Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Psalm 89

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Psalm lxxxix. (Domine refugium.)

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. God. This characterizes the Jewish legislator [Moses]. (Berthier) (Deuteronomy xxxiii. 1.) (Du Hamel) --- David composed it in his [Moses'] name, (Menochius) or it bears some analogy with his writings. St. Jerome maintains, that he [Moses] was the author of the nine following psalms, (Calmet) which have no title in Hebrew. (Tirinus) --- But St. Augustine thinks they would then have formed a part of the pentateuch. (Calmet) --- The life of man was longer in the days of Moses than seventy or eighty years. (Bellarmine; ver. 10.) --- Moses cannot be the author of the 94th and 95th psalms. (Worthington) --- In Psalm xcviii. 6., Samuel is mentioned, and it is not necessary to have recourse to the prophetic spirit. One of the descendants of Moses, during the captivity, may have been the author, (Calmet) or David may have predicted that event. (Haydock)

Ver. 2. Formed. Hebrew, "brought forth," Job xxxviii. 8. (Calmet) --- Here Origen improperly concluded the sentence. (St. Jerome, Ep. ad Cypr.) --- God, is not in Septuagint, Syriac, or ancient Latin psalters. (Calmet) --- Al signifies both God, and not, and seems to be twice explained in the Vulgate, as Hebrew omits not, ver. 3. (Haydock) --- The sentence would be very striking, if God were left out, as it is done by Houbigant. The eternity of matter is refuted by this text. (Berthier) (Worthington) --- God's eternity is contrasted with man's short life. (Calmet) --- New gods must of course be false. (Menochius) --- Plato asserted, that "the creator of all must be unbegotten and eternal." (Plut. Conviv. viii.)

Ver. 3. Turn not man away, &c. Suffer him not quite to perish from thee, since thou art pleased to call upon him to be converted to thee. (Challoner) --- God wills not the death of the sinner. (Worthington) --- Give him grace not to yield to his base passions. (St. Augustine) --- Hebrew, "thou humblest man," (Haydock) that he may enter into himself. (Calmet)

Ver. 4. For, &. This thought naturally tends to convert the sinner. --- Watch. Consisting of three hours, (Berthier) which were of unequal length, according to the seasons. (Calmet) --- A thousand years seem not so long to God. (Haydock) --- What then must be the short life of man? See Job vii. 8. (Calmet) --- None ever lived one thousand years. Yet what would that be, compared with eternity? (Worthington)

Ver. 5. Their years be. Hebrew, "thou strikest, (Calmet) or inundatest them: they are a dream." But our version is accurate. (Berthier)

Ver. 6. Fall. Hebrew, "it is cut down and dries." The heat of the climate caused the flowers to decay very soon, Isaias xl. 6. Man's youth touches on old age. (Calmet) --- The present moment is all we can call our own. (Berthier) --- "A young man may die soon: an old man cannot live long," says an English proverb. (Worthington)

Ver. 8. Life. Literally, "age." Thou clearly discernest all our proceedings. (Haydock) --- Man is condemned for Adam's sin. The Israelites who were fit for arms, and gave way to murmuring, were sentenced to die in the desert. He may allude to this event. (Berthier) --- Hebrew may signify also, "our hidden things," or "youth," (Calmet) or "mistakes," (Houbigant) or "negligences." (St. Jerome) --- From these we should always pray to be delivered, Psalm xxiv. 7. (Haydock) --- Sin occasions the shortness of life, (Worthington) as man was created to be immortal. (Haydock) --- Before the deluge, men lived indeed longer. (Menochius)

Ver. 9. As a spider. As frail and weak as a spider's web; and miserable withal, whilst, like a spider, we spend our bowels in weaving webs to catch flies. (Challoner) --- Meditabuntur is here used in a passive sense. (Tirinus) --- Hebrew, "we have spent our years like one speaking a word." (St. Jerome) --- When he has done, the sound is no more: so their memory has perished with a sound, Psalm ix. 8. (Haydock) --- Hebrew, Chaldean, &c., do not mention the spider: Yet it seems to have been originally in the text, as it is recognized by the Syriac, Septuagint, and the other Greek interpreters, and makes the sense more complete. (Calmet) --- The transcribers might more easily omit than the Septuagint, &c., could insert this word. (Berthier)

Ver. 10. In them. Years, (Calmet) "in the world." Chaldean, "altogether." Symmachus, years. This was the usual term of man's life in David's time, (Haydock) and about the captivity, when this was written. Many lived above one hundred years when Moses wrote. (Calmet) --- Yet this proves nothing, as there are still instances of equal longevity, though it is true, that people in general seldom live above seventy, or eighty, or if they do, their days are a burden to them. The same might be the case under Moses. He probably here alludes to those warriors, who were cut off in the wilderness, few of whom would survive 80. (Berthier) --- The author of Ecclesiasticus, (xviii. 8.) gives one hundred, for the utmost limits of life. The pagan sages speak in the same style as the psalmist. (Calmet) --- Strong. Septuagint, "in dominion." But here it means in a vigorous constitution. (Bellarmine) --- Princes lived no longer than others. Hebrew and Vulgate may be "the prime, or most of them," as even a great part of the time before seventy, as well as after, (Haydock) is usually spent in misery, Genesis xlvii. 9. (Calmet) --- Mildness. God's mildness corrects us: in as much as he deals kindly with us, in shortening the days of this miserable life; and so weaning our affections from all its transitory enjoyments, and teaching us true wisdom. (Challoner) --- Hebrew, "we pass quickly and fly away, (St. Jerome) like birds of passage, (Calmet) or "it is cut down soon," (Montanus) "in silence," (Drusius) tacitisque senescimus annis. (Haydock) --- St. Jerome wonders, that the Septuagint should have translated as they have done: But they are followed by Theodotion, and the Sext. edition, who may have had different copies, equally good. (Berthier) --- Corrected (corripiemur) or "hurried away," Genebrard. --- But this is not the sense of the Septuagint. (Amama) --- "We grow tired." (Houbigant) --- It is a mercy of God to shorten men's lives, (Menochius) as many would sin more, if they had a probability of continuing upon earth. (Worthington)

Ver. 11. Anger? God must punish actual sin severely, since he thus condemns mankind on account of original sin. (Worthington)

Ver. 12. Thy right hand. Your Messias, to liberate and instruct us. (St. Augustine) --- "Make us know how to number our days thus, and we shall come to thee with a wise heart." (St. Jerome) (Ecclesiasticus vii. 40.) (Haydock) --- Septuagint have read iminoc for yamenu, "our days." (Amama) --- Make us truly wise, (Sa) or acquainted with teachers of truth. (Bellarmine) (Menochius)

Ver. 14. We are. Hebrew, "Fill us." (Montanus) --- But the psalmist feels interiorly, that his petition has been granted. (Berthier) --- The prospect of a glorious immortality fills us with hope in proportion to our sufferings for the truth. (Worthington)

Ver. 17. Yea, the work. Each in particular. Roman Septuagint, &c., omit this sentence, which Houbigant improperly deems useless. (Berthier) --- Charity must direct all. (St. Augustine) (Worthington)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

A prayer for the mercy of God; recounting the shortness and miseries of the days of man.

1 A prayer of Moses, the man of God.

Lord, thou hast been our refuge from generation to generation.

2 Before the mountains were made, or the earth and the world was formed; from eternity and to eternity thou art God.

3 Turn not man away to be brought low: and thou hast said: Be converted, O ye sons of men.

4 For a thousand years in thy sight are as yesterday, which is past.

And as a watch in the night, 5 things that are counted nothing, shall their years be.

6 In the morning man shall grow up like grass, in the morning he shall flourish and pass away: in the evening he shall fall, grow dry and wither.

7 For in thy wrath we have fainted away: and are troubled in thy indignation.

8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thy eyes: our life in the light of thy countenance.

9 For all our days are spent; and in thy wrath we have fainted away.

Our years shall be considered as a spider: 10 *the days of our years in them are threescore and ten years.

But if in the strong they be fourscore years: and what is more of them, is labour and sorrow.

For mildness is come upon us: and we shall be corrected.

11 Who knoweth the power of thy anger, and for thy fear 12 can number thy wrath?

So make thy right hand known: and men learned in heart in wisdom.

13 Return, O Lord, how long? and be intreated in favour of thy servants.

14 We are filled in the morning with thy mercy: and we have rejoiced, and are delighted all our days.

15 We have rejoiced for the days in which thou hast humbled us: for the years in which we have seen evils.

16 Look upon thy servants and upon their works: and direct their children.

17 And let the brightness of the Lord, our God, be upon us: and direct thou the works of our hands over us; yea, the work of our hands do thou direct.



10: Ecclesiasticus xviii. 8.