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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 34

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

Verse 1

David. Some of the Greek copies add, "psalm," and "unto the end." It was composed during the persecutions of Saul, &c., and is applied by the Fathers to Jesus Christ, who quotes ver. 19, (John xv. 25.; Calmet) and it seems to be in the same state with several others, which speak of his sufferings. (Berthier) --- The expressions are very animated, and though vengeance was not so strictly forbidden under the old law, (Matthew v. 44.) yet we may explain them as predictions. (Theodoret) --- David always evinces the greatest moderation, (Psalm vii. 5.) and treated even Saul with the utmost respect. What he says, therefore, was dictated by a sincere desire of their conversion, and that they might prevent eternal torments. (Asterius) (Calmet) --- His name implies one "beloved," &c., inasmuch as he is a figure of Christ, the conqueror of death and hell. (St. Augustine) (Worthington) --- Judge. Hebrew, "plead." I do not wish them to be condemned unheard. (Calmet) --- A vindictive person does not thus commit his cause to God. Jesus Christ was all mildness. But in the spiritual warfare, we may well address these words to God, (Berthier) who is often represented as a mighty warrior, Exodus xv. 3. (Calmet)

Verse 2

Arms. Hebrew magen, "buckler," of a smaller size (1 Kings xvii. 6, 7.) than the shield, (tsinna) which was used to cover the whole body. St. Jerome renders the latter word by hastam, "the spear." (Calmet) --- But this text speaks of defensive weapons.

Verse 3

The way. This may be implied by the word conclude, which Houbigant rejects, observing that St. Jerome has præoccupa, (Berthier) as it is in the Par. ed. 1583. (Haydock) --- But I fiind præcipita. (Berthier) --- "Prevent" the designs, stop the passage, or "hurl my persecutors headlong." (Haydock) --- Take offensive weapons. He foretells the ruin of those who persecuted the Church. (Worthington) --- Salvation, though my enemies deny it, Psalm iii. 2.

Verse 4

Let them. So most people render the Hebrew, though it may be understood in the future, (Berthier) as Montanus translates. (Haydock) --- Me. The wicked shall be confounded in the end, when the just shall triumph. (Worthington)

Verse 5

Dust. Hebrew mots, small "chaff," Psalm i. 4. (Vatable) --- Angel. The evil spirits are employed to punish the wicked, as good protect the just, Psalm xxxiii. 8. Some Fathers have supposed that every man was attended by a good and a bad angel. (Hermes ii.; Origen xxxv. in Luke; St. Gregory of Nyssa, vit. Mos.; Cassian viii. 17., and xiii. 12.) --- But the Church admits the power of the wicked spirits only against those who take part with them, or "as far as God allows them" (St. Jerome) to tempt. The devil is like a dog chained down, which can bite none but those who come within its reach. (St. Augustine) --- Both good and bad angels are ministers of God’s justice. (Haydock)

Verse 6

Slippery. The systems of infidels, who deny a future existence are of this nature. If they were even true, the just would have lost nothing by pursuing a virtuous course. (Berthier)

Verse 7

Their. Literally, "the destruction of their net." (Haydock) --- Some would translate shachath, "the pit of," &c. But the Septuagint is preferable; and chapheru means the have "covered with shame," as well as dug for my soul. (Berthier) --- Pit ought to be removed to the latter part of the verse. Saul laid many falsehoods to the charge of David, (Calmet) and insidiously sought his ruin. (Haydock)

Verse 8

Fall. He foretells the destruction of Saul, and his own glory. (Calmet)

Verse 9

Salvation. In the midst of troubles he is not devoid of hope, and after his deliverance he looks for eternal happiness. (Worthington)

Verse 10

Lord. Some Latin copies repeated this, while others in the original passed over the word entirely. (St. Jerome ad. Sun.) --- Be thou my life whom I always seek." (St. Augustine) --- Poor, in general, or David, who was supplied by Abimelech with food, 1 Kings xxi. 3. (Calmet)

Verse 11

Not. Accusing me of disloyalty, &c. (Flaminius) --- We must not imagine that David was cited to the bar. This is admirably explained of Jesus Christ at the tribunal of Pilate, (Calmet) and of the high priests. (Haydock) (Matthew xxvi.) --- God knows not what cannot be; (Worthington) and therefore Christ could not acknowledge what was falsely laid to his charge. (Haydock) --- The martyrs, &c., have often been exposed to the shafts of calumny. (Berthier)

Verse 12

Depriving, sterilitatem. (Haydock) --- Hebrew denotes the condition of one who has lost a husband or father. --- I had exposed my life for the welfare of the state, and of those who now seek my ruin. (Calmet) --- Yet David was not slain. This was verified in our Saviour. (Worthington) --- Septuagint have Greek: ateknian, "loss of children;" as Christ was abandoned by his disciples. (Menochius)

Verse 13

To me. Hebrew also signify, "when they were sick," which manifests a more heroic charity; though yet it is more natural to suppose that David would assume these robes of penance when he was under affliction, as St. Jerome intimates, cum infirmarer ab eis. (Berthier) --- Our Saviour’s life was a continual penance, though he stood in no need of it for himself. (Worthington) --- David was aware that the best method of avoiding the attacks of his enemies, was to make God his friend, by sentiments of humility, and by penance. (St. Augustine) (Calmet) --- Bosom. I shall reap the advantage from my prayer, if it be of no service to my enemies. (Genebrard) (Luke x. 6.) (Menochius) --- May what I wish for my enemies fall to my own lot. I have prayed for them in secret and with the utmost fervour. (Calmet) --- I have repeatedly urged my request, (Houbigant) or I am confident my prayer will be of some service, at least to myself. (Berthier)

Verse 14

Please, complacebam, "treat lovingly." (Haydock) --- Vulgate follows the regimen of the Septuagint Greek: euerestoun, which may govern an accusative case. Hebrew is plainer, I walked," (Berthier) or "behaved myself as though he had been my friend or brother." (Protestants) (Haydock) --- So. Septuagint seem to have explained am, "truly," instead of mother; as the points would determine the Hebrew, "like one who bewails his mother;" (Berthier) or, "like a mother mourning, I bowed down in grief." (St. Jerome) --- An ancient Greek interpreter has, "like one mourning for a brother born of the same mother." I felt the affliction of my enemies and sympathized with them, endeavouring to alleviate their distress as much as possible. (Calmet) --- Such was the conduct of David, the figure of the Messias; so that the expressions which seem too strong, must not be taken for imprecations. (Berthier) --- Christ was the good Samaritan who relieved the wounded man, Luke x. (Worthington) --- St. Paul admonishes us to weep with those who weep, Romans xii. 15. (Menochius)

Verse 15

Against me. Hebrew, "in my distress," (Houbigant) or "infirmity." (St. Jerome) --- Thus was my kind attention repaid. (Haydock) --- My enemies became only the more insolent, and stood beside me, to shew their contempt. (Calmet) --- Scourges. Hebrew also, "vile men." (Montanus) (Haydock) --- The Roman psalters have "and they were ignorant," ignoraverunt. (Calmet) --- David could not think that he had given any offence: much less had our Saviour. (Haydock) --- He knew no just cause why the Jews persecuted him, as they were actuated by malice. (Worthington) --- David knew not personally those who afflicted him. (Menochius)

Verse 16

Separated, and could not agree in their testimonies. This may be one meaning of charak, as it has several. (Berthier) -- "They did tear me, and ceased not, (16) with hypercritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed," &c. (Protestants) (Haydock) --- Many of their attempts have been frustrated by thy Providence, yet they do not enter into themselves. (Theodoret)

Verse 17

One. Septuagint, "daughter." Aquila, "solitary," Greek: monachen. Protestants, "darling," or my soul which is so desolate, Psalm xxi. 21. (Haydock) --- So Christ said, Why hast thou abandoned me? (Matthew xxvii.) not affording me such consolation as other saints enjoy in their agony. (Worthington)

Verse 18

Strong, gravi. Hebrew hatsum, numerous, (1 Machabees i. 1.; Menochius) and "weighty," (Haydock) which is the consequence of great numbers, (Berthier) and of virtue. St. Augustine understands the Church, which is not carried away like chaff before the wind. Amama dislike this. (Haydock) --- The resurrection is foretold, (ver. 17.) and here the Catholic Church is signified. (Worthington)

Verse 19

Wrongfully. Hebrew, "liars," (St. Jerome; Haydock) alluding to Saul, &c. (Calmet) Christ explains this of himself, John xv. (Worthington) --- Who. Some supply a negation. (Berthier) --- "Neither let them wink with the eye who." (Protestants) This sign might indicate friendship, or evil machinations, Proverbs vi. 13., and x. 10. (Calmet) --- "They pretended by their looks what they did not entertain in their hearts." (St. Augustine) (Menochius)

Verse 20

Spoke. Hebrew adds lo, "not." But it may be better explained as an interrogation. "Have they not spoken?" &c., as the enemies used deceit. (Houbigant) (Berthier) --- Earth. This word is omitted in the Roman Septuagint, St. Augustine, &c. But Theodoret reads it, and it is in all the other Greek interpreters, and in the Arabic and Syriac. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "they devise deceitful matters against them that are quiet (righe, divided, &c.) in the land." (Protestants) or "in the plunder of the earth they devise deceit." (St. Jerome) (Haydock) --- They appear friendly, but when alone they talk to the earth, like people in deep study and full of passion. (Calmet) --- This terrestrial anger is the source of much evil. (Berthier) --- The Jews and Herodians said, Master, &c., designing to inveigle our Saviour, Matthew xxi. The priests and Pharisees also accused him boldly, and instigated the people to demand his crucifixion. (Worthington) --- They were split into parties, and invaded those who were the reverse of passionate. (Menochius)

Verse 21

Done, euge. Hebrew heach. (Haydock) --- This term occurs ten times in Scripture, and here denotes the joy felt in the destruction of an enemy. Thus the Jews insulted over Christ expiring on the cross. (Berthier) --- Seen. No farther reserve is necessary: he is fallen, or we have accused him of nothing but what we have seen. (Calmet)

Verse 22

Silent. I have chosen thee for my judge and protector. (Calmet) --- Pronounce sentence if they be in the right; and if not, rescue me from their fury. (Haydock)

Verse 23


David, in the person of Christ, prayeth against his persecutors: prophetically foreshewing the punishments that shall fall upon them.

Attentive. Hebrew, "watch over." He implores present assistance. (Berthier)

Verse 24

Thy. Many copies read "my," with St. Augustine, Euthymius, &c. But thy agrees with the Roman (Calmet) and Alexandrian Septuagint and Hebrew. (Haydock)

Verse 25

It is well, occurs only once in Hebrew, which may be imperfect, as many versions supply the second. (Berthier) --- Mind, as we could have desired. Protestants, "Oh, (marginal note adds ah) so would we have it." (Haydock) --- Things go on well according to our mind. (Menochius)

Verse 26

Great. St. Augustine reads, "malicious." (Calmet) --- At the day of judgment the wicked will be condemned. (Worthington) --- If this judgment were not to take place, religion would be a fable: as impiety is not always punished in this world. (Berthier)

Verse 27

Them. The blessed in eternal glory. (Worthington) --- Justice. Or wish that sentence may be pronounced in my favour. (Calmet) --- Delight. Hebrew, "who delights." (St. Jerome) (Haydock) --- But the Greek interpreters read as we do. (Berthier)

Verse 28

Meditate. Hebrew word is used to signify speaking with refection. (Calmet)

Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 34". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/psalms-34.html. 1859.
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