Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Psalm 91

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Psalm xci. (Bonum est confiteri.)

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Day. The Jews say, that Adam sung this at his creation, (Chaldean) or that it refers to the reign of the Messias, which shall last one thousand years after this world is ended. (Kimchi) --- Others think it is a thanksgiving after the defeat of Sennacherib, (Ven. Bede) or Absalom. (Ferrand) --- It might be sung by the sons of Moses, who expected to be shortly delivered from Babylon, (Calmet) or by the people on the sabbath, (Berthier) though many of the Fathers think, that this word denotes "the repose of the life to come." The occasion or author of this psalm cannot be clearly ascertained. (Calmet) --- When we enjoy rest from labour, we ought particularly to praise God's works. (Worthington)

Ver. 2. Praise. Literally, "to confess," (Haydock) as we must be free from sin before we can worthily proclaim God's praises. (Eusebius) (St. Jerome) --- But here to confess means to praise, (Calmet) or give thanks. (Worthington)

Ver. 3. Night. Of adversity, and at all times, (Berthier) as well as in prosperity. (Worthington) --- Morning and evening prayer must not be neglected. (Haydock) --- These times were particularly pointed out, Psalm liv. 18.

Ver. 4. Strings, upon. Hebrew, "on the hasor, and on the nabel, on the higaion with the cinnor." Yet the ten stringed instrument seems to have been the same with the psaltery, or nobol. (Haydock) --- Bellarmine thinks and is redundant, and was not in the copies of the Septuagint, or it is only explanatory, as we know that the psaltery had ten strings, Psalm xxxii. 2., and cxliii. 9. (Menochius) --- The matter is of small consequence. (Berthier) --- Eusebius seems to insinuate, that instruments were not used in the Church of his time. (Calmet) --- The observance of the commandments, and mortification, signified by the harp, are requisite. (Worthington)

Ver. 5. Rejoice. Admiring thy providence, (Calmet) or the Messias. "What are all things compared with thee, O Lord!" (St. Augustine; Conf. x. 4.)

Ver. 6. Deep. We cannot easily explain thy ways, (Menochius) in exalting some, and depressing thy people. (Calmet) (Romans xi. 33.)

Ver. 7. Things. Pretended sages hence take occasion to blaspheme whatsoever things they know not, Jude 10. The wise adore God in silence, (Haydock) and confess, that the misery of the just here proves a future life, while the wicked prosper, to be more tormented. (Eusebius) --- Carnal men, who think only of present things, see not this. (Menochius)

Ver. 8. Appear. Hebrew, "flourish." Still they are but as grass, (Haydock) short-lived, and of small utility. The just resembles the palm-tree, ver. 13. (Calmet)

Ver. 10. Enemies. The Babylonians, (Calmet) or all the wicked at the last day. (Berthier) --- This shews God's power, and insures the exaltation of the just. (Menochius)

Ver. 11. Mercy. Hebrew and some copies of the Septuagint have "oil," an emblem of mercy, Proverbs xxi. 20. (Berthier) --- "I shall be anointed with fresh oil." (Protestants) --- "My old age shall be like a verdant olive." (Houbigant) (Symmachus) --- Those who have a good conscience, expect final happiness. (Worthington)

Ver. 12. Me. I shall live to hear of the vengeance which God will take, Psalm cxi. 9. (Calmet) --- The just pray for sinners here; but must approve of God's judgment. (Berthier)

Ver. 13. Palm-tree. Septuagint phoinix, means also a "Phœnician, or the Phœnix" bird, of which the ancients have said so much, Job xxix. 18., (Calmet) and of which Tertullian, (de Res. xiii.) and St. Ambrose, (de fid. Res.) seem to understand this passage. (Amama) --- But it must be explained in the sense of the Vulgate, as the Hebrew Tamar evinceth. This tree, and the cedar, were the most famous in those countries; the former for its fruit, and the latter for buildings and duration. The palm-tree will shoot forth again, after it has been cut down or burnt, (Pliny, [Natural History?] xiii. 14.) so the just will rise up from oppression. (Calmet)

Ver. 14. Courts. In the Church triumphant, as well as in the militant. (Worthington) --- The piety of the faithful induces strangers to embrace the truth. (Berthier)

Ver. 15. Well treated. Or affected. (Worthington) --- Bene patientes, eupathountes, "flourishing," (Grotius) tranquil, (St. Augustine) or in a prosperous condition. (Berthier) --- Erasmus, to shew the utility of consulting the originals, informs us, what a multiplicity of authors he consulted in vain, to know the import of this word. (Amama) --- "They shall be fat and covered with leaves," (St. Jerome) alluding to the aforesaid comparison.

Ver. 16. In him. The general judgment will set this in the clearest light. At present, the ways of Providence may be mysterious, ver. 6. (Haydock)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

God is to be praised for his wondrous works.

1 A psalm of a canticle on the sabbath-day.

2 It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to thy name, O Most High.

3 To shew forth thy mercy in the morning, and thy truth in the night:

4 Upon an instrument of ten strings, upon the psaltery: with a canticle, upon the harp.

5 For thou hast given me, O Lord, a delight in thy doings: and in the works of thy hands I shall rejoice.

6 O Lord, how great are thy works! thy thoughts are exceedingly deep.

7 The senseless man shall not know: nor will the fool understand these things.

8 When the wicked shall spring up as grass: and all the workers of iniquity shall appear:

That they may perish for ever and ever: 9 but thou, O Lord, art Most High for evermore.

10 For behold thy enemies, O Lord, for behold thy enemies shall perish: and all the workers of iniquity shall be scattered.

11 But my horn shall be exalted like that of the unicorn: and my old age in plentiful mercy.

12 My eye also hath looked down upon my enemies: and my ear shall hear of the downfall of the malignant that rise up against me.

13 The just shall flourish like the palm-tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus.

14 They that are planted in the house of the Lord, shall flourish in the courts of the house of our God.

15 They shall still increase in a fruitful old age: and shall be well treated, 16 that they may shew,

That the Lord, our God, is righteous, and there is no iniquity in him.