Psalm xv. (Judica me Domine.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. David. Hebrew and the most correct copies of the Septuagint, &c., have only “Of David.” (Haydock) — The Complutensian and Aldine editions add indeed A psalm. But these form no rule, as the Vatican Septuagint is allowed to be the best. (Berthier) — The others may, however, be consulted, as in some instances they may be preferable. (Haydock) — This psalm might be composed to counteract the calumnies propagated against David, while he lived among the Philistines; (Theodoret; Flaminius) or it may contain the sentiments of the captives, as well as the two following canticles. (Calmet) — The Church, (St. Augustine, &c.) or any afflicted soul, may thus appeal to the justice of God, (Berthier) and particularly the sacred ministers, when they are going to appear before him. — Innocence. Only those whose conscience reproaches them with nothing, can hold this language. God is a just and unerring judge. (Calmet) — Weakened. Hebrew also “slide,” (Protestants) or “stagger.” (Symmachus) I am confident that my enemies will have no advantage over me. (Calmet)
Ver. 2. Burn, like gold in the furnace. (Berthier) — Purify all my affections and thoughts with the fire of divine love. (St. Augustine; St. Jerome) — Make my dispositions known to the world. I have done no one any harm. (Calmet) — I take thee for the arbiter of my cause with respect to Saul, whom I have not injured. Still, as I may not be innocent, do thou try me, as thou thinkest proper. (Worthington)
Ver. 3. Truth. Before such a judge, I fear no calumny. I have always endeavoured to imitate these divine perfections. (Calmet) — Hebrew, “I have walked constantly in thy truth,” which could not be without loving it. (Berthier)
Ver. 4. Council. Hebrew, “men.” — Doers. Hebrew, “men of darkness;” which means the wicked, (Berthier) who love darkness. Protestants, “dissemblers.” (Haydock) — The sacred minister ought to avoid evil company. (Calmet) — David had often people of this description, like Joab and Abner, in his train; but he did not approve of their conduct. Some would restrain his words to idolaters: but this would make his declaration of little importance to Christians, as many would say the same, though they dare not say that they flee from wicked society. We must also banish all such thoughts as would destroy us. (Berthier) — David was inspired to speak the sentiments of his soul, and praise his own sincerity more than ordinary men may do. He instructs us to have no society with the conventicles of any false religion. (Worthington)
Ver. 6. Innocent. Hebrew, “in innocence,” avoiding every thing which may defile and render me unfit to approach thy holy altar. Many things (Calmet) of themselves innocent, (Haydock) excluded the priests of the old law from officiating, and if they had partaken of any idolatrous sacrifices, they lost their dignity for ever, Ezechiel xliv. 12. How much greater ought to be the sanctity of Christian priests! The Jews carefully abstained from eating what the law forbade, Daniel i. 8., and Tobias i. 12. David would not sit down to a feast with the proud, Psalm c. 5. It was customary to wash before meat (Matthew xv. 2., and Mark vii. 3.) and prayer. Aristeas informs us that the Septuagint washed their hands every morning, before they began to translate the Bible, to shew what purity of soul was requisite. Pilate used the like ceremony, when he would have no hand in the condemnation of our Saviour; (Matthew xxvii. 24.; Calmet) and thus people declared their innocence, Deuteronomy xxi. 6. (Menochius) — People entering the house of God, and priests at the altar, adopt the same symbols of interior purity, and ought to be penetrated with the like sentiments. (Haydock) — David opposes the society of the good to that of the wicked, knowing that the former is a great inducement to virtue, and he declares that he will wash or converse with such. (Berthier) — These words are recited by the priest, to put him in mind of the purity required, Leviticus xvi. 4. (Worthington)
Ver. 7. Hear. Hebrew with points, “publish.” (Berthier) — St. Jerome agrees with the Septuagint. — Thy praise. The former word is not expressed in the Vulgate or Hebrew, (Haydock) but it is understood; and occurs in some editions of the Septuagint, as well as in the Syriac. (Houbigant, &c.) — Worldlings come to the assemblies of the faithful, but often without piety or advantage. Priests themselves but too frequently dishonour the altar, which they serve. (Berthier) — If they were careful to perform their sacred duties well, (Haydock) and had a sincere love for the spouse of Christ, many profanations would be avoided; (Calmet) as God suffers no greater injury from any, than from bad ministers. (St. Gregory, &c.) (Haydock) — They ought to be recollected, and join mental with vocal prayer in their sacred offices. (Worthington)
Ver. 8. Beauty. The ark, 1 Kings iv. 22. Symmachus, “the palace.” (Calmet) — Hebrew, “the dwelling.” The psalmist desires to imitate those fervent Levites, who chose always to attend the tabernacle, Deuteronomy xviii. 6. (Calmet) — Mehon, when applied to the “dwelling” of God, may be properly rendered a temple, heaven, &c., Deuteronomy xxvi. 15. (Berthier) — No one who reflects on the blessings dispensed in God’s house, can fail to be struck with admiration. (Worthington)
Ver. 9. Take; literally, “destroy,” (Haydock) or suffer me not to be contaminated or lost. (Worthington) — Hebrew, “gather.” Protestants, or “take not away.” (Marginal note; and St. Jerome) (Haydock) — Hebrew may be more expressive, and agrees with the parable, where God orders the cockle to be gathered into bundles, to be burnt. [Matthew xiii. 30.?] (Berthier) — Treat me not like the wicked and murderers, who are cut off before their time. (Calmet) — David alludes to a future state, as he knew that the wicked were not always punished here. (Berthier) — O God is not in Hebrew, Septuagint, or St. Augustine. (Calmet) — But it is understood. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Gifts, to bribe; or rather, which the judges have received. (Berthier) Shochad is always used in a bad sense for “a bribe.” (Calmet) — Est munus a lingua….a manu….et ab obsequio. (St. Jerome) — The wicked use their worldly goods to corrupt others. (Worthington) — Jugurtha leaving Rome, said, “O venal city.” (Sallust)
Ver. 11. Innocence. He opposes the integrity of his proceedings to that of the wicked. (Calmet) — Yet still calls for mercy. (Haydock) — Every one should strive to be innocent, and to avoid the company of worldlings. (Worthington)
Ver. 12. Direct, (directo.) Protestants, “in an even place,” (Haydock) in the court where the Levites sung. (Vatable) — I have followed the paths of justice, and hope soon to be able to praise thee in thy temple. (Calmet) — These seven last verses are daily recited at Mass. But do we reflect what innocence and fervour are required of the sacred ministers? I cannot assert that my paths have never strayed from the right way. Pardon my transgressions, and enable me henceforth to live so that I may be worthy to sound forth thy praise, and to appear in thy sanctuary. (Berthier) — Thee. Hebrew, “the Lord.” (Haydock) — The psalms of David are now used in every Christian Church. (Euthymius; Menochius)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
David’s prayer to God in his distress, to be delivered, that he may come to worship him in his tabernacle.
1 Unto the end. A psalm for David.
Judge me, O Lord, for I have walked in my innocence: and I have put my trust in the Lord, and shall not be weakened.
2 Prove me, O Lord, and try me; burn my reins and my heart.
3 For thy mercy is before my eyes: and I am well pleased with thy truth.
4 I have not sat with the council of vanity: neither will I go in with the doers of unjust things.
5 I have hated the assembly of the malignant; and with the wicked I will not sit.
6 I will wash my hands among the innocent: and will compass thy altar, O Lord.
7 That I may hear the voice of thy praise: and tell of all thy wondrous works.
8 I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of thy house; and the place where thy glory dwelleth.
9 Take not away my soul, O God, with the wicked: nor my life with bloody men:
10 In whose hands are iniquities: their right hand is filled with gifts.
11 But as for me, I have walked in my innocence: redeem me, and have mercy on me.
12 My foot hath stood in the direct way: in the churches I will bless thee, O Lord.