Psalm xvii. (Diligam te Domine.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. This title is almost wholly taken from the book of Kings, except Unto the end for; instead of which we read, And David spoke, &c., [2 Kings xxii.] (Haydock) which are the words of the inspired writer; so that Ferrand is very rash in rejecting both these titles. David wrote this psalm after he had subdued the Moabites, &c. (Calmet) — He was inspired to write it (Worthington) twice, with some variations, (Berthier) 74 in number, (Aberbanel) or many more, if we believe Kennicott, who lays them to the charge of transcribers, perhaps, (Haydock) with greater reason. (Calmet) — We cannot doubt but this psalm regards David. But there are some passages which refer to Jesus Christ and his Church more directly; and in general, David must here be considered as only (Berthier) the figure of the Messias, and of the just in his Church. (Worthington) — James Paine has endeavoured to prove, with great ingenuity, that the whole must be explained of Jesus Christ, and that the name of Saul stands for “the grave;” as the points which are of modern date, only need to be changed. Thus the sufferings of our Saviour, and the punishment of the Jews in the last siege of Jerusalem are described; and thus it is clear that St. Paul (Romans xv. 9.) has cited this psalm in it proper sense. (Berthier) — See ver. 10, 41. — Sts. Jerome and Augustine explain it of the victories of David, of the Messias, and of his Church. (Calmet) — Saul may be particularly mentioned, because he was the most powerful. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. I will love thee, as a mother does her son. He that loves has fulfilled the law. This word is omitted [in] 2 Kings. xxii. 2. (Calmet) — Strength. Ibid. — Rock. (Haydock) — The Septuagint have inserted some alterations in the Psalms, giving the sense of the Hebrew. (Worthington) — Others attribute the variations to David, or to the mistake of transcribers. (Haydock)
Ver. 3. Firmament. Hebrew, “rock and my citadel, and my deliverer. My God, (or strong one) my rock.” St. Jerome, “my strong one.” The two words which are rendered “my rock,” are salhi and metsudathi. (Haydock) — David frequently retired to such places for safety. The idea was beautiful and striking. Such a multiplicity of titles shews the gratitude (Calmet) and affection which David felt. (Calmet) — Here are nine, and we may add the three metaphorical Hebrew terms, “rock, citadel, and buckler.” Can we refuse to love One from whom we have received so many favours? — And in, &c. These words are most probably cited by St. Paul, (Hebrews ii. 13.) though they occur also in Isaias viii. 18. — Protector. Hebrew, “buckler.” (Berthier) — Horn. This title is given to Jesus Christ, Luke i. 69. It is an allusion to beasts which attack their opponents with their horns (Theodoret; Deuteronomy xxxiii. 17.) being an emblem of strength (Worthington) and glory. (Calmet) — And my, &c. (2 Kings) he lifteth me up and is my refuge; my Saviour, thou wilt deliver me from iniquity. Hebrew, “violence.”
Ver. 4. Praising. Hebrew, “praised;” and (2 Kings) the Lord, who is worthy to be praised. (Haydock) — Chaldean agrees here with the Septuagint and Vulgate, which seems more natural. (Calmet) — The sense is the same. (Berthier)
Ver. 5. Sorrows…iniquity. Hebrew, “cables….Belial.” By these figurative expressions, David declares to what dangers he had been exposed. They seem to be more applicable to our Saviour’s agony. (Berthier) — The wicked were constantly laying snares for both. We have the same idea enforced in the next verse. (Haydock) — The words are put into the mouth of fallen man, in the mass for Septuagesima[the third Sunday before Lent]. (Worthington)
Ver. 7. Called. All these words are in the future, 2 Kings and Hebrews. (Haydock) — But as they relate to an event that was past, they seem to be as well expressed here as they are in Duport’s Greek Psalms. (Berthier) — Both are true; as David had prayed, and would continue to pray, for God’s protection; otherwise he would have deserved to lose it. We must always pray, and never faint. (Haydock) — Temple, “from my heart;” (St. Augustine) from the tabernacle at Gabaon, (Lyranus) or from heaven. (Chaldean) (Eusebius) (Calmet) — Earnest prayer is the best remedy against temptations and affliction. God will not fail to hear those who are sincere, as he did the prophet. (Worthington)
Ver. 8. With them is not in Hebrew. Lo, illi refers to God. Furor fuit ei. (Montanus) — “He was wroth.” (Protestants) Yet he displayed his power on the mountains, as if he had been displeased with them, or with the enemies (ver. 4.) whom he would thus strike with awe. (Haydock) — These expressions are not to be taken in a gross literal sense. (Calmet) — God shewed himself as earnest in the protection of David, (Haydock) as if he had been in a rage; (Calmet) or as if the elements had all conspired to defend him. (Theodoret) — This most pompous description (Calmet) alludes to the wonders wrought at Sinai, and the terrors which would happen at the death and resurrection of Christ, and at his last coming. Some moderns think that the overthrow of the Babylonians, and other enemies of God’s people, are also denoted. The sinner, touched by divine grace, implores mercy, and feels the remorse of conscience, the ropes or sorrows of hell, and a dread of God’s just judgments hanging over him. (Berthier) — These cause the most haughty and obstinate to tremble. (Worthington)
Ver. 9. By it. This relates to the clouds, thunder, and lightning. (Muis) — God’s wrath is compared with smoke, fire, a dark night, or mist. (Worthington)
Ver. 10. Feet. A violent storm of rain. Hence the Pagans borrowed:
Jupiter et lęto descendit plurimus imbri. (Virgil, Ec. 7.)
— The prophets Isaias (xxix. 6.) and Nahum (i. 3.) speak in the same lofty strains; (Calmet) and shall any one despise the language of Scripture? Nothing can exceed its sublimity. Hebrew is rather more expressive, (ver. 9.) “a fire devoured;” (ver. 11.) “on a cherub, and flew; he flew most swiftly;” like an eagle. (Berthier) — Hebrew vida. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Winds. God mounts his chariot, as it were, (Ezechiel i. 4., &c.) to come speedily to David’s assistance. Ęschylus, and other pagan authors, seem to have imitated this description. (Eusebius, pręp. evan. xiii. 13.) — The Fathers explain the former verse of Christ’s incarnation, or of his second coming; and this of his ascension. (St. Athanasius, &c.) — They may also (Haydock) intimate that God is ready to pardon as well as to punish. (Worthington) — Plato (Phędro) represents the Deity on “a winged chariot, directing and taking care of all things.” (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Pavilion. Job xxii. 14., and xxvi. 9. The Jews had this idea of God’s throne, of which we behold only the less brilliant side, as the Egyptians did that of the cloud, Exodus xiv. 19. The poets represent Jupiter surrounded with clouds and darkness. (Hesiod, op. 125 and 255.; Homer, Iliad O.) — Air. The parallel passage, (2 Kings) seems more accurate. Dropping waters out of the clouds of the heavens. Hebrew, “waters bound up in darksome clouds.” (Calmet) — God is incomprehensible in himself, and his counsels are inscrutable. (Worthington)
Ver. 13. Clouds. 2 Kings, The coals (Hebrew, “flames”) of fire were kindled. Two words, habaw haberu, his clouds removed, (Haydock) omitted in this passage, are here supplied, as the former word is found in Syriac and Arabic. But then hail and coals of fire seem improper for “they kindled into coals of fire;” and in the next verse they are redundant; being therefore omitted in 2 Kings xxii., in the best editions of the Septuagint and in the old Italic of Blanchini. Capel supposes they have been inserted from the preceding verse, which is rendered more probable by the Hebrew manuscript 5. (Kennicott, Dis. 1.) — They have been inserted in some editions of Septuagint from the Hebrew of Theodotion, (Calmet) or Symmachus. (Montfalcon) — This unusual third hemistic occurs in a smaller type in Brettinger’s (Kennicott) and Grabe’s Septuagint, but they indicate thereby that it was not in the Alexandrian manuscript, as it is not in that of the Vatican. If it were in its proper place, we should read at least grandinem, &c. This magnificent description of a thunder-storm (Haydock) may allude to that which routed the Philistines, 2 Kings v. 24., and Isaias xxviii. 21. (Calmet) — The lightning seemed to dispel the gloom. (Theodoret; Flaminius) — Though man is overpowered with God’s majesty, yet he is instructed how to act by those whom God has commissioned to teach. (Worthington)
Ver. 15. Arrows. Thunderbolts. Tela reponuntur manibus fabricata Cyclopum. (Metam. Hesiod Theog. 708.)
Ver. 16. Discovered. The earthquakes were so great, that such dreadful effects might have been expected. These phenomena sometimes make the sea retire, and new islands appear. (Pliny, [Natural History?] i. 84., and xxxi. 5., &c.) — The Jews supposed that the sea was the common source of all fountains, and that the earth was founded on it, Psalm xxiii. 2., and Ecclesiastes i. 7. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. Sent his angel, &c. — Waters, which often represent multitudes, (Apocalypse xvii. 15.; Calmet) and afflictions. (Worthington) — David seemed in danger of perishing. (Calmet)
Ver. 18. For me. He may allude to the giant Jesbibenob, or to Saul, who surrounded him on all sides; (1 Kings xxiii. 26., and 2 Kings xxi. 15.; Calmet) and, in general, to all his temporal or spiritual adversaries. (Worthington)
Ver. 19. Affliction, when my friends joined Absalom. (Theodoret) — In the rest of this psalm, the prophet chiefly uses words in the obvious sense, yet mystically speaks of Christ, and of the faithful. (Worthington)
Ver. 20. Place, where I was not hemmed in by my enemies. (Haydock) — Saved me, by repentance, out of his infinite mercy, (Eusebius; St. Athanasius) without any deserts. (Worthington)
Ver. 21. Will reward. St. Jerome, “hath rewarded,” (Calmet) yet the edition of 1533 reads retribuet. (Haydock) — Justice, with respect to my enemies, whom I have not injured; (Calmet) or my sincere desire to serve God. (Theodoret)
Ver. 23. Judgments. Commands, or treatment both of the just and of the wicked.
Ver. 24. Him, by his grace. (Worthington) — Iniquity, and be careful not to relapse. Others explain it in the past time. I have not shed the blood of my enemy when I could have done it, 1 Kings xxiv. 6, 14. (Calmet) — Fui immaculatus. (St. Jerome) (Haydock) It seems most probable that David composed this before his fall, as Aberbanel, one of the most learned of the Jews, asserts. If he be only a figure of Jesus Christ, we may easily conceive how the latter might speak thus of his innocence, and declare his abhorrence of all sin, though he was made a sin-offering, having undertaken to expiate the iniquities of mankind. (Berthier)
Ver. 25. And. He repeateth, (ver. 21.) that God will render to every one as he deserves. (Worthington) — Matthew xvi. That all sins are equal is the error of the Stoics. (Haydock)
Ver. 27. Perverted. No version can properly express this idea. God turns away from those who abandon him, treating every one according to his works. If we do not advance in piety, it is a sign that God perceives something amiss in us. (Berthier) — He cannot but abhor duplicity, and resist the wicked, Leviticus xxvi. 23, 40., and Proverbs iii. 34. He will make the craft of men turn against themselves, as he evinced in the case of Laban, Joseph’s brethren, Pharao, and Saul. Sinners complain of him without reason, Ezechiel xviii. 25. (Calmet) — Some improperly use this text to shew, that people will adopt the manners of those with whom they associate, (Haydock) though it means that God will treat the good liberally, and the wicked with severity, Leviticus xxvi. 23, 24. (Amama)
Ver. 28. Proud, as thou hast already done. (Calmet) —
Insignem attenuat Deus,
Obscura promens. (Horat.[Horace?])
Ver. 29. Lamp, giving me hopes of redress, and of the Messias. (Calmet)
Ver. 30. Temptation. David was almost continually assailed by enemies. (Calmet) — Septuagint peieatesion, signifies “a place of pirates;” denoting what crafty foes he had to encounter, (Berthier) or “a place or time to learn the military exercise,” a warfare, Job vii. 1. But gedud, (Haydock) means “a troop,” designed to make incursions, as those under Jephte and David. Hebrew, “In thee I will run armed;” (St. Jerome) or, “at the head of my troops.” (Calmet) — “I will break, (Pagnin) or, run through an army.” (Montanus) — No fortification can hold out. (Haydock) — He alludes particularly to the wall of the Jebusites, which Joab first mounted, though extremely high, 2 Kings v. 6. (Calmet) — With God’s help, every difficulty may be surmounted. (Worthington) — Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation, as our Saviour admonishes. [Matthew xxvi. 41.]
Ver. 31. As for, might be omitted. (Haydock) — The conduct of God towards men is irreproachable. He will treat all according to their deserts, and will fulfil his promises of protecting the just. (Eusebius) — Hebrew, “He is the strong God….his words are pure as gold….He is the shield,” &c. (Berthier)
Ver. 32. Our God. Will any one then hinder Him from doing as He has said? (Haydock) — Hebrew, “Who is the rock but our God?” (Berthier) — God is often styled a rock, tsur. Yet St. Jerome and Pagnin render it “strong,” or “the strong one.” (Haydock) — There is only one Lord and Saviour of all. (Worthington)
Ver. 33. Blameless. Whatever good is in me, comes from his grace, ver. 21, 24. (Haydock) — God has prevented me from killing Saul and Nabal; He has rescued me from the abyss into which I had fallen. (Calmet)
Ver. 34. Harts. Protestants, “hinds.” (Haydock) — The Hebrews generally prefer to specify the female. Harts are remarkably swift, and this quality was greatly esteemed in a warrior. Asael is praised for it; (2 Kings ii. 18.) and Homer styles his hero “the swift-footed Achilles.” (Calmet) — As harts trample serpents under their feet, says Theodoret, so I treat my enemies. — High. Hebrew, “my high places,” where I have so often baffled the efforts of my persecutors. (Haydock)
Ver. 35. And thou. Chaldean gives the same sense. “He strengthens,” &c. (Calmet) — Hebrew, “and a brazen bow is broken by my arms.” (Montanus) — Protestants, “a bow of steel.” Perhaps not knowing that the ancients had the art of making brass answer the same purposes. See Proclus, Hesiod, &c. (Haydock) — They made all sorts of weapons of it. Job (xx. 24.) seems even to insinuate that it was harder than iron. Our brass is too brittle. To break a bow, often means to obtain a victory, 1 Kings ii. 4., and Jeremias xlix. 5. (Calmet) — David gained many over a lion or a bear, over Goliath, &c. (Worthington)
Ver. 36. Of thy. The latter word is omitted in some copies of the Septuagint, while others change it into “my.” But the Hebrew is agreeable to the Vulgate. (Calmet) — End. Thou hast preserved me by salutary correction. (St. Augustine) (Haydock) — Hebrew, “thy goodness shall multiply me” with children. Symmachus, conformably to 2 Kings xxii., has, “my obedience shall lift me up.” (Calmet) — The Hebrew may, however, admit the sense of the Vulgate. — And thy, &c., is a paraphrase of the former sentiment, or it is borrowed from Theodotion. (Berthier) — Grabe marks from unto the end, &c., as omitted in Hebrew. (Haydock) — Luther and the Dutch translate, “When thou humblest me, then thou exaltest me,” to shew the salutary effects of suffering. But there is nothing of the kind in the original. (Amama)
Ver. 37. Weakened, or tired. (Chaldean) (Haydock) — I am now free from danger. All my enterprizes have succeeded, 2 Kings viii. 6., and 1 Paralipomenon xviii. 13. See Proverbs iv. 12. (Calmet)
Ver. 38. I will. Bellarmine would supply “I said I will;” and thus all is connected. But these future victories relate more to Jesus Christ. (Berthier) — David also continued making fresh conquests, (Haydock) and so entirely subdued his enemies all around, that they were not able to make head, even against his successor.
Ver. 40. Against. me. No prince was ever more courageous than David, as the single combat with Goliath evinces. We know not that he ever lost a battle. He refers all the glory to God. (Calmet)
Ver. 41. Upon me. An expression often used to denote a fight, Josue iii. 12., &c. (Calmet) — God strengthens his servants, and weakens their enemies. (Worthington)
Ver. 42. Lord. This must be understood of Absalom, who offered sacrifices, (2 Kings xv. 12.; Berthier) or of Saul, who, receiving no answer, consulted a witch. The Philistines also brought their gods with them, so that they were taken and burnt; (2 Kings v. 21.) and the other pagans, finding no aid in their idols, might in time of danger, invoke the Lord. (Calmet) — This is “the testimony of a soul naturally Christian,” as Tertullian (Apol. xvii.) speaks, to have recourse to the great and only God, in the utmost distress. (Haydock) — Deus ut subveniat oratur; ipsa veritas, cogente natura….erumpit. (Lac. Inst. ii. 1.)
Ver. 43. Streets. Thus he treated the Ammonites, &c., 2 Kings viii. 2., and xii. 31. (Calmet) — Jesus Christ will rule over his enemies with a rod of iron. (Berthier)
Ver. 44. Gentiles. Here he begins to predict the glory of the Messias, though what he says may be applied to himself. David’s own people began to revolt, under Absalom and Seba; after he had subdued the most powerful nations around, 2 Kings xx. 1. The chosen people rejected Christ, (Calmet) while the nations were converted. The reprobation of the former was prefigured by those rebels. (Worthington)
Ver. 46. Faded, (inveterati sunt) “are grown old.” (Haydock) — The Jews had been long the objects of God’s favours: yet they fall away. Thus we often see priests outdone in piety by simple laics. (Berthier) — David continues in the comparison of a tree which bears no fruit; (Calmet) thus lying, as it were, and frustrating the just expectations of the owner. Subjects do the like, when they revolt; (Isaias xxx. 9.) and thus deserve the title of strange. Protestants, “the strangers shall fade away, and be afraid out of their close places;” (St. Jerome) “shall flow away, and be contracted in their straits;” while I shall be at large, ver. 37. The last verb gachregu, (Haydock) occurs no where else. It may signify “shall be withered,” or burnt, from charar. (Calmet)
Ver. 47. Liveth. This is my consolation, though it must fill the obstinate sinner with dismay. (Haydock) — In a sort of transport, David wishes all happiness to his great benefactor. He may also speak of Christ’s resurrection. (Calmet) — My God. Hebrew, “rock:” a title frequently applied to God, in acknowledgment of his stability and protection. (Berthier)
Ver. 48. Avengest, or “grantest me revenges,” (Haydock) and the victory; inflicting a just punishment on the wicked. David was too well informed to delight in sentiments of revenge, 3 Kings iii. 11. Jesus Christ takes vengeance on his enemies, but this is done without passion. The love of justice is his only motive. David approves of this conduct. (Calmet) — Enraged enemies. Vulgate iracundis. (Haydock) — Septuagint have thus explained aph, “wrath;” others join it with the following verse, “But (Calmet) or yea,” (Haydock) etiam. The former version is, however, very accurate. (Berthier)
Ver. 50. Nations. St. Paul (Romans xv. 9.) adduces this to prove the vocation of the Gentiles. (Calmet) — We cannot doubt but the great things announced in this psalm pertain to Christ. (Berthier) — We see the completion of this prophecy, as there is no Christian nation which does not use the psalms of David to praise God. (Theodoret, &c.) — This practice is very common (Pref.; Worthington) in all places where either Jews or Christians are found.
Ver. 51. Great. This in intimated by the plural salutes, “salvations;” as David had experienced innumerable favours. (Haydock) — He speaks of himself in the third person, to lead our minds to the Messias, in whom this was more gloriously accomplished. The greater honour of this chief family of Israel, consisted in giving birth to so great a personage, in whom all are blessed. (Calmet) (Isaias xi. 1., and Ezechiel xxxiv. 23.) — For ever. The true Church will never perish; (Haydock) God still protecting it, as he did David, ver. 48. (Worthington)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
David’s thanks to God for his delivery from all his enemies.
1 Unto the end, for David, the servant of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this canticle, in the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul: and he said: [2 Kings xxii.]
2 I will love thee, O Lord, my strength:
3 The Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer.
*My God is my helper, and in him will I put my trust.
My protector, and the horn of my salvation, and my support.
4 Praising, I will call upon the Lord: and I shall be saved from my enemies.
5 The sorrows of death surrounded me: and the torrents of iniquity troubled me.
6 The sorrows of hell encompassed me: and the snares of death prevented me.
7 In my affliction I called upon the Lord, and I cried to my God:
And he heard my voice from his holy temple: and my cry before him came into his ears.
8 The earth shook and trembled: the foundations of the mountains were troubled and were moved, because he was angry with them.
9 There went up a smoke in his wrath: and a fire flamed from his face: coals were kindled by it.
10 He bowed the heavens, and came down, and darkness was under his feet.
11 And he ascended upon the cherubim, and he flew; he flew upon the wings of the winds.
12 And he made darkness his covert, his pavilion round about him: dark waters in the clouds of the air.
13 At the brightness that was before him the clouds passed, hail and coals of fire.
14 And the Lord thundered from heaven, and the Highest gave his voice: hail and coals of fire.
15 And he sent forth his arrows, and he scattered them: he multiplied lightnings, and troubled them.
16 Then the fountains of waters appeared, and the foundations of the world were discovered:
At thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the spirit of thy wrath.
17 He sent from on high, and took me: and received me out of many waters.
18 He delivered me from my strongest enemies, and from them that hated me: for they were too strong for me.
19 They prevented me in the day of my affliction: and the Lord became my protector.
20 And he brought me forth into a large place: he saved me, because he was well pleased with me.
21 And the Lord will reward me according to my justice; and will repay me according to the cleanness of my hands:
22 Because I have kept the ways of the Lord; and have not done wickedly against my God.
23 For all his judgments are in my sight: and his justices I have not put away from me.
24 And I shall be spotless with him: and shall keep myself from my iniquity.
25 And the Lord will reward me according to my justice: and according to the cleanness of my hands before his eyes.
26 With the holy thou wilt be holy; and with the innocent man thou wilt be innocent:
27 And with the elect thou wilt be elect: and with the perverse thou wilt be perverted.
28 For thou wilt save the humble people; but wilt bring down the eyes of the proud.
29 For thou lightest my lamp, O Lord: O my God, enlighten my darkness.
30 For by thee I shall be delivered from temptation; and through my God I shall go over a wall.
31 As for my God, his way is undefiled: the words of the Lord are fire-tried: he is the protector of all that trust in him.
32 For who is God but the Lord? or who is God but our God?
33 God, who hath girt me with strength; and made my way blameless.
34 *Who hath made my feet like the feet of harts: and who setteth me upon high places.
35 *Who teacheth my hands to war: and thou hast made my arms like a brazen bow.
36 And thou hast given me the protection of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath held me up:
And thy discipline hath corrected me unto the end: and thy discipline, the same shall teach me.
37 Thou hast enlarged my steps under me; and my feet are not weakened.
38 I will pursue after my enemies, and overtake them: and I will not turn again till they are consumed.
39 I will break them, and they shall not be able to stand: they shall fall under my feet.
40 And thou hast girded me with strength unto battle; and hast subdued under me them that rose up against me.
41 And thou hast made my enemies turn their back upon me, and hast destroyed them that hated me.
42 They cried, but there was none to save them, to the Lord: but he heard them not.
43 And I shall beat them as small as the dust before the wind; I shall bring them to nought, like the dirt in the streets.
44 Thou wilt deliver me from the contradictions of the people; thou wilt make me head of the Gentiles.
45 A people which I knew not, hath served me: at the hearing of the ear they have obeyed me.
46 The children that are strangers have lied to me, strange children have faded away, and have halted from their paths.
47 The Lord liveth, and blessed be my God, and let the God of my salvation be exalted.
48 O God, who avengest me, and subduest the people under me, my deliverer from my enraged enemies.
49 *And thou wilt lift me up above them that rise up against me: from the unjust man thou wilt deliver me.
50 *Therefore will I give glory to thee, O Lord, among the nations, and I will sing a psalm to thy name.
51 Giving great deliverance to his king, and shewing mercy to David, his anointed: and to his seed for ever.
3: Hebrews ii. 13.
34: 2 Kings xxii. 34.
35: 2 Kings xxii. 35.
49: 2 Kings xxii. 49.
50: 2 Kings xxii. 50.; Romans xv. 9.