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Commentary on the Psalms, Psalms 1-72

Commentary on the Psalms, Psalms 1-72

Translated by ROBERT C. HILL
Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 451
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32b1tw
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    Commentary on the Psalms, Psalms 1-72
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    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1201-2
    Subjects: Religion
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-ix)
  3. ABBREVIATIONS (pp. xi-xii)
  4. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION (pp. 1-36)

    (1) Theodoret, born in Antioch a dozen years after the Second Ecumenical Council had been held in Constantinople in 381, was destined to live in interesting—and theologically tumultuous—times. His life as bishop in Cyrus, “little backwater”¹ though it may have been, was intimately affected by the Third and Fourth Councils, of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451) respectively (not to mention the “Robber Council” of Ephesus in 449 that briefly deposed him), as was his reputation after his death in 466 by the Fifth Council at Constantinople in 553. His exegesis and hermeneutics, the focus of this introduction, fell...

  6. COMMENTARY ON THE PSALMS
    • PREFACE (pp. 39-45)
    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 1 (pp. 46-51)

      Blessed the man who did not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, take his place in the way of sinners, or rest on the seat of the corrupt (v. 1).¹ It is easy to grasp from this that in former times the translators of the divine Scriptures who found titles in the Hebrew text turned them into the Greek language. I mean, they found this psalm and the one after it without titles and left them without titles, not presuming to add anything of their own to the sayings of the Spirit.²

      (2) Some of those who have composed...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 2 (pp. 52-59)

      Having concluded the first psalm with a reference to the ungodly, he opened the second in turn with this same reference so as to teach us that the aforementioned end of the ungodly lies in wait for both kings and rulers, Jews and Gentiles, who rage against the Savior. You see, in the second psalm he foretells both the human sufferings and the kingship of Christ the Lord;¹ of course, he also emphasizes the calling of the nations and deplores the Jews’ failure to believe. I mean, those words, For what purpose did nations rage? (v. 1), come from someone...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 3 (pp. 60-62)

      This story, of course, is known to the more studious; but for the benefit of lazier people I shall summarize it.¹ After that double sin of his, the great David encountered many and varied misfortunes. Not only, in fact, were neighboring nations incited to hostility but even his very family was affected by revolt, crime following crime. [885] The intemperance of Amnon was followed by the bloodguilt of Absalom, whose fratricide was followed by the revolt against his father and the rebellion of his subjects.² You see, since divine grace was providing for him, none of this overwhelmed David; but...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 4 (pp. 63-67)

      “To the end” was rendered by Aquila and Theodotion, “to the author of victory,” but by Symmachus, “triumphal.” “To the end,” however, means that the foretold events will take place a long time afterwards.¹ Now, at the end of the psalm he foretold the resurrection from the dead in the words, In peace I shall lie down and in the same instant go to sleep because you alone, Lord, have given me grounds for hope (v. 8). According to the others, by contrast, the present psalm is offered to God, the author of victory, as a triumphal hymn by blessed...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 5 (pp. 68-72)

      This is also the way the others translate the title.¹ So it is clear that the divine word gives the name “heir” in general terms to the Church of God, and in particular to the soul wedded to piety. After all, you can hear Christ saying in the sacred Gospels, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”² And the divinely inspired Paul says the same thing: “The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 6 (pp. 73-76)

      The inspired word calls the future condition eighth.¹ The present life revolves around the seven days of the week: time begins with the first day and concludes with the seventh, and then returns to the first and in the same fashion progresses to the seventh. So it was appropriate for the divine word to name the age beyond the weekly numbering eighth. Now, in this psalm he makes mention of death and judgment—hence his assigning this title as well: he says, There is no one to remember you in death. In Hades will anyone confess to you? (v. 5)....

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 7 (pp. 77-81)

      In flight from his nefarious son the parricide, the blessed David found an ally in Hushai, who persuaded Absalom not to pursue his father immediately, contrary to the advice of Ahithophel, and instead to get all the people on the move [908] and then to deploy them against his parent. Frustrated and extremely troubled, therefore, for the reason that the advice of Hushai was found preferable, Ahithophel turned to suicide and met his end by hanging.¹ The divine David, in any case, took the opportunity provided by the delay in attack to flee, and gained salvation. This psalm, at any...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 8 (pp. 82-86)

      You need to recall that in every psalm where the Septuagint put “To the end” Aquila and Theodotion gave the rendering “to the author of victory” and Symmachus, “triumphal.” Accordingly this triumphal psalm is offered to God, the author of victory, who brought about the undoing of the hostile and avenging devil, and at the end liberated human beings from his tyranny.¹ It is to the churches, however, that he gives the name “winepresses,”² since the Lord is called a vine as well: he said in the sacred Gospels, “I am the true vine.”³ Now, by harvesting this vine the...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 9 (pp. 87-93)

      While symmachus read “a triumphal ode on the son’s death,” Aquila read “to the author of victory on the son’s youth,” and Theodotion, “on the son’s prime.” By being in agreement, then, in making mention of the son, all of them teach us that this psalm also contains a prophecy of Christ the Lord’s victory over death: having bravely and vigorously conquered sin without giving death any occasion for capture, he brought to an end its dominion.² Now, the Septuagint called this mystery secret since it escaped the notice of everyone including the apostles themselves.³ The evangelist is witness to...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 10 (IN THE HEBREW) (pp. 94-98)

      Why, o lord, do you stand far off? Why do you look down on us in good times and bad? When the godless acts disdainfully, the poor person is inflamed; they are caught up in the schemes they have devised (vv. 1–2). You, O Lord, seem to stand at a distance and not to notice human affairs, not assisting the wronged, whereas from discouragement, as if from some fire, the wronged are consumed on seeing the arrogance of the wrongdoers. Now, most appropriately did he apply inflamed to the discouraged: they are like people set on fire, and they...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 11 (pp. 99-101)

      Pursued by saul, the divine david uttered this psalm to those urging him to secure his salvation by flight. It is suitable, however, for every wronged person placing their hope in God. Now, “To the end” occurs in the title for the reason that it contains prophecy of God’s righteous judgment and the punishment to be imposed on the lawless.¹ In the Lord I trust: how will you say to my soul, Move to the mountains like a sparrow? (v. 1). Why on earth, he is saying, do you urge me to flee and take to the mountains like a...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 12 (pp. 102-103)

      This psalm retains the same sense: he upbraids those employing deceit and, while promising friendship, betraying him to his enemy Saul and disclosing to him where he was living. It bears the title “on the eighth” for the reason that it mentions God’s righteous judgment, which the righteous Judge will carry out after the seventh day, as we said before.¹ The reason it is also entitled “To the end” is that there will be a prophecy at a later stage.

      (2) Save me, Lord, because there is no holy person left, because truth is esteemed little among sons of men...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 13 (pp. 104-105)

      The mighty david directed this psalm also to himself, not in fact when pursued by Saul but when under attack from Absalom. The incident involving Saul, remember, was before the sin, and for that reason he spoke with great confidence, whereas the incident involving Absalom was after the sin, and hence his words were mixed with weeping and groaning. How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? (v. 1). He called the delay in assistance forgetting: his request is not to be forgotten forever, that is, not to be completely bereft of divine providence. How long will you turn...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 14 (pp. 106-110)

      This psalm also refers us forward “To the end,” since it forecasts the future. Now, this is its theme: Sennacherib, king of the Assyrians, made war on Judah at that time and took possession of many cities, some by surrender, some by siege. Hoping to get the better of Jerusalem as well, he sent Rabshakeh to Hezekiah, who ruled the Jews at that time, employing blasphemies and impious words against God: “Say to Hezekiah,” he said, “Do not let your God, in whom you trust, deceive you into thinking he will rescue Jerusalem from my hand. Where is the god...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 15 (pp. 111-112)

      Since the psalm before this also prophesied salvation for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and forecast the return of those already made captive, it is right for him to introduce exhortation in this psalm and propose a way of life proper for them to live who are under God’s command and enjoying such wonderful assistance. So he casts his words in the form of question and answer: Lord, who will abide in your dwelling? And who will dwell on your holy mountain? (v. 1). Who is worthy, O Lord, to take his place in your Temple [956] and live his life...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 16 (pp. 113-118)

      Here he foretells the passion and Resurrection of the Lord [957] and the salvation of those believing in him. Now, the title suggests victory as well as death: a column is not set up on graves only, but is raised also for victors, and is inscribed to teach those unaware of it about the victory. The title about the “inscription” has this meaning, for example.¹

      (2) Protect me, Lord, for in you have I hoped. I said to the Lord, You are my Lord (vv. 1–2). The psalm is spoken in the person of the Savior, but is spoken...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 17 (pp. 119-122)

      Pursued by saul and suffering schemes of every kind, he calls on the God of all for assistance: Hearken, O Lord, to my righteousness; attend to my pleading; give ear to my prayer in lips that are not deceitful (v. 1). Here again he describes as righteousness not perfect virtue but righteous appeal. The other translators, on the other hand, did not supply the pronoun; instead, Symmachus and Theodotion called God “Lord of righteousness,” while Aquila said this: “Hear, O Lord, a just thing,” that is, justly, with no long-suffering.¹ And for in lips that are not deceitful Symmachus said,...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 18 (pp. 123-132)

      The title is clear; no interpretation is required. The sense of this psalm is contained also in the history of the kings.¹ Now, the sound values of the inspired author call for our admiration: despite enduring such schemes on the part of Saul, he did not number him among his foes; instead, he distinguished him from his enemies and did not mention him as hostile. “To the end” occurs because it contains also a prophecy of the calling of the nations and the alienation of the Jews, which happened a long time after.

      (2) I shall love you, O Lord....

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 19 (pp. 133-138)

      We learn three kinds of divine laws from blessed Paul.¹ One unwritten kind he said was given to human beings in creation and nature: “From the creation of the world,” he says, “his invisible attributes have been understood and espied in created things”; and again, “For when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, practice the obligations of the law instinctively, despite having no law they are a law to themselves.”² He says another law was provided in writing through the mighty Moses: “The Law was added because of transgressions,” he says, “ordained through angels in the hand of...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 20 (pp. 139-140)

      When in former times Sennacherib invaded Judah and dispatched a huge army commanded by Rabshakeh to besiege Jerusalem, he sent written word to Hezekiah full of every blasphemy and impiety.¹ On receipt of this letter, blessed Hezekiah, a man adorned with utter godliness, invited the prophet Isaiah to intercede for him, hastened to the divine Temple, opened the letter, and showed it to God, revealing the enemies’ impiety, and beseeching him on account of the blasphemy committed to demonstrate to the Assyrians his peculiar force. Many generations previously, blessed David prophesies this, illuminated by the all-holy Spirit, and recites the...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 21 (pp. 141-144)

      After that famous and illustrious victory and the unseen destruction of the Assyrians, blessed Hezekiah fell ill. Learning from the prophet Isaiah that he would die, he appeased God with his hot tears and gained release from the illness, and received a promise of fifteen years of life. Once again, therefore, the divine David wrote this psalm in the person of the people, singing the praise of God for the king’s health.¹

      (2) Lord, in your power the king will be glad, and will rejoice exceedingly in your salvation. You have given him his heart’s desire, and did not deprive...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 22 (pp. 145-155)

      This psalm foretells the events of Christ the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection, the calling of the nations and the salvation of the world. Now, the title, To the end. On support at dawn, suggests as much: To the end occurs for you to consider the plan achieved by him at the consummation of the ages; [1009] support at dawn means manifestation of our Savior, which like daybreak illumines those seated in darkness,² the Lord being true light. Now, when the light rises, it results in daybreak, and at its appearance darkness is dissolved and with it the devil’s gloom. Everywhere...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 23 (pp. 156-158)

      The present psalm is sung in the person of the nations rejoicing in his shepherding them. They actually describe the mystical feast, which the one shepherding them set before them. The Lord shepherds me, and nothing will be wanting to me (v. 1). It has the same sense as what was commented on before: having said in the psalm before this, “The needy eat and will be filled, and those who seek him out will praise the Lord,” and again, “All the prosperous of the earth ate and adored him,”¹ here he suggests the provider of such food, and calls...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 24 (pp. 159-162)

      In some copies i found “of one of the sabbaths,” but it does not appear in the Hexapla.¹ So as not to leave even it without comment, however, you need to know that it means the Lord’s Resurrection, after which all land and sea received the rays of the knowledge of God. This is the prophecy the psalm makes, too, and in addition to that the Lord’s ascension to heaven.

      (2) The earth is the Lord’s, and its fullness; the world, and all who dwell in it (v. 1). You see, since the Jews had the idea that he was...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 25 (pp. 163-168)

      This psalm has the form of a prayer; this is the reason, to be sure, as makes sense, that the title does not give a name to the psalm. Some historians, however, claimed it forecasts the captivity, and interpreted it as spoken by people of that time, focusing only on the end, Redeem Israel, O God, from all its troubles (v. 22). For my part, on the contrary, I believe this psalm was composed by blessed David when he sustained many assaults from enemies.¹ This is surely the reason he makes mention of former and recent sins, and begs to...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 26 (pp. 169-171)

      In my view the divine David uttered this psalm also with himself in mind, and I believe it precedes the one before it. I mean, that one [1045] referred to a sin, and a sin of gravity: “Have mercy for my sin, for it is grave,”¹ it said, whereas here he surveys the forms of his own virtue. Hence I consider he is employing these words when pursued by Saul and forced to live among foreigners; seeing their involvement in impiety, superstition, and every kind of lawlessness, he shunned their assemblies and the feasts celebrated in honor of the demons....

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 27 (pp. 172-177)

      I found this title not in the Hexapla but in some copies. Despite this, from that fact some people took occasion to reject all the titles as lacking authenticity:¹ how is it possible, they ask, for David, who was not yet anointed and had not [1049] received the grace of the all-holy Spirit, to write inspired psalms, especially as he was young at the time, was minding sheep and not running the kingdom, and was not pursued by some adversaries? They ought to understand, on the contrary, that the history of the Kings says David had been anointed twice, or...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 28 (pp. 178-180)

      He sings this psalm in the person of those who have come to faith in Christ, and with entreaty he calls on Christ for assistance. As well, it contains a rebuke for the Jews’ folly and a prayer for separation from their hand, or rather any part with them. I cried out to you, O Lord, do not keep silence with me, O my God, lest in your silence with me I become like those going down to the pit (v. 1). The psalm was spoken by David when he was pursued by Saul and was the object of schemes...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 29 (pp. 181-186)

      I did not find this title in the Hexapla either but in some copies. Taking a lead from it, some historians judged that blessed David uttered this psalm when he brought back the Ark. But the psalm’s verses have no such meaning: the psalm prophesies different things. Yet the prophecy it contains is twofold, one relevant to King Hezekiah, the other to the king of us all, who by dissipating the error of the idols illumined the world with the rays of the knowledge of God. For my part I shall be brief² in speaking of the prophecy referring to...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 30 (pp. 187-191)

      Blessed david did not build the divine Temple, nor do the verses of the psalm fit the builder. So by re-consecration of the house he refers to the restoration of human nature which Christ the Lord accomplished by accepting death on behalf of us, destroying death and giving us hope of resurrection. This psalm as well, however, refers to blessed Hezekiah: after destruction of the Assyrians [1072] and cure of his illness, he celebrated a great feast, as was appropriate, giving thanks to God for both granting them salvation and liberating his holy Temple from the fire of the enemy....

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 31 (pp. 192-197)

      I found this form of the title neither in the Hebrew nor in the remaining translators, but in some of the copies.¹ Now, in my view it touches on Uriah: it says in the body of the psalm, I said in my departure, I am driven from your sight (v. 22), that is, After my sin I expected to be deprived of your providence. This psalm is likely to have been spoken by blessed David at the time of being pursued by Absalom; commentary on the verses teaches this more clearly.

      (2) In you, O Lord, I hoped; let me...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 32 (pp. 198-201)

      This psalm has the same sense: it was uttered amid those awful calamities after the sin. Looking forward, however, with inspired eyes to the grace of the New Testament and to the forgiveness accorded the believers through all-holy baptism, he declares them blessed for actually receiving forgiveness of sins effortlessly.² He says in beginning the psalm, Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered over. Blessed the man of whose sin the Lord takes no account and in whose mouth there is no deceit (vv. 1–2): I was wasted with constant grieving and weeping on...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 33 (pp. 202-206)

      No title in the hebrew. The Septuagint mentioned this in translating the psalm: Do not look for a translation of the title, it says; we found no title.¹ Now, this psalm was spoken by blessed David with a view to the question of the remarkable Hezekiah, but is framed as if coming from Hezekiah in person encouraging the people to hymn singing in the wake of the surprising victory and destruction of the Assyrians.

      (2) Rejoice in the Lord, you righteous ones (v. 1). In many places Aquila has “praise” for rejoice; Symmachus likewise rendered it “Praise becomes the upright”:²...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 34 (pp. 207-211)

      The divine david perceived Saul’s abrasive and envious attitude, and relying on advice from the admirable Jonathan he took to his heels and reached the city of Nob.¹ So when he was there in the company of the priest Ahimelech he concealed his flight and said he had been sent by the king on a certain urgent business. Looking for loaves, he found only those assigned to the priests and took them, the priest giving them to him contrary to the Law; food like this, you see, was assigned to the priests only. The sacraments of grace, however, were foreshadowed,...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 35 (pp. 212-217)

      Blessed david uttered this psalm likewise when pursued by Saul. He mentions also Doeg’s wickedness, who personally reported to Saul what happened with Ahimelech the priest, and was responsible for that awfully great slaughter.¹ He mentions also the Ziphites and the others who betrayed David to Saul,² as the verses themselves will teach.

      (2) Judge, O Lord, those who wrong me, war against those who war against me (v. 1). The order of the words is impressive, befitting the righteous man’s prayer: he first asked the God of all to judge, then to impose the sentence of punishment. Take up...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 36 (pp. 218-221)

      When the divine david had Saul in his power, he not only did not do away with him but even prevented those attempting to do away with him. At daybreak on a mountain ridge he made his complaint to Saul, accusing him of the injustice of hostility, letting him know that though he found him asleep at night, he did not do away with him as an enemy but saved his life as a benefactor. He showed him the corner of his cloak, the water jar, and the spear, which he had taken, as proof of the truth of his...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 37 (pp. 222-228)

      Do not vie with evildoers, nor rival those committing iniquity (v. 1). The divine David learned from experience the vast number of goods gentleness brings,¹ and the fact that a grievous end befitting their life awaits those addicted to injustice and practiced in arrogance. This he learned from his dealings with Saul and Absalom, and with the others who perpetrated similar things to them. So he offers all people an exhortation, urging them to take in good spirit the troubles that come their way, and not to consider as blessings wicked people’s prosperity and success, but rather to call them...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 38 (pp. 229-232)

      The variety in confession proclaims the earnest repentance of the most divine David:¹ in many psalms he recalls the sin, unable to put up with the wound but focusing on the ailment and its cure, and thus proposing it to people as a basis for instruction. In this psalm, too, therefore, he recalls the sin and the discipline imposed with a view to curing the sin. Now, many and varied troubles were imposed on him: the killing of Amnon, Absalom’s coup, the adviser Ahithophel plotting against him, the abuse from Shimei, and all the others taught by history.²

      (2) O...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 39 (pp. 233-236)

      Some historians attributed the psalm to Jeduthun, saying he wrote it. The title teaches the opposite, however, that the psalm is David’s but was given over for singing to Jeduthun, because he was entrusted with the choir of singers. And “To the end” refers us forward, since it portrays the lowliness of human nature and gives us a glimpse of its end. Now, the mighty David uttered this psalm when pursued by Absalom and berated by Shimei, and it has great similarity with the preceding one.¹

      (2) [1145] I said, I shall guard my ways so as not to sin...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 40 (pp. 237-242)

      Some people applied this psalm to blessed Jeremiah, others to the remarkable Daniel, since the one and the other were thrown into a pit¹ and the psalm’s opening mentions a pit; they were led to that interpretation by attending to the one verse. Some, on the other hand, claimed the psalm fits the situation of the captives dwelling in Babylon. For my part, however, I believe it was written to address the events affecting David as a type, and refers to the whole human race, who receive the hope of resurrection from our God and Savior. Now, it is the...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 41 (pp. 243-247)

      Some attributed the present psalm to David, others to Hezekiah; but the divine Gospel permits us to accept neither. In a discourse to the sacred disciples Christ the Lord added these words as well: “If you know this, blessed are you if you do it. I am not speaking about all of you; I know those I have chosen. But it is for the Scripture to be fulfilled, The one who ate bread with me lifted up his heel against me. I tell you this just now before it happens so that when it happens you may believe that I...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 42 (pp. 248-251)

      After their sin god consigned the people to Babylon, sentencing them to a captivity of seventy years. The psalm is therefore spoken in their person, lamenting and longing for freedom. [1169] Since, you see, there were among them godly people, like the divine Daniel, like the remarkable Ezekiel, like the triumphant martyrs Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, fervent lovers of God longing for his legitimate worship, the inspired word adopted their part in teaching many generations ahead of time what had to be said by them in the time of misfortune so that they would be guided by the prophecy and...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 43 (pp. 252-253)

      Without a title in the Hebrew. Judge me, O God, and decide in my favor against a nation that is not holy; from a lawless and deceitful person rescue me (v. 1). The psalm is without a title in the Hebrew for the reason of having a similar meaning to the preceding one.¹ Now, those who had spoken the preceding words beseech God to judge between them and the Babylonians, who were guilty of great cruelty and a ferocious attitude—hence his calling them an unholy nation and their king a deceitful and lawless man. The inspired composition of the...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 44 (pp. 254-258)

      With its prophecy of future events this psalm urges one to await its fulfillment. Now, “for understanding” occurs in the title so that those understanding the contents, which the inspired word prophesies, may gain benefit from them.¹ The psalm predicts the Macedonian savagery, the godless and fierce attitude of Antiochus Epiphanes, and the bravery and piety of the Maccabees.² The blessed and thrice-blessed Mattathias drilled his sons in divine zeal, regarding the great hordes of the Macedonians and the herds of elephants as powerless for being bereft of divine providence. With a few troops he took to the field against...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 45 (pp. 259-267)

      After prophesying grievous things in the psalm before this, the inspired word now forecasts cheerful things, encouraging the downcast and teaching that they will both conquer and persevere, and will gain help from God until from their number the beloved Son shoots forth in the flesh and makes it his concern to achieve the fresh alteration for the nations. He calls the Son of God beloved: the divine Isaiah also speaks this way, “The beloved had a vineyard on a mound, in a fertile place.”² This the Father himself also announced in person to the Son: “This is my Son,...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 46 (pp. 268-272)

      In forecasting what would happen a long period of time after this, the prophetic word again put “To the end” in the psalm title, urging them to await the realization of the prophecy. Now, he forecasts the uprisings, which have occurred against the Church, the assistance later provided from heaven, and the peaceful way of life that now prevails. It should be realized, however, that some suspect the present psalm refers to Gog and Magog,² others to Ahaz and Pekah,³ and others to Hezekiah and the Assyrian. But comment on individual verses shows with God’s guidance that the meaning of...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 47 (pp. 273-275)

      This psalm also foretells the salvation of all the nations, and predicts the victory over the enemies. All the nations, clap your hands, shout to God with a cry of gladness. Because the Lord Most High is fearsome, great king over all the earth (vv. 1–2). While the prophetic word predicted this, it gave a glimpse of the apostolic choir urging all the nations to hymn singing. Now, clapping is typical of victory, and shouting the sound of victors. So the meaning of this psalm concurs with the previous one: that one foretold the victory indicated after the turmoil...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 48 (pp. 276-280)

      This psalm foretells the same victory in similar fashion, and the strength of God’s city.¹ Great is the Lord, and much to be praised in the city of our God, on his holy mountain (v. 1). We have said previously that often the divine Scripture gives the name city not to the building but to the way of life. Accordingly, here too he says the Lord of all was shown to be great through the things done by him in connection with his city, which the elevation of the teachings rendered illustrious as though located on a lofty and mighty...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 49 (pp. 281-287)

      The divine choir of the apostles previously urged the nations to offer the triumphal hymn to God. Now likewise they offer exhortation to the same nations to add a virtuous life to faith. They teach the futility of wealth and the worthlessness of the wisdom of the world. They also foretell the coming judgment and the due recompense; hence the psalm is also entitled “To the end” as foretelling the end of all life.

      (2) Hear this, all nations, give ear, all inhabitants of the world (v. 1). It is clear to practically everybody that the prophets offered teaching to...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 50 (pp. 288-293)

      He was conductor of another band of singers, [1129] as the story of the Chronicles informed us.¹ While the sons of Korah, appointed leaders of a different band, were entrusted with singing the contents of the forty-first psalm, they also have other psalms bearing a title of theirs, which we shall comment on should God permit. Now, the present psalm, attributed to Asaph, is in keeping with the previous psalm: it also forecasts the judgment to come and the manifestation of our God and Savior. But it forecasts as well the New Testament, showing worship according to the Law to...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 51 (pp. 294-303)

      The psalm’s title clearly informs us of the occasion, and the psalm’s verses suffice to teach us the depth of thinking. It is necessary to realize, however, that the psalm also contains prophecy of future events; hence it is also entitled “To the end,” the word suggesting that the prophecy will have a fulfillment. But let no one be in any doubt as to whether the mighty David was accorded a prophetic grace at the time of repentance: this can be learned also in the other psalms in which he made his confession. In the sixth psalm, for example, his...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 52 (pp. 304-307)

      It is clear from this that Ahimelech had two names. Doeg, remember, as the first account of the Kings teaches, reported Ahimelech to Saul, and drove him [i.e., Saul] to the point of slaughter of the priests; both here and in the thirty-third psalm he calls him Ahimelech.¹ On learning the calumny directed against the priests, the divine David composed this psalm to stimulate the wronged to endurance and patience, and to teach the justice of the divine verdict. The reason, to be sure, for entitling the psalm also “To the end” and “of understanding” is that we may call...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 53 (pp. 308-310)

      On mahalath” Theodotion rendered “On the dance,” Symmachus, “by dancing” and Aquila, “in dance.”¹ This psalm has the same meaning as the preceding, and likewise the thirteenth as well.² That is, there is one theme for both: both condemn the blasphemies of Sennacherib and Rabshakeh, and forecast the destruction happening to the impious. That was the reason it had a title about dancing, which they performed who gained salvation and sang praise to God. “To the end” is also attached on account of the prophecy reaching fulfillment at a later time. The present psalm also has this meaning in the...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 54 (pp. 311-313)

      The psalm’s drift is clear: the mighty David sings praise to God for intervening and causing him to escape the snares of the enemies. The Ziphites feigned friendship for David, remember, but betrayed to Saul where he was trying to escape detection¹—as even today we see some people putting on a guise of friendship while full rather of pretense than of friendship. At some point Saul gave credence to their information and took to the field against him with numerous forces; then, when he was on the point of ensnaring him unawares, he was prevented by the incursion of...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 55 (pp. 314-322)

      Though blessed david spoke this psalm when pursued by Saul, turned fugitive, and forced to live in the wilderness,¹ at the same time he also forecasts the Jews’ plots against the Savior, and in himself foreshadows the Lord’s sufferings. I mean, in his own person he was driven out by Saul, a beneficiary of his favors, and was betrayed by some acquaintances, and with the eyes of the Spirit he foresaw the Lord suffering the same thing, betrayed by those who had been well treated, and crucified. This is surely the reason the title also refers casual readers “To the...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 56 (pp. 323-326)

      The title signifies that the sense of the psalm is twofold, referring both to David himself and to the people in captivity forced to dwell in a foreign land, but also to many [1284] later. I mean, the phrase, “On the people hidden from the holy ones,” refers to the people held captive or separated from the holy city at that time—namely, Jerusalem—or distancing themselves from God, that is, from faith in him.¹ Sufferings happened to them, after all: they were enslaved to foreign people in Babylon; and likewise this man in his flight from Saul was a...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 57 (pp. 327-330)

      The mighty david, in flight from the first and second peril, recorded for posterity the divine beneficence as though on some pillar. “To the end” also refers the casual readers forward in both cases, since they contain a prophecy of future events: while the former forecast what happened to the people, this one prophesies the calling of the nations.¹ Now, “Do not destroy” is added to reveal to us David’s thinking: though in a position to do away with Saul, dispose of his enemy by felling him, and assume control, he could not bring himself to do it, as if...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 58 (pp. 331-335)

      This psalm also has the same meaning: it describes the wickedness of Saul and those of his company, of like mind with him, and their duplicity. Though often swearing, remember, to put an end to hostility, he broke his oaths and deployed his wiles. Now, the phrase “Do not destroy” is added,¹ since David twice had Saul in his power but could not bring himself to slay him.

      (2) Are you really delivering righteous words and upright judgment, sons of human beings? (v. 1). He addresses this to Saul on his swearing never to pursue him and yet going on...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 59 (pp. 336-343)

      A prey to envy, Saul plotted David’s death; on one occasion when David was entertaining him he meant to fell him with his spear, but David got out of the way and escaped death. He tried again to seize him, sending some [spies] and bidding them watch the house, thus making his hostility obvious. David’s wife, however, Saul’s daughter, made it known to her spouse, and helped him get away through a window; she took a dummy (so the story goes) and gave it the appearance of a sleeping figure, and with clothing made it look like a sick person,...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 60 (pp. 344-348)

      This had happened previously and is recorded in the second book of Kings.¹ The words in the title “To the end” teach us to understand that a certain prophetic statement is mingled with the history. “For the things that will be changed” is also included in the title, “change” suggesting a kind of transformation, a transformation not of past events but of things to come. For he did not say, “for the things that have been changed,” but For the things that will be changed. “Inscription” is suggestive of victory; and at the top [1317] it is necessary to cite...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 61 (pp. 349-352)

      The introduction of the psalm follows the end of the preceding psalm: after saying, “With God we shall exercise power, and he himself will reduce our oppressors to naught,” he teaches the people in captivity the kind of prayer they should offer to God. He also foretells the Incarnation of Christ the Lord our God for our sake and the conversion of the people from the nations.

      (2) Hearken, O God, to my petition; heed my prayer (v. 1). Accept my supplication, O Lord, he is saying, and kindly listen to the words of my prayer. Now, any person at...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 62 (pp. 353-356)

      Symmachus, on the other hand, rendered it thus: “A triumphal song to David, by Jeduthun.” So he indicates that the psalm was blessed David’s but sung by Jeduthun: in his capacity as leader of a choir he sings to the God of all in the divine Temple, as the book of Chronicles says.¹ Now, the psalm prophesies the Macedonian invasions and the stratagems of Antiochus Epiphanes against the Maccabees, and teaches the practitioners of piety the kind of thinking they should employ in the time of adversity.

      (2) Will not my soul be subject to God? (v. 1). Under pressure...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 63 (pp. 357-360)

      Fleeing from saul, the divine David reached Ahimelech and from there Achish, who was king in Gath. Then, falling into danger again and eluding it he came upon the wilderness;¹ there he wrote this psalm, both revealing the love he had for God and prophesying the overthrow of Saul. He also gave everybody who was in debt the opportunity of earnestly entreating God and awaiting help from him.²

      (2) O God, my God, I watch for you at break of day; my soul has thirsted for you (v. 1). Desire for you, O Lord, he is saying, dispels even sleep...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 64 (pp. 361-363)

      This psalm has the same theme. It describes the schemes adopted by Saul, and foretells the deliverance from them. It also foretells the prayers that should be employed by the people converted from the nations to show reverence for the Savior.

      (2) Hearken, O God, to my voice when I pray to you; rescue my soul from fear of the foe (v. 1). Accept my petition, O Lord, he is saying, and strengthen my resolve lest I be in terror of the enemies’ attacks. Shelter me from the massing of evildoers, from the multitude of workers of iniquity (v. 2)....

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 65 (pp. 364-370)

      Now, in some copies there occurs, “A song of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and of the people in exile when they were on the point of departing.” The Hebrew text does not have this, nor the other translators, nor the Septuagint in the Hexapla;¹ it seems likely someone added this title without heeding the psalm’s meaning nor learning the history. First of all, you see, Jeremiah was not involved in captivity; instead, having the choice of living where he wanted, he chose life in his own country. Hence it is not at all relevant to those departing for captivity, but to...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 66 (pp. 371-376)

      The hebrew text does not have this addition, nor do the other translators, nor the Septuagint in the Hexapla; on the contrary, it is likely some have inserted it.¹ The divine David wrote this psalm for the captives in Babylon, not still begging to be granted the return, but when they had already been granted it and were on their way. But he forecasts at the same time the salvation of the nations as well.

      (2) Shout aloud to God, all the earth, sing to his name, give glory in praise of him (vv. 1–2). All people, he is...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 67 (pp. 377-379)

      This psalm has a clear meaning, and does not require many words in comment: it announces in advance the Incarnation of God the Word, the saving manifestation, and the salvation of all the nations.¹

      (2) May God have pity on us and bless us; may his face shine upon us and be merciful to us (v. 1). Perceiving with the eyes of the spirit the salvation coming to all human beings through the divine manifestation, the inspired author begs that it be granted as soon as possible so that all may reap the blessing stemming from it. Now, he says,...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 68 (pp. 380-394)

      Seeing the impiety that was in general practice in society and the dominion of the devil, the divine David, instructed about the manifestation of our God and Savior by the all-holy Spirit, offers supplication, begging for it to happen as soon as possible. He immediately receives revelation of the future and at the same time is instructed; and he gives instruction about the salvation of the human race, the destruction of the enemies, and in general the surprising turn of events.¹

      (2) Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered; let those who hate him flee from his presence...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 69 (pp. 395-403)

      The psalm predicts a change in things.¹ On the one hand, it was spoken with the Jews in mind who were exiles in Babylon, and is presented as if they were praying and requesting release. On the other hand, it prophesies at the same time the release from slavery, the return, the building of Jerusalem, and in particular the former prosperity of Judah. It also contains prophecy of the sufferings of the Lord (I mean, our God and Savior) and the destruction that would overtake Jews on account of them.² Since, you see, what they suffered at the hands of...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 70 (pp. 404-405)

      “For the lord to save me” : I found this in some copies, [1416] whereas it is neither in the Hebrew nor in the other translators. Still, it is in keeping with the sense of the psalm: the inspired author begs for salvation and for freedom from those warring against him. Now, blessed David uttered this psalm when pursued by Absalom,¹ and he is right to add “as a reminder” to the title: the memory of his sin stung him more keenly than that of the enemy. Hence he cries aloud, O God, be prompt to help me; Lord, hasten...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 71 (pp. 406-412)

      Even the one who composed the title admitted that he did not find it in the Hebrew, but that he introduced it.¹ You should know, of course, that the sons of Jonadab were not the first to be taken captive. Blessed Jeremiah, in fact, was ordered by God to offer them wine by way of testing of the Jews’ transgression: since they were unwilling to drink it on account of their forebears’ recommendations, the prophet then accused the Jews of disobedience since those were observing human commands but these were transgressing divine laws.² Now, the psalm is spoken on the...

    • COMMENTARY ON PSALM 72 (pp. 413-420)

      The fact that [1429] the present psalm in no way applies to Solomon I believe even Jews would admit if they were willing to tell the truth, surely, however, the children of the faith. First of all, you see, Solomon’s rule did not reach to the ends of the earth, nor did he receive tribute from west or east. Next, being human and living for a span in keeping with nature, he had an end to his life, and not an edifying one, either. The psalm, on the contrary, shows the person spoken of by the inspired author to be...

  7. INDICES