Skip to main content

Full text of "The Psalms : a study of the Vulgate Psalter in the light of the Hebrew text"

See other formats



Printed and Bound 
in Ireland by :: ;; 
A/. //. Gill 6- Son, 
:: :: Ltd. :; ;; 
JoUpperO Connell 
Street :: :: Dublin 





Professor of Sacred Scripture and Oriental Languages, 
St. Patricks College, Maynooth, and Professor of Eastern 
Languages, University College, Dublin 





Obstai : 


Censor Theol. Deput. 



Archicp. Dublinen. 

Hiberniae Primas. 

die 3 Decembnx^ 1920. 

First Edition, 1920 
Second Edition, 1921 


THE main purpose of this work is to put within reach of 
divinity students, priests and the educated laity such 
information as is required for the intelligent use of the 
Vulgate Psalter. 

An attempt has been made in a general introduction to the 
Book of Psalms to outline the history and the chief charac 
teristics of the Vulgate Psalter as a whale. In the Commentary 
the psalms of the Vulgate are studied in detail as independent 
units, and it is hoped that the introduction, translation, and 
notes which accompany each psalm will make it clear that the 
Vulgate Psalter is a collection of beautiful and reasonably in 
telligible poems. Where the text of the Vulgate is obscure, 
light has been freely sought in the Hebrew Psalter. Every 
Hebrew word and phrase quoted in the Commentary has, how 
ever, been transliterated and explained, and no specialist know 
ledge (beyond what this work itself supplies) is necessary for 
the understanding of any statement contained in the Comment 
ary. It will be found that the English version of the Vulgate 
psalms given in this work is explained and justified in the notes 
which follow the individual psalms. 

Some surprise may be felt that the work contains so few 
references to authorities. But professional students of Scripture 
will probably recognise that this is not due to any neglect of the 
important contributions to every department of psalm-exegesis 
made by modern scholarship. Modern research has been con 
stantly kept in sight, and its results, so far as they could be 
regarded as sound and pertinent, have been incorporated in the 
present study. In the great mass of existing literature dealing 
with the Psalter it is difficult to find anything valuable which 
has not been put forward as an independent personal contri 
bution by several writers. Where individual achievement is 
so difficult to identify, it is probably better, and certainly more 


economical, to abandon the custom of bracketing with exegetical 
views long lists of authors names. 

I have tried in the Commentary to be as brief as the diffi 
culties of exposition permitted keeping in view the familiar 
experience that in exegesis it is usually easier to say too much 
than too little. Though enumerations of theories and discursive 
treatment of the text have been, for the most part, avoided, no 
genuine problem of the Vulgate Psalter has been consciously 

To the Rev. M. B. Langford, B.D., Dunboyne Establishment, 
Maynooth College, who assisted in preparing the manuscript 
for the printer, and to the Rev. P. J. Walsh, M.A., Archbishop s 
House, Dublin, who read the proofs and helped me constantly 
with kindly and suggestive criticism, my best thanks are due. 

P. B. 

St. Patrick s College, Maynooth. 



PREFACE , . . . . v 


I. Its place in the Canon . . . xi 

II. Names and divisions of the Book of Psalms . . xii 

III. The primitive text of the Psalter . . . xvi 

IV. A ncient versions of the Psalter .... xxii 
V. The poetical form of the Psalms . . xlviii 

VI. The purpose of the Psalter . . . . Iv 

VII. The Superscriptions of the Psalms . . . Ivi 

VIII. Classification of the Psalms . . . . Ixi 

IX. Important dates in Hebrew history . . . Ixvi 

X. Transliteration of Hebrew . . . Ixvii 

XL Bibliography ..... Ixviii 


1. The Two Paths ... .1 

2. The Victory of the Anointed ... -4 

3. A Morning Prayer 

4. A Vesper Song . . . .11 

5. A prayer for guidance and for the punishment of the godless . 14 

6. A prayer in time of need . . J 7 

7. A cry for help . . 20 

8. Man s littleness and greatness . . .24 

9. A song of thanks for the overthrow of enemies . . 27 

10. Trust in the Lord ! . . 35 

11. Complaint of the pious . 3$ 

12. Confidence in the time of trial 4 1 

13. The Fools .... -43 




14. The Citizen of Sion .... 

15. God is man s chief good 

16. A prayer for justice against ruthless foes 

17. A song of thanksgiving and triumph . 

18. The glory of God in the Heavens and in the Law 

19. A prayer for the King when he goes forth to battle 

20. After the battle .... 

21. The Just One in* distress 

22. The Lord as Shepherd and Host 

23. Entry into the Sanctuary of the Lord . 

24. A prayer in time of need 

25. A prayer of the guiltless 

26. In the Lord I am strong / . 

27. A prayer against enemies 

28. The glory of God in a storm . . . 

29. A song of thanks for rescue 

30. A prayer in time of need 

31. The joy of pardon .... 

32. The Providence of God 

33. Peace and joy in the fear of the Lord . 

34. A prayer of the lowly 

35. The blessedness of God s favour 

36. How fleeting the luck of the godless 

37. A penitential prayer of one smitten by sickness 

38. Endurance in trial .... 

39. Obedience and gratitude are better than sacrifice 

40. Prayer of a sick man against treacherous enemies 

41. Longing for God .... 

42. Longing for God .... 

43. Awake, God of Israel 

44. A royal wedding .... 

45. A sure refuge is the God of Israel 
.4^46. Hymn to the Lord as King of the world 

47. The City of God. A song for pilgrims 



48. Wealth avails not the wicked ..... 175 

49. The well-pleasing sacrifice . . . . .180 

50. God, be merciful to me a sinner .... 184 

51. The fate of sinners ...... 189 


52. The Fools ....... 193 

53. A prayer against ruthless foes .... 195 

54. Impious foes, and a disloyal friend . . . . 197 

55. In God I put my trust /..... 202 

56. In God I have no fear /..... 205 

57. A prayer against unjust judges .... 208 

58. A prayer for help agains ruthless foes . . .212 

59. Help us, Lord, according to Thy promise / . . .216 

60. A prayer of an exile for the king .... 222 

61. Confidence in God . . . . . . 225 

62. The possession of God ..... 229 

63. A prayer for the punishment of slanderers . . . 232 

64. Thanksgiving for God s favours .... 236 

65. A Thanksgiving ...... 243 

66. A harvest song ...... 247 

67. A commemoration of victory ..... 250 

68. A cry from the depths of sorrow .... 267 

69. A cry for help against enemies .... 278 

70. A prayer for help ...... 280 

71. The King of Peace . . . . .289 



THE books of the Hebrew Bible are divided into three classes : 
(i) the Law (the five books of Moses) ; (2) the Prophets (the so 
called earlier Prophets, Joshue, Judges, Samuel, Kings, and 
the later Prophets, Isaias, Jeremias, Ezechiel and the twelve minor 
Prophets); (3) the Writings. To the Writings (which are usually 
known by their Greek name Hagiographa) belong, (a) three books of 
poetry, Psalms, Proverbs, Job ; (b) the five Rolls (volumina), 
Canticles, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther ; (c) Daniel ; 
(d) the historical books, Esdras Nehemias, and the two Books of 
Paralipomenon (Chronicles). 

Thus the Book of Psalms belongs to the Hagiographa. In the 
New Testament period it was apparently the first book of that group, 
for Our Lord, referring to the three classes of books that make up the 
Old Testament, speaks of the things that had been written of Him in 
the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms (Luke 
24, 44 ). There is, however, no fixed tradition as to the precise place 
of the Psalms among the Writings. In the majority of Hebrew 
manuscripts of the Bible and in all the printed Hebrew Bibles the 
order of the Hagiographa is that given above Psalms, Proverbs, 
Job, the five Rolls, Daniel, Esdras Nehemias and Chronicles. In 
the Talmud, however, Ruth is put before the Psalms, and in some 
manuscripts of the Bible, Chronicles comes first. 

The Hebrew arrangement of the books of the Old Testament 
was known at Alexandria, the home of the Greek Bible, in the second 
century B.C., for it is several times referred to in the Prologue to 
Ecclesiasticus (written probably about 132 B.C.). It was not, however, 
retained by the Greek Bible. There is little agreement among the 
ancient Greek codices as to the precise order of the books in the 
Greek Old Testament, but it is clear that a grouping of books accord 
ing to subject-matter and authorship was substituted for the Hebrew 
system. The editors of the Greek Bible aimed, apparently, at an 
arrangement of the books into historical, didactic or sapiential, and 
prophetical. While the chief historical books always appear in the 
Greek codices in the first place, the sapiential and prophetical books 


frequently change places. The Vatican Codex (B), with which the 
majority of ancient authorities agree, places the sapiential books in 
the second place and the prophetical in the third. The sapiential 
books are seven and appear in B in the order Psalms, Proverbs, 
Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Job, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus. In the Latin 
Bible (Vulgate), which also assigns the middle place to the sapiential 
books, Job is the first of the sapiential books and Psalms the second. 1 


There is no one general name for the Book of Psalms in the 
Hebrew Bible. The Book was called by the Jews at an early period 
Thillim ( Praises ) or Sepher T hillim ( Book of Praises. ) 2 This 
designation of the Hebrew Book of Psalms was known to Origen, for 
he calls the Book o-e^p^tXAt/i, 8 an d to Jerome, who calls it Sephar 
Thallim.* In the Greek Bible the Book is usually designated i/ aA/iot, 6 
and in the New Testament we hear of the fiifi\o<$ ^aA/zwi/ (Luke 
20, 42 ; Acts i, 20 ). 

In the Alexandrian Codex of the Septuagint i//a\Ttjpiov is used as a 
name for the whole collection of psalms. Psalterium was, apparently, 
a popular name of the book as early as the time of St. Jerome. 6 
Psalterium Davidicum centum quinquaginta psalmorum is the title 
used in the Tridentine list of canonical books (Cone. Trid. sess. iv. 
Decretum de canonicis scripturis). Psaltery is, properly speaking, 
the name -of a musical instrument (harp, or similar stringed instru 
ment), and \l/aXrr)piov is used frequently in the Greek text of the 
Psalms to translate the Hebrew nebhel (harp). Though Psalter 
is thus a somewhat inexact name for the collection of psalms, its 
popularity is justified by the circumstance that the psalms were 
primitively intended, for the most part, to be sung to a musical ac 
companiment. More than a third of the psalms are called in the 
Hebrew superscriptions mizmor, i.e. a song meant to be sung to a 
musical accompaniment. The Greek word i//aA./zos is an accurate 

J In the Sinaitic Codex of the Septuagint, the sapiential books are the 
last group and the first of them is Psalms, the last Job : in the Codex Alexandrinus 
the sapiential books are again in the third place, Psalms being the first cf them, 
and Job the second. See on this whole question Swete, Introduction to the 
Old Testament in Greek. Revised by Ottley, 1914. Pp. 197-230. 

T hillim is often contracted into Tillim. The form with Aramaic ending 
Tillin is also often used. 

8 Origen in Ps. i. Migne, 12, 1084. 

Praef. in librum Psalmorum juxta Hebraicam veritatem. Migne, Jerome, 
28, 1124. Jerome renders the title, Volumen hymnorum. 

6 See Luke 24,", already referred to. 

See his Preface to the Psalter, printed in editions of the Vulgate. 


rendering of mizmor. It is not strange, then, that a book which 
consisted mainly of j//aA./zoi should come to be called a Psaltery/ 
or Psalter/ 

Besides mizmor ( psalm ) there are several other names given to 
individual psalms and groups of psalms in the Hebrew text. The 
final verse of Ps. 72 (Hebrew) speaks of the foregoing psalms as 
t e philloth Dawid ( the prayers of David ). It is possible, however, 
that the true reading here ought to be fhilloth Dawid, the praises of 
David (as in the l!atin text of the verse, laudes David) a title which 
would be identical (except for the feminine, and more normal, plural 
t hillotti) with the Jewish name of the Psalter T hillim. In the 
Vulgate Ps. 16 is called an Oratio David, Ps. 101 Oratio pauperis, 
Ps. 89 Oratio Moysi ; Ps. 141 is also called an Oratio. Some psalms 
are called shir (a song : Ps. 46, 45, 18 Hebrew) ; several are called 
shir mizmor (psalmus cantici ; so, Ps. 47, 66, 67, etc.) ; others are 
called mizmor shir (canticum psalmi ; so, Ps. 65, 87, etc.). A number 
of psalms, apparently forming a special group, receive the unintelligible 
name mikhtam (Ps. 15, 55-59 ; the name is rendered in the Latin 
Tituli inscriptio) ; another group is marked off by the title maskil 
(Ps. 31/41, 43, 44, 51-54, 73, 77, 87, 88, 141). In the Latin this 
name is rendered usually Intellectus, but in Ps. 51 it appears as In- 
telligentia. The meaning of the name is uncertain. Ps. 44 is called 
in the Latin Canticum pro dilecto ( love-song ). Ps. 7 is called in 
Hebrew a Shiggayon which uncertain title the Latin replaces by 
psalmus. Psalms 119-133 all receive in the Latin the title Canticum 
graduum ( gradual psalm corresponding to the Hebrew shir ham- 
ma a loth). The only psalm which is directly called T hillah ( a 
praising-song ) is Ps. 144 (in Latin called a Landatio.) Ps. 90 is, 
however, styled in the Latin Laus Cantici (but there is no correspond 
ing title in the Hebrew). These and such other designations of 
individual psalms as occur are discussed in their respective places in 
the Commentary. 

The Hebrew Book of Psalms contains 150 poems. The Greek 
translation of ihe Psalter known as the Septuagint contains 151, 
but the last psalm in the Greek a poem by David on. his struggle 
with Goliath, is regarded generally as apocryphal. The 150 canonical 
psalms are not numbered in the same way in the Hebrew 
and the Greek. Since in this respect, as in most others, the Latin 
Psalter (Vulgate) follows the Greek, it is necessary to make quite 
clear the relations between the two systems of numbering the 

The Hebrew psalms 9 and 10 appear in the Graeco-Latin 
Psalter as a single poem. The Hebrew psalms 114 and 115 also 
appear as one psalm in the Graeco-Latin text. On the other hand, 
the Graeco-Latin text breaks up the Hebrew Ps. 116 into two 
psalms, and treats the Hebrew Ps. 147 also as if it were two poems. 


The exact relations of the two psalters are shown in the following 
table :- 

Hebrew Ps. 1-8 Graeco-Latin Ps. 1-8 

9-io = ,,9 

11-113 = 10-112 

114-115 = "3 

116, l ~ 9 = 114 

116, 10 - 19 = 115 

117-146 = 116-145 

147, *-" = ,. M6 

M 147. "- 10 = ,. 147 

148-150 148-150 

Thas it will be seen that, for the most part, the numbering of the 
Greek and Latin psalms is one less than that of the corresponding 
psalms in the Hebrew psalter, and psalters which are directly derived 
from the Hebrew. Throughout this work the numbering of the 
Latin psalter is followed except where it is otherwise expressly 

The 150 psalms are divided into five books. These books are 
marked off from each other by doxologies which serve as conclusions 
to the books. To the first book belong Ps. 1-40; to the second, 
Ps. 41-71 ; to the third, Ps. 72-88 ; to the fourth, Ps 89-105 ; to 
the fifth, Ps. 106-150. The doxologies which mark the close of the 
different books are : 

Ps. 40, 14 : Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel a saeculo, 
et usque in saeculum : fiat, fiat. 

Ps. 71, 18 ~ 19 : Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel, 
qui facit mirabilia solus, 

et benedictum nomen majestatis ejus in aeternum, 
et replebitur majestate ejus omnis terra : fiat, fiat. 

Ps. 88, 63 : Benedictus Dominus in aeternum : fiat, fiat. 

Ps. 105," : Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel 
a saeculo et usque in saeculum ; 
et dicet omnis populus : fiat, fiat. 

Ps. 150 serves as a conclusion to the fifth book and to the entire 

The division of the psalms into five books has often been ascribed 
to the alleged desire of Jewish scholars to model the Book of Psalms 
on the Pentateuch. Just as there were five books of the Law, so there 
should be five books of praising song. There is, however, practically 
no evidence to support this view. It is more likely that the arrange 
ment of the psalms in five separate books is due to the gradual 



formation of the Psalter. There are many features of the Psalter 
which suggest that it was not collected by a single editor who brought 
together a number of individual poems, but that it grew gradually, 
for the most part by the union of small pre-existing groups of poems. 
Thus Ps. 13 of the first book, appears again as Ps. 52 in the second 
book. Ps. 39, 14 ^ appears again as Ps. 69 in the second book. Ps. 107 
of the fifth book is a combination of Ps. 56, 8 " 12 and 59, 7 1 * of the 
second book. This repetition of psalm-passages in different books 
implies, probably, that these books were in existence as independent 
collections before they were combined in the Psalter. The gradual 
growth of the Psalter by the coalescence of collections of poems is 
strongly suggested also by the conclusion of Ps. 71, the last psalm of 
the second book : Finished are the prayers (or praises) of David/ 
The writer of that conclusion could scarcely have been aware of the 
existence of the eighteen poems which are ascribed to David in the 
Hebrew text of Books III-V. 1 

The presence in the Psalter of several distinct groups of psalms 

1 The growth of the Psalter from smaller collections is perhaps also suggested 
by the manner in which the Divine names Yahweh (the personal name of the 
God of Israel) and Elohim ( God ) are used in the different parts of the Psalter. 
In the first book (Hebrew) Yahweh occurs 272 times, Elohim 15 ; in the second 
book (Hebr.) Yahweh occurs 30 times, Elohim 164. In the third book (Hebr.), 
in Ps. 73-83 (Hebr.) Yahweh occurs 13 times, and Elohim 36 ; but in 
the same book, in Ps. 84-89 (Hebr.) Yahweh occurs 31 times, and 
Elohim 7. In Bk. IV we have Yahweh only, and in Bk. V Yahweh only (except 
in Ps. 108 which is repeated from Ps. 57 and 60, and in Ps. 144, (Hebr.). 
Why does Elohim preponderate so greatly in Bk. II and in Ps. 73-83 
(Hebr.) ? The reason seems to be that the Elohistic psalms, as they are 
called from their use of Elohim, had been edited as a separate collection before 
they were incorporated in the Psalter. Notice particularly that Ps. 14 (Hebr.), 
which used Yahweh in the first book, uses Elohim when it appears as Ps. 53 
(Hebr.) in Bk. II. The same is true of Ps. 40,"^ (Hebr.) ; it is Yahwistic/ 
but is Elohistic when it reappears as Ps. 70 (Hebr.) in Bk. II. The editor 
who substituted Elohim for Yahweh in Bk. II could not have been the editor 
or collector of the whole Psalter. That the editor or collector of Bk. II had a 
very strong prejudice against using the name Yahweh appears from the fact 
that he employs reduplications of Elohim in a manner not to be paralleled from 
other parts of the Old Testament. Where other authors or editors would have 
written Yahweh, my God, or Yahweh, thy God, he gives us God, my God 
(42,*) and God, thy God (44," ; 49*). So also in the second book we 
find such phrases as Deus, Deus salutis meae (50, 16 ^ ; God, the God of Israel 
(68, 9 Hebr.), where we should rather expect Yahweh, my rescuing God/ 
Yahweh, the God of Israel. The editor of Bk. II may, perhaps, have been 
the Elohistic editor also of Ps. 73-83 (Hebr.). In spite of his predilection 
for Elohim the Elohistic collector or editor has allowed Yahweh, as was said 
above, to stand in a fairly considerable number of places. Hence his prejudice 
against allowing that Divine name to stand in the text in those places where it 
has been obviously omitted, cannot be due to the later Jewish tendency to abstain 
altogether from using the name Yahweh. The Hebrew personal name of God is 
written throughout this work as Yahweh. There is no real justification for the 
form Jehovah. The first consonant of the word is a y-sound rather than an 
English j. The vowels of Jehovah are really the vowels of >a donai (lord), for a donai 
was substituted by Jews of the late period for Yahweh. 


which stand apart from all the rest is a further indication of the 
gradual growth of the Psalter from the coalescence of pre-existing 
smaller collections of poems. Such an obvious group, for instance, 
is that of the Gradual Psalms (119-133). Other such definite 
groups are the Asaphite Psalms (Ps. 49, 72-82), and the Korachite 
collection (Ps. 41-48, 83-88) ; further, the wasfoY-psalms (51-54), 
the mikhtam-group (55-59), an( ^ tne Alleluja -psalms (104-106, no- 
118, 134-135, 145-150). 

Since there are many poems in the Psalter which do not belong to 
any of the obvious groups of psalms, it must be admitted that the 
Psalter has not grown wholly from the union of groups of psalms. 
Individual psalms were incorporated with the groups by the different 
editors. The question of the authorship of the psalms is, of course, 
-independent of all theories as to the manner and date of their col 
lection and publication, as we have them, in the Psalter. The question 
of the authorship of the Psalms will be discussed in a later section. 


The original language of all the psalms was Hebrew. It is prac 
tically certain that the period throughout which the psalms of our 
Psalter were composed extended over, at least, six or seven hundred 
years from the time of David (who began* to reign about 1,000 B.C.) 
to some date in the post-exilic period (which began with the first 
return of the Exiles from Babylon about 538 B.C.). If some of the 
psalms were composed in the Maccabean period (167-63 B.C.), as many 
critics maintain, the gradual formation of the Psalter \\ill have ex 
tended over a period of close on a thousand years. It is not, indeed, 
probable that some of the psalms were written as late as the Maccabean 
period, for it is likely that the psalm-collection was complete when 
I Paralipomenon was written (about 300 B.C.). 1 The Prologue to 
Ecclesiasticus, written, probably, about 132 B.C., refers several times 
to the Greek translation of the Old Testament in such a way as to 
imply that the Greek Bible, including the Psalter, was already prac 
tically complete at the time at which the Prologue was composed. 
It would be very unlikely that psalms written in Hebrew subsequently 

1 In I Par. 16," the doxology which marks the close of the fourth book 
of psalms is quoted. If this quotation is a part of the original text of Paralipo 
menon, and if the doxology in Ps. 105," is, like the do xo logics at the close of the 
other psalm-books, in reality a verse editorially added to mark the end of a book, 
it will have to be admitted that the psalm-books existed practically as we know 
them about 300 B.C. This would, of course, exclude Maccabean psalms. The 
whole question of Maccabean psalms is exhaustively discussed in Nikel s 
Alttestamentliche Abhandlungen by Goossens in his essay, Die Frage nach 
makkab&ischen Psalmen, 1914. 


to 170 B.C. could have been generally received as canonical and then 
translated into Greek in Egypt before 132 B.C. But whether we 
accept 300 B.C. or (let us say) 150 B.C., as the date before which the 
Psalter must have been completely collected, it will still be true that 
.a great interval of time separates the earliest psalms from the latest. 
We should, then, expect to find in the Hebrew psalms traces of the 
changes which must have taken place in the Hebrew language through 
out six or seven hundred years. Yet there are very few such traces. 
Their absence musl: be due, then, to some extent, at least, to editorial 
activity. It is scarcely thinkable that David would have used pre 
cisely the same forms, and modes of expression as poets who lived in 
the post-exilic period between 400 B.C. and 300 B.C. Yet the student 
of the Hebrew text of the psalms cannot discern, except very vaguely, 
any special linguistic features by which he might identify _one psalm 
as early, and another as late. It is true that psalms sometimes 
show what one might call modernising tendencies in language 
such, for instance, as the use of forms and words borrowed from 
Aramaic. Yet even in these psalms the apparentlv late features may 
be due to a late editorial hand, or, what modern scholars regard as 
later forms or borrowings from Aramaic, may be really echoes of 
popular speech, and very ancient, appearing to be modern only be 
cause we know so little of the popular speech of Israel in any period. 
The uniformity in language and style of the Psalter must be 
due, then, to some extent, to the work of later editors. Besides 
such editorial change as the Hebrew psalms underwent before they 
took the form which they have in the existing Hebrew Psalter, they 
were liable, like all other frequently copied ancient texts, to cor 
ruptions at the hands of scribes. We have no ground for supposing 
that a special Providence preserved the Hebrew Psalter from the 
corruption to which other portions of the Hebrew Bible were certainly 
exposed. Some notion can be formed of how the Hebrew Psalter 
fared in its transmission by studying the few instances which exist 
in the Hebrew Bible of double recensions of the same psalm-text. 
Thus, for instance, the poem which appears as Psalm 17 is found also 
in II Kings 22, and it can readily be seen by comparing the two 
texts, that the primitive text of the poem has suffered so much cor 
ruption that it cannot be completely recovered. A comparison of 
the text of Ps. 13 with that of Ps. 52, and of Ps. 39, 14 ^" with Ps. 69 
will also help to throw light on the transmission of the Hebrew text 
of the Psalter. It is clear, indeed, that the text of the Hebrew Psalter 
was as liable to modification as any other part of the Hebrew text 
of the Bible. 1 That modern scholars, Catholic as well as non- 

C/. IV Kings i8, 13 -2o, 19 with Isaias 36-39, or IV Kings 24,"^ with 
Jeremias 52 for illustration of the fortunes of other portions of the Hebrew 


Catholic, admit that the primitive Hebrew text of the psalms has 
suffered in its transmission, will be clear to any one who takes the 
trouble to look for a moment into any modern commentary on the 
Hebrew Psalter. 

All ancient much copied texts underwent changes in the course 
of time through the ordinary frailties of copyists. But the Hebrew 
Bible was, by its peculiar history, liable to more than the ordinary 

issitudes of much copied texts. All those portions of the Bible 
which were composed in the pre-exilic period (before 586 B.C.), and 
probably, some which were first published in the post-exilic period 
were written in a script quite different from the form of Hebrew 
character which is used in modern Hebrew Bibles. Up to the time 
of the Exile (586 B.C.), and for some time following it, the Hebrews 
used a script which, because it was used at an early period by all 
the Semitic peoples of Palestine, is called the Canaanite script. The 
special form of this script which was used by Israelite scribes is known 
to have remained in general use among the Jews until the time of 
Nehemias (about 440 B.C.). The Samaritans, who set up their special 
religious community not long subsequently to this, retained for their 
Pentateuch the old form of script. We may infer, therefore, that 
the Jews were still using the old Canaanite alphabet at the time 
when the Samaritans were formally distinguished as a religious com 
munity from Israel. Even after that date the old Canaanite character 
did not altogether disappear, for it was still used for certain purposes 
(such, for instance, as legends on coins) even in the Christian period 
Besides the form of the Canaanite script which had remained in use 
in Palestine down to the post-exilic period, there was another which 
had developed among the Arameans, 1 and had become so modified 
that it could no longer be read by a scribe who knew only the Canaanite 
alphabet of Palestine. The Arameans had attained to great im 
portance by the time that the Persian Empire was established after 
the middle of the sixth century B.C. the century of the Babylonian 
Exile. So important were the Arameans in the Persian Empire that 
their language Aramaic, was used as a sort of lingua franca for 
administrative purposes throughout the western provinces of that 
empire. With the Aramaic language went, of course, the Aramaic 
alphabet, and in the post-exilic period this alphabet came to be adopted 
even by the Jews in Palestine. The Jews called the Aramaic script 

Old Testament 1 he Greek (Septuagint) text of Jeremias omits about an eighth 
[f the present Hebrew text, and in Ezechiel the arrangement of the Greek text 
differs completely from that of the Hebrew in chapters 36-40. Every student of 
[ebrew Bible is familiar with the necessity of frequent textual emendation 
Correction of text would not be necessary if the original text had been faithfully 

1 Vid. infra, p. xxii. 


Assyrian (which was for them the same as Syrian, i.e. Aramaic) : 
they also called it, because of its appearance as compared with their 
own script, the square alphabet. It is this Assyrian or square 
character which (in a somewhat evolved form) appears in our modern 
Hebrew Bibles. When Our Lord says in Matthew 5, 18 : Till heaven 
and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall not pass of the Law, till all 
be fulfilled," His words are intelligible only in reference to the 
square script ; the yod (iota, jot) of the older script is by no means 
a small character, it is, however, the smallest letter of the (evolved) 
square alphabet. 

It is obvious from all this that such portions of the Hebrew Bible 
as were written before 400 B.C. have passed from one form of script 
to another. Now in the older Canaanite script there were letters 
which differed from each other but slightly in shape, and between 
which, therefore, confusion was easily possible. The same thing is 
true of certain letters in the Aramaic or square script. Further 
more, there was a possibility of confusion between characters of the 
older and characters of the later script. Hence poems of the Psalter 
composed before the change of alphabet had taken place in Palestine, 
were liable, in a special way, to corruptions at the hand of scribes. 

It must be constantly remembered, further, that in neither the 
older nor the Aramaic alphabet were there signs for vowel-sounds ; 
both alphabets consisted of consonants merely. Hence in order to 
be able to read a Biblical text written in either script a reader needed 
to be already familiar with the traditional interpretation of the text. 1 
Again, it is to be noted that it was customary in the early period to 
write the purely consonantal text of the Bible without any separation 
or distinction of words. 2 A further important point to be remembered 
is that at the time when the Bible was probably most liable to editorial 
modification and to corruption at the hands of copyists viz. about 
400 B.C., the original language of the Bible was rapidly ceasing to be 
the vernacular of the Jews. Obviously in proportion as Hebrew 
ceased to be widely spoken, the people (and even the scribes) would 
become less sensitive to changes in the traditional text. 

1 One can illustrate for oneself the difficulties which would arise in the 
attempt to read an unfamiliar consonantal text, by taking, let us say, the con 
sonants of some familiar Latin word, and thinking out the various words which 
they might represent. The consonants of mors, for example, are the consonants 
of mars, maris (mas), marts (mare), mores, moris, murus, muros, mures, mirus, 
rain s, miros, miras, moros, mires, etc., etc. An equally interesting experiment 
could be made with the consonants of mens, or labor. Of course, in any given 
sentence there could not be unlimited freedom of choice. 

2 In the text of Ps. 43, 6 , for instance, the consonants I h m $ w h were read 
by the Greek translators >e lohai m e sawweh, while the Massoretes, dividing 
differently, read >e lohim sawweh (Command, O God !). The Greek reading means 
My God, who commands. 


When all these points are considered, it will be evident that the 
text of the Psalter may have departed in many points from its primitive 
form by 300 B.C. Departures from primitive purity of text may 
have been chiefly due to inevitable misunderstandings and confusions 
of copyists. But there will also have been intentional changes of 
text by tendencious scribes ; 1 and the process, so familiar in 
Biblical texts outside the Psalter, of incorporating marginal glosses 
in the text will surely also have been employed by copyists of the 
Hebrew Psalter. 2 That the textual tradition of the Hebrew Psalter 
was not quite uniform in the pre-Christian period will be clearer 
when we have considered the Greek translation of the Psalter. But 
it is important to realise that long before the Greek translation of 
the Psalter was made (long, that is, before 250-200 B.C.) the text of 
the Psalter had been mishandled by critics and copyists. Hence, 
even when the Hebrew and Greek texts of the psalms agree, it may 
still be lawful, or even necessary, to postulate the presence of a cor 
ruption in the text. 

The existing form of the Hebrew Psalter with all its elaborate 
apparatus of vowel-points, and accents, and minutely recorded 
peculiarities, is the outcome of the work of Jewish scholars from the 
second to the tenth century of our era. The critical work out of 
which the modern Hebrew Bible has grown began as far back as the 
time of the Emperor Hadrian (117-138 A.D.) : it continued until the 
tenth century. The introduction of vowel-points into the consonantal 
text was carried out about the seventh century. Just as the later 
Hebrew alphabet was an adaptation of the Aramaic character, so 
the Hebrew vowel-points were borrowed from an Aramaic source : 
they were taken over from the Syriac scribes. 

Since all the work done in fixing the text of the Hebrew Bible 
was an attempt to crystallise the best tradition as to that text, the 
fixation of the Hebrew text is called Massorah 3 ( tradition ), and 
the scholars who established the present Hebrew text are known as 
the Massoretes, and the received Hebrew text of the Bible is called 
the Massoretic text. 

As far as we can ascertain, the Massoretic text differs scarcely 
at all from the form of Hebrew text current in St. Jerome s day 
(about end of fourth century), and it is likely that it enshrines, in 

1 Compare the substitution of Elohim for Yahweh noted above. 

8 See, in this connection, the clever, if not quite convincing, study by 
Pfarrer Hellebronth in the Biblische Zeitschrift, 1915, pp. 296-311, Spuren 
uralter textkritischer Noten im masoretischen Texte des Psalters. 

3 The form massorah has developed from the earlier form massoreth (like 
kapporeth, propitiatory ). Many scholars insist on writing masorah but this 
is almbst certainly wrong : massorah is derived from the late Hebrew verb 
masar, to teach, to hand on a tradition, and not from the verb asar, to bind. 
The form massorah has been followed in this book. 


general, the textual tradition of the beginning of the second Christian 
century the date at which genuine Massoretic activity began. 
Many of the differences which the student will discover between the 
Massoretic and the Greek Psalter are due to the fact that the Mas- 
soretes have followed a textual tradition different from that accepted 
by the Greek translators. There must have been a considerable 
variety of traditions in the pre-Massoretic period, both as to the 
vocalising of the text, and the division of the consonantal text into 
words. Certain peculiarities of the Samaritan Pentateuch and of 
some of the Old Testament passages quoted in the New Testament 
suggest almost inevitably that the pre-Massoretic text existed in 
several recensions. The aim of the Massoretes was to discover and 
perpetuate the best textual tradition of their time, and, incidentally, 
to bring about the disappearance of readings of which they did not 
approve. That they were learned, industrious, and conscientious is 
certain ; but they were, after all, fallible, and their methods had 
neither the objectivity nor the systematic completeness of modern 
scholarship. Hence we are free to question the perfection of the 
Massoretic Psalter ; we are not bound to regard its text as always 
identical with the original text of the psalms. We are free to emend 
the Massoretic Psalter where it seems reasonable to do so, and we are 
therefore free to prefer to it at times the recension of the Hebrew 
Psalter which was used by the first translators of the psalms into 
Greek especially as the Greek (Septuagint) Psalter is older by several 
centuries than the Hebrew text which was critically fixed by the 

In spite, however, of all the possibilities of corruption in the 
Massoretic Psalter, its text is, in general, intelligible and reliable. 
Without its help it would be often practically impossible to under 
stand the Greek (Septuagint) or Latin (Vulgate) Psalter. Though it 
has been often asserted both by ancient and modern scholars that 
the Massoretes in some cases falsified the text of passages which were 
supposed to favour the claims of Christianity against Judaism, there 
is no real evidence to support this charge. Even in passages like 
Ps. I5, 10 (nee dabis sanctum tuum videre corruptionem, where the 
Massoretic text has Thy holy ones ) and Ps. 21, 17 (Foderunt manus 
meas et pedes meos, where the Massoretes read, Like a lion, my hands 
and my feet ) the reading followed by the Greek (and Vulgate) Bible 
is carefully recorded on the margin by the Massoretes. 




It has been already stated that in the post-exilic period (i.e. after 
538 B.C.) Hebrew ceased to be used as the vernacular in Palestine. 

Its place was taken by a closely allied language of the Semitic group 

Aramaic. Aramaic was the speech of a people which appears under 
the name Arimi or Ahlame in cuneiform inscriptions of the fourteenth 
century B.C. The Arameans were at that time, apparently, a nomad 
people of the Syrian desert on the south-western border of Babylonia. 2 
By the time when the Persian Empire was being established (middle 
of sixth century B.C.) the language of the Arameans had come to be 
used as a general medium of communication throughout a great part 
of the Semitic East. In the western portions of the Persian Empire 
it was used as the language of administration and commerce. As a 
sort of imperial language it gradually superseded the local vernaculars 
Assyrian, Phoenician and Hebrew. Before the coming of Our Lord, 
Aramaic had completely ousted Hebrew as the Semitic vernacular 
of Palestine. We can see from the Aramaic sections of the books of 
Esdras and Daniel that Aramaic was used even as a literary language 
by the Jews at the time when those books were written. It is possible 
that Hebrew was not used at all colloquially in the towns of Palestine 
in the post-exilic period. Nehemias made an attempt to re-establish 
the old language at the time of the restoration of Jerusalem (Nehemias 
I3> 24 25 ), but his efforts were not, as far as we can judge, very suc 
cessful. A military colony of Jews which was established on Ele 
phantine, an island in the Nile near Assuan, in the sixth century B.C. 
has left us substantial literary remains from which we can see that 
the vernacular of the colony was not Hebrew, but Aramaic. It may 
be inferred, obviously, that the Palestinian district from which this 
colony had come was Aramaic-speaking already in the sixth century 

B.C. 3 

1 Only those ancient versions are here considered which throw light on the 
history of the Vulgate Psalter. The Targum is described because its origin 
is similar to the origin of the Greek and Latin Psalters, and the Greek Psalter 
is dealt with because it is, as will be seen, the immediate source of the Latin 
Psalter. The Syriac and Coptic Psalters, though often useful in matters of 
exegesis, are of no particular interest for the genesis of the Vulgate Psalter. 

It is interesting to note that in Genesis 25, 20 the relatives of Abraham 
in Paddan-Aram are called Arameans. 

8 The various documents left by the Jewish colony in Elephantine (and 
also, apparently, in Assuan) may be studied in Sayce and Cowley, Aramaic 
Papyri discovered at Assuan. London, 1906; Sachau, Drei aramaische Papy- 
rusurkunden aus Elephantine (Proceedings of Berlin Academy, 1907) ; Sachau, 
Aramaische Papyrus und Ostraka, Leipzig, 1911. From IV Kings i8, 2 and 
Isaias 36, 11 - 13 it may be inferred that Aramaic, though it was already a 


Though Hebrew ceased to be spoken in the later post-exilic period, 
it still continued to be studied, and to be used as a literary medium 
by scribes and scholars. Thus the Book of Ecclesiasticus was written 
in good Hebrew probably about 200 B.C., and several other works 
were composed in Hebrew during the two centuries preceding the 
birth of Christ. Hebrew was the language of the learned com 
mentaries on the Jewish Law written by Jewish scholars in the early 
Christian period but that Hebrew of the schools tended steadily 
to assume a relation, towards classical, or biblical, Hebrew similar to 
that which the Latin of mediaeval writers holds to that of Cicero or 
Livy. The Hebrew of the oldest Rabbinical texts of the Christian 
period shows a very extraordinary degeneration when it is com 
pared with even the latest pre-Christian texts. The reason of this 
is, probably, to be found in the fact that the pre-Christian writers 
were still near enough to the old days to be able to detach themselves 
almost fully from the Aramaic which was spoken around them, while 
the Jewish writers of the Christian period some generations later wrote 
under the unrelieved pressure of the Aramaic vernacular of their 

The post-exilic period saw the disappearance of Hebrew as a 
vernacular : it also saw a great development of the Synagogue and 
its system of study, prayer, and worship. As Hebrew became less 
and less familiar to the people, the profit which they derived from the 
synagogal reading and exposition of the Law and the other Hebrew 
Scriptures diminished. If, then, the Synagogue-system were to be 
continued, it was plainly necessary to furnish the people with soma 
sort of translation of the Scriptures into Aramaic. At first such 
translation remained purely oral. When the Hebrew Scriptures were 
being read in the synagogal service an interpreter was at hand, whose 
duty it was to translate into Aramaic each verse (later, each section) 
immediately after it had been recited in Hebrew. The interpreter 
was not permitted to keep before him a text either Hebrew or Ara 
maic. It was, indeed, expressly forbidden to put in writing an 
Aramaic translation of those parts of the Bible which were usually 
read in the Synagogue. However, as the Aramaic version became 
more and more necessary for the people, a written Aramaic Old Testa 
ment would have become more and more necessary for those who were 
in charge of the synagogal services. Thus ultimately an Aramaic 

diplomatists lingua franca in the eighth century B.C., was not then widely 
spoken among the Hebrews. Some writers still persist in calling Aramaic 
Syro-Chaldaic, and seem to think that it was a kind of jargon arising from 
the corruption of Hebrew by Chaldaic elements during the Exile. Aramaic 
is, of course, a fully developed language of the Semitic group as independent 
of any other language of the group, as Irish is, for instance, of Welsh in the 
Celtic group. 


translation of many Old Testament books was written when pre 
cisely we do not know. The different parts of the Old Testament 
were translated at different times and with varying accuracy. 

The Synagogue official whose duty it was to render the Hebrew 
lectiones into Aramaic was called the M thargem, or M thurgaman 
( Interpreter ; cf. Dragoman) from targem, to translate. His 
rendering was called Targum ( translation ). Thus the Aramaic 
version of the Old Testament has come to be known as the Targum. 
It will be noticed as an interesting point in connection with the 
Psalter that the Gospels represent Our Lord as quoting Psalm 2i, 2 in 
Aramaic : Eloi Eloi lama sabakhthanei. 1 

The use of Aramaic in that great hour of Our Lord s life when He 
hung on the Cross would suggest that a Targum to the Psalter existed 
already in the time of Christ. The Targum or Aramaic version of 
the psalms which has come down to us is of comparatively little 
value except as a specimen of early Rabbinical exegesis for it is 
often a paraphrase and commentary rather than a translation. 


The existence of the Targum, or Aramaic Old Testament, was 
due, as has been said, to the disappearance of Hebrew as a vernacular 
in the post-exilic period, and to the resulting necessity of providing 
the worshippers in the synagogues with a version of the Scriptures 
which they could understand. But throughout the period which 
followed the Exile, and, possibly, even during and before the Exile, 
there were many Jews who, though they were loyal to the Jewish 
religion and practised it as well as they could, spoke neither Hebrew 
nor Aramaic. Reference was made above to the presence in Egypt 
in the sixth pre-Christian century, of Jewish colonists whose language 
was Aramaic. There can be little doubt that many Jews were settled 
in other parts of Egypt in the same century, and it is fair to assume 
that those of them who settled in the north, within easy reach of the 
civilisation of the cities of Lower Egypt, would gradually have 
dropped their Semitic vernacular. 2 

J Mark is, 34 ; Matt. 27," has for t\wi; i,\eL The Hebrew of Psalm 21,* 
has Eli, Eli lamah a zabhtani. 

After the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. a great number of Jews fled to 
Egypt against the advice of the prophet Jeremias (Jer. 41-44). These exiles 
settled in different parts of Egypt some in various districts of Lower Egypt, 
and some even in Upper Egypt (Patros, in Egyptian p -t -vsi, the southern 
land ). It is probable that Jewish emigration to Egypt continued during the 
Persian period. There are indications that large numbers of Jewish soldiers 
served in the Persian armies which advanced into Egypt in the time of Cambyses 
(525 B.C.). It is known that Alexander the Great, for many reasons, showed 


As Greek thought and speech became more and more predominant 
in Egypt, the Jews who lived there will have found themselves com 
pelled either to speak Greek as well as Aramaic, or to abandon Aramaic 
and use Greek as a sole vernacular. Great numbers must have 
taken the latter course, for in the third century B.C. the synagogal 
authorities in Alexandria found it necessary to provide the wor 
shippers in their Synagogues with a Greek version of the Scriptures. 
The Greek translation of the Bible was thus, like the Targum, due to 
the needs of the Synagogue : it was an effort to make the Scriptures 
intelligible to a Jewish Diaspora whose language was the KOIV/J, or 
generally used Hellenistic dialect of the time. 1 The whole of the 
Hebrew Old Testament was not translated into Greek at once. The 
Pentateuch was first rendered, and later at various dates, the pro 
phetical and other books were done into Greek. It is not possible 
to determine precisely the date of any Greek book of the Old Testa 
ment. The different books of the translation are different in their 
literary value, and vary also greatly in their fidelity as renderings of 
the Hebrew. 

There is no reasonable ground for doubting that the Greek version 
of the Bible, like the Targum, was due primarily to the practical 
needs of the Synagogue. A very different notion of its origin is, 
however, given to us by the ancient document known as the Letter 
of Aristeas to Philocrates. 2 According to this document Ptolemy II, 
Philadelphus, King of Egypt (285-247 B.C.), at the suggestion of his 
librarian, Demetrius of Phalerum, decided to have a translation of 
the Jewish Laws made for the royal library in Alexandria. Ac 
cordingly he sent an embassy (of which Aristeas is said to have been 
a member) to Eleazar, the High Priest at Jerusalem, requesting that 

favour to the Jews. When he founded Alexandria (in 332 B.C.) he assigned a 
special place in the new city to Jewish colonists, and admitted them to full 
citizenship (Josephus, Antiquities, xix. 5, 2 ; Contra Apion. ii. 4 ; Bellum 
Judaicum ii. 18, 7.). The Jewish colony of Alexandria grew and flourished 
under the Ptolemies. Ptolemy I, it is said (Jos. Antiquities xii. i, i), carried 
off great numbers of Jews from Palestine whom he established in Alexandria. 
The Jewish colony at Alexandria became so well known for its prosperity that 
many Jews from Palestine continued to emigrate to Egypt throughout the 
Greek period. In Alexandria the Jews were permitted to live according to 
their national laws and customs. Their religion was not interfered with, and 
hence their synagogues became very numerous. At the time of Philo (born 
about 20 B.C.) two of the five districts of Alexandria were called Jewish because 
they were occupied chiefly by Jews (Philo, In Flaccum, 8). Philo estimates at 
a million the total number of Jews living in Egypt in his day (ibid. 6), and 
modern inquiry has helped to confirm this estimate. See, Schiirer, Geschichte 
des jiidischen Volkes, III. p. 38/7.; Swete, Introd. pp. 3ff. 

1 Greek was the language of the synagogal service not merely in Egypt, 
but throughout the greater part of the Jewish Diaspora in the two pre-Christian 
centuries. Vid. Schiirer 111. 140. 

1 A critical edition of the Greek text of Aristeas is printed as an Appendix 
in Swete s Introduction. 


there might be sent to him Jewish elders who would be able to trans 
late the Pentateuch into Greek. Eleazar received the embassy with 
friendship, and sent to Ptolemy seventy- two elders six from each 
tribe. With them Eleazar sent a copy of the Law written in letters 
of gold on rolls composed of skins. When the seventy-two came to 
Egypt they soon set to work on the translation, and completed it 
in exactly seventy-two days. The story contained in the Letter of 
Aristeas was enlarged in the patristic period into a legend which 
ascribed the Greek version of the entire Old Testament (and not 
merely of the Pentateuch) to the seventy-two, and wondrous features 
were added to the narrative of Aristeas which were intended to show 
that the translators worked under the influence of divine inspiration. 
The story of Aristeas has given rise to the popular title of the 
earliest Greek Bible. Seventy-two Jewish scholars had produced it. 
Hence it was called The version according to the Seventy ; and at 
an early period it was commonly referred to as The Seventy just 
as we now call it, the Septuagint. 

Modern scholarship does not accept the Letter of Aristeas as 
genuine. The Letter, however, is certainly correct in putting the 
beginnings of the Greek Bible in the third century B.C. The first 
part of the Hebrew Bible the Law (Pentateuch), will have been 
translated about 250 B.C. The second and third parts of the Bible 
the Prophets and Writings/ were translated probably between 
250 B.C. and 200 B.C. The Letter of Aristeas was written about 
100 B.C. It shows that at that date the Greek Old Testament re 
ceived in Egypt the same respect as the Hebrew Scriptures did in 
Jerusalem. 1 

1 In the Prologue to Ecclesiasticus there are indications that the whole of 
the Hebrew Old Testament had been rendered into Greek before that Prologue 
was written. The author of the Prologue says (after pleading for indulgence 
from his readers should they find his translation of Ecclesiasticus imperfect) : 
For things originally spoken in Hebrew have not the same force in them when 
they are translated into another tongue ; and not only these, but the Law 
itself, and the Prophecies, and the rest of the books, have no small difference 
when they are spoken in their original form. Now in the eighth and thirtieth 
year under king Euergetes, having come into Egypt and continued there, I 
found opportunity for no small instruction. I, therefore, deemed it most 
necessary myself to devote some zeal and loving labour to the interpretation 
of this book ; devoting, indeed, much sleepless care and skill in the interval 
in order, having brought the book to an end, to publish it for them also who in 
the land of their sojourning desire to be lovers of learning, being already pre 
pared in respect of their moral culture to live by the Law. 

If the thirty-eighth year of Euergetes is a year of that king s reign, the 
reference must be to Euergetes II who reigned, partly as joint ruler and partly 
as sole king, for fifty-four years (170-116 B.C.). The reign of Euergetes I lasted 
only twenty-five years (247-222 B.C.). The thirty-eighth year of the reign of 
Euergetes II would be 132 B.C., and if that is the year referred to in the Pro 
logue, it may be assumed that a Greek version of the Law, Prophets and other 
books (i.e. of the Old Testament generally) existed in 132 B.C. Though it is 


The appearance of the Greek Bible in Egypt must have been a 
very great event for the world of Greek heathenism. It put within 
reach of inquiring Gentiles the treasure of Divine revelation contained 
in the Hebrew Scriptures. It made thus accessible to the philosophical 
mind of the West a system of theology and a theory of life and nature 
which, in essentials, were vastly superior to the achievements of 
Greek speculation. The Greek Bible made possible a vigorous and 
successful mission pf Judaism among the Gentiles, and must have 
served, in no small measure, to prepare the way for the preaching of 
Christianity to the Hellenist world. 1 

The task of translating the Hebrew Bible into Greek was a difficult 
one and that for several reasons. The Hebrew Bible was a purely 
oriental work, and its thought could not be readily presented in a 
Greek or western dress. Again, even among oriental books it stood 
apart because of its intense monotheism, and its rejection of most 
of the elements of ordinary oriental religion and cult. This made it 
more difficult to clothe the thought of the Bible in Hellenistic Greek 
than it would have been to render into a western language a Baby 
lonian or Egyptian religious text. It must be remembered, further, 
in estimating the merits of the Greek Bible, that successful translation 
implies scholarship and breadth of view : it implies in the translator 
the capacity to realise precisely the meaning of the original and to 
discover in the language of the version such words and phrases as will 
be not merely verbal equivalents of the original, but actual equiva 
lents in their power to suggest to the readers of the version the same 
association-contexts as the original suggested to those for whom it 
was composed. Thus, successful translation of the Old Testament 
into Greek demanded in the translators a complete mastery of the 
Hebrew language, and full sympathy with the Hebrew point of view 
in religion and philosophy ; it also demanded complete familiarity 
with the Greek language and with the western mind. The trans 
lators were certainly Jews, and were, therefore, sufficiently in sympathy 
with the Jewish outlook and the general attitude of the Old Testa- 

not absolutely certain that the other books include the Psalter, that is the 
more likely view. 

It has been held also, however, that the Euergetes of the Prologue is Euer- 
getes I, and that the phrase in the Greek text referring to the thirty-eighth 
year means that Euergetes had ascended the throne of Egypt thirty-eight years 
after his predecessor Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-247 B.C.) had become king. 
In this view the author of the Prologue speaks of himself as coming to Egypt 
in the thirty-eighth year after the accession of Ptolemy Philadelphus, shortly 
after Euergetes 1 had become king, i.e. in 247 B.C. This view is defended by 
Hart in his Ecclesiasticus in Greek, pp. 249/7. It would make the Greek version 
of the greater part of the Old Testament older than 247 B.C. 

x The importance of the Septuagint as a preparation for the Christian 
Mission is well stated by Deissmann in his essay. Die Hellenisierung des semitischen 
Monotheismus, Neue Jahrbiicher fur das classische Altertum, I93. P- 161-177- 


ment. Yet, strangely enough, it can be gathered from their work 
that their knowledge of Hebrew was not thorough. They were, 
apparently, more familiar with Aramaic than with Hebrew. Further, 
it would seem that they were not fully alive to all the possibilities 
of the plastic speech of Hellenism. Hence the Septuagint is not 
perfect as a translation, and it is doubtful if an ancient Gentile reader, 
who was not otherwise familiar with Judaism, would have been able 
to gather from the version a meaning even approximately as full as 
that which the original conveyed of old to the Hebrew-speaking Jews 
of Palestine. In spite of its Greek dress the Bible was still an oriental 
book. In the Pentateuch and in the purely narrative sections the 
translation was good ; but in the difficult text of the prophets and 
psalms the Greek was often a merely verbal rendering of the Hebrew 
giving comparatively little help to a reader who had not already 
come into contact with Jewish thought. In the psalms, in particular, 
there is a great deal of merely verbal translation without much effort 
to penetrate to the precise religious and poetic value of the Hebrew 
Psalter. That the translators of the Psalter were more familiar with 
Aramaic than with Hebrew is clear from many passages in which the 
translation is explicable only on the supposition that Hebrew words 
were treated as if they were Aramaic. Indeed, the view has been 
frequently put forward that the translators of the Psalter had learned 
practically all the Hebrew they knew from the Hebrew Pentateuch 
studied with the help of the already published Greek Pentateuch. 1 

It would be difficult and quite outside the scope of this work to 
give an exact statement of all the points in which the Septuagint 
fails to reproduce fully the thought of the Hebrew Psalter. A few 
of the more outstanding defects of the Greek Psalter which appear 
also in the Vulgate may, however, be noted here. 

Probably the most frequently occurring defect of the Septuagint 
Psalter is its imperfect rendering of Hebrew verbs. The verbal system 
in Hebrew is quite unlike the verbal system of Greek particularly 
in regard to tense forms. In Biblical Hebrew there are apparently 
at least two tenses, the so-called perfect and imperfect (or future). 
In reality the Hebrew perfect and imperfect do not express the time 
at which the action of the verb takes place, but chiefly the degree of 
completeness which belongs to the action. Hence both perfect and 
imperfect can refer to past, present or future time inasmuch as they 

1 On the Septuagint as a translation see : Swete, Introduction, pp. 315-341 ; 
Ottley, Handbook to the Septuagint (London, 1920), ch. 5. For the characteristics 
of the Septuagint Psalter, see : Mozley, The Psalter of the Church, Cambridge, 
1905 , Flashar, Exegetische Studien zum Septuagintapsalter, Zeitschrift fur die 
alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 1912, pp. 83$. ; Kahlfs, Septuagintastudien, 
1907 ; Baethgen, Der textkritische Wert der alien Ubersetzungen zu den Psalmen, 
1882 (pub. in Jahrbucher fur protestantische Theologie, 1882). 


can express that an action is complete or being still performed in the 
present, past or future. The time reference is not contained directly 
in the Hebrew verbal form, but can generally be supplied by the 
context in which the verb occurs. In translating Hebrew texts it 
is therefore vital to keep the whole context in view. Where the 
Greek translators fully understood the meaning of a context they 
rendered it as accurately as a modern scholar could render it. But 
where contexts wer,e obscure above all in complicated poetic texts 
in which subtle emotional moods were expressed, such as the psalms, 
the translators worked mechanically, usually making the Greek 
aorist represent the Hebrew perfect, and the Greek future the Hebrew 
imperfect. There has thus arisen in the Septuagint Psalter a great 
deal of obscurity. Different Greek tenses are thrown together 
frequently in a confusing way in the same passage, and the whole 
sense and balance of the Hebrew is thus often completely missed. 

In the rendering of Hebrew words the Septuagint is not precise. 
It represents the same Hebrew word by different words at different 
times even where the context does not suggest any difference of 
shade in the meaning. On the other hand, the same Greek word is 
used to render several quite different Hebrew words. 

The tendency of the Septuagint translators to read the Hebrew 
text as if it were Aramaic has produced many peculiarities in the 
Greek Psalter. Since most of these have passed over into the Latin 
Psalter they will be discussed in the next section. 

It is obvious from the general character of the Septuagint that 
the translators aimed, as a rule, at extreme fidelity, and often at 
slavish verbal accuracy. One very useful result of this is that we 
can generally reconstruct from the Greek the Hebrew text on which 
the translators worked, and can thus often understand the Greek 
Psalter better from the Hebrew to which it points than from itself. 
Occasionally, too, the Hebrew text, which we can reconstruct more 
or less mechanically from the Greek, serves to correct the Massoretic 
text. In spite of the general fidelity of the translators, it is to be 
noticed that they sometimes intentionally depart from the original. 
This happens often in connection with Hebrew tnetaphors relating 
to God. The Septuagint avoids such designations of God as shield/ 
rock, fortress/ and replaces them either by the direct word God 
or by some such word as Helper or Refuge. Again, in all passages 
where Elohim (God) is used in a way which might be misleading to 
Gentiles, it is replaced by angels. (So, in Ps. 8, 6 ; g6, 7 ; I37, 1 ; 
77, 25 . Cf. Genesis 6, 2 .) 

There are other indications, also, that the translators allowed 
their theological views to influence their translation. Probably one 
of the most frequent of these is the tendency to render all the various 
Hebrew words for sin/ crime/ iniquity/ etc., by the single Greek 
term dvo/u a lawlessness/ For the translators sin of every kind 


is primarily an offence against the Torah, the (Mosaic) Law ; it is 
transgression of the Code of Israel (even for those who did not know 
that Code), violation of the Law ai/o/zia. This is the attitude 
of later Hebrew thought. 

To the student of Hebrew the most disturbing single feature of 
the Greek Psalter is perhaps its substitution for the personal name of 
the God of Israel Yahweh, of the general term Lord (KVPW). 
It is possible, however, that the Septuagint translators are not alto 
gether responsible for this. It is likely that even before the Old Testa 
ment was translated into Greek, Yahweh was not pronounced in the 
recitation of the Hebrew Scriptures : its place would be taken by 
"donai ( Lord ), and Ki pts would be the natural rendering of >a donai. 
The substitution of Kvptos has generally produced a strange weaken 
ing of the meaning of the original. A phrase like : Fortunate is 
the people whose God is Yahweh (Ps. 32, 12 ) loses a great part of its 
meaning in the Greek rendering : Fortunate is the people whose 
God is the Lord. The name Yahweh would recall to the Hebrew 
the proudest memories of his nation s history all those wonderful 
interventions in the great crises of the national life of Israel by which 
Israel s God Yahweh had shown Himself to be indeed the living, 
loving and mighty protector of His people which the name Yahweh 
implied. 1 Lord (/cvpios) might perhaps suggest to a Hellenist 
the sovereignty of God, but it was not a proper name, and the phrase, 
the Lord is God, could not suggest immediately, as Yahweh is 
God did, that the God worshipped by Israel, Yahweh, was the God, 
the God of the universe. 

The language of the Septuagint Psalter is not classical Greek, 
but that dialect of Greek which is called the nonrf the dialect which 
was spoken throughout the whole Greek-speaking world in the period 
which followed the conquests of Alexander. This form of Greek is 
also often spoken of as Hellenistic Greek. It was inevitable, per 
haps, that idioms and constructions which were more Hebrew than 
Greek should find their way into the Greek Bible, and thus it is correct 
to a certain extent, to set the Greek Bible apart from other documents 
written in Hellenistic Greek. Yet in general it can be safely held 
that the language of the Septuagint is not a dialect peculiar to the 
Bible and therefore to be called Biblical Greek ; it is the KOM] 
such as it was spoken in Lower Egypt in the third century B.C. 

The Greek Bible was intended primarily for use in the synagogues 
of Egypt. In course of time it was used in the synagogues of Greek- 
speaking Jews everywhere. Thus it came to be known in Palestine, 
and in Our Lord s time it was quite familiar there. From the earliest 
days of Christianity, as soon as the faith began to spread outside the 

Cf. Hehn, Die biblische und die babylonische Gottesidee, Leipzig, 1913, p. 


mother-church at Jerusalem, the Septuagint was the Bible of the 
Christians. It is, in general, the Bible of the Apostolic writings, and 
as the faith was carried through Asia Minor and into Europe, the 
Septuagint became more and more the peculiar possession of 

The great importance of the Septuagint for the early Christians 
and their use of it in discussion with Jewish adversaries tended to 
make it unpopular among the Jews. The critical study of the Hebrew 
text which was inaugurated by the Rabbinical authorities in the early 
part of the second century A.D. made the Jewish scholars realise 
that the Christian Bible differed frequently in text from their own 
Hebrew Bible. To meet the Christian controversialists on their 
own ground with a Greek Bible which would be really loyal to the 
Hebrew, the Jews had need of a Greek Bible of their own. This was 
produced by a Jewish proselyte named Aquila in the first half of 
the second century. Aquila s translation was so slavishly literal 
that it frequently sacrificed all trace of Greek idiom and construction 
to reproduce the Hebrew. Some time in the second half of the same 
second Christian century another Greek Bible was published by a 
man called Theodotion who is variously described as a Jewish proselyte, 
and as a Jew who had become an Ebionite. He was very probably a 
native of Ephesus. His version appears to have been in general a 
free revision of the Septuagint made with the help of the standard 
Hebrew text of the time. Probably later than Theodotion, another 
scholar named Symmachus, described both as an Ebionite, and as a 
Samaritan converted to Judaism, issued another Greek Old Testa 
ment. Symmachus, far more than the other translators, aimed at 
making the Greek Bible a reaUy Greek book. Thus his version is 
much freer than any of the others. There is evidence also that other, 
at least partial, versions of the Old Testament in Greek were published 
before the time of Origen (A.D. 185-253). Three of these are known 
from the works of Origen as the Quinta, Sexta and Septima respectively. 
The Sexta is usually regarded as of Christian origin. The Greek of 
the Quinta was of high literary value. Of the Septima practically 
nothing is known. 

The Septuagint was often copied during the early centuries of 
its existence. No doubt, scribes will have often tried to correct it 
into greater harmony with the Hebrew. When the other Greek trans 
lations became familiar the text of the Septuagint must have been in 
constant danger of being corrupted by readings derived from their 
text. It is not strange then, that the Septuagint should have ap 
peared to Origen in the beginning of the third century as greatly in 
need of critical reconstruction. In bringing about the reconstruction 
of the Septuagint text Origen assumed that the Hebrew text of his 
day should be taken as the true and original text. His aim, therefore, 
was to bring the Septuagint into as complete harmony as was possible 


with the received Hebrew text (which was practically the same as 
the present-day Massoretic text). To this end he made an elaborate 
comparison between the Hebrew text and each of the existing Greek 
versions. To facilitate this comparison he transcribed the Hebrew 
text and the various Greek versions in parallel columns. In the first 
column he set the current Hebrew text in Hebrew characters ; in the 
second he put the Hebrew text transliterated in Greek characters ; 
in the third column stood Aquila s version ; in the fourth the version 
of Symmachus ; in the fifth the Septuagint, and in the sixth the 
version of Theodotion. This parallel Bible of Origen is called, because 
of its six columns, the Hexapla. The fifth column did not contain 
the ordinary Septuagint text merely. Origen, having compared the 
current Septuagint with the Hebrew and the other versions, noted 
carefully the points in which it differed from the Hebrew. Where it 
omitted passages contained in the Hebrew, Origen added these passages 
in his fifth column generally from one of the other versions ; where, 
on the other hand, the Septuagint contained more than the Hebrew, 
Origen indicated the plus of the Septuagint by an obelus, or deletion- 
mark. The passages which Origen inserted from the other versions 
he marked with an asterisk. Wherever Origen regarded the text of 
the Septuagint not merely as defective or superfluous, but as actually 
corrupt, he corrected it in his fifth column from the best available 
sources. Thus the fifth column of the Hexapla was really a critical 
edition of the Septuagint, bringing the latter as close as possible to 
the Hebrew. 1 

The Hexapla must have been a work of enormous dimensions. 
There is no evidence that it was ever copied as a whole. It was 
deposited, it would seem by Origen himself, in the library of Pamphilus 
at Caesarea in Palestine. There it could be examined by scholars, 
and there in the fourth century Jerome consulted it and made ex- 

1 The critical signs used by Origen to mark the relations of the Septuagint 
to the Hebrew were borrowed from the works of the famous Homeric editor, 
the Alexandrian librarian Aristarchus. The close of the passages to which 
asterisk or obelus was intended to apply was marked by a sign called the metobelus. 
The asterisk was written by Origen as the Greek letter chi with four dots -x; 
the obelus took the form of a horizontal straight line ( ), or of such a line with 
dots above and below, or on one side only (4- or ) ; the metobelus was usually 
like a colon (:) ; other forms of it show a sloping line with a dot, or dots (/ or /.). 
Swete gives a useful illustration of a text marked with the Hexaplaric signs on 
p. 73 of his Introduction. The student of the Psalter will find an interesting 
specimen of a psalm-text arranged in the six-column method of the Hexapla 
in Swete, pp. 62-63. (See also article on Septuagint by Nestle in Hasting s Diet, 
of the Bible). The Hexapla was completed before 245 A.D. There is a confused 
tradition that the four Greek versions were published later by Origen in the 
same kind of parallel arrangement which he had employed in the Hexapla. 
This Tetrapla or four column Bible would be obviously of much less critical 
value than the Hexapla, and there is no real proof that it ever existed as an 
independent work of Origen. 


tracts from it. In 638 A.D. Caesarea fell into the hands of the Saracens 
and the Hexapla of Origen has never been seen, as a whole, since 
that date. 1 Fortunately, however, the fifth column had been copied 
frequently, and through the care of Pamphilus and Eusebius the 
Hexaplaric Septuagint was circulated in Palestine during the fourth 
century. The critical signs of Origen were, in the course of time, 
naturally omitted by scribes who did not understand the part the 
critical notation w^s meant to play in the construction of the text. 
Thus, in the end, the Hexaplaric Septuagint became a hybrid and 
misleading text, and the critical work of Origen needed to be done 
all over again. Many scholars subsequently to Origen did a great 
deal of useful critical work for the Septuagint. Among these were 
Eusebius and Pamphilus of Caesarea, Lucian of Antioch and Hesychius 
of Egypt. With their work and with all the efforts of scholars from 
their time to our day to restore the Septuagint to its primitive form 
we are not here concerned. 2 


We have seen how the Targum and the Greek Old Testament 
arose out of the practical needs of the Jewish Synagogue. The Latin 
Bible (Old Testament and New) owed its beginnings to a similar 
kind of practical necessity within the Christian Church. The history 
of the Greek Psalter is, as has been shown, the history of the Greek 
Old Testament. So, too, the story of the rise and growth of the 
Latin Psalter must for the most part be told in connection with that 
of the Latin Bible as a whole. The Christian Church of the first 
century was mainly Greek-speaking and used the Septuagint and 
the Greek New Testament freely as its Scriptures. Greek was the 
language of liturgy and administration in the Roman Church itself, 

1 A portion of the Hexapla containing some of the psalms was found in 
1896 in Milan ; other fragments were discovered in Cairo by Dr. Schechter. 
The traces of the Hexapla to be discovered from most of the ancient sources have 
been collected by Field in his Origenis Hexaplorum quae supersunt, 1875. 

2 For the reader of the Commentary which follows, it is necessary to remember 
the names of some of the most ancient manuscripts containing the whole, or 
nearly the whole, of the Septuagint. These are: i. Codex Alexandrinus, in 
the British Museum, a manuscript of the fifth century, usually referred to by 
the symbol A.; 2. Codex Vaticanus, in the Vatican Library, a MS. of the fourth 
century, known as B. ; 3. Codex Sinaiticus, in the Imperial Library, Petrograd 
(a portion is in Leipzig), a manuscript of fourth century, probably later than B., 
known as ^ ( Aleph). 

There are very many codices which contain the Septuagint Psalter. 
Swete gives a full account of the MSS. of the Septuagint in his Introduction, 
pp. 122-170, and Additional Notes/ ibid. pp. 505-512. 


even during a great portion of the second century. 1 When, however, 
the faith began to penetrate into those districts of the Roman Empire, 
where Latin was predominantly spoken, the need of a Latin Bible, 
both for preaching and liturgy, made itself urgently felt. Probably 
the need in such districts for a Latin Psalter would be only less urgent 
than the need for a Latin New Testament. Where the first Latin 
Bible (complete or incomplete) appeared we do not know. Very 
probably the beginnings of the Latin version were entirely unofficial. 
Priests and preachers at first would have translated these portions of 
Scripture which they needed for instruction and ceremonial without 
formal preparation. But the value of a written Latin version ready 
to hand must have been quickly recognised. Possibly there were 
in the beginning a very great number of such Latin versions. 
But the Liturgy of the Church has always tended to uniformity 
and it is highly probable that the ecclesiastical authorities tried 
at an early stage to control and unify the various versions that were 
current. Thus an official or quasi-official text of the Latin Bible 
must have arisen very early in the Christian Churches of the Latin 
tongue. All the probabilities point to North West Africa (i.e. pro 
consular Africa of which Carthage was the chief city) as the home of 
the earliest Latin Bible. Both Greek and Punic were spoken widely 
in pro-consular Africa in the second century, but Latin was also very 
generally spoken there. Tertullian (second half of second century) 
seems to have known and used a Latin Bible and if there was a 
fairly well-known Latin Bible in his day, it is reasonable to assume 
that the beginnings of the Latin version in Africa go back to the 
first half of the second century. It is generally recognised now-a- 
days that there was a Latin Bible in use in Africa before a Latin 
version was current in Rome or any other district of Italy. 

By the time of Cyprian (210-258) an official Latin Bible was cer 
tainly current in Africa. Yet it is possible that several forms or 
recensions of that text were still in use at the end of the third century. 
We cannot determine with certainty how many forms of the Latin 
Bible existed even in the second half of the fourth century. A 
phrase of St. Augustine which has been taken as a reference to a 
particular form of the Latin Bible In ipsis autem interpretationibus 
Itala caeteris praeferatur nam est verborum tenacior cum perspicuitate 
sententiae (Doctr. Christiana, ii. 15. Migne, 34, 46), has given rise 

1 Hippolytus who died about 2^5 A.D. wrote in Greek. The Pastor of 
Hermas suggests a completely Greek-speaking Church at Rome. When Polycarp 
of Smyrna came to Rome in 154 he celebrated the sacred liturgy in Greek. In 
the list of Popes down to Victor there are only two names Latin. It was pro 
bably not until about the middle of the third century that the language of the 
Roman Church became predominantly Latin. There must have been, however, 
a considerable Latin speaking element in the Roman Church by the middle of 
the second century. 


to the view that there was in Augustine s time a Latin version of the 
Scriptures known as the Itala which was remarkable for its fidelity 
to the original (the Greek Bible) and for its clearness of style. It 
has been generally assumed that Augustine refers in the phrase to 
a Latin version prior to St. Jerome (i.e. to a pre- Vulgate text). Hence 
has arisen the custom of calling the Old Latin or pre-Jeromite Bible 
the Vetus Itala. Apart, however, from the reference in Augustine 
on which the name Itala is based, there is no other instance in 
ancient writers of trie use of that name for a pre-Jeromite Latin Bible. 
It has been suggested, therefore, that the reading Itala in Augustine 
is wrong and various emendations have been put forward all im 
plying, of course, that Augustine gave no name to the interpretatio 
which he praised so highly. 1 

Augustine s famous phrase does not really help us to determine 
whether there was only one, or whether there were several official 
or quasi-official texts of the Latin Bible in the second half of the fourth 
century. For the history of the Old Latin Psalter in that period 
very valuable work has recently been done. Capelle (in his Le texte 
du Psautier latin en Afrique, Rome, 1912) has shown that, just as the 
Church of North Africa had its special form of the Old Latin New 
Testament, so also it had, even in Cyprian s time, its peculiar form of 
Old Latin Psalter. He has also proved that we have in the Codex 
Veronensis the text of the African Psalter which was in use in the 
time of Augustine, and he conjectures that it is a revision of the 
Psalter used by Cyprian. Thus Capelle brings us back practically 
to the Old Latin Psalter as used in Africa in the third century. We 
do not know when the Latin Psalter was first used in Europe, nor 
can we determine whether the European form of the Latin Psalter 
was or was not derived from the primitive African Psalter. Jeannotte 
(in his Le Psautier de Saint Hilaire de Poitiers, Paris, 1917) has en 
deavoured to do for the European form of the Old Latin Psalter what 
Capelle had done for the African text. He has shown that St. Hilary 

1 Ilia and Usitata have been suggested as the true reading. Vaccari has 
recently argued acutely in his A lie origini della Volgata (reprinted from the 
Civiltd Cattolica, Rome, 1916) that Augustine s phrase refers to Greek rather 
than to Latin texts, and that Aquila should be read instead of Itala. Burkitt, 
accepting the reading Itala, set up the theory that it is a designation of a 
text identical with Jerome s Vulgate (See The Old Latin and the Itala, Texts and 
Studies iv. 3). Vaccari (op. tit.} regards it as impossible that Itala, if it prove 
to be the correct reading, could refer to the Vulgate of Jerome ; if it does refer 
to a Latin text, the text in question must have been one in use in Augustine s 
time in Italy. Burkitt s view has, however, the support of such important 
scholars as Corssen, Zahn, and Wendland. Possibly the Vienna edition of the 
Doctrina Christiana may ultimately show that Vaccari s reading Aquila is 
the true one, and then we shall be free to refuse to apply the designation Itala 
to any form of the Old Latin Bible. Meanwhile Itala or Vetus Itala serves 
as a convenient name for the pre-Jeromite Latin Bible. 


used a form of the Latin Psalter which is sufficiently distinct from the 
African Psalter and from contemporary Italian Codices to stand 
apart as the Gallic Psalter of the fourth century. According to 
Jeannotte the Old Latin Psalters of that date form two main groups 
the African and the European. The Codices of the European class 
fall apart then, further, into a Gallic and an Italian group. 

All three groups, in spite of their differences, show an extraordinary 
agreement in their general text. This agreement, however, is not 
great enough to prove that all three are merely different recensions 
of one primitive version. Thus modern scholarship is still unable 
to decide whether the different forms of the Old Latin Psalter which 
existed in St. Jerome s day were the product of a single primitive 
version recognised at first in some particular Church (such as the 
African) which, through being copied, appeared ultimately in various 
recensions, or whether they were due to a multiplicity of primitive 
independent translations. The multiplicity of Latin Codices in the 
fourth century was very confusing. Hilary, Augustine, Jerome all 
complain that there were in their days almost as many different 
types of text as there were manuscripts of the Latin Bible (tot ex- 
emplaria quot codices). Such variety of texts would be most un 
pleasantly felt in the liturgy. To establish some general uniformity 
Pope Damasus commissioned St. Jerome in 383 to revise the Old 
Latin Scriptures. Jerome at once set about the work, and revised 
immediately the New Testament and the Psalter (in 383). In his 
revision of the Psalter, Jerome simply sought to bring the Old Latin 
text into agreement with the commonly received text of the Septua- 
gint. The Old Latin Bible was, of course, a Latin version of the 
Septuagint, and Jerome s aim (and the aim of Pope Damasus) was 
to secure as close an agreement as possible between the Latin Bible 
and the best available text of the Septuagint. We do not know 
whether Jerome took much trouble to secure a Greek Codex of ex 
ceptional value and reliability as the basis of his work. He had not 
yet made the acquaintance of Origen s critical text in the Hexapla. 

This first Jeromite revision of the Psalter was immediately adopted 
for use in the Church at Rome. Hence it is called the Psalterium 
Romanum. This Psalter remained in official use in the various 
churches of Rome down to the reign of Pope Pius V ; it is still used 
in St. Peter s. It is also used in the Ambrosian liturgy. The psalm- 
passages which are read in the Introits, Graduals, Offertories and 
Communions of the Roman Missal are taken from the Psalterium 
Romanum, In the Breviary the Invitatory Psalm (94) and the 
Antiphons and Responsories are also according to the text of the 
Psalterium Romanum, 

In December, 384, Pope Damasus, the friend and patron of Jerome, 
died, and in the autumn of 385, Jerome left Rome and went to the 
Holy Land. In the following year he settled down at Bethlehem, 


and there he spent the remaining thirty-four years of his life in the 
study of the Scriptures and the practice of severe monasticism. In 
Palestine, Jerome saw the Hexapla of Origen which was in the pos 
session of the presbyter, Pamphilus of Caesarea. He realised at 
once the critical value of the Hexaplaric Septuagint, and copied from 
it for his own use Origen s emendations as well as the symbols which 
Origen had used in setting up his text. Jerome had not, as far as 
we know, a high opinion of his Psalterium Romanum. He speaks 
of it as having been produced rather hastily. 1 About 392 Jerome 
made a second revision of the Old Latin Psalter this time on the 
basis of the Hexaplaric Septuagint. This revision contained the 
critical signs of Origen s text the asterisks, obeli, etc., and Jerome 
was anxious that these signs should be incorporated in all copies of 
his revision. Scribes, however, frequently disregarded Jerome s wish 
in this matter, and in the course of time the critical notation of Origen 
disappeared from the second psalter of Jerome. 2 

The first Church which accepted Jerome s second revision as its 
official Psalter was that of Gaul. 3 Hence the revision has received 
the name Psalterium Gallicanum.* 

1 In his preface to the Psalterium Gallicanum Jerome says : Psalterium 
Romae dudum positus emendaram : et juxta Septuaginta interpretes, licet cursim, 
magna tamen ex parte correxeram. He goes on then to say that this version had 
itself been quickly corrupted scriptorum vitio depravatum, so that the mistakes 
he had removed had become even more deeply rooted than befcre. The sight 
of the fifth column of the Hexapla was probably, however, a greater incentive 
to a new revision of the Psalter than the growing corruption of the Psalterium 

9 An interesting example cf a Latin Psalter which in great measure repro 
duces the critical signs will be found in the Cathach of St. Columba (edited by 
Rev. H. J. Lawlor in the Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy, 1916). The 
text cf the Cathach, though it is clearly based on Jerome s second revision, is 
not free from Old Latin corruptions. 

3 Apparently through the influence of Gregory of Tours. Cf. Walafrid 
Strabo, De rebus eccles. 25. 

4 A comparison of the invitatory psalm 94 with the same psalm as it appears 
in the Breviary in the 3rd nocturn of the Office of the Epiphany will give some 
slight notion of the relations between the Romanum and the Gallicanum. The 
two psalters are printed together in the 2gth vol. of Migne s Latin Fathers. 

Jerome s own idea of the relations between the Roman and Gallic Psalters 
is stated most clearly in his letter to the Gothic scholars Sunnia and Fretela 
(Vallarsi s edition of Jerome, Vol. I). This letter can be used as an authentic 
commentary on the Gallic Psalter. Jerome admits that at times he failed to 
incorporate in the Gallicanum a reading supported by the Hexapla, even when 
it was the certainly better reading, because, provided the general sense of the 
readings in question was the same, he was unwilling veterum interpretum consue- 
tudinem mutare, ne nimia novitate lectoris studium terreremus. It is likely, too, 
that ferome, in making the second revision, sometimes accepted a reading from 
the Hebrew or from one of the versions in the third, fourth, and sixth columns 
of the Hexapla rather than from the Hexaplaric Septuagint itself. Thus it is 
not possible to reconstruct exactly from the Gallicanum the Psalter of the 
Hexaplaric Septuagint. 

In addition to seeing the Hexapla at Caesarea, Jerome was brought frequently 
into contact with the Hexaplaric Septuagint during the whole course of his 


About 393 Jerome made a Latin version of the Psalter directly 
from Hebrew text. This is known as the Psalterium juxta Hebraeos. 1 
Though this psalter was superior in many ways to the other two, it 
was never adopted as an official text in any Church. Priests and 
people would naturally resent any far-reaching change in the psalm 
texts of the liturgy, and the Psalterium juxta Hebraeos being, as com 
pared with the old psalter, strikingly new in many places, was never 
popularly received. Thus it has come about that in the Vulgate 
Bible the text of the Psalter is not (as is the case with most of the 
other books of the Old Testament) Jerome s version made directly 
from the Hebrew, but his second revision of the Old Latin Psalter, 
the Psalterium Gallicanum. From this Psalter, are derived the psalms 
of the Breviary. 2 Thus it will be seen that the Psalter of the Breviary 
is essentially the Old Latin version of the Septuagint Psalter, and 
therefore, a translation of a translation. Its language is the vulgar 
Latin of the ancient Latin Psalter the idiom which was spoken in 
Italy and Africa, and other parts of the Roman Empire in the second 
century A.D. Hence we must not look for classical correctness either 
in its grammar, or in its style. 

The Commentary which follows deals with the peculiarities of the 
Vulgate Psalter in detail. In order, however, to help the reader to 
realise from the beginning the general character of the Vulgate Psalter, 
a very brief account of the chief sources of its obscurities and diffi 
culties may be found useful here. 

The Vulgate Psalter is a literal translation in the idiom of Vulgar 
Latin of a Greek Psalter which is itself an almost verbally literal 
version of the Hebrew Psalms. We may, therefore, expect to find 
in the Vulgate Psalter three main classes of defects and peculiarities : 
(i) those due to its fidelity in reproducing the Septuagint Psalter, 
(ii) those which may be styled Semitisms as due to the influence 
of the Hebrew original, and (iii) those which arise from the character 
of Vulgar Latin. 3 

life in Palestine, for it is known that the Hexaplaric recension was widely used 
in the Church of Palestine in Jerome s time. It can be said that Jerome by his 
Psalterium Gallicanum advertised Origen s Hexapla in the West, and that those 
who are bound to the recitation of the Roman Breviary maintain, as it were, 
a perpetual commemoration of Origen s zeal and scholarship. 

1 In the Commentary that follows, this translation is usually referred to as 
Jerome s version or simply Jerome. 

2 The Psalterium juxta Hebraeos is to be found in Migne, Vol. 28. The most 
scholarly edition of it is probably that by Lagarde, Psalterium juxta Hebraeos 
Hieronymi, Leipzig, 1874. Bonaccorsi gives the Greek Psalter and the Latin 
Psalters of Jerome in a very convenient form in his (still incomplete) Psalterium 
Latinum cum Graeco et Hebraeo comparatum, 1914-1915. 

3 The classes (i) and (ii) are intimately connected, and the distinction be 
tween them here made is somewhat artificial. Obviously if the Septuagint 
Psalter is reproduced with fidelity by the Vulgate, and if the Semitisms of the 


(i) Defects and peculiarities due to literal reproduction of Septuagint. 

Some of the more striking defects of the Greek Psalter have been 
mentioned above such as the imperfect rendering of Hebrew verbal 
forms, omission of metaphor in regard to God, simplification of vocabu 
lary, substitution of Lord for Yahweh. All these have been taken 
over, of course, in the Latin Psalter. 

The failure of the Latin (following the Greek) to reproduce the 
exact meaning of th$ Hebrew verbal systern may be seen everywhere 
in the Psalter. Compare, for instance, Ps. 6, 7 : 

Laboravi in gemitu meo, 

lavabo per singulas noctes lectum meum 

lacrymis meis stratum meum rigabo. 

Here the three verbs ought to be in the present tense. So again in 
Ps u8, 97 dilexi instead of diligo, in 8, 4 videbo instead of video, and 
similarly in numberless other cases. In the English translation of 
the psalms given in this work the Vulgate tenses have been replaced 
generally by those required by the context in the Hebrew original. 

The substitution of Deus for epithets such as rock, fortress/ 
shield/ has been carried out just as in the Greek (Ps. 6i, 8 ; 72, 26 ; 
27, 1 , etc., etc.) : rock of the Hebrew is sometimes replaced by 
adjutor, i7, 3 ; or firmamentum (ibid), or fortitude, 30,*; or susceptor, 
4i, 10 ; shield appears as assurnptio, 88, 19 ; and protector, 143,2 ; 
fortress is replaced by susceptor, 6i, 2 ; 58, 17 18 . 

Angeli represents Elohim in Ps. 8, 6 ; o,6, 7 ; J-37, 1 . The use of 
Dominus for Yahweh follows the Septuagint use of Kvpios. Here 
deserves to be noticed a very striking instance in which a peculiarly 
coloured Greek rendering is followed by the Vulgate. In Ps. 83, 12 
the Massoretic text has : For a Sun and a Shield is Yahweh Elohim ; 
the Vulgate (changing the whole sentence) has : Quoniam misericordiam 
et veritatem diligit Deus. 

In the Greek version there are many indications that the trans 
lators were more familiar with Aramaic than with Hebrew. The 
Latin text shows many strange phrases which arose out of the con 
fusion of Hebrew and Aramaic words by the Septuagint translators. 
See, for instance, the Commentary below on Ps. 51, 3 . In 59, 10 ( = 
107, 10 ) Moab olla spei meae is due to reading the Hebrew my wash 
ing as if it were the Aramaic my hope (the true sense of the 
passage being, Moab is my washing-basin ). In Ps. 6o, 8 Miseri 
cordiam et veritatem ejus quis requiret represents the Hebrew : Loving- 
kindness and Faithfulness (Grace and Truth regarded as ministers 

Vulgate are present also in the Septuagint, (i) and (ii) fall practically together. 
Yet there are features of the Vulgate which, though derived from the Hebrew 
through the Greek, deserve to be called rather Graecisms than Semitisms. 


of God : cf. John i, 14 ) do Thou command to guard him/ because 
the Greek translators read the Hebrew verb man (the piel imperative 
of manah, meaning command or comm ssion ) as if it were the 
Aramaic man ( = who ). Through reading an Aramaic instead of a 
Hebrew verb (and consequently, transposing subject and object) the 
Greek translators got the sense which appears in the Vulgate as : 
Improperium expectavit cor meum (68, 21 ). The Massoretic text has: 
Insult hath broken my heart/ The Hebrew verb to break has 
in unpointed script the same appearance as the Aramaic verb to 
hope. The same confusion between break and hope has pro 
duced, 103, n Expectdbunt onagri in siti sua, instead of Frangunt 
onagri sitim suam. In n8, 120 the translators not understanding the 
Hebrew samar ( shudder ) translated it as if it were an Aramaic 
verb meaning to nail ; hence the strange phrase : Confige timore 
tuo carnes meas instead of the Hebrew : My flesh shudders for dread 
of Thee/ * 

It was said above that the Greek translators had before them a 
purely consonantal Hebrew text without division of words. Many 
defects of our Vulgate Psalter are due to an incorrect resolution of 
the consonantal text into separate words. Thus, for instance, in 
Ps. 4, 3 we have in the Vulgate : 

Filii hominum usquequo gravi corde ? 

Ut quid diligitis vanitatem et quaeritis mendacium ? 

The corresponding Massoretic text means : 

How long, sons of men, shall my honour be stained ? 
Will ye still love folly and seek after deceit ? 

The Massoretes read : b e ne ish ad-meh kh bhodi likh limmah ( sons 
of men, how long shall my honour be disgrace ? ) The Greek trans 
lators read : b e ne ish ad-meh kiWde lebh lammah ( sons of men, 
why still heavy of heart ? Why/ etc.). Thus, except for the change 
of the kh in likh limmah into bh, the Greek translation presupposes 
the same consonantal text as the Massoretic, but has divided that 
text in its own way into words. Many of the most unintell gible 
passages in the Latin Psalter are due to similar false resolution of 
the Hebrew consonantal text. 

Often a whole passage is obscure simply because a single Hebrew 
word was wrongly vocalised by the Septuagint translators. Thus, 
in 9, 7 frameae in finem is a mistake for ruinae in finem, because 
the Hebrew words swords and ruins have the same consonants. 
In Ps. Sy, 11 is the difficult text : 

Numquid mortuis facies mirabilia, 

aut medici suscitabunt et confitebuntur tibi ? 

*See also Ps. 71, 1J . 


It seems to suggest the idea of raising up the dead that they may 
give praise to God. The Massoretic text corresponding means : 

Canst Thou work wonders for the dead ? 
Will the Shades rise again to praise Thee ? 

The explanation of the difference is easy. RP M could be read 
roptf im which means physicians, or R e pha im the dwellers in Sheol, 
the Shades. Again YKM could be read yakumu up or 
yakimu raise up. < The Massoretic readings are obviously to be 
preferred. Again in Ps. go, 3 - 6 the Hebrew debher, which means 
plague or pestilence, is treated in the Graeco-Latin Psalter as if it 
were dabhar which word, or thing. Thus the negotium ( dabhar) 
perambulans in tenebris has come to take the place of the Hebrew, 
the pestilence (debher) which creeps in the darkness. Again in 
Ps. 103, 17 we have : lllic passeres nidificabunt herodii domus dux est 
eorum suggesting that the stork s house is a guide for the sparrows. 
But the Massoretic text has : 

[The Cedars of Lebanon] 

Where the little birds build their nest. 

The stork for its home has the cypress. 

The Massoretes read b e roshim= cypress, the Septuagint translators 
b ro sham, at their head. Jerome in his own translation juxta 
Hebraeos has : milvo abies domus ejus, which, except for the rendering 
of the Hebrew hasid (stork) by milvus, accurately represents the 

The difficulty of the passage Ps. 57, 10 : 

Priusquam intelligerent spinae vestrae rhamnum 

is due to the reading by the Greeks of sirim ( thorns ) instead of 
the Massoretic siroth ( kettles ). The Massoretic text means : 

Before your kettles feel [the fire of] the thcrns 
In Ps. 126,*, 

Sicut sagittae in manu potentis 
ita filii excussorurn 

the Hebrew word n e urim which means youth has been read as if 
it were n e urim the plural passive participle from na ar, to shake 
off, to cast off. It is easy to see how the sons begotten in youth 
are like arrows in the strong man s hand. But ( there is no genuine 
meaning in the sons of the driven out. 
The obscure passage in Ps. 130, 2 : 

Si non humiliter sentiebam 

sed exaltavi animam meam. 

Sicut ablactatus est super matre sua, 

ita retributio in anima mea 


owes its obscurity mainly to the circumstance that the Greek trans 
lators read romamti (exaltavi) instead of domamti ( I silenced ), and 
g mul (retributio) instead of gamut (aUactatus). They also read 
>a le naphshi instead of alai naphshi. The passage really means : 

Surely my thought was lowly, 

And I kept silent my soul. 

Like a weaned child with its mother, 

Yea ! like a weaned child with me was my soul ! 

The psalmist s soul was as silent in him as is the weaned child by its 
mother s side. Such a quiet soul could not be suspected of pride. 
The Vulgate text as it stands scarcely conveys this, or any, intelligible 

An analogous misreading and misunderstanding of the Greek 
interpreters has produced the text Ps. ioi, 24 ~ 25 : 

Respondit ei in via virtutis suae, 
paucitatem dierum meorum nuncia mihi 
Ne re voces me in dimidio dierum meorum. 

Jerome in his version from the Hebrew has rightly rendered this 
passage : 

Afflixit in via fortitudinem meam 

abbreviavit dies meos ; 

Dicam ; ne rapias me in medio dierum meorum. 

The Greek translators took innah ( humbled/ broke ) as anah 
( answered ). Ki$?ar yamai omar He hath shortened my days ; 
I will say/ the Greeks read as koser yamai >e mor, Tell Thou the 
shortness of my days/ 

In Ps. 89, 12 the unintelligible phrase : 

Dinumerare dexteram tuam sic notam fac 
et eruditos corde in sapientia 

is due to false division of the unpointed Hebrew text. The Massoretic 
text (slightly emended) means : 

To reckon our years do Thou teach us, 
That so in our heart we may set wisdom. 

Yamemi (our days) of the Massoretic text was read with the first 
letter of the next word (ken) as y minka ( thy right hand ). Nabhi 
( that we may bring ) was perhaps read as n Wwne (eruditi, nun 
taking the place of aleph). 1 

x The Septuagint translators had here before them, apparently, the con 
sonantal text, 

which they read, limnoth y e minka ken hoda unfibhone lebh b e hokhmah. 


In Ps. 76, n ; Et dixi nunc coepi ; haec mutatio dexter ae Excelsi, 
the Greek translators read the word hallothi ( my wound ) as if it 
were a part of the verb fyalal which in some of its forms means begin. 
The true sense of the passage is : 

Then I said : This indeed is my trouble 

That the right hand of the Most High hath changed. 

The Psalterium juxta Hebraeos gives the sense fairly well : Imbecillitas 
mea est haec, commutatio dexterae Excelsi. The psalnrst s chief 
grief is that God s attitude of kindness towards him has changed. 

Another familiar type of misunderstanding which has been in 
herited by the Gallican Psalter from the Septuagint is the frequent 
failure to recognise proper names as such. Thus, for instance, 
Meribah becomes irritatio in 94, 9 ; Siryon is transformed into dilectus 
in -28,* (but see commentary on this verse) ; the vale of Sukkoth in 
59, 8 is read as Convallis tabernaculorum : the mountain of Bashan 
in 67, 16 becomes mons pinguis ; in 67, 15 Shaddai (an old name of 
God) becomes caelestis : Moshekh of 119, 5 is rendered prolongatus 
(because mashakh means to draw out ) ; In Shalem/ Ps. 75, 3 
(where the parallelism with Si on shows that Jerusalem is meant) 
is rendered in pace. 

The converse error of taking a Hebrew adjective as a proper 
name is also found in the Vulgate Psalter for instance, in Ps. 73, 15 
Siccasti fluvios Ethan where Ethan is an adjective meaning ever- 
flowing (i.e. not ceasing to flow in summer, like many of the winter 
flowing wadys ; Jerome renders, flumina fortia) ; again, in the same 
psalm, verse 14, Dedisti eum escam populis Aethiopum, Aethiopum has 
taken the place of the Hebrew desert-dwellers (cf. Ps. 71, 9 ). 

The examples of obscurities and defects in the Vulgate Psalter 
due to fidelity in reproducing the peculiarit ; es of the Septuagint 
nfght be multiplied indefinitely. It must not be assumed, however, 
from the above list that the Hebrew text supposed by the Graeco- 
Latin Psalter is always inferior to the Massoretic text. Often the 
latter must be emended on the basis of the former. Yet it will be 
found, as a rule, that the differences between the Graeco-Latin and 
the Massoretic Psalters are due mainly to different methods of reading 
the primitive consonantal text to different traditions, that is, con 
cerning the breaking up of the consonantal text into groups forming 
individual words, and the insertion of vowels into those words. Even 
in the case of an apparently great difference between the Psalters 
such as in Ps. 21 , 17 where the Latin has, Fodenmt manus meas et 
pedes meos and the Massoretic text, Like a lion, my hands and my 
feet (connecting with the preceding, A band of evil-doers encircles 
me ), the difference in the consonantal Hebrew implied in the two 
readings is altogether in a single letter. The Latin reading supposes 
a vau where the Massoretic reads a yod as the fourth consonant of 


the phrase. Ka ru =foderunt ; k a>a ri means like a lion. The Latin 
gives clearly the better text, but there is no ground for suspecting the 
Massoretes of having here intentionally falsified the text. Vau and 
Yod were frequently confused in the editing of the Hebrew Bible. 
Moreover, the Massoretes here actually indicated in the margin the 
reading ka ru. 

A very extraordinary case of difference between the Vulgate 
Psalter and the Hebrew is the insertion in the Vulgate text of Ps. 13 
the passage, 

Sepulchrum patens est guttur eorum : 

linguis suis dolose agebant, 

venenum aspidum sub labiis eorum ; 

Quorum os maledicticne et amaritudine plenum est. 

veloces pedes ecrum ad effundendum sanguinem. 

Ccntritio et felicitas in viis eorum, 

et viam pacis non cognoverunt : 

non est timor Dei ante oculos eorum. 

This passage as it stands has nothing corresponding to it in the Hebrew 
text. But it occurs exactly in the form here given in St Paul s 
Epistle to the Romans 3, 13 ^. Hence it has been conjectured that 
the passage (which is largely composed of psalm-texts) has been trans 
ferred to the Psalter from the Epistle to the Romans. 1 The New 
Testament has also, in the view of some scholars, influenced the 
text of the Greek Psalter in Ps. 39, 7 . Here the Vulgate has Aures 
perfecisti mihi, the Massoretic text, Ears thou hast dug for me/ 
and the Septuagint, A body thou hast fashioned for me. The read 
ing body 2 has possibly crept into the Septuagint from the Epistle 
to the Hebrews, io, 5 . The difference between the Vulgate perfecisit 
and the Hebrew thou hast dug is due apparently to the fact that 
where the Massoretes read karitha ( thou hast dug ) the Greek trans 
lator s read konanta ( Thou hast fashioned ). 

Besides the peculiarities of the Vulgate Psalter which are due to 

1 The insertion is found also in the Vatican Codex of the Septuagint. 

This is, however, only a conjecture. It is possible that the author of 
Hebrews may have read truvua in his Greek Psalter. It is possible, too, that 
<r&fA.a arose originally through the mistake of a copyist who joined the <r of the 
preceding word by mistake with drria and then read 2OTIA as ZiiMA. In 
the Psalterium Romanum we have corpus, and the change to aures in the Vulgate 
would naturally be due to Jerome s study of Origen s Hexapla. If the MS. of 
the Septuagint, on the basis of which Jerome made his first revision (the Roman 
Psalter) contained o-w/ta, and the Hexaplaric Septuagint wrta, the problem 
of the text can be solved without the hypothesis of a borrowing from Hebrews. 
The presence of <ruyia in the MS. which underlay the Psalterium Romanum 
could be explained, as has just been said, by the theory of a copyist s error 
in reading twice the final s of the word preceding urri a and then regarding 
ffuria as (Tuyta. The author of Hebrews may have used a Greek MS. like that 
which was the basis of Jerome s first revision. The versions of Aquila. Sym- 
machus and Theodotion all read um a here. 


slavish dependence on the methods of the Septuagint translators, 
there are others which are due to the borrowing in the Vulgate of 
forms of the language of the Septuagint. These might be called 
Graecisms in the strict sense of the word. The following are some 
of the commonest Graecisms in the Latin Psalter : 

1. Slavish reproduction of Greek words and phrases : nisi quia for 
ft /AT) on, 123, l ; Ut quid for JW TI, 4, 3 ; Nequando for ^ TTOTC, 7, 3 ; 
Ex hoc nunc for * TOV vvv, H2, 2 (hie used as article) ; Supersperare 
for fTrtXTrifav , ii8,* 3 ; Exerceri for /xeAerav, n8, 15 ; In idipsum 

for ore TO avro, 40, 8 . 

2. The use of two Latin words to render a compound Greek word : 
haereditate possideamus=K\r)povofj,T)<ru(j.ev, 82, 13 ; Legem ponere = 
vonoOmiv (= teach ), n8, 33 . Similarly, simul trahere ( snatch 
away/ 27, 3 ; bene patientes ( flourishing ), 91, 15 . 

3. The use of grammatical constructions unfamiliar in Latin, but 
common in Greek : (a) Attraction, as in Comprehenduntur in consiliis 
quibus cogitant, g, 23 ; (b) Construction of comparative with genitive, 
Eripiens inopem de manu fortiorum ejus, 34, 10 ; (c) Construction of 
dominari with genitive, 21, 29 ; (d) Use of accusative absolute : De- 
lictum oris eorum, because of the sin of their mouth/ 58, 13 ; (e) The 
Hebrew use of the construct infinitive which the Greek could repro 
duce has resulted in such constructions as : In conveniendo populos 
in unum, When the peoples gathered together/ ioi, 23 ; In deficiendo 
ex me spiritum meum, When my spirit languishes/ 141,*. A s:m lar, 
but still less justifiable construction is, In convertendo Dominus captivi- 
tatem Sion, Ps. 125, l . 

4. Many Greek words appear in the Vulgate Psalter such as, 
abyssus, bruchus (locust), camus (bridle), calamus, cathedra, cete, 
christus, cilicium, cinifes, cithara, clems (lot, share), clibanus (oven), 
cophinus (basket), crystallus (ice), ccenomyia (dog-fly), diplois (mantle), 
eremus, euge, herodius (stork), neomenia, nycticorax (owl), rhamnus 
(thorn-bush), slatera, tympanistria, etc., etc. 

(ii) Semitisms of the Vulgate Psalter 

1. The feminine is used for the neuter. So in Ps. 26,*, Unam 
petii a Domino hanc requiram ; Ps. n8, 56 , Haecfacta est mihi ; io8, 27 , 
Manus tua haec (fecit) et tu Domine fecisti earn. 

2. The comparative is expressed by the prepositions a and ex 
with the ablative (corresponding to use of Hebrew preposition min). 
Ps. I38, 6 , Mirabilis facta est scientia tua ex me ; Ps. 92, 3 > 4 , Elevaverunt 
flumina fiuctus suos a vocibus aquarum multarum. 

The preposition super is sometimes used in the same way : Super 
senes intellexi, n8, 100 . 

3. Verbs like addere, adjicere, apponere, converti, are used with 


other verbs to express the idea of the repetition of the action signified 
by the verbs with which they are combined. See Ps. 84,* : Deus tn 
conversus vivificabis nos ; 77, 17 , Apposuerunt adhuc peccare ei,\ 40,*, 
Numquid qui dormit non adjiciet ut resurgat ? Analogous construc 
tions are : Abundavit ut averteret, 77, 38 ; Magnificavit facere, 125, 3 ; 
Cito fecerunt, obliti sunt, iO5, 13 =a/o obliti sunt. 

4. Constructions like: Civitas cujus participatio ejus in idipsum, 
Ps. 121, 3 ; Beata gens cujus est Dominus Deus ejus, 32, 12 ; Aaron, 
quern elegit ipsum, 104, 26 , in which a demonstrative pronoun is used 
redundantly with a relative. 

5. In oaths si is used in the sense of surely not, and si non in 
the sense of surely. So in 94, n , Si introibunt in requiem meam ; 
88, 36 , Semeljuravi in sancto meo, si David mentiar. Cf. 131, 3 . 4 ; 130,2, 
Si non humiliter sentiebam. The negative form of affirmative oaths 
and the affirmative form of negative oaths, is apparently due to the 
fact that some sort of imprecation is to be understood as introducing 
the oath : " May so and so happen to me if "; " May so and so 
happen to me if .... not." 

6. Expressions of wish in the form, Quis dabit ex Sion salutare 
Israel (Oh, that the rescue of Israel might be given from Sion ! ) i3, 7 ; 
Quis dabit mihi pennas ? 54, . 

7. Abstract nouns in the genitive are used as adjectives. So, 
virga directionis, 44, = just sceptre; mons sanctificationis , 77, M = 
holy mount ; sacrificiumjustitiae, 4, 6 , a due sacrifice ; aqua refectio- 
nis, 22, 2 , refreshing water ; fimicukis distributions, 77, 54 , measur 
ing line ; Deus justitiae meae, 4,2, my just God. 

8. Reduplications such as, In corde et corde (with double heart, n, 3 ) : 
Homo et homo very many, 86, 5 ; in saecula saeculorum (for all ages). 
Simil?.rly, phrases like co^um coeli ( highest heavens/ 67, 34 ). This 
is the same kind of construction as Sanctum sanctorum, vanitas vani- 
tatum, canticum canticorum. 

9. The preposition in ( = Hebrew b e ) used with ablative to express 
instrumentality : Qui non egit dolum in lingua sua, 14, 3 ; Ecce 
loquentur in ore suo, 58,8. A somewhat similar use is shown in 
phrases like Vox Domini in virtute (=with power, 28,*). The con 
struction videre in aliquo is used to express the idea of seeing gladly 
the misfortunes of others, and audire in aliquo means to hear with 
joy of another s failure, 91, 12 . 

10. Such phrases as a facie, ante faciem, in conspeclu, in ore, de 
manu, instead of simple prepositions ; constructions like adhaesit 
anima post te, 62, 9 ; Esto mihi in Deum, 30, 3 ; constitues me in 
caput, gentium I7, 44 . 

11. Such forms of expression as, avertere faciem, exaltare cornu, 
deprecari vultum ( pay homage, 44, 13 ) ; videre in bonitate (=frui 
bono, 105, 5 ) ; omnibus eis nomina vocat, 146,*. Pregnant phrases 
like, Exaudivit me in latitudine, nj, 5 . 


ii. Several Hebrew words are simply transliterated in the Psalter 
Alleluja, Cherub, Jubilum, Sabbatum. 

(iii) Peculiarities of the Vulgar Latin of the Psalter 

(1) Compound verbs are used frequently where classical Latin 
would use simple verbs : abire, i, 1 , for ire ; distillare, 67,*, for 
stillare ; retribuer6, n8, 17 , for tribuere ; proponere, 136,, for ponere. 

(2) Transitive verbs are used intransitively, and vice versa : 
convertere for retroire, g, 4 ; elongare for procul discedere, 54, ; emigrarc 
for expellere, 51, . Cognoscere and derelinquere are also used intran 
sitively. Complacere is transitive 34, 14 and also exsultare, 5o, 15 . 

(3) Deponents are used as passives : consolari (permit oneself to 
be comforted, 76, 3 ) ; deprecari=placari, I34> 14 - 

(4) Passives are used like the Greek middle : Laudatur ( =gloriatur), 
9, 24 ; cf. Ps. 33, 3 , In Domino laudabitur anima mea. 

(5) Objects of verbs are often omitted avertere (faciem), intendere 
(animani), dirigere (viam), etc. 

(6) Preposition in is used with ablative instead of accusative : 
Insurgentes in nobis, 43, ; Sicut oculi servorum in manibus dominorum, 
122, 2 ; Scribantur haec in generations altera, ioi, 19 ; Humiliavit in 
terra vitam meam, 142, 3 , etc., etc. 

New prepositional forms are used : de post, 77,, de longe, desuper, 

(7) Adverbs are used in unfamiliar meanings : contra instead of 
coram, 5o, 5 ; nimis instead of valde, in, 1 ; ab intus instead of 
intrinsecus, 44, 14 ; paulo minus instead of propemodum, 93, 17 . 

Adverbial phrases are also used strangely. So, sine causa fcr 
frustra or inutiliter, 72, 13 . 

Unfamiliar adverbs are often used, such asfiducialiter, singularitcr, 
supervacue, velociter, voluntarie. 

(8) Unusual meanings of nouns and adjectives: adeps, unresponsive 
heart, i6, n ; assumptio, protection, 88, 19 ; adinventio, work, deed, 
76, 13 , etc.; confessio, praise ; correctio, support, Q6, 2 ; cantabilis, 
praiseworthy, u8, 54 ; commutatio, successor, 88, 52 ; creditus, loyal, 
77, 8 ; directio, uprightness, n8, 7 ; emundatio, glory, 88, 45 ; framea, 
sword, 21, 21 ; foetosus, fruitful, I43, 13 ; gutla, sweet scented oil, 44, 
incola, stranger, n8, 19 ; incolatus, exile, ng, 5 ; ignitum, tried by 
fire, n8, 140 ; imperium, strength, 85, 16 ; linguosus, slanderer, I3Q, 12 
maturitas, early morning, nS, 147 ; oratio, prayer, (passim) \ peccatmn,^ 
offering for sin, 39, ; principatus, sum, 138, 17 ; potentatus, at most/ 
89, 10 ; patriae, tribes, 95, 6 ; reverentia, shame, 68, 20 ; sanctificatio, 
shrine, 95,. 

(9) Many unfamiliar words are used: sagittare, shoot with arrows, 
io, 3 ; obviare, meet, 84, 11 , etc. 


(10) Unusual forms. Plurals of words which are used, as a rule, 
only in singular are common : aequitates, iniqttitates, interitiones, 
miser ic or diae, sanguines, veritates. 

Unusual verbal forms occur, such as : frenduerunt, 34, 16 ; odire 
odivit, 25, 5 ; 35, 5 ; ioo, 3 ; odientes, 17,*; metibor, 59, 8 ; partibor, 


Other features of the language of the Vulgate Psalter which 
belong to it in common with Vulgar Latin generally, such as its 
tendency to set up new word-formations with sonorous endings, to 
form new verbs from nouns and adjectives, to employ new compounds 
as nouns, adjectives and verbs, etc., etc., do not require to be specially 
considered here. 

From all that has been said about the text of the Vulgate Psalter, 
it is obvious that that Psalter is not an ideal translation. Jerome s 
direct translation of the Psalter from the Hebrew is a much closer 
approach to the original sense of the psalms ; yet it was not accepted 
by the Church as an official text in St. Jerome s day, nor at any 
subsequent period. We still recite the Psalter according to the text 
of the Psalterium Gallicanum. There is, no doubt, often a wonderful 
strength and beauty in the Vulgate rendering of the Psalms, and a 
new rendering of the Psalter in Latin based on all the work of modern 
scholarship would probably be as unpopular now as was Jerome s 
Psalterium juxta Hebraeos at the end of the fourth century. The 
revision of the Vulgate inaugurated by Pope Pius X in 1907 and 
entrusted to the care of the Benedictine Order does not, apparently, 
aim at replacing the text of any book of the Vulgate by a text that 
might be per se more reliable, but only at re-establishing the genuine 
text of St. Jerome s Vulgate. As long as the Gallican Psalter with 
all its obscurity and difficulty has to be read in the Breviary it will 
be practically impossible for those who are bound to recite the Divine 
Office to grasp the meaning of the Psalms without a preliminary study 
of the history and exegesis of the Vulgate Text. 1 


Apart from their beauty of language and the intensity of feeling 
which they express, the Vulgate Psalms convey little suggestion of 
poetry. Neither the Greek translators nor their Latin successors 

*The Latin text which is printed in the Commentary is the text of the 
Breviary Psalter. The superscriptions, which are wanting in the Psalter of 
the Breviary, have been added from Hetzenauer s edition of the Vulgate. The 
numbering of the verses is the same as that in Hetzenauer, but the punctuation 
of the Breviary Psalter has been left unchanged. 

2 The problems of Hebrew poetry may be studied very agreeably in the 
following : Buchanan Gray, " The Forms of Hebrew Poetry " ; G. A. Smith, 


made any serious attempt to give a poetic rendering of the Hebrew 
originals. Yet, as it were, in spite of the translators, something of 
the external poetical form of the Hebrew psalms has passed over into 
the Greek and Latin translations. Hence, even in a work like the 
present, in which the Hebrew text is used merely as a means for ex 
plaining the Vulgate, it Will not be out of place to discuss very briefly 
the poetical structure of the Hebrew psalms. 

Hebrew poetry differs considerably in structure from most forms 
of European poeiry. It shows very rarely any tendency to rhyme 
or vowel assonance. Its metre is so difficult to understand that 
some scholars refuse to beLeve that it possesses any definite form of 
metre. Further, it is dominated by what is known as the parallelism 
of members. As this third peculiarity of Hebrew poetry survives 
in the Greek and Vulgate prose translations of the Psalter, we shall 
consider it first. 

The most casual reader of the Vulgate Psalter will notice how 
frequently the same thought is repeated in a single verse, as, for 
instance : 

Noli aemulari in malignantibus, 

neque zelaveris facientes iniquitatem. 

Quoniam tanquam foenum velociter arescent, 

et quemadmodum olera herbarum cito decident (36, M) 

Here the same prohibition is twice repeated in the first verse, and the 
same reason for it is twice stated in the second. This kind of double 
statement of a thought within a verse, this balancing against the 
first half of a verse an echo, as it were, of itself, is a strikingly obvious 
feature of the psalms. Sometimes the thought is not balanced against 
an echo of itself, but against its opposite the second half of the line 
reversing, like the back swing of a pendulum, the thought-movement 
of the first, as in Ps. i, 6 : 

Quoniam novit Dominus viam justorum 

et iter impiorum peribit. 

Sometimes the thought conveyed in the first part of a verse is ex 
panded or explained by the remaining part or parts of the verse. 
Note, for example, the development of the thought in Ps. i, 1 : 

Beatus vir qui non abiit in consilio impiorum 
et in via peccatorum non stetit, 

et in cathedra pestilentium non sedit. 

" The Early Poetry of Israel" ; E. G. King, " Early Religious Poetry of the 
Hebrews" ; W. H. Cobb, " A Criticism of Systems of Hebrew Metre." The 
Psalter has been closely studied on its metrical side by the Catholic scholar 
Prof. Nivard Schlogl of Vienna. The basis of his metrical theory is fully laid 
down in his essay, Die echte biblisch-hebraische Metnk (Freiburg, 1912) J his 
system is applied in his two valuable commentaries, Die Psalmen, hebraisch und 
deutsch (Vienna, 1911), and Die Psalmen in his edition of the Old Testament 
(Vienna and Leipzig, 1915). The best practical study of strophic structure in 
Hebrew poetry is protably that contained in Father Condamin s works, Le 
Lime d Isaie and Le Livre de Jeremie. 


Note again Ps. 40, 2 , where the second part of the verse gives a reason 
for the first : 

Beatus qui intelligit super egenum et paupercm 
in die mala liberabit cum Dominus. 

Sometimes the second part of the verse is an inference from the first, 
as in Ps. 84, : 

Deus tu conversus vivificabis nos 
et plebs tua laetabitur in te. 

In so-called parallelism, then, the thought of the first part of a verse 
is either echoed, or reversed, or expanded in the second, and these 
three kinds of parallelism are known as synonymous, antithetic and 
synthetic. There are other forms of parallelism of a more compli 
cated kind which need not be here considered. The three kinds just 
mentioned are very familiar in the Psalter. As in our rhyming poetry 
the rhyme ends or stops the line, so the parallelism acts as a line- 
determinant in Hebrew poetry, and thus produces a portion of that 
balance or symmetry which is necessary to poetry as distinguished 
from prose. The origin of parallelism is variously explained, but we 
are concerned here with its function, and not with theories as to its 
origin. In the study of the Psalms parallelism is of the first im 
portance, for we can often determine the meaning of an obscure line 
by reading it in the light of its less obscure parallel. Thus, for ex 
ample, in Ps. 75, 3 : 

Et factus est in pace locus ejus 
et habitatio ejus in Sion. 

the second half of the verse shows that in pace ought to be read in 
Shalem (i.e. Jerusalem; the Hebrew Shalom, peace, and Shalem, 
1 Jerusalem would be indistinguishable in a consonantal text). So 
again in Ps. 67, 23 : 

Dixit Dominus : Ex Basan convertam 

convertam in profundum maris, 

it is clear from the parallelism that the second part of the verse ought 
to be convertam ex pro/undo maris. 

The careful reader of the Psalms will note how the lines are 
balanced against each other and explain each other, and thus he will 
be able, as a rule, to attach likely meanings to the most obscure verses. 

Parallel sm is not confined to Hebrew poetry : it is very familiar 
in the poetry of ancient Egypt and Babylon also, and it is present 
more or less in the s mpler folk-poetry of the European peoples. 
Rhyme is a balancing of similar sounds : parallelism is a balancing of 
thoughts. Just as the rhyming words mark the end of the line in 
European poetry, so the 1 ne in Hebrew is determined, in a sense, by 
the thought which it conveys. But, as with rhyme there goes a certain 


measurement of lines in Western poetry, so in Hebrew poetry the 
balanced lines may not vary greatly from each other in length. 
In connection with the measurement of these lines a great number 
of theories have been put forward which it would be profitless to 
enumerate here. It is now widely admitted that the metrical balance 
of the connected lines in a verse is not due to any equality or other 
mathematical relation in the number of syllables in the balanced lines. 
Hebrew metre is not primarily dependent on number of feet or on the 
quantity of syllables ; it is dependent rather on the number of stresses 
or accent-beats, and connected lines are definitely related to each other 
by the number of their stressed syllables. Yet there is not certainty in 
every case as to the number of stresses in a line of Hebrew poetry, and 
in the same poem there may be great varieties of metre (i.e. in the 
number of stresses in the groups of balanced lines). The English 
translation of the Psalter in this work is intended to show roughly, 
by the way in which it is printed, the connection of lines in parallelism ; 
but as a translation of the Vulgate it could not, of course, pretend to 
suggest the rhythm of the Hebrew original. In the translation it 
will be noticed that, as a rule, the psalms are broken up into groups 
of verses. These groups are not always stanzas of equal length in 
the same poem. When they are examined it will be seen that in 
each such strophe, or group of connected verses, a more or less com 
plete thought is expressed. Just as lines are related to each other 
within a verse by parallelism, so the strophes are often related to 
each other within a psalm by something resembling parallelism. 
For the most part it is possible to identify strophes only by the 
thought-connection which holds them together. But sometimes we 
have external indications of the presence and structure of such strophes. 
Such, for instance, are the refrains which occur in Ps. 41, 42, 45, 56, 
58, 61, 66, 79, 98. Another indication is the obscure word Selah 
(but sometimes it is obviously out of place). In the alphabetical 
psalms a new strophe is sometimes indicated by each succeeding 
letter of the alphabet. The best example of the alphabet indication 
of strophes is Ps. 118 in which strophes of eight verses each are held 
together by the identity of their initial consonants. In Ps. 9 and 36 
there are two verses to each letter. In Ps. 24, 33, 144 each single 
verse, and in Ps. no and in each separate half verse (i.e. line) begins 
with a different letter. In the cases of these psalms there is, of course, 
no question of strophic structure. There are other external or formal 
criterias of strophes which are too technical to be discussed in an intro 
duction like the present. It is enough to have indicated here that 
there are often two separate kinds of unity within the single psalm 
the verse consisting of two lines which echo or balance each other, 
and the strophe consisting of groups of verses held together by simi 
larity of thought, or by obvious external structure. Just as the 
parallelism of lines is often useful in explaining or reconstructing 


obscure lines, so the recognition of strophes often explains such 
apparent irregularities or inconsistencies as the appearance within a 
single psalm of different or contrasted points of view. One often meets 
in a psalm a sudden change of theme, or an unexpected transition 
from third to first person, or an apparently unmotived change of 
mood on the part of the psalmist. The strophic structure of the 
psalms which introduces inevitably a quasi -dramatic element will 
often be found to explain these peculiarities. 

The poetical form of the psalms is so wide a subject that it can 
be only thus briefly referred to in this Introduction. A few illustra 
tions showing approximately the rhythmic and strophic structure 
of the Hebrew originals will serve to make the foregoing remarks more 


By the waters of Babel 
We sat and did weep, 

For our thoughts were on Sion. 
On the willows that stood there 

We hung up our harps. 

There did our captors 
Ask of us songs, 

Our jailers a mir^h-song ! 
Sing us a song, 

A song ot Sion ! 

How shall we sing 
A song of Yahweh 

On the soil of the stranger ? 

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, 

Then wither my right hand ; 
Cleave my tongue to my palate 

If I remember thee not, 
If I make thee not, Jerusalem, 

Chief source of my joy ! 

O Yahweh, remember 
The children of Edom, 

Jerusalem s day, 

When they cried out : Destroy ye ! Destroy, 
To her deepest foundations. 

Thou ravager Babel ! 

Happy he who shall pay thee, 

Shall pay back what thou gavest us. 
Happy he who shall seize and shall shatter 
Ihy babes gainst the rock ! 


The poem passes, strophe by strophe, from the picture of the 
exiles gloom to the cynical demands of their captors, and then to 
the reply first of the exiles generally, and then of the psalmist 
himself. Then, as if in contrast with the song of Sion so mockingly 
asked for, the concluding strophes forecast the doom of Sion s 

The beautiful ode on the blessings of home, Ps. 127, illustrates 
well the quasi-dramatic character which strophic structure gives to 
the psalms. 

Happy he who feareth Yahweh, 

Who guideth his life by His words. 
The fruit cf thy toil thou dost eat. 

Good luck ! Every blessing be thine ! 

Like a fruitful vine is thy wife, 

Hid away in thy house. 
Thy sons are like shoots of the olive, 

When they sit round thy board. 

Even thus shall be blessed the man 
Who feareth Yahweh. 

May Yahweh thee bless from Sion, 


Mayest thou see Jerusalem happy 

All the days of thy life ? 
Mayest thou look on the sons of thy sons, 

In Israel peace ! 

In Ps. 22 the psalm of the Good Shepherd there is a very striking 
contrast of strophes by which the different aspects of God s loving 
care are set forth. 

Yahweh is my Shepherd, I lack naught. 

On pastures green He doth feed me. 
By waters of rest He doth lead me : 

He refresheth my soul. 
He guideth me ever on right ways 

Because of His name. 
And whenever I pass 

Through the gloom of the valley, 

No ill do I fear, 
For Thou goest before me ; 

Thy staff Thou dost lean on 
Therein is my comfort. 

1 A line is missing here. 


Thou spreadest before me a table 

In the sight of my foes. 
With oil Thou anointest my head ; 

Well filled is my cup. 
So may goodness and favour pursue me ; 

All the days of my life ! 
I will dwell in the House of Yahweh 
Through the length of the days. 

As the poetry of the Ancient East the poetry of the Sumerians, 
Babylonians and Egyptians has come to be more and more studied 
in recent times, it has been gradually realised that Hebrew poetry 
in its metrical technique or external form is closely akin to the poetry 
of Israel s ancient neighbours. And it has been found also that its 
kinship with the poetry of the rest of the ancient Near East extends 
beyond metrical form, and appears, to some extent, in similarity of 
theme or subject-matter. Just as the Hebrew Psalter is a collection 
of exclusively religious poems, so the poetry of Babylon and Egypt 
is mainly religious. But most scholars including even those who 
would link up most closely the Psalter with heathen religious poetry 
of the Ancient East, insist on the wonderful superiority of the Psalms 
over all contemporary or earlier religious poetry in its moral and 
theological outlook. Thus the literary connection of the Psalter with 
ancient poetry serves only to bring into clearer prominence the divinity 
of the religion which underlies it. It is only in the Psalter of Israel 
that the supernatural in the fullest sense is recognised as a factor in 
human affairs (cf. Ps. 39, 49, 50). There are many so-called peni 
tential psalms in Babylonian literature, 1 but these are very often 
nothing more than fragments of magical or quasi-magical literature, 
and do not show any of that consciousness of guilt on the part of 
Babylonian worshippers which the Hebrew psalmist reveals. It is 
only in the Psalter that we find expressed the sure and confident 
hope of the coming of a kingdom of God in which all peoples will find 
a place a kingdom in which love and truth, salvation and peace shall 
reign (cf. Ps. 84, 1X ; 71 ; 92-98, etc., etc.). 

It is interesting for those of us who are bound to the daily recita 
tion of the Psalter to realise that we are using formulae of prayer 
and praise which voiced the thoughts and longings of ancient Israel. 
The Hymnal of the second Temple has become our Hymnal also, 

1 Cf. Jastrow, Die Religion Babyloniens und Assyriens, Giessen, 1905-1911. 
Zimmern, Babylonische Busspsalmcn, Leipzig, 1885 ; Babylonische Hymnen und 
Gebete in Auswahl, Leipzig, 1905 ; Edelkoort, Het Zondebesef in de Babylonische 
Boetepsalmen. Utrecht, 1918. The psalm-commentaries of Kittel (Leipzig, 
1914), Staerk (Lyrik des a. Test. Gottingen, 1920) and Gunkel (Ausgewahlte 
Psalmen. Gottingen, 1917) make extensive use of Babylonian parallels in ex 
plaining the Psalter .but their work is somewhat one-sided and needs to be used 
with caution. 


and we pray to God and praise Him with words which were devised 
for worship by men of Israel who lived centuries before Plato and 
Aristotle were born. The Hymnal of Israel is as much superior to 
the religious poetry of Babylon and Egypt as Christianity is to 


The Psalter is not a mere anthology of Hebrew poetry collected 
for literary purposes. Neither is it a collection of poems meant to 
illustrate the history of Israel. It is primarily a collection of sacred 
songs meant to be used in the Liturgy. Several of the psalms are 
assigned by their superscriptions to definite liturgical purposes. Thus 
the following are set apart to be sung during the offering of the daily 
morning holocaust (the so-called Tamid) on the different days of the 
week : On Sunday, Ps. 23 ; Monday, Ps. 47 ; Tuesday, Ps. 81 ; 
Wednesday, Ps. 93 (and also 100) ; Thursday, Ps. 80 ; Friday, Ps. 92 ; 
Sabbath, Ps. 91 (also 37). 

On the festivals other sacrifices were offered in addition to the 
Tamid, and certain psalms were also set apart to be sung during the 
offering of those additional sacrifices. Thus to the days of the Feast 
of Tabernacles, from the 2nd to the 8th were assigned : Ps. 28 ; 
49, ^ 93, 16 ^; 93> 7 ^; 8o, 7 ^; 8i, 5j ^; 64 (according to Septuagint 
28). To the Feast of the New Year, Ps. 80 was assigned for the 
morning and Ps. 28 the afternoon. 

During the slaying of the Paschal Lamb the psalms of the Hallel 
(112-117) were sung. Portions of the Hallel (especially Ps. 117) 
were also prescribed to be sung during the Feast of Tabernacles. 
All these special prescriptions in regard to the use of psalms were made 
in view of the liturgy of the Temple. We know, however, that 
psalms were also largely used in the worship of the Synagogue. Our 
information on this matter is, however, meagre. It is known that 
in the Synagogue Ps. 7 was chanted on the Feast of Purim, Ps. 28 
at Pentecost, Ps. 29 on the Feast of Dedication, Ps. 83 or 104 at 
Pasch, Ps. 136 on the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple. 
The Hallel, 112-117, was chanted at the three great festivals : Pasch, 
Pentecost and Tabernacles. Apparently the psalms were not as a 
rule chanted or recited unbrokenly in the Synagogue services ; as 
each verse of a psalm was recited or chanted, the people answered 
with an expression of praise to God as we can see in Ps. 135. 

We have in the Old Testament itself some examples of the use 
of the psalms in the Temple liturgy. In I Par. i6, 8 ^, we see how the 
Levites chanted Ps. IO4, 15 and 95, 1 ~ 13 , ending with a proclamation 
of God s praise (105, 1 ) and an exhortation to the people to ask God s 
help and to give Him praise (Ps. 105, 47 > 48 ). The people answer 
4 Amen and join in praising the Lord. In many cases particularly 


in the use of those psalms which begin with hallelu-yah the psalms 
were sung by a chanter while a choir or the people burst out into a 
cry of God s praise after each verse (as in Ps. 135 ; cf. II. Paral. 7 ; 
Esdras 3, i,). 

It may be assumed that the psalms were used also in the devotions 
of families and individuals. We know that the Hallel was sung at 
the Paschal Supper half of it being sung before the Supper and the 
other half after it (cf. Matt. 26, 30 ). Individuals will have used the 
psalms just as we do in their prayers, and to express their religious 
emotions, for even though the Psalter as a whole may owe its origin 
to liturgical needs, yet the individual psalms of which it is composed 
present some of the most perfect types of prayer conceivable perfect 
not merely for the community, but for the individual. 

It is interesting to note how very frequently Our Lord refers to 
the psalms (cf. John io, 34 - 36 ; Matt. 2i, 41 - 46 ; John 15, 25 ). As He 
hung on the Cross He recited Ps. 21, and His last word on the Cross 
was a passage from the psalms (Ps. 30, 6 ). The Apostles imitated 
Our Lord in the constant use of the psalms in their preaching. The 
Christian Church in taking the psalms as her great model of praise 
and prayer has followed in the footsteps of her Founder. In the 
Christian Church, as in the Jewish Temple, the Psalter is the chief 
source of liturgical prayer. 


Most of the psalms bear superscriptions or titles which give informa 
tion of a varied kind about the origin and use of the psalms. In the 
Graeco-Latin Psalter only two psalms the first and second have no 
title ; in the Massoretic Psalter there are thirty-nine without title. 
The titles vary greatly in length and character. They give, as a rule, 
some or all of the following details : 

(a) Name of author or of the person or persons to whom the 

psalm peculiarly belonged. 

(b) Occasion of the psalm. 

(c) Class of poem to which the psalm could be assigned. 

(d) Notes on musical or other technical features connected with 

the chanting of the psalm. 

(e) Liturgical directions. 

It is very seldom that a psalm-title gives information on all these 
points, 1 and it is to be noted that there is not complete agreement 
in the text of the titles even between the Septuagint and the Vulgate 
Psalters. The psalm-titles are omitted in the Breviary Psalter. 

Cf. Ps. 59, 58, 56, 55, etc., etc.. 


They are, however, so important for the history of the Psalter that 
they must be considered at least briefly here. 

(a) Names of author or of the person or persons to whom the psalm 

peculiarly belonged 

In the titles of seventy-three Massoretic psalms occurs the ex 
pression I Dawid. This has been rendered in the Septuagint by 
T AaviS, and in <the Vulgate by David (apparently a genitive) or 
ipsi David. In the Vulgate eighty-five psalms are thus associated 
with the name of David. The Vulgate similarly associates twelve 
psalms with the name of Asaph, eleven with the Korachites (filii 
Core), one with Moses (89), one (or, perhaps, two) with Solomon (126 
and 71), one with Ethan (88), one with Heman (87). The name of 
Yeduthun (or Yedithun) occurs in the titles of Ps. 38, 61 and 76. 
Ps. 136 is associated in the Vulgate and some MSS. of the Septuagint 
with the names of Jeremias and David. In the Septuagint Ps. 145- 
148 are connected with the names of the prophets Aggaeus and 
Zachary (the Vulgate connects with these names only Ps. 145). Ps. 64 
is called in the Vulgate title a Psalm of David and a Song of 
Jeremias and Ezechiel ) ; so similarly, Ps. 70 is assigned both to 
David and the sons of Jonadab. In the Massoretic Psalter fifty- 
two psalms, and in the Graeco-Latin Psalter forty psalms are not 
connected in this way with the name of any individual as a possible 

It has been long a hotly disputed question whether the preposition 
/* in the titles of the psalms ever really indicates authorship. It has 
also been much debated whether, granting that / does indicate 
authorship, titles which contain such statement of authorship can 
be accepted as reliable. 

The Hebrew preposition l e used as in the titles of the psalms 
with the name of an individual, does not per se indicate authorship. 
It is capable of a much wider interpretation, such as belonging to, 
or concerning, so that I Dawid could in itself, as far as grammar 
goes, mean belonging to David or concerning David ; it could 
even mean, prefixed to a poem, Davidic. In Ps. 71 the Greek 
translators actually took USh e lomoh not as by Solomon, but con 
cerning Solomon. Why not then, it has been asked, take I Dawid 
as meaning concerning David or Davidic (as in Ps. 136), or 
belonging to David ? The expression, which is so frequent in the 
titles, lam naseah does not mean by the choir-leader, but for the 
choir-leader, or belonging to the choir-leader. On this analogy 
I Dawid ought to mean, if that meaning is possible, belonging to 
David. Thus it is argued that I Dawid and similar expressions in 
the psalms need not be taken as suggesting authorship. 

On the other hand, however, l e Dawid can certainly mean by 


David, and the persistent tradition of the Jewish and Christian 
Churches has taken it in this sense. We can reasonably hold, there 
fore, that the preposition / used with the name of an individual in 
the titles does actually indicate authorship ; where, however, the 
preposition is used with the name of a group (like the filii Core) it 
seems more reasonable to hold that it indicates possession, or other 
similar relation, rather than authorship. 

The psalm-titles, then, may be taken as assigning more than half 
the Psalter to David as author. Is this testimony reliable ? Modern 
liberal criticism, for the most part, refuses to accept it. For such 
criticism all, or practically all, the psalms are of post-exilic origin, 
and none of them is as old as David. The ascription of psalms to 
David is, say the critics, like the ascription of books of Wisdom to 
Solomon. Just as Solomon was renowned for his wisdom, so David 
was celebrated in Hebrew tradition as a musician and a poet, and that 
tradition naturally associated him with the organisation of liturgical 
music and song and, therefore, with the Psalter. Besides, the critics 
argue, there are many references in psalms ascribed to David by 
their titles to events of the post-Davidic period, and if some titles are 
thus proved to be false how can any be trusted ? Such references to 
post-Davidic affairs are allusions to Temple-worship, and to events of 
the Exilic or post-exilic period. To these should be added indications 
of a religious outlook which would have been impossible in the Davidic 
age, and clear allusions to a reigning Israelite king in the third person, 
or words addressed to him directly. Sometimes the language of 
psalms ascribed to David is so Aramaising in tendency that it could 
not be associated with David as its author. The critics argue still 
further against the titles on the ground that no two of the ancient 
Psalters (Hebrew, Septuagint, Latin, Syriac) agree as to the text of 
the titles. Is it not, therefore, they say, more scientific to disregard 
the titles completely, and to determine the authorship of the psalms 
solely by a study of their contents ? In this study of contents the 
critics have come to reject the possibility not merely of Davidic, 
but even of pre-exilic psalms. They find in the Psalter essentially 
the thought and outlook and the historical background of post-exilic 
Judaism, and some of the critics are doubtful whether any of the psalms 
can be older than the Maccabean age. 

The Psalter is, as has been said already, essentially a liturgical 
book, and it may be correct to call it with most modern critics the 
Hymnal of the second Temple. But it does not thence immediately 
follow that the poems of the Psalter are not older than the second, 
or post-exilic Temple. Poems written in the early monarchical 
period even as early as David s day, could well have been incorporated 
in a post-exilic hymnal. It is certain that there was a highly organised 
cult in the Solomonic Temple. In the liturgy of that cult sacred song 
and music must have played a great part just as music and song are 


known to have played a great part in the liturgy of Oriental cults 
much older than that of the Temple of Solomon. 1 It is not un 
reasonable then to assume that much of the liturgical poetry of the 
pre-exilic Temple survived the Exile and was used again in the second 
Temple. Many of the psalms are scarcely intelligible unless they are 
thought of as the product of the monarchical period. Such are, for 
instance, the so-called Royal Psalms (17, 19, 20, 27, 32, 44, 60, 62, 
71, 109, etc., etc.). These psalms, whether they refer directly to the 
reigning king of Israel or to the Messianic King, pre-suppose the 
existence of a monarchy in Israel at the time at which they were 
composed. Since it is thus certain that a great number of psalms are 
pre-exilic, the possibility at once arises that many of them are of 
Davidic origin. There must be a strong historical basis for the ancient 
tradition which made David a prolific religious poet. Without such 
a historical basis there would not have arisen the idea of a collection 
of Davidic poems. There is abundant evidence in the Old Testament 
outside the Psalter to show that David was remarkable for his skill 
in music, and for his capacity as a poet. It was as a skilled musician 
that he was taken into the house of Saul (I Kings 16, 18 ) . The historical 
books have preserved for us the dirges which he composed over 
Saul and Jonathan (II Kings i, 17 - 27 ) and Abner (II Kings 3, 3a O ; 
in II Kings 22 is ascribed to David the same poem which appears 
again as the I7th Psalm ; in II Kings 23, 1 7 we have the swan-song 
of David and he is called there the chanter of Israel s songs. 2 Amos 
6, 8 speaks of those who seek to vie with David in devising instruments 
to accompany song. Practically everywhere in the Old Testament 
outside the Psalter where sacred songs and the music of the sacred 
liturgy are spoken of, David is associated with them as author or 
organiser (cf. I Par. i6, 7 > 36 ; II Par. 7, 6 ; 29, 30 ; Eccli. 47,V 2 ; 
II Mac. 2, 18 ). 

That the character and history of David were such as to fit him 
for the composition of many of the psalms cannot be doubted. He 
is depicted in reliable Hebrew tradition as a deeply pious man though 
at times passionate and wayward ; his career is described in the 
Books of Kings as full of most thrilling incident and of every kind of 
vicissitude ; his success as a leader, diplomat and king, shows that 
he was exceptionally gifted in mind, and possessed of all that capacity 

1 The Songs of Sion in Ps. 136, which could not be sung during the Exile 
on the soil of the stranger, must have been sung in Jerusalem before the Exile. 
For the use of music and song in Israelite worship of the eighth century B.C. 
compare Amos 5, 23 . Compare also the account of the bringing of the Ark to 
Sion in the reign of David, II Kings 6, 6 . It may be said, indeed, that the re 
ligious song or Psalm must have been familiar in Israel from the beginnings of 
its national life. 

*The Hebrew epithet may, however, mean darling of Israel s songs/ i.e. 
favourite theme of them. 


of receiving a multiplicity of impressions, and of analysing moods 
and attitudes in himself and others which would fit him to excel as a 
lyric poet. 

The titles of the psalms command respect by their great antiquity. 
The Septuagint translators did not fully understand them, so that 
even as early as about 200 B.C. they must have been so old that tra 
dition as to their meaning had already grown confused. Hence it 
is possible that some titles may be practically as old as the psalms 
which they accompany. If the titles were late inventions they would 
be more intelligible. Again, if there is not some venerable tradition 
underlying the titles which determine authorship, why are so many 
psalms left without any note of origin ? It would have been as easy 
to ascribe authors to all as to some. 

It is to be noted further, that even though the Psalter is primarily 
a Hymnal, many of its poems may have been composed without any 
immediate reference to sacred liturgy. When such personal lyrics 
came to be incorporated in a Hymnal they would be likely to undergo 
some modification. Possibly many of the alleged post-Davidic 
features in psalms ascribed by their titles to David, may thus be due 
to the work of late liturgical editors. 1 

In view, then, of the certain presence of many pre-exilic poems 
in the Psalter, and of the persistent Hebrew tradition which associates 
David with sacred music and song, and taking into account the 
possibility that liturgical additions to the text of the psalms were 
made in certain cases in the post-exilic period, we are scientifically 
justified in accepting generally the accuracy of the titles which ascribe 
authorship of psalms to David. The attribution to David of a number 
of individual psalms in the New Testament 2 is a clear indication that 
Our Lord and the Apostles regarded the psalm-titles, in so far as they 
suggested authorship, with respect. There is no need to speak of 
accommodation in reference to the attitude of Our Lord and the 
Apostolic Church in this matter. 

In the Commentary below, each psalm is provided with an 
introduction which discusses generally its origin and its date. 

(b) Historical occasion 

A note giving the occasion out of which the psalm arose forms at 
times part of a psalm-title. The majority of such notes are derived 
from the text of I and II Kings. They are discussed in the Com 
mentary whenever they occur. 

1 Cf. the Commentary below on the concluding verses of Ps. 50. 
C/. Acts 4," "; 13, 83 - 36 ; Matt. 22,-; Roms. u, etc. 


(c) Class of poem to which psalm belongs 

The various names given to the psalms in the titles have been 
already enumerated. See Section I above. 

(d) Musical and other technical terms 

Here must be noted the phrase lam e naseah which the Vulgate has 
rendered in finem (See Commentary, Ps. 4, 1 ). The expression is 
uncertain in meaning, but most modern writers on the psalms explain 
it as For the choir-master/ Cf. I Par. 15, 21 . 

The titles sometimes contain what seem to be the names of the 
instruments to be used in accompanying the chanting of the psalms 
to which those titles are prefixed. Sometimes, again, we find in the 
titles elements which look like the names of the melodies to which 
the psalms were to be chanted. In the Vulgate titles occur such 
directions as in carminibus, in hymnis, in laudibus, pro octava, pro 
arcanis, pro susceptione matutina, pro occultis filii, etc., etc. These 
are discussed in their respective places in the Commentary. It is 
possible that many, if not most, of them are really names of guilds 
of singers to which particular psalms were assigned in the liturgy of 
the post-exilic Temple. 

Besides these musical notes which occur in the titles, there is an 
obscure one which is often found at different places in the text of certain 
psalms. It is the word Selah. Its meaning is quite uncertain ; but 
as it occurs nearly always at the close of clearly marked sections, it 
is considered by many recent writers as marking the end of strophes. 
It is omitted in the Vulgate Psalter. 

(e) Liturgical directions 

1. Indications of the special occasions on which the psalm is to 
be used, as, for instance, in the title of Ps. 29, In dedicatione domus 
(Dedication of Temple) ; Ps. 2 8, In consummation Tabernaculi (at 
the close of the Feast of Tabernacles) ; Ps. 99, In confessione (for a 
thanksgiving offering), etc., etc. 

2. The word Alleluia at the beginning of a psalm indicates probably 
that the psalm is to be recited after the manner of Ps. 135 the 
people intervening with a cry of praise at the end of each verse or half 
verse. Cf. Ps. 104-106 ; 110-113, etc -> etc - 


The psalms may be conveniently classified either according to 
their literary character, or according to their subject-matter. 

From the point of view of literary character the psalms may 
be arranged in groups corresponding to four well defined types of 


religious poetry : (a) Hymns ; (b) Prayers of thanksgiving and petition ; 
(c) Religious lyrics in the strict sense ; (d) Didactic (or Sapiential) 

(a) The primary purpose of the hymn is to sing praise to God. 
It is the most familiar form of ancient Oriental religious song. The 
song or hymn of God s praise might be intended for public use in the 
liturgy or for the private devotion of the individual. To the class of 
hymns belong processional songs (such as Ps. 23, 47, 86), songs of 
victory and of festival (such as Ps. 113, 80, 149, 67), and liturgical 
hymns (like Ps. 133, 148, 112, 46, 96, 74, etc.). To the class of hymns 
belong also the psalms which celebrate the glory of God in nature 
(18, 8, 28, 103), and to it may be assigned also such highly individual 
poems as Ps. 132 and Ps. 138. 

(b) The prayer-psalms are very numerous. Many are prayers of 
thanksgiving for help and favour received from God for the blessings 
of rich harvests, for victory in war, for the coronation of the king, etc. 
Of these thanksgiving songs some are for choral or liturgical use, such 
as Ps. 66, 64, 123, etc., others are songs of thanksgiving for the use 
of individuals (29, 65, 26, etc.). 

The prayer-psalms of petition are more numerous than those of 
thanksgiving ; many of these are communal or national (19, 122, 
125, 84, 105, 101, 79, 88, 82, 43, etc.) ; others are complaints of the 
loyal worshippers of the Lord living among scoffing and hostile neigh 
bours (Ps. n, 63, 119, etc.). Most, indeed, of the psalms of petition 
might just as well be styled psalms of complaint, since they are, for 
the most part, petitions for rescue from pain or oppression. Hence, 
to this group belong the psalms of the sick (such as 87 and 37). 
Failure of harvests, famine, defeat in war and similar calamities 
brought the people in tearful prayer to the Sanctuary (cf. Ps. 43, 
73, 78, 84, 122, 125). Individuals who were sick or grieved or op 
pressed were wont to turn to the Lord, promising Him a thanks 
giving service of praising song, or of sacrifice and song, in the Temple, 
should He deign to hear and rescue them. For such thanksgiving 
services not a few of the psalms were composed. To the class of 
prayer-psalms should probably be added those psalms which asseverate 
the guiltlessness of the psalmist (25, 16, etc.), and also those which 
emphasise the absolute trust of the psalmist in God (93, 91, 35, 22, 6, 
124, 61). Some of the psalms of the prayer-group are the most 
intimately personal in the Psalter (such as 60, 62, 41-42, 76, 50, etc.). 

(c) The peculiarity of the religious lyric in the strict sense is that 
it is an outpouring of the psalmist s soul to God without immediate 
reference to liturgy or ceremonial of any kind. It is, as a rule, either 
an expression of direct adoration of God, or an outburst of joy because 


of the consciousness of God s presence, or a reverential reflection on 
His omnipotence and wisdom, or a retrospect of Israel s divinely 
guarded past, or a glad forecast of Israel s glory in the Messianic age. 
To this class we may assign psalms which celebrate the blessedness 
of the God-fearing (90, 51, 127, etc.), and such pilgrim-psalms as 
83 and 121. To this group belong the royal and Messianic poems, 
Ps. 2, 71, 109, and to it may perhaps also be assigned the psalms which 
bewail the power and influence of evil (such as 13, 81, 57). 

(d) The didactic psalms might be regarded as a sub-division of (c), 
but they form so well defined a class that it is perhaps more suitable 
to set them up as a separate group. Their usual theme is the praise 
of piety and of the Law (Ps. i, 124, 127, 132). Many of the didactic 
psalms are alphabetically arranged as if they were intended to be 
learned by heart (24, 36, no, in, 118). Several of the psalms of 
this group are statements of the lessons to be learned from the history 
of Israel (95, 104, 105, 77), and several deal with the methods of 
Divine Providence (in particular the so-called Theodicy psalms/ 
36, 48, 72, 81, 93). 

A classification of the psalms on the basis of their content must 
of necessity be unsatisfactory, for, on the one hand, psalms dealing 
with similar subject-matter often differ so greatly from each other 
that they cannot be conveniently grouped together, and, on the 
other, psalms dealing with different themes often resemble each 
other closely. Besides, there is such variety of theme in the Psalter 
that it is practically impossible to enumerate all the different groups 
into which the psalms might be arranged. It will be understood, 
therefore, that in the following arrangement of the psalms according 
to subject-matter no attempt is made at completeness. Only the 
more striking and obvious groups of psalms are enumerated. 

(a) Historical Psalms. To this class belong such psalms as can 
be connected more or less probably with definite events in the history 
of Israel. Such, for instance, are Ps. 45, 47, 73, 75. With these 
might be grouped those psalms which look back on the career of 
Israel to derive from it a warning or an inspiration (105, 104, 134, etc.). 

(b) Nature Psalms. In these are hymned that power and majesty 
of God which the physical world reveals (8, 18, 28, 103). 

(c) Psalms of divine love. As the nature-psalms celebrate the 
glory, wisdom, and power of God which are shown forth in the cosmos, 
so there are other psalms which celebrate the love and kindness dis 
played by God towards men (102, 32, no, 112, etc.). 

(d) Patriotic Psalms. Israel was God s own people, and Yahweh 
was Israel s king. Hence the religion and the national life of Israel 
were most intimately associated. In the Psalms we find, therefore, 
intense nationalism and deep religious feeling closely combined. The 
victories of Israel are celebrated as victories of Yahweh, and when 


Israel has suffered defeat it is to the psalmist as if the fame of Israel s 
God and King, Yahweh, were, in a sense, threatened with eclipse. 
Jerusalem is great and glorious because Yahweh has His Dwelling in 
its midst. For the psalmist s patriotic pride in general, note Ps. 77, 
88, 136, etc., etc., and for his pride in Jerusalem see Ps. 121, 124, 
45, 47, etc. 

(e) Problem Psalms. These deal with the question which is put 
in Jeremias 12, 1 : 

Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper ? 

Wherefore are all they at ease who deal treacherously ? 

Such psalms are 36, 38, 48, 72. With the theological aspect of these 
psalms and with the psalmist s attitude to the problem of immortality, 
which is connected with the problems of Divine Providence (Ps. 72, 
16, etc.), the Commentary briefly deals. 

(f) Pilgrim Songs. The largest group of these songs is that of 
the so-called Gradual Psalms. * 

(g) Imprecatory Psalms. There are several psalms which invoke 
vengeance and destruction on the enemies of the psalmist. Such 
are 34, 51, 53, 54, 57, 58, 68, 78, 82, 93, 108, 136, 139. The apparent 
malevolence of the psalmist in these poems seems, at first sight, to 
be irreconcilable with the Divine origin of the Psalter. It must be 
noted, however, that in many of the imprecatory psalms the psalmist 
speaks in the name of the Israelite people, and his enemies are, there 
fore, the enemies of God and of God s kingdom on earth. We our 
selves do not think it strange to pray for the overthrow and destruc 
tion of the foes of God and of His Church. Again, it might be said 
that the curses of the psalmist are often to be taken as prophecies 
whose fulfilment depends on the refusal of his enemies to repent. 
It might be maintained further that in many cases it is rather the 
destruction of sin and injustice than the discomfiture of his foes that 
the psalmist seeks. If we knew precisely the historical background 
of the imprecatory psalms they would doubtless seem far less vin 
dictive than they do. There are imprecations in the prophets as 
bitter as any which are in the Psalms, but in the familiar context 
of the prophets they cause us little surprise. 2 In estimating the 
imprecatory psalms we must keep in view, the psalmists burning 
zeal for right and justice, and their enthusiasm for the kingdom of 
God and His Messias. We must also bear in mind the imperfect 
character of the Old Dispensation as compared with the New, and 
try to realise that it would be unreasonable to expect in Old Testa- 

1 It is not certain that the Gradual Psalms are all in reality pilgrim songs. 
Their origin and use are discussed in the Commentary. 

1 See Is. 17, 18, 19, 21, 63 ; Jer. 25, 43, 46-51, etc., etc. 


ment poetry the sublime ethical perfection of the Sermon on the 

(h) Messianic Psalms. A number of the psalms are directly 
Messianic- taking for their theme one or more aspects of the Ideal 
or Messianic King of Israel such as His eternal rule, His priesthood, 
His office as Judge, His sufferings, His resurrection, His glorification. 
Other psalms are indirectly Messianic, dealing directly and im 
mediately with David or some other actual Israelite king or leader, 
and only indirectly with the Messias. The directly Messianic psalms 
are 2, 15, 21, 44, 71, 109. Of these, Ps. 2, 71 and 109 are concerned 
exclusively with the Messianic King and His universal rule. Ps. 15, 
21 and 44 are dominated by the figure of the Messias and are properly 
regarded as directly Messianic, but, as explained in the Commentary, 
their Messianic quality differs somewhat from that of Ps. 2, 71 and 109. x 

The indirectly Messianic psalms are numerous. As the history 
of Israel can be looked upon, in a fashion, as the history of the kingdom 
of God on earth, so each crisis of that history and the career of each 
outstanding hero and leader of the Israelite nation can be regarded 
as somehow foreshadowing and as helping to realise the full establish 
ment of God s kingdom in the Messianic era. And just as Israel and 
its leaders were thus necessarily typical of the Messianic King, so the 
Messias was expected to resume in Himself, as it were, all that was 
greatest and best and most striking in the history of the people. 
The Messianic kingdom was pictured by popular imagination as a 
restoration of the empire of David. The Messias Himself was to be 
of the Davidic stock, and it was expected that His career would some 
how reflect the history of the dynasty of David. From these 
peculiar relations of the Messias with ancient Israel and its leaders 

1 Even though it were maintained that Ps. 15 and 44 were primarily suggested 
by some event in the career of an Israelite king or other prominent individual 
in Israel, it would still have to be admitted that the terms of these psalms point 
beyond all human royalty and greatness to the glory and privileges of the 
Messianic King. It has been frequently suggested that in Ps. 44, we should 
read Thy throne shall be for ever instead of Thy throne, O God, is for ever 
( Elohim being regarded as due to an Elohistic redactor who mistakenly read the 
Hebrew verb yihyeh ( shall be ) as if it were Yahweh). Yet even if God 
had to be thus omitted from verse 6, Ps. 44 would still have to be explained 
Messianically in view of the wondrous beauty and power of the king whom it 
depicts. Ps. 21 is one of the most important Messianic texts of the Old Testa 
ment. Apart from the Isaian texts which deal with the Servant of Yahweh 
(Is. 53) this psalm is the only clear forecast which the Old Testament gives of a 
suffering Messias. The vivid reference to what is obviously a crucifixion-scene 
in 2 1, 7 can scarcely be otherwise explained than as a most striking prophecy 
of the crucifixion of Our Lord. For the question of Messianic psalms see 
Vigouroux-Brassac, Manuel Biblique, 2nd Vol. 2nd part [1920] pp. 65-100. 
A somewhat less traditional but suggestive treatment of the Messianic psalms 
is Lagrange s study, Notes sur le Messianisme des Psaumes, Revue Biblique, 1905. 
Compare also an interesting study by Hennen on Ps. 44 in the Biblische Zeitschrift, 
I 9iQ, pp. 116-121. 


there arises the possibility of regarding most of the psalms which 
deal with Israel or the kings and leaders of Israel as indirectly 
Messianic. It would seem both from the Psalter and from the Old 
Testament generally that there existed ready to hand for poets of 
ancient Israel a mass of terminology and imagery dealing with the 
Messianic King and His rule. On this store the psalmists often 
apparently drew when they sang of the fortunes of Israelite heroes 
or of the Israelite nation. The psalms which treat of Israel or Israelites 
as typical of the Messias, and those which employ what may be called 
the technical imaginative apparatus of the Messianic hope are indicated 
in the Commentary. 

(i) Penitential Psalms. These are 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129, 142. 

It would be possible to enumerate other groups of psalms held 
together by .similarity of subject-matter, but the groups already 
indicated are sufficiently numerous to suggest that the Psalter, instead 
of being monotonous, as is sometimes supposed, is rich in the abundant 
variety of its themes. 


The following table of dates will help to make intelligible the 
references to events of Hebrew history which occur throughout this 
work : 


Establishment of the Monarchy .... about 1025 

Reign of David .......,, 1010-970 

Reign of Solomon ....... 970-932 

Division of Israel from Juda ....,, 932 

Syro-Ephraimite Invasion of Juda 734 

Fall of Samaria and end of the Kingdom of Israel ,, 722 

Sanherib s Invasion of Juda. ....,, 701 

Religious Reform begun by Josias ... 621 

Destruction of Jerusalem and formal beginning of 

Babylonian Exile ..... 586 

Persian Conquest of Babylon and close of the Exile 538 


Dedication of the Second Temple at Jerusalem . 516 

Work of re-organisation of Jerusalem carried out by 

Esdras and Nehemias ..... 458-432 

Submission of Jews to Alexander the Great . . 332 




Persecution of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes . 168 

Maccabean Revolt against Antiochus ... 167 
Jerusalem re-captured by the Maccabees and 

Worship in the Temple Restored ... 1 65 

Palestine becomes a Roman Province ... 63 

Students of the Psalter should know something of the history of 
Hebrew prophecy. They should note that to the middle of the 
eighth century B.C. belongs the preaching of Amos and Osee, and 
that the main prophetical activity of Isaias and Michaeas belongs to 
the last quarter of the same century. They should also know that 
Jeremias came forward publicly as a prophet in the last quarter of 
the seventh century B.C., and that his work continued during the 
fateful years which preceded the fall of Jerusalem, and was carried 
on even after the Exile had begun. To the closing years of the seventh 
century belong also Habacuc, Nahum, and Sophonias. Ezechiel belongs 
altogether to the Exilic period, and Zachary and Aggaeus were active 
shortly after the Exiles began to return encouraging the people to 
set up again in Jerusalem the Temple liturgy which the Babylonians 
had so rudely interrupted in 586 B.C. 


Since all Hebrew words and phrases quoted in this work are 
given in transliterated form, it is necessary to indicate here briefly 
the general method of transliteration which has been adopted. The 
following table will show the system used in transliterating the Hebrew 

Aleph . . Lamed / 

Beth without dagesh . bh Mem . . . . m 

Beth with dagesh . . b Nun . . . . n 

Gimel . g Samekh . s 

Daleth . d Ayin . 

He k Pe without dag. . . ph 

Vau . w Pe with dag. . . . p 

Zayin . . . . * Sade . . s 

Heth . . . . h Koph . . k 

feth . t Resh . 

Yod . y Sin .... s 

Kaph without dag. . . kh Shin . . . . sh 

Kaph with dag. . . k Tau without dag. . . th 

Tau with dag. . . t 

No attempt has been made to distinguish the long and short full 


The simple murmur-vowel (shewa) is represented by f written 
above the line, and the composite shewas are represented by " 
written above the line. 

Biblical proper names are written, as a rule, according to the 
tradition of the Graeco-Latin Bible. 


An attempt to give a complete bibliography of literature dealing 
with the Psalter as a whole or with any aspect of the Psalter would 
be out of place in a simple study of the Vulgate Psalter. The aim of 
the list which follows is merely to indicate the chief Commentaries 
on the Psalter which have been constantly consulted in preparing this 
work. Those, students who may wish for fuller bibliographical 
details, especially on the Patristic and Mediaeval Psalm-literature, 
will consult with advantage Hoberg s Psalmen der Vulgata (2nd. ed. 
Freiburg, 1906) and Ecker s Porta Sion (Trier, 1903). * 

Early Period 

Origen, Exegetic fragments published in Migne, Vol. 12 ; Jerome 
Commentarioli in Psalmos, edited by Morin (in Anecdota Maredsolana), 
1895. There are many notes on the exegesis of the Psalter in Jerome s 
letters to Damasus, Marcella, Paula, Principia, Sunnia and Fretela, 
and the Presbyter Cyprian all published in Migne, Vol. 22. 

Theodoret, " Interpretation of Psalms " (Migne, 80). 

Middle Ages 
St. Thomas Aquinas, In Psalmos Davidis expositio (Ps. 1-51). 

Modern Period 

Agellius, Commentarii in psalmos et in divini officii cantica, Rome, 
1606 ; Simeon de Muis, Commentarius liter alis et historicus in omnes 
psalmos Davidis, Paris, 1630 ; Le Blanc, Psalmorum Davidicorum 
analysis et commentarius, Cologne, 1680 ; Bellarmine, Explanatio in 
Psalmos (Rome, 1611) ; Calmet, Commentarius, Vol. 6, Wiirzburg, 
1791 ; Schegg, Die Psalmen (3 vols. Munich, 1857) > Reinke, Messian- 

1 The decisions of the Biblical Commission on matters connected with the 
Book of Psalms will be found printed at the end of Vol. II of this work. 


ische Psalmen (Giessen, 1857) ; Beelen, Het Boek der Psalmen (Louvain, 
1878) ; Lesetre, Le livre des Psaumes (Paris, 1883) ; Langer, Das 
Buck der Psalmen (3rd ed. Freiburg, 1889) ; Mlcoch, Psalierium 
(Olmiitz, 1890) ; Raffl, Die Psalmen (101-150, Freiburg, 1892) ; 
Comely, Psalmomm Synopses (Paris, 1899) ; Sedlacek, Vyklad posvdt- 
nych Zalmu (Prague, 1900-1901) ; Wolter, Psallite Sapienter (Frei 
burg, 1904) ; d Eyragues, Les Psaumes traduits de VHcbreu (3rd ed. 
Paris, 1905) ; Hoberg, Die Psalmen der Vulgata (2nd ed. Freiburg, 
1906) ; Ceulemans, Introductio et Commentarius in Psalmos (Mechlin, 

1906) ; Schloegl, Die Psalmen (Vienna, 1911) ; Knabenbauer, Com- 
mentarii in psalmos (Paris, 1912) ; Van der Heeren, P salmi et cantica 
breviarii (Bruges, 1913) ; Thalhofer, Erklaerung der Psalmen (8th ed. 
Regensburg, 1914) ; Schloegl, Die Psalmen (In the translation, Die 
heiligen Schriften des alien Bundes, Vol. 3, Pt. i, Vienna, 1915) ; 
Bonaccorsi, Psalierium latinum cum Graeco et Hebraeo comparatum 
(Florence, 1914-15. So far only two fascicules, dealing with Ps. 1-25, 
have appeared) ; Prinz Max, Erklaerung der Psalmen und Cantica 
(Regensburg, 1914) ; Schulte, Die Psalmen des Breviers (2nd ed. Pader- 
born, 1917) ; Jetzinger, Die Psalmen und Cantica des Breviers (Regens 
burg, 1917) ; Higgins, Commentary on the Psalms (Dublin, 1913) ; 
M Swiney, Translation of the Psalms and Canticles (Dublin 1901) ; 
Eaton, Sing ye to the Lord (London, 1909-1912) ; Barry, Commentary 
on the Psalms (1-50, New York) ; Fillion, The New Psalter (Trans, 
from the French, St. Louis). 

The following Commentaries by non-Catholic authors have been 
frequently consulted : Delitzsch, Die Psalmen (4th ed. 1883) ; Hup- 
feld-Nowack, Die Psalmen (3rd ed. 1888) ; Wellhausen, The Book 
of Psalms (Polychrome Bible, London, 1898) ; King, The Psalms in 
three Collections (Cambridge, 1898) ; Duhm, Die Psalmen (Goettingen, 

1904) ; Cheyne, The Book of Psalms (London, 1904) ; Baethgen, Die 
Psalmen (Goettingen, 1904) ; Cobb, The Book of Psalms (London, 

1905) ; Kirkpatrick, The Book of Psalms (Cambridge, 1902) ; Briggs, 
A critical and exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Edinburgh, 

1907) ; Kittel, Die Psalmen (Leipzig, 1914) ; Gunkel, Ausgewahlte 
Psalmen (4th ed. Goettingen, 1917) ; Staerk, Lyrik (in the Series 
Schriften des alien Testaments, 2nd ed. Goettingen, 1920) ; Driver, 
Studies in the Psalms (London, 1915). 



IN this psalm, which serves as a sort of introduction to the Psalter, 
one of the most fundamental thoughts of Hebrew speculation 
finds expression. The just man, it tells us, prospers in all 
things, while the wicked man s life ends in failure. The 
psalm, however, dwells rather on the success of the just than on 
the failure of the wicked. It depicts the ideally just man first 
negatively (verse i), then positively (2-3), and then in contrast with 
the wicked (4-5). The just man shows no tendency to adopt the 
ideas of the godless who set no value on the Law, or to associate 
himself with the sinners who openly oppose the Law, or to help in 
spreading the corruption of those who sneer at the Law s require 
ments. His heart is fixed on the Law, and he constantly murmurs 
to himself its precepts. His life is rich in works of the Law, so that 
it reminds one of the verdure of a tree that blooms and bears fruit 
beside the running waters of irrigation channels. As one might 
well expect, there is a blessing on all his toil, and his every enterprise 

Over against the continued prosperity of the just we see 
the instability of the godless. They are like the dust of the road 
in the storm, or like the chaff which the wind whirls away from the 
winnowing on the hill-top. They will not succeed in the great Trial, 
nor hold a place in the Assembly of the just when the Trial is over. 

The loving eyes of God are on the path of the just ; but the path 
of the wicked leads to death. 

The psalm bears no title, and neither its date nor its author can 
be determined. The picture of the just man s success, and the 
sinner s failure is painted in the spirit of ancient Hebrew belief, and 
may well belong to the Davidic age. Yet, it is not connected by a 
superscription with the Davidic or any other ancient collection of 
psalms, and many modern critics believe that it was written expressly 
by a comparatively late poet (possibly the first editor of the Book of 
Psalms) to serve as an introduction to the whole collection of psalms, 
just as Psalm cl. seems to have been written directly as a conclusion 
to the " Praises of Israel." The extraordinary parallelism of Jere- 
mias xvii. 5-8 to this Psalm is regarded by many critics as a proof 
that the Psalm is subsequent at least to the time of Jeremias. It 
is interesting to note that in Acts xiii. 33, according to a reading of 
some importance, Psalm ii. is called ihe first Psalm. 


1. Beatus vir, qui non abiit i. Fortunate is the man 

in consilio impiorum, et in via Who hath not walked according to the 

peccatorum non stetit, et in counsel of the godless ; 

cathedra pestilentiae non sedit : Nor stood in the path of sinners ; 

Nor sat in the chair of corruption. 

2. Sed in lege Domini volun- 2. But hath his pleasure in the Law of the 
tas ejus, et in lege ejus medi- Lord, 

tabitur die ac nocte. And pondcreth on His Law by day and 

by night. 

3. Et erit tamquam lignum, 3. He is like a tree 

quod plantatum est secus de- That is planted by running waters ; 

cursus aquarum, quod fructum Which giveth its fruit in due season, 

suum dabit in tempore suo : And whose foliage falleth not. 

Et folium ejus non defluet : And all that he doeth succeedeth. 
et omnia quaecumque faciet, 

4. Non sic impii, non sic : 4. Not thus are the godless ! No ! 

sed tamquam pulvis, quern pro- But like the dust which the wind sweep- 

jicit ventus a facie terrae. eth (from off the earth). 

5. Ideo non resurgent impii 5. Therefore the godless will not stand in the 
in judicio : neque peccatores in Trial, 

concilio justorum. Nor sinners in the Assembly of the just ; 

6. Quoniam novit Dominus 6. For the Lord knoweth the way of the just, 
viam justorum : et iter impio- But the path of the godless cometh to 
rum peribit. naught. 

1. The three verbs, walk, stand, sit, are connected with the three 
things, counsel, path, seat, and have the three distinct subjects, the 
godless, sinners, and mockers (" Corruption " is abstract for cor- 
rupters ; Hebrew- mockers ). A climax is, evidently, intended. As 
the good man is described as the man whose pleasure (vohmtas) is 
in the Law of Israel (the Law of Moses), so the various classes of the 
wicked are characterised by different degrees of indifference or 
hostility to the Law. Some seem to forget the Law ; others act 
openly against it ; others carry on a campaign of sneering and con 
tempt against it. The Hebrew text of the third clause might be 
understood of a " circle " or group of mockers, rather than of a 
teacher s chair, around which the mockers gathered. The pious 
Israelite will separate himself completely from sinners and sceptics. 
This tendency to aloofness was carried to extremes by the Pharisees 
(" the separated ones "). 

2. The just man, on the other hand, is quite taken up with the 
Law : it is " a torch for his feet." It is always in his heart, and 
always on his lips (as is prescribed in Deuteron. vi. 6-8). Meditari 
means, according to Hebrew, not silent contemplation, but audible 
murmuring of the words of the Law. This verse and the following 
are echoed in, or are an echo of, Josue i. 8 : " This Book of the Law 
shall not depart out of thy mouth, and thou shalt ponder over it 
murmuringly day and night, so that thou mayest be constant in 
acting as is prescribed therein ; for then thou shalt make thy way to 
prosper, and then thou shalt have success." 


3. The decursus aquarum (Hebrew, " divisions of waters ") are 
irrigation canals such as might be seen in Babylonia or Egypt rather 
than in Palestine. For the comparison see Ps. li. 10 ; xci. 13. 

4. The Hebrew compares the wicked with the chaff which is 
whirled from the threshing-floor. The threshing, or winnowing 
usually took place on a raised ground in an exposed position (cf. 
Matt. iii. 12). The instability of the godless is often similarly sug 
gested elsewhere in Scripture. Cf. Osee xiii. 3 : " They shall be as 
the morning-cloud, as dew of the dawn that vanisheth, like the chaff 
that is whirled away from the threshing-floor, like smoke from the 
chimney." Again, Isaias xvii. 12 : " The nations . . . shall be 
chased like chaff on the mountain before the breeze." Cf. also the 
passage in Wisdom v. 14 : " The hope of the godless is like dust 
(chaff) swept along by the wind, and like thin foam scattered by 
the storm, and like smoke dispersed by the breeze, and like the 
remembrance of a one-day guest" (cf. Ps. xxxiv. 5; Job xxi. 18). 
" From the face of the earth " is not in the Hebrew. It goes naturally 
enough with pulvis. The Greek xvovs can mean chaff or dust. 

5. The Trial is the great Messianic Assize, the final Judgment 
where the wicked shall be set apart from the good in the sight of 
all. The way of the wicked is their path of life, or plan of action. 
The just will form an exclusive group after the great separation ; 
the wicked will have no part with them (cf. Is. iv. 3). The Hebrew 
has " will not stand in the Trial," i.e. will not prevail in it. Resurgent 
(with its suggestion of the Resurrection of the Just) is due to the 
Christian imagination of the translator. 

6. God s knowledge implies interest and approval. Cf. Ps. xxxvi. 
18 ; Lk. xiii. 27, etc. The just will live in the light of God s face, 
but the way of the wicked will be through darkness, and will lead to 

There is a striking parallel to this psalm in Jeremias xvii. 5-8 : 

" Accursed is the man who trusts in men, 
and makes flesh his arm ; 
but his heart is disloyal to Yahweh. 

He is like a leafless tree in the plain, and hath no experience of prosperity. 
He dwelleth in arid tracts of the desert, 
in a land salt-strewn, and uninhabitable. 
Blessed is the man who trusts in Yahweh, 
and whose hope is Yahweh. 

He is like a tree which is planted by the waters, 
which stretcheth out its roots to the brook ; 

which feareth not when heat cometh, whose foliage remaineth freshly greerr. 
which, even in years of drought, hath no care ; and ceaseth not to bring forth 

For the contrast in the lot of pious and godless, see also Exod. xx. 
5 ; Ezech. xviii. ; and for a late poem on the theme, cf. Psalms of 
Solomon xiv. 



THIS psalm sets us directly in the Messianic period. The 
tumult of the armies which are being mustered against the 
Anointed is heard. The aim of the muster is declared ; it is 
to shake off the rule of the Messianic King (3). But God in 
His heaven laughs at man s vain tumult (4), and then with swift change 
to anger, He tells them (Hebrew, 5) that He has set up His King on 
Sion. against whom the nations may rage in vain. The Anointed 
then declares (Hebrew 6-9) the powers, and the task which the Most 
High has given to Him. He has been set up as the Son of God, and 
the earth and its fulness are His. He is to rule the nations 
sternly, and inexorably to repress their pride. The Psalmist him 
self then addresses (10-13) the royal foes of the Messianic King, 
and advises them to accept the situation, and make submission to 
the Anointed One, lest the Anger of God come swiftly, and destroy 

The psalm has no title, but it is assigned to David in Acts iv. 25. 
It is frequently quoted in the New Testament (Matt. iii. 17 ; Luke ii. 
26 ; Acts iv. 25-28 ; xiii. 33 ; Heb. i. 5 ; v. 5 ; Apoc. ii. 27 ; xii. 5 ; 
xix. 15). It is obviously regarded as Messianic in the New Testa 
ment period. The idea of hostile armies gathering together against 
the Ruler of the Messianic Kingdom is familiar in the Old Testament ; 
so also is the thought of their defeat, on the Day of Yahweh (as here 
verse 13). The princes of earth are warned by the Psalmist to do 
homage to the Messianic King lest He utterly break them in the 
day of His wrath. Every king of Israel was an Anointed (a Messias 
= Mashiah) of the Lord, and it has been conjectured that we have 
in Psalm ii. an ode in honour of some actual king of Israel. The 
king, indeed, could be called a son of God, as Solomon was (cf. II Kings 
vii. 14) ; but the universal power which is given to the Anointed of 
this psalm does not fit in with the facts of Hebrew history. We 
must then, with the Apostolic Church, look beyond every actual 
king of Israel for the Anointed of this psalm. 

The literary manner of the poem resembles that of the Hebrew 
prophets generally, and there is no reason for refusing to the psalm 
a date in the period of the early Monarchy. Modern attempts to 
assign it to the Maccabean period spring from prejudice, and must 
face the great literary difficulty that, as can be judged from an 
imitation of our Psalm apparently belonging to the Maccabean age 




(Psalms of Solomon, xvii. 2^ff.), 1 the treatment of the theme of the 
Psalm would have been quite different in that period. 

1. Quare frcmuerunt Gentcs, 
et populi meditati sunt mania ? 

2. Astiterunt reges terrse, et 
principes convcnerunt in unum 
ad versus Dominum, et ad versus 
Christum ejus. 

3. Dirumpamus ^incula eo- 
rum : et projiciamus a nobis 
jugum ipsorum. 

Why do the nations clamour ? 

Why do the peoples plan vain things ? 
Kings of earth stand forth to challenge, 

And princes conspire against the Lord 
and His Anointed. 

" Let us break their bonds, 
And cast off from us their fetters ! " 

4. Qui habitat in coelis, irri- 
debit eos : et Dominus sub- 
sannabit eos. 

5. Tune loquetur ad eos in 
ira sua, et in furore suo con- 
turbabit eos. 

6 Ego autem constitutus sum 
Rex ab eo super Sion montem 
sanctum ejus, prsedicans prae- 
ceptum ejus. 

4. He that dwelleth in heaven doth mock 

And the Lord doth laugh them to scorn. 

5. Then doth He speak to them in His anger, 

And in His fierce wrath doth He dismay 

6. I have been established as King by Him 

over Sion, 

His holy Mountain ; as Herald of His 

7. Dominus dixit ad me : 
Filius meus es tu, ego hodie 
genui te. 

8. Postula a me, et dabo tibi 
Gentes haereditatem tuam, et 
possessionem tuam terminos 

9. Reges eos in virga ferrea, 
et tamquam vas figuli con- 
fringes eos. 

7. The Lord hath said to me : 

" Thou art my Son ; 
This day I have begotten Thee. 

8. Ask of me, and I will give Thee the nations 

as Thy inheritance, 
And the ends of the earth as 


9. Thou shalt rule them with a sceptre of iron, 

And thou shalt shatter 
potter s vessel." 

them like a 

10. Et nunc reges intelligite : 
erudimini qui judicatis terram. 

11. Servite Domino in timo- 
re : et exsultate ei cum tremore. 

12. Apprehendite difciplinam, 
nequando irascatur Dominus, et 
pereatis de via justa. 

13. Cum exarserit in brevi ira 
ejus, beati omnes qui conndunt 
in eo. 

10. Now, therefore, O kings, be ye wise ; 

Be advised, ye rulers of earth ! 

1 1 . Serve the Lord with fear ; 

And rejoice before Him with trem 

12. Accept instruction, lest perchance, the 

Lord grow angry, 

And ye come to naught, missing the 
true path, 

13. When His anger doth swiftly blaze forth! 

Fortunate are all who put their trust 
in Him. 

1. Meditari here, as in Psalm i. 2, suggests the spoken or murmured 
thought. The poet, who throughout the psalm, speaks in the manner 
of the prophets, hears in mysterious prophetic fashion, the murmuring 
voices of the hosts that gather to battle against the Messianic King. 

2. The standing forth is the provocative standing forth of a 

1 Possibly this Psalm is as late as 104 B.C., but it illustrates, at all events, 
the literary methods of the second century B.C. 


champion or of a leader. The Anointed is the Messias. This is 
clear from the New Testament texts referred to above ; it is also the 
view of the Targum. The thought here may, of course, be influenced 
by the description of Solomon in II Kings, vii. 12-16. The Messianic 
King is often described in terms of Davidic glory, but generally, as 
here, He is made greater than any King of David s house. It has 
often been maintained that Psalm ii. is a Coronation Ode in honour 
of some King of Israel. David, Solomon, Josaphat, Ezechias have 
been identified by different critics with the Anointed. The Maccabean 
prince Alexander Jannaeus (a tyrant and murderer who on one 
occasion crucified 800 Pharisees, and had their wives and children 
slain before their eyes while they hung on their gibbets) has also been 
put forward by scholars as the theme of Psalm ii. The description, 
however, of the position and task of the Anointed fits no historical 
king of Israel, and the New Testament identification of Him with 
the Messias, the ideal King of Israel, must be accepted. (For the 
king as the " Anointed of Yahweh," cf. I Kings, xxiv. 7 ; xxvi. 9 ; 
Ps. xvii. 51, etc.) 

3. The plural " their " is due to the thought that the Israelites 
will be the army of the Anointed in the Messianic age. This implies 
belief in the predominance of Israel over the kings and princes of the 
world. We can see how even the Apostles, after they had lived a 
long time with Our Lord, and witnessed His death, could not easily 
get rid of the idea of the Messias as King of a world subdued to 
Israel (cf. Acts i. 6). 

4, 5. God laughs first ; then speaks in anger. Cf. Is. xvii. 12 for 
a somewhat parallel situation. 

6. The Latin puts the words in the mouth of the Anointed giving 
thus no further meaning to loquetur (5). In the Hebrew the words 
are spoken by God, and the sense is : How can you dare to muster 
your armies against the king whom I have established on Sion ? 

Prczdicans prceceptum, etc., is spoken by the Anointed ; "I would 
tell of His decree," i.e., the decree of Sonship and world-rule which 
follows, verse 7. 

7. By being set up as World-Ruler the Anointed is declared to be 
Son and Heir of God. Hodie genui te must mean : To-day (i.e., Thy 
day of victory and glory ) I have given Thee the fulness of splendour 
due to Thee as my Son. There is no question of mere adoption here 
(as some modern critics assert), but of making evident, to all, the 
Sonship of the Anointed. The verse is used by St. Paul in Acts. xiii. 
33 as referring to Christ (so also Heb. v. 5). The hodie, the Day of 
Victory, is taken by St. Paul as the Day of Christ s Resurrection 
(cf. Roms. i. 3-4). A very well authenticated text of Luke iii. 22, 
gives the words spoken by the voice from heaven at Christ s baptism 
exactly as in Psalm ii. 7 : " Thou art my Son : this day I have be 
gotten Thee." The divine Sonship was declared, then, at the Baptism ; 


it was declared more definitely by the Resurrection. Israel is fre 
quently called in Scripture, directly or equivalently, the first-born 
Son of God (Exod. iv. 22/. ; Deut. xiv. I ; Is. i. 2 ; Jer. xxxi. 9, 20) ; 
but of Israel God never says : " I have begotten thee." The two parts 
of the oracle, " Thou art my Son," and " This day I have begotten 
thee " must be explained together, and no exegesis which attends 
merely to one part of the verse is adequate. The view that since 
Thou art my Son," is an adoption-formula familiar in ancient 
Semitic usage (cf! Code of Hammurapi, 170-171), the verse means 
no more than the divine adoption of an Israelite king as Son, breaks 
down completely before the words : Hodie genui te. 

8, 9. The world-rule is here granted, " Thou shalt rule " is due 
probably to a misreading of the Greek translator. The Hebrew : 
Thou shalt smite. goes better with the parallel : Thou shalt shatter/ 
There is question here of the policy of the Anointed towards His foes. 
Cf. Is. xxx. 14 ; Ps. Ixxxviii. 21-30 ; Ixxi. 8-n. 

10-13. The poet here warns the enemies of the Messias to make 
speedy submission to Him. Apprehendite disciplinam is a very in 
telligible substitute for a practically impossible phrase in the tra 
ditional Hebrew text. 

Pereatis de via is a pregnant expression come to ruin by missing 
the true path/ The anger of the Lord will be shown on the Day of 
Yahweh, the dies irae, the day on which He will make plain to all that 
a God of holiness and justice rules the world. Cf. Amos vi. io/. 
v. 12, 17 ; Soph. i. 7/; Mai. iii. 2 ; iv. 5 ; Joel iii. 12 ; Zach. 14. 

13. Cum exarserit : the Hebrew would, perhaps, be best rendered : 
For soon shall His wrath blaze forth/ The Day of Yahweh is not 
far distant. A new clause should begin with beati. 



IN both Hebrew and Vulgate this psalm is connected with 
the flight of David from Jerusalem during the rebellion of 
Absalom. The situation implied is that which is described in 
II Kings, 15-18. As he fled to Mahanaim, David s position 
seemed well nigh desperate. Many, indeed, were they who rose 
against him. All Israel " had turned its heart to Absalom." The 
faint-hearted friends of the king were telling him that it was useless lo 
look further for help from God. Yet, in all his grief and humiliation, 
David passionately proclaims his unbroken confidence in his God! 
He recalls the many tokens of His mercy in the past : he remembers 
how often God has been his protector, his shield, the loved object of 
his proud homage, the kind Friend who so often had given him hope 
and courage when he was straitened. Wearied with the griefs and 
toils of his hasty flight, David, in the midst of perils, spends a night 
in sleep. When he awakes he sees a new and touching token of 
God s watchful love in the safety in which he has passed a night of 
peaceful slumber, though threatened on every side by ruthless foes. 
" Let my enemies come in thousands, I will not fear them," he says 
in an outburst of heroic confidence. In the same spirit of confidence, 
deeming the future of his hope already present, he raises the ancient 
battle-cry of victorious Israel : " Arise, O Yahweh ! " and in spirit 
he sees his enemies broken, and their fangs, with which, wild-beast- 
like, they had threatened him, shattered. To Yahweh alone, he sees, 
belongs the strength of victory. 

The royal prayer at the close, pointing clearly to a kingly poet, is 
called forth by the thought of the horrors of the civil war which has 
begun : On Israel, Thy people, be Thy blessing, Yahweh ! 

There is no good reason that can be opposed to the Davidic origin 
of the psalm. The reference to the holy mountain (5) does not prove 
that the Temple was on Sion when the poem was composed. The 
Ark was already on Sion. Indeed, David had instructed the priests 
who wished to carry away the Ark in his flight to bring it back to 
The concluding verse clearly implies a royal author. 


insurgunt adversum me. How many there are that rise up against 

me 1 


3. Multi dicunt animae meae : 3. Many do say of me : 

Non est salus ipsi in Deo ejus. " For him there is no help in his God." 

4. Tu autem Domine susce- 4. But Thou, O Lord, art my Protector ; 
ptor meus es, gloria mea, et My Pride, and He that upliftetb my 
exaltans caput meum. head. 

5. Voce mea ad Dominum 5. With my voice I cry to the Lord : 
clamavi : et exaudivit me de And He heareth me from His holy 
monte sancto suo. mountain. 


6. Ego dormivi, et soporatus 6. I laid me down to rest, and slept ; 

sum : et exsurrexi, quia Domi- And I arise because the Lord doth pro- 

nus suscepit me. tect me. 

7. Non timebo millia populi 7. I fear not even thousands of the people, 
circumdantis me : exsurge Do- Who encompass me round about, 
mine, salvum me fac, Deus Arise, O Lord ; save me, my God ! 

8. Quoniam tu percussisti 8. For Thou hast smitten all those who were 
omnes adversantes mihi sine my foes without cause ; 

causa : dentes peccatorum con- The teeth of sinners Thou hast broken, 


9. Domini est salus : et super 9. With the Lord is help ; 
populum tuum benedictio tua. On Thy people be Thy blessing ! 

1. A psalm (Hebrew, mizmor) is a song intended to be sung to a 
musical accompaniment. 

2. Quid miiltiplicati, etc., is Hebrew idiom for : " How greatly are 
they multiplied ; how many they are who, etc." II Kings xv., tells 
how all Israel supported Absalom with enthusiasm. 

3. Animae meae, about me/ Anima is often used for self (and 
thus may take the place of a personal pronoun) ; it is also frequently 
used as=life. We ought to have the ablative with de instead of the 

In Deo ejus : the ejus is wanting in the Hebrew. The multi 
here are not the hostile multi of verse 2, but the half-hearted wavering 
friends of David. 

4. The king s proud answer to the pessimists : The Lord will 
help me as He has always helped me. 

Susceptor is used in the Psalter as = helper or defender. The 
Hebrew, " Thou, O Yahweh, art a shield round about me," is changed 
intentionally into the less vivid, but, to the later mind, more respect 
ful : Susceptor meus es tu. 

Exaltare caput may mean either, to imbue with fresh courage, 
or, to raise to high dignity ; here the former. 

5. Voce mea : Hebrew, " I my voice did call." The Ark was 
already on Sion, and thither he turns in prayer, and thence help 
comes. Clamavi = clamo. Exaudivi= exaudiet. 

6. Dormivi, I laid me down to rest ; or, I lay me down to rest. 


The text might be taken in one of three different senses. David 
may be speaking of past experiences when, though surrounded with 
danger, he slept hoping for God s protection and received it. Or, he 
may be thought as singing this psalm in the morning after a night of 
peaceful slumber during Absalom s rebellion ; or, we might assume 
that David here speaks a word of confidence before he gives himself 
to rest, remembering God s favours in the past. The second view 
would make the psalm a morning song (the more popular, and likely 
view) ; the third would make it an evening song. 
Suscepit, protected. Cf. susceptor, verse 4. 

7. Circumdantes, in hostile sense, beset me. 

Exsurge Domine I Up, O Yahweh ! as if the Lord were seated 
in idleness or indifference. 

Kumah Yahweh, Arise, O Yahweh ! was a battle cry of Israel. 
Save me the safety of the King is needed for the safety of his people . 

8. Sine causa is to be read with adversaries. Sine causa, rashly, 
in vain, gratuitously. The Hebrew is a more probable text here : 
" Thou hast smitten the cheek of my foes. Thou hast broken the 
teeth of -the godless." The Greek translators read here : l e hinnam, 
in vain, for l e hi, face or jaw. The foes are thought of as furious 
wild beasts. 

9. Help can come from God alone, and hence the royal singer 
prays : Let Thy blessing come upon Thy people. 



THE psalmist who, according to the title of the poem, is David, 
begs of the Lord the continuance of His mercies and favours 
(verse 2). He is of troubled mind because there are some 
who turn aside from God, and speak falsely of himself. 
These he addresses as " Children of men " (verse 3). He reminds 
them of the striking favours which he has received from God, and 
urges them to abandon the schemes which they are planning against 
him. He advises them to turn to God with a perfect sacrifice the 
token of a perfect heart. Men complain of the failure, and sadness 
of all things. " And yet," says the psalmist, " the blessed light of 
God s face is on us who trust in Him, and fills us with a joy more 
deep than the gladness of a rich harvest or vintage." 

He that lives in the light of God s face has no fear ; and, with 
perfect trust in the Lord s protecting care, the psalmist lays him down 
to rest. The sleep that comes at once betokens the peace of his 
heart, and the fulness of his trust. The concluding verses show the 
psalm to be a vesper prayer. 

Tradition assigns the psalm to David, and it also assigns the com 
position of the poem to the period following the defeat of Absalom. 
It is clear from the text itself that the poet is a person of importance. 
His enemies are men of high rank (" children of men "). The designa 
tion of the psalmist as sanctus (Hebrew Hasid) is regarded by many 
modern critics as an indication of a late (probably Maccabean) origin 
of the psalm. The contention, however, that hasid (sanctus) is a 
sort of technical term confined to the Greek period, is, to say the 
least, not proven. 

1. In fmem in carminibus, i. For the choir leader: on stringed instru- 
Psalmus David. ments. A psalm of David. 

2. Cum invocarem exaudivit 2. When I call on Him, my just God heareth 
me Deus justitiae meae : in tri- me. 

bulatione dilatasti mihi. When I was straitened, Thou didst set 

Miserere mei, et exaudi ora- me at large, 

tionem meam. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer. 

3. Filii hominum usquequo 3. Ye children of men, how long will ye be 
gravi corde ? ut quid diligitis of hardened heart ? 

vanitatem, et quaeritis menda- Why love ye the futile ; and seek after 

cium ? the false ? 



4. Et scitote quoniam miri- 4. Know ye that the Lord hath wondrously 
ficavit Dominus sanctum suum : favoured His worshipper. 
Dominus exaudiet me cum cla- The Lord doth hear me when I invoke 
mavero ad eum. Him. 

5. Irascimini, et nolite pec- 5. Be angry [with me, if ye will] ; but sin not. 
care : quae dicitis in cordibus What ye plan in your hearts repent of 
vestris, in cubilibus vestris com- on your couches. 


6. Sacrilicate sacrificium ju- 6. Offer a due sacrifice, and put your trust 
stitiae, et sperate in Domino. in the Lord. 

Multi dicunt : Quis ostendit Many there are who say : Who will give 

nobis bona ? us to see good fortune ? 

7. Signatum est super nos 7. Shown forth upon us is the light of 
lumen vultus tui Domine : de- Thy face, O Lord. 

disti laetitiam in corde mco. 8. Thou givest joy to my heart, 

8. A fructu frumenti, vini, et Greater than doth the produce of corn 
olei sui multiplicati sunt. and wine, and oil, when these abound. 

9. In pace in idipsum dor- 9. In peace I lay me down, and sleep forth- 
miam, et requiescam ; with. 

10. Quoniam tu Domine sin- For Thou alone, O Lord, makest me to 
gulariter in spe constituisti me. abide in calm security. 

1. In finem represents the Greek h<s TO reXos. The Greek phrase 
seems to have arisen from a misreading or misunderstanding of the 
Hebrew lam e nasseah, for the choir-leader. Jerome has victori, as if 
there were question of the Aramaic verb n e sah, to be victorious. 
Accepting in finem as correct, some commentators took it to mean 
that the psalm was to be sung unceasingly ; others, that it was to 
be sung towards the close of the service ; others again, equate it with 
"fortissimo " ; others take it as implying that the psalm could be 
sung- at any time, and not merely on certain stated days or feasts. 
The Greek commentators have attached all sorts of deep meanings 
to the phrase. The sense of the Hebrew " for the choir-leader " 
is to be preferred here, and in all the other psalm-inscriptions in 
which in finem occurs. The inscription apparently implies that 
every poem to which it is prefixed, belonged in a special way to the 
official collection of songs which would be in charge of the chief 

In carminibus, with stringed instruments (Hebrew). 
Psalm, a song sung to a musical accompaniment (mizmor). 

2. Deus justiticz mece, my just God/ The construction is the 
common Hebrew one of noun in construct state with connected 
abstract substantive, instead of noun and adjective. Compare 
sacrificium justitia ; Deus salutis, and similar constructions. 

Dilatasti. For the Oriental, pain and sorrow and defeat are 
symbolised and suggested by narrowness of space restricting move 
ment. Freedom of open spaces suggests strength and gladness. 
Hence the phrase, Ambulavi in latitudine (118, 45. Cf. 17, 20). 


Miserere, be gracious to me. Note that oratio is used freely in 
the Vulgate in the Christian sense of prayer. 

3-5. " Sons of men " (b e ne ish, not b e ne adam) is suggestive of 
men of standing. These he warns to be careful when they are 
tempted to scheme against him. They have spoken calumnies about 
him ; but the psalmist tells them that God has helped him with 
wondrous deeds of mercy in the past, and will do so once more against 
themselves. If they are angry with him, let them not give rein to 
their anger, and speak sinful words of malice against him. Or, the 
sense may be, according to the Hebrew : " Tremble (at the thought 
of God s vengeance) and sin not." Instead of breathing rage and 
malice against the psalmist, they should offer a due sacrifice, i.e., a 
sacrifice perfect in the sense required by the Law, and perfect also 
as inspired by a humble and contrite spirit. 

That sanctus (hasid), i.e., faithful worshipper of the Lord, means 
necessarily, as many critics contend, a faithful Jew of the Maccabean 
period, is a mere hypothesis. 

Dicere in corde, " think." 

6-9. While men are complaining : " When shall we see happiness 
again ? " the psalmist urges them to be of good heart. Quis ostendit, 
O that some one might show ! The psalmist uses here the words of 
the High Priest s blessing, Num. vi. 25/. : " May Yahweh bless thee 
and keep thee, and make His face to shine upon thee." In that 
light of God s face there can be no grief, but only a gladness greater 
than that of harvest-time. 

7. In corde, for, in cor. 

The a with fructu, etc., is the Hebrew comparative particle min. 
The joy of an abundant harvest was regarded as one of the most 
intense of all joys. Cf. Isaias ix. 3. 

9. Conscious of the Lord s unceasing care, he can lay him down, 
and abandon himself to the sleep that comes without delay (in idipsum, 
at once ). 



HERE David (according to the title of the poem) depicts 
himself as a priest who comes for the morning offering 
to the Temple. The morning service is preluded by a 
prayer for God s help and guidance. The priest sets the 
morning sacrifice in order, and then waits for the tokens of God s 
good pleasure. He reflects that neither the unjust, nor liars, nor 
murderers, nor the treacherous, are tolerated in the presence of the 
Lord. And yet, he himself is before the face of his God in the Temple ; 
but he has this privilege only through the rich fulness of God s kind 
ness and mercy. He begs, then, to be kept on the path which God 
would have him follow r . He calls for Divine punishment on the 
godless and unjust; but for the faithful worshippers like himself 
he begs the continuance of that Divine favour which protects, like 
an all-encompassing shield, the faithful friends of God. 

There is some difficulty in regarding David as the author of this 
psalm. The Temple-service seems to be presupposed though it is 
possible that the " Temple " (verse 8) is nothing more than the Tent 
in which the Ark was kept on Sion. At all events, if David is the 
singer, he seems to take here the role of a priest who is entrusted 
with the care of the morning service in God s House. Lying, and 
treachery, and murder were familiar in Israel at all periods ; and 
the reference to general godlessness does not, therefore, greatly help 
to date the poem. 

1. In finem pro ea quae haere- 
ditatem consequitur Psalmus 

2. Verba mea auribus pcrcipe 
Domine, intellige clamorem me- 

3. Intende voci orationis mese, 
Rex meus et Deus meus. 

4. Quoniam ad te orabo : 
Domine mane exaudies vocem 

5. Mane astabo tibi et vi- 
debo : 

Quoniam non Deus volens ini- 
quitatem tu es. 

i. For the choir-leader. According to . . . 
A psalm of David. 

2. Give ear to my words, O Lord ! 

Give heed to my cry. 

3. Regard the words of my prayer, 

My King and my God ! 

4. For to Thee do I pray, my Lord, in the 

morning ; 
Thou hearest my voice. 

5. In the morning I present myself before 

And remain on the watch (for Thee). 

For Thou art not a God that taketh 
pleasure in injustice ; 



6. Neque habitabit juxta te 
malignus : neque permanebunt 
injusti ante oculos tuos. 

7. Odisti omnes, qui operan- 
tur iniquitatem : perdes omnes 
qui loquuntur mendacium. 

Virum sanguinum et dolosum 
abominabitur Dominus : 

8. Ego autem in multitudine 
misericordiae tuae. 

Introibo in domum tuam : 
adorabo ad templum* sanctum 
tuum in timore tuo. 

6. No wicked man can be Thy guest. 
The godless abide not 

In Thy presence, 

7. Thou hatest all evil-doers ; 

Thou destroyest them that speak false 

The man of bloody deeds and of treachery 
The Lord doth abhor. 

8. But I, through the abundance of Thy 


Do enter into Thy House, 
And make homage towards Thy Temple 
With fear of Thee. 

o. Domine deduc me in ju- 
stitia tua : propter inimicos 
meos dirige in conspectu tuo 
viam meam. 

10. Quoniam non est in ore 
eorum veritas : cor eorum va- 
num est. 

11. Sepulchrum patens est 
guitur eorum, linguis suis dolose 
age bant, 


O Lord, guide me in Thy justice, 

Because of my enemies. 

Make straight Thou my path before 

For in their mouth there is no truth ; 

Their heart is untrustworthy. 

ii. An open grave is their throat ; 

With their tongues they deal treacher 

Judica illos Deus. 

Decidant a cogitationibus suis, 
secundum multitudinem impie- 
tatum eorum expelle eos, quo- 
niam irritaverunt te Domine. 

12. Et laetentur omnes, qui 
sperant in te, in aeternum ex- 
sultabunt : et habitabis in eis. 

Et gloriabuntur in te omnes, 
qui diligunt nomen tuum, 

13. Quoniam tu benedices jus- 

Domine, ut scuto bonae vo- 
luntatis tuae coronasti nos. 

Judge them, O God ; 

Let them fail in their schemes. 
For the multitude of their sins drive 

them forth ; 

Because they rouse Thee to anger, O 

12. And let all who trust in Thee be glad : 

Let them rejoice forever. 
Thou wilt dwell in their midst. 

And all who love Thy Name will boast 
of Thee. 

13. For Thou dost bless the righteous, 

And, with the shield of Thy favour 
Thou dost encompass us, O Lord ! 

i. Pro ea quae hareditatem consequitur ; seems to represent what 
was, perhaps, originally intended to be the name of a melody. The 
Hebrew, however, suggests that the reference is to the instrument 
with which the psalm was to be accompanied. (N httoth ma y= flutes, 
or, more generally, wind-instruments.) Jerome translating Pro haere- 
ditatibus. gives no help. The Greek translators had the same con 
sonantal text before them which the Hebrew still shows ; but they 
read hannoheleth instead of hann e hiloth. We shall meet several 
parallel titles, or directions, throughout the Psalter. Cf. Ixi. i ; vi. i ; 
lii. i ; xxi. i ; etc. 

3. voci orationis mece, my suppliant voice. 

5. Astabo, Hebrew, put in order, i.e., make all things ready (for 
the morning sacrifice). Videbo, I will look for Thee/ i.e., will look 

1 6 THE PSALMS [5 

out for some sign 1 of Thy gracious presence. The psalm may perhaps 
be regarded as having been sung as an accompaniment of the morning 
sacrifice. Jerome translates : mane pr&parabor ad te et contemplabor. 
The singer reflects that not all have the privilege to be the 
guests of the Lord, as he has. Psalm MV. enumerates the qualities 
which are required in the man who will be a guest in the dwelling of 
the Lord ; they are the qualities which are especially wanting in 
those described here, verses 5, 6, 7. The psalmist himself does not 
deserve the grace which he enjoys ; it is granted to him by the loving 
kindness of God. Cf. Job v. 13 ; I Cor. iii. 20. 

8. In multitudine misericordice tuce, thro Thy abounding gracious- 
ness, or favour, and not through any right or claim of the worshipper. 

Ad templum, towards the Temple. If David is the psalmist, the 
Temple must mean the Tabernacle. 

9. In justitia, either, on account of Thy justice, or, on the path 
of Thy justice. Propter inimicos to save me from my foes ; it would 
be better, perhaps, to read it with deduc me in justitia than with the 

10. Vanum: the Hebrew has : their heart (interior) is destruc 
tion, i.e. their whole thought is bent on destruction. The Hebrew, 
hawwoth, is not adequately represented by vanum. In Ps. xxxvii. 13 
it is rendered by vanitates. Cf. li. 7. 

11. An open sepulchre because of the fetidness which it exhales, 
and its readiness to receive new occupants. The reference is to the 
malice of evil speech. For linguis suis dolose agebant Jerome has 
linguam suam levificant ; Hebrew, they make slippery their tongue. 

Judica, Hebrew, declare them guilty. Jerome, condemna eos, 
Greek, Kpivf.iv = Kara/cptveiv. 

Decidant a, let them be foiled so as to fall short of. 

Secundum multitudinem impietatum, etc. Because of their multi- 
tudir jus crimes dash them headlong. Irritaverunt (Jerome, provo- 
caver 7^)= risen up in rebellion against (Hebrew). 

The psalmist shows no pity for the godless ; they are, after all, 
God s foes even more than they are his. The contrast of the just 
and sinners is made with similar vividness in other psalms. Cf. 
Ps. Ixiii. and, for a reflection of the psalmist on his own privileges 
like the present psalm, cf. Ps. xxv. 

13. Ui scuto, Hebrew: Thou dost crown (i.e., encompass) them 
with [Thy] good pleasure as with a shield. The Hebrew sinnah 
signifies a great shield covering the whole body. 

1 We do not know what kind of sign would be looked for. Probably the 
priests had at their disposal a body of traditional lore, dealing wita the tokens 
of Divine acceptance of sacrifice. 



THE psalmist is in bitter need. Evil-doers and enemies of 
many kindfs have caused him fear and unceasing care. His 
strength is failing, and his body is shaken, and his eyes have 
lost the brightness of life. He begs with intense earnestness 
to be saved from the death which threatens him. For the Lord can 
look for no advantage from his death. In the underworld there is 
no chorus of praise for God. All at once his fear is changed into 
confident hope, and with triumphant repetition he tells how the 
Lord has heard his prayer. 

This psalm is ascribed by the title to David. Some modern 
commentators have taken the psalm as a complaint of a man who is 
stricken with some dreadful sickness, and is threatened with approach 
ing death, and, at the same time, is mocked by his foes. The poem, 
however, as suggested in the translation, may be understood of a 
man grievously persecuted by his foes. It might describe the troubles 
of David when persecuted by Saul, or again during the rebellion of 
Absalom, or during other grievous times which are not described in 
the historical books. His enemies are, apparently, expecting his 
speedy destruction. 

i. In fincm in carminibus, 
Psalmus David, pro octava. 

i. For the choir-leader ; with stringed in 
struments ; according to the octave 
(?) ; a psalm of David. 

2. Domine, ne in furore tuo 
arguas me, neque in ira tua 
corripias me. 

3. Miserere mei Domine quo- 
niam infirmus sum : sana me 
Domine quoniam conturbata 
sunt ossa mea. 

2. Lord, in Thy wrath rebuke me not, 

And in Thy fury chastise me not. 

3. Be gracious unto me, O Lord, for I am 


Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are 

4. Et anima mea turbata est 
valde : sed tu Domine usquc- 
quo ? 

5. Converterc Domine, et 
eripe animam meam : salvum 
me fac propter misericordiam 

6. Quoniam non est in morte 
qui memor sit tui : in inferno 
autem quis confitebitur tibi ? 

4. Yea, my soul is greatly dismayed. 

But Thou, O Lord how long ? 

5. Rescue me once again, O Lord, 

Rescue me for the sake of Thy gracious- 

6. For in death there is none who thinks of 

Thee ; 

And in the underworld who shall praise 

1 8 THE PSALMS [6 

7. Laboravi in gcmitu meo, 7. I am wearied with my sighing, 
lavabo per singulas noctes lect- I bedew each night my bed ; 
um meum : lacrimis meis stra- With my tears I bathe my couch, 
turn meum rigabo. 

8. Turbatus est a furore ocu- 8. My eye is dim for grief, 

lus meus : inveteravi inter I have grown old because of all my foes, 

omnes inimicos meos. 

9. Discedite a me omnes, qui 9. Begone from me, all ye evil-doers, 
operamini iniquitatem : quo- For the Lord hath heard my tearful cry; 
niam exaudivit Dominus vocem 

fletus mei. 

10. Exaudivit Dominus de- 10. The Lord hath heard my petition ; 
precationem meam, Dominus The Lord hath received my prayer, 
orationem meam suscepit. 

11. Erubescant, et conturbcn- n. Utterly ashamed and confused shall be 
tur vehementer omnes inimici my enemies ; 

mei : convertantur et erubescant Quickly again shall they be brought to 

valde velociter. shame. 

I. Pro octava may describe some particular kind of stringed 
instrument suitable to accompany songs like this. The Targum 
explains a harp of eight strings. 

2-3. The psalmist is aware that his own sins have brought on 
him his sorrows. This is the first of the so-called Penitential 
Psalms. The others are xxxi., xxxvii , 1., ci., cxxix., cxlii. But, 
though the psalmist knows he has deserved his punishment, he 
begs that it may be lightened. His body is shaken like a building 
that totters in an earthquake. 

4-5. Usquequo, why dost Thou delay to help for so long ? Con- 
vertere et eripe may be, " turn graciously to me again, and rescue 
me " ; or, converter e may represent, as in verse n, a Hebrew idiom. 
The Hebrew verbs " add " and " return " are often combined with 
another verb to express a repetition of the action expressed by that 
other verb : v.g. et conversus vivificasti me (Ps. Ixx. 20) ; revertetur 
et miserebitur nostri (Mich. vii. 19) ; neque convertentur operire terram 
(Ps. ciii. 9) ; they shall not again cover the earth ; conversi sunt et 
tentaverunt Deum, again they tempted God (Ps. Ixxvii. 41) ; non 
adjiciat ut resurgat, he will not rise again (Ps. xl. 9) ; et apposuerunt 
adhuc peccare ei (Ps. Ixxvii. 17) ; non apponat nocere ei (Ps. IxxxviiL 
23) ; aut non apponet ut complacitior sit adhuc (Ps. Ixxvi. 8) ; ut non 
apponat ultra magnificare se homo (Ps. ix. 39). 

Eripe animam anima, life, as often in Vulgate Psalter. 

6. In morte, in the land of death. The same thought is suggested 
in xxix. 10 ; Ixxxvii. 12 ; cxiii. 17 (non mortui laudabunt te Domine, 
neque omnes qui descendunt in infernum). The same idea that God 
can expect no glory or praise from the dead, is expressed elsewhere 
also in the Old Testament. Cf. Isaias, xxxviii. 18-19 > Ecclesiasticus, 
xvii. 26; Baruch, ii. 17; Job, x. 21-22. Infernus, Hebrew, Sheol 
(Greek, Hades) ; it was, in ancient Hebrew thought, a sort of under 
world where the dead lived in darkness a life which was only partly 



rea l a Hf e without thought or action, and, hence, without any 
worship of God. 

Confiteri, praise so mostly in Vulgate Psalter. 

7-8. When other men rest, and find relief fiom their sorrow, then, 
especially in the solitude of night, the singer is distracted by his 
griefs. He makes his couch to swim (Hebrew) with the flood of his 
tears. No wonder, then that his eyes have lost their lustre, and 
become like those of an old man (turbatus est oculus). The furor is 
vexation or grief. He himself has grown old and feeble through the 
unceasing enmity of those who are ever about him. 

9 ff. The sudden transition from deep dejection to vigorous hope 
is often found in Hebrew poetry. It is due to the feeling that God 
has heard the poet s prayer. Notice the triumphant repetition of 
" has heard " in 9 and 10. 

For convertantur, see above, verse 5. It is to be noted that the 
confusion of his enemies, and not their destruction, is asked for by 
the psalmist. 



THE psalmist is threatened by many enemies, and begs for 
help against them from the Lord. He claims that he has 
given no cause for their hostility. Had he given such cause 
he would, he says, willingly pay for his offence with death. 
But, since he is innocent, he begs the Lord to declare his innocence 
in a public trial a trial like the Last Judgment at which the 
nations will be gathered to hear the sentence. 1 In this trial God will, 
the singer hopes, take His seat once again as world-judge, and by His 
sentence put an end to evil, and protect the just. The Psalmist sees 
his enemies preparing a new attack against him, and warns them that 
they are devising destruction for themselves when they think of 
destroying him. For the intervention of the Lord to this end, which 
the singer now confidently expects, he will sing a hymn of praise. 

If we could ascertain the real nature of the charge made against 
the Psalmist which is referred to in verse 4, we should be able, perhaps, 
to date the poem with some certainty. But we do not know what 
is really implied in verse 4. The psalmist is obviously a person of 
great importance, since a great trial, like the Judgment of the nations, 
is demanded for his sake. The Davidic authorship claimed by the 
superscription, is, therefore, quite possible. We cannot identify the 
Benjaminite, Chusi. 

1. Psalmus David, quern can- i. A psalm of David which he sang because 
tavit Domino proverbis Chusi of the words of the Benjaminite 
filii Jemini. Chusi. 

2. Domine Deus meus in te 2. O Lord my God, in Thee do I put my 
speravi : salvum me fac ex trust. 

omnibus perse quentibus me, et Save me from my persecutors and 

libera me. rescue me, 

3. Nequando rapiat ut leo 3. That like a lion they rend me not, 
animam meam, dum non est While there is none to rescue or save, 
qui redimat, neque qui salvum 


4. Domine Deus meus si feci 4. O Lord my God, if I have done this thing, 
istud, si est iniquitas in manibus If there is injustice on my hands, 
meis : If I have requited those that did evil to 


1 Some commentators regard verses 7-12 as an independent poem. The 
separation of 7-12 from the rest of the psalm is based chiefly upon metrical 
reasons. See Revue Biblique, January, 1920, p. 62, 67 /. It has been also 
suggested that vv. 13-17 should immediately follow v. 6, and that vv. 7-12 
should be inserted between verses 17 aud 18. (Schlogl, Die Psalmen, p. 5). 





5. Si reddidi retribuentibus 
mihi mala, decidam merito ab 
inimicis meis inanis. 

6. Perse quatur inimicus ani- 
mam meam, et comprehend at, 
et conculcet in terra vitam 
meam, et gloriam meam in 
pulverem deducat. 

7. Exsurge Domine in ira tua : 
et exaltare in finibus inimicorum 

Et exsurge Domine Deus 
meus in praecepto quod man- 
dasti : 

8. Et synagoga populorum 
circumdabit te. 

Et propter hanc in altum 
regredere : 

9. Dominus judicat populos. 
Judica me Domine secundum 

justitiam meam, et secundum 
innocentiam meam super me. 

10. Consumetur nequitia pec- 
catorum, et diriges justum, scru- 
tans corda et renes Deus. 

1 1 . Justum adjutorium meum 
a Domino, qui salvos facit 
rectos corde. 

12. Deus judex Justus, fortis, 
et patiens : numquid irascitur 
per singulos dies ? 

13. Nisi conversi fueritis gla- 
dium suum vibrabit : arcum 
suum tetendit, et paravit ilium. 

14. Et in eo paravit vasa 
mortis : sagittas suas ardenti- 
bus effecit. 

15. Ecce parturiit injustitiam: 
concepit dolorem, et peperit ini- 

1 6. Lacum aperuit, ct effodit 
cum : et incidit in foveam quam 

17. Convertetur dolor ejus in 
caput ejus : et in verticem ipsi- 
us iniquitas ejus descendet. 

Then, indeed, let me fall helpless before 

my foes. 
Then let the enemy pursue me, and seize 

me ; 
And tread down my life to earth, 

And bring down my glory to the dust. 

7 Arise, O Lord, in Thy anger. 

Arise, O Lord my God ! for the sake 

of the command which Thou hast 

Rise up against the furious excesses of 

my foes. 

8. And the assembly of the nations will 

gather round Thee, 

And do Thou, because of it, return (to 
Thy throne) on high. 

9. The Lord is judge over the nations. 

Judge me, O Lord, according to my 

And according to my innocence which 

is in me. 
10. Let the malice of sinners be brought to 

an end : 

And do Thou confirm the just man ; 
Thou God that searchest heart and reins ! 
n. My true help is from the Lord, 

Who maketh safe the upright of heart. 

12. God is a just, a strong, a long-suffering 

Doth He grow angry every day ? 

13. If ye be not converted, He will wield the 


He hath stretched out His bow and 
made it ready ; 

14. And on it He holdeth ready death- 

dealing darts ; 

Things of fire hath He made His 

15. Behold he (the sinner) is big with in 


He hath conceived mischief, and 
brought forth sin. 

1 6. He hath digged a pit, and hollowed it out ; 

And hath fallen into the pit which he 
hath made. 

17. His mischief falleth back on his own head 

And on his own pate his malice returns. 

1 8. Confitebor Domino secun 
dum justitiam ejus : et psallam 
nomini Domini altissimi. 

1 8. I will praise the Lord because of His 

justice ; 

And I will hymn the name of the Lord, 
the Most High. 

i. The Hebrew calls this poem a shiggayon a term of uncertain 
meaning (cf. Hab. iii. i). Jerome s rendering, Pro ignoratione, gives 

22 THE PSALMS [ 7 

no help. In his translation Jerome takes Chusi as meaning Ethiopian 
and Jemini he regards as a proper name. Butfilius jemini represent, 
the Hebrew, ben y e mini, Benjaminite, and Chusi, therefore, must be 
the name of an individual. The Massoretic text reads Rush, but the 
Greek reading Chusi (=Hebrew Kushi) is to be preferred. Chusi is 
probably to be connected with the Kushi of II Kings, xviii. 21-23, 
31-32 (though the Kushi of that context is not called a Benjaminite). 
In his Commentarioli in psalmos (Anecdota Maredsolana, 3, i, p. 18) 
Jerome says : Sciendum itaque Chusi interpretari Aethiopem, et totum 
psalmum contra Saul esse conscriptum. . . . quern Aethiopem vocat 
propter sanguinarios et tetros et crudeles mores. The only support of 
this view is the fact that Saul was a ben y e mini ) a Benjaminite. 

2. In te speravi, Hebrew ; in Thee do I seek refuge. 

3. The enemy is likened to a ravening Hon. Rapiat, Hebrew, 
rend, animam meam, me. 

4. 5. I stud is the charge. The Hebrew suggests that one charge 
was ingratitude towards kindly and helpful friends If I have 
requited with evil those who lived at peace with me/ The clause 
that follows, runs in Hebrew : "In fact I rescued those who were 
unreasonably hostile towards me. So far was the psalmist from 
injuring his friends, that he actually went out of his way to assist 
his foes. The Latin puts a different complexion on the text. Here 
the charge seems to be, either that the poet has requited evil for evil, 
or, that he has requited kindness (retribuentibus=dantibus) with injury. 

Ab inimicis inanis, either, fall away hopeless before his foes ; or, 
fail hopelessly through the action of his foes. 

6. Anima, vita, and gloria are practically synonymous. In terra, 
for classical, in terram. 

7. But, since he is innocent, the Lord should justify him before all. 
Exaltare in finibus, literally, Show Thy power in the territories 

of my foes. But fines may, perhaps, be taken in connection with 
the Hebrew ebhrah as passing beyond, excess. Jerome refers 
it directly, with Hebrew, to God : Elevare indignans super hostes meos. 
In prcecepto, Hebrew trial, the trial which the Lord has ordered 
for all, the world- judgment. The Vulgate might be rendered : 
Because of the Trial which Thou hast commanded. The Hebrew 
says : Because Thou hast ordered a Trial. 

8. Description of the great assize. 

Propter hanc ; better, super hanc. The Lord is prayed to take 
His throne as ruler and as Judge of the nations. The throne would 
be set in sight of all, and, therefore, above the gathering. 

9. Super me, Hebrew alai, (which is) in me. The verse might 
be also rendered thus : The Lord judgeth the nations : Procure 
for me justice, O Lord ! According to my justice, and my innocence, 
[let it be done] to me. Some verb like ya <a bhor (Job xiii. 13) would, 
in this view, have to be understood. 


10. Diriges, establish, confirm. Cf. xxxvi. 23, Apud Dominum 
gressus hominis dirigentur ; xxxix. 3, Direxit gressus meas ; Ixxvii. 8, 
quae non direxit cor suum , ci. 29, Semen eorum in ceternum dingetur. 
The general sense is, make stable/ secure. 

11. Justum adjutorium, such help as is efficacious, and such as 
one may reasonably expect. 

;-fi2 The question implies that God is not angry every day, or, 
an the time. The Hebrew says that God is angry (or threatens) 
every day. Both texts express a truth. 

13. If the psalmist s enemies will not turn to God, God is ready 
with His weapons to destroy them. 

14. Vasa mortis, Hebrew, instruments of death. 
Ardentibusardentes. Cf. Ephes, vi. 16. 

15. The enemy of God and of the psalmist is pregnant with the 
malice which he has devised. 

16. The picture is taken from the sportsman s life. Pits were 
dug to serve as traps for the wild beasts. 

17. The picture is here that of a man who awkwardly throws a 
missile so that it falls back on himself. 

The dolor is the mischief which he has planned for others. 

18. AUissimus is one of God s titles ; it does not serve here 
merely as an attribute of Dominus. 



THE glory of God, as shown forth in nature and in man, is the 
theme of this poem. God s wondrous greatness can every 
where be seen. It is reflected especially in the heavens. 
When it is hymned by infant lips it disarms the enemies of 
God. Over against the great glory of God, man appears so trifling 
that it is strange that God should give any thought to him. Yet 
God has taken such deep interest in him, that He has given him a 
greatness far above that of nature, a greatness only less than divine. 
This kindness of God towards man only serves to show forth more 
fully His greatness. The poem ends with the same awestruck con 
fession of God s glory with which it began. 

The song seems to be a song of the vintage season. The glory 
of the nightly heavens is so emphasised that we may, perhaps, suppose 
that it was sung in the night time. Possibly it was sung during a 
night-watch in the Temple during the feast of Tabernacles. It may 
have been composed by David as a jneditation on the glory of God, 
without any reference to liturgical use. The appropriation to a 
vintage-festival, like Tabernacles, implied in Pro torcularibus, is not 
necessarily Davidic. 

i. In finem pro torcularibus, 
Psalmus David. 

2. Domine Dominus noster, 
quam admirabile est nomen tu- 
um in universa terra ! 

Quoniam elevata est magni- 
ficentia tua, super coelos. 

1. For the choir-leader. For the wine 

presses. A Psalm of David. 

(Choir) : 

2. O Lord, our Lord, 

How wonderful is Thy name 
In all the earth ! 

For Thy glory is exalted above the 

3. Ex ore infantium et lac- 
tentium perfecisti laudem prop- 
ter inimicos tuos, ut destruas 
inimicum et ultorem. 

From the mouth of babes and sucklings 
Thou hast set up praise, because of 

Thy foes 
That Thou mightest destroy (Thy) enemy 

and vengeful foe. 

4. Quoniam videbo coelos 
tuos, opera digitorum tuorum : 
lunam et stellas, quae tu f undasti. 

5. Quid est homo, quod me- 
mor es ejus ? aut films hominis, 
quoniam visitas eum ? 

(Single voice) : 
If I look on Thy heavens 
The work of Thy hands, 
And on the moon and the stars which 

Thou hast made. 

What is man that Thou shouldst remem 
ber him ? 

Or the son of man that Thou shouldst 
visit him ? 


6. Minuisti eum paulo minus 6. And (yet) Thou hast set him but a little 
ab Angelis, gloria et honore below the angels : 

coronasti eum : With glory and with honour Thou hast 

encompassed him ; 

7. Et constituisti eum super 7. And Thou hast placed him over the works 
opera manuum tuarum. of Thy hands. 

8. Omnia subjecisti sub pedi- 8. All things hast Thou put beneath his 
bus ejus, feet. 


Oves et boves universas : in- Sheep, and cattle all of them, 

super et pecora campi. And the wild beasts too, 

9. Volucres coeli, et pisces 9. The birds of heaven, and the fishes of 
maris, qui perambulant semitas the sea 

maris. Which traverse the paths of the sea. 

(Choir) : 

10. Domine Dominus noster, 10 O Lord, our Lord ! 

quam admirabile est nomen tu- How wonderful is Thy name 

um in universa terra ! In all the earth ! 

1. Pro torcularibus. Cf. Ps. Ixxx and Ixxxiii. The Hebrew 
suggests here rather a reference to a musical instrument. The Patristic 
commentators attached very wonderful mystic meanings to the wine 
presses. St. Augustine, for instance, explains them as the Church, or 
the Word of God, or martyrdom. 

2. Domine Dominus noster is the rendering of Yahweh Our Lord ! 
Nomen is equivalent to majesty, being. 

3. The heavens are the garment of God (cf. Ps. ciii. 1-2), and 
in the heavens all eyes can see revealed His glory and majesty. 

Perfecisti, produced, called into being, established. The lisping 
of babes, that behold the wonders of God s world, is a bulwark set 
up against scoffers and non-believers (Matt. xi. 16). The Hebrew 
text is, however, somewhat uncertain ; and the idea may be that 
God has set up the heavens as a stronghold against His foes. 

4. Quoniam ought to be cum. The Latin here simply reproduces 
the Greek. The antiphonal arrangement suggested in the transla 
tion would explain the transition to first person singular. The 
general choir would sing verses 1-3 and 10 ; the remainder would be 
sung by a single voice. 

5. The filius hominis is obviously parallel to homo, and both seem 
to have the same meaning. The application of verses 6 and 7 to 
Christ in Hebrews ii. 6-9 has led to the view that the Son of Man 
is here to be understood in a Messianic sense (cf. also I Cor. xv. 25-28). 
It seems, however, to be nothing more than the poetical equivalent 
or parallel, of man/ 

Visitas, in the sense of taking interest in/ taking thought for/ 
Sometimes the word suggests unfriendly interest, punishment. 

6. The immediate reference is to the dignity of man, of human 
nature generally. The Hebrew text speaks of God not of angels : 


Thou hast made him to lack but little of a God. The translation 
angels represents, no doubt, the Jewish exegesis of the age of the 
Greek translators. The " ab " expresses comparison, according to 
the Hebrew idiom. In the Epistle to the Hebrews (ii. 6) the Greek 
reading is followed, and fipa\v TL (minus) is taken in a temporal 
sense, for a brief period/ i.e. the lifetime of Jesus on earth. 

Gloria and honor are generally used of God s attributes. The 
whole verse repeats the thought of Gen. i., that man is made in the 
image of God. In this is shown chiefly the wonderful interest 
(visitatio) which God takes in man. 

7. Man s control over nature is also to be regarded as part of his 
close likeness to God. Cf. I Cor. xv. 26 : Omnia enim subjecit sub 
pedibus ejus, where the Messianic reference of this verse is implied. 
(cf. Ephes. i. 22). What is true of man, generally, must be true, in 
the deepest and highest sense, of the man who sums up all things 
in Himself. The verses 7-9 look like a poetic meditation on Gen. i. 
26, 28. The pecora campi are the wild beasts, as distinguished from 
the domestic animals. 

9. Qui perambulant semitas maris is, in Hebrew, a new class of 
beings, everything that doth traverse the paths of the sea, including 
the cete ilia grandia of Gen. i. 21. 

10. The poem is rounded off with the expression of wonder at God s 
-greatness with which it began. 



THE first part of this psalm (verses 2-21) is a song of thanks 
giving for the rescue of Israel from foreign enemies ; the 
second part (22-39) i s a prayer for protection against troubles 
which have arisen within the Hebrew State. 

Part I. The Lord has held judgment over the heathen strangers. 
He has reduced their cities to ruins, and blotted out their name for 
ever. Israel, avenged and victorious, sings glad songs of praise and 
thanks in Jerusalem. The heathens have met with that same fate 
which they had planned for Sion. The first part ends with a strong 
appeal to the Lord to set a masterful ruler over the heathens that 
they may realise that they are but mere men. 

Part II begins with a complaint that the Lord is not helping in 
the hour of need. He seems to stand afar off, and to give no thought 
to His friends. The friends of the Lord are here the poor and the 
God-fearing, who are pursued and oppressed by godless Israelites. 
The oppression of the weaker Israelites by the wealthy and insolent 
and God-defying aristocrats is vividly described. The psalmist 
prays to God, as the sole refuge of the weak and lowly, to break the 
power of their ruthless oppressors. 

The concluding verses (37-39) serve as a conclusion to both parts of 
the psalm. The foreign enemies have been ruined, and the oppressors 
within Israel have learned the lesson that man is but man, and that 
God is the shield of the weak and oppressed. The two parts of the 
poem end with the same thought. 

In this analysis it is assumed that the two parts constitute a 
single poem. The Hebrew text regards them as two separate poems. 
The combined arrangement is, however, supported by certain features 
of the Hebrew text itself. This psalm is one of the alphabetical 
psalms, and the alphabetical structure is continued through the two 
parts. The two parts form a single psalm in the Greek versions, and 
in Jerome s version. The Hebrew text of the second part (Ps. x. 
Hebrew) has no title as if it had been set in isolation by some 
accident. As we see, the two parts, besides being connected by the 
acrostic arrangement, end similarly, and the situation of Part I is 
implied in the conclusion of Part II. The Vulgate arrangement of 
the two parts as one poem is, therefore, to be retained. Since, 
however, Part II forms a separate psalm in the Hebrew text, the 





Vulgate numbering of the psalms will henceforth, for the most part, 
be different from that of the Massoretic text (and therefore also, of 
the Revised Version). 

The occasion of this poem cannot be determined. David had 
many experiences of victories abroad and troubles at home. Yet it is 
very difficult to find in any known incidents of his reign a background 
for the ninth Psalm. The tendency of many modern commentators 
is to parallel Part I with the prophecy of Nahum, and to explain the 
defeat of the heathen as referring to the fall of Niniveh. More radical 
critics would find the inspiration for the two parts in events of the 
Maccabean period. If we set aside the Vulgate ascription of the 
psalm to David, we shall have nothing to guide us in placing the 
poem but mere subjectivism. The words of the title : Pro occultis 
filii may point back to a consonantal Hebrew text which could be 
translated, According to the death of the Son but this again, 
would give us no help in discovering the historical context of the 

i. In finem pro occultis filii, 
Psalmus David. 

i. For the choir-leader. According to ... 
a psalm of David. 


2. Confitebor tibi Domini in 
toto corde meo : narrabo omnia 
mirabilia tua. 

3. Laetabor et exsultabo in 
te : psallam nomini tuo Altis- 

4. In convertcndo inimicum 
meum retrorsum : infirmabun- 
tur, et peribunt a facie tua. 

2. I praise Thee, O Lord, with my whole 

heart : 
I publish all Thy wondrous deeds. 

3. I exult and rejoice in Thee ; 

I hymn Thy name, Most High. 

4. Because my enemy falleth back, 

And they [my foes] grow powerless, 
and come to naught before Thee. 

5. Quoniam fecisti judicium 
meum et causam meam : sedi- 
sti super thronum qui judicas 

6. Increpasti Gentes, et per- 
iit impius : nomen eorum delesti 
in aeternum, et in saeculum 

7. Inimici defecerunt frameae 
in finem : et civitates eorum 

Periit memoria eorum cum 
sonitu : 

5. For Thou dost conduct my trial and my 

case : 

Thou dost sit on the throne judging 
justly ; 

6. Thou dost chide the nations and the god 

less ceases to be. 

Their name Thou dost blot out for ever 
and aye. 

7. The swords of the foe have been alto 

gether destroyed ; 

And their cities Thou hast over 

The memory of them is vanished with 
[the speed of] a [sudden] crash. 

8. Et Dominus in aeternum 

Paravit in judicio thronum 
suum : 

>. But the Lord remaineth for ever. 

He hath set up His throne for holding 
trial : 



9. Et ipse judicabit orbem 
terras in aequitate, judicabit po- 
pulos in justitia. 

10. Et factus est Dominus re- 
fugium pauperi : adjutor in 
opportunitatibus, in tribula- 

11. Et sperent in te qui no- 
verunt nomen tuum : quoniam 
non dereliquisti quaerentes te 

9. And He doth judge the world with fair 
And He doth judge the peoples with 

10. The Lord is a refuge to the poor ; 

He is a helper in good time, in trial. 

1 1 . They that know Thy name shall trust in 


For Thou dost not abandon those who 
seek Thee, O Lord. 

12. Psallito Domino, qui habi 
tat in Sion : annuntiate inter 
Gcntcs studia ejus : 

13. Quoniam requirens san- 
guinem eorum rccordatus est : 
non est oblitus clamorem pau- 

12. Hymn the Lord who dwelleth on Sion ; 

Publish among the nations His deeds ; 

13. For as an avenger of blood He is mindful 

of them (i.e. the poor) : 
He doth not forget the cry of need of 
the poor. 

14. Miserere mei Domine : 
vide humilitatem meam de 
inimicis meis. 

15. Qui exaltas me de portis 
mortis, ut annuntiem omncs 
laudationes tuas in portis filiae 

1 6. Exsultabo in salutari tuo : 
infixae sunt Gentes in interitu, 
quern fecerunt. 

In laqueo isto, quern abs- 
conderunt, comprehensus est 
pes eorum. 

17. Cognoscetur Dominus ju- 
dicia faciens : in operibus ma- 
nuum suarum comprehensus est 

1 8. Convertantur peccatores 
in infernum, omnes Gentes quae 
obliviscuntur Deum. 

19. Quoniam non in finem ob- 
livio erit pauperis : patientia 
pauperum non peribit in finem. 

14. Pity me, O Lord : behold my humiliation 

at the hands of my foes, 

15. Thou who dost raise me out of the gates 

of death, 
So that I may recount all Thy glorious 

In the gates of the daughter of Sion. 

16. I rejoice because of Thy help. 
Caught are the nations in the destruction 

which they contrived : 
In the net which they hid, their own 
foot is snared. 

17. The Lord is made known by His practice 

of justice, 

But the sinner is enmeshed in the 
works of his own hands. 

1 8. Sinners shall be cast into the under 


All the nations who give no thought to 

19. But not altogether will the poor be for 

gotten : 

The enduring hope of the poor will not 
be alwavs frustrated. 

20. Exsurge Domine, non- 
confortetur homo : judicentur 
Gentes in conspectu tuo. 

21. Constitue Domine legis- 
latorem super eos : ut sciant 
Gentes quoniam homines sunt. 

20. Arise, O Lord ; let no man be presump 

tuous ; 

Let the nations be brought to trial 
before Thee. 

21. Appoint, O Lord, a lawgiver over them, 

That the nations may know that they 
are but men. 




22. Ut quid Domine reccssisti 
longe, despicis in opportunitati- 
bus, in tribulatione ? 

23. Dum superbit impius, in- 
cenditur pauper : comprehen- 
duniur in consiliis quibus cogi- 

24. Quoniam laudatur pecca- 
tor in desideriis animae suac : et 
iniquus bcnedicitur. 

25. Exacerbavit Dominum 
pcccator, secundum multitudi- 
nem irae suae non quaeret. 

26. Non est Deus in conspectu 
ejus : inquinatae sunt viae illius 
in omni tempo re. 

Auferuntur judicia tua a facie 
ejus : omnium inimicorum suo- 
rum dominabitur. 

27. Dixit enim in corde suo : 
Non movebor a generatione in 
generationem sine malo. 

28. Cujus maledictione os ple 
num est, et amaritudine, et do- 
lo : sub lingua ejus labor et 

29. Sedet in insidiis cum divi- 
tibus in occultis, ut inter ficiat 

30. Oculi ejus in pauperem 
respiciunt : insidiatur in ab- 
scondito, quasi leo in spelunca 

Insidiatur ut rapiat pauperem, 
rapere pauperem, dum attrahit 

31. In laqueo suo humiliabit 
eum : inclinabit se, et cadet, 
cum dominatus fuerit pauperum . 

32. Dixit enim in corde suo : 
Oblitus est Deus, avertit faciem 
suam ne videat in finem. 


22. Why dost Thou keep Thyself far off, O 

Lord ? 

Why dost Thou suffer the right moment 
to pass, in season of need ? 

23. While the godless is proud, the poor man 

is consumed (with care) ; 
Let them (the godless) be caught by the 
plans which they devise. 

24. For the sinner boasts of his lusts, 

And the godless one is loud in his own 

25. The sinner embittereth the Lord. 

In the abundance of his contempt [he 
saith] " He maketh no inquiry." 

26. There is no God before his eyes. 
His ways are always shameful : 

Thy laws are put away from before him 
He lords it over all his enemies. 

27. He thinketh : "I shall not be shaken " ; 

For all time I (shall be) free from mis 

28. His mouth is full of cursing, and taunting, 

and treachery ; 

Beneath his tongue are toil and 

29. He sits in ambush with the rich, 

That he may slay the innocent in the 

30. His eyes watch for the poor. 

He lies in ambush in hidden places like 
a lion in his lair : 

He lies in ambush to seize the poor. 
He seizes (him) and drags him along. 

31. With his noose he brings him down : 

He stoopeth down, and lieth (on the 
ground ?) when he has mastered the 

32. He thinketh : " God doth forget : 

He turneth away His face that He may 
see nothing whatsoever." 

33. Exsurge Domine Deus, 
exaltetur manus tua : ne ob- 
liviscaris pauperum. 

34. Propter quid irritavit im 
pius Deum ? dixit enim in corde 
suo : Non requiret. 

35. Vides quoniam tu labo- 
rem et dolorem consideras : ut 
tradas eos in manus tuas. 

Tibi derelictus est pauper; 
orphano tu eris adjutor. 

33. Arise, O Lord God ! Let Thy hand be 

Forget not the poor. 

34. Why doth the godless embitter God ? 

He thinketh : "He will ask no 

35. Thou seest (this), for Thou lookest on 

labour and pain 
That Thou mayest take them into 

Thine own care. 
To Thee the poor man is left, 

For the orphan Thou art the Protector 


36. Contere brachium pecca- 36. Shatter, Thou, the arm of the sinner and 
toris et maligni : quaeretur pec- the evil -doer : 

catum illius, et non invenietur. His sin will be sought, but it will not 

be found. 

37. Dominus regnabit in seter- 37. The Lord will be King for ever and ever. 
num,etinsaeculumsaeculi : peri- The nations will come to naught, far 
bitis Gentes de terra illius. away from His land. 

38. Desiderium pauperum ex- 38. The Lord doth listen to the desire of the 
audivit Dominus : praeparatio- poor : 

nem cordis eorum audivit auris Thine ear doth hear the prayer of their 

tua. heart, 

39. Judicare pupillo et humili, 39. To do justice to the orphan and the 
ut non apponat ultra magnifi- oppressed, 

care se homo super terram. So that mere man may no more proudly 

exalt himself on earth. 

1. Pro occultis filii would represent a Hebrew al <a lumoth labben. 
The Massoretic text first omits the al and reads, al muth labben. 
Other groupings of the Hebrew consonants are possible also. 1 
Perhaps we have here the name of the melody to which the psalm 
was to be sung Death to the Son/ or Death makes pale/ etc. 
(The Fathers interpret the occulta filii as the mysteries of Christ, the 
Son of God.) 

2. Confitebor is equivalent to laudabo. Narrabo, Hebrew : Let 
me recount/ 

3. In te, because of Thee/ 

4. In convertendo inimicum is an attempt to reproduce the Greek 
infinitive with article. It appears in a still more un-Latin form in 
Ps. cxxv. i : In convertendo Dominus captivitatem Sion, and ci. 23, 
In conveniendo populus in unum. 

Infirmabuntur and peribunt are not necessarily to be understood of 
the future. Jerome has : cum ceciderint, corruerint, perierint. 

5. Judicium et causam meam; Hebrew: My verdict and my 
trial/ The sense seems to be : Thou hast undertaken the defence 
of my case/ The throne is the judge s seat ; judicas justitiam, 
Hebrew idiom for judicas juste (cf. judicatis iniquitatem, Ps. Ixxxi. 2). 

6. The gentes are the heathen peoples who lived across the borders 
of Palestine. 

7. Inimici is genitive. Framea is used in Vulgate for sword. 
Defecerunt, perished/ were destroyed/ In finem, for ever/ or, 
completely/ The Hebrew text here implied is the same as the 
Massoretic as far as the consonants are concerned. The Massoretes 
read, however : The enemy are vanished ruins for ever/ 

Cum sonitu : either, with a great and crashing overthrow/ or, 
with the suddenness of a crash/ The Hebrew hemmah ( they 
themselves ) was read by the Greek translators as some form of the 
verb hamah. Theodoret says there is here a metaphor taken from 

1 Schlogl reads Alemeth a place-name, instead of almuth. 


the fall of houses during an earthquake. The Hebrew text is not here 
very reliable. Jerome translates : completae sunt solitudines in finem, 
et civitates subvertisti ; periit memoria eorum cum ipsis. 

8. In judicio, for the purpose of judging, or holding trial. 

10. Pauperi, the oppressed, in general. 

In opportunitatibus in tribulatione ; Hebrew : in seasons of dis 
tress. The Greek has taken Hebrew, bassarah (distress) as b sarah 
(in distress). 

12. There is a striking parallelism between verses 12-17 an d 
verses 2-7. Studia, all that He does for His people. Jerome has 
cogifationes ejus. 

13. Requirens sanguinem, an avenger of blood (unjustly shed). 
The poor ; Hebrew, either, the oppressed, or, the meek. 

14. Hebrew : The Lord hath been gracious to me ; and hath 
beheld (so, probably) my oppression at the hand of those who hate 

15. He raiseth me up into safety from the gates of death, i.e. 
rescued me when death threatened. God saved the singer from 
death so that he might live to praise his Helper publicly in (the 
gates of) Sion. 

16. In salutari tuo, the help which Thou givest. 

Infixcz, etc. The first picture is suggested by the method of 
trapping big game in pits, into which the wild animals walked 
unawares, and from which they could not climb out. The second 
picture is suggested by the snaring of game. 

Interitus ; Hebrew, pit ; Jerome, fovea. 

To hide snares is a Hebrew expression. 

18. Convertantur, they will be sent back, or they will be given up, 
to Sheol the world of the dead. The Hebrew verb shubh, here 
translated converti, does not necessarily mean to return. It can 
mean, as here, to make for one s own due place. 

19. The enduring hope (expectatio) of the lowly and oppressed 
will not be always disappointed. 

20. God is called upon to come forward, and show His power 
against the overweening self-confidence of men. It is a prayer for 
the protection of Israel against the heathen. 

21. Set a master over them, corresponding to a Hebrew, moreh ; 
Jerome has ten or em, reading Hebrew mora . 

22. Here begins the loth Psalm in the Massoretic text. 

God was formerly ever ready with His help, but now He 
seems to be unwilling to give assistance. He stands afar off, as 
if He did not care. 

Despicis, Thou pretendest not to notice. Hebrew : Thou 
dost hide Thyself. 

In opportunitatibus, etc., cf. v. 10 ; Jerome : in temporibus augustiae. 

23. Dum superbit, because of the pride/ etc. Incenditur : the 


Hebrew suggests the idea of a pursuit of the lowly which brings 
the latter to a fever heat. 

24. Laudatur and benedicitur may be taken here in a medial 
sense. The Hebrew is here uncertain in meaning. 

25. The Hebrew makes the sense clear : in his arrogance (Hebrew, 
the loftiness of his nostrils : appo = his anger and his pride) the 
godless says : He (i.e. God) will make no inquiry [into my affairs]. 
There is no God. , Then the psalmist adds : Such are all his 
thoughts/ " Non quaret " : " Non est Deus " are words of the 
godless. In conspectu ejus is a free rendering of [Such are] all 
his thoughts (or plannings). The denial of God here referred to, 
is not a denial of God s existence, but of God s interest in men s 
doings (Providence). 

26. Dominabitur. Translates a Hebrew verb which means puffing 
out the cheeks. This gesture of contempt he displays to his foes. 

27. Dicer e in corde, think. He is quite confident of permanent 
good fortune. 

28. The labor (toil) and dolor (mischief) are, of course, intended 
for others. 

29. The " divites " are the natural allies of the godless. The 
prophetic literature of Israel contains many references to the op 
pression of the poor at the hands of the aristocracy. The Massoretic 
text does not speak of the " rich " here. It reads : He lies in 
ambush in the villages. The Hebrew words for " villages " and 
" rich," though they are spelled very differently, resemble each 
other somewhat in sound. 

-It is better to read in occultis with interficiat. 

30. His eyes from his hiding-place watch for the approach of his 
victim. He is like a lion watching for prey. In abscondito corre 
sponds to in occultis of the preceding verse. What follows here 
describes the seizing of the prey. Attrahit expresses either the en 
ticing of the victim into the snare set for him, or the actual seizing 
of him. 

31. He pulls the victim down with his noose : then he stoops 
down, preparing, as a lion might, to spring on his prey. It is difficult 
to explain cadet of the oppressor. Did the Latin translator regard it 
as describing a stage in the seizing of his prey by the oppressor ? 
Or, does it describe the careless rest which the lion takes as soon as 
the resistance of his victim has been overcome ? The Hebrew seems 
to take the last clause of the verse as a description of the victim in 
his overthrow : The helpless one falls into his power. 

32. Hebrew : He thinks : " God has forgotten : He hath hidden 
His face : He will never see (it) " (cf. verses 25-26). 

33. It is time for God to show the power of His right hand in the 
protection of the oppressed. 

34. How can God tolerate the policy and theory of the godless ? 

34 THE PSALMS [ 9 

35. This is a contradiction of the practical atheist s view. God 
does see, and will remember. He is interested in the pain and trouble 
of His friends, and will take their case into His hands. Indeed, the 
oppressed have no other hope or solace but God. The orphan is a 
type of the helpless generally. 

36. When the power of the impious is broken he will be able to 
sin no more. 

37. The Lord has taken His seat as King once more. This appears 
from the defeat of the godless, and the protection of the poor and 
helpless. His enemies have vanished from His land, i.e. from the 
soil of Israel (corresponding to the national outlook of Part I of 
poem). The next verse expresses the fulfilment of the prayers of 
Part II of the Psalm. 

38. Prceparatio cordis, what the heart has prepared or proposed, 
i.e. the desires or prayers of the heart. 

39. God is to give fair trial to the lowly and weak, so that His 
enemies, outside Israel and within it, may realise that there is a 
divine rule of the world, and that they are, after all, mere men. 
C/. verse 21. Thus the two parts of the poem are brought into a 
unity by the concluding verse. 



IT is a time of peril. The social order is disturbed, and timid 
friends recommend the singer to fly to the safety of the hills. 
But the psalmist is full of trust in God. However uncertain 
all things on earth may become, the throne of God is fixed 
immovably in heaven, and from it God will deal out justice to the 
world. Mockers and sinners will be duly punished, and the pious 
and just will see the friendship of God, and live in the light of 
God s face. 

Possibly we have here an echo of the troubles which straitened 
Israel in the days of David s wars with the Philistines. Or, the poem 
may reflect the difficulties of David during his persecution by Saul. 
He was often during that time an outcast, hiding, like a frightened 
bird, in the hills. But the stress is here laid on the chaotic condition 
of the State, rather than on the personal perils of a fugitive such as 
David was when he fled from the court of Saul. The general tone 
and style of the psalm strongly remind one of Psalms iii. and iv., and, 
from a literary point of view, the three psalms seem to have had a 
common origin. 

1. In finem, Psalmus David. i. For the choir-leader. A Psalm of David. 

2. In Domino confido : quo- 2. I trust in the Lord : 
modo dicitis animae mese : How can ye say to me : 
Transmigra in montem sicut " Fly like a bird to the mountains " ? 
passer ? 

3. Quoniam ecce peccatores 3. For, see, the sinners have stretched the bow, 
intenderunt arcum, paraverunt And have put their arrows in the quiver > 
sagittas suas in pharetra, ut To shoot in the darkness at the upright 
sagittent inobscuro rectos corde. of heart ! 

4. Quoniam quae perfecisti 4. For what thou didst establish they destroy; 
destruxerunt : Justus autem But the just man what can he do ? 
quid fecit ? 

5. Dominus in templo sancto 5. The Lord is in His holy palace. 

suo, Dominus in caelo sedes The Lord has His throne in heaven 

ejus : His eyes look on the poor ; 

Oculi ejus in pauperem respi- And His eyelids test the children of men. 

ciunt palpebrae ejus interrogant 
filios hominum. 


36 THE PSALMS [10 

6. Dominus interrogat j ustum 6. The Lord testeth the just and the sinner ; 
et impium : qui autem diligit He that loveth wickedness hateth him- 
iniquitatem, odit animam suam. self. 

7. Pluet super peccatores la- 7. He raineth snares down on sinners ; 
queos : ignis, et sulphur, et Fire, and brimstone, and storm-wind 
spiritus procellarum pars calicis are the portion of their cup, 

8. Quoniam Justus Dominus, 8. For the Lord is just, and loveth just deeds 
et justitias dilexit : sequitatem His countenance is turned unto justice, 
vidit vultus ejus. 

2. The speakers seem to be pessimistic friends of the singer (in 
the Latin text). The Hebrew makes them, apparently, speak mock 
ingly : Away to your mountain, small bird ! The forest-clad 
hills would be the natural home and hiding-place of the bird. Passer 
is a name for small birds in general : Hebrew sippor. The hunters 
(i.e. the impious) are getting ready bow and arrow to shoot the 
righteous : the symbol bird, is here replaced by the thing 
symbolised the persecuted just. 

3. Pharetra : Hebrew, string/ 

4. The Hebrew has : If the foundations are destroyed, what can 
the righteous do ? The " foundations " are " quce perfecisti," i.e. 
the laws which thy authority has established. If all that David 
has done to establish law and order is overthrown, what is the 
advantage of his further effort ? This seems to be part of the 
statement of the speakers of verse 2. 

5. This is the confident reply of the psalmist. God is in heaven 
as ruler of the world, and justice must, therefore, in the end prevail. 
God s in His heaven : all s right with the world. 

In templo, in His palace, where also stands His throne heaven. 
While God s throne stands, truth must prevail. 

Palpebrce parallel to oculi. Why the eyelids ? Is it that God 
sees even when His eyes seem to be closed ; or, is it implied that, in 
His close scrutiny, God lowers somewhat His eyelids as a man does 
when he wishes to see an object more closely ? But most likely 
we have here equivalence of eyes and eyelids, as elsewhere, in 
parallelism : Cf. Jer. ix. 17 : That our eyes may run down with 
tears, and our eyelids gush out with waters/ 

6. The Hebrew reads : His (i.e. God s) soul hates him who loveth 
sin/ It is, of course, true also that a man who loves sin hat es his 
own soul. 

7. Laqueos : to ensnare the wicked. But the Hebrew ought, 
perhaps, to be translated glowing coals/ This would fit in better 
with the fire and brimstone and burning wind, or storm-wind, which 
follow. Cf. the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. 
The destruction of the impious will be like the overthrow of the 
Cities of the Plain. 


The " pars calicis " refers to the Hebrew custom according to 
which the head of the house presiding at table poured out for each 
member of the family his due portion of wine into his cup. 

8. The Latin makes the countenance of the Lord look on deeds 
of justice. The Hebrew says that the upright shall see His (God s) 
face/ The vision of God s face is a symbol of blessedness. The 
Greek and Targum texts seem to have substituted for the Hebrew 
text the more reverential statement that God will look on the just. 



THE time is one of social chaos. Pride, treachery, and deceit 
dominate society, and the pious are smarting under oppression. 
The psalmist prays for the destruction of his boastful and 
insolent foes. He remembers that the Lord has promised 
to come forward to help the righteous ; and, full of confidence in 
God s word, which is pure, like silver many times refined, he calmly 
awaits the divine protection against the existing generation of his 
foes even though, for the moment, godlessness is permitted to 

If we are to find a time for this poem in the life of David, it must 
be during his days of peril in the court of Saul. There he was sur 
rounded by intrigue, and exposed to the malignant envy of his less 
successful comrades. The abundance of malice and intrigue which 
David saw in the little court of Saul, may have embittered him for 
a while against the pettiness of men generally, and called forth the 
complaints of this poem. But there is nothing definite in the psalm, 
besides the title, to attach it to David. 

i. In finem pro octava, i. For the choir-leader; according to the 
Psalmus David. octave ; a psalm of David. 

2. Salvum me fac, Domine 
quoniam defecit sanctus : quo- 
niam diminutae sunt veritates 
a filiis hominum. 

3. Vana locuti sunt unusquis- 
que ad proximum suum : labia 
dolosa, in corde et corde locuti 

2. Rescue me, O Lord, for the pious doth fail, 

For vanished is faithfulness from among 
the children of men. 

3. Lying things the one speaketh against the 

other ; 

They speak with deceiving lips and 
double hearts. 

4. Disperdat Dominus uni- 
versa labia dolosa, et linguam 

5. Qui dixerunt : Linguam 
nostram magnincabimus, labia 
nostra a nobis sunt, quis noster 
Dominus est ? 

4. May the Lord destroy all deceitful lips 

And every boasting tongue 

5. (Of those) who say : " We shall show forth 

the power of our tongue ; 
Our lips depend on us alone. Who is 
our master ? " 

6. Propter miseriam inopum, 
et gemitum pauperum, nunc ex- 
surgam, dicit Dominus. 

Ponam in salutari : fiducia- 
liter agam in eo. 

6. Because of the wretchedness of the help 
less and the sighs of the poor 
I will now arise/ saith the Lord, 
I will put them in safety ; 
I will act decisively therein. 



7. Eloquia Domini, eloquia 7. The words of the Lord are words sincere ; 
casta : argentum igne exami- (They are) silver tried in fire, current in 
natum, probatum terrse purga- the land, seven times refined. 

turn septuplum. 

8. Tu Domine servabis nos : 8. Thou, O Lord, wilt guard us, 

et custodies nos a generatione And wilt protect us for ever from this 

hac in aeternum. generation 

9. In circuitu impii ambu- 9. The godless come and go around (us) ; 
lant : secundum altitudinem According to Thine own greatness Thou 
tuam multiplicasti filios homi- dost make the children of men to 
num. < increase. 

1. Pro octava, cf. Ps. vi. I. 

2. Salvum me fac : Hebrew, Give help, O Yahweh ! 
Deficit, fail, disappear. 

Diminutcz sunt veritates ; no fidelity or constancy is left. Filii 
hominum, men. 

3. Corde et corde is the dipsuchos of James i. 8 a double heart, 
i.e. an insincere heart. 

5. Understand [eorum] qui, etc. Linguam nostram magnificabimus, 
we shall speak in a boasting, insolent fashion. 

Labia nostra a nobis, etc., are with us, on our side. We can use 
them as we please. We are not compelled to use our lips to pay 
homage to any lord. It is a proud expression of independence 
possibly against the King, possibly against David. 

6. The words in this verse are spoken by God. 
Ponam insalutari, I will set them in safety/ 

Fiducialiter agam in eo if spoken by God, must mean, I 
will boldly act on behalf of the oppressed ; I will show them 
the full power of my protection. If the words are taken as 
spoken by the psalmist, they are the beginning of his profession 
of confidence in the word of the Lord which is contained in 
verse 7. In this second view the phrase will mean : I will 
put full trust in Him (i.e. God), or, in His words/ The 
Hebrew is difficult and obscure, but it clearly takes the whole 
verse 6 as spoken by the Lord. 

7. The word of the Lord. His promise of help, is altogether trust 
worthy ; it is completely genuine, and fully meant. 

Probatum terra is often taken as, approved upon earth/ current/ 
(regarded as genuine) among men/ The reference is immediately 
to the silver. Jerome translates : separatum a terra, i.e. cleared of 
all dross. The Hebrew is obscure. 

8. Generatio may be taken here as the present evil generation 
(so in translation above), or as the present time from now and 
for ever. 

9. The impious are free to go and come, and plan, and execute 
their intrigues. The Latin text seems to imply that, in spite of the 


freedom and success of the godless, God causes the children of men 
the pious, to abound. The Hebrew text is here obscure ; it seems to 
refer only to the godless. Jerome s translation cum exaltati fuerint 
vilissimi filiorum hominum, does not help us greatly. It is a strange 
thing to find a psalm ending on a note of failure or despondency. 
We may conjecture, therefore, that the text in the final verse has 
suffered serious corruption. 




THERE are three stages in the poem. In the first (verses 1-3) 
the psalmist complains of the grief and care in which he is 

forced to live because God s face is turned away from him. 

In the second stage (4-5) he prays earnestly for help lest 
he die, and his death be taken by his foes as a token of his Lord s 
indifference or weakness. In the final section (6) he expresses his 
complete confidence in the certainty of help, and his song of 
complaint passes into a hymn of thanksgiving. 

Those who accept the ascription of this poem to David, assign it 
to a somewhat later period in the royal singer s life than Psalm x. It 
suggests a more thoroughgoing persecution of the psalmist than does 
Psalm x. If it describes, as many think, the anxieties and troubles 
of David pursued by Saul, it belongs to the last and most troublesome 
period of Saul s campaign against David, when the latter was com 
pelled to take refuge with his former foes, the Philistines. 

i. In finem, Psalmus David. i. For the choir-leader. A psalm of David. 

Usquequo Domine oblivisce- 
ris me in finem ? Usquequo 
avertis faciem tuam a me ? 

2. Quamdiu ponam consilia 
in anima mea, dolorem in corde 
meo per diem ? 

3. Usquequo exaltabitur ini- 
micus meus super me ? 

4. Respice, et exaudi me Do- 
mine Deus meus. 

Illumina oculos meos ne um- 
quam obdormiam in morte : 

5. Nequando dicat inimicus 
meus : Praevalui ad versus eum. 

Qui tribulant me, exsultabunt 
si motus fuero : 

How long, O Lord, wilt Thou thus com 
pletely forget me ? 

How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from 
me ? 

2. How long must I carry care in my soul ; 

And grief in my heart the live-long day ? 

3. How long shall my foe triumph over me ? 

4. Look on me, and hear me, O Lord my 

God ! 

Make my eyes to shine lest I fall asleep 
in death ; 

5. Lest my foe should ever say : I have 

mastered him ; 

(Lest) my enemies rejoice when I 

6. Ego autem in misericordia 
tua speravi. 

Exsultabit cor meum in salu- 
tari tuo : cantabo Domino qui 
bona tribuit mihi : et psallam 
nomini Domini altissimi. 

6. But I hold firm my trust in Thy kindness : 
My heart will rejoice because of Thy 

help : 
I will sing unto the Lord who hath dealt 

kindly with me ; 

And I will hymn the name of the Lord, 
the Most High. 

42 THE PSALMS [12 

1. Usquequo : the How long ! four times repeated in the first 
section, shows the intensity of the psalmist s feeling. God seems to 
have forgotten him completely (in finem). 

2. Consilia. The Hebrew text suggests anxious ponderings and 
plannings as to means of escape from perils that threaten. How long 
must he go on anxiously devising plans against this trouble ? 

Dolorem is governed by ponam. Per diem seems here to mean 
continually. Some Greek texts add : and night/ 

4. His eyes are dimmed and almost broken with grief. He prays 
the Lord to give them back their natural lustre, lest he " sleep the 
sleep of death," and thus give gladness to his enemies. The enemies 
will take the psalmist s failure as a proof of the helplessness of his 
God. That must not be. 

6. Notice how the mere voicing of his sorrow and trouble in 
prayer brings comfort, and the full confidence that help and rescue 
are at hand. 




THE psalmist looks back on a time not long past when blasphemy, 
religious indifference, and injustice prevailed (1-3) ; he re 
joices that folly has met with its deserts, and that the impious 
have received their reward, and that their schemings against 
the righteous have turned back upon themselves (4-6). He ends 
with a prayer that the Lord may deign quickly to change the lot of 
Israel, and so give the nation reason to rejoice. 

The occasion of the psalm cannot be determined. It is clearly 
implied that God has strikingly intervened to punish the godless 
enemies of the psalmist, but we have no means of explaining the 
implication. The poem appears again as Psalm lii, with the title 
Pro maeleth intelligent^ David, i.e. (perhaps) To the tune of 
Mahalath^), a maskil of David/ The second recension of the poem 
is in the so-called Elohistic spirit : it substitutes Elohim for Yahweh. 1 
The concluding verse of Ps. xiii may, perhaps, refer to the Babylonian 
captivity. Obviously David could not have spoken of events which 
occurred four hundred years after his time except as a prophet. If 
the last verse refers to the Babylonian captivity, and if David is the 
author of the whole poem, we can look on the picture presented in 
the psalm as due to the moralisings of David on times to come, and 
as unconnected, therefore, with any definite incident in his own 
career. It is to be noted, however, that " avertere captivitatem " may, 
according to the Hebrew, simply mean change the lot/ or condition, 
without reference to an exile. Further, it is possible that the last 
verse is a liturgical addition to the psalm appended in the Exilic 

i. In finem, Psalmus David. i. For the choir-leader. A psalm of David. 

Dixit insipiens in corde suo : The fool hath said in his heart : 

Non est Deus. " There is no God." 

Cornipti sunt, et abomina- They are perverted and hateful because of 

biles facti sunt in studiis suis : their deeds. 

non est qui faciat bonum, non There is none that doth good not even 

est usque ad unum. one ! 

1 Psalm lii. calls itself a Maskil of David (" I nielli gentia David," Vulg.) 
The word Maskil seems to indicate either a didactic poem, or a poem con 
structed accurately according to received metrical principles. For meaning of 
Maskil, see Psalm xli. 





2. Dominus de caelo prosperit 2. 
super filios hominum, ut videat 

si est intelligens, aut requirens 

3. Omnes declinaverunt, si- 3. 
mul inutiles facti sunt : non est 

qui facial bonum, non est usque 
ad unum. 

The Lord looketh down from heaven 

On the children of men, 
To see if there is one that understandeth, 

Or one that inquireth after God. 
All have gone astray, all have become 


There is none that doth good no, not 
even one ! 

Sepulchrum patens est guttur 
eorum : linguis suis dolose age- 
bant, venenum aspidum sub 
labiis eorum. 

Quorum os maledictione et 
amaritudine plenum est : ve- 
loces pedes eorum ad effunden- 
dum sanguinem. 

Contritio et infelicitas in viis 
eorum, et viam pacis non cog- 
noverunt : non est timor Dei 
ante oculos eorum. 

[Their heart is an open grave. With their 
tongues they deal deceitfully. The poison 
of adders is beneath their lips. Their mouth 
is full of malediction and taunting. Their 
feet rush on to deeds of bloodshed. Destruc 
tion and wretchedness are on their paths and 
the way of peace they know not ; there is 
no fear of God before their eyes.] 

4. Nonne cognoscent omnes 
qui operantur iniquitatem, qui 
devorant plebem meam sicut 
escam panis ? 

5. Dominum non invocave- 
runt, illic trepidaverunt timore, 
ubi non erat timor. 

6. Quoniam Dominus in gene- 
ratione justa est, consilium ino- 
pis confudistis : quoniam Do 
minus spes ejus est. 

4. Have not all evil-doers experienced it(?) 

They who did evil, who devoured my 
people like a meal(?) of bread ; 

5. They who called not on the Lord ! 

Then did they tremble with terror even 
where there was no (real) cause for fear, 

6. For the Lord is with the generation that 

is upright. 

Ye are brought to shame through intrigu 
ing against the helpless ; 
For the Lord is his hope. 

7. Quis dabit ex Sion salutare 
Israel ? cum averterit Dominus 
captivitatem plebis suae, exsulta- 
bit Jacob, et laetabitur Israel. 

O that rescue for Israel were come from 

Siori ! 

When the Lord bringeth back the cap 
tives of His people, 
Jacob will be glad, and Israel will rejoice. 

i. The insipiens is the fool the ndbhal of the Hebrew. Folly 
the attitude of the ndbhal t included ingratitude to God, and open 
immorality. The fool does not deny God s existence : he denies 
only divine rule or Providence. The Targum version puts the thought 
well : There is no rule of God on earth/ There were no theoretical 
atheists in Israel. The fool was the man who thought that God 
does not care. Cf. Ps. ix. 34 ; Sophonias i. 12. 

Dicere in corde=ihii\k. Cf. ix. 28. 

In studiis suis appears in Ps. lii. as in iniquitatibus. The " studia " 
include both schemes, and the actions by which men put them in 
practice. Not even one is added by the Greek text ; it is not in 
the Hebrew. 

i 3 ] THE FOOLS 45 

2. God leans out from His throne in heaven to look for a " maskil, 
an intelligens, the antithesis of the fool, among men. The quaerens 
Deum, the one that seeketh for God, the man that puts God before 
him in his life, is the same as the " intelligens." Possibly Ps. lii. is 
called a " maskil " because the poem deals with the madness of 
" folly," and the praise of prudence. 

3. There is no maskil among men. They have all gone aside 
from God ; the<y have become " insipid " (Hebrew) : they are 
" inutiles " because their evil life brings no profit or credit to their 
God. Not even one is an integral part of the text here. 

Sepulchrum patens, etc., to the end of verse 3, has been inserted 
here from the Epistle to the Romans, iii. 13-18. The Pauline text 
in question consists itself mainly of psalm passages. 

Sepulchrum patens ; cf. Ps. v. 10. 

Venenum aspidum ; cf. Ps. cxxxix. 4. 

Quorum os ; cf. Ps. ix. 28. Veloces pedes ; cf. Is. lix. jf. Non 
est timor ; cf. Ps. xxxv. 2. 

The passage from the Romans seems to have found its way into 
the text through the carelessness of some copyist ; or, possibly, 
its insertion is due to the fact that St. Paul s texts depict so fully 
the character of the fool. The insertion is absent from Ps. lii. 

4. Nonne cognoscent, etc., They have sinned ; have they not 
also realised the folly of their sin when its consequences have 
appeared ? 

Esca panis, a meal, or a piece of bread. Ps. lii. reads, ut cibum panis. 
The phrase may be taken simply as who devour my people like 
bread/ (The Hebrew has been explained as meaning : They eat the 
bread of the Lord though they did not call on His name. ) 

5. Connect with preceding qui Dominum non invocaverunt. 

Illic trepidaverunt, etc. may mean that they were suddenly over 
taken by God s vengeance when they had no special reason for ex 
pecting it. It has been taken also as meaning that the impious 
had reason to fear when the godly had none. The psalmist seems to 
refer to some definite event which we have no means of ascertaining. 
Ubi non erat timor is wanting here in Hebrew, but it is found in 
Hebrew of Ps. lii. 

6. The ground of their fear was quoniam Dominus in generatione 
justa est, i.e. that there is indeed a God who cares for His 
elect, and protects them against their oppressors. The event 
referred to in verse 5 was such as to bring home this truth to 
the fools. 

Consilium inopis, etc. If this must be translated as it stands, 
it can only mean : the plan (i.e. the determination to seek after 
God) of the just (or " lowly "), you seek (or, have sought) to frustrate/ 
An easy change in the Hebrew would admit of the translation : con- 
silio inopis confusi sunt, i.e. through the plan which they devised 

46 THE PSALMS [13 

against the lowly they (the " fools ") were brought to shame. Their 
cruel designs were defeated by the intervention of the Lord. 

7. Quis dabit is the usual Hebrew manner of expressing an earnest 
wish : O that help might come from Sion ! 

Averterit captivitatem seems to mean in the Hebrew : when the 
Lord shall change the lot of His people. The whole verse is a wish 
for the re-establishment of the nation after some time of trial or 



THE psalmist puts before us here the ideal of a pious Israelite. 
He dramatises his thought in Hebrew fashion, and brings 
an Israelite, or a procession of Israelites, to the entrance of 
the Temple (or Tabernacle) to ask of those who keep watch 
there (the Priests), what he must be, and do, who will enter into God s 
House, and there abide. The guardians of the Sanctuary answer 
that a true domesticus Dei must be honest, straightforward with him 
self and others, careful of his fellows good repute, trustworthy, averse 
to all ill-gotten gain and bribery. He that answers to this 
description can never fail, or be confounded. 

The psalm seems to be quoted in Isaias xxxiii. 13-16, and must, 
therefore, be at least older than the Isaian period. There is nothing 
in the psalm which excludes the Davidic authorship claimed by its 
title. When commentators infer from the absence of all reference 
to sacrifice and cult-ceremonial in the picture of the perfect Israelite, 
that the psalm must belong to a very late period, they forget that the 
psalmist is writing about the qualities which permit a man to join 
the household of God, and not about the actions to be performed 
by him when he is within the household. 

1. Psalmus David. i. A psalm of David. 

(Visitor to Temple). 

Domine quis habitabit in O Lord, who will dwell in Thy tent ? 

tabernaculo tuo ? ant quis re- And who will abide on Thy Holy 

quiescet in monte sancto tuo ? Mountain ? 


2. Qui ingreditur sine macula, 2. He that walketh without stain, and 
et opera tur justitiam : practise th justice ; 

3. Qui loquitur veritatem in 3. Who thinketh truth in his heart ; 

corde suo, qui non egit dolum in Who accomplisheth no deceit with his 

lingua sua : tongue ; 

Nee fecit proximo suo malum, Who doth no evil to his neighbour, 

et opprobrium non accepit ad- And permitteth no slandering of his 

versus proximos suos. fellow-men ; 

4. Ad nihilum deductus est in 4. By whom the malicious is treated with 
conspectu ejus malignus : ti- (due) contempt ; 

mentes autem Dominum glori- Who praiseth those that fear the Lord, 

neat : Who sweareth to his neighbour, and de- 

Qui jurat proximo suo, et ceiveth him not : 
non decipit, 


48 THE PSALMS [14 

5. Qui pecuniam suam non 5. Who giveth not his gold for usury, 
dedit ad usuram, et munera And taketh not bribes against the 

super innocentem non accepit. guiltless : 

Qui facit hsec, non movebitur 

in seternum. Whoso acteth thus shall not fail for 


1. It has been conjectured on the basis of this psalm and of Ps. xxiii. 
3-5 and Is. xxxiii. 14-16, that it was customary for the priests guard 
ing the Temple gateways to warn those entering the Temple that only 
the pure and upright were entitled to enter. Here the visitor to 
the Temple, or the procession which approaches the Temple (or Tent), 
asks the question with which the Psalm begins. Possibly a form of 
song like this psalm was chanted whenever processions advanced 
towards the Temple on the feast days. The priests from within the 
Temple recite or chant the answer which is here given, verses 2 ff. 
What was true of the Temple may have been true, also, of the 
Tabernacle (verse 2) of David s time. 

2. The answer of the priests reminds the people of what the 
holiness of God s House requires of them. In verse 2 the uprightness 
of external action is emphasised. 

3. This is the uprightness of a man whose heart is right, and 
who is honest with himself and others ; he will not do evil, nor listen 
to slander against his neighbour. 

4. He will despise the malignus the godless, the antithesis of 
those " who fear God." 

Qui jurat, etc. The Latin would suggest an oath to do his fellow 
a service, from which the true Israelite would not withdraw. The 
Hebrew is different : If he swears to inflict evil, he deceiveth not. 
The reference seems to be to Lev. v. 4 : If a man swear he must ac 
complish his oath. 

5. Is this an absolute prohibition of usury ? Usury against 
Israelites, but not usury against foreigners, was prohibited in the 
Law. The conclusion we should expect would be : He that doth 
these things may hope to be the Lord s guest. But the priestly 
speakers naturally conclude with a blessing. 




THE psalmist has found in the Lord his true happiness, for 
the Lord gives peace to His faithful ones in Israel. From 
idol-worship and its abominations he turns to the Lord, 
who alone is his allotted possession. He gives thanks for 
the prosperity of his lot, and is sure that in the protection of the Lord 
he can, at all times, despise all peril. The Lord will not suffer His 
loyal friends to fail ; at the end He will give them the fulness of joy 
in the vision of Himself. 

This poem seems to point to a time when many Israelites had 
begun to practise various forms of heathen worship. Indeed, it 
would almost seem as if the " Sancti " the loyal servants of the 
Lord, were few as compared with those who ran after strange gods. 
It is difficult to find a suitable occasion for such a poem in the life of. 
David. But David could have composed it in his character as prophet, 
and perhaps, in his role as type of the Messias. The New Testament 
(Acts ii. 22-31 ; xiii. 35) takes the psalm as descriptive of the Messias, 
or rather, as composed by the Messias through the mouth of David, 
Modem critical writers are inclined to take the poem as a song of the 
Exilic period, during which many of the exiles in Babylon fell 
away from the worship of Yahweh. The psalm is of great religious 
importance, implying, as it does, a hope of a blessed immortality to 
be attained in the vision of God. 

r. Tituli inscriptio ipsi David. i. A monumental poem of David. 

Conserva me Domine, quo- Guard me, O Lord, for in Thee I put my 

niam speravi in te. trust ! 

2. Dixi Domino : Deus meus 2. I say to the Lord : My God art Thou ! 
es tu, quoniam bonorum meo- For Thou hast no need of my posses- 
rum non eges. sions. 

3. Sanctis, qui sunt in terra 3. As for the pious ones who dwell in His 
ejus, mirincavit omnes volun- land 

tates meas in eis. He hath wondrously accomplished all 

that which I did wish for them. 

4. Multiplicatae sunt infirmi- 4. Many are the woes of them that run after 
tates eorum : postea accelerave- them (i.e., strange gods), 

runt. I will not call together their gatherings 

Non congregabo conventicula because of (their) libations of blood, 

eorum de sanguinibus, nee me- I will not take their name upon my lips, 

mor ero nominum eorum per 
labia mea. 

4 49 



5. Dominus pars hacreditatis 
meae, et calicis mei : tu es, qui 
restitues haereditatem meam 

5. The Lord is my allotted possession, and 

the portion of my cup : 
It is Thou that givest to me my in 

6. Funes ceciderunt mihi in 
prasclaris : etenim haereditas 
mea praeclara est mihi. 

7. Benedicam Dominum, qui 
tribuit mihi intellectum : in- 
super et usque ad noctem 
increpuerunt me renes mei. 

6. The measuring lines have fallen for me 

in pleasant places ; 

And my possession is beautiful in my 

7. I bless the Lord who hath given me in 

sight : 

Even unto the night my reins do exhort 

8. Providebam Dominum in 
conspectu meo semper : quo- 
niam a dextris est mihi, ne 

9. Propter hoc laetatum est 
cor meum, et exsultavit lingua 
mea : insuper et caro mea 
requiescet in spe. 

10. Quoniam non derelinques 
animam meam in inferno : nee 
dabis sanctum tuum videre cor- 

Notas mihi fecisti vias vitae, 
adimplebis me laetitia cum vultu 
tuo : delectationes in dextera 
tua usque in finem. 

8. I see the Lord at all times by me ; 

For He is at my right hand that I may 
not waver. 

9. Hence my heart is glad, and my tongue 

And my flesh doth dwell in security. 

10. For Thou wilt not abandon me to the 

underworld ; 
Nor wilt Thou permit Thy faithful 

worshipper to see destruction. 
Thou wilt show me the way of life ; 
Thou wilt fill me with joy through the 

vision of Thee. 
Delights are in Thy right hand for ever. 

1. The Latin title, Tituli inscriptio, is not more or less clear than 
the Hebrew Mikhtam. Tituli inscriptio translates the Greek stelo- 
graphia, i.e. an inscription on a pillar. The word titulus would by 
itself, perhaps, express this idea of a conspicuous inscription ; in 
scriptio makes this sense of titulus more obvious. The two words 
might be translated, an inscribed (or engraved) text/ The name of 
the psalm suggests, perhaps, its abiding worth. Containing prophecy 
and unusually deep theology it deserved to be carved, like a royal 
inscription, on a stela. The Hebrew Mikhtam cannot be explained. 
Jerome has " Humilis et simplicis " as if mikhtam were really two words, 
makh= lowly, and tam= perfect. 

2. Thou dost not need them, for Thou hast them already. But 
the Hebrew seems to mean : I have no good thing that goes beyond 
Thee/ i.e. Thou art my chief est good/ Jerome translates: Bene 
mihi non est sine te. 

3. The Latin here differs from the Greek, the latter being some 
what closer to the Hebrew. The Latin speaks of the Lord as fulfilling 
wondrously (mirificare) his (the psalmist s) own wishes towards the 
pious of Israel. The Greek says that God carried out wondrously 
His own kind designs for the pious ones. As in the early Christian 
period the faithful were called " Sancti," so, in the psalms, the loyal 
friends of the Law often get this title. 


4. This text describes the lot of those who have gone aside from 
the worship of the Lord. Their troubles have increased because they 
have run after stranger gods (post ea, i.e. idold). The Hebrew puts 
the thought clearly : Many are the woes of those who run after 
Another (i.e. another god). The psalmist goes on to say that he 
will have nothing to do with their false worship. He will not summon 
(or, poss bly, join ) their cult-gatherings because of the deeds of 
blood done by the idolaters, or, perhaps, because of the bloody offerings 
(such, possibly, as human sacrifices) which are presented by the 
idolaters to their divinities. He will not even so much as mention 
the names of the apostates. It is possible, however, to take de san- 
guinibus directly with conventicula, and understand the combination 
to mean conventicula cruenta, i.e. assemblies at which libations of 
blood were poured : so in Hebrew : I will not pour their libations 
of blood. Here also there may be suggested the idea of human 
sacrifices, and libations of human blood. 

5. In contrast with the idolaters, the psalmist looks on the Lord 
as his sole ponion and possession. As the Hebrew paterfamilias 
poured into the cup of each guest at table the portion appointed to 
each one, so has the Lord been apportioned to the psalmist. The 
Lord is also the peculiar possession, the special portion, as it were, 
of a farm left by will, which has been assigned to the poet. The 
renegade Israelites serve foreign gods ; the Lord is the possession of 
the faithful. The picture of the cup may have been suggested here 
by the libations of blood in the preceding verse. The Lord is, in a 
sense, the well-filled cup of Israel. 

Restitues, establish so that it cannot be interfered with. 

6. The thought of an inheritance suggests the idea of the measur 
ing out of portions of land. For the measuring, measuring-ropes were 
needed ; the portion which the measuring-lines of the psalmist have 
enclosed is pleasant. In prceclaris for in pr cedar a : funis (or funiculm), 
is equated by metonymy with the space measured. Cf. Ps. civ. n : 
Funiculum hcereditatis vestrce, the inheritance measured out to you. 
The pleasant inheritance may be the land of Chanaan. 

7. The reins are often regarded as the seat of perception. The 
Lord has advised the psalmist as to the path he should follow. The 
path has led to success, and so the singer thanks the Lord. Usque 
ad noctem, even in the night. God s inspiration was at all times 

8. He has determined to keep the Lord before his eyes. When 
the Lord stands at his right hand, he has no fear of any danger. 

9. His mind and body (caro mea) are in perfect security. He is 
untroubled in mind, and secure from bodily peril. 

10. The ground o his hope and* confidence is that the Lord will 
not give up to destruction His faithful worshipper. Infermis and 
corruptio are made equivalent by the parallelism. Infernus is the 

5 2 THE PSALMS [15 

Hebrew Sheol, the dwelling-place of the dead. The idea is that God 
will not permit His loyal friends (a possible reading of Hebrew would 
give here the plural, sanclos) to see death a lasting destruction. It 
is clear that this hope in the full sense, was not realised in any one 
but Christ, so that the New Testament reference of this passage to 
Our Lord is fully justified (Acts ii. 24-32 ; xiii. 34-37). But, on the 
other hand, in a wider sense, as implying the continuance of the 
higher life of the spirit and, therefore, the immortality of the soul, 
it has a general application. 

ii. The hope of an immortality in the light of God s face seems 
to be here also implied. God has taught the psalmist the genuine 
path to life the life which will be spent with God Himself. Cum 
vultu tuo, by Thy countenance/ i.e. by the vision of Thy face. 
The Hebrew says : Fulness of joys is with (i.e. united with) thy 
face (=presence) ; or, possibly, Fulness of joys is before Thy 
face. Jerome has, plenitudinem Icetitiarum ante vultum tuum. The 
Lord holds delights ever (usque in finem) ready in His right hand, to 
distribute them to His friends. 



THE poem contains three petitions. In the first (verses 1-5) 
the psalmist begs of God to give him justice and help against 
his foes. His cause is just : he is free from all guilt ; his 
mind is pure, and his life has been directed by the Law. 
In a second prayer (6-12) he again begs for help from the Lord, and 
describes the cruel enemy who is threatening him. The third appeal 
(13-15) is for the destruction of the enemy. Even though the godless 
seem to prevail for a while, in the end justice will triumph, and the 
light of God s face will shine on those who are now oppressed. 

The psalmist s attitude of complaint, the description of his enemies, 
his insistence on his own blamelessness, his prayer for a very special 
divine assistance, point to a time of great peril arising from the menace 
of powerful foes. The only period of David s career in which he 
found himself in such a position, was during the persecution of Saul. 
The poem is certainly descriptive of an individual, not of a com 
munity. The text of the psalm is in a comparatively poor condition, 
and we thus fail to get as much light from it about its origin as, at 
first sight, it seems to give. For many modern critics this psalm 
suggests the social and religious background of the late post-Exilic 
period. The psalm is, like the preceding, of very great religious 
value, since it implies, if it does not clearly state, the doctrine of 

i. Oratio David. 

Exaudi Domine justitiam me- 
am : intende deprecationem 

Auribus percipe orationem 
meam, non in labiis dolosis. 

2. De vultu tuo judicium 
meum prodeat : oculi tui vi- 
deant aequitates. 

3. Probasti cor meum, et 
visitasti node : igne me exa- 
minasti, et non est inventa in 
me iniquitas. 

4. Ut non loquatur os meum 
opera hominum : propter verba 
labiorum tuorum ego custodivi 
vias duras. 

1 . A prayer of David. 

Hear, O Lord, my just plea : give heed to 

my petition ! 

Give ear to my prayer which springs 
not from treacherous lips ! 

2. Let the judgment on me go forth from 

Let Thine eyes look on justice ! 

3. Thou hast tested my heart and searched 

it, even in the night : 
With fire Thou didst test me ; 
But sin was not found in me. 

4. That my mouth may not speak of the 

works of men, 

I keep myself from ways of evil because 
of the words of Thy lips. 





5. Perfice gressus meos in 
semitis tuis : ut non moveantur 
vestigia mea. 

5. Make firm my steps on Thy paths. 

So that my feet may not be made to 

6. Ego clamavi, quoniam ex- 
audisti me Deus : inclina aurem 
tuam mihi, et exaudi verba mea. 

7. Mirifica misericordias tuas, 
qui salvos facis sperantes in te. 

8. A resistentibus dexterae 
custodi me, ut pupillam oculi. 

Sub umbra alarum tuarum 
protege me : 

9. A facie impiorum qui me 

Inimici mei animam meam 

10. Adipem suum concluse- 
runt : os eorum locutum est 

11. Projicientes me nunc cir 
cumdederunt me : oculos suos 
statuerunt declinare in terram. 

12. Susceperunt me sicut leo 
paratus ad praedam : et sicut 
catulus leonis habitans in abditis. 

6. I call on Thee, for Thou hearest me, O 


Bend Thine ear to me and hear my 

7. Show wonderfully Thy kindness 

Thou who rescuest those that trust in 

8. Guard me as the apple of Thine eye from 

those who would resist Thy right 
hand : 

Under the shadow of Thy wings pro 
tect me, 

9. From the evil ones who attack me. 

My enemies encompass me. 

10. They shut up their unfeeling heart ; 

Their mouth speaketh proud things. 

11. They cast me down and encompass me : 

They set their mind to (my) overthrow. 

12. They seize me like a lion ready for (his) 


And like a young lion that lurks in 
(his) lair. 

13. Exsurge Domine, praeveni 
eum, et supplanta eum : eripe 
animam meam ab impio, fra- 
meam tuam ab inimicis manus 

14. Domine a paucis de terra 
divide eos in vita eorum : de 
absconditis tuis adimpletus est 
venter eorum. 

Saturati sunt filiis : et di- 
miserunt reliquias suas parvulis 

13. Up, O Lord, forestall him ! 

And cast him to earth : rescue me from 
the godless, [rescue me by] Thy 

14. From the foes of Thy power, O Lord 

The men of the world ; 

Requite them even while they live. 

Their longing is sated with Thy stored 

up (anger). 

They are abundantly sated with chastise 
ment in their children ; 

And they leave their inheritance (of 
affliction) to their children. 

15. Ego autem in justitia ap- 
parebo conspectui tuo : satia- 
bor cum apparuerit gloria tua. 

15. But I shall appear in justice before Thee : 
I shall be sated when Thy glory reveals 

1. Justitiam meam : meam has nothing corresponding in Hebrew. 
Justitia is just cause. Intende, i.e. intende animum deprecationi. 
Deprecatio seems to be used here in the sense of precatio. 

Non in labiis is a relative clause, which is not from/ etc., 
Hebrew, from lips free from guile." 

2. De vultu tuo, from before Thee/ from out Thy presence/ 


Judicium meum is the verdict or sentence on me. The psalmist 
appeals to God to judge his case, and give decision. He has no fear 
of the result. Let Thine eyes/ he adds, look with justice on the 
case. The cequitates are the compelling merits of his case ; and if 
God looks on them, His eyes will see justly or fairly. 

3. God knows exactly how the psalmist stands : He has tested 
his heart, even at times when the psalmist did not look for God s 
testing, and He r^as found no trace of malice in him. 

4. In the Vulgate the main verb is custodivi, I have kept myself 
from cruel ways (vias duras) : I have watched evil ways, so as to 
avoid them ; and so as not to speak of the evil works of men. This 
I have done because of Thy commands (verba labiorum tuorum). But 
the structure of the text is here very obscure. The vice dura are more 
usually understood as ways of austerity, and custodivi in the usual 
meaning of observing faithfully. The Hebrew is quite different 
here from Vulgate ; but the translation given of the Vulgate above 
puts the two texts in the closest relation that can be devised for 
texts so unlike. 

5. Perfice ; cf. perfecisti laudem, Ps. viii. 3 : establish, make 
firm. Jerome has sustenta. The " gressus " include the whole 
conduct of life. Vestigia, feet, rather than foot-prints. The foot 
prints would, of course, show whither the feet had strayed. In 
Hebrew parallelism gressus and vestigia are practically equivalents. 
Moveri, waver, vacillate. There must be no hesitation in moral 
and religious action. 

6. He calls on God again, because he is sure of a hearing. Inclina, 
etc. : notice the repetition of the invocation of verse i. 

7. Mirifica, show forth wondrously ! He asks God to give him 
a striking proof of His graciousness (misericordia) , as He has often 
done for those who seek refuge (so, Hebrew) in Him. 

8. The right hand is the power or authority of God. Against 
the adversaries of that authority the psalmist prays for help. God 
must guard him as a man would guard the pupil of his eye. 

The shade of God s wings reminds one of the picture in Matt, xxiii. 
37. Cf. Exod. xix. 4 ; Ruth ii. 12. 

9. A facie connect with preceding ; Protect me from the 
godless who surround me and harass me. Animam meam=me. 

10. Adipem conduserunt, they have shut up their fat heart/ 
i.e., they have entrenched themselves in callousness. 

Superbiam, haughtily ; Cf. loqui mendacium (Ps. v. 6) ; loqui 
sapientiam (xlviii. 4), and other similar expressions, in which the 
Vulgate uses the abstract noun instead of an adverb. 

11. The Vulgate here is difficult, and the Hebrew makes difficulties 
also. The translation given above takes projicientes me as, casting 
me down to earth. Having overthrown their victim, the enemies 
stand around him threateningly. The phrase oculos suos, etc., means, 

56 THE PSALMS [16 

according to Hebrew, they watch eagerly for a suitable chance to 
cast me headlong. 

12. The enemy compared, as often, to a beast of prey. The Vulgate 
differs somewhat from the Greek here. The Greek has : They 
thought of me as a lion thinks of its prey ; Hebrew : They are 
like the lion that longs for prey, and the young lion that lurks in 
the lair. 

13. This is the third appeal. 

Prcevenire, go to meet him/ with the implied sense, forestall 
him. Supplanta, overthrow. 
Animam meant, my life. 

14. The interpretation of this verse is a somewhat hopeless task. 
Frameam tuam of verse 13 apparently should be read with both 
verses. Snatch (eripe) Thy sword from the foes of Thy power. 
But how can the sword of the Lord be thought of as in the hands of 
His foes ? The thought is, possibly, that the godless enemies of th<> 
psalmist have been used by the Lord as the sword of His chastisement 
against the psalmist. Now the psalmist would ask that the godless 
be no longer thus employed (cf. Bel]armine in loc.). 1 

It is possible to take frameam tuam as per frameam tuam 
(so, perhaps, Hebrew). The sense would be, then : Rescue my life ; 
rescue it by Thy sword from the foes of Thy power. Augustine s 
equating of anima and framea does not help. 

What follows is still more difficult. The pauci de terra have been 
taken as the godless, materialistic, earth-loving foes of the psalmist 
(as in translation above) ; they have also been taken as the lowly 
ones, the servants of the Lord. In the second view the text is ex 
plained : separa multitudinem impiorum a pusillo grege tuo etiam 
in prasenti [vita] : so Bellarmine. But this gives no explanation of 
de terra, and the context of the psalm does not suggest that the pauci 
are the lowly friends of God. Hitherto the psalmist has spoken of 
himself alone. It seems, then, better to take pauci de terra as 
descriptive of the godless. Pauci is then contemptuous : those 
contemptible ones, so earthly in their views, who think themselves 
so great. 

Divide eos is a further difficulty. It must mean : set the godless 
apart as a marked body, as Thy clearly marked foes (or, perhaps, 
assign them their lot ). In vita eorum, even while they still live/ 
Their punishment must come in time for themselves and all to see it. 
This brings us away, of course, from the Hebrew, but some reasonable 
view of the Vulgate text is indispensable. 

De absconditis tuis, etc. The reference here again is to the enemies 
of the psalmist. Hence the abscondita are not the stored up treasures 

l Some commentators think that David here speaks of himself as the Sword 
of Yahweh. 


of God s mercies, but rather the hitherto restrained chastisements of 
His anger. Let their longings be sated (here sarcastic) with the 
treasures of Thy anger ! Nor are their chastisements confined to 
themselves ; they will be tortured also in their children, and what 
the fathers have not fully endured, or that in which their punishment 
has not been full, will be left as an inheritance to their sons. The 
Greek reading, X opTao-07?o-av vaW represented in the Vetus Itala by 
saturati sunt porcina, suggests also, possibly, the idea of chastisement, 
rather than that of wallowing in lustful pleasures. It seems to be 
very reasonable to take the whole verse 14 as descriptive of chastise 
ments to be borne by the evil-doers, the enemies of the psalmist, 
and by their sons. 

15. The psalmist s lot will be very different : He will see the 
face (Hebrew not, appear before the face ) of God because of 
his innocence, and he will be sated when he awakes (from death) 
by the vision of God. The Vulgate would give the sense more 
accurately if it read satiabor cum exsurgerim. It is possible, how r ever, 
to refer the awaking to the Lord, as is implied in the Latin (apparere 
is due to the reverence of the Greek translator, who substituted 
o</>#7>ou for Hebrew hakis), and then to translate I shall be sated 
at Thy awakening (when Thou dost bestir Thyself to help me), with 
the vision of Thee. It is, however, much simpler to take the awaken 
ing as the act of the psalmist, since we then have here a clear state 
ment of confident hope of immortality. Jerome renders 13-15 thus : 
Surge, domine, prceveni faciem ejus, incurva eum : salva animam meam 
ab impio, qui est gladius tuus, a viris manus tuce, domine, qui mortui 
sunt in pro/undo, quorum pars in vita, et quorum de absconditis tuis 
replesti ventrem : qui saturabuntur filiis, et dimittent reliquias suas 
parvulis eorum. Ego in justitia videbo faciem tuam : implebor, cum 
evigilavero, similitudine tua. This translation is suggestive enough 
of the obscurity of the passage. 



THE royal poet will sing a song of heartfelt praise and thanks 
for the special favours and mercies which God has granted 
to him. He has been rescued from many perils, and raised 
to the highest honours. In verses 2-7 we have a sort of 
summary of the psalm. The poet was in extreme peril through the 
plotting of his foes : he called on the Lord for help and was rescued. 
In verses 8-20 he describes the manner of his rescue. In a thunder 
storm the Lord came down, and overwhelmed, and scattered his 
enemies. In verses 21-25 we are told that the merciful intervention 
of the Lord was due to the poet s piety, and loyalty to God s Law ; 
for (as is shown in verses 26-31) to the pious God showeth favour, 
and dealeth out mercy. Once more (verses 32-46) the singer returns 
to what God has done for him. He has protected him in battle, 
smitten his foes, and humbled strange peoples beneath his rule. The 
poem closes (verses 47-51) with the solemnly expressed resolution of 
the psalmist to praise his Lord among the gentiles. 

This poem appears also in II Kings, xxii, as a poem of David. 
Though the text of II Kings xxii, differs in a number of small points 
from the psalm-text, it is obviously the same poem as the one we 
have here. The Davidic origin of Psalm xvii is thus assured in a 
very satisfactory fashion. Internally the poem points to such an 
author as David. The poet is a general, and a king, and a victorious 
leader, who subdues peoples hitherto unknown to Israel. All this 
suits David better than any other king of Israel. The description 
of the coming of God in the thunderstorm reminds one of Hebrew 
poetry of the most ancient period (cf. Judges v. 4, 5, and the Song 
of Deborah generally). We may, therefore, confidently accept the 
Davidic authorship of this poem. The circumstances of its composi 
tion (verse i) are described in II Kings, xxii, in the same way as here. 

1. In finem puero Domini i. For the choir-leader: by the servant of 
David, qui locutus est Domino the Lord, David, who chanted to the Lord 
verba cantici hujus, in die, qua the words of this song on the day when the 
eripuit eum Dominus de manu Lord rescued him from the power of all his 
omnium inimicorum ejus, et de foes, and from the power of Saul. And he 
manu Saul, et dixit : said : 

2. Diligam te Domine fortitu- 2. I love Thee, O Lord, my Strength 1 
do mea : 





3. Do minus firmamentum 
meum, et refugium meum, et 
liberator meus. 

Deus meus adjutor meus, et 
sperabo in eum. 

Protector meus, et cornu salu- 
tis meac, et susceptor meus. 

4. Laudans invocabo Domi- 
num : et ab inimicife meis salvus 

5. Circumdederunt me do- 
lores mortis : et torrentes ini- 
quitatis conturbaverunt me. 

6. Dolores inferni circumdede- 
runt me : praeoccupaverunt me 
laquei mortis. 

7. In tribulatione mea invo- 
cavi Dominum, et ad Deum me 
um clamavi : 

Et exaudivit de templo san- 
cto suo vocem meam : et cla 
mor meus in conspectu ejus, in- 
troivit in aures ejus. 

8. Commota est, et contre- 
muit terra : fundamenta monti- 
um conturbata sunt, et commota 
sunt, quoniam iratus est eis. 

9. Ascendit fumus in ira ejus : 
et ignis a facie ejus exarsit : car- 
bones succensi sunt ab eo. 

3. The Lord is my stay and my refuge, and 

my Saviour. 
My God is my helper, and in Him I set 

my hope. 
He is my protector and the horn of my 

And my guardian. 

4. With praises I call on the Lord, 

And I am saved from my foes. 

5. Pains of death pressed upon me, 

And torrents of misfortune dismayed 

6. The woes of the underworld girt me 

round ; 
And the bonds of death enmeshed me. 

7. In my misery I called on the Lord ; 

And to my God I cried. 
And He heard from His Sacred Palace 

my voice ; 

And my cry came before Him, even 
unto His ears. 

8. The earth tottered and quaked : 

The foundations of the mountains were 

a-trembling and a-quivering, 
For He was angry with them. 

9. The smoke of His anger rose up, 

And from His face fire was enkindled ; 
Glowing coals burned forth from Him. 

10. Inclinavit coelos, et de- 
scendit : et caligo sub pedibus 

11. Et ascendit super Cheru 
bim, et volavit : volavit super 
pennas ventorum. 

12. Et posuit tenebras latibu- 
lum suum, in circuitu ejus 
tabernaculum ejus : tenebrosa 
aqua in nubibus aeris. 

10. He lowered the heavens and (He Himself) 

came down ; 
And darkness was around His feet. 

11. He mounted the Cherubs and flew ; 

And sped on the wings of the storm. 

12. Darkness He made His shroud ; 

Round about Him was His tent 
Dark waters of the clouds of heaven. 

13. Prae fulgore in conspectu 13. 
ejus nubes transierunt, grando 

et carbones ignis. 

14. Et intonuit de coelo Do- 14. 
minus, et Altissimus dedit vo 
cem suam : grando et carbones 

15. Et misit sagittas suas, et 15. 
dissipavit eos : fulgura multi- 
plicavit, et conturbavit eos. 

16 Et. apparuerunt fontes 16. 
aquarum, et revelata sunt fun 
damenta orbis terrarum : 

Ab increpatione tua Domine, 
ab inspiratione spiritus irae tuse. 

Before the brightness of His face the 

clouds passed away. 
Hail and burning coals ! 
And from heaven thundered the Lord 
And the Most High let His voice re 

Hail and burning coals ! 
And He sent His arrows and scattered 

them ; 
He multiplied His thunderbolts and 

dismayed them. 
The springs of the deep appeared ; 

And the foundations of the world were 

laid bare, 

Because of Thy chiding, O Lord ! 
Because of the breath of Thy wrath. 



17. Misit de summo, et ac- 
cepit me : et assumpsit me de 
aquis multis. 

1 8. Eripuit me de inimicis 
meis fortissimis, et ab his qui 
oderunt me : quoniam confor- 
tati sunt super me. 

19. Praevenerunt me in die 
afflictionis meae : et factus est 
Dominus protector meus. 

20. Et eduxit me in latitu- 
dinem : salvum me fecit, quo 
niam voluit me. 


He reached out from Heaven and grasped 

me ; 

And drew me forth from the multi 
tudinous waters. 

He saved me from my powerful foes, 
And from those that hate me ; for they 
had become too powerful for me. 

19. They had fallen on me in the day of my 

misfortune ; 
But the Lord became my Protector, 

20. And led me out into an open place, and set 

me in security, 
For He held me dear. 

21. Et retribuet mihi Domi 
nus secundum justitiam meam, 
et secundum puritatem manuum 
mearum retribuet mihi : 

22. Quia custodivi vias Do 
mini, nee impie gessi a Deo meo. 

23. Quoniam omnia judicia 
ejus in conspectu meo : et 
justitias ejus non repuli a me. 

24. Et ero immaculatus cum 
eo : et observabo me ab iniqui- 
tate mea. 

25. Et retribuet mihi Do- 
minus secundum justitiam me 
am : et secundum puritatem 
manuum mearum in conspectu 
oculorum ejus. 

26. Cum sancto sanctus eris, 
et cum viro innocente innocens 
eris : 

27. Et cum electo electus eris : 
et cum perverse perverteris. 

28. Quoniam tu populum hu- 
milem salvum facies : et oculos 
superborum humiliabis. 

29. Quoniam tu illuminas lu- 
cernam meam Domine : Deus 
meus illumina tenebras meas. 

30. Quoniam in te eripiar a 
tentatione, et in Deo meo trans- 
grediar murum. 

31. Deus meus impolluta via 
ejus : eloquia Domini igne ex- 
aminata : protector est omnium 
sperantium in se. 

21. The Lord dealt with me according to my 

justice ; 

And according to the cleanness of my 
hands He did repay me. 

22. For I did keep the ways of the Lord, 

And did no evil to bring me away from 

23. For all His laws were before my eyes ; 

And His decrees I put not from me ; 

24. And stainless I stood before Him, 

And kept myself from my sin : 

25. And the Lord dealt with me according to 

my justice, 

And according to the cleanness of my 
hands before His eyes. 

26. Towards the pious Thou art gracious ; 

And towards the upright Thou dost 
act uprightly. 

27. With the just Thou dealest justly ; 

And with the treacherous Thou dealest 

28. For Thou rescuest a lowly people, 

But arrogant eyes Thou humblest. 

29. For Thou dost make my light to shine, 

O Lord ; 
My God, enlighten my darkness ! 

30. For through Thee I am saved from attack ; 

And through my God I leap over a wall. 

31. The dealings of my God are beyond re 

proach ; 
The words of the Lord are tested by 

fire ; 
He is the Guardian of all who put their 

trust in Him. 

32. Quoniam quis Deus prse- 
ter Dominum ? aut quis Deus 
praeter Deum nostrum ? 

33. Deus qui praecinxit me 
virtute : et posuit immaculatam 
viam meam. 

32. For who is God but the Lord ? 

Or who is God but our God ? 

33. God it is who has girt me with strength, 

And made my way stainless : 




34. Qui perfecit pedes meos 
tamquam cervorum, et super 
excelsa statuens me. 

35. Qui docet manus meas ad 
prselium : et posuisti, ut arcum 
sereum, brachia mea. 

36. Et dedisti mihi protectio- 
nem salutis tuae : et dextera tua 
suscepit me : 

Et disciplina tua correxit me 
in finem : et disciplina tua ipsa 
me docebit. 

37. Dilatasti gressus meos sub- 
tus me : et non sunt infirmata 
vestigia mea : 

38. Persequar inimicos meos, 
et comprendam illos : et non 
convertar, donee deficiant. 

39. Confringam illos, nee po- 
terunt stare : cadent subtus 
pedes meos. 

40. Et praecinxisti me virtute 
ad bellum : et supplantasti in- 
surgentes in me subtus me. 

41. Et inimicos meos dedisti 
mini dorsum, et odientes me 

42. Clamaverunt, nee erat qui 
salvos faceret, ad Dominum : 
nee exaudivit eos. 

43. Et comminuam eos, ut 
pulverem ante faciem venti : ut 
lutum platearum delebo eos. 

44. Eripes me de contradic- 
tionibus populi : constitues me 
in caput Gentium. 

45. Populus, quern non cogno- 
vi, servivit mihi : in auditu auris 
obedivit mihi. 

46. Filii alieni mentiti sunt 
mihi, filii alieni inveterati sunt, 
et claudicaverunt a semitis suis. 

34. Who hath made my feet like those of the 

And set me on the high places : 

35. Who hath trained my hands for battle, 

And made my arms like an iron bow. 

36. Thou didst give me the shield of Thy help, 

And Thy right hand did guard me ; 
And Thy teaching hath set me right 

And Thy teaching hath trained me. 

37. Thou hast made free my stride ; 

And my feet have not failed. 

38. I pursued my enemies and overtook them ; 

I turned not back till they were 

39. I smote them, and they could not stand ; 

They fell beneath my feet. 

40. For Thou didst gird me with strength for 

battle ; 

And didst overthrow those who rose in 
revolt against me. 

41. And my enemies Thou didst turn from 

me in flight ; 

And them that hated me Thou didst 

42. They cried, but there was none to save 

To the Lord, but He heard them not. 

43. And I scattered them like dust before the 

breeze ; 

Like mire in the streets I swept them 

44. Thou didst save me from the contendings 

of the people ; 
Thou didst set me up as head of nations: 

45. A people whom I knew not became my 

slave ; 

At the very mention of my name it made 
submission to me. 

46. The children of the stranger paid 

flattering court to me. 
The children of the stranger waned in 

strength ; 
And limped away from their paths. 

47. Vivit Dominus, et bene- 
dictus Deus meus, et exaltetur 
Deus salutis meas. 

48. Deus, qui das vindictas 
mihi, et subdis populos sub me, 
liberator meus de inimicis meis 

49. Et ab insurgentibus in me 
exaltabis me : a viro iniquo 
eripies me. 

47. The Lord liveth, and blessed be my God ; 

And praised be my rescuing God ! 

48. The God who giveth me vengeance, 

And subdueth nations unto me : 
My Saviour from my raging foes ! 

49. Above those who revolt against me 

Thou dost raise me, 
And from the godless Thou dost save 

62 THE PSALMS [i 7 

50. Propterea confitebor tibi 50. Therefore, I praise Thee among the 
in nationibus Domine : et no- nations, O Lord ! 

mini tuo psalmum dicam, And sing a hymn to Thy name. 

51. Magnincans salutes regis 51. For Thou art He that giveth mighty help 
ejus, et faciens misericordiam to the king, 

Christo suo David, et semini And showeth kindness to His anointed 

ejus usque in sceculum. David, and to his seed for ever. 

2, 3. The Hebrew is more poetic : My Rock, my Fortress, my 
Deliverer, my God, my Strong Tower to which I flee, my Shield, 
and Horn of my victory, my Stronghold ! The Greek (followed 
by Vulgate) has toned down the boldness of the epithets. 

Cornn salutis. The horn symbolises strength. God was the 
mighty source of the help which saved him. (So, too, the altar 
of God was equipped with horns, by grasping which a man con 
demned to death could secure asylum.) 

Susceptor=protectoT. Cf. Ps. iii. 4 ; ix. 10. 

4. In Hebrew the sense seems to be : Praised be Yahweh f 
I cry ! Thus Landans should be Laudandus. Mehullal Yahweh 
was David s battle cry. 

5, 6. For the " dolores mortis " the parallel Hebrew text in Kings 
has billows of death/ which would suit better the parallel 
torrentes iniquitatis. In verse 6 the dolores inferni, when taken 
in parallelism with laquei mortis, make a strange impression. The 
Hebrew hebhle was taken by the Greek translators as, pains/ or 
pangs ; but it could be taken also as ropes or cords (cf. Ps. 
xvi. b). In verse 6 the meaning cord or thong is the only one 
possible. In verse 5 the parallel text in II Kings, xxii, reads : the 
breakers (or billows) of death/ The Vulgate of II Kings, xxii. 5, 6, 
reads : Quia circumdederunt me contritiones mortis, torrentes Belial 
terruerunt me. Funes inferni circumdederunt me, prcevenerunt me 
laquei mortis. We may, therefore, understand breakers of death 
in verse 5 and bonds of the underworld in verse 6. In verse 5 the 
reference is to Sheol, the Hebrew underworld, thought of after the 
manner of the abyss ; the torrentes Belial are the streams of the 
underworld (cf. Job. xxvi. 5). In verse 6 death is pictured as a 
hunter from whose noose or snare the psalmist hardly escaped. 
The psalmist will convey in his picturesque way that death was 
menacingly near to him. 

7. The palace is the heavenly palace not the Temple. 

8. The verses 8-16 are a fine description of the thunderstorm 
by which the Lord dismayed the foes of the psalmist. 

Commota, etc. : the earth seems to tremble in the gathering storm. 
There may be present here the idea of an earthquake also. More 
than any other phenomenon, an earthquake would symbolise the 
anger of God. The very pillars of earth, the foundations of the 
mountains trembled at the anger of the Lord. 


9. The smoke corresponds to the dense thunder-clouds of the 
gathering storm. The Hebrew reads : Smoke went up from His 
nostrils/ The picture is taken from animals snorting with fury 
(cf. Job xli. 12) ; the thunder-clouds are the smoke of anger which 
rises from the nostrils of God. The carbones are, perhaps, the fiery 
borders of the clouds. The devouring fire is, obviously, some form 
of lightning. 

ID. The heavens seem to settle down over the earth in the deep- 
descending storm-clouds. The darkness about the feet of God is 
another way of describing the dark density of the clouds. 

11. A description of the storm of wind which accompanied the 
thunder-storm. The cherubs seem here to mean the swiftly racing 
clouds which are the winged steeds of God s chariot. 

12. The rain-storm which burst out of the lowering heavens. 
God s throne is shut up in a canopy of dark streaming clouds. 

13. The thought seems to be that the tent-wall of dark drifting 
cloud, from which rain-torrents streamed, was broken from time 
to time, and through the rift shone for an instant the flashing glories 
of God s throne. The breaking through of the tent-wall of cloud 
seems to mean the fleeing of the clouds before the lightnings. Thus 
the lightnings would be nothing more than flashes from the dazzling 
brightness which surrounded the throne of God. 

Grando et carbones ignis ! an exclamation of wonder : Hail and 
glowing coals together ! So also in verse 14. With the storm of 
thunder, rain, and wind, there went also a mighty hail-storm. 
Cf. the storm which overwhelmed the enemies of Joshua (Jos. x, 
especially verse n). 

14. Thunder is the voice of God, for the Hebrew. Most High 
is an ancient name of God. Cf. story of Abraham and Melchisedech ; 
the latter is a priest of God, Most High (Gen. xiv). 

15. The arrows are the lightnings. 

16. The foundations of earth are the bed of the sea. The storm 
is thought of as lashing the oceans into mountain-waves, between 
which the ocean-floor stands bare. 

Ab inspiration spiritus irce tuce, at the fierce breath of Thy 

17. God has reached out His hand, and snatched him from the 
waters the sea of peril in which he was sinking. 

18. The foes had grown too powerful (super me) for him. The 
preposition super is often used to express comparison (Hebrew, min). 
Cf. Ps. xviii. n, desiderabilia super aurum, dulciora super met ; 
Ps. 1. 9, super nivem dealbabor. 

19. In die afflictionis, in the time of his misfortune. 
Prcevenerunt is here used in a hostile sense. 

20. As sorrow implies constraint, so gladness is symbolised by 
open spaces and freedom of movement, and great length of stride. 

64 THE PSALMS [17 

Cf. Ps. cxvii. 5: exaudivit me in latitudine Dominus ; cxvii. 45: 
Ambulabam in latitudine. 

21. The. reasons which moved God to help the psalmist. Clean 
ness of hands is a symbol of moral integrity. The palms of the 
hands were held open towards heaven in prayer. 

22-23. The via, judicia and justitice are the laws of God, which the 
psalmist claims to have observed. 

24. Immaculat-us, stainless, without defect in his attitude towards 
God, and God s Law. The " ero " suggests mere y habitual action, 
whether in past, present or future. 

Observabo, guard myself from. The mea in iniquitate mea is 
redundant : I will keep myself from sin, not, from my wonted 

26-28. The policy of God. He deals with men as they deal with 
Him. Towards a pious one He shows Himself gracious, towards 
an upright (innocens) man He shows Himself just, towards the 
straightforward He shows Himself straightforward (electus) ; but to 
the cunning He shows Himself crafty. It is a quaint application, in 
a sense, of the Lex talionis. God treats every man according to his 
deserts. To the impious the punishment which God sends, appears 
unfair and treacherous. 

28. Quoniam seems to mean surely. 

Humilis, oppressed. Oculi superbomm, proud eyes ; cf. Ps. 
cxxx. i, where elati oculi are paralleled with exaltatum cor. 

29. Thou lightest my lamp, i.e., Thou makest me to prosper. 
But the thought is suggested that prosperity is due to following 
God s guidance and doing His will. Hence the second half of the 
verse. Cf. Ps. cxviii. 105, Lucerna pedibus meis verbum tuum ; cf. 
also the text, John xi. 9. 

30. Transgrediar murum, leap over the wall, that defends a 
city, i.e. take it by storm. 

31. The words of God are tried and tested, like silver refined. 
They may, therefore, be relied on wholly. 

Deus meus is here an absolute nominative an imitation of the 
Hebrew. The eloquia are the oracles and promises of God. 

32. Who is God but the Lord, i.e. Yahweh, the God of Israel. 
Who is God but Yahweh ? 

33. He is the God who, etc. Pos-//=made. The way is the 
manner of living. 

34. The point of comparison is swiftness an important quality 
in warriors of ancient times. The " heights " are the solitudes where 
the stag wanders at will. 

36. Protectio salutis tuce, Thy saving (rescuing) help. Suscepit 
=protects. The disciplina is the Law of the Lord. In finem= con 
stantly, ever. The phrase, Et disciplina, etc., is due to the incor 
poration in the text of Theodotion s rendering beside that of the 


57. The long strides would betoken strength and untrammelled 
freedom. The text means : Thou hast widened the paths which 
my feet do traverse/ The vestigia will not move here and there 
uncertainly, but will mark a straight and steady path. 

38-43 describe David s successful campaigns against the hostile 
nations round about Israel. 

41. Inimicos dedisti dor sum, Thou didst turn them in flight 
before me. Dorsym=terga. 

42. The enemies of David called on Yahweh for help. Are the 
enemies here spoken of, Israelite enemies ? 

43. Delebo Hebrew : I will pour them out. 

44. The contendings of the people would seem to mean the 
internal troubles of David s kingdom, including the rebellion of 

45. Foreign peoples which had heard of the greatness of David s 
kingdom, offered themselves to him as vassals. The mere mention 
of his name sufficed to terrify them. 

46. The foreigners mentiti sunt, i.e., offered flattering or forced 
homage homage, therefore, which was not sincere. They waned 
(inveterati sunt) before David s power, and hobbled away helplessly 
from their usual paths. The Hebrew implies that they limped out 
tremblingly from their castles to offer their submission to David. 

48. Vindictas, vengeance. 

50. This is difficult to understand in the mouth of David. It 
is not impossible that we have to reckon here, and in the following 
verse, with a liturgical addition to the psalm. 

51. Magnificans, etc. (God) who performs many and wondrous 
deeds of rescue, and shows unceasing kindness to His anointed the 
king. Christo^uncto : Hebrew, mashiah. 



THE glory of God, as shown in the heavens, and revealed in 
the Law, is the theme of this psalm. The first part of 
the poem (1-7) deals with the glory of God which is un 
ceasingly hymned, in words intelligible to all, by the hosts 
of heaven the glory which each hour of the day and of the 
night displays in ever-changing splendour, the glory which is seen 
most fully in the sun, the greatest of the wondrous beings which God 
has set in the heavens. From one end of heaven to the other speeds 
the great sun, penetrating all things with his fiery glow. 

The second part of the psalm (8-15) deals with that glory of God 
which the Law displays. The Law is pure and clean : it brightens 
the eyes, and quickens the soul ; to follow it means rich reward. 
May the Lord forgive the singer his sins of frailty, save him from the 
godless, and receive graciously the words of his song ! 

The two parts of the poem fall naturally enough together. To 
the brilliant fiery ball of the sun that lights up and vivifies the world, 
corresponds the Law that gives brilliancy to the eyes and quicken 
ing to the soul. The transition from the first part to the second is > 
however, abrupt, and the two parts differ greatly in metrical 
structure. Possibly the first part is older than the second. It is 
possible that an ancient song of God s glory in nature, and, perhaps, 
a fragment of a poem on the sun, were taken to form a preface to a 
poem on the Law. The wondrous glory shown in the starry heavens 
and the mighty sun would form a fitting counterpoise to the glory 
of the moral Law. 

The author of the psalm is, according to the title, David. If 
the view, that there are here fragments of ancient poetry used as 
a prelude to a poem on the Law, is true, David can still be the 
author of the poem as it stands. It is objected, however, against 
Davidic authorship, that the attitude of reflection on, and respect 
for, the Law shown in the second part is far more natural in the 
post-Exilic, than it would have been in the Davidic period. 

1. In finem, Psalmus David. I. For the choir-leader. A psalm of David. 

(ist part) 

2. Caeli enarrant gloriam Dei, 2. The heavens tell the glory of God ; 

et opera manuum ejus annun- And the firmament publisheth the 

tiat firmamentum. work of His hands. 



3. Dies diei eructat verbum, 
et nox nocti indicat scientiam. 

4. Non sunt loquelae, neque 
sermones, quorum non audian- 
tur voces eorum. 

5. In omnem terrain exivit 
sonus eorum : et in fines orbis 
terras verba eorum. 

3. Day unto day declareth the message ; 

And night unto night revealeth the 

4. It is neither speech nor discourse, 

The sound of which may not be heard. 

5. Over the whole earth goeth the sound of 


And even to the ends of the earth 
(reach) their words. 

6. In sole posuit tabernacu- 
lum suum : et ipse tamquam 
sponsus procedens de thalamo 
suo : 

Exsultavit ut gigas ad cur- 
rendam viam, 

7. a summo coelo egressio 
ejus : 

Et occursus ejus usque ad 
summum ejus : nee est qui se 
abscondat a calore ejus. 

8. Lex Domini immaculata 
convertens animas : testimoni- 
um Domini fidele, sapientiam 
praestans parvulis. 

9. Justitiae Domini rectae, lae- 
tificantes corda : praeceptum 
Domini lucidum ; illuminans 

10. Timor Domini sanctus, 
permanens in saeculum saeculi : 
judicia Domini vera, justificata 
in semetipsa. 

1 1 . Desiderabilia super aurum 
et lapidem pretiosum multum : 
et dulciora super mel et favum. 

12. Etenim servus tuus custo- 
dit ea, in custodiendis illis re- 
tributio multa. 

13. Delicta quis intelligit ? 
ab occultis meis munda me : 

14. Et ab alienis parce servo 

Si mei non fuerint dominati, 
tune immaculatus ero : et emun- 
dabor a delicto maximo. 

15. Et erunt ut complaceant 
eloquia oris mei : et meditatio 
cordis mei in conspectu tuo 

Domine adjutor meus, et re- 
demptor meus. 

6. In the sun God hath set up His tent ; 
And he, like a bridegroom coming forth 

from the bridal chamber, 
Exulteth like a hero when he entereth 
on his path. 

7. On the one boundary of heaven is his 


And his course is unto the other. 
There is not one who can hide himself 

from his glow. 

(2nd. part) 

8. The law of the Lord is perfect 

Soul-quickening : 

The Lord s command is trustworthy 
Giving insight to the simple : 

9. The ordinances of the Lord are just 

Heart-rejoicing : 

The precept of the Lord is luminous 
Eye-illuminating : 

10. The fear of the Lord is holy 


The judgments of the Lord are true 
Altogether just : 

11. More to be treasured than gold, 

And many a precious stone ; 
Sweeter than honey and the (dripping) 

12. Thy servant doth keep them : 

For their keeping there is huge reward. 

13. Who can know (one s) offences ? 

Cleanse me from my secret faults. 

14. And from the proud keep Thou Thy 

servant far : 

If they do not rule over me, 
Then I shall be stainless and stand free- 
from heinous sin. 

15. Let the words of my mouth. 
And the thoughts of my heart, 

Find favour before Thee ever, O Lord, 
My Helper and Rescuer 1 

2. The Hebrew uses here for God El, not Yahweh : the glory is 
one that all men see. Cf. Ps. viii, and Ps. ciii. In the second part, 

68 THE PSALMS [18 

where the reference is to the glory of God shown in the Mosaic Law, 
we find the name Yahweh. 

Opera manuum tuarum, what Thou canst do/ Thy power. 

3. The hymn of praise is unending. Day and night are the 
daily and nightly heavens, each phase of which is a song of the 
Creator s praise. The word of praise, and the message of the 
knowledge of God which day communicates to day, and night 
to night, is unceasing. The discourse of day and night is like the 
flow of an ever-bubbling fountain (eructat). 

4. The hymn of heaven s praise is not such that men of many 
races may not understand it ; it is voiced in a speech that every 
man can understand. No one who has eyes to see the heavens day 
and night, can fail to comprehend their message. Eorum is re 
dundant (Hebrew idiom). The Hebrew has : Neither language, 
nor words Their voice is not heard/ The Latin seems to em 
phasise the clearness of the utterance, the Hebrew to insist on its 
inaudibility. Some commentators have found in the Hebrew a 
reference to the harmony of the spheres which only the poet can 

5. As far as earth extends, and the borders of the firmament 
reach, the glory of the heavens may be seen, and its word under 
stood. The Hebrew is different here, but the Vulgate gives a better 
text. (Note the application of this verse to the Apostolic preaching 
in Rom. x. 18.) 

6. The sun is taken as the chief representative of heaven. The 
Hebrew would read (as Jerome has it) : Soli posuit tabernaculum 
in eis, He hath set up for the sun his dwelling in them (in the 
heavens). The Vulgate says that God has set up His own tent in 
the sun, i.e. God s glory and majesty are peculiarly manifested in the 
sun. The Hebrew hero was, of necessity, swift of foot. The com 
parison of the sun emerging from the east, with the bridegroom 
coming forth from the nuptial chamber, suggests the freshness and 
brilliancy of the sun. One can well imagine with what awestruck 
wonder the Hebrews must have watched the splendid course of the 
eastern sun from its resting place in the purple of the hills of Moab 
and Bashan through the glow of its midday power, to its golden-red 
setting in the sea beyond Jaffa or Carmel. The poet thinks of the 
sun as passing the night in its royal tent near the eastern skies. A 
heathen poet might have spoken of the sun-disc as the divinity ; but 
the Hebrew poet says only that the sun reflects the glory of God, and 
that God has given the sun its dwelling (Hebrew), or made His own 
dwelling in the sun (Vulgate). 

A summo coelo : from one end of heaven ; ad summum ejus to 
the other. 

8. The Law is the whole complex of the teaching moral, 
religious and ceremonial, of the Old Testament. It is the guidance 


and revelation contained in the books of the Old Testament. With 
this second part of the poem should be compared Psalm cxviii. Here, 
as there, many synonyms are used for the Law lex, testimonium, 
justiticz, prczceptum, timor Dei. It is interesting to note the con 
trast between the delight in the Law/ which this psalm describes, 
and the joylessness of those who were borne down by the yoke of the 
Law in the New Testament period (cf. Roms. vii ; Gals, iii ; Acts xv. 
10 ; Matt, xxiii. 4, etc., etc.). The Law of the New Testament 
period contained too much of human admixture, too many traditiones 

The metre in this second part is the so-called Kinah or elegiac 
metre. Each line consists of a long half followed by a short. The 
first half of each line says what the Law is in itself ; the second 
describes its effect in human experience. 

Convertens animas, Hebrew : soul-refreshing/ 

Fidele, well established and trustworthy. Sapientiam pr&stans 
parvulis : the parvuli are the simple and untaught. For these the 
Law takes the place of man s wisdom, since it gives them sure insight 
into the true philosophy cf life. Cf. the " little ones " of Our Lord 
(Matt. xi. 25 ; xviii. 1-6). 

9. Lucidum ; Hebrew : pure, clear from all defect. 
Illuminans oculos : suggesting gladness and certainty of guidance. 

Cf. Ps. cxviii. 105, 130 : Lucerna pedibus meis verbum tuum .... 
declaratio sermonum tuorum illuminat. Cf. Fphes. i. 18 : illuminator 
oculos cordis vestri. Cf. also the idea expressed in Ps. xii. 4. 

10. Instead of timor Dei a slight emendation of Hebrew would 
give verbum Dei. Reading timor we must explain, that which 
leads one to fear the Lord, i.e. the Law. 

Justificata in semetipsa means, according to Hebrew, completely 
vindicated, i.e. as active in human life. 

In semetipsa translates iahdau, which is elsewhere represented 
by in idipsum (Ps. xxxiii. 4 ; Ixi. 10 ; iv. 9, etc.). It means alto 
gether, completely. 

11. Aurum, the Hebrew, paz, pure gold the topazion of Ps. cxviii. 
127. Multum is an adjective ; the law is more to be sought after 
than even a great store of precious stones. 

Favum : Jerome has : favum redundantem. The Hebrew implies 
what drops from the honeycomb. 

12. Etenim does not introduce a reason : it= indeed. 
Retributio is the reward of the faithful observance of the Law. 

13. The Hebrew reads : Sins of inadvertence (Sh gi oth) who 
giveth thought to them ? From hidden (sins) do Thou cleanse me/ 
In the Law (cf. Leviticus iv. 2) the Sh gi oth (Vulgate ignorantia ; 
Hebrew, Sh gagah) are offences committed, in inadvertence, against 
the Law particularly against the ceremonial Law. Such sins could 
be atoned for by a sacrifice when the offender realised that he had 

7 o THE PSALMS [18 

committed them. Obviously a man might offend often against 
cult-laws, and other laws, with such an inadvertence or unconscious 
ness that no hint or reminder ever afterwards would avail to recall 
him to a sense of guilt. For offences thus altogether unknown and 
forgotten there could be no sacrificial atonement, and for pardon 
of them there could be no hope except in the mercy of God. The 
delicta are such sins as are afterwards remembered : the occulta 
are those of which one never becomes conscious. 

14. The alienis are not the sins of others, but the proud/ 
The Sept. read here in the Hebrew zarim instead of zedim, and the 
Vulgate has followed the Greek. Alieni means proud or insolent 
enemies (cf. Ps. liii. 5 ; cviii. n, and the filii alieni of Ps. xvii. 46). 
The " proud," or the " enemies," are those who profess to despise 
the Law those worldly-minded ones with whom a pious observer 
of the Law might not safely associate (cf. Ps. cxviii. 21). If such 
men do not succeed in gaining power over him, the psalmist will be 
able to stand with a clear conscience before the Lord, and with the 
confidence that apart from the occulta he is not stained with the 
guilt of any great offence against the Law of the Lord. 

15. The psalmist here prays that the words of his poem may be 
found pleasing to God. The meditatio cordis is the inner side of the 
eloquia oris. The poet is conscious that he has expressed very 
valuable thoughts in very beautiful form. 



THIS is a prayer for the king as he marches out to battle. The 
time is a dies tribulationis a season of bitter need. Before 
the royal army marches forth, sacrifice is offered in the 
Temple (or Sanctuary), and prayers for the king s safety and 
success are sung. The psalm which we have here is obviously a 
prayer sung after the offering of sacrifice for the king s success. 
It is possible to suppose that verses 1-7 were sung by a choir of 
priests. A single voice takes up verses 76-10, and all the assembly 
joins in the petition at the end, hoshi ah hammelekh Keep safe the 
king ! The army is small (verses 8, 9), but its confidence in God is 
strong, and in this confidence it will conquer. 

The psalm is ascribed to David. For the custom of offering 
sacrifice before engaging in battle, cf. I Kings xiii. 9 ff. It is not 
easy to determine the identity of the king for whose success the poem 
is sung. The psalm is certainly of the monarchical period, and if 
David is its author, he must be also the king to whom it refers. Un 
less, as Cyril of Alexandria and Theodoret suppose, David composed 
the psalm with prophetic vision of the sorrows of some later king, 
such as Ezechias. 

1. In finem, Psalmus David. i. For the choir-leader. A psalm of David. 

(Choir of Priests) 

2. Exaudiat te Dominus in 2. May the Lord hear thee in time of trial : 
die tribulationis : protegat te May the name of the God of Jacob 
nomen Dei Jacob. protect thee ! 

3. Mittat tibi auxilium de 3. May He send thee help from the Sanctu- 
sancto : et de Sion tueatur te. ary, 

And from Sion may He guard thee ! 

4. Memor sit omnis sacrificii 4. May He be mindful of all thy offerings, 
tui : et holocaustum tuum pin- And may thy sacrifice be acceptable ! 
gue fiat. 

5. Tribuat tibi secundum cor 5. May He grant thee thy heart s desire, 
tuum : et omne consilium tuum And accomplish all thy planning ! 

6. Laetabimur in salutari tuo : 6. We shall (then) rejoice in thy victory, 
et in nomine Dei nostri magni- And boast in the name of our God. 

7. Impleat Dominus omnes 7. May the Lord grant all thy requests ! 
petitiones tuas : 

(Single voice) 

Nunc cognovi quoniam sal- Now I know that the Lord keepeth in 

vum fecit Dominus Christum safety His Anointed, 


72 THE PSALMS [19 

Exaudiet ilium de coelo san- He hears him from out His holy heaven ; 

cto suo : in potentatibus salus In deeds of might is tfye rescue of 

dexterae ejus. . His right hand. 

8. Hi in curribus, et hi in S. Some put their trust in chariots, others 
equis : nos autem in nomine in steeds, 

Domini Dei nostri invocabimus. But we in the name of the Lord, our 


9. Ipsi obligati sunt, et ceci- 9. They are entangled, and fall, 

derunt : nos autem surreximus But we arise and hold ourselves erect, 

et erecti sumus. 


10. Domine salvum fac re- 10. O Lord, do Thou keep safe the king ; 
gem : et exaudi nos in die, qua And hear us when we call on Thee, 
invocaverimus te. 

2. The dies tribulationis may be simply the day of battle. 

The nomen Dei Jacob would be a protection, since the king would 
fight for the glory of that name. Possibly the battle-cry of the king 
would include the divine name. Cf. David s battle-cry, M hullal 
Yahweh Laudandus Dominus, Ps. xvii. 4. 

3. This verse seems to imply that the Temple was already on 
Sion. It excludes, at all events, the time of Saul for Sion was not 
an Israelite sanctuary till the days of David. 

4. The sacrifice is the sacrifice offered on this occasion. The 
sacrificium is here the minhah, the meal-offering (or, offering in 
general). The holocaustum is the burnt-offering. Pingue, fat 
and therefore, acceptable. The Hebrew may be translated : May 
He make (i.e. declare, recognise) it (the holocaust) fat/ i.e. regard it 
as pleasing. 

5. The consilium is the plan of the royal campaign. 

6. We shall rejoice in salutari tuo, in the victory given to 
thee/ i.e. to the king. 

Magnificabimur : The Hebrew says, and we shall wave banners/ 
i.e. in token of victory. The Sept. read n gaddel ; the Massora 
nidgol. Jerome has, ducemus choros, which is perhaps based on 
nagil, let us rejoice/ 

7. The second section begins in verse jb. Apparently the voice 
of a single singer now takes up the chant. Some one of the priests, 
seeing by some token that the offering of sacrifice and prayer has 
been accepted, or caught by a prophetic impulse, declares the coming 
victory of the king. That some sign of the Lord s favour has been 
seen by all. or shown at least to one, is clear from the emphasis on 

Potentatibus, deeds of might. In Hebrew : He answers him 
from His holy heavens with rescuing deeds of might done by His 
right hand. 

Salus should be salutis. Jerome translates : exaudiet eum .... 
in fortitudine salutis dexterce sua. 


8. The hi and hi are the enemies. Invocabunt is to be supplied 
with in curribus and in equis. Invocare in seems to mean here put 
one s trust in. It reproduces the Hebrew nazkir, we will com 
memorate. The Greek tradition is not fixed. The Psalt. Rom. 
reads, as in verse 5, magnificabimur (Hebrew nagbir P). The Greek 
variants represent Hebrew readings nagbir, nazkir and nagil We 
shall boast of (or be strong by), we shall commemorate (or trust 
in), and we shall rejoice. For the sentiment here expressed cf. 
the story of Gideon s army, Judges vii. Cf. also Is. xxx. 15. Possibly 
B shem Yahweh, in the name of Yahweh, was to be used as a 
battle-cry by the king. But there may be nothing further suggested 
here than that the king was going out to fight the barttles of the 
Lord, and must, therefore, be victorious. There can be no sug 
gestion here that the name of Yahweh possessed some magical, 
talismanic value. 

9. Obligati, bound by bonds or fetters. The Hebrew has : they 
are bowed down (Jerome : incurvaii sunt). The Greek suggests 
the idea of having the foe bound with fetters. The fetters would 
naturally bring about a fall. The sense seems to be that those who 
put their trust in material equipment for battle will be defeated. 

Surreximus is the opposite of obligati : we who had been fettered, 
as it were, with fear, arise (surreximus=surgimus). 
Erecti sumus is in contrast with cecidenmt. 

10. The Latin text here is better than the Hebrew. The whole 
gathering, priests and people, joins in this prayer. Possibly the 
Hoshi ah (salvum fac) suggested to the people the Hoshi a-nah 
(Hosanna) so often sung during the Feast of Tabernacles. 



AS in the preceding psalm a prayer was offered for the king s 
success in battle, so here we have a prayer of thanksgiving 
for the victory which has been given to him. We have the 
same general arrangement here as in Psalm xix. The temple- 
choir fervently thanks the Lord for giving to the king the attainment 
of all his plans, and for granting him the rich fulness of honour which 
naturally follows from his victories (2-7). A single voice then takes 
up the song, and prophesies the continuance of the Lord s favour 
towards the king, and the utter defeat of all the king s foes (8-13). 
As in Psalm xix, so here, the last verse is a prayer for the immediate 
and energetic help of the Lord, sung by the whole gathering priests 
and people. 

The occasion of this song is just as obscure as that of Psalm xix. 
Obviously this psalm could be used in the Temple-services which 
followed military campaigns of Hebrew Kings generally. When it 
was first sung we do not know. It must be dated in the monarchical 
period. If David is the king referred to, the psalm must be dated 
some short time subsequently to the preceding. (The situation 
described in I Par. xx. 1-2 has been suggested by commentators.) 
The thanksgiving service for a Davidic victory could not be celebrated 
in the Temple ; but the ceremonial suggested in this poem could 
have been carried out in the Tabernacle with scarcely less solemnity 
than in the Temple. It has been suggested that this poem was really 
a coronation-hymn and not a song of thanks for military victories 
just achieved. The hyperbole of verse 5 life for ever and ever/ 
which is very natural in an Oriental poem, and especially in an Oriental 
poem about a king, has sometimes been regarded as a proof that 
the psalm is a prophecy of the Messianic King, and His coronation 
on the day of His victory. The Targum version understands the 
psalm clearly in the Messianic sense. It is to be noted, however, 
that the Messianic King, as summing up in Himself all that was great 
and glorious and victorious in every King of Israel, was necessarily 
foreshadowed by every great ruler among the Kings of Israel. 

1. In finem, Psalmus David. i. For the choir-leader. A psalm of David. 


2. Domine in virtute tua lae- 2. O Lord, the king doth rejoice because of 
tabitur Rex : et super salutare Thy power, 

tuum exsultabit vehementer. And because of Thy help he greatly 






3. Desiderium cordis ejus tri- 
buisti ei : et voluntate labiorum 
ejus non fraudasti eum. 

What his heart did crave for, Thou hast 

given him, 

And from what his lips besought Thou 
hast not withheld him. 

4. Quoniam praevenisti eum 
in benedictionibus dulcedinis, 
posuisti in capite ejus coronam 
de lapide pretioso. < 

5. Vitam petiit a te : et tri- 
buisti ei longitudinem dierum 
in saeculum, et in saeculum 

6. Magna est gloria ejus in 
salutari suo : gloriam et ma 
gnum decorem impones super 

7. Quoniam dabis eum in 
benedictionem in saeculum sse- 
culi : tetificabis eum in gaudio 
cum vultu tuo. 

8. Quoniam Rex sperat in 
Domino : et in misericordia 
Altissimi non commovebitur. 

9. Inveniatur manus tua 
omnibus inimicis tuis : dex- 
tera tua inveniat omnes, qui 
te oderunt. 

4. For Thou earnest to meet him with 

blessings abundant ; 
On his head hast Thou set a crown of 
precious gems. 

5. Life he did beg of Thee, 

And life prolonged Thou hast given 


Life for ever and ever. 
6 Great is his renown, because of Thy 

help ; 
Glory and honour Thou hast set on his 


7. For Thou makest him a (source of) bless 

ing for ever ; 

Thou dost delight him with gladness by 
Thy presence. 

(Single voice) 

8. For the king puts his hope in the Lord ; 

And because of the graciousness of the 
Most High he is not moved. 

9. May all Thy enemies feel the weight of 

Thy hand : 

May Thy right hand reach unto all who 
hate Thee. 

10. Pones eos ut clibanum 
ignis in tempore vultus tui : 
Dominus in ira sua conturbabit 
eos, et devorabit eos ignis. 

11. Fructum eorum de terra 
perdes : et semen eorum a 
filiis hominum. 

12. Quoniam declinaverunt in 
te mala : cogitaverunt consilia, 
quae non potuerunt stabilire. 

13. Quoniam pones eos dor- 
sum : in reliquiis tuis praepara- 
bis vultum eorum. 

14. Exaltare Domine in vir- 
tute tua : cantabimus et psalle- 
mus virtutes tuas. 

10. Thou makest them a furnace of fire 

When Thy anger bursts forth. 
[The Lord doth destroy them in His anger, 

and fire doth devour them]. 
Their children Thou dost exterminate 

from out the land, 
And their offspring from among men. 


12. For they sought to turn evil on Thee : 

They planned out schemes which they 
could not carry through. 

13. Thou didst turn them in flight by those 

who stood by Thee ; 
Thou aimest at their face. 

(The multitude) 

14. Arise, O Lord, in Thy strength ! 

We will praise and sing Thy deeds of 

2. The power is the helping strength of the Lord. The salu- 
tare is the help which the Lord has sent. Super salutare is a 
construction of vulgar Latin. 

3. The desiderium is the secundum cor tuum of xix. 5. 

Voluntas labiorum, desire expressed. Fraudare, refuse, reject. 
Hebrew : Thou hast not withheld. 

76 THE PSALMS [20 

4. Pravenisti, Thou hast come to meet him. Benedictionibus 
dulcedinis, most sweet blessings (most kind and gracious favours). 

Coronam : by his victories the king was, as it were, crowned 
once more. The Hebrew speaks of purest gold instead of precious 
stone. This verse it is that has led some commentators to see in 
the psalm a coronation-hymn. (But compare I Par. xx. 1-2.) 

5. For the Hebrews, length of days (i.e. of life) was regarded as 
one of the greatest of blessings. Notice the phrasing in the trans 
lation. There is no great contrast intended between life and 
length of life ; no doubt it was the latter that the king prayed 
for. The verse says merely that God generously answered his prayer. 

6. This is to be taken as largely hyperbole. The gloria and 
honor appear usually as divine qualities. 

Dabis in benedictionem, either Thou wilt make him a source of 
blessing for others, like Abraham (Gen. xii. 2), or, Thou wilt make 
him altogether blessed (i.e. successful). This second meaning is 
suggested by the Old Latin rendering dabis ei benedictionem. Possibly 
the true sense is that the king will be so fortunate that his name will 
become proverbial, and men will pray for blessings like to those 
which he enjoyed. 

Cum vultu tuo seems to mean, through, by means of, Thy presence. 
The presence is the consciousness of God s continual assistance ; 
the delight is the gladness which arises from the sense of God s 
helping presence, the pleasure of living in the full light of God s face. 

8. Here the soloist takes up the song. The king s trust in God 
is, and will be, the real ground of his success. 

Non commovebittir, shall not be made to falter and fail. 

9. The king is here addressed. The dative (inimicis) is here used 
for the classical ablative. The sense is : May none of thy foes 
escape thy avenging hand. The Hebrew reads : May thy hand 
find all thy foes, which expresses the same idea. 

10. Pones eos ut, thou shalt make them ; the ut reproduces 
the Hebrew It which is often used with verbs implying transforma 
tion. His enemies will be the fuel for His furnace of wrath. 

In tempore vultus tui, when thou dost appear (i.e. in thy anger). 

Dominus in ira sua, etc. This unexpected reference to the Lord 
in a passage addressed to the king is suspicious, and many critics 
are disposed to omit the last two clauses of this verse. 

11. Their fruit is their offspring. A filiis hominumso that 
they might be no longer numbered among men. It was not unusual 
in tribal wars of the early world to exterminate the males of a con 
quered tribe. 

12. Declinaverunt : Jerome has : inclinaverunt super te malum : 
they set their hearts to bring evil on him. But all their plans failed, 
they could not make them good (stabilire). 

13. Thou didst put them to flight (cf. Ps. xvii. 41). In reliquiis, 


as it stands is rather hopeless. Jerome translates : Junes tuos 
firmabis contra fades eorum, understanding, probably, a reference 
in funes to the string of a bow which is being stretched to shoot 
arrows at the face of the foe. In reliquiis is due apparently to the 
presence in the Hebrew text read by the Septuagint translators of 
ieter instead of the Massoretic metarim : ieter can mean both the 
string of a bow, and that which is left, or remnant. The Sept. trans 
lation followed the second meaning. The translation above gives 
the only rendering that is possible here, of in reliquiis , viz., by the 
surviving troops (or, by the loyal troops ) of the king. 

Praparabis, refers to the aiming of the arrows suggested by the 
bow-strings of the Massoretic text. 

14. A general prayer of the assembly, that the Lord may show 
His strength, so that Israel may continue to chant His glorious 
deeds (virtutes). 



THIS psalm is clearly Messianic. It reads in places almost 
like an eye-witness s account of the Crucifixion of Our 
Lord. The Gospels put the first words of this psalm in 
the mouth of the dying Saviour, and we may assume that 
the thoughts of this poem passed through the mind of Jesus even 
when His lips were unable to form the words of it. If the psalm is 
Davidic, it is rather of Christ than of David that it speaks. The 
structure of the poem is very simple. Verses 2-22 are a complaint 
and a prayer ; verses 23-32 are praise and thanks. The first part 
expresses the dreadful loneliness of Christ on the cross, and in His 
cruel agony : the second part announces the fulfilment of Christ s 
prayer, that, through His sorrows, the world might come to share in 
His triumph ; all the ends of the earth are shown hurrying to pay 
homage to the God of Israel. Here, as in most of the psalms of com 
plaint, there is a strikingly sudden transition from the deepest de 
jection to the most triumphant confidence. 

Modern critics are inclined to regard this psalm as of post-exilic 
origin. For these critics the woes of the psalmist are the woes of 
Israel in exile. The poem must be the story of a nation s sorrows, 
it is said, aince all the world will not turn to God with praise because 
of one man s deliverance ; not because of any single Israelite can all 
the kings of earth be summoned to adore the God of Israel. The 
Servant of the Lord in Isaias is depicted similarly to the sufferer 
of this poem, and the critics who identify the Servant with Israel or 
some section of Israel, find in that identification a reason for taking 
Psalm xxi as referring to the people of Israel as a whole, or to the 
most faithful section of the Hebrew Exiles. It is true that the 
Messianic meaning of a psalm is not excluded by the immediate and 
literal reference of the psalm to a particular historical personage 
or incident. But whatever the immediate subject of this psalm may 
be whether David, Ezechias or the Israelite nation, as has been 
variously conjectured the picture which it puts before us is more 
true of Christ, the Crucified, than it is of any other person whether 
individual or national. The victory of Christ is reason sufficient to 
bring all nations and kings of earth to pay homage to the God of 





1. In finem pro susceptione 
matutina, Psalmus David. 

2. Deus, Deus meus respice 
in me : quare me dereliquisti ? 
longe a salute mea verba de- 
lictorum meorum. 

3. Deus meus clamabo per 
diem, et non exaudies : et 
nocte, et non ad insipientiam 

For the choir-leader. According to " The 

Hind of the Dawn." A psalm of 

O God, my God, look Thou upon me ; 

why hast Thou abandoned me ? 
Remote make my rescue the sins which 

have been laid on me. 
My God, I pray in the day-time, and Thou 

payest no heed ; 
And in the night-time but not for my 

own sin. 

4. Tu autem in sancto habi- 
tas, laus Israel. 

5. In te speraverunt patres 
nostri : speraverunt, et liberasti 


6. Ad te clamaverunt, et 
salvi facti sunt : in te spera 
verunt, et non sunt confusi. 

4. Yet Thou dwellest in the Holy Place, 

Thou theme of Israel s song ! 

5. In Thee our fathers set their hope ; 

They hoped and Thou didst give them 

6. To Thee they cried, and they were 

rescued ; 

In Thee they hoped and were not put 
to shame. 

7. Ego autem sum vermis, et 
non homo : opprobrium homi- 
num, et abjectio plebis. 

8. Omnes videntes me, de- 
riserunt me : locuti sunt labiis, 
et moverunt caput. 

9. Speravit in Domino, eri- 
piat eum : salvum faciat eum, 
quoniam vult eum. 

10. Quoniam tu es, qui ex- 
traxisti me de ventre : spes mea 
ab uberibus matris meae. 

11. In te projectus sum ex 
utero : 

De ventre matris meas Deus 
meus es tu, 

12. Ne discesseris a me : 
Quoniam tribulatio proxima 

est : quoniam non est qui ad- 

13. Circumdederunt me vi- 
tuli multi : tauri pingues obse- 
derunt me. 

14. Aperuerunt super me os 
suum, sicut leo rapiens et 

15. Sicut aqua effusus sum : 
et dispersa sunt omnia ossa 

Factum est cor meum tam- 
quam cera liquescens in medio 
ventris mei. 

1 6. Aruit tamquam testa vir 
tus mea, et lingua mea adhaesit 
iaucibus meis : et in pulverem 
mortis deduxisti me. 

7. But, as for me, I am a worm and not a 


The scorn of men and the outcast of 
the people. 

8. All those who see me laugh me to scorn. 

With their lips they mock me, and they 
wag their head, [as they say] : 

9. "He hoped in the Lord ; let Him set him 

Since He finds His pleasure in him." 

10. For Thou indeed art He who didst bring 

me forth from the womb ; 
Thou art my hope from my mother s 

11. On Thee was I cast when (I was taken) 

from the womb ; 

From the womb of my mother Thou 
hast been my God. 

12. Depart not from me, for sorrow is near, 

For there is none (other) to give help. 

13. Many oxen surround me ; 

Fat bulls besiege me. 

14. They open their mouth against me, 

Like a rending and roaring lion. 

15. I am poured out like water, 

And all my bones are separated. 
My heart has become like wax 
That melteth within me. 

16. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, 
And my tongue cleaveth to my palate : 
And thou hast brought me down to the 
dust of death. 




17. Quoniam circumdederunt 
me canes multi : concilium ma- 
lignantium obsedit me. 

Foderunt manus meas et 
pedes meos : 

1 8. Dinumeraverunt omnia 
ossa mea. 

Ipsi vero consideraverunt et 
inspexerunt me : 

19. Diviserunt sibi vestimenta 
mea, et super vestem meam 
miserunt sortem. 

20. Tu autem Domine ne 
elongaveris auxilium tuum a 
me : ad defensionem meam 

21. Erue a framea Deus ani- 
mam meam : et de manu canis 
unicam meam : 

22. Salva me ex ore leonis : 
et a cornibus unicornium humi- 
litatem meam. 

7. A multitude of dogs surrounds me : 

A band of evildoers encompasses me : 
They dig through my hands and feet. 

1 8. They count all my bones ; 

They gaze on me and examine me. 

19. They divide among them my garments, 
And they cast lots for my tunic. 

20. But Thou, O Lord, keep not Thy rescue 

far from me ; 
Look down and help me ! 

21. Save my life, O God, from the sword, 

And my " sole belonging " from the 
power of the dogs ! 

22. Save me from the mouth of the lion, 

And save me, lowly one, from the 
horns of the " unicorn." 

23. Narrabo nomen tuum fra- 
tribus meis : in medio ecclesiae 
laudabo te. 

24. Qui timetis Dominum, 
laudate eum : universum semen 
Jacob glorificate eum. 

25. Timeat eum omne semen 
Israel : quoniam non sprevit, 
neque despexit deprecationem 
pauperis : 

Nee avertit faciem suam a 
me : et cum clamarem ad eum, 
exaudivit me. 

26. Apud te laus mea in ec- 
clesia magna : vota mea reddam 
in conspectu timentium eum. 

27. Edent pauperes, et satu- 
rabuntur : et laudabunt Do 
minum qui requirunt eum : 
vivent corda eorum in saeculum 

23. I will tell of Thy Name among my 


In the midst of the Assembly I will 
praise Thee. 

24. All ye who fear the Lord, praise Him ! 

All you seed of Jacob, extol Him ! 

25. Let all the seed of Israel fear Him ! 
For He hath not despised, nor rejected 

The prayer of the poor. 
He hath not hidden His face from me : 
When I cried to Him He heard me. 

26. For Thee is my song in the great As 

sembly ; 

My vows I will pay in the sight of 
those who fear Him. 

27. The poor shall eat and be sated, 

And they shall praise the Lord who 

seek Him ; 
Their hearts shall live for ever. 

28. Reminiscentur et conver- 
tentur ad Dominum universi 
fines terrae : 

Et adorabunt in conspectu 
ejus universae familiae Gentium. 

29. Quoniam Domini est re- 
gnum : et ipse dominabitur 

30. Manducaverunt et adora- 
verunt omnes pingues terra? : 
in conspectu ejus cadent omnes 
qui descendunt in terrain. 

31. Et anima mea illi vivet : 
et semen meum serviet ipsi. 

28. All the ends of the earth will be mind 

ful of the Lord, 

And will turn to Him ; 

And all the heathen nations shall wor 
ship before Him. 

29. For the Lord s is the Kingdom, 

And He will rule over the nations. 

30. The mighty ones of earth will eat and 

do homage ; 

Before Him shall bow all who go down 
to the dust. 

31. But my soul shall live for Him ; 

And my children shall serve Him. 


32. Annuntiabitur Domino 32. Tidings of the Lord will be given to a 

generatio ventura : et annuntia- race that is to come, 

bunt coeli justitiam ejus populo The heavens will tell of His justice 

qui nascetur, quern fecit Domi- To a people which shall arise, which 

nus. the Lord hath fashioned. 

1. The title, which appears in Vulgate as pro susceptione matutina, 
is in Hebrew, According to the hind of the dawn/ This was perhaps 
the name of the ancient melody to which the psalm was to be sung. 

2, 3. Christ recites the first words of this psalm in Aramaic as He 
hangs on the cross. He must have understood the psalm as being 
a prophecy of His own griefs. 

Longe a salute mea, etc. As Christ had done no sin, the delicta 
were the burden of our sins, which He took on Himself : the idea of 
vicarious suffering seems to be clearly expressed in the following 
verse : et non ad insipientiam mihi. The verba delictorum are not 
the words of sin, but the whole affair, the whole business of sin. 
It was this which stood between the Just One and His deliverance. 
The Hebrew is here quite different. It does not suggest so clearly 
the thought of vicarious suffering. It has nothing corresponding to 
Respice in me. It reads : " My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken 
me ! far from my rescue are the words of my wailing : my God, I 
cry in the day-time and Thou answerest not ; and even in the 
night and there is no silence(?) for me." Here the note of help 
lessness is perhaps stronger than in the Vulgate. 

4. Hebrew : And yet Thou art the Holy One that thronest on 
the praises of Israel/ The neglect of the singer is suggested to be 
out of harmony with the holiness of the Lord. The Vulgate in 
sancto must be taken as meaning in heaven/ The Vulgate makes 
the Lord the theme of Israel s songs of praise : the Hebrew, more 
poetically, represents Him as enthroned upon the songs of praise. 

5, 6. Israel hoped in the past and not in vain. Perhaps now also, 
God will help. 

7. God seems indeed to have utterly abandoned the psalmist. 
The nation Israel is called a worm in Is. xli. 14. But that is not a 
convincing reason for finding here a picture of a people, rather than 
of an individual. What follows refers most naturally to an individual. 

Opprobrium hominum, an object of men s contempt ; abjectio 
plebis, a thing cast away by the people. 

8. Locidi sunt labiis represents a Hebrew which would be better 
translated : distendunt rictum in labiis. Jerome has dimittunt 
labium ; the reference is to some sort of twisting of the lips as a 
sign of contempt. The wagging of the head is familiar as a mark 
of contempt. 

9. The words are spoken by the mockers. The Hebrew has : 
* Commit thyself to Yahweh/ Quoniam vult, because He hath 


82 THE PSALMS [21 

pleasure in him. So the High Priests and Scribes mocked Our Lord : 
Confidit in Deo : liberet nunc, si vult eum. 

10. Quoniam, yes, indeed ! It is true that the psalmist has 
at all times, put his trust in God. The mockers are right : he will 
go on trusting in the Lord, for it is to Him that he owes his being, 
and his safety up to the present. 

Ab uberibus, etc., Hebrew : on the breasts of my mother. 

11. The reference may be to the custom of placing the new-born 
babe in the lap of the father, who, by receiving it, acknowledged it 
as his own. Cf. Gen. xxx. 3 ; 1. 22 ; Job. iii. 12. 

De venire, since the time when I was in the womb. 

12. A bitter cry for help. The sorrow which was nigh is described 
in the following. 

13. The beasts symbolise the various enemies of the psalmist. 
For tauri pingues Hebrew has : the strong ones of Bashan. Bashan, 
the mountain district in the north of the East Jordan country, was 
famous for its pastures and its cattle (cf. Amos iv. i). It has let 
loose, as it were, its fiercest and wildest bulls against the psalmist. 

14. Aperuerunt, i.e. the enemies of the singer (or of Christ). 

15. The pouring out implies instability, helplessness ; the psalmist 
has no power over his limbs ; he is limp and almost paralysed. 

16. It has been proposed to read fauces mece instead of virtus mea. 
A comparatively slight change in the Hebrew characters would 
give the former meaning. But the change is not necessary. His 
vital energy is quite dried up. 

17. The foes are now symbolised by furious dogs. 

Foderunt, etc. There is a difference here between Hebrew and 
Vulgate, but the Hebrew is unsatisfactory, and the Vulgate seems 
to represent a better text. There can be little doubt that there is 
some reference here to crucifixion. The possibility cannot be excluded 
that in verses 15-19 we have a description of a crucifixion scene. 
Are we to understand the hostility of the enemies as showing itself 
in a great law-suit against the psalmist which may end in his con 
demnation to crucifixion ? If the enemy are judges as well as 
accusers the digging of hands and feet refers clearly to crucifixion. 
Crucifixion was a familiar mode of execution among the Persians, 
and we have evidence that the Persians sometimes, at least, nailed 
the victims to the cross. We know practically nothing of Hebrew 
methods of hanging on the tree so that the possibility of a 
reference to a nailing of a criminal to a cross in ancient Hebrew 
literature cannot be denied. 

18. The body of the sufferer is so spent and worn that the bones 
show clearly through. Hebrew has the first person for dinumera- 
verunt : I can count all my bones. 

19. The reference may be to a custom of dividing the victim s 
garments among the executioners (Matt, xxvii. 35). The vestimenta 


are the outer garments ; the vestis would be the tunic, or seamless 
robe of Christ (John xix. 24). 

21, 22. The anima is the same as the unica, and the humilitas ; 
his lowly life is the sole possession which the sufferer still holds. 

Unicornium : the Hebrew r* em means a wild bull, or perhaps, 
bison. The Old Latin translator is followed here by Jerome. There 
are ancient legends about monstrous creatures equipped with a 
single horn in the centre of the forehead (cf. Aristotle Partes Animalium 
iii. 2p. 6630, etc., etc. Caesar Bell. Gall. vi. 26, 2 ; and elsewhere 
in the ancient authors). The unicorn is mentioned again in 
Ps. xxviii. 6 ; Ixxvii. 69 ; xci. n ; Is. xxxiv. 7 ; in all these passages 
it translates Hebrew re em, or rem. 

23-25. Notice the sudden transition to confidence. The psalmist 
feels that his cause has prevailed, and for this he will ever thank 
the Lord. He calls on all Israel to join in his song of thanksgiving. 
Cf. Hebrews ii. 11-12 which puts verse 23 in {he mouth of Christ. 

26. Apud te, God is the occasion, and the theme, of the song. 

27. Some of the results of Christ s sufferings. 

28. The deliverance of Israel will bring the nations to the Lord : 
to Israel was first preached the glad tidings of Christ s redemption 
(Roms. i. 16, etc.) 

29. The universality of the Messianic kingdom. 

30. Manducaverunt, etc. The text is obscure both in Hebrew 
and Vulgate. The pingues terra are the great ones of earth, whether 
individuals or nations. 

Qui descendunt in ierram are those who go down to the grave 
(Hebrew : aphar=dust, i.e. the dust of the tomb) that is, those 
who must die, not those who are already dead. Manducaverunt may 
be taken as referring to the future. The verse, then, may be under 
stood thus : the powerful ones of earth shall eat of the victims offered 
in sacrifice in the Temple (or of the banquet of the Lord s Supper,) 
and shall offer their homage to God : those also who are in misfortune 
and doomed to a speedy death shall bow down before the Lord. The 
whole world will share in the fruits of Christ s victory, in the joy of 
the Messianic age. 

31. 32. Et anima mea illi vivit, the singer will live to celebrate 
the glory of the Lord. The Hebrew is : And whoso is unable to 
keep his soul alive ; this would be a gloss or a parallel to qui 
descendunt in terram. 

Annuntiabitur de Domino, to a race yet unborn. It is the 
justice of the Lord which has preserved Israel ; it will be proclaimed 
to peoples whom God has fashioned, but who are as yet unknown. 
(Annuntiabitur, etc., might also be rendered : The coming race will 
declare itself to the Lord. Quern fecit may mean : which the Lord 
will fashion. ) 



THE Lord s loving care for the psalmist is described here, first 
under the symbol of the Good Shepherd (1-4), and then 
under that of the generous host (5-6). As the shepherd 
feeds a flock, so the psalmist may be regarded as representing 
the community (the flock) of Israel. God is the Shepherd of Israel 
(cf. Exod. xxxiv. 11-19), and He is also the master of the house, who 
entertains Israel in the sacred banquets of the Temple. The singer 
seems to speak as one who has been through bitter trials (4) not 
merely as one who is ready to face with courage the unknown perils 
of the future. The difficulties of the ancient desert-so journings, or 
the trials of the Babylonian Exile may be here referred to. The 
tone of the psalm reminds one of the " Gradual Psalms." 

i. Psalmus David. 

i. A psalm of David. 

Dominus regit me, et nihil 
mihi deerit : 

2. In loco pascuae ibi me collo- 

Super aquam refectionis edu- 
cavit me : 

3. Animam meam convertit. 
Deduxit me super semitas 

justitiae, propter nomen suum. 

The Lord guideth me, and nothing is 

wanting to me, 

2. In the pasture He lets me rest. 
To refreshing waters He leadeth me ; 

He quickeneth my soul, 
He guideth me on the right path 
For His name s sake. 

4. Nam, et si ambulavero in 
medio umbrae mortis, non time- 
bo mala : quoniam tu mecum 

Virga tua, et baculus tuus : 
ipsa me consolata sunt. 

5. Parasti in conspectu meo 
mensam, adversus eos, qui tri- 
bulant me. 

Impinguasti in oleo caput 
meum : et calix meus inebrians 
quam praeclarus est ! 

6. Et misericordia tua sub- 
sequetur me omnibus diebus 
vitae meae : 

Et ut inhabitem in domo 
Domini, in longitudinem dierum. 

For even if I walk in the midst of the 

shadow of death, 
I fear not misfortune : 
Because Thou art with me ; Thy crook 

and Thy staff 
Do strengthen me. 

5. Thou preparest for me a banquet 

In the sight of mine enemies. 
Thou anointest my head with oil ; 

And the cup which refresheth me how 
goodly it is ! 

6. Thy kindness followeth me 

All the days of my life, 
So that I may dwell in the House of the 

For ever and ever. 



1. Regit, guides as a shepherd/ as Hebrew shows. 

2. The aqua refectionis are the waters by which the flocks find 
rest at noon-day. 

3. Animam meam convertit ; the soul which was departed, as it 
were, in fatigue, is brought back. The Shepherd guides the sheep 
on semitce justitice, i.e. due paths, the paths that lead surely and 
safely to the rest of evening and night. 

4. The darkness is that of the narrow deep valley, or gorge, as 
contrasted with the bright sunlight of the open pasture-land. The 
virga and the baculus are the shepherd s crook and staff which keep 
off thieves, and hostile wild beasts, and give the flock a sense of 
security (consolata, give confidence rather than comfort ) when 
it has to pass through places where such foes may lurk. The crook 
and staff in the hand of God are symbols of His wise and loving 
guidance. The idea of the Lord as the Shepherd of Israel is very 
common in the Psalms (Ixxix. 2 ; Ixxviii. 13. Cf. also Is. xl. n ; 
Gen. xlix. 24 : Our Lord makes use of this familiar idea when He 
describes Himself as the Good Shepherd (Lk. xv. 4-7 ; John x. 1-18). 

5. The second picture shows God as the host who entertains Israel 
at a banquet. The idea of hospitality, with all that it implied of 
the sacredness of guests and the duties of lavish generosity, often 
appears in Oriental literature. Like a splendid host God orders a 
heavily-laden banquet-table to be prepared. He fills the cups of 
His guests with the wine of His never-failing generosity, and pours 
on their heads the oil of festal gladness. This He does before the 
face of Israel s foes, as a king might give a banquet of honour to a 
man whose foes had sought to bring him to ruin, before the eyes of 
these same enemies. 

In the sacred banquets of the Temple the pious Israelite could 
feel that God was the Host and Master of the banquet. The sacri 
ficial service of the Temple would thus be the pledge of God s abiding 
presence in Israel ; and to dwell in the Lord s House would be the 
highest privilege which a pious Israelite could seek. 

For calix metis inebrians the Hebrew has : My cup is super 
abundance referring to the constant replenishing. 

6. The ut before inhabitem ought to be omitted. Though there 
is no immediate reference to the Banquet of the New Law, it will 
be seen how readily the verses 5 and 6 can be made applicable to it. 
For long-continued dwelling in the Temple cf. the account of Anna 

k. ii. 37). 




THE verses 4-6 answer the question ; Who is the friend and 
guest of the Lord ? (like Ps. xiv). The answer is : He 
whose thoughts and acts are pure. In verses 1-2 the majesty 
of the Lord, the Founder of the universe, is described. The 
sixth verse would form a very natural ending to what precedes ; 
and a very neat and beautiful poem, similar in theme to Ps. xiv, 
might be regarded as completed in verses 1-6. 

In verses 7-10 is celebrated a solemn entry of the Lord into His 
Sanctuary. Thus the second part of Psalm xxiii deals, like the first 
(verses 1-6), with entrance into the Sanctuary, but the first part 
(1-6) deals with the ethical conditions demanded from Israelites who 
will sojourn there ; while the second (7-10) speaks of the glorious 
entrance of the Lord into His own shrine. The poetical structure 
differs in the two parts of the psalm, and the view has often been 
expressed that we have in this psalm a combination of two poems 
which had originally nothing to do with each other. It might be well 
maintained that the second part of the psalm was chanted for the 
first time when David brought the Ark to Sion, and that it was after 
wards sung whenever the Ark was being carried back to its sanctuary 
at the close of a victorious military campaign, in which the Ark, 
as the symbol of God, had been carried on the battlefields. The 
words of the second part of the psalm would find a very natural 
explanation if they could be regarded as part of the liturgy recited 
at the return of the Ark from victorious warfare, but there is, un 
fortunately, no direct evidence that the Ark was carried out to battle 
during the monarchical period. 

Some recent commentators have conjectured that the whole 
psalm was composed for an annual Feast of Dedication of the Temple 
at which the Ark was carried out from its shrine, and borne back 
to it again. But there is no trace of such an annual festival in 
ancient Israel. 

The structure of verses 3-6 and of verses 7-10 is obviously dramatic 
and liturgical. A procession in both parts approaches the Temple, 
and voices from without and within are heard in question and reply. 
The translation suggests the order of speakers or singers. Cf. Ps. xiv ; 
Is. xxxiii. 14-16 ; Mich. vi. 8/. 




i. Prima Sabbati, Psalmus i. On the First day of the week. A psalm 
David. of David. 

Domini est terra, et plenitudo 
ejus : or bis terrarum, et uni- 
versi qui habitant in eo. 

2. Quia ipse super maria fun- 
davit eum : et super flumina 
praeparavit eum. t 

3. Quis ascendet in montem 
Domini ? aut quis stabit in loco 
sancto ejus ? 

4. Innocens manibus et mun- 
do corde, qui non accepit in 
vano animam suam, nee juravit 
in dolo proximo suo. 

5. Hie accipiet benedictionem 
a Domino : et misericordiam a 
Deo salutari suo. 

6. Hac est generatio quae- 
rentium eum, quaerentium fa- 
ciem Dei Jacob. 

7. Attollite portas principes 
vestras, et elevamini portas 
asternales : et introibit Rex 

8. Quis est iste Rex gloriae ? 

Dominus fortis et potens : 
Dominus potens in praelio. 

The world is the Lord s, and all that it 

holds ; 

The universe and everything that 
dwells therein. 

2. For He hath established it upon the seas ; 

And upon the waters He hath made it 

(The procession) 

3. Who shall ascend the mountain of the 

Lord ? 
And who shall stand in His holy place ? 

(The Priests at the Temple-entrance) 

4. He that is clean of hands, and pure of 

heart ; 

He that setteth not his desire on vanity. 
And sweareth not treacherously to his 


5. Such a one will receive blessings from the 


And graciousness from his God, who is 
so rich in help. 

6. Such are the men who seek Him, 

Who seek the face of the God of Jacob . 

(The procession with the Ark) 

7. Open, O Princes, your gates ! 

And raise yourselves, ye everlasting 

gates ! 
That the glorious King may enter in ! 

(A voice from within the sanctuary) 

8. Who is this glorious king ? 

(The procession) 

The Lord, the Mighty and Strong, 
The Lord who is powerful in battle ! 

9. Attollite portas principes 
vestras, et elevamini portae 
aeternales : et introibit Rex 

9. Open, O Princes, your gates ! 

And raise yourselves ye everlasting 

gates ! 
That the glorious King may enter in. 

(Voice within) 
10. Quis est iste Rex glorias ? 10. Who is this glorious king ? 

Dominus virtutum ipse est 
Rex glorias. 

The Lord of Hosts is the glorious King. 

i. Fy the title the psalm is assigned to Sunday because, perhaps, 
on that day creation began. Five days of the week have psalms 
assigned to them in the Septuagint, and one in the Hebrew. Sunday, 


Psalm xxiii ; Monday, Psalm xlvii ; Wednesday, Psalm xciii ; Friday, 
Psalm xcii ; Saturday, Psalm xci (both in Septuagint and Hebrew). 
There is some evidence that Psalm xcvi was assigned to Tuesday, 
and Psalm Ixxx to Thursday. 

2. The earth was, in the Hebrew idea, established on waters ; 
the maria are the waters beneath the earth, and the flumina are the 
currents of the underlying ocean. Cf. Genesis vii. u ; xlix. 25. 
From the under-world of ocean came springs and rivers. The glory 
of God is seen in this that He has set a firm world on a basis naturally 
unstable. It is clear that the psalmist s aim here is rather to extol 
the greatness of God than to teach a theory of cosmogony. The 
cosmogony here implied is the same as that of Gen. I, and Psalm ciii. 
(For praparare in sense of establish/ compare Ps. Ixiv. 7 ; Ixxxviii. 3 ; 
xxxii. 14, etc.) 

3. The connection with verse 2 is : God is the majestic Lord of 
the world. Who then can approach Him ? The answer is : Only 
the pure, for the Almighty One is also the All Holy One ! 

4. The vanum, probably, is evil/ Accipere animam is here a 
translation of nasa nephesh, lift up the soul/ or set the mind (to 
something). The Hebrew has nothing about the neighbour. That 
is added here, probably, from Ps. xiv. 3. 

5. Instead of misericordia we have fdakah (=justice) in Hebrew. 
The Latin (following the Greek) does not reproduce the Hebrew 
exactly here. 

6. Queer ere Deum is a technical Hebraism expressing devotion to 
God, and complete readiness to do His will. To seek the face of 
God was to come to worship in the Temple. With this insistence 
on the need of purity and truth in those who would enter the Sanctuary, 
may be compared the inscription often found at the entrance to the 
inner portions of Egyptian temples : Let him be pure who enters 
here ! 

7. The Hebrew is different. In the Hebrew text the gates of the 
city (or of the Temple), are called on to raise their heads : Raise, 
O ye gates, your heads ; rise, ye everlasting gates ! The entrances 
are too low, as it were, for the glory of the entering ark. The ever 
lasting gates are the ancient, venerable gates. Those who carry 
the Ark, and accompany it, address the gates (i.e. the Priests guarding 
the gates). 

8. The gates ask wonderingly : Who is the King ? The answer 
suggests that a victorious war had just been ended. The Lord is 
described in martial epithets. Note that it is only when the chief 
of the Lord s military epithets Yahweh S bha oth is given, that the 
gates are opened. 

9. 10. The repetition is for dramatic effect. 



THIS is an alphabetical psalm. The Averse is missing, and 
verse 22 beginning with p is supernumary, being, appar 
ently, a liturgical addition. The van which is wanting in 
verse 56 is easily supplied. The psalm is somewhat loosely 
put together ; it consists of prayers for help against oppressors, for 
guidance on the right path, for continuance of divine support, and 
for freedom from pain and enmity. The psalm may have been a 
sort of model prayer, to be used in all times of need and trouble. 
The last verse shows that it was used in the liturgy as a prayer for 
all Israel. 

i. In finem, Psalmus David. i. For the choir-leader. A psalm of David. 

2. Ad te Domine levavi ani- 
mam meam : Deus meus in te 
confido, non erubescam. 

3. Neque irrideant me ini- 
mici mei : etenim universi, qui 
sustinent te, non confundentur. 

4. Confundantur omnes ini- 
qua agentes supervacue. 

Vias tuas Domine demonstra 
mihi : et semitas tuas edoce me. 

5. Dirige me in veritate tua, 
et doce me : quia tu es Deus 
salvator meus, et te sustinui 
tota die. 

6. Reminiscere miserationum 
tuarum Domine, et misericor- 
diarum tuarum, quae a saeculo 

7. Delicta juventutis meae, et 
ignorantias meas ne memineris. 

Secundum misericordiam tu- 
am memento mei tu : propter 
bonitatem tuam Domine. 

8. Dulcis et rectus Dominus : 
propter hoc legem dabit de- 
linquentibus in via. 

9. Diriget mansuetos in judi- 
cio : docebit mites vias suas. 

10. Universae viae Domini, 
misericordia et veritas, requiren- 
tibus testamentum ejus et testi- 
monia ejus. 

2. To Thee, O Lord, I raise up my soul. 

O my God, I put my trust in Thee : let 
me not be brought to shame ! 

3. Nor let my enemies mock me ! 

For all who hope in Thee will not be 
brought to shame. 

4. May they all be brought to shame who 

do injustice without excuse (or, with 
out avail). 

Show me, O Lord, Thy ways ; 
And teach me Thy paths. 

5. Guide me in Thy truth, and be my 


For Thou art the God who can rescue 

And in Thee I put my trust the live 
long day. 

6. Be mindful, O Lord, of Thy deeds of 


And of Thy acts of kindness which have 
been done from days of old. 

7. Be mindful no longer of the offences of 

my youth (nor of my sins) : 
But be mindful of me in Thy loving 

(For the sake of Thy goodness, O Lord!) 

8. Kind and just is the Lord : 

Therefore He giveth a law to those who 
might fail on the way [of life]. 

9. He guideth the humble with justice : 

He teacheth the peaceful His ways. 
10. All the ways of the Lord are kindness and 

For those who are zealous for His 

Covenant, and His precepts. 
S 9 



11. Propter nomen tuum Do- 
mine propitiaberis peccato meo : 
multum est enim. 

12. Quis est homo qui timet 
Dominum ? legem statuit ei in 
via, quam elegit. 

13. Anima ejus in bonis de- 
morabitur : et semen ejus haere- 
ditabit terrain. 

14. Firmamentum est Domi- 
nus timentibus eum : et testa- 
mentum ipsius ut manifestetur 

15. Oculi mei semper ad Do 
minum : quoniam ipse evellet 
de laqueo pedes meos. 

1 6. Respice in me, et mise 
rere mei : quia unicus et pauper 
sum ego. 

17. Tribulationes cordis mei 
multiplicatae sunt : de necessi- 
tatibus meis erue me. 

1 8. Vide humilitatem meam, 
et laborem meum : et dimitte 
universa delicta mea. 

19. Respice inimicos meos 
quoniam multiplicati sunt, et 
odio iniquo oderunt me. 

20. Custodi animam meam, 
et erue me : non erubescam 
quoniam speravi in te. 

21. Innocentes et recti ad- 
haeserunt mihi : quia sustinui 

22. Libera Deus Israel, ex 
omnibus tribulationibus suis. 

11. For the sake of Thy name, O Lord, 

Pardon my sins, for they are many ! 

12. Who is he that feareth the Lord ? 

Him doth He teach the path which 
he should choose. 

13. Such a one will enjoy good fortune ; 

And his posterity will inherit the land. 

14. The Lord is a stay to those who fear Him : 

And His Covenant [is there] that it be 
made plain to them. 

15. My eyes are at all times turned to the 


For He releaseth my feet from the 

1 6. Look on me and pity me, 

For I am lonely and poor ! 

17. The cares of my heart are many. 

Rescue me from my sorrows ! 

1 8. Behold my lowliness, and my pain ; 

And pardon all my sins ! 

19. See how many are my foes, 

And with what bitter malice they 
hate me ! 

20. Guard me and rescue me ! 

Let me not be brought to shame ! 
For I have put my trust in Thee. 

21. The blameless and just unite themselves 

with me, 
For I do wait on Thee. 

22. Set Israel free, O God, from all her 

sorrows ! 

I. Levare animam translates the same Hebrew phrase as accipere 
animam of xxiii. 4. 

4. Supervacne may mean, without provocation or excuse, or, 
without any profit to themselves. If the iniqua agentes are, as some 
think, apostates, only the second explanation of supervacue can stand. 

The ways of God are here the sort of life which God prescribes. 

5. The truth is that which appears in God s Law. 

6. The mercy and grace are those shown to the fathers in 
the ancient days v.g., in the Exodus. 

7. The sins of youth were those committed in the early days of 
Israel s national life (as, for instance, the worship of the golden calf 
and the other sins of the Wanderings). The ignorantice seem to have 
been inserted to make the psalm suitable for private use ; these 
ignorantice are not such sins as were committed through inadvertence, 
but sins in general, acts of revolt against God (Hebrew pesha). 

8. Delinquentibus in via, ought to be, according to Hebrew, de- 


linquentibus monstrat viam. The sinners are the Israelites, and the 
"" way is the Law. 

9. The " humble " and " peaceful " are the poor and lowly, i.e. 
the pious Israelites. 

10. The ways of God here are His policy towards His people. 

11. The sense seems to be : Because Thou bearest the name 
" God of Israel," forgive Thy people Israel their sins ! 

13. Compare the Beatitudes. 

14. The second half of the verse is obscure. Possibly something 
has fallen out, thus : [It is His pleasure] to make known His 
covenant to them. 

21. The Hebrew has : May innocence and honour guard me - 
the two virtues being thought of as protecting Spirits sent by God. 

22. This is certainly an addition to the .poem. It does not fall 
into the alphabetical arrangement, and while Yahweh is used else 
where in the psalm, we have in this verse Elohim. 



IN this poem oppressed innocence prays for justice. The innocent 
who is also lowly and poor, is maltreated by the impious and 
bloodthirsty ; yet he holds firmly to his piety, confident that, 
at some time, his way of life will be smoothened and made 
straight for him. 

The psalm would suit any occasion in which oppressed innocence 
feels compelled to plead its claims. It might be sung, therefore, at 
any time by any pious Israelite who felt that his piety was not 
sufficiently remembered and rewarded. It is, however, better, per 
haps, to take the psalm as a public or communal prayer, intended 
to be sung on behalf of all Israel. The emphasis on the singer s 
innocence will thus become more intelligible. It will be noted that 
the singer claims to have many points of the ideal perfection outlined 
in Psalm i. The psalm is almost identical in content with Psalm c. 

i. In finem, Psalmus David. i. For the choir-leader. A psalm of David. 

Judica me, Domine, quoniam 
ego in innocentia mea ingressus 
sum : et in Domino sperans non 

2. Proba me, Domine, et 
tenta me : lire renes meos et : 
cor meum. 

3. Quoniam misericordia tua 
ante oculos meos est : et com- 
placui in veritate tua. 

4. Non sedi cum concilio va- 
nitatis : et cum iniqua gerenti 
bus non introibo. 

5. Odivi ecclesiam malignan- 
tium : et cum impiis non sedebo. 

Judge me, O Lord, for I walk in innocence, 
And in the Lord do I trust without 
falter ! 

2. Test me, O Lord, and try me ! 

Prove Thou my reins and my heart ! 

3. For ever-present is Thy kindness before 

And in Thy truth I find my pleasure. 

4. I sit not in the gathering of the godless ; 

And I have no converse with evil-doers. 

5. I hate the gathering of the evil-minded ; 

And with the godless I sit not. 

6. Lavabo inter innocentes 
manus meas : et circumdabo 
altare tuum, Domine : 

7. Ut audiam vocem laudis, 
et enarrem universa mirabilia 

8. Domine, dilexi decorem do- 
mus tuae, et locum habitationis 
gloriae tuae. 

6. I wash my hands in innocence ; 

And I walk in procession round Thy 

7. To hear the words of praising song, 

And to chant of all Thy wondrous 

8. O Lord, I love Thy beauteous House, 

And the place where Thy glory 
dwelleth ! 



9. Ne perdas cum impiis 9. Destroy not my soul with the impious, O 
Deus, animam meam, et cum God, 

viris sanguinum vitam meam. Nor my life with men of blood ; 

10. In quorum manibus ini- 10. On whose hands injustice abideth, 
quitates sunt : dextera eorum And whose right hand is full of bribes, 
repleta est muneribus. 

1 1 . Ego autem in innocentia 1 1 . But I do walk in blamelessness ; 
mea ingressus sum : redime me, Rescue me and pity me ! 

et miserere mei. 

12. Pes meus stetit in directo : 12. My foot is on the straight path ; 

in ecclesiis benedickm te, Do- In the assemblies I will praise Thee, 

mine. Lord ! 

1. Judica, procure for me justice/ Hitherto the impious have 
deprived the psalmist of his rights. Innocentia, blamelessness, piety. 

2. Ure is parallel to proba and tenta. The reins and heart are 
the seat of feeling, and must, therefore, be tested by the " Tester of 
reins and hearts." 

3. The kindness is the graciousness which the Lord has shown 
to Israel, and the truth is, probably, the truth which finds expression 
in the Law. 

4. Cf. Ps. i. Vanitas, sin/ The iniqua gerentes are, in Hebrew, 
the hidden ones because their actions could not endure the light. 

5. Cf. again Ps. i. 

6. 7. Inter innocentes, Hebrew : in innocency ; the washing 
means keeping oneself from sin. According to the Hebrew the 
washing of the hands symbolises the cleanness of the psalmist s heart. 
Inter innocentes suggests that, if the psalmist is among the perfect, 
he is perfect himself. The priests were bound to wash their feet and 
hands before approaching the altar. So the singer, who represents 
himself here as approaching the altar, makes himself clean. There 
seems to be here a reference to a solemn procession around the altar 
during a ceremony of thanksgiving. The vox laudis is part of the 
ceremony, and the theme of the " Lauds " was mainly the wonderful 
mercy of God towards Israel the universa mirabilia tua. 

8. The singer finds it an intense pleasure to share in the thanks 
giving-service, and in the other services of the Temple. The gloria 
is the concrete manifestation of God s glory in the Holy of Holies. 
There is a reference also to the visible glory in which God used to 
appear in the early days. Vid. Exod. xvi. 10 ; 3 Kings viii. n ; 
Ps. Ixxxiv. 10. 

9-12. He prays that he may not die the sudden and bitter death 
of the godless murderers, robbers, and corrupters of justice. His 
way is in innocence, in directo on the smooth path on which there is 
no stumbling : if he has not yet found his path smooth and pleasant, 
his faith makes him confident that it will be peaceful and secure in 
the future. 



THIS psalm, like Psalm xxiii, has two clearly distinguishable 
parts. In the first (verses 1-6) the singer expresses his 
complete trust in the Lord, and his love for the Lord s 
dwelling-place which guarantees protection against all 
danger. In the second part (7-14) he pleads for pity and mercy in 
his need ; he is abandoned, and he is attacked by foes, but he is 
still full of confidence that the Lord will rescue him, and give him 

The great contrast between the two parts has here also suggested 
the theory that the psalm is a combination of two originally uncon 
nected poems. Yet the two parts seem, somehow, to balance each 
other, and to refer to each other. Compare the hope expressed in 
verse 4 with that expressed in verse 13. The whole psalm might be 
taken as the song of an Israelite in exile and oppressed, who longs to 
share again in the liturgy of the Divine Service, and whose courage is 
upheld by the thought of the protecting presence in the Sanctuary of 
Israel of the God who has, in all times of need, sustained His servants 
of the chosen race. The longing to share in the ritual, and the desire 
to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living/ belong to 
the same frame of mind which shows itself in Ps. xxii, xxiii and xxv 
(cf. especially xxv, 6-8). It is difficult, but not, of course, impossible, 
to suppose that David was thus full of longing to share in the liturgy 
of the Tabernacle during his troubles with Saul. The superscription 
before he was anointed is not in the Hebrew, and is wanting in 
most of the Greek codices. (There are three Biblical accounts of the 
anointing of David : I Kings xvi ; II Kings ii, and II Kings v, and 
the superscription may be referred to any one of them.) 

1. Psalmus David priusquam i. A Psalm of David before he was anointed, 

Dominus illuminatio mea, et The Lord is my light and my salvation, 
salus mea, quern timebo ? Whom have I to fear ? 

Dominus protector vitae meae. The Lord is the guardian of my life, 
a quo trepidabo ? Before whom shall I tremble ? 

2. Dum appropiant super me 2. While evil-doers draw nigh against me, 
nocentes, ut edant carnes meas : To devour my flesh, 

Qui tribulant me inimici mei, My enemies who oppress me 

ipsi infirmati sunt, et ceciderunt. Grow powerless and sink down. 





3. Si consistant adversum me 
castra, non timebit cor meum. 

Si exsurgat adversum me prae 
lium, in hoc ego sperabo. 

4. Unam petii a Domino, 
hanc requiram, ut inhabitem in 
domo Domini omnibus diebus 
vitae meae : 

Ut videam voluptatem Do 
mini, et visitem templum ejus. 

5. Quoniam abscondit me in 
tabernaculo suo : in die malo- 
rum protexit me in abscondito 
tabernaculi sui. 

6. In petra exaltavit me : 

3. If a whole army should encamp against 


My heart feeleth no fear. 
If battle should rage against me 
I still am confident. 

4. One thing I have begged for from the 


And it I long for 
To dwell in the House of the Lord 

During all my days, 
That I may gaze on that in which the 

Lord delights, 
And visit His Sanctuary. 

5. For He hideth me in His tent. 

On the evil day ; 

He guardeth me in the secret places of 
His tent ; 

6. On a rock He hath set me up. 

Et nunc exaltavit caput me 
um super inimicos meos. 

Circuivi, et immolavi in taber 
naculo ejus hostiam vociferatio- 
nis : cantabo, et psalmum dicam 

7. Exaudi Domine vocem me- 
am, qua clamavi ad te : miserere 
mei, et exaudi me. 

8. Tibi dixit cor meum, ex- 
quisivit te facies mea : faciem 
tuum Domine requiram. 

And now He doth raise up my head 

Above my foes. 
I draw nigh, and offer in His tent 

A sacrifice with trumpet-clang. 
I will sing and hymn unto the Lord. 

Hear, O Lord, my voice with which I cry 
to Thee ! 

Have pity on me and hear me. 
To Thee my heart doth speak 

My glance doth seek Thee. 

I long for Thy countenance, O Lord. 

9. Ne avertas faciem tuam a 
me : ne declines in ira a servo 

Adjutor meus esto : ne dere- 
linquas me, neque despicias me 
Deus salutaris meus. 

10. Quoniam pater meus, et 
mater mea dereliquerunt me : 
Dominus autem assumpsit me. 

9. Turn not Thy face from me 

Turn not away in anger from Thy 


Be Thou my Helper. 
Abandon me not, and despise me not, 

O God my Saviour 

10. Though father and mother abandon me, 
The Lord doth rescue me. 

11. Legem pone mihi Domi 
ne in via tua : et dirige me in 
semitam rectam propter inimi 
cos meos. 

12. Ne tradideris me in ani- 
mas tribulantium me : quoniam 
insurrexerunt in me testes ini- 
qui, et mentita est iniquitas 

13. Credo videre bona Do 
mini in terra viventium. 

14. Exspecta Dominum, viri- 
liter age : et confortetur cor 
tuum, et sustine Dominum. 

ix. Give me a law, O Lord, for Thy way ; 
And guide me on the right path, 
Because of my foes. 


12. Abandon me not to the desires of 

oppressors : 

When false witnesses arise against me, 
Godlessness becometh openly a liar. 

13. I am confident that I shall see the good 

ness of the Lord 
In the land of the living. 

14. Trust in the Lord ! 

Act boldly, and let thy heart be 

And wait for the Lord ! 

96 THE PSALMS [26 

1. The Lord is the Light which dispels the darkness of grief and 
trouble. He is the shield which protects from all attack. 

2. The nocentes (=maligni) come like raging wild beasts ready to 
devour him. There is no question here of a metaphorical use of 
edere carnes : the metaphor lies in representing the enemies as 
savage wild beasts, and that kind of metaphor is frequent in the 

The enemies are themselves smitten by the misfortune which 
they would bring on the psalmist. Of course, we do not know 
anything definite about the situation here implied. 

3. In hoc, in spite cf this. 

4. Unam translates the Hebrew feminine, which does duty for 
the neuter. The singer here clearly states a desire to dwell in the 
House of the Lord. There is not question merely of dwelling near 
the Temple or Tabernacle, and of coming to see the ritual, but of 
actually remaining permanently in the Holy House so as to share 
in all the Divine Worship of the shrine. The voluptas is that in 
which God finds His delight i.e. the whole ceremonial of sacrifice 
and worship generally in the Sanctuary. The Hebrew speaks of the 
loveliness of the Lord which is the same thing from the point of 
view of the zealous worshipper. Visitem does not fit in well with 
the context since the singer is, in his desire, already within the 
Sanctuary. The Hebrew text is, however, not helpful towards a 
better or any rendering. 

5. The Sanctuary, and the cult therein, are the pledge and source 
of Israel s, and particularly of Jerusalem s, security. 

6. The security of an inaccessible cliff is guaranteed to Jerusalem 
by the presence of the Dwelling of the Lord. 

Circuivi is represented in Hebrew by an adverbial phrase to be 
read with the preceding my enemies round about me. The Latin 
might be taken as implying a processional movement about the 

The hostia vociferationis is, perhaps, a sacrifice accompanied by 
clang of trumpets. In Numbers x, io/ we hear of special sacrifices 
offered with blowing of trumpets ; but there is no need to assume 
that the hostia vociferationis is one of those, or that it means anything 
more than a thanksgiving sacrifice accompanied by song (and possibly 

8. The Hebrew is different here : Thine (i.e. Thy command), 
says my heart, is the " Seek-ye-my-face," and, therefore, O Yahweh, 
do I seek Thy face. His heart reminds him of the divine command 
to seek the face of God. 

10. Even should father and mother abandon him an idea 
natural enough in the East where exposure of infants has always 
been known. 

11. The " Law " will be a guide on the way. 


Propter inimicos i.e. so that they may not triumph. 

12. Animas, the will, or desire. 

Et mentita est iniquitas sibi their false evidence betrays itself, 
shows itself clearly to be false. The Hebrew is difficult here also. 

13. The bona Domini might include the splendours of Divine 
worship (cf. verse 4). The land of the living is this world, as opposed 
to Sheol. 

14. The singer<may be regarded as here addressing his own heart. 
Sustine, wait confidently for (cf. Ps. xxxvi. 9 ; xxiv. 3, 5, 21). 



THIS psalm is at once a prayer for rescue from peril, and for 
vengeance against enemies (verses 1-5), and a thanksgiving 
for the hearing of the prayer. 

The occasion of the poem is unknown. It was composed 
at a time when there was a generally acknowledged king upon the 
throne (verses 8-9). The ascription of the psalm to a king is reason 
able, and there is no serious intrinsic difficulty against its Davidic 

i. Psalmus ipsi David. 

i. A psalm of David. 

Ad te Domine clamabo, Deus 
meus ne sileas a me : nequando 
taceas a me, et assimilabor 
descendentibus in lacum. 

2. Exaudi Domine vocem de- 
precationis meae dum oro ad 
te : dum extollo manus meas ad 
templum sanctum tuum. 

To Thee, O Lord, do I cry. 

Turn not in silence from me, O my God, 
That Thou mayest not abandon me, and 
I may not become like those 

Who sink down into the grave. 
Hear, O Lord, my words of petition, 

When I pray to Thee ! 
When I raise my hands 

Towards Thy holy temple ! 

3. Ne simul trahas me cum 
peccatoribus : et cum operanti- 
bus iniquitatem ne perdas me. 

Qui loquuntur pacem cum 
proximo suo, mala autem in 
cordibus eorum. 

4. Da illis secundum opera 
eorum, et secundum nequitiam 
adinventionum ipsorum. 

Secundum opera manuum eo 
rum tribue illis : redde retribu- 
tionem eorum ipsis. 

5. Quoniam non intellexerunt 
opera Domini, et in opera 
manuum ejus destrues illos, et 
non aedificabis eos. 

6. Benedictus Dominus : quo- 
niam exaudivit vocem depreca- 
tionis meae. 

7. Dominus adjutor meus, et 
protector meus : in ipso speravit 
cor meum, et adjutus sum. 

Et refloruit caro mea : et ex 
voluntate mea confitebor ei. 

3. Snatch me not away with sinners ; 

And destroy me not with evil-doers, 
Who speak words of peace to their neigh 
But have malice in their hearts. 

4. Reward them according to their works 

And according to their evil deeds. 
According to the deeds of their hands 

requite them ! 
Let them have their due reward ! 

5. For they pay no heed to the works of 

the Lord, 

And the deeds of His Hands. 
Pull Thou them down, and build them 

not up. 

6. Praised be the Lord, for He heareth 

The words of my prayer. 

7. The Lord is my help and my protection : 

My heart did hope in Him ; 
And help has been given me, and my flesh 

is again refreshed, 
And gladly do I praise Him. 



8. Dominus fortitude plebis 8. The Lord is the strength of His people, 
SU33 : et protector salvationum And the rescuing Protector of His 
Christi sui est. anointed. 

9. Salvum fac populum tuum 9. Help Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy 
Domine, et benedic haereditati possession ! 

tuse : et rege eos, et extolle And guide them and bear them up for 

illos usque in aeternum. ever ! 

1. Ne sileas a me, is a pregnant construction : Do not turn 
from my prayer in contemptuous silence/ It is the same as ne 

2. Raising the hands, palms upward, was the usual gesture of 
prayer. The Hebrew has towards Thy holy D e bhir, i.e. the inner 
most shrine, the Holy of Holies. 

3. The godless are here depicted as a booty which the Divine 
Hunter captures. 

5. The opera Dei are the signs of the times, present and past, 
wherein men could read the judgments of God. Hardened sinners 
do not heed (intellexerunt) , and, therefore, do not appreciate, the 
ways of God. The prayer for the pulling down of his foes may sound 
strangely from the lips of David But his enemies were those of 
God, and of God s people, and it must be remembered that we also 
pray ut inimicos sanctce ecdesia humiliare digneris. 

6. The singer feels that his prayer is granted or about to be 

8. Salvationum the Lord shows His protection in many ways. 
The construction is like Deus justiticz, etc. 

9. Israel is a hcereditas, i.e. a peculiar and permanent possession, 
of the Lord. Rege, i.e. (according to Hebrew) as a shepherd. Extolle 
illos , carry them/ as a shepherd carries a strayed or wearied sheep. 
C/. Isaias Ixiii. 9 ; In his love and pity He rescued them ; and He 
raised them up, and carried them all the days of old/ 



THE author of this psalm is inspired by the glory of a great 
thunder-storm. The whole course of the storm, from the 
first gathering of the threatening clouds to the last terrific 
crash of thunder, is described. Seven times the singer cries 
out : Kol Yahweh ! vox Domini ! as if to echo the peals of thunder. 
The first words of the song are an appeal to the angels to give honour 
and praise to the Lord of the storm ; and the poem itself in general 
may be regarded as the praising song of the angels heard above the 
fury of the storm. The concluding verse voices the thought that a 
Lord so mighty as He whose voice is the thunder, can give peace and 
security to His people. 

This is one of the nature-psalms the poems which deal with the 
greatness and majesty of God, as shown forth in nature (cf. Ps. viii 
and xviii). Palestine, with its contrasts of desert, sea, and highland, 
supplies an almost perfect stage for the furious scenery of terrific 
thunderstorms. The psalm reflects the primitive standpoint which 
finds the chief terror of the storm in the voice of God the thunder, 
rather than in the lightning-flash. The whole tone of the psalm is 
ancient, and the concluding verse suggests that Israel was still great 
and powerful as a State, when the song was composed. 

i. Psalmus David. In con- 
summatione tabernaculi. 

i. A psalm of David. At the close of the 
feast of Tabernacles. 

Afferte Domino filii Dei 
afferte Domino filios arietum. 

2. Afferte Domino gloriam et 
honorem, afferte Domino glori 
am nomini ejus : adorate Do- 
minum in atrio sancto ejus. 

3. Vox Domini super aquas, 
Deus majestatis intonuit : Do- 
minus super aquas multas. 

4. Vox Domini in virtute : 
vox Domini in magnificentia. 

5. Vox Domini confringentis 
cedros : et confringet Dominus 
cedros Libani : 

Sacrifice to the Lord, O ye children of 

Offer in sacrifice young rams to the 


Give to the Lord praise and honour. 
Give to the Lord praise of His name, 
Worship the Lord in His sacred shrine. 

[Hark !] The voice of the Lord o er the 

waters ! 
The mighty God makes the thunder to 


The Lord over the great waters ! 
The voice of the Lord in strength ! 
The voice of the Lord in splendour ! 
The voice of the Lord who shatters the 

cedars ! 
Yea, the Lord doth shatter the cedars 

of Lebanon, 


6. Et comminuet eas tarn- 6. And dasheth them headlong like the calf 
quam vitulum Libani : et dile- of Lebanon, 

ctus quemadmodum films uni- Even if it is prized as highly as a young 

cornium. unicorn. 

7. Vox Domini intercidentis 7. The voice of the Lord who cleaveth the 
flammam ignis : flame of fire ! 

8. Vox Domini concutientis 8. The voice of the Lord who maketh the 
desertum : et commovebit Domi- desert to tremble ! 

nus desertum Cades. Yea ! the Lord maketh to tremble the 

* desert of Kadesh. 

9. Vox Domini praeparantis 9. The voice of the Lord who bringeth hinds 
cervos, et revelabit condensa : to the bearing, 

et in templo ejus omnes dicent And sweepeth away the foliage of the 

gloriam. thicket ! 

But in all His temple they cry 
" Glory ! " 

10. Dominus diluvium inha- 10. The Lord dwelleth in the Flood ; 
bitare facit : et sedebit Do- And so sitteth enthroned as King for 
minus rex in aeternum. ever. 

1 1 . Dominus virtutem populo 1 1 . The Lord will give to His people strength ; 
suo dabit : Dominus benedicet The Lord will bless His people with 
populo suo in pace. peace. 

1. In consummaiione tabernaculi, for the close of the Feast o 
Tabernacles/ The phrase bears no reference to the setting up of 
the Tabernacle. In Hebrew liturgy of the present day the psalm is 
used as a Pentecost psalm. 

The filii dei are probably the angels though the expression 
might refer to the pious among men (cf. Ps. Ixxxviii. 7). (The ex 
planation which makes the sons of God, = the Levites is improbable.) 

2. The angels are represented as appearing before God in some 
kind of sacred ritual. In the heavenly palace there is an altar, round 
which angel-priests, arrayed in garments of wondrous splendour 
(Hebrew in holy adornment instead of, in atrio sancto), minister. 

The Hebrew has nothing corresponding to the filii arietum, young 
rams. The graphic similarity between the plurals of el (God) and 
ayil (ram) may have brought the reference to the young rams 
into the Septuagint and Vulgate. If we retain it, we must suppose 
that the ritual worship of heaven is thought of as including holo 
causts, as well as songs of praise. 

In atrio sancto would, in the context, naturally mean in heaven ; 
but, as already noted, the corresponding phrase in the Hebrew 
describes the dress of the ministering angels. (With the psalmist s 
invitation to the angels to praise the Lord, compare Ps. cii. 20 ; 
cxlviii 2.) 

3. The angels are called on to worship God because of the exceed 
ing greatness of the majesty which is shown forth in the thunder 
storm. Vox Domini, is the thunder. 

102 THE PSALMS [28 

4ff. The storm comes from the Mediterranean, and sweeps inland 
over the hills, and southwards over the desert. The mighty cedars 
of Lebanon are mere toys of the storm. The whole forest of Lebanon 
and Hermon is swayed to and fro ( dances ) in the storm, and then 
is hurled headlong down the mountain side. 

6. This is one of the most difficult texts of the Vulgate Psalter. 
The Hebrew is clear enough : He makes Lebanon skip like a calf ; 
and Sirion like a young unicorn. Sirion is the Phoenician name for 
Hermon, and the poet pictures the swaying of the forest-trees after 
the fashion of the skipping of a calf or young bison. But the 
Latin gives us dilectus instead of Sirion and speaks of shattering the 
Calf of Lebanon ; further, Dilectus quemamodum filius unicornium 
seems to be, in the Vulgate, an independent sentence. It has been 
suggested that dilectus represents Sion, and that the sense is, Even 
Sion dances in the thunderstorm like a young bison. The Hebrew 
is here obviously preferable to the Vulgate. (Does the use of the 
Phoenician name Sirion for Hermon imply that this poem was written 
in the Northern Kingdom ? The poem is, beyond all dispute, very 
ancient.) l 

7. The lightning also is dreadful. (The phrase, cleaving of the 
flame is obscure, and the text is, probably, defective.) 

8. From western sea and northern highland the storm sweeps 
down to the southern steppes to the district of Kadesh. Here the 
earth itself begins to tremble, as in an earthquake, at the voice of 
the Lord. 

9. 10. Animals in their terror bring forth their young untimely. 
The trees of the forest shake off their leaves in fear. Yet, while earth 
is full of quaking at the majesty that overwhelms it, the heavenly- 
choir of angel-priests cries out, Glory ! The deluge which follows 
the thunder-storm reminds the poet of the Great Deluge. Now, as 
then, the God of nature sits untroubled on His throne. (Compare 
Ps. xcvi, especially xcvi. 1-9.) 

ii. Surely a God so mighty will help His own people is the 
poet s last reflection on the stonn. Thus it may be said that the 
psalm begins with Gloria in excelsis and ends with in terra pax. 

1 For Siryon as Phoenician (Sidonian) name of Hermon, see Deut. iii. 9. 
The mountain is called Sanir in Assyrian texts. The substitution of dilectus for 
Siryon is due to the circumstance that the Greek translators read in their Hebrew 
text, y e shurun; instead of w e siryon (=and Siryon). Y e shurun appears as a 
honorific name of Israel in Deut. xxxii. 15 ; xxxiii. 5, 26 ; Is. xliv; 2, and in all 
these places it is represented in the Septuagint by 17701 TTTJ/^OS (dilectus). In 
Deut. xxxii. 15. the Vulgate represents Y e shurun by dilectus , in the other texts 
of Deuteronomy the Vulgate gives the more correct rendering rectissimus. It 
is difficult to explain why the Septuagint represents Y e shurun by 9770,^77/^05. 
(See note Ps. Ixvii. 13). It would appear as if the Greek translators of this 
psalm took the shattering of the cedars of Lebanon .as symbolical of the destruc 
tion of the peoples and princes who should oppose the Messianic King. Israel, 
as the people of the Messias, would naturally be thought of as helping Him to 
destroy His foes. 




THE singer was at the point of death when he was rescued. 
In his great need he prayed, and his prayer was heard. For 
this he thanks, and will always thank, his Helper, God. 

There is nothing in the psalm to exclude Davidic origin. 
It may be a song of thanksgiving arising out of some situation of 
David s career. Possibly it deals with the deadly peril which over 
shadowed Israel in the pestilence by which David s overweening pride 
(cf. verses 7-8) was punished (II Kings xxiv.). During the pestilence 
David and his household wore the garment of mourning of which 
verse 12 speaks (I Par. xxi. 16). The psalm would, in this view, 
deal rather with the griefs of the nation Israel, than with the personal 
experience of the poet. The words of the title : Canticum (more 
correct than Cantici: see note i.) in dedicatione domus are a late 
addition, due, probably, to the circumstance that this psalm was 
sung at the Feast of Dedication established by Judas Maccabeus 
in 165 B.C. (I Mace. iv. 48-59 ; cf. John x. 22). There is nothing in 
the psalm to show that it was written for that Feast. 

i Psalmus Cantici. In dedi- i. A psalm: for the dedication of the 
catione domus David. Temple ; by David. 

2. Exaltabo te Domine quo- 2. I praise Thee, O Lord, for Thou dost 
niam suscepisti me : nee de- guard me, 

lectasti inimicos meos super me. And givest not to my enemies joy 

over me ! 

3. Domine Deus meus cla- 3. O Lord, my God, I cried to Thee, 
mavi ad te, et sanasti me. And Thou didst heal me : 

4. Domine eduxisti ab inferno 4. O Lord, Thou hast drawn forth my soul 
animam meam : salvasti me a from the underworld ; 
descendentibus in lacum. Thou hast rescued me from out of those 

that go down into the pit. 

5. Psallite Domino sancti 5. Sing to the Lord, ye who worship Him, 
ejus : et confitemini memorise And praise His holy name ! 
sanctitatis ems. 

6. Quoniam ira in indigna- 6. For chastisement is through His wrath ; 
tione ejus : et vita in voluntate And life through His favour. 

e i us . If there are tears in the evening, 

Ad vesperum demorabitur fle- There will be joy in the morning, 

tus : et ad matutinum Isetitia. 

J0 4 



7. Ego autem dixi in abun- 
dantia mea : Non movebor in 

8. Domine in voluntate tua, 
praestitisti decori meo virtutem. 

Avertisti faciem tuam a me, 
et factus sum conturbatus. 

9. Ad te Domine clamabo : 
et ad Deum meum deprecabor. 

10. Quae utilitas in sanguine 
meo, dum descendo in corruptio- 
nem ? 

Numquid confitebitur tibi pul- 
vis, aut annuntiabit veritatem 
tuam ? 

11. Audivit Dominus, et mi- 
sertus est mei : Dominus factus 
est adjutor meus. 

12. Convertisti planctum me 
um in gaudium mihi : conscidi- 
sti saccum meum, et circumde- 
disti me laetitia : 

13. Ut cantet tibi gloria mea, 
et non compungar : Domine 
Deus meus in aeternum confite- 
bor tibi. 

7. I said in my great happiness : 

" I will never fail." 

8. In Thy good pleasure, O Lord, Thou 

hadst added strength to my fair out 
ward seeming ; 

But then Thou didst turn Thy face 
from me, and I was dismayed. 

9. To Thee, O Lord, I cried ; 

And to my God I prayed. 
10. " What profit is there in my blood, when 
I go down to the grave ? 

Can mere dust praise Thee, and pro 
claim Thy faithfulness ? " 

1 1 . The Lord heard me and took pity on me ; 
The Lord became my Helper, 

12. Thou hast turned my plaint into joy ; 

Thou hast rent my garments of 

And hast clad me with gladness. 

13. So that my soul may sing to Thee, 

And I need not keep the silence of grief. 
O Lord, my God, for ever I will praise 

1. Psalmus cantici is difficult to explain. Canticum translates 
Hebrew shir, which has a wider meaning than mizmor (represented 
by psalmus). This double designation is found also in the 
superscriptions of Psalms xlvii, Ixvi, Ixvii, Ixxiv, Ixxxvi, xci. 
The combination in inverted form Canticum psalmi, is found in 
Psalms Ixv, Ixxxii, Ixxxvii, cvii. Possibly the superscription has 
arisen here through the insertion of shir hanukkath habbayith ( a song 
for the Dedication of the Temple ), in the familiar combination 
mizmor I Dawid. We should, in this view, translate : A psalm by 
David, an Ode for the Dedication of the Temple. The inserted 
clause would be the work of a late liturgical editor (living about 
165 B.C.). 

2. Suscepisti me, drawn me forth. Captives were often kept 
in a cistern or well. Cf. Jerome xxxviii. 6-13. 

4. David (or Israel) was at death s door when rescue came. In 
spirit, the singer was already in Sheol when he turned to God in 
passionate prayer for help. 

5. The prayer was heard, and thanksgiving follows at once on 
the granting of the petition. 

6. The Hebrew is here different : His anger endures but a 
moment, but a life-time His favour. The second half of the verse 
expresses the swift and sudden change from sadness to joy. Mis 
fortune and suffering are the tokens of God s displeasure ; they 


disappear when God makes the light of His face shine again on the 

7. Here is described the attitude of the singer when the sudden 
misfortune overtook him. 

8. The Vulgate means : Thou didst add to external honour 
external power. The Hebrew says : Thou hadst set me up in Thy 
favour on firm mountains. He had been overweeningly confident 
that God s favour would continue. He felt sure he could not fail. 
Then, all at once, came sickness, or other misfortune, and death and 
failure were close at hand. Then the singer burst out into the pro 
testing prayer to which he referred before in verse 3. If he dies, God 
will no longer receive the homage of his praise, particularly, the 
homage of his praise of the divine fidelity. The thought is similar 
to that of Ps. vi. 6 and Ps. cxv. 6. Cf. also the following psalm 
passages : Ixxxvii. 6, 12 ; cxiii. 17 ; cxlv. 2, 4 ; cxvii. 17 ; and also 
Job x. 21, 22 ; vii. 9 ; Is. xxxviii. 18 ; Eccles. ix. 10. 

12. The saccus is the garment of penance and mourning. With 
circumdedisti Icetitia cf. scuto bonce voluntatis tucz coronasti nos (v. 13). 
The close-clinging garment of sorrow God has pulled off, and replaced 
by a festive robe. 

13. Gloria=anima, i.e. I will sing to Thee. Cf. for this use of 
gloria, Ps. Ivi. 9 ; Exurge gloria, mea ; exurge psalterium et cithara. 
In both cases, however, gloria may be some kind of song of praise, 
so that here the meaning may be : that a never ending song may 
hymn Thee/ 

Compungar, Jerome has : et non taceat. The meaning is : That 
I may not be so overcome by grief as to be forced to keep silence. 



THERE is no very definite development of idea throughout 
this psalm. It contains expressions of confidence, petition, 
complaint, and thanksgiving, and these do not, in e very- 
case, seem to pass over into each other naturally. The 
poem gives the impression of being built up on conventional lines of 
liturgical psalmody, and does not appear to be a natural expression 
of personal or communal experience. The title pro extasi which is 
wanting in several ancient Latin Psalters, and has nothing corre 
sponding to it in the oldest Greek Codices, nor in the Hebrew, is 
obviously derived from verse 23. If David is to be regarded as 
the author of the psalm, it belongs to the period of his persecution 
by Saul, and, in particular, to the time when he was in the desert of 
Maon and had begun to despair of being able to evade Saul (cf. I Kings 
xxiii. 26). The prophet Jonas has borrowed from this psalm verses 
7 and 23 (cf. Jon. ii. 5, 9). Our Lord used verse 6 on the cross, and 
verses 10-16 might be taken as prophetically descriptive of Our Lord 
in His Passion. The psalm, however, is not immediately Messianic ; 
but it may be regarded as (in passages at least) indirectly or figuratively 
Messianic. The history of David and of Israel may be taken generally 
as typical of the career of the Messias. The critics who maintain the 
post-exilic dating of this poem, find in it several imitations or echoes 
of Jeremias (verse n Jer. xx. 18 ; 136 Jer. xxii. 28 ; 14 Jer. 
xx. 10 ; 18 Jer. xvii. 18 ; 23 Lament, iii. 54). It is interesting 
to note in this psalm the echoes of several other psalms (cf. verses 2-4 
and Ps. Ixx. 1-3 ; verse 4 and Ps. xxii. 3 ; verse 5 and Ps. ix. 16 ; 
verse 9 and Ps. xvii. 20 ; verse 12 and Ps. xxxvii. 12). 

i. In finem, Psalmus David, 
pro extasi. 

i . For the choir-leader. A psalm of David . 
For time of bewilderment. 

2. In te Domine speravi, non 
confundar in aeternum : in ju- 
stitia tua libera me. 

3. Inclina ad me aurem tuam, 
accelera ut eruas me. 

Esto mihi in Deum protecto- 
rem : et in domum refugii, ut 
salvum me facias. 

4. Quoniam fortitude mea, et 
refugium meum es tu : et pro- 
pter nomen tuum deduces me, 
t enutries me. 

2. In Thee, O Lord, I put my trust ; 

Let me not be put to shame ! 
Because of Thy justice rescue me ! 

3. Turn to me Thy ear ! 
Swiftly rescue me ! 

Be to me a protecting God ! 
And a place of refuge so that Thou mayest 
save me ! 

4. For Thou art my strength and my 

refuge ; 

And because of Thy name Thou wilt 
guide me, and foster me. 





5. Educes me de laqueo hoc, 
quern absconderunt mihi : quo- 
niam tu es protector meus. 

6. In maims tuas commendo 
spiritum meum : redemisti me 
Domine Deus veritatis. 

Thou wilt loose me from the snare 
which they have secretly laid for 
For Thou art my Protector ; 

Into Thy hands I entrust my spirit 
Thou dost rescue me, O Lord, Thou 
faithful God ! 

7. Odisti observantes vani- 
tates, supervacue. 

Ego autem in Domino speravi: 

8. Exsultabo, et laetabor in 
misericordia tua. 

Quoniam respexisti humilita- 
tem meam, salvasti de necessi- 
tatibus animam meam. 

9. Nee conclusisti me in ma- 
nibus inimici : statuisti in loco 
spatioso pedes meos. 

10. Miserere mei Domine quo- 
niam tribulor : conturbatus est 
in ira oculus meus, anima mea, 
et venter meus : 

11. Quoniam defecit in do- 
lore vita mea : et anni mei in 

Infirmata est* in paupertate 
virtus mea : et ossa mea con- 
turbata sunt. 

12. Super omnes inimicos 
meos factus sum opprobrium 
et vicinis meis valde : et timor 
notis meis. 

Qui videbant me, foras fuge- 
runt a me : 

13. Oblivioni datus sum, tam- 
quam mortuus a corde. 

Factus sum tamquam vas 
perditum : 

14. Quoniam audivi vitupera- 
tionem multorum commoranti- 
um in circuitu. 

In eo dum convenirent simul 
adversum me, accipere animam 
meam consiliati sunt. 

15. Ego autem in te speravi 
Domine : dixi : Deus meus es tu : 

1 6. In manibus tuis sortes 

Eripe me de manu inimicorum 
meorum, et a persequentibus me. 

17. Illustra faciem tuam super 
servum tuum, salvum me fac in 
misericordia tua : 

1 8. Domine non confundar, 
quoniam invocavi te. 

Erubescant impii, et dedu- 
cantur in infernum : 

19. Muta fiant labia dolosa. 
Quae loquuntur adversus ju- 

stum iniquitatem, in superbia, 
et in abusione. 

7. Thou hatest those who hold to vain idols. 

But I do put my trust in the Lord. 

8. I exult and rejoice because of Thy good 

ness : 

For Thou dost look upon my humilia 

And bringest rescue to my soul in 
times of need. 

9. Thou dost not -surrender me into the 

hands of enemies ; 
Thou settest my feet in open spaces. 

10. Have mercy on me O Lord, for I am 

straitened ! 

My eye is dim because of trouble [my 
soul and my body]. 

1 1 . For my life is passing away in pain ; 

And my years in sighs. 
My strength is weakened through misery ; 
And my bones are shaken. 

12. Because of all my foes I have become an 

object of bitter reproach ; 
Even to my neighbours, and to friends 

have I become an object of dread. 
They that see me abroad, do fly from me. 

13. To oblivion I am abandoned altogether, 

like one dead ; 
I am become like a shattered vessel. 

14. For I hear the censure of many, 

Who dwell round about ; 
When they gather together against me, 
They plan to take my life. 

15. But I put my trust in Thee, O Lord ! 

I say : Thou art my God ! 

16. In Thy hand is my fate ; snatch me from 

the power 
Of my foes and persecutors ! 

17. Let Thy face shine upon Thy servant ; 

Save me for the sake of Thy mercy I 

1 8. O Lord, let me not be put to shame, for 

I call on Thee ! 

May the godless be brought to shame, 
and cast down to the underworld. 

19. May deceiving lips be silent, 

Which speak evil things against the 

just man. 
In pride and contempt. 




20. Quam magna multitude 
dulcedinis tuae Domine, .quam 
abscondisti timentibus te. 

Perfecisti eis, qui sperant in 
te, in conspectu filiorum homi- 

21. Abscondes eos in abscon- 
dito faciei tuae a conturbatione 

Proteges eos in tabernaculo 
tuo a contradictione linguarum. 

20. How rich is Thy great goodness, O Lord, 

Which Thou storest up for those who 

fear Thee, 
Which Thou dost accomplish for those 

that trust in Thee, 
Before all the world ! 

21. Thou dost shield them with the protec 

tion of Thy countenance 
From the disturbing schemes of men ; 
Thou dost shelter them in Thy tent 

from the calumny of tongues. 

22. Benedictus Dominus : 
quoniam mirificavit misericor- 
diam suam mini in civitate 

23. Ego aute dixi in ex- 
cessu mentis meas : Projectus 
sum a facie oculorum tuorum. 

Ideo exaudisti vocem oratio- 
nis meae, dum clamarem ad te. 

22. Blessed be the Lord ! for, in wondrous 

fashion, He doth show 
His mercy towards me, 
In a city besieged. 

23. I had said in the dismay of my mind, 

" I am cast out from Thy eyes 1 " 
Yet Thou dost hear the words of my 

When I cry to Thee ! 

24. Diligite Dominum omnes 
sancti ejus : quoniam veritatem 
requiret Dominus, et retribuet 
abundanter facientibus super- 

25. Viriliter agite, et confor- 
tetur cor vestrum, omnes qui 
speratis in Domino. 

24. Love the Lord all ye that worship Him ; 

For the Lord demandeth loyalty, 
And He doth fully requite those that 
act proudly. 

25. Do bravely, and let your courage be 

All you who trust in the Lord ! 

1. Pro extasi obviously has crept in from verse 23 ; it serves to 
suggest the key-note of the psalm. Cf. Ps. cxv. 2 ; Ixvii. 28, where 
the same Greek word is rendered by excessus. 

2. Non confundar in ceternnm=ne unquam confundar. 

3. 4. Accelera has here an adverbial sense ( swiftly ). 

In Deum and in domum Hebrew construction. Cf. facti sunt 
in adjutorium. The Hebrew text is here more vivid : Be Thou to 
me a protecting Rock, a mountain-fortress to help me : Thou art 
my Rock and my Fortress. The Greek translators did not regard 
the vividness of the Hebrew as sufficiently respectful. Cf. following 

5. The snare is a frequently used symbol of danger. Here the 
Hebrew : Thou art my stronghold/ becomes Thou art my Pro 

6. The words of Our Lord on the cross. The spirit is the 
principle of life, particularly, of the higher, spiritual life. Notice 
here the strong note of confidence. The confidence is based on God s 
fidelity to His promises (His veritas). 

7. Observantes vanitates supcrvacue. Hebrew : Thou hatest 
those who hold to vanities of nothingness. The vanities of nothing- 


ness are usually explained as idols, but they may be understood 
more widely, perhaps, to include all things in general that are vain 
and futile (cf. Jonas ii. 9). 

Supervacue, in view of the Hebrew text, may be taken with 
vanitates, most foolish of vain things/ Some commentators see 
here a reference to divination and to superstition generally (i.e. 
vana observatio), rather than to idolatry. As against all vain trust 
in idols, the psalmist puts all his hope in God. 

8. In, on account of/ Humilitas, affliction, humiliation. 
Necessitous = augustice . 

9. Conclusisti, shut in ; here means hand over/ Instead 
of this God has given the psalmist the fullest of freedom. Constraint 
implies grief and pain ; freedom of movement in open places 
implies gladness and joy. Cf. In tribulatione dilatasti mihi (Ps. 
iv. 2) ; dilatasti gressus meos subtus me (Ps. xvii. 37) ; ambulabam 
in latitudine (cxviii. 45) ; exaudivit me in latitudine Dominus (cxvii. 5). 

10. Conturbatus, etc. Cf. Ps. vi. 8 : Turbatus est a furore oculus 
meus. Ira, vexation rather than anger. Oculus, anima and venter, 
taken together, express the full physical and psychical nature 
of man. His whole self is disturbed. (Several commentators 
regard anima mea et venter meus as a gloss.) It is possible in the 
Vulgate to understand ira as God s anger, and then the rest of the 
verse would express the effect of God s anger on the person of the 
psalmist. But it is better to take ira as the psalmist s own anxiety 
or trouble. 

11. Defecit, is consumed/ Cf. Ps. ix. 7. 

Paupertas, abandonment, misery. Cf. Unicus et pauper sum 
ego (xxiv. 16). Ossa is parallel to virtus. 

12. Super would naturally mean here more than ; yet, since 
the enemies are the source of the psalmist s trouble, the sense is 
probably because of/ 

Vicinis meis, even to my neighbours ; valde may be taken with 
opprobrium. The condition of the singer seems to be that of a man 
smitten with a disease from which his fellow-men fly with loathing 
and fear. 

13. The sense would appear more clearly if the words were 
arranged : oblivioni datus sum a corde, tamquam mortuus. The 
heart is the seat of memory. The fragments of a shattered vessel 
of clay are a symbol of all that is most worthless and mean. 

14. The for refers back probably to the petition in verse 13. 
In eo dum conveniunt is a paraphrase of the Greek construction. 
Instead of commorantium in circuitu the Hebrew has : fear on every 
side/ The Greek translators omitted the m of magor (fear) because 
the preceding word ended with m, and added an m to the gr because 
the following word began with m. The hew word was read as garim 
(dwellers). Thus magor missabhibh ( fear on every side ) became 

no THE PSALMS [30 

garim missabhibh, dwellers round about. It will be remembered, of 
course, that the Hebrew text which the Greek translators had before 
them, was purely consonantal. 

16. Sortes ; Hebrew, my times, i.e. my fate. The Greek trans 
lators read kleroi for kairoi. 

17. Let Thy face shine on me, means, show me favour. Cf. 
the priestly blessing, Numbers vi. 24-26 ; cf. Ps. Ixvi. 2. 

18. Deducantur ; Hebrew, may they be dumb to Sheol. Cf. 
I Kings ii. 6. 

19. Loqui iniquitatem=loqui inique. In superbia=superbe. Abusio, 
mocking, contempt. 

20. Multitude dulcedinis, great goodness. Abscondere, store up. 
Perfecisti is parallel here to abscondisti. In conspectu, etc., so that 
all men can see, and admire it. 

21. The idea is that the Divine countenance is itself a shield. 
So also God s protection is a tent into which the just can come for 
shelter. But the psalmist may be thinking in both clauses of the 
Tabernacle in which God dwelt in the desert. 

Perturbatio, tumult and intriguing : Contradictio linguarum, 
contentious tongues. The attitude of the psalmist is like that of 
St. Paul in II Cor. vii. 4 : Repletus sum consolatione, super abundo 
gaudio in omni tribulatione nostra. 

22. Misericordiam mirificare, to show love in wondrous wise. 

In civitate munita, in a fortified city, or, in a city girt about 
(besieged). The former is a more natural meaning. Possibly the 
reference is to the town of K e ila (I Kin:*; 23). The Hebrew seems 
to mean in a city of distress/ i.e., perhaps, a city besieged. A 
slight change of the Hebrew would give : in time of distress. This 
would suit the context. 

23. In excessu, consternation. This is the source of the title 
of the psalm. Ego . . . mece is an interjected clause. 

A facie oculorum, from before Thy eyes. 
Oratio, prayer. 

24. 25. Men must not lose courage. God keeps His word and 
veriiatem requirit expects men to hold loyally to His service. 



THE singer declares him happy whose sin is forgiven (1-7). He 
himself has felt the deep joy of being pardoned, when he 
confessed his sin (3-5). Taught by his own experience he 
exhorts the pious to seek God in due season, for with God 
is protection and rescue (6-7). Men must not set themselves up in 
passion or stubborn pride against the guidance of Providence (8-9). 
Sin brings sorrow, but trust in God brings grace in fulness. For this 
must all the just rejoice. 

The psalm is a development of the thought expressed in Prov. 
xxviii. 13 : He that hideth his sins shall not prosper ; but whoso 
confesseth, and forsaketh them, shall have mercy. The thought 
of the psalm is also strikingly like that of the Johannine saying : If 
we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in 
us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our 
sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John i. 8). The 
psalm is the second of th e penitential psalms. It is obviously a 
description, in part at least, of the poet s personal experience. It 
describes in a very powerful way the bitterness of the burden of sin 
unconfessed, and the wonderful peace and joy which confession of 
sin brings to the soul. It was a favourite psalm of St. Augustine. 
If we are to seek in David s life for an occasion of this poem, the most 
suitable incident to serve as such occasion would be the reconciliation 
of David with God after his sin with Bathsheba (II King, xii). 

1. Ipsi David intellectus. i. By David. A maskil. 

Beati quorum remissae sunt Happy are they whose trespasses are for- 

iniquitates : et quorum tecta given, 

sunt peccata. And whose sins are remitted ! 

2. Beatus vir, cui non impu- 2. Happy the man to whom the Lord 
tavit Dominus peccatum, nee Attributes not sin, 

est in spiritu ejus dolus. And in whose spirit there is no deceit ! 

3. Quoniam tacui, invetera- 3. Because I spoke not, my bones grew old, 
verunt ossa mea, dum clamarem Because of my loud groaning the live- 
tota die. long day. 

4. Quoniam die ac nocte gra- 4. For day and night Thy hand lay 

vata est super me manus tua : Heavy on me : I was cast into misery, 

conversus sum in aerumna mea, While the thorn [of sin] was still fixed 

dum configitur spina. in me. 



5. Delictum meum cognitum 
tibi feci : et injustitiam meam 
non abscond! . 

Dixi : Confitebor adversum 
me injustitiam meam Domino : 
et tu remisisti impietatem pec- 
cati mei. 

6. Pro hac orabit ad te omnis 
sanctus, in tempore opportuno. 

Verumtamen in diluvio aqua- 
rum multarum, ad eum non ap- 

7. Tu es refugium meum a 
tribulatione, quae circumdedit 
me : exsultatio mea erue me a 
circumdantibus me. 

But my sin I made known to Thee ; 

And my iniquity I hid not. 
I said : I will confess before the Lord 

The iniquity (which speaketh) against 

Then didst Thou pardon my sin. 

6. Wherefore let every pious one turn to 

Thee in prayer 
In due season : 
Even when the multitudinous waters 

come in flood, 
They will not reach him. 

7. Thou art my protection against the 

affliction that besets me ! 
[Thou art] my joy ! 

Save me from those that encompass me 
round ! 

8. Intellectum tibi dabo, et 
instruam te in via hac, qua 
gradieris : firmabo super te 
oculos meos. 

8. I will give thee understanding, and I will 

teach thee 

In the way which thou shalt traverse ; 
I will keep my eyes fixed on thee. 

9. Nolite fieri sicut equus et 
mulus, quibus non est intel- 

In camo et fraeno maxillas 
eorum constringe, qui non ap- 
proximant ad te. 

Be not like the horse and mule, 

I Which have no understanding ; 

With curb and bridle bind the jaws of 

Who come not nigh to thee. 

10. Multa flagella peccatoris, 10. 
sperantem autem in Domino 
misericordia circumdabit. 

11. Laetamini in Domino et u. 
exsultate justi, et gloriamini 
omnes recti corde. 

Many are the scourges of the sinner ; 
But loving kindness surroundeth him 

who hopeth in the Lord. 
Rejoice in the Lord, and be glad, ye just 

ones ! 

And exult all ye that are upright of 
heart ! 

1. Intellectus is the name of a definite kind of poem. Possibly it 
means didactic poem. Though this meaning is suitable here, it 
is not satisfactory everywhere. The same title is found in Psalms 
xli, li, lii, liii, liv, Ixxiii, Ixxvii, Ixxxvii, Ixxxviii, cxli. 

The technical phrases expressing forgiveness remissce, tecta, non 
imputavit. seem to be equivalent in meaning. They imply that 
forgiveness means more than that God shuts His eyes to sin. Note 
St. Paul s use of this verse in Roms. iv. 6-9. (Luther based his theory 
of non-imputation as distinguished from real remission of sin, partly 
on this verse.) 

2. Nee est, etc., might be taken perhaps zs>=quia non est, etc., 
thus giving the condition of pardon, viz. simplicity of heart. 

3. For a time the psalmist tried to conceal his crime ; but his 


conscience ceased not to cry out against him (dum clamarem) ; and, 
in the conflict between shame pressing to conceal, and conscience 
urging to confess, he wasted away, for the hand of God s displeasure 
lay heavily on him. 

4. Conversus sum. Here Latin and Hebrew go different ways. 
In &Yumna=in cerumnam. Mea is redundant. 

Spina is used here symbolically for sin. Configitur, remains 
inserted/ embedded/ in me. Possibly the phrase may be intended 
as a description 6f the gnawing of conscience. The Hebrew says : 
The sap of my life was changed [as] by the burning heat of summer/ 

5. Confession restored the peace of spirit. 
Pro hac, because of my obtaining pardon. 

6. The Hebrew says : Wherefore let every pious one have re 
course to Yahweh at the season of finding i.e. at the season when 
He may be found (cf. Is. Iv. 6 ; xlix. 8). In the time of swelling floods 
(i.e. in time of greatest peril), the waters will not reach him who turns 
trustfully and simply to the Lord. 

7. The pious man is secure because the Lord is his Protector. 
The Latin differs here from the Massora, and is possibly traceable to 
a different Hebrew recension. 

8. It might be supposed that God is the speaker in verses 8, 9. 
Yet it is probably better to understand these verses as the words 
of the poet speaking like one of the sages of Israel. 

9. Neither Vulgate nor Hebrew is very clear in this verse. The 
general sense, however, is obvious. We must not rise up in revolt 
against God s Providence ; we must not be like the fiery steed or 
stubborn mule ; but we must accept with ready submission the 
guidance of God. The obedience which beasts show only under the 
pressure of force, reasonable beings should offer freely. One can 
bring forward the horse and the mule only by force. Must God 
also use force with us ? Cf. Prov. xxvi. 3 ; x. 13 ; xix. 20. 

10. ii. If men will be warned by the fate of the godless, they will 
secure the happiness which comes from trust in God alone ; and all 
the pious will join with them in a song of joy and praise to God. 



THE psalm is, apparently, a song of national thanksgiving. A 
victory of God s people has shattered the plans of the heathen 
princes and peoples who plotted Israel s overthrow (verses 
10-12). For the saving help of the Lord, given according 
to His ancient promises, the people are called on to join in a great 
thanksgiving service of music and song (1-5). Vainly do the heathen 
peoples war against Him whose mere word has formed heaven and the 
stars that are its host against Him who fills the seas with the same 
ease with which the peasant fills the water-bottle from the spring 
against Him who stores the upper and nether oceans within their 
limits, as a man stores corn in his barn (6, 7). The heathen plans 
He has defeated ; their thoughts were open to the eyes of Him who 
had fashioned their hearts. He has saved His own people, whom 
long ago He chose as His own dear possession (8-15). Not in might 
of armies, nor strength of men, nor in fleetness of war-horse, does 
victory or safety lie. Nothing avails but loving trust in God (16-19). 
The Lord has shown anew His loving care for His people ; that He 
will continue to watch over them with power, the people trust. The 
last verse a prayer for the constant protection of the Lord, looks 
like a liturgical addition. 

The occasion of this psalm cannot be determined. Possibly the 
national peril here referred to was the Assyrian invasion. The Hebrew 
text does not ascribe the poem to David. Several phrases and some 
turns of thought are borrowed by Psalm cxlvi from this psalm. 
Modern criticism is inclined to regard Psalm xxxii as a sort of mosaic 
of quotations in which the pattern is indefinite and the general artistic 
effect feeble. The theme of national rescue is, however, often treated 
in Hebrew literature, and the somewhat stereotyped character of 
all Oriental poetry inevitably produces similarity of treatment and 
phrase in Hebrew poems of resembling motif. 

1. Psalmus David. i. A psalm of David. 

Exsultate justi in Domino : Praise, O ye just, the Lord ! 

rectos decet collaudatio. Praising befitteth the upright. 

2. Confitemini Domino in ci- 2. Praise the Lord on the zither ! 

thara : in psalterio decem chor- Hymn to Him on ten-stringed harps 

darum psallite illi. 

3. Cantate ei canticum no- 3. Sing unto Him a new song ! 

vum : bene psallite ei in voci- Sing loud to Him in jubilating chorus ! 





4. Quia rectum est verbum 
Domini, et omnia opera ejus in 

5. Diligit misericordiam et 
judicium : misericordia Domini 
plena est terra. 

For just is the word of the Lord ; 
And His every deed is trustworthy. 

He loveth kindliness and justice ; 

The earth is full of the Lord s loving- 

6. Verbo Domini coeli firmati 
aunt : et spiritu oris ejus omnis 
rirtus eorum. 

7. Congregans sicut in utre 
aquas maris : ponens in thesau- 
ris abyssos. 

6. By the word of the Lord the heavens 

| were made ; 

And all their host by the word of His 

7. He gathers, as into a bottle, the waters 

| of the sea ; 

The oceans He stores up. 

8. Timeat Dominum omnis 
terra : ab eo autem commovean- 
tur omnes inhabitantes orbem. 

9. Quoniam ipse dixit, et 
facta sunt : ipse mandavit, et 
creata sunt. 

10. Dominus dissipat consilia 
Gentium : reprobat autem cogi- 
tationes populorum, et reprobat 
consilia principum. 

11. Consilium autem Domini 
in aeternum manet : cogitationes 
cordis ejus in generatione et 

12. Beata gens, cujus est Do- 
minus, Deus ejus : populus, 
quern elegit in hcereditatem sibi. 

8. Let all the earth fear the Lord ! 

Let all dwellers of the earth tremble 
before Him ! 

9. For He spoke and they sprang into being ; 

He gave command and they were made . 

10. The Lord frustrateth the plans of the 

heathen ; 
And bringeth to naught the designs of 

the peoples ; 
And thwarteth the schemes of princes. 

11. But the plan of the Lord standeth for 


The designs of His heart from age to 

12. Happy the nation whose God is the Lord. 

The people whom He hath chosen as a 
special possession. 

13. De coelo respexit Do- 
minus : vidit omnes filios ho- 

14. De praeparato habitaculo 
suo respexit super omnes, qui 
habitant terrain. 

15. Qui finxit sigillatim corda 
eorum : qui intelligit omnia 
opera eorum. 

1 6. Non salvatur rex per 
multam virtutem : et gigas 
non salvabitur in multitudine 
virtu tis suae. 

17. Fallax equus ad salutem : 
in abundantia autem virtutis 
suse non salvabitur. 

1 8. Ecce oculi Domini super 
metuentes eum : et in eis, qui 
sperant super misericordia ejus : 

19. Ut eruat a morte animas 
eorum : et alat eos in fame. 

13. From heaven the Lord looketh down, 

And seeth all the children of men : 

14. From His established dwelling-place He 

All the dwellers of earth, 

15. He who did fashion the hearts of them all, 

Who understandeth all their doings. 

1 6. The king is not saved by a mighty host ; 

Nor the giant made secure by his vast 

17. Untrustworthy for rescue is the steed ; 

By his great power he is not saved. 

1 8. Lo ! the eyes of the Lord are upon those 

who fear Him, 

And on those who put their hope in 
His mercy. 

19. That He may save them from death, 

And, in time of hunger, give them food. 

ii6 THE PSALMS [32 

20. Anima nostra sustinet Do- 20. Our soul waits on the Lord ; 
minum : quoniam adjutor et For He is our help and our shield, 
protector noster est. 

21. Quia in eo laetabitur cor 21. Our heart doth rejoice in Him ; 
nostrum : et in nomine sancto And in His holy name we trust, 
ejus speravimus. 

22. Fiat misericordia tua Do- 22. Be Thy grace upon us, O Lord, 
mine super nos : quemadmodum According as we hope in Thee ! 
speravimus in te. 

1. The justi are the community of Israel. 

2. The ciihara (Hebrew : Kinnor=hzrp), and the psalterium 
(nebhel) were the two stringed instruments in familiar use among 
the Hebrews. 

3. " New song " the new mercy that the Lord has shown, de 
mands a poetic effort surpassing the ancient hymns of national thanks 
giving. The vociferatio is the solemn vehemence of the sacred chants 
sung to the music of harp and psaltery, and accompanied also, perhaps, 
by trumpet-clang. 

4. The verbum is God s old-time promise to be Israel s protecting 
and ever-present God (implied in name Yahweh). His promise was 
true and it has now again been loyally fulfilled. 

6. The love of the Lord and His power are both displayed in 

7. The Lord s endless power over nature, and the ease of its 
exercise, are here illustrated. The abyssi are the ocean above the 
firmament, and the ocean beneath the firmament, which the Lord 
holds easily within their respective limits. Is there here an implied 
contrast with the old Babylonian legends of creation, in which the 
gods defeat Chaos, and set up a cosmic order only with toilsome effort, 
and bitter struggle ? Ps. cxxxiv. 7 speaks of the winds as proceeding 
from the store-house of the Lord ; and, according to Job xxxviii. 22, 
the snow and hail are kept also in a treasury or store-house of Yahweh. 

9. The Word which sufficed to build up the world, should avail 
to break the strength of God s enemies. 

10. In history, as in nature, God is omnipotent. We do not know 
what conspiracy of the heathens against God s people is here referred 
to ; its defeat is, obviously, the occasion of the psalm. 

12. A sort of sigh of content at the coming of God s help. 

13-14. Here we have aspects of the general historical situation. 

Prceparatum, established. 

15. That God, as Creator of the human heart, knows all its secrets 
is a frequent thought in the Old Testament. 

16-18. The rescue of Israel has been due to the Lord alone, and 
fear of the Lord has been the sole ground of victory. 

19. The death in question is death on the battlefield. 

20. Since God has hitherto helped so faithfully, we may confidently 
hope that He will continue to help. Hence the prayer, verse 21. 




THIS is the fourth of the alphabetical psalms. As in Psalm xxiv, 
the last verse is supernumerary, and a liturgical addition ; as 
in Psalm xxiv, also, the sixth or vau-verse is wanting. The 
poem consists of two parts. The first (2-11) thanks the 
Lord for gracious help and rescue given to a loyal and lowly wor 
shipper ; the second (12-21) is didactic, reminding one of the Book 
of Proverbs. The poem teaches generally that happiness in life is 
to be attained only through God-fearingness of conduct. The good 
may, indeed, fall into misfortune, and be overtaken by grief, but 
in the end, the Lord brings them help, and makes their faces radiant 
with gladness. 

The general structure and tone of the psalm are regarded by 
most modern critics as indicating a late date. The title in verse i 
ascribes the origin of the poem to the period of David s life when 
he fled to the court of the Philistine king, Achish of Gath. 1 This 
first verse is, undoubtedly, a very ancient testimony to the 
Davidic origin of the psalm, and the gnomic style of the 
second part of the poem is no genuine indication of a post- 
exilic date. It is true, however, that the references in the poem are 
strangely general if they are really due to David s experiences in the 
Court of Achish. The psalm is intended to serve as an encourage 
ment and as a consolation to the pious (Sancti), the God-fearing 
Israelites. The rich and evildoers and sinners may be either 
foreigners (and, therefore, foes of the Israelite people), or godless 

i. Davidi, cum immutavit i. [By] David when he feigned madness 
vultum suum coram Achimelech before Achimelek and the latter dis- 

et dimisit eum et abiit. missed him, and he went his way. 

1 Cf. I Kings xxi. 10-22 where the king is called Achish, not, as here, 
Achimelek. The Septuagint, Massora, and old Latin read more correctly, 
Abimelech. Possibly Abimelech was a general Hebrew designation for Philistine 
kings. Two different kings of Gerar are called Abimelech in Gen. xx. 2 and 
xxvi. Cf. the parallel cases of Pharaoh and Minos. Abimelech, which means 
My father is king, or father of the king would be a suitable designation 
of foreign kings whose precise names were of comparative unimportance. 




2. Benedicam Dominum in 
omni tempore : semper laus 
ejus in ore meo. 

3. In Domino laudabitur ani- 
ma mea : audiant mansueti, et 

4. Magnificate Dominum me- 
cum : et exaltemus nomen ejus 
in idipsum. 

5. Exquisivi Dominum, et ex- 
audivit me : et ex omnibus tri- 
bulationibus meis eripuit me. 

6. Accedite ad eum, et illu- 
minamini : et fades vestrae non 

7. Iste pauper clamavit, et 
Dominus exaudivit eum : et de 
omnibus tribulationibus ejus sal- 
vavit eum. 

8. Immittet Angelus Domini 
in circuitu timentium eum : et 
eripiet eos. 

9. Gustate, et videte quoni- 
am suavis est Dominus : beatus 
vir, qui sperat in eo. 

10. Timete Dominum omnes 
sancti ejus : quoniam non est 
inopia timentibus eum. 

1 1 . Divites eguerunt et esuri- 
erunt : inquirentes autem Domi 
num non minuentur omni bono. 

2. The Lord I will praise at all times : 

Let His praise be ever in my mouth. 

3. I will boast of the Lord ; 

The humble shall hear it and rejoice. 

4. Glorify the Lord with me : 

And let us together praise His name. 

5. I sought the Lord, and He heard me, 

And delivered me from all my anguish. 

6. Approach unto Him, and be made 

radiant : 
And ye will not be abashed. 

7. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard 

And helped him out of all his troubles. 

8. The Angel of the Lord casts his tent 

Around those who fear Him, and 
rescues them. 

9. Taste ye, and learn that the Lord is kind. 

Happy is the man who trusteth in Him. 

10. Fear the Lord all ye His worshippers : 
For they have no lack who fear Him. 

n. The rich suffer want, and feel the pang 

of hunger. 

But they who seek the Lord lack no 
good thing. 

12. Venite filii, audite me : 
timorem Domini docebo vos. 

13. Quis est homo qui vult 
vitam : diligit dies videre bonos. 

14. Prohibe linguam tuam a 
malo : et labia tua ne loquantur 

15. Diverte a malo, et fac 
bonum : inquire pacem, et per- 
sequere earn. 

1 6. Oculi Domini super ju- 
stos : et aures ejus in preces 

17. Vultus autem Domini su 
per facientes mala : ut perdat 
de terra memoriam eorum. 

1 8. Clamaverunt justi, et Do 
minus exaudivit eos : et ex 
omnibus tribulationibus eorum 
liberavit eos. 

19. Juxta est Dominus iis, 
qui tribulato sunt corde : et 
humiles spiritu salvabit. 

20. Multae tribulationes justo- 
rum : et de omnibus his libera- 
bit eos Dominus. 

21. Custodit Dominus omnia 
ossa eorum : unum ex his non 

12. Come, children, listen to me : 

I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 

13. Who is the man who desireth life, 

Who would gladly enjoy pleasant days? 

14. Keep thy tongue from evil : 

And let not thy lips speak deceit. 

15. Turn away from evil and do good ; 

Seek after peace, and pursue it. 

1 6. The eyes of the Lord are on the just, 

And His ears [are open] to their 

17. The face of the Lord is against those that 

do evil. 

To cut off from earth the memory of 

1 8. If the just call, the Lord doth hear them, 

And rescueth them from all their 

19. The Lord is near to the sad of heart ; 

And to the lowly in spirit He bringeth 

20. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, 

But the Lord delivers them out of 
them all : 

21. The Lord protecteth all their bones : 

Not one of them is broken. 


22. Mors peccatorum pessi- 22. The death of sinners is most wretched, 
ma : et qui oderunt justum, de- For guilty indeed are they who hate 
linquent. the righteous. 

23. Redimet Dominus animas 23. (The Lord doth guard the life of His 
servorum suorum : et non de- servants : 

linquent omnes qui sperant in eo. And no one sinneth who trusteth in 


3. The mansudti are the same as the justi and sancti. 
Laudabitur anima may be a passive, my soul will be praised/ 

regarded as blessed ; or as a middle, my soul will boast of (as 
the Greek, e7ratveo-<9?jo-Tcu, will make boast ). 

4. In idipsum=una, simul. 

5. The poem is a thanksgiving for some definite mark of God s 

6. 7, 8. Others will be helped as the singer has been, if, like him, 
they ask the help of the Lord. If they turn to God, their faces will 
be lighted up (illuminamini) by the light of God s countenance, not 
cast into gloom by the turning away of His face. The psalmist is 
himself the pauper ; it is only such that the Lord receives, and to 
such He assigns a legion of protecting angels. Immittere, pitch 
camp. Verse 8 is often used as a proof of the existence of Guardian 

9. Gustate the Hebrew word here is unusual, and seems to be 
due to the exigencies of the Hebrew acrostic. Videte serves as a 
gloss to it. 

ii. The Hebrew has : the young lions famish and hunger, but/ 
etc. The lions hunger in spite of their strength, but the weak who 
trust in God suffer no lack of good things. 

izff. The address here recalls the tone of the Sapiential books. 
Cf. Prov. viii. 32^". We have in this section the answer to the ques 
tion : What is the source of happiness and length of days ? The 
answer is : Fear of the Lord which shows itself in uprightness of 
conduct, and, above all, in honesty of speech, and pursuit of peace/ 

16, 17. These verses ought, probably, to change places. (I Peter 
iii. 10-12 has the same arrangement as Vulgate Psalter.) 

iSff. The wicked are punished, and the just are rescued for the 
most part ; even when the just are afflicted, as they often are (18-20), 
when their hearts are nigh broken, and their bones grievously smitten, 
the Lord saves them from the extremity of sorrow the bitterness 
of such death as awaits their persecutors. It is the belief of the 
psalmist that those who persecute the just must die a miserable 

Delinquent, will heap guilt on themselves/ In Hebrew the sense 
is : will pay the penalty/ 

23. The concluding verse is a part of the poem ; it enables the 
psalm to end on a pleasant note, thus fitting it for liturgical use. 



THIS psalm has points of close contact with Psalms liv, Iviii, 
Ixviii, and is also connected, though more loosely, in thought 
and phrase with several other psalms (xxxix, xxx, xxi). It 
is the song of a poet who complains of the bitter hostility 
of his foes. They have spoiled him, and sneered at him, and given 
false testimony against him. He himself is not merely poor and 
unimportant, but, when his present enemies were in trouble, he was 
kind and sympathetic, and shared their griefs as if they had been his 
own. He earnestly prays for the Lord s assistance against his cynical 
and cruel foes. The Lord must take up his cause, and show forth 
his innocency, and snatch from the lips of his enemies their derisive 
boast of victory. The hostile scheming of his enemies must be 
turned back upon themselves, so that those who love justice may 
rejoice when they see that the Lord protects His loyal servants. The 
psalmist himself will never cease to sing the justice and greatness of 
the Lord. 

Neither the occasion nor the date of the psalm can be determined. 
The theme is a frequent one the prayer of the just man against those 
who attack him unprovoked, and there is no reference to any identi 
fiable historical incident. This, like all the psalms in which there is 
question of the persecution of the meek and lowly servants of Yahweh, 
is assigned by modern criticism to the post-exilic period. 

i. Ipsi David. 

i. By David. 

Judica Domine nocentes fne, 
expugna impugnantes me. 

2. Apprehende arma et scu 
tum : et exsurge in adjutorium 

3. Effunde frameam, et con 
clude adversus eos, qui persequ- 
untur me : die animae meae : 
Salus tua ego sum. 

4. Confundantur et reverean- 
tur, quaerentes animam meam. 

Avertantur retrorsum, et con- 
fundantur cogitantes mihi mala. 

5. Fiant tamquam pulvis ante 
faciem venti : et Angelus Do 
mini coarctans eos. 

Judge, O Lord, all who strive against me ! 
Fight against them that attack me ! 

2. Take shield and buckler, 

And stand up to help me ! 

3. Draw the sword, and bar the way 

Against those that pursue me. 
Say to me : I am thy rescue ! 

Let them be abashed and put to shame 

Who seek my life ! 

Let them be driven backwards, and dis 

That devise my hurt ! 
Be they like dust before the wind, 

While the angel of the Lord doth drive 
them on ! 




6. Fiat via illorum tenebrae 
et lubricum : et Angelus Do 
mini persequens eos. 

7. Quoniam gratis absconde- 
mnt mihi interitum laquei sui : 
supervacue exprobraverunt ani- 
mam meam. 

6. Let their path be dark and slippery. 

While the angel of the Lord pursues 

7. For without cause they have set for me 

in secret their deadly snare : 
Without cause they have reviled me. 

8. Veniat illi laqueus, quern 
ignorat : et captio, quam ab- 
scondit, apprehendat eum : et 
in laqueam cadat in ipsum. 

9. Anima autem mea exsulta- 
bit in Domino : et delectabitur 
super salutari suo. 

10. Omnia ossa mea dicent : 
Domine, quis similis tibi ? 

Eripiens inopem de manu for- 
tiorum ejus : egenum et pau- 
perem a diripientibus eum. 

8. May a snare come upon him which he 

knoweth not : 
And may the net which he set in secret 

enmesh himself ! 
And may he fall into his own snare ! 

9. But I will rejoice in the Lord ; 

And be glad because of His saving help. 

:o. And all my bones shall say : 

O Lord, who is like unto Thee, 
Who deliverest the helpless from those 

who are too strong for him, 
The needy and the poor from those who 
would spoil him ? 

11. Surgentes testes iniqui, 
quae ignorabam interrogabant 

12. Retribuebant mihi mala 
pro bonis : sterilitatem animae 

13. Ego autem cum mihi mo- 
lesti essent, induebar cilicio. 

Humiliabam in jejunio ani- 
mam meam : et oratio mea in 
sinu meo convertetur. 

14. Quasi proximum, et qua 
si fratrem nostrum, sic com- 
placebam : quasi lugens et con- 
tristatus, sic humiliabar. 

15. Et adversum me laetati 
sunt, et convenerunt : congre- 
gata sunt super me flagella, et 

1 6. Dissipati sunt, nee com- 
puncti, tentaverunt me, sub- 
sannaverunt me subsannatione : 
frenduerunt super me dentibus 

11. False witnesses rise up. 

I am questioned as to things I know 

12. Men requite me with evil for good 

With utter desolation of my soul ! 

13. But I, when they were in grief, clad my 

self with sack-cloth, 
I humbled my soul with fasting, 
And my prayer was directed towards 

my bosom. 

14. As for a friend, or for my brother, 

I was ready with my sacrifice : 
As one grieving and deeply mourning 
With head bent I walked about. 

15. Yet against me they rejoice and hasten 

together : 

Scourges are gathered against me ; 
And, yet, I am conscious of no guilt ! 

1 6. Though they became divided, 

They felt no pity. 
They put me to the test ; they mocked 

me with bitter mockings. 
They gnashed their teeth against me. 

17. Domine quando respicies? 
restitue animam meam a mali- 
gnitate eorum, a leonibus uni- 
cam meam. 

1 8. Confitebor tibi in ecclesia 
magna, in populo gravi laudabo 

19. Non supergaudeant mihi 
qui adversantur mihi inique : 
qui oderunt me gratis et annuunt 

17. O Lord, when wilt Thou look (on me) ? 

Rescue my soul from their malice ! 
My life from the lions ! 

1 8. Then will I thank Thee in the great 

And praise Thee in the great multitude. 

19. Let them not rejoice over me who are my 

enemies unjustly, 

Who hate me without cause, and mock 
me with their eyes. 




20. Quoniam mini quidem 
pacifice loquebantur : et in 
iracundia terras loquentes, dolos 

21. Et dilataverunt super me 
os suum : dixerunt : Euge, 
euge, viderunt oculi nostri. 

20. For they speak indeed kindly to me ; 

But after the fashion of earthly men is 

their thought, 
And they devise treachery ; 

21. And they open wide their mouth 

against me. 
They say : " Ha ! Ha ! 

Our eyes have beheld [success]." 

22. Vidisti Domine, ne sileas : 
Domine ne discedas a me. 

23. Exsurge et intende judi- 
cio meo : Deus meus, et Do- 
minus meus in causam meam. 

24. Judica me secundum ju- 
stitiam tuam Domine Deus 
meus, et non supergaudeant 

25. Non dicant in cordibus 
suis : Euge, euge, animae no- 
strae : nee dicant : Devoravi- 
mus eum. 

26. Erubescant, et reverean- 
tur simul, qui gratulantur malis 

Induantur confusione et re- 
verentia qui magna loquuntur 
super me. 

27. Exsultent et laetentur qui 
volunt justitiam meam : et 
dicant semper : Magnificetur 
Dominus, qui volunt pacem 
servi ejus. 

28. Et lingua mea meditabi- 
tur justitiam tuam, tota die 
laudem tuam. 

22. Thou seest this, O Lord : hold not Thy 

peace ! 

O Lord depart not from me ! 
Arise, and give heed to my right, 

To my case, O my God and my Lord ! 

According to Thy justice judge me, O 

Lord my God, 
And let not those rejoice over me ! 



25. Let them not say to themselves : 

" Ha ! Ha ! Our wishes (are fulfilled) ! 
(Let them not say :) " We have 
swallowed him up." 

26. May they be abashed and disgraced 

Who joy in my woes ! 

May they be clothed with shame and 

Who speak arrogantly against me ! 

27. May they rejoice and be glad who desire 

my justification ; 
May they say unceasingly : 
" Glorified be God ! " 

All who wish for the peace of His 
servant ! 

28. And my tongue shall proclaim Thy 

And Thy praise, all the day long. 

1. Nocentes me instead of nocentes mihi. The Hebrew refers to 
an impleading of the psalmist. 

2. Take the round and the square shield/ Anna is in Jerome s 
translation, more correctly, scutum. 

3. Effunde, draw : framea, sword. Conclude, bar the way, 
being understood. 

4. Cf. xxxix. 15, and here verse 26. The two verbs confundi 
and revereri express with intensity the idea of confusion and disgrace. 
Animam qucerere, to seek to take life (cf. xxxix. 15 ; liii. 5 ; Ixii. 10 ; 
Ixix. 3). 

5. We have here again the angel of Psalm xxxiii. 8. Coarctans, 
Psalt. Rom. has affligens ; Jerome impellat. 

6. Tenebrce substantive for adjective in Hebrew fashion. Cf. 
Confessio et magnificentia opus ejus (ex. 3). 

7. The enemies of the singer have received no provocation hence 


gratis means, without cause. Interitum laquei, destroying net 
(construction like longitude dierum). Supervacue= gratis. Cf. xxiv. 4. 
8. Transition to singular from plural is common in Hebrew. 
Quern ignorat, unexpectedly/ The Hebrew suggests the idea of 
falling into a pit which oneself has made. 

10. The ossa are the whole self. The poet is inops, egenus, and 

11. Is there d reference to false testimony in a trial, or to slander 
ing in general ? The interrogation suggests legal procedure. The 
beginning of the psalm refers also to judicial procedure. 

12. Sterilitatem, Hebrew : childlessness ; the idea is that his 
enemies have made the poet feel the extremity of utter loneliness 
and desolation. This was their requital for his kindness which he 
goes on to describe. 

13. It is better to omit the mihi ; the reference, as the context 
shows, is to former griefs of his foes. He shared in those griefs, wore 
the symbols of mourning, and prayed for his foes with such earnest 
ness and humility that, as he knelt, his head bent downward so that 
his prayers were murmured, as it were, into his own breast. Cf. 
Ill Kings xviii. 42 ; Is. Iviii. 5. 

14. He grieved with them as with a friend or brother. Complace- 
bam, was ready to help. The Hebrew is different somewhat, but 
the Latin is clear enough. 

15. Yet, see how good is requited with evil ! Flagella . . . et 
ignoravi is sometimes taken to mean unexpected scourges ; it is 
better, probably, to translate as above. 

16. Dissipati ; the word would seem to be suggested by the 
scourges : a scourge made of many interwoven strands becomes 
loosened and tattered in use. The foes, like the strands of the scourge, 
have been separated, but they are as vindictive as before. They 
feel no pity, but gather with threatening mockery round their victim, 
showing their fangs like wild dogs. 

17. Repetition of the prayer of verse 2ff. 

The unica is the life. Cf. xxi. 21. The lions are his foes. 
For the ecclesia magna cf. xxi. 23, 26. Gravis, multitudinous/ 

19. Annuunt oculis, wink/ a symbol of mockery and deceit. 
Oderunt me gratis. Cf. John xv. 25. 

20. Iracundia terra. This is a difficult phrase. Iracundia trans 
lates opyi], which may mean impulse/ inclination/ character ; 
terra may be metonymous for men of earth/ The phrase may thus 
mean : after the character, or tendency, of earthly men/ The 
Greek text omits of earth/ as does the Psalt. Rom. (et super iram 
dolose cogitabant). Jerome has : non emin pacem loquuntur, sed in 
rapina terra verba fraudulenta concinnant. The Hebrew consonantal 
text is also unsatisfactory. It is usually translated : They devise 
deceit against the quiet in the land. (The quiet in the land would, 

i2 4 THE PSALMS [ 34 

thus, be the group to which the psalmist belongs.) Land seems to 
be part of the original text : the Septuagint has been corrected, and 
the Vulgate adheres to the older reading. The contrast between 
iracundia and the quiet is due to a difference of one consonant 
between the Massoretic text and the Hebrew text read by the Septua 
gint translators. Loqui has often the meaning think. 

21. Our eyes have seen the defeat of the pious one. 

22. Silere, as in xxvii. i. 

23. Again the reference seems to be to a trial. In causam is 
governed by intende. 

25. Dicer e in corde, think/ Anima nostrce goes with euge, How 
finely our wishes have been fulfilled ! 



THE psalmist contrasts with the scheming of the godless against 
the just, the ever protecting mercy and goodness of God. 
However astute is the planning of the wicked, it is futile 
when set against the grace and mercy of God. 
The psalm seems at first sight, to consist of two quite distinct 
poems the first (2-5) describing the doings of the godless, and the 
second (6-10), hymning the praise of God s graciousness, which are 
held together artificially by a redactional passage (11-13). But the 
psalm is really a unit composition, the distinctness of whose sections 
is due to the vigour of the contrast drawn between the godless and 
the pious. The poem is not a dirge dealing with the sufferings of 
the just, but a song of triumph and of thanksgiving inspired, by the 
sense of God s presence and protection. 

Occasion and date are here also unknown. 

i . In finem, servo Domini ipsi 

i . For the choir-master. By the servant of 
the Lord, David himself. 

2. Dixit injustus ut delinquat 
in semetipso : non est timor 
Dei ante oculos ejus. 

3. Quoniam dolose egit in 
conspectu ejus : ut inveniatur 
iniquitas ejus ad odium. 

4. Verba oris ejus iniquitas, 
et dolus : noluit intelligere ut 
bene ageret. 

5. Iniquitatem meditatus est 
in cubili suo : astitit omni viag 
non bona?, malitiam autem non 

6. Domine in coelo miseri- 
cordia tua : et veritas tua usque 
ad nubes. 

7. Justitia tua sicut montes 
Dei : judicia tua abyssus multa. 

Homines, et jumenta salvabis 
Domine : 

8. Quemadmodum multipli- 
casti misericordiam tuam Deus. 

Filii autem hominum, in teg- 
mine alarum tuarum sperabunt. 

2 . The godless determines to sin ; 

There is no fear of God before his eyes, 

3. For he acteth before Him with guile, 

So that his godlessness rises even to 

4. The words of his mouth are sin and deceit. 

He will not understand the need of act 
ing uprightly. 

5. He deviseth sin upon his couch : 

He walketh only on evil paths : 
He hateth not evil. 

6. O Lord, in heaven is Thy graciousness ; 
And Thy faithfulness is even unto the 

clouds ! 

3. Thy justice is as the mountains of God ; 
Thy judgments are as a mighty sea. 
Men and beasts Thou dost protect 

O Lord ! 

8. What endless graciousness dost Thou dis 
play, O God ! 

The children of men put their trust in 
the protecting shelter of Thy wings. 


126 THE PSALMS [35 

9. Inebriabuntur ab ubertate 9. They are sated by the abundance of Thy 
domus tuae : et torrente vo- House ; 

luptatis tuse potabis eos. And Thou makest them to drink of the 

stream of Thy delights. 

10. Quoniam apud te est fons 10. For with Thee is the fountain of life ; 
vite : et in lumine tuo videbi- And in Thy light we see light ! 
mus lumen. 

11. Prsetende misericordiam n. Maintain Thy favour unto them that 
tuam scientibus te, et justitiam know Thee 

tuam his, qui recto sunt corde. And Thy justice to those who are 

upright of heart ! 

12. Non veniat mini pes su- 12. Let no proud foot tread on me, 
perbise : et manus peccatoris Nor any hand of sinner disturb me ! 
non moveat me. 

13. Ibi ceciderunt qui ope- 13. Then do they fall who work mischief; 
rantur iniquitatem : expulsi They are driven out and can no more 
sunt, nee potuerunt stare. stand forth. 

2. Dixit goes with in semetipso ; it means think/ decide/ 

Ut delinquat is the conduct planned (cf. Ps. xiii. i, Dixit insipiens 
in corde suo : non est Deus). 

3. This is an obscure verse. The translation above is possible, 
but it is far-fetched. The Greek text could conceivably mean : 
He hath deceived himself in regard to the finding of his sin, and 
the hating of it/ i.e. he has deceived himself into forgetting how 
God seeks out and punishes sin. This would be much the same 
thought as in verse 2 and in Ps. xiii. i. 

4. Noluit, etc. The Greek is here clearer, he would not have 
understanding in regard to the doing of good/ Jerome has, cessavit 
cogitare bene facere. 

5. Aslitit ; cf. ii. 2, astiterunt reges, to stand forth ; here, to 
advance forth (Jerome has stabit). 

6. Here begins the praise of God s goodness. In ccelo might be 
taken as equivalent to ad ccelum. 

7. Mountains of God are mighty mountains. Cf. Cedars of 
God/ Ps. Ixxix. ii ; prince of God (mighty prince), Gen. xxiii. 6. 

Abyssus multa is the abyss of Gen. i on which the earth floats, 
the great nether ocean. The reference to man and beast may, in 
this context, contain an allusion to the Ark of Noah. More likely 
the phrase man and beast is meant to designate all that exists 
between heaven and earth. 

8. Quemadmodum=quam ! The Hebrew here has : How precious, 
O Lord, is Thy goodness ! The autem implies that a special proof of 
God s goodness lies in the fact that men feel themselves absolutely 
secure (sperabunt) in the shelter of God s wings. For the image 
cf. Exod. xix. 4. 

9. God is thought of here as the giver of a banquet. The pious 
are His guests. 


Ton ens voluptatis=voluptas abandans ; but there is here the idea 
of water as a precious gift. For life-giving waters associated with 
the sanctuary, or with Jerusalem, cf. Ezech. xlvii. 5/; Zach. xiv. 8. 
Cf. Is. xxxiii. 21. 

10. Cf. John iv. I3/. 

In lumine tuo, with Thy help ; videbimus lumen, we attain 
happiness and success/ Cf. iv. 7. Light is for the Hebrew a symbol 
of prosperity and 4 good luck. A mystical view is to take the phrase 
as meaning : In Thee (the Son), we behold the Father. A Trini 
tarian sense has often been given to this verse, by identifying the 
Son with the fountain of life, and the Holy Spirit with the Light/ 
Enlightened by the One Light of God (=the Spirit) we know the 
other Light of God (=the Son)/ The verse played a rather important 
part in the Council of Florence, in connection with the question of 
the Procession of the Holy Spirit. But the obvious sense is : By 
Thy favour we attain prosperity/ This was the most familiar 
philosophy of Israel. 

11. Prcetende, maintain, continue. Possibly the word suggests 
the holding forth of God s goodness and justice as a defensive shield. 

12. We have here a reference to the ancient custom according to 
which the victor set his foot on the vanquished. 

13. Ibi may be temporal ; or it may imply that, even while the 
psalmist sings, he beholds the discomfiture of his foes. 



THIS psalm is alphabetical and, like the other alphabetical 
psalms, somewhat loosely constructed. Its general theme, 
like that of Ps. i. xlviii and Ixxii, is the method of divine re 
tribution. The poet does not go deeply into the problem of 
Providence ; for him the prosperity of the godless is only apparent ; 
the good, in fact, always prosper ; the wicked, in truth, always 
suffer. If the wicked do seem, at times, to prosper, it is only for a 
moment, and without security. Their prosperity is, therefore, a 
delusion. Hence the pious must not be misled by it to emulate the 
wickedness of the godless, or to be impatient at their apparent success. 
In the end the pious will have all blessings ; the wicked, with .their 
children, will be swept away, and the God-fearing shall find them 
selves in undisturbed and abiding possession of the land of Israel. 
The psalmist s philosophy of life is thus the naive optimism which 
is so bitterly rejected by Job when his three friends put it forward as 
a solution of the riddle of Job s condition (Job iv/.). The psalm con 
tains many echoes of Job, Proverbs, and of other Psalms. The 
psalmist, like the writers of the Sapiential books, takes the attitude 
of a father or a teacher giving counsel to a son or disciple. Hence, 
as in Proverbs, the frequent use of the second person singular in the 

This poem also is regarded by modern criticism as post-exilic 
by some critics even as Maccabean. 

i. Psalmus ipsi David. 

i. A psalm by David himself. 

Noli aemulari in malignanti- 
bus : neque zelaveris facientes 

2. Quoniam tamquam foenum 
velociter arescent : et quemad- 
modum olera herbarum cito 

3. Spera in Domino, et fac 
bonitatem : et inhabita terram, 
et pasceris in divitiis ejus. 

4. Delectare in Domino : et 
dabit tibi petitiones cordis tui. 

Vie not with evildoers ; 
And imitate not sinners ! 

For swiftly, like grass, do they dry up ; 
And speedily, like green herbs, do they 

3. Put thy trust in the Lord, and do good ! 

Then shalt thou dwell in the land, and 
feast thyself on its abundance. 

4. Seek thy pleasure in the Lord, 

And He will give thee all that thy 
heart doth long for. 



5. Revela Domino vita tuam, 
et spera in eo : et ipse faciet. 

6. Et educet quasi lumen ju- 
stitiam tuam : et judicium tuum 
tamquam meridiem : 

7. Subditus esto Domino, et 
ora eum. 

Noli aemulari in eo, qui pro- 
speratur in via sua : in homine 
faciente injustitias. < 

8. Desine ab ira, et derelin- 
que furorem : noli aemulari ut 

9. Quoniam qui malignantur. 
exterminabuntur : sustinentes 
autem Dominum, ipsi haeredita- 
bunt terrain. 

10. Et adhuc pusillum, et non 
erit peccator : et quaeres locum 
ejus, et non invenies. 

1 1 . Mansueti autem haeredita- 
bunt terram : et delectabuntur 
in multitudine pacis. 

5. Entrust thy way to the Lord, 

And trust in Him, and He will bring 
it to pass. 

6. He will show forth thy righteousness as a 

And thy cause like the noonday. 

7. Be subject to the Lord and offer petition 

unto Him. 
Be not envious of him who hath good 

fortune on his way 
Of the man who acteth unjustly ! 

8. Cease from anger^nd give up wrath ; 

Be not envious of evil-doing. 

9. For they who do evil will be cut off ; 

But they who put their trust in the 
Lord will possess the land. 

10. In a little while the sinner shall be no 

more ; 

Thou wilt seek his place, and shalt not 
find him. 

11. But the lowly shall possess the land, 

And shall delight in the fulness of 

12. Observabit peccator ju- 
stum : et stridebit super eum 
dentibus suis. 

13. Dominus autem irridebit 
eum : quoniam prospicit quod 
veniet dies ejus. 

14. Gladium evaginaverunt 
peccatores : intenderunt arcum 

Ut dejiciant pauperem et ino- 
pem : ut trucident rectos corde. 

15. Gladius eorum intret in 
corda ipsorum : et arcus eorum 

12. The sinner watcheth for the just, 

And gnasheth his teeth against him ; 

13. But God laugheth him to scorn, 

For He seeth that his day is near. 

14. Sinners draw the sword, 

And stretch their bow to dash headlong 

the needy and helpless, 
To slay the honest of heart. 

15. May their sword pierce through to their 

own heart ! 
And may their bow be broken. 

1 6. Melius est modicum justo, 
super divitias peccatorum mul- 

17. Quoniam brachia pecca 
torum conterentur : confirmat 
autem justos Dominus. 

1 8. Novit Dominus dies im- 
maculatorum : et haereditas 
eorum in aeternum erit. 

19. Non confundentur in tern- 
pore malo, et in diebus famis 
saturabuntur : 

20. Quia peccatores peribunt. 
Inimici vero Domini mox ut 

honorificati fuerint et exaltati : 
deficientes, quemadmodum fu- 
mus deficient. 

1 6. Better is the scanty store of the 

Than the great wealth of sinners. 

17. For the arms of sinners shall be broken ; 

But the Lord maintaineth the righteous. 

1 8. The Lord knoweth the days of the 

righteous ; 
And their inheritance abideth for ever. 

19. They shall not be disgraced in the day of 

trouble ; 

And in the time of famine they will be 
sated : 

20. But sinners shall be cut off. 

Yea ! the enemies of the Lord are no 

sooner honoured and exalted, 
Than they vanish utterly, like smoke. 

1 3 o 



21. Mutuabitur peccator, et 
non sol vet : Justus autem mise- 
retur et tribuet. 

22. Quia benedicentes ei hae- 
reditabunt terrain : maledi- 
centes autem ei disperibunt. 

23. Apud Dominum gressus 
hominis dirigentur : et viam 
ejus volet. 

24. Cum ceciderit, non colli- 
detur : quia Dominus supponit 
manum suam. 

25. Junior fui, etenim senui : 
et non vidi justum derelictum, 
nee semen ejus quaerens panem. 

26. Tota die miseretur et com- 
modat : et semen illius in bene- 
dictione erit. 

27. Declina a malo, et fac 
bonum : et inhabita in saeculum 

28. Quia Dominus amat judi- 
cium, et non derelinquet sanctos 
suos : in aeternum conservabun- 

Injusti punientur : et semen 
impiorum peri bit. 

29. Justi autem haereditabunt 
terrain : et inhabitabunt in sae 
culum saeculi super earn. 

30. Os justi meditabitur sa- 
pientiam, et lingua ejus loquetur 

31. Lex Dei ejus in corde 
ipsius : et non supplantabuntur 
gressus ejus. 

32. Considerat peccator ju 
stum : et quaerit mortificare 

33. Dominus autem non de 
relinquet eum in manibus ejus : 
nee damnabit eum, cum judica- 
bitur illi. 

34. Exspecta Dominum, et 
custodi viam ejus : et exaltabit 
te ut haereditate capias terram : 
cum perierint peccatores videbis. 

35. Vidi impium superexalta- 
tum, et elevatum sicut cedros 

36. Et transivi, et ecce non 
erat : et quaesivi eum, et non 
est inventus locus ejus. 

37. Custodi innocentiam, et 
vide eequitatem : quoniam sunt 
reliquiae homini pacifico. 

38. Injusti autem disperibunt 
simul : reliquiae impiorum in- 

21. The sinner borroweth, and payeth not 

back : 

But the just doth pity, and freely 

22. They who praise Him (God) shall possess 

the land, 
But they who revile Him shall be cut off. 

23. By the Lord the steps of a man are guided; 

And the way of such a one He doth de 
light in. 

24. When he falleth he shall not come to hurt, 

For the Lord holdeth under him His 

25. I was young, and now I am grown old ; 

Yet never have I seen the just man 

Nor his children begging for bread. 

26. He is at all times merciful, and lendeth, 

And yet, his posterity is blessed. 

27. Turn away from evil and do good, 

And thou shalt dwell in the land for 
ever ! 

28. For the Lord loveth justice ; 

And forsaketh not His worshippers. 
They shall be maintained for ever. 
The wicked shall be punished ; 

And the posterity of the godless shall 
be cut off. 

29. But the just shall possess the land, 

And dwell therein for ever. 

30. The mouth of the pious praiseth wisdom ; 

And his tongue talketh of justice. 

31. The Law of God is in his heart ; 

And his steps are never unsteady. 

32. The sinner lieth in wait for the just, 

And seeketh to slay him. 

33 . But the Lord leaveth him not in his hands, 

And condemneth him not when he is 

34. Wait on the Lord and keep His path, 

And He will exalt thee so that thou 

shalt inherit the land. 
When sinners are cut off, thine eyes 

shall feast thereon. 

35. I saw a godless man greatly exalted. 

Set high, like the cedars of Lebanon : 

36. And I passed on, and lo ! he was no more ; 

And I sought it [his place], but no 
longer could his place be found. 

37. Hold fast to innocence, and give heed to 

uprightness ! 

For to the man of peace belongeth 

38. But the impious all of them are cut off, 

And the posterity of the wicked shall 
vanish ! 


39. Salus autem justorum a 39. But the help of the righteous is from the 
Domino : et protector eorum in Lord ; 

tempore tribulationis. And He is their protector in time of 


40. Et adjuvabit eos Dominus 40. And the Lord doth help them, and rescue 
et liberabit eos : et eruet eos a them, 

peccatoribus, et salvabit eos : And delivereth them from sinners, and 

quia speraverunt in eo. protecteth them, because they put 

their trust in Him. 

1. The pious is not to permit himself to imitate the methods of 
the sinner because of the latter s apparent success. Cf. Prov. xxiv. 19. 

2. Cf. for similar comparison, Ps. xci. 8 ; ci. 12 ; cii. 15 ; cxxviii. 6. 
3 The reward of goodness is to be material. 

4. Cf. Job xxvii. 10. 

5, 6. Revela ; in Hebrew : commit thy way to the Lord/ i.e. 
entrust your case to Him. Life is a sort of trial in which the good 
are matched against the wicked. God, in His own interest, will 
secure a favourable verdict for the pious, which will be as clearly 
seen as is the sun at noonday. Cf. Is. Iviii. 10 and Job xvii. 

7. Same thought as in verse i. 

8. The anger and wrath would arise from the apparent unfairness 
of Providence. There must be no emulation of the sinful ways of 
the godless. 

10. Note the frequent repetition of the thought that the wicked 
will altogether disappear. Cf. Job viii. 18 ; Yet, when from his place 
he is destroyed, It denies him. " I never beheld thee." See 
verse 36 of this psalm. 

11. The " abundant peace " will come when the wicked have 
vanished. Cf. Matt. v. 4. 

12-15. This description of the methods of the godless reminds 
one of many other psalm-passages. Cf. vii. 15^. ; ix. 30^. ; xxxiv. 8. 
The psalmist s theory is : The impious brings about by his scheming 
his own destruction ; the pious attains to happiness by his honesty; 
Exceptions to this rule are either imaginary, or ephemeral. 

13. The day is that of the sinner s fall. 

16. Super expresses comparison. 

18. The immaculati are the perfect, the righteous. Their " day " 
is their lot, fate. The Psalt. Rom. has vias, which gives ultimately, 
the same sense. God s knowledge implies His interest, and loving 
care. Cf. Ps. i. 6 ; Gals. iv. 9. 

20. The exaltation and humiliation of the impious take place 
in the same moment. This is a strong way of asserting the fleeting 
ness and insecurity of honour based on sin. Cf. with this the wonderful 
description of the nothingness of the sinner s life in the Book of 
Wisdom, ch. v. 8-14, especially v. 14. " The hope of the ungodly 
is as chaff carried by the wind, and as foam vanishing before a tempest, 

132 THE PSALMS [36 

and is scattered as is smoke by the wind, and passeth by as the re 
membrance of a one-day guest." Cf. also Job iv. 8, 9 : "I have 
always seen plowers of sin and sowers of sorrow to reap it. By the 
breath of God they perish, and end in the blast of His anger." 

21. The wealthy sinner has not enough in all his wealth ; he has 
to borrow and cannot pay back. The pious, in all his poverty, has 
wherewithal to lend. 

23. The pious man, of course, is here referred to. Apud by. 

25. This is the psalmist s proof, based on his own experience, of 
his optimistic theories. Cf. the words of Eliphaz in Job iv. jf. 

26. In benedictione, unto a blessing/ i.e. will be blessed by others 
to whom they bring profit, and who will ask of God to be favoured 
like them. , 

30. The wisdom here is the wisdom of God which shows itself in 
the government of the world. Meditari, to speak, or, to murmur 
over to oneself. The judicium is the Law of God, or perhaps, God s 
wisdom as shown in particular cases God s verdict, as it were. 

31. With the Law in his heart a man cannot miss the true way. 

32. Consider are, to watch for with hostile intent. 

33. The sense is that God will not abandon the just to the power 
of the godless. Even when the latter bring the just man to trial, 
and pronounce sentence against him, God will not agree with their 

34. Videbis, you will have your pleasure in, feast your eyes on/ 
35-36. The psalmist here again appeals to his own experience. 

The cedars of Lebanon symbolise all that is great, imposing, and 

37. Reliquice the translation, " posterity " is supported by the 
first part of the verse, and by the sentiment of the following verse. 
The wicked shall be cut off, so as to leave no memory behind ; but 
God will maintain His loyal servants in being, and will give them 
security and success. Though this, the usual Israelite theory of life, 
is strongly criticised in the Book of Job, the Epilogue of that book 
agrees in outlook with the concluding verses of this psalm. 



THE singer is sorely smitten with sickness and thinks himself 
not far from death : he is in conflict with godless enemies, 
and pleads for help. He pleads less for health than for 
justification against his enemies. Were he to die, this 
would be a victory for his foes, and an indication of a guilt of which 
he is not conscious. As against men, he claims to be guiltless : to 
wards God he admits his sin. In his sickness he sees the due reward 
of his offences against God, and he accepts with resignation the 
punishment. He does not ask for pardon of his sins, except in so far 
as his prayer for help implies a petition for remission of his sins ; 
neither does he pray directly for a renewal or purification of spirit, 
nor for preservation from further sin. He puts all the stress on the 
prayer for justification as against his enemies. The whole tone of 
the psalm is strikingly like that of Ps. Ixxxvii. Cf. also Ps. vi. 

This psalm is the third of the so-called penitential psalms. It 
seems clearly to describe the condition of a man who is suffering from 
grievous bodily illness, of a man whose body is full of foul and evil- 
smelling festering sores, of a man whose nearest and dearest desert 
him through fear of infection. He is like a leper outcast. In all his 
sickness his foes relentlessly seek his ruin. The psalm is assigned to 
David, yet we cannot find the situation which it describes in the 
history of David s life. The theory of this psalm is, again, that 
sickness and sorrow are a result of sin. This was not a Hebrew idea, 
merely. It appears everywhere in the literature of the Semites, and 
especially in Babylonian literature. 

i. Psalmus David, in re- 
memorationem de Sabbato. 

i. A psalm of David. 
On the Sabbath. 

For a memorial. 

2. Domine ne in furore tuo 
arguas me, neque in ira tua 
corripias me. 

3. Quoniam sagittae tuae in- 
fixae sunt mihi : et confirmasti 
super me manum tuam. 

4. Non est sanitas in carne 
mea a facie irae tuae : non est 
pax ossibus meis a facie pecca- 
torum meorum. 

2. O Lord, in Thy wrath punish me not ! 

And in Thy anger chastise me not ! 

3. For Thy arrows have fixed themselves in 

me ; 

And heavily hast Thou laid Thy hand 
on me. 

4. There is no health in my body because 

of Thy anger ; 

And there is no peace in my bones be 
cause of my sins 





5. Quoniam iniquitates meae 
supergressae sunt caput meum : 
et sicut onus grave gravatae sunt 
super me. 

5. For my misdeeds reach even above my 


And like a heavy load they weigh me 

6. Putruerunt et corruptae 
sunt cicatrices meae, a facie in- 
sipientiae meae. 

7. Miser factus sum, et curva- 
tus sum usque in finem : tota 
die contristatus ingrediebar. 

8. Quoniam lumbi mei impleti 
sunt illusionibus : et non est 
sanitas in carne mea. 

9. Afflictus sum, et humiliatus 
sum nimis : rugiebam a gemitu 
cordis mei. 

10. Domine, ante te omne 
desiderium meum : et gemitus 
meus a te non est absconditus. 

11. Cor meum conturbatum 
est, dereliquit me virtus mea : 
et lumen oculorum meorum, et 
ipsum non est mecum. 

12. Amici mei, et proximi mei 
adversum me appropinquave- 
runt, et steterunt. . 

Et qui juxta me erant, de 
longe steterunt : 

13. Et vim faciebant qui 
quaerebant animam meam. 

Et qui inquirebant mala mihi, 
locuti sunt vanitates : et dolos 
tota die meditabantur. 

14. Ego autem tamquam sur- 
dus non audiebam : et sicut 
mutus non aperiens os suum. 

15. Et factus sum sicut homo 
non audiens : et non habens in 
ore suo redargutiones. 

1 6. Quoniam in te Domine 
speravi : tu exaudies me Do 
mine Deus meus. 

17. Quia dixi : Nequando su- 
pergaudeant mihi inimici mei : 
et dum commoventur pedes mei, 
super me magna locuti sunt. 

6. My wounds are festering and decaying, 

Because of my folly. 

7. I am wretched and completely cast down ; 

All day I go about dejected. 

8. For my loins are become a mockery ; 

And health there is none in my flesh. 

9. I am afflicted and humbled indeed ; 

I groan in the misery of my heart. 

10. O Lord, before Thee is all my longing ! 

And my sighing is not hidden from 
Thee ! 

11. My heart is dismayed ; my strength has 

abandoned me ; 

And the light of my eyes even it is no 
longer with me. 

12. My dear ones and comrades approach till 

they are over against me, and then 
stand still, 
And my neighbours stand afar off. 

13. But they who seek my life put forth a 

great effort ; 
And they who seek to injure me 

speak wantonly, 
And scheme treachery all day long. 

14. But I, like a deaf man, hear not, 

And am like one dumb that openeth 

not his mouth. 

15.1 have become like a man that heareth not, 
That hath no rejoinder in his mouth. 

1 6. For in Thee I hope, O Lord ; 

Thou hearest me, my God ! 

17. Because I say: Let not my foes rejoice 

over me 

They who spoke arrogantly against me 
when my feet were tottering ! 

1 8. Quoniam ego in flagella 
paratus sum : et dolor meus in 
conspectu meo semper. 

19. Quoniam iniquitatem me 
am annuntiabo : et cogitabo 
pro peccato meo. 

20. Inimici autem mei vivunt, 
et connrmati sunt super me : 
et multiplicati sunt qui oderunt 
me inique. 

21. Qui retribuunt mala pro 
bonis, detrahebant mihi : quo- 
niam sequebar bonitatem. 

1 8. For I am given over to the scourges ; 

And my pain is ever before me. 

19. My misdeeds I proclaim ; 

And am uneasy about my sins. 

20. But my enemies go on living, and are 

stronger than I ; 

And many are they who hate me 

21. They who return evil for good 

Are hostile to me, because I seek after 
the good. 


22. Ne derelinquas me Do- 22. Abandon me not, O Lord ! 
mine Deus meus : ne discesseris My God, depart not from me t 
a me. 

23. Intende in adjutorium 23. Make haste to help me, O Lord, my 
meum, Domine Deus salutis rescuing God ! 


1. In rememotationem for a remembrance, i.e. to remind the 
Lord of something. De Sabbato is not in Hebrew. We know, how 
ever, that even at a very early period, selected psalms were assigned 
to the different days of the week. The rememoratio (in Hebrew 
Azkara), is sometimes explained as the liturgical Azkara, i.e. the 
portion of the food-offering (minhah) which was cast into the sacri 
ficial flame to remind God of the offerer. The psalm would in this 
view, be assigned to the particular moment of the liturgy at which 
that offering was made. Cf. Ps. Ixix. i. 

2. He prays the Lord to punish no further, because he thinks 
himself already sufficiently chastised. Note resemblance with Ps. vi. 

3. The arrows are the pains of his disease. Cf. Job vi. 4 ; xvi. 13. 
The Hebrew suggests the thought of a flight of arrows falling around 

4. The first chapter of Isaias describes the fatal diseases of Israel 
in similar language. Pax corresponds to the Hebrew shalom, which 
implies perfection or integrity. 

5. The pains reach above his head as a torrent or a sea in which 
he is being submerged. Here, as often, misery is symbolised by over 
whelming floods. The Hebrew word translated misdeed can also 
mean punishment. The two are intimately connected. 

Super me, beyond my strength. The sin and punishment to 
gether weigh him down. 

6. A picture of a leper. The " folly "=sin. Cf. Ixviii. 6 ; xxi. 3. 

7. Contristatus : Hebrew, in mourning. 

8. This verse has been variously interpreted. The loins were the 
symbol and seat of strength, and the sense may be therefore, as 
suggested in the translation : my loins are become an object of 
mockery, i.e. my strength has deserted me. The Hebrew is un 
satisfactory. Possibly it means : my loins are full of burning ; 
there is no sound spot in my flesh. 

9. Rugiebam. A very slight change in the Hebrew text would 
give the excellent sense : I cry more loudly than the lion roars. 
The vehemence of the crying is due to the intensity of the suffering. 
The traditional Hebrew text can be rendered : I cry (roar) because 
of the wild surging of my heart. 

ii. The effects of the disease. 

Conturbatum. Hebrew, my heart beats furiously ; my strength 
has abandoned me ; even the light of my eyes fails me/ 

136 THE PSALMS [37 

12. Adversum me can scarcely imply hostile approach ; they 
come forward, and stand " over against " (so Greek and Hebrew) 
him. When they come within sight of him, they stand. The 
Hebrew contrasts my friends (= those who are near me ) with 
their standing afar off/ Cf. Ps. xxii. 5 for adversum. Note the 
application of this verse to Our Lord in Luke xxiii. 49. Cf. Ps. 
Ixxxvii. 9. 

13. Vim faciebant seems to refer to the special effort which they 
put forth against him. The Greek verb is here the same as in the 
famous text : -^ ftaa-iXeia TWV ovpavwv /Stafcrcu, Mat. xi. 12 (Cf. Lk. xvi. 
16). The enemies press on intent on one thing only his destruction. 
The Hebrew says simply : They who seek my life lay snares (for 

15. Redargutio, retort, reply to accusations. The sufferer is 
silent because he knows that God will not fail him. Cf. the Servant 
of Yahweh in Isaias liii. 7. 

17. The quia (Hebrew ki) does not, apparently, link up this 
verse with the preceding. Hebrew ki is often used, it would seem, 
without any definite meaning. It is thus similar to the Assyrian 
particle ma which is often used merely to denote the continuation 
of a theme. 

18. Paratus sum : I am already given over to the scourges/ 
The meaning stand ready for is not so well suited to the context, 
though it is, possibly, the more likely meaning of the Hebrew. 

19. Cogitabo, I am troubled about/ 

20. Vivunt, go on living (and, therefore, enjoying good fortune). 
Inique, without due cause/ If the Hebrew text here is compared 

with the Hebrew of Ixviii. 5 (which is a parallel text), it becomes 
clear that we should read here hinnam (gratis) instead of haiyim 
(life, vivunt). Thus the balance of the two parts of the verse becomes 
complete : 

Inimici . . mei gratis, confirmati sunt super me ; 
Multiplicati sunt qui oderunt me inique. 

Those who are my foes without reason ; those who hate me 
without cause/ 



IN this poem, as in Psalm xxxvi, the contrast between the pros 
perity of the godless and the desolation of a loyal worshipper 
of God seems to form the main background. The singer is 
afflicted with many sorrows ; these he recognises as the reward 
of his own sins. Yet others, more sinful, and less loyal, than himself 
are apparently untroubled, and prosperous. In the eyes of these 
careless worldlings his own piety stands convicted of folly. Yet he 
will not complain ; he will not even speak ; he will give the godless 
no reason for mocking. Restraint, however, only kindles a fire 
within him, and, at last, he breaks out in bitter complaint. Yet in 
a moment he realises how foolish it is to complain against God. Man 
is nothing before God. There is, then, no hope for man but to admit 
his nothingness, and confess his sin, and trust in the Lord with un 
limited humility and resignation. 

This psalm closely resembles in its general attitude Psalm Ixxii. 
Its reflections on the nothingness of man are like those of Psalm Ixxxix. 
It is largely a problem-psalm and, in itself, might belong to any age 
in which the problem of Providence was debated from the standpoint 
that piety is certain of worldly reward, whatever facts may seem to 
prove. The Hebrew tradition assigned it to David. The Idithun 
(Yedithun) of the inscription appears again in the titles of Ps. Ixi 
and Ixxvi. For Idithun (=Ethan) see Ps. xli. i. The inscription 
here may mean : For the choir-leader of the Idithun (=Ethan) 
group. It might, however, be explained as=" Property of the 
choir-leader of the Idithun group." 

1. In finem, ipsi Idithun, 
Canticum David. 

2. Dixi : Custodiam vias me- 
as : ut non delinquam in lingua 

Posui ori meo custodiam, cum 
consisteret peccator adversum 

3. Obmutui, et humiliatus 
sum, et silui a bonis : et dolor 
meus renovatus est. 

4. Concaluit cor meum intra 
me : et in meditatione mea 
exardescet ignis. 

1. For the choir-leader of the family of 

Jeduthun. A song of David. 

2 . I said : I will keep guard over my ways, 

So that I may not sin with my tongue : 
I will put a guard on my mouth 
In the presence of the wicked. 

3. I was silent and humbled, and spoke 

naught of happiness : 
But my pain was renewed. 

4. My heart burned within me, and through 

my thinking a fire was enkindled : 





5. Locutus sum in lingua 
mea : 

Notum fac mihi Domine finem 

Et numerum dierum meorum 
quis est : ut sciam quid desit 

6. Ecce mensurabiles posuisti 
dies meos : et substantia mea 
tamquam nihilum ante te. 

Verumtamen universa vani- 
tas, omnis homo vivens. 

7. Verumtamen in imagine 
pertransit homo : sed et frustra 

Thesaurizat : et ignorat cui 
congregabit ea. 

8. Et nunc quae est exspecta- 
tio mea ? Nonne Dominus ? 
Et substantia mea apud te est. 

9. Ab omnibus iniquitatibus 
meis erue me : opprobrium in- 
sipienti dedisti me. 

10. Obmutui, et non aperui os 
meum, quoniam tu fecisti : 

11. Amove a me plagas tuas. 

12. A fortitudine manus tuas 
ego defeci in increpationibus : 
propter iniquitatem corripuisti 

Et tabescere fecisti sicut ara- 
neam animam ejus : verumta- 
men vane conturbatur omnis 

13. Exaudi orationem meam 
Domine, et deprecationem me 
am : auribus percipe lacrimas 

Ne sileas : quoniam advena 
ego sum apud te, et peregrinus, 
sicut omnes patres mei. 

14. Remitte mihi, ut refri- 
gerer priusquam abeam, et am- 
plius non ero. 

5. Then I spoke out with my tongue. 

" Let me know, O Lord, my end, 

And what is the number of my days, 
That I may know how much is still 
wanting to me [of my toll of sorrow] ! 

6. Behold ! easily measured hast Thou made 

my days : 

And my being is as nothing before Thee. 
Indeed, all is vanity every man that 

liveth ! 

7. Indeed, like a shadow man passeth : 

And fruitless is his worrying : 
Treasures he heapeth up, knowing not 
for whom he gathereth them. 

8. And now, what is my hope ? 

Is it not the Lord ? My very being is 
with Thee. 

9. Rescue me from all my sins ! 

Thou hast made me the scorn of fools. 

10. I am silent and open not my mouth, 

For Thou hast done it ! 

1 1 . Remove from me Thy chastisements ! 

12. Through the weight of Thy hand I fade 


Because of [Thy] chidings. 
For sin Thou punishest man : 

Thou makest him to vanish as a spider. 
Verily in vain doth a man take anxious 

thought ! 

13. Hear my prayer, O Lord, 

And my petition : give heed to my 

Be not silent, for I am a stranger before 

And a wanderer, like all my fathers ! 

14. Give me pardon that I may be refreshed, 

Before I depart, and am no more ! 

2-4. The sense : the pious singer dared not openly complain of 
his griefs in the presence of his godless foes, since that would only 
give them a reason for mocking at the Lord. The strong restraint 
he put upon himself only added to his pains ; dolor meus renovatus est : 
his heart burned within him and the more he reflected, the greater 
was the fire of bitterness which was enkindled within him, and, at 
last a flood of bitter words bursts from him (locutus sum in lingua). 

5. His outburst is not given to us, for the words in verses 5 and 6 
are rather quiet and humble. Hence we must imagine a break in 


the poem after lingua mea. His outburst has not relieved him. It 
has only shown him how imprudent he could be. He turns, then, 
to God praying for resignation, and clear knowledge of his own 
nothingness. Man is too insignificant to protest to God. This is 
the lesson of Yahweh s address to Job, and it seems also to be St. 
Paul s position as to predestination (cf. Job xxxviii-xli ; Roms. ix). 

6. Mensurabiles, easily measured, short. Hebrew, " a span hath 
Thou made my days." 

Substantia, Woo-rao-is, all that is solid and real in me. 
Verumtamen, Verily : Hebrew, akh. 

7. Notice solemn repetition of verumtamen. In imagine, a Hebrew 
construction = tanquam imago. 

Conturbatur ; takes thought/ is solicitous. An instance of 
this is the heaping up of wealth which will be dissipated by strangers. 

8. If things are so, what hope has the psalmist ? He can only 
turn to God. 

9. The fools are the psalmist s godless adversaries. They will 
mock both him and the Lord if the Lord does not rescue him from 
the consequences of his sins. 

10. The silence is that which follows his turning to God, and his 
perceiving God s hand in his troubles (" for Thou hast done it "). 
His sorrow is but the shadow of God s hand, and this fills his soul 
with the silence of peace. Though he is now resigned he prays to 
be released from the burden of his pains. 

12. Fortitude manus, the strong hand (cf. Ps. xx. 5). 
Increpatio includes probably punishment as well as chiding. 
Sicut araneam. The full comparison would be animam ejus 

(= him) sicut animam (= life) araneae. 
Conturbatur = Cf. verse 7. 

13. The Lord is asked to hear his prayer because he is a guest 
of the Lord. The earth is the Lord s possession ; hence man on 
earth is the Lord s guest, and has a right to the protection and care 
which the East always extends to the guest. The advena is the 
Hebrew ger, the more or less passing guest : the peregrinus is the 
toshabh, the foreigner who has settled in Israel. Neither would have 
the full rights of an Israelite citizen, and both would, therefore, need 
special care and protection as guests of the nation (=here, as guests 
of God). Note St. Paul s use of this verse in Ephes. ii. 19. 

14. Remitte, relax Thy severity ; that I may have a moment s 
peace (Hebrew : that I may look cheerful, that I may smile again. 
The Arabic verb corresponding to the Hebrew here used expresses 
the idea of sunlight bursting suddenly through the clouds. Jerome s 
rendering is good : Parce mihi ut rideam.). 

The last words of the psalm are taken by many critics as the 
gloomiest in the Bible, expressing, as they seem to do, the hopelessness 
of coming extinction. Yet it might be maintained that the sug- 

140 THE PSALMS [ 3 8 

gestion of the psalm, as a whole, is, that the problems of Providence 
cannot be worked out fully within the span of a man s earthly life. 
The psalmist would not emphasise so strongly his hope and trust in 
the Lord if he did not believe that things would ultimately be set 
right. Man s life is short, but the life of the Lord is forever, and 
man s whole being depends on the Lord, and the Lord is good ! The 
little " breathing-space " before the psalmist s departure from the 
tangible realities of earthly life, would serve, at all events, to supply 
an answer to the taunts of the godless, and an encouragement to loyal 
worshippers who were in trouble, The parallel in Job x. 20-21 : 

Are not my days but few ? 

Let Him leave me space to cheer up 

Before I be gone without return 

To the land of darkness and death-shade. 1 

suggests clearly that the psalm passage looks on death merely as the 
end of earthly joys, and not as utter extinction. 

1 Trans, by King, The Poem of Job. 



VERSES 14-18 of this psalm appear as a separate poem in 
Ps. Ixix. This fact, together with the contrast of verses i-n 
with verses 12-18 the contrast, as it has been put, of a 
Magnificat with a De profundis has led modern students to 
look on Ps. xxxix as a fusion of two originally distinct poems. The 
theme of the first part (i-n) is thanksgiving for rescue from peril ; 
the theme of the second is petition for help in trouble. 

In the first part the psalmist tells us that he has been saved from 
peril, and will sing a song of thanks (1-4). Fortunate is the man who 
puts his trust in the Lord, the wonderful Protector of Israel since the 
ancient days (5-6). True thanks to the Lord is not the offering of 
sacrifices, but conduct that executes His will. Obedience is better 
than sacrifice (7-9). The psalmist has published, and will ever 
publish, the mercies of the Lord. The second part is an earnest 
petition for rescue by the Lord from the great trouble in which the 
psalmist now stands. It has in common with the first, the idea that 
the Lord wins the wonder and praise of all who learn of the deeds of 
rescue which He has performed for His faithful servants. 

Here again we have little to guide us, beyond the title, in deter 
mining the occasion or date of the poem. The Messianic meaning of 
verses 7-9 is established by the Epistle to the Hebrews. 

1. In finem Psalmus ipsi 

2. Expectans expectavi Do- 
minum, et intendit mihi. 

3. Et exaudivit preces meas, 
et eduxit me de lacu miseriae et 
de luto faecis. 

Et statuit super petram pedes 
meos, et direxit gressus meos. 

4. Et immisit in os meum can- 
ticum novum, carmen Deo no- 

Videbunt multi, et timebunt, 
et sperabunt in Domino. 

5. Beatus vir cujus est nomen 
Domini spes ejus, et non re- 
spexit in vanitates et insanias 

i. For the choir- leader. A psalm of David. 

2. I trustingly waited for the Lord, 

3. And He gave heed to me, and He heard 

my prayers ; 
And drew me forth from the pit of sorrow, 

And the slimy ooze : 
And planted my feet on a rock, 

And guided my steps : 

4. And in my mouth He put a new song 

A song of praise to our God. 
Many saw it, and feared, 

And put their trust in the Lord. 

Lucky is the man whose hope 
Is in the name of the Lord ; 

Who heeds not worthless things, 
And foolish ravings ! 





6. Multa fecisti tu, Domine 
Deus meus, mirabilia tua : et 
cogitationibus tuis non est qui 
similis sit tibi. 

Annuntiavi, et locutus sum : 
multiplicati sunt super nume- 

Many wondrous deeds hast Thou done, 

O Lord, my God ! 
There is no one who riseth 

To the level of Thy thoughts. 
Should I wish to proclaim them and tell 

They are many beyond all counting ! 

7. Sacrificium et oblationem 
noluisti : aures autem perfecisti 

Holocaustum et pro peccato 
non postulasti : 

8. Tune dixi : Ecce venio. 

In capite libri scriptum est 
de me, 

9. Ut facerem voluntatem tu 
am : Deus meus, volui, et legem 
tuam in medio cordis mei. 

10. Annuntiavi justitiam tu 
am in ecclesia magna : ecce 
labia mea non prohibebo : Do 
mine, tu scisti. 

n. Justitiam tuam non ab- 
scondi in corde meo : veritatem 
tuam et salutare tuum dixi. 

Non abscondi misericordiam 
tuam et veritatem tuam a 
concilio multo. 

7. Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldst not ; 

But ears thou hast made for me : 
Burnt-offering and sin-offering Thou 
demandest not ; 

8. Therefore, I say : Behold, I come 

In the volume is this enjoined on me 

9. To do Thy will. I delight, O my God, 

In Thy law which is in my heart. 

10. I have proclaimed Thy justice in the 

Great Assembly : 
Behold, I restrain not my lips ! 
Lord, Thou knowest it ! 

11. I hide not Thy justice in my heart ; 

Thy fidelity and Thy saving help I 

Thy graciousness and faithfulness I have 

not hidden 
From the great Congregation. 

12. Tu autem, Domine, ne 
longe facias miserationes tuae 
a me : misericordia tua et veri- 
tas tua semper susceperunt me. 

13. Quoniam circumdederunt 
me mala quorum non est nu- 
merus : comprehenderunt me 
iniquitates meae, et non potui ut 

Multiplicatae sunt super ca- 
pillos capitis mei, et cor meum 
dereliquit me. 

14. Complaceat tibi, Domine, 
ut eruas me : Domine, ad ad- 
juvandum me respice. 

15. Confundantur et revere- 
antur simul, qui quaerunt ani- 
mam meam, ut auferant earn. 

Convertantur retrorsum et 
revereantur, qui volunt mihi 

1 6. Ferant confestim confu- 
sionem suam, qui dicunt mihi : 
Euge, euge. 

17. Exultent et laetentur su 
per te omnes quaerentes te : et 
dicant semper : Magnificetur 
Dominus, qui diligunt salutare 

12. Take not from me, O Lord, 

Thy deeds of pity ! 

Thy loving-kindness and Thy faithfulness 
Will guard me ever ! 

13. For misfortunes beset me. 

Beyond number : 
My sins overtake me, 

And I can no longer see. 
They are more in number than the hairs 
of my head ; 

And my courage has failed me. 

14. May it please Thee, O Lord, to rescue me ! 

O Lord, set Thy mind to help me ! 

15. May they be put to shame and confusion > 

Who seek to take my life ! 
May they fall back with dishonour, 
Who would see my ruin ! 

1 6. May they at once meet their shame 

Who cry to me : Ha ! Ha ! 

17. Let all those who seek after Thee, 

Rejoice, and be glad, in Thee ! 
And let them who delight in Thy saving 

help, at all times say : 
Praised be the Lord ! 


1 8. Ego autem mendicus sum 18. But I am a beggar and wretched ; 

et pauper : Dominus sollicitus Yet the Lord taketh care for me ! 

est mei. Thou art my Helper and Protector ! 

Adjutor meus et protector Tarry not, O my God ! 
meus tu es : Deus meus, ne 

i, 3. Cisterns were sometimes used as prisons, and in the cisterns 
there would be arways a certain amount of slime and mud at the 
bottom. Hence the contrast with the firm foothold on the rock. 
The cistern, or pit, is a symbol of peril and suffering. Cf. Jer. xxxviii. 
6 ; Ps. Ixviii. 2, 3, 15. 

4. This is his song of thanksgiving. What the many saw was the 
rescue of the psalmist from peril. They join with him in his song of 
thanks in verse 5. 

5. The vanitates and insaniae falsae refer evidently to the worship 
of false gods, and to heathen oracle-giving, respectively. This would 
be strange in the mouth of David ! 

6. Here, perhaps, the psalmist is to be thought as chanting alone. 
He thinks of all the great doings of the Lord since the Exodus. In 
the translation similis is taken along with cogitationibus tuis (tibi 
being pleonastic). The Hebrew seems to mean that no one can give 
to the Lord the due meed of praise. 

7. The thought-sequence is : How then shall I give due thanks ? 
The answer is : Not by sacrifice, but by obedience. For the same 
idea cf. Amos v. 2nff\ Isaias i. 11^"; Osee vi. 6; and, especially, 
I Kings xv. 22. Note the list of sacrifices : Sacrifice (in general ; only 
a portion of animal being burned on the altar) ; meal-offering ; holo 
caust ; sin-offering. None of these sufficed. Hence the psalmist 
offers his own will : "I come to do Thy will, for thus in the Volume 
it is enjoined on me." The caput libri is the Greek K <t>aXi<s 6i(3\iov 
= the projecting end of the support round which the "volume" 
was rolled and then the roll or volume itself. It may be here the 
Torah in general, or, better perhaps, the passage, already referred to, 
in I King- xv. 22 : Obedience is better than sacrifice. 

Scriptum est de me, prescribed for me (as for every believer). 
In Hebrews (followed in translation above) this phrase is read in 
parenthesis, and ut facerem, etc., is made to depend on venio. The 
ut facer em, etc., could also, and perhaps more naturally, be made to 
depend on volui (verse 9). 

The phrase aures autem perfecisti mihi expresses also the idea that 
obedience is the best manner of service. The ears symbolise ready 
compliance. Perfecisti, hast fashioned. The psalmist has been 
given ears ready to listen to God s commands, and he declares him 
self ready also to fulfil them. 

The words in verses 7-9 are put by the author of Hebrews in the 

144 THE PSALMS [39 

mouth of Christ. On Christ, as on every faithful servant of God, 
obedience was enjoined in the Scriptures, and to Christ, also, as God, 
the words of the God-inspired psalmist are properly ascribed. 
Hebrews, with the Septuagint, reads : "a body hast Thou fashioned 
for me " (Hebrews x. 5-15), and this reading is followed -by the Psalt. 
Rom. It is a departure from the Massora, and from the ancient 
Greek versions of Aquila and Symmachus. Possibly " body " has 
got into the Septuagint text from Hebrews. The argument in Hebrews 
does not depend on the exact words, but only on the general sense, of 
our psalm-passage. Yet the reading " body " makes it easier for 
the writer of Hebrews to show that the truly God-willed, and all- 
sufficient sacrifice for sin was that of the body of Christ. 

The Hebrew text is : Ears thou hast digged (or hollowed out) 
for me. There may be a reference in this to the custom of nailing 
to the door-post the ear of the slave who refused to accept his freedom, 
and thus declared himself ready to give up his will for ever. Vid. 
Exod. xxi. 1-6. Jerome s translation has : aures fodisti mihi. 

The psalmist has God s law written not merely in a book, but in 
his own heart. 

10. True thankfulness to God is shown by the conduct of life ; 
but the psalmist insists, also, on the thanks of praising song. 

I2/. Here begins the petition for rescue, verse 12 serving as a sort 
of transition or introduction. 

13. Ut viderem for videre : his eyes are dimmed by grief and care. 
Cf. I Kings hi. 2 ; iv. 14. 

16-17. Cf. Ps. xxxiv. 27-28. 



THE poem begins in a general way with a reflection on the 
chief ground of hope for recovery from illness. The hope o f 
recovery rests mainly on the circumstance that the sick one 
has exercised mercy towards others in the days of his health. 
Whosoever has shown mercy will receive mercy from the Lord ! The 
psalmist begs, then, the gift of health from the Lord, implying that 
he himself has been merciful. But the men to whom he has been 
kind in the past, seem to have become hostile during his illness. This 
is true particularly of a former friend, an old-time constant guest, 
whose ingratitude hurts the psalmist most of all. The false friends 
mock at his sickness, and take comfort from the apparent near ap 
proach of his death. He is roused to intense anger by their malice, 
and begs passionately for recovery that he may be able to requite 
them for their ingratitude. He associates his own cause with the 
interests of the Lord ; his enemies are the enemies of the Lord, and, 
in this spirit, he prays for their destruction. His own recovery and 
renewed prosperity will prove to the mockers, and to the world, that 
the Lord protects the guiltless. The last verse is a Doxology inserted 
to mark the end of the First Book of Psalms. 

As is the case with so many of the psalms of sickness, we are 
unable to determine the occasion of this poem. Modern criticism 
is inclined to find the key to its vehemence by explaining it as a 
national poem, a song dealing with the fortunes of Israel. Yet there 
are several verses which are much more natural when understood of 
an individual than when taken as referred to the nation. So verses 
4, 7, 10. Apart, however, from the tradition shown in the inscrip 
tion, there is no special reason for taking the psalm as Davidic. Verse 
10 has received a Messianic interpretation in John xiii. 18 ; but, of 
course, everything that was true of the suffering of God-fearing men 
of ancient Israel would be true, in the highest sense, of the greatest 
son of Israel, Our Lord. The malice of ingratitude, on the other 
hand, seemed to reach its greatest intensity in Judas ; he summed 
up in himself the ingratitude of all the enemies of the just men who 
had suffered in Israel. 




i. In finem, Psalmus ipsi 

2. Beatus qui intelligit super 
egenum, et pauperem : in die 
mala liberabit eum Dominus. 

3. Dominus conservet eum, 
et vivificet eum, et beatum 
faciat eum in terra : et non 
tradat eum in animam inimi- 
corum ejus. 

4. Dominus opem ferat illi 
super lectum doloris ejus : uni 
versum stratum ejus versasti in 
infirmitate ejus. 


i. For the choir-leader. A psalm of David. 

2. Blessed is he who takes thought for the 

poor and the needy ! 
In the day of trouble the Lord will 
rescue him. 

3. The Lord will keep him and sustain him, 

and make him happy in the land, 
And will not deliver him up to the will 
of his foes. 

4. The Lord will bring him solace when he 

lies on the bed of pain ; 
In the time of his sickness Thou wilt 
change his bed of pain into a bed of 

5. Ego dixi : Domine, mise 
rere mei : sana animam meam, 
quia peccavi tibi. 

6. Inimici mei dixerunt mala 
mihi : Quando morietur, et 
peribit nomen ejus ? 

7. Et si ingrediebatur ut 
videret, vana loquebatur : cor 
ejus congregavit iniquitatem 

8. Egrediebatur foras, et lo 
quebatur in idipsum. 

Adversum me susurrabant 
omnes inimici mei : adversum 
me cogitabant mala mihi. 

9. Verbum iniquum consti- 
tuerunt adversum me : Num- 
quid qui dormit non adjiciet ut 
resurgat ? 

10. Etenim homo pacis meae, 
in quo speravi : qui edebat 
panes meos, magnificavit super 
me supplantationem. 

5. I say (therefore) : Lord be gracious to 


Heal my soul, for I have sinned against 

6. My enemies speak evil things of me : 

When will he die, and when will his 
name perish ? 

7. And when one cometh to visit me, he 

speaketh lies ; 
His heart storeth up malice, 

8. He goeth out, and speaketh thereof. 
All my enemies whisper together against 

me ; 
Evil things they plan against me. 

9. Against me they set up their godless 

saying : 
Surely he that sleepeth will not rise 

again ! 
10. Yes, even my intimate friend, in whom I 

completely trusted, 

And who ate my bread, acts treacher 
ously against me. 

11. Tu autem Domine mise 
rere mei, et resuscita me : et 
retribuam eis. 

12. In hoc cognovi quoniam 
voluisti me : quoniam non gau- 
debit inimicus meus super me. 

13. Me autem propter inno- 
centiam suscepisti : et confirm- 
asti me in conspectu tuo in 

11. But Thou, O Lord, be gracious to me and 

restore me, 

That I may have my vengeance on 
them ! 

12. Thus shall I know that Thou hast pleasure 

in me, 

When my enemy boasteth not over 

13. Me Thou guardest because of my guilt 

lessness ; 

And Thou dost establish me before 
Thee for ever and ever ! 

14. Benedictus Dominus De- 
us Israel a saBCulo, et usque in 
saeculum : fiat, fiat. 

14. (Praised be the Lord, the God of Israel, 
for ever. Amen ! Amen !) 


2. Intelligit, attentively considers/ The reference is primarily 
to intelligence, not to will, to understanding rather than sympathy. 
The Hebrew maskil might be regarded as a participle, and translated 
as here qui intelligit. But it is possible that the word is here used 
as the designation of a kind of poem or song. The meaning of verse 2, 
on that supposition, would be : Blessed is the maskil (addressed) to 
the wretched. The maskil might be looked on as including verses 
26-4. The sick man would recite the words of the maskil for his own 
comfort. (For the meaning of maskil see Ps. xli. i ; xlvi. 8.) The 
following verses (5^.) are the psalmist s description of his own con 
dition. He trusts that the general principles expressed in verses 2^-4 
(= the maskil) will find application to himself. 

In die mala, in time of his own need or trouble. 

3. Anima, desire, caprice. The older Latin texts, following the 
Greek, read in manus inimici. 

4. Universum stratum, etc. : his couch Thou wholly transformest 
in the time of his illness/ i.e. Thou changes t his bed of sickness into a 
bed of convalescence, or health. 

6. The evil things seem to be evil wishes. A specimen is given 
in what follows. Mihi represents Hebrew li. The better reading is 
alai, about me. (The text ought to be ra 1 alai, instead of ra li ; 
the of ra has led to the dropping of the of alai.) 

7, 8. They come in to see if he is dying as rapidly as they desire ; 
they form their opinion of the sick man s condition, while they make 
hypocritical inquiries about his health. Then they go out to their 
comrades to make report on the chances of his speedy death. All 
join in the earnest wish for his death, and all come to the conclusion 
(which the psalmist calls an iniquitous word ) : Surely the sick 
man will not rise from his bed again. The description is very vivid. 
It is not easy to explain verses 6-7 of the nation Israel. 

Non adjiciet ut resurgat is a familiar Hebrew idfbm : he will not 
rise again. Apponere and adder e are used in the same way as adjicere. 
Cf. Ps. Ixxvii. 17 ; Ixxvi. 8. etc., etc. See examples quoted in note 
to Ps. vi. 5. 

9. Verbum iniquum ; this is, in the Vulgate text, the psalmist s 
description of his foes evil wishes in his regard. The Hebrew, how 
ever, seems to make the whole of verse 9 an expression of the views 
of the plotters : An altogether evil thing is poured out on him (or 
clings to him) ; and where he lies, he never will rise again. 

10. Even his friend, who has often been his guest, joins with the 
rest. The man of my peace is a Hebraism my most intimate 
friend one with whom I am always at peace. 

Supplantatio, treachery. The phrase, magnificavit, etc., means, 
he hath used intense treachery against me. The Hebrew has : 
He hath raised the heel against me, i.e., he kicks me. (So, in 
John xiii. 18 : Levabit contra me calcaneum simm.) The Hebrew 

148 THE PSALMS [40 

phrase is, however, unusual, and the Latin is certainly better by its 
suggestion of treachery on the part of the quondam friend. 

12, 13. It is the disappointment and defeat of his enemies that 
proves to the psalmist the Lord s interest in himself. In so far as 
he enjoys the Lord s favour, he knows that he is free from guilt. 

14. This verse is not original. It marks the end of the first Book 
of Psalms. For the similar doxologies marking the completion of 
other books, see Ps. Ixxi. 18-20 ; Ixxxviii. 53 ; cv. 47-48. 



THE poet is far from the Temple and its worship, in some part, 
perhaps, of the northern East Jordanland. He bids his 
soul, in a twice repeated refrain, to hope for a share in the 
Temple worship once more. His enemies mock him because 
he has no ritual of sacrificial worship, and, therefore, seems to have 
no God. He thinks of great days in the past when he journeyed 
with joyous pilgrim throngs to the ancient shrine of the nation. The 
memory sustains him now when he is so far away from Jerusalem. 
He has, indeed, no solemn worship of the Lord in the lonely place of 
his sojourn, but he sings in the night time the praises of Israel s God. 
Be not sad, my soul/ he concludes, Once again I shall praise the 
Lord before His face in the Temple and say to Him : " Thou art my 
Helper and my God/ 

Davidic origin is not claimed for this Psalm, and, as the poem 
seems to imply the existence of Temple worship, Davidic origin is, 
indeed, excluded. The presence of the refrain of Ps. xli in Ps. xlii, 
and other points of contact have led nearly all modern commentators 
to regard Ps. xli and xlii as a single poem. Since, however, this 
view is not quite certain (Ps. xlii, for instance, being ascribed in 
the Greek to David), and since this work deals with the Vulgate 
Psalter, it is more convenient to treat Psalms xli and xlii separately. 
The author, some commentators think, probably was a priest. The 
mosaic of psalm passages in Jonas ii. 3-10 includes a verse from 
Ps. xli, so that this psalm is, most probably, older than the Book of 
Jonas. It is certainly older than 586 B.C., since it supposes the Temple 
still standing. There is nothing in the psalm to support the popular 
radical view that the writer was the High Priest Onias III, and that 
the occasion of the psalm was the conquest of Jerusalem by Scopas, 
a captain under Ptolemy Epiphanes. The scene of its composition 
is probably indicated in verse 7. 

1. In finem intellectus filiis i. For the choir-leader. A maskil of the 
Core. sons of Core. 

2. Quemadmodum desiderat 2. As the stag longeth 
ceryus ad fontes aquarum : ita For the running streams, 
desiderat anima mea ad te So longeth my heart 

For Thee, O God ! 




3. Sitivit anima mea ad De- 
um fortem vivum : quando 
veniam, et apparebo ante faciem 

4. Fuerunt mihi lacrimae meae 
panes die ac node : dum dicitur 
mihi quotidie : Ubi est Deus 
tuus ? 

3. My soul thirsteth for God, 

The Strong, the Living ! 

When may I come and stand 

Before the face of God ? 

4. My tears are my bread 

By day and night, 
While day by day they say to me 
Where is thy God ? 

5. Haec recordatus sum, et 
effudi in me animam meam : 
quoniam transibo in locum ta- 
bernaculi admirabilis, usque ad 
domum Dei : 

In voce exsultationis, et con- 
fessionis : sonus epulantis. 

On this I think, 

And pour out my soul 
How I journeyed to the place of the 

wondrous Tabernacle, 
To the House of God, 
Midst resounding song of praise and 

The jubilee of festival ! 

6. Quare tristis es anima 
mea ? et quare conturbas me ? 

Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc 
conntebor illi : salutare vultus 
mei, et Deus meus. 

C. My soul, why art thou sad ; and why 

troublest thou me ? 
Put thy trust in God, for even yet I shall 

praise Him [thus] : 
" My Rescuer and my God ! " 

7. Ad meipsum anima mea 
conturbata est : propterea me- 
mor ero tui de terra Jordanis, et 
Hermoniim a monte modico. 

8. Abyssus abyssum invocat, 
in voce cataractarum tuarum. 

Omnia excelsa tua, et fluctus 
tui super me transierunt. 

My soul is troubled within me ; 

Therefore do I think of Thee, 
In the Jordanland and on the little hill 

Of the Hermon range. 
Flood calleth unto flood 

With the thunder of Thy rushing 

All Thy waves and Thy billows 

Pass over me. 

9. In die mandavit Dominus 
misericordiam suam : et nocte 
canticum ejus. 

Apud me oratio Deo vitas 

10. Dicam Deo : Susceptor 
meus es. 

Quare oblitus es mei ? et 
quare contristatus incedo, dum 
affligit me inimicus ? 

11. Dum confringuntur ossa 
mea, exprobraverunt mihi qui 
tribulant me inimici mei. 

Dum dicunt mihi per singulos 
dies : Ubi est Deus tuus ? 

9. In the day, God giveth command to His 

kindness ; 
In the night time with me is the song of 

His praises 
A prayer to the God of my life. 

10. To God I do say : Thou art my Protector ! 

Why dost Thou forget me ? 
And Why do I go about in sadness ? 
While my enemies persecute me ? 

11. While my bones are being shattered 

My oppressing enemies revile me, 
Saying to me day by day : 
Where is thy God ? 

12. Quare tristis es anima 
mea, et quare conturbas me ? 

Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc 
conntebor illi : salutare vultus 
mei, et Deus meus. 

. My soul, why art thou sad, and why 

troublest thou me ? 
Put thy trust in the Lord, for even yet I 

shall praise Him [thus] : 
" My Rescuer and my God 1 " 


i. Intdlectus : intellectus translates the Hebrew, maskil. The 
designation maskil occurs in connection with the titles of Psalms xxxi, 
xli, xliii, xliv, li-liv, Ixxiii, Ixxvii, Ixxxvii, Ixxxviii, cxli. It occurs 
also in Ps. xlvi. 8 (in the phrase, Sing a maskil Psallite sapienter) 
as the name of a definite kind of poem. Verses 2-4 of Ps. xl are 
described as a maskil in the Hebrew text. Maskil has usually been 
explained as meaning a didactic, or sapiential poem. Ps. xxxi and 
Ixxvii are, in a true sense, didactic poems, but the other maskil-pszlms 
are very varied in character, and it is difficult to find a single formula 
which will describe them all. Possibly we should be right in saying 
that maskil is a name for all poems which aim at teaching that wisdom 
of which the fear of God is the beginning for all poems which incul 
cate the need of faith in God, and of the sort of conduct which is 
based on that faith. 

Filiis Core. It appears from I Paralip. vi. 31 that David entrusted 
the care of the Temple music to three Levite families the family 
of Asaph (descended from Gersham), the family of Heman (descended 
from K hath, and also from Korach = Core) and the family of Ethan 
(same* as Yedithun, or Idithun, descended from Merari). The 
musicians of these three families David divided into twenty-four 
classes, giving to each class twelve choir-masters, and twelve pupils. 
The musicians of the three families took part in the ceremonial of 
the bringing of the Ark to Sion (I Paral. xv. 7 ; xvi. 5), and of the 
restoration of the Temple under Ezechias (II Paral. xxix. 14). Note 
that the Hemanites are descendants of Korach (Core). After the 
Exile the music of the Temple was, it would seem, altogether in the 
hands of the Asaphites. Eleven of the psalms are associated with 
the Sons of Core (the Korachites), and it is to be noted that, in the 
Vulgate, the first eight psalms of the second Book are Korachite. 
II Paral. xx. 19 represents the Korachite singers as taking part 
in a celebration of victory durnig the reign of Josaphat. 

2. Adfontes : the expression desiderare ad is strange. The Hebrew 
has : As the stag (or hind, since the verb is feminine) cries out by 
the water-brooks/ The hind has come seeking water in a familiar 
brook, but the brook is dried up, and the hind, standing by the dried- 
up bed of the stream, cries out for disappointment. The Hebrew 
verb arag (desiderat) is usually translated pant/ but in Joel i. 20 
it is used in parallelism with kara (= cry aloud, call). The psalmist, 
far from the Temple-worship, misses God as sorely as the disappointed 
hind misses the water of the wady. With the spirit of this psalm 
should be compared that of Ps. Ixxxiii. 

3. He longs to stand once more in the Temple. To appear 
before God s face/ was to visit God in His Sanctuary. 

4. The psalmist seems to be forgotten, as it were, by God : hence 
this mocking query of his foes. 

152 THE PSALMS [41 

5. He thinks of the journeys to the Temple in the past, and the 
recollection fills him with tenderness. 

In me is the Hebrew alai : it need not be translated. It goes 
with animam (not with effudi) the soul entrusted to me. 

Quoniam transibo, etc. : he thinks how he used to go up with 
the pilgrim throngs to the festivals in Jerusalem. The Hebrew is 
more vivid than the Latin : How I used to move forward with the 
throng, advancing slowly step by step to the House of God, midst 
jubilee and praise a festive multitude. The psalmist moves slowly 
through, and with, a throng that presses on every side. The throng 
is that of pilgrims moving towards the Temple. 

Epulantis, of the festive throng. 

6. Though he is far from Jerusalem, the time will surely come, 
then he can praise God once more in the Temple, and invoke Him 
there as his Helper and his God. When he stands again before the 
face of Yahweh in Jerusalem, he will know for certain that God is 
still his God, his helping God, his Saviour. 

Salutare vultus mei = salutare meum. 

7. Ad meipsum . . . conturbata, troubled within me (or simply, 
troubled/ disregarding ad meipsum = alai, cf. verse 5). 

Propterea, in such circumstances ; in this trouble of soul he 
thinks on the Lord. 

Hermoniim is the Hebrew plural of Hermon. It is due to a ditto- 
graphy in the Hebrew text. Read, Hermon. 

A monte modico represents the Hebrew, from the mountain 
Mis ar. l Mis ar has been identified with a district now known as 
Seora, in the neighbourhood of Caesarea Philippi, and close to the 
place where the Jordan rises. Possibly this is why the poet refers 
to the land of the Jordan. It has been conjectured that the psalm 
may have been composed in the Hermon district. Here, near its 
rise, the Jordan rushes down through a series of cataracts which, 
perhaps, suggested the imagery of verse 8. 

8. The Jordan, like other rivers, comes, in the Hebrew view 7 , 
from the nether ocean, the abyss on which the earth floats, and calls 
to the upper ocean (the waters above the firmament) by the crashing 
of its cataractal course. 

The second part of the verse may be hypothetical : I would 
think of Thee, even did a whole ocean of wretchedness flow over me. 

9. Mandavit : sends forth as a messenger. The kindness 

1 It has been proposed to omit the preposition, and to read, in the vocative : 
O thou tiny mountain ! as if there were here, as in Ps. Ixvii. 17, a comparison 
between Sion and the greater mountains on the borders of Palestine. The 
Hebrew would read in this view : I think of thee, from the Jordan-land, and 
from Hermon ; thou tiny mountain ! 


(graciousness) of God is here thought of as an angel, or messenger, 
sent by God to protect the psalmist. Cf. Ps. xlii. 3. 

Apud me is to be read with Canticum ejus : oratio is an apposition 
to Canticum. 

10, ii. Are these the words of his song in the night ? We have 
here again, very plainly, the familiar, naive idea that the humiliation 
of His worshippers is also a humiliation for the Lord. The Lord, 
however, cannot submit to humiliation : hence the psalmist raises 
again his comforting refrain (verse 12). 

In verse 10 the Hebrew has : I will say unto God, my Rock/ 
Inimici mei of verse 11 is omitted in Hebrew, in the Vatican Codex, 
and in the older Latin Psalteries. 



THE situation of the poet here is the same as in Ps. xli. The 
petition in verse 3 is very natural as a final section, apart 
from the refrain. Though troubled so greatly by the mockers 
who surrpund him, the psalmist is confident that he will 
once again appear before his God in Jerusalem. The messengers of 
the Lord, His Light and His Truth, will come to guide him to the 
Hill where God dwells, that he may share again with the same holy 
ardour and joy with which he joined in the sacred ceremonial in his 
youth, in the worship of the Temple. The refrain makes the con 
nection of xli and xlii certain. 

The title " A psalm of David," is wanting in the Hebrew. It 
may have been suggested to an early critic by the reference to the 
Tabernacle in verse 3. There is no good reason for regarding Ps. xlii 
as other than the concluding portion of Ps. xli. 

i. Psalmus David. 

i. [A psalm of David.] 

Judica me Deus, et discerne 
causam meam de gente non 
sancta, ab homine iniquo, et 
doloso erue me. 

2. Quia tu es Deus fortitude 
mea : quare me repulisti ? et 
quare tristis incedo, dum affligit 
me inimicus ? 

Give judgment for me, O God, and decide 

my cause 

Against an unholy people ! 
Rescue me from the godless and treacher 
2. For Thou art my strength ! 

"Why hast Thou forsaken me ? 
And why must I go about in sadness, 
Humiliated by my enemy ? 

3. Emitte lucem tuam et veri- 
tatem tuam : ipsa me deduxe- 
runt, et adduxerunt in montem 
sanctum tuum, et in tabernacula 

4. Et introibo ad altare Dei : 
ad Deum, qui laetincat juventu- 
tem meam. 

Confitebor tibi in cithara 
Deus Deus meus : 

5. Quare tristis es anima 
mea ? et quare conturbas me ? 

Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc 
conntebor illi : salutare vultus 
mei, et Deus meus. 

3. O send forth Thy Light and Thy Truth, 

That they may lead me, 
And guide me to Thy holy mountain, 
And to Thy Tabernacle ! 

4. That I may go in to the altar of God 

To the God who was the joy of my youth, 
That I may praise Thee with the harp, 
O God, my God ! 

My soul, why art thou sad, and why 

troublest thou me ? 
Put thy trust in the Lord, for even yet I 

shall praise Him [thus] : 
" My Rescuer and my God ! " 



3. Light and Truth (= Fidelity) appear like ministering spirits 
sent by the Lord like the messengers of Ps. xc. n. Tabernacula= 
the whole complex of God s dwelling-house on Zion. 

4. Introibo, that I may enter. 

Qui ladificat juventutem meam who gladdened my youth. If 
the poet was, as is possible, a priest, the reference is to the enthusi 
astic joy of his first priestly ministrations. When he comes again to 
the Temple, the, early enthusiasm may be felt once more. 

5. The refrain obviously marks the connection of Ps. xli and xlii. 
The whole poem (xli-xlii) very naturally ends here. The Light and 
Truth of God, as ministering angels, are thought of as leading in the 
psalmist to the altar of God, and thus putting an end to all his grief 
and disquiet of spirit. This prospect, realised so vividly by the 
home-sick poet, inevitably suggests the consoling refrain of Ps. xli. 
6, 12. 



THIS is a national poem composed at a time when the Hebrews 
had been defeated in battle, and were somehow enslaved 
politically by their foes. For the psalmist the shame of 
his nation is unworthy of its glorious history ; and unworthy, 
too, of the God who fought its victorious battles long ago. It was 
God s power, and not the strength of Israel s arm, that vanquished 
the heathen peoples of Palestine in the time of the Conquest. Has 
He forgotten the people He used to love ? Even now the psalmist 
will trust in the help of the Lord even now, when Israel, that crushed 
the heathen in the great days of old, is in bondage to the heathens of 
the present : and with bitterness, the singer adds : It is the Lord 
who has sold us into bondage, and poor is the price He has received/ 
Yet why has the Lord abandoned us ? We have not turned aside 
from His Covenant, nor chosen other gods. It is indeed for the very 
name and sake of the Lord that Israel has been brought to defeat 
and disgrace. Arise, then, O Lord/ pleads the psalmist passionately ; 
awake from this sleep of forgetfulness. Thine own honour is at 
stake. Turn Thy face on us, for we are humbled to the dust ! 

An ancient theory assigned this psalm to the Maccabean period, 
and this is the theory now most widely accepted. The poem em 
phasises the absence of all idolatry from among the people, and 
describes the sufferings of the nation as a veritable martyrdom as 
endured for the sake of the Lord and His covenant. 

i. In finem, filiis core ad in- 

For the choir-leader of the Korachites. 
A Maskil. 

2. Deus auribus nostris audi- 
vimus : patres nostri annuntia- 
verunt nobis. 

Opus, quod operatus es in 
diebus eorum, et in diebus anti- 

3. Manus tua Gentes disper- 
didit, et plantasti eos : afflixisti 
populos, et expulisti eos. 

4. Nee enim in gladio suo 
possederunt terram, et brachium 
eorum non salvavit eos : 

Sed dextera tua, et brachium 
tuum, et illuminatio vultus tui : 
quoniam complacuisti in eis. 

2. O God, we have heard with our own ears, 

Our fathers have told us, 
What Thou didst in their time, 
In the days of old ! 

Thy hand drave forth the heathens, and 

established them ; 

Nations Thou didst smite and expel. 
For not by their sword did they conquer 

the land ; 

And their own arm did not save them, 
But Thy right hand, and Thy arm, and 

the light of Thy face ; 
Because Thou hadst pleasure in them. 



5. Tu es ipse Rex meus et 
Deus meus : qui mandas salutes 

6. In te inimicos nostros 
ventilabimus cornu, et in no 
mine tuo spernemus insurgentes 
in nobis. 

7. Non enim in arcu meo 
sperabo : et gladius meus non 
salvabit me. 

8. Salvasti enim taos de affli- 
gentibus nos : et odientes nos 

9. In Deo laudabimur tota 
die : et in nomine tuo confite- 
bimur in saeculum. 

5. Thou art my King and my God, 

Who sendest help unto Jacob ! 

6. By Thee do we scatter our foes ; 

And in Thy Name we despise those 
who rise up against us. 

7. For I trust not in my bow, 

And my sword cannot save me. 

8. But Thou dost save us from our op 

And dost humble them that hate us. 

9. We boast in the Lord at all times ; 

And we praise Thy name forever ! 

10. Nunc autem repulisti et 
confudisti nos : et non egredieris 
Deus in virtutibus nostris. 

u. Avertisti nos retrorsum 
post inimicos nostros : et qui 
oderunt nos, diripiebant sibi. 

12. Dedisti nos tamquam oves 
escarum : et in Gentibus disper- 
sisti nos. 

13. Vendidisti populum tuum 
sine pretio : et non fuit multi 
tude in commutationibus eorum. 

14. Posuisti nos opprobrium 
vicinis nostris, subsannationem 
et derisum his, qui sunt in cir- 
cuitu nostro. 

15. Posuisti nos in similitu- 
dinem Gentibus : commotio- 
nem capitis in populis. 

1 6. Tota die verecundia mea 
contra me est, et confusio faciei 
meae cooperuit me. 

17. A voce exprobrantis, et 
obloquentis : a facie inimici, 
et persequentis. 

10. But now Thou hast cast us off, and dis 

graced us, 

And goest not forth, O God, with our 

11. Thou makest us retreat before our 

enemies ; 

And they who hate us plunder us at 

12. Thou hast made us like sheep set apart 

for slaughter ; 

And among the heathen Thou dost 
scatter us. 

13. Thou hast sold Thy people for a mere 

trifle ; 
And in their sale the price was not high. 

14. Thou hast made us the laughing-stock of 

our neighbours 

A theme of mockery and laughter for 
those round about us. 

15. Thou hast made us a byword among the 

heathen ; 

An object of derision among the 

1 6. My disgrace is before me all the day long, 

And the shame of my face doth cover 

17. At the voice of the mocker and of him 

that revileth 

At the sight of the foe and of him that 
seeketh revenge. 

1 8. Hscc omnia venerunt su 
per nos, nee obliti sumus te : 
et inique non egimus in testa- 
men to tuo. 

19. Et non recessit retro cor 
nostrum : et declinasti semitas 
nostras a via tua : 

20. Quoniam humiliasti nos 
in loco afflictionis, et cooperuit 
nos umbra mortis. 

21. Si obliti sumus nomen 
Dei nostri, et si expandimus 
manus nostras ad deum alienum: 

1 8. All this has come upon us and yet we have 

not forgotten Thee ; 
Nor have we been disloyal to Thy 

19. Our heart has not turned aside ; 

And yet Thou turnest away our paths 
from Thee ! 

20. For Thou humblest us in the place of 

sorrow ; 
And the shadow of death o ercasts us. 

21. If we had forgotten the name of our God, 

And had raised our hands to a god who 
was a stranger, 

I5 8 THE PSALMS [43 

22. Nonne Deus requiret ista ? 22. Surely God would have avenged it, 

ipse enim novit abscondita cor- For He knoweth the secrets of hearts ! 

Jjg Nay, rather, it is for Thy sake we are 

Quoniam propter te mortifica- murdered. 

mur tota die : sestimati sumus And looked upon as sheep to be 

sicut oves occisionis. slaughtered. 

23 Exsurge, quare obdormis 23. Arise! Why dost Thou slumber, O Lord ? 
Domine ? exsurge, et ne re- Arise ! And do not reject us for ever ! 

24 Quare faciem tuam aver- 24. Why hidest Thou Thy face ; 

tis, oblivisceris inopiai nostrac, And forgettest our woe and oppression? 

et tribulationis nostrae ? * 

25 Quoniam humiliata est in 25. For our soul is bowed down to the dust ; 
pulvere anima nostra : conglu- And our belly cleaveth to the ground, 
tinatus est in terra venter noster. 

26 Exsurge Domine, adjuva 26. Arise, O Lord, help us, 

nos : et redime nos propter And rescue us for Thy Name s sake ! 

nomen tuum. 

1. For sons of Core (=Korach) cf. Ps. xli. i. 

2. The singer has heard of the conquest of Canaan through oral 
tradition. Cf. the command in Deut. vi. 2i/. ; Ex. xiii. 8. 

3. Eos, the fathers ; the cos following expulisti should, in virtue 
of the parallelism, refer to the same individuals. Instead of expulisti 
we should have a parallel to plantasti. 

4. The light of God s face is an allusion to the High Priest s blessing 
in Num. vi. 24-26. The light of God s face implies the favour and 
help of the Lord. 

5. Mandas salutes, orderest fulness of help (victory). 

6. Israel is like the bison that brings low its foes with thrust 
and toss of horn. 

Ventilare, to scatter through the air/ The Assyrian verb corre 
sponding to the Hebrew nagah ( thrust with the horn ) means to 
defeat one s foes. 

In nomine tuo perhaps " Yahweh ! " was their battle-cry. Cf. 

Ps. xvii. 3. 

8, 9. They still boast of the help which the Lord used to give them. 

10. The contrast in the attitude of the Lord. In the old days He 
marched at the head of their armies. Cf. Ps. xxiii. 

11. Sibi, at their own good pleasure. 

12. Oves escarum, sheep designed for slaughter ; cf. v. 22 ; 
Roms. viii. 36. 

13. Nonfuit multitude, there was no increase of wealth for Yahweh 
through the sale. This is a somewhat bitter sarcasm. The Lord has 
to share in the disgrace of His people. The seUing into slavery of 
prisoners of war was familiar in the ancient world. 

14. The " neighbours " were the hostile peoples on the frontiers 
of Israel such as the Moabites and Edomites. 


15. Israel s wretchedness has become proverbial ; it has become 
an object of head-shaking, and a mashal. 

16. The sense is : Shame covers my face/ He cannot look 
men in the face for shame ; he blushes for shame when men look at 

17. He cannot endure the words of blasphemy, etc., nor the sight 
(a facie) of the hated and derisive foes. 

18. This is a Ipitter reproach against the Lord, due to the passion 
of the poet. 

19. Declinasti : it seems necessary to insert a negative here, for 
the positive, translated as above, gives a very unusual phrase. The 
Hebrew has : Nor has our step swerved from Thy path the 
negative being continued from the preceding clause. 

20. In loco afflictionis in Hebrew : the place of jackals/ i.e. 
a place abandoned by men, a desert. Umbra mortis is a symbol of 
misery and of deadly peril. Cf. xxii. 4 ; Ixxxvii. 7 ; cvi. 10, 14. 

21. Expandere manus ; the Jews prayed standing with arms 
outstretched, and palms turned upwards. 

22. Mortificamur, murdered/ The notion of dying for the Law, 
or for the sake of t,he Lord, begins to appear, for the first time, strongly 
in the Maccabean period. Abscondita, the hidden depths. 

23. The apparent indifference of God to the defeat of His people 
is ascribed poetically to a falling asleep of the Lord. Out of this 
sleep the psalmist would wake Him. 

25. The defeated people lie on the earth, as it were, while their 
enemies march over them. 



CONSIDERED purely as a wedding-song the poem begins with 
praise of the personal beauty of the King, his prowess as a 
warrior, and his justice. From verse 9 the King appears 
decked out as a bridegroom. The bride is led to him amid 
strains of jubilating music. The poet then turns to the bride. He 
gives her fatherly advice and admires her beauty. To the King he 
wishes a sturdy posterity, and foretells the undying glory of the 
royal house. 

When we look closely at the poem we find that the royal bride 
groom is depicted with definitely Messianic traits. The Messias 
appears in the prophets at times as a warrior-hero who slays the 
enemies of Israel (Is. xi. 4). The relation of God to Israel appears 
in Osee as a marriage-bond (the same idea, but more deeply and 
fully worked out in Ephes. v.). If verses 7, 8 are addressed to the 
King, he is there definitely called God, and the qualities of his rule 
are there described as if that rule were divine. These two verses 
are applied by Hebrews (i. 8, 9) directly to the Messias. If the psalm 
is to be understood Messianically, the bride will represent the Church 
of the Old Testament period, which the Bridegroom, Christ, has 
brought to completion and perfection by His union with it in the 
new Dispensation. The companions of the bride will be the various 
heathen nations which have come into the Christian Church. This, 
the allegorical explanation, has always been the most popular in the 
Church. Yet it is obviously difficult to carry through the allegorical 
exegesis completely. The people who bring gifts are carefully dis 
tinguished from the companions of the bride. How explain this 
distinction ? Again why should the Church of Israel be exhorted to 
forget her father s house ? The reference to a sturdy posterity is 
also difficult to fit into the allegory. Yet, in general, allegories tend 
to pass beyond their limits into fact or history, and we should not 
look for too great literary perfection here. There is in the poem itself 
abundant justification for an allegorical exegesis. No actual King 
of Israel and no actual royal bride of Israelite king could have fully 
answered to the ideal of this psalm. Possibly we have here largely 
the hyperboles of a flattering court-poet ; and possibly, too, some of 
the features of Messianic imagery sprang originally from the exuberance 
of court-literature. But if the poet was really no more than a court - 

i Go 




poet, a poet laureate, and wished merely to exalt his royal master, 
he has been carried beyond himself by the Spirit and has been made 
to depict, not the splendour of his lord, but the beauty and greatness 
of the true King of Israel, the Messianic Lord. 

It is useless to attempt to identify the king whose wedding may 
have been the occasion for this poem. It must have been composed 
at a time when Israelite kings still sat securely on their thrones 
(verses 7, 8). < 

i. In linem pro iis qui com- 
mutabuntur filiis Core, ad in- 
tellectum, Canticum pro dilecto. 

i. For the choir-leader of the Korachites. 
According to .... A Maskil ; a 

2. Eructavit cor meum ver- 
bum bonum : dico ego opera 
mea Regi. 

Lingua mea calamus scribae, 
velociter scribentis. 

2. My heart overfloweth with a goodly 

theme ; 

I recite my poem of the King. 
My tongue is like the pen of a ready 

3. Speciosus forma prse filiis 
hominum, diffusa est gratia in 
labiis tuis : propterea benedixit 
te Deus in sternum. 

4. Accingere gladio tuo super 
femur tuum, potentissime, 

5. Specie tua et pulchritudinc 
tua intende, prospere precede, 
et regna. 

Propter veritatem, et man- 
suetudinem, et justitiam : et 
deducet te mirabiliter dextera 

6. Sagittas tuae acutae, populi 
sub te cadent, in corda inimico- 
rum Regis. 

3. Fair in form art Thou beyond the sons 

of men ; 
Graciousness has been poured out on 

thy lips. 
Therefore God doth bless thee. 

4. Bind the sword on thy hip, most mighty 


5. In thy beauty and splendour. 

Fare forth, speed prosperously, and rule 
For ( the cause of truth and clemency 

and justice ; 
And wondrously shall thy right hand 

lead thee. 

6. Thy sharp arrows pierce home while 

peoples fall before thee 
To the heart of the King s foes. 

7. Sedes tua Deus in saeculum 
saeculi : virga directionis virga 
regni tui. 

8. Dilexisti justitiam, et odi- 
sti iniquitatem : propterea unxit 
te Deus Deus tuus oleo lastitirc 
prae consortibus tuis. 

7. Thy throne, O God, is established for 

ever ! 
A just sceptre is the sceptre of Thy 

rule ! 

S. Thou lovest justice and hatest injustice. 
Therefore doth God, Thy God, anoint 

With festive oil above Thy fellows. 

9. Myrrha, et gutta, et casia 
a vestimentis tuis, a domibus 
eburneis : e quibus delectave- 
runt te filiae regum in honore tuo. 

10. Astitit regina a dextris 
tuis in vestitu deaurato : cir- 
cumdata varietate. 

i i 

9. The scent of myrrh and aloes and cassia 

is in thy garments, 
And in the houses of ivory, 
Out of which the daughters of kings 
rejoice thee (with music) in thy 
10. At thy right hand stands the queen 

In gold-worked garment, clad in robes 
of many colours. 

1 62 



11. Audi filia, et vide, et 
inclina aurem tuam : et ob- 
liviscere populum tuum, et 
domum patris tui. 

12. Et concupiscet Rex de- 
corem tuum : quoniam ipse est 
Dominus Deus tuus, et adora- 
bunt eum. 

13. Et filiae Tyri in muneribus 
vultum tuum deprecabuntur : 
omnes divites plebis. 

14. Omnis gloria ejus filiae 
Regis ab intus, 

15. In fimbriis aureis circu- 
mamicta varietatibus. 

Adducentur Regi virgines post 
earn : proximas ejus afferentur 

1 6. Afferentur in laetitia et 
exsultatione : adducentur in 
templum Regis. 

17. Pro patribus tuis nati 
sunt tibi filii : constitues eos 
principes super omnem terram. 

1 8. Memores erunt nominis 
tui in omni generatione et gene- 

Propterea populi confitebun- 
tur tibi in aeternum : et in saecu- 
lum sasculi. 

11. Hear, O daughter; and look, and bend 

down thine ear ; 

And forget thy people, and the house 
of thy father ! 

12. And should the King long for thy beauty, 

Since he is the Lord, thy God, He must 
be revered. 

13. And the maidens of Tyre honour thee 

with gifts, 
And so do the rich men of the people. 

14. The full glory of the king s daughter is 

within ; 

15. She is adorned with fringes of gold, 
Robed in garments of many colours. 

The maidens in her train are led to the 

Her companions are conducted to thee. 

1 6. They are led along midst joy and gladness; 

They are brought to the royal palace. 

17. In place of thy fathers, sons will be given 

to thee, 

Whom thou shalt set up as princes over 
all the earth. 

1 8. Men will be mindful of thy name from 

age to age. 

Therefore will the peoples praise thee 
for ever. 

1. Pro Us qui commutabuntur. The older Psalteries read pro 
his quae commutabuntur. It seems to be based on a misreading of 
the Massoretic al shoshannim, to the tune oi " The Lilies." The 
Septuagint translator seems to have read al sheshshonim. We 
have the same phenomenon in Ixviii. I and Ixxix. i. 

Canticum pro dilecto in Hebrew, Love-song. 

2. Eructavit ; to bubble forth, well forth : the word has no un 
pleasant suggesti veness in Biblical language. The poet s heart over 
flows with his theme ; he is swept along by enthusiasm ; his tongue 
is like the stylus of a well trained scribe. 

Dico, I recite. Opera = Troika = poem. 

Regi does not mean, before the king as if it were to be read 
with dico : it qualifies opera, a royal poem. 

3. Here begins the royal poem. The poet may have intended to 
describe here an actual king ; but the description is mcst naturaljy 
understood of the Messias. The king s beauty is more than human. 
The grace poured out on his lips is the gracious winning smile, 
which wreathes his lips. Interpreted of Christ it might also, perhaps 
be understood as referring to Our Lord s words of power. The beauty 


is itself a blessing from God, and by it man will know that the king 
is one blessed of God for ever. 

4, 5. A glorious king must appear also as a mighty warrior. The 
beauty of the royal warrior-dress wrings a cry of admiration from the 
poet. " Oh, for thy splendour, and majesty ! Good luck ! Speed 
on in the cause of truth and clemency(?) and justice ! " 

The king is to fare c n on his war-horse or war-chariot. His 
mission is to defend the rights of the humble. 

Propter, for the sake of. 

6. Populi sub te cadent to be taken as a parenthesis. 

7. If Deus is, as the Hebrew suggests, a vocative, the subject of 
the psalm is obviously the Messias, and a Messias who is God. 

8. Oleo laetitiae : Hebrew, oil of power, i.e. the consecration oil 
of kingship. God has given him a more powerful kingdom than 
other kings have received. 

9. 10. The Vulgate text makes the different perfumes of myrrh, 
aloes and cassia, proceed from the garments of the king, and from 
the ivory palaces (the latter being probably the apartments or houses 
set apart for the queen and her attendants). The Hebrew is not 
perfectly clear. It is usually rendered : " Myrrh, aloes and cassia 
are thy garments (i.e. the garments smell so of these perfumes, as 
to seem to consist of them) : out of ivory palaces there gladdeneth 
thee music of strings. The difference ot Hebrew and Greek (which 
Vulgate follows) is due mainly to the uncertainty of the Hebrew word 
minni. The Greek translators have taken it as a variant of the pre 
position min and rendered e wv (Vulgate, ex quibus). The ordinary 
Hebrew exegesis takes minni as = minnim, music of strings. l It 
has been suggested that the word should be omitted. We should 
then have : a domibus eburneis delectaverunt te filiae regum, from 
out of ivory palaces daughters of kings (i.e. attendants of the bride) 
delight thee. 

In honore tuo. Hebrew, bikk rothekha. Possibly we should read 
biJfrothekha, when thou dost approach. 

In vestitu deaurato : Hebrew, in gold of ophir. Circumdata 
varietate is not represented in Hebrew here. It has probably crept 
in here from verse 15, circumamicta varietatibus. 

11. The poet s address to the bride. She will have to give all 
her thought to her lord the king. 

12. Concupiscet is probably best taken as in translation. Et 
adorabunt is equivalent to men must revere him, or, his wish must 
be honoured/ 

13. The daughters of Tyre may be the inhabitants of Tyre, 

1 Reading in Hebrew, min k le shen, instead of min hekhle shen, and minnim 
instead of minni, we should get the suitable sense : From harps of ivory music 
of strings delights thee. 

164 THE PSALMS [44 

and the divites plebis could then be taken as parallel the rich ones 
of Tyre. The implication would be that Tyre was the home of the 
royal bride. 

14. This verse is obscure. Ejus is, perhaps, a sort of article to 
be taken as determining filiae. The usual translation is : the chief 
glory of the king s daughter (i.e. of the queenly bride) is within (in 
her soul, or disposition). This assumes a very unlikely sense for 
ab intus. The poet is here describing the splendour and dignity of 
the Queen s appearance and not her character or disposition. Ab 
intus corresponds to Hebrew p nimah, which seems to refer to the 
interior of a house. But as yet the royal bride has not been led to 
her house or to the King s apartments. Possibly p nimah ought to 
be emended into p ninim, pearls. Then, with a slight emendation 
of the next Hebrew word into m e shubbasoth, we should get the sense : 
All glorious is the king s daughter, pearls set in gold are her 
garment ; with gold is she clad ! This would be a cry of delight at 
the splendour of the Queen as she moves forward at the head of 
the procession of her attendants. 

Adducentur ; Hebrew adducitur , she, the Queen, clad in robes 
of many colours, is led to the King. She is followed by her train. 
Proximae, friends, companions. The tibi must, apparently, refer to 
the King. 

17. This is addressed to the King. No King of Israel could hope 
to make his sons kings over all the earth. Hence the presence of 
more than the merely human here. The reference to a posterity is 
difficult to explain allegorically. It might be said, perhaps, that the 
" sons " are the Apostles and their successors, while the fathers 
are the Jews. The Hebrew means : In thy father s place shall 
stand forth thy sons/ i.e. shall equal them in renown. 

18. In the Hebrew the poet says : "I will make a memorial for 
thy name in all generations to come, and therefore shall all peoples 
praise thee." Thus he regards his song as a monumentum acre 



THIS is one of the most striking documents of Israelite trust 
in God. Enemies may bring armies against Jerusalem, the 
city of God, but they will ever be destroyed as they have 
always been destroyed. The Lord dwells in His Sanctuary 
and, therefore, it is inviolable. The latest enemy attack on Jerusalem 
the Lord has completely frustrated : He has re-established peace 
in the land, and destroyed all the weapons of war. 

The presence of the refrain in verses 8, 12, and its probable presence 
following verse 4, suggests that the psalm was meant to be sung 
antiphonally. The general body of worshippers sings the refrain, 
while the choir of special singers chants the remainder. 

The central idea of the psalm that Jerusalem is inviolable, as 
being the special Sanctuary of God, is also the dominant idea in the 
policy of Isaias at the time of the Syro-Ephraimite war (735-734 B.C., 
cf. Isaias vii. i/. ; IV Kings xvi.). The prophet s proud confidence 
in the protecting love and power of Immanuel is echoed here. Pro 
bably, therefore, it is not rash to assume with several authorities, 
that this psalm has arisen out of the defeat of the Kings of Israel and 
Aram, when they advanced against Jerusalem. Another possibility, 
still more widely accepted, is that the poem commemorates the failure 
of Sanherib s attack on the Holy City (701 B.C.). The psalm seems 
to be, at all events, very close in time to the so-called " Immanuel 
period " of Isaias (Vid. Isaias vii-xi). The thrice(?) repeated Yah- 
weh of Hosts is with us reminds one inevitably of the name which 
Isaias gives to the Messias, Immanuel/ El (God) is with us (Is. vii. 
14, and, particularly, Is. viii. 8). 

1. In fmem, filiis Core pro i. For the Choir-leader of the Korachites. .. 
arcanis, Psalmus. A psalm. 


2. Deus noster refugium, et 2. Our God is a refuge and a source of 
virtus : adjutor in tribulationi- strength ; 

bus, quae invenerunt nos nimis. A Helper in the sorrows which touch 

us so sorely. 

3. Propterea non timebimus 3. Hence we feel no fear even when trem- 
dum turbabitur terra : et trans- bleth the earth, 

ferentur montes in cor maris. And mountains sink in the midst of 

the sea 

1 66 



4. Sonuerunt, et turbatae sunt 
aquae eorum : conturbati sunt 
monies in fortitudine ejus. 

When its waters thunder and toss, 
And the mountains tremble at 


(The people) 
(The Lord of Hosts is with us ; 

Our Protector is the God of Jacob 1) 

5. Fluminis impetus ketificat 
civitatem Dei : sanctificavit ta- 
bernaculum suum Altissimus. 

6. Deus in medio ejus, non 
commovebitur : adjuvabit earn 
Deus mane diluculo. 

7. Conturbatae sunt Gentes, 
et inclinata sunt regna : dedit 
vocem suam, mota est terra. 

The swiftly flowing stream rejoiceth the 

City of God. 
The Most High hath made inviolable 

His Sanctuary. 

God is in its midst ; it shall not be dis 
turbed ; 

God protecteth it at earliest dawn. 
Nations are dismayed, and kingdoms 

totter ; 
When the Most High maketh His voice 

to resound, 
The earth quaketh. 

8. Dominus virtu turn nobis- 
cum : susceptor noster Deus 

9. Venite, et videte opera 
Domini, quae posuit prodigia 
super terrain : 

10. Auferens bella usque ad 
finem terrae. 

Arcum conteret, et confringet 
anna : et scuta comburet igni. 

1 1 . Vacate, et videte quoniam 
ego sum Deus : exaltabor in 
Gentibus, et exaltabor in terra. 

8. The Lord of Hosts is with us : 

Our Protector is the God of Jacob ; 


9. Come and behold the works of the Lord 1 
What wonders He doth upon earth ! 

10. Wars He maketh to cease throughout the 

world ; 
He breaketh the bow, and shattereth 

And shields He burneth with fire. 

11. Be at peace, and see that I am God. 

I triumph over nations ; I triumph 
over the world. 

12. Dominus virtutum nobis- 
cum : susceptor noster Deus 

12. The Lord of Hosts is with us ; 

Our Protector is the God of Jacob. 

2. The name of the melody to which the psalm was to be sung 
is obscure even in the Hebrew text. 

Quae invenerunt qualifies the Lord in the Massoretic text " A 
Helper who is found indeed in the time of need." 

3. Cor maris, the midst of the sea. Even when the world is 
shaken to its foundations, and mighty mountains are hurled head 
long into the ocean, the faith of the pious Israelite stands undisturbed : 
Si fractus illabatur orbis, impavidum ferient mince. 

45] A SURE REFUGE 167 

4. Aquce eorum : the antecedent is mare : hence ejus would be 
better in place. No fury of ocean-storm dismays the man who feels 
the protecting presence of the Lord. The refrain has been inserted 
here by several recent critics. 

5. The fluminis impetus is not the wild onset of an enemy attack 
on the City of God. The Hebrew text suggests peace the Lord s 
favour : A stream its divisions rejoice the city of God, The 
stream is symboljc of God s mercy, which envelops the city as the 
dividing arms of a great river might. There may be an echo here of 
the gently flowing waters of Siloe in Is. viii. 6 a further indication 
of the connection between our psalm and the Immanuel- section of 
Isaias. The parallelism also suggests the peaceful sense of impetus 
fluminis : The most High keepeth inviolate His dwelling-place. 
Note that, in the Hebrew, the ancient name of God, as associated 
with Jerusalem, Elyon ( Most High ) is used. Cf. Gen. xiv (Mel- 
chisedech is priest of El Elyon, Gcd, Most High ). 

6. It is the living presence of the Lord that makes Jerusalem 

Mane diluculo : Hebrew, at the turn of the dawn, seems to 
imply that the coming of the Lord s help was as swift and sudden 
as the change from oriental night to morning. The Latin means 
* at earliest dawn, i.e. not waiting for day (with the utmost speed). 
Some of the old psalteries read adjuvabit earn vultu (following the 
Vatican Septuagint). 

9. One can still see in the land the traces of the Lord s vengeance 
on the foe. He who runs may read. The prodigia are the portents 
of the enemy s complete defeat. 

10. So completely have the enemy been defeated that all war has 
ceased, even to the very borders of the land. Apparently, too, 
the lands on the borders of Palestine are also freed from war. In 
descriptions of the Messianic age absence of war, and of the weapons 
of war, is a familiar feature. Cf. Is. ii. 4 ; xi. 9 ; liv. 13 ; Osee ii. 18. 

Vacate. This is God s warning cry to the nations : Be at peace ! 
or Desist ! (i.e. from your design of destroying My people). 

Videte, understand, realise. In terra probably means in all 
the earth/ 




THE people of Israel salute the Lord as their King, and as the 
King of the world. The heathen nations are called on to 
join in the jubilee with which the accession of the Great 
King is acclaimed. For the psalmist, therefore, Yahweh of 
Hosts is not Lord of Israel merely (though Israel is still His special 
possession) ; He is King of all lands and peoples. The spirit of 
Messianic universalism breathes, thus, through the poem. The 
series of Psalms xcii-xcvix is also associated with the idea of God 
taking anew His throne as King over Israel and the world. The 
popular religious mind of Israel interpreted national defeat as a sign 
that the Lord was no longer interested in His people was, in effect, 
no longer their actual King. But when any great victory was won 
by Israel, or the national hopes and ambitions of Israel received 
encouragement, then it was felt that the Lord had again resumed 
His rule as King of Israel. Inasmuch, moreover, as the reality of 
Yahweh s rule over Israel was shown in practice by the defeat of 
Israel s national foes, by the exercise of power, therefore, over those 
who were not of the House of Israel, the lordship of Yahweh over 
Israel came to be associated inevitably with the idea of a universal 
lordship of the God of Israel. 

It is likely that the occasion of this poem was some great national 
victory. But it is not possible to determine the exact date or precise 
occasion of the poem. 1 It must be said in regard to this poem, as 
was said in regard to Ps. xliv, that the imagery of the poem goes 

1 This psalm, like the following, has been often associated by criticism 
with the defeat of Sanherib (701 B.C.). It has been maintained also that Psalms 
Ixvii, Ixxv, Ixxxvi, xcv-xcviii, and, possibly, xcii, were composed to com 
memorate the overthrow of the Assyrians on that occasion. The Ark may 
have been taken out from its shrine during the celebration of victory, carried 
around in a triumphal procession, and, finally, borne back amidst tumultuous 
rejoicing to its resting place in the Temple. The return of the Ark to its shrine 
would symbolise the return of Yahweh to His throne as King of Israel. The 
ceremonies of rejoicing over the Assyrian defeat would, in the circumstances, 
inevitably resemble the ceremonies of the coronation of Hebrew kings ; and 
if, as is not improbable, a great triumph of Israel would naturally be looked 
on by the people as a sort of prelude to, or foretaste of, the victories of the 
Messias, we should expect to find in this psalm that interweaving of the historical 
and the ideal, that overshadowing of the actual King (Ezechias) and his victory 
by the Messianic King and his victories, which the psalm shows. 

For the carrying of the Ark in a procession of victory compare Psalm xxiii. 

1 68 

4 6] 



beyond the possibilities of any known historical situation. Here, as 
there, we have at work a method of composition, a tradition of literary 
creation, which was intimately associated with the phenomena of 
the Messianic outlook in ancient Israel. 

i. In finem, pro filiis Core 

i. For the choir-leader of the Korachites. 
A psalm. 

2. Omnes Gentes plaudite ma- 
nibus : jubilate Deo in voce ex- 

3. Quoniam Dominus excel - 
sus, terribilis : Rex magnus 
super omnem terram. 

4. Subjecit populos nobis : 
et Gentes sub pedibus nostris. 

5. Elegit nobis haereditatern 
suam : speciem Jacob, quam 

2 . All ye nations clap hands ! 

Rejoice unto the Lord with shouts of 

3. For the Lord, the Most High, is fearful 

A mighty King over all the earth. 

4. He hath subdued unto us peoples, 

And nations (hath He set) beneath 
our feet. 

5. He hath chosen for us, as an inheritance 

from Him, 
The glory of Jacob which He loveth ! 

6. Ascendit Deus in jubilo : 
et Dominus in voce tubae. 

7. Psallite Deo nostro, psal- 
lite : psallite Regi nostro, psal- 

8. Quoniam Rex omnis terrse 
Deus : psallite sapienter. 

6. God hath gone up mid jubilee, 

The Lord, amid trumpet-clang. 

7. Sing a song of praise to our God : sing 

a song of praise ; 
Sing praise to our King, sing praise, 

8. For King of the whole land is God ; 

Sing a maskil. 

9. Regnabit Deus super 9. 
Gentes : Deus sedet super se- 
dem sanctam suam. 

10. Principes populoru con- 
gregati sunt cum Deo Abraham : 
quoniam dii fortes terras vehe- 
menter elevati sunt. 


God hath set Himself up as King over 

the nations : 
God hath taken His seat on His holy 

throne ! 
The nobles of the nations gather together 

To the God of Abraham 
What a splendid honour 

For the great ones of earth ! 

2. For clapping of hands at accession of King, cf. IV Kings xi. 12 : 
The " shout of joy " would be : Long live the King (cf. IV K. xi. 
12 ; Num. xxiii. 21 ; II K. xv. 10 ; III K. i. 34, ; IV K. ix. 13). 

3. Excel sus is probably a name of God (Ely on), rather than an 

4. This is a reference primarily to the Conquest of Canaan. 

5. Species Jacob ; in Hebrew : the pride of Jacob/ i.e. the land 
of Palestine of which Israel would reasonably be proud. Quam, 
according to Hebrew ought to be quern (i.e. Jacob). 

6. The preceding had referred to the remote past ; the psalmist 
now thinks of the recent past. The ancient, dread God of Israel 
has again shown His tremendous power. God has gone up/ i.e. 
God has again ascended His throne as King of Israel. 

1 70 THE PSALMS [46 

8. Psallite sapienter : Jerome translates : Canite erudite. It has 
"been generally explained, sing with attention, sing with intelli 
gence, i.e. not with the lips merely, but with the mind and heart. 
The Hebrew, sing a maskil, refers to a special kind of poem. The 
maskil (Intellectus) may, as we have seen, be any kind of song which 
celebrates God s rule in the world. (Cf. Ps. xli, xliii, xliv ) Maskil 
may also mean a trained or skilled individual. If we suppose that 
the word is here a collective, the phrase might mean (in Hebrew) : 
" Sing a song of praise, ye trained singers ! " Jerome s Canite erudite 
suggests some such view as this. It is probably better to take maskil 
here not as a participle, but as the name of a kind of poem. 

9. Deus regnavit is the cry of victory at the enthronement of 
Yahweh. The nations have now all recognised the kingship of Gnd. 

10. The princes and nobles of the peoples are now vassals and 
servants of the Lord : they are gathering round His throne, as the 
people of the God of Abraham. Cum (Hebrew l im) ought to be pro 
bably populus (Hebrew am). The dii fortes are in Hebrew " the 
shields " : they are obviously the same as the principes of the first 
half of the verse. The designation shield has reference, perhaps, 
to the duties and responsibilities of rulers cf. Ps. Ixxxi. It is a great 
honour to them to be included among the subjects of the Lord. 1 
This is not far from St. Paul s idea of the " children of the promise." 

For the sense of dii, cf. Ex. xxi. 6 ; xxii. 8, 9, 28 ; Ps. Ixxxi. i, 2. 

1 Perhaps, instead of changing im (cum] into am (populus), we ought to 
assume that am was omitted after im by a scribe who was misled by the identity 
of the consonants in the two words. On that view the sense would be, cum 
populo Dei Abraham. The Gentiles would not become one people absolutely 
with the Israelites, but they would become one with them in their worship of 




FROM verse 10 we see that the multitude stands in the Court 
of the Temple. In verse 13 the people are exhorted to go 
forth, and walk round Sion, so as to study the glorious strength 
and beauty of Jerusalem, and thus be able to describe its 
greatness to their children s children. Possibly, therefore, this 
psalm was used as a processional hymn at the beginning of one of the 
great festivals in Jerusalem. The procession going forth from the 
temple would traverse the streets of the city, and return again to 
the temple. The Jewish pilgrims who have come from distant 
homes, have heard of the greatness of Jerusalem : now they see it 
with their own eyes. The psalm would be thus one of those " Hymns 
of Sion " mentioned in Ps. cxxxvi. 3. With pride the singer dwells 
on the inviolate greatness of the fortress city. No invasion has ever 
made it fear : indeed, hostile kings who marched against it were cast 
into dread and dismay when they beheld its strength, and fled in fear, 
while their armies were broken and dispersed like the great merchant 
ships which a storm from the east has fallen on, and shattered. 

It is possible that some particular attack on Jerusalem is referred 
to in verses 5-8. Critics favour the view that Sanherib s campaign 
(701 B.C.) is in the psalmist s mind. There are striking points of 
contact in the poem with Isaias xxxiii. 

i. Psalmus Cantici filiis Core 
secunda sabbati. 

i. A psalm of the Korachites ; on 
second day after the sabbath. 


2. Magnus Dominus, et lauda- 
bilis nimis in civitate Dei nostri, 
in monte sancto ejus. 

3. Fundatur exsultatione uni- 
versae terrae mons Sion, latera 
Aquilonis, ci vitas Regis magni. 

4. Deus in domibus ejus co- 
gnoscetur, cum suscipiet earn. 

2. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be 


In the city of our God, 
On His holy mountain ! 

3. Firmly standeth Mount Sion, to the joy 

of all the earth 

The northern side, the city of the 
Mighty King ! 

4. God showeth Himself in its dwellings, 

For He guardeth it. 

5. Quoniam ecce reges terrae 
congregati sunt : convenerunt 
in unum. 

6. Ipsi videntes sic admirati 
sunt, conturbati sunt, commoti 
sunt : 

5. For lo ! the kings of earth assembled, 

came together ; 

6. But when they beheld it, they were dis 

mayed ; they were disturbed and 


I 7 2 



7. Tremor apprehendit eos. 
Ibi dolores ut parturientis. 

8. In spiritu vehement! con- 
teres naves Tharsis. 

7. Fear took hold of them, and then, pains, 

like those of a woman in travail. 

8. By a mighty storm Thou shatterest ships 

of Tarsis. 

9. Sicut audivimus, sic vidi 
mus in civitate Domini virtu- 
turn, in civitate Dei nostri : 
Deus fundavit earn in acternum. 

As we did hear, so now we see, 
In the city of the Lord of Hosts, 
In the city of Our God. 

God hath established it forever ! 

10. Suscepimus Deus miseri- 
cordiam tuam, in medio templi 

11. Secundum nomen tuum 
Deus, sic et laus tua in fines 
terrae : justitia plena est dex- 
tera tua. 

12. Laetetur mons Sion, et 
exsultent filiae Judae, propter 
judicia tua Domine. 

10. We praise, O God, Thy loving-kindness 

In Thy temple ! 

11. According to Thy name, so let Thy 

praise be, 

Even to the ends of the earth. 
With justice Thy right hand is filled. 

12. Let Mount Sion rejoice, 

And let the daughters of Juda be glad, 
Because of Thy judgments, O Lord ! 

13. Circumdate Sion, et com- 
plectimini earn : narrate in 
turribus ejus. 

14. Ponite corda vestra in 
virtute ejus : et distribuite do- 
mos ejus, ut enarretis in pro- 
genie altera. 

15. Quoniam hie est Deus, 
Deus noster in seternum, et in 
saeculum saeculi : ipse reget nos 
in saecula. 

13. Circle Sion, and walk round about it : 

Count well its towers ! 

14. Mark well its strength : 

Muster its dwellings, 
That ye may be able to tell to a genera 
tion that is to be, 

15. That God is here, 

Our God, for ever and ever ! 
He ruleth us for ever. 

i. Psalmus cantici, psalm. Cf. Ps. xxix, Ixvi, Ixvii, Ixxiv, 
Ixxxvi, xci. The psalm is assigned to Monday in the Greek. 

3. Jerusalem is the pride, not of Israel merely, but of the whole 
world. The Latin text should, probably, run : Mons Sion, later a 
aquilonis, civitas magni regis [est]. The expression later a aquilonis is 
variously explained. Possibly we should distinguish here between 
Mons Sion as the southern portion of the eastern hill of Jerusalem 
on which stood the City of David/ r.nd the later a aquilonis as the 
northern side of that hill, on which stood the Temple. It is more 
usual, however, nowadays, to find here a reference to an ancient 
mythological notion of the Orient, according to which the dwelling- 
place of the gods was a mountain in the uttermost north : the psalmist 
wishes to say here that Sion is really the mountain of the north/ 
the actual dwelling of God (cf. Isaias xiv. 13 ; Ezech. xxviii. 13, 14). 
Later a aquilonis, extremest north/ 

4. The presence of the Lord is known from His protection. The 
verse means : Cognitus est ut susceptor. 

47] THE CITY OF GOD 173 

5. The protecting power of the Lord has been seen in the swift 
discomfiture of the foes that marched against Jerusalem. The kings 
might be kings in coalition like those of Samaria and Damascus in the 
Syrian-Ephraimite attack on Jerusalem (734 B.C.), or generals, like 
those of Sanherib s army. 

6. The foes were dismayed because they saw the strength of the 
city, and realised the power of its God. 

7. Ibi is temppral. 

8. Tarsis ships ; i.e. ships big enough to trade with Tarshish 
(Tartessus) in Spain ; these were the largest merchantmen of ancient 
Jewish history. With such mighty ships the enemy are compared. 
But the Lord shattered the enemies of Jerusalem as the storm from 
the east (so in Hebrew the spiritus vehemens) destroys the greatest 
ships. In xxxiii. 21, 23 Isaias describes Assyrian power under the 
symbol of a battle-ship. 

9. The pilgrims have often heard of the might of Jerusalem. 
Now they can see it with their own eyes. The Lord hath indeed 
established it for everlasting ! 

Verses 9 and 10 imply clearly that this psalm was intended to be 
sung as a processional song by Jewish pilgrims in Jerusalem. Since 
the main theme of the song is the greatness and strength of the Holy 
City, we may regard it as one of the Songs of Sion referred to in 
Ps. cxxxvi. 3. Other such Songs of Sion are Ps. Ixxxiii, Ixxxvi, 

10. Suscepimus must here mean accept/ take to ourselves/ 
recognise/ The people stand in the Temple to thank the Lord 
for His never-wearying protection of His city. But recently, perhaps, 
have the waves of Sanherib s invasion dashed vainly against the 
mountain fortress of Yahweh. 

11. 12. The name of the God of Israel, Yahweh of Hosts/ is 
known far and wide. When the pilgrims return to their far-off 
homes they will tell of the new recent glory which Yahweh has 
added to His name. A just verdict He has executed against the 
foes of His city. 

The daughters of Juda may, perhaps, be the country towns of 

13. The pilgrims are exhorted to study for themselves the might 
and splendour of the City. They are to fix well in their minds the 
picture of a city, splendid and inviolate, so as to be able to tell their 
children of the greatness of the city and its Lord. 

Complectimini, take in by encircling/ Narrate : in Hebrew we 
have simply, count its towers and this seems to be the sense re 
quired in the context. 

14. Ponere cor, attend/ mark well/ 

Distribute domos corresponds to Hebrew : traverse its palaces/ 
We must take distribute in the sense, measure off/ or, muster/ 

I 7 4 THE PSALMS [47 

15. Hie can be taken as adverb : in Hebrew we have the demon 
strative pronoun : 

Compare with verses 3, 9, 13-15, Isaias xxxiii. 2off. (with some 
emendations) : 

Look on Sion, our fortress-city I 
Thine eyes will see Jerusalem, 
As a dwelling secure, 

As a tent that moves not from place to place ; 
Whose stakes shall never be pulled up, 
Whose cords shall never be broken. 
For there shall protect us the river of Yahweh, 
A source of wide-extending streams, 
No galley with oars shall fare thereon, 
No proud ship shall sail there. 
For Yahweh is our Judge ; 
Yahweh is our Ruler ; 
Yahweh is our King ; 
He will save us. 

For Isaias, as for the psalmist, Jerusalem is inviolable because it 
is the dwelling-place cf God. The river on which no hostile foreign 
galleys may ride, is, perhaps, the stream of Ps. xlv, whose dividing 
arms rejoice the City of God (which reminds one of the stream that 
went forth from Eden to water the garden, and then divided itself 
into four arms (Gen. ii. 10) as <if Jerusalem were a sort of 
replica of Paradise). 



THE psalmist speaks of himself as giving, in poetical language, 
the solution of a problem, and calls on all men to listen to 
his words of wisdom. The problem is : How is divine rule 
of the world to be reconciled with the fact that the just are 
compelled to witness the continued prosperity of the godless ? The 
solution is : That prosperity is not permanent. Even the rich and 
splendid must die. The glory of man does not abide. The wealthiest 
can no more escape death than the poorest ; in this he is no better 
even than the brute beast. There is no ransom that will redeem 
from death : even those great ones who conquer huge territories, 
and call them by their own names, must die. The wealth and honour 
of the great go not with them to the underworld that land of gloom 
where their fathers dwell, and where no light shall shine on them. 
In verse 16 a great contrast in favour of the just is made (so great a 
contrast, indeed, that the verse has been often regarded as an inter 
polation). The idea is there suggested that some, at all events, of 
the just do not die (cf. Ps. Ixxii. 24), or, that their justice is rewarded 
in another state. The apparent success of the wicked in their earthly 
life will be thus offset by the permanent happiness of the just in 
the world beyond the tomb. 

There is no means of definitely dating the psalm. It must be put 
along with Ps. xxxvi and Ixxii. There are few psalms which present 
so many difficulties and uncertainties of text as Ps. xlviii. 

i . In finem, filiis Core psalmus. 

2. Audite haec omnes Gentes : 
auribus percipite omnes, qui 
habitatis orbem : 

3. Quique terrigenae, et filii 
hominum: simul in unum dives 
et pauper. 

4. Os meum loquetur sapien- 
tiam : et meditatio cordis mei 

5. Inclinabo in parabolam 
aurem meam : aperiam in psal- 
terio propositionem meam. 

1. For the choir-leader of the Korachites. 

A psalm. 

2. Hear this al] ye peoples ! 

Note it well all ye dwellers of earth ! 

3. Ye sons of earth and children of men 

Rich and poor ! 

4. My mouth speaketh wisdom ; 

And the thought of my heart is 

5. To a riddle I will bend my ear ; 

I will make plain mv solutio: 


plain my solution on the 

6. Cur timebo in die mala ? 
iniquitas calcanei mei circum- 
dabit me : 

6. Why am I afraid (?) in the day of trouble, 
When the malice of my treacherous 
foes encompasseth me, 


i 7 6 


[ 4 8 

7. Qui confidunt in virtute 
sua : et in multitudine divitia- 
rum suarum gloriantur. 

8. Frater non redimit, red- 
imet homo : non dabit Deo 
placationem suam. 

9. Et pretium redemptionis 
animae suae : et laborabit in 

10. Et vivet adhuc in finem. 

11. Non videbit interitum, 
cum viderit sapientes morientes : 
simul insipiens, et stultus peri- 

Et relinquent alienis divitias 
suas : 

12. Et sepulchra eorum domus 
illorum in aeternum. 

Tabernacula eorum in pro- 
genie, et progenie : vocaverunt 
nomina sua in terris suis. 

7. Who put their trust in therir wealth, 
And boast of their great riches ? 

8. No man can buy himself off ! 

No man can buy himself .off ! 
None can give a bond to God, 

9. Nor a ransome for himself, 
Even if he should toil always, 

10. To live for ever. 

11. He realiseth not death when he sees the 

wise ones die, 

The fool and the dolt alike perish ! 
And leave their riches to others : 

12. And their graves are their dwellings for 


Their tents for eternity, 
Even though they gave their names to 

whole lands. 

13. Et homo, cum in honore 
esset, non intellexit : compara- 
tus est jumentis insipientibus, 
et similis factus est illis. 

13. For a man, when he is in honour, doth 

not realise it : 

He resembleth the brute beasts, and is 
made like unto them. 

14. Haec via illorum scanda- 
lum ipsis : et postea in ore suo 

15. Sicut oves in inferno po- 
siti sunt : mors depascet eos. 

Et dominabuntur eorum justi 
in matutino : et auxilium eorum 
veterascet in inferno a gloria 

1 6. Verumtamen Deus red- 
imet animam meam de manu 
inferi, cum acceperit me. 

14. This way of life of theirs became for them 

a stumbling-block, 

And, after them, for those who took 
pleasure in their words, 

15. Like sheep they are cast into the under 

world ; 

Death sweepeth them away, 
And soon are the just of more account 

than they ; 
And all help for them vanisheth in the 

When all their glory is gone, 

1 6. But God rescueth me 

From the power of the underworld, 
When it seizeth me. 

17. Ne timueris, cum dives 
factus fuerit homo : et cum 
multiplicata fuerit gloria domus 

1 8. Quoniam cum interierit, 
non sumet omnia : neque de- 
scendet cum eo gloria ejus. 

19. Quia anima ejus in vita 
ipsius benedicetur : confitebitur 
tibi cum benefeceris ei. 

20. Introibit usque in pro 
genies patrum suorum : et usque 
in aeternum non videbit lumen. 

17. Trouble not thyself when a man becometh 


And when the glory of his house is 
increased ! 

1 8. For nothing doth he take with him when 

he dieth 

And his glory goeth not with him to 
the grave. 

19. Even though his soul while he liveth be 

thought fortunate, 

And even though it praiseth Thee for 
Thy kindness towards it. 

20. Yet he goeth (none the less) unto the 

generation of his fathers, 
And beholdeth the light nevermore. 


21. Homo, cum in honore 21. For a man when he is in honour doth not 

esset, non intellexit : compara- realise it : 

tus est jumentis insipientibus, He resembleth the brute beasts, and is 

et similis factus est illis. made like unto them. 

2-5 is an introduction. 

3. The tenigence and ihefilii hominum may be the common people 
and the better classes, the low, and high, respectively. 

Simul in unum, all of them/ altogether. 

4. Better to translate as if the text had prudentia. 

5. The psalmist bends his ear to hear an oracle that is given to 
him from above, that he may announce and explain it. Thus, he 
claims something like inspiration for his teaching in what follows. 
This inspired teaching he will communicate to the accompaniment 
of music like some of the ancient prophets (cf. I Kings x. 5 ; IV K. 
iii. 15). Parabola (Hebrew mashal) may mean comparison, parable, 
proverb, poem (taunt-song or didactic poem), story. Aperiam, I 
will solve ; in psalterio, to the sound of the harp. Propositio, 
riddle, problem. 

6. The problem. It is somewhat obscured in the text. Probably 
we should read behold instead of fear. Why must I look on 
the days of the godless, when the malice of treacherous foes encom- 
passeth me ? Why, in other words, must I behold the prosperity 
of the godless, while I, a faithful servant of God, am oppressed ? 

Iniqmtas calcanei, literally, the malice of my heel. It has, 
however, been taken as malice of my footsteps, so that the sense 
would be : I must look on the prosperity of the wicked because of 
my sins. This is unlikely. The Hebrew ekebh (=calcaneum) is 
sometimes used in the sense of treachery, and the translation, the 
malice of my treacherous foes is, therefore, possible, and it suits 
the context. 

7. This is a description of the treacherous enemies. They are 
wealthy, and they boast of their riches. 

8. The answer. The wealth of the godless cannot ransom him 
from death. The sense is clear, but the text is unsatisfactory. Prater 
and homo might be taken as meaning, the one . . . the other. 
The non would go with the second redimet also. The sense would be 
that no one can buy himself off from death. The same thought 
would be repeated at the end of verse 8 and the beginning of verse 9. 
No man can pay a placatio (a ransom, a weregild) to God ; no man 
can pay the price of his ransom from death. 

9. 10. This is a very difficult text in the Vulgate. The Hebrew 
is simple enough : For too dear is the price of their life, and he must 
abandon it for ever (or, and he must desist [from living] for ever ). 

Labor obit may be rendered, perhaps, as in the translation, even 

i 7 8 THE PSALMS [48 

though he should toil. However he toils, he will not be able to 
ransom himself from death. 

11. Non videbit interitum. Even though a man refuses to think 
of his own death, the general law still holds. 

12. The grave is the last dwelling of all, even of those who have 
given their names to territories which they have conquered. 

13. This appears again, as a sort of refrain, in verse 21. In 
Hebrew the verse runs : The man who is in honour abides not : he 
is made like the beasts that perish. The Septuagint translators 
read yabhin he understandeth/ instead of, yalin, he abideth. The 
verse implies that even the greatest men must die and, in this, are 
no better than the beast. The Vulgate suggests that great wealth 
prevents its possessor from thinking on the certainty of his death : 
in his want of foresight the rich man is like the brute beasts. Cf. 
Luke xii. 16-21. 

14. Again a difficult verse. The Hebrew has : This is the fate 
of those who trust in themselves, and of those who, after them, in 
their speech take pleasure/ Hence postea is equivalent to post eos, 
[eorum qui post eos]. Scandalum takes the place of Hebrew kesel, 
confidence, presumption. Did the Greek translators think of a 
word from the root kashal, to stumble ? 

15. Death shepherds them (depascet) all into the netherworld 
(infernus, the Hebrew Sheol). This verse, and the following show 
that the psalmist s answer to his riddle is not merely that the wicked 
must die, but that the just will, somehow, at length prevail over 
them. Does this mean that, while some of the just may die, yet, 
some of them will be saved from death ? This does seem to be im 
plied in verse 16. 

In matutino, means quickly. 

Veterascet, grow old, vanish (cf. Luke xvi. 19-21. The contrast 
of Dives and Lazarus recalls the chief thought of this psalm.). 

A gloria eorum : this is a pregnant construction implying that 
none of their glory remains. 

16. The sense is not that God always rescues the psalmist from 
Sheol when it seizes him, but that God has the power of saving him 
from death. The psalmist, on this interpretation, need not be 
regarded as excluding some men from death permanently. He would 
mean that while all must die, God sometimes lengthens relatively 
the life of the just. Possibly this is the privilege of the just men 
tioned in the preceding verse. If it is, we cannot regard verse 15 
as clearly suggesting a contrast in the world of the dead between 
those who have died in sin and those who have died as God s friends. 
The verse is, however, obscure, and the suggestion of such a contrast 
cannot be excluded from it. 

17. Since the rich must die, the wise man will not feel envious of 
his riches. This is the moral of the psalm. 


19. Benedicetur, is praised/ regarded as prosperous ; and even 
though his soul is grateful to you for your favours, i.e. even though 
he was your friend 

20. Nevertheless he must join his fathers in Sheol, the land of 
everlasting darkness. 

21. Repetition of the sad refrain. 



IN fire and storm the Lord comes forth to chide and instruct the 
people of His Covenant. He does not find fault with any 
neglect of sacrificial worship on their part, since their holocausts 
are ever before Him : but He declares to them that animal- 
sacrifices have, of themselves, no value for Him. The sacrifice 
which He delights in is the sacrifice of thanks and prayer. In verse 
16 the chiding of God is addressed harshly to the hypocrites among 
His people, who have His Law always on their lips, but reject it in 
their conduct. These may have thought that their professions could 
deceive the Lord : now He shows them their error. They also must 
know, that only by sacrifices of genuine praise can they honour the 
Lord, and secure His help. 

A Temple was still standing at the time the poem was composed, 
and, most likely, that Temple was the Temple of Solomon. The 
sacrificial ritual was still apparently, more perfect than it is known 
to have been in the second temple. The fundamental thought of 
the poem, that praise and prayer are better than the blood of animal 
offerings, is familiar in the period of the oldest literary prophecy. 
Cf. Osee vi. 6; Is. i. iiff; Mich. vi. 6ff. We are, therefore, fully 
justified in regarding this psalm as pre-exilic. 

i. Psalmus Asaph. 

i. A psalm of Asaph. 

Deus deorum Dominus locutus 
est : et vocavit terrain. 

A soils ortu usque ad occasum: 

2. Ex Sion species decoris 

3. Deus manifeste veniet : 
Deus noster et non silebit. 

Ignis in conspectu ejus ex- 
ardescet : et in circuitu ejus 
tempestas valida. 

4. Advocabit coelum desur- 
sum : et terrain discernere po- 
pulum suum. 

5. Congregate illi sanctos 
ejus : qui ordinant testamen- 
tum ejus super sacrificia. 

6. Et annuntiabunt coeli ju- 
stitiam ejus : quoniam Deus 
judex est. 

The God of Gods, the Lord, speaketh, 
And summoneth the world, from the 
sunrise to the west. 

2. From Sion (cometh) the crown of His 


3. God cometh forth visible ; our God. 

and is not silent. 
Before Him fire bursteth forth 

And round Him rageth a mighty storm. 

4. He calleth from above the heaven 

And earth, that He may judge His 
people : 

5. Gather ye unto Him His faithful ones, 

Who establish a covenant with Him by 

6. The heavens then declare His justice, 

And that God is (about to be) judge. 

i So 




7. Audi populus meus, et 
loquar : Israel, et testificabor 
tibi : Deus Deus tuus ego sum. 

8. Non in sacrifices tuis ar- 
guam te : holocausta autem tua 
in conspectu meo sunt semper. 

9. Non accipiam de domo tua 
vitulos : neque de gregibus tuis 

10. Quoniam meae sunt omnes 
ferae silvarum, jumenta in mon- 
tibus et boves. 

11. Cognovi omnia volatilia 
coeli : et pulchritudo agri me- 
cum est. 

12. Si esuriero, non dicam 
tibi : meus est enim orbis 
terras, et plenitude ejus. 

13. Numquid manducabo 
carnes taurorum ? aut san- 
guinem hircorum potabo ? 

14. Immola Deo sacrificium 
laudis : et redde Altissimo vota 

15. Et invoca me in die tri- 
bulationis : eruam te, et hono- 
rificabis me. 

7. Hear, O my people, for I would speak, 

O Israel, I would declare to thee : 
God, thy God am I. 

8. Not for thy sacrifices do I chide thee, 

Indeed thy holocausts are ever before 

9. I would take no cattle from thy house ; 

Nor he-goats from thy flocks, 

10. For every wild beast of the forest is mine 

The cattle on the mountains, and the 

1 1 . I know all the birds of heaven ; 

And mine is all the glory of the fields. 

12. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee, 

For mine is the earth and all that it 

13. Or, do I eat the flesh off bulls, 

Or drink the blood of he-goats ? 

14. Offer thou to God the sacrifice of thanks 

And pay thy vows to the Most High ; 

15. And call on Me in the day of need, 

Then will I save thee and thou shalt 
honour Me. 

1 6. Peccatori autem dixit 
Deus : Quare tu enarras justi- 
tias meas, et assumis testamen- 
tum meum per os tuum ? 

17. Tu vero odisti discipli- 
nam : et projecisti sermones 
meos retrorsum : 

1 8. Si videbas furem, currebas 
cum eo : et cum adulteris por- 
tionem tuam ponebas. 

19. Os tuam abundavit mali- 
tia : et lingua tua concinnabat 

20. Sedens ad versus fratrem tu 
um loquebaris, et adversus filium 
matris tuae ponebas scandalum : 

21. Hasc fecisti, et tacui. 
Existimasti inique quod ero 

tui similis : arguam te, et sta- 
tuam contra faciem tuam. 

22. Intelligite haec qui obli- 
viscimini Deum : nequando ra- 
piat, et non sit qui eripiat. 

23. Sacrificium laudis hono- 
rificabit me : et illic iter, quo 
ostendam illi salutare Dei. 

1 6. But to the sinner God saith ; 
Why recitest thou my laws, 

And speakest of my Covenant ; 

17. Whereas thou hatest discipline, 

And castest my words behind thee ? 

1 8. When thou seest a thief thou runnest 

with him ; 

And with adulterers thou makest 
common cause. 

19. Thy mouth overfloweth with malice ; 

And thy tongue weaveth mischief. 

20. Thou sittest and speakest against thy 

brother ; 
Thou slanderest the son of thy mother. 

21. This didst thou, and I held my peace. 

Thou thinkest, then, godless one, that 

I am like unto thee ! 
I will reprove thee and show thee how 

the case stands. 

22. Mark this well, ye that forget God 

So that ye be not seized while there is 
none to save you 

23. Tis a sacrifice of praise that honours me, 
And this is the way by which I will let 

him [a man] see the saving help of 

I. Psalms xlix, Ixxii-lxxxii are assigned to Asaph. Some of them 
can, perhaps, be ascribed, without serious difficulty, to Asaph himself 

1 82 THE PSALMS [49 

who was a contemporary of David. Other Asaphite psalms, however, 
are certainly post-Da vidic. There was, no doubt, a so-called Asaphite 
psalm book, or Asaphite Collection, the poems of which were assigned 
to Asaph, though many items of the collection were written neither 
by Asaph, nor any of his descendants. 

Dens Deorum, the highest God ; cf. Holy of Holies ; King 
of Kings/ 

The description of the theophany (veises 1-4) is obviously an 
echo of Deut. xxxiii. 2 (cf. Jud. v. 4). In the ancient tradition Yah- 
weh came forth from Sinai ; here Mt. Sion appears as the mountain 
of His dwelling, whence He goes forth to speak to His people. 

2. Species decoris seems to refer to Sion in the Hebrew text the 
crown of His beauty/ Sion is not only the holiest city of Israel ; it 
is also the most beautiful. The designation suggests the pre-exilic 

3. Non silebit ; His coming is heralded by thunder, which the 
Hebrews called the voice of Yahweh. For the thunder, lightning, 
and storm of the Theophany, cf. Ps. xvii. 9-15. 

4. Earth and heaven are summoned to hear the Lord s words to 
His people. Cf. Isaias i. 2. 

Discernere, so that He may judge (or instruct) His people. 

5. The original text, as it stands, addresses the command to 
summon the sancti ( faithful worshippers) to earth and heaven. 1 

Qui ordinant ; who conclude the covenant with Him by sacrifice, 
i.e. on the basis of sacrifices. The reference is to the Covenant at 
Sinai. See Exodus xxiv. 5. 

6. Heaven announces that the Lord is about to judge. 

7. Loquar and testificabor are parallel. 

8. Semper : the Hebrew word tamid means both always and 
the daily holocaust ; thus, there is a play on words. 

tyff. God does not need what is already His. 

ii. Pulchritudo agri ; Hebrew, all that roves in the plain. 
The Latin means, perhaps, All the produce of the fields ; but a 
reference to living things would be more in place. 

1 Reading verse 6 between verse 4 and verse 5 we could translate the Hebrew 

The heavens above He summoneth 

And the earth, to the trial of His people. 
That the heavens declare Him to be just, 

And the earth (proclaim Him) as God of Justice. 

(Words of God) : 
" Assemble unto me, my pious ones 

Who have sealed my covenant with sacrifice; 
Listen, my people, and I will speak, 

Israel ! and I will warn thee : 
I am Yahweh, thy God." 

Heaven and earth are summoned to listen to the trial of Israel. 


12. This is an ironical supposition. 

14, 15. The true offering praise and trusting prayer. Possibly 
verse 14 ought to be understood : Offer to God a sacrifice of praise, 
and thus fulfil thy vows to the Most High. Not holocausts are to 
be promised to God, but thanksgiving of praise. When a man in 
time of trouble turns to the Lord with humble prayer, he does more 
to secure help than if he vowed rich offerings of sacrificial animals. 
It is to be noted tfyat the psalm does not teach that sacrifice of animals 
is sinful, but only that it is relatively fruitless. The phrase Immola 
Deo sacrificium laudis is a strange one, for immola implies a slaying. 
But the corresponding phrase in Hebrew is no less strange : Slaughter 
thanks unto God/ The general meaning, however, is clear enough. 
The Hebrews were fond of quaint expressions. Cf., for instance, 
circumcision of the heart ; rending the heart, and not the gar 
ments/ etc. (cf. Jer. iii. 25 ; Ps. 1. 19). For the demand for a loyal 
heart and inward uprightness, as opposed to the mere external per 
formance of ritual, compare the prophetic texts : Is. i. 11^. ; Mich, 
vi. 8 ; Jer. vii. 22/., etc., etc. 

16. In the preceding verses instruction was given to the loyal 
observers of the Law. Here the Lord addresses those who pretend 
to keep the Law, but keep it not, those on whose lips is the Law, 
but whose hearts are far from it. 

17. Disciplina, instruction/ These men pay no regard to the 
moral precepts of the Law. 

18. Portionem ponere, to cast one s lot with/ 

19. Concinnabat, weave/ Note how the true Hebrew is expected 
to hold himself utterly apart from sinners, and compare the teaching 
of Ps. i. 

20. The sitting was perhaps in the trial or judgment (cf. Ps. i. i). 
Scandalum, usually a trap/ a stumbling-block/ It translates 

here the Hebrew d phi, mockery, disgrace. 

21. God will show the godless that He is not indifferent : He 
will set before the face of the wicked his real condition. 

22. 23. Though this is addressed to the wicked, it contains the 
lesson of the whole psalm. The lesson to be learned (haec) is, that 
praise is the true sacrifice. Illic there, i.e. in the offering of praise. 
I Hi, the man who offers the sacrifice of praise. 

In the Hebrew (slightly emended), verse 23 reads : 

Whoso offereth praise honoureth me ; 
Whoso walketh in innocence shall see God s help. 



THIS is a deeply humble penitential poem. The psalmist, 
after an introductory appeal for pardon (verses 3-4), makes 
a confession of his guilt. It is always before his eyes : he 
cannot get away from it. His sin which has sprung from 
his sinful nature, has been against God alone. It must be confessed 
that God s judgment on him may be understood by men. Even in 
hidden things of the conscience God demands loyalty and truth (5-8). 
There follows a prayer for pardon (9-14) on the one hand for 
cleansing, purification from his sin (9-11), and, on the other, for the 
renewal of spirit, that fidelity in the future demands (12-14). The 
psalmist then makes a promise of active work to bring other sinners 
to God. If God will save him from bloodshed he will publish to the 
world God s mercy and goodness towards himself. The bloodshed 
is probably the treatment he feared at the hands of his former 
associates. Verses 20 and 21 are a later addition made to the psalm 
in the exilic, or early post-exilic period, by a writer who attached 
more importance to the offering of animal sacrifice, than did the 

The poem is ascribed to David and its occasion is declared by 
ancient tradition to have been the penitential mood produced in 
David by the chiding of Nathan after the king s adultery with Beth- 
sabee (II Kings xii). Apart from verses 20 and 21, which are ab- 
viously not a portion of the original psalm, there is nothing in the 
poem which might exclude Davidic authorship. The deep pathos 
of the psalm, and the great emphasis on the psalmist s sense of guilt, 
seem to exclude the view first advanced by Theodore of Mopsuestia, 
and nowadays widely accepted, that the singer in the psalm is not 
an individual, but the nation of Israel. 

1,2. In finem, Psalmus David, 1,2. For the choir-leader. A psalm of 

cum venit adeum Nathan pro- David when Nathan the prophet 

pheta, quando intravit ad Beth- came to him, after he had gone in to 

sabee. Bethsabee. 

3. Miserere mei Deus, secun- 3. Be gracious to me, O God, according to 

dum magnam misericordiam Thy great graciousness ; 

tuam. And according to Thy many deeds of 

Et secundum multitudinem kindness blot out my transgression ! 
miserationum tuarum, dele ini- 
quitatem meam. 



4. Amplius lava me ab ini- 
quitate mea : et a peccato meo 
munda me. 

5. Quoniam iniquitatem me- 
am ego cognosce : et peccatum 
meum contra me est semper. 

6. Tibi soli peccavi, et malum 
coram te feci : ut justificeris in 
sermonibus tuis, et vincas cum 
judicaris. < 

7. Ecce enim in iniquitatibus 
conceptus sum : et in peccatis 
concepit me mater mea. 

8. Ecce enim veritatem di- 
lexisti : incerta et occulta sa- 
pientiae tuae manifestasti mihi. 

4. Wash me completely from my iniquity ; 

And cleanse me from my sin ! 

5. For I myself do know my transgression ; 

And my sin is ever present before me. 

6. Against Thee alone have I sinned ; 

And what is evil before Thee I have 

[This I confess] that Thou mayest be 

known to be just in Thy words ; 
And that Thou mayest have the victory 
when Thou art judged. 

7. For behold I was born in sins ! 

And in sins did my mother conceive me! 

8. Behold, Thou lovest loyalty ! 

The hidden and secret things of Thy 
wisdom Thou makest known to me. 

9. Asperges me hyssopo, et 
mundabor : lavabis me, et super 
nivem dealbabor. 

10. Auditui meo dabis gau- 
dium et laetitiam : et exsulta- 
bunt ossa humiliata. 

n. Averte faciem tuam a 
peccatis meis : et omnes iniqui- 
tates meas dele. 

12. Cor mundum crea in me 
Deus : et spiritum rectum inno- 
va in visceribus meis. 

13. Ne projicias me a facie 
tua : et Spiritum sanctum tuum 
ne auferas a me. 

14. Redde mihi laetitiam sa- 
lutaris tui : et spiritu principal! 
confirma me. 

15. Docebo iniquos vias tuas : 
et impii ad te convertentur. 

1 6. Libera me de sanguinibus 
Deus, Deus salutis meae : et 
exsultabit lingua mea justitiam 

17. Domine, labia mea ape 
ries : et os meum annuntiabit 
laudem tuam. 

1 8. Quoniam si voluisses sa- 
crificium, dedissem utique : ho- 
locaustis non delectaberis. 

19. Sacrificium Deo spiritus 
contribulatus : cor contritum, 
et humiliatum Deus non despi- 

9. Purify me with hyssop, that I may be 

clean ! 

Wash me that I may be whiter than 
snow ! 

10. Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness ! 

And let the bones that were crushed 
rejoice ! 

11. Turn away Thy face from my sins, 

And blot out all my iniquity ! 

12. Create a clean heart within me, O God; 

And a right spirit renew in my breast ! 

13. Cast me not off from Thy presence ; 

And Thy holy spirit take not from me ! 

14. Give me again the glad sense of Thy help ; 

And strengthen me with a noble spirit ! 

15. I will teach the godless Thy ways, 

So that sinners may return to Thee. 

1 6. Save me from bloodshed, O God, my 

helping God, 

And my tongue will praise Thy 

17. O Lord, do Thou open my lips ; 

And my mouth will publish Thy praise ! 

1 8. If Thou hadst wished for sacrificial 


I would surely have given them. 

But in holocausts Thou hast no plea 

19. The sacrifice to God is a spirit that is 

chastened ; 

A heart that is broken and crushed, O 
God, Thou dost not despise. 

1 86 THE PSALMS [50 

20. Benigne fac Domine in 20. Deal kindly with Sion in Thy gracious- 
bona voluntate tua Sion : ut ness, O Lord, 

aedificentur muri Jerusalem. That the walls of Jerusalem may be 

rebuilt ! 

21. Tune acceptabis sacrifi- 21. Then shalt Thou receive due sacrifices 
cium justitiae, oblationes, et and holocausts ; 

holocausta : tune imponent su- Then shall men offer bullocks on Thy 

per altare tuum vitulos. altar. 

2. David s answer to Nathan : "I have sinned against the Lord " 
(II Kings xii. 13) may be regarded as expanded in this psalm. 

3. Miserere ; the Hebrew means : Be gracious to me ; miseri- 
cordia represents the Hebrew, hesed, loving-kindness. 

Miserationes Hebrew compassion (in the sense of yearning 
love, like that of a mother for her child) : As behoves Thy great 
compassion, blot out my guilt. God is asked to blot out his sins 
out of the Book of reckoning or doom, in which men s sins are written 
down. Cf. Ps. Ixviii. 29 (a reference to the book in which the just 
are written down) and Isaias xliii. 25. Compare the analogous 
case, Num. v. 23. The Babylonians used to pray that the tablet 
on which their sins were written, might be broken. 

4. Amplius, more and more, completely. There are three 
words for the sin to be extinguished in the Hebrew text. They are, 
in order : (i) pesha , personal rebellion against God : (2) awon, 
moral evil in general : (3) hatta th, sins of imprudence. Note that 
the sins are to be blotted out of God s Book, and washed away from the 
sinner. 1 

5. 6. The psalmist is fully conscious of his sin : it is always before 
him. All his sin has been against the Lord. This does not, however, 
exclude the possibility of his having sinned against men, since the 
psalmist will have looked on all sin as ultimately directed against 

Contra me, before me. 

Ut justificeris, etc. The sense is not, of course, that he has sinned 
that God might be declared just. We must regard the phrase as 
dependent on some such suppressed statement as that suggested in 
the translation. God cannot be made just : but He can be declared 
or recognised to be just just, that is, in His dealings with the 

1 The idea of washing away sin is derived obviously from the ritual puri 
fications of Hebrew cult. The Israelite who came with his burden of sin to the 
Sanctuary, would wash himself and his garments, and the priests would, in some 
formula, assure him of pardon. Probably penitential songs were chanted 
during the ceremonies of purification. To each phase or action of the cere 
monies a suitable chant would be assigned. The sprinkling with hyssop (verse 9) 
was apparently a definite feature of the ceremonial. In Babylon washings for 
the removal of sin were familiar, and there is a fairly close resemblance of style 
between the Biblical and the Babylonian penitential poems. 


Sermones are God s promises to pardon the penitent, and 
perhaps, to punish the guilty : Or, better, God s decision to inflict 
punishment in the psalmist s case. 

Et vincas cum judicaris : This translation, following the Greek, 
is based on a mistaken view of the Hebrew text. The Greek trans 
lators took the Hebrew tizkeh as giving the sense Thou shalt conquer/ 
because the Aramaic tizkeh could have that sense. But, in Hebrew/ 
the meaning is, jthat Thou mayest be free from reproach/ Judicaris 
ought to be cum judices. 

In the Hebrew, then, the verse runs : That Thou mayest appear 
just when Thou speakest, and pure when Thou givest decision/ 
God will be seen to be just when it is known that the psalmist has 
sinned. Punishment, implies guilt. God s decision to punish the 
psalmist will be recognised as just in view of the latter s confession. 
Cf. Roms. iii. 4. 

7. The personal sin of the psalmist is the outcome of inherited 
malice. Hence he deserves all the more the divine compassion. 
It is reasonable to see here, in substance at least, if not formally, 
a reference to original sin. Cf. Job xxv. 4 ; xv. 14 ; Ps. cxlii. 2. 

8. This verse is usually explained as giving a further ground of 
the appeal for pardon. David has been an intimate friend, and 
mostly a loyal one, of God, and this is a further claim on God s mercy. 
The Hebrew is obscure. The Vulgate ought, perhaps, to be thus 
explained : Thou lovest sincerity of heart (i.e. Thou wiliest that a 
man be sincere with his own heart, and with Thee) : make, therefore, 
known to me Thy hidden wisdom ! The verse would explain the 
openness and fulness of the preceding confession. The psalmist 
says then, in effect : I am thus open with Thee because Thou wilt 
have it so/ The verse is often, however, connected with the petition 
that follows, thus : Thou who lovest truth and makest known to 
me the depths of Thy wisdom, do Thou purify me/ etc. It seems 
better, however, to connect it with the confession. A slightly emended 
Hebrew text gives the sense : 

Behold in truth and trust hast Thou Thy pleasure, 
When Thou teachest me the secrets of Thy wisdom. 

9. Liturgical aspersion was the symbol of purification. For the 
use of hyssop, compare Leviticus xiv. qff. 

10. The joy and gladness are the words of divine pardon. 
Ossa humiliata does not necessarily imply bodily sickness, but 

only complete depression, without statement of its origin. 

12. The spirit means disposition : in verse 13 it means 
divine assistance (cf. Isaias Ixiii. 9-11). This petition for a new crea 
tion is very striking ; the granting of justice and steadfast loyalty 
towards God will be an act of creation. Cf. II Cor. v. 17 ; Gal. vi. 15. 

1 88 THE PSALMS [50 

14. Lcetitiam salutaris tui, Thy joy-bringing help, or, joy for 
Thy saving help. 

Spirits principali, is, apparently, parallel to the spiritus rectus of 
verse 12. Principalis represents the Greek, ^ye/zovi/cos, princely 
leading, ruling. The Hebrew is n e dMahz spirit of readiness, of 
willingness to learn, and do, the right and good (cf. Matt. xxvi. 
41 The spirit indeed is willing [=ready]). Such a spirit could 
well be called splendid or princely. 

15. The psalmist s promise. He will show his thanks by working 
for the conversion of the godless. 

16. This verse makes difficulty in its present position ; verse 17 
would follow naturally on verse 15. But why the reference to blood 
shed ? Possibly the psalmist fears that his effort to bring the 
godless associates of his former sins to God, may rouse these to 
bitter anger and personal violence against himself. If God will pro 
tect him from this violence, he will announce the praise of God, and 
publish God s mercy to the world (verse 17). Possibly, however, 
there is in the deeds of blood a reference to David s crime against 
Urias, and David promises to God an offering of thanking and praising 
song if God will pardon him his crime. 

18-19. K God wished for animal-sacrifices as thanksgiving 
offerings, the psalmist would offer them freely. But it is not bloody 
sacrifices that God desires, but only the offering of a humbled and 
penitential spirit. Cf. Isaias Ivii. 15 ; Ixvi. 2. 

20-21. An addition of the exilic or post -exilic period. 

Sacriftcium justitice, a due (legally perfect) sacrifice. Oblatwnes, 
et holocausta ; Hebrew : burnt-offering and whole burnt-offering. 
This clause looks like a gloss on sacrificium jmtitice. 

Note the situation in these two verses. The walls of Jerusalem 
are in ruins, and no legal sacrifices are being offered. But if the 
Lord will cause the city walls to be rebuilt, He will be honoured once 
more with the old-time ritual of sacrifice. 




THE psalm is directed against some rich and powerful, but 
godless man. It threatens him with failure and destruction, 
and forecasts the joy of the pious at his fall. The psalmist 
himself will flourish when his enemy has failed, and will 
praise God ever for His goodness. 

Tradition connects the psalm with the incident narrated in I Kings 
xxii. Doeg, however, neither slanders, nor speaks falsely, nor boasts 
of any malice in the narrative in Kings. Again, it is difficult to under 
stand the allusion to the Temple in verse 10 in a Davidic poem. The 
psalm has been compared to Isaias denunciation of Shebhna (Isaias 
xxii. 15-25). The contrast between the godless who comes to ruin, 
and the pious singer who flourishes like a green olive tree, reminds 
one of Psalm i. 

i. In finem Intellectus David 
2. cum venit Doeg Idumseus et 
mmciavit Sauli : Venit David 
in domum Achimelech. 

1,2. For the choir-leader. A maskil of 
David, when Doeg the Edomite came 
and announced to Saul : David hath 
come to the house of Achimelech. 

3. Quid gloriaris in malitia, 
qui potens es in iniquitate ? 

4. Tota die injustitiam cogi- 
tavit lingua tua : sicut novacula 
acuta fecisti dolum. 

5. Dilexisti malitiam super 
benignitatem, iniquitatem magis 
quam loqui aequitatem. 

6. Dilexisti omnia verba prae- 
cipitationis, lingua dolosa. 

3. Why boastest thou of evil, 

Thou strong one in sin ? 

4. Day by day thy tongue deviseth injustice ; 

Like a sharp razor thou accomplishest 

5. Thou speakest evil more willingly than 

good ; 
Sin rather than righteousness. 

6. Every ruin-working word thou lovest ; 

Thou deceitful tongue ! 

7. Propterea Deus destruet te 
in finem : evellet te, et emigra- 
bit te de tabernaculo tuo, et 
radicem tuam de terra viven- 

8. Videbunt justi, et time- 
bunt, et super eum ridebunt, 
et dicent : 

9. Ecce homo qui non posuit 
Deum adjutorem suum : 

Sed speravit in multitudine 
divitiarum suarum : et praeva- 
luit in vanitate sua. 

7. Therefore shall God cast thee headlong 

for ever ; 
He will pluck thee forth, and drive thee 

from thy dwelling ; 
And thy root from the land of the 

living [He will tear]. 

8. The righteous will see it, and will fear ; 

And they shall laugh at him, and say : 

9. There is a man who took not God as his 

helper ; 

But trusted in his great wealth, and 
felt himself strong in his vain pos 


190 THE PSALMS [51 

10. Ego autem, sicut oliva 10. But I, like a fresh olive-tree 
fructifera in domo Dei, speravi In the House of God, 

in misericordia Dei in aeternum : Trust in the goodness of God 

et in saeculum saeculi. For ever and ever ! 

1 1 . Confitebor tibi in saecu- 1 1 . I will thank Thee ever because Thou hast 
lum, quia fecisti : et exspectabo done it ; 

nomen tuum, quoniam bonum And I will wait for Thy Name, 

est in conspectu sanctorum tuo- For it is good in the sight of Thy pious 

rum. ones. 

3. The Hebrew has : 

Why boastest thou of evil, O hero ? 

The loving kindness of God doth ever abide. 

The hero is, obviously, ironical. The Latin reads the word for 
hero (potens) with in iniquitate, Thou strong one in sin/ and is 
also to be understood as ironical, or sarcastic. Doeg, in the view of 
the author of the superscription to this psalm, would be the hero 
in question, and he would well have deserved the sarcasm of the text 
by his achievements against the helpless dwellers of Nob. 

In the second half of verse 3 the Hebrew and Vulgate texts differ 
greatly. The Hebrew has : The loving kindness of God doth ever 
abide. The Greek translators, whom the Vulgate follows, read the 
Hebrew phrase hesed El kol hayyom, the loving kindness of God 
doth ever abide/ as if it were hesda l e khol hayyom. They took 
hesda in the Aramaic sense of shame, ignominy, crime, and read it 
with the preceding word haggibbor (O hero !), understanding the 
phrase as, Thou hero in sin : the l e khol hayyom they read with the 
following phrase : All day, thy tongue deviseth injustice/ Thus 
the word for God fell out altogether. The Hebrew obviously 
means : It is idle for you to boast of your crimes, since, after all, 
God will be always graciously kind to your victims/ 

4. The text is here somewhat disordered. The tola die belongs, 
as was said in regard to verse 3, to the preceding clause : The 
loving kindness of God doth ever ( all day ) abide/ The correct 
arrangement of the Vulgate would be (taking totdjiie as in Hebrew) : 

Injustitiam cogitavit lingua tua : 
Sicut novacula acuta fecisti dolum, 

The tongue is said to devise injustice because it is the interpreter 
of the heart and reveals its plannings. Sicut novacula acuta fecisti 
dolum is an equivalent parallel to the first part of the verse. The 
sharp razor suggests the unsparing malice of an evil tongue, and 
the effectiveness of its work of mischief/ 

5. Dilexisti, etc. : Thou preferrest evil to good/ Super trans 
lates the Hebrew particle of comparison, min. 

6. Verba prcecipitationis ; Hebrew, words of swallowing up/ 


i.e. words that bring destruction, words by which others are swallowed 
up, as in an ocean (in Greek, Ko/raTrovTMr/xos ; cf. Ps. liv. 9). It 
is best to take lingua dolosa, in spite of the accusative in the Greek 
text (yAokro-av SoAiav), as a vocative. Compare with this verse, 
Ps. v. 10, where the throat of the godless is compared to an open 
grave (or tomb). 

7. In finem means here, for ever ; Hebrew lanesah. For 
radicem we must supply some such verb as evellet. 

With this verse should be compared the threat against Shebhna 
in Isaias xxii. 17-18. 

Behold, Yahweh will sweep thee headlong, O man, and will 
rudely seize thee. He will roll thee up ; He will roll thee up into 
a ball, and cast thee into a broad land. There thou shalt die, and 
thither shall come thy proud chariots, thou shame of thy master s 
house ! 

8, 9. The just will see the fall of the godless, and they will fear 
God who punishes sin : then, realising how foolish it is to put one s 
trust in fleeting things, they will laugh at the fallen one, and sing a 
taunt-song against him. There is a specimen of such a taunt-song 
in Isaias xiv. 10^. 

Prczvaluit in vanitate, found his strength in a futile, empty thing/ 
i.e. his wealth. The Hebrew, however, gives the sense : He was 
strong in his iniquity. He made his wealth the ground of his con 
fidence, and was ready to commit every crime to make secure his 

10. The psalmist speaks of himself either as an individual, or 
as the representative of the pious. 

Oliva fructifera : the Hebrew speaks rather of a flourishing, 
verdant olive-tree (Jerome translates, oliva virens). A similar com 
parison is made in Ps. xci. 13-14. 

The righteous buds forth like the palm ; 

He grows like a cedar of Lebanon, 
Planted in the House of Yahweh, 

In the Courts of Our God they bud forth. 
Even when old they bear fruit, 

Are still full of sap and grow green. 

Jeremias describes Israel as a freshly green olive-tree (xi. 16). 
It is not quite clear whether the words in the House of God are to 
be referred immediately to the psalmist, or to the olive-tree. There 
may have been olive-trees in the precincts of the Temple. Such 
olive-trees, if they existed, would be naturally regarded as enjoying 
God s very special care and protection. The flourishing olive-tree 
reminds us of the tree planted by the irrigation channels of Ps. i 
whose foliage faileth not. 

IT. Quia fecisti : the object of fecisti has to be supplied from the 

i 9 2 THE PSALMS [51 

context. The sense is : Thou hast cast down the godless proud, 
and hast granted to me security. 

The Name of the Lord is equivalent to the revelation of His 
presence by acts of grace and mercy. The Name is good, as God 
Himself is good. To the pious/ the loyal worshippers of God and 
faithful observers of His Law, the Name of God is peculiarly 



THIS psalm is only another recension of Psalm xiii. It is 
Elohistic as compared with Ps. xiii, which is Yahvistic, 
since it mostly uses Elohim where the earlier psalm uses 
Yahweh (Vid. verses 3, 5, 6, 7). The collection cf Old 
Testament texts grouped together in Romans iii. 13-19, and trans 
ferred from there to Ps. xiii. 3, is here omitted. Psalm Iii differs 
textually from the earlier recension also in the following points. In 
verse 2 iniquitatibus of Iii corresponds to in studiis of xiii. In xiii. 2 
non est usque ad unum is added : here the phrase is omitted. In 
verse 4, Ps. xiii has nonne cognoscent ; here we have, nonne scient. 
In xiii. 4 we have sicut escam panis ; in Iii. 5 ut cibum panis. There 
is considerable difference between Iii. 6 and the corresponding verse 
of Ps. xiii. The title of Ps. Iii differs greatly from that of the earlier 
psalm : here we have, In finem pro Maeleth intelligentice David ; in 
Ps. xiii, In finem, Psalmus David. Pro Maeleth (Hebrew al mah a lath) 
may be a reference to the melody according to which the psalm was 
to be sung. See Ps. xiii. Intelligentia represents the Hebrew maskil. 
The poem, as a reflection on God s dealings with the Fools, is very 
properly described as a maskil (See Ps. xli, xliii, xlvi, 8). Jerome 
renders al mah a lath, per chorum. Mah a lath may, however, be the 
name of one of the groups of Temple-singers, so that the superscrip 
tion might mean : For the Choir-leader of the Mah a lath-gToup : 
a maskil of David. 

1. In finem, Pro Maeleth in- i. For the choir-leader. According to Mach- 
telligentiae David. alath. A maskil, by David. 

Dixit insipiens in corde suo : The fool hath said in his heart : 

Non est Deus. There is no God 

2. Corrupti sunt, et abomina- 2. They are perverted and hateful because of 
biles facti sunt in iniquitatibus : their evil deeds ; 

non est qui faciat bonum. There is none that doth good. 

3. Deus de coelo prospexit 3. God looketh down from heaven 
super filios hominum : ut videat On the children of men, 

si est intelligens, aut requirens To see if there is one that understandeth 

Deum. Or one that seeketh after God. 

4. Omnes declinaverunt, si- 4. All have gone astray ; all have become 
mul inutiles facti sunt : non est profitless ; 

qui faciat bonum, non est usque There is none that doth good no, not 

ad unum. even one ! 

13 193 




5. Nonne scient omnes qui 
operantur iniquitatem, qui de- 
vorant plebem meam ut cibum 
panis ? 

6. Deum non invocaverunt : 
illic trepidaverunt timore, ubi 
non erat timer. 

Quoniam Deus dissipavit ossa 
eorum qui hominibus placent : 
confusi sunt, quoniam Deus 
sprevit eos. 

5. Have not all evil-doers experienced it ? 

They who did evil, who devoured my 
people like a meal(?) of bread : 

6. They who invoked not God ! 
Then did they tremble with terror, 

When there was no real cause for fear ; 
For God scattereth the bones of them that 

(seek to) please men : 
They are disgraced because God hath 

rejected them. 

7. Quis dabit ex Sion salu- 
tare Israel ? cum converterit 
Deus captivitatem plebis suae, 
exsultabit Jacob, et laetabitur 

O that rescue for Israel would come from 

Sion ! 
When God bringeth back the captives 

of His people, 
Jacob will be glad, and Israel will rejoice. 

6. This verse is very different from the corresponding verse in 
Ps. xiii. The phrase, ubi non erat timor is found in the Latin text of 
Ps. xiii. 5 ; there is no corresponding phrase in the Hebrew of xiii. 5. 
In Ps. lii, however, the clause belongs properly both to Vulgate and 
Hebrew. The second half of verse 6 here is altogether different from 
Ps. xiii. 6 ; yet a comparison of the Hebrew consonantal text in both 
passages suggests that both have come from a single original. The 
scattering of the bones of them that seek to please men has been 
explained by several commentators as referring to the destruction of 
Sanherib s army (Isaias xxxvii. 36). Since the psalm elsewhere has 
in view the godless within Israel only, the possibility of a reference 
to Sanherib in verse 6 is very slight. The verse reminds one of the 
Pauline saying : If I sought to please men, I should not be a servant 
of Christ (Gal. i. 10). 




THE psalmist prays for help against violent and godless foes ; 
he trusts that the Lord will stand by him, and duly requite 
his adversaries. He will offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, 
and will praise the Lord for His help ; and his heart will 
rejoice over the downfall of his foes. 

The second verse is taken bodily from I Kings xxiii. 19. It 
represents a very ancient tradition as to the origin of the psalm. 
Modern criticism, as a rule, denies the Davidic authorship of the 
poem, and finds the occasion for it in the struggles of the pious 
Israelites of the post-exilic period against those who rejected the Law. 

i. In finem, In carminibus 
intellectus David, (2) cum ve- 
nissent Ziphaei et dixissent ad 
Saul ; Nonne David absconditus 
est apud nos ? 

3. Deus in nomine tuo salvum 
me fac : et in virtute tua judica 

4. Deus exaudi orationem me- 
am : auribus percipe verba oris 

5. Quoniam alieni insurrexe- 
runt adversum me, et fortes 
qusesierunt animam meam : et 
non proposuerunt Deum ante 
conspectum suum. 

6. Ecce enim Deus adjuvat 
me : et Dominus susceptor est 
animae mese. 

7. Averte mala inimicis meis ; 
et in veritate tua disperde illos. 

For the choir-leader ... a maskil of 
David ; when the men of Ziph had 
come and said to Saul : Is not 
David in hiding amongst us ? 

3. O God, by Thy Name rescue me ! 

And by Thy strength procure for me 
justice ! 

4. O God, hear my prayer ! 

Give heed to the words of my mouth I 

5. For strangers rise up against me ; 

And mighty ones seek after my life ; 
They keep not God before their eyes. 

6. But lo ! God doth help me ; 

And the Lord is the support of my life ! 

7. Turn back evil upon my foes ; 

And in Thy faithfulness scatter them ! 

8. Voluntarie sacrificabo tibi, 
et confitebor nomini tuo Do- 
mine : quoniam bonum est : 

9. Quoniam ex omni tribula- 
tione eripuisti me : et super ini- 
micos meos despexit oculus 

8. In gladness will I bring Thee offering ; 

And 1 will praise Thy Name, for it is 
good ! 

9. For, from every strait Thou rescuest me ! 

And my eye doth feast itself upon my 
foes ! 

i. In carminibus ; Hebrew, with stringed instruments. For 
maskil see Ps. xlvi. 8. 


196 THE PSALMS [53 

3. In nomine tuo may mean, for the sake of Thy name ; or, 
it may be practically equivalent to in virtute tua, by Thy strength. 
Judica, procure for me justice. 

5. Alieni, enemies (cf. cviii. n ; xvii. 46 ; cxliii. 7). Probably, 
however, the true Hebrew reading here is zedim, violent ones, 
(cf. xviii. 14 for the same confusion of two readings zarim, strangers, 
and zedim, violent ones ; Ab alienis parce servo tuo). Cf. Ps. Ixxxv. 
14. The enemies, or violent ones give no thought to God : they 
act as if there were no God. 

6. The Hebrew has, Behold, God is my helper ; He is among 
those who sustain me from which it might appear as if God were 
only one helper among many. There is, however, no need to suggest 
that the Vulgate text is here better than the Massoretic, for the 
Hebrew construction is idiomatic, and is exactly equivalent in meaning 
to the Latin (cf. Jud. xi. 35). 



THE psalmist, persecuted by his enemies, turns to God in 
prayer. Fear and dread have befallen him. He would, 
if it were possible, leave the city where he lives and dwell 
in the lonely desert. There is naught but conflict and 
confusion about him. Foremost among the psalmist s enemies is 
one who was formerly his intimate personal friend. He prays for 
the speedy destruction of all his foes. Again he pleads for help, for 
his enemies are much more numerous than his friends : there is no 
hope that his foes will change their attitude. Best of all then were 
their utter defeat. They may think that God will deal with them 
lightly ; but they will be disappointed. In the two concluding 
verses the psalmist exhorts himself to trust confidently in God ; his 
enemies will have but a short time of apparent victory, for they will 
not live to half the normal length of life. 

There is the same complaint here as in Ps. xl. 10 about the dis 
loyalty of a former friend. Those who maintain the Davidic author 
ship of the poem refer both Ps. xl and this psalm to the period of 
Absalom s rebellion. The faithless friend has often been identified 
with Achitophel. But David would scarcely call Achitophel his 
intimate equal, " of like mind with himself, his leader and trusty 
friend." The reference to the House of God is a difficulty for the 
Davidic origin of the psalm. Modern critics have suggested the time 
of Jeremias, or the Maccabean age as a more likely date for its ap 
pearance than the time of David. The condition of Jerusalem 
supposed in the psalm was not peculiar to any period. Cf. for instance, 
Isaias v. 7-14. The tone of the psalm is much too passionate and 
personal to permit of its being regarded as a national, or communal 

i. In finem, In carminibus i. For the choir-leader. With stringed in- 
intellectus David. struments : a maskil of David. 

2. Exaudi Deus orationem 2. Hear, O God, my prayer, 
meam, et ne despexeris depre- And despise not my petition ! 

catione meam : (3) intende 3. Give heed to me and hear me ! 
mihi, et exaudi me. ~ I am sad when I think, 

Contristatus sum in exercita- 
tione mea : et conturbatus sum 





4. A voce inimici, et a tribula- 
tione peccatoris. 

Quoniam declinaverunt in me 
iniquitates : et in ira molesti 
erant mihi. 

5. Cor meum conturbatum 
est in me : et formido mortis 
cecidit super me. 

6. Timor et tremor venerunt 
super me: et contexerunt me 

7. Et dixi : Quis dabit mini 
pennas sicut columbae, et volabo, 
et requiescam ? 

8. Ecce elongavi fugiens : et 
mansi in solitudine. 

9. Exspectabam eum, qui sal- 
vum me fecit a pusillanimitate 
spiritus et tempestate. 

10. Pracipita Domine, divide 
linguas eorum : quoniam vidi 
iniquitatem, et contradictionem 
in civitate. 

11. Die ac nocte circumdabit 
earn super muros ejus iniquitas : 

12. Et labor in medio ejus, et 

Et non defecit de plateis ejus 
usura, et dolus. 

13. Quoniam si inimicus meus 
maledixisset mihi, sustinuissem 

Et si is, qui oderat me, super 
me magna locutus fuisset : ab- 
scondissem me forsitan ab eo. 

14. Tu vero homo unanimis : 
dux meus, et notus meus. 

15. Qui simul mecum dulces 
capiebas cibos : in domo Dei 
ambulavimus cum consensu. 

1 6. Veniat mors super illos : 
et descendant in infernum vi- 
ventes : 

Quoniam nequitiae in habita- 
culis eorum : in medio eorum. 

4. And I am in dismay at the words of my 

enemy ; 

And at the oppression of sinners. 
For they pile misfortunes on me, 
And with fury they attack me ! 

5. My heart is shaken within me, 

And the anguish of death hath come 
upon me ; 

6. Fear and trembling overcome me ; 

And darkness envelopeth me. 

7. (And I say) Had I but the wings of a dove, 

I would fly away, and find rest. 

8. Behold, I would fly far away, 

And dwell in the desert ! 

9. I would wait for Him who will rescue me 

From cowardice and from tempest. 

10. O Lord, confuse and divide their tongues ! 
For I see sin and conflict in the city : 

11. Day and night doth sin encompass it 

Upon its walls. 

12. Mischief is in its midst, and injustice : 
From its streets depart not 

Usury and deceit. 

13. For, had my enemy slandered me, 

I surely could have borne it. 
And if he who hateth me had spoken arro 
gantly against me, 
I could have hidden from him. 

14. But it was thou thou man of like mind 

with myself, 
My leader and trusted friend, 

15. Thou who didst eat sweet meats with me ! 

And yet, we used to enter in friendship 
into the House of God ! 

1 6. May death overtake them : 

May they go down alive to Sheol. 
For malice is (in their dwellings), in 
the midst of them. 

17. Ego autem ad Deum cla- 
mavi : et Dominus salvabit me. 

1 8. Vespere, et mane, et meri- 
die narrabo et annuntiabo : et 
exaudiet vocem meam. 

19. Redimet in pace animam 
meam ab his, qui appropinquant 
mihi : quoniam inter multos 
erant mecum. 

20. Exaudiet Deus, et humi- 
liabit illos, qui est ante ssecula. 

Non enim est illis commuta- 
tio, et non timuerunt Deum : 

17. I call on God, 

And the Lord will save me ! 

1 8. Evening and morning and noon, 

Will I tell (Him) and keep it before 

(Him) : 
And He will hear my voice ; 

19. He will rescue me in peace 
From them that come against me : 

For many indeed were they about me. 

20. God will hear me, and He will humble 


Who was before the ages. 
For with them there is no change. 
They fear not God. 

54 ] IMPIOUS FOES 199 

21. Extendit manum suam in 21. He stretcheth forth His hand to make 
retribuendo. requital, 

Contaminaverunt testamen- For they have defiled His covenant. 
turn ejus, 

22. Divisi sunt ab ira vultus 22. They are cleft by His glance of wrath ; 
ejus : et appropinquavit cor And near (to them) cometh His anger, 
illius. His words are softer than oil ; 

Molliti sunt sermones ejus And, yet, they are arrows, 
super oleum : et ipsi sunt jacula. 

23. Jacta super Dominum cu- 23. Cast on the Lord thy care, 
ram tuam, et ipse lie enutriet : And He will preserve thee ! 
non dabit in aeternum fluctua- He will never permit the just 
tionem justo. To be tossed about. 

24. Tu vero Deus deduces 24. But Thou, O God, wilt cast them down 
eos, in puteum interitus. Into the deepest pit. 

Viri sanguinum, et dolosi non Murderers and men of treachery 

dimidiabunt dies suos : ego Will not attain 

autem sperabo in te Domine. Unto the half of their days ; 

But I put my trust in Thee, O Lord ! 

I. In carminibus : Hebrew, on stringed instruments/ 
3. Exercitatio. thinking (according to Hebrew and Greek). 
Dedinaverunt ; cf. Ps. xx. 12 ; Jerome has : projecerunt super me 
iniquitatem. The verb is used both transitively and intransitively. 

6. Tenebrcz ; Hebrew, shuddering/ The darkness would be 
a symbol of grief and misfortune. 

7. Quis dabit is the familiar Hebrew idiom, O that I had ! 
With this verse and with the psalm generally, should be compared 
the passage in Jeremias ix. if. : 

O that I had in the wilderness a wayfarer s shelter 
I would forsake my people and go forth from them. 
For they are all adulterers, a band of traitors 
They stretch their tongue, like a bow, with lies ; 
And not by truth are they powerful in the land ; 
For, from evil to evil they advance, 
And me they know not, so speaketh Yahweh. 

8. Elongavi fugiens, another common Hebrew idiom, fly far 
away/ For parallels to this construction, see I Kings i. 12, She 
did much in respect of praying =she prayed much : IV Kings ii. 10, 
Thou hast done hardly in respect of asking -thou hast asked a 
hard thing : Ps. Ixxvii. 38, Et abundavit ut averteret. 

David might readily be imagined as fervently uttering such a 
wish as he was about to fly from Jerusalem during Absalom s rebellion. 

9. Pitsillanimitas spiritus seems to mean cowardice. Tempestas 
must then mean turbulence of mind. The Hebrew is simpler : "I 
would hasten to that shelter of mine from the stormy wind and the 
tempest." The Hebrew so ah (storm), must have been read by the 
Greek translators as so ah ( cast down). Ruah so ah would mean a 
spirit depressed. Ruah so ah means storm-wind. 

10. Prcecipita, hurl headlong/ 

20 D THE PSALMS [ 54 

Divide linguas, confuse their plans/ break up their unanimity. 
There is an allusion obviously to the confusion of Babel, Gen. x. 25. 

Contradictio, conflict and confusion ; it is sometimes explained 
as the chaotic confusion caused by Absalom s rebellion. The city 
would be Jerusalem. The whole ordered life of the city has ceased ; 
it is invested, as it were, by iniquity, or, the sense may be that Sin 
is the sentinel on its walls, and within its walls is every sort of treachery 
and dishonesty. Even the treachery of dishonest trading that 
curse of ancient Jewish life, is prominently present. 

13. The bitter enmity of strangers would be tolerable ; but here 
one of the chief enemies is an old friend. The pathos of the verse 
is intensified by the absence of an apodosis. 

14. Unanimis, of like mind, a comrade ; Hebrew, of like rank/ 
Dux; Hebrew, friend, comrade. The Greek translators took 

alluph, mistakenly as=* leader/ 

15. Dukes . . . cibos : the Hebrew has : we kept up a sweet 
companionship/ Jerome translates : Simul habuimus duke secretum. 
The Hebrew sod means conversation, intercourse. The translation 
food seems to be due to a confusion with the Hebrew sod (to hunt, 
or fish : say id, venison). 

Ambulavimus, we walked cum consensu (as friends) in the pro 
cessions to the Temple (David could not have walked to the Temple 
but he could have walked to the Tabernacle, God s dwelling). For 
in consensu the Hebrew has : in the throng/ i.e. the festive throng 
in God s house. 

16. This curse comes in here with the abruptness of passion. 
Note that the psalmist s enemies are cursed because of their sin. 
The living implies the suddenness of the disaster. Cf. the fate of 
the Korachites Num. xvi. 33. With the curse here cf. I Cor. xvi. 22 
and Gal. v. 12. 

17. The psalmist contrasts his fate with theirs. 

18. Evening, morning, noon were the times of liturgical prayer. 
Narrabo and annuntiabo have my prayer for object. 

19. Redimet in pace, He will rescue me so that I shall have peace 
from trouble/ 

Appropinquare has here a hostile sense. 

Inter pluros, Hebrew, b rabbim, which means simply, many/ 
The preposition is the so-called beth-essenticz. The reference is to 
the enemy. 

Mecum either, about me, or, in conflict with me. 

20. No change for the better can be expected from them. But 
the Greek avraAAay/xa, = exchange, rather than change. The Hebrew 
Jfliphoth suggests also the idea of exchange, cr substitution (cf. 
Caliph, which comes from similar root in Arabic). It is possible that 
the Hebrew text is corrupt here. The translation above gives an 
intelligible sense to the Latin. (Augustine accepts the same sense). 

54 ] IMPIOUS FOES 201 

21, 22. Have we two subjects here, God for extendit, and the 
enemy for contaminaverunt ? The Hebrew makes the enemy the 
subject throughout verses 21 and 22, and that is the natural sense 
of the passage. Since, however, we must translate the Vulgate as 
it stands, we have done so above, making God the subject of extendit. 
In retribuendo refers, then, to God s requital of the malice of the 

Divisi sunt.\ 1;he glance of God s anger has cleft them, as it were, 
in twain. His anger (cor illius) advances against (appropinquavit ; 
cf. v. 19) them. It is difficult to explain in the Vulgate the sermones 
ejus. Are they God s words ? Our general explanation would not 
make that view necessary. It is possible to take them as the words 
of the enemy, and to understand the phrase as a special description 
of the treachery of the faithless friend. His words are smooth, but 
they are sharp arrows ; or, his words are smooth but they become 
for himself arrows, i.e. come back on himself. The words of Achitophel 
did, in this way, come back upon himself and his party. The Vulgate 
departs quite from the Hebrew here. Cf. Jerome : Nitidius lutyro 
os ejus, pugnat autem cor illiits. The Hebrew, slightly emended, runs : 

His face is smoother than butter, his heart planneth war ; 
Softer than oil is his word, yet is it a sword. 

23. The psalmist encourages himself. 

Fluctuatio, is not uncertainty but insecurity the possibility 
of being pushed out of one s place. God will not allow the just 
to be disturbed. 

24. Puteus interitus, the grave. 

Non dimidiabunt, they shall not live half the normal length of 
life implying suddenness and uncertainty of death. Cf. Jercmias 
xvii. 10 : 

Like a bird that hatcheth what it hath not laid, 

Is he that gathereth wealth unjustly ; 
At the half of his days he must abandon it ; 
And at the end of his days he is a fool ! 

Ps. ci. 25 : Ne revoces me in dimidio dierum meorum ; Isaias xxxviiL 
10 : In dimidio dierum meorum vadam ad portas inferi. 



THE psalmist prays for help against numerous and bitter 
enemies who seek his life. He trusts confidently to God 
who has promised not to forget his tears ; and he hopes 
to be able to offer soon the thanksgiving-sacrifice which 
he has vowed to God for his safety. The refrain in verses 5 and n 
is the psalmist s cry when things look darkest : he is sure that in 
the near future, as in the past, the confidence of that cry will be seen 
to be justified. 

The ancient tradition associates this poem with David s sojourn 
in Gath. In I Kings xxi. 13 it is said that David was afraid when 
he heard the words of the Philistine leaders and feigned madness 
before King Achish (cf. Ps. xxxiii. i). The fear of David in Gath, 
and the fourth verse of this psalm fit well together. There is nothing 
else in the psalm to suggest in any way Davidic authorship. 

1. In finem, pro populo qui 
a Sanctis longe factus est, 
David in tituli inscriptionem, 
cum tenuerunt eum Allophyli in 

2. Miserere mei Deus, quo- 
niam conculcavit me homo : 
tota die impugnans tribulavit 

3. Conculcaverunt me inimici 
mei tota die : quoniam multi 
bellantes adversum me. 

4. Ab altitudine diei timebo : 
ego vero in te sperabo. 

5. In Deo laudabo sermones 
meos, in Deo speravi : non 
timebo quid faciat mihi caro. 

i. For the choir-leader, ... by David. 
A ... when the Philistines held 
him captive in Gath. 

2. Be gracious to me, O God, for men do 

trample upon me ! 

Every day do they attack and oppress 

3. My enemies do trample on me without 

ceasing ; 

Many, indeed, are they who fight 
against me ! 

4. Of the noon-day I am afraid ; 

But I put my trust in Thee. 

5. In God I boast of my saying : 

In God I trust ; I fear not 
What flesh may do to me. 

6. Tota die verba mea exse- 
crabantur : adversum me omnes 
cogitationes eorum in malum. 

7. Inhabitabunt et abscon- 
dent : ipsi calcaneum meum ob- 

Sicut sustinuerunt animam 

8. pro nihilo salvos facies 
illos : in ira populos confringes. 

6. Every day they curse my words ; 

All their devising is against me, unto 
harm : 

7. They secretly encompass me : 

They watch my footsteps. 
For they demand my life. 

8. For no consideration shalt Thou preserve 


In Thy anger Thou shalt shatter the 
peoples ! 


9. Deus, vitam meam annun- 9. O God, I make known my life to Thee ; 
tiavi tibi : posuisti lacrimas My tears Thou dost set before Thee, 
meas in conspectu tuo. As Thou hast promised. 

Sicut et in promissione tua : 

10. Tune convertentur inimici 10. My enemies fall back, 
mei retrorsum : When I call on Thee ; 

In quacumque die invocavero For I know that Thou art my God. 
te : ecce cognovi quoniam Deus 
meus es. 

11. In Deo laudabo verbum, n. In God I boast of the word 

in Domino laudabo sermonem : In the Lord I boast of the saying : 

in Deo speravi, noA timebo quid In God I trust : I fear not 

faciat mihi homo. What man may do to me. 

12. In me sunt Deus vota 12. I am bound by vows towards Thee, O 
tua, quae reddam, laudationes God, 

tibi. Which I shall fulfil to Thy praise ! 

13. Quoniam eripuisti ani- 13. For Thou hast rescued my soul from 
mam meam de morte, et pedes death, 

meos de lapsu : ut placeam co- And my feet from slipping ; 

ram Deo in lumine viventium. So that 1 may find favour with God, 

In the light of the living ! 

i. The title is more than usually obscure. Pro populo .... 
factus est is, perhaps, the name of the melody to which the psalm 
was to be sung. Greek and Hebrew here go apart, and the Vulgate 
follows, as usual, the Greek which apparently saw in these words, 
not the melody according to which the psalm was to be sung, but the 
circumstances for which the psalm was appropriate viz. the absence 
of the people from the Sanctuary during the Exile. The Hebrew 
text of the superscription is usually rendered thus : For the choir- 
leader, according to " The dove of far-away terebinths," a Mikhtam 
by David, when the Philistines held him captive in Gath. 

In tituli inscriptionem corresponds to the Hebrew mikhtam. The 
special nature of the mikhtam-pocm is not known to us. The Greek 
translators would seem to have read mikhtabh, a thing written/ 
an inscription (cf. Ps. xv and the psalms Ivi-lix). The crr^Aoypa^ta 
of the Greek suggests something suitable for engraving on a stele, 
something, therefore, well deserving of remembrance. The Allophyli 
are the Philistines who are nearly always so styled in the Greek text. 
Jerome s version of this psalm-title is worth noting : Victor i pro 
columba muta, eo quod procul abierit David humilis et simplex (Jerome 
reads mikhtam as two words, makh, humble, and tarn, simple or per 
fect) quando tenuerunt eum Palest ini in Geth. 

4. Ab altitudine diei. The Greek translators seem to have divided 
the Hebrew consonantal text wrongly here. Besides, the Hebrew 
text is here uncertain. The only reasonable sense of the Vulgate is 
that suggested above in the translation. The " height of the day " 
would be the full brightness of day and, therefore, noon-day. So, 
watched and surrounded by foes as he is, the psalmist does not ven 
ture forth in the full light of day. 

204 THE PSALMS [55 

5. The sermones in question are the words which appear in this 
verse and in verse n (with homo for card). We should read In Deo 
speravi . . . caro in inverted commas. This saying is the psalmist s 
philosophy of life, and events have always justified it for him. So 
it will be in the future. 

6. It is possible that the verba here are, or include, the sermones 
of verse 5. 

7. Inhabitabunt : Jerome has congregabuntur. The Hebrew is 
uncertain. We must explain the Latin as, they gather together/ 
Et abscondent may be taken with inhabitabunt as a sort of an adverb, 

Calcaneum observabunt, like hunters tracking game. 
Sicut sustimierunt, Jerome translates : expectantes animam meam. 
Sustinere, to wait for/ either in hostile sense (as here), or in 
the hope of help (cf. Ixviii. 21). 

8. Pro nihilo, on no account/ for no consideration/ The 
Hebrew reads, with the insertion of the negative en : Because of 
iniquity there is no escape for them. In wrath cast down the nations, 

9. Vitam meam, my actual condition/ 

Posuisti . . . in conspectu lacrymas meas, Thou hast put before 
Thee my tears/ God might be regarded in general as having promised 
to do this. The Hebrew is different : Thou hast reckoned my 
misery(?) : my tears have been put in Thy bottle. Are they not 
in Thy Book ? 

10. The confidence of the psalmist : he knows that when he really 
turns in need to God, his prayers will have effect. 

11. The verbitm and sermo are as in verse 5 : I put my trust in 
God : I have no fear of anything that mere mortal man can do to 

12. The psalmist feels now that he must forthwith fulfil the vows 
to God which he made for his rescue when he was in peril. Has he 
then been already rescued from the peril ? Verse 13 suggests that 
he has. But, possibly, we have here merely a confident expectation 
of what is about to happen. Having called on God for help, he is 
certain of rescue. His life will be lengthened, and he will walk in 
God s favour in the light of the living i.e. the land of the living as 
opposed to Sheol (cf. Ps. cxiv. 8, 9 for a repetition of this verse). 



THIS psalm is closely related to the preceding, both in its form 
and content. The psalmist calls on the Lord for help against 
the cruel enemies among whom he is forced to live. He is 
confident that, through the help of the Lord, the schemes of 
his foes will be turned back against themselves. In this spirit of 
confidence he praises the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord in 
the midst of his foes and, apparently, among the heathens. The 
refrain in verses 6 and 12 is used in the same way as the refrain of 
the preceding psalm. 

The situation, which, according to tradition, supplied the occasion 
for the psalm is either the flight of David to the cave of Adullam 
(I Kings xxii. i), or his flight to Engedi (I Kings xxiv. i). The only 
internal difficulty against Davidic authorship is verse 10. It is 
difficult to suppose David singing, or promising to sing, the goodness 
of Yahweh among the Gentiles. The verse, however, might be 
explained Davidically, if it were regarded as a prophecy that this 
psalm would become known among the Gentiles. 

i. In finem, ne disperdas, 
David in tituli inscriptionem 
cum fugeret a facie Saul in 

I. For the choir-leader. According to (the 
melody) Destroy not. By David : 
a mikhtam, when he fled to the cave 
from Saul. 

2. Miserere mei Deus, mise 
rere mei : quoniam in te con- 
fidit anima mea. 

Et in umbra alarum tuarum 
sperabo, donee transeat ini- 

3. Clamabo ad Deum altissi- 
mum : Deum qui benefecit 

4. Misit de ccelo, et liberavit 
me : dedit in opprobrium con- 
culcantes me. 

Misit Deus misericordiam su- 
am, et veritatem suam, 

5. Et eripuit animam meam 
de medio catulorum Icon urn 
dormivi conturbatus. 

Filii hominum dentes eorum 
arina et sagittae : et lingua 
eorum gladius acutus. 

2. Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious 

to me, 

For in Thee my soul trusteth ! 
And in the protection of Thy wings I 

have confidence, 
Until destruction passeth by. 

3. I cry unto God, Most High, 

To God, my Benefactor, 

4. He sendeth from heaven and rescueth me; 

He giveth up to shame my oppressors. 
God sendeth His Loving-kindness and 
His Truth, 

5. And rescueth me from out the midst of 

the young lions, 

Where I lay overwhelmed with dread ; 
Men there were whose teeth were spears 

and darts, 

And whose tongue was a sharp sword ! 




6. Exaltare super coelos De- 
us : et in omnem terrain 
gloria tua. 

7. Laqueum paraverunt pedi- 
bus meis : et incurvaverunt 
animam meam. 

Foderunt ante faciem meam 
foveam : et inciderunt in earn. 

8. Paratum cor meum Deus, 
paratum cor meum : cantabo, 
et psalmum dicam. 

9. Exsurge gloria mea, ex- 
surge psalterium et cithara : 
exsurgam diluculo. 

6. Arise above the heavens, O God ; 

And over all the earth be Thy glory ! 

7. They set a snare for my feet, 

And bend down my soul : 
Before my face they dig a pit, 
And fall themselves therein. 

8. My heart is steadfast, O God ! 

My heart is steadfast ! 
I will sing and praise. 

9. Arise, O my glory ! 
Arise, harp and zither ! 

With the dawn will I arise. 

10. Confitebor tibi in populis 
Domine : et psalmum dicam 
tibi in Gentibus : 

11. Quoniam magnificata est 
usque ad coelos misericordia tua, 
et usque ad nubes veritas tua. 

10. I will praise Thee among the peoples, O 

Lord ; 
I will sing Thee among the nations. 

1 1 . For Thy Loving-kindness is great even to 

the heavens, 
And Thy Truth even unto the clouds ! 

12. Exaltare super ccelos, De 
us : et super omnem terram 
gloria tua. 

12. Arise above the heavens, O God ; 

And over all the earth be Thy glory ! 

1. The ancient song, according to the melody of which the psalm 
was to be sung, began, perhaps, with the words : " Destroy not." 
The same direction is found in the titles of Psalms Ivii and Iviii : 
Ne corrumpas of Ps. Ixxiv. i translates the same Hebrew as ne disperdas. 
Possibly the Hebrew al tashheth is a corruption of the name of one 
of the groups of official chanters. The words were already unin 
telligible at the date at which the Greek translation of the psalms 
was made. 

2. The Lord is thought of as the eagle that protects its young. 
The evil is imagined after the fashion of a destructive hurricane. 

3. The ground of his confident petition is his experience of the 
constant goodness of the Lord. 

4. Examples of the goodness of the Lord. Note here also how 
misericordia and veritas appear, in some sort, as angels or messengers 
of the Lord (cf. xxxix. n, 12, etc., etc.). 

5. The enemies are compared with fierce young lions (cf. Ps. xvi. 
12 ; vii. 3 ; xxxiv. 17 ; xxi. 14). Dormivi conturbatus : dormivi does 
not mean that he slept, but that he was compelled to seek his rest 
among the ferocious enemies. He was forced to live among them, 
and while he lived among them he was, of course, in constant anxiety 
(conturbatus}. Filii hominum is the psalmist s explanation of the 
catuli leonum : their spears and arrows are the lions teeth. Their 
words are as sharp as a sword. The Massoretic text is not much 


clearer here than the Vulgate. The psalmist passes here suddenly 
from the comparison of his foes to fierce young lions to the thought 
of the bitterness of the slanders with which his enemies pursue him. 

6. The refrain. The greatness and power of the Lord will be seen 
when He interferes with the plans of those who seek the destruction 
of His servants. 

7. Here again, as in Ps. Iv, his foes are depicted as hunters. They 
dig pits for game, but they fall into them themselves (cf. vii. 16 ; 
ix. 16, etc., etc.). 

8. A cry of confidence. His heart is paratum, firm/ unshakable, 
fearless/ The fear of his enemy is gone. Hence he will sing a 
praising song to God. 

9. He addresses his soul : Gloria, means here probably, soul 
(cf. xxix. 13 ; cvii. 2). Some commentators have explained it as, 
song a possible view. The parallel passages, however, make the 
meaning soul more likely. 

Exsurgam diluculo ; the Massoretic text can mean : I will awaken 
the dawn/ The dawn is often personified in Hebrew poetry. Cf. 
Job iii. 9 ; xxxviii. 12 ; Ps. cxxxviii. 9 ; Is. xiv. 12. (Ps. xxi. i in 
Hebrew refers to the dawn-hind/ i.e. the dawn as a hind.) The 
tone of this poem is so imaginative that this explanation seems 
preferable here. Diluculo should therefore be diluculum. I will 
rouse the slumbering morn with my songs of praise/ 

10. The Gentiles also shall hear of the Lord s goodness towards 
His loyal servants. 

11. The kindness and truth of God exceed all the limits of created 
things. Cf. Ps. xxxv. 6, 7. 

12. The refrain. The singer has not yet been taken from the 
midst of his perils. But he is certain that God will save him. 

Note that verses 8-12 appear again practically verbatim, as an 
introductory section, in Ps. cvii (verses 2-6). 



THIS poem seems to be directed against judges. They are 
accused of failing to do their duty, and, thus, of spreading 
iniquity on earth. Perverse from their earliest youth they 
are like serpents that will not be charmed into harmlessness. 
The psalmist begs earnestly of the Lord to destroy these unjust 
judges, and to give the just the happiness of seeing themselves speedily 
avenged. The judgment of the Lord will show to men that justice 
has, indeed, a reward, and that, in spite of the failure of human judges, 
there is a God who deals out genuine justice here below. The fact 
that elohim can mean God/ as well as judges gives a subtlety of 
meaning to the final verse in the Hebrew which cannot be suggested 
in a translation. 

The spirit of this psalm is closely akin to that of Ps. Ixxxi. It 
must belong to a time when corrupt practices were common among 
the administrators of the law. These practices, however, were not 
unfamiliar in any period of Israelite history. If David is the author 
of the psalm, he must be regarded rather as meditating here on the 
abstract sacredness of the judicial office, than as attacking his own 
officers. The Vulgate text, however, if it stood alone, might, perhaps, 
be interpreted of David s enemies (some of whom would be high 
administrative officers), and not necessarily of iniquitous judges 

r. In finem Ne disperdas, 
David in tituli inscriptionem. 

i. For the choir-leader : [according to the 
melody] " Destroy not " : a mikh- 
tam by David. 

2. Si vere utique justitiam lo- 
quimini: recta judicate filii 

3. Etenim in corde iniquitates 
operamini : in terra injustitias 
manus vestrae concinnant. 

4. Alienati sunt peccatores a 
vulva, erraverunt ab utero : 
locuti sunt falsa. 

5. Furor illis secundum simi- 
litudinem serpentis : sicut aspi- 
dis surdae, et obturantis aures 

2. If, indeed, ye are judges, 

Judge what is just, ye children of men ! 

3. Yet, ye devise evil in your hearts 

And your hands weave injustice in the 

4. Perverse from their very birth were those 

sinners ; 

From the womb they have gone astray, 
and spoken lies. 

5. They have a fury like that of a serpent 

Like that of an adder which is deaf and 
stoppeth up its ears, 



6. Quae non exaudiet vocem 
incantantium : et venefici in- 
cantantis sapienter. 

6. Which heareth not the voice of the snake- 

Nor of the wizard when he duly 
chanteth his charms I 

7. Deus conteret dentes eo- 
rum in ore ipsorum : molas 
leonum confringet Dominus. 

8. Ad nihilum devenient tam- 
quam aqua decurren^ : inten- 
dit arcum suum donee infirmen- 

9. Sicut cera, quae fluit, au- 
ferentur : supercecidit ignis, 
et non viderunt solem. 

10. Priusquam intelligerent 
spinae vestrae rhamnum : sicut 
viventes, sic in ira absorbet eos. 

11. Laetabitur Justus cum vi- 
derit vindictam : manus suas 
lavabit in sanguine peccatoris. 

12. Et dicet homo : si utique 
est fructus justo : utique est 
Deus judicans eos in terra. 

7 . God will shatter their teeth in their mouth : 

The teeth of the lions God will break. 

8. They will come to naught, like water that 

floweth by. 

He keeps His bow bent until they sink 
down in helplessness. 

9. Like wax that melts, they are carried 

away ; 
Fire cometh down, and no more do they 

see the sun, 
[O. Before your thorns have seen themselves 

grown to a thorn-bush, 
He will sweep them away, living, in the 

glow of His wrath. 
[I. The just man will rejoice when he seeth 

the punishment ; 
He will bathe his hands in the blood of 

the sinner. 
12. And men will say: Verily there is 

guerdon for the just one ; 
Verily there is a God who judgeth those 
others, even on earth. 

1. For the superscription see Ps. Ivi. i. For mikhtam cf. Ps. xv. i. 

2. There is considerable difference here between Hebrew and 
Vulgate. A slight emendation of the Massoretic text gives the sense : 
Do you verily speak justice, ye gods (= judges) ? Do ye judge what is 
fair, ye children of men ? Utique (which would translate the Hebrew, 
ulam) represents, probably, a primitive Hebrew dim (for the judge 
was supposed to share in the divine attribute of justice.) Cf. Ex. xxii. 
27 : in the second clause they are addressed as sons of men. 
However godlike they ought to be they are indeed but men. 

3. Etenim, nay rather ; not merely do they not judge fairly, 
but all of them live in injustice. Justice deals evenly, and her symbol 
is the balance : but these judges weigh out injustice (to concinnant 
corresponds weigh in Hebrew) throughout the land. Jerome has : 
iniquitates manus vestrce appendunt. 

4. The same iniquitous judges seem to be spoken of here. 

A vulva=ab utero, i.e. Since the moment when they left the womb. 
They were never qualified to be judges (cf. Isaias xlviii. 8). 

5. The psalmist goes on to compare them, first to a venomous 
serpent, and then, to a raging lion. They are serpents which no art 
can lull into harmlessness. The writer seems to be quite familiar 
with snake-charming. When the charms failed to influence a serpent 
it was the custom to describe the serpent as deaf. 

2io THE PSALMS [57 

6. The Bible frequently refers to snake-charming. Cf. Jer. viii. 17 ; 
Ecclesiastes x. n, etc. 

Incantans sapienter, the skilled charmer, duly reciting the formulae. 

7. The enemy now appears as a lion. 

8. Intendit arcum, keeps bow bent/ i.e. continues shooting arrows, 
until the quarry sinks down (infirmentur) , pierced with many darts. 

9. The Hebrew is not quite clear here. It has been translated, 
usually : Like the snail that dissolves as it crawls ; like an untimely 
birth which the sun has never seen. But the word translated snail 
occurs only here, and its meaning is not certain. Jeiome has : Quasi 
vermis tabefactus pertranseant ; quasi abortivum mulieris quod non 
vidit solem. The general bearing of the imagery in all the texts is 
clear enough. The efforts of the wicked will come to naught. The 
fire of the Vulgate means, apparently, destroying fire which comes 
suddenly on them from heaven. For the Hebrew nephel esheth ( un 
timely birth ) the Greek translators read naphal esh ( fire fell ). 
The reading fire falleth may have been suggested by the melting 
wax preceding, and the burning thorn-bush following. 

10. Before the thorns perceive that they have grown into a tree ; 
the thorn would be the little plant or slip, the bush, the full grown 
shrub, or large branch. The sense is that before the plans of the 
wicked are thought out, the Lord destroys them. There must be a 
proverb here, but the Vulgate has missed it. The Hebrew has : 
1 Ere your kettles can feel the [heat of the] thornbush ; He will blow 
it away, be it green or be it burning ; but the text is uncertain and 
this translation largely a guess. The Septuagint translators 
apparently read in their Hebrew text sirim, thorns ; but the 
Massoretic text has siroth, i.e. kettles. Thorn-brambles were used, 
of course, to boil pots or kettles, and the Massoretic text probably 
means : before the kettle begins to feel the heat of the burning thorns, 
the fire (or the kettle or its content) is blown away. The picture is 
obviously suggested by the experience of travellers in the desert. 
Before the fire just lit is strong enough to heat the cooking-pot, a 
whirlwind comes suddenly and sweeps away the thorns of which the 
fuel consists, and possibly, also, the cooking-pot. Jerome renders : 
Anlequam crescant spince in rhamnum. 

The Latin commentators have usually taken spince as lesser sins 
(=the little shoot, or branch), and rhamnus as greater sins (the bush 
into which the shoot develops). The Greek o-wtevat ought to mean 
bring together (so that the Greek should be translated : before 
your shoots form the tree ) ; but the Latin translators took it as= 
intelligere ( before your shoots recognise that they have become a 
bush ). 

Viventes is to be taken as referring to the sinners, who are to be 
swept away in the midst of their life, while they have no thought of 
death, i.e. suddenly. 


11. The idea of the just revelling in the defeat of the wicked is 
familiar in the psalms. V indicia is God s vengeance on the sinners. 
The Massoretic text has the more intelligible footsteps, or feet, 
instead of hands. The slaughter will be so great that the just will 
have to wade in the blood of the wicked. 

12. This last verse looks back to the beginning of the psalm. The 
doubt expressed in verse 2, as to whether there is any justice on earth, 
is here set aside. * Yes, indeed (men will say, when they see the fate 
of the wicked), there is a reward for justice : Yes ! there is an Elohim 
(=both God, and Judges ) who deals out justice on earth." 

The double meaning of Elohim gives a point to the Hebrew which 
cannot be adequately reproduced in the Latin. 




THIS psalm has several points of connection with Psalms liv-lvi. 
The sequence of thought in this psalm is not clear. We can 
see that the psalmist is surrounded by enemies who are 
insolent, treacherous, and blasphemous. Apparently these 
enemies move around, as a sort of robber-band, by night in 
the city. The psalmist likens them to the packs of hounds that prowl 
through the streets in search of food. The psalmist is not conscious 
of injustice in himself, and he prays earnestly for the punishment of 
his enemies. He will not have them exterminated forthwith, so that 
the people generally may have time to realise the meaning of their 
discomfiture. Again he compares his enemies to the prowling dogs 
that howl if they cannot find food. Strong in his confidence in the 
Lord the psalmist praises God as His Helper and Protector. Every 
morning he will sing a hymn of praise to the Lord who saves him, and 
will save him, from peril. 

The psalm is arranged with considerable care. There are two chief 
sections 2-11 and 12-18, which perhaps ended similarly in the primitive 
text. These two chief sections are themselves subdivided by the 
refrain in verse 7 and verse 15. In the subdivisions the refrain 
begins the sub-section ; in the main division the refrain concludes 
each section. 

The inscription assigns the composition of the psalm to the period 
of David s life when Saul had his house watched, intending to capture 
and slay him, and David escaped through the loyalty and resourceful 
ness of his wife (I Kings xix. ii^".). The description of the city 
(which is probably Jerusalem), with its bands of murderers, prowling 
for victims in its streets at night-time, does not fit in well with any 
thing that is known of the early Davidic period. It will be remem 
bered that Jerusalem did not become the capital and royal residence 
until David was already king for a considerable time. If the city 
here described is not Jerusalem, we cannot conjecture what city is 
meant. Would David have described the simple emissaries of Saul 
as insolent and treacherous and blasphemous ? It must be admitted, 
that, apart from the tradition preserved in verse I, we have no data 
to determine with exactness either occasion or date of this poem, 





The whole group of psalms Iv-lviii seems to stand out against a city- 
background of strife, treachery, oppression, dishonesty and general 
ungodliness. It is a feature of modern criticism to dogmatise con 
fidently about the date at which all these things were likely. But, 
in reality, our knowledge of the exact conditions of Jerusalem at any 
particular period, is very meagre. 

i. In finem, Ne disperdas, 
David in tituli inscriptionem 
quando misit Saul et custodivit 
domum ejus, ut eum interficeret. 

2. Eripe me de inimicis meis 
Deus meus : et ab insurgenti- 
bus in me libera me. 

3. Eripe me de operantibus 
iniquitatem : et de viris san- 
guinum salva me. 

4. Quia ecce ceperunt ani- 
mam meam : irruerunt in me 

5. Neque iniquitas mea, ne- 
que peccatum meum Domine : 
sine iniquitate cucurri, et 

6. Exsurge in occursum me 
um, et vide : et tu Domine 
Deus virtu turn, Deus Israel, 

Intende ad visitandas omnes 
Gentes : non miserearis omni 
bus, qui operantur iniquitatem. 

7. Convertentur ad vesperam : 
et famem patientur ut canes, 
et circuibunt civitatem. 

8. Ecce loquentur in ore suo, 
et gladius in labiis eorum : 
quoniam quis audivit ? 

9. Et tu Domine deridebis 
eos : ad nihilum deduces omnes 

1. For the choir-leader. [According to the 

melody of] Destroy not. A mikh- 
tam by David, when Saul had sent 
to have his house watched in order 
to kill him. 

2. Rescue me from my enemies, O my God, 

And save me from them that rise up 
against me ! 

3. Rescue me from evildoers ! 

And from murderers save me ! 

4. For behold they make chase after my life ! 

The strong ones rush upon me. 

5. Yet there is no injustice in me, 

And no sin, O Lord ! 
I go my way, and walk free from injustice. 

6. Arise, and come to me and see ! 

And do Thou, O Lord, the God of Hosts, 
The God of Israel, set Thy thought 
On the punishment of all peoples ! 

Pity not one of those who do evil t 

7. They will come again in the evening, 

They will hunger like dogs, 
They will prowl round the city. 

8. Behold they will speak proudly ; 

And they will have a sword between 

their lips. 
For who [they think] heareth it. 

9. But Thou, O Lord, dost laugh at them. 

All the peoples Thou esteemeth as 

10. Fortitudinem meam ad te 
custodiam, quia Deus susceptor 
meus es : 

11. Deus meus, misericordia 
ejus praeveniet me. 

12. Deus ostendet mihi super 
inimicos meos, ne occidas eos : 
nequando obliviscantur populi 

Disperge illos in virtute tua : 
et depone eos protector meus 
Domine : 

13. Delictum oris eorum, ser- 
monem labiorum ipsorum : et 

10. My strength ! to Thee will I hold fast : 

For Thou, O God, art my Protector. 

11. My God His kindness doth hasten to 

help me. 

12. The Lord will give me to see my pleasure 

on my foes ! 

Slay them not, lest my people forget : 
Scatter them in Thy strength, and cast 
them headlong, my Protector, O 

13. Because of the sin of their mouth and 

the speech of their lips, 

2I 4 



comprehendantur in superbia 

Et de exsecratione et menda- 
cio anuntiabuntur 

14. In consummatione : in 
ira consummationis, et non 

Et scient quia Deus domina- 
bitur Jacob : et finium terrae. 

May they be taken captives in their pride; 
for by the curses and lies which they 

14. They show themselves fit for destruc 
tion, for an annihilating wrath. 
And they will be no more : 

And they shall know that God ruleth 

over Jacob, 
And over the ends of the earth. 

15. Convertentur ad vespe- 
ram et famem patientur ut 
canes : et circuibunt civitatem. 

16. Ipsi dispergentur ad man- 
ducandum : si vero non fuerint 
saturati, et murmurabunt. 

17. Ego autem cantabo forti- 
tudinem tuam : et exsultabo 
mane misericordiam tuam. 

Quia factus es susceptor meus, 
et refugium meum, in die tribu- 
lationis meae. 

18. Adiutormeustibipsallam, 
quia Deus susceptor meus es: 
Deus meus misericordia mea. 

15. They will come again in the evening, 

They will hunger like dogs, 
They will prowl round the city. 

1 6. They wander in groups searching for food 

And if they are not sated they howl. 

17. But I will sing Thy strength, 

And will praise, in the morning, Thy 

For Thou art my Protector, 

And my refuge in the time of trouble ! 

1 8. O my helper, I will sing to Thee ; 

For Thou, O God, art my Protector, 
My God of Kindness ! 

i. For the superscription see Psalm xv. i ; Ivi. i. 

4. Ceperunt animam meam. The Greek shows that the sense is : 
They hunt after my life. 

5. Citcurri et direxi ; the two verbs together mean I live, I 
come and go. In the Hebrew the phrase refers to the evildoers : 
they hurry and make themselves ready against me. Direxi can be 
suppose to govern via, or cor, or gressus or some similar word. 

6. It is strange to find here a prayer against omnes gentes. If 
God destroys all sinners, He must also destroy the enemies of David. 

7. We cannot realise the full meaning of this verse, since we know 
nothing more than is here indicated of the situation in question. 
The enemies of the psalmist are compared to packs of savage hungry 
dogs, ranging through an eastern town. The wandering packs of 
dogs searching for food in the street-refuse have always been familiar 
in the East (cf. Isaias Ivi. 9^.). 

Circuibunt, they prowl through the streets. The refrain in the 
Hebrew reads : They return in the evening and howl, and prowl 
through the city like dogs. 

8. Loquentur in ore, they speak arrogantly, or confidently. The 
gladius in their lips symbolises the bitterness of their blasphemous 

" For, they say, who hears us ? " They assume that God will 
not heed their words or deeds, that He has no care for His servants. 
(For a similar sentiment, cf. ix. 32 ; Ixiii. 6.) 


9. But God does heed, and laughs their blasphemous presumption 
to scorn. 

10. It seems best to take custodire intransitively here. Taken with 
ad it will mean, to hold last by/ Fortitudinem meant, is then aposi- 
tional to te I will hold fast to Thee, my Strength (practically same 
sense as Hebrew). 

11. Deus meus, misericordia ejus is equivalent to misericordia Dei 
(cf. x. 5 : Dominustin ccelo sedes ejus). 

Praveniet, huny to one s aid. 

12. Ostendet, etc., will let me feast my eyes on my defeated foes. 
Cf. liii. 9. 

Ne occidas eos : why this petition ? If God destroyed the wicked 
ones suddenly, the people of the psalmist might soon forget the 
quickly executed vengeance of God. God is asked to make an example 
of the enemies which will be obvious to all for a long time. He is 
asked to scatter them, and to cast them down from their position of 

13. D dictum and sermonem are sometimes taken as accusations 
depending on depone. It is better to take them as accusatives of 
reference as in the translation above. 

Comprehendantur may mean that they are to be enmeshed, caught 
as in a snare, by their pride, i.e. by their own blasphemies. 

Et de execratione et mendacio annuntiabuntur : in the translation 
annuntiabuntur is taken in a medial sense ; they announce themselves 
as ready, they make application for, destruction (consummatio) , yea, 
for destroying wrath, by their curses and their lies. The Latin goes 
its own way here, and that way is a difficult one. Jerome has 
Maledictionem et mendacium narrantes : consume in furore, consume 
ut non subsistant. The passage has been very variously explained. 
The English translation given above incorporates reasonable possi 

15. The poet had been looking into the future. He now looks 
again at the troublesome world around him. In this further section 
the psalmist contrasts the nightly prowling of the wicked ones with 
his own diligence in the service of God. 

16. They are like the dogs, prowling in groups, and howling when 
they do not find enough to sate them. 

17. The psalmist comes early in the morning (contrasted with the 
night of the prowlers) to the Temple (?) to sing the praises of God s 
mercies towards himself. 

18. This verse is so like verse 10-11 that it is reasonably regarded 
as an accidentally shortened form of the resembling passage in 10-11. 
Thus there are two sections ending with the refrain Deus, susceptor 
meus es ; Deus meus ; misericordia ejus pr&veniet me, and two sub 
sections beginning with the refrain Convertentur ad vesper am, etc. 
(verses 7 and 15). 




THE general meaning of this difficult psalm is probably best 
seen when it is regarded as consisting of paits assigned to 
several different speakers or singers. The translation below 
suggests a possible and likely arrangement of the sections 
assigned to the various singers or speakers. The poem is introduced 
by a complaint that God has abandoned His people in battle ; from 
which we infer that the nation has recently met with serious military 
reverses. The defeat of Israel has been dreadful, like an earthquake, 
and the people have reeled from the shock of it like men who have 
drunk of a staggering wine. In verses 6-7 another set of singers 
hymns the hope that the Lord will again be the Leader of His people, 
and save them from their foes. Then, in verses 8-10, a voice sings 
an oracle which promises victory to Juda and Ephraim, and, ap 
parently, defeat to Sichem, and the Valley of Tents, and to Moab, 
Edom, and Philisthia. Sichem symbolises the country west of the 
Jordan, and the Vale of Tents (=Sukkoth) the land east of the river. 
Juda and Ephraim are thus promised victory over the land on both 
sides of the river, and over the ancient foes on their frontiers. The 
king, or the general, of the Israelites speaks in verses n, 12. He 
is about to go forth on a military expedition. The fortress-city 
is, apparently, the goal of the expedition, and the context suggests 
that it may be one of the chief cities of Edom. The expedition may 
not hope for success unless the Lord of the Battle Hosts goes forth, 
as of old, with the army. The two concluding verses are the confident 
cry of the people. In God alone they hope, but they are confident 
that He will be with their armies. 

It is to be noted that verses 8-14 of this psalm appear again as 
the second part of Psalm cvii. They are, perhaps, a portion of an 
ancient oracle dealing with the military victories of Israel during 
the early part of the reign of David. There is no real ground for 
refusing to ascribe such an oracle to David, and the connection of 
the poem with the Aramean and Edomite campaigns of David, sug 
gested by the title, is, thus, to a certain extent, reasonable. But 
the general situation of Israel at the time of David s Aramean wars 





was not that of a people recently defeated heavily in war (vid. II Kings 
viii ; I Paral. xviii). Possibly, however, while David was engaged 
against the Arameans in the north, the Edomites may have made 
a victorious incursion into Juda from the south ; but this is only a 
conjecture to explain the inscription of this psalm. 

1. In finem, Pro his qui im- 
mutabuntur, in tituli inscriptio- 
nem ipsi David in doctrinam, 

2. Cum succendit mesopota- 
miam Syriae, et Sobal, et con- 
vertit Joab et percussit Idumae- 
am in valle Salinarum duodecim 

3. Deus repulisti nos, et de- 
struxisti nos : iratus es, et 
misertus es nobis. 

4. Commovisti terram, et con- 
turbasti earn : sana contritiones 
ejus, quia commota est. 

5. Ostendisti populo tuo du 
ra : potasti nos vino compun- 

6. Dedisti metuentibus te 
significationem : ut fugiant a 
facie arcus. 

Ut Hberentur dilecti tui : 

7. Salvum fac dextera tua, et 
exaudi me. 

8. Deus locutus est in sancto 
suo : Laetabor, et partibor Sichi- 
mam : et convallem tabernacu- 
lorum metibor. 

9. Meus est Galaad, et meus 
est Manasses : et Ephraim for- 
titudo capitis mei. 

10. Juda rex meus : Moab 
olla spei meae. 

In Idumaeam extendam cal- 
ceamentum meum : mihi alieni- 
genae subditi sunt. 

11. Quis deducet me in civi- 
tatem munitam : quis deducet 
me usque in Idumaeam ? 

12. Nonne tu Deus, qui repu 
listi nos : et non egredieris Deus 
in virtutibus nostris. 

13. Da nobis auxilium de tri- 
bulatione : quia vana salus ho- 

14. In Deo faciemus virtu- 
tern : et ipse ad nihilum deducet 
tribulantes nos. 

i, 2. For the choir-leader. . . a mikhtam 
by David. . . When he had devas 
tated Mesopotamian Syria and Sobal, 
and Joab turned about, and smote 
Edom in the valley of Salt 12,000 

(First choir) 

3. O God, Thou hast rejected us and cast 

us down : 

Thou wert angry with us but again, 
Thou dost pity us ! 

4. Thou didst make the earth to quake, and 

Thou hast riven it. 
O heal its rents, for it still doth totter ! 

5. Bitter things hast Thou made Thy people 

see ; 

Thou hast given us draughts of stagger 
ing wine. 

(Second choir) 

6. Thou gavest them that fear Thee a 


That they might fly before the bow, 
That Thy loved ones might be rescued : 

7. Save with Thy right hand, and hear mef 

(A solo-singer) 

8. God hath spoken in His sanctuary : 
I will gladly divide Sichem ; 

And measure out the Valley of Tents. 

9. Mine is Gilead, and mine is Manasses ; 
And Ephraim is my head s defence ; 

10. Juda is my king. 

Moab is the wash-basin which I desire ; 
On Edom I cast my shoe ; 
To me the Philistines are subject. 

(The King ?) 

11. Who will lead me to the fortress-city ? 

Who will lead me to Edom ? 

12. Wilt Thou not, O God, Thou who hast 

rejected us ? 

Wilt Thou not march forth once again 
with our armies ? 

(The people) 

13. Grant us rescue from our peril, 

For idle is the help of men ! 

14. In God we shall do mightily ; 

And He will bring our enemies to 
naught ! 

218 THE PSALMS [ 59 

i, 2. Pro his qui immiitabuntur : here, as in Ps. xliv and Ixxix, 
the Greek translators read in Hebrew al sheshshonim, instead of the 
Massorctic al shushan eduth which is usually regarded as meaning 
According to the Lily of the Testament/ This may, possibly, be 
the name of the melody after which the psalm was to be sung. Lily 
of the Testament may, however, like Hind of the Dawn/ be the name 
of a group of singers. For the historical events referred to see 
II Kings viii, and I Paral. xviii. II Kings viii. 13 speaks of the 
slaughter of 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. The difference of 
the texts in regard to the number is due to a copyist s error. The 
Valley of Salt is east of Beersheba. 

Succendere, savage/ destroy/ Mesopotamia Syriae included 
the whole area between the Euphrates and Tigris, and not merely the 
southern portion of it. Sobal is the Hebrew Soba, an Aramaic kingdom. 

3. This is a clear reference to a recent military catastrophe. The 
nos points to choral singing, as suggested in the translation. Though 
God was angry with the people, there are signs again of His favour. 
The mere gathering of an Israelite army to attack Edom would be 
impossible unless God were propitious. 

4. The country has suffered greatly, and help is urgently needed. 

5. The people have been given to drink of the cup of God s wrath, 
and stagger like men who are drunk with alcohol. 

For the thought of a cup of God s wrath, compare Jer. xxv. 15 ff. 
1 For thus said Yahweh, the God of Israel, unto me : Take this cup 
of foaming wine from my hand, and make to drink of it all the peoples 
to whom I shall send thee. They will drink, and reel to and fro, and 
be mad, because of the sword which I am about to send among them. 
And I took the cup from the hand of Yahweh, and made to drink all 
the peoples unto whom Yahweh had sent me. ... 18. And thou 
shalt say unto them : Thus saith Yahweh of Hosts, the God of Israel : 
Drink ye and be drunken and spue and fall and rise no more, because 
of the sword which I am about to send among you/ Again Ps. Ixxiv. 9 : 

A cup hath Yahweh in His hands, 
Filled with foaming wine. 
He spiceth it and poureth therefrom : 
Even to the dregs the godless must drain it. 

For the cup of wrath as a cup of staggering/ see Isaias li. ijff.: 

Awake ! Awake ! Arise, Jerusalem ! 

Thou who hast drunk from Yahweh s hand the cup of His wrath ! 
Thou who hast drunk the cup of staggering hast drunk it to the dregs ! 

(Cf. Is. li. 22) 

In Zach. xii. 2 the Lord promises to make Jerusalem a cup of 
staggering for all the peoples round about it. The cup (or, the 
wine) of staggering is obviously the same as the cup of God s wrath/ 
Vinum compunctionis ought to mean a wine that causes bitter or 
gnawing pain, and it is not readily obvious how compunctio has come 

59 ] HELP US, O LORD 219 

to represent the Hebrew tar elah (reeling, staggering). Compunctio 
is a rendering of the Septuagint Karawe$. This substantive occurs 
only here and in one other place in the Septuagint. The other place 
is Isaias xxix. 10, where it translates tardemah (deep sleep). In 
Ps. iv. 5 ; xxix. 13 ; xxxiv. 15 forms of the verb Karav^r/^vai 
are used to render the Hebrew verb damam (to be dumb, to be dumb 
founded as a result of grief, anguish, fear or other violent emotion). 
It is difficult to see how the idea of piercing or being pierced conveyed 
in Karawts and Karanryr>at (and in compunctio and compungere) 
was discovered by the authors of the Septuagint version in damam 
(to be silent), tar elah (staggering), or tardemah (deep sleep). It is 
possible that the use of /caravvy^mt in the psalms as a translation 
of damam is due to the example of the author of the Septuagint 
version of Leviticus x. 3, who employs /carevvx^ to translate yiddom 
(from damam) : /carawy^vat having been once used (though, perhaps 
mistakenly) by a writer of great authority to translate damam, 
the idea of silence (whether that of anguish, grief or stupefaction) 
came to be associated by the later Septuagint translators with the 
verb itself KaravvyrjvaL, and with its derivatives. There remains 
the difficulty that in this psalm passage Kardw^^ (compunctio) is 
used apparently to render tar elah (staggering). The fact, however, 
appears to be, that the Septuagint translator read here, as in Isaias xxix. 
10, tardemah (deep sleep). Sleep and silence are, perhaps, 
closely enough connected, to be rendered by the same Greek word. 
There is some evidence that tardemah was read in this psalm passage 
by Aquila and by Jerome also. Aquila translates wine of staggering 
by otvov Kapwo-ews (wine of torpor), and we know that Symmachus 
rendered tardemah in Isaias xxix. 10 by Kapoxri?. Thus, it is highly 
probable that Aquila read here tardemah. Jerome s rendering vinum 
consopiens in verse 5 of our psalm makes it probable that Jerome also 
read tardemah in this verse (In Isaias xxix. 10 the Vulgate has spiritus 
soporis). In Roms. xi. 8, St. Paul uses Kardw^ to express (ap 
parently) stupidity or insensibility. It may be, however, that 
KaT<xwis was not popularly derived, in the Hellenistic period, 
from Karavvo-o-w (to pierce), but was connected mistakenly with 
VVO-TOL&IV, Karawa-Tdfav, (to be sleepy). It could be thus used 
to express every condition of sleepy insensibility and stupefaction, 
and could even render fairly well the Hebrew, tar elah (staggering 
caused by wine). 

6. This is an obscure verse as it stands in the Vulgate. It might 
be taken to mean that God has always warned His people by some 
sign against the folly of resisting foes whose victories were certain. 
The bow would then symbolise the victorious enemies. The signi- 
ficatio, to judge by the Hebrew equivalent, nes (banner, standard) 
would consist in the raising of a banner ; and the suggestion would 
be that God has always been timely in raising a banner for Israel, not 

220 THE PSALMS [59 

to rally the nation for battle and victory, but to assemble her fugitives 
for safe retreat. Some modern commentators, taking this view of 
the verse, have found in it a complaint in sarcastic form. It is not, 
however, necessary to find any sarcasm here. The Hebrew verb 
which is represented by fugiant in all probability does not mean to 
fly. The Hebrew substantive nes (standard, banner) and the Hebrew 
verb nus (fly, retreat), are apparently, but not certainly, from the 
same root. The phrase, Thou hast given to those who fear Thee a 
nes I hithnoses does not mean Thou hast given them a banner for 
flight, but, more likely, Thou hast given them a standard for rallying 
(to rally themselves) There is no sarcasm in this, but an expression 
of complete confidence in God. The nes in the case, is probably 
Yahweh Himself (as in Exod. xvii. 15, where He is called by Moses 
Yahweh nissi, Yahweh, my banner ! ). There is no difficulty in 
postulating in addition to nus, to fly, a Hebrew verb nus which in 
the reflexive forms would mean to gather to a standard. The 
Massoretic text gives here another unusual form koshet, instead of 
kesheth (bow). This form koshe is due to Aramaic influences, and its 
presence here suggests, perhaps, that we should not hesitate to find 
in hithnoses another unusual Hebrew word. The oracle which follows 
shows what may be expected when the Lord takes His place, as in the 
old days of Israel s conquests, at the head of Israel s battle hosts. 
The dilecti are the people of the Lord. 

8-10. These verses are uttered by a singer who speaks, as one 
inspired, in the name of the Lord. The words are an old promise of 
victory given in the days of David s conquests. What God did once 
He will do again ! The words of the oracle follow naturally on the 
outburst of confidence in verses 6-7. The oracle is said to have been 
given originally in the Lord s shrine or sanctuary Deus locutus est 
in sancto suo. Sichem (Shechem) represents the country west of the 
Jordan : the Vale of Tents (=Sukkoth in Gilead) represents the land 
east of the river. Together the two places are equivalent to all 
Palestine. Gilead and Manasses in verse 9 are often taken as corre 
sponding respectively to the Vale of Tents and Shechem of verse 8. 
Yet, since Manasses was settled on the east side as well as on the 
west side of the Jordan, it is possible that Gilead and Manasses de 
signate together the whole of the Promised Land to the east of the 
river. Ephraim and Juda would then designate all the territory 
west of the Jordan. To God the whole of Palestine belongs. Ephraim, 
the strongest of all the tribes, is described as His helmet (fortiduo 
capitis), as if God were imagined as a warrior, (or, the sense may be 
that Ephraim is to be compared to the horns with which the ox attacks 
and defends : in Deut. xxxiii. 17 the House of Joseph is the Bull 
which pushes the nations with his horns to the ends of the earth.- 
Cf. Ps. xliii. 5). Juda, from whom, according to Gen. xlix. 10, the 
Ruler should go forth, is God s sceptre-bearer His wise and prudent 

59] HELP US, O LORD 221 

ruler. Ephraim typifies, then, the strength, Juda the prudence, of 

The fate of Moab is to become the olla spei meae the washing- 
basin which the Lord desires. The Greek translators read rahsi 
(in Hebrew, my washing ) as if it were from the Aramaic root 
^has, to hope. The washing basin as a receptacle of un cleanness, 
typifies the humiliation of Moab. On Edom will be cast the shoe 
which will symbolise its complete defeat and subjugation. The 
Alienigenae (the Philistines : Hebrew, P lesheth) will also be made 
vassals of Israel. (One may well compare with verses 10-11 the 
striking prophecies of Jeremias against the Philistines, Moab and 
Ammon and Edom in chapters 47-49 of his Book.) 

11-12. The present leader of the people longs for a return of the 
former favour of the Lord so strongly expressed in the oracle, and 
begs for a renewal of victories. 

The civitas munita is some definite city which the Israelite general 
(or king) hopes to capture possibly Petra, the capital of Edom. 
Will not Yahweh deign again, as of old, to lead to victory the hosts 
of Israel ? 

13-14. The people are full of the hope that their leader s prayer 
will be granted and burst out into a cry of exulting confidence. 



THE singer is far away from Jerusalem, and longs to return so 
that he may dwell again in the Tent of the Lord under the 
shelter of the Lord s protecting pinions. He adds a prayer 
for the safety of Jerusalem s king. If his prayers are heard 
he will fulfil his vows, i.e. his promise to glorify with praising song the 
name of the Lord for ever. 

The psalm is assigned by the inscription to David. Yet it includes 
a prayer for the king. If, then, David is the author of the poem, the 
prayer for the king must be regarded less as a prayer for himself, 
than as a petition for the fulfilment of Nathan s prophecy of the per 
manence of David s throne (II Kings vii. 12-16). Since that prophecy 
was to be fulfilled in the Messias, this psalm has been often regarded 
as Messianic. On the theory of Davidic authorship, the psalm is 
usually assigned to the period of Absalom s rebellion when David 
had to fly to the country east of the Jordan, the ends of the earth 
of verse 3. Modern critics, who reject Davidic authorship, are forced 
to admit at least a pro-exilic date for the psalm on account of the prayer 
for the king. 

i. In finem, in hymnis Davd. i. For the choir-leader. 

By David. 

2. Exaudi Deus deprecatio- 
nem meam : intende orationi 

3. A finibus terras ad te cla- 
mavi : dum anxiaretur cor me- 
um, in petra exaltasti me. De- 
duxisti me. 

4. Quia factus es spes mea : 
turris fortitudinis a facie inimici. 

5. Inhabitabo in tabernaculo 
tuo in saecula : protegar in vela- 
mento alarum tuarum. 

6. Quoniam tu Deus meus ex- 
audisti orationem meam : de- 
disti haereditatem timentibus 
nomen tuum. 

7. Dies super dies regis ad- 
jicies : annos ejus usque in diem 
generationis et generationis. 

8. Permanet in aeternum in 
conspectu Dei : misericordiam 
et veritatem ejus quis requiret ? 

2. Hear, O God, my crying ! 

Give heed to my prayer ! 

3. From the ends of the earth I cry to Thee, 

when my heart is straitened. 
On a rock Thou hast set me (safely) ; 
Thou dost guide me. 

4. For Thou art my hope, 

A strong tower against my foe ! 

5. Let me dwell for ever in Thy Tent I 

Let me be safe in the protection of Thy 
pinions ! 

6. For Thou, my God, dost hear my prayer ; 

A sure possession Thou dost 
those who fear Thy Name. 

give to 

7. Add days to the life-time of the King ! 

Multiply his years unto the time of 
generations most remote ! 

8. Let him abide for ever before God ! 

Who shall search into his kindness and 
his truth ? 



9. Sic psalmum dicam nomini 9. Thus will I sing to Thy Name for ever, 
tuo in saeculum saeculi : ut red- That I may fulfil my vows each day. 

dam vota mea de die in diem. 

i. In hymnis, here and in Ps. xlvi. i, corresponds to the Hebrew 
al n ginoth, which is usually rendered, on stringed instruments/ 
There may be here, however, the name of a group of official chanters, 
so that the supetscription may mean : For the choir-leader of the 
group n ginoth. 

3. The fines terra may be remote districts of Palestine, such as 
the land east of the Jordan ; or they may be lands far away from 
Palestine, such as Babylonia, or other distant lands where Hebrew 
exiles lived. The fines terra have been usually understood of David s 
eastern headquarters during the rebellion of Absolom Mahanaim. 
David s heart is uneasy even though victory is at hand. In petra 
exaltasti . . . deduxisti. The Hebrew verbs in this phrase seem to 
have an optative sense : O that Thou wouldst lead me up the rock 
that is too high for me. The rock is the place of safety, out of 
reach of his foes. Some commentators are inclined to identify it 
with Jerusalem. In the Vulgate the sense is obviously that the 
psalmist s hopes are set on God, as on a high and impregnable rock 
of safety. God is a strong tower of refuge and defence against 
the foe. Cf. Prov. xviii. 10. 

It is possible, as has been said, to understand the fines terrae as 
the land of exile. In that view the whole psalm must be taken as 
descriptive of the feelings of the Jewish people in the Babylonian 
Exile. They long ardently to return to the sanctuary of God in 
Jerusalem. They look forward (verses 6-9) to the re-establishment 
of their nation, and to the restoration of its ancient glory. The 
king for whom they pray is the Ideal King, the Messias. This ex 
planation of the psalm (which is accepted by Knabenbauer) must 
reject Davidic authorship, or suppose that the psalm was composed 
by David, without reference to the circumstances of his own career, 
as a prophet forecasting the emotions of a generation four hundred 
years later than his time. 

The Hebrew of verse 36 differs from the Vulgate. It reads : 
when my heart fainteth, Thou wilt lead me to a rock that is too 
high for me. The rock that is too high for me is, in Hebrew, 
sur yarum mimmenni. For yarum mimmenni the Greek translators 
read y e rom e meni, exaltasti me. The rock referred to does not fit 
well into the context though a meaning can be found for it, as 
above. An easy emendation of the Hebrew reading bassar, instead 
of b sur would give the sense : In trouble which is too great for 
me, Thou guidest me (or, mayest Thou guide me ). 

5. Inhabitabo and protegar are optative : Fain would I dwell/ etc. 

224 THE PSALMS [60 

The Tent is, probably, the Lord s dwelling-place in Jerusalem. There 
the Lord protects the city of His choice, as the eagle protects its young 
with outstretched pinions. Cf. Exod. xix. 4 ; Ps. xxxv. 8. 

6. The Lord has been kind to him hitherto and will be kind to 
him now again. 

Hareditas, a fixed and sure possession. The sense of the Vulgate 
is : " Thou rewardest those that fear Thee." The Hebrew is some 
what obscure. It says : Thou givest the inheritance of those that 
fear Thy name. It has been suggested to read >a resheth (wish) instead 
of yfrushshath (possession of) ; this would give the sense : Thou hast 
granted the desire of those who fear Thy name. 

7. Since no one could reasonably pray that a particular king 
might reign for ever, the prayer is probably to be understood as 
uttered for a royal house or dynasty. It could, thus, be spoken by 
David himself in view of Nathan s promise, and in view of the Messias 
who was to restore and make perpetual the glory of David s house. 

8. The misericordia and veritas are those of the king. Who can 
estimate them ? Who can measure the grace which the king received ? 
The Hebrew seems here, again, to imply that " Graciousness " and 
" Truth " are, as it were, two angels of God who protect the royal 
throne : " Send forth Graciousness and Truth, that they may guard 
him." Cf. xxxix. 12. 

Quis is due to the reading by the Greek translators of the Hebrew 
man (imperative piel of manah, appoint ) as the Aramaic interro 
gative pronoun, man. The Greek translators were obviously more 
familiar, as we should expect, with Aramaic than with Hebrew. 
The Vulgate text, as it stands, must, of course, be explained in the 
way just suggested. 

9. The singer will announce God s goodness in hearing his petitions : 
he will announce it by daily songs of praise. This is his vow and daily 
will he fulfil it. 




THE theme of the psalm, as we see from the refrain (2-3, 6-7), 
is quiet confidence in God in time of need. The special 
need or trouble in which the psalmist finds himself is the 
treacherous hostility of slanderers who would destroy him as 
one casts down a tumbling wall. But the psalmist feels himself 
secure in God s care and he tells the people generally to put all their 
trust, like himself, in God. His enemies are but frail mortals and 
the poet warns them not to put their hope in violence and injustice. 
The final verse is an address to God recalling His mercy, but em 
phasising also His justice. 

The psalrn may, probably, be assigned to the period of Absalom s 
revolt, when David was surrounded by hypocritical foes who were 
convinced that David s kingship was tottering like a tumbling wall. 
The general tone of the psalm recalls that of Ps. iv, xxxviii, xli, xlii. 
The theme of the psalm recalls the oracle given to Isaias for Achaz 
(Is. vii, 4 ; cf. vii. 9). Mcst commentators note particularly the 
general likeness cf Psalm Ixi to Psalm iv. 

i. In finem, Pro Idithun, 
Psalmus David. 

i. For the choir-master, 

. A psalm of 

2. Nonne Deo subjecta erit 
anima mea ? ab ipso enim salu- 
tare meum. 

3. Nam et ipse Deus meus, et 
salutaris meus : susceptor meus, 
non movebor amplius. 

4. Quousque irruitis in homi- 
nem ? interficitis universi vos : 
tamquam parieti inclinato et 
maceriae depulsae ? 

5. Verumtamen pretium me 
um cogitaverunt repellere, cu- 
curri in siti : ore suo benedice- 
bant, et corde suo maledicebant. 

2. Is not my soul submissive unto God ? 

For from Him comes my rescue. 

3. For He, indeed, is my God, and my 

Saviour, my Protector ; 
No more shall I be shaken ! 

4. How long will ye set upon a man and slay 

him, all of you ? 

(As one casts down) a tumbling wall, a 
falling fence ! 

5. All their thought is set on destroying 

my honour. 

In thirst I wander here and there, 
With their mouth they bless, and in 

their heart they curse. 

6. Verumtamen Deo subjecta 
esto anima mea : quoniam ab 
ipso patientia mea. 

7. Quia ipse Deus meus, et 
salvator meus : adjutor meus, 
non emigrabo. 


6. But be thou, my soul, submissive to God ! 

For on Him my patient endurance de 
pends ; 

7. For He is my God and my Saviour, my 

Rescuer ; 
I will not depart from Him. 


226 THE PSALMb [61 

8. In Deo salutare meum, et 8. In God is my salvation and my honour, 
gloria mea : Deus auxilii mei, (He is) my rescuing God, and my hope 
et spes mea in Deo est. rests on God. 

9. Sperate in eo omnis con- 9. Put your trust in Him, all ye Congrega- 
gregatio populi, effundite coram tion of the People, 

illo corda vestra : Deus adjutor Pour out your hearts before Him ; 

noster in aeternum. God is our Helper for ever. 

10. Verumtamen vani filii ho- 10. Vain, in truth, are the children of men ; 
minum, mendaces filii hominum Deceitful are the sons of men in the 
in stateris : ut decipiant ipsi de weighing-scales ; 

vanitate in idipsum. So that in their utter emptiness they 

completely deceive. 

11. Nolite sperare in iniqui- u. Put not your trust in injustice, and covet 
tate, et rapinas nolite concu- not plunder. 

piscere : divitiae si affluant, no- If wealth flow in, set not the heart 

lite cor apponere. thereon. 

12. Semel locutus est Deus, 12. Once did the Lord speak, and these two 
duo haec audivi, quia potestas things I heard : 

Dei est, Power is God s, 

13. Et tibi Domine miseri- 13. And to Thee, Lord, belongeth pity : 
cordia : quia tu reddes unicui- Thou requitest each one according to 
que juxta opera sua. his works. 

1. In Ps. xxxviii we have the superscription, ipsi Idithun, here, 
and in Ps. Ixxvi, pro Idithun. The Massoretic text distinguishes 
apparently between Y dithun as the name of a choir-master of David, 
in Ps. xxxviii, and Y e duthun as perhaps the name of a choir of official 
singers, in this psalm and in Ps. Ixxvi. In this psalm, and in Ps. Ixxvi, 
it has been proposed to translate the superscription : Property of 
the choir-master of the Y duthun group of singers. It is to be noted, 
however, that the Vulgate (following the Greek) reads Idithun in all 
the three psalm passages above referred to. Jerome also reads in 
all three places Idithun. Y e duthun (read also Y e dithun) appears as 
a music director of David in I Paral. ix. 16 ; xvi. 38, etc. This 
Y e duthun was probably the same as the chief-singer Ethan (I Paral. 
xv. 17, 19). There is no evidence, outside the three psalm titles, xxxviii. 
I ; Ixi. i ; Ixxvi. I, for the existence of a group of official singers called 
Y e duthun, or Y e dithun. The three Y e duthun psalms are somewhat 
similar in theme, emphasising the shortness of man s life and the 
futility of his striving, when looked at sub specie ceternitatis. 

2. The Hebrew has : Verily unto God (better, Yahweh) my soul 
is still ; the stillness is the undisturbed peace of fullest confidence. 
The particle akh (verily) begins verses 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10. Cf. Ps. xxxviii. 
Subjecta, submissive, resigned. Submission is shown by stillness. 

3. Nam et ipse, for surely He. The Greek text has changed the 
Hebrew here, as often, where names or epithets of God are in question. 
The Hebrew runs : " Verily He is my Rock, my Help, my Fortress." 
Amplius translates the Hebrew rabbah (greatly) which is, perhaps, a 
corruption of the familiar word selah. 


4. Why will they rush upon a man (the psalmist) to cast him 
down, as one casts down a tottering wall or fence ? (Not, as if he 
were a tottering wall, etc.). Tanquam represents the Hebrew ^ 
as happens in the case of. The tottering wall would symbolise 
well the uncertainty of David s position when he had to fly from 
Jerusalem to escape from Absalom. 

Maceria, a wall or fence (Ps. cxliii. 14 Ruina macerice=a. breach 
in the city- wall). < 

5. Pretium seems, in view of the Hebrew, to mean honour, position 
of dignity. The psalmist s enemies wish to cast him down from his 
place of honour. 

Cucurri in siti is sometimes explained as implying the speed of 
the psalmist s flight from his .foes with its consequent fatigue and 
thirst. The Hebrew is here different : " They plan to drag (him) 
down from his height ; in a lie they delight." The Greek text, as it 
stands, might be rendered either by cucurri or by cucurrerunt, referring 
thus, either to the haste of the psalmist s flight, or to the speed of his 
enemies pursuit. The reference to lying in the Hebrew fits in best 
with what, follows. The enemies of the psalmist greet in friendly 
fashion with their lips, but in their heart is a curse. The difference 
between the Massoretic text and the Vulgate in verse 5 cannot be 
fully accounted for. 

Cucurri in siti takes the place of yirsu kazabh in a lie they de 
light : yirsu became for the Greek translators yarusu = ^Spa^ov 
(which the Vulgate took as a singular, cucurri) : kazabh (a lie) could 
not easily be transformed so as to give any basis for the translation 
ev Styti (in siti), but, possibly, the Greek cv ^ei 8e t came to be read 
as v 8i\J/ti. 

The pretium meum of the Vulgate represents a Hebrew text, 
mas ethi : the Massoretic text has missf ethi, from my high posi 
tion. The Greek TIM combines, to some extent, the two Hebrew 

6. 7. The refrain. Cf. verses 2-3. 

Patientia, endurance, perseverance. In God he hopes patiently 
for better things. 

Emigrabo go forth from God. Hebrew : I shall not be shaken/ 

8. In Hebrew : " On God rests my safety and honour : my 
Strong Rock, my Refuge is God." The Greek text has toned down 
the anthropomorphisms of the Hebrew. 

9. Omnis Congregatio populi, the whole nation of Israel. The 
Massoretic text, reading eth (time) where the Greek translators read 
*dath (congregation), means : " Trust Him at all times, ye people ! " 

10. Between verses 9 and 10 some commentators would insert 
again the refrain of verse 2. In God alone, and not in men, must 
one trust. When men are tested on the scales they will disappoint 
every expectation that has been placed in them. They shoot up 

228 THE PSALMS [61 

(according to the Hebrew) in the balance, and are altogether light 
and valueless. They are lighter than a breath (Hebrew). 

In idipsum, altogether (cf. iv. 9) : they are altogether deceptive 
because of their emptiness and worthlessness. If man, then, is 
weighed in the balance of worth, his scale shoots up as if it were 
empty, and he utterly deceives all hopes set on him. 

The Hebrew mehebhel [lighter] than a breath was taken by the 
Greek translators as- from emptiness : hence de vanitate. Ut 
decipiant is due to reading F oloth ( unto injustice/ unto deception ) 
instead of the Massoretic text la a loth ( when they the scales mount 

up ). 

That a contrast is intended between two sets of filii hominum 
because the Hebrew has in the first clause b e ne adam, and in the 
second b e ne ish, is not very probable. More likely we have here an 
ordinary instance of parallelism. 

11. Iniquitas, according to the Hebrew, is extortion, or wealth 
due to extortion (rapince). 

Cor apponere, to care/ to set the heart on/ 

12. The verse obviously means : God spoke once, and I heard 
Him say two things : (a) Strength and loving-kindness belong to 
God ; (b) God requites each one according to his deeds/ For the 
form of this verse compare the style of Proverbs in such verses as 
xxx. 21, 29, etc. 



THE central thought of this psalm is that the highest good, 
and chief est blessing is the possession of God. It is the same 

thought which we find in Ps. Ixxii. 24-26 ; xxxv. 8-10 ; 

xciii. 17-19, etc. The reference to " morning " in verses 2 and 7 
led to the use of the psalm as a morning-song in the ancient Church. 
The position of the singer is clear. He is far from the House of 
God and longs to visit it again. He lives, for the moment, among 
enemies that seek his life ; but he expects that their overthrow is 
at hand. The reference to the desert in the title may be due to 
verse 3. The Hebrew text makes it the desert of Juda ; while in 
the Vulgate it appears as the desert of Edom. The Edomite desert 
lay between Molada and the Arabah on the route which David had 
to travel when he fled to the land of Moab (I Kings xxii. 3). The 
desert of Juda would fit in with David s movements both during 
his flights from Saul, and his retreat before Absalom. If David is 
the author, verse 12 must be taken as implying that the poem was 
written after the death of Saul, when David was really king. Thus 
the psalm would be more naturally associated with the time of Ab 
salom s revolt, and desert of Juda would be the better reading. 
In view of the probability that the reference to the desert in the 
superscription is due to the phrase In the bleak, pathless arid land 
of verse 3, it is important to note that the Massoretic text may by a 
very slight change, be made to mean : Like a bleak, pathless, arid 
land. The sense would be, then, that the singer longs for God as 
the parched land longs for water (as in Ps. cxlii. 6 : anima mea sicut 
terra sine aqua tibi), and there would be no reference to a sojourn of 
the psalmist in a desert. The Syriac Psalter takes this view of the 
text. This reading would exclude the controversy as to whether 
the psalm was written by David in the Idumean or Judean desert, 
but it leaves the question of Davidic authorship untouched. To 
obviate the difficulty against Davidic authorship suggested by verse 12 
some commentators have proposed to regard that verse as a late 
addition to the psalm. 





i. Psalmus David cum esset 
in deserto Idumaeae. 

i. A psalm of David when he was in the 
Edomite desert. 

2. Deus Deus meus ad te de 
luce vigilo. 

Sitivit in te anima mea, quam 
multipliciter tibi caro mea. 

3. In terra deserta, et invia, 
et inaquosa : sic in sancto ap- 
parui tibi, ut viderem virtutem 
tuam, et gloriam tuam. 

4. Quoniam melior est miseri- 
cordia tuo super vitas : labia 
mea laudabunt te. 

5. Sic benedicam te in vita 
mea : et in nomine tuo levabo 
manus meas. 

6. Sicut adipe et pinguedine 
repleatur anima mea : et labiis 
exsultationis laudabit os meum. 

7. Si memor fui tui super 
stratum meum, in matutinis 
meditabor in te : 

8. Quia fuisti adjutor meus. 
Et in velamento alarum tua- 

rum exsultabo, 

9. Adhaesit anima mea post 
te : me suscepit de tera tua. 

10. Ipsi vero in vanum quae- 
sierunt animam meam, introi- 
bunt in inferiora terra : 

11. Tradentur in manus gla- 
dii, partes vulpium erunt. 

1 2 . Rex vero laetabitur in Deo, 
laudabuntur omnes qui jurant in 
eo : quia obstructum est os lo- 
quentium iniqua. 

2. O God, my God, after Thee do I long in 

the morning ; 

My soul doth thirst for Thee ; 
And how greatly doth my body thirst 
for Thee, 

3. In the bleak, pathless, arid land ! < 
Thus was I wont to appear before Thee 

in the Sanctuary, 

To look upon Thy power and Thy 
majesty : 

4. For Thy graciousness is more pleasing 

than life 
And my lips shall praise Thee. 

5. Thus will I praise Thee all my life long, 

And unto the praise of Thy name will I 
lift up my hands. 

6. As with marrow and fat my soul is sated ; 

My mouth doth speak praise with ex 
ulting lips, 

7. When I think of Thee on my couch, 

And muse on Thee in the early morning. 

8. For Thou art my helper 

And in the shelter of Thy wings I re 

9. With all my soul I cling to Thee : 

Thy right hand doth guard me. 

10. But those fruitlessly do they seek my 

life : 
Down into the underworld they go. 

11. They are given over to the sword. 

And become the portion of foxes. 

12. But the King rejoiceth in God, 

All those who swear by him do boast ; 
For closed is the mouth of those who 
speak things godless. 

2-4. The longing of the soul for God is described as in Ps. xli. 3/. 
under the symbolism of thirst. 

Vigilo represents a Hebrew word which means to long for. The 
Hebrew runs : " My soul thirsts for Thee ; my flesh pines for Thee in 
a land bleak, parched and waterless." The de luce is due to the fact 
that the Hebrew verb used here, shahar, is cognate with shahar, the 
dawn/ and may have meant originaliy, to watch for the dawn. 

Quam multipliciter implies a misreading of the Hebrew verb 
kamah ( to pine ), as kammah ( how greatly ) : in the Latin we 
must read it with sitivit. Tibi is governed by sitivit. The verse 
expresses longing for the Sanctuary. 

3. Sic. With the same kind of longing did the psalmist formerly 
look for God in His own dwelling. The three qualities of God which 
the poet formerly longed to see displayed in God s House, and now 


longs to realise again, when he is far from the sanctuary, are strength 
and glory and graciousness. Possibly the reference in these is to the 
splendour of the ritual ; but it is also possible that the reference is 
not to the perception of the visible glory of God in the ritual of the 
Sanctuary, but to the inner vision by which the psalmist became 
intimately conscious of God s presence and qualities. 

4. Note that the psalmist passes from God s greatness which, 
after all, it was no good to gaze on to His graciousness, His love, a 
love of which the singer has already had experience. The ancient 
Israelites thought much of life, yet here it is said that the conscious 
ness of God s love and grace is more and better than life. 

Vitas, the Hebrew idiom, in which life appears as a plural. 

5. Sic : as he has once given praise to God in His Sanctuary, so 
will he give it all his days. His faith is now so intense that he can 
pray and praise, just as if he were in the House of God. 

6. 7. The praise of the Lord is the deepest joy of the soul ; it is a 
greater joy than that of sharing in the rich meats (the adeps and 
pinguedo) of the sacrificial banquets. It is a joy, too, which is not 
dependent altogether on the public ritual of worship. One can praise 
God on one s couch during the watches of the night. (In matutinis ; 
Hebrew, night vigils, ) 

St, when/ 

8. The reason of his present rejoicing is, that, though he is far 
from God s sanctuary, he feels himself secure in God s protecting 

9. Adhcerere post is a Hebraism. 

10-11. He is confident that his foes will fail, they will fall on the 
battlefield, and be left unburied to become the prey of jackals. In 
vanum : the Greek translators read l e shaw , unto destruction. The 
parallelism would suggest lishe ol, unto Sheol. 

Inferiora terra, the underworld : Vulpes the Hebrew word 
probably means jackal as well as fox. 

12. It would be an easy view to maintain that this verse is not 
a part of the original poem. It is difficult to think of David thus 
speaking of himself. If the verse is original the dangers which 
threaten must be thought of as the same for the king and his ad 
herents. Those who swear by the king, are those who adhere to him. 
In eo might, however, refer to God, and the meaning, then, would be, 
that the king, like all who are faithful to God, will triumph over his 
foes. To close the mouths of the enemy means to deprive them of 
all opportunity of boasting. 



THE psalmist deals with the conflict between the just and the 
impious. He sees himself, as one of the just, threatened by 
treachery especially by calumny. But, at the very moment 
when his enemies are rejoicing over the apparent success of 
their schemes, God s judgment falls on them. This will be for all 
men a wholesome lesson ; but the just will rejoice in their God. 

Modern critics for the most part, regard this psalm as post-exilic. 
They find echoes in it of the internal religious troubles of the late 
period. The just are the faithful followers of the Law, the 
Chasidim or Asidaioi of the Hellenistic period, who had to endure the 
sneers and jibes and general hostility of the Liberals of their time, 
the malignantes and oper antes iniquitatem of the psalm. There is, 
however, nothing either in the tone or wording of the poem, which 
would definitely exclude a pre-exilic date or Davidic authorship. 

I. In finem, psalmus David. I. For the choir-leader. A psalm of David. 

2. Exaudi Deus orationem 
meam cum deprecor : a timore 
inimici eripe animam meam. 

3. Protexisti me a conventu 
malignantium : a multitudine 
operantium iniquitatem. 

4. Quia exacuerunt ut gladi- 
um linguas suas : intenderunt 
arcum rem amaram, 

5. Ut sagittent in occultis im- 

6. Subito sagittabunt eum, et 
non timebunt : firmaverunt sibi 
sermonem nequam. 

Narraverunt ut absconderent 
laqueos : dixerunt : Quis vide- 
bit eos ? 

7. Scmtati sunt iniquitates : 
defecerunt scrutantes scrutinio. 

Accedet homo ad cor altum: 

8. Et exaltabitur Deus. 
Sagittse parvulorum factae 

sunt plagae eorum : 

2. Hear, O God, my prayer when I make 

petition ! 
Free me from the fear of foes ! 

3. Save me from the band of evildoers, 

From the multitude of sinners ! 

4. For they have whetted their tongues like 

a sword 

They have stretched the bow a thing 
of bitterness, 

5. To shoot in secret at the stainless : 

6. Unexpectedly they shoot at him, and 

have no sense of fear : 
They hold firmly among themselves to 

their iniquitous scheme : 
They tell how they lay snares in secret : 
They say : Who will take thought for 

those ? 

7. They plan iniquity : they weary them 

selves with scheming. 
If a man give assent to an arrogant plan, 

8. God will show Himself on high ; 

Their blows become mere children s 



9. Et infirmatae sunt contra 9. And powerless grow their tongues against 
eos linguae eorum. others : 

Conturbati sunt omnes qui All are amazed who see them ; 

videbant eos : 

10. Et timuit omnis homo. 10. And every man feareth : 

Et annuntiaverunt opera Dei And men recount the works of God, 

et facta ejus intellexerunt. And understand His deeds. 

n. Laetabitur Justus in Do- n. The just man is glad in the Lord, and 
mino, et sperabit in et>, et lauda- trusts in Him ; 

buntur omnes recti corde. And all who are upright of heart 


2. The dread of the foe is the dread he inspires. 

3. The Hebrew is more vivid. It speaks of the " clamour "of 
the gathering that has assembled to take counsel : Save me from 
the noisy throng of evildoers ! 

4. The chief act of hostility of the enemies is their bitter speech. 
This is the bow which they stretch the " bitter thing." For bow 
the Hebrew has arrow. The Greek translators found the phrase 
they have stretched their arrow too difficult. The bitter thing 
suggests rather arrow than bow. 

5. The reference to secrecy shows that there is question of secret 
calumny whispering behind backs against the psalmist. 

6. Non timebunt \ they are not influenced by fear of God or man. 
Firmaventnt, etc., they strengthen themselves in their vile plan/ 
Narraverunt they make no secret of their doings or plans. 

Ut, how. 

The eos may be the pious whom the godless contemptuously 
regard as God-forsaken. Or, it might refer to the evil deeds of the 
godless, who would here demand : " Who taketh notice of what we 
do ? " i.e., we need fear no divine retribution. 

7. Scrutati sunt, plan, devise. 

Defecerunt scrutantes scrutinio, exhaust themselves in planning/ 
The Massoretic text is not very satisfactory. Reading tammonu, 
instead of tamnu, the Hebrew may be taken as a cry of triumph of 
the impious : We are ready. A scheme well thought out/ For 
hephes m huppas ( a scheme well planned ) the Greek translators, 
grouping the consonants of the two words differently, read, hoph sim 
haphos (scrutantes scrutinium, or scrutinio). Defecerunt is due to the 
substitution of tammu ( they were exhausted ) for tamnu, or tammonu 
( we are ready ) . 

Accedet homo ad cor altum, as it stands in the Vulgate, may be taken 
as the protasis of which verse 8 is the apodosis : If a man conceives 
an arrogant design, God s judgment comes upon him all at once. 
The Hebrew is very different. The interior of each one, and heart 
is deep (or, deceitful). The Septuagint translators read karebh ish, 

234 THE PSALMS [63 

a man draws nigh, instead of kerebh ish, the interior of a man. 
The Latin takes cor altum as governed by the verb accedet. In the 
Hebrew lebh (cor) is parallel to kerebh ( interior ). Altum represents 
the Hebrew amok ( deep ). The Hebrew would be represented in 
Latin by Interiora hominis, et cor, altum. It is interesting to find that 
here, as in most cases where the Massoretic and Vulgate texts differ, 
the two texts can be traced back to a single Hebrew consonantal text. 1 

8. Exaltabitur Deus : God rises up against the proudly scheming 
sinner. Here the Massoretic text has wayyorem Elohim hes pith e om 
hayu makkotham : God smites them with an arrow. At once their 
smiting takes place. 

For wayyorem Elohim and God smites them, the Greek translators 
read, w e yarum Elohim, and God is high (exalted). As they could 
not read l;es (arrow) with the preceding words, as they understood 
them, the translators made it the predicate of the following phrase, 
sagittce parvulorum factce stint plagcz eorum. The parvuli are due to 
the reading of pith e om ( suddenly ) as p e lha yim ( simple, vr]trioi, 
parvuli, cf. Ps. cxiv. 6). Here again the two texts go back to the 
same primitive consonantal text. Jerome translates here : Sagittabit 
ergo Deus jaculo repentino : inferentur plagce eorum. He obviously 
took hes and pith e om together as meaning, with a sudden arrow ; 
this is not so good an arrangement of the Hebrew text as that sug 
gested above : 

God smites them with an arrow ; 
All at once (i.e. unexpectedly) their smiting takes place. 

The Vulgate text can be understood as meaning that the blows 
(not the smitings) of the foes will be as harmless as if children inflicted 

9. Et infirmatcB sunt, etc., the Massoretic text with slight emenda 
tion reads : And he maketh to stumble against them their tongue. 

1 One cannot help thinking that the Hebrew of 76 is incomplete. One would 
expect some such parallelism as : 
Perverse is man 

And his heart is deep (i.e. unfathomable). 

Lebh (heart) in its present position is not at all Hebrew-like : libbo (his 
heart) would be far more natural, and idiomatic. A word for perverse has, 
perhaps, been corrupted into kerebh. Schlogl (Psalmeri) suggests ikkesh 
( twisted, crooked ). There is a similar thought in Jer. xvii. 9 : 
The heart is " deeper " than all things, 
And full of malice. 
Who knoweth it ? 

On the basis of this text of Jeremias, Duhm, Wellhausen, and others pro 
pose to read in verse 7 anush ( incurably evil ) instead of ish (man). This 
would give the parallelism : The interior is incurably evil, and the heart is 
deep. (The Massoretic text of Jeremias has treacherous ; but deep is 
better.) It would be a sort of proverb. The substitution of ish for anush 
would be explicable by the fact that another word with the same consonants as 
anush, viz. e nosh, means man/ 


There are different readings of the Greek. The sense of the Vulgate 
is substantially that of the Hebrew, but the reference in eos is obscure, 
as in verse 6. 

Conturbati sunt ; in the Hebrew we have, shake the head a 
sign of contempt. (Jer. xlviii. 27) 

10. All men talk of the judgment that has overtaken the impious : 
it serves as a salutary lesson. But it only impels the just to hide 
himself more completely in the protection of the Lord. 



THIS psalm represents the people gathered together in the 
Temple to praise and thank the Lord for His favours ; (a) for 
forgiveness of sin which had called for punishment (verses 2-4) ; 
(b) for His merciful providence in nature and history (verses 
5-9) ; and, (c) for His most recent blessing a springtime full of 
promise. Apparently a season of drought, which the people acknow 
ledge to have been deserved by their sins, has been followed by 
favourable rains. The thanksgiving which the people had vowed to 
the Lord (verse 2), should He hear their prayers, is conveyed in this 
hymn. It is one of the most beautiful of the nature-poems of the 
Psalter. It resembles Ps. Ixvi in its main motif. 

The superscription of the psalm in the Septuagint and Vulgate 
connects the poem with the exilic prophets Jeremias and Ezechiel, 
and apparently assigns its composition to the period of the return 
from the Babylonian Exile. The ascription to Jeremias and Ezechiel, 
and the reference to the Exile are absent from the Massoretic text. 
All three texts agree in ascribing the psalm to David. It is obvious, 
however, that the poem could not have for its author David, Jeremias 
and Ezechiel, nor any two of these sacred writers. Hence we may 
safely disregard this title in so far as it speaks of authorship. That 
the people are not in Babylon, but in Palestine, follows from verse 
10 and following verses, if they are taken as a description of the effects 
of fertilising rains sent by God in answer to prayer. Verses 3, 6, 9 
are very universalistic in tone and are regarded by many modem 
critics as proving the post -exilic origin of the psalm. It is, however, 
very dogmatic to assert that the idea of God s universal rule and 
providence was not familiar in the pre-exilic period. 

Attempts have been made to take literally the reference to the 
return from Exile in the title, and to explain the psalm as a song com 
posed to be sung by homesick exiles on their way to Jerusalem. In 
Sion, not in Babylon, the exiles may sing again the songs of home. 
The Temple will be set up again and all men will come to visit it. 
Sinners have prevailed over the exiles until now ; but Israel s sins 
are now forgiven, and the exile is loosed from the yoke of the stranger. 



How splendid it will be to live again in the shadow of the Temple ! 
The mighty God of Israel will do wonders once more and will raise 
His people into power again. The rise of Israel is foreshadowed under 
the symbol of a wonderful spring that has followed on a season of 

This view of the origin and meaning of the psalm is possible. 
Support for it might be found in Joel ii. 21-26, where the return of 
fertility and abundance as a token of the return of Yahweh s favour 
after a season of famine (Israel s punishment for sin) is similarly 

It is, however, easier and better to take the psalm simply as a 
hymn of thanks sung during a service of thanksgiving which the 
people had vowed unto God if He would graciously send them rain in 
a season of drought. Such a hymn might, obviously, belong, as far 
as its theme is concerned, to any period of Jewish history. As a 
song of Sion it would, of course, be sung in Jerusalem ; and, as a 
song of thanks for a springtime of promise, it would thank the Lord 
for His mercies towards the people dwelling in His own land. 

I. In finem, Psalmus David, 
Canticum Hieremiae, et Ezechie- 
lis populo transmigrationis, cum 
inciperent exire. 

i. For the choir-leader. A psalm of David. 
A song of Jeremias and Ezechiel for 
the exiles when they began to go 

2. Te decet hymnus Deus in 
Sion : et tibi reddetur votum in 

3. Exaudi orationem meam : 
ad te omnis caro veniet. 

4. Verba iniquorum praeva- 
luerunt super nos : et impietati- 
bus nostris tu propitiaberis. 

5. Beatus, quern elegisti, et 
assumpsisti : inhabitabit in 
atriis tuis. 

Replebimur in bonis domus 
tuae : sanctum est templum tu- 

6. Mirabile in aequitate. 
Exaudi nos Deus salutaris 

noster, spes omnium finium ter- 
rae, et in mari longe. 

7. Praeparans montes in vir- 
tute tua, accinctus potentia : 

8. Qui conturbas profundum 
maris sonum fluctuum ejus. 

Turbabuntur Gentes, 

9. Et timebunt qui habitant 
terminos a signis tuis : 

Exitus matutini, et vespere 

2. To Thee is due a song of praise in Sion, 

O God! 

And to Thee must be paid a vow in 

3. Hear Thou my prayer ; 

To Thee all flesh cometh. 

4. Wickedness hath been too strong for us; 

But Thou dost pardon our misdeeds. 

5. Blessed is he whom Thou choosest, and 

takest to Thyself, 
That he may dwell in Thy courts. 
We would fain sate ourselves with the 

good things of Thy House ; 
Holy is Thy Temple ; 

6. Wondrous in its justice ! 
Hear us, O God, our Saviour ; 

The hope of all the ends of the earth, 
And of those who are far out on the sea; 

7. Thou who hast established the moun 

tains in Thy strength, 
Girded with power ; 

8. Thou who mo vest the depths of the 

And its thundering waves ; 

9. The peoples are dismayed, and they who 

dwell on (earth s) borders 
Dread Thy portents. 
The sunrise and the sunset 
Thou makest to rejoice ; 

238 THE PSALMS [64 

10. Visitasti terram. et ine- 10. Thou lookest on the earth, and givest it 
briasti earn : multiplicasti locu- to drink ; 

pletare earn. Thou dost make it fertile indeed. 

Flumen Dei repletum est The river of God is filled with waters ; 

aquis, parasti cibum illorum : Thou preparest food for those, 

quoniam ita est praeparatio ejus. For so it (the earth) is fashioned. 

11. Rivos ejus inebria, multi- n. Fill Thou its streams ; 

plica genimina ejus : in stilli- Give increase to its crops by moisture ; 

cidiis ejus laetabitur germinans. It rejoiceth while it buds forth. 

12. Benedices coronae anni be- 12. Thou dost bless the whole circling year 
nignitatis tuae : et campi tui of Thy bounty, 

replebuntur ubertate. And Thy fields are full of plenty. 

13. Pinguescent speciosa de- 13. Fair bloom the desert-pastures, 

serti : et exsultatione colles ac- And the hills are clad with gladness, 

14. Induti sunt arietes ovium, 14. The rams of the flock are thick-fleeced ; 
et valles abundabunt frumento : And the valleys teem with corn, 
clamabunt, etenim hymnum di- They shout for joy, and sing a hymn of 
cent. praise ! 

1. If cum inciperent exire means, when they began to go forth 
from Babylon, i.e. to return to Palestine, the connection of the 
psalm with both Ezechiel and Jeremias is impossible. We cannot 
suppose that the psalm which is mainly a thanksgiving for a good 
season, could have been written for the Judeans who were going forth 
from exile. In some texts of the Vulgate the name of the prophet 
Aggaeus appears also in the title. 

2. The Vulgate text implies that a song or service of thanksgiving 
had been vowed to the Lord in the unfavourable season which has 
recently been followed by a bounteous spring. The vow is the 
service of thanksgiving, of which the psalm is a portion. 

The Massoretic text of verse 2 is usually rendered : For Thee 
silence is praise/ The ancient versions (Septuagint and Syriac) have 
taken the Hebrew dumiyah (silence) as if it were domiyah, a form from 
damah (to resemble, and then, to be suitable). The versions have 
here preserved a better tradition than the Massoretic text though 
the phrase, For Thee silence is a hymn of praise suggests the true 
and beautiful thought that God is so much above all human praise 
that man s humble adoration of silence is a greater tribute to God s 
glory than the most beautiful of sacred songs. The rendering of the 
versions is much more natural and probable in view of the occasion 
and the general meaning of the psalm. 

In Jerusalem is not in the Hebrew ; but it is supported by metre, 
parallelism, and versions. 

3. The Hebrew reads better : Hearer of prayer ; to Thee cometh 
all flesh. Omnis caro seems to mean humanity generally. It need 
notbe supposed that the psalmist wishes to say that even the prayers 
of heathens to their gods come to Yahweh. The Greek translators 
read sh ma (hear !) instead of shomea (hearer of). 

4. Verba iniquorum, guilt of all kinds, the guilt of each man. 


The first favour of the Lord for which thanks is due is forgiveness of 
sin. The unfavourable agricultural season was itself a punishment of 
sin. But God has now pardoned the people s sin, and has sent them, 
as token of His favour, the rains they had prayed for. 

5. The first result of pardon is fellowship with God. This is 
implied in eligere and assumere. Inhabitabit is final=w2 inhabited 
The dwelling is not necessarily to be understood as actual living in 
the Temple : it may mean, simply, the consciousness of close fellow 
ship with God. The union of the people with God was, of course, 
best symbolised by the daily service in the Temple. The bona are 
such as come from the union with God typified by the Temple- 

Sanctum est templum, mirabile in czquitate brings together clauses 
which are separated in the Massoretic text. Verses $b-6a run in the 
Hebrew thus : 

We would fain sate ourselves with the good things of Thy House, 

With the holiness of Thy Temple. 
With wondrous deeds of justice Thou hearest us, Thou, our rescuing God. 

Temple, is parallel to House/ and the wondrous ends of 
justice is the beginning of a distinct clause which has no reference 
to the Temple. The Greek translators read, in verse 5, kadosh hekha- 
lekha (holy is Thy Temple), instead of the Massoretic k e dosh hekhalekha 
(the holiness of Thy Temple). Failing to see that nora oth b e sedek 
(with dread deeds in justice) should be read with ta e nenu (thou 
answerest us), the translators read it in apposition to the preceding, 
Thus, in the Latin, the clause mirabile in cequitate, which was originally 
intended as a description of God s way of answering the psalmist s 
prayers, has come to be an epithet applied to the Temple. The Latin 
text, out of all comparison with the Hebrew, would be taken as im 
plying that the Temple is wonderful in justice because of the 
wondrous justice of the Lord. Jerome renders the Hebrew thus : 
Replebimur bonis domus tuce ; sanctificatione templi tui. Terribilis in 
justitia exaudi nos. The Syriac translates : We shall be sated with 
the goodness of Thy House, with the holiness of Thy Temple, and with 
Thy dread justice. Hear us, our rescuing God ! 

God is the object of hope (spes) of the most distant lands ( ends of 
the earth ) and of those in the distant ocean (Hebrew sea of the 
far ones ). The God of Israel is then the hope of all peoples. This 
is very decided universalism. (Instead of sea of the far ones/ 
the Hebrew ought, perhaps, to be made to read, of isles far 

7. The omnipotence of God as Creator. Praparare, establish 
cf. Ps. Ixxxviii. 3 ; (Ixxxviii. 5 ; xxxii. 14.). 

8. The Hebrew reads : Who stills the thundering of the seas, 
the thundering of their waves, and the tumult of the peoples/ For 

240 THE PSALMS [64 

the Massoretic and the tumult (wah a mon} > the Greek translators read 
yeh mun (turbabuntur) . 

Sonus fluctuum=fluctus sonantes. Cf. Mark iv. 40. 

9. The termini are the ends of the earth, i.e. the most distant 
lands. They have heard of the deeds of the Lord in favour of His 

The exitus matutini, et vesper e are the farthest east and west. 
Here begins the description of the Lord s mercy in granting a good 

10. Visitasti, turned with favour towards. Inebriasti, Thou hast 
given the earth to drink of rain. We may infer that there had been 
a drought. 

Multiplicasti locupletare is a Hebrew idiom : Thou hast made it 
(=the earth) rich indeed. 

Thefltimen Dei is the rain, which flows down, as through a canal, 
or in a denned bed, from the upper ocean to the earth. The 
Arabs call the rain God s river. 

Illorum must refer to men (particularly the chosen ones of 

Quoniam ita, etc., the ejus refers to earth, and the phrase seems to 
convey the prosaic sense : for thus is it (i.e. earth s) nature fashioned, 
i.e. it needs rain to be fruitful. For prceparatio cf. verse 7. The 
Hebrew reads : Thou providest their corn when Thou thus preparest 
it (the earth). The Greek translators read Fkhunah (prceparatio) ; 
the Massoretic text reads fkhineha (Thou dost prepare it). The 
reference is to the preparation of the soil of the earth by rain. The 
clause quoniam ita est prczparatio ejus is awkward both in Vulgate 
and Hebrew, and many commentators have proposed to omit it fi om 
the text. Probably, the best way of treating the passage would be 
to read its corn (i.e. the earth s) and to omit quoniam ita, etc. We 
should then have the same text which appears in the translation of 
Symmachus : Thou preparest her (the earth s) corn. The sprouting 
of the corn depends on the coming of the rain. 

11. The ejus here again refers to terra. The rivos are the irrigation 
channels. In the Vulgate it is better to take in stillicidiis ejus with 
multiplied make fruitful its produce with the gentle rains which 
it requires. 

Lcztabitur germinans is an independent clause referring to the 
terra, the soil. Germinans, when it buds, or sprouts, i.e. brings forth 
vegetation. The Hebrew is different : Water her furrows ; level 
her ridges. With gentle rain make her mellow : bless Thou her growth. 
It is not possible to explain all the differences between the Massoretic 
and Vulgate texts in this passage by deducing them from variant 
readings of the same primitive consonantal text. Rivos can, perhaps, 
be equated with t e lamim (furrows) if it is supposed that the furrows 
are the irrigation channels. Rawweh ( water ) means to saturate, 


to drench and is sometimes used in the sense of causing intoxication. 
Hence inebria renders it sufficiently well. 

Multiplied genimina ejus in no wise corresponds to the Hebrew. 

Stillicidiis ejus Icetabitur germinans corresponds to two distinct 
phrases in the Hebrew. Thou makest her mellow appears in the 
Greek and Latin as she rejoices/ Her growth simhah, was read 
by the translators as somehah, while she shoots forth (germinans). 
Thou blessest (or, bless Thou ) appears in the Vulgate as a part 
of the next clause ; Benedices, etc., and while crown is a verb in 
the Hebrew, it is made the object of benedices in the Vulgate. 

12. The Hebrew has : Thou crownest the year of Thy goodness, 
and Thy chariot-tracks trickle with fat. The rain gives sure promise 
of a glad harvest, so that the year deserves already, even in spring 
time, to be called a year of God s goodness. The Hebrew suggests 
the idea that the chariot of God has swept over the land in thunder 
storms with accompanying rains. Wherever His chariot has been 
the earth is full of rich promise. 

In the translation corona anni has been rendered the circling year/ 
But the crown of the year might also be the glory of the flowering 
spring on which God s blessing rests. The well-filled fields are the 
clear token of His blessing. 

Campi tui replebuntur ubertate is very different from the Massoretic, 
Thy chariot tracks trickle with fat/ The Greek rendering (which 
is followed by the Vulgate) seems to be largely conjectural. The 
reference to tracks of God s chariot would not be pleasing to the 
Septuagint translators. The wealth of the fields suggests in general 
the same idea as the fat trickling in the tracks left by the chariot that 
has swept along in the thunderstorms. 

13. Speciosa deserti : the Hebrew has the pastures of the desert/ 
Speciosa is due to a confusion of n e oth ( pastures : singular, now ah) 
and na woth ( beautiful ; plural of na wah). We can understand 
the Speciosa deserti as the beautiful plots of pasturage which suddenly 
appear in the steppe (midbar, is not desert but rather pasture- 
land or place over which cattle are driven ). 

Pinguescent translates a Hebrew word which means trickle/ 
drip ; it suggests the rich abundance of verdure produced by the 

Exultatione colles accingentur : a very poetic reference to the 
glory of spring-time as seen on the flower-decked hillsides. The 
hillsides are laughing with flowers. 

14. The poet sees the flocks and herds beginning to sport over 
the smiling pastures. For arietes the Hebrew has karim ( pastures ) : 
the pastures are clothed with sheep/ The Targum agrees with 
Greek and Latin in reading rams/ The Latin can be explained as 
referring to the thick fleeces (induti) of the well-fed rams. It has 
been suggested that karim (pastures) ought to be emended into 


242 THE PSALMS [64 

harim (mountains). We should then have the contrast ; the moun 
tains) are covered with sheep, the valleys are filled with corn. 

Valles abundabunt, etc. : as the pastures (or hills) have their 
adornment of sheep, so the valleys have their carpet of young 

Clamabunt, etc. The subjects of the verbs clamabunt and dicent 
are the hills and valleys just described. In all their beauty of flowering 
teeming springtime hills and valleys vie with each other in shout of 
joy and song of praise to God, who has given the fertilising rain. 




THIS psalm consists of two clearly distinguished parts. The 
first (verses 1-12) is an invitation, addressed by different 
bodies of singers to all peoples, to sing the praises of the 
God of Israel. The first group of singers calls on the peoples 
(verses 1-4) to join in the chorus of God s praise because of the great 
ness of His deeds. A second group of singers summons the nations 
(verses 5-7) to behold the special deeds of wonder which God has 
wrought for Israel ; and a third group calls on the peoples (verses 
8-12) to thank the God of Israel for His mercies towards His people. 
The second part of the psalm (verses 13-20) is the song of an individual 
who tells the pious of Israel of God s favours and mercies towards 
himself, and of his vow to offer to the Lord a service of thanksgiving. 
There is no need to suppose that we have in the psalm the fusion of 
two originally distinct poems. The first part, dealing with God s 
goodness to the nation of Israel, serves as a fitting introduction to 
the second which describes God s mercy towards the individual singer. 
The psalm was apparently composed for liturgical use. It formed a 
portion of the thanksgiving service which the psalmist (and possibly 
his friends) had vowed to the Lord for help in some time of need. 

The date of the psalm cannot be determined. The Vulgate 
superscription Canticum psalmi resurrectionis is useless for purposes 
of dating. Psalm of uprising conveys no definite reference. 
Theodoret regarded it as implying that the psalm was composed to 
celebrate the safe return of the exiles from Babylon the return 
being a sort of resurrection (cf. Roms. xi. 15). But probably, the 
idea of a resurrection is due entirely to verse 9 of the psalm. The 
title in the Massoretic text does not contain anything corresponding 
to resurrectionis. It may be inferred from the psalm that the ritual 
of the Temple is still being carried on, so that the poem may be 
assigned to the monarchical period. 

1. In fmem, Canticum Psalmi i. For the choir-leader. . . . 

(The choir) 
Jubilate Deo omnis terra, Rejoice unto God all the earth f 

2. Psalmum dicite nomini 2. Sing a song of praise to His Name ; 
jus : date gloriam laudi ejus. Make glorious the song of His praise ! 





3. Dicite Deo, quam terribilia 
sunt opera tua Domine ! in 
multitudine virtutis tuae menti- 
entur tibi inimici tui. 

4. Omnis terra adoret te, et 

psallat tibi 
nomini tuo. 

psalmum dicat 

5. Venite, et videte opera 
Dei : terribilis in consiliis super 
filios hominum. 

6. Qui convertit mare in ari- 
dam, in flumine pertransibunt 
pede : ibi laetabimur in ipso. 

7. Qui dominatur in virtute 
sua in aeternum, oculi ejus super 
Gentes respiciunt : qui exaspe- 
rant non exaltentur in semetip- 

Say unto God ; How majestic are Thy 

works, O Lord ! 
Because of the greatness of Thy power 

all Thy foes pay Thee homage. 
Let all the earth adore Thee ; 

Let it sing praise to Thy Name ! 

(One half of the choir) 
Come hither and behold the works of God. 
Wonderful is He in His plans for the 

sons of men. 
The sea He changed into dry land, 

Men passed dry-shod through the river. 
Then did we rejoice in Him. 
He ruleth by His power for ever ; 
His eyes look out on the peoples. 
They who embitter Him shall not exalt 

8. Benedicite Gentes Deum 
nostrum : et auditam facite vo- 
cem laudis ejus. 

9. Qui posuit animam meam 
ad vitam : et non dedit in com- 
motionem pedes meos. 

10. Quoniam probasti nos 
Deus : igne nos examinasti, 
sicut examinatur argentum. 

11. Induxisti nos in laqueum, 
posuisti tribulationes in dorso 
nostro : imposuisti homines su 
per capita nostra. 

Transivimus per ignem et 
aquam : et eduxisti nos in re- 

(The other half of choir) 

8. Praise, O ye nations, our God ; 

Let the song of His praise resound ! 

9. He hath given me life again ; 

He hath not permitted my feet to 


10. For Thou, O God, hast put us to the test. 
With fire Thou hast tried us, 
As silver is tried. 
n. Thou didst lead us into a snare ; 

Thou didst load us with sorrow. 
12. Thou didst make men to march over our 

heads ; 

Through fire and water we did pass ; 
But Thou didst lead us forth to con 

13. Introibo in domum tuam 
in holocaustis : reddam tibi vota 

14. Quae distinxerunt labia 

Et locutum est os meum, in 
tribulatione mea. 

15. Holocausta medullata of- 
feram tibi cum incenso arietum : 
offeram tibi boves cum hircis. 

(A soloist) 

13.1 enter Thy House with burnt offerings ; 
I will pay Thee my vows 

14. Which my lips promised, 

And my mouth spoke in my grief. 

15. Fat burnt offerings I will present to Thee, 
With the smoke of sacrificial rams. 
I will offer Thee oxen and goats. 

1 6. Venite, audite, et narrabo, 
omnes qui timetis Deum, quanta 
fecit animae meae. 

17. Ad ipsum ore meo cla- 
mavi, et exaltavi sub lingua 

1 8. Iniquitatem si aspexi in 
corde meo, non exaudiet Do- 

1 6. Come hither until I tell 

All ye who fear God 

What He hath done for my soul. 

17. I pray to Him with my mouth, 

And extol Him with my tongue. 

1 8. If I perceived sin in my heart. 

The Lord would not grant a hearing. 


19. Propterea exaudivit De- 19. Therefore God heareth, 

us, et attendit voci deprecationis And giveth heed to my words of pe- 

meae. tition. 

20. Benedictus Deus, qui non 20. Blessed be God who hath not rejected my 
amovit orationem meam, et prayer, 

misericordiam suam a me. Nor refused His kindness to me. 

1. Canticum Psalmi Hebrew ; a song, a psalm. Read in 
Vulgate psalmus. 

Resurrectionis. It is wanting in Hebrew. It might mean Psalm 
of Uprising with reference, perhaps, to the preparations of the 
Exiles to leave Babylon for Palestine, or Psalm of making to arise/ 
i.e. Psalm of summoning. But we have no means of determining 
the origin of avcurrao-ews in the Greek title of this psalm. It was 
absent from the Hexapkr text of the Septuagint. 

2. Date gloriam laudi. Laus is the song of praise ; this is to be 
made splendid, worthy of God. Hebrew : Make glorious the song 
of His praise ! 

3. Mentientur, flatter/ pay court to/ Cf. Ps. xvii. 45. Filii 
alieni mentiti sunt. 

In multitudine, because of the greatness. The construction is 
the familiar Hebrew construction with abstract noun in construct 
state, instead of the noun and adjective. The sense is : because of 
Thy great power/ 

5. In consiliis ; Hebrew : Dreadful in His dealings ; the 
plans are the inner side of the dealings/ 

Super, in regard to/ towards/ 

6. Reference to the Exodus. The people of the present feel 
themselves one with the Israelites who felt the thrills of marching 
dry-footed through the Red Sea and across the Jordan bed (cf. Exod. 
xv. n). 

Ibi, when such things happened (local and temporal). 
In ipso is most simply understood as referring to God. 

7. God is omnipotent, and cares for the people. 

Qui exasperant, etc. The Vulgate, as it stands, means that the 
enemies of God will not be exalted because of themselves, i.e. because 
of their own guilt. The sense of the Hebrew ( Let not the rebels 
vaunt themselves ) is that they will be unable to exalt themselves. 

8. Another invitation, probably sung by another choir, to praise 
God and thank Him because He has rescued the people from sorrow. 
The verses 8-12 are sung in the name of the people, and not in the 
name of an individual. 

9. The nations are invited to thank the Lord for His rescue of 
Israel. The psalmist thus claims that Israel holds a central place 
in the world s history. This implies, indirectly at least, the Messianic 

246 THE PSALMS [65 

outlook. The nations would receive the Messianic blessings through 
Israel, and would therefore praise the Lord for His mercies to Israel. 
Cf. Jer. xxxi. 10. 

Commotio = stumbling . 

10-12. The nation has been tested and purified in the crucible of 

11. The laqueus may mean prison ; but actual imprisonment 
may not be meant (cf. Isaias xliv. 22). To posuisti tribulationes in 
dorso nostro corresponds the Hebrew : Thou hast put tribulation 
on our loins/ This might mean (as the Targum has it) Thou hast 
put chains on our loins ; but as the loins were regarded as the 
seat of pain, it may be correct to take tribulation in the literal 

12. They had been completely defeated in war. Putting the foot 
on the head of the conquered was a symbol of complete conquest. 
cf. Isaias li. 23 : Yahweh gives the cup of reeling (Ps. lix. 5) to 
those who said to Israel : Bow down that we may pass o er ! 
And thou madest thy back like the earth, a street for wayfarers. (See 
Jos. x. 24 ; Judges viii. 7 ; Amos i. 3 ; Ps. cxxviii. 3.) 

The fire and water symbolise the great perils through which Israel 
has passed. Refrigerium literally, cooling, i.e. sense of relief. The 
Hebrew reads unto abundance (^wayah) ; the Greek translators 
read ^wahah (respite, relief). 

13. The individual and his friends give thanks for God s saving 
help. These verses are sung by a single singer. 

14. Distinxerunt : Jerome translates : qua promiserunt. The 
Hebrew verb suggests that the promise was made with great agitation 
in the very moment of peril. Distinxerunt is intended to express 
set forth clearly. 

15. The incensum is the fragrant smoke of the sacrifice, the smell, 
that is, of the burning flesh, and not the scent of incense. It is 
interesting to note that offeram is used to translate the Hebrew and 
Greek verb make. Obviously the verb has both in Greek and 
Hebrew the meaning sacrifice. Cf. I Cor. xi. 25. 

17. The Hebrew of this verse suggests that in the very moment 
when the singer called for help he was ready to sing his song of thanks 
giving. The sub lingua goes back to the Hebrew. It is usually 
explained as meaning that the praise was kept ready for utterance. 
But the expression is strange. The Syriac has : I exalted Him with 
my tongue which represents, probably, the original reading. 

18. A general statement (cf. John ix. 31). 

19. Propterea may mean, perhaps, and yet ; the implication 
being that the psalmist has no real consciousness cf guilt. The 
Hebrew has akhen, yet/ 

20. The Lord is thanked for two things : He has enabled the 
psalmist to pray in time of need, and He has heard his prayer. 




HIS psalm is based on the Priestly Blessing in Numbers vi. 24- 
26 the blessing with which the priests were wont to bless 
the people gathered for worship in the Temple. The Aaronic 
Blessing in Numbers vi. runs thus : 

May Yahweh bless thee and keep thee ! 
May Yahweh make His face to shine upon thee ! 
May Yahweh lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace ! 

It wishes to Israel, and to each individual Israelite, the care and pro 
tecting presence of God, and the sense of peace which comes from 
friendship with God. In many ways Yahweh could reveal His love 
for His people, and His protecting presence in their midst ; but no 
revelation of His love and presence could be more obvious to the 
popular mind than that contained in the blessings of a bounteous 
harvest. The psalm is a song of thanksgiving for harvest joys. At a 
harvest festival whether Pasch, Pentecost or Tabernacles the words 
of the Aaronic Blessing are thought of as echoed by the multitude, 
and expanded into a song such as we have here. The Lord has, 
indeed, been gracious, and therein lies a token that He will be gracious 
again. The blessing which Yahweh has granted to Israel is a blessing 
for the heathens also. They will learn thereby what a mighty and 
what a loving God Yahweh is, and thus, they, too, will be led to know 
and praise Him. Thus, in the psalm, the natural blessings of harvest 
are typical of the greater blessings which the Gentiles will enjoy in 
common with Israel in the Messianic time. 

There is no clear indication of date in the Hebrew text of the psalm. 
The superscription in the Vulgate (following the Greek) ascribes it, 
in the usual way, to David. It is clear that the psalm is liturgical in 
character. It is not connected, as far as can be seen, with any 
definite occasion, and it was, no doubt, used, in a purely formal way, 
at all kinds of harvest festivals. Modern criticism regards it as post- 
exilic chiefly because of its universalism. 

1. In finem, in hymnis, Psal- i. For the choir-leader. A psalm ; a song 
mus Cantici David. of David. 

2. Deus misereatur nostri, et 2. May God be gracious to us and bless us ! 
benedicat nobis : illuminet vul- May He make His face to shine upon us, 
turn suum super nos, et miserea- And be gracious to us. 

tur nostri. 


248 THE PSALMS [66 

3. Ut cognoscamus in terra 3. That we may know on earth His way, 
viam tuam : in omnibus Genti- Among all peoples Thy help. 

bus salutare tuum. 

4. Confiteantur tibi populi 4 . Let the peoples praise Thee, O God ! 
Deus : confiteantur tibi populi Let all the peoples praise Thee ! 

5. Laetentur et exsultent 5. Let the nations be glad and rejoice ! 
Gentes : quoniam judicas po- For Thou judgest the peoples fairly, 
pulos in aequitate, et Gentes in And guidest the peoples on earth, 
terra dirigis. 

6. Confiteantur tibi populi 6. Let the peoples praise Thee, O God ! 
Deus, confiteantur tibi populi I-et all the peoples praise Thee ! 
omnes : 

7. Terra dedit fructum suum. 7. The earth hath given its fruit. 

8. Benedicat nos Deus, Deus 8. May God our God bless us ! 
noster, benedicat nos Deus : et May God bless us ; 

metuant eum omnes fines terrae. And let all the ends of the earth fear 


1. The Hebrew superscription has no reference to David. It 
runs : For the choir-leader of the n e ginoth group of singers, a psalm- 
song. That n e ginoth is the name of a group of singers, and does not 
mean on stringed instruments, is, of course, only a conjecture. It 
is represented by the Vulgate hymnis. Psalmus cantici represents 
the Hebrew mizmor shir, which, if it means anything, must mean a 
song (shir) which is a psalm (mizmor), i.e. a psalm-song. Psalmus 
cantici reproduces the mere words of the Hebrew. The Septuagint 
has ^PaAjuos T(f Aauei 8, apparently reading shir as if it were FDawid, 
by David. It is thus, probably, that the ascription to David has 
crept into the title of the Vulgate, even though the latter reproduces 
the full Massoretic phrase, mizmor shir. The Vulgate has Psalmus 
cantici in the titles of Ps. xxix, xlvii, Ixvi, Ixvii, Ixxiv, Ixxxvi, xci. 
Canticum p salmi occurs in the titles of Ps. Ixv, Ixxxii, Ixxxvii, cvii. 

Even conservative Catholic scholars like Schegg admit that this 
psalm need not be regarded as Davidic. 

2. Cf. for the same thought, Ps. xxxiii. 6 ; iv. 7 ; xxvi. I ; xxx. 17 ; 
xxxv. 10. 

3. Thy way may be such conduct as Thou dost prescribe/ 
or (better), Thy way of dealing with men. The psalmist prays that 
God s methods, and particularly God s deeds of rescue for Israel, 
may become universally known. Ecclesiasticus xxxvi. 18 is a close 
parallel. Hear, O Lord, the petition of Thy servants, according to 
the blessing of Aaron over Thy people, and let all who dwell on the 
earth know that Thou art the Lord, the God of the ages. Instead of 
cognoscamus the Hebrew has : that Thy way may be known on 
earth, so that there is perfect parallelism with the second phrase, 
and among all the nations Thy rescuing help. This is very strong 


5. The judging is God s rule of the world. It is so just, and 
fair, that the heathens also should rejoice in it. There is no direct 
reference to the Last Judgment. 

7, 8. The occasion of the hymn is here clearly indicated. The 
psalmist prays that the blessing of God, given in the abundant harvest, 
may be continued and increased. Commentators usually point out 
that rich harvests and fertility of soil belong to the Messianic outlook 
in the prophets. 4 It is possible that in this harvest song, in which all 
nations are invited to thank God for His blessings, there may be some 
suggestion of the Messianic hope. The blessing of God, and the 
universal homage of the nations are put together in verse 8 in such a 
way as to remind one inevitably of the blessing in which, according 
to the ancient promise, all the peoples of the world were to share 
the blessing of the Messianic kingdom. 1 

1 With the Messianic implications of terra dedit fructum suum cf. Isaias iv. 2 : 
On that day the Shoot of Yahweh (germen Domini] shall be beautiful and 
glorious, and the fruit of the land (iructus tew a) majestic and splendid for the 
rescued of Israel (cf. Is. Ixi. n). See also Jer. xxiii. 5 : 
Behold, days are coming, declareth Yahweh, 

When I shall raise up for David a righteous Shoot 
A king who will rule with wisdom, 

Who shall exercise justice and right in the land. 

Jer. xxxiii. 15 : 

In those days, in that time, 

I will make to shoot forth for David a Shoot of justice, 
And he shall exercise justice and right in the land. 

Here in Jeremias the term shoot, or growth (semah), which in Isaias iv. 2 
has a more general sense, is a designation of the Messias. In Zach. iii. 8 ; vi. 12, 
the word appears quite clearly as a title of the Messias. In the Vulgate text of 
Zach. iii. 8 ; vi. 12 Semah is rendered oviens, which reminds us of the Oriens ex 
alto of the Benedictus (Luke i. 78). 



THIS difficult psalm begins with a description of God s power 
over His foes (verses 2-4) the main theme of the poem. 
The poet goes on in verses 5-7 to exhort his hearers to sing 
praise to the Lord as the great God of heaven, and as the 
kind Friend and Protector of His people, Israel. With verse 8 begins 
the first chief section of the poem proper (verses 2-7 being a sort of 
introduction). This first section extends to verse 19. It deals with 
the glories of Israel s past, with the Exodus and the wonderful pro 
tection given by the Lord to His people during their desert-wanderings, 
and with the settlement in Palestine (8-n). It goes on (in verses 12- 
15) to tell of the glory of ancient battles fought for possession of the 
Promised Land, giving snatches of old heroic poems like the song of 
Deborah and others which we cannot identify ; and in verses 16-19 
it celebrates the enthronement of the Lord on Sion. With Sion, the 
dwelling-place of the Lord of Hosts, no other mountain sanctuary 
can vie. 

With verse 20 begins the second main section of the poem. Still, 
as in ancient days, the Lord protects His people. From Him all 
help and vengeance against Israel s foes must come (20-24). The 
psalmist then gives a picture of a solemn thanksgiving procession a 
procession which commemorates some victory of which we have no 
further record. Choirs of singers followed by zither-players, and sur 
rounded by maidens who beat tambourines, are made to pass before 
us. Of the tribes represented in the procession, Benjamin and Juda, 
Zabulon and Naphthali are specially mentioned possibly because 
they had had a special share in bringing about the victory, (or other 
event) which is being commemorated. In verses 29-32 the Lord is 
besought to establish in truth His world-power, His universal empire, 
and to destroy the proud nations that long for war. Let Him make 
Jerusalem the shrine to which all the nations will come hurrying with 
their gifts ! In the final strophe (33-36) the poet sees in spirit the 
great ones of earth coming to do homage in Jerusalem : he calls on 
them to join in singing praise to the Lord, the Saviour of Israel. 
The central thought of the psalm is that of the protecting presence 
of Yahweh. The poem contains several reminiscences of early 
Hebrew poetry, but some of these are, unfortunately, very obscure. 
The general tone of the psalm is one of victory. Some great event 





must recently have happened to make Israel confident that all the 
promises of the Lord would be fulfilled. But what that event was 
we do not know. Traditional exegesis, for the most part, looks on 
the psalm as a hymn composed for the ceremony of transferring the 
Ark to Sion. Modern critical opinions on the origin and date of the 
psalm differ very widely. 

i. In finem Psalmus Cantici, 
ipsi David. 

2. Exsurgat Deus, et dissi- 
pentur inimici ejus, et fugiant 
qui oderunt eum, a facie ejus. 

3. Sicut deficit fumus, defi- 
ciant : sicut fluit cera a facie 
ignis, sic pereant peccatores a 
facie Dei. 

4. Et justi epulentur, et ex- 
sultent in conspectu Dei : et 
delectentur in Isetitia. 

1. For the choir. A psalm of David. (A 


(Introduction, 2-7) 

2. Let God arise, and let His foes be scat 

tered ; 

And let those that hate Him flee from 
before Him. 

3. As smoke vanisheth, let them vanish ; 

As wax melteth before fire, 
So let sinners perish before the face of 

4. But let the just rejoice and be glad before 

And exult with exceeding joy ! 

5. Cantate Deo, psalmum di- 
cite nomini ejus : iter facite ei, 
qui ascendit super occasum : 
Dominus nomen illi. 

Exsultate in conspectu ejus : 
turbabuntur a facie ejus, 

6. Patris orphanorum, et ju- 
dicis viduarum. 

Deus in loco sancto suo : 

7. Deus qui inhabitare facit 
tmius moris in domo : 

Qui educit vinctos in fortitu- 
dine, similiter eos qui exaspe- 
rant, qui habitant in sepulchris. 

8. Deus, cum egredereris in 
conspectu populi tui, cum per- 
transires in deserto : 

9. Terra mota est, etenim 
cceli distillaverunt a facie Dei 
Sinai, a facie Dei Israel. 

10. Pluviam voluntariam se- 
gregabis Deus haereditati tuae : 
et infirm ata est, tu vero per- 
fecisti earn. 

5. Sing unto God ; chant a hymn of praise 

to His name. 
Prepare the way for Him who ad- 

vanceth towards the west ! 
The Lord is His name ; 
Rejoice before Him ! 
There is tumult (of gladness) when He 


6. The Father of orphans, the Advocate of 

widows ; 
God in His Holy Place ! 

7. God ! who maketh the steadfast dwell in 

(His) House, 
Who leadeth forth prisoners cast into 

bondage by might (not right), 
And those also who embitter Him, 

who dwell in tombs. 

First main section, 8-19. The glories of 
Israel s ancient history. 

(8-1 1 The Exodus and the entrance into 

8. God, when Thou didst march forth in the 

sight of Thy people ; 
When Thou didst traverse the wilder 

9. The earth shook, and the heavens poured 

themselves forth, 
Before the God of Sinai, 
Before the God of Israel. 
10. Gracious rain Thou didst grant to Thy 

And when it languished Thou didst 

restore it. 



ii. Animalia tua habitabunt 
in ea : parasti in dulcedine tua 
pauperi Deus. 

Thy hosts do dwell therein ; 

Thou makest provision for the poor in 
Thy goodness, O God ! 

12. Dominus dabit verbum 
evangelizantibus, virtute multa. 

13. Rex virtutum dilecti di- 
lecti : et speciei domus dividere 

14. Si dormiatis inter medios 
cleros, pennae columbae deargen- 
tatae, et posteriora dorsi ejus in 
pall ore auri. 

15. Dum discernit coelestis 
reges super earn, nive dealba- 
buntur in Selmon : 

(12-15 The battles for Palestine in the 
days of the Conquest.) 

12. The Lord doth give the message (of 

To them that proclaim glad tidings, a 

goodly throng. 
13. The King of the battle-hosts of the much 


(Giveth) to the fair one of the house to 
distribute the booty. 

14. WTien ye rest amid your allotted spoil, 

(It is like) the silver wings of a dove 
Whose back is adorned with green- 
shimmering gold. 

15. When the Heavenly One scattereth the 

kings of the land, 
White like the snow are they in Selmon. 

1 6. Mons Dei, mons pinguis. 
Mons coagulatus, mons pin 
guis : 

17. Ut quid suspicamini mon- 
tes coagulates ? 

Mons, in quo beneplacitum. 
est Deo habitare in eo : etenim 
Dominus habitabit in finem. 

1 8. Currus Dei decem millibus 
multiplex, millia laetantium : 
Dominus in eis in Sina in sancto. 

19. Ascendisti in altum, ce- 
pisti captivitatem : accepisti 
dona in hominibus : 

Etenim non credentes, in- 
habitare Dominum Deum. 

(16-19 The glory of Sion as God s 
dwelling-place, and the goal of His tri 
umphal processions.) 

16. The Mountain of God ! 

A fertile mountain ! 
A fruitful mountain ! 
A fertile mountain ! 

17. Why look ye askance on the fruitful hills ? 

This is the mountain on which it is 

God s pleasure to dwell. 
Yea ! God dwelleth there for ever ! 

1 8. The chariots of God are ten thousand in 


Thousands of men rejoicing (are here) ! 
The Lord is among them on Sinai, in 

the Sanctuary. 

19. Thou ascendest on high ; captives Thou 

bringest with Thee. 
Thou receivest men as gifts 
Even those who believed not that the 

Lord dwelleth here ! 

20. Benedictus Dominus die 
quotidie : prosperum iter faciet 
nobis Deus salutarium nostro- 

21. Deus noster, Deus salvos 
faciendi : et Domini Domini 
exitus mortis. 

Second main section 20-36. 
(20-24 God still fights Israel s battles 
as in the ancient days.) 

20. Praised be the Lord day by day ! 

May our rescuing God prepare for us a 
prosperous way ! 

21. Our God is a God of help, 

And to the Lord yea to the Lord 
belong the means of escape from 



2 53 

22. Verumtamen Deus con- 
fringet capita inimicorum suo- 
rum : verticem capilli peram- 
bulantium in delictis suis. 

23. Dixit Dominus : Ex Ba- 
san convertam, convertam in 
profundum maris : 

24. Ut intingatur pes tuus in 
sanguine : lingua canum tuorum 
ex inimicis, ab ipsq,. 

25. Videnlnt ingressus tuos 
Deus, ingressus Dei mei : regis 
mei qui est in sancto. 

26. Praevenerunt principes 
conjuncti psallentibus, in medio 
juvencularum tympanistriarum. 

27. In ecclesiis benedicite 
Deo Domino, de fontibus Israel. 

28. Ibi Benjamin adolescen- 
tulus, in mentis excessu. 

Principes Juda, duces eorum : 
principes Zabulon, principes 

29. Manda Deus virtuti tuae : 
confirma hoc Deus, quod opera- 
tus es in nobis. 

30. A templo tuo in Jerusa 
lem, tibi efferent reges munera. 

31. Increpa feras arundinis, 
congregatio taurorum in vaccis 
populorum : ut excludant eos, 
qui probati sunt argento. 

Dissipa Gentes, quae bella 
volunt : 

32. Venient legati ex ^Egypto: 
^Ethiopia praeveniet manus ejus 

33. Regna terra?, cantate Deo: 
psallite Domino. 

Psallite Deo, 

34. Qui ascendit super caelum 
cash, ad Orientem. 

Ecce dabit voci suae vocem 
virtu tis. 

35. Date gloriam Deo super 
Israel, magnificentia ejus, et 
virtus ejus in nubibus. 

22. Verily God shattereth the heads of His 


The rough scalp of those who walk in 
their sins. 

23. The Lord said : From Basan will I bring 

(them) back 

Even from the depths of the Sea will 
I bring (them) back. 

24. So that thy foot may be bathed in blood, 

And the tongue of thy dogs in that [the 
blood] of the foes. 

(25-28 A procession of victory to Sion.) 

25. One sees Thy procession, O God ! 

The procession of my God, my King, 
in the Sanctuary ! 

26. First come the leaders with the zither- 


In the midst of the maidens who beat 
the tabrets. 

27. In the gathering, give ye praise to God 

And praise the Lord, O ye of the well- 
spring of Israel. 

28. There is Benjamin, the youngest ! 

Swept along by enthusiasm f 
The princes of Juda are their leaders, 
The princes of Zabulon, 
The princes of Naphthali. 

(29-32 God is asked to make Sion the 
centre of His world-rule.) 

29. Send forth Thy power, O God ; 

Make lasting what Thou hast wrought 
in us 

30. From out Thy holy Temple in Jerusa 

lem ! 
To Thee shall kings bring gifts. 

31. Rebuke the wild beasts of the reeds. 

There is a gathering of bulls with the 
cows of the peoples 

To reject those who would guard them 
selves by silver. 
Scatter the nations whose joy is in war. 

32. Ambassadors will yet come from Egypt ! 

Ethiopia will stretch out eager hands 
to God ! 

(33-3 6 The psalmist sees prophetically 
the thronging of the nations towards Sion.) 

33. Ye kingdoms of earth, sing unto God ! 

Hymn unto the Lord ; hymn unto God, 

34. Who advanceth eastwards over the 

highest heavens ! 

Behold ! He maketh His voice mightily 
to resound. 

35. Give honour to the God of Israel ! 

His splendour and His power are en 
throned in the clouds. 

254 THE PSALMS [67 

36. Mirabilis Deus in sanctis 36. Wondrous is the Lord in His sanctuary, 

suis, Deus Israel ipse dabit vir- The God of Israel who giveth strength 

tutem, et fortitudinem plebi and might to His people ! 
suae, benedictus Deus. 

Blessed be God ! 

2. When the Lord arises, the enemies fly. When the Ark was 
taken up to be carried on a march Moses used to say : " Arise, O 
Lord, and let Thy enemies be scattered, and let them who hate Thee 
fly from before Thy face " (Numbers x. 35). Hence many (ommen- 
tators connect this psalm with the transference of the Ark to Sion. 

3. The " sinners " are the enemies of verse 2. They are the 
heathen foes of Israel. 

4. The " just " are the Israelites. 

5. Her facite, make a causeway. The Israelites are to build a 
causeway, as it were, of prayer and praise for the onward march of 
their God. The march is super occasum to the west. The Hebrew 
reads : " Make a path for Him who fares through the deserts." The 
reference is primarily to the desert marches prior to the settlement 
in Palestine. The final stages of those marches which were, of course, 
led by God, were towards the west. 

The Hebrew is different : 

Make a highway for Him that rides thro* the deserts ! 
Yah is His name, exult ye before Him. 

The Hebrew rokhebh ba a rabhoth, He that rides through the 
deserts is the God who led Israel through several deserts on the way 
from Egypt to Palestine (the plural deserts does not necessarily imply, 
as some critics think, that there is here a reference to the bringing 
back of the Exiles from Babylon). The Hebrew word *rabhah 
(desert, steppe) has the same consonants in its root ( r b) as the 
Hebrew word for west (ma a rabhah). Hence the rendering occasus. 

Dominus nomen ille represents the Hebrew, Yah, is His name. 
Yah is a popular and poetic form of the name Yahweh. It is rarely 
used except as a constituent of proper names (such as Ahiyah, etc.). 
For the psalmist the name Yahweh or Yah suggests the protecting 
presence of his God. Yah suggests also the situation described in 
Exod. xv. 2, where the short form of the divine name first occurs. 

Turbabuntur, etc., may refer to the holy joy and pleasant excite 
ment caused by the coming of the Lord. This phrase has nothing 
corresponding to it in the Hebrew. It is an inexact doublet of the 
preceding, exultate, etc. 

6. Patris in opposition to ejus of verse 5. God is not merely a 
God of right, but also a God of mercy and pity. The holy place 
(Hebrew : holy dwelling ) may be heaven, or the Sanctuary on Sion. 


7. Qui inhabilare facit, etc. The unius moris may be those who 
are firm, steadfast, constant (of one disposition) in the service of God. 
Such as these God firmly and securely establishes in His House, i.e. 
under the protection of His House, in Jerusalem. 

God rescues captives who have been cast into bonds not fairly, 
but by mere right of force (in fortitudine). Possibly we should take 
in fortitudine as, in fortitudinem, unto prosperity. Who leadeth 
forth prisoners unto prosperity ; Hebrew kosharoth means comfort 
or prosperity. The word may have had in Aramaic the meaning 

The Lord (according to the Vulgate) sets free those also who 
have embittered or provoked Him, those who dwell in tombs. It 
has been held that this dwelling in tombs was some special kind of 
offence against God, such as is referred to in Isaias Ixv. 4 spending 
the night in tombs in the hope of receiving oracles from the dead. 
The Vulgate need not, however, be thus explained. In the Hebrew 
verse 7 might be rendered : " Yahweh bringeth home again the lonely 
ones ; He bringeth captives forth unto prosperity. It is only the 
rebellious ones who dwell in the parched land." This seems to be 
said of the mercy of God shown to Israel when God led the people 
from the bondage of Egypt to the prosperity of Palestine. The 
rebels (i.e. either the faithless Israelites, or the heathen enemies of 
Israel) were left in a land that, in contrast with Palestine, could be 
called parched and arid (cf. Ps. Ixii. 2). 

Unius moris renders the Hebrew y e hidim, solitary ones/ lonely 
ones. The Vulgate (which here follows the Greek) suggests qualities 
of temperament and character, while the Hebrew word speaks merely 
of the loneliness of those referred to. Unius moris ought to mean, 
of simple or consistent, and therefore, steadfast character. The 
Hebrew refers apparently to Israelites whom God has brought home 
from prison or exile. It would be better to read in Hebrew meshibh, 
who bringeth back, than the Massoretic moshibh, who maketh to 

Similiter . . . sepulchris is apparently partly a paraphrase, and 
partly a mistranslation of the Hebrew. The Massoretic text says : 
Only the rebels dwell in an arid (land). The Hebrew akh only 
was taken as = <5s (O/AOMOS) : whence the Vulgate similiter; sofrim 
(rebels) is rendered qui exasperant. There is no linguistic connection 
between s kihah (a parched, cheerless waste) and in sepulchris. 1 The 
Vulgate is obviously only a paraphrase here. Tombs would be 
cheerless places to dwell in ; and the Greek translators of the 
psalms may have been accustomed to see rock-tombs near Jerusalem 

1 It is possible that the Septuagint translators had before them a Hebrew 
text which read s e rihim (underground chambers) instead of s e hihah. This is, 
however, very unlikely. 

256 THE PSALMS [67 

used as dwellings by the lowest and poorest classes of the people. 
While the Massoretic text, then, as it stands, represents the enemies 
of God as being forced to dwell in arid and cheerless places, the Vul 
gate says that even those who dwell in the cheerlessness of tombs, 
will, in spite of their sins, be led forth to freedom and comfort by the 

It must be said, however, that by a slight change of the Massoretic 
text, reading aph, instead of akh, we could understand the Hebrew 
also to mean that even rebels who had dwelt in a cheerless place 
were led by God to comfort. The rebels in this view, would be 
in apposition to the prisoners of the preceding clause. 

8, 9. These verses are from the Song of Deborah (Judges v. 4) : 
they refer to the coming forth of the Lord from Sinai to help Israel 
in her battles with the northern kings. The Blessing of Moses 
in Deut. xxxiii. also makes Yahweh come forth from Sinai. The 
scene of the great Theophany would naturally be taken as a chief 
dwelling-place of the Lord. It was at Sinai that Israel was formally 
constituted as a nation ; and the Lord of Sinai thus came to be re 
garded, in the heroic poetry of Israel, as moving forth from Sinai tc 
help Israel in her battles for freedom and life. The Lord comes forth 
with earthquake, thunder and rain-storm (cf. Ps. xvii. 11-17). 

Distillavenint refers to the rain-storm. 

A facie Dei Sinai is a paraphrase of a difficult Hebrew text. The 
Hebrew does not read the God of Sinai but God, this Sinai/ which, 
apparently, was taken by the Greek translators to mean God, the 
One of Sinai/ What follows in the Hebrew is not a facie Dei Israel, 
but a facie Dei, Dei Israel, which, obviously, points to an earlier 
reading, before Yahweh, the God of Israel/ Elohim (God) has 
often, as here, been substituted in the Hebrew text for Yahweh (the 
personal name of the God of Israel). 

10. Pluviam voluntariam. The fearful rain of the thunder-storm 
leads to the thought of rich fertilising rain for the soil. Voluntaria 
means freely given, generous. Some commentators explain the 
rain as the manna and the quails given wondrously by God to Israel 
when the people were suffering from want of food (infirmata) . Others 
understand the generous rains given to the soil of Palestine to make 
it a fit dwelling place for the people of God (cf. Deut. xi. 10;.). In 
this view the haeredilas would be Canaan rather than the Israelite 
people. The soil was poor before Israel settled there. Afterwards 
it became fertile so that Palestine was described as a land flowing 
with milk and honey/ The Greek translators read haereditas with 
segregabis. It should be read, as an accusative, with perfecisti. 

11. The animalia seem to be the Israelite host. The Hebrew 
word corresponding haiyah means tent then, (derivatively) tribe, 
family, throng. The Greek translators read haiyolh (wild beasts, 
living things), instead of haiyath (construct of haiyah). 


Parasti . . . pauper i. With parasti we must supply an object 
such as cibum. This is merely a general rule of God s kindly Provi 
dence (dulcedo). The Israelite nation before it settled quietly in 
Canaan might be well styled pauper. 

12. From here to verse 15 we have snatches from old battle-songs 
of the people. 

The word seems to be the song of triumph in verses 13-15 
(quoted partly from the Song of Deborah). 

The evangelizantes seem to be (according to the Hebrew) a choir 
of singers who chant the song of triumph. The singers (probably 
maidens) are many in number (virtute multa). The Hebrew says : 
Of messengers of victory great is the host. The Vulgate virtute 
multa taken by itself would refer more naturally to the vigour of the 
singers chant, than to the size of the choir. The Hebrew of verse 12 
reads : The Lord spoke the tidings [of victory], and great was the 
host of those that proclaimed it. 

13. Rex virtutum, etc. The Hebrew has : kings of armies flee ; 
they flee ; and the fair one of the house divideth the spoil. These 
words are the message which the heralds of victory announce. We 
have here again an echo of that part of the Song of Deborah (Judges v. 
30), which describes the women as receiving garments of many colours 
as their share of the war-booty. The kings of the Massoretic text 
are either the kings of North Palestine, whose defeat is described in 
the Song of Deborah, or, in general, the various combinations of 
Palestinian kings defeated by Joshua. 

The Greek translators read, apparently, instead of yiddodun, 
yiddodun, they fly, they fly, y e didun, y didun, dilectus, dilectus. 
They read the whole clause melekh sibh oth y e didun y e didun, and 
translated it as, the king of the hosts of the beloved, the beloved. 
The translation can scarcely be regarded as accurate, and the Septua 
gint reading of the Hebrew is inferior to the Massoretic text. In 
Ps. xxviii. 6 we find dilectus used to render the honorific name of 
Israel Y shurun, and (as is shown in the note on that verse) the 
Septuagint always represents Y shumn (which is really derived from 
Yashar and means the Upright ) by ^yaTr^evos (dilectus). There 
is no obvious way of passing from Y e shumn to ^yaTTTj/^os, but it 
is very easy to pass from Y e didun to ^yaTr^ei/os. Is it possible 
that the uniform Septuagint rendering of Y e shumn as Beloved is 
due to a misreading by the Septuagint translators of Y e shurun as 
Y didun ? In this psalm-passage the king was understood by the 
translators to refer to Yahweh, and the dilectus to Israel. The 
repetition dilectus dilectus was probably regarded as equivalent to a 
superlative much-beloved/ so that Israel appears as the most 
dearly beloved of God. 

To give a meaning to speciei domus we must make it depend on 
Dominus dabit of verse 12 : The Lord giveth the " word "... 


258 THE PSALMS [67 

the King of the Hosts of the much Beloved giveth to the fair one 
of the house, etc/ The fair one is the wife of the home-coming soldier 
to whom is granted the privilege of dividing his battle-spoil among 
the people of the house. Speciei is due to a reading of the Hebrew 
as na wath instead of n wath, the fair one instead of the 

14. The first part of this verse is certainly based on the Song of 
Deborah (Jud. v. 16), but it is not an exact quotation. The Hebrew 
word represented by cleros is here sh e phattayim, in Jud. v. 16 mish- 
P thayim. The exact meaning of the Hebrew is unknown. Mish- 
pHhayim occurs in only one other place (Gen. xlix. 14). The two 
Hebrew words mishp thayim and sh e phattayim are from the same 
root, and will have, practically, the same meaning. Hebraists usually 
give the words the meaning sheep-fold/ In the text of Deborah s 
poem the Vulgate reads : Quare habitas inter duos terminos ; ut 
audias sibilos gregum ? It is a censure on the indolence of the men 
of Reuben, who preferred to sit at home amid their sheep-folds 
listening to the music of the shepherds pipes, rather than join in the 
battles of the central Israelite tribes against the northern kings. The 
Vulgate text of the psalm-passage seems to mean by cleri the portions 
of the booty referred to in the preceding verse. Clerus may mean a 
lot, or something assigned by lot (as here). When the warriors come 
home from battle and rest amid their booty, that booty of precious 
stuffs, and of stones and metals of many colours, will remind them of 
the sheen of the wings and body of a dove flying in the sunshine. 
Some commentators take the cleros as referring to Canaan itself, the 
haereditas of Israel. The picture of the dove, whose plumage flashes 
like silver and light-green (in pallor e auri) gold in the sunshine, 
these commentators take as symbolic of the idyllic life of the peaceful 
Israelites when the battles for Palestine had been fought and won. 
In this view the verse would contain no taunt or censure. It is, 
however, possible that the reference to the dove whose wings are 
adorned with silver and her plumage with green shimmering gold 
has no immediate connection with what precedes. It may be a quo 
tation from an ancient heroic poem. 

It is difficult to see why the Septuagint translates sh phattayim 
by KAyjpo/,. The Greek translator of the Psalter would naturally 
follow the Greek of Gen. xlix. 14. Possibly the translator confused 
the word with mishpat, which in certain contexts has the meaning, 
portion assigned/ due (cf. Deut. xviii. 3). 

PenncB columba deargentatce is a literal rendering of the Hebrew. 
Posterior** dorsi ejus in pallore auri ought to be an equivalent phrase, 
or parallel. Posteriora dorsi ejus takes the place of the Hebrew 
ebhrotheha, her pinions/ which is an exact parallel to penna colwnba. 
The Greek translator preferred, apparently, to change pinions 
into back/ In pallore auri represents birakrak hams, in green 


shimmering gold. The outspread wings of the dove, as she flies in 
the sunshine, look at times as if they were of silver, at times, as if 
they were of green-shimmering gold. Is the dove, then, a symbol 
of the booty taken from defeated foes ? Or is it a symbol of the 
peace which followed the Conquest ? Or, is it a symbol of Israel 
itself as the special friend of Yahweh ? (cf. Osee vii. n ; xi. u. The 
silver and gold would, in this view, suggest the splendour of Israel 
as enriched, through God s favour, with the spoil of the world s 
wealth). But it is impossible to give a fully satisfactory explanation 
of the verse. 

15. Here we have another passage from an ancient poem, and it 
is also very obscure. While we can find in verse 14 an echo of the 
familiar words of Deborah s Song, we have no knowledge of the poem 
which is quoted in verse 15. Discernere must mean here disperse/ 
scatter in defeat. Reges super earn might be taken as its kings, i.e. 
the heathen kings of Canaan. The snow on Selmon might be taken 
as symbolising the bleaching bones of the heathen kings who were 
destroyed there, or the shining equipment which their soldiers in their 
flight had cast there. Possibly the text may be regarded as referring 
to a wondrous snowfall which helped the Israelites to defeat the 
Canaanite kings at Selmon. In Judges ix. 48 we hear of a hill called 
Salmon, near Shechem ; but we know nothing of any ancient struggle 
foaght there. 

The Vulgate text here renders the Massoretic almost literally. 
Ccelestis translates the ancient name or epithet of God, Shaddai. 
Dum discernit reproduces the construction of preposition with 
verbal noun, which is used in the Massoretic and Septuagint. 
Hence it should be translated as above. (Dum is used here as= 

The subject of dealbabuntur must be reges. The Septuagint 
Xiovw#r?crovTai, ought to mean either are made into snow or are 
made snowy white. The Hebrew verb corresponding is singular, 
and means it snowed. 

If the text of the verse is to bf emended, the aim of the emendation 
must be to discover a Hebrew text prior to that which the Septuagint 
translators used, since the Septuagint and Massoretic texts here 
suppose practically the same consonantal Hebrew text. If there 
are corruptions in the traditional text, they are probably to be sought 
in the name Salmon and in the verb which speaks of snowing/ In 
verses 16 and 17 a contrast is made between Sion as the mountain 
on which God dwells, and other mountains of Palestine which might 
seek to claim equality with Sion. It would be very convenient if 
a reference to Sion could be found here in verse 15. It has been pro 
posed, therefore, to read in the Hebrew, Siyon instead of Salmoni 
and to read t dalleg (leaped, skipped) instead of tashleg (snowed), 
These changes would give as the sense of verse 15 : When Shaddai 

260 THE PSALMS [67 

scattered the kings thereon, Sion did skip. If we then connect 
immediately with verse 16 we can render : 

When Shaddai scattered the kings thereon, 1 
Sion did skip the mountain of God. 

Such emendations as are here suggested are purely conjectural. 
Most modern critics agree that the Massoretic text of verse 15 needs 
some kind of emendation, and, since the versions do not help, there 
is no means of improving it except sane conjecture. 

16, 17. The main thought of verses 16-17 is that Sion, as the 
dwelling-place of God, is more glorious than any other hill or mountain 
of Palestine. 

The mons Dei must be Sion (as is implied in the suggested emenda 
tion of verse 15). It is pinguis, i.e. rich in all imaginable blessings. 
It is coagulates (literally, curdled ) which means either, that it 
is fruitful (curds, thick milk, batter all are symbols of fertility), or 
that it is firmly fixed, steady and secure (not fluid and unstable, 
but firm and stable with rugged strength). 

Ut quid suspicamini may be regarded as addressed to the non 
credentes of verse 19 to those who doubted whether God really 
dwelt in Sion. 

Etenim is, as often, a strong assertive particle. 

By taking the Vulgate of 16-17 in some such forced fashion as 
this, we can attach a meaning to the Latin text. The Massoretic 
text is much clearer and more poetical. Apart from emendations 
it runs : 

A mountain of God is the mountain of Bashan ! 

A mountain of peaks is the mountain of Bashan ! 

Why look yc askance, ye high-peaked mountains, 

At the mountain which God hath desired for His dwelling ? 

This would mean that Sion is greater than the great hills ( hills of 
God ) of Bashan east of the Jordan, that it is greater even than 
Hermon on Bashan s northern border. The hills of Bashan may 
have been looked on as homes of the gods, but Sion, the chosen 
dwelling of the God of Israel, is greater and more venerable than 
them all. It is, then, foolish for those eastern hills to look with 

1 Thereon could be very easily emended into with might b e khoah, 
instead of bah. This would get rid of the unsuitable suggestion of a fierce 
conflict having been fought out on Sion. The emended text represents Sion, 
the Mountain of God, skipping or leaping in gladness at the victories of Israel. 
The following clauses warn the other hills of Palestine not to look with anger 
or jealousy on the mountain of God. 


jealousy on Sion. The sense is here obvious, and the imagery is 
genuinely poetical. 1 

The Greek translators seem to have thought that mountain of 
Bashan was but a way of saying fertile mountain. They ap 
parently referred the epithet to Sion, and the fertility of Bashan was 
proverbial (cf. Ps. xxi. 13). The translation curdled (coagulates) 
is due to the mistake of connecting the Hebrew gabmmnim (peaks, 
mountain tops) with the Aramaic g e bhina ( curdled : cf. Job x. 10, 
where gfbhinah means cheese ).* 

Used in reference to Sion it is difficult to attach a suitable meaning 
to curdled. Did the Greek translator picture to himself the masses 
of the Judean hills after the manner of heaped up curds ? In 
Ps.cxviii.70,in the phrase coagulatum est sicut lac cor eorum, coagulates 
means insensible, dull, incapable of being touched by any fine emotion, 
secure through ignorance. (The Hebrew of cxviii. 70 has helebh, 
fat, not halabh, milk. ) 

The monies coagulates of verse 17 must be the same in the Vulgate 
as the mons pinguis of 16. The accusative is governed by suspicamini. 
This verb translates with reasonable accuracy the Hebrew frassedun 
which means to watch stealthily, to look askance at. The whole 
Vulgate text is, however, thrown out of focus by its failure to under 
stand what is implied in the psalmist s reference to the hills of Bashan. 
The Latin of verse 17 would be much better if it ran : Ut quid suspica 
mini monies coagulati montem in quo beneplacitum, etc. 

Etenim is intensive Yes, indeed ! 

Jerome renders 12-17 thus : 

Domine dabis sermonem adnuntiatricibus fortitudinis plurimcz. 
Reges exercituum fcederabuntur , fcederabuntur, et pulchritudo domus 
dividet spolia. Si dormieritis inter medios terminos, pennce columba 
deargentatce , et posteriora ejus in virori auri. Cum divideret robustissi- 
mus reges in ea, nive dealbata est in Selmon. Mons Dei, mons pinguis, 
mons excelsus, mons pinguis. Quare contenditis monies excelsi adversus 
montem, quern dilexit Deus ut habitaret in eo ? Siquidem Dominus 
habitabit in sempiternum. 

We can see here characteristic traces of Jerome s habit of adhering 
to the traditional Septuagint and Latin rendering, even when he 
must have been fully alive to its shortcomings. He introduces 

!If the emendation suggested for verse 15 were adopted, the new clause 
would begin thus : 

O mountain of Bashan, mountain of peaks, mountain of Bashan ! 
Why look ye askance, ye mountains of peaks ? etc., etc. 

2 From the name of the valley which has given us the word Gehenna, viz., 
Ge ben Hinnom, or Ge b e ne Hinnom has arisen, by a somewhat similar confusion 
the title Tyropoeon "Valley/ (valley of the cheese makers). 

262 THE PSALMS (67 

terminos from the Song of Deborah, and rightly substitutes excelsus 
for coagulatiis. Yet he allows pinguis to stand ! 

18-19. Verse 18 is, perhaps, a free imitation of Deut. xxxiii. 2. 
The Lord comes from Sinai (as on the day of the battle of Kishon, 
Judges, v. iff.) ; thousands of heavenly beings are in His train. With 
rich booty of men and precious things He comes in triumph after 
the battle, and ascends on high to His throne on Sion, or to His home 
in heaven. The reference may be directly to the Ark which was, 
sometimes at least, carried into battle, and, when victory was won, 
was brought back triumphantly to Sion (cf. Ps. xxiii) ; or, perhaps, 
we should find here an indication of the original purpose of the psalm 
viz. to serve as a hymn in the ceremony of transferring the Ark to 

Curms Dei ; the triumphal procession of God : the chariots are 
more numerous (multiplex) than ten thousand, i.e. they are innumer 
able. The mountain of Sion is the new Sinai, the new sanctuary of 
the Lord. As the Lord once dwelt in majesty on Sinai, so now He 
will dwell on Sion. 

Ascendisti in altum, etc. There is here, obviously, the picture of a 
triumphal procession in which captives are led. It would be easier 
to regard this section of the poem as descriptive of a celebration of 
military victories than as inspired by the transference of the Ark to 
Sion. It is impossible, of course, to ascertain the exact occasion of 
the psalm. We can suppose that the Ark would be carried in the 
triumphal procession (cf. Ps. xxiii), and borne finally to its shrine 
(in altum). The people accompany the Ark with tumultuous re 
joicing. Prisoners are led in triumph, and tribute and offerings 
from defeated and terrified enemies are carried along to the shrine 
of the Lord. Men who had not been willing to believe that God dwelt 
among His people on Sion are among the captives, the booty of the 
Lord. (Ephes. iv. 8 takes the description here as applying to the 
Ascension, so that in altum would naturally mean to the throne of 
God in heaven. The immediate and literal reference of the psalm is 
obviously to some great military success of the Hebrews.) 

Cepisti captivitatem : captivitas is used here for captives ; 
Thou hast taken captives/ or Thou bringest captives with Thee. 
(Probably St. Paul is thinking of this verse in 2 Cor. ii. 14). There 
may be here again an echo of Deborah (Jud. v. 12). 

Dona in hominibus, gifts consisting of men : Thou hast received 
men as gifts/ The phrase could also mean : gifts taken from among 
men/ Possibly both meanings are intended. The victor not merely 
leads captives in his train, but also brings gifts which he has received 
from the vanquished, and from other peoples who seek his favour. 

Non credentes. The sense may be, either that the non credentes 
are among those led along as captives in the procession, or that 
the Conqueror receives as voluntary subjects even those who pre- 


viously had not believed that Yahweh dwelt on Sion. The Hebrew 
here is obscure. It is usually rendered : And even the rebellious 
will dwell with Yah/ In verse 7 of the sor*rim (rebels) appear as 
qui exasperant : here they are described in the Vulgate as non credentes. 
The Latin inhabitare Dominum Deum is the construction of accusative 
and infinitive depending on non credentes. In the Hebrew, sofrim 
(rebels) is construed with lishkon in the sense ; the rebels shall dwell 
with. The Vulgate and Hebrew can be brought together in meaning 
by supposing the Vulgate to mean that some of those who formerly 
doubted that Yahweh dwelt on Sion, now are ready to dwell in Jerusa 
lem and to acknowledge Yahweh s power and rule. 

Dominum Deum corresponds to Yah Elohim ( Elohim being pro 
bably an addition to the primitive text). 

20. Here begins the second main section of the poem. The God 
who has fought Israel s battles in the glorious past rescues the people 
even now from their perils. 

Die quotidie, day by day ; per singulos dies (Jer.) 
Dens salutarium is a construction like Deus justitice. 
Prosperum Her faciet, etc., corresponds to Hebrew, He beareth 
us along. 

21. Deus (esf) Deus salvos [nos] faciendi. 

The exitus in the context, are ways of escape from death. It is 
only God that can save from death. 

22. The Lord destroys the enemies of His own. The capita and 
the verticem capilli correspond to each other in the parallelism : the 
latter means, literally, the head as covered with hair. 

23. 24. Is this also an extract from an ancient poem ? The sense 
can be, either, that God will pursue, and overtake, and bring back 
His foes wherever they may fly to (as in Amos ix. 2ff.) ; or, that God 
will bring back Israel from its dispersion and give it bloody vengeance 
on its foes. Why Bashan and the depths of the sea are taken as the 
extreme points of flight or dispersion, we do not know. Ex prof undo 
maris would give a better sense, and would be equivalent to the 

Ab ipso, i.e., a sanguine. 

25. A description of the procession. 

Viderunt, men see/ one sees/ Apparently the procession is 
thought of as actually marching by. 

26. For the scene, cf. the singing of Miryam and her maidens, 
Exod. xv. 20. The principes here, are, apparently, the heads of the 
classes of Levites who had charge of the ritual music. 

Tympanistrice occurs only here in the Vulgate ; they are the 
maidens who beat the tambourines. The text suggests that they 
encircle the singers and zither-players. 

27. A snatch of the processional song. 

l De fontibus Israel, ye who are of the ancient stock of Israel/ 

264 THE PSALMS [67 

28. Why is Ephraim omitted ? Zabulon and Naphthali appear 
prominently in the Song of Deborah. The four tribes here men 
tioned seem to represent the whole people. Benjamin and Juda 
represent the South (Judea) ; Zabulon and Naphthali the North 
(i.e. Galilee). Benjamin was the youngest, and little in numbers. 

In mentis excessu, in ecstatic feast-joy. The principes are, 
here, the elders representing their respective districts in the procession. 

29. A prayer : Send forth Thy power ! May God show forth 
again the power with which He wrought victory for ancient Israel/ 
We may take manda and confirma with a lemplo tuo in Jerusalem (v. 30). 

30. The peoples will bring offerings to God to Jerusalem. 

31. The beast of the reeds is either crocodile or hippopotamus 
and symbolises Egypt. Apparently Egypt is censured for refusing 
friendly overtures from Jerusalem. 

There is a gathering of the bulls (i.e. the princes and leaders) 
with the cows of the peoples (i.e. the peoples themselves) to reject 
ambassadors (apparently from Israel) who come with gifts (argentum), 
to make themselves secure by alliance with the princes and their 
peoples. Egypt, perhaps, is either the sole, or the chief offender. 
God is called on to scatter and destroy those nations who thus refuse 
offers of peace with Israel. 1 We know nothing of the historical 
situation implied. 

The Massoretic text of verse 31 is as unwieldy as is the Vulgate. 
It shows more or less obvious traces of corruption. But it is not 
easy to determine the extent of the corruptions. We should expect 
calves simply and not calves of the peoples beside the bulls. 
The clause which is represented by the Vulgate ut excludent eos qm 
probati sunt argento ought to be some kind of parallel to Dissipa 
gentes qua bella vohmt. Schlogl (Psalmen) makes several clever 
emendations which result in the sense : 

Chide the beast of the reed, 
Make to tremble the bulls and the calves, 
Hurl Thyself against those who love deceit ! 
Scatter the peoples whose joy is in war ! 

* Attempts have been made to show that the political and military situation 
of Israel in the time of Ezechias is implied throughout the psalm. The great 
victory over Sanherib, the Assyrian Emperor, took place during the reign of 
Ezechias (701 B.C.) and it is said by Isaias (xxxvi. 6) that Ezechias formed an 
alliance with the reigning Ethiopic dynasty in Egypt. II Paral. xxxii. 23, 
speaks of gifts which were sent to Ezechias in commemoration of Israel s rescue 
from Assyria, and some of those gifts may have come from Ethiopia But in 
view of the obscurity of verse 31 it is useless to seek to determine the precise 
political situation supposed by the psalm. Qm probati suni argento may perhaps 
not mean that Israel was seeking by gifts to establish an alliance with Egypt 
but that, though Israel had been already tried by disaster, as silver is tested by 
fire yet her old enemies were still conspiring, even against their own profit, 
to destroy her. This would explain the wish : Dissipa gentes qua bella volunt. 
The wish suggests an age of military weakness and decay in Israel. 


The general sense here is the same as in the Vulgate. The beast of 
the reed (the Septuagint read haiyoth beasts/ instead of the singular 
haiyath) is still Egypt : the bulls and calves (Vulgate cows ) are 
the princes and the people of Egypt. But there is no reference to 
the rejection of Hebrew ambassadors and their gifts, which the 
Vulgate suggests. The bulls and calves balance in parallelism 
the beast of the reed and those who love deceit (the false 
Egyptians) are parallel to those who delight in war/ If this or any 
similar reconstruction of the Hebrew is correct, there is no echo here 
of Ezechias dealings with Egypt. 1 

32, 33. Whatever may be the present attitude of Egypt and 
Ethiopia to Israel, the time will yet come when ambassadors will be 
sent by Egyptians and Ethiopians to bring gifts to Jerusalem and 
to do homage to its God, and all the kings of the nations will sing 
praise to Yahweh. This is obviously a thought associated with what 
may be called the Messianic theology of prophecy. Cf. Ps. Ixxi. 9-11 : 

Coram illo procident Aethiopes, et inimici ejus terrain lingent. 

Reges Tharsis et insula munera afferent : reges Arabum et Saba dona adducent : 

et adorabunt eum omnes reges terrcp, omnes gentes servient ei. 

Prczveniet manus is a literal rendering of the Hebrew taris yadeha 
(the Massoretic text has the incorrect yaday). It might mean to rush 
eagerly with outstretched hands. A slight change (taris into tarim) 
would give the much more Hebrew thought : Rush (Ethiopia) will 
raise up her hands/ 

God ought to be here Yahweh for the sense is, that strangers 
will come to see that the God of Israel Yahweh is the God of the 

34. Qui ascendit, etc. The God of Israel is the mighty God who 
traverses (Hebrew, rides upon ) the highest heavens, and whose 
voice is the thunder. 

Ad orientem. The Vulgate here follows closely the Massoretic 
text ; but, that text has probably been corrupted. Instead of 
Larokhebh bish me sh me kedem, to Him that rides on the highest 
eastern heavens/ we should read : larokhebh bashsh mayim mikkedem, 
to Him that rides through the heavens from the beginning (i.e. from 
eternity). M and Sh were often confused in the older form of the 
Hebrew alphabet. 

1 To make Schlogl s emendations clear we give them here fully, along with 
the Massoretic text : 

Massoretic Schlogl 

G e ar haiyath kaneh, G e ar haiyath kaneh, 

<a dath abbirim b e egle arnmim, a ros abbirim ba a galim. 

mithrappes b e ra&$e khaseph, hithrappes b e rose khazabh, 

bizzar ammim k e rabhoth yehpasu. pazzer ammim k e rabh yehpasu. 

266 THE PSALMS [67 

Ecce dabit, etc., does not render the Hebrew with verbal accuracy, 
but the sense is correct. The Hebrew has : Lo ! He giveth forth 
His voice, a voice and might ( a mighty voice ). 

35. Super Israel : the Vulgate means : to the God who rules 
Israel/ The Hebrew, as usually read, takes super Israel with the 
following clause : Over Israel is His Majesty ; and His power is in 
the clouds. The Vulgate arrangement would be the better one if 
we could insert Domino (Yahweh) after gloriam : 

Give honour (to Yahweh), 
To the God of Israel ! 
His majesty and His power 
Reach even to the clouds ! 

36. In Sanctis Suis. Probably we should read here in the Hebrew, 
b mikdasho, in His Sanctuary For Sancta, in the sense of Sanctuary, 
compare Ps. cxxxiii. 2 : Extollite manus vestras in sancta : cl. i : 
Laudate Dominum in sanctis ejus. The psalmist is thinking of the 
glory of Yahweh in His Temple 




THE psalmist is in sorest need, and prays to the Lord for help 
against his many foes (2-4). His enemies accuse him 
falsely ; he has indeed sinned, but it is his zeal for the Lord, 
and not his own sin, that has brought him suffering (5-9). 
His zeal for the Temple and its worship, and his exact fulfilment of 
the Law have, in a special way, been the source of his present griefs 
(10-13). He thinks himself peculiarly entitled to the sympathy and 
help of the Lord, and for these he prays (14-19). Once more he 
describes the misery of his position his isolation and the ruthlessness 
of his foes (20-22). From this he passes, naturally enough, to an 
earnest prayer for vengeance on those who mock and maltreat him. 
The bitterness of the psalmist s words in this section (23-29) is re 
markable. From the passing references to the feasts and sacrifices 
of his adversaries (23), as well as from the psalmist s explanation in 
verses 8, 10, that it is his loyalty to the Lord which has created enemies 
for him, we can understand that his attitude in uttering his impre 
cations is due to his zeal for the things of God, rather than to a spirit 
of personal resentment. For himself the psalmist is certain of coming 
help ; and he vows to the Lord a service of praising song in return 
for the rescue which he confidently expects (30-34). The final section 
(35-37) is probably a liturgical addition to the poem. It invites all 
the world to join in the song of praising thanks to God for the rescue 
of Sion and Juda. 

It is quite impossible to indicate the precise date or occasion of 
this psalm. In the New Testament it is frequently quoted. Three 
times at least in the Fourth Gospel it is referred to as a forecast of 
the experiences of Our Lord. The fifth verse is quoted in John xv. 
24, 25 : the quotation is put in the mouth of Our Lord Himself, and 
the verse is spoken of by Him as part of the Torah or Law. In 
John ii. 17 the tenth verse is applied to Christ (as also by St. Paul 
in Roms. xv. 2, 3). In John xix. 28 we are told that Our Lord s cry, 
I thirst/ was intended to make possible the fulfilment of verse 22. 
St. Paul (Roms. xi. 9, 10) looks on verses 23, 24 as a prophecy of the 
doom which was to fall on the Jews for their rejection of Christ. St. 
Peter interprets verse 26 as a prophecy of the fate of the Betrayer 
(Acts i. 20). It may be taken as certain, therefore, that this psalm 
was interpreted Messianically by Our Lord and the Apostles. St. 
Paul speaks (Roms. xi. 9) of verses 23 and 24 as having been written 





by David. This does not, of course, establish per se the Davidic 
origin of the psalm. Paul speaks in the passage in question in the 
usual fashion of his day, according to which the psalms in general 
were ascribed to David. Whether or not the psalm-text quoted by 
him is Davidic, his argument stands, for the text is certainly a part 
of Sacred Scripture. The Messianic interpretation of the psalm 
does not exclude the possibility that it describes personal experiences 
of the psalmist. The attitude of Our Lord to the psalm, however, 
and the striking anticipations of Our Lord s sufferings which it con 
tains, force us to conclude that, as the psalmist was carried beyond 
himself and the context of his experiences in poems like Ps. xliv, 
which describe the glory and beauty of the ideal king, so here, in de 
picting the sorrows of a just man oppressed by foes, he is carried on 
by the Spirit to depict the ideal the Messianic Sufferer (cf. Ps. xxi. 
30, etc.). The traditional exegesis regards David as the author of 
the psalm, and this point of view has been reaffirmed in a recent 
decree of the Biblical Commission. Such a conservative Catholic 
scholar, however, as Prince Max (Erklanmg der Psalmen und Cantica, 
1914), writing four years subsequently to the Decision of the Com 
mission, maintains that verse 36 fixes the Babylonian Exile as the 
date of the psalm. Against Prince Max it might be held that verses 
36 and 37 formed no part of the original poem, but are a liturgical 
addition made in the exilic or post-exilic period. Apart from these 
two verses there is nothing in the psalm which would necessarily 
connect it with a late period. The tendency of all modern non- 
Catholic criticism is to regard the psalm as post-exilic, and even 

1. In finem pro iis qui com- 
mutabuntur, David. 

2. Salvum me fac Deus : quo- 
niam intraverunt aquae usque 
ad animam meam. 

3. Infixus sum in limo pro- 
fundi : et non est substantia. 

Veni in altitudinem maris : 
et tempestas demersit me. 

4. Laboravi damans, raucae 
factae sunt fauces meae : de- 
fecerunt oculi mei, dum spero 
in Deum nieum. 

i. For the choir- leader. 

by David. 

2. Rescue me, O God ! 

For the waters have come in on my 
soul ! 

3. I am sunk in a deep mire ; 

Where ground there is none. 
I am come into deep waters, 
And the storm overwhelms me. 

4. I am weary from crying out : my throat 

is hoarse. 

My eyes are fading for long hoping in 

5. Multiplicati sunt super ca- 
pillos capitis mei, qui oderunt 
me gratis. 

Confortati sunt qui persecuti 
sunt me inimici mei injuste : 
quae non rapui, tune exsolvebam. 

6. Deus tu scis insipientiam 
meam : et delicta mea a te non 
sunt abscondita. 

5. More numerous than the hairs of my 


Are those that hate me without cause. 
Powerful are my persecutors, 

What I did not steal I now must pay 


6. O God, Thou knowest my folly ; 

And my sins are not hid from Thee. 


7. Non erubescant in me qui 
exspectant te Domine, Domine 
virtu turn. 

Non confundantur super me 
qui quacrunt te, Deus Israel. 

8. Quoniam propter te susti- 
nui opprobrium : operuit con- 
fusio faciem meam. 

9. Extraneus factus sum fra- 
tribus meis, et peregrinus filiis 
matris meae. 

10. Quoniam zelus domus 
tuae comedit me : et opprobria 
exprobrantium tibi, ceciderunt 
super me. 

11. Et operui in jejunio ani- 
mam meam : et factum est in 
opprobrium mihi. 

12. Et posui vestimentum me- 
um cilicium : et factus sum illis 
in parabolam. 

13. Adversum me loquebantur 
qui sedebant in porta : et in me 
psallebant qui bibebant vinum. 

14. Ego vero orationem meam 
ad te Domine : tempus bene- 
placiti Deus. 

In multitudine misericordiae 
tuae exaudi me : 

15. In veritate salutis tuae : 
Eripe me de luto, ut non 

infigar: libera me ab iis, qui 
oderunt me, et de promndis 

1 6. Non me demergat tempe- 
stas aquae, neque absorbeat me 
profundum : neque urgeat super 
me puteus os suum. 

17. Exaudi me Domine, quo- 
niam benigna est misericordia 
tu a : secundum multitudinem 
miserationum tuarum respice 
in me. 

1 8. Et ne avertas faciem tuam 
a puero tuo : quoniam tribulor, 
velociter exaudi me. 

19. Intende animae meae, et 
libera earn : propter inimicos 
meos eripe me. 

20. Tu scis improperium me- 
um, et confusionem meam, et 
reverentiam meam. 

2i: In conspectu tuo sunt 
omnes qui tribulant me, impro 
perium exspectavit cor meum, 
et miseriam. 

Et sustinui qui simul con- 
tristaretur, et non fuit : et qni 
consolaretur, et non inveni. 

7. Let not those who wait for Thee be 

brought to shame through me, 
O Lord, the Lord of Hosts ! 
Let not those who seek Thee be made to 

blush because of me, 
O God of Israel ! 

8. For it is for Thee that I have borne taunts, 

And shame hath covered my face ; 

9. I have become a stranger to my brothers, 

And an alien to the sons of my mother. 

10. For zeal for Thy house devoureth me ; 

And the taunts of those that mock 
Thee fall upon me. 

11. And in fasting I covered myself up : 

But this, too, has become a reproach to 

12. And I made sackcloth my garment, 

But I (only) became a byword to them. 

13. They who sit in the gate speak against me 

And the wine-bibbers raise a taunt- 
song against me 

14. But my prayer is unto Thee, O Lord ! 

It is time to be gracious, O God. 
In the abundance of Thy loving- kind 
ness hear me ! 

15. With Thy faithful help rescue me 

From the mire, that I may not sink 

therein ! 
Save me from those that hate me, and 

from the deep waters, 
That the flood may not overwhelm me, 

1 6. 

Nor the deep swallow me up, 

Nor the pit close her mouth upon me. 

17. Hear me, O God, for gracious is Thy 

loving-kindness : 

In the abundance of Thy mercies look 
on me ! 

1 8. And turn not away Thy face from Thy 


For I am in distress, 
Hear me quickly ! 

19. Give heed to my life, and save it ! 

Rescue me because of my foes ! 

20. Thou knowest my disgrace, 

My confusion and my shame. 

21. Before Thee are all who oppress me. 
My heart looked for shame and wretched 

I waited for one who would have sym 
pathy with me ; 

But there was none ; 
For one who would comfort me ; 

But I found none. 




22. Et dederunt in escam 
meam fel : et in siti mea pota- 
verunt me aceto. 

23. Fiat mensa eorum coram 
ipsis in laqueum, et in retribu- 
tiones, et in scandalum. 

24. Obscurentur oculi eorum 
ne videant : et dorsum eorum 
semper incurva. 

25. Effunde super eos iram 
tuam : et furor irae tuae compre- 
hendat eos. 

26. Fiat habitatio eorum de- 
serta : et in tabernaculis eorum 
non sit qui inhabitet. 

27. Quoniam quern tu percus- 
sisti, persecuti sunt : et super 
dolorem vulnerum meorum ad- 

28. Appone iniquitatem super 
iniquitatem eorum : et non in- 
trent in justitiam tuam. 

29. Deleantur de libro viven- 
tium : et cum justis non scri- 

30. Ego sum pauper et dolens: 
salus tua Deus suscepit me. 

31. Laudabo nomen Dei cum 
cantico : et magnincabo eum in 
laude : 

32. Et placebit Deo super vi- 
tulum novellum : cornua pro- 
ducentem et ungulas. 

33. Videant pauperes et lae- 
tentur : quaerite Deum, et vivet 
anima vestra. 

34. Quoniam exaudivit pan- 
peres Dominus : et vinctos suos 
non despexit. 

22. They gave me gall for food 

And in my thirst they gave me vinegar 
to drink. 

23. May their table become a snare before 

And a requital, and a stumbling-block. 

24. May their eyes be darkened that they 

see not ! 
And bend Thou their back at all times ! 

25. Pour out upon them Thy anger, 

And let Thy fierce wrath seize them ! 

25. Let their dwelling become a wilderness : 
Let there be none to dwell in their tents? 

27. For him whom Thou smitest they also 

pursue ; 

And the pain of my wound they in 

28. Charge them with sin upon sin ! 

And let them not enter into Thy 
justice ! 

29. May they be blotted out from the Book 

of Life ; 

And may they not be written down 
with the just ! 

30. I am poor and wretched ; 

Thy help, O God, doth guard me. 

31. I will praise the name of God in song, 

And glorify Him with praise 

32. That will be more pleasing to God than 

a young bull 
Which hath horns and hoofs. 

33. Let the poor see it and rejoice ! 

Seek after God, and your souls shall 

34. For the Lord heareth the poor : 

And despiseth not his servants in 

35. Laudent ilium cceli et 
terra, mare, et omnia reptilia 
in eis. 

36. Quoniam Deus salvam fa- 
ciet Sion : et aedificabuntur 
civitates Juda. 

Et inhabitabunt ibi, et haere- 
ditate acquirent earn. 

37. Et semen servorum ejus 
possidebit earn, et qui diligunt 
nomen ejus, habitabunt in ea. 

35. Let heavens and earth praise Him, 

The sea and all that moveth therein ! 

36. For the Lord will rescue Sion 

And the cities of Juda will be rebuilt 

And men shall dwell therein, 

And shall hold it as a firm possession. 

37. And the seed of His servants shall inherit 

it ; 

And all those who love His name shall 
dwell therein. 

I. Pro Us qui commutabuntur as in the title of Ps. xliv is due to 
the Septuagint reading of the Hebrew as l al sheshshonin, ( for the 


things which change ), instead of al shoshannim, which is usually 
translated, According to lilies/ as if Lilies were the name of the 
ancient melody after which the psalm was to be sung. Possibly 
shoshannim was the name of one of the groups of official singers, so 
that the Hebrew title may mean : For the (or belonging to the) 
choir-master of shoshannim group/ Cf. Ps. lix. i ; xliv. i ; 
Ixxix. i. 

2, 3. The psaimist describes himself partly as a drowning man, 
and partly as one sinking into a quagmire or morass (cf. verse 15). 
The pictures suggest deep misery. Some commentators find here a 
reference to the custom of imprisoning criminals in cisterns. Some 
times (as in Jer. xxxviii. 6) there would be deep mud or mire in the 
cistern. But in any case the whole verse is to be understood figura 

Substantia, foundation/ bottom/ For non est substantia the 
Targum has : There is no place to stand/ (So in Syriac.) 

4. The sufferer had called for help till he grew hoarse. 

Dum spero, from hoping a case of : hope deferred maketh 
the heart sick/ 

5. Super capillos, more than the hairs/ etc. 

I njuste= gratis ; he had given them no ground for hostility 
(John xv. 24, 25). 

Qua non rapui, etc., the phrase seems to be proverbial. Tune 
is difficult to explain. It may refer to the point of time when the 
hostilities of his foes began ; Then it was a case of paying back 
what I had not taken/ 

It is probable, however, that the Hebrew az (tune) ought to be 
changed either into a ni (ego) or zeh (hcec or hoc}. 

The clause confortati sunt qui persecuti sunt me inimici mei injuste 
represents the Massoretic very exactly. Reading me asmothai instead 
of the Massoretic masmithai, we should get the simpler sense : 

Confortati sunt super me inimici mei injuste : Stronger than me 
are they who are my enemies without cause/ 

6. The psalmist seems to mean : I am not, of course, sinless ; 
but my sins are known to God alone, and do not excuse the conduct 
of my foes/ These words on the lips of Our Lord could, obviously, 
only refer to the sins of men for which He was suffering. 

7. He prays that the faith of those who trust in the Lord may 
not be shaken by his misfortunes. There is implied in this a prayer 
that his misfortunes may soon cease. It would be a disgrace to the 
Lord, and to His worshippers generally, if the psalmist were to be 
completely undone. The words could be referred, in a general way, 
to the Scandal of the Cross/ 

8. Point is lent to the preceding by the thought that the psalmist s 
griefs are due solely, or mainly, to his loyalty to God. 

9. Even his nearest friends have abandoned him because of his 

272 THE PSALMS [68 

loyalty to the Lord. Is it implied that those hostile brethren have 
gone over, in some way, to heathenism ? 

10. The House, is the Temple. The honour of that House is 
his own ; and the dishonour of that House touches him as nearly as 
his personal griefs. It is chiefly because of the psalmist s intense 
devotion to the Temple that he has made enemies. We do not know 
the precise background of the verse. (Cf. John ii. 17 and Roms. xv. 3 
for application to Christ.) 

11. Openti. This word makes difficulty. The Massoretic text 
has : "I wept ; in fasting was my soul," or I wept out my soul in 
fasting as Jerome has it : Flevi in jejunio animam meam. The 
Vulgate translates a Hebrew ekkseh, I covered/ which gives no 
real sense. Possibly the best reading is ekhna , I humbled. It is 
supported by the Vatican Codex. Cf. Ps. xxxiv. 13, Hitmiliabam in 
jejunio animam meam. It is difficult to understand what sense the 
phrase : "I mantled up my soul in fasting " could have. Bella r- 
mine s explanation : Operui caput meum jejunando, reads into the 
phrase an intelligible, though purely conjectural, sense. 

The prayer and fasting of the psalmist made him all the more a 
target for the mocking attacks of his foes. 

12. Posui, I made (Hebrew nathan). When he put on sack 
cloth, he became a byword (a mashal, parabola) to his enemies. 

13. At the gate all the latest news would be discussed ; there 
the psalmist s enemies could most successfully mock at his griefs, 
and spread ludicrous reports about him. The wine bibbers, too, in 
the city, made a butt of him in their drinking-songs. 1 

14. Ego vero orationem is a slavish reproduction of the idiom of 
the Massoretic text. The Hebrew means : As for me my prayer 
is unto Thee, O Lord I The emphatic pronoun ( and I ) puts the 
psalmist in sharp contrast to the mockers just mentioned. 

Tempus beneplaciti Deus should be connected with the following, 
and the Vulgate punctuation ought to be changed thus : Tempus 

1 There is a specimen of a toper s taunt-song in Is. xxviii. 10. Wearied 
of the prophet s preaching of law and restraint, the drunkards repeat the out 
standing words of the prophet s message in a drunken refrain : 

Saw lasaw, saw lasaw ; 
kaw lakaw, kaw lakaw ; 
z e er sham, ^ er sham. 

Job complains (xxx. 9) how those who were once outcasts now mock him : Now 
I am the theme of their song (n e ginatham, same word as here in psalm) ; and I 
have become unto them a byword. N ginah (taunt-song) is used again in 
Lam. iii. 14 in the same sense as here. The plural of this word n e ginoth occurs 
often in the superscriptions of the psalms, and is there usually rendered by 
carmina in the Vulgate. It is possible, however, as has been already more than 
once said, that in the superscriptions n e %inoth is the name which was borne by 
one of the groups of Temple singers. 


beneplaciti Deus ; in multitudine, etc. It is a time when God s favour 
is urgently needed. Hence the psalmist prays earnestly for help. 

Though a fairly intelligible meaning may, thus, be attached to 
verse 14, it must be admitted that the verse appears to be awkward 
both in the Vulgate and the Massoretic text. 1 

15, 16. In veritate, etc., should be read with eripe. The psalmist 
here asks to be delivered from the troubles which he had referred to 
at the beginning (verses 2-3) from the troubles symbolised by the 
mire, and the deep waters, and the storm. The puteus is the cistern 
with its unfathomable depth of mire of verse 3. In the symbolism of 
the text puteus, tempestas and profundum are on the same level all 
being figures of the misery which the singer endured. The closing of 
its mouth by the puteus is the closing in of the mire over him who 
sinks in it. 

A b Us qui oderunt me is an unexpected introduction of the concrete 
into the midst of the symbolical. It may well be a marginal gloss 
which has found its way into the text. 

17. Respice in me : the Hebrew has, In Thy manifold pity turn 
to me. 

18. Read quoniam tribulor with ne avertas, etc. Velociter, etc., 
stands, then, as a separate clause. Ne avertas corresponds to the 
Massoretic, Hide not/ 

19. To rescue the psalmist is to confound his enemies. The Hebrew 
has : Draw nigh to my soul. 

20. The poet turns here again to the description of his condition. 

21. The Massoretic text ought probably to be so emended as to 
connect the first sentence of verse 21 with verse 20. " Thou knowest 
my shame, etc. (which is) before (i.e. visible to) all my foes." Though 
he had looked for some sign of Divine support or sympathy, he had 

1 The whole verse is difficult both in the Vulgate and Hebrew. Tempus 
beneplaciti Deus has no very obvious meaning though the one above suggested 
saves the Latin from being mere words. It is probable that the Hebrew of the 
verse underwent corruption before the origin of the Greek version. When the 
vowel points and other helps to reading the Hebrew text are removed, and that 
text appears without divisions of words in a purely consonantal form, emenda 
tions immediately suggest themselves. 

wa a ni easily becomes alai (on me) and can be connected with the preceding 
the taunt song of topers on me. The consonants of the next two words 
t p 1 1 1 k can be read tippol telekh. Tippol (falleth) goes then with the preceding 
the taunt-song of topers falleth on me. This sentence is complete. Telekh 
(cometh) should be read with the next following word, eth (time) : " May there 
come a season of favour. Elohim probably does not belong to the original 
text. May there come a season of favour is a parallel to, In the abundance 
of Thy loving-kindness hear me. Compare with verse 14 the passage in Is. xlix. 8 : 

Thus saith Yahweh : 

In a time of favour do I answer thee, 

And in a day of deliverance help thee. 

The Vulgate renders here in tempore placito. 

274 THE PSALMS [68 

found none. But the Vulgate improperium expectavit is difficult. 
In the Massoretic text verse 21 reads : 

Insult has broken my heart, and I am hopelessly sick,(?) 
I look for sympathy and there is none ! 
For comforters and find them not ! 

It was not for improperium that the psalmist looked. How then 
explain the origin of the improperium expectavi ? Apparently the 
Greek translator was here again misled by his familiarity with Aramaic, 
and his comparative ignorance of Hebrew. The Massoretic text has 
herpah shabh rah libbi, but the Greek translator read instead of 
shabhar, to break, the Aramaic sabbar, to expect. The subject 
of this verb became libbi (my heart), and its object fyerpah (shame). 
The Hebrew wa anushah and I am hopelessly sick (?) has become 
et miser iam. Here also Aramaic influences are at work ; anushah 
was, apparently, read as if it were the Aramaic word anusiya, dis 
tress. The Syriac (Peshitta) reads : Heal the fracture of my heart, 
and bind it up ; the Targum, Shame hath broken my heart and 
behold it (the shame) is great. Jerome renders, Opprobrio contritum 
est cor meum et desperatus sum (obviously a rendering of a text identical 
in consonants with the Massoretic). 

22. The reference here seems to be to the bitterness of calumny, 
and evil report generally. The psalmist has hungered and thirsted 
for words of kindness and sympathy ; but for the food and drink of 
gracious sympathy he has to quaff the bitter poison of mockery, and 
evil words. 

Dederunt in escam follows literally the Hebrew idiom. The Hebrew 
means, They made .... my food. This verse is applied to Our 
Lord in John xix. 28-30 ; Matt, xxvii. 34-48 ; Mark xv. 23 (cf. 
Lamentations iii. 15, 19). 

The Hebrew word represented by fel (gall) is ro sh the name of a 
poisonous plant. The ancient versions Septuagint, Syriac, Targum 
have all translated it by a word meaning gall, or the bitter thing/ 
Jeremias uses me ro sh, waters of ro sh in the sense of a bitter draught 
which God makes Israel to drink because of its sins (Jer. viii. 14 ; 
ix. 15 ; xxiii. 15). 

The gall and the vinegar were both given to Our Lord in His Passion. 
Matthew speaks of the vinum cum felle mistum which was offered to 
Our Lord at the beginning of the Crucifixion (Matt, xxvii. 34. Mark 
calls it myrrhatum vinum xv. 23). Luke says that the soldiers offered 
vinegar to Jesus as He hung on the cross. (For the offering of the 
vinegar-moistened sponge cf. Matt, xxvii. 48 ; Mark xv. 36 ; John xix. 
29). Contrast the text in Prov. xxxi. 6 : Give strong drink to 
him that is about to perish and wine to those who are bitter of soul/ 

23-29. The greatness of the psalmist s grief forces from him these 
violent curses on his foes. It must be remembered that he suffered, 
as he says (verses 8, 10), for the sake of the Lord. His enemies are> 


therefore, the enemies of God, and as such deserve the evils which the 
psalmist invokes upon them. The direct attribution to Our Lord 
of words of imprecation such as we have here is very difficult. It is 
much simpler and more natural to hold that in these imprecatory 
verses the psalmist speaks from his own standpoint, and not as a type 
of the Messias. Frequently in the psalms we find the psalmist 
praying that his enemies might themselves come to feel the sufferings 
which they sought to pile on him. Hebrew thought was largely 
influenced by the principle of equivalent retribution the lex, talionis 
as it is called. The spirit of the psalm-passage is the same as that 
of David when he says to his enemy Saul (I Kings xxvi. 19) : If Yah- 
weh hath stirred thee up against me, may He receive graciously an 
offering, but if men (have stirred thee up), may they be accursed 
before the face of Yahweh because they drive me forth to-day, so that 
I may not share in the inheritance of Yahweh, while they say : Begone ! 
Worship other gods ! David cursed the foes who sought to prevent 
him from sharing in the public worship of the Lord, and the psalmist 
curses his foes because of their cruelty on the one hand, and because 
of their tendency to heathenism on the other. The zeal of the psalmist 
in denouncing the table and offerings (Hebrew) of his enemies 
is but an aspect of his zeal for the House of God (verse 10). His 
curse is, in a sense, merely a prophecy for he only prays that that 
may befall his foes which would naturally follow on their hostility 
to God s servant, and on their tendency to idolatry. 

It is to be noted that St. Paul apparently takes the curses here 
pronounced as intended in some way for the Jews who rejected Our 
Lord (Roms. xi. 9, 10). St. Paul, however, implies that the impre 
cations were spoken by the psalmist primarily against his own foes, 
and only typically against the foes of Jesus. Paul puts the words 
in the mouth of David, and not in that of Christ. Of Our Lord the 
saying was true : He opened not His mouth in complaint, like the 
lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like an ewe that before her 
shearers is dumb (Is. liii. 7). 

The table might symbolise in the Vulgate the luxury of the 
psalmist s foes. The thought immediately suggested by the Vulgate 
text is that the enemies of the psalmist are suddenly surprised by 
disaster as they sit feasting in luxurious and careless ease. Retri- 
butiones might be explained as the due punishment of their cruelties 
and their crimes which now overtakes them ; and scandalum might 
be regarded as expressing the idea that the prosperity of the wicked 
has now been brought rudely to a close. Th^ Vulgate, however, does 
not reproduce exactly the Massoretic text. Retributiones implies a 
Hebrew original shillumim. The Targum rendering nikhsathhon 
(their sacrifices) suggests that the true reading of the Hebrew word 
is shalmehem ( their peace-offerings ). In the parallelism of the 
verse their peace-offerings ought to be somehow equivalent to 

276 THE PSALMS [68 

their table/ The table must then be suggestive of sacrificial 
worship ; and the whole verse may be taken as referring to such 
forms of religious worship as would be a snare and a stumbling-block 
to the foes of the psalmist. Thus the emphasis with which the psalmist 
denounces his enemies may be largely due to their devotion to some 
form of heathen worship. One who was eaten up by zeal for the 
Temple and the Law could not do otherwise than curse those who 
were abandoning the Temple, and joining with heathens in their 
sacrificial rites. 

We know nothing, of course, of the actual situation here implied. 

24. The back of his foes is to be constantly bent under the weight 
of the burdens they shall be forced to bear. As applied to the Jewish 
people this wish might be regarded as fulfilled in the loss of their 
national independence, and their perpetual enslavement under other 
peoples. Instead of dor sum .... incurva the Massoretic text reads : 
Make their loins shake without ceasing. The Latin suggests the 
enforced bearing of a burden which is too heavy, the Hebrew the 
destruction of bodily strength. In Ps. Ixv. n there is the same 
rendering of the Hebrew mothnayim (loins) by dorsum. The Aramaic 
mathnatha means both loins and back. 

26. The habitatio is the same as the tents/ The Hebrew tirah 
(habitatio) means encampment or battlement. The Greek transla 
tion oravAis suggests an enclosure where sheep were kept, and is 
founded on the sense of the Aramaic word fyara (sheep fold). (For 
the application of this text to Judas, see Acts i. 16, 17, 20.) 

27. It would have been bitter enough if the pains inflicted by God 
had been allowed to stand unincreased ; but the enemies have added 
to them. The Massoretic text is here unsatisfactory. As it stands 
it reads : For Thou whom Thou didst smite they have pursued ; 
they tell of the pain of Thy pierced ones/ They tell of (\fsapperu) 
was read by the Greek translators as a part of the verb yasaph (to 
increase). Vulnerum meorum takes the place of Thy pierced ones/ 
The Greek translators probably misread their Hebrew text, and the 
Massora also failed to hand it on correctly. The second part of the 
verse ought to be a parallel to the first. By very slight emendations 
of the Massoretic text we get the balanced verse : 

They pursue him whom Thou hast smitten ; 

They see with joy the pain wherewith Thou hast pierced me ! 

It is obvious that this emended text was very exactly fulfilled in 
the Passion of Our Lord. 

28. " Add to their sin," reckon up every detail of their offending : 
charge them with sin upon sin/ Justice here, seems to mean 
sentence of pardon or acquittal. 

29. The idea is that there is a Book in which God has written 
the names of all living beings. The " living " are those who stand 
in His favour. As a man s name might be erased from the roll of 


citizens of a city, so an individual might come to be omitted from the 
roll of God s friends. The doom of exclusion from the " Book of the 
Living " will not be a consequence of the psalmist s prayer (or curse), 
but of his enemies infidelity and hostility to God. Thus, even though 
the psalmist does not practise the reserve prescribed by St. Paul 
(Roms. xii. 19) his attitude is fundamentally the same as that of the 

30. The poet contrasts his own position and hopes with the future 
which he would have assigned to his enemies. 

31. He is confident that he will be saved from his present troubles. 
Hence he promises to sing songs of praise and thanks to God con 

32. The thanksgiving of praising song will be dearer to God than 
the offering of strong, lusty (=novellus) bulls with well developed horns 
and hoofs. The Hebrew runs better : " This (i.e. the praise) will 
please Yahweh more than a bull " ; " more than a bullock with horns 
and with hoofs." The Greek translators read the word for bullock 
(par) as if it were an adjective meaning young/ or lusty. 

34. The " poor " are those in like position, and of like condition 
with the poet. Who the vincti are we do not know. They may be 
all such as suffer any bondage for the sake of the Lord. Modern 
commentators find here a reminiscence of the return from the Exile. 

35-37. Seems to be a liturgical addition to the poem. Hence 
the references to post-exilic reconstruction in verse 35 is not to be 
taken as decisively proving that the entire psalm is post-exilic. 



THIS psalm is practically identical with verses 14-18 of 
Psalm xxxix. The differences between the two forms of 
the text are purely redactional. In Psalm Ixix there is a 
general tendency to substitute Elohim for Yahweh (so, in 
verses 2, 5. In verse 6a we have Elohim for the Adonai of xxxix 
iSa). In one place, however, (verse 6b) Psalm Ixix reads Yahweh 
where Psalm xxxix (verse iSb) has Elohim. The other points of 
difference in the Massoretic text of the two recensions of the psalm 
are of slight importance. 

1. In finem, Psalmus David, 
In rememorationem quod sal- 
vum fecerit eum Dominus. 

2. Deus in adjutorium meum 
intende : Domine ad adjuvan- 
dum in me festina. 

3. Confundantur et reverean- 
tur, qui quaerunt animam meam. 

4. Avertantur retrorsum, et 
erubescant, qui volunt mihi 

Avertantur statim erubescen- 
tes, qui dicunt mihi : Huge, 

5. Exsultent et laetentur in 
te omnes qui quaerunt te, et 
dicant semper : Magnificetur 
Dominus : qui diligunt salu- 
tare tuum. 

For the choir-leader. A psalm of David in 
memory of the Lord s rescue of him. 

2. O Lord, set Thy mind to help me ! 

Make haste, 6 Lord, to help me ! 

3. May they be put to shame and confusion 

Who seek to take my life ! 

4. May they fall back with dishonour 

Who would fain see my ruin ! 
May they at once meet their shame 
Who cry to me : Ha ! Ha ! 

Let all those rejoice and be glad in Thee 

Who seek after Thee. 
And let them at all times say : Praised be 
the Lord 

They who delight in Thy saving help. 

6. Ego vero egenus, et pau 
per sum : Deus adjuva me. 

Adjutor meus, et liberator 
meus es tu : Domine ne moreris. 

But I am a beggar and wretched. 

Help me, O God ! 
Thou art my Helper and Protector. 

Tarry not, O God ! 

X. In rememorationem ; cf. Ps. xxxvii. I. The second half of 
the Vulgate superscription, quod salvum, etc. has nothing correspond 
ing to it in the Hebrew title of the psalm. Its presence in the Vulgate 
seems to be due to the fact that in the Septuagint translation the 
first two words of the Hebrew psalm were taken as part of the title. 
These first two words do not make a complete phrase in the Hebrew 



though in the parallelism they ought to do so. Reading the name 
Yahweh instead of Elohim as the first word of the psalm proper 
and connecting the first two words of the psalm with the last word 
of the Hebrew superscription, the Greek translators got the title, 
cts aVd/xvTjo-ti/, ei s rb <raxrai /xe Kvpiov. This the Latin reproduces as, 
in rememorationem quod salvum fecerit eum Dominus. 

Deus in adjutorium meum intende begins the psalm proper in the 
Septuagint, and Domine ad adjuvandum me festina has nothing corre 
sponding to it in the Greek. Thus the Septuagint translators read 
Yahweh and Elohim where the Massoretic text has Elohim and 
Yahweh (verse 2). The Vulgate with its Domine ad adjuvandum me 
festina holds a middle place between the Greek and Hebrew. As 
compared with the Septuagint the Vulgate here inserts an additional 
phrase. We should get a reliable beginning of the psalm by 
completing verse 2 of the Massoretic text from Ps. xxxix. 14 : 

Be pleased, O Yahweh, to rescue me ! 
Hasten, O Yahweh, to help me ! 

or, according to the Vulgate of Ps. xxxix. 14 : 

Complacent tibi Domine ut eruas me : 
Domine ad adiuvandum me resptce f 



THIS psalm has no superscription in the Hebrew. The Septua- 
gint and the Vulgate describe it as a psalm of David, and 
of the sons of Jonadab and of the earliest (or former ) 
exiles. Though the precise meaning of this superscription 
is not clear, we learn from it at least that an ancient tradition regarded 
the psalm rather as a national than as an individual poem. The 
plural pronoun in the correct Hebrew text of verse 20 supports the 
communal interpretation of the psalm. Israel has been wonderfully 
guarded by God throughout her past history ; surely now, when the 
nation has grown old, God will not abandon it. The overthrow of 
Israel s political life by the Chaldeans, and the wretchedness of her 
lot in exile have made her, for the moment, a portent- a terrifying 
example, to the nations. Her enemies are convinced that she has 
fallen for ever. Yet, in spite of all, she will not cease to praise the 
Lord and to ask His help, confident that He will at length lead her 
forth to freedom and peace. For this grace of rescue which the nation 
so confidently expects, Israel promises to God a constant service of 
praising and glorifying song. Those for whom Israel is now a by 
word and a laughing-stock, and who rejoice in her misfortunes will 
themselves be brought to shame and confusion when the Lord shall 
once again establish the national life of His people. 

The references to youth/ old age and grey hairs might 
seem, perhaps, to suggest, as more natural, an individual interpreta 
tion of this psalm. Yet in several Old Testament contexts the life 
of the Israelite nation is described as if it were the life of an individual 
for instance, in Psalm cxxviii I, 2 ; Osee xi. i ; vii. 9 ; Is. xlvi. 3/., 
etc. The suggestion of the national meaning of the psalm which is 
conveyed by the Greek and Vulgate superscriptions may therefore 
be accepted. 

It will be noted that this psalm contains echoes of many other 
psalms. Thus, verses 1-3 are practically identical with Ps. xxx. 2-4 ; 
verse 6 recalls xxi. 10-11 ; verse 13 is an adaptation of Ps. xxxiv. 4, 26, 
and verse 12 is an echo of Ps. xxxix. 13. It is possible that the pre 
sence in the psalm of so many echoes or quotations of other psalms 
occasioned the ascription of the whole psalm to David. It would be 
a mistake, however, to regard this psalm as nothing more than a 
mosaic of quotations from Davidic psalms. It is a distinct literary 


7 o] 



unit, and it is full of deep feeling, both patriotic and religious. Some 
features of the poem could be more easily understood in reference to 
the post-exilic than to the exilic period, and it would be convenient, 
if it were possible, to suppose that, though the psalm was composed 
during the Exile, it was somewhat modified for use in the liturgy of 
the post-exilic period. 

i. Psalmus David, Filiorum 
Jonadab et priorum captivorum. 

i. A Davidic psalm of the Sons of Jonadab, 
and of the earliest exiles. 

In te Domine speravi, non 
confundar in arternum : 

2. In justitia tua libera me, 
et eripe me. 

Inclina ad me aurem tuam, 
et salva me. 

3. Esto mihi in Deum prote- 
ctorem, et in locum munitum : 
ut salvum me facias. 

Quoniam firmamentum me- 
um, et refugium meum es tu. 

In Thee, O Lord, do I trust ; 

Let me never be put to shame ! 
2. In Thy justice rescue me and set me free I 
Bend to me Thine ear, and save me ! 

Be to me a protecting God and a strong 

That Thou mayest keep me safe, 
For Thou art my stay, and place of 

4. Deus meus, eripe me de 
manu peccatoris, et de manu 
contra legem agentis et iniqui : 

5. Quoniam tu es patientia 
mea Domine : Domine spes mea 
a juventute mea. 

6. In te confirmatus sum ex 
utero : de ventre matris meae 
tu es protector meus. 

In te cantatio mea semper : 

4. My God, set me free from the power of 

the sinner, 

And from the power of the transgressor, 
and the godless ; 

5. For Thou art my hope, O Lord, 

My hope, O Lord, from my youth. 

6. On Thee I have been stayed since the 

womb ; 
Since the womb of my mother Thou 

hast been my protector, 
Unto Thee is my song of praise at all 


7. Tamquam prodigium fa- 
ctus sum multis : et tu adjutor 

8. Repleatur os meum laude, 
ut cantem gloriam tuam : tota 
die magnitudinem tuam. 

9. Ne projicias me in tempore 
senectutis : cum defecerit virtus 
mea, ne derelinquas me. 

10. Quia dixerurit inimici mei 
mihi : et qui custodiebant ani- 
mam meam, consilium fecerunt 
in unum. 

1 1 . Dicentes : Deus dereliquit 
eum, persequimini, et compre- 
hendite eum : quia non est qui 

12. Deus ne elongeris a me : 
Deus meus in auxilium meum 

7. A portent I am unto many ; 

But Thou art a strong helper. 

8. Let my mouth be full of praise, 

That I may sing Thy glory, 
And, all the day, Thy greatness ! 

9. Cast me not off in the time of old age ; 

When my strength faileth, abandon 
me not ! 

10. For my foes speak against me ; 

And they who seek my life take 
counsel together. 

1 1 . They say : God hath abandoned him ; 

Pursue and seize him, for there is none 
to help [him]. 

12. O God, be not afar off from me ! 

My God, give thought to my help ! 




13. Confundantur, et defici- 
ant detrahentes animae meae : 
operiantur confusione, et pudore 
qui quaertmt mala mihi. 

14. Ego autem semper spera- 
bo : et adjiciam super omnem 
laudem tuam. 

15. Os meum annuntiabit ju- 
stitiam tuam : tota die salutare 

Quoniam non cognovi littera- 

1 6. Introibo in potentias Do 
mini : Domine memorabor ju- 
stitiae tuae solius. 

17. Deus docuisti me a juven- 
tute mea : et usque nunc pro- 
nuntiabo mirabilia tua. 

1 8. Et usque in senectam et 
senium Deus, ne derelinquas me, 

Donee annuntiem brachium 
tuum generationi omni, quae 
ventura est : 

19. Potentiam tuam, et justi- 
tiam tuam Deus usque in altissi- 
ma, quae fecisti magnalia : Deus 
quis similis tibi ? 

20. Quantas ostendisti mihi 
tribulationes multas et malas : 
et conversus vivificasti me ; et 
de abyssis terrae iterum re- 
duxisti me : 

21. Multiplicasti magnificen- 
tiam tuam : et conversus con- 
solatus es me. 

13. Let them be confounded and brought to 


Who slander my soul. 
Let them be covered with shame and 

Who seek my misfortune. 

14. But I will hope on for ever, 

And will ever add to Thy praise. 

15. My tongue shall proclaim Thy justice, 

And all day long, Thy saving-help, 
For I am not skilled to recount (them). 

16. I will enter in to (the place of) the Lord s 

power ; 

Thy justice alone, O Lord, I shall 

17. From the days of my youth, Thou hast 

taught me, O God ! 
And even until now do I proclaim Thy 

1 8. Even unto old age and grey hairs, 

Abandon me not, O God, 
Until I announce Thy power 

To every generation that shall come 

19. Thy strength and Thy justice, O God, 

That reach even unto heaven ! 
The wonders Thou hast done, O God ! 
Who is like unto Thee ? 

20. What afflictions Thou hast made me to 


Many and grievous ! 
Yet Thou wilt again restore me, 

And from the depths of earth again 

bring me forth 
Thy greatness Thou wilt show forth 

abundantly ; 
And Thou wilt comfort me once again ; 

22. Nam et ego confitebor 
tibi in vasis psalmi veritatem 
tuam : Deus psallam tibi in 
cithara, sanctus Israel. 

23. Exsultabunt labia mea 
cum cantavero tibi : et anima 
mea, quam redemisti. 

24. Sed et lingua mea tota 
die meditabitur justitiam tuam : 
cum confusi et reveriti fuerint, 
qui quaerunt mala mihi. 

22. And with the harp I will praise Thee 

For Thy faithfulness, O God ; 
And with the lyre I will hymn to Thee, 
Thou Holy One of Israel ! 

23. My lips will shout for joy when I sing to 


And my soul, too, which Thou hast 

24. Yes ! and my tongue shall speak the 

live-long day 
Of Thy righteousness, 
When they have been overwhelmed with 

Who seek my misfortune. 

1-3. Psalmus David, etc. Possibly this superscription ought to 
be translated : A Davidic psalm of the Sons of Jonadab, and of the 
earliest exiles ; the meaning of this strange title would be that the 


psalm was put together, by those named, from selections of Davidic 
poetry (taken, in particular from Ps. xxi, xxx, xxxiv, xxxix). The 
superscription has also been understood as implying that, though 
David was the author of the entire poem as it stands, yet it was 
the sons of Jonadab and the exiles who first made it known and 
popular. There is no superscription in the Massoretic text. The 
Sons of Jonadab are, apparently, the Rechabites who stand out so 
prominently and honourably in the 35th chapter of Jeremias. There 
is nothing in the wording of the psalm, as far as one can see, that might 
have served to connect it with the Rechabites. Possibly the dignity 
and steadfastness of the Rechabites whom Jeremias lauds, were 
associated somehow by an ancient scribe with the spirit which finds 
expression in this psalm ; the Judean Exiles, stoutly loyal to their 
God, and longing for the restoration of Sion, might be taken, in a 
sense, as true sons of Jonadab. 

Verses 16-3 are almost identical with Ps. xxx. 2-4 . To Deum 
protectorem of verse 3 corresponds in the Massoretic text sur ma on, 
rock of dwelling ; the Septuagint read in their Hebrew text, as in 
Ps. xxx. 3 $ur ma oz. The Septuagint avoids, as a rule, epithets of 
God like rock/ fortress/ etc., and prefers to use instead the name 
of God itself. Cf. Ps. Ixi. 3, 8. 

In locum munitum is quite different from the Massoretic text, 
and we have here a clear instance in which the traditional Hebrew 
text has undergone corruption. In Ps. xxx. 4 the Massoretic text 
has, in the parallel passage, I bheth m e sudoth (in domum munitam) 
and that is, undoubtedly, the correct Hebrew text here also. By a 
strange fortune the consonantal text which would rightly have been 
read here as l e bheth m e sudoth appears so corrupted in the Massoretic 
text as to read : labho tamid siwwitha, which would mean, to come 
always, Thou hast given command/ To come always is usually 
read with the preceding : God is a rock of defence, to which one 
may always have recourse ; Thou hast given a command would 
give sense when read with the immediately following clause : Thou 
hast given a command to save me/ It is obvious that the Vulgate 
gives the natural meaning of the verse. 

For firmamentum and refugium the Hebrew has rock and 

4. For the exiles peccator, contra legem agens, and iniquus would 
be designations of the Babylonians. The tendency of the Greek 
translators is to identify all forms of sin with transgressions against 
the Jewish Law ; hence the rendering of the Hebrew nf awwel 
( evil-doer ) by 7rapai/o/^o>v (contra legem agens). 

5. Patientia, hope (Hebrew, tifcwah) : for this use of patientia, 
cf. Apoc. xiii. 10 ; xiv. 12 ; the word implies the endurance of grief 
with confidence of coming release from it. Cf. Ps. Ixi. 6. 

6. A quotation from Ps. xxi. 10, n. Confirmatus, supported, 

284 THE PSALMS [70 

stayed ; the reference is to the support which Israel received when 
she leaned upon the Lord. 

Protector meus supposes a Hebrew text better than the Massoretic. 
The Hebrew ought to read : Thou art my strength/ Since the moment 
of her birth (i.e., the time of the Exodus) Israel has rested all her 
hopes on the Lord. He has been the sole source of her strength, the 
chief theme of her song. 

7. Prodigium : Jerome has expressed the sense better in his trans 
lation : Quasi portentum factus sum multis. Israel is a sign to the 
nations because of the misfortunes which she has brought on herself 
by her sins ; she is marked off from other peoples by the intensity 
of her sorrows : she stands forth as a special object of God s wrath. 
And yet she refuses to abandon her hope of restoration. In this, 
too, she is a portent to the peoples. Cf. Deut. xxviii. 46 ; Is. lii. 14. 
In Isaias lii the Servant of Yahweh appears, like the Israel of our 
psalm, as a sign to the peoples partly because of his lowliness, and 
partly because of his unexpected rise to greatness. The Servant 
as the Messias, was to resume in Himself the chief phases of Israel s 
life. This, perhaps, is the reason for inweaving the poems of the 
Servant in Isaias with a context which deals with the fortunes of 
the Israelite nation.) 

8. In spite of her misfortunes Israel will yet again sing the glories 
of the Lord. The singing which is here imagined is such service of 
thanksgiving as will follow the restoration of the nation. Not in 
Babylon, but in Jerusalem, it would take place, for how could the 
exiles sing Songs of Sion in a foreign land ? 

Tola die=per singulos dies. 

9. As old age is the time of weakness, so Israel s political disasters 
are the tokens of her great age as a nation. Yet from the time of 
Israel s settlement in Palestine (possibly circa 1400 B.C.) until the 
return from Exile (538 B.C.) not a thousand years had elapsed. 

With this verse (and with verse 6) should be compared Isaias 
xlvi. 3-4 : 

Hearken unto me, O House of Jacob, 

And all the remnant of the House of Israel, 

Who have been borne as a load from the birth, 
Who have been carried from the womb ; 

Even to old age I am the same ; 

Even unto grey hairs I will give support ; 

I have taken up the burden, and I will still carry it. 

10. Dixerunt mihi, literally, according to Hebrew, say of me. 
Since their saying is not immediately given, it is likely that the Hebrew 
needs emendation here. By a slight change (reading ar bhu instead 
of am ru) we get the good parallelism : 

My enemies lay an ambush for me ; 

And they who seek my life take counsel together. 


Cnstodire animam, in hostile sense, seek to take my life, lie 
in wait to slay me. Cf. Ps. Iviii. i. 

11. They believe that they may safely fall upon their victim, 
Israel is so weakened that she seems to be an easy prey for all who 
wish to attack her. Yahweh, who in the past so mightily guided 
her, has now, her enemies think, abandoned her. 

12. An echo of Ps. xxi. 12; xxxv. 22; xxxvii. 22; xxxix 14; 
Ixix. 2. < 

13. Cf. Ps. xxxiv. 26. 

14. Adjiciam super, add to/ Laus tua is the song of Thy praise/ 

15. Salutare is equivalent in the parallelism to justitia. God 
displays His justice when He rescues His servants from peril. 

16. In the Massoretic text the phrase quoniam . . . litteraturam 
goes naturally with the preceding. The sense of the Hebrew is, 
probably : For I know not the number [of them]/ i.e. God s deeds 
of justice and rescue are so many that the psalmist cannot reckon 
them up. The Hebrew word translated number (s phoroth) occurs 
nowhere else in the Massoretic text. The Septuagint translators 
read s pharoth the plural of siphrah, book/ and rendered (according 
to the reading of several codices) OI K eyrwv ypa/M/xarciW This 
would mean in the context, I am not skilled in the composition of 
books, and the story of God s deeds of justice would fill volumes/ 
The Vatican Codex reads here instead of ypa/x/^a-mas, Trpaypiarctas 
which means historical narration/ so that, in the Vatican text 
the psalmist declares his inability to write the full history of God s 
gracious dealings with Israel. The Vulgate non cognovi litteraturam 
may be regarded as the equivalent of either of the Greek readings. 
(The Psalterium Romanumha.s negotiationes representing Trpay/xaret as). 
There is no linguistic difficulty in connecting in the Vulgate, quoniam 
non cognovi litteraturam with the preceding in the sense : my mouth 
shall proclaim Thy justice, and all day long Thy salvation, for I cannot 
write a narrative of them ; since he cannot write the tr story of 
God s favours he will go on orally proclaiming them for ever. (Scrip- 
turam would have been, probably, a better word in the Vulgate than 
litteraturam, were it not for its specific meaning of Sacred Scripture/) 

16. Introibo in potentias Domini : this is the beginning of a new 
statement. The corresponding Hebrew does not mean entering 
into the powers of the Lord/ but entering with the powers of the 
Lord/ The psalmist will come before the Lord, not empty-handed, 
but bringing with him the record of God s wondrous deeds of love 
and mercy to Israel in the past. This record of God s deeds (which, 
of course, cannot be complete) will compel God, as it were, to do 
further deeds of wondrous favour for Israel in her present misfortune. 

Mcmorabor justitice tuce solius : the justitia is, as in verse 15, the 
justice with which God helps and rescues His people. This the 
psalmist will describe in praising song (memo ari). The coming 

280 THE PSALMS [70 

with the power (= deeds of power) is the same as the making memory 
of deeds of justice. 

Solius : God alone performs such deeds of justice as the psalmist 
would recount in song : the Lord alone is just. Cf. Ps. cxlii. 2 : Non 
justificabitur in conspectu tuo omnis vivens. 

In the translation above potentias Domini is rendered : the 
place of the Lord s power/ i.e. the Temple. It is probably the only 
reasonable way of translating the Vulgate text as it stands. The 
resulting sense is clear enough : I will enter the Temple and sing 
praise of Thy justice. Though the precise meaning of the Massoretic 
text is not quite certain it ought to get the preference here. The 
exact Latin equivalent would be, Introibo cum potentiis Domini* 

17. Since the beginning of Israel s national life at the Exodus, 
God has taught her to praise Him, for He has ever been gracious and 
merciful with His people. Even until now (i.e. the period of the 
Exile) Israel has had reason to praise and thank Him. The mirdbilia 
are the deeds of help by which the Lord showed His presence in the 
midst of Israel. 

18. Usque in senectam et senium passes beyond the usque mine 
(the beginning of exile) to the exilic and early post-exilic days. Israel 
has lived through the years of her strength, and only the weakness of 
old age remains for her. Yet even now in her weakness she trusts 
that the Lord will still give her reason to praise and thank Him, 
so that she may tell of His might to (every) generation that shall 
arise. Since omni generations suggests the perpetuity of Israel, 
modern commentators usually omit (with the Syriac Psalter) the 
kol (omni) of the Massoretic text. Not to every coming generation, 
but to the next generation the psalmist hopes to be able to announce 
the Lord s favour towards his own generation. Brachium, power/ 

19. The Vulgate here faithfully reproduces the Septuagint. Po- 
tentiam and justitiam are like brachium objects of annuntiem. Usque 
in altissima is to be taken as a description of power and justice 
the power and justice that reach even unto heaven. Qua fecisti 
magnolia is appositional to might and power and justice the whole 
record of wondrous things which the Lord has done for His people. 

The Massoretic text begins a new sentence with verse 19 : 

And Thy justice, O God, reaches to the heavens 

Thou who hast done great things 
O God, who is like unto Thee ? 

1 Since the phrase : I will come with the powers is unusual in Hebrew, 
Schlogl (Psalmen ; in loc.) suggests the reading abbia , I will proclaim, instead 
of abho* b e ( I will come with ). This would give the perfect parallelism : 
I will proclaim Thy power : 

I will make memory of Thy justice. 


This text, however, does not run smoothly ; and though the Hebrew 
text underlying the Septuagint (and, therefore, the Vulgate) was 
identical with the Massoretic text, it is probable that it had under 
gone some corruption before the Greek version was made. The 
Vulgate differs here from the traditional Hebrew mainly because the 
Greek translators read some nouns as accusatives which the Massoretic 
text takes as nominatives. The Hebrew would be represented, as 
the traditional text has it, by : 

Justitia [tua Deus usque in altissima, 
Qui fecisti magnalia. 
Deus quis similis tibi ? 

20. Ostendisti mihi ;. the written (and better) Hebrew text reads 
here : Thou hast made us to see indicating the communal character 
of the psalm. For vivificasti me we ought to read also, according to 
the better Hebrew text, vivificasti nos. 

Converses, etc., is a verbally literal reproduction of a Hebrew 
idiom. In Hebrew the verb shubh ( to return ) is often used idio 
matically with another verb to express repetition of the action denoted 
by the other verb. The Hebrew here means : Thou wilt again 
restore us. Cf. Ps. Ixxxiv. 7 ; Converses vivificabis nos ; ciii. 9 ; 
Neque convertentur operire terram ; Ixxvii. 41, Et conversi sunt et tenta- 
verunt Deum. The same idiomatic use of shubh appears in the Hebrew 
text of the second half of verse 20, and is correctly rendered in the 
Vulgate by iterum. 

The thought of the verse is, that, in spite of the sorrows which 
God has made Israel to endure, He will once more restore her to peace 
and prosperity. Even though she is almost overwhelmed by the 
floods of the netherworld (i.e. the abyssi terra, the deep beneath the 
earth), God will lead her forth therefrom. This rescue from the deep 
is symbolical of rescue from danger of death (cf. Ezech. xxxvii. 13). 

21. A description of the graciousness which the Lord will show 
once more to an Israel re-established. Converses consolatus es is 
the same sort of idiom as conversus vivificasti of verse 20. 1 

22. Nam : the Hebrew would be better represented by autem. 
Confitebor, praise. 

In vasis psalmi is intended to be a literal translation of the Hebrew 
bikh li nebhel, with a harp. Vasa translates k e li, a word of many 
meanings, of which vas is one. Psalterium would translate nebhel 
(harp, or lute) much more accurately than does psalmus, which really 
means a song chanted to the accompaniment of some instrument. 
Confitebor . ... in psalterio would be the correct rendering of the 
Hebrew text. The reference is to praising song accompanied on the 

1 The Massoretic tissobh t?nah a meni ought to be emended into tashubh 
t e nah a meni.) 

288 THE PSALMS [70 

harp or lute. Psallam tibi in cithara, I will hymn Thee on the lyre 
is an exact parallel. 
i Sanctus Israel is a frequent designation of the Lord in the Book of 

Isaias. 4 

24. Cf. Ps. xxxiv. 28 : Et lingua mea meditabitur jusliliam tuam, 
tola die laudem tuam. Meditari means here, apparently, more than 
the soft murmur of one who recites something gently for himself, 
as in Ps. i. 2 : it suggests clear and definite pronouncement (such as 
is promised in verse 15). Cum confusi, etc., implies the fulfilment 
of the prayer in verse 13. 



THE Hebrew superscription of this psalm connects it with 
Solomon in precisely the same way in which other psalms 
are connected by their titles with David. Yet it is not 
likely that it was composed by Solomon, and the Greek 
translators, apparently, realising this, took the Hebrew title as 
meaning Unto Solomon/ or Concerning Solomon/ rather than, 
By Solomon ; and the Vulgate with its In Salomonem follows the 
Greek. The general reference of the psalm to Solomon might be 
justified on the ground that the description of Solomon s greatness, 
wealth, and renown in the third book of Kings forms a sort of basis, 
or starting-point for the description of the government and kingdom 
of the king whose rule is the theme of the psalm. But that king, 
though he is described in a way which recalls the splendour of Solomon, 
is not Solomon himself, but a Ruler greater and more splendid than 
any king of Israel, or indeed any human king, could be. The psalm 
depicts the rule of an ideal King of Peace. It should be remembered 
that the name Solomon (Hebrew, Sh e lomoh) is derived from a word 
meaning peace (shalom) ; and thus one might take the title of the 
psalm as meaning Unto the Man of Peace. Just as the Messias 
was to be the Son of David/ so the man of Peace is depicted for us 
here with the traits of David s son and successor Solomon ; but the 
Solomon of the psalm is a Solomon idealised beyond the limits of 
human royalty. In the Wedding Ode, Psalm xliv, the psalmist passes 
beyond the human King of Israel to the Messianic King ; here, also, 
a Ruler is described in whom human features are not altogether 
wanting, but whose rule and dominion are greater than anything 
of earth. It is not Solomon or any other actual king of Israel whose 
reign is here described : it is the Ideal King, the Messias. Note 
particularly verses 5, 6, 8-n, 17. The human aspect of the King is 
suggested by the psalmist s prayer for him that he may receive from 
God a spirit of perfect justice (verse 2), and by the promise that his 
subjects will unite in prayer for him (verse 17) : it is suggested per 
haps also in general by the psalmist s tendency to describe the kingdom 
of the Man of Peace as a sort of enlarged Solomonic empire (especially 
in verses 8-n). That human aspects of the Messias appear in this, 
and in other psalms, is, of course, to be explained by the fact that the 
glory and greatness of the Messianic King could not well be forecasted 
19 289 

290 THE PSALMS [71 

for the Hebrews otherwise than as an intensified glory and greatness 
of such great kings as David and Solomon. 

The sequence of thought in the psalm is clear. Justice and peace 
will be the fairest fruits of the Messianic reign : they will flourish like 
the corn on the mountains and hills of Palestine (verses 2-4) : The 
reign of the Messias will be unending : and the Messianic King him 
self will be to his people like rain to the soil ; with the coming of 
the Shoot of righteousness justice and peace must abound (5-7). 
The rule of the King will be universal ; kings will come to do him 
honour, and bring him gifts from lands the most remote. As the 
Queen of Sheba came to Solomon to hear his wisdom and behold his 
splendour, so shall kings come from the farthest West, from all the 
Mediterranean lands, and from far off Ethiopia to do homage to the 
King of Peace (8-n). Again, the psalmist describes the gentleness 
and justice of the Messianic rule for righteousness of rule is the 
key-note of the psalm (12-14). While all nations honour the Messias, 
his own people do not forget to do him special honour, for he has 
made them to share in his glory and in his wealth ; they acclaim his 
greatness and success, and they offer prayers on his behalf (15). In 
verse 16 the thought of verse 3 is expanded. Fertility of soil is a 
token of God s blessing ; hence in the Messianic reign the hills will be 
covered with waving fields of corn. The City of the King will be 
blessed with citizens as numerous as the blades of grass that grow 
throughout the land. Verse 17 associates the ideal King with the 
Messianic blessings promised to Abraham s seed (Gen. xii. 3 ; xviii. 18 ; 
xxviii. 14). All peoples and tribes will seek to share in the blessedness 
of the Messianic King. Cf. Gen. xlix. 10. 

Verses 18-19 are a doxology not belonging to the original poem, 
but appended to mark the close of the second book of psalms. For 
similar doxologies cf. Ps. xl. 14 ; Ixxxviii. 53 ; cv. 48 ; cl. 6. Verse 
20 is the note of an editor for whom Ps. 1-71 was probably the only 
known collection of Davidic psalms. 

It is not possible to determine the precise date of this psalm. 
It is probable that a poem which associates so closely the Messianic 
kingdom with features of the kingship in Israel, belongs to the pre- 
exilic period. 

1. Psalmus, in Salomonem. i. A song concerning Solomon. 

2. Deus judicium tuum regi 2. O God, impart Thy judgment to the 
da : et justitiam tuam filio King, 

regis : And Thy justice to the Son of the King, 

Judicare populum tuum in That he may judge Thy people in justice 

justitia, et pauperes tuos in And Thy poor in fairness, 

3. Suscipiant montes pacem 3. Let the mountains bear peace for the 
populo : et colles justitiam. people, 

And the hills justice ! 



4. Judicabit paupercs populi, 
et salvos faciet filios pauperum : 
et humiliabit calumniatorem. 

5. Et permanebit cum sole, 
et ante lunam, in generatione 
et generationem. 

6. Descendet sicut pluvia in 
vellus : et sicut stillicidia stillan- 
tia super terram. 

7. Orietur in diebus ejus 
justitia, et abundantia pacis : 
donee auferatur luAa. 

8. Et dominabitur a mari 
usque ad mare : et a flumine 
usque ad terminos orbis terrar- 

9. Coram illo procident ^Ethi- 
opes : et inimici ejus terram 

10. Reges Tharsis, et insulae 
munera efferent : reges Arabum 
et Saba dona adducent. 

11. Et adorabunt eum omnes 
reges terrae : omnes Gentes 
servient ei : 

12. Quia liberabit pauperem 
a potente : et pauperem, cui 
non erat adjutor. 

13. Parcet pauperi et inopi : 
et animas pauperum salvas 

14. Ex usuris et iniquitate 
redimet animas eorum : et 
honorabile nomen eorum coram 

15. Et vivet, et dabitur ei de 
auro Arabiae, et adorabunt de 
ipso semper : tota die benedi- 
cent ei. 

16. Et erit firmamentum in 
terra in summis montium, super- 
extolletur super Libanum fru- 
ctus ejus : et florebunt de civi- 
tate sicut foenum terrae. 

4. He will judge the poor of the people ; 

And rescue the children of the poor ; 
He will humble the oppressor. 

5. He will abide as long as the sun and moon 

From age to age, 

6. He will come down like rain on the fleece, 

Like the rain-drops that drip gently 
to earth. 

7. Justice will bloom forth in his days, 

And abundance of peace, till the moon 
be no more. 

8. He will rule from sea unto sea, 

From the river to the ends of the earth. 

Before him the Ethiopians shall bow 

down ; 

And his foes shall lick the dust : 
And the Kings of Tarsis and of the Isles 

will bring offerings ; 
The Kings of the Arabs and Saba will 

bring gifts. 

All the kings of earth will do him homage ; 
All the nations will serve him. 





For he will rescue the poor from the 

The poor who hath not a helper. 
He will pity the poor and the needy ; 

The souls of the poor he will save. 

14. From usury and injustice he will save 

their lives ; 

And in high honour with him shall be 
their name^ 

15. He [the poor] will live and gold of Arabia 

will be given to him ; 
And for his [the King s] sake prayers will 

be offered ; 
Men will praise him for ever. 

1 6. There shall be corn in the land, 

On the hill-tops it shall wave : 
Higher than Lebanon shall be his fruit ; 
And the city-folk shall nourish like 
grass of the earth. 

17. Sit nomen ejus benedi- 
ctum in saecula : ante solem 
permanet nomen ejus. 

Et benedicentur in ipso omnes 
tribus terrae : omnes Gentes 
magnificabunt eum. 

17. May his name be blessed for ever ! 

As long as the sun his name shall 

In him shall be blessed all the tribes of 

the earth ; 
All the nations shall extol him. 

1 8. Benedictus Dominus De- 
us Israel, qui facit mirabilia 
solus : 

19. Et benedictum nomen 
majestatis ejus in aeternum : 

1 8. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, 

Who alone doeth wonders ! 

19. May His glorious Name be for ever 

blessed : 

292 THE PSALMS [7 i 

et replebitur majestate ejus And may the whole earth be filled with 

omnis terra : fiat, fiat. His glory ! 

Amen and Amen ! 

20. Defecerunt laudes David 20. Ended are the songs of praise of David 
filii Jesse. the son of Jesse. 

1. The title in the Hebrew, lish lomoh, ought to mean, on the 
analogy of the familiar superscription l e dawid, by Solomon/ Thus 
the psalm would be attributed to Solomon as author. That the 
preposition l e prefixed, as here, to a proper name necessarily indicates 
authorship is, however, not certain. The Septuagint rendering of 
the title, i S 2aAa>/*wv shows that the psalm was not regarded 
as of Solomonic origin by the Greek translators. The ancient editorial 
note in the last verse of this psalm Ended are the praises (Hebrew, 
prayers ) of David/ though it does not mean that all the psalms 
of the collection, Ps. i-lxxi, are Davidic, would come strangely from 
an editor who believed that this psalm was ascribed to Solomon as 
its author by the title lish lomoh. 

2. Judicium ; God s method or spirit of judging, to which is 
parallel God s spirit of justice (justitia). The psalmist prays that the 
decisions of the king will be inspired by the spirit of divine justice. 
The Massoretic reading judgments is not so good as the Vulgate 
judicium. King and King s Son are equivalent in the parallel 
ism. Since the Messias was to be the son of David, King s Son is 
a suitable designation for Him. 

Judicare, for Hebrew, he will judge/ The Greek translators 
read ladin ( in order to judge ), instead of yadin ( he will judge 
or let him judge ). 

Pauperes tuos may be a designation of the whole nation of Israel 
and not merely of a portion of it all Israel being thus described as 

3. The mountains and hills are Palestine itself as a mountain- 
land. Over the whole land peace and justice will reign. The Hebrew 
reads in justice in the second half of the verse, implying that it is 
through the justice of the King that the reign of peace will be estab 
lished. The Vulgate translates a reading StKauxrvvrj, but the 
received Greek text has, like the Massoretic text, SIKOLLOO+VU. 
Justitiam of the Vulgate is obviously to be taken as parallel to pacem, 
and as object of suscipiant : the mountains will bear peace and hills 
will bear justice. 

Suscipiant renders the Hebrew yis u (from nasa , to bear. The 
Septuagint has dvaXa&Tu. Probably the Vulgate translator 
thought of the verse as meaning not that the hills were to bear 
(or, bring forth ) justice and peace, but that they were to receive 
justice and peace as a gift from God. Since the produce of earth is 


really God s gift to earth the Latin suscipiant sufficiently well repro 
duces the sense of the Hebrew. 1 Suscipiant (imperative in Greek) is 
co-ordinate with justitiam da ; it is a petition implying certainty of 
fulfilment, and might, therefore, be regarded as equivalent to a 

For the fruitfulness of hills and mountains compare the monies 
coagulati of Ps. Ixvii. 17. In Canticles it is said of the bride : Thy 
head is like untQ Carmel (vii. 6). When Isaias wishes to describe a 
new glory which is given to the desert he says : The glory of Lebanon 
is given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon (xxxv. 2). The 
Hebrew nasa obviously means in the context bear, bring forth : 
it is used also in a similar context in Ezechiel xxxvi. 8^.: And ye, 
O mountains of Israel, shall bear your foliage and your fruit for my 
people Israel, for soon will they return. Now I will come to you 
again, and turn to you, and ye shall be tilled and sown. And I will 
multiply men upon you even all the house of Israel and the cities 
shall be inhabited, and the ruins rebuilt. Here, as in the psalm 
passage, the hills are the whole land of Palestine regarded as a 
mountain-land. In Messianic prophecy Palestine represents, of 
course, the centre of the Messianic kingdom. The justice, peace and 
plenty of the Messianic age are brought together strikingly in Ps. Ixxxiv. 
9-14. The association of justice of rule and fertility of soil in the 
time of the ideal king is an aspect of the fundamental thought ex 
pressed in Romans viii. 19-21. The soil will be somehow blessed in 
the justice and peace of the Messianic age. 

4. The clearest token of a reign of justice is the protection which 
is given to the weak. The pauperes (Hebrew, ta niyyim, wretched ) 
and the filii paupemm are the helpless who are kept safe by the just 
rule of the king. It is not to be inferred from this verse, or similar 
verses, that the tendency to oppression will still continue in the 
Messianic age. Ill-treatment of the helpless, and injustice to the 
poor were prominent features of ancient life in the East ; the psalmist 
thinks of the Messias as crushing all oppressors, and making the poor 

Calumniator em : the Hebrew is oshek ( oppressor ) : the Greek 
is o-vKo4>dvTris which, normally, suggests false witness. The use 
df cruKo</>avT?7s in the Septuagint is often extended to include the 
idea of oppression generally. The Latin, as usual, adopts the more 
obvious rendering of the Greek word, without reference to the Hebrew. 

5. Permanebit : here the Greek (followed by Vulgate) has followed 
a better reading than the Massoretic text ; the latter has yira ukha, 

1 Bellarmine s explanation of the verse : Descendat pax ad omnes monies 
hujus terra promissionis, et suscipiatur ab eis pro populo in eis habitante is thus 

294 THE PSALMS [71 

they shall fear you/ instead of ya a rikh, he will lengthen out i.e. 
his days. He will continue to exist as long as the sun. 

Ante lunam is a literal rendering of the Hebrew. He will continue 
to abide with the sun, and before the face of the moon, i.e. as long as 
sun and moon endure. Grotius quotes Ovid, Amor. i. 16 : Cum sole 
et luna semper Aratus erit. With ante lunam compare ante solem 
of verse 17. 

Verse 5 could not be said of any actual historical king of Israel. 
Not any individual human king, but only a dynasty, could live as 
long as the world. The promise of perpetuity was made to the 
dynasty of David (cf. II Kings vii. 15), but it was to be fulfilled in the 
Messias Himself, so that only of the Messias could verse 5 be true. 
It would be unreasonable to suppose that we have here nothing 
more than the hyperbole of a court-poet celebrating his king. It 
has been said by critics that verse 5 interrupts the natural flow of 
thought in 4 and 6, and that the verse is, therefore, an interpolation. 
If, however, the Hebrew text of verse 3 makes the peace of the king s 
reign depend on his justice, why not regard verse 5 as implying that 
the stability and permanence of his rule are secured by that same 
justice ? That would make the continued reference to the king s 
justice in verses 6 and 7 quite natural. 

In generationem et generationem, throughout all generations/ as 
long as men exist/ With this verse should be compared Ps. xliv. 7 ; 
Ixxxviii. 37, 38 ; and Isaias ix. 5 (where the Messias is called Father 
of eternity ). 

6. Vellus ; the Hebrew, gez means shearing/ and may signify 
the grass of a meadow, as well as the fleece of a sheep (vid. Amos vii. i). 
The sense of the Hebrew is, obviously (from the parallelism), as the 
rain comes down on the meadow/ The Greek and Latin translators, 
taking gez as fleece/ found here a reminiscence of Gideon s fleece 
(Judges vi. 36-40). 

Sicut stillicidia, etc., the Hebrew text is here unsatisfactory. 
Stillantia, representing, apparently, the Hebrew zarziph ( a dripping ) 
is not necessary in the verse, and disturbs the parallelism. Omitting 
it we get the smooth text : 

He cometh down 

Like grass on the meadow, 
Like showers on the earth. 

The fertilising rain which falls so gently symbolises the quiet coming 
and the beneficent effects of Messianic rule. Compare the second 
Antiphon of Lauds on the Octave of the Nativity : Quando natus es 
ineffabiliter ex Virgine, tune impletce sunt Scriptures : sicut pluvia in 
vellus descendisti, ut salvum facer es genus humanum : te laudamus, 
Deus nosier. Cf. the Isaian passage (Is. xlv. 8) : Rorate cceli dcsuper 
et nubes pluant justum : aperiatur terra et germinet salvatorem, et 
justitia oriatur simul : ego Dominus creavi eum. For the coming 


down as implying the divine pre-existence of the Messias, cf. John iii. 
*3 ; vi. 38, 51, 63 ; xiv. 28. 

7. Orietur translates the Hebrew yiphrah, will bud forth/ The 
Greek is di/areAei. This verb is used frequently in the Septuagint 
to render the Hebrew samah, to sprout/ and the Hebrew noun 
Semah ( a sprout ), which is used at times as an epithet of the Messias 
(cf. Jer. xxiii. 5 ; xxxiii. 15 ; Zach. iii. 8 ; vi. 12), is rendered in the 
Septuagint by ^i/aroAr) (Oriens). In the Benedictus the Oriens ex 
alto has, thus, a specifically Messianic sense ; and it can scarcely be 
doubted that, for the Latin translator of the psalms, orietur of this 
verse called up Messianic associations. 

Justitia : the Massoretic text reads saddik (Justus) instead of 
$edek (justice). The Vulgate implies a better text as we can see from 
the parallel to Justitia viz. abundantia pads. 

Justice and fulness of peace are constant characteristics of the 
Messianic age (cf. Ps. Ixxxiv. 11-14). I n Jeremias xxxv. 15-16 the 
coming of the Shoot of Righteousness is accompanied by justice 
and fairness and peace. In the great Messianic prophecy of Isaias xi. 
1-9, the righteousness and equity of the Shoot from the stock of 
Jesse are closely associated with a picture of idyllic peace in which 
the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the calf and the young 
lion, the cow and the bear, the lion and the ox, the babe and the 
basilisk, are shown as living together in friendly fellowship. 

Donee auferatur luna, until the moon ceases to be/ i.e. as long 
as the universe endures. 

8. With this description of the extent of the Messianic kingdom 
compare the Messianic text Zach. ix. 10 : And he shall speak peace 
with the heathen : and his dominion shall be from sea even unto 
sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth/ The seas 
are probably the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean : the river 
is the Euphrates ; the other directions in which the kingdom extends 
are indicated by the ends of the earth/ The psalmist does not 
wish to assign geographical boundaries to the Messianic kingdom, 
but to suggest its unlimited extent. The Empire of Solomon had 
stretched from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean ; but the empire 
of the Messias will be indefinitely greater than that of Solomon. 

9. Mthiopes : the corresponding Hebrew is iyyim, which means 
desert -dwellers/ and is usually employed to designate the wild beasts 
of the desert. The rendering Ethiopians (in Septuagint, Vulgate 
and Jerome) is based on the supposition that siyyim may mean 
human dwellers of the desert. Probably the true Hebrew text is 
$araw, his foes : this would be a perfect parallel to inimici ejus. 

Before him shall bow down his foes ; 
And his enemies shall lick the dust. 

Lick the dust is a strong way of expressing most humble prostra 
tion (cf. Mich. vii. 17 ; Is. xlix. 23). 

296 THE PSALMS [71 

10. Kings of the most distant lands will bring gifts to the Messias. 
Tarsis (Hebrew, Tarshish) is the Phoenician colony of Tartessus in 
the south of Spain. The Isles are the islands and coast-lands of 
the Mediterranean (Is. xx. 6 ; xxiii. 2, 6, etc., etc.). 

R eges Arabum et Saba : the Hebrew has, the kings of Sh bha and 
S e bha . Sh e bha is Arabia Felix the land whence came the queen 
to do honour to Solomon (III Kings x. iff. For gifts brought to Solo 
mon compare III Kings x. 24-25). S e bha is probably Meroe in 
Ethiopia. The Kings, then, of farthest west and south bring gifts 
to the King whose residence is, of course, Jerusalem. The munera 
and dona are gifts intended to secure the favour of the King and to 
acknowledge his power. (For a similar picture of strangers bringing 
gifts from afar, see Isaias Ix. 6-9.) l 

11. The universality of the King s sway is here very clearly ex 

In the context (verses 8-n) the meaning is that the world-rule 
of the King is based on his justice, and on his kindness towards the 
poor and the oppressed. Because of the fairness and gentleness of 
his rule, kings of lands the most remote come hurrying to him with 
gifts. As this connection of thought is regarded by modern critics 
as foreign to Hebrew modes of thinking, it has been proposed to regard 
verses 8-n as an interpolation, interrupting the obviously natural 
sequence of verse 12 on verse 7. Yet it must be admitted that verses 
8-1 1, which describe the extent of the Messianic kingdom, follow 
naturally on the verses (4-7) which describe the character and duration 
of the Messianic rule. It is true that verse 12 continues the theme 
of the King s fairness and kindness, which is treated in 4-7 ; but 
the repetition of similar thoughts in separated sections of a Hebrew 
poem is surely not a good reason for regarding the portions of the 
poem which lie between the resembling sections as interpolations. 
The justice of the King is the theme of the whole poem, and, as 
verse 5 explains by that justice the perpetuity of the King s rule, so 
verses 8-n explain by it the universality of Messianic sway. 

12-15. A description of Messianic rule as it affects the helpless 
and poor. The thought of verse 4 is here developed. 

A potente : the Massoretic text has : He rescueth the poor who 
cries for help. M sawwe who cries for help was read by the Greek 
translators as mishshoa , from the noble or from the powerful 
(shoa ). 

13. Parcel] in Hebrew, he will look with pity on. Animas, 
1 life/ 

1 It cannot be doubted that verse 10 is responsible for the legend which 
made the Magi kings who came from different lands though the Gospel text 
does not suggest their royalty, and represents them as travelling westwards 
together from a common home. (Matt. ii. 1-12.) 


14. Usura and iniquitas describe generally the kind of oppression 
which the poor have to endure. 

Et honorabile nomen eorum coram illo : the Massoretic text has, 
And " precious " is their blood in his eyes/ i.e. he will not permit 
the blood of the poor to be shed ; he will protect their life-blood, as 
a dear and precious thing from their oppressors. The Greek trans 
lators read sh mam ( their name ) instead of d e mam ( their blood ).* 
The sense of the Vulgate (and Greek) is, that the poor stand in high 
esteem with the Messias. He will not suffer them to be oppressed. 
The Hebrew verb yakar, which is here rendered to be held in honour 
(honorabile), occurs also in the saying, Pretiosa in conspectu Domini 
mors sanctorum ejus (Ps. cxv. 15) and in Saul s words to David (I Kings 
xxvi. 21), quod pretiosa fuerit anima mea in oculis tuis hodie. In these 
two places, and in verse 14 of our psalm, the same idea is conveyed 
that the lives of certain individuals are too valuable to be wasted, 
or destroyed. Probably here in verse 14, and in Ps. cxv. 15 yakar 
has the meaning, to be grievous/ to be heavy/ The lives of his 
subjects are precious to the King : hence the slaying of them (their 
blood ) is grievous to him. 

15. The difficulty of this verse is to determine the subject of 
vivet. Is it the King, or the poor ? If the subject is the King, 
it is said of him that he will live (forever) in prosperity. Gold will 
be brought to him, and his subjects will pray for him. As perpetuity 
and wealth of offerings have been already promised to the King 
(verses 5, 10), it is perhaps better to take the pauper of verse 13 as 
the subject of vivet ; the poor man will live, because his life-blood is 
dear and precious to the King, and he will have a share in the rich 
offerings which are brought to the King from afar. In gratitude for 
this the poor man will pray always for the King and praise him. In 
this view adorabunt and benedicent would have the sense, men will 
pray for (so, according to the Hebrew), and men will bless (the 
third person plural being used as in Hebrew to suggest an indefinite 
subject), i.e. the poor generally will offer prayer for the King, and will 
bless him. 

De eo, concerning him/ on his behalf/ The prayer of his grate 
ful subjects is offered for the welfare of the King. It is not easy to 
understand this in a purely Messianic sense for men pray to God 
but not for Him. Yet we ourselves pray, Thy kingdom come ; 
and adorabunt de eo might be interpreted of a prayer for the growth 
and stabilisation of the Messianic kingdom. 

16. Firmamentum ; the Massoretic text, using a word -pissah 

1 It is possible that the Vulgate and Greek rendering name instead of 
blood may be due to an old corruption, in the Greek text itself, of dt^a into 

298 THE PSALMS [71 

not elsewhere occurring in the Bible, has here pissath-bar, which is 
usually rendered abundance of corn. Abundance is, however, a 
purely conjectural translation of pissah. The Greek rendering 
<m/piy/jux (firmamentum) suggests the thought of something which 
sustains, and therefore, perhaps, of corn (so o-T?ypiy/m aprov in 
Ps. civ. 16). The Hebrew bar (corn) is not directly represented in 
the Greek or Vulgate. The Targum has support of bread, as in 
Ps. civ. 16. It is probably safe to assume that firmamentum ( sus 
tenance ) suggests the idea of corn. 

Super extolletur, etc., the Hebrew is : Its fruit will rustle (or 
shake) like Lebanon, which means, apparently, that, in the breeze 
the fruit of the corn (the full ears of corn) will rustle or wave, as do 
the forests of Lebanon. By dividing the text of the Vulgate, as is 
done in the translation, we can give to super extolletur the sense of 
wave. As in verse 3 the mountains are to bear peace so here we 
see the concrete symbol of peace and plenty, the fields of waving 
corn, on the hill-tops. By translating his fruit (the fruit of the 
King, i.e. the corn as his fruit) instead of its fruit (the ears on the 
corn-stalk) we can understand super Lebanon fructus ejus as an en 
largement of the idea in the immediately preceding clause. The 
corn-crops on the mountain-land of Palestine shall be so luxuriant as 
to tower above Lebanon in height. This is, obviously quite a different 
image from that conveyed in the Hebrew, but a reasonable sense 
must somehow be attached to the Vulgate. 

The Vulgate rendering supposes a Hebrew reading mill e bhanon, 
( than Lebanon ) instead of the Massoretic kall e bhanon ( like 
Lebanon). It is clear that the Greek translators misread or mis 
understood the Hebrew yir ash will shake (or rustle ). Though 
the idea of corn-fields rustling like the forests of Lebanon in the 
breeze or storm is strange, there is no good reason for doubting the 
accuracy of the Massoretic yir ash kall e bhanon. Keble gives this 
rendering of the thought : 

Lo, streaks of corn in all the land, 
High waving o er the mountain-side ; 
Like Lebanon by soft winds fanned, 
Rustles the golden harvest far and wide. 

De civitate, city-folk : cf. de fontibus Israel (Ps. Ixvii. 27) : 
de ccelis, dwellers in heaven (Ps. cxlviii. i). The peace and plenty 
of the Messianic time in the country are symbolised by the waving 
corn-fields ; in the city the greatness of the time is seen in the multi 
tudes of citizens ; men will be as numerous in the city as are blades 
of grass in the country (cf. passage from Ezechiel xxxvi. 8/. quoted 
above, verse 3). The city is, primarily, the residence of the 
Messianic King, the metropolis of the world. (For pictures of Mes 
sianic plenty, cf. Zach. ix. 17 ; Deut. xi. 14 ; Jer. xxxi. 12 ; Is. xxvii. 6.) 


17. Ante solem : his name will abide as long as the sun exists 
(cf. verse 5). 

Permanet : the corresponding Hebrew verb yinnon was so obscure 
to the Jewish commentators that they made Yinnon a mysterious 
name of the Messias. 

Benedicentur : the Messias will be a source of blessing to all 

Mpgnificabuni : the Massoretic text has : shall declare him 
fortunate. The peoples will regard the King as the type of perfect 
happiness and prosperity, and when they pray for good fortune, 
they will ask to be blessed like him (cf. Genesis xlviii. 20). The 
Hebrew text has lost the words corresponding to omnes tribus tena, 
though they are necessary for the structure of the verse. The uni- 
versalism of this verse is as outspoken as that of verses 10 and n, 
and the close connection in thought and expression between this 
verse and definitely Messianic texts of Genesis such as xii. 3 ; xviii. 
18 ; xxii. 18 ; xxviii. 14 ; xlix. 10, makes the Messianic interpretation 
of the psalm a necessity. 

18-19. These verses are not part of the original poem. They are 
a doxology appended to mark the end of the second book of psalms. 

20. This is the note of an ancient redactor who, not knowing, 
apparently, the psalms of Books III-IV, wished to indicate the close 
of his Davidic collection. The designation of the contents of that 
collection as the praises (or prayers ) of David does not, of itself, 
imply that all the poems of the collection were necessarily Davidic. 
For defecerunt compare Ps. xvii. 38 ; Ixx. 13 ; xxxvi. 20 ; xxx. n ; 
Ixxxix. 7 ; Ixxvii. 33, etc. Laudes ( songs of praise ) is a translation 
of the Hebrew fhilloth ; the Massoretic text reads fphilloth 
( prayers ), 


SECT. JAN 3 H973 



Boylan, Patrick 
The Psalms