Beati quorum remissae sunt iniquitates, et quorum tecta sunt peccata.
Beatus vir cui non imputavit Dominus peccatum: nec est in
spiritu ejus dolus.
Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are
covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin,
and in whose spirit there is no guile.
© Peter Zerner 1 The
traditional numbering of these psalms would be 6, 31, 37, 50, 101,
129 and 142 using the numbering of the Septuagint. 2 For
this distinction, see ST. I-II. 3. 1. 3 The
third thing is not mentioned. 4 of
the two things in which sin consists being treated presently in the
context of his reply to the objection presented earlier. 5 The
second of three things required for the remission of sins with which
the discussion in b. is concerned. 6 The
reference to Isaias 26:16 makes no reference to the hand of God, and
could possibly refer instead to 14:26. 7 There
is a string of conditionals throughout Job 31 that resolve in vs. 40 all of
which Job offers to give an honest account of his own virtues. Thus,
if all these things that I, Job, say are true, then "let thistles
grow up to me instead of wheat, and thorns instead of barley." 8 Proverbs
28 supplies a list of what happens if one does not confess one's sins.
Ipsi David Intellectus.
Quoniam tacui, inveteraverunt ossa mea: dum clamarem tota die.
Quoniam die ac nocte gravata est super me manus tua, conversus sum
in aerumna mea, dum configitur spina. Because I was
silent my bones grew old; whilst I cried out all the day long. For
day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: I am turned in my
anguish, whilst the thorn in fastened.
Delictum meum cognitum tibi feci: et injustitiam meam non
abscondi. Dixi, Confitebor adversum me injustitiam meam Domino: et
tu remisisti impietatem peccati mei. I have
acknowledged my sin to thee, and my injustice I have not
concealed. I said, I will confess against myself my injustice to
the Lord: and thou hast forgiven the wickedness of my sin.
hac orabit ad te omnis sanctus, in tempore opportuno. For this shall
every one that is holy pray to thee in a seasonable time.
Verumtamen in diluvio aquarum multarum, ad eum non approximabunt. And yet in a
flood of many waters, they shall not come nigh unto him.
es refugium meum a tribulatione, quae circumdedit me: exsultatio
mea, erue me a circumdantibus me. Thou art my
refuge from the trouble which hath encompassed me: my joy, deliver
me from them that surround me.
Intellectum tibi dabo, et instruam te in via hac qua gradieris:
firmabo super te oculos meos. I will give
thee understanding, and I will instruct thee in this way, in which
thou shalt go: I will fix my eyes upon thee.
fieri sicut equus et mulus: quibus non est intellectus. Do not become
like the horse and the mule, who have no understanding.
In camo et freno maxillas eorum constringe: qui non approximant ad
te. With bit and
bridle bind fast their jaws, who come not near unto thee.
flagella peccatoris: sperantem autem in Domino misericordia
circumdabit. Many are the
scourges of the sinner, but mercy shall encompass him that hopeth
in the Lord.
in Domino, et exsultate, justi: et gloriamini, omnes recti corde. Be glad in the
Lord, and rejoice, ye just, and glory, all ye right of heart.
incipit quarta deca primae quinquagenae. Et sicut in prima decade
sunt psalmi in quibus fit mentio de persecutione Absalonis; in
secunda de persecutione Saulis; in tertia de persecutione populi,
ita in ista quarta de tribulatione quam boni a peccatoribus
sustinent: 2 Petr. 2: Habitans
apud eos qui de die in diem animam justam iniquis operibus
cruciabant. Dividitur autem haec deca in duas
partes. Quia primo commendatur justorum dignitas. Secundo
imploratur auxilium contra persecutiones impiorum, in Psalm. 34:
Judica Domine nocentes me.
Circa primum duo commemorat. Primo gratiam justificantem. Secundo
dignitatem justorum, ibi, Ps. 32: Exultate justi
etc. Tertio monet justos ut in justitia sistant, ibi, Ps. 33:
Psalm marks the beginning of the fourth decade of the first 50
Psalms. Just as in the first decade, there are Psalms where
reference is made to Absalom's pursuit of David, in the second to
his persecution by Saul, and in the third to his persecution by
his own people, the fourth decade describes the tribulations the
good endure at the hands of the wicked: "Dwelling among them
who from day to day vexed the just soul with unjust works."
(2 Peter 2:8) This group of ten Psalms, however, is itself divided
into two parts. In the first, the excellence of the righteous
is commended. In the second, God's help is implored against
persecution by the impious: "Judge thou, O Lord, them that
wrong me." (Psalm 34) In regard to the first, he
emphasizes two things, the justifying power of grace and the
excellence of the just: "Rejoice in the Lord, O ye just"
(Psalm 32); thirdly, he urges the just to persevere in their
righteousness: "I will bless the Lord at all times."
Psalmi novus est titulus, scilicet Ipsi David Intellectus.
Hieronymus habet, Eruditio David.
In multis Psalmis sequentibus est invenire titulum hunc. Et
signatur per hoc, quod in omnibus Psalmis in quibus hic titulus
dicitur, tractatur aliqua veritas communis, non solum pertinens ad
unam personam, sed quasi ad providentiam Dei, vel ad aliquid aliud
arduum. Et licet in omnibus Psalmis quaedam sint ad eruditionem,
ista tamen ad hoc principaliter ordinantur. Specialiter vero iste
Psalmus intitulatur ab intellectu quem debet habere poenitens, qui
debet intelligere se peccatorem, et gratiam dei liberantis: Lev.
5: Si intellexerit homo delictum etc. Hunc intellectum dat vexatio, Isa. 28. The
superscription of the Psalm makes its appearance here for the
first time: "To David himself, understanding." Jerome
renders it as "The knowledge of David." The same
superscription also appears in many of the Psalms that follow, and
this is worth noting because, in all the Psalms in which this
title is used, some universal truth is addressed that does not
involve one individual only, but divine providence or some other
lofty theme. Although instruction is found in every Psalm,
the Psalms thus titled are principally ordered to that end. Psalm
31 bears the superscription, because it sets out the kind of
understanding that one who is repentant must have, the
intellectual comprehension, that is, of being a sinner and the
knowledge of God's grace which forgives and sets him free: "If
a man should become aware of his offense" etc. (see Lev.
5:4). Such understanding derives from the endurance of
hardship (Isaiah 28).
Iste est secundus Psalmus poenitentialium. In primo enim egit de
contritione cordis, in isto vero de confessione; et dividitur in
tres partes. In prima enim ponitur remissio peccatorum. In
secunda, via ad remissionem, ibi, Quoniam
tacui etc. Tertio desiderium sanctorum de remissione, ibi, Pro
hac orabit. Circa primum duo facit. Primo enim ponitur aliquid quod est ex
parte Dei. Secundo illud quod est ex parte hominis, ibi, Nec
est in spiritu.
are they. This is the second
of the "Penitential Psalms."1
In the first (of these Penitential Psalms), the
psalmist was concerned with contrition of heart; here he is
concerned with the confession of sin. It is divided into three
parts. The first deals with the remission of sins, the second with
the path that leads to that remission, at Because I was
silent, and the third with
the desire of the saintly for remission of their sins, at For
this shall everyone...pray.
In regard to the first point, he does two things. First, he
sets forth what the Lord
does, secondly, that which a man must do, at In whose
spirit there is no guile.
peccato namque primo est offensa Dei. Secundo macula. Tertio
reatus poenae. Contra haec tria ordinat tria. Quia Deus remittit
offensam, maculam tegit, reatum poenae tollit, non imputando
peccatum. Quantum ad primum dicit, Beati
quorum remissae sunt
etc. Sed quia beatitudo est duplex, scilicet rei et spei, isti
tales, scilicet quorum remissae sunt iniquitates, sunt beati in
spe; qui tandem erunt beati in re. Beatus enim ille est spe, in
quo praecedit causa beatitudinis, et via quae est virtus, et
praecipue perfecta: unde in quo virtus perfecta apparet, potest
dici beatus in spe: sicut arbor bene florens potest dici
fructificans. Post corruptionem enim primi hominis isti flores non
erant, sed spinae peccatorum. Et ideo beatitudo peccatoris quae
est in spe, non est hujusmodi, sed quod Deus remittat peccatum, et
sic fructificat: Hier. 4: Novate vobis novale etc. Remissae:
Isa. 40: Dimissa est iniquitas illius: Luc. 6: Dimittite,
et dimittetur vobis.
sin there is first an offense against God; secondly there is the
stain of sin, and thirdly the guilty state of punishment. Over
against these three things, three others are arrayed: God remits
the offense, covers the stain, and removes the guilty state of
punishment by not imputing the sin. In regard to the first, he
says, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven etc.
However, since blessedness is two-fold, namely of that in which it
really consists (i.e., in God Himself), and this as He is enjoyed
first in man's hope, those whose sins are forgiven are already
blessed in this hope, that they will, at length, be happy in
(union with) Him.2
He is blessed in hope in whom the cause of his (future)
blessedness and the path to it (which is virtue, especially that
which is complete) is anticipated. Therefore, the person in whom
perfect virtue is observed is said to be blessed in hope, just as
a beautiful flowering tree is said to be fruitful. However,
following the corruption of the first man those flowers ceased and
only the thorns of sin remained. The blessedness of sinners,
which exists in hope, is not like this, however, because God
forgives their sins and causes them (i.e., those forgiven) to
flourish: "Break up anew your fallow ground (and sow not upon
thorns)." (Jeremiah 4:3) Are forgiven: "Her
iniquity is forgiven" (Isaiah 40:2); "Forgive, and you
shall be forgiven." (Luke 6:37)
ad secundum dicit, Et quorum tecta sunt peccata.
Peccata sunt maculae animae: Hier. 2: Quam vilis facta es
etc. Quando quis habet in se turpe, et illud tegitur, tunc oculos
intuentis turpitudo non offendit. Deus autem tegit turpitudinem
peccatorum: sed quomodo? Totaliter, scilicet abluendo animam. In
peccato enim duplex est deformitas. Una scilicet ex privatione
gratiae qua privatur peccator: et haec totaliter tollitur, et non
tegitur, quia datur ei gratia. Alia macula est ex actu peccati
praeterito: et haec non deletur, quia non datur ei quod non
fecerit, sed quod non imputetur ei ad culpam: et haec tegitur.
respect to the second (thing that God does over against man's
sin), he says, And whose sins are covered.
Sins are blemishes on the soul: "How exceeding base art thou become."
(Jeremiah 2:36) When someone has something ugly in him and it
is concealed, then his ugliness does not offend the eyes of those
who see him. But God "covers" the ugliness of sin.
How? Completely, that is, by cleansing the soul. For in sin,
there is a two-fold deformity. The first is that stain which
arises from the privation of grace that the sinner finds himself
in consequent upon his sin. With forgiveness, this deformity is
totally removed and is not concealed, since grace is bestowed on
him. The second stain is that which the actual sin itself
committed in the past leaves on one's soul. This stain is not
destroyed because it is not given to the sinner to have not
actually committed the sin, but only that the blame is not imputed
to him. And this is what is covered.
ad tertium dicit, Beatus vir cui non imputavit Dominus peccatum.
De reatu poenae intelligitur, quia poena non ei reservatur pro
peccato: Dan. 3: Omnia induxisti super nos
etc. Secundum glossam, triplex peccatum hic insinuatur: peccatum
originale, actuale mortale, et actuale veniale. Primum signatur
per iniquitatem, quae est quaedam inaequalitas: et hoc est in
originali, inquantum in ea vires animae recedunt ab aequalitate
innocentiae; et hoc dimittitur et diminuitur, quia aufertur reatu
et remanet actu. Dicit autem pluraliter iniquitates, quia in
diversis diversa originalia, et in uno unum. Secundum signatur per
peccatum actuale mortale. Actualia enim peccata mortalia dicuntur
tegi, quando non imputantur peccatori jam ad culpam. Tertium
signatur per peccatum veniale, quod non imputat Dominus. Peccatum
enim veniale non imputatur ad poenam aeternam. Vel primum dicit
propter peccatum quod est ante baptismum. Secundum propter peccata
quae sunt post baptismum. Tertium vero post confessionem, quia non
imputabitur peccatum ad poenam. Sed ex parte hominis requiritur
quod non fictus confiteatur; alias non consequitur gratiam: Sap.
1: Spiritus sanctus disciplinae effugiet fictum.
Et ideo, Nec est in spiritu ejus dolus,
ut aliud habeat interius, et aliud praetendat exterius.
regard to the third (thing that God does over against man's sin),
he says, Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed
sin. With respect to the
guilty state of punishment, it is understood that the punishment
for his sin is not reserved to him (alone): "(For thou hast
executed true judgments in all the things that thou hast brought
upon us, and upon Jerusalem the holy city of our fathers: for
according to truth and judgment) thou has brought all these things
upon us (for our sins)." (Daniel 3:28) According to the
Gloss, there is an allusion to three kinds of sin at work here:
original sin, actual mortal sin, and actual venial sin. The
first type of sin is characterized by iniquity, which is a kind of
inequality. This was present in original sin, in that the
powers of the soul departed from the even tenor of innocence.
This aspect of sin is forgiven and diminished, since it is taken
away from the one responsible for it, although it still persists
(in one's soul). The psalmist speaks of iniquities as plural in
number, since there are diverse original sins in diverse
individuals, but only a single original sin in one individual man
(Adam). The second type of sin is characterized as actual mortal
sin. These are said to be covered when they are no longer imputed
to us as sin. The third type is venial sin, which the Lord
does not impute to the sinner; for venial sin is not considered in
terms of eternal punishment. Considered in another way, the
first type is sin which occurs prior to baptism, the second after
baptism, while the third occurs after confession, since sin will
not then be subject to punishment. On the part of the
individual, however, it is necessary for his confession to be
unfeigned; otherwise, he will not receive grace: "The
Holy Spirit of discipline will flee from the deceitful."
(Wisdom 1:5) That is why he says, And in whose
spirit there is no guile,
unlike one who, possessing one thing inwardly, outwardly pretends
Quoniam tacui. Secunda pars est, ubi ponitur via
perveniendi ad remissionem peccatorum: et circa hoc tria facit.
Primo enim ponit statum peccati. Secundo conversionem, quae est
causa remissionis peccati, ibi, Delictum meum.
I was silent. In the
second part of this Psalm, the path of arriving at the remission
of sin is described. In this regard, he does three things:
first he sets forth the condition of sin, secondly, conversion,
which is the reason for the remission of sin, at I have
acknowledged my sin.3
ergo, Quoniam tacui
etc. Contradictio videtur hic. Cum enim clamet tota die, dicit se
tacere. Respondeo. Tacebat ab eo quod dicendum erat, sed clamabat
quod dicendum non erat, nedum clamandum. Et in utroque est
peccatum. De primo Isa. 6: Vae mihi quia tacui.
Debet enim peccator dicere peccata sua: Job 16: Si
tacuero, non recedit a me; nunc autem
etc. Ergo Quoniam tacui peccata mea, Inveteraverunt ossa mea,
idest interior fortitudo defecit. Saepe in Scriptura sacra per
membra corporalia intelliguntur virtutes interiores. Unde per ossa
in quibus est fortitudo, intelligitur interior virtus. Et quia
inveterascit quod deficit, idest minuitur, inde dicit:
Inveteraverunt ossa mea: Baruch 3: Quid
est Israel, quod in terra inimicorum es, inveterasti
etc. De secundo Isa. 5: Expectavi,
ut faceret judicium, et ecce iniquitas: justitiam, et ecce clamor.
Et hoc est quod dicit, Dum clamarem tota die.
Clamabat enim se justum, clamabat de poena, et tacebat de culpa.
Sed quid fecit Dominus? Convertit eum aggravando manum Domini,
gravamen inferentem, Quoniam die ac nocte.
so, he says Because I was silent
etc. This appears to be contradictory -- when he is weeping all
day, he says he is quiet. My response is this. He was
silent about what needed to be spoken, and he was weeping over
what was left unsaid, not what he should have been weeping for --
and in both there is sin. Concerning the first, Isaiah says,
"Woe is me, because I have held my peace." (Isaiah
6:5) The sinner must declare his sins: "If I hold my
peace, it will not depart from me. But now (my sorrow hath
oppressed me, and all my limbs are brought to nothing." (Job
16:7-8) Therefore, Because I was silent
about my sins, my bones grew old,
that is, my inner strength has failed. In Holy Scripture,
inner strength is frequently expressed in terms of parts of the
body. Hence through "bones," in which there is strength,
is understood interior strength. And since what grows feeble
decays or is diminished, he says, My bones grew old.
"How happeneth it, O Israel, that thou art in thy enemies'
land? Thou art grown old (in a strange country)." (Baruch
3:10-11) Concerning the second,4 Isaiah states: "I looked that he should do judgment, and
behold iniquity: and do justice, and behold a cry." (Isaiah
5:7) This is also what the psalmist says: Whilst I
cried out all the day long.
He was clamoring that he was just and weeping over his punishment,
but he was keeping silent about his moral responsibility.
Now what does the Lord do? He brings about his conversion by
imposing his hand on him -- the hand of the Lord -- bringing a
heavy pressure to bear both Day and night.
conversione consequente, Conversus sum etc. Dicit ergo, Die
ac nocte, idest continue, Gravata est
etc. Manus Domini aliquando consolatur: Ezech. 3: Manus
Domini erat mecum confortans me.
Aliquando aggravat, sicut hic 1 Reg. 5, dicitur manus domini
gravissima: Isa. 26: In tribulatione
etc. Et ideo dicit, Conversus sum in aerumna mea,
idest in miseria quam patior pro peccatis. Dum configitur spina,
dum spina, idest remorsus conscientiae, infigitur cordi meo. Vel
pro spina dorsi quae tenet totum hominem rectum, Dum configitur.
Et signat superbiam, quae quando constringitur, corrigitur homo.
Vel quare clamabas? Propter gravitatem, inquit, manus tuae. Et hoc
ideo quia non sum conversus ad te, sed ad peccatum. Et hoc dum
spina peccatorum configitur, idest firmatur in me, et sic spina,
idest peccatum, intelligitur. Vel dum ratio, quae sicut spina est,
regens dorsum deprimitur. Vel secundum Hebraeos, Conversus
est humor meus in siccitatem aestatis,
idest ex aggravatione manus tuae, quicquid in me carnale et
humidum fuit, conversum est in siccitatem aestatis. Hieronymus
habet, Versatus sum in miseria mea dum exardescit messis,
idest ad modum messis arui. Then
there follows his conversion,5 at I am turned. And so, he says Day and night,
that is, continuously, (Thy hand) was heavy (upon me).
At times the hand of the Lord is comforting: "The hand of the
Lord was with me, strengthening me." (Ezekiel 3:14)
Sometimes it weighs heavily, as is stated in 1 Kings 5:12 that the
hand of the Lord is exceedingly heavy.6
And so he says, I am turned in my anguish,
that is, in the misery I suffered because of my sins. Whilst
the thorn, that is, the remorse of conscience, is fastened,
that is, is laid upon
my heart. Or he may be speaking here of the spine in our backs,
which holds the entire person erect Whilst fastened.
And this signifies pride, which when it is held in check, man is
held upright. "Why was I continually weeping" he asks.
It was "from the weight of your hand upon me, for I did not
turn toward you, but toward sin." He implies this by
saying, "When the thorn of sin pierces," that is,
when it is firmly fixed in us and is acknowledged. Or the meaning
is, when the rule of reason, like a thorn, presses downward upon
us. Finally, according to the Hebrew (version?), "My
humor was turned into the dryness of summer," that is to say,
by reason of the heaviness of your hand, whatever was humid in my
body, was turned into the dryness of summer. Jerome's version has
"I was tossed in sorrow as my harvest burned," that is,
I shriveled up, scorched like a standing crop.
Deinde cum dicit, Delictum.
Primo ponit confessionem. Secundo ejus efficaciam ostendit, ibi,
Sed quia duo debet homo confiteri, scilicet bona omissa, et mala
commissa; quantum ad primum dicit, Delictum meum,
scilicet quod dimisi facere quod debui: Cognitum
non quod Deus non cognoscat; sed quando homo recognoscit peccatum
suum, tunc vult etiam quod Deus cognoscat, ut ignoscat. Quantum ad
secundum dicit, Injustitiam meam non abscondi: Job 31: Si
abscondi quasi homo peccatum meum etc. Prov. 28: Qui abscondit scelera sua
Next he says,
(My) sin. First, he
describes his confession. Second, he
shows its efficacy, at I said, I will confess.
But, since a person ought to confess two sorts of things, both the
good things left undone and the bad things done, he begins with
the former saying My sin, namely
that "I have omitted to do what I ought to have done:" I
have acknowledged...to thee, not
because God was unaware of it, but because when man recognizes his
sin, he also desires God to be aware of it, in order to forgive
it. He continues with respect to the latter, saying, My
injustice I have not concealed: "If
as a man, I have hid my sin" (Job 31:33)7;
"He who hideth his sins (shall not prosper: but he that is
hardened in mind shall fall into evil). (Proverbs 28:13)8
vero confessionis ostenditur, cum dicit, Dixi, Confitebor.
Confessionis effectus est remissio peccatorum. Dicit ergo, Dixi,
idest proposui in corde me: Confitebor Domino,
idest ad honorem Domini: Jos. 7: Da gloriam Domino Deo Israel, et confitere
etc. Injustitiam meam, non bona mea: Adversum me,
non pro me. Aliquis confitetur peccatum suum, sed contra proximum,
dicens, Alius induxit me. Contra naturam, ex fragilitate sic
accidit. Contra Deum, non potui resistere: 2 Reg. ult.: Ego
sum qui peccavi, ego sum qui inique egi.
Vel, Adversum me, idest propositum meum, quo manere in peccato proponebam.
efficacy of confession is shown when he says I said, I
will confess. The effect of confession is the remission of sin. Therefore, he says I
said, that is, "I proposed it in my heart:" I will confess...to the Lord,"
that is to say, to the honor of God. "Give glory to the
Lord God of Israel, and confess..." (Joshua 7:19). (I
will confess) my injustice, and not my good works: (I will confess) against myself,
and not for my benefit. One might confess a sin, but only in
relation to another person who was involved, by saying, "He
led me into it." Or he acknowledges his sin, but holds nature
responsible: "It was because of my own weakness that I acted
so." Or it is held against God: "I could not resist."
(But in contradistinction to these so-called confessions of sin,
we have the true example of David in) 2 Samuel 24:17 (where we
read): "It is I, I am he that have sinned, I have done
wickedly." Or, (I will confess) against myself,
that is "It was I who proposed the sin and I who persisted in it."
remissio, Et tu remisisti: Eccl. 2: Remittit in tempore tribulationis peccata.
Sed contra: tanta est efficacia confessionis, quod non solum
quando quis actu confitetur, sed habens propositum confitendi
consequitur remissionem. Ante ergo remittitur ei quam confiteatur:
Isa. 65: Et erit antequam clamet, ego exaudiam.
Quid ergo facit confessio? Dicendum quod propositum operandi
operatur ex virtute rei propositae, ut fiat. Unde si cesset
operatio illius rei, cessat effectus. Et ideo necesse est
perseverare in proposito. Tamen in confessione actuali peccatorum,
et absolutione virtute clavium, dimittitur ei de poena, et propter
verecundiam amplius ei gratia confertur, et multa bona
then follows the remission of sin, at And thou hast forgiven: "(For God is
compassionate and merciful, and) will forgive sins in the day of
tribulation." (Ecclesiasticus 2:13). Contrary to this
reading, one might say the following: So great is the efficacy of
confession, that not only when one actually is engaged in the act
of confession, but even when one has made the decision to confess,
he attains forgiveness. Thus, he is forgiven before he
confesses: "And it shall come to pass, that before he calls,
I shall hear." (Isaiah 65:24) What, therefore, does
confession accomplish? I reply to this objection by stating the
following: A proposed action becomes operative by virtue of the
thing that is proposed, i.e. that it should occur. Thus, if
doing a thing ceases, its effect also ceases. For this reason
one needs to persist in the action that is proposed. However, in
the actual confession of sin, and in the absolution granted by the
"power of the keys," the penalty is dismissed and, what
is more, because of the feeling of shame that arises, grace is
conferred and a multitude of good things follow as a consequence.
Hic tertio ponit desiderium sanctorum de remissione peccatorum: et
circa hoc tria facit. Primo enim proponitur sanctorum ad hoc
desiderium. Secundo peccatorum monitio, Nolite fieri
sicut equus. Tertio concluditur Psalmus in gratiarum actione, ibi, Laetamini.
Circa primum duo facit. Primo enim exprimit desiderium sanctorum
ad remissionem peccatorum in generali. Secundo in speciali
suiipsius refugium ostendens, ibi, Tu es.
Circa primum duo facit. Primo enim proponit desiderium sanctorum
signo orationis; secundo orationis effectum ostendit, ibi,
Verumtamen in diluvio.
third part of this psalm concerns the desire of the saintly for
the remission of sin. In this regard, he does three
things. First, he sets forth the desire of the saints toward
this end, secondly, an admonition to the sinner at, Do not
become like the horse, and thirdly the Psalm concludes by
giving thanks at, Be glad. In regard to the first, he does
two things. First, he expresses the yearning of the saints for a
remission of sin in general. Secondly, he particularly
emphasizes his own place of refuge by saying, Thou art (my
refuge). In regard to the first, he does two things: He
sets forth the desire of saintly people in the context of prayer,
and then shows the effect of prayer at, And yet in a flood.
ergo, Dixi, Confitebor pro hac,
re, idest pro remissione peccatorum. Orabit ad te etc. Et
dicit tria. Primo quid orandum, scilicet ut remissionem
consequamur: omnes enim peccavimus; 1 Joan. 1: Si
dixerimus quia peccatum non habemus
etc. Et ideo petenda est remissio: Eccl. 38: Ora
Dominum, et ipse curabit te: Matth. 6: Dimitte
nobis debita nostra. Secundo quis debet orare, scilicet, Sanctus
omnis: Jac. ult.: Multum valet deprecatio justi assidua.
Tertio, quando, quia, In tempore opportuno,
scilicet gratiae et praesentis vitae, quia novissime clausa est
janua, Matth. 25; 2 Cor. 6: Ecce nunc tempus acceptabile
etc. Jo. 9: Venit nox, quando nemo potest operari.
he states, I said, I will confess...For this,
matter, that is for the remission of sins, Shall every
one that is holy pray to thee.
He says three things. First, that he is about to pray, so that we
might receive remission for our sins, for we have all sinned: "If
we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves." (1 John
1:8). And for this reason remission is to be sought: "Pray to
the Lord and he shall heal thee" (Ecclesiasticus 38:9):
"Forgive us our debts." (Matthew 6:12) Second, who
should pray, that is, Every one that is holy:
"For the continual prayer of a just man availeth much."
(James 5:16) Third, when (one should pray), In a
seasonable time, namely of
grace and in this present life, since the door is closed at the
last hour (see Matthew 25:10-11); "Behold, now is the
acceptable time (behold, now is the day of salvation)" (2
Corinthians 6:2); "The night cometh, when no man can work."
Deinde cum dicit, Verumtamen, ostenditur effectus orationis, quia, In
diluvio aquarum multarum.
Aqua potest hic accipi tripliciter. Uno modo voluptates: Gen.
pen.: Effusus es sicut aqua.
Alio modo falsae doctrinae: Prov. 9: Aquae
furtivae dulciores sunt. Tertio tribulationes: Ps. 68: Intraverunt
aquae usque ad animam meam. Sequitur, Ad eum non approximabunt.
Quod dicit, Ad eum,
dupliciter potest intelligi. Uno modo, ut ly, Eum,
referatur ad sanctum; quasi dicat, Quamvis oret sanctus, patitur
tamen aquas multas, sed eum non obruunt, sive sint aquae
voluptatis, sive falsae doctrinae; sive tribulationis: unde, Non
approximabunt: Isa. 43: Cum
transieris per aquas, tecum ero, et flumina non operient te:
Psalm. 43: Transivimus per ignem et aquam
etc. Alio modo ut ly Eum referatur ad Deum: et sic loquitur
mutata persona: quia primo ad Deum loquitur, modo ad alios; quasi
dicat, Qui sunt in diluvio aquarum multarum, sicut dictae sunt,
non appropinquabunt ad Deum. When
he says, And yet in a flood of many waters,
the efficacy of prayer is demonstrated. "Water" can be
interpreted in three ways. It can signify pleasure: "You
have poured forth like water" (General Penitential Rite). It
can also mean false teachings: "Stolen waters are sweeter."
(Proverbs 9:17) Or thirdly it can mean tribulations, as in
Psalm 68:2: "The waters are come in even unto my soul."
But in this Psalm he goes on to say: "The waters will not
approach him." What he says concerning the word "him"
can be interpreted in two ways. In one way, the word "him"
can be taken in reference to the saintly person, as if to say that
even though the saint prays he still endures a flood of waters.
However, they do not overwhelm him, whether they are the waters of
pleasure, false doctrine, or tribulation. "When thou shalt
pass through the waters, I will be with thee, and the rivers shall
not cover thee" (Isaiah 43:2); "We have passed
through fire and water." (Psalm 65:12) Looked at another
way, the reference of the word "him" can be to God,
although the object of the psalmist's words has changed. First
he was addressing God, but now he is speaking to other men, as if
he were saying, "Those who are, so to speak, caught in a
flood of many waters, shall not draw near to God."
Consequenter cum dicit, Tu es refugium
etc. Exprimitur desiderium sanctorum in speciali: et circa hoc duo
facit. Primo exprimit desiderium ut liberetur. Secundo effectum
desiderii, ibi, Intellectum.
Circa primum duo facit. Primo enim ostendit, unde concipit spem
orandi. Secundo subdit petitionem, Erue
a circumdantibus me.
And so, when
he says, Thou art my refuge,
he describes the desire of the saints in particular. Concerning
this, he does two things. First, describes their desire to
be freed, and secondly, the effect of this desire at
the first, he does two things. First, he shows whence he conceives
the hope of praying, secondly, he states the intention of his
prayer, at Deliver me from them that surround me.
autem petendi concipit ex duobus. Primo, quia Deus est speciale
justorum refugium. Secundo, quia eorum speciale refugium in
tribulatione. Ergo dicit, Tu
es refugium meum a tribulatione quae circumdedit me.
Tribulatio circumdat quando undique opprimit, ita quod non patet
refugium ab aliqua parte: Psalm. 39: Circumdederunt
me mala quorum non est numerus
etc. Sed in hac tribulatione non est refugium nisi ad Deum: 2
Paral. 20: Cum ignoremus quid agere debeamus
etc. Psalm. 90: Qui habitat in adjutorio altissimi
etc. Sic ergo habeo, inquit, ad quem refugiam, habeo et in quo
consoler, quia, Exultatio mea: 2 Cor. 1: Qui
consolatur nos in omni tribulatione nostra: Ps. 93: Secundum
multitudinem dolorum meorum in corde meo, consolationes tuae
laetificaverunt animam meam. Deinde exprimit quid petit cum dicit, Erue
me a circumdantibus, idest a tribulatione quae circumdedit me. Et quia tribulatio debet
fieri ab aliquo, oportet quod si tribulatio circumdat, quod
innitentes sint circumdantes, scilicet daemones et persecutores:
et ideo dicit, A circumdantibus me. The
hope contained in his petition is based on two factors: the first
that God is the special refuge of the just, and the second that He
is the particular refuge of those who are in tribulation.
Therefore he says, Thou art my refuge from the trouble which
hath encompassed me. Trouble surrounds us when it presses on us from all sides and no recourse
appears: "Evils without number have surrounded me."
(Psalm 39:13) In such trouble, there is no refuge except in
God: "(We have not the strength enough to be able to resist
this multitude, which cometh violently upon us.) But as we know
not what to do, we can only turn our eyes to thee" (2
Chronicles 20:12); "He that dwelleth in the aid of the most
high." (Psalm 90:1) Therefore, the psalmist states, I have
one in whom I find refuge, one in whom I am comforted, that he is
My joy: "Who comforteth us in all our tribulation" (2 Corinthians 1:4);
"According to the multitude of my sorrows in my heart, thy
comforts have given joy to my soul." (Psalm 93:19) And then he
states that for which he is seeking: Deliver me
from them that surround me, that is, "from all the troubles that surround me." Since
trouble must be caused by someone, it is reasonable that if
trouble surrounds one, that it is because those who encircle us
press hard upon us, namely our demons and our persecutors.
Secundo, cum dicit, Intellectum,
ostendit effectum suae orationis. Deus est qui loquitur, Intellectum
tibi dabo etc. quasi dicat Deus, Petis a me ut eruam te, et ego tria tibi
faciam: dabo enim tibi donum intellectus, et te instruam et te
custodiam. Tria enim sunt necessaria homini a Deo. Primo, ut
gratiae donum percipiat, ut per hoc anima hominis perficiatur ad
prompte agendum. Sed quia quantumcumque homo haberet donum
gratuitum, nisi Deus movet animam ad opus bonum, non sufficit;
ideo oportet quod post gratiam praevenientem Deus operetur et
moveat ad bonum. Sed gratia et donum recipitur secundum modum
naturae nostrae: et non eo modo, quo possit ad omnia vitanda; et
ideo necessaria est super hoc protectio Dei et defensio. Et ideo
primo ponit donum intellectus, cum dicit, Intellectum tibi dabo:
Eccl. 15: Implevit eum Dominus spiritu sapientiae et intellectus. Et
hoc necessarium est homini, ut scilicet cognoscat peccatum suum:
et quod non possit salvari nisi per Deum. Secundo ponit debitum
usum hujus doni, cum dicit, Instruam te:
Isa. 54: Ponam filios tuos doctos a Domino. Tertio custodiam, cum dicit, In
via hac, scilicet mandatorum, Qua gradieris, firmabo super te oculos meos,
idest protegam te: 2 Par. 16: Oculi Domini contemplantur universam terram, et praebent fortitudinem
his qui corde perfecto credunt in eum. (Continuing
with the division made at the start of f.)
secondly, when he says, Understanding,
he shows the effect of his prayer. It is God who says, I
will give thee understanding. It is as if God were saying, "You
seek that I should rescue you, and I will do three things for
you. I will give you the gift of understanding, I will
instruct you, and I will protect you." For man there are three
things that are necessary from God. First, he must obtain the gift
of grace so that through it the soul of man might be brought to
the point of acting promptly. But
as much as man has this gift of grace, it does not suffice unless
God moves the soul to the performance of some good work. For that
reason, it is fitting that God be active in this way, moving the
soul to perform good work, following upon the gift of antecedent
grace. However, we receive the gift of grace according to the mode
of our nature, that is, we do not receive it in such a way as to
avoid all suffering. Thus God's protection and defense are
also necessary. And so, first, he sets forth the gift of
understanding, when he says I will give thee understanding: "He
shall fill him with the spirit of wisdom and understanding."
(Ecclesiasticus 15:5) This is necessary for man so that he might
acknowledge his sin and recognize that he cannot be saved, except
by God. Secondly, he explains how this gift is to be used
when he says, I will instruct thee:
"I will make thy children taught of the Lord." (Isaiah
54:13) Thirdly, His protection, when he says, In this way,
namely of His commandments, In
which thou shalt go: I will fix my eyes upon thee,
that is, I will protect you: "The eyes of the Lord behold all
the earth, and give strength to those who with a perfect heart
trust in him." (2 Chronicles 16:9)
Consequenter cum dicit, Nolite,
convertit se ad peccatores, ut ad poenitentiam redeant: et circa
hoc duo facit. Primo ponit monitionem. Secundo comminationem, ibi,
Next, when he
says, Do not become, he
turns toward the sinner in
order that they might turn to penitence. Concerning this he does
two things. First, he sets forth an admonition, and second, a
threat, at With bit.
ergo: Deus dat homini intellectum, sed et intellectu excedit
animalia. Qui ergo indignum se reddit dono intellectus, comparatur
animalibus; et ideo dicit, Nolite fieri sicut equus et mulus
etc. Secundum Glossam equus est animal superbum; mulus vero animal
pigrum, unde non currit. Illi sunt ergo sicut equi, qui per
superbiam extolluntur: Hier. 8: Omnes
reversi sunt ad cursum suum quasi equus impetu vadens ad praelium.
Illi sunt sicut mulus, qui tarde ad viam Dei veniunt: Prov. 13: Vult
et non vult piger. Vel per mulum intelliguntur luxuriosi. Mulus luxuriosus est, tamen
non generat: sic peccata luxuriae infructuosa sunt: Rom. 6: Quem
ergo fructum habuistis tunc in illis in quibus nunc erubescitis?
Vel equus portat sessorem indifferenter, et mulus onus quodcumque:
peccatori duo imponuntur, sessor, scilicet diabolus, et onus,
scilicet peccatum. Non ergo sitis sicut equus, non discernens
inter sessores, an scilicet Christus sit, vel diabolus. Nec sicut
mulus, qui quodlibet onus, scilicet peccatum, indifferenter
so, he says: God gives intelligence to man, and with that
intelligence he makes him superior to animals. Therefore, those
who show themselves undeserving of the gift of intelligence are
compared to the beasts. Thus, he says, Do not become
like the horse and the mule, who have no understanding.
According to the Gloss, the horse is a proud animal and the mule
is a lazy one, which is why it will not run. Those who are
like horses are swollen with pride: "They are all turned to
their own course, as a horse rushing to the battle."
(Jeremiah 8:6) They are like mules, arriving late and lazy on the
path of God: "The sluggard willeth and willeth not."
(Proverbs 13:4) Or by the mule it is voluptuaries who are meant.
The mule is a voluptuary; however, it does not procreate, just as
the sins of luxuriousness do not bear fruit: "What fruit
therefore had you then in those things, of which you are not
ashamed?" (Romans 6:21) Or the meaning is that the horse
carries all riders indifferently, as the mule bears any load. Two
things are borne by the sinner: a rider, namely the devil, and a
load, namely sin. Therefore, he says, do not be like the horse,
not distinguishing between riders, whether it is Christ who is
riding him or the Devil, nor like the mule that carries any load,
that is, sin, indifferently.
Deinde cum dicit, In camo,
ponitur comminatio. Et primo per modum orationis. Secundo per
modum praenunciationis, ibi, Multa.
Then, when he
says, With bit, he sets forth the threat, first expressed
in a prayerful way, then by means of a prediction at, Many
are the scourges.
ergo, In camo
etc. Sic metaphorice. Si homo se habet sicut homo, Deus tractat
eum sicut hominem, monitionibus et doctrinis; sed quando recedit a
dignitate hominis, tractatur sicut brutum animal, quod coercetur
poenis et violentia, scilicet, In camo et fraeno;
quasi dicat, Monui quod non fiant sicut equus et mulus: quod si
non acquiescunt, fac eis sicut equo et mulo, scilicet, In
camo et fraeno maxillas eorum constringe,
comprimendo scilicet loquacitatem, et subtrahendo cibos, quibus
utuntur ad voracitatem. Locutioni enim et gustui deservit maxilla:
Isa. 37: Ponam circulum in naribus tuis, et fraenum
etc. Vel, In camo et fraeno, idest in majori et minori tribulatione. Therefore he
says, With bit and bridle. This is stated
metaphorically. If a man conducts himself like a man, God
treats him like a man, with admonishment and teaching, but when he
falls away from the dignity of man, he is dealt with like a brute
animal, which is coerced by means of punishment and violence, i.e.
With bit and bridle.
It is as if he were saying: "I have warned you not to become
like a horse or a mule." If they do not obey, deal with them
like a horse or a mule, namely With bit and bridle bind
fast their jaws, by subduing their loquacity, and
taking away their food with which they feed their voracity. For
jaws are used both for speaking and eating: "I will put a
ring in thy nose, and a bit between thy lips." (Isaiah 37:29)
Or With bit and bridle, he means with greater or lesser tribulation.
Secundo cum dicit, Multa,
praenunciat; et primo quid paratur malis: quia Multa
flagella a Deo: Ps. 49: Arguam te, et statuam contra faciem tuam. A
sua conscientia: Prov. 12: Quasi gladio pungitur conscientiae.
A potestate: Rom. 13: Vindex est in iram ei qui male agit:
Prov. 26: Flagellum equo, et camus asino, et virga in dorso imprudentium.
Secundo quid paratur bonis, Sperantem
etc. Misericordia potest esse nominativi casus, ut sic
intelligatur quod ipsum misericordia circumdabit qui sperat in
Domino. Vel potest esse ablativi casus, ut intelligatur quod
Dominus misericordia sua circumdabit sperantem in se. Et hoc est
quando undique subvenit in miseriis hominum: Ps. 102: Qui
coronat te in misericordia
Then, when he
says, Many (are the scourges),
he sets forth (the threat by means of a) prediction, first, about
what lies in store for the evildoer, that (there will be) Many...scourges
from God: "I will convict you and stand before you in
judgment" (Psalm 49); from his own conscience: "Pricked
as it were with a sword of conscience" (Proverbs 12:18); and
from one in authority: "(For he is God's minister:) an
avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil" (Romans
13:4); "A whip for a horse, and a snaffle for an ass, and a
rod for the back of fools" (Proverbs 26:3); and then he
speaks of what lies in store for the good at, But mercy
shall encompass him that hopeth in the Lord.
Here the word "mercy" (misericordia)
could either be in the nominative case, meaning "Mercy will
surround him whose hope is in the Lord," or it could be in
the ablative, meaning, "The Lord shall encompass with his
mercy the one whose hope is in him." This happens whenever
God comes to the assistance of men in their sorrows: "...who
crowneth thee with mercy and compassion..." (Psalm 102:4)
concluditur Psalmus gratiarum actione, cum dicit Laetamini.
Haec est autem consuetudo in Psalmis poenitentialibus, quod
incipiunt in luctu, et finiunt in laetitia: quia hoc facit
poenitentia. In hac autem conclusione hortatur justos et rectos ad
bonam operationem, et rectam intentionem, dicens, Laetamini
in Domino et exultate justi;
quasi dicat: Duo sunt necessaria homini: scilicet recta operatio:
et hoc facit justitia: et recta intentio: et hoc facit laetitia.
Dicit ergo, Laetamini justi, et exultate. Secundum Glossam, Laetari
est tacita suavitate gaudere; exultare vero est concitati animi
fervore gaudere. Unde exultatio provenit ex interiori gaudio. Sed in quo? In
Domino, inquit, non in mundo: Phil. 4: Gaudete in Domino, iterum dico gaudete.
Sequitur, Et gloriamini omnes recti corde.
Recti corde sunt, qui conformant voluntatem suam voluntati
divinae: hi habent gloriari in Deo: 2 Cor. 10: Qui
gloriatur, in Domino glorietur. Lastly,
the Psalm concludes with thanksgiving when he says Be glad. This is customary in
the penitential Psalms, which begin in sorrow and end in joy,
since it is penitence that accomplishes this joy. In this
conclusion, he exhorts the just and righteous to good works and
right intention saying, Be glad in the Lord, and
rejoice, ye just. It is as if he were saying that there are two things required of a human
being: right action, which justice performs, and right intention,
which joyfulness brings. Therefore he says, Be glad
and rejoice, ye just. According to the Gloss, "to rejoice is to be joyful with
muted delight, but to exult is to rejoice with the fervor of
stirred up feeling." Exultation, then, arises from internal
gladness. But joy in what exactly? In the
Lord, he says, and not in the world: "Rejoice in the Lord, again, I say, rejoice."
(Philippians 4:4) Finally he says, And glory, all
ye right of heart. The righteous of heart conform their own will to that of the divine;
these are the ones who glory in the Lord: "He that glorieth,
let him glory in the Lord." (2 Corinthians 10:17)
The Aquinas Translation Project
Beati quorum remissae sunt iniquitates, et quorum tecta sunt peccata. Beatus vir cui non imputavit Dominus peccatum: nec est in spiritu ejus dolus.
Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord hath not imputed sin, and in whose spirit there is no guile.
© Peter Zerner
1 The traditional numbering of these psalms would be 6, 31, 37, 50, 101, 129 and 142 using the numbering of the Septuagint.
2 For this distinction, see ST. I-II. 3. 1.
3 The third thing is not mentioned.
4 of the two things in which sin consists being treated presently in the context of his reply to the objection presented earlier.
5 The second of three things required for the remission of sins with which the discussion in b. is concerned.
6 The reference to Isaias 26:16 makes no reference to the hand of God, and could possibly refer instead to 14:26.
7 There is a string of conditionals throughout Job 31 that resolve in vs. 40 all of which Job offers to give an honest account of his own virtues. Thus, if all these things that I, Job, say are true, then "let thistles grow up to me instead of wheat, and thorns instead of barley."
8 Proverbs 28 supplies a list of what happens if one does not confess one's sins.