Psalm lxxi. (Deus judicium tuum.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Psalm. Some copies add, “of David.” But the Hebrew has only Lishlomo, “to Solomon;” (St. Jerome; Haydock) or, composed by Solomon. The former sense is more generally adopted, (Berthier) though the Chaldean and Eusebius look upon the latter as most plausible. David, however, seems to have written this last most beautiful piece, when he placed his son upon the throne; (3 Kings i. 47.) and being transported with a divine enthusiasm, he described the reign of the Messias, (Calmet) to whom alone many of the passages can be applied, (St. Augustine; Worthington) as the Jews, Chaldean, Kimchi, &c., confess, though they will not allow Jesus to be the Christ, ver. 5, 11, 17. (Calmet)
Ver. 2. Son. Solomon, (Berthier) or Cyrus, (Pr. disc.) or the Messias. Most blessed Trinity, enable the Son of man, or of David, to judge the world. (Worthington) (Isaias x. 3., and John v. 22.) — Judgment. Equity is the duty of governors, as obedience is that of subjects. Solomon acted with the greatest sagacity, 1 Paralipomenon xxii. 10., and xxix. 23., and 2 Paralipomenon i. 10. The psalmist inculcates the obligation of defending the rights of the poor, who are under God’s protection. To him even judges and monarchs must give an account, Deuteronomy i. 17., and 2 Paralipomenon xix. 6.
Ver. 3. Justice. These blessings shall be so common; (Psalm xxxv. 6., and Joel iii. 18.) or, let princes pursue the paths of justice and peace, Micheas vi. 1. Solomon was to enjoy a perpetual peace, (1 Paralipomenon xxii. 9.) as he was a figure of Jesus Christ, who has procured a more solid one for us, Ephesians ii. 14., John xiv. 27., and Isaias lii. 7. (Calmet) — Hebrew has “by righteousness,” as this is the source of true peace, Romans xiv. 17. These virtues are publicly enforced in the Church, as from a mountain, Isaias ii. 2. (Berthier) — Christ, the rock, (Haydock) and his ministers, the hills, preach reconciliation. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. Oppressor. Literally, “calumniator.” Christ has chained down the devil, the accuser of our brethren, Apocalypse xii. 10., and xx. 2. (Menochius) — He hath taken away his spoils, (John viii. 44.) and undertaken the defence of the humble, Isaias xi. 4. Solomon was also the reverse of those wicked princes, who receive bribes, and neglect the poor, Isaias i. 23. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Before. Or, in the presence of the moon, as the Hebrew indicates, (Berthier) though St. Jerome translates, ultra, “beyond, or after.” (Haydock) — Yea, Christ existed before all the creation, (Psalm cix. 3.; Calmet) and these comparisons do not insinuate that he will ever cease to be. (Theodoret) — The kingdom of David and Solomon is described in the same poetic language, (Psalm lxxxviii. 28., and 37.; Calmet) as it will remain for ever in the hands of the Messias. (Haydock) — Hebrew makes a sudden address to the king, “they shall fear thee with the sun,” which Houbigant dislikes. Some letters may have been changed, though the sense is not bad. (Berthier) — “They shall fear thee at the rising of the sun, and shall pray to they by the light of the moon,” Chaldean, both day and night. (Calmet) — Solomon, as a figure of Christ, was good for some time; but no king, except our Saviour, will reign for ever. (Worthington) — The mind of the prophet is now raised to behold him. (Menochius)
Ver. 6. Fleece. Or, “new cut grass,” as the original term also signifies. Yet the explanation given by the Vulgate seems preferable, (Berthier) as an allusion is made to what happened to Gideon, (Judges vi. 37.; Houbigant) prefiguring the miraculous conception of our Saviour. He shall call both the strayed sheep of the house of Israel, and the inhabitants of all the earth: as Solomon gave the greatest satisfaction to his people, during the early part of his reign, (Haydock) and spoke with the utmost eloquence, 3 Kings iv. 34. (Calmet) — Some supply His justice, (ver. 7.) or rather, “his word” shall come, Deuteronomy xxxii. 2. (Calmet) — The incarnation was effected sweetly, and in silence. (Worthington)
Ver. 7. Justice. Hebrew, “the just,” who appear most under a good king, being animated by his example. (Haydock) — Away. Chaldean, “till those who adore the moon be exterminated.” This idolatry pervaded almost all the east. Solomon’s reign was very peaceable, 3 Kings iv. 25. But this was only a feeble representation of the peace which Christ should bring. At his birth, the whole world was at peace. Angels proclaimed it to all the earth, Luke ii. 14., and Isaias ii. 4. (Calmet) — It is certain, that the internal peace of Solomon’s reign did not continue to the end, (Haydock) much less till the moon should be taken away. (Berthier)
Ver. 8. To sea. Solomon ruled from the Mediterranean, Red, and Indian Seas, to the Persian Gulph, and the Euphrates, having all Arabia tributary to him, (Haydock) and the countries as far as Syria; so that he enjoyed all that had been promised by God, Genesis xv. 18., Numbers xxxiv. 3., and 2 Paralipomenon ix. 26., and 3 Kings iv. 24. — The earth, denotes this kingdom. (St. Jerome in Isaias xiii. 4.) But if we explain it of Christ, his Church has no limits. In spite of the corruption of the world, she still asserts her title of Catholic. (Calmet) — She is universal, both as to time and place, and always visible, ver. 15. (Worthington) — Her divine head began to propagate this kingdom, after he had been baptized in the river Jordan, (Berthier) as the Fathers agree. This unlimited dominion was promised, (Psalm ii. 7.; Calmet) and the prophet Zachary, (Zacharias ix.) seems to quote this passage, when speaking of the Messias alone; so that it is best to understand it in this sense, as the Septuagint have done, by oikoumenes. (Berthier) (Isaias ix. 6.)
Ver. 9. Ethiopians. So St. Jerome, Aquila, &c., translate Tsiim, (Haydock) which denotes any nations living at a distance from commerce, (Berthier) or islanders, and those who are accustomed to sail, Isaias xiii. 21. People on the continent, as well as those in islands, and ships, shall submit to Solomon, (3 Kings x. 11.) as all shall yield to Christ, (Calmet) at least at the day of judgment. — Ground. Prostrating to adore him, Isaias xlix. 23. (Berthier) — Thus the Persians approach their kings, (Val. Max. vii. 3.) as the Muscovites and Chinese do still. (Calmet) — The eunuch of the queen of Ethiopia was the first convert of those who did not live in the holy land, Acts viii. 27. (Menochius)
Ver. 10. Tharsis. Bordering on “the sea,” (Berthier) or in Cilicia, though we find not that Solomon ever claimed any authority there, or that the Mediterranean was under his control. He sent his fleet indeed to Tharsis; (3 Kings x. 22.) but Arabia and Saba brought presents, or tribute to him. Under the name of islands, the Hebrews comprise all places, to which they had to go by water, as Asia Minor, &c., Isaias lxvi. 19. (Calmet) — The three kings were the first who verified this prediction concerning our Saviour; [Matthew ii.] and afterwards Constantine and other potentates embraced his religion. Among other islands, Britain, which is the greatest in Europe, was partly converted in the days of the apostles, (Theodoret in Timothy, &c.) and more under Eleutherius; though the English nation received the faith from St. Augustine of Canterbury and others, sent by Pope Gregory the Great, A.D. 596. (Worthington) — Saba. Hebrew Seba. The preceding Arabia is sheba, (Haydock) and refers to some of those who peopled that country. — Gifts, or tribute, 1 Paralipomenon xviii. (Calmet) — If the former term, presents, (Hebrew mincha, “a sacrifice of flour,” &c.; Haydock) be taken in the strict sense, the text cannot be applicable to any but the true God, the Messias. (Berthier) — The wise men, who came from this country, adored and offered presents to Christ, Matthew ii. (Menochius)
Ver. 11. Earth, is omitted in Hebrew, Roman Septuagint, &c., so that this cannot regard Solomon, (Berthier) though he was reverenced by all the neighbouring kings, 3 Kings x. 23. Christ alone is the universal king, (Apocalypse xix. 16., and Philippians ii. 10.; Calmet) to whom every knee shall bend, at least when all shall appear in judgment. Many kings shall submit before. (Berthier)
Ver. 14. Usuries. Hebrew toc, (Haydock) means “fraud and usury.” Eternal torment is the usury which God exacts for murder, &c., (St. Augustine) or a transient pleasure. (Haydock) — From this Christ has redeemed us, (Berthier) as well as from iniquity. (St. Augustine) — Original sin is the capital, for which the devil claims usury. (Bellarmine) — Name. Hebrew, “blood.” Septuagint properly wrote aima, which has been changed for onoma. The sense is not very different, as those who respect a person’s name, are careful to defend him from death. (Berthier) — Hebrew, “their blood is precious,” Psalm cxv. 15., and 1 Kings xxvi. 21. Solomon repressed all injustice, so that usury was banished, and the poor was so much enriched, as not to be forced to borrow. (Calmet) — Yet, after his fall, he laid heavy burdens on his people. (Haydock) — How much has the name and blood of Christians cost! Yet we fear not to scandalize those (Berthier) for whom Christ died! The most beautiful qualification of all in power is, to protect the poor, and to promote the work of God, for which he lends them his authority. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Arabia. Hebrew sheba, ver. 10. (Haydock) — This was accomplished by the wise men. [Matthew ii.] (Eusebius) — For him, (de ipso.) They shall adopt the form of prayer which he has taught, (St. Augustine) or they shall adore him on his own account. (Berthier) — Through him we have access in one spirit to the Father, Ephesians ii. 18., and Romans v. 1. People might pay a civil respect also to Solomon. — He shall live. The prolongation of the ruler’s life is sometimes (Haydock) a blessing, Proverbs xxviii. 2. The poor shall live, and pay the taxes cheerfully, praying for his prince, &c. (Calmet) — They shall adore God, and offer their vows for him, (Haydock) as subjects would do for Solomon, and the crowds did for Jesus Christ, crying out, Hosanna, &c., Matthew xxi. (Menochius)
Ver. 16. A firmament on the earth, &c. This may be understood of the Church of Christ, ever firm and visible: and of the flourishing condition of its congregation. (Challoner) — The strength or staff of bread shall not fail, Psalm civ. 16., and Isaias iii. 1. (Calmet) — Protestants, “there shall be a handful of corn in the,” &c. (Haydock) — Thus moderns follow the Rabbins, who greatly exaggerate the abundance which will take place under the Messias, as expecting that wheat will then grow as high as cedars. The country was indeed very luxuriant and populous in the reign of Solomon. But the fathers explain this of the Church, founded on Christ, the rock, and enriched with all virtues, (Calmet) and the most efficacious sacraments, particularly with the holy Eucharist, to which St. Jerome may allude: “there shall be memorable wheat,” &c. (Haydock) — By these hyperbolical allegories, the abundance enjoyed in the Church was denoted. (Menochius)
Ver. 17. Continueth. Protestants marginal note, “shall be as a son, to continue his father’s name for ever.” The Messias is the eternal son of God. Hebrew yinnin, (Keri.) might be rendered (Haydock) filiabitur, (Montanus) if this word were Latin. The ancient Jews considered this as one of the titles of the Messias. Chaldean, “before the sun was, his name was prepared.” (Berthier) — This is the third time that the glory of Christ is pronounced eternal, ver. 5., and 7. (Haydock) — He is for ever blessed: but we cannot think of Solomon, without remembering his almost incredible fall. (Calmet) — Blessed. This was spoken only of the Messias, (Berthier) who is the cause of salvation to all the elect. None are saved who do not continue in Him, (Menochius) by faith and good works.
Ver. 18. The God. Hebrew repeats this word, (Haydock) as the Septuagint of St. Jerome did. (Ep. ad Sun.) (Calmet) — Alone. Miracles can be wrought only by God’s power. (Worthington)
Ver. 19. So be it. Hebrew, “And amen.” See Psalm xl. (Haydock) — This glory of God was David’s most ardent wish. (Worthington) — It is suspected that the collector of the psalms added these two verses, (Muis) as all the books end alike. (Calmet)
Ver. 20. Are ended. By this it appears that this psalm, though placed here, was in order of time the last of those which David composed, (Challoner) as he died soon after. (Menochius) — The subject which he has here treated, (Haydock) concentrated all his thoughts and desires. (Eusebius) — “The prayers of David, son of Jesse, have been summed up.” (Theodotion and V Edition.) (Haydock) — It is probable that the collections of the psalms were made at different times; (Berthier) and though many were found after this second book was completed, it was not judged expedient to make any alteration. The Syriac and Arabic pass over this sentence entirely, (Calmet) which might be added by Esdras. (Worthington) — The following psalms have the name of Asaph, &c., in the titles. (Flaminius) — Yet it is certain that David composed some at least, which are place after this. See Psalm cix., &c. (Haydock) — The true David ceaseth not to sing new canticles in his Church. (St. Augustine) (Worthington)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
A prophecy of the coming of Christ, and of his kingdom: prefigured by Solomon and his happy reign.
1 A psalm on Solomon.
2 Give to the king thy judgment, O God: and to the king’s son thy justice:
To judge thy people with justice, and thy poor with judgment.
3 Let the mountains receive peace for the people, and the hills justice.
4 He shall judge the poor of the people, and he shall save the children of the poor; and he shall humble the oppressor.
5 And he shall continue with the sun, and before the moon, throughout all generations.
6 He shall come down like rain upon the fleece; and as showers falling gently upon the earth.
7 In his days shall justice spring up, and abundance of peace, till the moon be taken away.
8 And he shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
9 Before him the Ethiopians shall fall down; and his enemies shall lick the ground.
10 The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents: the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring gifts;
11 And all kings of the earth shall adore him: all the nations shall serve him.
12 For he shall deliver the poor from the mighty: and the needy that had no helper.
13 He shall spare the poor and needy: and he shall save the souls of the poor.
14 He shall redeem their souls from usuries and iniquity: and their names shall be honourable in his sight.
15 And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Arabia, for him they shall always adore: they shall bless him all the day.
16 And there shall be a firmament on the earth on the tops of mountains, above Libanus shall the fruit thereof be exalted: and they of the city shall flourish like the grass of the earth.
17 Let his name be blessed for evermore: his name continueth before the sun.
And in him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed: all nations shall magnify him.
18 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone doth wonderful things.
19 And blessed be the name of his majesty for ever; and the whole earth shall be filled with his majesty. So be it. So be it.
20 The praises of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.