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TO David himself, understanding. Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.

Ver. 1.  Understanding; (Prot. mascil.  H.) shewing how he was brought to acknowledge his fault, and by penance to obtain pardon, (W.) justly giving the glory to God's grace.  S. Aug.

 

--- Sept. Alex. ["A psalm] to David," of understanding; which is taken from some other copy.  H.

 

--- Some suppose this word has been inserted from ver 8.  Abenezra.

 

--- But there are several other psalms which have this title, (H.) intimating either that they contain great mysteries, (Euseb.) or that they are easy to understand.  Agellius.

 

--- This is wholly of a moral nature.  The Jews styled it the heart of David, because it displays his sentiments of contrition.  C.

 

--- He composed it most probably after Nathan had engaged him to confess his fault.  Bellar.

 

--- It might be used on the solemn feast of expiation.  Grot.  Num. xxix. 7.

 

--- the Fathers explain it of the grace which we receive in baptism and in penance.  S. Aug.  S. Greg. &c.  C.

 

--- Are they.  Heb. "The blessings of him whose iniquity."  Pagnin.

 

--- But the sense is the same, and S. Paul follows the Sept. which gives their version the highest authority.  Rom. iv. 7.

 

--- Sins; or, "who is screened from the punishment of sin."  Prin. disc.  Sin has often this signification; and the psalmist would otherwise seem to say less than he had already expressed.  Bert.

 

--- Covered, by charity, (1 Pet. iv.) as a physician covers a wound, to remove it entirely; and we must cover our former transgressions, by doing good works.  S. Greg.

 

--- Then our sins will not appear at the day of judgment, (S. Jer.) nor be punished, as they are wholly destroyed.  The Pelagians calumniated Catholics, as if they taught that sins were only shaven, as it were, the roots still remaining; which S. Aug. (con. 2 ep. Pelag. i. 13.) says, "None affirmeth but an infidel."  Thus the doctrine of Calvin is condemned; who abuses these texts to prove that sins are only covered, and still remain even in the most just; which is contrary to innumerable passages of Scripture, (Isai. vi.  Jo. i.  1 Cor. vi. &c.) and injurious to the perfections of God, and to the redemption of Christ, as well as to the saints in heaven, who are thus represented as still infected with all their sins.  W.

 

--- This doctrine is now almost abandoned by Protestants, as it is contrary both to sound philosophy and divinity: for sin is nothing physical, but a want of moral rectitude.  Bert.

 

--- God cannot fail to punish sin, wherever it really subsists.  His spirit is surely free from guile.  He cannot suppose that we are just by imputation of Christ's justice, unless we be really so.  H.

 

--- By means of the sacraments the sinner becomes just, and God sees nothing in him deserving of punishment.  C.

 

--- "If any one wishes his sins to be covered, let him manifest them to God, by the voice of confession."  S. Greg.

 

--- But, replies a Lutheran commentator, "God does not forget sin."  What is this to the purpose, as long as the sin does not subsist in the offender?  He allows that "the pardon of sin is inseparable from sanctification."  Renew a right spirit within my bowels.  Ps. l. 12.  Bert.

 

--- The man who has felt real compunction, will be able to form a true notion of the happiness of a reconciliation.  C.

 

--- Covering may allude to the custom of writing on wax, which might easily be effaced.  Our sins are recorded in the book of God's justice.  M.


PSALM XXXI.  (BEATI QUORUM.)

The second penitential psalm.



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2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

Ver. 2.  Spirit.  Sym. has "heart," or "mouth."  C.

 

--- The latter is also in some copies of the Sept.  Euseb.

 

--- The Rom. and Alex. Sept. have it, though Grabe substitutes spirit, (H.) which is recognised by S. Jerom (ad. Sun.), Heb. &c.  Nothing is so contrary to true repentance as hypocrisy.  S. Aug. &c.  C.

 

--- If we do not co-operate with God's grace, our sins will never be effaced, though, before remission, our works can only dispose us to receive pardon.  "God (and meritorious) works follow."  S. Aug.  W.


3 Because I was silent my bones grew old; whilst I cried out all the day long.

Ver. 3.  Because I was silent, &c.  That is, whilst I kept silence, by concealing, or refusing to confess my sins, thy hand was heavy upon me, &c.  Ch.

 

--- The cry was then only an effect of vanity, like that of the Pharisee, full of his own merits; (S. Aug.  S. Jer.  C.) or David was silent till Nathan made him know his fault, which he afterwards ceased not to deplore.  Theod.

 

--- It is supposed that he had continued impenitent for above a year.  But he might fell remorse during that time.  v. 5.  Bert.

 

--- Cried.  Heb. "roared," like a lion.  C.

 

--- Because I acknowledged not my grievous sins, I was much afflicted.  I prayed, but to little purpose.  W.

 

--- Wishing to conceal the cause of my grief, (C.) I pined away, (H.  Lam. iii. 4.) and suffered greatly, because I did not confess.  M.


4 For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: I am turned in my anguish, whilst the thorn is fastened.

Ver. 4.  I am turned, &c.  That is, I turn and roll about in my bed, to sek for ease in my pain, whilst the thorn of thy justice pierces my flesh, and sticks fast in me.  Or, I am turned; that is, I am converted to thee, my God, by being brought to a better understanding by thy chastisements.  In the Hebrew it is, my moisture is turned into the droughts of summer.  Ch.  Prot.  H.

 

--- But the Sept. may have taken l for a prep. before shaddi, as the Greek interpreters say nothing of this moisture, which is the interpretation of modern Jews; and S. Jerom has (Bert.) "I was turned or occupied, in my misery;" versatus sum in miseriâ meâ.  There is no peace for the wicked.  H.

 

--- God has not punished David exteriorly till after the admonition of Nathan, when so many evils poured upon him.  But the king must have experienced cruel agonies of mind, till he was prevailed on by this wise physician to confess his fault, (C.) and thus let out the imposthume, which would not allow him to enjoy any repose.

 

--- Fastened.  S. Jer. "while the summer (or heat; æstas) was burning incessantly," sela.  Heb. becharbone kayits means also in gladios spina.  "The thorn has been turned into swords for my affliction;" (Bert.) or I have been as grievously tormented, as if a thorn or sword had pierced me.  H.

 

--- Thy divine Providence chastises me, and my conscience tells me that I have deserved all my sufferings.  W.

 

--- Many of the ancients read, while the thorn is broken, confringitur, (Ps. Rom.  S. Greg.  C.) which causes the extraction to be more difficult.  H.

 

--- This thorn may denote sin, which like a weed, had infected David's soul.  Theod.  C.


5 I have acknowledged my sin to thee, and my injustice I have not concealed. I said I will confess against myself my injustice to the Lord: and thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sin.

Ver. 5.  Sin.  Or as some psalters read, "of my heart," with the Sept. Cassiod. &c.  C.

 

--- "I know that thou wilt readily forgive the sins which are fully laid open before thee."  S. Jer.

 

--- David no sooner perceived that he was the unjust man (H.) whom Nathan had described, than he exclaimed, "I have sinned;" and at the same moment God forgave him.  2 K. xii. 7.  C.

 

--- If this psalm relate to his repentance, it seems he had already had recourse to God; but this is doubtful, as he appears to have entered into himself only after the prophet's reproach.  Nothing can more effectually give peace to the soul than an humble confession, which costs human pride a great deal, when it must be made to our brethren.  Bert.

 

--- The Jews were sometimes obliged to confess to God's minister.  Lev. iv. 5. and Num. v. 7.  M.



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6 For this shall every one that is holy pray to thee in a seasonable time. And yet in a flood of many waters, they shall not come nigh unto him.

Ver. 6.  Holy.  Even the angels rejoice at the sinner's conversion.  Lu. xv. 7.  The saints take part in the welfare of their fellow creatures, and praise God for his mercies shewn unto them.  C.

 

--- Time.  During this life, (Is. lv. 6.  Eccle. ix. 10.  Chal.  Muis.) or when they shall be treated in like manner.  Piscat.

 

--- As I now repent, so must those who are afflicted, pray that they may obtain pardon; then they will not be oppressed, though their miseries may appear very great, like a deluge.  W.

 

--- Yet.  Heb. rak, "surely."  Bert.

 

--- "Therefore shall every merciful one pray unto Thee, finding time; that when many waters shall inundate, they may not approach unto him."  S. Jer.  H.

 

--- A deluge denotes great calamities.  Is. xliii. 2.  Even the terrors of the last day will not disturb the just, (C.) nor will they inspire the wicked with true repentance.  H.


7 Thou art my refuge from the trouble which hath encompassed me: my joy, deliver me from them that surround me.

Ver. 7.  Refuge.  Heb. "hiding," (Ps. xxx. 21.  H.) or asylum.  C.

 

--- Which.  Heb. "thou shalt surround me with songs of deliverance.  Sela."  Or "my praise saving, thou wilt environ me always."  S. Jer.  H.

 

--- Perhaps th may now occupy the pase of m, as the Greeks all agree; and the sense is at least the same.  Bert.


8 I will give thee understanding, and I will instruct thee in this way, in which thou shalt go: I will fix my eyes upon thee.

Ver. 8.  Fix.  Heb. "consult with my eyes concerning thee."  The Vulg. better.  C.

 

--- Prot. marg. "my eye shall be upon thee."  H.

 

--- God thus engages to watch over, and direct his servant, (Gen. xliv. 21.  Jer. xxiv. 6.  C.) giving him instruction, by means of chastisements.  W.


9 Do not become like the horse and the mule, who have no understanding. With bit and bridle bind fast their jaws, who come not near unto thee.

Ver. 9.  Do not.  This may be spoken by God, or by the psalmist; as an admonition to hear the counsel of those divinely commissioned.  C.

 

--- Who come.  Prot. "lest they come near," (H.) and threaten to bite or to run over thee.  C.

 

--- But the Heb. may be the sense of the Vulg. qui non accedunt.  S. Jer.

 

--- It may be a prayer, that God would offer a sort of violence to restrain the sallies of the sinner, (H.) and to convert him; (W.) or God threatens the obstinate with rigour of his justice.  Many delude themselves, thinking that he will always treat them with lenity, and be ready to receive them.  Bert.  Is. xxxvii. 29.  But the prophet admonishes them not to follow their senses alone, nor to imitate brute beasts, as he had done with regard to Bathsabee and Urias.  M.

 

--- The bit (camus) was a sort of muzzle, "to hinder horses from biting."  Xenophon.


10 Many are the scourges of the sinner, but mercy shall encompass him that hopeth in the Lord.

Ver. 10.  Many.  Sinners deserve much punishment.  But if they will repent they may find mercy.  W.

 

--- This may be also the declaration of God, though the prophet seem to speak in the next verse.  Bert.

 

--- God humbles the pride of haughty monarchs, like Sennacherib and Nabuchodonosor, treating them like beasts.  C.


11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye just, and glory, all ye right of heart.

Ver. 11.  Glory, which is lawful when God is the object.  1 Cor. i. 31.  My glory I will not give to another.  Is. xlii. 8.  C.

 

--- Heb. "praise him."  S. Jer.  H.

 

--- Joy is the end of true penance, to which the prophet invites all.  W.


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