Psalm xxvi. (Dominus illuminatio.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Anointed. Hebrew has only, David. The rest of the title occurs only in some copies of the Septuagint, (Eusebius; Calmet) and is not of divine authority. Yet if any attention be paid to it, we must suppose that David composed this psalm before his second anointing, as he speaks of great dangers. But this is all uncertain. (Berthier) — For dangers threatened David even after he had been declared king. (Haydock) — Before Samuel anointed him, he was not endued with the spirit of prophecy. See 1 Kings xvi. 13., and 2 Kings ii. 4., and v. 3. (Calmet) — Some suppose that he alludes to the entertainment given him by Abimelech[Achimelech?] , (ver. 5 and 12.; Theodoret) or to that night when, fearless of danger, he took away Saul’s cup; (Ferrand) while Abenezra and De Muis rather believe, that he composed this psalm when his people dissuaded him from going out to battle, 2 Kings xxi 17. It expresses the sentiments of the Levites in captivity, (Calmet) and most beautifully consoles the just in distress. David did not write this for himself alone, but for all future generations. Hence it is not necessary to discover the particular circumstance of his life, to which this and many other psalms allude; nor is there any difficulty in explaining away the various imprecations, as they are not directed against any individual, but relate to all the enemies of the soul; while they foretell what the wicked shall suffer. (Berthier) — Afraid. “Find one more powerful, and then fear.” (St. Augustine) — God both giveth light and strength, so that no enemy can hurt his servants, Luke xxi. 15. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Flesh. This expression marks the fury of his enemies. See Job xix. 22., and xxxi. 31. (Calmet) — That. Hebrew and Septuagint, “and my foes.” This may denote domestic, and the former word public, enemies. (Haydock) — Weakened. Hebrew also, “have stumbled.” Those who came to take Jesus Christ, verified this prediction, John xviii. 6. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. This; God’s protection (Haydock) and light, (Menochius) or in the very heat of battle: prælium. Septuagint express the Hebrew feminine pronoun, as they do with the Vulgate, ver. 4, unam. There is no neuter in Hebrew, which commonly uses the feminine, instead. (Calmet) — It may be deemed too scrupulous an exactitude, to express this in a version. The word petition may be understood. (Berthier) (Menochius) — The one petition of David comprised every blessing; as he had his mind bent on heaven. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 4. House; the tabernacle, (Haydock) or temple, (Calmet) unless he may rather allude to God’s presence and union, or his enjoyment in heaven. (Berthier) — He had already expressed a similar wish, Psalm xxv. 8. (Calmet) — “When we love what God approves, he will surely grant our request.” (St. Augustine) — David esteemed it as a special benefit to be in the Catholic Church, which is the only true house of God. (Worthington) — Delight; beauty and sweetness, as the Hebrew implies. Many of the ancients read, “the will,” voluntatem, with Sixtus V, &c. But the edition of Clement VIII agrees with the Hebrew and Oriental versions. (Calmet) — To comply with God’s will, is the only means of arriving at his beatific vision. (Haydock) — David was more grieved at being kept at a distance from the tabernacle, than from his own family. He envied the happiness of those who could attend the divine worship. (Menochius)
Ver. 5. Tabernacle; in the Catholic Church, so that the enemy can either not find, or at least cannot hurt, my soul. (Worthington) — I hope one day to enjoy rest in the temple. (Calmet) — The verbs are in the future, in Hebrew both here and in the following verse. But they may be as well explained in the sense of the Vulgate. Those who find themselves in danger, must still have recourse to God’s presence, (Berthier) where, as (Haydock) in the asylum of the tabernacle, (Menochius) or of the temple, they will be protected. (Calmet) — God rewards those with glory in death, who have suffered for his name. (Worthington)
Ver. 6. Round. Hebrew, “my enemies around.” But the Septuagint understand it of David, (Berthier) or of the priest, who poured the blood of the victims on different sides of the altar. (Haydock) — Jubilation: singing and music, which are styled the fruit, or calves of the lips, Isaias lvii. 19., and Osee xiv. 3. (Calmet) — David diligently recounted God’s benefits, with all his heart and voice. (Worthington) — He offered sacrifices by ministry of the priests, on the altar of holocausts, which was not in, but before, the tabernacle. (Menochius)
Ver. 7. To thee, is understood in Hebrew and the Roman Septuagint. (Haydock)
Ver. 8. Face hath. Hebrew pointed, “faces seek ye.” But Septuagint, St. Jerome, Chaldean, &c., take no notice of these points; and even Protestants’ marginal note has, “My heart said unto thee, Let my face seek thy face;” (Berthier) though in the text they derange the words, and add, “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face, my heart said,” &c. (Haydock) — Seek. “I have sought for no reward besides thee.” (St. Augustine) — I have earnestly desired to see thee face to face, 1 Corinthians xiii. 12. (Worthington)
Ver. 9. Decline not. Hebrew, “put not away.” (Protestants) But the Vulgate seems preferable. — Forsake. Septuagint (Complutensian and Aldine) me aposkorakises, “send me not to the crows,” an expression borrowed from profane authors, who said, “to the crows,” when they held a person in sovereign contempt. (Theodoret; Berthier) — Grabe substitutes this word, though the Alexandrian and Vatican manuscripts agree with us. (Haydock) — There seems to be a gradation in the condition of the reprobate here observed. God hides his countenance, withdraws, abandons, and despises them; and they only perceive their misery, when it is too late. (Berthier) — David implores aid in this life, and deprecates the divine anger, looking upon himself as an orphan, whom God takes under his special protection. (Worthingtonn)
Ver. 10. For. Hebrew, “Though.” David’s parents fled to him, 1 Kings xxii. 1. Yet they had made small account of him, till Samuel called him forth, 1 Kings xvi. 10. The father-in-law and mother-in-law may be also designated. When a saint is deprived of every human advantage, he may still say with St. Augustine, “They have taken from me what God gave, but they have not taken God from me, who gave those things.” (Berthier) — Though I am like an orphan, I hope for all good from God, my father, Isaias lxiii. 16. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Enemies, who strive to pervert me. Keep me in the right path, which thou hast already made known to me. (Worthington)
Ver. 12. Will. Literally, “souls.” (Haydock) — Some ancient copies have, “the hands.” — Unjust. Hebrew, “false.” (Haydock) — To itself, ought not to be urged no more than eat sibi, vade tibi, Genesis xii. 1., and Canticle of Canticles i. 7. (Calmet) — It is a Hebrew idiom. (Haydock) — Many find fault with the Septuagint and Vulgate in this place, but without reason; and they do not agree in their versions. Symmachus and St. Jerome come near to us. Puach means to breathe, or entangle; and our version intimates, that “iniquity has entangled itself:” vipheach chamas, “and open lying.” (St. Jerome) (Berthier) — The accusers of Susanna, and of our Saviour, could not agree in their testimony. The Chaldeans continually calumniated the captives, Isaias lii. 4., and Jeremias l. 33. (Calmet) — Worldlings still do the same, (Matthew v.) delighting in lies, which will prove their own ruin. (Worthington)
Ver. 13. I. Hebrew, “But I believe that I shall see.” (St. Jerome) — “I had fainted, unless,” &c. (Protestants) (Haydock) — Living, or of promise, as this country is often designated, (Muis; Tirinus; Du Pin; Calmet) or rather in heaven, (Berthier; Menochius) where death shall be no more. (Haydock) — The Fathers explain it in this more elevated sense. (Calmet) — The just are comforted by God, and by the hope of heavenly rewards. (Worthington) — The land of the living may be opposed to the grave, where none can worship God. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. And let. Hebrew, “and he will strengthen my heart, and wait” (instead of and, Protestants put, without reason, “Wait, I say) on the Lord.” We must do our utmost: yet all our strength must come from God. (Haydock) — The prophet encourageth his own soul to exercise patience, fortitude, and longanimity (Psalm xxx.; Worthington) unto the end. (Worthington)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
David’s faith and hope in God.
1 The psalm of David before he was anointed.
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the protector of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2 Whilst the wicked draw near against me, to eat my flesh.
My enemies that trouble me, have themselves been weakened, and have fallen.
3 If armies in camp should stand together against me, my heart shall not fear.
If a battle should rise up against me, in this will I be confident.
4 One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
That I may see the delight of the Lord, and may visit his temple.
5 For he hath hidden me in his tabernacle: in the day of evils, he hath protected me in the secret place of his tabernacle.
6 He hath exalted me upon a rock: and now he hath lifted up my head above my enemies.
I have gone round, and have offered up in his tabernacle a sacrifice of jubilation: I will sing, and recite a psalm to the Lord.
7 Hear, O Lord, my voice, with which I have cried to thee: have mercy on me and hear me.
8 My heart hath said to thee: My face hath sought thee: thy face, O Lord, will I still seek.
9 Turn not away thy face from me; decline not in thy wrath from thy servant.
Be thou my helper, forsake me not; do not thou despise me, O God, my Saviour.
10 For my father and my mother have left me: but the Lord hath taken me up.
11 Set me, O Lord, a law in thy way, and guide me in the right path, because of my enemies.
12 Deliver me not over to the will of them that trouble me: for unjust witnesses have risen up against me; and iniquity hath lied to itself.
13 I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.
14 Expect the Lord, do manfully, and let thy heart take courage, and wait thou for the Lord.