Psalm cviii. (Deus laudem meam.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. David. St. Peter attributes it to him, and gives us the key to this psalm, by applying (ver. 8.) to the traitor Judas, Acts i. 16, 20. (Berthier, T. vii.) — Our Saviour seems to allude to it, when he styles Judas, the son of perdition, John xvii. 8. It may also have a reference to Doeg, or Achitophel, who were his forerunners. Ven. Bede thinks it was composed by the Machabees, against apostates. The Church used it in the deposition of bishops, and against the usurpers of ecclesiastical goods: (Grotius) and, in times of ignorance, some thought hereby to discover thieves. The style is very vehement, (Calmet) containing the sentence pronounced by the sovereign judge against the reprobate. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Praise. Hebrew, “God of my praise,” (Calmet) — whom I always adore, under every dispensation of Providence. (Haydock) — Yet the original may agree with the Vulgate, and Christ desires to be glorified, (John xii. 23., and xvii. 5.; Berthier) and styles his passion, his praise. (Theodoret) — David appeals to God’s judgment. (Calmet) — Man. The Pharisees, &c., endeavoured to entangle Christ, Matthew xxii. (Worthington) — Saul’s courtiers strove, by calumnies, to excite his rage against David. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Cause. Or provocation. (Haydock) — So Catiline gratuito potius malus quam crudelis erat. (Sallust.) — The sanctity of Jesus Christ could not be overwhelmed, or hidden, (Haydock) even with the torrent of abuse thrown upon him.
Ver. 4. Detracted. Hebrew and Septuagint, “calumniated,” as [in] ver. 20., and 29. (Calmet) — Prayer. Jesus Christ prayed for his enemies, (Luke xxiii. 34.; Flaminius) and did many good works for the benefit of all, John x. 32., and Acts x. 38. David had also signalized himself in the defence of his country, and yet was banished. He shews that he was animated with the perfect spirit of the gospel, though the law permitted retaliation, Exodus xxi. 24. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Set thou the sinner over him, &c. Give to the devil, that arch-sinner, power over him: let him enter into him, and possess him. The imprecations, contained in the thirty verses of this psalm, are opposed to the thirty pieces of silver for which Judas betrayed our Lord: and are to be taken as prophetic denunciations of the evils that should befall the traitor, and his accomplices, the Jews; and not properly as curses. (Challoner) — The devil entered into Judas, (John xiii. 2.; Calmet) who hung himself in despair. (Worthington) — The Jews were abandoned over to cruel masters, as Doeg and Achitophel presently perished, Psalm li. 5. It was customary at trials, for a satan, or “adversary,” to be stationed at the right hand of the accused, Zacharias iii. 1. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Prayer. Or may his supplication to judges for pardon irritate them, (Calmet) and let it not move God to mercy any more than a sin. (Menochius) — God rejects such prayers as are destitute of the proper conditions, as he did those of Antiochus, (St. Augustine; Calmet) and they are a fresh sin. (Berthier) — Yet the prayer of a sinner is not so, when he acts sincerely. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Bishopric. Episkopen, “inspection or pre-eminence” of any kind. Judas lost his spiritual office, and the Jews all dominion in a very short time. St. Peter quotes this passage, [Acts i. 20.] and only the Socinians will assert that he does not adhere to the literal sense. (Berthier) — The apostleship (Worthington) was given to St. Matthias. (Calmet) — The priesthood of Aaron was forced to give place to that of Melchisedech. (Menochius)
Ver. 9. Wisdom. Judas was married, (St. Augustine) and stole for his family; (Lyranus) though as the Scripture is silent, St. Chrysostom believes the contrary. (Menochius) — The synagogue being rejected, the Jews are in a manner orphans. (Calmet) — The posterity of persecutors prosper not long. (Worthington) — All sorts of imprecations are used that some may fall upon the guilty. (Genebrard) (Menochius)
Ver. 10. Out. Hebrew, “seek.” St. Jerome, “be sought after,” which implies that the are rejected. (Houbigant) — The being reduced to beg, is terrible to one who has been brought up in a better manner. — Dwellings. Septuagint (Menochius) and St. Jerome, “ruins.” The Jews were forbidden to weep over the ruins of Jerusalem, and are become vagabonds. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Usurer. The Romans forced the miserable Jews to pay taxes, and Domitian banished them from Rome, to live in a wood, where their furniture was only a basket and some hay, and their wives came to beg.
Cophino fænoque relicto
Arcanam Judæa tremens mendicat in aurem. (Juvenal, Sat. xi. 540.) (Calmet)
— At the last siege, some of their bodies were ripped open, to discover the gold which they might have swallowed. (Josephus, Jewish Wars vi. 15.) See Deuteronomy xxiv. 10. (Menochius)
Ver. 13. In one. Hebrew, “another.” Let none remember them. The ruin of Jerusalem took place within forty years time. (Calmet) — Arch-heretics are not long followed; their disciples make fresh discoveries. (Worthington)
Ver. 14. Out. As children derive great advantages from the piety of their parents, so they also feel the punishment of their crimes, when they imitate them, Deuteronomy xxiv. 16., and Ezechiel xviii. 20. If they share in the afflictions of their family, and are free from sin, this must be considered as a trial, and they will be amply rewarded in a future world. God is the arbiter of the life and death of all. External miseries may afflict both the just and sinners; but the motive for their being sent is very different. The Jews prayed, Let his blood be upon us, and upon our children; (Matthew xxvii. 25.) and they became chargeable with all the crimes of their ancestors, Matthew xxiii. 35. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. They. Iniquities, (Haydock) or may the sinners be “against the Lord,” and He against them, Leviticus xxvi. 21. (Calmet)
Ver. 16. Mercy. Therefore he, the chief, and each of his adherents, can expect to find no mercy, James ii. 13. (Haydock) — By the most crying injustice, the Jews put to death, the man of sorrows, [Isaias liii. 3.] (Calmet) who had been pleased to assume our nature, and had not where to lay his head, Luke ix. 58. (Menochius)
Ver. 18. Bones. This strikingly describes the malediction of a person who has swallowed iniquity like water, Job xv. 16., and Proverbs iv. 17. The Jews had spoken ill of Christ, and of his disciples, Matthew xxvii. 25., and John ix. 17. (Calmet) — Let all who delight in cursing, attend to this sentence. (Worthington) — They like those things, which bring both temporal and eternal misery. (Menochius)
Ver. 20. Work. They effect their own ruin. (Haydock) — The Jews pretended to act for the glory of God, being influenced with a zeal without knowledge. Some translate, “let such be the recompense;” which is not amiss. (Berthier)
Ver. 21. With me. Many ancient psalters supply, “thy mercy,” with the Arabic. (Calmet) — Grace must always accompany our endeavours, 1 Corinthians xv. 10. (Berthier)
Ver. 22. Within me. In the garden. Christ did penance for sin all his life. He wept over Jerusalem, Luke xix. 41. (Haydock)
Ver. 23. Locusts. David was forced to wander about. Christ continually sought after the lost sheep, (Calmet) and was hurried to different tribunals. (Menochius) — St. Jerome applies this to the Jews, and St. Augustine to Christians under persecution. (Calmet)
Ver. 24. For oil, propter oleum. The meaning is, my flesh is changed, being perfectly emaciated, and dried up, as having lost all its oil, or fatness. (Challoner) — Or, “on account of the privation of perfumes,” (Berthier) which the Jews looked upon as necessary. David and Jesus Christ were exposed to many inconveniences.
Ver. 25. Heads, and saying, Vah, &c. (Matthew xxvii. 40.) as Semei insulted David, (2 Kings xvi. 5.; Calmet) though he is not said to have shaken his head, for which reason the prophecy may rather relate solely to Christ. (Berthier) — “To pay our ransom, he was crucified; to be crucified, he was despised; and to be despised, he appeared in a state of abjection.” (St. Augustine) — These three steps were requisite, as the Jews would never have dared to lay hands on him, if he had appeared in glory. (Berthier)
Ver. 27. It. My suffering, (Berthier) or deliverance. (Calmet) — Jesus Christ prays for a glorious resurrection, and that his enemies may be covered with all possible confusion. (Worthington)
Ver. 29. Cloak. Diplois, means the outward robe. Hebrew mehil. (Haydock) (Galatians iii. 13.) — “The cross of Jesus Christ shall be the glory of believers, and the confusion of infidels.” (St. Leo, ser. xviii. de pas.) — A salutary and inward shame may be of great advantage. (Haydock) — Christ prays that his enemies may feel such a sorrow, and be converted. (St. Jerome) — “He speaks not against, but in favour of, the Jews.” (St. Augustine) (Calmet)
Ver. 30. Many. In the Catholic Church, (Haydock) till the end of the world. (Calmet)
Ver. 31. My. Hebrew, “his soul from the judges,” Pilate and the Jews, (Calmet) particularly the Sanhedrim. How many still continue to persecute Christ, and do not tremble! (Berthier)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
David, in the person of Christ, prayeth against his persecutors; more especially the traitor Judas; foretelling and approving his just punishment for his obstinacy in sin and final impenitence.
1 Unto the end, a psalm for David.
2 O God, be not thou silent in my praise: for the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful man is opened against me.
3 They have spoken against with deceitful tongues; and they have compassed me about with words of hatred; and have fought against me without cause.
4 Instead of making me a return of love, they detracted me: but I gave myself to prayer.
5 And they repaid me evil for good: and hatred for my love.
6 Set thou the sinner over him: and may the devil stand at his right hand.
7 When he is judged, may he go out condemned; and may his prayer be turned to sin.
8 May his days be few: and his bishopric let another take.
9 May his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
10 Let his children be carried about vagabonds, and beg; and let them be cast out of their dwellings.
11 May the usurer search all his substance: and let strangers plunder his labours.
12 May there be none to help him: nor any one to pity his fatherless offspring.
13 May his posterity be cut off; in one generation may his name be blotted out.
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered in the sight of the Lord: and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.
15 May they be before the Lord continually, and let the memory of them perish from the earth: 16 because he remembered not to shew mercy.
17 But persecuted the poor man and the beggar; and the broken in heart, to put him to death.
18 And he loved cursing, and it shall come unto him: and he would not have blessing, and it shall be far from him.
And he put on cursing, like a garment: and it went in like water into his entrails, and like oil in his bones.
19 May it be unto him like a garment which covereth him; and like a girdle with which he is girded continually.
20 This is the work of them who detract me before the Lord; and who speak evils against my soul.
21 But thou, O Lord, do with for thy name’s sake: because thy mercy is sweet.
Do thou deliver me, 22 for I am poor and needy, and my heart is troubled within me.
23 I am taken away like the shadow when it declineth: and I am shaken off as locusts.
24 My knees are weakened through fasting: and my flesh is changed for oil.
25 And I am become a reproach to them: they saw me, and they shaked their heads.
26 Help me, O Lord, my God: save me according to thy mercy.
27 And let them know that this is thy hand: and that thou, O Lord, hast done it.
28 They will curse, and thou wilt bless: let them that rise up against me be confounded: but thy servant shall rejoice.
29 Let them that detract me be clothed with shame: and let them be covered with the their confusion as with a double cloak.
30 I will give great thanks to the Lord with my mouth; and in the midst of many I will praise him.
31 Because he hath stood at the right hand of the poor, to save my soul from persecutors.