Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Psalm 40

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Psalm xl. (Beatus qui intelligit.)

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Himself; implying, that David composed this psalm, though the word is not expressed in Hebrew or Greek. (Berthier; T. iii.) --- The same articles, however, occur, which have been thus rendered before. (Haydock) --- Some explain this psalm of the sickness of Ezechias, (Ven. Bede) or of that of David, a little before the revolt of Absalom. (Rab. Muis; Bossuet) --- This may be described as a figure of our Saviour's sufferings. (Calmet) --- For it would be rash not to acknowledge, that He is here the principal object in view, (Theodoret) since he has applied (ver. 10.) to the traitor's conduct, (Calmet) and all the rest may properly allude to the same events. The psalmist speaks of the Messias in the six first verses, and introduces him, in the remainder, uttering his own sentiments, (Berthier) respecting his passion and resurrection. (Worthington) (Isaias liii. 4.) (Menochius)

Ver. 2-3. Understandeth. Believing with eagerness, (Haydock) or reflecting seriously on Jesus Christ, (Berthier) who was pleased to be poor for our sakes. (Haydock) --- And the poor, is not in the ancient Septuagint, (Eusebius) nor Hebrew, &c. But it only expresses the same idea as the word needy, (Berthier) being added to show the extreme misery to which our Saviour was reduced. (Haydock) --- The Fathers explain the passage in this sense, though some would suppose, that David speaks of his own conduct, (Calmet) or of those who adhered to him in his distress, while most followed Absalom. (Flaminius) --- Day of death or judgment. Happy the man, who makes the life of Christ his constant meditation, (Berthier) and endeavours to imitate his example, and divine charity! (Haydock) --- The Church recites this psalm for the sick. Those who assist them may hope for similar treatment. But such as are not scandalized at Christ, on account of his poverty and afflictions, may be pronounced blessed, (Luke vii. 23.) as He will deliver them from distress, if they place their confidence in Him. (Worthington) --- The sick are relieved, when they think on Christ's sufferings. (Menochius) --- Preserve. Hebrew, "will preserve....and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies." (Protestants) --- But St. Jerome has, "and he will not," &c. (Haydock) --- Sixtus V reads, "into the hands of his enemy," after St. Augustine, &c. Others add, "he will purify his soul from, or on the earth." (Calmet) --- Our Lord will give to such servants more grace in this life, and glory in the next, nor will he suffer them to yield to temptation. (Worthington) --- He will defend them and heal them, when sick. (Calmet)

Ver. 4. His bed. Literally, "on the bed of his sorrow." His, seems to have been formerly in Hebrew, (Houbigant) though it be now omitted, (Berthier) as it was in the time of Symmachus, "the bed of misery," (St. Jerome) of infirmity. --- Thou hast. Hebrew, "thou wilt make." Protestants, "turn," (marginal note; Haydock) "change, or take away." In the east, the bed was removed entirely, (John v. 8.) and this expression may denote, (Calmet) that the sick man should be cured, and no longer be confined to his bed, (St. Chrysostom) or that God would take him by the hand, to support him, and turn his bed, like a tender mother, to make it more comfortable. (Genebrard) (Calmet) --- When the just are sick unto death, Christ will give them greater consolation. (Worthington) --- He will withdraw their affections from all terrestrial things, and remove whatever has been dangerous to them. (St. Gregory, Mor. xxiii. 15.) The ineffable name has been thrice repeated in these verses, to insinuate, that all good is wrought by the blessed Trinity. (Berthier)

Ver. 5. Thee. Christ prays for his members, acknowledging their sins, (Worthington) which he had undertaken to expiate. The Fathers explain this of his prayer in the garden. (Calmet) --- Have we ever reflected on sin, which reduced the Lord of all, to such poverty and distress? (Berthier)

Ver. 6. Perish? When shall we have a change, and see Absalom on the throne? When shall we get rid of this man, who reproves our conduct? So were the Jews animated to destroy Christ. (Theodoret) --- The rest of the psalm more visibly relates to him. (Calmet) --- His enemies were greatly disappointed. (Haydock) --- For after they had put him to death, he rose again, and his name and kingdom became more glorious. (Worthington)

Ver. 7. If he, any one among my enemies. (Haydock) --- The Scriptures often pass from the plural to the singular, (Berthier) to comprise every one distinctly. (Haydock) --- Yet St. Augustine, &c., read "they came," &c., omitting if, as some of the Septuagint editions do likewise: though inaccurately, according to St. Jerome and Sun. (Calmet) --- It occurs in the Roman copy, and Grabe inserts it in a smaller type. The sense is not altered. (Haydock) --- The conspirators affected to shew David some marks of civility, to obtain their ends. The Jews often strove to entangle Jesus, by their questions, (Matthew xix. 3., and xxii. 17, 24., and John viii. 3.) while Judas continued in his company, to gratify his own avarice, and to betray him. (Calmet) --- Such were their vain projects. (Haydock) --- Those who came maliciously to hear Christ, blamed him as an enemy to the law, or as one who cast out devils by Beelzebub. (Worthington)

Ver. 8. To me, seems useless, though it be added conformably to the Hebrew, (Berthier) or rather it intimates, that the enemies made no secret of their plots. (Haydock)

Ver. 9. Word of affecting the regal power, &c. (St. Ambrose) --- No more? Jesus Christ speaks. They have unjustly condemned me: But can I not rise again? or the words may be put in the mouth of his enemies. Shall we have any thing to fear from the dead? If we were to confine him only, he might perhaps escape. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "an evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him: and now that he lieth, he shall rise up no more." (Protestants) --- "The word of the devil they poured out against themselves; he who hath slept, shall rise no more." (St. Jerome) --- Yet lo may be explained, an non, "shall not he," &c. Septuagint have seen this insulting interrogation of the Jews who ridiculed what Christ had said of his future resurrection. (Berthier) --- They determined to put him to death; but they could not prevent his glorious (Worthington) appearance again on the third day. (Haydock) --- Those who explain this of David, say, that the sleep denotes a mortal illness, or a grievous fault, for which it was expected, that the king would die. (Kimchi; Munster, &c.)

Ver. 10. Bread. This characterizes the traitor, who had recieved the holy Communion, and had been intrusted with the purse by our Saviour, yet betrayed him with the sign of peace. (Calmet) --- To violate the laws of hospitality was greatly resented by the very pagans. (Plutarch, Symp. vii. 4.) --- Supplanted me, or kicked like a wild colt, as Plato complained that Aristotle had done, when he set up another school. (Haydock) Emas apelaktise. (Laertius, Elian iv. 9.) --- David might allude to Absalom, though the Holy Ghost speaks of Judas. (Calmet) --- Our Saviour himself says, (Worthington) that the Scriptures may be fulfilled, he that eateth bread with me, shall lift up his heel against me: Qui manducat mecum panem levabit contra me calcaneum suum: eperen ep eme ten pternan autou, "has lifted up," &c., as the Hebrew expresses it here. Judas had attempted to betray Christ already, and would do it more effectually hereafter; so that both the present and future might agree with him. We also find the psalm translated qui edebat panes meos, &c. But the difference is very small. (Haydock) --- To lift up the heel, is the posture of one who attempts to supplant his adversary. (Menochius)

Ver. 11. Them. No one is ignorant of the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the miserable condition of the Jews (Menochius) throughout the world. (Calmet) --- Christ will render every one according to his deserts. (Worthington)

Ver. 12. Over me. Thus the divinity of Christ was proved, since he rose victorious, in spite of his enemies. (Calmet)

Ver. 13. Innocence. Jesus was the spotless lamb incapable of sin. He effaced it by his blood, and is therefore crowned with glory, Hebrews ii. 9., and Philippians ii. 9. (Calmet) --- This innocence made him a fit victim for sin. (Worthington)

Ver. 14. So be it. Chaldean, "Amen." This word, at the beginning of a discourse, implies an affirmative oath; (Matthew vi. 13.) and at the end, it is a mark of approbation, Numbers v. 22. --- Here the Jews terminate the first book of the psalms, which they divide into five. (Calmet) --- St. Jerome rejects this division, as our Saviour mentions only the psalms, and the last psalm has no such conclusion. (Worthington) --- It has Alleluia. All the rest have Amen. See Psalms lxxii., lxxxix., and cvi. (Hebrew) (Berthier) --- The observations which have been made in this first part, will serve to explain many other passages, on which we shall therefore be shorter, as well as in specifying the variations from the original, which are for the most part only apparent, as the intelligent reader may be convinced, by the preceding remarks. (Haydock)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The happiness of him that shall believe in Christ; notwithstanding the humility and poverty in which he shall come: the malice of his enemies, especially of the traitor Judas.

1 Unto the end, a psalm for David himself.

2 Blessed is he that understandeth concerning the needy and the poor: the Lord will deliver him in the evil day.

3 The Lord preserve him and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth: and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.

4 The Lord help him on his bed of sorrow: thou hast turned all his couch in his sickness.

5 I said: O Lord, be thou merciful to me: heal my soul, for I have sinned against thee.

6 My enemies have spoken evils against me: when shall he die and his name perish?

7 And if he came in to see me, he spoke vain things; his heart gathered together iniquity to itself.

He went out and spoke to the same purpose.

8 All my enemies whispered together against me: they devised evils to me.

9 They determined against me an unjust word: shall he that sleepeth rise again no more?

10 For even the man of my peace, in whom I trusted, who eat my bread, hath greatly supplanted me.

11 But thou, O Lord, have mercy on me, and raise me up again: and I will requite them.

12 By this I know, that thou hast had a good will for me: because my enemy shall not rejoice over me.

13 But thou hast upheld me by reason of my innocence: and hast established me in thy sight for ever.

14 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from eternity to eternity. So be it. So be it.