Psalm xc. (Qui habitat.)
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. David. Septuagint add, “it has no title in Hebrew,” and hence the Jews refer it to the preceding author, with St. Jerome, &c. But this rule is very uncertain. (Calmet) (Berthier) — Some suppose that Moses composed it when he led the Israelites out of Egypt, or in the wilderness; while others think that it is the work of David under some imminent danger. The Fathers apply it to Jesus Christ. Yet it may be considered simply as a moral instruction, (Calmet) superior in elegance to any Greek or Latin poem. (Muis) — Aid. Hebrew, “secret place.” Of heaven. Is not in Hebrew shaddai, which means, (Haydock) “the almighty self-sufficient, or destroying God.” (Calmet) — We must keep close to God by mental prayer, if we would enjoy the divine protection. (St. Gregory, Mor. vii. 7.) (Berthier)
Ver. 3. Delivered me. Hebrew and Septuagint, “shall deliver thee.” Yet the Alexandrian copy has me. (Haydock) — The psalmist addresses his own soul. (Berthier) — Word, verbo: we sometimes find “sword,” printed by mistake. Hebrew dabar, signifies “word, thing, pestilence, &c.” (Haydock) — The devil employs human respect to draw many into his nets. (St. Augustine) (Berthier) — Neither subtle craft, nor the cruelty of tyrants will disturb those who trust in Providence. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. With. Septuagint, “upon.” St. Augustine, “between,” as the Lord carried Israel, Deuteronomy xxxii. 11. (Calmet) — Hebrew, “he will cover thee with his feathers,” (Haydock) like an eagle. (Menochius)
Ver. 5. Shield. God’s fidelity, or word, affords the best protection, Proverbs xxx. 5. (Calmet) — Having the spirit of faith, a man is secure. But he whose heart is hardened, (Berthier) is covered with the buckler of God’s affliction, (Lamentations iii. 64.; Haydock) abuses every thing, and seems bewitched with self-love, Galatians i. (Berthier) — Night. Devils, spectres, &c., (Canticle of Canticles iii. 7.; Calmet) and treacherous insinuations, that people are not bound to confess the truth, in time of danger. (Worthington)
Ver. 6. Day. Neither open attacks, nor unforeseen accidents prevail. (Calmet) — Business. Hebrew dabar, “thing,” ver. 3., “the pestilence.” (St. Jerome) (Haydock) — The Hebrews suppose, that one angel presides over death in the daytime, and another during the night; or that various demons send maladies at these different times. — Invasion. Septuagint and old Italic, have, “ruin.” — St. Jerome, after Aquila, “from the bite of him who rageth, damonizontos, at noon. Keteb, (Haydock) according to an ancient tradition of the Jews, denotes one of the bolder devils, who attacks in open day, and seeks no aid from nocturnal craft. (Genebrard) The psalmist may allude to those popular notions, (Theodoret; St. Jerome) which were prevalent among the pagans. (Theocrit. Idyl. i.; Lucan iii.) (Calmet) — Thou shalt fear no danger of the day or night, (Bellarmine) nor any which disturbs the life of man. (Scaligers, ep. i. p. 95.) — This author mistakes, when he supposes that Keteb is rendered devil. (Amama) — He might also ask how the Chaldean, Aquila, and Symmachus came to discover, that the devil is here mentioned, as well as the Septuagint? (Berthier) — These seem to have read ussod, “and the devil,” instead of issud, “from destruction which ravages,” (Amama) vastabit. (Montanus) (Haydock) — But allowing that the Septuagint, &c., are accurate, what is meant by this devil? St. Peter seems to explain the idea, when he exhorts us to sobriety, 1 Peter v. 8. (Berthier) — Violent temptations of sloth, (St. Athanasius) or impurity, (Theodoret) or the persecutions against the faithful, may be meant. Four different sorts of attacks seem to be designated. 1. Such as assult the ignorant with the fears of the night, tempting them to secure their temporal estates, while they think not of eternal woe impending. 2. Others are attacked with the arrow in the day, and threatened with death, which they know they ought rather to endure, than abandon their faith. 3. The business, &c., imitates some grievous but latent temptation, as when the faithful are persuaded to take some unlawful oath. 4. But the greatest and most manifest attack, is styled, invasion, &c., when persecutors assail those who adhere to the true faith with a succession of torments, and subtle arguments, which have been the occasion of the fall of many, who had resisted the former attacks. Yet none of these yield, but by their own fault, trusting in themselves, and not in God. (St. Augustine) (Worthington) — Noon day. Grotius explains this of the heat of the sun, which is very dangerous to travellers in Palestine. (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Fall. Or “attack,….but shall not come nigh to thee.” (Eusebius) (Calmet) — How great soever may be the number of thy adversaries, they shall not be able to do thee any harm. They shall fall at thy feet, and their dart shall not reach thee. (Haydock) — More forsake God in prosperity, than under adversity. (Worthington)
Ver. 9. Because. Saying, Thou, &c. (Worthington; ver. 1.) (Calmet) — High. Hebrew helyon is a title of God, (Calmet) not the adjective to refuge, (Berthier) as Chaldean, Aquila, &c., have taken it. “Thou hast placed thy dwelling most high.” So that there, &c., ver. 10. It is evident that the following promises relate not to the Lord, (Calmet) but to the just man. Protestants, “because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most high thy habitation.” This transposition is not authorized by the text. (Haydock)
Ver. 10. Scourge. Aquila has Aphe, “the leprosy,” (Calmet) or any stroke of distress. (Haydock) — What the saints have suffered were not real evils, and they will be amply rewarded in heaven. They never complain, having God with them, (Calmet; ver. 15.; Haydock) and his holy angels. (Menochius)
Ver. 11. Angels. Many seem to be assigned to the just, to whom St. Hilary, &c., would restrain this privilege. But it is more generally believed, that each person has an angel guardian. This was the opinion even of the pagans. (Porphyrius, Ap. ii.; St. Clement of Alexandria, Strom. v.) (Calmet) — To keep. Instead of this, the tempter substituted and, (Matthew iv. 6.) finding it would not answer his purpose, (Haydock) and shewed that the question was about walking, and not about precipitating oneself. (St. Bernard, ser. xv. p. 90.) — To attempt such unusual courses, is the way of Lucifer, (Worthington) and tempting God, as our Saviour replied. (Berthier) — From the father of lies, heretics have learnt how to curtail and misapply the holy Scriptures. (Haydock) — God has highly favoured man, by intrusting him to the care of these sublime ministers of his court, (St. Bernard) and surely it is lawful for us to implore their assistance, as we may apply to our fellow-creatures for redress in our temporal necessities. To refuse to do so, on the plea that we expect all immediately from God, would be going contrary to his appointment. Else why has God given them for our guardians, since He could have done all without them? In vain is it objected, that this invocation is a religious worship. It may be so styled, because they are blessed, and help us to obtain salvation. But we only honour in them the gifts of God. (Berthier) — They protect us by his ordinance, (Worthington) and the very form of praying, shews in what light we regard them. Who durst say to God, pray for us? (Menochius)
Ver. 12. Stone. He alludes to nurses. (Calmet) — All these expressions are metaphorical, to shew the assistance given by angels, to remove the obstacles which impede our progress towards heaven.
Ver. 13. Asp. Which kills in eight hours time at farthest, making the blood congeal.— Basilisk. “The little king” of serpents. What is related of it seems fabulous. (Pliny, [Natural History?] viii. 21.; Solin xxx.) (Calmet) — Yet there might be some species known by this name, possessing fascinating qualities like the rattle-snake. (Berthier) — The sight of it alone could not destroy a man; otherwise how could any account of it have been given? Hebrew ssel means a lion in Job, (Berthier) and phethen, “an asp,” (Calmet) or basilisk. (Bochart) — Dragon. Crocodile. (Calmet) — The most noxious animals, both of sea and land, shall prove quite harmless to the true servants of God, when he intends to prove the truth of his religion, as he did in the cases of Daniel, and of the disciples of Christ, Mark xvi. If they be suffered to kill the saints here, it is in order that they may be glorified in heaven, ver. 15. (Haydock) — The devil is styled an asp, &c. (Berthier) — He sometimes attacks the Church, by craft, and at other times by open violence. But she [the Church] remains secure, (St. Augustine) and her children can only be preserved by continuing in her bosom. To know which is the true Church; “see, says St. Gregory, (Mor. xx. 29.) which are the most recent sects.” (Berthier) — Methodists may now wrest this honour from the rest of Protestants. (Haydock)
Ver. 14. Because. God speaks the rest. (Worthington) — Known. In practice. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. Tribulation. The just are not exempt from it. — Glorify him, with eternal salvation.
Ver. 16. Days. Eternity alone can satisfy the heart. — Salvation. Or Jesus, who promised to manifest himself, John xiv. 21, 25. (Berthier) — Abraham saw him afar off; Simeon at hand, John viii. 56., and Luke ii. 30. God insures the just a long life in this world, and an eternal one in the next. (Calmet) — That life is long enough which ends in happiness. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The just is secure under the protection of God.
1 The praise of a canticle for David.
He that dwelleth in the aid of the Most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of Heaven.
2 He shall say to the Lord: Thou art my protector and my refuge: my God, in him will I trust.
3 For he hath delivered me from the snare of the hunters: and from the sharp word.
4 He will overshadow thee with his shoulders: and under his wings thou shalt trust.
5 His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid of the terror of the night.
6 Of the arrow that flieth in the day, of the business that walketh about in the dark: of invasion, or of the noon-day devil.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh to thee.
8 But thou shalt consider with thy eyes: and shalt see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou, O Lord, art my hope: thou hast made the Most High thy refuge.
10 There shall no evil come to thee: nor shall the scourge come near thy dwelling.
11 *For he hath given his angels charge over thee: to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 In their hands they shall bear thee up: lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and thou shalt trample under foot the lion and the dragon.
14 Because he hath hoped in me, I will deliver him: I will protect him, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall cry to me, and I will hear him: I am with him in tribulation, I will deliver him, and I will glorify him.
16 I will fill him with length of days; and I will shew him my salvation.
11: Matthew iv. 29.; Luke iv. 10.