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NPNF1-08. St. Augustine: Exposition on the Book of Psalms
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Psalm XII.478478     Lat. XII. [Regarded by the critics as a link between Ps. xii. and xiv.—C.]

Unto the end, a psalm of David.

1. “For Christ is the end of the law to every one that believeth.”479479     Rom. x. 4. “How long, O Lord, wilt Thou forget me unto the end?” (ver. 1) that is, put me off as to spiritually understanding Christ, who is the Wisdom of God, and the true end of all the aim of the soul. “How long dost Thou turn away Thy face from me?” As God doth not forget, so neither doth He turn His face away: but Scripture speaks after our manner. Now God is said to turn away His face, when He doth not give to the soul, which as yet hath not the pure eye of the mind, the knowledge of Himself.

2. “How long shall I place counsel in my soul?” (ver. 2). There is no need of counsel but in adversity. Therefore “How long shall I place counsel in my soul?” is as if it were said, How long shall I be in adversity? Or at least it is an answer, so that the meaning is this, So long, O Lord, wilt Thou forget me to the end, and so long turn away Thy face from me, until I shall place counsel in mine own soul: so that except a man place counsel in his own soul to work mercy perfectly, God will not direct him to the end, nor give him that full knowledge of Himself, which is “face to face.” “Sorrow in my heart through the day?” How long shall I have, is understood. And “through the day” signifies continuance, so that day is taken for time: from which as each one longs to be free, he has sorrow in his heart, making entreaty to rise to things eternal, and not endure man’s day.

3. “How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?” either the devil, or carnal habit.

4. “Look on me, and hear me, O Lord my God” (ver. 3). “Look on me,” refers to what was said, “How long” dost “Thou turn away Thy face from me.” “Hear,” refers to what was said, “How long wilt Thou forget me to the end? Lighten mine eyes, that I sleep not in death.” The eyes of the heart must be understood, that they be not closed by the pleasurable eclipse of sin.

5. “Lest at any time mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him” (ver. 4). The devil’s mockery is to be feared. “They that trouble me will exult, if I be moved;” the devil and his angels; who exulted not over that righteous man, Job, when they troubled him; because he was not moved, that is, did not draw back from the stedfastness of his faith.480480     Job ii. 3.

6. “But I have hoped in Thy mercy” (ver. 5). Because this very thing, that a man be not moved, and that he abide fixed in the Lord, he should not attribute to self: lest when he glories that he hath not been moved, he be moved by this very pride. “My heart shall exult in Thy salvation;” in Christ, in the Wisdom of God. “I will sing481481     Cantabo. to the Lord who hath given me good things;” spiritual good things, not belonging to man’s day. “And I will chant482482     Psallam. to the name of the Lord most high” (ver. 6); that is, I give thanks with joy, and in most due order employ my body, which is the song of the spiritual soul. But if any distinction is to be marked here, “I will sing” with the heart, “I will chant” with my works; “to the Lord,” that which He alone seeth, but “to the name of the Lord,” that which is known among men, which is serviceable not for Him, but for us.


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