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LORD, thou hast proved me, and known me:

PSALM CXXXVIII.  (DOMINE PROBASTI.)

God's special providence over his servants.


Ver. 1.  David.  Some Greek copies add, "a psalm or alleluia of Zacharias in the dispersion," when the Israelites were at Babylon.  But Theodoret greatly disapproves of those additions, and explains this psalm of king Josias, while others refer it to David, though it may have no reference to any historical fact, being designed to praise the knowledge of God.  C.

 

--- It is the most beautiful and sublime piece in all the psalter.  Abenezra.

 

--- Proved me.  God makes trial of his servants, to let them know themselves, as all thing are open to him.  W.

 

--- Me.  Houbigant supplies the omission in Heb. "hast known."

 

--- Up.  Or all the occurrences of my life.  Lam. iii. 63.  H.

 

--- The expression is similar to that of coming in and going out.  Acts i. 21.  This may be explained of Christ, whose sufferings and resurrection were foreseen.  C.

 

--- God sounds the very heart.  Jer. xvii. 9.  Rom. viii. 27.  Bert.


2 thou hast know my sitting down, and my rising up. 3 Thou hast understood my thoughts afar off: my path and my line thou hast searched out.

Ver. 3.  Off.  Before they were formed.  S. Chrys.

 

--- Line.  Or the measure of my life and actions.  C.

 

--- Heb. "my lying down," alluding to hares, &c. which are followed to their resting places.  Houbig. --- Some read, "my direction," (S. Hil. &c.) or "limit."  S. Aug.  C.

 

--- The utmost extent of my intention, and the words yet unuttered, are not unknown to thee.  W.


4 And thou hast foreseen all my ways: for there is no speech in my tongue.

Ver. 4.  No speech, &c. viz. unknown to thee: or when there is no speech in my tongue, yet my whole interior and my most secret thoughts are known to thee.  Ch.

 

--- Sept. Vat. "no evil speech."  Ald. "no deceit."  Bert.


5 Behold, O Lord, thou hast known all things, the last and those of old: thou hast formed me, and hast laid thy hand upon me.

Ver. 5.  Last.  Heb. "what are behind and before:" or, joining it with the sequel, "thou hast formed behind," &c. which seems not so noble.  Bert.

 

--- See Job x. 18.

 

--- Chal. "thou hast afflicted me before and behind, and hast stricken me with thy hand."  Hence the Rabbins have ridiculously inferred that God reduced the extraordinary size of Adam after his sin to 100 cubits!  The sense of the Chal. may be adopted, though the hand upon me, in Heb. may also signify the divine protection  Ps. lxxix. 18.  C.


6 Thy knowledge is become wonderful to me: it is high, and I cannot reach to it.

Ver. 6.  To me.  Lit. "from me," ex me.  Heb. "above me," (H.) or "more than I," (Houbig.) which seems little.  "The knowledge which thou hast of me is admirable."  Bert.

 

--- To consider attentively the workmanship of man, we shall be filled with astonishment, (M.) as the Jews explain this passage, (C.) and as the Vulg. seems to intimate.  H.

 

--- The formation of the body, and its union with the soul, are truly astonishing.  This gives the highest idea of the divine wisdom.  H.

 

--- By experience we are convinced that his knowledge surpasses our comprehension.  W.


7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy face?

Ver. 7.  Face? or anger.  S. Aug.  Chal.  C.  Is. xxx. 28.  M.

 

--- The power of God extends every where.  Wisd. i. 7.  C.

 

--- The third divine person is truly God, and immense.  S. Jer.

 

--- As God's knowledge comprehends every thing, so his presence reaches to all.  W.


8 If I ascend into heaven, thou art there: if I descend into hell, thou art present.

Ver. 8.  Descend.  Heb. "make my bed the grave or hell."  Job xvii. 13.  The living and the dead are equally in God's power.  C.



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9 If I take my wings early in the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea:

Ver. 9.  In the morning.  Shachar is so rendered by S. Jer.  H.

 

--- Some would understand "the black eagle," (Lyran.) or the east, (Orig.) or aurora.  The poets assign wings to the sun, &c.  Mal. iv. 2.  C.


10 Even there also shall thy hand lead me: and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 And I said: Perhaps darkness shall cover me: and night shall be my light in my pleasures.

Ver. 11.  Cover.  Lit. "tread me under foot," conculcabunt.  H.

 

--- Heb. "shall cover or be my aurora."  C.

 

--- Pleasures of the most secret kind.  All is naked before God.  H.

 

--- The prophet speaks in the name of all who are curious, that darkness itself cannot hide any thing from him.  W.

 

--- He seems also to represent one who seeks to avoid being seen in his pleasures.  Bert.

 

--- Heb. "around me."  But it also has the former meaning, and shews that if we seek to indulge ourselves in darkness, it will be all in vain.  M.


12 But darkness shall not be dark to thee, and night shall be light as day: the darkness thereof, and the light thereof are alike to thee.

Ver. 12.  Thereof.  Alluding to day and night.  Bert.

13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast protected me from my mother's womb.

Ver. 13.  Reins, and interior.  Theod.

 

--- Nothing seems more hidden than a man's entrails, or a child in his mother's womb, who is formed by God, v. 16.  2 Machabees vii. 22.  W.

 

--- Protected.  Heb. "covered," which may also mean formed.  Bert.


14 I will praise thee, for thou art fearfully magnified: wonderful are thy works, and my soul knoweth right well.

Ver. 14.  Magnified.  Chal. and S. Jer. "hast magnified me."  Heb. seems less correct, "I have been terribly magnified," though the sense is much the same.  Bert.

 

--- I have been stricken with awe and astonishment at thy works.  C.


15 My bone is not hidden from thee, which thou hast made in secret: and my substance in the lower parts of the earth.

Ver. 15.  Bone.  Heb. "substance."

 

--- And my.  Heb. "and curiously wrought."  Prot.  H.

 

--- Sept. have read rather differently, and give a very good sense; "and is my substance in?" &c.  Most explain this also of the embryo.  But it seems rather to refer to the corpse in the grave.  Ps. lxii. 10.  C.  Bert.


16 Thy eyes did see my imperfect being, and in thy book all shall be written: days shall be formed, and no one in them.

Ver. 16.  My imperfect being, &c. viz. When I was as yet but an embryo, in my mother's womb; and even then, in the book of thy knowledge, all the parts and members of my body were exactly set down; which by succession of days were formed, and brought to perfection; and no one of them but what was fashioned by thee.  Ch.

 

--- Or none shall return from the grave, nemo in eis.  Bert.

 

--- No man can form the body.  Job x. 8.  W.

 

--- None of these days, (H.) or men, shall escape thee, (C.) or "live for ever."  Syr.

 

--- The embryo is formed successively, but nothing yet appears of what it shall be.  Petau.

 

--- Prot. "in thy book all my members (marg. all of them) were written, which in continuance were fashioned, (marg. or what days they should be fashioned) when as yet there was none of them."  H.

 

--- Imperfect.  Chal. "body."  Syriac "reward."

 

--- Book here alludes to the list of the living, kept by God, (Ex. xxxii. 32.) or to the decree of predestination.  Phil. iv. 3.  C.

 

--- Our first and last state are both horrible, (H.) so that hardly any vestiges of man can be discovered.  Bert.

 

--- We shall find ourselves entire only in eternity, if we have spent our days well.  H.


17 But to me thy friends, O God, are made exceedingly honourable: their principality is exceedingly strengthened.

Ver. 17.  Friends.  Many pervert this passage, translating "thoughts," because the word may have that sense in Chal. (W.) though the paraphrase agree with us; (C.) and all confess that our version is accurate.  The other may also be admitted.  While the dead seem to have no longer any existence, the saints are still with God, and the psalmist hopes to rise with them.  Bert.

 

--- Principality.  S. Jer. and Theod. "poor," who are generally employed by God in his greatest works, that no flesh may glory in his sight.  Though the elect be comparatively few, yet they cannot be numbered (H.  Apoc. vii. 9.) by man.  W.


18 I will number them, and they shall be multiplied above the sand: I rose up and am still with thee.

Ver. 18.  I rose up, &c.  I have taken a resolution to rise up from sloth and sleep; and to be still with thee, whose friends are so honourable and so happy.  Ch.

 

--- I hope to persevere in thy service.  W.

 

--- With thee.  At my rising, I am still employed in the same  manner, and cannot find out the number of thy servants or thoughts.  H.


19 If thou wilt kill the wicked, O God: ye men of blood, depart from me:

Ver. 19.  If.  Heb. "surely."  Houbig.

 

--- From me.  How long shall I be forced to live among the enemies of the Lord?  C.

 

--- Since he will reward the good, and punish the wicked eternally, I renounce the society of the latter.  W.

 

--- He specifies murderers, as he had described the wonderful formation of man.  M.


20 Because you say in thought: They shall receive thy cities in vain.

Ver. 20.  Because you say in thought, &c.  Depart from me, ye wicked, who plot against the servants of God, and think to cast them out of the cities of their habitation; as if they had received them in vain, and to no purpose.  Ch.

 

--- Thy cities.  Sixtus V. &c. read "their."  C.

 

--- Schismatics, and all innovators, endeavour to withdraw all their dependencies from the truth; (S. Aug.) and infidels wish to prevent the propagation of the gospel.  Bert.

 

--- The enemies of Nehemias, &c. may be here meant, 2 Esd. iv. 2.  C.

 

--- Depart from me, all you who would represent the felicity of heaven to be a dream.  W.


21 Have I not hated them, O Lord, that hated thee: and pine away because of thy enemies? 22 I have hated them with a perfect hatred: and they are become enemies to me.

Ver. 22.  Hatred.  Christ commands, "Love your enemies;" not those who hate God.  S. Aug.

 

--- We must love in them what God loves, and detest what he condemns.  Theod.

 

--- The Jews abuse this passage, thinking they might hate those who were not of their nation.  C.

 

--- The example of the prophet might have rectified them.  Bert.

 

--- Fervent zeal against God's enemies is commendable.


23 Prove me, O God, and know my heart: examine me, and know my paths.

Ver. 23.  Paths.  No one knowing, without a special revelation, whether he be worthy of love or hatred, (Eccli. ix.) the just submit to God's examination.


24 And see if there be in me the way of iniquity: and lead me in the eternal way.

Ver. 24.  Way.  If I be in sin, pardon me, and prepare me for heaven.  W.

 

--- Or I refuse not to be punished, if I imitate sinners.  C.

 

--- This interpretation seems less accurate.  Bert.


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