PSALM CXIII. (IN EXITU ISRAEL.)
God hath shewn his power in delivering his people: idols are vain. (The Hebrews divide this into two psalms.)
Ver. 1. Alleluia. This word is placed at the end of the preceding psalm in Heb. though it seems to have been there originally, (H.) as v. 2 we find his, with reference to "the Lord," who has not been otherwise mentioned before. Houbig.
--- The psalm may be joined with the former to v. 9, when the Heb. begins a fresh one, relating to the captives, with the two which follow. C.
--- The division is of no great importance, (Bert.) and we cannot easily decide whether it be here necessary. H.
--- The Heb. copies have not been always uniform, no more than the Greek in this place. C.
--- Barbarous. Cruel, (Bert.) or which spoke a language unknown to them. Sym. and Aquila.
--- Barbarus his ego sum, quia non intelligor ulli. Ovid de Pont. 1 Cor. xiv. 11.
--- The Greeks styled all others barbarians, (Fest.) as the Egyptians did. Herod. ii.
--- Joseph at first did not understand the language of the latter, (Ps. lxxx. 6.) and spoke to his brethren by an interpreter. Gen. xlii. 22. Lohez, denotes one who speaks an unknown tongue, which Chal. expresses by the word borbra, "a stranger, or desert." C.
--- Infidels, and those who persecute the true religion, are styled barbarous, though otherwise the Egyptians were very polite and learned. W.
Ver. 2. Judea. Heb. "Juda," though the sense of the Vulg. is very good, (Bert.) as that country which had been so abandoned, became holy, when God's people dwelt there. S. Chrys.
--- After the departure from Egypt, the Israelites were more known as God's inheritance, over whom he reigned. W. Ex. xix. 6.
--- Hence He complains, when they asked for a king, (1 K. viii. 7.) though the throne is still called the Lord's. 1 Par. xxix. 23. The distinction of Juda and Israel insinuates that the kingdom had been divided. C.
--- But this had taken place for a time, after the death of Saul. H.
Ver. 3. Saw. He speaks in a poetical manner. All creatures obey God's will. W.
Ver. 4. Skipped. Through joy, exultaverunt, (H.) or rather through fear, v. 7. C.
--- There was an earthquake, not specified by Moses; or the psalmist speaks of what took place at Ar, (Num. xxi. 15. W.) unless he alludes to the waters of the Jordan, rising up like mountains. M.
Ver. 8. Waters. They are mentioned twice, as referring to different miracles. Ex. xvii. 6. and Num. xx. 8. Inanimate things are introduced, giving this reply; or the psalmist gives it himself. Bert.
--- He uses the figure prosopopeia, as if senseless things could understand. W.
Ver. 9. or Hebrew Psalm cxv. Ver. 1. Not. Some Jews here commence the 115th psalm. H.
--- But S. Augustin shews, that this part is well connected with the preceding, the true God being known by his works, while idols are senseless, and therefore can have no pretensions to divine worship. W.
--- It seems that the psalmist would not break off so abruptly, without praising God for his wondrous works, and the Fathers are silent about the present division of the Heb. (Bert.) though Eusebius and S. Athanasius had occasion to examine the text, as some Gr. copies end here, and others at v. 12, the idols, &c.
--- Glory. We claim no share in these miracles; or we confess our unworthiness, but do thou deliver us. C.
--- Thou hast done these wonders to fulfil thy gracious promises, and to prevent blasphemy. W.
Ver. 11. or Hebrew Psalm cxv. Ver. 3. Heaven. Sept. add, "and on earth," which S. Augustin joins with the following words, he, &c. We cannot indeed point God out, as we might do idols. But then what sore of gods are they? C.
--- Viler than insects. Theod.
Ver. 12. or Hebrew Psalm cxv. Ver. 4. Men. All Catholics agree, that idolatry is the "giving of divine honour to any creature." S. Justin, (con. Gent.) S. Aug. in the ten first books of the City of God, and other Fathers, refute al the species of idolatry. The Platonists adored the angels, or devils, intelligentias separatas. Others worshipped dead or living men renowned for their achievements, like Jupiter and Hercules; while some paid the same sovereign respect to animals, or even to inanimate things, both in themselves and in their images. The psalmist here derides the most gross species of idols, which are made by men, and are incapable of any vital action, being thus beneath the very beasts. Yet some were so absurd as to confide in them, (v. 16. W. or v. 8. H.) and thereby neglected the light of reason, becoming slaves of the devils, who were either the objects of adoration, as in the compacts made by sorcerers, or at least seduced mankind to pay such worship to creatures. Hence all the gods of the Gentiles are styled devils. Ps. xcv. 5. W.
--- How unjustly do heretics apply these words to the holy images used in the Church! though they must know (H.) that Catholics do not consider them as gods, no more than the saints and angels, whom they reverence only as the friends of God: treating their pictures with a relative honour, and endeavouring thus to excite themselves to the pursuit of virtue, by the memory of what they had done. Bert.
Ver. 15. or Hebrew Psalm cxv. Ver. 7. Throat. Rom. and Milan Psal. add, neither is there any breath in their mouths, which occurs, (Ps. cxxxiv. 17.) instead of this sentence. H.
--- Juvenal (Sat. 13.) laughs at the silence of Jupiter's statue. C.
Ver. 16. or Hebrew Psalm cxv. Ver. 8. Let. Zeal prompts him to make this imprecation, (C.) or prophecy. Heb. they "are or shall be." The pagans (H.) could not well find fault with this wish, (M.) as it would be a great honour to resemble real gods. Yet none of their statuaries would be willing to become such statues, or be charged with the wicked conduct of Jupiter, &c. S. Chrys. Bert.
--- The psalmist justly conforms his will to God's decree; and still would rejoice if he should give the idolaters grace to repent. W.
Ver. 17. or Hebrew Psalm cxv. Ver. 9. The house, is not now in Hebrew. But it occurs in the parallel passage, (Ps. cxxxiv.) where the imperative is used, as the Hebrew is here pointed. C.
--- "Israel trusts...house of Aaron, trust ye in the Lord," (Mont.) which is much in favour of this text, though S. Jerom, &c. agree with the Sept. C.
--- Houbigant rejects the Heb. reading, and the house of Israel occurs, v. 12. Bert.
--- All the people, the priests, and converts from paganism, are invited to praise the Lord. S. Chrys. Acts ii. 5. and x. 2. and xiii. 16. C.
--- The Church always comprised two distinct orders, the clergy and the laity. M.
Ver. 20. or Hebrew Psalm cxv. Ver. 12. Hath. Heb. "will be," which seems better. Let him bless us. C.
--- Both versions are true. Bert. Eph. i. 3.
Ver. 24. or Hebrew Psalm cxv. Ver. 16. Of heaven. Or the highest heaven, in which God displays his glory, though he fill every place. H.
--- His benefits to man claim a return of gratitude, and we are not dispensed from shewing our adoration, as deists would hence unreasonably infer. Bert.
--- Worldly men say this in their hearts, abandoning their pretensions to heaven. W.
Ver. 25. or Hebrew Psalm cxv. Ver. 17. The dead. People who are thus affected, give no praise to God, when they die, but descend into hell. W.
--- Criminals are therefore said to be dead, while the saints only sleep. S. Chrys.
--- Hell. Heb. "silence," or the tomb, (Bert.) where none can sound God's praises, (H.) though the soul in a state of separation may adore him. Bert. See Ps. vi. 6. and xxix. 10.
Ver. 26. or Hebrew Psalm cxv. Ver. 18. Live. In the state of justice, and aspiring to God's kingdom. While we use this world only as the means to ascend thither, we shall praise him for evermore. W.