Psalm ci. (Domine exaudi.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Poor. Hebrew, “afflicted.” This may refer to some of the captives, who were returning, (ver. 14.; Calmet) or to Jesus Christ, (St. Augustine) to whom St. Paul applies ver. 26, 28., and whose redemption was prefigured by the former event. (Calmet) — David might have both in view. (Haydock) — Yet most believe that the psalm was written by Daniel, or Jeremias, &c. (Calmet) — It may have two literal senses, like many others. (Berthier)
Ver. 2. Cry. Fervent petition, though only in the heart, Exodus xiv. 15.
Ver. 3. Turn not. We first abandon God, but must humbly beg for grace. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. Fire. Cremium denotes any combustible matter. (Colum. xii. 19.) (St. Jerome) (Calmet) — While in mortal sin, our best actions, alms, &c., avail nothing, 1 Corinthians xiii. (Worthington)
Ver. 5. Bread. Through excessive sorrow, (Haydock) I am fainting in captivity. (Calmet) — The human race is relieved by the bread of life, the holy Eucharist. (St. Augustine) (Berthier) — Sinners have no relish for spiritual food. (Worthington)
Ver. 6. Flesh, or “skin.” (St. Jerome) — The necessary moisture is consumed. (Eusebius) (Worthington)
Ver. 7. A pelican, &c. I am become, through grief, like birds that affect solitude and darkness. (Challoner) — Kaath comes from a root that signifies to vomit (Haydock) as this bird lives chiefly on shell-fish, which it swallows, and when the heat of its stomach has caused the shells to open, it throws them up again, and eats the fish. (Bochart) (Parkhurst in ka.) (Haydock) — It seems to be the onocratalus, which resembles the heron. What many of the ancients have related concerning its giving life again to its young, by its blood, &c., must be accounted fabulous. The Fathers have not expressed these facts as certain, (Calmet) though they have beautifully accommodated them to the tenderness and grace, which Christ has shewn to lost man. See Eusebius and St. Augustine. (Haydock) — Raven. Owl, or rather another species of pelican, so called from having a bag under its chap, “to inclose” fish, &c. (Parkhurst in cose.) — With its prey it retires to solitary places. So the distressed love solitude and silence. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Sparrow. Hebrew Tsippor means any “quick moving” bird, &c., (Idem.[Parkhurst in cose.?]) and as the sparrow is not a solitary bird, it may here signify the owl. (Bochart) (Calmet) — But these etymological reasons are not very certain, nor important. (Haydock) — We may adhere to the Septuagint, as many interpreters do. (Berthier) — The sparrow having lost its mate, mourns in or near its nest. (Worthington)
Ver. 9. Against me. To kill me, (Acts xxiii. 12.) or to prove my guilt. (Calmet) — They are my sworn enemies, (Worthington) who formerly seemed my friends. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. For. Or “therefore.” — Weeping. These figurative expressions denote excessive grief, Psalm lxxix. 6. (Calmet) — Meat and drink gave me no more satisfaction than ashes. (Worthington) — Rolling on the ground, through grief, my food was spoiled. (Menochius)
Ver. 13. Memorial. Thou wilt be remembered by us with gratitude for all eternity, (Haydock) or wilt thou punish for ever such short-lived creatures? (Calmet) — St. Paul understands this of Jesus Christ, (Hebrews i. 11.; Berthier) or he rather refers to ver. 26. (Haydock) — The hope of the Messias gives me comfort. (Worthington)
Ver. 14. Come. Pointed out; (Jeremias xxix. 10.; Calmet) or David wishes to repair the ravages caused by Absalom, or foretells the return from captivity, (Haydock) and the grace granted to the Church, and to every faithful soul. (Worthington)
Ver. 15. Thereof. They had a great regard for the very soil, 4 Kings v. 17. (Calmet) — Hebrew, “dust,” as it was then uncultivated. (Berthier) — Esdras, &c., repaired the ruins of Sion, as Christ and his apostles established the Church. (Menochius)
Ver. 16. Glory. The conversion of nations is often predicted as about to take place after the captivity; yet not so fully, till the time of Christ. (Calmet) — His glory is so manifest, that all kings know it, although they be not converted. (Worthington)
Ver. 17. Seen. Dwelling with us, John i. (Haydock) — Jerusalem had attained its ancient splendour before the coming of the Messias. (Calmet)
Ver. 18. Humble. Patriarchs, priests, and all true penitents. (Worthington)
Ver. 19. Generation. Literally, “in another,” by the subsequent writers of the Old and New Testaments. (Haydock) — Let all posterity become acquainted with this psalm, and know under what obligations we have been to the Lord. — Created. The Jews after the captivity, and, in a higher sense, (Calmet) Christians, the new creature, 2 Corinthians v. 17. (Calmet) (Worthington) — This interpretation seems much the better, as kings and nations were converted only by the Messias, and his apostles. (Berthier)
Ver. 22. That. The faithful in the Church endeavour to serve Christ. (Worthington)
Ver. 23. Kings. This did not take place till the gospel was preached, (Calmet) though some kings offered sacrifice before, yet without being converted. See Zacharias ii. 10. (Haydock)
Ver. 24. He answered him in the way of his strength. That is, the people mentioned in the foregoing verse, or the penitent, in whose person this psalm is delivered, answered the Lord in the way of his strength: that is, according to the best of his power and strength; inquiring after the fewness of his days: to know if he should live long enough to see the happy restoration of Sion, &c. (Challoner) — The sense of the Vulgate is as good as that of the present Hebrew, “he hath weakened (afflicted; Montanus) my strength, in the way; He hath shortened my days. I said, my God, make me not depart in the midst,” &c. — The captives, or those who were set free, address God, though the psalmist himself may express what prayers he had poured forth in his bonds. (Calmet) — The variation of the Septuagint and Hebrew originates in the points; and the text has, his force, very properly, though the Jews would substitute “my.” (Berthier) — The stability of the Church is hence proved by St. Augustine. (Haydock)
Ver. 25. Days. Allow me time to grow in virtue. (Worthington) If I be cut off in my youth, I may not be prepared. (Menochius)
Ver. 27. Perish. Or be changed in their qualities, (Worthington) as well as all other things, like a garment. This does not convey the idea of annihilation; and the Fathers are divided on this subject, 2 Peter iii. 10., and Apocalypse xxi. 23. (Calmet)
Ver. 28. Fail. This regards Christ, (Hebrews i.) who has established his Church, (Calmet) to be perpetual (Worthington) in this world, (Haydock) and triumphant in eternity, ver. 29. (Calmet) — The psalm must therefore be understood literally of Him; unless it may have two senses, which those to whom St. Paul wrote must have known, otherwise it would not prove Christ’s divinity. The Socinians are greatly puzzled how to evade this argument. (Berthier)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
A prayer for one in affliction: the fifth penitential psalm.
1 The prayer of the poor man, when he was anxious, and poured out his supplication before the Lord.
2 Hear, O Lord, my prayer: and let my cry come to thee.
3 Turn not away thy face from me: in the day when I am in trouble, incline thy ear to me.
In what day soever I shall call upon thee, hear me speedily.
4 For my days are vanished like smoke: and my bones are grown dry like fuel for the fire.
5 I am smitten as grass, and my heart is withered: because I forgot to eat my bread.
6 Through the voice of my groaning, my bone hath cleaved to my flesh.
7 I am become like to a pelican of the wilderness: I am like a night-raven in the house.
8 I have watched, and am become as a sparrow, all alone on the house top.
9 All the day long my enemies reproached me: and they that praised me, did swear against me.
10 For I did eat ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping.
11 Because of thy anger and indignation: for having lifted me up, thou hast thrown me down.
12 My days have declined like a shadow, and I am withered like grass.
13 But thou, O Lord, endurest for ever: and thy memorial to all generations.
14 Thou shalt arise and have mercy on Sion: for it is time to have mercy on it, for the time is come.
15 For the stones thereof have pleased thy servants: and they shall have pity on the earth thereof.
16 And the Gentiles shall fear thy name, O Lord, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.
17 For the Lord hath built up Sion: and he shall be seen in his glory.
18 He hath had regard to the prayer of the humble: and he hath not despised their petition.
19 Let these things be written unto another generation: and the people that shall be created, shall praise the Lord:
20 Because he hath looked forth from his high sanctuary: from heaven the Lord hath looked upon the earth.
21 That he might hear the groans of them that are in fetters: that he might release the children of the slain:
22 That they may declare the name of the Lord in Sion: and his praise in Jerusalem.
23 When the people assemble together, and kings to serve the Lord.
24 He answered him in the way of his strength: Declare unto me the fewness of my days.
25 Call me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are unto generation and generation.
26 In the beginning, O Lord, thou foundedst the earth: and the heavens are the works of thy hands.
27 They shall perish, but thou remainest: and all of them shall grow old like a garment:
And as a vesture thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed. 28 But thou art always the self-same, and thy years shall not fail.
29 The children of thy servants shall continue: and their seed shall be directed for ever.