Psalm xxxiii. (Benedicam Dominum.)
Notes and Commentary:
Ver. 1. Achimelech. So Clement VIII corrects what Sixtus V had printed Abimelech, conformably to the Hebrew, &c. Some editors have since preferred the latter word, (Calmet) which is retained in Berthier and Calmet, though we should think such changes improper, unless they were made by proper authority. (Haydock) — Many of the ancients suppose that Achimelech (who is also styled Abimelech, the high priest at Nobe) is here meant, from whom David concealed his real design. [1 Kings xxi.] (Eusebius; St. Athanasius; St. Jerome, &c.) — Others rather think that the psalm was composed after David had escaped the great danger at the court of Achis, by counterfeiting madness, 1 Kings xxi. 13. (St. Augustine; Muis, &c.) — Achis alone is styled king among the Satraps. Those who ruled over the Philistines, generally bore the title of Abimelech, as the Egyptian monarchs had that of Pharao. (Berthier) (Genesis xxi. 22.) (Calmet) (Worthington) — This psalm is alphabetical. The last verse beginning with p, is supernumerary, and may belong to the next psalm. See Psalm xxiv. (Calmet) — There seems also to be something wanting in ver. 6., (Houbigant) unless e and v have each only one hemistic. (Haydock) — From the change of names, and of David’s countenance, St. Augustine gathers the vocation of the Gentiles, the real presence, &c. (Worthington) See 1 Kings xxi. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Mouth. The just praise God in adversity, as well as in prosperity. (Worthington) — David had lately been delivered in a wonderful manner. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Praised. Hebrew, “glory,” Psalm xxxi. 11. (Haydock) — Others, seeing my treatment, will give praise to thee, the Author of all good, (Calmet) and I shall be praised while I serve thee. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. Together, (in idipsum). “If you love God, draw all to the love of God.” (St. Augustine) — The multitude will not diminish his attention to you. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Troubles. Hebrew, “fears or straits;” angustiis. (St. Jerome) (Haydock) — The Vulgate adopts the Alexandrian Septuagint, thlipseon: the Vatican copy has, paroikion, “habitations,” at Nobe, Geth, &c. Seek the Lord, while he may be found, Isaias lv. 6. Those who entertain doubts about religion, who are in sin, or tend to perfection, must all strive to find the Lord. The matter is of the utmost importance. (Berthier)
Ver. 6. Come, “by faith and good works.” (St. Jerome) — Enlightened. Hebrew also, “flow together.” (St. Jerome) — You need not be afraid of impoverishing him. (Calmet) — The points would require, (Berthier) “They looked….and were lightened, (Protestants) or flowed unto him.” (Marginal note) (Haydock) — But the Septuagint, &c., knew nothing of them, and Houbigant agrees with our version. (Berthier) — And. Here v comes in its proper place, though for only half of the verse. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. This. I myself, whom you beheld in the midst of afflictions. (Haydock) — Poverty is a great inducement for God to shew mercy. (Berthier) — The poorest may approach without fear. (Worthington)
Ver. 8. Encamp. Literally, “send.” (Haydock) — This is explained of Jesus Christ, by St. Augustine and St. Jerome. (Calmet) — Hebrew and Septuagint (parembalei) intimate that the angel himself shall encamp round God’s servants, so that no evil shall come near them. (Haydock) — This has often been verified, Genesis xxxii.. 1., and xlviii. 16., and 4 Kings vi. 16, &c. (Calmet) — One angel is here represented as equal to a great army. A Protestant commentator observes, that David attributed his escape to the protection of an angel, and was very thankful for it. We see, therefore, what advantages we may derive from the blessed spirits? What then should hinder us from addressing our prayers to them? (Berthier)
Ver. 9. Taste, in the blessed Eucharist, (St. Athanasius; St. Augustine; Theodoret) or by experience. (Calmet) (1 Peter ii. 3.)
Ver. 10. Want. In the old law, God was more particularly engaged to defend his servants from distress. Though, as they were sometimes under oppression, they knew that they were to look for more substantial blessings from heaven. Hence they would not have exchanged their condition for that of the richest worldling. Such ought to be still more our sentiments, since we have beheld Christ dying naked on the cross, and his martyrs rejoicing under the most excruciating torments. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Rich of this world, (1 Timothy vi. 17.; Menochius) are often poor in spiritual gifts. (Worthington) — Those who are poor in both respects, are truly miserable, (Haydock) since they cannot satisfy their craving appetite. But the prophet admires those who are poor in spirit, whether they have many possessions or not. (Berthier) — The fear of the Lord is his treasure, Isaias xxxiii. 6. The saint is content under every dispensation of Providence. (Haydock) — Lazarus was truly rich even here; and in heaven he is covered with glory, Luke xvi. 20. (St. Jerome) (Calmet) — Hebrew, “the lions have wanted.” (St. Jerome) — This may have been the case: yet those who fear God shall be filled; or, the rich may be designated by the name of lion’s whelps, on account of their power and avidity. (Calmet) — The same term, cephirim, is often applied to men in power, Ezechiel xix 2., and Job iv. 10. (Berthier) — Good. If the saints be sometimes deprived of provisions, they know that it is better for them; as God directs all for their good. (Haydock)
Ver. 12. Children; docile and free from pride and hypocrisy.
Ver. 13. Good days. St. Peter (1 Peter iii. 10.) adopts this sense, though the Hebrew is rendered, “and desireth days, that he may see good.” The apostle shews that heaven is here principally meant, though a virtuous life is the best to procure even present happiness. (Berthier) — Many of David’s followers probably confined their views to the latter. (Calmet) — Every one desireth to be happy, but only the virtuous are really so. (Worthington)
Ver. 14. Guile. He very properly begins with regulating the tongue, as this member may prove very dangerous, Proverbs xviii. 21., and James iii. 5. By detraction, it wounds three people; and it causes no less evil by flattery. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. Good. It will not suffice to refrain from criminal actions, Psalm xxxvi. 27. — Peace, both private and public, Jeremias xxix. 7. (Calmet) — A person may, notwithstanding, have much to suffer. But St. Peter [1 Peter iii.] prevents this objection, by proclaiming those happy who suffer for justice sake, ver. 14. (Berthier) — Good works are necessary as well as faith. (Worthington)
Nam frustra vitium vitaveris illud
Si te alio pravum detorseris. (Horace, ii. sat. 2.)
Ver. 16. Eyes. St. Basil understands the angels. God protects his servants, (Haydock) while he treats the wicked with severity. (Calmet)
Ver. 17. To cut, &c. St. Peter leaves this out; perhaps because temporal punishments would not be so often inflicted upon the wicked under the new law; as God tries his faithful, and teaches them to wait till judgment, when all will be treated according to their deserts. (Berthier) — He sees all men’s actions, and will reward them accordingly. (Worthington)
Ver. 18. Just. This word is omitted in Hebrew but it is supplied by all the versions; which shews that the original is not quite perfect. (Berthier) — If this were left out, the passage would refer to the wicked, ver. 16. Yet St. Jerome found the Hebrew in this state. (Haydock) — Troubles. Many experienced the divine protection in a wonderful manner, and though others fell victims to persecution, (Hebrews xi. 36.) yet they were perfectly resigned to God’s will, (Berthier) and thus obtained their wishes, receiving a better reward in eternity. (Calmet)
Ver. 19. Them. Hebrew, “broken-hearted;” to the humble and distressed. (Haydock) — God is very near to such. (Calmet) (Psalm l. 19., and xc. 15.) See St. Polycarp, Epistle to the Philippians ii.
Ver. 20. Many. David was too well informed to promise that the just would experience no affliction? but it will not last for ever. (Calmet) (Hebrews xii. 6.) — If God seem to forsake them for a time, he gives them interior strength, and will at last crown his own gifts. (Worthington)
Ver. 21. Broken. Their virtue which is denoted by the bones, (Menochius) shall not sink under torments. So Christ encouraged his disciples, by assuring them that a hair of their head should not perish, Matthew x. 30. (St. Augustine) (Calmet) — The elements of our bodies cannot be divided or destroyed by human force, so as to prevent their resurrection. The identical bodies shall rise again, though they may have been subject to many changes, reduced to ashes, or consumed by wild beasts. This mystery has often offended incredulous philosophers. Jesus Christ is the just, by excellence; and this prediction was fulfilled in his person, as St. John (xix. 36.) does not confine himself to the type of the paschal lamb. (Berthier)
Ver. 22. Evil, or “bad.” (Chaldean) Hebrew also, “malice shall slay the wicked.” They can attribute their misfortunes only to their own misconduct. (Berthier) — Guilty, and shall be treated as criminals; a fate which the just shall never experience, ver. 23. The death of Saul seems to be foretold. (Calmet) — The wicked are forced to quit the world and their bodies which they have idolized, and are hurled into everlasting fire. (St. Bernard) — In punishment of former transgressions, they are suffered to fall into more sins; while those who place their confidence in God’s grace, will be preserved. (Worthington) — “Death is not indeed the last, but those torments destined for the profligate in hell, occupy the last place.” (Plato, Leg. ix.)
Ver. 23. Redeem. This verse greatly resembles that which is placed, in like manner, out of the alphabetical order, at the end of Psalm xxiv. Hebrew in both, “Redeem, O Lord,” &c. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
An exhortation to the praise and service of God.
1 For David, when he changed his countenance before Achimelech, who dismissed him, and he went his way. [1 Kings xxi.]
2 I will bless the Lord at all times, his praise shall be always in my mouth.
3 In the Lord shall my soul be praised; let the meek hear and rejoice.
4 O magnify the Lord with me: and let us extol his name together.
5 I sought the Lord, and he heard me: and he delivered me from all my troubles.
6 Come ye to him and be enlightened: and your faces shall not be confounded.
7 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him: and saved him out of all his troubles.
8 The angel of the Lord shall encamp round about them that fear him: and shall deliver them.
9 O taste, and see that the Lord is sweet: blessed is the man that hopeth in him.
10 Fear the Lord, all ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
11 *The rich have wanted, and have suffered hunger: but they that seek the Lord, shall not be deprived of any good.
12 Come, children, hearken to me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
13 *Who is the man that desireth life: who loveth to see good days?
14 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.
15 Turn away from evil, and do good: seek after peace, and pursue it.
16 The eyes of the Lord are *upon the just: and his ears unto their prayers.
17 But the countenance of the Lord is against them that do evil things: to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.
18 The just cried, and the Lord heard them: and delivered them out of all their troubles.
19 The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a contrite heart: and he will save the humble of spirit.
20 Many are the afflictions of the just: but out of them all will the Lord deliver them.
21 The Lord keepeth all their bones, not one of them shall be broken.
22 The death of the wicked is very evil: and they that hate the just shall be guilty.
23 The Lord will redeem the souls of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall offend.
11: Luke i. 53.
13: 1 Peter iii. 10.
16: Ecclesiasticus xv. 20.; Hebrews iv. 13.