Psalm xlix. (Deus deorum.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. For Asaph. The preposition L is placed before his name, as it is before David’s. (Haydock) — Yet whether he was the author of the psalm, (Calmet) or only set it to music, (Worthington) is uncertain. (Menochius) — The 72nd, and ten following psalms, bear his name, and it is observed, that the style is not so flowing as those which are attributed to the royal prophet [David]. (Moller.) — It is certain, that Asaph was a prophet, and chief musician in the days of David, 1 Paralipomenon vi. 39., xxv. 2., and 2 Paralipomenon xxix. 30. (Berthier) — But the psalms that have this title relate to the captives, and may have been composed by some of his descendants. This and the following seem designed to shew, that something more than bloody victims is required by God; and thus the Israelites, who could not offer sacrifices at Babylon, were comforted; and the people taught by degrees, to look for something more excellent than the law of Moses. (Calmet) — The first and second coming of Christ are here described. (Du Hamel) — God’s angels, just men, judges, (Calmet) idols, &c. (Worthington) — Hebrew El Elohim, Yehova, “the mighty God, the Lord.” (Haydock) — From these three titles, some of the Fathers have proved the blessed Trinity. (Estius) — But this argument is not conclusive. (Berthier) — They ought, however, to fill us with awe, when he shall come to judge the earth, his chosen people, (ver. 4.; Calmet) or all mankind. (Berthier) (Menochius) — Christ will come, surrounded by many legions of angels. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Beauty. This may refer to God, or to Sion, (Calmet) where the Church of Christ began. (Worthington)
Ver. 3. Silence. Christ displayed the light of truth from Sion, at his first coming. But he would not judge any till the second, John iii. 17., and viii. 15. (St. Jerome) (Calmet) — Before him, at the last day, (Haydock) or in hell. (St. Athanasius) — Our Saviour appeared formerly with great mildness: but he will come with majesty and terror, after fire shall have destroyed all transitory things. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. Earth. As if they were animated, Deuteronomy iv. 26., and xxxii. 1., Isaias i. 2., and Jeremias ii. 12. — Some understand the angels and apostles by heaven. (Calmet) — Judge. Literally, “to divide,” discernere, (Haydock) the goats from the sheep, Matthew xxv. 32. (Calmet) (Menochius) — The whole earth, particularly the elect, will approve of God’s decree, 1 Corinthians vi. 2.
Ver. 5. His saints. Hebrew, “my merciful ones,” (Haydock) the chosen people, (Calmet) particularly priests, (Theodoret) who might have too high an opinion of the legal sacrifices, (St. Chrysostom) or all the elect are meant, Matthew xxiv. 30. (Eusebius) — The Hebrews were the only nation which then offered sacrifices to the true God, though some individuals might do it among the Gentiles. (Calmet) — Before, super, or, “who make a covenant with him respecting sacrifices.” — Protestants, “those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice,” Malachias i. 12. (Haydock) — The Septuagint seem to have read v for i, more accurately, as the prophet speaks till ver. 7. (Berthier) — Judgment should begin at the house of God. And if first at us, what shall be the end of them that believe not the gospel of God? (1 Peter iv. 17., and Romans ii. 9.) (Haydock) — Those who believe not, are already judged, John iii. — Sacrifice generally precedes a covenant, Genesis xv. 17. (Menochius)
Ver. 6. Heavens. Apostles, (St. Jerome) or angels. (Chaldean) (St. Athanasius) — God is judge. His sentence must therefore be just, (Menochius) and we ought to tremble, 1 Corinthians iv. 4. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. Testify. I will require thee to speak the truth, and attest the world, Psalm lxxx. 9. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Sight. I complain of no neglect (Menochius) in these outward ceremonies. (Haydock) — God required no victims during the captivity; but he always demanded praise, (ver. 14.; Calmet) a contrite heart, Psalm l. 19., &c. (Haydock) — The prophets often admonished the people of this truth, (Isaias i. 2., and Jeremias vii. 20.; Calmet) that they might not set too high a value on sacrifices, (Haydock) which, though pleasing to God, are of no service to him; as all the world is his property. (Worthington)
Ver. 10. Oxen. St. Jerome and Protestants, “the cattle upon a thousand hills.” But our version is very good, and adopted by the Syriac, Ferrand, &c. (Calmet) — Aleph means an ox as well as a thousand; and i may have been added to the preceding word, instead of u, at the beginning of this. (Berthier) — We find u here improperly in either, “beast.” (Houbigant) — No mention is made of fishes, because they were not used as victims. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. I know your number, and have absolute dominion over all, Isaias xxxvii. 28. (Calmet) — Field. Ripe fruits. (St. Cyril) (Alexandrian) — With God all things are present. (St. Augustine; Lombard, 1 dist. 35.; F.; Amama)
Ver. 13. Goats? Can any of you be so stupid? (Menochius) — Some of the pagans believed, that their idols delighted in the smell of victims. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. Vows. A faithless promise is very displeasing, Ecclesiastes v. 3. True religion must be interior, (Calmet) also 1 Corinthians xiv. 15. (Haydock) — We must discharge, not only our general, (Menochius) but also our particular vows, (Worthington) and obligations. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Call. Prayer is a perfect act of religion, and a confession of God’s dominion.
Qui fingit sacros auro vel marmore vultus,
Non facit ille Deos: qui rogat, ille facit. (Martial viii. v. 24.)
To neglect prayer is, in some sense, to deny God. (Calmet) — He is pleased to exercise our confidence, (Haydock) and will have us to call upon him in distress. (Menochius)
Ver. 16. Sinner. He is not blamed for praying: but his hypocrisy is condemned. (Berthier) — The world is full of such hypocrites, who have God in their mouths, but not in their hearts, and whose voice alone is the voice of Jacob, Genesis xxvii. 22., Isaias xxix. 13., and Titus i. 16. — The wicked judges, who condemned Susanna, (Daniel xiii.) should have attended to these lessons. (Calmet) — Thou that teachest another, teachest not thyself, Romans ii. 21. — It is surely to be expected, (Haydock) that those who undertake to teach others, should shew good example, and serve God with sincerity, (Worthington) and not content themselves with the glory of their vocation. (Menochius)
Ver. 20. Lay. Hebrew, “slanderest.” (Protestants) But dophi occurs on where else. (Berthier) — The sinner sits to detract, or with pleasure, (Menochius) habitually offends. (Haydock)
Ver. 21. Silent, and deferred punishment, (St. Augustine) waiting for thy conversion, Romans ii. 4. — Unjustly, is not expressed in Hebrew. (Berthier) — Face, judgment and hell, (Chaldean) or all these things, (St. Jerome) and thy manifold transgressions. The sight will be most intolerable. (Calmet)
Ver. 22. Lest he. Hebrew, “I tear you in pieces.” (Protestants) (Haydock) — Rapiat ut Leo. (St. Augustine) — It may be understood of death, (Theodoret) or of God. (Calmet)
Ver. 23. Praise. This kind of improper sacrifice, and those of justice, and of a contrite heart, (Psalm iv., and l.) must accompany outward sacrifices, to make them acceptable. The latter has always been obligatory, (Worthington) as well as the former. (Haydock) — This psalm proves, that the old victims should give place to one far more excellent, the body of Christ, the sacrifice of praise which the Church offers. (St. Augustine, con. advers. xx. orat. con Jud. vi. and ep. cxx. 18.) (Worthington) — Eucharist means even “good grace,” or thanksgiving, being intended to enable us to render that tribute of praise, which he requires. (Haydock) — There. Hebrew, ” to him that ordereth his conversation aright, will I,” &c. (Protestants) — The difference consists only in the points. (Berthier) — Syriac, “There I will shew him the way of his salvation,” or, according to St. Chrysostom, “even my salvation.” (Calmet) — By adoring God in spirit and truth, (Haydock) we may be saved. (Menochius)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The coming of Christ: who prefers virtue and inward purity before the blood of victims.
1 A psalm for Asaph.
The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken: and he hath called the earth,
From the rising of the sun, to the going down thereof: 2 out of Sion the loveliness of his beauty.
3 God shall come manifestly: our God shall come, and shall not keep silence.
A fire shall burn before him: and a mighty tempest shall be round about him.
4 He shall call heaven from above, and the earth, to judge his people.
5 Gather ye together his saints to him: who set his covenant before sacrifices.
6 And the heavens shall declare his justice: for God is judge.
7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak: O Israel, and I will testify to thee: I am God, thy God.
8 I will not reprove thee for thy sacrifices: and thy burnt-offerings are always in my sight.
9 I will not take calves out of thy house: nor he-goats out of thy flocks.
10 For all the beasts of the woods are mine: the cattle on the hills, and the oxen.
11 I know all the fowls of the air: and with me is the beauty of the field.
12 If I should be hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine and the fulness thereof.
13 Shall I eat the flesh of bullocks? or shall I drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God the sacrifice of praise: and pay thy vows to the most High.
15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.
16 But to the sinner God hath said: Why dost thou declare my justices, and take my covenant in thy mouth?
17 Seeing thou hast hated discipline: and hast cast my words behind thee.
18 If thou didst see a thief, thou didst run with him: and with adulterers thou hast been partaker.
19 Thy mouth hath abounded with evil, and thy tongue framed deceits.
20 Sitting thou didst speak against thy brother, and didst lay a scandal against thy mother’s son: 21 these things hast thou done, and I was silent.
Thou thoughtest unjustly that I shall be like to thee, but I will reprove thee, and set before thy face.
22 Understand these things, you that forget God; lest he snatch you away, and there be none to deliver you.
23 The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me: and there is the way by which I will shew him the salvation of God.