A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 16

This post opens with a brief series of “arguments” (in the literary sense, i.e., summaries of the Psalm’s content, intentions, etc.). The commentary then follows. The post ends by indicating the various uses this psalm exercised in the liturgical tradition, along with traditional antiphons and collects used in relation to it.

TITLE. Michtam of David. Vulgate: The inscription of the title: To David himself. Probably, A golden Psalm of David.

ARGUMENT

ARG. THOMAS. That CHRIST, when He had suffered for us, was not left in hell. The voice of the Church. The voice of CHRIST to the FATHER, and of His members to their head. Through this whole Psalm the Person of the SAVIOUR is introduced. At its commencement, He speaks according to His humanity to the FATHER, beseeching that He may be preserved, because He hath ever set His hope on Him: He adds how His Saints are chosen, not by the desires of the flesh, but by the virtues of the SPIRIT: He affirms that everything that He endured was for the glory of His heritage. In the second part, He returns thanks to the same FATHER, Who, standing on His right hand, overcame the iniquity of this world by the power of His omnipotence: whence He affirms that His soul was set free from hell, and after the glory of His Resurrection, had its dwelling among the pleasures of GOD’s right hand.

VEN. BEDE. When all the headings of the Psalms may he called Inscriptions of Titles, I know not with what peculiar mystical signification this Psalm has this especial title. But since a title was written over our LORD when Crucified, “This is the King of the Jews,” not without reason in the Psalm in which that same King is about to speak of His Passion and Resurrection, is commemoration made of that inscription: for that which is added, to David himself, is not to be applied to any other person than to the LORD, the SAVIOUR to Whom it is sung.

EUSEBIUS of CÆSAREA. The election of the Church and the Resurrection of CHRIST.

ÆTHIOPIC PSALTER. The covenant of David which he proposed as peculiar to himself.

COMMENTARY

1 Preserve me, O GOD: for in thee have I put my trust.

Have I put My trust. And “they that trust in the LORD,”* it is the promise of the prophet, “shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” But we may put the text, so far as He is man, into our LORD’s mouth: for He was preserved by the FATHER, as well as preserved Himself. Or when He says, Preserve Me, we may so interpret it, as if He were praying for those that are His, and with Whom He is one. Gerhohus beautifully paraphrases the prayer: “Preserve in them, Me, the Way, that they may not err; Me, the Truth, that they may neither deceive, nor be deceived; Me, the Life, that although they be dead, they may live,—that although they be sick through any sin, this sickness may not be unto death; but that every one that liveth and believeth in Thee may not die everlastingly. Thus, O FATHER, preserve Me, Who am the Resurrection and the Life, so that if even any one of Mine should die through sin, he may yet live again through penitence: to the end that none of My own may perish, preserve me, O God.” But further notice that this and the following verses teach us six mysteries concerning CHRIST. The virtue of His prayer, Preserve Me, O God: the efficacy of His teaching, “All My delight is upon the Saints,”—or, as it is in the Vulgate, “In the Saints He hath wonderfully declared My will:” the gathering together of His Church, “Their drink-offerings of blood,” &c.: the safeguard of His Passion, “Thou maintainest My lot:” the glory of His Resurrection, “Thou shalt not leave My soul in hell:” the blessedness of His Ascension, “At Thy Right Hand there is pleasure for evermore.” On this verse the schoolmen raise a question whether our LORD can be said, in so far as He was man, to have possessed hope as a theological virtue. And S. Thomas decides that He cannot: a decision somewhat modified by Cardinal Hugo and others, who say that, although He possessed not hope in respect of the beatific object, which was always His own, yet so far as hope imparts an expectation of a certain, separate, future thing, as for example, the incorruptibility of His own Body in the grave, He may be said to have possessed it.

2 O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD: Thou art my GOD, my goods are nothing unto thee.

Or, as it is in the Vulgate, “Thou hast no need of my goods.” Others would more literally translate it, “My Good, there is nothing beside Thee.” They dispute whether this verse may be put into the mouth of our LORD, Thou art My God. No doubt it may be, as He Himself taught us on the Cross. Hence also the whole question arises, How, and how far, human works may be said to have merit: taken in connection with that speech of Elihu, “Thinkest thou this to be right that thou saidst, My righteousness is more than GOD’s?* If thou sinnest, what doest thou against Him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto Him? If thou be righteous, what givest thou Him, or what receiveth He of thine hand? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man.” It is sufficient to notice the fact, without entering into this, the most boundless controversy that has ever been agitated, and in which the Church has always allowed so great a latitude on either side. This only is to be observed: if we can from our very hearts take the first clause of the verse on our lips, then indeed we possess a blessing which nothing can destroy, and for which nothing could compensate.

[Modern critics translate the last clause, as practically do the Syriac and Symmachus, I have no good except Thee. And on this there is no better comment than that brief saying of the Doctor of Grace,* “Thou hast made us for Thee, and our heart is restless, until it rests in Thee.” And they explain the ordinary rendering as spoken in the person of CHRIST, and meaning that the WORD took flesh not for Himself, but for us, and therefore that the Divine Glory, essentially incapable of increase, as already infinite, was not augmented by the Manhood of the SAVIOUR.]

3 All my delight is upon the saints, that are in the earth: and upon such as excel in virtue.

Or, as it is in the Vulgate, “In the Saints which are in His earth He hath magnified all My wills among them.” For He Who, just before His Passion, said, “Nevertheless, not My Will, but Thine be done,” has, in so far as He was Man, had His reward and His joy in this: that His will, and not their own, is the pole-star which directs the course of His people across the stormy ocean of this world. Or, if we take the verse according to our own translation: the greatest of heathen philosophers could say that there was no sight more pleasing to the gods, than that of a good man suffering affliction wrongfully. And so we may not doubt that, among the innumerable cloud of witnesses, He, the Martyr of martyrs, is continually to be found. Or, if we put the words into our own mouths, then we find an especial emphasis in the clause, that are in the earth: as if it were natural to find more comfort from their struggles who are compassed about with the same infirmity, and exposed to the same attacks as ourselves, than from the peace of the blessed ones who have already entered into their rest.

4a But they that run after another god: shall have great trouble. “4a” is a reference to the first half of verse 4. According to the Vulgate, this part of the verse reads: Their infirmities were multiplied: afterwards they made haste.

Or, as it is in the Vulgate, “Their infirmities are multiplied: after that they made haste.” It is wonderful how the different versions vary in this place, till one could hardly think that it was the same passage of Scripture that was translated. Thus, for example, one would read: “Multiplied be their sorrows who run headlong elsewhere.” Another: “As for those profane earthly idols, and all the great who in them delight, multiplied be their sorrows.” But, to take the words of the Vulgate, there are two senses, both most true, both most beautiful, in which they may be understood. The first, of the wicked: Their infirmities, that is, the afflictions which GOD sends, to bring them back to Himself, are multiplied in His love: because one is not enough, He sends another: as the Prophet says, “Precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.”* And yet, when thus afflicted, they made haste; they became impatient; they fretted at the chastisement of the LORD. Or, quite in the opposite sense. Their infirmities were multiplied: that is, the true servants of GOD, the more they try to walk worthy of their vocation, the more they endeavour to tread in the footsteps of their LORD, the more Satan assaults them with his temptations, the more their infirmities are multiplied. But in them is that prophecy fulfilled, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall also arise.” After that they made haste: they advanced in their spiritual course; they fulfilled the homely proverb, “He that stumbles without falling, goes on faster than before.” After that they made haste. As Saul the persecutor, who became Paul the Apostle, laboured more abundantly than they all; as the penitent thief who, after grace had touched his heart, so confessed CHRIST, as none other before nor since; as S. Mary Magdalene, who, after having fallen so deeply into that sin, which, more than any other, cuts us off from the grace of GOD, nevertheless merited first to behold Him after He had risen from the dead.

[Again, their infirmities were multiplied when they learnt, for the first time, the true number and nature of their sins from holy preachers, and then, after that, they made haste to be converted and baptized. Haste, like Peter and Andrew, James and John, leaving their nets, and Matthew’s quitting his office.]

4b Their drink-offerings of blood will I not offer: neither make mention of their names within my lips. The Vulgate for this part of the verse reads: I will not gather together their meetings for bloodofferings: nor will I be mindful of their names by my lips.

I will not gather together their meetings for blood-offerings. And think first of those sacrifices of blood which have been offered from the time of righteous Abel to Zacharias the son of Barachias, whom they slew between the temple and the altar: and then, beyond and above all, of that sacrifice of blood which, so far as they that offered it were concerned, has never yet been expiated, “His blood be on us and on our children.” Nor will I be mindful of their names by my lips. A reference to the Mosaic law, which not only forbade the worship of the idols of the seven nations, but the very mention of their names. And so is the prophecy in Zechariah: “It shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of Hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered.”* It is not, perhaps, necessary, with S. Paulinus, to put these words into our LORD’s mouth, and to understand the lips of the two Testaments,* by both of which, and especially by their coherence and contact, He reveals His Will; and to which, also, he would refer that verse in the Canticles, “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth.”* For it is remarkable how the names of the wicked are, as it were, passed over and kept silence about in Holy Scripture. The old prophet of Bethel,—we know his deeds; of his name we are not informed. So in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus; the name of the beggar that was carried by Angels into Abraham’s bosom is known to the whole world; that of him who in hell lift up his eyes, being in torment, is involved in obscurity. So again of him who said, “Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years,” and to whom GOD said, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.” In like manner the young man is not named who went away sorrowful from our LORD, because he had great possessions.

[I will not gather together their meeting for blood-offerings, because My offering is My own Blood, the Cup of the New Testament;* nor will I be mindful of their names, because the titles Jew and Gentile have been done away by the new name of Christian,* which I have given to My Saints. Nay, I will not call them by the names their old sins have deserved, thieves, harlots, murderers, and the like, but brethren.]

5 The LORD himself is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup: thou shalt maintain my lot.

One can hardly explain the portion of mine inheritance better than by the words of S. Augustine on another Psalm: “What better than GOD can be given to me? GOD loveth me, GOD loveth thee. Behold, He hath set it before thee: ask what thou wilt. If the Emperor were to say to thee, Ask what thou wilt: what office of tribune or of count wilt thou receive? then what wouldest thou demand both to be received by thyself and to be given to others? Well, when GOD saith, Ask what thou wilt; what wilt thou demand? stir up thy mind, exercise thy avarice, stretch forward as far as thou canst, dilate thy cupidity: it is no ordinary person, but the Omnipotent GOD Who saith to thee, Ask what thou wilt have.… Thou wilt find nothing dearer, thou wilt find nothing better, than Him Who said, Ask what thou wilt. Seek for JESUS, Who made all things: and in Him, and from Him thou wilt have all things which He made.… And He desires to give thee nothing so much as Himself. If thou canst find anything better, ask it. But if thou askest anything else, thou wilt do Him dishonour, thou wilt do injury to thyself, by preferring His works to Himself.… The Lord is the portion of my inheritance. Let Him possess thee, that thou mayest possess Him: He possesses thee that He may benefit thee; He is possessed by thee, that He may benefit thee.” Thus S. Augustine speaks on the 40th Psalm, but his words are at least equally applicable to this. Thou shalt maintain my lot. Or, as it is in the Vulgate, “Thou art He that shall restore me mine inheritance.” And one cannot but notice the similar difference between our translation and that of the Vulgate in the parable of the Prodigal Son: where our translation has, “Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him,” it is in the Vulgate, “Bring forth the first robe,” that is, the robe of baptismal innocence, to be restored in a certain degree by penitence. And thus in this verse, Thou shalt restore my heritage manifestly refers to our being made heirs of GOD, and joint heirs with CHRIST, in our Baptism. Neither must we fail to see how the two great Sacraments are set forth to us in this verse. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance,—namely, that HOLY GHOST, Whose temples at the baptismal font we became: and of my cup,—namely, that dear LORD, Whose Blood in the Eucharistic chalice we drink. Thus we have the Sacrament of Life, and the Sacrament of Food, immediately followed by that of medicine. Literally, these references to the cup, The Lord is the portion of my cup, “I will receive the cup of salvation,” “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?” are allusions to the Jewish custom of ratifying and confirming a covenant, such as the transfer of land, by drinking from a common cup. But how unspeakably poor and mean is that literal sense in the Psalms, compared with the mystical signification which shall be in force till the end of the world! Or we may put the words into our LORD’s mouth, Thou shalt restore Mine inheritance. It is the same prayer as that, “And now, O FATHER, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.”* Thou shalt restore. After My thirty and three years of suffering, after My crown of thorns, after My reed of mockery, after My Cross, Thou shalt restore My everlasting years of glory, Thou shalt set a crown of pure gold upon My Head, Thou shalt give Me the sceptre of everlasting dominion, and the throne that is at Thy Right Hand for evermore.

O grande cunctis gaudium,*
Quod partus nostræ Virginis
Post sputa, flagra, post crucem,
Scdi Paternæ jungitur.

6 The lot is fallen unto me in a fair ground: yea, I have a goodly heritage. The Vulgate reads: The lines are fallen unto me in goodly places: for my inheritance is goodly to me. The term “lines” translates the Hebrew  חבל, a rope or cord used for measuring, especially land. The term came to be applied to the boundaries measured (a plot or lot). Land was supposed to be kept within the family, so the word was often associated with “inheirtance”. The NAB give a good idea of the meaning: Pleasant places were measured out to me; fair to me indeed is my inheritance.

Had we not such authority for the application, I should almost have shrunk from applying this verse to the SON of GOD, as exulting over, and glorying in, His union of human nature to the Eternal Word. This is the fair ground in which He cast His lot at Bethlehem: this is the goodly heritage, goodly only to the exceeding greatness of His love, which He came into this world to vindicate to Himself. And S. Peter Chrysologus carries out the allegory still further, and shows how the lines, as the Vulgate and our own Bible translation give the word, were meted out by the HOLY GHOST, when He came down on the Blessed Virgin, preparing in her a habitation for the SON of GOD. And there is no doubt a reference to the division of the inheritance of the tribes by Him,* as it is described in the book of Joshua. The expression in the Vulgate, “The ropes are fallen unto Me,” is piously interpreted in more than one sense by the Fathers. Euthymius will have them to be those material ropes by which the SON of GOD was bound in the garden: the fair ground referring literally to the beauty of its flowers, but spiritually to the inheritance which that binding, as the first-fruits of, and entrance on, His Passion, procured for Him. S. Augustine takes them of the bands of love by which CHRIST was drawn to His work on earth, and with reference to which the Bride prays, “Draw Me, we will run after Thee.” I have a goodly heritage. Or we may take it of the SON of GOD thus consoling Himself amidst the toils and afflictions of His earthly pilgrimage: “I suffer these things, because without them mankind cannot be restored to their country: I endure the contempt, the insults, the rejection of those that ought to be My own here, to the end they may be in very deed My own there. Nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day. I HAVE a goodly heritage, Mine before the foundation of the world; and Mine, but belonging also to those that are Mine, when I shall have returned to My country, and resumed My throne to all eternity.” And yet in one sense more: may not we, who have been led into the green pastures of Scriptural interpretation by the primitive and mediæval Saints, whom, at however great a distance, we are following,—may not we say, The lot is fallen unto me in a fair ground: the fair, wide ground, which, taking us away from the narrow construction of the literal sense, enables us to lift up our eyes to the everlasting hills; yea, I have a goodly heritage, in the application to things seen and eternal, of words in their literal sense, spoken of things seen and temporal.

7 I will thank the LORD for giving me warning: my reins also chasten me in the night-season. The term reins translates the Hebrew כּליה, a term usually used to denote any essential inner organ of the body. By extension it came to denote the inner self.  As Pope John Paul II noted, the word became “a symbol of the most secret passions and hidden inner feelings.”

Or, as it is in the Vulgate, I will bless the Lord Who hath given me understanding. But to take it in the sense of our own version: see how continually from the very beginning that HOLY SPIRIT has warned against sin and danger. The hundred and twenty years given to the sinners of the old world; the vision of Abimelech; the repeated messages to Pharaoh; the continual warnings given to Saul: the threatening pronounced by the prophet sent against Bethel: all these show how mercifully GOD would fence in both His servants and His enemies from sin. Who hath given me understanding. They see a reference here to the first Adam: to him also the lines fell in pleasant places; he also had a goodly heritage: but because “being in honour he had no understanding,” he lost all, and became like the beasts that perish. But if we take this sentence as spoken by our LORD, the greater number of the Fathers have taught us that the knowledge of CHRIST, in so far as He was man, was not communicated to Him by degrees, and in the course of years, but at once and from the very instant of the Incarnation. It is true that the opposite opinion has been held by S. Athanasius, S. Cyril of Alexandria, S. Ambrose, S. Fulgentius, S. Epiphanius, and to a certain extent by S. Augustine; but, notwithstanding, the other is the more general belief, except in so far as that which is termed experimental understanding, the wisdom and knowledge arising from experience, is concerned. My reins also chasten me in the night-season, or as it is in the Vulgate, My reins have also corrected me even till the night. Either version will give the same sense. He did indeed suffer all the miseries and labours, all the hardness and weariness in the night-season of this life: or till the night, the deep, dark night of His Passion. And notice that this is one of the blessings for which He returns thanks: He, the Captain of our salvation, for the pains and labours which purchased for Him, in so far as He was Man, the Throne above every throne, and the Name above every name: as we, the soldiers of that Captain, ought to do for the pain which renders us like Him here, and which is intended to transform us into His image there. As the German poet well says:

“Could I face the coming night,
If Thou wert not near?
Nay, without Thy love and might,
I must sink with fear:
Round me falls the evening gloom,
Sights and sounds all cease,
But within this narrow room
Night will bring no peace.

“Then if I must wake and weep
All the long night through,
Thou the watch with me wilt keep,
Friend and Guardian true:
In the darkness Thou wilt speak
Lovingly with me,
Though my heart may vainly seek
Words to breathe to Thee.”

[My reins. Taking it of our LORD, these words denote the Jewish nation,* from whose reins His Mother sprang, which did indeed chasten Him by revilings and tortures until that night-season of the three hours’ darkness, when they could do no more. And if we apply the passage to Christians, it tells of the temptations of the flesh,* the law in the members warring against the law of the mind,* and that, even in Saints, till the night of bodily death, but in sinners till the night of voluntary spiritual darkness.]

8 I have set GOD always before me: for he is on my right hand, therefore I shall not fall.

And again the verse may be said by our LORD with a depth of meaning in which it can be taken by none other. For, from the very instant of His conception hypostatically united to the FATHER,* how could it be that the LORD was not always before Him? And if we could but do that by grace which He did by nature,—if in all the goings out and comings in of this life, it might be said of that dear LORD and of us, “So they two went on together,”—if, whether we be sent to Bethel, or Jericho, or Jordan, our own resolution is, “As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee,”*—oh, with what a reality may we take the beginning of the next verse on our lips, “Wherefore my heart was glad!” But now, how is this? If He is to be on our right hand, then we are making for ourselves the same awful petition, which the wife of Zebedee put up for one of her sons, and should ourselves be found on his left hand. Are we to say, with some of the commentators, that we are not to press the text too closely? or, with others, that first of all, at the beginning of the manifestation of His love towards us, we were indeed on His left hand, and He, stretching forth the right hand of His Majesty, succoured us from this peril, and gave us a good hope of being placed among the sheep at the last day? Or, once more, are we to imagine ourselves as looking up to, standing face to face with Him, as He sits on His Throne,—He thus on our right hand, so that we shall not be moved; we not the less on His right hand, the place and the heritage of perpetual joy? Take it which way you will, the end of the verse will be fulfilled: therefore I shall not fall. One indeed, but One only, could say, absolutely and fully, I shall not fall: even as He said, “The Prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me.” But we—“The righteous man falleth seven times a day, and we, exceeding sinners, seventy times seven.” But we may so fall as to be able to say with the Prophet, “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; for when I fall, I shall also arise.” We may so fall as, after we have suffered for a while, to be more than conquerors through Him That loved us.

9  Wherefore my heart was glad, and my glory rejoiced: my flesh also shall rest in hope.

We can take these words in our own mouths, and see how beautifully they set forth to us the love of our LORD. Because we have set GOD always before us, therefore He that is indeed our heart, the heart of all our affection, trust, joy, our Heart was glad, and our Glory,—for Who but He, That bare all shame for us, is our Glory?—rejoices. For if there be joy in the presence of the Angels over one sinner that repenteth, how much more in the sight of the LORD of the Angels, Whose love is to theirs, as the ocean to the drop of a bucket? My flesh shall rest in hope. In hope indeed: for from that one sepulchre in the garden of Joseph of Arimathea, life and light and hope have gone forth into all the graves of the earth; have changed burial grounds into cemeteries, graves into beds, death into sleep: “LORD, if he sleep he shall do well.”* My flesh shall rest. And they take it as more especially appertaining to our LORD,* because He, the Martyr of Martyrs, after the struggle was over, reposed in peace: as it is written; “All the kings of the nations, even all of them lie in glory, every one in his own house.”* Whereas the martyrs His followers so often had no grave in which to repose: their dead bodies were “cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost.”* Or they were burnt to ashes in the furnace, or entombed in the maws of wild beasts, or torn to pieces on the rack. But our LORD’S Body, during those solemn hours, rested in peace, rested as a king under a guard of honour, in a garden, in the spring of the year. So well was it foretold by the Prophet: “His rest shall be glorious.”*

10 For why? thou shalt not leave my soul in hell: neither shalt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption.

Let us first hear the Apostolic interpretation of David’s prophecy: “Wherefore he saith also in another Psalm, Thou shalt not suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of GOD, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption. But He Whom GOD raised again, saw no corruption.”* Such was S. Paul’s interpretation: now let us hear S. Peter’s. “For David speaketh concerning Him, I foresaw the LORD always before My face, for He is on My right hand that I should not be moved:* therefore did My heart rejoice and My tongue was glad. Moreover My flesh also shall rest in hope: because Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to Me the ways of life. Thou shalt make Me full of joy with Thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a Prophet, and knowing that GOD had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh, He would raise up CHRIST to sit on his throne: he seeing this before spake of the Resurrection of CHRIST, that His soul was not left in hell, neither His flesh did see corruption.” Thus it is that the two great Apostles explained this verse: and we can only tread in their steps. It is well said by Pseudo-Dionysius,* in the famous book of the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, with reference to this verse: “When they approach to death who have led a holy life, looking to the true promises of GOD, the verity of which they have seen made manifest in the Resurrection of CHRIST, with a firm and a lively hope and a Divine joy, they advance to the goal of death as to the end of their conflicts; because they know for certain that all they care for, because of their future resurrection, (A.) will be safe in that perfect and eternal life and blessedness.” How many of GOD’s saints these words have consoled in death, who can tell us? Who can say what part of the earth is not hallowed by the body of a saint? It is a noble thought of the earliest of Christian poets, where he represents the different cities presenting their various saints, as so many offerings to the second Adam:

Wherefore this dwelling,* full of mighty Angels,
Fears not the wide world’s universal ruin,
While in her hands she bears a rich oblation
Unto her SAVIOUR.

Thus, when the LORD shall shake His flaming right arm,
Coming, His throne a purple cloud, to judgment,
Weighing each nation in His ready balance
Strictly and justly,

Each of those cities, rising from her ruins,
Shall to her monarch emulously hasten,
Bearing those gifts, so precious and so loving,
Home in their casket.

11 Thou shalt show me the path of life; in thy presence is the fulness of joy: and at thy right hand there is pleasure for evermore.

And, in the first place Who is the Path of Life but the LORD Himself? “I am,” saith He, “the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.”* And so the Apostle speaks of Him as “the Author and Finisher of our faith.”* The Fathers well remind us that what He said to S. Thomas, He says to all of us: that of us, as well as of that generation, the saying is true, “No man cometh to the FATHER but by Me.”* S. Ambrose and S. Gregory apply these words to our LORD and dilate upon them with great emphasis; but we may also take them in another sense, and putting them in our own mouths, address them to the Captain of our Salvation: Thou shalt show me the Path of Life: for the Path of Life is that path by which our LORD ascended from the Mount of Olives to the Right Hand of the FATHER. As He left us an example by rising from the grave, how we ourselves should burst the bands of death, so, by His Ascension into heaven, He taught us how of us that saying should be fulfilled, “Then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the LORD in the air, and so shall we ever be with the LORD.”*

[In Thy presence. The LXX. and Vulgate read, Thou shalt fill me with joy with Thy countenance, and thus bring out more vividly the thought of the Beatific Vision:

Sunt hi viventes,*
Me vitâ fruentes,
Pulchre lucentes,
Me lumen videntes,
Sunt et divini
Dii quoque igniti
Mihi uniti.]

And therefore: Glory be to the FATHER, Who resto

res our lot to us; and to the SON, Who is the portion of our inheritance: and to the HOLY GHOST, Who is on our right hand that we should not fall; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

VARIOUS USES

Gregorian. Sunday: II. Nocturn. [Easter Eve: Matins. Corpus Christi: I. Nocturn. Feasts of the Precious Blood and Shroud: Matins. Common of Many Martyrs: II. Nocturn.]

Monastic. Friday: Prime.

Parisian. Wednesday: Compline.

Lyons. Sunday: II. Nocturn.

Ambrosian. Monday of the First Week: II. Nocturn.

Quignon. Tuesday: Compline.

ANTIPHONS

Gregorian. My goods* are nothing unto Thee: in Thee have I hoped; save me, O GOD. [Easter Eve: My flesh also shall rest in hope. Corpus Christi: With the Communion of the Cup, whereby GOD Himself is received, not with the blood of bulls, the LORD hath gathered us together. Common of Many Martyrs: In the Saints which are in the earth, He hath magnified all my wills among them.]

Parisian. Preserve me, O GOD: for in Thee have I put my trust.

Mozarabic. I said unto the LORD, Thou art my GOD.

COLLECTS

Preserve,* O LORD, them that put their trust in Thee, and conform our will to Thine; that we, enlightened by the joy of Thy Resurrection, may merit to be made happy at Thy Right Hand with all Thy saints. Who livest (5.)

Preserve us,* O LORD, in the fear which Thou lovest, and separate us from the contagion of sin; that since our goods are nothing unto Thee, we may receive Thine everlasting gifts. Amen. Through Thy mercy (11.)

Make known to us,* O LORD, the paths of life, and fill us with the pleasures that are at Thy Right Hand; and by the governance of Thine arm, cause us to submit our necks to Thy light yoke. Amen. Through Thy mercy (11.)

[O most merciful GOD, (D. C.) preserve under Thy protection us who put our trust in Thee, show us the path of life, that we walking steadfastly therein unto the end with Thee as our Leader, may be filled with eternal joy, and be satisfied with the pleasure of Thy countenance. Through (1.)]

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One Response to A Patristic/Medieval Commentary on Psalm 16

  1. Pingback: Commentaries for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year A | stjoeofoblog

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