In psalmos Davidis expositio
Commentary on the Psalms
In omni opere suo dedit confessionem sancto, et excelso in verbo gloriae.
In all his works he gave praise to the Holy One, with words of glory to the Most High.
Verba haec dicuntur de David ad litteram; et satis convenienter assumuntur ad ostendendum causam hujus operis. In quibus ostenditur quadruplex causa hujus: scilicet materia, modus, seu forma; finis et agens. Materia est universalis: quia cum singuli libri canonicae Scripturae speciales materias habeant, hic liber generalem habet totius theologiae: et hoc est quod dicit Dionysius 3 lib. caelest. Hierar.: divinarum odarum, id est Psalmorum, sacram Scripturam intendere, est, sacras et divinas operationes universas decantare. Unde signatur materia in hoc quod dicit: in omni opere, quia de omni opere Dei tractat.
These words refer in the literal sense to David, and are selected fittingly to show the cause of this work. In them, its four causes are shown, namely, the matter, the mode or form, the goal, and the agent. The matter is universal, since, while individual books of the canonical Scriptures contain particular matter, this book contains the general matter of the whole of the theology. And this is what Dionysius says: the Sacred Scripture of the divine songs, that is, of the Psalms, intends to sing about all of the holy and divine actions. So the phrase in all his works designates the matter, since he writes about every work of God.
Est autem quadruplex opus Dei: scilicet creationis: Gen. 1 cap.: requievit Deus die septimo ab omni opere et cetera. Gubernationis: Joan. 5: pater meus usque modo operatur et cetera. Reparationis: Joan. 4: meus cibus est ut faciam voluntatem ejus qui misit me, ut perficiam opus ejus. Glorificationis: Eccl. 42: gloria domini plenum est opus ejus. Et de his omnibus complete in hac doctrina tractatur.
Now the work of God is fourfold, namely, creation: on the seventh day, God rested from every work (Gen 2:2); governance: my father is always working (John 5:17); restoration: my food is to do the will of him who sent me, so that I may complete his work (John 4:34); and glorification: his work is filled with the glory of the Lord (Sir 42:16). And all these are treated completely in this teaching.
Primo de opere creationis: Ps. 8: videbo caelos tuos, opera digitorum tuorum.
First is the work of creation: I will behold your heavens, the works of your hands (Ps 8:4).
Secundo gubernationis: quia omnes historiae veteris testamenti tanguntur in hoc libro: Ps. 77: aperiam in parabolis os meum et cetera.
Second is the work of governance, since all the histories in the Old Testament are treated in this book: I will open my mouth in parables . . . what great things we have heard and known and our fathers have told us (Ps 77:2–3).
Tertio reparationis, quantum ad caput, scilicet Christum et quantum ad omnes effectus gratiae: Ps. 3: ego dormivi et somnum et cetera. Omnia enim quae ad fidem incarnationis pertinent, sic dilucide traduntur in hoc opere, ut fere videatur evangelium, et non prophetia.
Third is the work of restoration, in regard to the head, namely Christ, and in regard to all the effects of grace: I have slept and taken my rest, and I have risen up (Ps 3:6). For all the things that pertain to faith in the Incarnation are related so plainly in this work that it seems to be a Gospel rather than a prophecy.
Quarto est opus glorificationis: Ps. 149: exultabunt sancti in gloria et cetera. Et haec est ratio, quare magis frequentatur Psalterium in Ecclesia, quia continet totam Scripturam. Vel secundum Glossam, ad dandam nobis spem divinae misericordiae: quia cum peccasset David, tamen per poenitentiam est reparatus.
Fourth is the work of glorification: the saints shall rejoice in glory (Ps 149:5). And this is the reason why the Psalter is used so frequently in the Church, since it contains the whole of Scripture. Or, according to the gloss, it is to give us hope in the divine mercy, since although David sinned, he was nevertheless restored through penance.
Materia ergo universalis est, quia omne opus. Et quia hoc ad Christum spectat: Coloss. 1: in ipso complacuit omnem plenitudinem divinitatis inhabitare; ideo materia hujus libri est Christus et membra ejus.
Now, the matter is universal because it is all his works, and because it looks to Christ in whom it pleased God for all fullness to dwell (Col 1:19), and so the matter of this book is Christ and his members.
Modus seu forma in sacra Scriptura multiplex invenitur.
The mode or form of Sacred Scripture is of many kinds.
Narrativus: Eccles. 42: nonne Deus fecit sanctos suos enarrare omnia mirabilia sua? Et hoc in historialibus libris invenitur.
For example, narrative: has the Lord not made the saints declare all his wonderful works? (Sir 42:17). And this is found in the historical books.
Admonitorius et exhortatorius et praeceptivus: ad Titum 2: haec loquere et exhortare. Argue cum omni imperio. 2 Tim. 2: hoc commoneo, testificans coram Deo et cetera. Hic modus invenitur in lege, prophetis, et libris Salomonis.
Another kind admonishes, exhorts, and commands: speak and exhort these things; rebuke with all authority (Titus 2:15); remind people of these things, testifying before God (2 Tim 2:14). This kind is found in the law, the prophets, and the books of Solomon.
Disputativus: et hoc in Job et in Apostolo: Job 13: disputare cum Deo cupio.
Another kind disputes, and this is in Job and in the Apostle: I desire to dispute with God (Job 13:3).
Deprecativus vel laudativus: et hoc invenitur in isto libro: quia quidquid in aliis libris praedictis modis dicitur, hic ponitur per modum laudis et orationis: infra Ps. 9: confitebor tibi domine et cetera narrabo et cetera. Et ideo dicit, dedit confessionem, quia per modum confitendi loquitur.
Then there is praying or praising, and this is also found in this book, since everything said in the other books in the modes already mentioned is also here, in the mode of praise and prayer: I will praise you, Lord, with my whole heart; I will relate your wonders (Ps 9:2). And so he says, he gave praise, because he spoke in the mode of giving praise.
Et hinc sumitur ratio tituli qui est, incipit liber hymnorum, seu soliloquiorum prophetae David de Christo. Hymnus est laus Dei cum cantico. Canticum autem exultatio mentis de aeternis habita, prorumpens in vocem. Docet ergo laudare Deum cum exultatione. Soliloquium est collocutio hominis cum Deo singulariter, vel secum tantum, quia hoc convenit laudanti et oranti.
And from this comes the reason for the book’s title: The Beginning of the Book of Hymns or The Soliloquies of the Prophet David about Christ. A hymn is the praise of God with song. Now a song is the exultation of a mind dwelling on things eternal breaking forth aloud. Therefore, he teaches us to praise God with exultation. A soliloquy is a conversation of a man with God alone, or with just himself, since this is fitting for praising and praying.
Hujus Scripturae finis est oratio, quae est elevatio mentis in Deum. Damascenus lib. 3: oratio est ascensus intellectus in Deum: Ps. 140: elevatio manuum mearum sacrificium vespertinum. Sed quatuor modis anima elevatur in Deum:
The goal of this Scripture is prayer, which is the lifting up of the mind to God. Prayer is the ascent of the intellect to God. The lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice (Ps 140:2). The soul is lifted up toward God in four ways:
scilicet ad admirandum celsitudinem potestatis ipsius: Isa. 40: levate in excelsum oculos vestros, et videte quis creavit haec: Ps. 103: quam mirabilia sunt opera tua domine: et haec est elevatio fidei.
namely, to admire the height of his power, and this is the elevation of faith: lift your eyes on high and see who has created these things (Isa 40:26). How great and wonderful are your works, Lord (Ps 103:24).
Secundo elevatur mens ad tendendum in excellentiam aeternae beatitudinis: Job 11: levare poteris faciem tuam absque macula, eris stabilis et non timebis: miseriae quoque oblivisceris, et quasi fulgor meridianus consurget tibi: et haec est elevatio spei.
Second, the mind is lifted up to stretch towards the excellence of eternal beatitude, and this is the elevation of hope: you may lift up your face without stain, and you will be steadfast and shall not fear, and you will forget misery . . . and brightness like that of noonday shall rise up for you (Job 11:15–17).
Tertio elevatur mens ad inhaerendum divinae bonitati et sanctitati: Isa. 51: elevare, consurge Hierusalem et. et haec est elevatio caritatis.
Third, the mind is lifted up to cling to the divine goodness and holiness: arise, stand up, O Jerusalem (Isa 51:17). And this is the elevation of charity.
Quarto elevatur mens ad imitandum divinam justitiam in opere: Thren. 3, levemus corda nostra cum manibus ad Deum in caelos: et haec est elevatio justitiae.
Fourth, the mind is lifted up to imitate the divine justice in action, and this is the elevation of justice: let us lift up our hearts with our hands to the Lord in the heavens (Lam 3:41).
Et iste quadruplex modus insinuatur, cum dicit, sancto et excelso: quia duo ultimi modi elevationis pertinent ad hoc quod dicit, sancto; duo primi ad hoc quod dicit, excelso. Et quod hic sit finis Scripturae hujus, habetur in Psalmis.
And these four ways are implied when he says, to the Holy One and the Most High, since the last two ways of being lifted up relate to the Holy One and the first two to the Most High. And the Psalms teach that this is the goal of this Scripture.
Primo de excelso Ps. 112: a solis ortu, et post, excelsus super omnes et cetera.
First, about the Most High: from the rising of the sun . . . the Lord is high above all nations (Ps 112:3–4).
Secundo de sancto: Ps. 98, confiteantur nomini tuo magno, quoniam terribile et sanctum est.
Second, about the Holy One: let them praise your great name for it is terrible and holy (Ps 98:3).
Ideo Gregorius 1 hom. dicit super Ezech. quod vox psalmodiae, si cum intentione cordis agitur, omnipotenti Deo per eam ad cor iter paratur, ut intentae animae aut prophetiae mysteria, aut gratiam compunctionis infundat. Finis ergo est, ut anima conjungatur Deo, sicut sancto et excelso.
So Gregory says that if it is carried out with the attention of the heart, the voice of psalm-singing prepares for Almighty God a way to the heart, so that he may pour the mystery of prophecy or the grace of remorse into the attentive soul. The goal is, therefore, that the soul may be joined to God as the Holy One and the Most High.
Auctor autem hujus operis significatur ibi, in verbo gloriae. Notandum autem, quod aliud est in sacra Scriptura, et aliud in aliis scientiis. Nam aliae scientiae sunt per rationem humanam editae, haec autem Scriptura per instinctum inspirationis divinae: 2 Petr. 1: non enim voluntate humana allata est prophetia, sed Spiritu Sancto inspirati locuti sunt et cetera. Et ideo lingua hominis se habet in Scriptura sacra, sicut lingua pueri dicentis verba quae alius ministrat: Ps. 44: lingua mea calamus, et 2 Reg. 23: spiritus domini locutus est per me, et sermo ejus per linguam meam. Et ideo dicit, in verbo Domini, vel gloriae, quae per revelationem dicuntur. Unde 3 Reg. 20: percute me in sermone domini, id est in revelatione divina.
Now, the phrase in words of glory indicates the author of this work. For it should be noted that Sacred Scripture differs from other kinds of knowledge. For other kinds of knowledge arise through human reason, but Scripture through the impulse of divine inspiration: for prophecy did not come by the will of man, but they spoke, inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet 1:21). So, in Sacred Scripture, the tongue of a man is like the tongue of a child saying the words another provides: my tongue is like the pen of a scribe (Ps 44:2), and the spirit of the Lord has spoken through me and his word through my tongue (2 Sam 23:2). And so he says the words of the Lord, or of glory, which are spoken through revelation. Thus 1 Kings 20:35 says, strike me in the word of the Lord—that is, in divine revelation.
Et potest dici haec Scriptura verbum gloriae quatuor modis: quia quadrupliciter se habet ad gloriam:
And so this Scripture can be said to be the words of glory in four ways, since it is related to glory in four ways.
scilicet quantum ad causam a qua fluit, quia a verbo glorioso Dei haec doctrina emanavit: 2 Petr. 1: voce delapsa hujuscemodi a magnifica gloria: hic est filius meus dilectus et cetera.
First, in regard to the cause from which it flows, since this teaching comes forth from the glorious Word of God, a voice coming down in this way from the excellent glory, “This is my beloved Son” (2 Pet 1:17).
Quantum ad continentiam, quia in isto libro gloria Dei continetur quam annuntiat: Ps. 96: annuntiate inter gentes gloriam ejus.
Second, in regard to content, since this book contains the glory of the Lord which it announces: announce his glory among the nations (Ps 95:3).
Quantum ad modum emanationis: gloria enim idem est quod claritas: et revelatio hujus prophetiae gloriosa fuit, quia aperta.
Third, in regard to the way it comes forth, since glory is equivalent to clarity, and the revelation of this prophecy was glorious because it was manifest.
Triplex est enim modus prophetiae.
For there are three modes of prophecy:
Per sensibiles res: Dan. 5: apparuerunt digiti, quasi hominis scribentis et cetera. rex aspiciebat articulos manus scribentis.
Through sensible things: there appeared fingers, as it were of the hand of a man . . . and the king beheld the joints of the hand that wrote (Dan 5:5).
Per similitudines imaginarias, sicut patet de somnio Pharaonis et interpretatione facta per Joseph, Genes. 41: Isa. 6: vidi dominum sedentem super solium excelsum et elevatum et cetera.
Through imaginary likenesses, as is made clear by the dream of Pharaoh and the interpretation made by Joseph (Gen 41). I saw the Lord sitting upon a high and elevated throne (Isa 6:1).
Per ipsius veritatis manifestationem. Et talis modus prophetiae convenit Danieli, qui solius Spiritus Sancti instinctu sine omni exteriori adminiculo suam edidit prophetiam. Alii namque prophetae, sicut dicit Augustinus, per quasdam rerum imagines atque verborum tegumenta, scilicet per somnia et visiones, facta et dicta prophetaverunt: sed iste, nude doctus fuit de veritate. Unde 2 Reg. 22, cum diceret David: spiritus domini locutus est et cetera. Statim addidit, sicut lux aurorae oriente sole mane absque nubibus rutilat. Sol est Spiritus Sanctus illuminans corda prophetarum, qui quandoque sub nubibus apparet, quandoque per duos modos praedictos prophetis illucet, quandoque sine nubibus, sicut hic. Et ad hoc adduci potest quod dicitur 2 Reg. 6: quam gloriosus fuit hodie rex Israel, discooperiens se ante ancillas servorum suorum, et nudatus est.
Through the manifestation of the truth itself. And this mode befits the prophecy of Daniel, who put forth his prophecy solely by the impulse of the Holy Spirit without any exterior help. For the other prophets, as Augustine says, prophesied deeds and words through certain images of things and verbal veiling (namely, through dreams and visions); but he was taught directly by the truth. So when David said that the spirit of the Lord has spoken through me, he immediately added, as the light of the dawn when the sun rises, shines in the morning without clouds (2 Sam 23:2, 4). For the sun is the Holy Spirit, illuminating the hearts of the prophets, who sometimes appears under the clouds when he illumines through the two modes of prophecy already mentioned, and who sometimes appears without clouds, as here. And to this can be added, how glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself before the handmaids of his servants and was naked (2 Sam 6:20).
Et quia per eam nos invitat ad gloriam. Ps. 115: gloria haec est omnibus sanctis ejus, bene praemittitur, quam gloriosus et cetera.
The fourth way in which this Scripture relates to glory is that through it, God invites us to glory. Psalm 149:9, this glory is for all his saints, aptly relates to how glorious was the king of Israel today, uncovering himself (2 Sam 6:20).