Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Psalm 54

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Psalm liv. (Exaudi Deus.)

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. David. It alludes to some of his persecutions, particularly to that of Absalom, as well as to that of the Church, and of Jesus Christ. Bede explains it of Onias: who, being excluded from the high priesthood, retired into Egypt, and built the temple of Onion, 2 Machabees xiii. (Calmet)

Ver. 3. Hear me. He repeats the same petition four times, (Haydock) to testify his fervour, and humility, Ecclesiasticus xxxv. 21. --- Exercise, among the wicked, (St. Augustine) or while I consider the sufferings of Christ. (Eusebius) --- David was perplexed what course to take, when he first heard of his son's revolt. Our Saviour was sorrowful unto death, Matthew xxvi. 37. (Calmet) --- This life is a warfare. (Worthington) --- Ldoleschia. Hebrew sichi, denotes serious (Haydock) meditation, Genesis xxiv. 63. (Menochius)

Ver. 4. Upon me. When a person has fallen into distress, the world is ever ready to attribute it to some fault. Absalom accused his father of neglecting to judge, &c., 2 Kings xv. 2. The Jews calumniated and sought the death of Christ, whose agony in the garden is well described, (ver. 5.) as well as the consternation of David, at the sight of such a general revolt, (Calmet) which almost overwhelmed him. (Worthington)

Ver. 5. Troubled, like a woman in labour, (Menochius) as yachil implies, (Calmet) in Hiphel. (Menochius)

Ver. 7. Dove, which flies swiftly. He now adored the judgments of God, which chastised him, as he had threatened; (2 Kings xii. 11.) though, while innocent, he had rejected a similar proposal, Psalm x. 1. The event shewed, that he acted wisely in retiring beyond the Jordan. (Calmet) --- O that I could fly, and in the simplicity of the dove, be removed from these afflictions! (Worthington) --- As I could not go to heaven, I retired into the wilderness. (Menochius)

Ver. 9. Storm. The first fury of the rebels, which is most dangerous, is thus specified. David was convinced, that his son's party would dwindle away, when he was informed that he did not pursue him, following the advice of Chusai. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "I would hasten my escape from the impetuous wind and tempest." But the Septuagint may be equally correct. (Berthier) --- God protected his weak servant in the greatest dangers. (Worthington)

Ver. 10. Cast down. Hebrew, "swallow up," as the earth did Dathan. (Calmet) --- Septuagint, "drown." (Haydock) --- Tongues, as at Babel, that they may not know how to proceed. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "swallow up....the torrent of their tongue." (Bate.) --- Pallag, means also to "divide." Absalom was accordingly infatuated by David's friend, 2 Kings xv. 31., and xvii. 7. (Menochius) --- City of Hebron, or even of Jerusalem, which caused the king to leave no garrison in it. The city was still more abandoned in our Saviour's regard. (Calmet) --- Contradiction. Their counsels agree not. They have their troubles, yet will not amend; but strive to oppress the poor. (Worthington)

Ver. 13. From him. But how shall we guard against a traitor? (Calmet) --- The injury received from a friend is most cutting. (Worthington)

Ver. 14. Guide, the prime minister, (Berthier) and chief of the council. (Menochius) --- Such was Achitophel, who had nevertheless been long (Calmet) secretly disaffected. See 2 Kings xv. 12., and xvi. 23. He professed the same religion, and was trusted with the most important affairs, as Judas carried the purse. (Haydock)

Ver. 15. Consent, or with expedition, as the Rabbins order people to go to the temple, though they must return slowly. All this designates Judas. (Calmet) --- Dreadful lesson for all sacred ministers, who prove faithless! (Berthier) participating of the holy sacraments in the Catholic Church, (Worthington) and yet betraying themselves, and their master! Achitophel had probably to attend David in the temple, as Naaman did Benadad, 4 Kings v. 18. (Haydock)

Ver. 16. Let death, &c. This, and such like imprecations, which occur in the psalms, are delivered prophetically; that is, by way of foretelling the punishments which shall fall upon the wicked from divine justice, and approving the righteous ways of God: but not by way of ill-will, or uncharitable curses, which the law of God disallows. (Challoner) --- David shewed even too much tenderness towards the rebels, in the opinion of Joab, &c. He would not hurt Saul. His predictions were verified; as Achitophel became a suicide, Absalom perished miserably, suspended between heaven and earth, as an object of horror to both, while many of his accomplices were either slain, or fell into precipices, 2 Kings xvii. 23., and xviii. 8. (Haydock) --- Hell, by a sudden death, like Antiochus, Core, &c., Numbers xvi. 30. The just are already dead to this world. (Berthier) --- Those who sin on purpose, descend, as it were, alive into hell. (Worthington)

Ver. 18. Evening. The Hebrew then began the day. (Calmet) (Genesis i. 5.) (Haydock) --- They had three times allotted for prayer, (Daniel vi. 10.) as the Church had afterwards. (Const. Ap.[Apostolic Constitutions?] vii. 25.) (Calmet) --- Evening song, matins, and the sacrifice of the mass, are the principal times for divine service. (Worthington) --- David comprises all times, because his prayer was continual. (Berthier) (Calmet)

Ver. 19. Among many, &c. That is, they that drew near to attack me, were many in company, all combining to fight against me. (Challoner) --- Or, many also joined themselves to me with Joab, and the holy angels, (4 Kings vi. 16.) though almost all Israel followed Absalom, 2 Kings xv. 13. (Calmet) --- In many things, schismatics agree with the Church; but their crime is the breaking of unity. (St. Augustine)

Ver. 20. Change, or redemption for them, (Psalm xliii. 13.; Eusebius) or they will not amend, (Worthington) nor cease to blaspheme God, and to calumniate me. (Calmet) --- Eternal. Literally, "He who is before ages." (Haydock)

Ver. 21. Repay. Hebrew bishlomaiv, "in his retributions," or "against his peaceable ones." Houbigant too arbitrarily translates, "they have sent forth their hand against, " &c. (Berthier)

Ver. 22. They are divided, &c. Dispersed, scattered, and brought to nothing, by the wrath of God, who looks with indignation on their wicked and deceitful ways. (Challoner) --- They are separated from the good, (St. Jerome) slain by a look, 2 Thessalonians ii. 8. --- Near, or fought, ver. 19. (Calmet) --- Some translate, "they have divided the butter, like words of his mouth." But this is less accurate, and the same idea is conveyed in the next words. (Berthier) --- Protestants, "The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart. His words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords." (Haydock) --- My enemy has violated every law, under the appearance of friendship. (Calmet) --- Darts. Absalom kissed the men of Israel to delude them, (2 Kings xv. 2.) and the traitor gave this sign to those who came to seize our Saviour, Matthew xxvi. 48. (Calmet) --- The words of God are most excellent in themselves, but they seem hard to the incredulous. Thus the Capharnaites gave rise to the first heresy against the words of Christ, which St. Peter piously believed, though, as yet, he did not comprehend their meaning, John vi. (St. Augustine) (Worthington) --- His heart and words may thus be understood of God: but they more probably relate to any one of David's numerous enemies, who is thus singled out. (Haydock)

Ver. 23. Cast. The prophet had experienced the happy effect of this conduct. (Calmet) --- In all troubles and doubts, we must have recourse to God. (Worthington) (1 Peter v. 7.)

Ver. 24. Destruction; "into gehenna," (Chaldean) or "hell," (St. Jerome) to which the judge sentences the reprobate, without promoting their crimes. (St. Augustine) (Calmet) --- Days. It is rare that murderers and notorious malefactors escape punishment in this world; but in the next, they will surely be requited. Absalom perished in the flower of his age. (Berthier) --- Achitophel, and many others, have been suddenly cut off. God sometimes permits such to reign for a time, to exercise his servants, or that they may repent. (St. Augustine) --- The Scripture often threatens sinners in this manner, Job xxi. 21., and Isaias lxv. 20. (Calmet) --- Their days are indeed spent, when they die. But if they had altered their conduct, they might have prolonged their life, (Haydock) according to the usual course of nature. (Worthington) (Menochius)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

A prayer of a just man under persecution from the wicked. It agrees to Christ persecuted by the Jews, and betrayed by Judas.

1 Unto the end, in verses, understanding for David.

2 Hear, O God, my prayer, and despise not my supplication: 3 be attentive to me, and hear me.

I am grieved in my exercise; and am troubled, 4 at the voice of the enemy, and at the tribulation of the sinner.

For they have cast iniquities upon me: and in wrath they were troublesome to me.

5 My heart is troubled within me: and the fear of death is fallen upon me.

6 Fear and trembling are come upon me: and darkness hath covered me.

7 And I said: Who will give me wings like a dove, and I will fly and be at rest?

8 Lo, I have gone far off flying away; and I abode in the wilderness.

9 I waited for him that hath saved me from pusillanimity of spirit, and a storm.

10 Cast down, O Lord, and divide their tongues; for I have seen iniquity and contradiction in the city.

11 Day and night shall iniquity surround it upon its walls: and in the midst thereof are labour, 12 and injustice.

And usury and deceit have not departed from its streets.

13 For if my enemy had reviled me, I would verily have borne with it.

And if he that hated me had spoken great things against me: I would perhaps have hidden myself from him.

14 But thou, a man of one mind, my guide, and my familiar:

15 Who didst take sweet meats together with me: in the house of God we walked with consent.

16 Let death come upon them, and let them go down alive into hell.

For there is wickedness in their dwellings: in the midst of them.

17 But I have cried to God: and the Lord will save me.

18 Evening and morning, and at noon, I will speak and declare: and he shall hear my voice.

19 He shall redeem my soul in peace from them that draw near to me: for among many they were with me.

20 God shall hear, and the Eternal shall humble them.

For there is no change with them, and they have not feared God: 21 he hath stretched forth his hand to repay.

They have defiled his covenant, 22 they are divided by the wrath of his countenance, and his heart hath drawn near.

His words are smoother than oil, and the same are darts.

23 *Cast thy care upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall not suffer the just to waver for ever.

24 But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction.

Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days: but I will trust in thee, O Lord.



23: Matthew vi. 25.; Luke xii. 22.; 1 Peter v. 7.