Psalm cxxvi. (Nisi Dominus.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Of. Or “for” Solomon. This word is not in the Septuagint. (Berthier) — Some suppose that David put the psalm into his hands, to teach him that all depends on God. (Muis) — He was to undertake various important works during his reign, (Haydock) particularly the temple, at the dedication of which this might be sung. (Worthington) — The chiefs of the captives might also appropriate it to their use, (Berthier) when they were rebuilding the temple, 2 Esdras iv., and vi. (Calmet) — It seems to refer to the times of the Messias. (Berthier) — House, or temple, and grant children, Exodus i. 21., and Genesis xxx. 2. Without God’s assistance, all your endeavours to rebuild the temple and city will prove fruitless. — It. Nehemias had ordered the citizens to watch the attempts of Sanaballat. (Calmet) — But still depended more on Providence than on his own industry. (Haydock) — David, Solomon, Esdras, &c., may have held this language. (Berthier) — Yet inactivity is not encouraged. We must labour, and still expect success from God alone. (St. Chrysostom) (Ephesians ii. 16.) — God must be the principal agent, (Worthington) and all the glory must be given to Him. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Light. That is, your early rising, your labour and worldly solicitude, will be vain, that is, will avail you nothing, without the light, grace, and blessing of God. (Challoner) — Nehemias divided the people into companies, to prevent their being too much fatigued. (Calmet) — Without light it is impossible for man to work, John ix. 4. (Haydock) — The labours of those who live by the robbery of the distressed, are vain. (Chaldean) — Rise ye, is not in Hebrew. (Haydock) — Sitten. Allow yourselves proper time for rest, after your labours and sorrows: for his beloved, whom he favours with his grace, shall sleep and rest under his wing, and yet abound with offspring, and all blessings. (Challoner) — Sorrow. St. Jerome, “of idols.” This worship of God is odious. — Beloved. Solomon. (Houbigant) — Yet some explain the Hebrew in the plural, as it is applicable to all the people. The Jews were under great alarms: but were encouraged to hope that God would protect them, and give them a numerous progeny; though, as the country was probably never so well peopled as under Solomon, this may rather refer to the elect, who after the sleep of death (Berthier) shall behold those whom Christ shall acknowledge for his children, (Haydock) and obtain an eternal reward. (St. Hilary) — Whatever people may think they have done well, without God’s grace, is all useless, and they must begin again; whereas those who are guided by it, perform all with as much ease as they would sleep, and yet merit a reward, which is promised in heaven to the true children who are born to God in the Catholic Church. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. As arrows, &c. The offspring which God shall give his servants, that have been shaken and tossed about, (as the children of Israel were in their captivity) shall be like arrows in the hand of the mighty, which shall prosper and do great execution. (Challoner) — The patient sufferer will obtain a glorious recompense. (Worthington) — Children defend their parents. — Of them, &c. Hebrew, “of youth.” (St. Jerome) — Such may be able to assist their aged parents, whereas those who are born in their old age must frequently be left orphans, (Haydock) and distressed. (Calmet) — Yet the Hebrew may well admit the sense of the Vulgate, as children will be more animated to revenge the wrongs of those, from whom they have received their life. The Jews are here represented in the state of persecution. (Berthier)
Ver. 5. Desire. Who has as many children as he could wish. Hebrew, “his quiver.” They are like arrows for his defence. (Calmet) — The Septuagint may have put the thing signified instead of the figure; or ashpatho may not be confined to the formal sense. — He shall. Hebrew, “they,” father and son: yet the Chaldean, &c., retain he. — The children of Christ, and of his martyrs, who have been persecuted, are declared to be very powerful protectors; (Berthier) while such as imitate them, (Haydock) shall easily answer the objections which shall be put to them at the day of judgment, and be happy. (Worthington) — Gate. The enemies’ envoys were not admitted into the city, 4 Kings xviii. 17. (Origen, &c.) — In law-suits, children will prove excellent assistants. (Calmet) (Ecclesiasticus xxx. 4.)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Nothing can be done without God’s grace and blessing.
1 A gradual canticle of Solomon.
Unless the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it.
Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it.
2 It is vain for you to rise before light: rise ye after you have sitten, you that eat the bread of sorrow.
When he shall give sleep to his beloved: 3 behold the inheritance of the Lord are children: the reward, the fruit of the womb.
4 As arrows in the hand of the mighty, so the children of them that have been shaken.
5 Blessed is the man that hath filled the desire with them; he shall not be confounded when he shall speak to his enemies in the gate.