Psalm lxxvi. (Voce mea.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Idithun. Hebrew, “upon Idithun,” was not formerly in the text. (St. Jerome) — It may be the name of an instrument, (Bellarmine) or tune, (Muis) or this master of music and Asaph might sing alternately. There is nothing certain; (Menochius) though some would hence conclude, that Asaph was the author. The occasion of the psalm is also unknown, and may be applied to all the afflicted servants of God, (Berthier) or to the captives. (Calmet)
Ver. 2. To God. These repetitions denote fervour, (Calmet) and that God alone must be the object of our desire. (St. Augustine)
Ver. 3. Deceived, in my expectations, as I prayed with mind and body continually. (Worthington) — Good works are a strong recommendation. “They cry, though we be silent.” Many have recourse to the great for assistance, and few to God. Yet in isto invenio omnia. (St. Jerome) — Hebrew is variously translated, and may have been altered. “My hand fell in the night, and ceased not.” Symmachus and St. Jerome come near to the Vulgate. (Calmet) — They have, “and does not cease,” which would be the case, if the person were deceived or rejected. (Berthier) — Protestants, “my sore ran,” &c. (Haydock) — But this seems rather violent. (Calmet) — Comforted. By any worldly advantages. (Menochius) — Joy can come from God alone. (Berthier)
Ver. 4. Delighted. Hebrew, “cried out,” which many explain through sorrow. But the Septuagint seem rather to take it in a different sense, as well as the swooning, which might proceed from ecstatic joy (Berthier) at the thought of God. The alternate sorrows and joys of the just are well described. They are seldom allowed to continue long in the same state. Protestants, “I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.” St. Jerome, “I spoke within myself,” exercising myself in meditation. (Haydock) — I was sometimes in such distress, that nothing seemed capable of giving me any comfort. But I relied on God, and was in an ecstacy. (Worthington)
Ver. 5. My eyes. Vatican Septuagint, Arabic, and St. Augustine read, “my enemies,” but our Vulgate follows the edition of Aldus and Complutensian (Berthier) very frequently, which here agree better with the Hebrew, “I hindered my eyes from looking up;” (St. Jerome; Symmachus) or, “thou hast kept the watches of my eyes,” (Aquila) hindering me from sleeping; (Haydock) so that I did not watch three hours only, like the sentinels, but all night. (Calmet) — The sudden address to God seems incorrect. (Berthier) — I rose before the usual time, yet did not utter my sentiments, (Worthington) being quite oppressed both with grief and joy. (Haydock) — I durst not speak, as I was convinced that thy judgments were right. (Menochius)
Ver. 6. Of old. And the favours which had been heaped on the nation. (Calmet) — Years. Both past and future times; (Haydock) yea, eternity itself, the great occupation of life. (St. Augustine) (Berthier)
Ver. 7. Heart. Septuagint have read differently from the present [Hebrew]. (Berthier) — Hebrew, “I recollected my canticle in the night, and communed with my own heart, and my spirit sought to the bottom;” or, “I swept, (or directed, scopebam) my spirit,” (St. Jerome) from all things unbecoming. Septuagint Eskallon. “I dug and harrowed” it by earnest meditation, to extract the weeds, and make it fit to receive the divine seed, (St. Jerome, here and ep. ad Sun.) and to bring forth fruit; (Haydock) or I swept to discover the precious jewel (Berthier) of salvation. (Haydock) — Scopebam, is not deemed a good Latin word; but seems to be derived from skopeo, “I consider or direct my aim;” though some think it means rather,” I swept,” Isaias xiv. 23. Hugo reads scopabam. (Calmet) — I diligently examined my conscience, (Worthington) and left nothing unturned, like the woman in the gospel who sought the groat. [Luke xv. 8.] (Menochius) — Hebrew yechapes, may also mean, “my spirit is set free,” to say what might seem too bold, Will God, &c. (Calmet)
Ver. 9. Ever. Hebrew adds, “is his word ineffectual?” which the Vatican Septuagint neglects, (Berthier) though gamar omer be thus rendered in other editions. “Has he completely fulfilled his word,” which may be the true sense, consumabitur verbum. (St. Jerome) (Haydock) — “Will he execute this threat from generation?” &c. (Calmet) — God will never abandon his Church, (Worthington) though he may chastise his people. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Mercies? Turning the waters another way, (Muis; Calmet) or going against his natural inclination. Vincit illum misericordia sua. (St. Jerome)
Ver. 11. Begun. By God’s grace, I now perceive that my thoughts were wrong. (Worthington) — I see that we are chastised on account of our sins; (Theodoret) but now I hope for better things. (Tirinus) (Genebrard) — Hebrew may have this (Berthier) and many other meanings. (Calmet) — Protestants, “I said this is my infirmity. But I will remember the years of right,” &c. De Dieu, “To pray, this is mine; to change the right hand, is of the most High.” (Calmet) — All comfort and every good resolution must come from him. Challothi is derived from eel, by the Septuagint, and from chala, (Haydock) “he is sick,” by others. Who will assert that the former are not the most ancient and learned interpreters? The sequel shews that the psalmist begins to entertain better hopes. (Berthier) — Now have I begun to follow wisdom, and to amend my life. St. Anthony advised all to make this resolution every morning. (Tirinus)
Ver. 12. Beginning. In favour of Israel, or rather of all the just from Abel. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Inventions. Protestants, “doings,” (Haydock) or the secrets of Providence, (Calmet) and his “affections.” (St. Augustine) — The just find an interest in all his works, (Berthier) as they work together for their salvation, Romans viii. 28. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. Holy “place,” or person. (St. Jerome) — Thy ways are inscrutable, (Muis) but always holy. (Genebrard) — Hebrew, “in sanctity.” (Menochius)
Ver. 16. Arm. Christ, (St. Jerome) or power, Deuteronomy v. 15. — Joseph, who was in Egypt, while the rest of the family dwelt in Chanaan. (Berthier)
Ver. 17. Afraid. St. Jerome, “in labour.” (Haydock) — Troubled. The dry land appearing, to let the Israelites pass. (Berthier) (Psalm cxiii. 3.) — St. Jerome and the Jews understand this of the storm of Sinai. But most people suppose that the catastrophe at the Red Sea is described, when Moses insinuates, that a dreadful tempest overwhelmed the Egyptians, as it is here specified. See Josephus, [Antiquities?] ii. 7. (Calmet)
Ver. 18. Waters. St. Jerome, “the clouds poured out waters,” mayim, Septuagint may have read hamim, “sounds,” and omit clouds, which come again in this verse. (Berthier)
Ver. 19. Wheel. (Protestants) (Haydock) Hebrew, “a whirlwind,” (Calmet) or “wheel,” (Pagnin) in the air. (Haydock) — The noise of thunder is something similar to a wheel, rattling on the pavement. (Haydock) — Salmoneus foolishly tried to imitate it with his chariot. (Apoll. Bib. i.) — Trembled. The preaching of the apostles was attended with success. (Haydock) (Fathers) (Calmet) — Earthquakes were felt, and men were under a general alarm. (Menochius)
Ver. 20. Known. The waters resumed their usual course, Hebrews iii. 15. The wheels of the enemy might be discerned long after. (Calmet)
Ver. 21. Hand. By the ministry (Worthington) of those, who acted in God’s place, in the desert. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The faithful have recourse to God in trouble of mind, with confidence in his mercy and power.
1 Unto the end, for Idithun, a psalm of Asaph.
2 I cried to the Lord with my voice; to God with my voice, and he gave ear to me.
3 In the day of my trouble I sought God, with my hands lifted up to him in the night: and I was not deceived.
My soul refused to be comforted: 4 I remembered God, and was delighted, and was exercised, and my spirit swooned away.
5 My eyes prevented the watches: I was troubled, and I spoke not.
6 I thought upon the days of old: and I had in my mind the eternal years.
7 And I meditated in the night with my own heart: and I was exercised, and I swept my spirit.
8 Will God then cast off for ever? or will he never be more favourable again?
9 Or will he cut off his mercy for ever, from generation to generation?
10 Or will God forget to shew mercy? or will he in his anger shut up his mercies?
11 And I said, Now have I begun: this is the change of the right hand of the Most High.
12 I remembered the works of the Lord: for I will be mindful of thy wonders from the beginning.
13 And I will meditate on all thy works: and will be employed in thy inventions.
14 Thy way, O God, is in the holy place: who is the great God, like our God? 15 Thou art the God that dost wonders.
Thou hast made thy power known among the nations: 16 with thy arm thou hast redeemed thy people, the children of Jacob, and of Joseph.
17 The waters saw thee, O God, the waters saw thee: and they were afraid, and the depths were troubled.
18 Great was the noise of the waters: the clouds sent out a sound.
For thy arrows pass: 19 the voice of thy thunder in a wheel.
Thy lightnings enlightened the world: the earth shook and trembled.
20 Thy way is in the sea, and thy paths in many waters: and thy footsteps shall not be known.
21 *Thou hast conducted thy people like sheep, by the hand of Moses and Aaron.
21: Exodus xiv. 29.