Psalm cxiii. (In exitu Israel.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Alleluia. This word is placed at the end of the preceding psalm in Hebrew, though it seems to have been there originally, (Haydock) as [in] ver. 2., we find his, with reference to “the Lord,” who has not been otherwise mentioned before. (Houbigant) — The psalm may be joined with the former to ver. 9, when the Hebrew begins a fresh one, relating to the captives, with the two which follow. (Calmet) the division is of no great importance, (Berthier) and we cannot easily decide whether it be here necessary. (Haydock) — The Hebrew copies have not been always uniform, no more than the Greek in this place. (Calmet) — Barbarous. Cruel, (Berthier) or which spoke a language unknown to them. (Symmachus and Aquila) — Barbarus his ego sum, quia non intelligor ulli. (Ovid de Pont.) (1 Corinthians xiv. 11.) — The Greeks styled all others barbarians, (Fest.) as the Egyptians did. (Herodotus ii.) — Joseph at first did not understand the language of the latter, (Psalm lxxx. 6.) and spoke to his brethren by an interpreter, Genesis xlii. 22. Lohez, denotes one who speaks an unknown tongue, which Chaldean expresses by the word borbra, “a stranger, or desert.” (Calmet) — Infidels, and those who persecute the true religion, are styled barbarous, though otherwise the Egyptians were very polite and learned. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Judea. Hebrew, “Juda,” though the sense of the Vulgate is very good, (Berthier) as that country which had been so abandoned, became holy, when God’s people dwelt there. (St. Chrysostom) — After the departure from Egypt, the Israelites were more known as God’s inheritance, over whom he reigned. (Worthington) (Exodus xix. 6.) — Hence He complains, when they asked for a king, (1 Kings viii. 7.) though the throne is still called the Lord’s, 1 Paralipomenon xxix. 23. The distinction of Juda and Israel insinuates that the kingdom had been divided. (Calmet) — But this had taken place for a time, after the death of Saul. (Haydock)
Ver. 3. Saw. He speaks in a poetical manner. All creatures obey God’s will. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. Skipped. Through joy, exultaverunt, (Haydock) or rather through fear, ver. 7. (Calmet) — There was an earthquake, not specified by Moses; or the psalmist speaks of what took place at Ar, (Numbers xxi. 15.; Worthington) unless he alludes to the waters of the Jordan, rising up like mountains. (Menochius)
Ver. 8. Waters. They are mentioned twice, as referring to different miracles, Exodus xvii. 6., and Numbers xx. 8. Inanimate things are introduced, giving this reply; or the psalmist gives it himself. (Berthier) — He uses the figure prosopopeia, as if senseless things could understand. (Worthington)
Ver. 1. [or 9.] Not. Some Jews here commence the 115th psalm. (Haydock) — But St. Augustine shews, that this part is well connected with the preceding, the true God being known by his works, while idols are senseless, and therefore can have no pretensions to divine worship. (Worthington) — It seems that the psalmist would not break off so abruptly, without praising God for his wondrous works, and the Fathers are silent about the present division of the Hebrew, (Berthier) though Eusebius and St. Athanasius had occasion to examine the text, as some Greek copies end here, and others at ver. 4(12)., the idols, &c. — Glory. We claim no share in these miracles; or we confess our unworthiness, but do thou deliver us. (Calmet) — Thou hast done these wonders to fulfil thy gracious promises, and to prevent blasphemy. (Worthington)
Ver. 3. [or 11.] Heaven. Septuagint add, “and on earth,” which St. Augustine joins with the following words, he, &c. We cannot indeed point God out, as we might do idols. But then what sort of gods are they? (Calmet) — Viler than insects. (Theodoret)
Ver. 4. [or 12.] Men. All Catholics agree, that idolatry is the “giving of divine honour to any creature.” St. Justin Martyr, (contra Gent.) St. Augustine in the ten first books of the City of God, and other Fathers, refute all the species of idolatry. The Platonists adored the angels, or devils, intelligentias separatas. Others worshipped dead or living men renowned for their achievements, like Jupiter and Hercules; while some paid the same sovereign respect to animals, or even to inanimate things, both in themselves and in their images. The psalmist here derides the most gross species of idols, which are made by men, and are incapable of any vital action, being thus beneath the very beasts. Yet some were so absurd as to confide in them, (ver. 16.[8(16)?]; Worthington; or ver. 8.[8(16)?]; Haydock) and thereby neglected the light of reason, becoming slaves of the devils, who were either the objects of adoration, as in the compacts made by sorcerers, or at least seduced mankind to pay such worship to creatures. Hence all the gods of the Gentiles are styled devils, Psalm xcv. 5. (Worthington) — How unjustly do heretics apply these words to the holy images used in the Church! though they must know (Haydock) that Catholics do not consider them as gods, no more than the saints and angels, whom they reverence only as the friends of God: treating their pictures with a relative honour, and endeavouring thus to excite themselves to the pursuit of virtue, by the memory of what they have done. (Berthier)
Ver. 7. [or 15.] Throat. Roman and Milan Psalters add, neither is there any breath in their mouths, which occurs, (Psalm cxxxiv. 17.) instead of this sentence. (Haydock) — Juvenal (Sat. 13.) laughs at the silence of Jupiter’s statue. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. [or 16.] Let. Zeal prompts him to make this imprecation, (Calmet) or prophecy. Hebrew, they “are or shall be.” The pagans (Haydock) could not well find fault with this wish, (Menochius) as it would be a great honour to resemble real gods. Yet none of their statuaries would be willing to become such statues, or be charged with the wicked conduct of Jupiter, &c. (St. Chrysostom) (Berthier) — The psalmist justly conforms his will to God’s decree; and still would rejoice if he should give the idolaters grace to repent. (Worthington)
Ver. 9. [or 17.] The house, is not now in Hebrew. But it occurs in the parallel passage, (Psalm cxxxiv.) where the imperative is used, as the Hebrew is here pointed. (Calmet) — “Israel trusts….house of Aaron, trust ye in the Lord,” (Montanus) which is much in favour of this text, though St. Jerome, &c., agree with the Septuagint. (Calmet) — Houbigant rejects the Hebrew reading, and the house of Israel occurs, ver. 12(20). (Berthier) — All the people, the priests, and converts from paganism, are invited to praise the Lord. (St. Chrysostom) (Acts ii. 5., and x. 2., and xiii. 16.) (Calmet) — The Church always comprised two distinct orders, the clergy and the laity. (Menochius)
Ver. 12. [or 20.] Hath. Hebrew, “will be,” which seems better. Let him bless us. (Calmet) — Both versions are true. (Berthier) (Ephesians i. 3.)
Ver. 16. [or 24.] Of heaven. Or the highest heaven, in which God displays his glory, though he fill every place. (Haydock) — His benefits to man claim a return of gratitude, and we are not dispensed from shewing our adoration, as deists would hence unreasonably infer. (Berthier) — Worldly men say this in their hearts, abandoning their pretensions to heaven. (Worthington)
Ver. 17. [or 25.] The dead. People who are thus affected, give no praise to God, when they die, but descend into hell. (Worthington) — Criminals are therefore said to be dead, while the saints only sleep. (St. Chrysostom) — Hell. Hebrew, “silence,” or the tomb, (Berthier) where none can sound forth God’s praises, (Haydock) though the soul in a state of separation may adore him. (Berthier) See Psalm vi. 6., and xxix. 10.
Ver. 18. [or 26.] Live. In the state of justice, and aspiring to God’s kingdom. While we use this world only as the means to ascend thither, we shall praise him for evermore. (Worthington)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
God hath shewn his power in delivering his people: idols are vain. (The Hebrews divide this into two psalms.)
When Israel went out of Egypt, *the house of Jacob from a barbarous people:
2 Judea was made his sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
3 The sea saw and fled: Jordan was turned back.
4 The mountains skipped like rams, and the hills like the lambs of the flock.
5 What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou didst flee: and thou, O Jordan, that thou wast turned back?
6 Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams, and ye hills, like lambs of the flock?
7 At the presence of the Lord the earth was moved, at the presence of the God of Jacob:
8 Who turned the rock into pools of waters, and the stony hill into fountains of waters.
[The Hebrews here divide the psalm in two.]
1(9) Not to us, O Lord, not to us: but to thy name give glory.
2(10) For thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake: lest the Gentiles should say: Where is their God?
3(11) But our God is in heaven: he hath done all things whatsoever he would.
4(12) *The idols of the Gentiles are silver, and gold, the works of the hands of men.
5(13) *They have mouths, and speak not: they have eyes, and see not.
6(14) They have ears, and hear not: they have noses, and smell not.
7(15) They have hands, and feel not: they have feet, and walk not: neither shall they cry out through their throat.
8(16) Let them that make them become like unto them: and all such as trust in them.
9(17) The house of Israel hath hoped in the Lord: he is their helper, and their protector.
10(18) The house of Aaron hath hoped in the Lord: he is their helper, and their protector.
11(19) They that fear the Lord hath hoped in the Lord: he is their helper, and their protector.
12(20) The Lord hath been mindful of us, and hath blessed us.
He hath blessed the house of Israel: he hath blessed the house of Aaron.
13(21) He hath blessed all that fear the Lord, both little and great.
14(22) May the Lord add blessings upon you: upon you, and upon your children.
15(23) Blessed be you of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
16(24) The heaven of heaven is the Lord’s: but the earth he has given to the children of men.
17(25) *The dead shall not praise thee, O Lord: nor any of them that go down to hell.
18(26) But we that live bless the Lord: from this time now and for ever.
1: Exodus xiii. 3.
4(12): Psalm cxxxiv. 15.
5(13): Wisdom xv. 15.
17(25): Baruch ii. 17.