and the atrocity of his enemies, he now acknowledges his own weakness, as being quite unable to compete with them, that God may thus have greater glory in the matter. I was unable to resist such violence; and thus these attacks of the enemy had nigh accomplished my ruin, had not the Lord, coming in at the proper time, “supported me.” This may have reference to the various dangers David had from time to time to encounter; and it may also refer to the spiritual dangers of temptation, to which the early Christians were subject when they suffered so much persecution, under which they would have succumbed, had they not been imbued with the spirit of those verses, “The Lord is my strength and my praise.” “The Lord is my strength;” because it is through him I conquer; “and my praise,” because I am always bound to praise him; “and he is become my salvation;” has been my Savior.

Psa 118:15 The voice of rejoicing and of salvation is in the tabernacles of the just.

The just who heard of David’s liberation rejoiced much thereat; but much more so, on the delivery of the early Christians from persecution, was there the voice of rejoicing and the voice of salvation announcing, in the tabernacles of the just, the joyful news of salvation.

Psa 118:16 The right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength: the right hand of the Lord hath exalted me: the right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength.

The voice of rejoicing and salvation that resounded in the tabernacles of the just is that “the right hand of the Lord,” the might and power of the Son of God, “hath wrought strength;” has done its work bravely and powerfully; for the Son of God is called in Scripture the arm, or the right hand of the Lord, because it is through the Son that the Father has done, and still does, everything. “All things were made by him,” Jn. 1; “By whom also he made the world,” Heb. 1; “Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Isaias 53; “He hath shown might in his arm,” Lk. 1; “The right hand of The Lord hath exalted me.” Herein hath the right hand of the Lord wrought strength, inasmuch as it exalted me, and lowered my enemies, which is just as applicable to the Church as to David. The repetition of “the right hand of the Lord hath wrought strength,” is for the sake of expressing his joy and gladness.

Psa 118:17 I shall not die, but live: and shall declare the works of the Lord.
Psa 118:18 The Lord chastising hath chastised me: but he hath not delivered me over to death.

The same David, or, if you will, God’s people, goes on in recording God’s mercy, who permits them to suffer persecution as a father; and not as an enemy, for the purpose, not of destroying, but of purging them. As much as to say, however great the persecutions I have suffered, and am still suffering, “I shall not die but live.” I will not be utterly exterminated, as my enemies desire; but I will hold out, “and shall declare the works of the Lord,” “who chastising, chastised me” with the rod of a father; “but he hath not delivered me to death.”

Psa 118:19 Open ye to me the gates of justice: I will go in to them, and give praise to the Lord.
Psa 118:20 This is the gate of the Lord, the just shall enter into it.

The favors he received having inspired him with the courage of aiming at higher ones, he demands an introduction to the heavenly Jerusalem, where no sinners are to be found. “Open ye to me the gates of justice,” the gates of the kingdom of heaven which is all justice, for justice is the gate of glory: “Seek (says our Lord) just the kingdom of God and his justice.”—“I will go into them, and give praise to the Lord,” because, according to Psalm 83, “They that dwell in thy house, O Lord, shall praise thee forever and ever.”—“This is the gate of the Lord, the just shall enter into it.” This gate of justice is the true gate, the only gate that leads to the Lord, and, therefore, it is only the just shall enter by it.

Psa 118:21 I will give glory to thee because thou hast heard me: and art become my salvation.

He now explains the expression, “I will go into them and give praise to the Lord,” for he says, “I will give glory to thee,” when I shall have entered the heavenly Jerusalem, through the gates of justices, “because thou hast heard me;” for though the just ask for many and various things in this world, they all tend to one petition, of which Psalm 26, says, “One thing I have asked of the Lord, this I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” Concerning this petition, then, he says, “I will give glory to thee because thou hast heard me,” which be explains more fully when he adds, “and art become my salvation;” you that were my hope have become my salvation; you who fed me on the way are now my reward in heaven.

Psa 118:22 The stone which the builders rejected; the same is become the head of the corner.
Psa 118:23 This is the Lord’s doing , and it is wonderful in our eyes.

Christ having repeatedly quoted this passage in reference to himself, St. Peter having done the same, in which he has been followed by St. Paul, there can be no doubt of its applying solely and exclusively to Christ. David, then, having sung of his own delivery, and of the delivery of God’s people from their temporal calamities, and having asked for his own and their admission to eternal happiness, explains now how God opened the way to it; and, undoubtedly, hurried away by an increased light of prophecy, exclaims, “The stone which the builders rejected the same is become the head of the corner;” that is to say, God sent a living, precious, chosen stone on earth, but the Jews, who then had the building of the Church, rejected that stones and said of it, “This man, who observeth not the sabbath is not of God;” and “We have no king but Caesar;” and, “That seducer said, I will rise after three days;” and many similar things beside. But this stone, so rejected by the builders as unfit for raising the spiritual edifice, “Is become the head of the corner;” has been made by God, the principal architect, the bond to connect the two walls and keep them together, that is to say, has been made the head of the whole Church, composed of Jews and Gentiles; and such a head, that whoever is not under him cannot be saved; and whoever is built under him, the living stone, will certainly be saved. Now all this “is the Lord’s doing,” done by his election and design, without any intervention on the part of man, and, therefore, it is wonderful in our eyes.” For who is there that must not look upon it as a wonderful thing, to find a man crucified, dead and buried, rising, after three days, from the dead, immortal, with unbounded power, and declared Prince of men and Angels, and a way opened through him for mortal man, to the kingdom of heaven, to the society of the Angels, to a happy immortality?

Psa 118:24 This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us be glad and rejoice therein.

“This day” on which such a thing was accomplished, is really the day “which the Lord hath made.” and, therefore, for such a favor “let us be glad and rejoice therein.” The day of the resurrection, beyond doubt, for, though from his very conception, the Lord Jesus was the Christ, and the head of the Church, hence we find the Angel saying to the shepherds—“I bring you tidings of great joy, for this day is born to you a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord, in the city of David;” still, it was necessary for him, first, to be rejected by men, to be humbled, even to the death of the cross; then to be exalted, through his resurrection, then to be declared the chief corner stone, and to have it preached through all nations, “that there was salvation in none other;” hence, he said, “All power is given me in heaven, and on earth, go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” The day of the resurrection is called “the day which the Lord hath made,” either because Christ, by his resurrection, as a Sun of Justice, made that day in a new manner, or because he specially consecrated that day to his service, or because he set it aside, “that we may be glad and rejoice therein.”

Psa 118:25 O Lord, save me: O Lord, give good success.
Psa 118:26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord. We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.

These are the very praises that the crowd saluted our Savior with on the day of the palms, with the exception of their making use of the word “Hosanna,” instead of, “O Lord, save me,” as we have it here. Thus, the Lord on that day wished to make a visible exhibition of, and to anticipate the invisible triumph he was about to enjoy on the day of his resurrection. Nor could it be fairly objected to him that he was enjoying a triumph before he obtained the victory, because he was most certain of the victory, and the Prophet, as well as he, foresaw and foretold that Christ would be rejected as the corner stone at the time of his passion, and that he would be afterwards exalted in his resurrection, so as to become the head of the corner, so he also foresaw and foretold the very words the crowd would make use of on the day of Christ’s triumph, the day of the palms by which the triumph of the resurrection was signified, and turns to account the fact of both having occurred on the same day, namely, the Lord’s day. He, therefore, says, “Let us be glad, and rejoice on this day,” saying, “O Lord, save me, O Lord, give good success” in the commencement of your reign. “Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord;” may the Messias, our King, now become the head of the corner, be blessed by all, “that cometh in the name of the Lord,” that does not come of himself, an usurper like Antichrist, but comes, having been sent by his Father, the Lord of heaven and earth, as Christ himself explains, in Jn. 5. “We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.” Having explained the whole prophecy regarding the coming of Christ and his triumph, the Prophet now addresses the people, and exhorts them to celebrate a solemn festival in thanksgiving, “We have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.” We, prophets, have blessed you, a faithful people, by announcing to you those divine mysteries that lead to your salvation.

Psa 118:27 The Lord is God, and he hath shone upon us. Appoint a solemn day, with shady boughs, even to the horn of the altar.

This is, as it were, a summary of all, as much as to say, our Lord is the true God, and he hath shone upon us by showing us the light of his mercies. Therefore, appoint a solemn shady day, by bringing in lots of green branches to ornament the temple to the very horn of the altar. That is variously interpreted, according to the ceremonies of the Jews, that do not concern us at present.

Psa 118:28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, and I will exalt thee. I will praise thee, because thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
Psa 118:29 O praise ye the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

These verses are only a repetition of the preceding, in order to express the vehement affections of the prophet.

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St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 2

Psalm 2

a. Quare fremuerunt gentes, et populi meditati sunt inania? Astiterunt reges terrae, et principes convenerunt in unum adversus Dominum, et adversus Christum eius. Why have the gentiles raged, and the people devised useless things? The kings of the earth have stood up, and princes have met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ.
b. Dirumpamus vincula eorum, et proiiciamus a nobis iugum ipsorum. Let us break their chains, and throw aside their yoke from us.
c. Qui habitat in caelis irridebit eos, et Dominus subsannabit eos. Tunc loquetur ad eos in ira sua, et in furore suo conturbabit eos. He who dwells in the heavens shall laugh at them, and the Lord shall mock them. Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and in his rage he shall throw them into confusion.
d. Ego autem constitutus sum rex ab eo, super Syon montem sanctum eius, praedicans praeceptum eius. But I have been appointed king by him, over Sion his holy mountain, proclaiming his rule.
e. Dominus dixit ad me, Filius meus es tu, ego hodie genui te. The Lord said to me, You are my son, this day have I begotten you.
f. Postula a me, et dabo tibi gentes haereditatem tuam, et possessionem tuam terminos terrae. Ask of me, and I will give you the gentiles for your inheritance, and the outermost parts of the earth for your possession.
g. Reges eos in virga ferrea, et tanquam vas figuli confringes eos. You shall rule them with an iron rod, and shall break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
h. Et nunc reges intelligite: erudimini qui iudicatis terram. And now, O kings, understand: receive instruction, you who have judged the earth.
i. Servite Domino in timore, et exultate ei cum tremore. Apprehendite disciplinam, ne quando irascatur Dominus, et pereatis de via iusta. Serve the Lord with fear, and exalt him with trembling. Embrace discipline lest at any time the Lord becomes angry, and you perish from the just way.
j. Cum exarserit in brevi ira eius, beati omnes qui confidunt in eo. When his anger shall be kindled in a short time, blessed are all of them who trust in him.
a. Praemisso psalmo, in quo quasi universaliter descripsit statum et processum humani generis, in hoc procedit ad materiam propriam, scilicet tribulationes suas signantes tribulationes Christi: In the prior psalm, wherein the psalmist generally described, as it were, the state and progression of the human species, in this one, he procedes to a definite matter, namely his tribulations, signifying the tribulations of Christ.
et circa hoc tria facit. Primo implorat divinum auxilium contra tribulationes imminentes orando. Secundo gratias agit exauditus, et hoc in octavo psalmo: Domine Dominus noster, quam admirabile est nomen tuum in universa terra? Tertio ostendit fiduciam inde conceptam, et hoc in decimo psalmo, In Domino confido, quodmodo dicitis animae meae, transmigra in montem sicut passer. And concerning this he does three things. First, he invokes divine help against imminent tribulations by praying, second, he gives thanks for having been heard, and this, in the eighth psalm, O Lord, our Lord, how wonderful is your name in all the earth, and third, he shows the confidence received therefrom, and this, in the tenth psalm, In the Lord I put my trust: how then do you say to my soul, take yourself away from this place to the mountain like a sparrow.
In tribulationibus autem potest homo duo petere. Primo petit, ut liberetur. Secundo, ut hostes deprimantur; et hoc facit in septimo psalmo, Domine Deus meus in te. In his tribulations, a man can pray for two reasons. First, he prays so that he might be freed, and second so that his enemies might be overwhelmed; and he does this in the seventh psalm, O Lord, my God, in you.
Circa primum duo facit. Primo implorat auxilium contra tribulantes. Secundo contra decipere molientes, et hoc in quinto psalmo, Verba me. Concerning the first he does two things. First, he implores help against those distressing him, and second, against those attempting to ensnare him, and this, in the fifth psalm, Give ear, O Lord, to my words.
Circa primum tria facit. Primo commemorat machinationes insurgentium contra ipsum. Secundo implorat auxilium contra iam insurgentes, et hoc in tertio psalmo, Domine quid multiplicati. Tertio confidens se exauditum invitat alios ad confidendum de Deo, et hoc in quarto psalmo, Cum invocarem. Concerning the first, he does three things. First, he recalls the contrivances of those rising up against him, second, he implores help against those now rising up, and this, in the third psalm, Why, O Lord, are they multiplied (that afflict me), and third, trusting that he has been heard, he invites others to trust in God, and this, in the fourth psalm, When I called upon him.
Sed attendendum est, quod totus iste psalmus nihil continet de oratione, sed de malitia insurgentium. Circa quem psalmum in generali sciendum est, quod de eo fuit duplex opinio. But it must be observed that this entire psalm contains nothing concerning prayer, but rather of the malice of those rising up. Concerning this psalm in general it must be noted there was a twofold opinion about it.
Quidem enim dixerunt, quod idem est cum primo psalmo, et haec fuit Gamalielis. Et propter hoc dicebant, quod sicut ille psalmus, Beatus vir qui etc. ita iste quasi pars ipsius finit: Beati omnes qui confidunt in eo, ut sit quasi circularis. For some said that it is the same as the first psalm, and this was the opinion of Gamaliel. And on account of this they used to say that just as that psalm, Blessed is the man who etc. so too does it finish this very one, being, as it were, a part of it: Blessed are all of them who trust in him, so that it is, as it were, circular.
Sed contra hoc sunt duo. Primo quia sic non essent centum quinquaginta psalmi. But there are two points against this argument. First, because as such there would not be one hundred and fifty psalms.
Sed ad hoc respondetur, quia addunt unum qui invenitur in pluribus psalteriis: et incipit, Pusillus eram etc. But to this it may be responded that they add one other psalm which is found in several psalters. And it begins, I was small etc.
Et secundo, quia in hebraeo psalmi secundum ordinem literarum ordinantur ut quotus sit psalmus statim occurrat: nam in primo est Aleph, ad designandum quod sit primus: in secundo est Beth, ut designetur quod sit secundus in tertio est Gimel, et sic est in aliis. Second, because in the hebrew, the psalms are ordered according to the order of the letters (of the alphabet) so that the psalm occurs in its proper place. For in the first place is Aleph, to designate that it is first; in the second is Beth, to designate that it is second, in third is Gimel, and so it is with the rest.
Quia ergo Beth, quae litera est secunda in ordine alphabeti, ponitur in principio huius psalmi, patet quod est secundus psalmus, et hoc tenet Augustinus. Therefore, because Beth, which is the second letter in the order of the alphabet, is positioned at the beginning of this psalm, it is clear that it is the second psalm – this is Augustine’s position on the matter.
Dicendum est ergo, quod psalmus iste in ordine psalmorum est secundus, sed primus in titulo: et hic est titulus eius. Therefore, let it be said that this very psalm is second in the order of psalms, but first in the title: and this is its title.
Psalmus proprie dicitur a psalterio, quod est quoddam instrumentum decachordum, quod manu tangitur: unde dicitur a psallere, quod est manu tangere, et habet tactum a superiori: unde psalmus proprie dicitur canticum, quod David cantabat, vel cantari faciebat ad psalterium. ‘Psalm’ is properly named from ‘Psalterium’, which is a ten-stringed instrument played with the hand. Thus, it is named from ‘Psallere’, which means to play upon a stringed instrument with one’s hand, which touches from above. Thus, a psalm is properly called a song, which David sang, or had it sung on the psalterium.
Mystice autem per decachordum psalterium signatur lex Dei, quae in decem praeceptis consistit, et oportet quod tangatur manu, idest bona operatione, et a superiori, quia praecepta sunt implenda propter spem aeternorum, alias tangeretur ex inferiori. Mystically speaking, however, by the ten strings of the psalterium is signified the law of God, which consists in ten commandments, and it is appropriate that it be touched with the hand, that is with good performance, and from above, because these commandments are to be satisfied according to the hope of eternal life, otherwise it would be touched from what is below.
Est ergo psalmus David, quia ab eo compositus, et de regno eius in figura regni Christi agit. Per David enim Christus convenienter significatur, quia David dicitur manu fortis, et Christus Dei virtus, 1 Cor. 1. Therefore, this psalm is David’s, because it was composed by him, and it treats of his kingdom in the figure of the kingdom of Christ. For by David, Christ is suitably signified, because David is said to be brave in battle, and Christ, the power of God – 1. Cor. 1.
Dicitur etiam David aspectu desiderabilis, et Christus splendor gloriae, Heb. 1. Ipse est in quem desiderant angeli prospicere, 1 Pet. 1. David is also said to be desirable in appearance, and Christ, the splendor of glory – Hebrews 1; He it is on whom the angels desire to look (1 Peter 1).
Quare fremuerunt gentes, et populi meditati sunt inania? Why have the gentiles raged, and the people devised useless things?
Psalmus iste dividitur in duas partes. In prima narratur machinatio molientium contra regnum David, et Christi. In secunda ponitur eorum repressio, ibi, Qui habitat in caelis irridebit eos. This psalm is divided into two parts. In the first is related the trickery of those struggling against the kingdom of David and of Christ. In the second is described their repression, at, He who dwells in the heavens shall laugh at them.
Circa primum tria facit. Primo narrat machinantium rebellionem. Secundo contra quem machinatur. Tertio propositum machinantium. Secundum ibi, Adversus Dominum. Tertium ibi, Dirumpamus vincula eorum. Concerning the first he does three things. First, he tells of the rebellion of those who are plotting, second, who is being plotted against, and third, the intention of those who are plotting. The second is at, Against the Lord, and the third, at, Let us break their chains.
Primo ergo historialiter sciendum, quod quando populus molitur rebellionem, primo surgit murmur in populo, post accedit auxilium magnatum ad perficiendum. Thus, the first ought to be understood historically, because when a people attempts rebellion, a murmuring first arises among them, after which they elicit the help of important men to accomplish the task.
Primo ergo ponit conatum populi murmurantis. Secundo auxilium magnatum, ibi, Astiterunt reges terrae, et principes convenerunt in unum. Therefore, he first describes the effort of the murmuring people, and second, the help of important men, at, The kings of the earth have stood up, and princes have met together.
In populo autem sunt quidam minus habentes de ratione, qui sunt impetuosi: quidam plus, qui cauti dicuntur. Among the people, some are impetuous, having a deficiency of the rational powers, while others, having more of these, are called cautious.
Primi non moventur sensu ad rebellandum, sed magis impetu; et ideo dicit de his, Fremuerunt, quod est bestiarum: Prov. 19. Sicut fremitus leonis ita et regis ira. The former are not moved sensitively so as to rebel, but rather impulsively; and thus concerning these people he says, Raged, which is of the beasts – Proverbs 19: As the raging of a lion so also is the anger of a king.
Secundo moventur consilio; et ideo de his dicit, Meditati sunt inania. Quia vanae sunt cogitationes hominum, Ps. 93. The latter, however, are moved by counsel; and thus concerning these people he says, Devised useless things – (The Lord knows) that the thoughts of men are vain (Psalm 93).
Populus est multitudo hominum iuris consensu sociata. Et ideo Iudaei dicuntur populus, quia cum lege et sub lege Dei sunt. Alii dicuntur gentes, quia non sunt sub lege Dei. A people is a multitude of men associated by legal consent. And thus the Jews are called a people, because they are with and under the law of God. The rest are called gentiles, because they are not under the law of God.
Vel ad literam. In regno David erant gentes subiugatae, et Iudaei fideles, et utrique moliebantur contra eum, ideo dicit, Quare fremuerunt gentes, et populi meditati sunt inania. Non interrogat, sed increpat, sicut ibi Sap. 5. Quid nobis profuit superbia, aut divitiarum iactantia quid contulit nobis? Or literally. In David’s kingdom, there were subjugated gentiles and faithful Jews, and both struggled against him. Thus he says, Why have the gentiles raged, and the people devised useless things? He does not ask, but rebukes, as at Wisdom 5: What has pride profited us, or what advantage has the boasting of riches brought us?
Item minores nihil per se facere possent, nisi haberent auxilium maiorum: unde ponit quosdam praebentes auxilium: primo per potentiam adiuvando: et quantum ad hoc dicit, Astiterunt reges terrae, et principes convenerunt in unum adversus Dominum, et adversus Christum eius; quasi dicat, illi fremuerunt, sed alii astiterunt, idest affuerunt huic malitiae. Again, people of lower station could do nothing, unless they had the help of those who were greater. Thus he describes those supplying help, first, through the power in the one helping. And with respect to this he says, The kings of the earth have stood up, and princes have met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ, as if he were saying, Some have raged, but others have stood up, that is, they have assisted in this malice.
Item quidam praebuerunt auxilium per sapientiam consulendo; et quantum ad hoc dicit, Convenerunt in unum, scilicet ad consiliandum. Again, some supply help through wisdom in the one giving advice; and with respect to this he says, They have met together, namely, so as to deliberate.
Literam Hieronymi habet tractabant pariter: Hier. 5. Ibo igitur ad optimates, et loquar eis: ipsi enim cognoverunt viam Domini, et iudicium Dei sui etc. Jerome’s version has they have negotiated together – Jeremiah 5: Therefore I will go to the great men and I will speak to them: for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgement of their God etc.
Deinde cum dicit, Adversus Dominum, et adversus Christum eius etc. ponit patientes rebellionem. Ostendit enim contra quos fuit rebellio, quia contra Dominum, et contra regem eius: Reges enim dicuntur Christi, idest uncti: Ps. 5. Nolite tangere Christos meos. Then when he says, Against the Lord, and against his Christ etc., he describes those suffering the rebellion. He shows against whom the rebellion is waged, that is against the Lord and against his king – kings are called Christs, that is, annointed ones – Psalm 104: Do not touch my Christs.
Qui ergo rebellat regni instituto per Deum, rebellat etiam Deo: Rom. 13. Qui potestati resistit, Dei ordinationi resistit. Et ideo dicit, Adversus Dominum, et adversus Christum eius: Rom. 8. Non te abiecerunt, sed me. Therefore, he who rebels against a kingdom established by God, rebels also against God – Romans 13: He who resists the power, resists the ordinace of God. And thus he says, Against God and against his Christ – Samuel 8: They have not thrown you aside, but me.
Mystice haec dicta sunt sub similitudine David de Christo: Act. 4. Domine tu dixisti per os patris nostri pueri tui David, quare fremuerunt gentes etc. Convenerunt enim vere in civitate ista adversus sanctum puerum tuum Iesum, quem unxisti etc. Mystically, these words were said under the likeness of David concerning Christ – Acts 4: O Lord, through the mouth of our father David, your servant, you have said, Why have the gentiles raged etc. They have surely assembled in this very city against your holy child Jesus, whom you have annointed etc.
Et secundum hoc intelligendum est, quod gentes, scilicet milites, convenerunt contra Christum: Et populi, scilicet Iudaei, meditati sunt inania, credentes eum occidere totaliter, scilicet quod non resurgeret: Et reges terrae, scilicet Herodes Ascalonita prior qui occidit infantes: et posterius Herodes Anthippas eiusdem filius qui Pilato consensit: Et principes, idest Pilatus, ut ponatur plurale pro singulari per synecdocham. And in accordance with this, it is to be understood that the gentiles, namely the soldiers, have assembled against Christ: And the people, namely the Jews, have devised useless things, believing that they killed him altogether, namely that he would not rise: And the kings of the earth, namely the earlier Herod of Ascalon, who killed the innocents, and the later Herod Antipas, his son, who concurred with Pilate: And the princes, that is Pilate, where a plural is used in place of a singular, by means of synecdoche (a figure of speech where the part is put for the whole, the cause for the effect, or the contrary, a proper for a common noun).
Vel principes sacerdotum convenerunt in unum, idest unam pravam voluntatem, adversus Dominum et adversus Christum eius. Or, the leaders of the priests have met together, that is, in one vicious will, against the Lord and against his Christ.
b. Consequenter ponit propositum machinantium: unde dicit, Dirumpamus vincula eorum etc. Consequently, the psalmist describes the intention of those plotting. Thus he says, Let us break their bonds etc.,
Quod proprie dicitur, nam regis dominium dicitur iugum: 3. Reg. 12. dicitur ad Roboam, quod alleviaret de iugo quod imposuerat eis Salomon. Sicut enim boves iunguntur iugo ad opus, ita homines ad dominium regni. which is properly said, for ‘yoke’ signifies ‘royal power’. At 3 Kings 12, Roboam is asked (by the people of Israel) that he lighten the yoke which Solomon had placed upon them. Just as oxen are joined to a yoke for work, so too men to royal power.
Iugum autem removeri non potest, nisi solvantur vincula. Vincula autem sunt in regno illis quibus firmatur potestas regia in regno, sicut milites, castra, et arma. Primo ergo oportet ista dissolvere, et tunc removere iugum. However, a yoke cannot be removed unless the bonds are loosened. In a kingdom, bonds are those things by which the royal power is made firm, such as soldiers, forts and arms. Therefore, it is appropriate first to destroy these things, and then to remove the yoke.
Spiritualiter in Christo est iugum lex charitatis: Matt. 11. Iugum meum suare est etc. Spiritually, in Christ, the yoke is the law of charity – Matthew 11: My yoke is easy etc.
Vincula sunt virtutes, spes, fides, charitas: Ephes. 4. Soliciti servare unitatem spiritus, in vinculo pacis; Eccl. 6. Vincula illius alligatura salutaris. The bonds here are the virtues of faith, hope and charity – Ephesians 4: Careful to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; Ecclesiasticus 6: Her bands are a healthful binding.
Quod ergo conscientia hominis non sit sub iugo legis Christi, non potest esse nisi prius rumpantur haec vincula: quod faciunt qui dicunt Deo, Recede a nobis, scientiam viarum tuarum nolumus etc. Iob 12. Hier. 2. A saeculo confregisti iugum, dirupisti vincula, et dixisti, non serviam. Therefore, unless these chains are broken first, it is impossible for a man’s conscience not to be under the yoke of the law of Christ: which they do who say to God, Go away from us, we do not desire knowledge of your ways etc. (Job ?). Jeremiah 2: From of old you have broken (my) yoke into pieces, have burst (my) bonds, and have said, I will not serve.
Vel hoc dicitur in persona David a Christo ad suos servos: Glossa quasi ipsi ita moliuntur; sed o mei dirumpamus etc. sed non facit ad propositum. Or, this is said by Christ, in the person of David, to his servants: in the gloss, it is as if they themselves are struggling in this way; but O! let us break etc. of me, but not take up his intention.
c. Deinde cum dicit, Qui, ponitur oppressio molientium in regnum David. Et circa hoc duo facit. Primo ostenditur quomodo opprimuntur a Domino. Secundo quomodo a Christo eius, ibi, Ego autem constitutus etc. Next, when he says, He who dwells, he describes the oppresion of those struggling in the kingdom of David. And concerning this he does two things. It is shown how they are oppressed first by the Lord, and second, by his Christ, at, I have been appointed etc.
Contra hos, scilicet Dominum et contra Christum eius moliti sunt, ut dictum est. They struggle against these, namely the Lord and his Christ, as was said.
Circa primum nota quatuor, scilicet irrisionem, subsannationem, iratam locutionem, et conturbationem. Concerning the first, note four things, namely derision, mockery, angered speech, and confusion.
Nam sicut aliquis puer nullius virtutis et potestatis, si pugnat contra gigantem, irrideatur a gigaute, ita si aliquis nullius potestatis moliri vult contra eum qui habitat in caelis, irridetur ab eo: Iob 35. Suspice caelum et intuere et contemplare aethera, quod altius te sit. Si peccaveris quid ei nocebit? Et si perseveret impotens, tunc ille qui est potentior reprehendit et subsannat. For just as a boy of no strength and power, if he fights against a huge man, is laughed at by this man, so too if someone of no power wants to struggle against him who dwells in the heavens, is laughed at by him – Job 35: Look up to the sky and see, and behold the sky, that it is higher than you. If you sin, what shall you hurt him? And if the powerless one continues, then he who is more powerful rebukes and mocks him.
Irrisio namque fit bucca secundum Hieronymum in glossa, sed subsannatio rugato naso, atque contracto, ex quadam scilicet levi indignatione: Prov. 1. Ego quoque in interitu vestro ridebo, et subsannabo, cum vobis quod timebatis advenerit. Derision comes from the mouth, according to Jerome in a gloss, but mockery from a wrinkled and contracted nose, concerning some matter, namely a slight indignation – Proverbs 1: I also will laugh in your destruction, and will mock when that shall come to you which you feared.
Si autem nullo modo desistat, procedit ad vindictam; et ideo dicit, Tunc loquetur ad eos in ira sua, idest proferet sententiam vindictae contra eos: nam in Deum non cadit ira, sed quod est creaturae, aliquando attribuitur creatori per antropopatos, quod est humana propassio: Ps. 6. Domine ne in ira tua etc. However, if he in no way desists, he proceeds to vengeance. And thus he says, Then shall he speak to them in his anger, that is pass a sentence of vengeance against them. For anger does not belong to God, but rather to created beings, although at times it is attributed to the Creator by antropopatos, which is human propassion – Psalm 6: O Lord, rebuke me not in your anger etc.
Ultimo autem sententia executioni mandatur; et ideo dicit, Et in furore tuo conturbabis eos. In corde et in anima in aeterna poena, hoc est sua virtute punies eos: Iob 17. Cum se moverit ad quaerendum panem, novit; quod paratus sit in manu eius tenebrarum dies: terebit eum tribulatio, et angustia vallabit eum. Lastly, the sentence is carried into action. And thus he says, And in his rage, he shall throw them into confusion. In heart and mind into eternal punishment, it is by its power, you punish them – Job ?: When he moves himself to find bread, he knows; the day of death is readied in his hand: tribulation will waste him, and distress will fortify him.
Haec quatuor erunt in iudicio. Quia irridebit statuens eos a sinistris: Matth. 25. Subsannabit dicens: Esurivi etc. Improperando: Loquetur in ira. Sententiando: Ite maledicti in ignem aeternum etc. Conturbabit, sententiam exequendo: Ibunt hi in supplicium aeternum etc. These four will be in judgment, for he will deride them, setting them on his left – Matthew 25: He will mock them saying: I was hungry etc., reproaching them: He shall speak in anger, sentencing them: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire etc., and he will confuse, by carrying out the sentence: And these shall go into everlasting punishment etc.
d. Sequitur consequenter ostendere, quomodo comprimantur a Christo eius, cum dicit, Ego autem. Consequently, when he says, But I, he seeks to show how they are restrained by his Christ.
Insurrexerunt autem contra Christum David, populus, gentes, et principes. Primo ergo ostendit, quomodo Christus se habeat ad populum. Secundo quomodo ad gentes, ibi, Dominus dixit ad me. Tertio quomodo ad reges, ibi, Et nunc reges intelligite etc. The people, gentiles and princes rose up against Christ and David. Therefore, he first shows how Christ is related to the people, second, to the gentiles, at, The Lord said to me, and third, to the kings, at, And now, O kings, understand etc.
Dicit ergo, Ego autem constitutus sum rex ad eo super Syon montem sanctum eius etc. Sciendum est autem, quod constitutus est rex a Deo in Hierusalem, et sua praedicatione reduxit populum; quasi dicat, Illi sic faciunt, sed intentum suum habere non possunt, quia sum constitutus, idest stabilitus rex super Syon, idest super populum Iudaeorum, qui erat in Hierusalem, cuius arx est Syon: Ab eo, scilicet a Deo: Ps. 117. Dominus mihi adiutor, non timebo quid faciat mihi homo: Iob 17. Pone me Domine iuxta te, et cuiusvis manus pugnet contra me. Therefore he says, But I have been appointed king by him, over Sion his holy mountain etc. It must be recognized that the king is appointed in Jerusalem by God, and by his proclamation, he leads the people; it is as if he were saying, They act in that way, but they cannot not have his reach, because I have been appointed, that is, established king over Syon, that is, over the people of Israel, who were in Jerusalem, whose summit is Sion; By him, namely by God – Psalm 117: The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man can do to me; Job 17: Deliver me, O Lord, and set me next to you, and let any man’s hand fight against me.
Sum autem constitutus rex super Syon montem sanctum eius, non propter me, sed ut regam populum secundum legem Dei; et ideo dicit, Praedicans praeceptum eius. But I have been appointed king over Sion his holy mountain, not for me, but so that I might rule the people according to God’s law; and thus he says, Proclaiming his rule.
Mystice autem constitutus est rex, secundum illud Hier. 23. Regnabit rex, et sapiens erit etc. Syon, idest ecclesiam Iudaeorum, quae dicitur mons sanctus, quia prius recepit radios solis: Matth. 14. Non sum missus nisi ad oves etc. 2. Reg. 19. An ignoro me hodie regem factum super Israel? Praedicans praeceptum, idest evangelium. Mystically, he is appointed king according to what is written at Jeremiah 23: A king shall reign, and shall be wise etc. Syon, that is the temple of the Jews, which is called the holy mountain, because it receives the first rays of the sun – Matthew ?: I was not sent except to the sheep etc.; 2 Kings 19: Do not I know that this day I am made king over Israel? Proclaiming his rule, that is, the gospel.
Vel illud speciale praeceptum de quo dicitur Io. 13. Mandatum novum do vobis, ut diligatis invicem: et eiusdem 15. Hoc est praeceptum meum etc. Or, that special rule which is spoken of at John 13: I give a new commandment to you, that you love one another: and John 15: This is my commandment etc.
Hoc autem praeceptum personaliter praedicavit Iudaeis, in persona scilicet propria: Matth. 4. Circuibat Iesus totam Galilaeam docens in synagogis eorum, et praedicans evangelium regni: Rom. 5. Dico autem Christum Iesum ministrum fuisse circumcisionis propter veritatem Dei etc. This rule is personally proclaimed to the Jews, in person, namely properly – Matthew 4: Jesus went about the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom; Romans 15: I say that Christ Jesus was minister of the circumcised for the truth of God etc.
e. Deinde cum dicit, Dominus, ex eadem historia ostenditur, quomodo se habet ad gentes; et circa hoc duo facit. Primo ostendit quod Christo convenit habere potestatem super gentes. Secundo ponit usum potestatis, Reges eos. Then when he says, Lord, it is shown from the same narrative how it is related to the gentiles, concerning which he does two things. First he shows that it is suitable for Christ to have power over the gentiles, and second, he describes the use of this power, at, You shall rule them.
Circa primum duo facit. Primo ostendit quo iure potestas sibi competit super gentes. Secundo ponit acceptionem ipsius potestatis, ibi, Dabo tibi gentes. Concerning the first he does two things. First, he shows by what right power over the gentiles is suitable to him, and second, he describes the acceptance of this very power, at, I will give you the gentiles.
Dicit ergo, Dominus dixit ad me, hoc non usquequaque completur de David; et ideo intelligitur de Christo cui competit dominium super gentes duplici iure, scilicet haereditario, et meritorio. Primo ergo ponit ius. Secundo meritum, ibi, Postula etc. Therefore he says, The Lord said to me, which is not always fulfilled concerning David; and thus it is understood concerning Christ to whom belongs dominion over the gentiles by right in a twofold way, namely by heredity and merit. Therefore he first describes the right, and second, the merit, at, Ask etc.
Est autem Christus rex univesorum, sicut dicitur Hebr. 1. et hoc competit ei, quia filius: Gal. 4. Si filius, et haeres per Deum: et ideo agit de aeterna generatione Christi, in qua tria notantur. Christ is the king of the universe, as is said at Hebrews 1, and this belongs to him because he is a son – Galatians 4: If a son, an heir also through God; and thus he treats of the eternal generation of Christ in which three things are noted.
Primo modus generationis. Secundo proprietas filiationis. Tertio aeternitas filii generati. First, the mode of generation, second, the peculiar nature of sonship, and third, the eternity of the begotten son.
Modus ostenditur in hoc quod dicit, Dominus dixit, quia scilicet processit per modum intellectus. Uniuscuiusque generatio est per modum eius. Modus divinae naturae non est carnalis, sed intellectualis, immo est ipsum intelligere. The mode is shown in what he says, The Lord said, namely because he emerged through the mode of intellect. The generation of every single thing is through this mode. The mode of divine nature is not carnal, but immaterial, assuredly, it is understanding itself.
Secundo generatio est processio secundum originem quae invenitur in re intelligibili, quae est secundum conceptionem verbi procedens ab intellectu: et hoc est dicere verbum in corde; et ideo dicit, Dominus dixit, quasi dicendo me generavit. Unde Filius est verbum quod Pater dixit, idest gignendo produxit. Second, generation is a procession according to source which is found in an intelligible thing, which is according to the representation of the word proceeding from the intellect: and this is to say the word in the heart; and thus he says, The Lord said, as if by speaking he generates me. Thus, the Son is the word which the Father said, that is, he produced by begetting.
Proprietas vero ostenditur in hoc, quod dicit, Filius meus, non adoptivus, sicut illi, de quibus dicitur Io. 1. Dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri etc. sed proprietate naturae. Peculiarity is shown in that he says, My son, not adopted, as with those concerning which John 1 speaks – He gave them the power to become sons of God etc., but rather by peculiarity of nature.
Unde Filius meus es tu naturalis, singularis, consubstantialis: Matth. 17. Hic est Filius meus dilectus. Thus, You are my son naturally, singularly, and consubstantially – Matthew 17: This is my beloved Son.
Aeternitas ponitur in hoc, quod subiungit, Ego hodie genui te, idest aeternaliter: non enim est nova, sed aeterna generatio; et ideo dicit, Hodie genui te: quia hodie praesentiam signat, et quod aeternum est, semper est. Eternity is described in that he adds, This day have I begotten you, that is, eternally: for this is not a new but an eternal generation; and thus he says, This day have I begotten you: because today signifies the present, and because this is eternal, it is always.
Dicit etiam Hodie, ut designet praesentialitatem cum claritate quae conveniunt Christo, qui et lucem inhabitat inaccessibilem, 1. Tim. 6. Et qui vere est in quo nihil est praeteritum, vel futurum, vel obscurum, sed clarum He also says Today, so as to designate clearly the presentiality which belongs to Christ, who inhabits the inaccessible light (1 Timothy 6), and in whom there is truly nothing past, future, or obscure, but clear.
f. Supra positum est privilegium aeternae generationis, ex quo Christo competit dominium gentium iure haereditario; hic ostendit, quomodo acquisivit per suum meritum. Above was described the privilege of eternal generation, from which the dominion of the gentiles belongs to Christ by right of heredity. Here, he show how he obtained it through his own merit.
Ubi considerandum est, quod sicut in naturalibus formae infunduntur secundum dispositionem materiae, ita Deus gratuita dona largitur: Philip. 2. Deus est qui operatur in nobis velle et perficere etc. et ideo vult ut recipiamus dona petendo et orando: hoc exemplum voluit ostendere per Christum, quia voluit quod peteret, quod sibi iure haereditario competebat. In which place it ought to be considered that just as forms are infused into natural things according to the disposition of its matter, so too does God bestow gifts freely – Philippians 2: It is God who works in us, to will and to accomplish etc. and thus he wills so that we may receive gifts by beseeching and praying: he wanted to show this example through Christ because he wanted him to beseech that which belonged to him by right of heredity.
Haec autem postulatio pro gentibus vocandis potest intelligi dupliciter. Primo per orationem, quia pro eis oravit: Io. 17. Non pro eis rogo tantum, sed pro eis qui credituri sunt per verbum eorum in me. Item per passionem: Heb. 9. Ut morte intercedente in redemptionem earum praevaricationum, quae erant sub priori testameto, repromissionem recipiant, qui vocati sunt aeternae haereditatis: quae quidem postulatio non fuit vacua, quia in omnibus exauditus est pro sua reverentia, Heb. 5. This supplication on behalf of gentiles calling can be understood in a twofold way. First, through prayer because he prays on their behalf – John 17: Not for them only do I pray, but for them also who through their word shall believe in me. Second, through passion: Hebrews 9: That by means of his death, for the redemption of those trangressions, which were under the former testament, they that are called may receive the promise of eternal inheritance: which supplication is not made in vain, because in all things, he was heard for his own reverence (Hebrews 5).
Unde subditur concessio, cum subditur, Et dabo tibi gentes. Ubi notandum est, quod ad Christum nullus venit nisi dono Patris: Io. 6. Nemo potest venire ad me nisi Pater qui misit me traxerit eum. Thus a concession is added when he says, And I will give you the gentiles. It is to be noted here that no one comes to Christ except by a gift of the Father – John 6: No one can come to me unless the Father, who has sent me, draws him.
Datio autem gentilium est pure donum: nam Iudaei quasi redditi sunt, quia ante dati erant: Rom. 15. Dico Iesum Christum ministrum fuisse circumcisionis etc. et ideo dicit, Dabo tibi gentes, ut scilicet subiiciantur tibi, et sint tua haereditas: Phil. 2. Ut in nomine Iesu omne genuflectatur, caelestium, terrestrium, et infernorum: Ps. 115. Haereditas mea praeclara est mihi. The giving of the gentiles is clearly a gift. For the Jews are returned, as it were, because they had been given before – Romans 15: I say that Jesus Christ was minister of the circumcision etc. and thus he says, I will give you the gentiles, namely so that they may be subjected to you and become your inheritance – Philippians 2: So that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those that are in heaven, on earth, and under the earth; Psalm ?: Magnificent to me was my inheritance.
Item non habet eas sicut ministri habent, ut Petrus, vel Paulus, sed sicut dominus: Heb. 5. Et Moyses quidem fidelis erat in tota domo eius tanquam famulus, in testimonium eorum quae dicenda erant, Christus vero tanquam filius in domo sua, quae domus sumus nos; et ideo dicit, Possessionem tuam: Isa. 49. Ut possideres haereditates dissipatas, ut diceres his qui vincti sunt exite, et his qui sunt in tenebris, revelamini. Again, he does not possess these as ministers possess, like Peter or Paul, but as Lord – Hebrews 3: And Moses indeed was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be said: but Christ as the Son in his own house: which house are we; and thus he says, Your possession – Isaiah 49: So that you might possess the inheritances that were destroyed, that you might say to them that are bound: Come forth: and to them that are in darkenss: Show yourselves.
Terminos terrae, quia per totum mundum aedificata est ecclesia. Sed postmodum per Nicolaum haereticum, et Mahumetum ad infidelitatem redierunt. The outermost parts of the earth, because the Church was built through the whole world. But afterwards they returned to disbelief through Nicholas the heretic, and Mohammed.
Vel expectatur fundanda: Isa. 49. Parum est, ut sis mihi servus ad suscitandas tribus Iacob, et faeces Israel convertendas. Dedi te in lucem gentium, ut sis salus mea usque ad extremum terrae: Heb. 1. Quem constitui haeredem universorum etc. Or, it is expected to be established – Isaiah 49: It is a small thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to convert the dregs of Israel. Behold, I have given you to be the light of the gentiles, that you might be my salvation even to the farthest part of the earth; Hebrews 1: Whom he has appointed heir of all things etc.
g. Deinde cum dicit, Reges, ponitur executio potestatis: et secundum historiam posset exponi, quia erat constitutus rex Iudaeorum, ideo et dominabatur gentibus aliquibus quas subiugaverat in figura universalis dominii Christi. Then, when he says, You shall rule them, he describes the execution of power: and this can be explained with respect to history, because a king of the Jews had been appointed, and therefore used to govern some gentiles, whom he had subjugated, in the figure of the universal dominion of Christ.
Sed quia aliter reguntur cives, nam cives reguntur regimine misericordiae, aliter hostes subiugati, scilicet regimine severae iustitiae; ideo dicit, In virga ferrea. But because the citizens were ruled one way, and the enemy subjugated in another (citizens were ruled by the guidance of mercy, the enemy, by the guidance of harsh justice), thus he says, With an iron rod.
Sed melius est ut referatur ad dominium spirituale Christi: necesse est enim quod qui regit, habeat virgam: Virga directionis virga regni tui. Ad hoc enim necessarii sunt reges, ut virgam habeant disciplinae qua puniant delinquentes. But it is better that this be referred spiritually to the dominion of Christ: for it is necessary that he who rules, have a rod: The rod of guidance, the rod of your power. For this reason, kings are necessary, so that they have the rod of discipline by which they punish transgressors.
Et quia Christus constitutus est rex a Deo ad populum regendum, ideo dicit, Reges eos in virga ferrea. Et addit, Ferrea, ad designandum inflexibilem iustitiae disciplinam. Virga namque qua regebantur Iudaei, non fuit ferrea, quia frequenter excusserunt se adorando idola. And because Christ was appointed king by God to rule the people, he says, You shall rule them with a iron rod. He adds, iron, to designate the inflexible discipline of justice. For the rod by which the Jews were ruled, was not made from iron, because they frequently excused themselves by worshiping idols.
Sed haec est virga ferrea qua regit gentes, quia non recedent amplius a dominio Christi, quando plenitudo gentium intraverit: Apoc. 12. Mulier peperit masculum, qui recturus erat omnes gentes in virga ferrea. But this is an iron rule which governs the gentiles, because they do not recede further from the dominion of Christ, when the plenitude of the people will have entered in – Apocalpse 12: The woman brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod.
Et tanquam vas figuli confringes eos, exponitur per illud Hier. 18. Descendi in domum figuli, et ecce ipse faciebat opus super rotam, et dissipatum est vas, quod ipse faciebat e luto manibus suis. Conversusque fecit illud vas alterum. Et post, Sicut lutum in manu figuli, sic vos in manu mea. And shall break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel, is explained by that text at Jeremiah 18: I went down into the potter’s house, and behold he was doing a work on the wheel. And the vessel was broken which he was making of clay with his hands: and turning he made another vessel. And later, As clay is in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand.
Quando enim vas figuli est recens, frangitur de facili a mala forma, et restituitur in bonam. Iudaei conversi erant, unde non erant confringendi: eandem enim est fides eorum et nostra. Gentiles autem erant idolatrae: et ideo erant confringendi, ut aliam formam acciperent, idest aliam fidem veram. For when the potter’s vessel is new, it is shattered easily on account of a defective form, and is restored to a good one. The Jews had been converted, and thus did not have to be broken into pieces: for their faith and ours in the same. However, the gentiles were idolators: and thus they had to be broken into pieces, so that they might accept another form, that is a different and true faith.
Vel aliter: In virga ferrea, bonos scilicet, Et tanquam vas figuli, malos qui finaliter conterendi sunt: Luc. 2. Ecce positus est hic in ruinam, et in resurrectionem multorum: Isa. 30. Subito dum non speratur, veniet contritio eius, et comminuentur sicut conteritur lagena figuli contritione pervalida etc. ut sic, qui iustus est, iustificetur adhuc, et qui in sordibus est, sordescat adhuc, Apoc. ult. Or otherwise: With an iron rod, namely goods, And shall break them into pieces like a potter’s vessel, evils which were finally destroyed – Luke 2: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many; Isaiah 30: Suddenly when it is not looked for, his destruction shall come, and it shall be broken small, as the potter’s vessel is broken all to pieces with might breaking etc. so that as, he who is just, let him be justified still: and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still (Apocalypse 22).
h. Deinde cum dicit, Et nunc, ostenditur quomodo se habet ad reges. Reprimit autem eos admonendo et attrahendo ad servitutem Dei. Circa hoc ergo duo facit. Primo ponit admonitionem. Secundo assignat admonitionis rationem, ibi, Ne quando irascatur. Then, when he says, And now, he shows how it is related to the kings. He restrains them by admonishing and drawing them to the service of God. Concerning this, therefore, he does two things. First he describes the admonition, and second, assigns its reason, at, Lest at any time the Lord becomes angry.
Monet autem ad tria. Ad doctrinae veritatem, ad obsequii humilitatem, ad correctionis susceptione. Secundum, ibi, Servite. Tertium, ibi, Apprehendite. He admonishes with respect to three things, first, to the truth of doctrine, second, the humility of deference, and third, the acceptance of correction. The second is at Serve, the third at Embrace.
Veritas autem dupliciter cognosci potest ab aliquo: vel per inventiones, et tales dicuntur bene intelligentes; vel per eruditionem, et tales dicuntur bene docibiles. Truth can be known by another in two ways, either through discovery, and these sort are correctly called intelligent, or through erudition, and these sort are correctly called teachable.
Item egentium duplex est gradus. Quibusdam enim committitur universalis gubernatio, qui dicuntur reges. Quibusdam aliquod speciale iudicium, et hi dicuntur iudices. Again, of those in need, there is a twofold degree. General government is commited to some, who are called kings, while particular judgment is entrusted to others, and these are called judges.
Primos ergo exhortatur ad intelligendum: nam intelligens gubernacula possidebit, Prov. 1. Secundos ad erudiendum, ut scilicet ab aliis formam iudicii accipiant; et ideo dicit, Intelligite et erudimini: Sap. 6. Audite reges, et intelligite, discite iudices finium terrae. Therefore the first are exhorted to understand. For the one who understands shall possess governments (Proverbs 1). The second are exhorted to receive instruction, namely so that may acquire the form of judgment from others; and thus he says, Understand and receive instruction – Wisdom 6: Hear, O kings, and understand, learn, O you that are judges of the ends of the earth.
i. Denide cum dicit, Servite, post intellectum convenienter ponit servitutem, quae servitus Dei, quae est latria, est professio fidei. Then, when he says, Serve, he suitably describes, after understanding, service, which is of God, and is adoration, the profession of faith.
Et ideo primo oportet quod credat, et postea confiteatur et serviat: Rom. 10. Corde creditur ad iustitiam, ore autem etc. And thus it is appropriate first that he believe, and afterwards, confess and serve – Romans 10: With the heart we believe unto justice; but with the mouth etc.
Dicit autem Domino: qui enim servit homini, sufficit ut exterius subiiciatur ei obediendo; sed qui servit Deo, oportet quod interius secundum animam subiiciatur ei, bonum affectum habendo: Ps. 61. Nunc Deo subiecta erit anima mea etc. He says Lord: for it suffices the one who serves man that he be joined outwardly to him by obedience; but it is fitting for the one who serves God that he be joined inwardly to him with respect to his soul, by having a good desire – Psalm 61: Shall not my soul be subject to God etc.
Dicit autem In timore, qui sanctus permanet, nec sinit peccare, ut Qui stare se existimat, videat ne cadat, Rom. 10. He says With fear, for he who remains holy, does not permit himself to sin, so that He who considers himself to stand steadfast, let him take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10).
Et notandum secundum Augustinum, quod rex servit Deo inquantum homo, in se iuste vivendo, sed inquantum rex leges ferendo contra ea, quae sunt contra Dei iustitiam: unde in hoc psalmo praefiguratur status ecclesiae: nam a principio reges terrae faciebant leges contra Christum et christianos, sed postea condiderunt leges pro Christo. Et primum ostenditur cum dixit, Astisterunt; secundum ibi, Servite Domino. Let it be noted, according to Augustine, that the king serves God, insofar as he is a man, by living justly in himself, but insofar as he is a king, by enacting laws against those which are contrary to the justice of God: thus in the psalm is prefigured the status of the Church: for from the beginning, the kings of the earth made laws against Christ and christians, but afterwards they established laws in favour of Christ. And the first is shown when he says, (The kings of the earth) have stood up, and the second at, Serve the Lord.
Ne autem haec servitus miseria videatur, addidit, Et exultate ei cum tremore. Quia timor Domini non est miseriae, sed gaudii: propter quod Lev. 10. Respondit Aaron ad Moysen, Quomodo possunt placere Deo mente lugubri? So that this service is not understood to be unhappy, he adds, And exalt him with trembling. Because the fear of the Lord is not a misery, but a joy: according to what is said at Leviticus 10: And Aaron answered Moses, How can they please God with a sorrowful mind?
Sed ne ista laetitia praesumptionem haberet, vel negligentiam, ideo subiungit, Cum tremore, qui est metus subitaneus: Phil. 2. Cum metu et tremore vestram salutem operamimi. But so that this joy does not have boldness or carelessness, he thus adds, with trembling, which is a sudden fear – Philippians 2: With fear and trembling work out your salvation.
Consequenter monet ad susceptionem cum subdit, Apprehendite, ut nemo vivat ut libet, sed ut decet. Et ideo dicit disciplinam, praecepta et bonos mores, vel adversa quasi praesidium et munimentum: Ps. 17. Et discipline tua etc. Consequently, when he adds, Embrace, he advises an undertaking, so that no one may live simply as he pleases, but rather as it is fitting for him to live. And thus he says discipline, commandments and good practices, or adversities, as if an assistance and protection – Psalm 17: And your discipline etc.
Et ponitur ratio admonitionis. Ne quando irascatur: et est duplex ratio ad evitandam poenam, et ad consequendam gloriam, ibi, Beati omnes qui confidunt in eo. He describes the reason of the admonition. Lest at any time the Lord becomes angry: and there is a twofold reason to avoid punishment and seek glory, at, Blessed are all of them who trust in him.
Dicit autem Neque propter patientiam Dei, quia in hoc saeculo diu sustinet: Ps. 1. Nunquid irascetur per singulos dies? dicens: Nisi conversi fueritis; quasi dicat, Servetis admonitionem ne veniat tempus punitionis. He says Not according to the patience of God, because in this age he endured for a long time – Psalm 7: Is he angry every day? saying: Except you will be converted; as if he were saying, Observe the admonition, lest the time of punishment comes.
Ne pereatis de via iusta, scilicet iustitiae et societatis bonorum, quod est valde poenosum his, qui dulcedinem iustitiae gustaverunt. Lest you perish from the right way, namely of justice and the goods of society, which is exceedingly painful to them who have tasted of the sweetness of justice.
Litera Hieronymi habet Pereatis de via, non est ibi iusta. Quando enim homo in mundo est, est sicut in via: nam si cadit, potest resurgere. Nec dicitur perire, quod reparari potest, etiam quod non cadit de via, sed in via. Sed si perit de via, irreparabilis est, Iob 4. Et quia nullus intelligit, in aeternum peribunt. Jerome’s version has Perish from the way, and just is not there. For when man is in the world, it is like he is on the way: for if he falls, he can get back up. He is not said to perish, because he can make amends, even that he does not fall from the road, but is on it. But if he perishes from the way, he is irretrievable. And because he understands nothing, he will perish forever.
j. Et ideo dicit Cum, ponitur alia ratio, quae est ad consequendam gloriam; quasi dicat, Apprehendite disciplinam, quia cum exarserit etc. And thus when he say, When, he explains the other reason which is to seek glory; it is as if he were saying, Embrace discipline, because when his anger shall be kindled etc.
Beati erunt omnes qui confidunt in eo. Bene dicit Cum exarserit: modo enim non ardet cum castigat, ut pater; sed in futuro absorbebit et ardebit, quando puniet poena aeterna: Isa. 30. Ecce nomen Domini venit de longinquo, ardens furor eius, et gravis ad portandum: labia eius quasi ignis devorans. Blessed are all of them who trust in him. When his anger shall be kindled is well said: for he does not burn in this way when he chastises, as a father, but in the future he will absorb and burn, when he inflicts the eternal punishment – Isaiah 30: Behold the name of the Lord comes from afar, his anger burning, and heavy to bear: his tongue as a devouring fire.
Dicit autem in brevi, quia non singula peccata separatim, sed simul omnia discutiet. Unde illud iudicium in brevi fiet, nec durabit per mille anoos, ut Lactantius dixit: 1. Cor. 16. In momento, in ictu oculi, in novissima tuba: et tunc omnes boni in immortalitatis gloriam immutabuntur: unde, Beati qui confidunt; quasi dicat, Vindicta non modo attinget confidentes, sed beati erunt, quia ad regnum pervenient: quae beatitudo, vel gloria maior apparebit ex poena malorum: Hier. 17. Beatus vir qui confidit in Domino, et erit Dominus fiducia eius etc. He says in a short time, because he will examine not individual particular sins, but all of them together. Thus that judgement will be made in a short time, and it will not endure for a thousand years, as Lactantius said – 1 Corinthians 15: In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: and at that time all good things will be transformed in the glory of immortality. Thus, Blessed are those who trust; as if he were saying, In no way will vengeance reach those who trust, but they will be blessed, because they will have attained the kingdom: which beatitude or glory will be more apparent from the punishment of the wicked: Jeremiah 17: Blessed be the man who trusts in the Lord, and the Lord shall be his confidence etc.

© Stephen Loughlin

The Aquinas Translation Project

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St Augustine’s Notes on Psalm 2 (with some supplemental notes by me)

Text in red are my additions.

Psa 2:1  Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things?
Psa 2:2  The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ.

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 (see Acts 4:25-26).

The Hebrew text here translated as Christ is משׁיחו׃, in Greek, χριστου (Christou) “anointed.” The Psalm was probably originally composed to celebrate the coronation of a king of the line of David, which would include an anointing (1 Kings 1:32-40). The Psalm has connections with the dynastic promises made to David in 2 Sam 7:8-16; with the lament over the defeat of a davidic king in Psalm 89:19-37; with the Royal Psalm 110; and with the Immanuel prophecy of Isaiah 9:2-7. The plotting of peoples and rulers is often taken as foreshadowing the machinations against Christ (Matt 22:15; Matt 27:1; Mark 3:6).

Psa 2:3  Let us break their bonds asunder: and let us cast away their yoke from us.

Although it admits of another acceptation, yet is it more fitly understood as in the person of those who are said to “devise vain things.” So that “let us break their bonds asunder, and let us cast away their yoke from us,” may be, let us do our endeavour, that the Christian religion do not bind us, nor be placed upon us. Here it would do well to recall the intimate connection between the invocation of this Psalm in Acts 4 and the sufferings of the Apostles (Acts 4:23-30). And see Acts 9:1-5. See also Matt 5:11; Matt 10:22-25.

Psa 2:4  He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them: and the Lord shall deride them.

The sentence is repeated; for “He that dwelleth in the heavens,” is afterwards put, “the Lord;” and for “shall laugh at them,” is afterwards put, “shall deride them.” Nothing of this however must be taken in a carnal sort, as if God either laugheth with cheek, or derideth with nostril; but it is to be understood of that power which He giveth 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 “devise a vain thing.” For this power whereby these things are foreknown is God’s “laughter” and “derision.” “He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them.” If by “heaven” we understand holy souls, by these God, as foreknowing what is to come, will “laugh at” and “deride them.”

The parallelism noted by St Augustine is typical of the OT. It may be outlined thus:

A1) He that dwelleth in heaven

B1) shall laugh at them:

A2) and the Lord

B2) shall deride them.

Note also the contrasting parallel between God who dwells in heaven (4) and the kings of the earth who stand up against Him (2). There is also a word play between these two verses: The kings take action by standing or setting themselves up [יצב = yâtsab] against the God who dwells [literally, “sits”] in heaven [ישׁב = yâshab]. God laughs (4) while the Gentiles rage (1). In verse 4 He derides [literally, mocks, mimics] their devising mentioned in verse 1. The Hebrew word employed there means to mutter or murmur, implying a whispered, secretive act of plotting. God is portrayed as mocking their whispered plans.

Psa 2:5  Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage.

For showing more clearly how He will “speak to them,” he added, He will “trouble them;” so that “in His anger,” is, “in His rage.” But by the anger and rage of the Lord God must not be understood any mental perturbation; but the might whereby He most justly avengeth, 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 Thou, Lord of power, judgest with tranquillity, and with great favour orderest us” (see note 1). The “anger” of God then is an emotion which is produced in the soul which knoweth the law of God, when it sees this same law transgressed by the sinner. For by this emotion of righteous souls many things are made right (see note 2). Although the “anger” of God can be well understood of that darkening of the mind, which overtakes those who transgress the law of God.

Note 1: Augustine, if I understand him rightly, is stating that anger and rage are not emotions in God, rather, as Aquinas notes, anger does not belong to God, but rather to created beings, although at times it is attributed to the Creator by antropopatos (i.e., in human terms. Aquinas, Lecture on Psalm 2). God’s power and might, by which he deals with sin, is called anger or rage, anthropomorphically. Men deal with sin and evil emotionally, with anger, and so the term is applied to God’s actions, a human attempt to “eff” the ineffable. Human anger, it should be noted, is not always evil. See the Summa Theologicæ II-II, Q. 158, articles 1 & 2.

Note 2: Man exhibits the so-called “anger” of God emotionally when he deals with sin, “for, as Augustine notes above, “by this emotion of righteous souls many things are made right.” In his commentary on Psalm 6 Augustine writes: “Yet this emotion (anger) 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.” 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.”

Psa 2:6  But I am appointed king by him over Sion, his holy mountain, preaching his commandment.

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” (see note 1). 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 calleth a mountain (see note 2). “Yet I am set by Him as King.” I, that is, whose “bonds” they were devising “to break asunder,” and whose “yoke” to “cast away.” “Preaching His commandment.” Who doth not see the meaning of this, seeing it is daily practised?

Note 1: Augustine interprets Sion as beholding, apparently because the Hebrew word for Sion [ציּון = tsı̂yôn] is related to the word [ציוּן = tsı̂yûn], something conspicuous, meant to be seen, a landmark pillar, etc (see 2 Kings 23:17; Jer 31:21; Ezek 39:15).

Note 2: St Augustine interprets Sion in reference to the Church, “which for (i.e., because of) its eminence and stability He calleth a mountain”. Because of its eminence it is easy to behold, like a mountain or a pillar, figures of stability: “the Church of God, the pillar and bulwark of truth” (1 Tim 3:14-15).

Psa 2:7  The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.

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, “This day have I begotten Thee,” whereby the uncorrupt and Catholic faith proclaims the eternal generation of the power and Wisdom of God, who is the Only-begotten Son.

Is St Augustine talking about what might be called “the eternal now of God”? This eternal “day” I have begotten thee. You have always been, and will always be, my begotten son.

Psa 2:8  Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.

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 maketh 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 “Gentiles” should be joined to the Name of Christ, and so be redeemed from death, and possessed by God. “I shall give Thee the Gentiles for Thy inheritance,” which so possess them for their salvation, and to bear unto Thee spiritual fruit. “And the utmost parts of the earth for Thy possession.” The same repeated, “The utmost parts of the earth,” is put for “the nations;” but more clearly, that we might understand all the nations. And “Thy possession” stands for “Thy inheritance.”

The structure of this verse is similar to verse 4 which I outlined above. The present verse may be outlined thus: Ask of me,

A1) and I will give thee the Gentiles

B1) for thy inheritance,

A2) and the utmost parts of the earth

B2) for thy possession.

Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession. Gentiles and earth recall the use of these words in verses 1-2. The Gentiles who raged and the kings of the earth who stood up against the Lord and his Christ are the Christ’s birthright, given him by his Father.

Psa 2:9  Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron, and shalt break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.
Psa 2:10  And now, O ye kings, understand: receive instruction, you that judge the earth.

Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron, with inflexible justice, and shalt break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel; that is,”Thou shalt break” in them earthly lusts, and the filthy doings of the old man, and whatsoever hath been derived and inured from the sinful clay (see Col 3:5-11; Gen 3:19). “And now, O ye kings, understand”. “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 one beating the air,” but chastening your bodies, and bringing them into subjection (1 Cor 9:26-27). “Receive instructions, you that judge the earth.” This again is a repetition; “Receive instruction” is instead of “understand;” and “you that 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.

The structure of this verse is different from the previous verses outlined. Instead of an A1 B1 A2 B2 outline we have this: “And now,

A1) O ye kings,

B1) understand:

B2) receive instruction,

A2) you that judge the earth.”

Psa 2:11  Serve ye the Lord with fear: and rejoice unto him with trembling.

Serve ye the Lord with fear; lest their title, “kings… that judge the earth” (10) turn into pride: And rejoice unto him with trembling. Very excellently is “rejoice” added, lest “serve ye 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, O 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, receive instruction” (10) For it is expedient for you, that ye should be under Him, by whom understanding and instruction are given you. And this is expedient for you, that ye lord it not with rashness, but that ye “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.

The call to the rulers to serve contrasts nicely with their attitude in verses 2-3 which was against the Lord, and against his Christ. They sought to escape their role of service by declaring: Let us break their bonds asunder: and let us cast away their yoke from us. Likewise, the call to rejoice and tremble contrasts with their rage (1).

Psa 2:12  Embrace discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and you perish from the just way.

Embrace discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and you perish from the just way. This is the same as, “understand,” and, “be instructed.” For to understand and be instructed, this is to embrace discipline. Still in that it is said, “embrace,” 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 “embrace discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and we perish from the just way.” Now, how “the Lord be angry” is to be taken, has been said above. And “you perish from the just way.” This is a great punishment, and dreaded by those who have had any perception of the sweetness of justice (righteousness); for he who perisheth from the way of justice (righteousness), in much misery will wander through the ways of unrighteousness.

Embrace discipline contrasts with the breaking of bonds and the casting away of the yoke (images of service) in verse 3.

Psa 2:13 When his wrath shall be kindled in a short time, blessed are all they that 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 that 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 accumulation of all good things. Now the meaning of “short time” I suppose to be this, that it will be something sudden, whilst sinners will deem it far off and long to come.

When His wrath draws a connection with verse 5:  Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage. The punishment is looming but has not yet come, their is still time to repent and trust that serving the Lord and His Christ is better than rebelling against them.

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Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 2

Text in red are my additions.

According to some, this and the first Psalm form but one; which thus begins and ends in blessedness; for Psalm 1, it is argued, which treats of Christ begins with the words Blessed is the man; while Psalm 2 ends with the blessedness of the members, Blessed are they who put their trust in Him. St Paul, indeed, in his sermon at Antioch in Pisidia says: As it is also written in the Second Psalm, ‘Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee’ (Acts 13:33). But the better manuscripts have “in the First Psalm:” and, according to a capital rule of criticism, were the manuscript authorities only equal, this, as being the stranger and more difficult reading, ought to be preferred.  The probability, therefore, seems that, in Apostolic times, these two were really reckoned as one.  It has been well said, that it is almost presumptuous to comment on this Psalm after an Apostle.

2:1  Why do the heathen so furiously rage together: and why do the people imagine a vain thing?

Why do the heathen so furiously rage together? In the literal sense, the Philistines, who before David was established in his kingdom came up again and again to attack him: but spiritually, Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the Roman soldiers, who indeed furiously raged against our Lord, both in the judgment seat and on Mount Calvary.  And the people, that is, the Jews, imagined a vain thing, when they took counsel how they “might entangle Him” (Matt 22:15; 27:66) Who Spake as never a man spake, “in His talk;” how they might kill the Prince of Life; how they might secure the Mighty God by a few soldiers and a little wax (a reference to the soldiers with lights in the Garden of Agony).  Notice that there is no distinct mention made of the Jews: Why do the heathens-why do the people? For verily they deserved to lose all distinct and express recognition as a peculiar nation, when they had thus sunk below the wickedness of the heathen in crucifying the Lord of Glory.  (St Matthew, himself of Jewish descent, does indeed compare those of his countrymen who opposed Jesus as being pagan-like.  But it should be noted that he does the same when he quotes our Lord concerning Christians who show themselves as Pagans when they will “not hear even the Church”-18:17. Likewise, St Paul does the same in 1 Cor 5:1. In doing this they are in the same tradition as the Old Testament Prophets-e.g., Isaiah 1:10.  Amos also, after condemning several Pagan peoples turns his focus on the kingdoms of Judah and Israel-Amos 1:3-2:16. See note 1 at the end of this post).

Imagine a vain thing: as God’s enemies always do when taking counsel against God’s people.  “ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Gen 50:20).  Joseph was a Christ-like figure.  His betrayal by his own brothers foreshadowed Christ’s betrayal by his countrymen.  In spite of the betrayal of the former, God made it work towards their salvation from famine.  In spite of the rejection of Jesus, eventually “all Israel will be saved; see Romans 11.

2:2  The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together: against the Lord, and against his Anointed.

The kings of the earth. Pontius Pilate and Herod, stand up, and the Rulers, the chief Priests and the Pharisees, take counsel together See Matt 2:4; Matt 12:14; Matt 26:3-4.  So in another Psalm: “Princes also did sit and speak against me” (Psalm 119:23).  Again, Kings of the earth may well signify the Prince of the power of the air who, of a surety, now lords it over the children of men (Eph 2:2).  Against his Anointed. Where notice, that David was anointed King three times.  1. Secretly in his father’s house, by Samuel.  2. In Heron, by the men of Judah over that tribe only.  3. In the same city, over all israel.  In like manner, Christ may be said to have been anointed three times.  In the first place, secretly and in His Father’s house; namely, by that secret foreknowledge of God, before all worlds, that He should be the Redeemer of man.  Next, when He was sent into the world and declared to be the Son of God with power; but still over the house of Judah only, that is, over His true servants: because, as the Apostles says, “we see not yet all things put under Him” (Heb 2:8).  But thirdly, He shall have all things subdued unto him at the end of the world, as Israel, no less than Judah, , finally submitted to David, according to that saying: “He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet” (1 Cor 15:25)

2:3  Let us break their bonds asunder: and cast away their cords from us.

Let us break their bonds asunder. This we may understand in more ways than one.  It may be spoken by the enemies of Christ exhorting each other to cast off His light yoke and His easy burden (Matt 11:9). Several other interpretations are given at this point by the various Patristic/Medieval commentators, and these may seem fanciful or problematic.  The quoted words “let us break their bonds & c.,” are attributed to Christ, the Apostles, Christians in general, or even angels.  In these cases, the words are taken as being directed against the schemers in verses 1-2.  These interpretations are as follows:

Again, it may be spoken of Christ Himself, Who burst the bonds of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by them (Acts 2:24).  Again, in another sense, there may be a reference to the ceremonial law of the Jews, which the Apostles cast away, saying, “Now, therefore, why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon our necks, which neither our fathers, nor we were able to bear?” (Acts 15:10).  And we may also use the words as an exhortation: “Let us break the bands of sin, the heavy yoke wherewith the wicked, though thinking themselves free, are in reality bound.  By bonds we are restrained from doing what we would; by cords we are made to do that which we would not.

Their bonds. Who are they?  Some will have it that the words, uttered by the Jews, denote the Father and the Son, since the Jews in dishonoring Christ dishonored His Father also.  Others see in the plural word a reference to Christ and the Apostles.  If we take the verse as the utterance of the Saints, it may well refer not only to their acceptance of the law of liberty, but to their overthrow of Pagan idolatry.  A Greek Father, most singularly of all, puts the words in the mouth of Angels who were spectators of the Passion, expressing their eagerness to deliver their King from His enemies.

2:4  He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them to scorn: the Lord shall have them in derision.

He that dwelleth in heaven. Where notice, that it is said of our Lord, while engaged in His work on earth, He that dwelleth-not that dwelt-in heaven.  And so St Thomas teaches us in his Eucharistic hymn:

The Word of God, Proceeding forth,
Yet leaving not the Father’s side,
And going to His work on earth,
Has reached at length life’s eventide.

Shall laugh them to scorn, by turning all their devices to their own confusion.  “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of  the strong came forth sweetness” (Judges 14:14).  They thought to put Christ to death, and by His death He destroyed death.  They thought to root out His Name from under heaven, and it had dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the world’s end (see Zech 9:10).  They thought to ind Him in the grave, and they did but make the truth of His Resurrection more manifest.  The Lord shall have them in derision.  Though therefore, O Christian, take courage when thou art had in derision of men; remembering that the triumph of the wicked is but short, and that the shame and contempt of  which David writes are everlasting.

2:6  Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Sion.

Yet I have set my King upon my holy hill. Thus He was owned by the wise men: thus by the thief, “Remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom” (Luke 23:42).  Thus in the title of His Cross: “The King of the Jews” (Matt 27:37).

Yet have I set my King & c. The LXX., Vulgate, and Ethiopic versions read here, putting the words into the mouth of Christ, Yet I have been set as King by Him, &c. Even here, while proud men refused My yoke, I was King in Adullam, over everyone that was in distress, but now, made Head of the Church, I am se upon the throne of Sion, over the Jewish people first, then over the Gentiles too.  Set. As David made Solomon king, but not taking the honor to Himself, before being called of God.  (King in Adullam-A reference to the fact that when King Saul in his pride sought David’s life, David-who had secretly been anointed king- fled to that place and was joined by beleaguered and oppressed people.  No matter how many proud men rise against the rule of the true king, he will always have some loyal followers and subjects~see 1 Sam 22:2But now made Head of the Church-David came to be recognized as leader of all Israel only after much persecution; in this he pre-figured Christ.)

2:7  I will preach the law, whereof the Lord hath said unto me” Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

I will preach the law. But why one law?  Because the end and sum of all the commandments is one, namely, love-the leaf, as we saw, that will not wither: the new commandment given unto us, that we love one another.  An allusion to Psalm 1:3 and an interpretation given to it in the Enchiridion of St Augustine.

This day: That is, from all eternity; for in eternity there is neither past nor future.  Again, on the authority of St Paul, it alludes more especially to the Resurrection (Acts 13:33).  Nor is it wrong to refer the words to the Baptism of the Lord, seeing that then there came “a Voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son” (Matt 3:17).

Preach the law. Literally, declare the decree, a possible reference to the Divine promise of adopting the House of David, “I will be his Father, and he shall be My son” (2 Sam 7:14).  The words apply not only to the eternal generation of the Consubstantial Word, but to the especial day when the tidings were brought by the Archangel to the Maiden at Nazareth.  Again, it may be fitly taken of the Nativity itself; or still better, of the Resurrection, whereby Christ was “declared to be Son of God with power” (Rom 1:4), and the “first-begotten of the dead” (rev 1:5).  And, once more, this day denotes the time of grace, in which the “Dayspring from on high” was sent to drive away the night of the world.

2:8  Desire of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance: and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Desire of me. And how did He desire it, but by His death?  By that sacrifice, of so infinite value that nothing is too great for it to obtain, He intercedes for us in three ways.  By word,-as when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  By deed,-as when He shows for us the wounds in His Hands and His Feet; and y influence, as when He causes His people to intercede one for the other.  And this prophecy was in part fulfilled when he said, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe in Me through their word” (John 17:20).   I shall give thee. In that Christ is God, with the Father he gives all things; in that He is man, from the Father He receives all things.  The heathen for thine inheritance. No mention is here made of the Jews, because, as the Apostle speaks, they counted themselves unworthy of the grace of God (Acts 13:46).  And note how completely the Psalms and the Gospel accord.  After “This day have I begotten Thee,” follows, “I shall give Thee the heathen for thine inheritance.”  And after the Resurrection, the Lord commanded, “Go ye, and teach all nations” (Matt 28:19).  This particular passage comes from Rupert, and it needs to be said that on the basis of an isolated quotation one cannot determine what his overall views were regarding the Jewish People in relation to Christ.  suffice it to say that in the context of this commentary, the statement needs to be balanced with what was said earlier.

2:9  Thou shalt bruise them with a rod of iron: and break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

With a rod of iron. This may refer to the punishment of the wicked in this life, when God is often pleased to bruise them, if perchance their hearts may be softened.  But in the next, they shall be dashed to pieces like a potter’s vessel, which cannot be mended, because there is no place for repentance in the grave.  Or, again, if we refer the verse to the Jews, the rod of iron is the Roman Empire, the fourth kingdom, which, as Daniel speaks, shall be strong as iron (Dan 2:40).  This was the scepter of iron with which they were punished, who put into the hand of God a reed for a scepter.  Technically, it was Roman soldiers who did this, but only after Jesus was rejected as King by many of His countrymen (Matt 27:22, 29; John 18:39-40).

Like a potter’s vessel. By taking all earthly desires and affections away from the soul, leaving it pure and clear, as the lamps which shone out when Gideon broke the pitchers (Judges 7:20).

2:10  Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be learned, ye that are judges of the earth,

Be wise now therefore, O ye Kings: Because He that is the King of kings reveals Himself as Eternal Wisdom.  Be learned, ye  that are judges of the earth, by the example of him who may be called Satan’s Judge, and who killed the Prince of Life.  A reference to the morally arbitrary judgment of Pilate.

They are kings, who rule over whatever is servile and base, and animal in their own natures: they are judges of the earth, who look down upon earthly things, and rate them at their true worth, taught by the example of Christ, and observe, that as three qualities go to make up a good king, valor against foes, wisdom in crossing the better part, and steadfast intention in fulfilling an appointed end, so these qualities are typified by the gifts which the three wise kings brought to Christ at His Epiphany.  This paragraph is from St Albert Magnus (i.e., the Great).  Here he is giving what makes for a good king and judge, and it stands in marked contrast to Pilate.  Pilate did not show valor against his foes but played the coward; neither did he show wisdom by heeding the wise advice of his wife; nor did he remain steadfast in purpose (see Matt 27:15-26).  As a politician he showed himself to be a “souper candidate” for high office.

2:11  Serve the Lord in fear: and rejoice unto him with reverence.

In fear. The difference between the fear of God and the fear of the world is to be noted.  The one shrinks from sin, the other from punishment; the one influences our thoughts, the other only our actions.  And thus the schoolmen have distinguished for kinds of fear: the fear of man, by which we are led rather to do wrong than to suffer evil; servile fear, through which we are induced to avoid sin only from dread of hell-and this fear, taken by itself, was, till later and laxer times , always held to be sinful (this is at one and the same time an overstatement and an oversimplification); thirdly, initial fear, in which we avoid sin partly from the fear of hell, but partly also from the love of God, which is the fear of ordinary Christians; and filial fear, when we are afraid to disobey God only and altogether from the love we bear Him, which is the fear of the Saints.  Rejoice, because of the reward laid up for God’s servants; and yet with reverence, because we may come short of it.

2:12  Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and so ye perish from the right way: if his wrath be kindled, (yea, but a little), blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Kiss: expressing thereby, as to a monarch, both love and awe.  ye perish from the right way. Here, again, the Psalms and the New Testament give the same warning, “Ye did run well; who did hinder you?” (Gal 5:7).  So David and St Paul teach, that, after for awhile running our race with patience, we may nevertheless finally be lost.  And we may do this, if His wrath be kindled, yea, but a little: Therefore we are warned against little beginnings of sin.  Blessed are all that put their trust in Him: because, “in a little wrath I hid My face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, says the Lord, thy Redeemer” (Isa 54:8).

Kiss the Son. The translation being used by my source adopts the Syriac rendering.  This is the rendering of the KJV,  NKJV, NIV, ESV, and ASV.  Young’s Literal translation has “Kiss the Chosen One.”  The Douay-Rheims, following the Vulgate and based upon manuscripts of the LXX has “Embrace discipline” (The Hebrew verb nashaq can have the meaning of touch or handle).   Konrad Schaefer, in his studied of the psalms in the Berit Olam Series accepts “kiss.”  Other translations have “serve the Lord.”  St Jerome and Symmachus prefer “worship purely.”

Take hold, as of a protection and shield in battle.  As I just mentioned above, the word nashaq (kiss, embrace) can have the meaning of hold, or even “to take up arms”.  The word is used in this sense in Ps 78:9-”The children of Ephraim, being armed…”  Given the note of rebellion against the king with which this psalm opens, perhaps a martial rendering at the end is not out of place.  The Hebrew nashaq bar could read “embrace, (take up, be armed with) the Son (heir).”  Be a soldier in his service (2 Tim 2:1-4).

Take hold as of a thing that flies from you, and must be seized in the instant, though that thing be the discipline of a chastising God, which the Christian is to take patiently, as from a loving Father’s hand.   This calls to my mind Hebrews 12:1-13.

Wherefore: Glory be to the Father, who hath begotten the Son today, that is, eternally, and hath set Him as King, and heard His desire as that of a Priest; glory e to the Son, Who desireth the Father for us, and possesseth the nations for an inheritance unto the utmost parts of the earth; glory to the Holy Ghost, Who is the Blessedness wherewith blessed are all they that pur their trust in Him.  As it is in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end.  Amen.

Collects used with this Psalm:

Break in sunder, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the chains of our sins; that, taking upon us Thy light yoke and easy burden, we may serve Thee, with fear and reverence, all the days of our life, through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, one God forever and ever. Amen. (St Thomas Aquinas)

O Christ the Word of the Father, against Whom the kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers took counsel together; give unto Thy Church to obtain the victory which she desires over all her enemies, that the sword of her persecutors may be sheathed, and the faith of them that believe in Thee may be established.Mozarabic Collect for the Third Sunday in Advent.

O God, the Father of the Only-begotten Son, Who dwellest in heaven, and Who turnest to derision those that rise up against Thy Christ; give us this special grace, that we may never yield to adversities, to the end that the unbelief of them that know Thee not may be confounded, and the faith of them that cling to Thee may be crowned.-Mozarabic, Collect in Holy Week.

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My Notes on Psalm 2

A sublime vision of the nations in revolt against Jehovah and his Anoited, with a declaration of the divne purpose to maintain his King’s authority, and a warning to the world that it must bow to him or perish. The structure of this psalm is extremely regular. It naturally falls into four stanzas of three verses each. In the first (1-3), the conduct of the rebellious nations is described. In the second (4-6), god replies to them by word and deed. In the third (7-9), the Messiah or Anointed One declares the divine decrees in relation to himself. In the fourth (10-12), the Psalmist exhorts the rulers of the nations to submission, with a threatening of the divine wrath to the disobedient, and a closing benediction on believers. (THE PSALMS by J. A. Alexander. Published by Charles Scribner, New York 1852. Public domain book).


Vs 1 Why do the nations rage, and the gentiles mutter vainly?
Vs 2 The kings of the earth stand up, the rulers sit in cousel together, opposing the Lord, and opposing his Anointed one, saying,
Vs 3 “Let us burst thier bonds completely, cast their chains off from us.

The Psalm opens with the psalmist asking a question in parallel fashion, which is typical of Hebrew poetry. The first part of the parallel asks why the nations (Hebrew goy) rage (ragash). Goy could refer to the Jewish people or other descendents of Abraham but is usually used for his non-descendents. Rage (ragash) means more than simply anger. It refers to the malicious plotting borne of such anger.

Vs 4 He that sitteth in the heavens will laugh: The Lord will have them in derision.

Vs 5 Then will he speak unto them in his wrath, And vex them in his sore displeasure:
Vs 6 Yet I have set my king Upon my holy hill of Zion. (ASV. Public domain)

the Lord sitting in heaven contrasts nicely with the rulers of the earth sitting in counsel against him. While they rage, he laughs; while they mutter vainly, he derides them and speaks in wrath. While they exalt themselves by standing up, he derides them. While they plot to cast of the bonds and chains of God and his Anointed, he insists that the one he anointed rules at his pleasure.

The Lords mood in verse 5 is colorfully described. The Hebrew word for wrath refers to the flaring of the nostrils which often takes place as part of angry facial expressions. The Word for sore displeasure refers to the red hue of an angry mans “burning” cheeks

Vs 7 I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, ‘You are my son; this day have I begotten you.
Vs 8 Ask it of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and put the ends of the earth into your pessesion.
Vs 9 With an iron rod you shall break them; like a clay dish you shall smash them to pieces.

Here th anointed king speaks, telling us what the Lord has promised to him. You are my son, this day I have begotten you is a clear reference to 2 Samuel 7:14. This text is applied to our Blessed Lord in Hebrews 1:5. It is believed by many biblical scholars that this Psalm was either part of the coronation ceremony for a newly installed Davidic king, or was used as part of an anniversary celebration of the coronation (or both). Inheriting the nations and possesing the ends of the earth are not promises fulfilled to the descendents of David save one, Jesus. (See Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 28: 18-20). Verse 9 also has Messianic overtones (see Revelation 12:5).

Vs 10 Be wise, O you kings; be instructed rulers of the earth.
Vs 11 Serve God with fear, tremble as you bow down to him.
Vs 12 Render him homage, lest he grow angry with you and you perish from the way, for his anger ignites suddenly. Happy are those who put their trust in him.

The call to wisdom and instruction, along with the word happy provide verbal and thematic links to Psalm 1. The rebels are here being called to conversion in light of the Lords will as revealed in torah, the revelation of God’s wisdom. “The four invitations have a wisdom flavor, ‘be wise’ ‘be warned’, ‘serve…with fear’, ‘kiss.’ (Konrad Schaefer, PSALMS, pg 9.) Whereas the Psalm opened by focusing on the rebels anger, it closes by warning them concerning God’s. The reference to his anger igniting reminds us of God’s mood towards the rebels which was colorfully described in verse 5. In verse 2 the kings stood up against the lord and his Anointed; here they are exhorted and warned to serve God with fear aand trembling and bow down to him.

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St Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on Psalm 1

Psalm 1 

(a) Beatus vir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum et in via peccatorum non stetit, et in cathedra pestilentiae non sedit; sed in lege Domini voluntas eius, et in lege eius meditabitur die ac nocte. (a) Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence. But his will is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he shall meditate day and night.
(b) Et erit tamquam lignum quod plantatum est secus decursus aquarum, quod fructum suum dabit in tempore suo. Et folium eius non defluet. (b) And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters, which shall bring forth its fruit, in due season. And his leaf shall not fall off:
(c) Et omnia quaecumque faciet, prosperabuntur. Non sic impii, non sic; sed tamquam pulvis quem proiicit ventus a facie terrae. Ideo non resurgent impii in iudicio, neque peccatores in consilio iustorum. Quoniam novit Dominus viam iustorum; et iter impiorum peribit. (c) and all whatsoever he shall do shall propser. Not so the wicked, not so: but like the dust, which the wind driveth from the face of the earth. Therefore the wicked shall not rise again in judgment: nor sinners in the council of the just. For the Lord knoweth the way of the just: and the way of the wicked shall perish
(a) Hic Psalmus distinguitur contra totum opus: non enim habet titulum, sed est quasi titulus totius operis. (a) This psalm stands out distinctly from all the rest of the work: for it does not have a title, but it is, as it were, the title of the entire work.
Sed et David Psalmos composuit per modum orantis, qui non servat unum modum, sed secundum diversas affectiones et motus orantis se habet. But David also composed the Psalms by the mode of one who is praying, which does not hold to one mode, but is varied according to the diverse feelings and movements of the one who prays.
Hic ergo primus Psalmus exprimit affectum hominis elevantis oculos ad totum statum mundi, et considerantis quomodo quidam proficiunt, quidam deficiunt. Thus this first psalm expresses the feeling of a man who is lifting his eyes to the entire state of the world and considering how some do well, while others fail.
Et inter beatos Christus fuit primus; inter malos Adam. And Christ is the first among the blessed ones; Adam the first among the evil ones.
Sed notandum, quod in uno omnes conveniunt, et in duobus differunt. But it should be noted, that in one all come together, and in two they differ.
Conveniunt in beatitudine, quam omnes quaerunt; different autem in processu ad beatitudinem, et in eventu huius, quia quidam perveniunt, et quidam non. They agree in happiness, which all seek; they differ in the way to happiness, and in the outcome, because some reach it, and others do not.
Dividitur ergo Psalmus iste in partes duas. Thus this psalm is divided in two parts.
In prima describitur processus omnium ad beatitudinem. In the first part is described the way of all to happiness.
In secunda eventus, ibi Et erit tamquam lignum quod plantatum est secus decursum etc. In the second part is described the outcome, where it says, And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters etc.
Circa primum duo facit. With respect to the first he does two things.
Primo tangitur processus malorum. First he touches upon the way of evil men.
Secundo bonorum, ibi, Sed in lege Domini voluntas eius etc. Second, the way of good men, where he says, But his will is in the law of the Lord etc.
In processu malorum tria consideranda sunt. In the way of evil men, three things are to be considered.
Primo deliberatio de peccato, et hoc in cogitatione. First, deliberation about sin, and this is in cogititation.
Secundo consensus et executio. Second, there is consent and execution.
Tertio inductio aliorum ad simile, et hoc est pessimum. Third, inducing others to something similar, and this is the worst.
Et ideo primo ponit consilium malorum, ibi Beatus vir etc. First he presents the counsel of evil men, where he says Blessed is the man etc.
Dicit autem, Qui non abiit, quia quamdiu homo deliberat, est in eundo. He says, Who hath not walked, because as long as a man is deliberating, he is going.
Secundo ponit consensum, et executionem dicens, Et in via peccatorum, idest in operatione: Prov. 4. Via impiorum tenebrosa, nesciunt ubi corruant; Second. he presents consent and execution, where he says: And in the way of sinners, that is, in operation; Proverbs 4:19 “The way of the wicked is darksome: they know not where they fall”;
non stetit scilicet consentiendo, et operando. nor stood, that is, in consenting and operating.
Dicit autem, impiorum, quia impietas est peccatum contra Deum, et peccatorum, contra proximum, et in cathedra; He says of the ungodly, because impiety is a sin against God, and of sinners, as against one’s neighbour, and in the chair;
ecce tertium, scilicet inducere alios ad peccandum. behold the third, namely to induce others to sin.
In cathedra ergo quasi magister, et alios docens peccare; et ideo dicit, pestilentia, quia pestilentia est morbus infectivus. In a chair thus as an authoritative teacher, and teaching others to sin and therefore he says, pestilence, because a pestilence is an infective disease.
Prov. 29. Homines pestilentes dissipant civitatem. Proverbs 29:8 “Corrupt men bring a city to ruin.”
Qui ergo sic vadit non est beatus, sed qui contrario modo. Thus he who walks in this way is not happy, but only he who walks in the contrary way.
Beatitudo autem hominis in Deo est. Ps. 143. Beatus populus cuius est Dominus Deus eius etc. The happiness of man is in God. Psalm 143:15 “Happy is that people whose God is the Lord” etc.
Et ergo processus rectus ad beatitudinem, primo ut subdemus nos Deo, et hoc dupliciter. Thus there is the right way to happiness, first that we should submit ourselves to God, and this is in two respects.
Primo per voluntatem obediendo mandatis eius; et ideo dicit: Sed in lege Domini; et hoc specialiter pertinet ad Christum. First by the will to obey his commands; and thus he writes: But (his will is) in the law of the Lord; and this pertains in a special way to Christ.
Ioan. 8. Descendi de caelo non ut faciam voluntatem meam, sed voluntatem eius qui misit me. John 6:38 “I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me.”
Convenit similiter et cuilibet iusto. The same may be said of each just person.
Dicit, in lege, per dilectionem, non sub lege per timorem. He says, in the law, meaning because of love, not as under the law because of fear.
I Timoth. 1. Iusto non est lex posita etc. I Timothy 1:9 “The law is not made for the just man” etc.
Secundo per intellectum iugiter meditando; et ideo dicit: in lege eius meditabitur die ac nocte, idest continue, vel certis horis diei et noctis, vel in prosperis et adversis. Second, through the understanding, by always meditating; and so he says: and on his law he shall meditate day and night, that is, continuously, or at certain hours of the day and night, or in prosperity and adversity.
(b) Describitur in hac parte felicitatis eventus: et primo ponit diversitatem eius; secundo assignat rationem, ibi, Quoniam novit Dominus etc. (b) In this part he describes the outcome of happiness: and first he sets forth its diversity; second he assigns the reason for it, where he says: For the Lord knoweth etc.
Circa primum duo facit. Concerning the first he does two things.
Primo ponit eventum bonorum, secundo malorum, ibi non sic impii etc. First he sets forth the outcome of good men, second, that of evil men, where he says: not so the wicked, etc.
Circa eventum bonorum utitur similitudine; et primo proponit eam, secundo adaptat, ibi, Et omnia quaecumque faciet etc. Concerning the outcome of good men he uses a similarity; and first he sets it forth, then he shows how it is appropriate, where he writes: And all whatsoever he shall do etc.
Similitudo namque sumitur a ligno, in quo tria considerantur, scilicet plantatio, fructificatio, et conservatio. The similarity is taken from a tree, in which three things are considered, namely, planting, bearing of fruit, and conservation.
Ad plantationem, vero necessaria est terra humectata ab aquis, alias aresceret; et ideo dicit: Quod plantatum est secus decursus aquarum, idest iuxta fluenta gratiarum, Ioan. 7. Qui credit in me flumina de ventre eius fluent aquae vivae. For planting, one needs earth moistened by the waters, otherwise the tree dries up, and so he says: which is planted near the running waters, that is, next to the streams of graces, John 7:38 “He that believeth in me (as the scripture saith) out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
Et qui iuxta hanc aquam radices habuerit fructificabit bona opera faciendo; et hoc est quod sequitur: Quod fructum suum dabit. Gal. 5. Fructus autem spiritus est charitas, gaudium pax, et patientia, longanimitas, bonitas, benignitas, etc. And he who has roots next to this water will bear fruit in doing good works; and this is what follows: which shall bring forth its fruit. Galatians 5:22 “The fruit of the Spirit is charity, joy, peace, and patience, long-suffering, goodness, benignity” etc.
In tempore suo, scilicet modo quando est tempus operandi. Galat. ultimo. Dum tempus habemus, operemur bonum ad omnes. In due season, that is, just when it is time to act. Galatians 6:10 “Whilst we have time, let us work good to all men.”
Sed nec arescit, immo conservatur. But it does not dry up, but rather is kept alive.
Quaedam arbores conservantur in substantia, sed non in foliis, quaedam etiam in foliis conservantur: sic et iusti, unde ait: Et folium eius non defluet idest nec in minimis operibus et exterioribus deseruntur a Deo. Some trees are kept alive in their underlying substance, but not in the leaves, and others are also kept alive in their leaves: so also the just, whence he says: and his leaf shall not fall off that is, he will not be deserted by God even in the smallest exterior works.
Proverbia 11. Iusti autem quasi virens folium germinabunt. Proverbs 11:28 “But the just shall spring up as a green leaf.”
(c) Deinde cum dicit, Et omnia, adaptat similitudinem: quia beati in omnibus prosperabuntur, et hoc quando consequentur finem intentum quantum ad omnia quae desiderant, quia iusti perveniunt ad beatitudinem. (c) Then when he says, And all, he shows how the similarity applies: because the blessed prosper in all things, and this is when they achieve the intended end with respect to all that they desire, because the just attain blessedness.
Psal. 117. O Domine, salvum me fac, o Domine, bene prosperare etc. Psalm 117:25 “O Lord, save me: O Lord, give good success” etc.
Eventus malorum contrarius est, qui describitur ibi, Non sic etc. Et circa hoc duo facit. Primo ponit similitudinem, secundo ad adaptat, ibi, Non resurget. Sed nota quod hic praemittit non sic et non sic bis, propter maiorem certitudinem. Gen. 41. Quod secundo vidisti, iudicium firmitatis est. The outcome of evil men is the contrary, and this is described where he says: Not so etc. He does two things with regard to this. First he sets forth a similarity, then he shows its fittingness, where he says: The (wicked) shall not rise again. But note that here he repeats the words “not so” twice, for the sake of greater certainty. Genesis 41:32 “That thou didst see the second time…is a token of the certainty.”
Vel non sic faciunt in processu, ideo non sic recipiunt in eventu. Or not so do they act in their way, and so not so do they receive in their outcome.
Luc. 16. Recepisti bona in vita tua, et Lazarus similiter mala: nunc autem hic consolatur, tu vero cruciaris. Luke 16:25 “Thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted; and thou art tormented.”
Comparantur vero proprie pulveri, qui tria habet contra ea quae de viro iusto sunt dicta; quia non adhaeret terrae pulvis, sed est in superficie: lignum vero plantatum est radicatus. They are compared properly to dust, because dust has three things that are said of the just man; that dust does not stick to the earth, but it is on the surface, but a planted tree has roots.
Item lignum in se compactum est, item humidum est; sed pulvis in se divisus, siccus, et aridus est; per quod signatur, quia boni adunati sunt caritate sicut lignum: Again a tree is held together in itself, and it is moist; but dust is divided, dry and arid; through this we have a sign that good men are united like a tree by charity.
Psalm. 117. Constituite diem solemnem in condensis, usque ad cornu altaris: mali vero divisi: Proverba 13. Inter superbos semper iurgia sunt. Psalm 117:27 “Appoint a solemn day, with shady boughs, even to the horn of the altar”: but evil men are divided: Proverbs 13:10 “Among the proud there are always contentions.”
Item boni inhaerent radicatus in spiritualibus et bonis divinis, sed mali in exterioribus bonis sustentantur. Again, good men cling as with roots in spiritual things and divine goods, but evil men are sustained in exterior goods.
Item sunt sine aqua gratiae, Gen. 3. Pulvis es etc. Again, they are without the water of grace, Genesis 3:19 “For dust thou art” etc.
Et ideo omnis malitia eorum defluet. And so all their malice flows away.
Luc. 21. Capillus de capite vestro non peribit. Luke 21:18 “A hair of your head shall not perish.”
Sed de istis malis dicitur, quod totaliter proiiciuntur a facie, idest bonis superficialibus, quos ventus, idest tribulatio, proiiciet a facie terra. But of these evil men it is said that they are totally driven from the face, that is, from superficial goods; the wind, that is tribulation, driveth them from the face of the earth.
Iob. 4. Vidi eos qui operantur iniquitatem, et seminant dolores, et metunt eos, flante Deo periisse, et spiritu irae eius esse consumptos. Job 4:8 “I have seen those who work iniquity, and sow sorrows, and reap them, perishing by the blast of God, and consumed by the spirit of his wrath.”
Deinde adaptat similitudinem ibi, Non resurgent, quia sicut pulvis sunt. Then he makes the similarity fit, where he says, The wicked shall not rise again, because they are dust.
Sed contra 2. Corin. 2. Omnes nos manifestari oportet ante tribunal Christi. But, on the other hand, 2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ.”
Item 1. Cor. 15. Omnes quidem resurgemus. Again, 1 Corinthians 15:51 “We shall all indeed rise again.”
Ad quod dicendum, quod dupliciter hoc potest legi. In this regard, we should say that this can be read in two ways.
Resurgere enim proprie in iudicio dicitur homo, quando causa sua sublevatur per sententiam iudicis. A man is properly said to rise in judgment, when his cause is supported by the sentence of a judge.
Isti ergo non resurgunt, quia sententia pro eis in iudicio non fertur, sed potius contra: unde alia littera habet, Non stabilentur. Those men, then, do not rise, because in judgment the sentence is not in their favor, but rather against them: hence another reading says: They will not be made to stand.
Boni vero sic: quia licet afflicti sint ex peccato primi parentis, tamen habebunt sententiam pro se. With good men it is thus: although they are afflicted by the sin of the first parent, yet they have a sentence in their favor.
Neque peccatores, congregabuntur, in consilio iustorum: quia boni congregabuntur in vitam aeternam, ad quam mali non admittentur. Nor (do) sinners congregate in the council of the just: because good men are gathered together for eternal life, to which evil men are not admitted.
Vel dicendum, quod hoc intelligitur de reparatione iustitiae, ad quam reparantur proprio iudicio. Or it may be said, that this is understood of the reparation of justice, to which they make reparation in their own judgment.
1 Cor. 11. Si nosmetipsos iudicaremus, non utique iudicaremur. 1 Corinthians 11:31 “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”
Et quantum ad hoc dicit: Non resurgent in iudicio, scilicet proprio, de quo dicitur Ephe. 5. Surge qui dormis, et exurge a mortuis, et illuminabit te Christus. And in this respect he says: The wicked will not rise again in judgment, that is in the proper judgment, of which it is said in Ephesians 5:14 “Rise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead: and Christ shall enlighten you.”
Quidam vero reparantur consilio bonorum, et isto modo etiam mali non resurgunt a peccato. Some men are restored by the advice of the good, and in this respect evil men still do not rise from sin.
Vel impii, idest infideles, non resurget in iudicio, discussionis, et examinationis, quia secundum Gregorium quidam condemnabuntur, et non iudicabuntur, ut infideles. But the wicked, that is unfaithful men, shall not rise again in judgment, that of discussion, and examination, because according to Gregory some are condemned without being judged, such as the unfaithful.
Quidam non iudicabuntur, nec condemnabuntur, scilicet Apostoli, et viri perfecti. Some will not be judged, nor will they be condemned, namely the Apostles and perfect men.
Quidam iudicabuntur, et condemnabuntur, scilicet mali fideles. Some are judged and condemned, namely evil men who have faith.
Sic ergo fideles non resurgent in iudicio discussionis, ut examinentur. In this way, then, men with faith do not rise in the judgment of discussion to be examined.
Ioan. 3. Qui non credit, iam iudicatus est. John 3:18 “He that doth not believe, is already judged.”
Peccatores vero non resurgent in concilio iustorum, ut scilicet iudicentur, et non condemnentur. Sinners, however, will not rise in the council of the just, that is, to be judged and yet not condemned.
Deinde ratio redditur quare huiusmodi non resurgent in iudicio: Quoniam novit etc. Et proprie loquitur: quia quando aliquis scit quod perditum est, reparatur; quando vero nescit, non reparatur. Then he gives the reason why such do not rise in judgment: For the Lord knoweth etc. In proper terms he is saying: because when someone knows that something is lost, he has it replaced; when he does not know, he does not have it replaced.
Iusti autem per mortem dissolvuntur, sed tamen Deus novit eos. 2. Tim. 2. Cognovit Deus qui sunt eius. The just are dissolved by death, but still God knows them; 2 Timothy 2:19 “God knoweth who are his.”
Novit scilicet notitia approbationis, et ideo reparantur. He knows them with a knowledge of approval, and so they are restored.
Sed quia non novit viam impiorum notitia approbationis, ideo iter impiorum peribit. Psal. 118. Erravi sicut ovis quae periit: quaere servum tuum, quia mandata tua non sum oblitus. But because he does not know the way of the wicked by a knowledge of approval, therefore the way of the wicked shall perish. Psalm 118:176 “I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost: seek thy servant, because I have not forgotten thy commandments”.
Psal. 34. Fiant viae illorum tenebrae et lubricum etc. Psalm 34:6 “Let their way become dark and slippery” etc.

© Hugh McDonald

Latin Text according to the Venice Edition of MDCCLXXV

The Aquinas Translation Project

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 3


Psa 3:1 The psalm of David when he fled from the face of his son Absalom. Why, O Lord, are they multiplied that afflict me? many are they who rise up against me.

David, addressing himself in prayer to God, complains of and wonders at the number of his enemies, for, as we read in 2 Kings 15, “All Israel was then most cordially following Absalom.” Such was the case with Christ, especially in his passion, for then his son, that is, his people, rebelled against him, crying out: “we have no king but Caesar;” and he, like a sick man and a fugitive, was obliged to fly from them through his death; but speedily returned through his resurrection. Absalom signifies the peace of the father, because, in fact, it was the son only that stirred up the war; but the father was always at peace, both as regards David, who wept at the death of his son, and as regards Christ, who prayed for his persecutors; and as Achitophel, the intimate friend and counselor of David, was the person to betray him in the rebellion of his son, and afterwards hanged himself, similar was the end of Judas, one of Christ’s most familiar friends, who also hanged himself.

Psa 3:2 Many say to my soul: There is no salvation for him in his God.

This would appear to apply to the inward temptations of the devil, seeking to make him despair, as if his confidence in God had been to no purpose. To it also may be referred what the people were then naturally saying, namely, that notwithstanding David’s great confidence in God, he was then apparently entirely abandoned by him; a thing quite common for the ignorant to take up, when they see pious people in trouble. Thus, Job’s wife reproaches him, “Do you still remain in your simplicity?” So with Tobias’s wife, when she said, “Your hope is now evidently come to nothing, and your alms now appear.” And so they said of Christ: “He has confided in God, let him free him now if he will.”

Psa 3:3 But thou, O Lord, art my protector, my glory, and the lifter up of my head.

What one in trouble, a just man such as David, and especially what Christ, the head of all the just, would say. The meaning is, many tell me I put my hope in God to no purpose; but they are quite mistaken, for you, Lord, never desert those that confide in thee; therefore you are “my protector,” to ward off the weapons of my enemies, not content with which you become “my glory,” that is to say, the cause of my glory. Hence it arises that you come to be “the lifter up of my head;” that is to say, you make me, who a while ago hung my head in grief and sorrow, hold it up now in joy and exultation.

Psa 3:4 I have cried to the Lord with my voice: and he hath heard me from his holy hill.

A proof of David’s confidence. He appealed to the Almighty, and, at once, he was heard. Observe the expression, “I have cried with my voice;” as much as to say, not silently, indifferently, or passively, but loudly, emphatically. “From his holy hill,” means either Sion, or, more probably, the kingdom of heaven.

Psa 3:5 I have slept and have taken my rest: and I have risen up, because the Lord hath protected me.

In the persecution of Absalom David made no resistance, but lay down as one would to sleep, but soon after awoke, strengthened by the Lord to recover his kingdom, “because the Lord hath protected” him.

Psa 3:6 I will not fear thousands of the people surrounding me: arise, O Lord; save me, O my God.

Clearly applicable to David, who, on recovering courage, rose up and got ready to meet his enemies; and, therefore, now exclaims he has no fear of the countless enemy, confiding, as he does, not in his own power, or the arms of his allies, but in God; and he therefore supplicates him to rise and save him from the hands of the enemy. Observe the connection between the word “arise,” in this verse, and “I have risen,” in the preceding, as much as to say, I have on your inspiration arisen, and do you now at my request arise in my defense.

Psa 3:7 For thou hast struck all them who are my adversaries without cause: thou hast broken the teeth of sinners.

An acknowledgment of the divine protection, and his deliverance from his enemies, whose teeth were so broken that, though they may bark, they could not possibly injure or bite.

Psa 3:8 Salvation is of the Lord: and thy blessing is upon thy people.

An invocation of the divine blessing, and thanksgiving for the benefits conferred by him.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 2


Psa 2:1 Why have the Gentiles raged, and the people devised vain things?

David, recognizing in spirit the coming Messias, the many persecutions he was to undergo, to end in his most successful reign, commences by taunting his persecutors. “And the people devised vain things,” foreshadowing the folly of the Jews, “when they took counsel to destroy Jesus.”

Psa 2:2 The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ.

After saying in general, that both gentiles and people rose up against Christ, he now descends to particulars, and attributes the excitement not so much to the people as to those placed over them. The first of whom was Herod. Next the princes and the people, as the gospel has it, “All Jerusalem was troubled with him.” Then Pontius Pilate and the princes of that day. Then, after the passion and resurrection of our Lord, all the persecutions of the Roman emperors. So clearly foreshadowed is the Messias in this verse that the apostles, in the fourth chapter of the Acts, not only literally applied it to our Savior, but even the old Jewish Rabbis hold it to apply to the Savior the infatuated Jews are still foolishly looking out for! Observe the propriety of the words used here. The gentiles are said “to rage,” as if they were animals void of reason; while the Jewish people are made “to meditate vain things,” having taken counsel to destroy Jesus.

Psa 2:3 Let us break their bonds asunder: and let us cast away their yoke from us.

The prophet assigns a reason for such rage and conspiracy; it was for fear they may be subjected to the law of Christ, so opposed to their carnal desires, and the wisdom of the world. These words are then, as it were, spoken by the kings and princes. The law here gets the name of bonds and yoke, because such it is, in point of fact, to the wicked; whereas, to the just, it is “sweeter than honey, and more desirable than gold and precious stones,” as we read in Ps. 19.

Psa 2:4 He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them: and the Lord shall deride them.

Here the prophet shows again how vain was the labor of the kings and princes in assailing the Christian religion. For the religion of Christ is of divine origin, and nobody can offer resistance to God. “He that dwelleth in heaven” is very appropriate, inasmuch as it shows that God sees all, is above all, and without any trouble can baffle all their counsels, and demolish all their plans. “Shall laugh at and deride them,” means that God in his wisdom, by means of signs and wonders, through the patience of the martyrs, through the conversion of nations and peoples, and through other means known to himself alone, will so confound them that they shall be an object of laughter and ridicule to every one. That we see fulfilled. The pagan and the Jewish priesthood are now ridiculed by all. They have neither temples nor sacrifice; and all the persecutors of the Church have met a miserable end.

Psa 2:5 Then shall he speak to them in his anger, and trouble them in his rage.

He explains the manner in which God has held the enemies of Christ up to ridicule, not in language, but in the most grievous punishments and afflictions; for instance, Herod, stricken by the Angel; Maximinus, eaten up by vermin, and others. Strictly speaking, God is not subject to anger or fury; his judgments are always tranquil; but he is metaphorically said to rage and to be angry, when he punishes with severity, especially when the correction does not conduce to the salvation of the culprit. Such anger and fury belong to those who do not, like physicians, hurt to heal, but hurt to kill. Thus, when David says, “Lord, reprove me not in thy fury, nor correct me in thy anger,” he prays for the reproof and correction of a father, not of an enemy; and that it may tend to his salvation, and not to his detriment.

Psa 2:6 But I am appointed king by him over Sion, his holy mountain, preaching his commandment.

Having spoken of the rebellious sentiments and expressions of Christ’s enemies, he introduces the Redeemer now, as if answering them. I am appointed king, not by man, but by God, and therefore, man’s threats I regard not. I am ordained king on Sion, his holy mountain; that is, on his Church, the city built on a mountain, of which Jerusalem was the type; the principal part of which, and most beloved and sanctified by God, was Sion, as he says in Ps. 86, “The Lord loveth the gates of Sion beyond all the tabernacles of Jacob.”

Psa 2:7 The Lord hath said to me: Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee.

Here is the beginning and the foundation of God’s decree. For to Christ, as being the true and natural Son of God, is due all power in heaven and on earth. Three generations are here alluded to. The first, when in the day of eternity, I God begot you God. The second, when, on the day of your birth, I begot thee according to the flesh, made you God Man, without the seed of man, your mother remaining inviolate, without the stain of sin. Thirdly, I begot you today, that is, on the day of your resurrection, when, by my divine power, I restored you to life, and that a glorious and immortal one.

Psa 2:8 Ask of me, and I will give thee the Gentiles for thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession.

As if God the Father were to say: You my natural Son, the incarnation of my power raised from the dead, have just right to ask me for power over all nations as your inheritance, and the whole world, even to its remotest boundaries, as your possession of right.

We have to observe here, that the word inheritance is frequently applied in the Scripture to one’s property, even though it may not have come to them by inheritance, and thus the people of God are called his inheritance, and he theirs. And as property was frequently divided among brothers by lot, and then measured by chains, the words inheritance, part, lot, chain, possession, became synonymous; two of them even are sometimes united, as, “The Lord is the part of my inheritance,” that is, the part that came to me by inheritance; and in another place, Deut. 32, “Jacob, the lot of his inheritance,” meaning that the people of Israel were the Lord’s inheritance, which he selected for himself, measured with chains, and separated from the inheritance of others. Thus all nations are here said to be the inheritance of Christ, as the words, “The utmost parts of the earth for thy possession,” evidently convey. We are to observe, secondly, that by the kingdom of Christ is meant his spiritual kingdom, that is, his Church, which was to be spread over the whole world. The meaning of the verse then is, that Christ was placed king over Sion, that is, over God’s people; but that his kingdom was not, like that of David or Solomon, confined to the kingdoms of Judea or Palestine, but was to extend over all nations, and to include all the kingdoms of the world, according to Daniel’s prophecy, chap. 2, infidels even included, for “All power on earth and in heaven is granted unto me,” and he is “appointed judge of the living and of the dead,” Acts 10.

Psa 2:9 Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron, and shalt break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.

The extreme and most just power of Christ over his Church, and over all mankind, through which he can as easily reward the good and punish the wicked, as a potter can make and break the vessels of clay, is here indicated. In the first part, the iron rod expresses the most just, inflexible, and irresistible power of Christ; in the second, the vessels of clay expose the frailty of the human race. The word “Break them in pieces” does not imply that Christ will actually do so, but that he can do so if he wills; breaking their sins and infidelities in pieces, through his mercy, and from vessels of reproach forming them into vessels of honor; or breaking them in pieces in everlasting fire, in all justice, they having richly deserved it.

Psa 2:10 And now, O ye kings, understand: receive instruction, you that judge the earth.

The prophet now exhorts the kings of this world on whom the people depend as their resistance to Christ has been in vain, to freely subject themselves to him, the true and supreme king of all kings; and as, generally speaking, from wrong judgment proceed wrong affections, he first exhorts them to correct their judgment, to understand the truth and be rightly informed. Then he exhorts them to correct their evil affections, and, instead of hating Christ, to begin to serve, to love, and to revere him. Hence he adds:

Psa 2:11 Serve ye the Lord with fear: and rejoice unto him with trembling.

A wonderful admixture of love and fear, as if he were to say, blend love with your fear, and fear with your love. The Hebrew for “fear” signifies filial not slavish fear, and thus the meaning of the first part of the sentence is, serve the Lord as a son would his father; but also, when you exult as a child before him, forget not to fear him, as is beautifully conveyed in the second part of this verse.

Psa 2:12 Embrace discipline, lest at any time the Lord be angry, and you perish from the just way.

The meaning of these words is, that the kings should not only correct their judgment and affections, and that they should be instructed and obedient but that they should do so with great fervor; because the Hebrew word implies that they should not only do the thing, but do it with all their might, their strength, and their desire, assigning a very cogent reason for it, “lest at any time the Lord be angry, “and you perish from the just way.” The most grievous punishment inflicted on princes is when God, on account of their sins, gives them up to the “reprobate sense,” Rom. 1, permits them to be deceived by wicked counselors, and do much evil, for which they are lost to this world and the next; such were Pharaoh, Roboam, Achab, and others, in whom the most grievous sins became the punishment of other sins, such being not a small slip from the straight road, but an entire loss and extermination of the path of justice.

Psa 2:13 When his wrath shall be kindled in a short time, blessed are all they that trust in him.

The conclusion of the Psalm, in which the holy prophet pronounces how it may be inferred from the preceding, how good and useful it is to love God and serve him with one’s whole heart, for, in the day of judgment, which cannot be far distant, such people alone can have any confidence. He says, “in a short time,” to signify that the terrible day is shortly to come; for a thousand years are like yesterday that passed; nor can that be called long that has an end. “His wrath shall be kindled,” to give us to understand that the day of judgment will be exclusively a day of justice and revenge, leaving no place for mercy. “Blessed are all they that trust in him;” not that confidence will suffice—it will only when it is based on true friendship.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 1


Psa 1:1 Blessed is the man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners, nor sat in the chair of pestilence:

In the first and second verses the prophet teaches that happiness, as far as it is attainable in this world, is only to be had in conjunction with true justice. As the apostle teaches (Rom. 14) “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but justice and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.” For the truly just are alone the friends of God, nay more, his children, and thus heirs of the kingdom, happy in the hope that belongs to the most perfect happiness, meanwhile, here below enjoying that solid joy and peace “that surpasseth all understanding.” In this first verse he gives a negative description of the just man; in the second an affirmative, briefly stating here that he is just and thence happy who declines from evil and doeth good. Observe attentively and remember that David, as well as the other prophets, is very fond of repetitions, making the second part of a verse either a repetition or an explanation of the first. For instance, Ex. 15, “He is my God and I will glorify him; the God of my father, and I will exalt him;” Deut. 32, “Let my doctrine gather as the rain, let my speech distill as the dew;” Ps. 33, “I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall be always in my mouth.” These ornamental repetitions are of frequent occurrence among the prophets. The first part of the verse, then, conveys to us the happiness of the man who breaks not the law of God; but David making use of a metaphor, conveys the idea in a poetic manner. “Happy,” says he, “is the man who hath not walked,” etc.; that is to say, happy is he who is really just: and he is just who hath not gone in the counsel of the ungodly; that is to say, who has not followed the counsel, laws, or opinion of the wicked, which are altogether at variance with the way, that is, the law of God. The second part of the same verse expresses the same in similar words. For, when he says, “Nor stood in the way of sinners,” he does not mean standing but walking. Standing here does not mean simply to stand, but to walk, and to continue walking. “Who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way of sinners,” are here synonymous, for both convey that he is just who retires from the way, that is, from the law and counsel of sinners. And as the law of God is broken not only by the evil doer but also by the evil teacher, according to Mt. 5, “Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of those least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven;” the prophet, therefore, adds: “nor sat in the chair of pestilence;” as much as to say, Blessed is he who neither in word nor deed broke through the law of God. “To sit in the chair of pestilence” means, to be among, to keep company with wicked men, with them to despise the law of God, as in nowise pertaining to a happy life, but, on the contrary, looking upon it as more advantageous to indulge in all the passions and desires of the flesh. The words, “sitting in the chair of pestilence,” are well expressed by Malach. 3, “You have said: He laboreth in vain that serveth God, and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinances?”

Psa 1:2 But his will is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he shall meditate day and night.

In this second verse the just man is affirmatively described; and here also we have two sentences, one of which is nearly a repetition of the other. He is truly said to be just or happy, who wishes to do the will of the Lord; because to be just in this life we are not required to be free from all manner of offense, for, St. James says, chap. 3, “We all offend in many things;” but it suffices for us to be so disposed towards the law of God, that we desire, above all things, to carry it out; and if we happen to fall into any sin, as undoubtedly we often do, that it is against our will we so fall, that is to say, against the love we entertain towards God and his law, thus making the matter a sin, not a crime, a venial one instead of a deadly one. The same is differently expressed in another psalm: “The law of his God is in his heart.” For the will or the heart of a just man is in the law of God, and the law of God is in the will or the heart of the just. The law is in the heart, as it were, on its throne; and the heart is in the law, as it would be in anything ardently loved, constantly thought of and desired; which is further expressed in the next sentence: “And on his law he shall meditate day and night;” that means to have the law so in his will, and his will in the law, by constantly exercising his mind in reflecting on and loving it, so that all his actions may be in accordance with it. The words, “day and night,” do not imply that the just man must at every moment be absorbed in the contemplation of the divine law; it means that he should most frequently reflect on it, and be mindful of it when he may have anything to think of, to say, or to do, in which he may apprehend a danger of its violation.

Psa 1:3 And he shall be like a tree which is planted near the running waters, which shall bring forth its fruit, in due season. And his leaf shall not fall off: and all whatsoever he shall do shall prosper.

After declaring who should really be called just, the prophet now declares such just person to be happy, in his hope here, in the reality hereafter. He compares him to a tree growing by the riverside, having all the necessaries towards its perfect growth. For some trees produce leaves only, nor do they retain them long; other trees have the leaves, and keep them always, but the fruit thereon ripens either too soon or too late; others bring out the fruit, and always keep their leaves, but they do not bring all the fruit to maturity: the trees, therefore, which produce the leaves and the fruit, and though they keep the leaves still ripen all the fruit, alone deserve the name of being the most perfect, such are the pine, the palm, and the olive, to which the Scripture usually compares the just; and it is to such trees, the prophet compares them here. For the just, as the apostle has it, “founded and rooted in charity,” as being friends, are close to the living fountain, whence they always draw a flow of grace, and produce good works in the fitting time; everything “cooperating with them to good,” they are always blooming in glory and honor. For, though they may sometimes be despised by the carnal, they are held in honor by the wise, and, which is of more consequence, by the Angels, and even by God himself. This applies only to the present life, but with that, they produce their fruit in season, because they work out true salvation, to be had in the fitting time, namely, after their death; whereas the wicked look for it before their time, namely, in this world, and thus lose it here and there. And they always retain their leaves, because, according to St. Peter, they shall receive “A neverfading crown of glory;” and, according to Ps. 111, “The just shall be in everlasting remembrance.” And, finally, “Whatever they do shall prosper,” because whatever they may do, even to the giving of the cup of cold water, shall receive a full and perfect reward.

Psa 1:4 Not so the wicked, not so: but like the dust, which the wind driveth from the face of the earth.

Another argument in favor of the happiness of the just, drawn by the prophet from a contrast with the misery of the wicked. For, lest any one may suppose that the just enjoy the aforesaid favors in common with others, from natural causes, and not from the special providence of God, he adds, “not so the wicked;” that is to say, instead of such favor it will be quite the other way with them. In most beautiful language he contrasts the misery of the wicked with the happiness of the just. The just, by reason of the abundance of divine grace, are verdant, and produce the fruit, and never lose their bloom or fail in repaying the labor expended on them. On the other hand, the wicked, wanting the divine grace, dry and barren, like the finest dust scattered by the wind, leave no trace of themselves, and not only lose glory, wealth, and pleasure—but even themselves, in the bargain, for all eternity.

Psa 1:5 Therefore the wicked shall not rise again in judgment: nor sinners in the council of the just.

A beautiful connection of the last verses of the psalm with the first. He started by saying that the just did not sit in council nor consort with the wicked; and now he says that the wicked will not rise in the company of the just, in other words, that a very different sentence is in store for each.

Psa 1:6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the just: and the way of the wicked shall perish.

A reason for God’s decision, viz., his knowledge of good and bad.

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St Robert Bellarmine’s Commentary on Psalm 113


Ps 113:1 Praise the Lord, ye children: praise ye the name of the Lord. 

Children, here, represent the servants of the Lord who worship him in all sincerity. That is clear from the Hebrew for children. Children and servants, however, are so clearly allied that the term may be applied indiscriminately to both, for servants should be as obedient to their masters as children are to their parents. Hence, St. Paul says, “As long as the heir is a child he differeth nothing from a servant.” We are, therefore, reminded by the term “children,” that we should be the pure and simple servants of God, and be directed by his will, without raising any question whatever about it. “Praise the Lord, ye children; praise ye the name of the Lord.” Let it be your principal study, all you who claim to be servants of God, to reflect with a pure mind on the greatness of your Lord, and with all the affections of your heart to praise his infinite name. A similar exhortation is to be found in Psalm 133, “Behold now bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord;” and in Psalm 134, “Praise ye the name of the Lord: O you his servants, praise the Lord.”

Ps 113:2 Blessed be the name of the Lord, from henceforth now and for ever.

As we, creeping, wretched things, know not how to praise God as we ought, he now tells us how it should be done, and says it should be done at least with affection and desire. Say, therefore, with all the affections of your heart, “Blessed be the name of the Lord,” “from henceforth,” at the present time, “and forever,” to all future generations, so that there shall never be any cessation to his praise.

Ps 113:3 From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, the name of the Lord is worthy of praise. 

In this and the following verses he explains the subject of God’s praise, which he says is to be found everywhere, all his works being so replete with wonders, which, on diligent reflection, redound so much praise on their wonderful Maker. “From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same;” throughout the whole world, from one end of it to the other, “the name of the Lord is worthy of praise,” by reason of his great works that so abound throughout the world.

Ps 113:4 The Lord is high above all nations; and his glory above the heavens.

Matter for God’s praise is to be found not only through the length and breadth, but even through the height of the world; for, though there may be many great kings and powerful princes therein, God far out tops them all, and he lords it over, not only “all the nations,” but even over all the Angels, for “his glory is above the heavens,” and all who dwell therein.

Ps 113:5 Who is as the Lord our God, who dwelleth on high:
Ps 113:6 And looketh down on the low things in heaven and in earth? 

He now praises God by reason of his wonderful kindness, which, when looked at in conjunction with such sublimity, appears the more extraordinary. “Who is as the Lord our God who dwelleth on high,” in the highest heavens, and still “looketh down on the low things;” on man who dwells on the earth. The words, “in heaven,” according to the Hebrew, should be referred to the first verse. We are here instructed that God, by reason of his excellence, has everything subject to him; and yet, such is his goodness, that he looks after, and attends to the minutest matters, things, and persons, and especially to the meek and humble of heart.

Ps 113:7 Raising up the needy from the earth, and lifting up the poor out of the dunghill: 
Ps 113:8 That he may place him with princes, with the princes of his people. 

He explains why God “looks down” on the humble, and says it is to exalt them; and though this is most applicable to individuals raised by God from the lowest to the highest position, such as Joseph, Moses, David, and others, it is also most true of the whole human race, that is, of the little flock of the elect, to whom our Savior said, “Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased your Father to give you a kingdom.” Now, mankind lay prostrate on the earth, wallowing on the dunghill of original sin, and its consequent evils, and yet God, who is seated in heaven, looked down on the earth, and raised up the needy, that is, the man despoiled by the robbers, who was lying on the dunghill of misery, to “place him with princes;” not in the general acceptation of the word; but with “the princes of his people,” the possessors of the heavenly Jerusalem, the citizens of the kingdom of heaven. The being raised from the poverty of this world to an abundance of its riches, however great and desirable it may appear in our eyes, is in reality a thing of no value, such things being perishable, given to us merely to make good use of them, and bringing great obligations with them, which, if not properly discharged, will, on the day of judgment, bring down great trouble and affliction of spirit on those who got them. But the elevation from a state of sin and death to that of glory and immortality, to an equality with the Angels, to share in that happiness that forms a part of God’s own happiness, that, indeed, is the true, the truly great, and the most to be sought for elevation.

Ps 113:9 Who maketh a barren woman to dwell in a house, the joyful mother of children. 

With mankind a low and contemptible position is considered a misfortune, while barrenness is looked upon in the same light by womankind; but, as God looks down on the humble man so as to raise him from the lowest to the highest position, he also looks down on the humble woman, thereby changing her barrenness into fertility. This is quite applicable to several females, such as Sara, Rebecca, Rachel, Anne, and others; but it applies, in a higher sense, to the Church gathered from the gentiles, that remained barren a long time, but ultimately begot many children, as the Apostle has it, “Rejoice thou barren, that bearest not; break forth and cry out, thou that travailest not: for many are the children of the desolate, more than that of her that hath a husband.”

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