Psalm lvii. (Si vere utique.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Title. This psalm is a sequel to the former, (Worthington) and refers to the malevolent speeches of Saul’s courtiers, (1 Kings xxiv. 10., and xxvi. 7.; Calmet) and to the proceedings of the Jews against Christ. (St. Jerome) — It is an invective against hypocrites, (Calmet) and detractors. (Berthier)
Ver. 2. Men. If you be consulted by Saul, and act as judges, do what is right. Condemn not a man unheard. (Calmet) — Few refuse to speak well. (Worthington) — Hebrew also, “O assembly,” act not hypocritically.
Ver. 3. Heart. Hence proceed evil thoughts, &c. (Haydock) — Quicquid vis & non potes, factum Deus computat. (St. Augustine) — Forge, as you endeavour to preserve the appearance of rectitude. Hebrew, “weigh” in scales. (Calmet) — This double-dealing aggravates the fault. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. Womb. Born in sin. (Haydock) — They have followed the same course through life, being always bent on wickedness. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Madness; or “poison,” chamath. (Menochius) — Deaf asp. This is the most dangerous species. The ancients attempted to charm serpents. But these courtiers were deaf to every proof of David’s innocence, (Calmet, Diss.) and would receive no admonition, stopping their ears, like asps. (Worthington) — The prophet speaks conformably to the received opinion, (Berthier) without determining it to be true. (Menochius)
Ver. 6. Wisely. “Cunningly.” Many read, qui incantatur a sapiente. (Calmet) — He does not approve of the magical art. (Menochius) — Serpents may naturally be affected with music. The torpid snake by incantation bursts. (Virgil, Ec. viii.; Bochart v. 3. 385.) Parkhurst, chober. (Haydock)
Ver. 9. Wax. Hebrew shabbelul, occurs no where else, and this signification is surely preferable to that of the Rabbins, “a snail.” (Protestants) (Haydock) — Fire. Hebrew, “like the untimely birth of a woman, which has not seen the sun.” (Houbigant after St. Jerome) — Septuagint may not have read th at the end of esh, “fire.” But both version imply, that the wicked shall perish, without resource (Berthier) or struggle. This in enforced by a multiplicity of examples. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Before your thorns, &c. That is, before your thorns grow up, so as to become strong briers, they shall be overtaken and consumed by divine justice, swallowing them up, as it were, alive in his wrath. (Challoner) — You shall be cut off when you least think of it. (Menochius) (Psalm liv. 24.) (Haydock) — David probably alludes to the proposal mentioned, (Judges ix. 14.) where the brier (rhammus) invites all the trees to come under its shade. Before you, my followers, shall fall under the oppression of our cruel persecutors, they shall be suddenly destroyed. (Berthier) — “Before your pots can feel the thorns, he shall take them away, as with a whirlwind, both living, and in his wrath.” (Protestants) — This version of Pagnin is rejected by Montanus, who nearly follows the Vulgate. Sirothecem means, “your thorns, or pots,” Ecclesiastes vii. 7. (Haydock)
Ver. 11. Shall wash his hands, &c. Shall applaud the justice of God, and take occasion, from the consideration of the punishment of the wicked, to wash and cleanse his hands from sin. (Challoner) — Hands. Hebrew, “feet,” (though this is not certain. Psalm lxxiii. 4.; Berthier) and all his body; the carnage shall be so great. The just approve of God’s judgments, (Calmet) in or “over,” epi, to testify that he has no connexion with the wicked. (Theodoret) — The just will purify himself still more at the sight of vengeance. This interpretation is good, but no so literal. (Berthier)
Ver. 12. A God. Hebrew Elohim shophetim. Both are in the plural, which has induced many to suppose that angels, &c., are meant; yet the plural is sometimes used, when speaking of the true God, Genesis xx. 13., and Josue xxiv. 19. (Calmet) — Houbigant translates, “gods,” which he explains of the pastors of the Church, or “judges.” The reward of virtue, and punishment of vice, are very important truths. Let us wait till the time of harvest, and all will be in its proper place. (Berthier)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
David reproveth the wicked, and foretelleth their punishment.
1 Unto the end, destroy not, for David, for an inscription of a title.
2 If in very deed you speak justice: judge right things, ye sons of men.
3 For in your heart you work iniquity: your hands forge injustice in the earth.
4 The wicked are alienated from the womb, they have gone astray from the womb: they have spoken false things.
5 Their madness is according to the likeness of a serpent: like the deaf asp that stoppeth her ears:
6 Which will not hear the voice of the charmers; nor of the wizard that charmeth wisely.
7 God shall break in pieces their teeth in their mouth: the Lord shall break the grinders of the lions.
8 They shall come to nothing, like water running down: he hath bent his bow till they be weakened.
9 Like wax that melteth they shall be taken away: fire hath fallen on them, and they shall not see the sun.
10 Before your thorns could know the brier; he swalloweth them up as alive, in his wrath.
11 The just shall rejoice when he shall see the revenge: he shall wash his hands in the blood of the sinner.
12 And man shall say: If indeed there be fruit to the just; there is indeed a God that judgeth them on the earth.