Psalm cxxxi. (Memento Domine.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. David. Jesus Christ, (St. Hilary, &c.) or the pious king David, when he intended to build the temple. Solomon adopts some of the verses at his dedication, (ver. 8., and 2 Paralipomenon vi. 41.; Haydock) and some have attributed the psalm to him, to the captives, or to some prophet in the time of the Machabees, though the prophets then, in fact, appeared no longer. (Berthier) See Psalm xliii., lxxiii., lxxvi., lxxxviii., and xcviii. — The Jews allow, that some verses regard the Messias, of whom the whole may be explained in a spiritual, (Calmet) or even in the second literal sense. (Berthier) — It is usual for David, Moses, &c., to speak of themselves in the third person. (Worthington) — Meekness. Hebrew also, “humility,” (Calmet) or “affliction,” (St. Jerome) as the prophet might have all this in view. David gave abundant proofs of his humility (2 Kings vii. 2, 13.; Berthier) and moderation, and was greatly afflicted all his life. (Haydock) — Blessed are the meek, Matthew v. Christ has set before us his own example.
Ver. 2. Jacob. Probably after he had removed the ark to Sion. (Berthier) — What is omitted in one place, is thus explained elsewhere. (Calmet) — David had a most earnest desire to build the temple; and though the honour was reserved for his son, he prepared the materials. (Worthington) — He acknowledges that without God, he cannot perform his vow. (Berthier) — We have engaged to be the temples of God. (St. Augustine)
Ver. 3. If. He expresses his vow in the form of an imprecation, without expressing the penalty, as he submits to the rigour of God’s justice, if he proves faithless. (Calmet) — He vows to take no rest, till he might, if it so pleased God, find a place to build a temple. (Worthington) — This he discovered; yet was not permitted to execute his pious designs. How does his fervour confound our neglect of salvation! (Haydock) — Self-love shuts the door of our heart against Christ. (St. Augustine)
Ver. 5. Temples. This seems to have been in the copies of Septuagint and Theodotion. It is not correct to say that the former added it by inspiration, as they were only interpreters. (Berthier) — It was marked as an addition in the Hexapla. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Heard of it in Ephrata. When I was young, and lived in Bethlehem, otherwise called Ephrata, I heard of God’s tabernacle and ark, and had a devout desire of seeking it; and accordingly I found it, at Cariathiarim, the city of the woods: where it was, till it was removed to Jerusalem. See 1 Paralipomenon xiii. (Challoner) — Or it was revealed to David, that the temple should be built in that part of Jerusalem, which looked towards Bethlehem, and is surrounded with woods. All the plan was laid before him, 1 Paralipomenon xxviii. (Worthington) — But it is not probable that Jerusalem should be thus described, and there is no proof that the threshing-floor of Ornan was woody. It seems rather, that the psalmist alludes to the ark, first at Silo, secondly in the country of Ephraim, or the Ephratheans, (Psalm lxxvii. 60, 67., and Judges xii. 5.) for 328 years, and afterwards at Cariathiarim, for other 70. The captives may also recount its different stations, and pray that it may be restored; though it seems never to have been placed in the second temple. — It, (eam) the tabernacle, which in Hebrew is feminine. (Calmet) — Yet as the text has tabernacles, or “dwellings,” mishcanoth, (ver. 5.) and as the Mosaical tabernacle was kept at Silo or Gabaon, and was not with the ark at Cariathiarim, we may perhaps suppose, that the psalmist alludes to the ark, (Haydock) or to the thing indefinitely, (Berthier) where the glory of the Lord was displayed. St. Jerome and Houbigant have “him,” the God of Jacob. (Haydock) — The Fathers explain it of Jesus Christ, (Theodoret) who was born at Bethlehem, (Worthington) and was prefigured by the temple, (Calmet) styled “the fields of wood.” Hebrew sede yahar, to intimate the great extend and quantity of wood used in it; though (Haydock) Cariathiarim, “the city of the woods,” may be meant. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Stood. If David did this out of devotion, why may not Christians visit the places sanctified by the presence of our Saviour? (Worthington) — God had not chosen to have a temple before the time of Solomon, 2 Kings vii. 6. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Sanctified. Hebrew, “ark of thy strength,” which title proceeds from the sanctity of God, who resides there, 1 Kings vi. 20. Our heart ought to be his resting place, Isaias lxvi. 2. (Berthier) — Leaving Silo, &c., come into thy temple, with the ark where thou sanctifiest thy people. He contemplates a higher mystery, the coming of the Messias, and his glorious resurrection. (Worthington) — The same words were repeated, when the ark was removed in the desert, and by Solomon, as they might be also by the captives. (Calmet)
Ver. 9. Justice. And all virtues, (Berthier) of which their robes were emblematical. — Saints. Levites. (Chaldean) (Calmet) — Let both priests and Levites perform well their sacred functions, (Worthington) and may all the faithful act up to their vocation. (Berthier) — Rejoice. Hebrew, “sing,” which was the office of the Levites. (Calmet) — Yet the original term is more comprehensive, and denotes all the emotions of joy. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Sake. What confidence are we not taught to place in the merits of the saints! The captives remind God of the virtues of David and Solomon, and use their expressions to move him to shew mercy, and to restore the temple to its ancient splendour; (Calmet) or rather, (Haydock) the consideration of David’s being a man according to God’s own heart, to whom various promises had been made for the establishment of his seed, is adduced to move the Lord to send the Messias speedily. (Worthington) — The future obstinacy of many Jews in rejecting him, was foreseen and deprecated. (St. Augustine) — Anointed. Do not cover me with confusion, (Calmet) or delay the promised Redeemer. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Make. Literally, “deceive him.” Hebrew, “will not turn from it,” the truth. (Berthier) — Thy. St. Cyprian and St. Hilary read, “my throne,” which belonged to the Lord, 1 Paralipomenon xxix. 23. (Calmet) — But it might also be styled David’s, as the promises were made to him. (Haydock) — Christ was born of the virgin’s womb, without having any man for his father. (St. Augustine) — This promise actually was fulfilled in Solomon, and in Christ, who would infallibly possess the throne, 2 Kings vii., and Acts ii. But Christ reigns over all. (Berthier) (Luke i. 32.) — St. Peter hence proves our Saviour’s resurrection, (Worthington) and power in the Church. (Haydock) — After the captivity, the royal power was not enjoyed by the family of David: which ought to have persuaded the Jews to acknowledge Christ and his eternal spiritual kingdom.
Ver. 12. If. The promises made to the carnal posterity of David were conditional, and seem to imply, that they would forfeit them. (St. Hilary) — But those regarding the Messias are absolute. (Calmet) — Yet heaven is only promised to his children in the Church, if they observe God’s commandments, Romans viii. 17. (Worthington) — The kings of Juda seem not to have believed these threats; and many Christians live as if heaven required no conditions on their part. God knew what would be the event; but he speaks thus to testify their free-will, and his desire to preserve the temporal throne of David, at least till the coming of the Messias, if the Jews had proven faithful. (Berthier)
Ver. 14. This. God is introduced speaking to the end. (Haydock) — Chosen. Hebrew, “desired.” This relates to his spouse, the Church. (Calmet) — He dwelleth in this Sion for ever. (Worthington) — It was the figure of the Christian Church, as this is of heaven, Hebrews xii. 22. (Berthier)
Ver. 15. Widow. Whose name is often joined with orphans, and the poor, as the Hebrew Tsedah may imply one “desolate,” 1 Timothy v. 5. (Berthier) — The Greek copies vary: some have widow, and others, “prey,” which is most commonly given as the sense of the Hebrew. (Haydock) — The poor priests and Levites, who had no land, shall be abundantly supplied. (Calmet) — The Church, though deprived of Christ’s visible presence, is replenished with many blessings, and her humble children are relieved with the holy Sacraments. (Worthington)
Ver. 16. Salvation. To instruct others. (Berthier) — The Church hath always had some virtuous priests and laics. (Worthington)
Ver. 17. There. Literally, “thither,” (Haydock) Illuc, as Christ came from heaven. (Berthier) — Horn. Power and glory. This regards Solomon, and the Messias. Hebrew, “I will make to bud,” &c., alluding to Christ’s miraculous birth, Isaias iv. 2. (Calmet) — Lamp. St. John the Baptist, (John v. 35.; St. Athanasius) or Christ himself, (Luke ii. 32., and Apocalypse xxi. 23.) though it may also be understood of David’s son and successor. (Calmet) — Yet this lamp was too dreadfully extinguished. (Berthier) — Christ protects his Church, which is placed for the instruction of all. (Worthington)
Ver. 18. My. Hebrew, “his diadem,” (S. Ser.[St. Jerome?]) or “consecration.” The glory of David was great, as a figure of Christ, to whom this more properly belongs. He is the king of ages, without sin, &c. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
A prayer for the fulfilling of the promise made to David.
1 A gradual canticle.
O Lord, remember David, and all his meekness.
2 How he swore to the Lord, he vowed a vow to the God of Jacob.
3 *If I shall enter into the tabernacle of my house: if I shall go up into the bed wherein I lie:
4 If I shall give sleep to my eyes, or slumber to my eye-lids,
5 Or rest to my temples: until I find out a place for the Lord, a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
6 Behold we have heard of it in Ephrata: we have found it in the fields of the wood.
7 We will go into his tabernacle: we will adore in the place where his feet stood.
8 *Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place: thou and the ark, which thou hast sanctified.
9 Let thy priests be clothed with justice: and let thy saints rejoice.
10 For thy servant David’s sake, turn not away the face of thy anointed.
11 The Lord hath sworn truth to David, and he will not make it void: *of the fruit of thy womb I will set upon thy throne.
12 If thy children will keep thy covenant, and these my testimonies, which I shall teach them:
Their children also for evermore shall sit upon thy throne.
13 For the Lord hath chosen Sion: he hath chosen it for his dwelling.
14 This is my rest for ever and ever: here will I dwell, for I have chosen it.
15 Blessing, I will bless her widow: I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 I will clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall rejoice with exceedingly great joy.
17 *There will I bring forth a horn to David: I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
18 His enemies I will clothe with confusion: but upon him shall my sanctification flourish.
3: 2 Kings vii. 2.
8: 2 Paralipomenon vi. 41.
11: 2 Kings vii. 12.; Luke i. 53.; Acts ii. 30.
17: Malachias iii. 1.; Luke i. 69.