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Bible Commentaries

Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Psalms 81

Verse 1

Asaph. Josaphat gave the like instructions to his judges, 2 Paralipomenon xix. 6. (Kimchi) (Calmet) --- God rejected the Jews in the preceding psalm, and here the reason is assigned. (Theodoret) --- Congregation, or church of the Jews, who were gathered together like cattle, and sought after temporal advantages (St. Augustine, in Psalm lxxii. 23.) alone. (Catec. Trid. Symb.[Catechism of the Council of Trent?]) --- This is not exactly true of all, (Hebrews xi. 14.) though it might be of the people in general, who seldom raised their thoughts to spiritual delights. (Haydock) --- Of gods. Hebrew, "of God," who presides in his own council, and gives authority to others. (Amama) --- Yet Syriac has, "the angels;" Chaldean, "the just;" Protestants, "the mighty;" and Aquila, "the powerful ones." (Haydock) --- Gods here are put for judges, who act in God’s name, Deuteronomy i. 17., and Exodus xxii. 28. To decide affairs of consequence, the priests and other judges met in the temple; and the Romans did the like, each senator offering incense and wine to the god who was honoured in that place. (Suetonius in Aug. xxxv.) (Calmet) --- All magistrates ought to be equally careful in what they determine, as if they heard God present giving them the following instructions. (Worthington) --- Judgeth gods, or "God, our Saviour, is judged." (Houbigant) --- This bringeth on the reprobation of the Jews, ver. 5, &c. (Berthier)

Verse 2

Wicked. Contrary to the law, Deuteronomy i. 17., and Leviticus xix. 15.

Verse 3

Do justice. This is the sense of justificate, "justify," as the poor must not be screened from justice, any more than the rich. (Haydock) --- They are in greater danger of being neglected, Isaias i. 23., and Jeremias v. 28. (Haydock)

Verse 5

Moved. The ignorance, inapplication, and injustice of those in power overturn the state, which is supported by justice, Proverbs xiv. 34. They draw down God’s curse upon the land, (St. Jerome; Calmet) and expose it to all the miseries of anarchy. This regards pastors also. (Berthier) --- By gross ignorance judges walk in darkness, and throw all into confusion.

Verse 6

Gods. The people look upon you as such, and treat you with respect. But entertain not sentiments of pride on that account. (Calmet) --- If judges, even those whom God condemns, may be styled gods without blasphemy, how much more might Jesus Christ, who was holy and did the works of God? He uses this argument to make the fury of the people abate: but then he continues to prove that he was God in a very different and proper sense, insomuch that the Jews, clearly perceiving his meaning, which Socinians would now mistake, took up stones to throw at him, John x. 34. (Haydock) --- If he had not been God, He would surely have told them plainly, as St. Paul did when people would have offered sacrifice to him, and as St. John the Baptist confessed that he was not the Christ. The sons of Seth, priests, the just, and all the Israelites, were styled sons of God, as well as the angels and judges, Genesis vi. 2., Psalm xxviii. 1., Wisdom v. 5., and Job i. 6. But no individual is called the Son, except Jesus Christ the true God. (Berthier) --- This passage may be understood of all the faithful, (St. Augustine) particularly of bishops: and Constantine the Great was hence deterred from judging them (St. Gregory i. dec. Grat. p. 2. c. 11. q. 1.) or the clergy; (St. Melchiades c. 12. q. 1.) though this name seems inaccurate, as the died before (Glossa) the council of Nice. Amama restrains the text to men in power. (Haydock) --- Their elevated station make their ignorance and misconduct less excusable. (Menochius)

Verse 7

Men. Hebrew Adam, or "like a man" (Montanus; Haydock) of the meanest rank. --- Princes. Among men, (Calmet) or like Lucifer, the first of the rebel angels. (Eusebius) (St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho) --- Most tyrants come to a miserable end. (Menochius) --- At death, judges themselves are brought to the bar, and their case is then more terrible, as the mighty in guilt shall suffer more, Wisdom vi. (Worthington) --- They are forced to taste od death; while Jesus Christ was master of it, John x. 17, 28. This comparison evinces Christ’s divinity. But Socinians blind themselves by looking at the sun, and attempting to fathom all by the weak light of reason. (Berthier)

Verse 8

Nations. Those whom thou hast appointed judges, prevaricate, Genesis xviii. 25. (Calmet) --- Come, therefore, thyself, Lord Jesus, (Apocalypse xxii. 20.) to whom all nations were promised for an inheritance. (Berthier) (Psalm ii. 7.) --- His appearance at the last day is described in the 49th psalm; and most of the Fathers here discover a clear prediction of the conversion of the Gentiles. (Calmet)

Verse 17


An exhortation to judges and men in power.

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Psalms 81". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.