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NPNF1-08. St. Augustine: Exposition on the Book of Psalms
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Psalm XXVIII.655655     Lat. XXVII.

Of David himself.

1. It is the Voice of the Mediator Himself, strong of hand in the conflict of the Passion. Now what He seems to wish for against His enemies, is not the wish of malevolence, but the declaration of their punishment; as in the Gospel,656656     Matt. xi. 20–24. with the cities, in which though He had performed miracles, yet they had not believed on Him, He doth not wish in any evil will what He saith, but predicteth what is impending over them.

2. “Unto Thee, O Lord, have I cried;657657     [The Greek and Vulgate omit the epithet of the Hebrew, “My Rock,” which is the link with the Psalm foregoing (ver. 5), and the key to other parallels. St. Jerome renders it, fortis meus.—C.] My God, be not silent from me” (ver. 1). Unto Thee, O Lord, have I cried; My God, separate not the unity of Thy Word from that which as Man I am. “Lest at any time Thou be silent from me: and I shall be like them that go down into the pit.” For from this, that the Eternity of Thy Word ceaseth not to unite Itself to Me, it comes that I am not such a man as the rest of men, who are born into the deep misery of this world: where, as if Thou art silent, Thy Word is not recognised. “Hear, O Lord, the voice of my supplication, whist I pray unto Thee, whilst I hold up my hands to Thy holy temple” (ver. 2). Whilst I am crucified for their salvation, who on believing become Thy holy temple.

3. “Draw not My Soul away with sinners, and destroy me not with them that work iniquity, with them that speak peace with their neighbours” (ver. 3). With them that say unto Me, “We know that Thou art a Master come from God.”658658     John iii. 2. “But evil in their hearts.” But they speak evil in their hearts.

4. “Give unto them according to their works” (ver. 4). Give unto them according to their works, for this is just. “And according to the malice of their affections.”659659     Al. affectationum, “aims.” For aiming at evil, they cannot discover good. “According to the works of their hands give Thou unto them.” Although what they have done may avail for salvation to others, yet give Thou unto them according to the works of their wills. “Pay them their recompense.” Because, for the truth which they heard, they wished to recompense deceit; let their own deceit deceive them.

5. “For they have not had understanding in the works of the Lord” (ver. 5). And whence is it clear that this hath befallen them? From this forsooth, “for they have not had understanding in the works of the Lord.” This very thing, in truth, hath been, even now, their recompense, that in Him whom they tempted with malicious intent as a Man, they should not recognise God, with what design the Father sent Him in the Flesh. “And the works of His hands.” Nor be moved by those visible works, which are laid out before their very eyes. “Thou shalt destroy them, and not build them up.” Let them do Me no hurt, nay, nor again in their endeavour to raise engines against My Church, let them aught avail.

6. “Blessed be the Lord, for He hath heard the voice of My prayer” (ver. 6).

7. “The Lord My Helper and My Protector” (ver. 7). The Lord helping Me in so great sufferings, and protecting Me with immortality in My resurrection. “In Him hath My Heart trusted, and I have been helped.” “And My Flesh hath flourished again:” that is, and My Flesh hath risen again. “And of my will I will confess unto Him.” Wherefore, the fear of death being now destroyed, not by the necessity of fear under the Law, but with a free will with the Law, shall they who believe on Me, confess unto Him; and because I am in them, I will confess.

8. “The Lord is the strength of His people” (ver. 8). Not that people “ignorant of the righteousness of God, and willing to establish their own.”660660     Rom. x. 3. For they thought not themselves strong in themselves: for the Lord is the strength of His people, struggling in this life’s difficulties with the devil. “And the protector of the salvation of His Christ.” That, having saved them by His Christ after the strength of war, He may protect them at the last with the immortality of peace.

9. “Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance” (ver. 9). I intercede therefore, after My Flesh hath flourished again, because Thou hast said, “Desire of Me, and I will give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance;”661661     Ps. ii. 8. “Save Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance:” for “all Mine are Thine.”662662     John xvii. 10. “And rule them, and set them up even for ever.” And rule them in this temporal life, and raise them from hence into life eternal.


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