Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers: Series I/Volume VIII/Expositions on the Book of Psalms/Psalm XXXIII
1. “Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous:” rejoice, O ye righteous, not in yourselves, for that is not safe; but in the Lord. “For praise is comely to the upright” (ver. 1): these praise the Lord, who submit themselves unto the Lord; for else they are distorted and perverse.
2. “Praise the Lord with harp:” praise the Lord, presenting unto Him your bodies a living sacrifice. “Sing unto Him with the psaltery for ten strings” (ver. 2): let your members be servants to the love of God, and of your neighbour, in which are kept both the three and the seven commandments.
3. “Sing unto Him a new song:” sing unto Him a song of the grace of faith. “Sing skilfully unto Him with jubilation” (ver. 3): sing skillfully unto Him with rejoicing.
4. “For the Word of the Lord is right:” for the Word of the Lord is right, to make you that which of yourselves ye cannot be. “And all His works are done in faith” (ver. 4): lest any think that by the merit of works he hath arrived at faith, when in faith are done all the works which God Himself loveth.
5. “He loveth Mercy and Judgment:” for He loveth Mercy, which now He showeth first; and Judgment, wherewith He exacteth that which He hath first shown. “The earth is full of the Mercy of the Lord” (ver. 5): throughout the whole world are sins forgiven unto men by the Mercy of the Lord.
6. “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made firm:” for not by themselves, but by the Word of the Lord were the righteous made strong. “And all the strength of them by the Breath of His Mouth” (ver. 6). And all their faith by His Holy Spirit.
7. “He gathereth the waters of the sea together as into a bottle:” He gathered the people of the world together, to confession of mortified sin, lest through pride they flow too freely. “He layeth up the deep in storehouses” (ver. 7): and keepeth in them His secrets for riches.
8. “Let all the earth fear the Lord:” let every sinner fear, that so he may cease to sin. “Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him” (ver. 8): not of the terrors of men, or of any creature, but of Him let them stand in awe.
9. “For He spake, and they were made:” for no other one made those things which are to fear; but He spake, and they were made. “He commanded, and they were created” (ver. 9): He commanded by His Word, and they were created.
10. “The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought;” of them that seek not His Kingdom, but kingdoms of their own. “He maketh the devices of the people of none effect:” of them that covet earthly happiness. “And reproveth the counsels of princes” (ver. 10): of them that seek to rule over such peoples.
11. “But the counsel of the Lord standeth for ever;” but the counsel of the Lord, whereby He maketh none blessed but him that submitteth unto Himself, standeth for ever. The thoughts of His Heart to all generations” (ver. 11): the thoughts of His Wisdom are not mutable, but endure to all generations.
12. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord:” one nation is blessed, belonging to the heavenly city, which hath not chosen save the Lord for their God: “And the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance” (ver. 12): and which not of itself, but by the gift of God, hath been chosen, that He by possessing it may not suffer it to be uncared for and miserable.
13. “The Lord looketh from Heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men” (ver. 13). From the souls of the righteous, the Lord looketh mercifully upon all who would rise to newness of life.
14. “From His prepared habitation:” from His habitation of assumed Humanity, which He prepared for Himself. “He looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth” (ver. 14): He looketh mercifully upon all who live in the flesh, that He may be over them in ruling them.
15. “He fashioneth their hearts singly:” He giveth spiritually to their hearts their proper gifts, so that neither the whole body may be eye, nor the whole hearing; but that one in this manner, another in that manner, may be incorporated with Christ. “He understandeth all their works” (ver. 15). Before Him are all their works understood.
16. “A king shall not be saved by much strength:” he shall not be saved who ruleth his own flesh, if he presume much upon his own strength. “Neither shall a giant be saved by much strength” (ver. 16): nor shall he be saved whoever warreth against the habit of his own lust, or against the devil and his angels, if he trust much to his own might.
17. “A horse is a deceitful thing for safety:” he is deceived, who thinketh either that through men he gaineth salvation received among men, or that by the impetuosity of his own courage he is defended from destruction. “In the abundance of his strength shall he not be saved” (ver. 17).
18. “Behold, the Eyes of the Lord are upon them that fear Him:” because if thou seek salvation, behold, the love of the Lord is upon them that fear Him. “Upon them that hope in His mercy” (ver. 18): that hope not in their own strength, but in His mercy.
19. “To deliver their souls from death, and to keep them alive in famine” (ver. 19). To give them the nourishment of the Word, and of Everlasting Truth, which they lost while presuming on their own strength, and therefore have not even their own strength, from lack of righteousness.
20. “My soul shall be patient for the Lord:” that hereafter it may be filled with dainties incorruptible, meanwhile, whilst here it remaineth, my soul shall be patient for the Lord. “For He is our Helper and Defender” (ver. 20): our Helper He is, while we endeavour after Him; and our Defender, while we resist the adversary.
21. “For our heart shall rejoice in Him:” for not in ourselves, wherein without Him there is great need; but in Himself shall our heart rejoice. “And we have trusted in His holy Name” (ver. 21); and therefore have we trusted that we shall come to God, because unto us absent hath He sent, through faith, His own Name.
22. “Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we have hoped in Thee” (ver. 22): let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us; for hope confoundeth not, because we have hoped in Thee.
- Lat. XXXII.
- Rom. xii. 1.
- See St. Augustin on Faith and Works, § 17, Tr. note h. He takes our first and second as one, dividing the tenth. [Compare St. Augustin, Sermon ix. cap. 5. He is credited with introducing this division into the Western churches. Compare Irenæus (Adv. Hæres. ii. 24, § 4, note 9), A.N.F. vol. i. p. 395; also Clement, Stromata, A.N.F. vol. ii. p. 512.—C.]
- See De Genesi ad Lit. b. i. §§ 5, 6.
- 1 Cor. xii. 17.