Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Psalm 34

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Psalm xxxiv. (Judica Domine nocentes me.)

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. David. Some of the Greek copies add, "psalm," and "unto the end." It was composed during the persecutions of Saul, &c., and is applied by the Fathers to Jesus Christ, who quotes ver. 19, (John xv. 25.; Calmet) and it seems to be in the same state with several others, which speak of his sufferings. (Berthier) --- The expressions are very animated, and though vengeance was not so strictly forbidden under the old law, (Matthew v. 44.) yet we may explain them as predictions. (Theodoret) --- David always evinces the greatest moderation, (Psalm vii. 5.) and treated even Saul with the utmost respect. What he says, therefore, was dictated by a sincere desire of their conversion, and that they might prevent eternal torments; as well as to set the conduct of God in a proper light, and to encourage the virtuous. (Asterius) (Calmet) --- His name implies one "beloved," &c., inasmuch as he is a figure of Christ, the conqueror of death and hell. (St. Augustine) (Worthington) --- Judge. Hebrew, "plead." I do not wish them to be condemned unheard. (Calmet) --- A vindictive person does not thus commit his cause to God. Jesus Christ was all mildness. But in the spiritual warfare, we may well address these words to God, (Berthier) who is often represented as a mighty warrior, Exodus xv. 3. (Calmet)

Ver. 2. Arms. Hebrew magen, "buckler," of a smaller size (1 Kings xvii. 6, 7.) than the shield, (tsinna) which was used to cover the whole body. St. Jerome renders the latter word by hastam, "the spear." (Calmet) --- But this text speaks of defensive weapons.

Ver. 3. The way. This may be implied by the word conclude, which Houbigant rejects, observing that St. Jerome has prĉoccupa, (Berthier) as it is in the Par. ed. 1533. (Haydock) --- But I fiind prĉcipita. (Berthier) --- "Prevent" the designs, stop the passage, or "hurl my persecutors headlong." (Haydock) --- Take offensive weapons. He foretells the ruin of those who persecuted the Church. (Worthington) --- Salvation, though my enemies deny it, Psalm iii. 2.

Ver. 4. Let them. So most people render the Hebrew, though it may be understood in the future, (Berthier) as Montanus translates. (Haydock) --- Me. The wicked shall be confounded in the end, when the just shall triumph. (Worthington)

Ver. 5. Dust. Hebrew mots, small "chaff," Psalm i. 4. (Vatable) --- Angel. The evil spirits are employed to punish the wicked, as the good [angels] protect the just, Psalm xxxiii. 8. Some Fathers have supposed that every man was attended by a good and a bad angel. (Hermes ii.; Origen xxxv. in Luke; St. Gregory of Nyssa, vit. Mos.; Cassian viii. 17., and xiii. 12.) --- But the Church admits the power of the wicked spirits only against those who take part with them, or "as far as God allows them" (St. Jerome) to tempt. The devil is like a dog chained down, which can bite none but those who come within its reach. (St. Augustine) --- Both good and bad angels are ministers of God's justice. (Haydock)

Ver. 6. Slippery. The systems of infidels, who deny a future existence are of this nature. If they were even true, the just would have lost nothing by pursuing a virtuous course. (Berthier)

Ver. 7. Their. Literally, "the destruction of their net." (Haydock) --- Some would translate shachath, "the pit of," &c. But the Septuagint is preferable; and chapheru means they have "covered with shame," as well as dug for my soul. (Berthier) --- Pit ought to be removed to the latter part of the verse. Saul laid many falsehoods to the charge of David, (Calmet) and insidiously sought his ruin. (Haydock)

Ver. 8. Fall. He foretells the destruction of Saul, and his own glory. (Calmet)

Ver. 9. Salvation. In the midst of troubles he is not devoid of hope, and after his deliverance he looks for eternal happiness. (Worthington)

Ver. 10. Lord. Some Latin copies repeated this, while others in the original passed over the word entirely. (St. Jerome ad. Sun.) --- "Be thou my life whom I always seek." (St. Augustine) --- Poor, in general, or David, who was supplied by Abimelech with food, 1 Kings xxi. 3. (Calmet)

Ver. 11. Not. Accusing me of disloyalty, &c. (Flaminius) --- We must not imagine that David was cited to the bar. This is admirably explained of Jesus Christ at the tribunal of Pilate, (Calmet) and of the high priests. (Haydock) (Matthew xxvi.) --- God knows not what cannot be; (Worthington) and therefore Christ could not acknowledge what was falsely laid to his charge. (Haydock) --- The martyrs, &c., have often been exposed to the shafts of calumny. (Berthier)

Ver. 12. Depriving, sterilitatem. (Haydock) --- Hebrew denotes the condition of one who has lost a husband or father. --- I had exposed my life for the welfare of the state, and of those who now seek my ruin. (Calmet) --- Yet David was not slain. This was verified in our Saviour. (Worthington) --- Septuagint have  ateknian, "loss of children;" as Christ was abandoned by his disciples. (Menochius)

Ver. 13. To me. Hebrew also signify, "when they were sick," which manifests a more heroic charity; though yet it is more natural to suppose that David would assume these robes of penance when he was under affliction, as St. Jerome intimates, cum infirmarer ab eis. (Berthier) --- Our Saviour's life was a continual penance, though he stood in no need of it for himself. (Worthington) --- David was aware that the best method of avoiding the attacks of his enemies, was to make God his friend, by sentiments of humility, and by penance. (St. Augustine) (Calmet) --- Bosom. I shall reap the advantage from my prayer, if it be of no service to my enemies. (Genebrard) (Luke x. 6.) (Menochius) --- May what I wish for my enemies fall to my own lot. I have prayed for them in secret and with the utmost fervour. (Calmet) --- I have repeatedly urged my request, (Houbigant) or I am confident my prayer will be of some service, at least to myself. (Berthier)

Ver. 14. Please, complacebam, "treat lovingly." (Haydock) --- Vulgate follows the regimen of the Septuagint euerestoun, which may govern an accusative case. Hebrew is plainer, "I walked," (Berthier) or "behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother." (Protestants) (Haydock) --- So. Septuagint seem to have explained am, "truly," instead of mother; as the points would determine the Hebrew, "like one who bewails his mother;" (Berthier) or, "like a mother mourning, I bowed down in grief." (St. Jerome) --- An ancient Greek interpreter has, "like one mourning for a brother born of the same mother." I felt the affliction of my enemies and sympathized with them, endeavouring to alleviate their distress as much as possible. (Calmet) --- Such was the conduct of David, the figure of the Messias; so that the expressions which seem too strong, must not be taken for imprecations. (Berthier) --- Christ was the good Samaritan who relieved the wounded man, Luke x. (Worthington) --- St. Paul admonishes us to weep with those who weep, Romans xii. 15. (Menochius)

Ver. 15. Against me. Hebrew, "in my distress," (Houbigant) or "infirmity." (St. Jerome) --- Thus was my kind attention repaid. (Haydock) --- My enemies became only the more insolent, and stood beside me, to shew their contempt. (Calmet) --- Scourges. Hebrew also, "vile men," (Berthier) necim, people stricken, gathered themselves upon me, and I knew not." (Mont.) (Haydock) --- The Roman psalters have "and they were ignorant," ignoraverunt. (Calmet) --- David could not think that he had given any offence: much less had our Saviour. (Haydock) --- He knew no just cause why the Jews persecuted him, as they were actuated by malice. (Worthington) --- David knew not personally those who afflicted him. (Menochius)

Ver. 16. Separated, and could not agree in their testimonies. This may be one meaning of charak, as it has several. (Berthier) -- "They did tear me, and ceased not, (16) with hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed," &c. (Protestants) (Haydock) --- Many of their attempts have been frustrated by thy Providence, yet they do not enter into themselves. (Theodoret)

Ver. 17. One. Septuagint, "daughter." Aquila, "solitary," monachen. Protestants, "darling," or my soul which is so desolate, Psalm xxi. 21. (Haydock) --- So Christ said, Why hast thou abandoned me? (Matthew xxvii.) not affording me such consolation as other saints enjoy in their agony. (Worthington)

Ver. 18. Strong, gravi. Hebrew hatsum, numerous, (1 Machabees i. 1.; Menochius) and "weighty," (Haydock) which is the consequence of great numbers, (Berthier) and of virtue. St. Augustine understands the Church, which is not carried away like chaff before the wind. Amama dislikes this. (Haydock) --- The resurrection is foretold, (ver. 17.) and here the Catholic Church is signified. (Worthington)

Ver. 19. Wrongfully. Hebrew, "liars," (St. Jerome; Haydock) alluding to Saul, &c. (Calmet) Christ explains this of himself, John xv. (Worthington) --- Who. Some supply a negation. (Berthier) --- "Neither let them wink with the eye who." (Protestants) This sign might indicate friendship, or evil machinations, Proverbs vi. 13., and x. 10. (Calmet) --- "They pretended by their looks what they did not entertain in their hearts." (St. Augustine) (Menochius)

Ver. 20. Spoke. Hebrew adds lo, "not." But it may be better explained as an interrogation. "Have they not spoken?" &c., as the enemies used deceit. (Houbigant) (Berthier) --- Earth. This word is omitted in the Roman Septuagint, St. Augustine, &c. But Theodoret reads it, and it is in all the other Greek interpreters, and in the Arabic and Syriac. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet (righe, divided, &c.) in the land." (Protestants) or "in the plunder of the earth they devise deceit." (St. Jerome) (Haydock) --- They appear friendly, but when alone they talk to the earth, like people in deep study and full of passion. (Calmet) --- This terrestrial anger is the source of much evil. (Berthier) --- The Jews and Herodians said, Master, &c., designing to inveigle our Saviour, Matthew xxii. The priests and Pharisees also accused him boldly, and instigated the people to demand his crucifixion. (Worthington) --- They were split into parties, and invaded those who were the reverse of passionate. (Menochius)

Ver. 21. Done, euge. Hebrew heach. (Haydock) --- This term occurs ten times in Scripture, and here denotes the joy felt in the destruction of an enemy. Thus the Jews insulted over Christ expiring on the cross. (Berthier) --- Seen. No farther reserve is necessary: he is fallen, or we have accused him of nothing but what we have seen. (Calmet)

Ver. 22. Silent. I have chosen thee for my judge and protector. (Calmet) --- Pronounce sentence if they be in the right; and if not, rescue me from their fury. (Haydock)

Ver. 23. Attentive. Hebrew, "watch over." He implores present assistance. (Berthier)

Ver. 24. Thy. Many copies read "my," with St. Augustine, Euthymius, &c. But thy agrees with the Roman (Calmet) and Alexandrian Septuagint and Hebrew. (Haydock)

Ver. 25. It is well, occurs only once in Hebrew, which may be imperfect, as many versions supply the second. (Berthier) --- Mind, as we could have desired. Protestants, "Oh, (marginal note adds ah) so would we have it." (Haydock) --- Things go on well according to our mind. (Menochius)

Ver. 26. Great. St. Augustine reads, "malicious." (Calmet) --- At the day of judgment the wicked will be condemned. (Worthington) --- If this judgment were not to take place, religion would be a fable: as impiety is not always punished in this world. (Berthier)

Ver. 27. Them. The blessed in eternal glory. (Worthington) --- Justice. Or wish that sentence may be pronounced in my favour. (Calmet) --- Delight. Hebrew, "who delights." (St. Jerome) (Haydock) --- But the Greek interpreters read as we do. (Berthier)

Ver. 28. Meditate. Hebrew word is used to signify speaking with reflection. (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

David, in the person of Christ, prayeth against his persecutors: prophetically foreshewing the punishments that shall fall upon them.

1 For David himself.

Judge thou, O Lord, them that wrong me: overthrow them that fight against me.

2 Take hold of arms and shield: and rise up to help me.

3 Bring out the sword, and shut up the way against them that persecute me: say to my soul: I am thy salvation.

4 *Let them be confounded and ashamed, that seek after my soul.

Let them be turned back and be confounded, that devise evil against me.

5 Let them become as dust before the wind: and let the angel of the Lord straiten them.

6 Let their way become dark and slippery; and let the angel of the Lord pursue them.

7 For without cause they have hidden their net for me unto destruction: without cause they have upbraided my soul.

8 Let the snare which he knoweth not come upon him: and let the net which he hath hidden catch him: and into that very snare let him fall.

9 But my soul shall rejoice in the Lord; and shall be delighted in his salvation.

10 All my bones shall say: Lord, who is like to thee?

Who deliverest the poor from the hand of them that are stronger than he; the needy and the poor from them that strip him.

11 Unjust witnesses, rising up, have asked me things I knew not.

12 They repaid me evil for good: to the depriving me of my soul.

13 But as for me, when they were troublesome to me, I was clothed with hair-cloth.

I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer shall be turned into my bosom.

14 As a neighbour and as an own brother, so did I please; as one mourning and sorrowful, so was I humbled.

15 But they rejoiced against me, and came together: scourges were gathered together upon me, and I knew not.

16 They were separated, and repented not: they tempted me, they scoffed at me with scorn: they gnashed upon me with their teeth.

17 Lord, when wilt thou look upon me? rescue thou soul from their malice: my only one from the lions.

18 I will give thanks to thee in a great church: I will praise thee in a strong people.

19 Let not them that are my enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: *who have hated me without cause, and wink with the eyes.

20 For they spoke indeed peaceably to me: and speaking in the anger of the earth they devised guile.

21 And they opened their mouth wide against me; they said: Well done, well done, our eyes have seen it.

22 Thou hast seen, O Lord, be not thou silent: O Lord, depart not from me.

23 Arise, and be attentive to my judgment: to my cause, my God and my Lord.

24 Judge me, O Lord, my God, according to thy justice, and let them not rejoice over me.

25 Let them not say in their hearts: It is well, it is well, to our mind: neither let them say: We have swallowed him up.

26 Let them blush, and be ashamed together, who rejoice at my evils.

Let them be clothed with confusion and shame, who speak great things against me.

27 Let them rejoice and be glad, who are well pleased with my justice, and let them say always; The Lord be magnified, who delight in the peace of his servant.

28 Any my tongue shall meditate thy justice, thy praise all the day long.



4: Psalm xxxix. 15.

19: John xv. 25.