Psalm lxxii. (Quam bonus Israel Deus.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Asaph. See Psalm xlix. We shall not undertake to decide whether he composed or only sung this psalm; (Berthier) or whether he lived under David or Josaphat, or rather during the captivity. Those who attribute all the psalms to David, get rid of many such inquires: but they are involved in other difficulties, (Calmet) which are not insurmountable. (Haydock) — How. Hebrew, “Surely,” as if an answer was given to what had long troubled the author. (Berthier) — God is more excellent and beneficent (Haydock) than any tongue can express. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Slipt. I had almost yielded to the temptation (Menochius) by denying Providence, (Haydock) and following the broad road. [Matthew vii. 13.] (Worthington) — Upon more mature reflection, (Haydock) I am perfectly convinced that God is not indifferent about those who serve him, though he may have treated Israel with severity. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Zeal. I was grieved, (Menochius) or even inclined to imitate the wicked; (see Matthew iii. 14., Psalm xxxvi., Jeremias xii., and xxi. 7.) though the whole book is intended to clear up this difficulty respecting the treatment of the good and bad in this life.
Ver. 4. Regard. They are not restrained by the thoughts of death, (Haydock) which they banish (Worthington) as much as possible. Protestants, “There are no bands (“of pain.” Munster) in,” &c. (Haydock) — Stripes. They quickly remove their light afflictions. (Worthington) — “And their halls are strong.” (St. Jerome) — “Their strength is firm;” (Protestants) “fat.” (Marginal note) (Haydock) — Septuagint follow another derivation, which is equally accurate. (Berthier) — The wicked die with content and ease, in an advanced age, falling off like ripe apples, without being torn violently away or bound. They look not on all sides to see if there be no escaping. (Menochius) — Having enjoyed all the luxuries of life unto satiety, they are resigned to die, little suspecting what will follow. (Haydock) — They are like victims fattened for slaughter, Proverbs vii. 22. (St. Augustine) — A noted English deist had the assurance to say on his death-bed, and to have place on his tomb-stone, Dubius, sed non improbus vixi: securus morior, haud perturbatus! (Haydock)
Ver. 5. Other men, who follow a more virtuous course (Worthington) than themselves. Their prosperity encourages their pride, and they indulge in every excess. (Worthington)
Ver. 7. Fatness. Abundance, and temporal prosperity, which have encouraged them in their iniquity; and made them give themselves up to their irregular affections. (Challoner) — This sense is better than the modern Hebrew affords. (Berthier) — “Their eyes stand out with fatness.” (Protestants) (Haydock) — Into. Hebrew, “the thoughts of the heart,” or their utmost expectations; (Haydock) or “they have executed the devices of their heart;” which comes to the same. (Berthier) — They have done what mischief they could. (Worthington)
Ver. 8. High. With impudence; (Menochius) boldly despising others, (Worthington) from their exalted station. (Berthier) — They even dare to contend with the Almighty. (Haydock)
Ver. 9. Earth. Attacking men as well as God. (Berthier)
Ver. 10. Return here; or hither. The weak among the servants of God will be apt often to return to this thought, and will be shocked when they consider the full days, that is, the long and prosperous life of the wicked; and will be tempted to make the reflections against Providence which are set down in the following verses. (Challoner) — Protestants, “his people return hither, and waters of a full cup are wrung out for them.” St. Jerome saw nothing of waters. “And who among them shall be found full?” He also reads my people (Haydock) better. It is difficult to understand the present Hebrew: whereas the Septuagint is plain; as they found imi, days, instead of ume, “and who,” or “and waters.” (Berthier) — We may explain this of the sentiments which the captives should entertain (Calmet) at their return. (Theodoret) — Asaph, seeing the impiety of the Babylonians, concluded that they would surely be punished, and Israel, being converted, would be put again in possession of their delightful country. (Calmet) — The prosperity of the former will cause some to fall away, and their days will be full of misery, (Worthington) or they will ponder whole days on these things. (Berthier)
Ver. 11. They. The weak, (Worthington; Berthier) under this perplexity, or the wicked, said. (Calmet)
Ver. 13. And I said, is added by the Septuagint to connect the sentence. (Berthier) — Hebrew, “truly in vain.” — Innocent. Keeping company with them, and avoiding evil, Psalm xxv. 6.
Ver. 14. Mornings. Every day, (Menochius) or it comes quickly upon me. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. If I said, &c. That is, if I should indulge such thoughts as these. (Challoner) — I should. Hebrew, “the generation of thy children will say, that I have prevaricated.” (Pagnin) — Or, “I should offend against the,” &c. (Protestants) (Haydock) — I should not be in unison with Abraham. (St. Augustine) — I seem to declare them reprobates, and thy providence unjust. (Calmet) — It was not thus that they thought and acted, when they were under trials; (Haydock) for God chastiseth every son whom he receiveth. (Worthington) — The psalmist begins thus to enter into himself, and to correct his mistake. (Berthier)
Ver. 17. Sanctuary. The Church, which teaches all truth; or heaven, (Menochius) or the holy Scriptures, (Lyranus) or rather the counsels of God, which were disclosed to him, (ver. 24.) when he was sensible that the question was not to be answered satisfactorily by human reason. (Calmet) — The last judgment will explain all. (Haydock) — In this life, we cannot know the particular causes why the just are afflicted. (Worthington) — None but the high priest could enter into the Mosaic sanctuary. (Calmet) — Religion alone, or the future world, can unfold these mysteries. There we shall learn, that the just require to be purified, and that the sinner’s conversion is expected to be the fruit of his reprieve, and of his temporal felicity, (Berthier) to which he may perhaps have had some title, for the few good works which he may have done. (Haydock)
Ver. 18. Thou hast put it to them. In punishment of their deceits, or for deceiving them, thou hast brought evils upon them in their last end, which in their prosperity they never apprehended. (Challoner) — Septuagint, &c., add, “thou hast placed evils.” St. Ambrose reads, “goods.” (Calmet) — Dolos, seems to form part of both sentences, “for deceits thou hast put deceits.” (Berthier) — With the perverse, thou wilt be perverted, Psalm xvii. 27. Protestants, “surely thou didst set them in slippery places, thou calledst them down into destruction;” (Haydock) or, “when they were lifted up.” Do the rich think, that their prosperity may be an effect of God’s indignation? (Calmet) — We are here informed, in general, that evils are prepared to punish sins. (Worthington) — The wicked have risen by their crimes to such a slippery situation. (Menochius)
Ver. 20. City. In heaven. (Calmet) — Hebrew also, “when thou shalt awake,” (Chaldean; Houbigant; Berthier) and come to judge, after waiting a long time. (Calmet) — Image. The splendour of worldlings is a mere phantom. Death will shew its vanity. (Haydock) — Their felicity is only imaginary. (Worthington) (Job xx. 8., Isaias xxix., and Psalm lxxv. 6.) (Calmet) — Though the wicked may live to a great age, (ver. 4.; Haydock) yet all time is short. (Menochius)
Ver. 21. Changed. St. Jerome, “are like a fire smoking.” I was indignant, (ver. 3.; Haydock) and almost consumed with afflictions, and heavy laden. But I depend on my protector. (Worthington)
Ver. 22. Nothing. In point of knowledge. Hebrew Bahar means, “a foolish man.” (Berthier) — Knew not, the solution of this difficulty, which thou hast explained. (Calmet)
Ver. 23. With thee. I endeavoured to fathom these things by my weak reason; but thou wast graciously pleased to bear with me, (Eusebius) as I was always convinced, indeed, that thy conduct could not be unjust. I am willing to be led like a beast. (Calmet) — I still feared thee amid all my perplexities, and therefore thou hast delivered me from this temptation. (Berthier) — I am now filled with sentiments of my own past ignorance, and take thee for a guide. (Haydock)
Ver. 24. By thy will. Hebrew and Septuagint, “into thy council.” Thou hast hindered me from yielding to my doubts, and hast revealed thy truths to me. (Calmet) — And. Hebrew, “afterwards.” — Glory. Syriac and Houbigant supply thy glory. (Berthier)
Ver. 25. Earth? I no longer envy the prosperity of the wicked, (Calmet) seeing that it is all a dream, and a snare, ver. 18, 20. (Haydock) — Nothing can now give me content, but thyself. (Calmet) — This is all we should desire, both for soul and body, as our true inheritance. The wicked, on the contrary, use their free-will to offend God, who destroys, or sentences them to eternal fire. (Worthington)
Ver. 26. Away. I am ready to die for love, and gratitude. (Haydock) — I esteem not myself, if I am deprived of Thee. We must love God with a most chaste, and disinterested affection, if we desire to enjoy him, (Berthier) GOD ALONE. (Boudon.)
Ver. 27. Disloyal. The adherence to any creature is resented by God, as a fornication. (Berthier)
Ver. 28. Praises. Literally, “tidings.” Predicationes. (Haydock) — The ancient psalters read laudes, praises. — In the gates, &c., was not in the most correct Septuagint, &c., being taken from Psalm ix. 15. (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The temptation of the weak upon seeing the prosperity of the wicked, is overcome by the consideration of the justice of God, who will quickly render to every one according to his works.
1 A psalm for Asaph.
How good is God to Israel, to them that are of a right heart!
2 But my feet were almost moved; my steps had well nigh slipt.
3 Because I had zeal on occasion of the wicked, seeing the prosperity of sinners.
4 For there is no regard to their death, nor is there strength in their stripes.
5 They are not in the labour of men: neither shall they be scourged like other men.
6 Therefore pride hath held them fast: they are covered with their iniquity and their wickedness.
7 Their iniquity hath come forth, as it were, from fatness: they have passed into the affection of the heart.
8 They have thought and spoken wickedness: they have spoken iniquity on high.
9 They have set their mouth against heaven: and their tongue hath passed through the earth.
10 Therefore will my people return here: and full days shall be found in them.
11 And they said: How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the Most High?
12 Behold these are sinners; and yet abounding in the world they have obtained riches.
13 And I said: Then have I in vain justified my heart, and washed my hands among the innocent.
14 And I have been scourged all the day; and my chastisement hath been in the mornings.
15 If I said: I will speak thus; behold I should condemn the generation of thy children.
16 I studied that I might know this thing, it is a labour in my sight:
17 Until I go into the sanctuary of God, and understand concerning their last ends.
18 But indeed for deceits thou hast put it to them: when they were lifted up, thou hast cast them down.
19 How are they brought to desolation? they have suddenly ceased to be: they have perished by reason of their iniquity.
20 As the dream of them that awake, O Lord; so in thy city thou shalt bring their image to nothing.
21 For my heart hath been inflamed, and my reins have been changed: 22 and I am brought to nothing, and I knew not.
23 I am become as a beast before thee: and I am always with thee.
24 Thou hast held me by my right hand; and by thy will thou hast conducted me, and with glory thou hast received me.
25 For what have I in heaven? and besides thee what do I desire upon earth?
26 For thee my flesh and my heart have fainted away: thou art the God of my heart, and the God that is my portion for ever.
27 For behold they that go far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that are disloyal to thee.
28 But it is good for me to adhere to my God, to put my hope in the Lord God:
That I may declare all thy praises, in the gates of the daughter of Sion.