Psalm vii. (Domine Deus meus.)
Notes & Commentary:
[Ver. 1.] Shiggaion (Haydock) is a word which has greatly puzzled interpreters. See Robertson in shoge. Protestants have, “Shiggaion of David.” The Rabbins confess that they know not its meaning, and it is of no service for the explanation of the psalm. (Berthier) — St. Jerome follows the Septuagint, (Haydock) which may suit very well. Others have, “ignorance.” (Menochius) — “Perplexity.” (Calmet) — “Secret.” (Vatable) — “Song of wanderings.” (Parkhurst, &c.) — Chusi is scarcely less difficult to understand. The person who has inserted this historical title, and many others, without much judgment, had probably in view the wars of Absalom, and the curses of Semei. But the psalm seems rather to refer to the persecutions of Saul, (Calmet; 1 Kings xxii. 8.; Menochius) who was of the tribe of Benjamin. (Haydock) — Sts. Augustine, Basil, and Chrysostom explain it of Chusi, (Worthington) the Arachite, from a town of Benjamin, (Calmet) who defeated the counsel of Achitophel, (Worthington) as it is supposed that David was given to understand that his friend had betrayed him, and in consequence speaks of him in such harsh terms. But if that had been the case, he would have suppressed what was founded on error; (Calmet) and the supposition is contrary to the idea which we have of inspiration. Yet there is nothing in the psalm which requires the harsh expressions to be applied to Chusi. They may as well refer to Achitophel, who spoke in answer to him.
Ver. 2. My God. This title is prompted by love and confidence. (Haydock) — All. David had only few followers, while he was pursued by Saul (Calmet) and Absalom. (Haydock)
Ver. 3. Lion. In a spiritual sense this is the devil, 1 Peter v. 8. (St. Augustine) — “Let him only see the sign of the cross, or the lamp continually burning before the altar, he will flee away. Should we wonder at this? the garments alone of Paul drove him from possessed person.” [Acts xix. 12.] (St. Chrysostom) — Will modern sectaries still ridicule these things? — While. Hebrew, “tearing, and not snatching away.” But there is a similar construction, (Lamentations v. 8.) which shews that we ought to follow the Vulgate. (Berthier) — Absalom, or any other enemy, may be this lion. (Worthington) — They threatened David with utter ruin, which he could never have escaped, without God’s visible protection.
Ver. 4. Thing, alluding to some calumny, (Haydock) with which he was assailed (Worthington) by Saul, Absalom, and Semei. (Berthier) — He disclaims all such ambitious or unjust sentiments, though he allows that he is not innocent before God. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. That repaid. This seems better than “my peaceable one,” as some translate the Hebrew, for it would be but a small commendation not to injure a friend: the pagans do as much. Duport therefore agrees with the Vulgate, and St. Jerome has, “If I have rendered evil to those who did me any, and sent my enemies empty away;” or, as the Hebrew is in the future, “I will let my enemies depart without fighting;” which is equivalent to, I will gain no advantage over them. (Berthier) — The man who takes revenge, injures himself, and becomes the devil’s slave. (St. Augustine) — David had been so far from giving way to ingratitude, that he would not even hurt his enemy. (Haydock) — He let Saul escape, when he might easily have slain him. [1 Samuel xxvi.] (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Dust. Hebrew adds, “to dwell,” (Haydock) as if the ignominy was not to be effaced. This would be very sensible for a king. (Berthier) — Glory is here synonymous with life, or soul, Genesis xlix. 6. Let my life and (Calmet) reputation be lost. (Worthington) — Summum crede nefas animam præferre pudori. (Juvenal viii.)
Ver. 7. Borders. Hebrew is rendered, “fury of my enemies.” — My is found in some copies of the Septuagint, though the edition of Comp. and Aldus agree with the Vulgate, and Bos observes, that an ancient interpreter rendered the first word as we do. (Berg.) — Habar means, “to pass;” and, of course, behabroth (Haydock) may denote, in the borders; (Berg.) though St. Jerome, &c., have, “rise up indignant over mine enemies.” Avenge thy own cause, as they would overturn thy decree, which has called me to the throne. (Haydock) — Commanded. Shew thy power, and protect me, since thou hast ordered me to reign. (Worthington) — Convince my enemies of the injustice of their proceedings, (Haydock) and cause them to repent. Thy order is what displeased Saul. Protect me as thou hast promised. Chaldean, “Execute the judgment in my favour, which thou hast decreed.” Then all will obey. (Calmet) — O Lord, my God. Hebrew has not Lord, and some translate elai, “to me.” But it also means, “my God.” (Berthier)
Ver. 8. High, on thy tribunal, to decide this dispute. The Fathers apply this to the ascension of Jesus Christ, who will judge the world. (St. Augustine; Theodoret) (Calmet) (2 Corinthians x. 11.) — The interference of Providence (Haydock) will induce many to come to thy tabernacle, (Menochius) to embrace the true religion, (Worthington) and sectaries will decrease. These will be refuted most effectually, when they see the law well observed. (Berthier)
Ver. 9. Innocence. Hebrew, “simplicity,” which has the same meaning. (Haydock) He speaks of the justice of his cause (Muis) against his particular enemies. (Worthington) — St. Paul thus commends himself, 2 Timothy iv. 7. The justice of the saints is not merely imputed, as the first Protestants foolishly imagined: for how should God reward those whom he saw still in sin, and who were only reputed holy? a notion which their disciples have modified or abandoned, as they have also done what had been taught respecting grace. Justice is an effect of God’s grace, and of man’s co-operation, 1 Corinthians xv. 10. (Berthier) — David begs that the disposer of kingdoms would convince Saul that he was not a rebel: and the world, that he had not lost God’s favour, like his rival. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Reins; affections, (Jeremias xii. 2.; Calmet) and inmost recesses, which are open to God. (Menochius)
Ver. 11. Just. This epithet refers to God, in Hebrew. Septuagint might easily explain it of help, before the words and verses were divided: (Haydock) yet it is still taken in the former sense, in some Greek and Latin copies. The wicked shall be frustrated in their designs, though they may succeed for a time, (Calmet) consumetur, (Symmachus; Haydock) or rather let their ruin be determined on, 1 Kings xxv. 17. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. Strong. Hebrew el, means also “God threatening every day;” (Haydock) which must be a proof of his patience, as the Septuagint have intimated, since he could destroy at once. Thus numquid, must be rendered “is he not?” (Isaias xxvii. 7.) (Berthier) — God cannot but be displeased at every sin. He threatens the offender daily by secret remorse, or by his preachers and good books. (Haydock) — But he often defers punishment (Worthington) till death, when the measure of crimes is full. (St. Augustine) — This silence or delay is one of the most terrible of his judgments, (Haydock) and a mark of his great indignation. If he were, however, to strike every one as soon as he had committed sin, where should we be? “He would soon be alone,” as a pagan observed of “Jupiter, if he were presently to hurl his thunderbolts against every offender.” (Calmet) See Val. Max. i. 2. (Ecclesiasticus v. 4.)
Ver. 13. Except you. Hebrew, “if he be not.” Houbigant would read, “God will not be turned aside.” (Berthier) — “For him who does not change, he will sharpen his sword.” (St. Jerome) (Haydock) — God threatens before he strikes, (Calmet) expecting amendment. (Worthington)
Ver. 14. For them that burn. That is, against the persecutors of his saints. (G.[Calmet?]) — Hebrew also, “he has made his arrows to burn.” (Houbigant after Symmachus.) (Haydock) — The ancients used fiery darts or arrows, Psalm cix., and Ephesians vi. 16.
Sed magnum stridens contorta phalarica venit,
Fulminis acta modo. (Virgil, Æneid ix.; Herod.[Herodotus?] viii.)
— The death of Saul seems to be foretold. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. Iniquity. Hebrew, “a lie.” All the labour of the wicked ends in smoke. See Micheas ii. 1., and Isaias lix. 4. (Haydock) — The psalmist sometimes speaks of many enemies, and sometimes of one, who was the chief. Yet what he says of him must, according to the genius of the Hebrew language, be applied to the rest. (Berthier) — Saul, (Calmet) Absalom, and Achitophel, each found their ruin, in their unjust attempts. (Haydock) — They had injustice in view, and were actuated by envy, which destroyed them. (Worthington)
Ver. 17. Sorrow. The evil which he designed for me (Menochius) will fall on him, like an arrow shot upwards. (Calmet) — Crown. Protestants, “pate.” (Haydock)
Ver. 18. Justice. “Truly thou art just, O Lord,” cries out St. Augustine, “since thou protectest the just, so as to enlighten them by thyself; and so disposest of sinners, that they are punished, not by thine, but by their own malice.”
Bible Text & Cross-references:
David, trusting in the justice of his cause, prayeth for God’s help against his enemies.
1 The psalm of David, which he sung to the Lord, for the words of Chusi, the son of Jemini. [2 Kings xvi.]
2 O Lord, my God, in thee have I put my trust; save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me.
3 Lest at any time he seize upon my soul like a lion, while there is no one to redeem me, nor to save.
4 O Lord, my God, if I have done this thing, if there be iniquity in my hands:
5 If I have rendered to them that repaid me evils, let me deservedly fall empty before my enemies.
6 Let the enemy pursue my soul, and take it, and tread down my life, on the earth, and bring down my glory to the dust.
7 Rise up, O Lord, in thy anger: and be thou exalted in the borders of my enemies.
And arise, O Lord, my God, in the precept which thou hast commanded: 8 and a congregation of people shall surround thee.
And for their sakes return thou on high.
9 The Lord judgeth the people.
Judge me, O Lord, according to my justice, and according to my innocence in me.
10 The wickedness of sinners shall be brought to nought; and thou shalt direct the just: *the searcher of hearts and reins is God. Just
11 Is my help from the Lord; who saveth the upright of heart.
12 God is a just judge, strong and patient: is he angry every day?
13 Except you will be converted, he will brandish his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.
14 And in it he hath prepared the instruments of death, he hath made ready his arrows for them that burn.
15 *Behold he hath been in labour with injustice: he hath conceived sorrow, and brought forth iniquity.
16 He hath opened a pit and dug it; and he is fallen into the hole he made.
17 His sorrow shall be turned on his own head: and his iniquity shall come down upon his crown.
18 I will give glory to the Lord according to his justice: and will sing to the name of the Lord the most high.
10: 1 Paralipomenon xxviii. 9.; Jeremias xi. 20. and xvii. 10. and xx. 12.
15: Job xv. 35.; Isaias lix. 4.