Psalm 12

Usquequo Domine oblivisceris me in finem, usquequo avertis faciem tuam a me? How long, O Lord, wilt thou forget me unto the end? how long dost thou turn away thy face from me?
Quamdiu ponam consilia in anima mea, dolorem in corde meo per diem? How long shall I take counsels in my soul, sorrow in my heart all the day?
Usquequo exaltabitur inimicus meus super me? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Respice et exaudi me Domine Deus meus. Illumina oculos meos, ne umquam obdormiam in morte; ne quando dicat inimicus meus, Praevalui adversus eum. Qui tribulant me, exultabunt si motus fuero. Consider, and hear me, O Lord my God. Enlighten my eyes that I never sleep in death: lest at any time my enemy say: I have prevailed against him. They that trouble me will rejoice when I am moved:
Ego autem in misericordia tua speravi. Exultabit cor meum in salutari tuo, cantabo Domino qui bona tribuit mihi: et psallam nomini Domini altissimi. but I have trusted in they mercy. My heart shall rejoice in thy salvation: I will sing to the Lord, who giveth me good things: yea I will sing to the name of the Lord the most high.
In praecedenti psalmo psalmista posuit adversariorum dolos; hic contra eos petit remedium a deo. Titulus, In finem psalmus David, hoc supra expositum est. Dividitur autem psalmus iste in tres partes. In prima ponitur conquestio; in secunda quaestio, ibi, Respice et exaudi me; tertio exauditio, ibi, Ego autem in misericordia tua. Conquestio tria continet. Admiratur divinam dissimulationem, confitetur proprium defectum, conqueritur de adversariorum potestate; secundum, ibi, Quamdiu; tertium, ibi, Usquequo exaltabitur. Qui dissimulat iniurias alicuius, hoc ideo facit aut quia non recordatur eius, aut quia non vult remedium apponere; et ideo dicit, Domine, ego gravor ab adversariis, et non apponis remedium? Usquequo oblivisceris me in finem, idest finaliter videtur quod velis me vitare. Isa. 49: Dixit Sion, dereliquit me Dominus, et Dominus oblitus est mei. Habac. 1: Quare non respicis super inique agentes, et taces devorante impio iustiores se? Usquequo avertis faciem tuam a me. Avertit faciem quando non ponit remedium quis. Ps. 43: Quare faciem tuam avertis, oblivisceris inopiae nostrae, et tribulationis nostrae? Hoc secundum historiam David, qui diu est persecutus a Saule. Allegorice dicitur de patribus veteris testamenti, qui continue expectabant Christum, et Deus quasi oblitus eorum, differebat remedium adhibere; et dicunt, Usquequo domine etc. Usquequo avertis faciem tuam a me, idest praesentiam filii tui a nobis. Vel, ut sit conquestio modernorum iustorum de secundi adventus dilatione, Usquequo domine oblivisceris me? Erit hoc usque in finem, idest in die iudicii, vel usque ad mortem? Et Usquequo avertis faciem tuam a me, idest faciem gloriae tuae, ut videam te facie ad faciem. Exod. 33: Ostende faciem tuam mihi. Ps. 79: Ostende faciem tuam, et salvi erimus. Possunt tamen assignari et multae causae, quare antiqui patres tantum desiderabant adventum Christi in carnem. Prima propter exaltationem humanae naturae, in cuius persona dicitur Thren. 1: Vide Domine, quoniam facta sum vilis; sed exaltata est per incarnationem. Ps. 72: Cum gloria suscepisti me, idest facta sum gloriosa, sicut mulier ignobilis sublimatur si contrahat cum nobili viro. Inde est quod omne peccatum post adventum salvatoris gravius est quam fuerit ante. Sicut si mulier nobilis vel homo aliquam turpitudinem faceret, est magis ignominiosus, quam si faceret unus rusticus. Secunda causa est, ut liberarentur captivi de carcere inferni sive limbi: Iob 17: In profundissimum inferni descendent ossa mea; putasne saltem ibi erit requies mea? Quasi dicat, non; sed per Christum liberati sumus ab eo: Zach. 9: Tu quoque in sanguine testamenti tui eduxisti vinctum de lacu in quo non erat aqua. Tertio propter depressionem diaboli: Ps. 88: Tu humiliasti sicut vulneratum superbum, idest minorasti potentiam eius. Quarto, quia per adventum Christi pacificatus est nobis Deus; Ephes. 2: Lapis angularis qui facis utraque unum. Quinto propter delectationem quam sperabant habere cum Christo, videndo, audiendo conversando cum ipso: Matth. 13: Beati oculi qui vident quae vos videtis etc. Moderni vero secundum adventum desiderant. Primo, quia tunc exaltabimur: Sap. 3: Iudicabunt sancti nationes, et dominabuntur populis. Et iterum Ibid. 5: Computati sunt inter filios Dei. Secundo, quia liberabimur ab omni poena: Isa. 25: Auferet Dominus omnem lacrymam ab omni facie, idest causam lacrymandi, vel poenam. Tertio, quia liberabimur ab omni peccato: Isa. 25: Opprobrium populi sui auferet Dominus de universa terra. Quarto, quia tunc eripiemur a potestate diaboli: Isa. 11: Non nocebunt neque occident in universo sancto meo. Quinto, quia liberabimur a servitute corporis: Psalm. 141: Educ de carcere animam meam: Rom. 8: Ipsa creatura liberabitur a servitute corruptionis. Sexto, quia videbimus deum facie ad faciem: 1 Ioan. 3: Scimus quoniam cum apparuerit, similes ei erimus, quoniam videbimus eum sicuti est: Hier. 21: Omnes cognoscent me a minimo usque ad maiorem. Vel potest esse conquestio cuiuslibet hominis iusti pressi adversitate, vel corruptione peccati et concupiscentiae. In the preceding Psalm, the Psalmist considered the deceitful ways of his adversaries; here he beseeches God for assistance against them. The title, Unto the End, A Psalm for David, was explained above (Translator's Note:Cf. Psalmus IV (Parma vol. 14, pp. 157-158). "And so he truly says unto the end (in finem) if this is considered with respect to the reality (res) symbolized by the Psalm, that is unto Christ (in Christum); Rom 10:4, Christ is the end of the Law with respect to righteousness for every one who believes. But if unto the end is considered according to the figure then it is meant to be understood as being sung on behalf of the fulfillment of a work or an undertaking, just as this Psalm was composed because David had achieved freedom from the persecution of Absalom, thus for victory as it were"). This Psalm is divided into three parts. In the first part his lament is set forth; in the second his supplication, therein, Consider and hear me; and in the third the favorable answer, therein, I [have trusted] in thy mercy. The lament contains three elements: he is astonished at this divine disregard, he confesses his own weakness, and bewails the power of his adversary. Second, therein, How long? Third, therein, How long shall [my enemy] be exalted? Now someone who turns a blind eye to another's injuries does so either because he does not remember him, or because he does not wish to provide assistance. And thus he says, Lord, I am oppressed by adversaries and yet you will provide no assistance? How long wilt thou forget me unto the end? That is to say, it seems that you wish to hurt me; Isa 49:14, Zion said, 'The Lord hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me; Hab 1:13, Why lookest thou upon them that do unjust things, and holdest thy peace when the wicked devoureth the man that is more just than himself? How long dost thou turn away thy face from me? He turns away his face whenever he provides no assistance; Ps 43:25, Why turnest thou thy face away? And forgetest our want and our trouble? This is in keeping with the history of David who was persecuted by Saul for so long. Allegorically, it is said of the Old Testament patriarchs who were steadfastly waiting for Christ. And indeed God, as if he had forgotten them, did delay in bringing them assistance. Thus they say to him, How long Lord etc., How long dost thou turn away thy face from me? That is to say, the presentation of your Son to us. Or it could even be the lament of the righteous people in modern times concerned with the delay of the Second Coming, How Long Lord wilt thou forget me? Will this be unto the end, that is, on the Judgment Day, or until death? And so, How long dost thou turn away thy face from me? That is to say, the face of your glory, so that I might see you face to face; Ex 33:13, Shew me thy face; Ps 79:4, Shew us thy face and we shall be saved. There are still many reasons which can be given as to why the ancient fathers longed so much for the coming of Christ in the flesh. First of all, so that human nature would then be exalted, in whose person it is said in Lam 1:11, See, O Lord for I am become vile. Yet it was exalted by the Incarnation; Ps 72:24, With thy glory thou hast received me. That is to say, I am become glorious, just as a lowborn woman is elevated if she marries a noble husband. Henceforth, following the advent of the Savior, every sin is more grievous than it had been before. Just as it would be all the more ignominious for a noble man or woman to engage in shameful behavior than it would be for a peasant. The second reason is in order that the captives be liberated from the prison of hell or limbo; Job 17:16, All that I have shall go down into the deepest pit; thinkest thou that there at least I shall have rest? It is as if he were to say 'no; but through Christ we have been set free from this place.' Zech 9:11, Thou also, by the blood of thy testament, hast sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. The third is due to the affliction of the devil; Ps 88:11, Thou hast humbled the proud one, as one that is slain. That is to say, you have diminished his power. The fourth, because it is through the coming of Christ that God has made peace with us; Ephes 2:14: The corner stone who hath made both one. The fifth, on account of the delight which they were hoping to find with Christ, seeing, hearing, and keeping company with him; Matt 13:16, Blessed are your eyes because which see what you have seen etc. Of course, people of modern times also long for the Second Coming. First, because we will be exalted at that time; Wis 3:8, The holy ones shall judge the nations and rule over the people. And likewise in Wis 5:5, They are numbered among the children of God. Second, because we will be liberated from all punishment; Isa 25:8, The Lord shall wipe away tears from every face. That is to say, the reason for weeping or punishment. Third, because we will be liberated from every sin; Isa 25:8, The reproach of his people the Lord shall take away from off the whole earth. Fourth, because we will then be delivered from the power of the devil; Isa 11:9, They shall not hurt, nor shall they kill in all my holy mountain. Fifth, because we will be set free from the servitude of the body; Ps 141:8, Bring forth my soul out of prison; and Rom 8:21, The creature also itself shall be delivered from the servitude of corruption. Sixth, because we will see God face to face; 1 Jn 3:2, We know that when he shall appear we shall be like to him, because we shall see him as he is; and Jer 31:34, For all shall know me from the least of them even to the greatest. A lament may be offered by any righteous man who is afflicted either by adversity, or by the corruption of sin and concupiscence.
Hic confitetur proprium defectum: et circa hoc duo facit. Primo ponit anxietatem cordis. Secundo dolorem consequentem; ibi, Dolorem in corde meo per diem. Quantum ad primum dicit Philosophus in Rhetor.: Timor consiliativos facit. Hoc idem habetur Isa. 16: Ini consilium, coge consilium. Sic homo aliquando in adversitate et tentatione consiliatur quomodo resistat; et ideo dicit, Quamdiu ponam consilium in anima mea, idest quandiu oportet me habere nova consilia ad resistendum inimicis? Sic patres veteris testamenti habuerunt diversa consilia ad figurandum Christum. Quando autem homo in consilio accipit unam viam, et tamen deficit ab ea, tunc sequitur dolor; et ideo dicitur: Quamdiu ponam, Domine, consilium in corde meo, idest quotidie, dum continue deficio: Hier. 8: Dolor meus super dolorem, in me cor meum moerens. Here he confesses his own weakness. And in connection with this matter he does two things. First, he expresses the anguish of his heart. Second, the sorrow which follows, therein, The sorrow in my heart all the day. With regard to the first aspect, the Philosopher says in his Rhetoric, 'Fear produces consultations.' The same is found in Isa 16:3, Take counsel, gather a council. Thus a man faced with adversity and trial sometimes takes counsel as to how he might withstand it. Therefore, he says, How long shall I take counsels in my soul? That is to say, how long must I take new counsels in order to withstand my enemies? So the Old Testament, patriarchs had taken different counsels for the purpose of symbolizing Christ. When a man accepts one path in counsel and it still fails him, however, then sorrow follows. And it is for this reason that he says, How long shall I take, Lord, counsels in my soul? That is to say, daily, while I continually faint away; Jer 8:18, My sorrow is above sorrow, my heart mourneth within me.
Hic conqueritur de prosperitate inimici, qui exaltabitur, scilicet saulis super David, et inimici qui ducit in consensum peccati, et carnis, quoniam habent concupiscentias suas: Habac. 1: Propter hoc non pervenit usque in finem iudicium, quia praevalet impius adversus iustum. Here he bewails the prosperity of his enemy who is going to be exalted, namely Saul over David, as well as the enemy who leads one into the consensus of sin and the flesh, for they too have their own desires; Hab 1:4, Therefore judgment commeth not to the end, because the wicked prevaileth against the just.
Secunda pars huius psalmi ponitur oratio sive petitio. Et primo ponitur petitio respondens divinae dissimulationi. Secundo proprio defectui, ibi, Illumina oculos meos etc. Tertio prosperitati inimicorum, ibi, Ne quando dicat etc. Primo dicit de divina dissimulatione oblivione et aversione; quasi dicat, Respice, idest converte qui avertis tunc oblitus. Nunc exaudi me; Isa. 64: Respice, populus tuus omnes nos. Secundo ponitur petitio correspondens proprio defectui: unum ex multis consiliis, et aliud ex doloribus. Et ideo, quia non habeo consilia ex me, Illumina oculos meos, ne unquam obdormiam in morte, idest doce me. Item Luc. 1: Illuminare his qui in tenebris etc. Hoc competit ad litteram David fugienti a facie Saulis, quem oportebat saepius cavere, ne aliquando in manus ipsius incideret et occideretur. Similiter et quamdiu homo solicitus est ut peccato resistat, non cadit in mortem; sed quando dormit, occiditur. Sic 2 Reg.: Quando Isboseth dormiebat, et ancilla purgabat triticum, occisus est: Eph. 5: Exurge qui dormis. Petitio contra adversarium, Ne quando dicat inimicus. Et ponit duo. Primo petitionem. Secundo eius rationem, ibi, Qui tribulant me. Illumina, ne quando dicat inimicus, exultando: praevalui adversus eum. Et diabolus exultat quando tentat et trahit in peccatum. Similiter, Exurge Domine, non praevaleat homo: et huiusmodi est ut ratione gaudeat, quia exultabunt si motus fuero, si dimisero statum iustitiae, et labar in peccatum: Eccl. 18: Post concupiscentias animae tuae non eas, et a voluntate tua avertere. Si praestes animae tuae concupiscentias eius, faciet te venire in gaudium inimicorum tuorum: Dan. 9: Propter temetipsum, Deus, inclina aurem tuam et audi, aperi oculos tuos et vide desolationem nostram, et civitatem super quam invocatum est nomen tuum. In the second part of this Psalm he sets forth a prayer or petition. First of all, he stipulates his petition in response to this divine disregard. The second concerns his own weakness, therein, Enlighten my eyes etc. The third concerns the prosperity of his enemies, therein, Lest at any time [my enemy] say etc. He speaks first of the divine disregard, the forgetfulness and the turning away. It is as if he were to say, Consider! That is, turn around, for you have turned away and have thereupon forgotten me. Now hear me! Isa 64:9, See, we are all thy people. Second, he sets forth the petition which pertains to his own weakness: one from many counsels, and another from sorrows. Therefore, because I find no counsels within myself, Enlighten my eyes that I never sleep in death. That is to say, instruct me! Likewise, in Lk 1:79, To enlighten them that sit in darkness etc. This literally corresponds to David fleeing from the presence of Saul, of whom he often had to beware, lest at some time he might fall into his hands and be killed. Similarly, as long as a man is conscientious in resisting sin he does not fall into death, but when he sleeps he is killed. Thus in 2 Kings (2 Sam 4:5), When Isboseth hath fallen asleep, and the handmaid was cleansing the wheat, he was killed; and Eph 5:14, Rise thou that sleepest. There is also the petition against his adversary, Lest my enemy say. And so he establishes two things: first his petition, and second his rationale, therein, the one who troubles me. Enlighten my eyes, lest my enemy say, rejoicing, 'I have prevailed against him.' For the devil rejoices whenever he tempts and drags someone into sin. Similarly, Rise, O Lord, let not man prevail (Ps 9:20). He would rejoice for this very sort of reason, because they will rejoice when I am moved, if I were to renounce the position of righteousness and stumble into sin; Sir 18:30-31, Go not after thy lusts, but turn away from thy own will. If thou give to thy soul her desires she will make thee a joy to thy enemies; and Dan 9:18, Incline, O my God, thy ear and hear; open thy eyes and see our desolation and the city upon which thy name is called.
Hic signatur exauditio suae orationis: et circa hoc tria facit. Primo ponit spem exauditionis. Secundo gaudium de exauditione facta, ibi, Et exultavit cor meum. Tertio gratias agit, ibi, Cantabo. Dicit ergo, In misericordia tua speravi, non in mundo: Thren. 3: Misericordiae domini multae quia non sumus consumpti: non in potestate mea, quia nulla est contra diabolum: Iob 41: Non est potestas super terram quae possit ei comparari. Et ponit hic tria per quae homo iuvatur contra diabolum: scilicet per laetitiam spiritualem, per orationem devotam, et per bonam operationem. Propter primum dicit, Exultavit cor meum in salutari tuo, non in temporalibus vel vanitatibus, sicut faciunt peccatores, de quibus Iob 21: Gaudent ad sonitum organi, et ducunt in bonis dies suos, et in puncto ad inferna descendunt. Oseae 9: Noli laetari israel, noli exultari, sicut populi, sed in salutari tuo, idest in Christo, qui ad hoc venit ut salvet nos: Matth. 1: Ipse enim salvum faciet etc. Et haec laetitia armat hominem contra diabolum: Prov. 17: Animus gaudens aetatem floridam facit; spiritus tristis exsiccat ossa. Secundum est oratio sive laus Dei: unde addit, Cantabo Domino, idest laudabo eum: Ps. 21: Qui timetis Dominum, laudate eum. Laus enim Dei multum valet ad expugnandum diabolum: Matth. 17: Hoc genus daemoniorum non eiicitur nisi per orationem et ieiunium: Habac. 3: Ego autem in Domino gaudebo, et exultabo in Deo Iesu meo. Et hoc pro beneficiis concessis: et ideo sequitur. Qui bona tribuit mihi, idest qui bona tribuit. Iacob. 1: Omne datum optimum etc. Et dicit, Bona, quia sunt quaedam bona temporalia quae Dominus tribuit: Matth. 15: Tradidit illis bona sua, et uni dedit quinque talenta etc. Item, bona spiritualia, quae sunt bona gratiae et virtutes: 1 Cor. 12: Divisiones gratiarum sunt etc. Haec omnia operatur unus atque idem spiritus, dividens singulis prout vult; Iob 2: Si bona suscepimus de manu domini etc. Item bona gloriae: Psal. 26: Credo videre bona domini in terra viventium. Haec omnia bona tribuit Dominus; et ideo merito laudandus est: Eccl. ult. Danti mihi sapientiam, dabo gloriam. Tertium est bonum opus, de quo subiungitur, Psallam, idest operabor. Psallere est manu tangere psalterium. Hieronymus: Semper aliquid boni facito, ut te diabolus inveniat occupatum; Matth. 12: Cum immundus spiritus exierit ab homine etc. usque ingressi habitant ibi etc. fiunt etc. Nomen Domini, idest ad laudem nominis Domini altissimi: Luc. 1: Gloria in altissimis Deo: Matth. 5: Sic luceat lux vestra coram hominibus, ut videant etc. In this place the favorable answer to his prayer is signified; and in connection with this he does three things. First, he maintains his hope of a favorable answer. Second, there is his joy over the favorable answer rendered, therein, My heart rejoiced. Third, he gives thanks, therein, I will sing. This is why he says, I have trusted in thy mercy, not in the world; Lam 3:22, The mercies of the Lord are many that we are not consumed. It is not in my power, since that is nothing against the devil; Job 41:24, There is no power upon earth that can be compared with him. Thus he stipulates three things here which will help man in combating the devil, namely spiritual happiness, devout prayer, and good works. As such, he says first, My heart rejoiced in thy salvation, not in worldly trappings and vanities as sinners do, concerning which Job 21:12-13 says, They rejoice at the sound of the organ. They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment they go down to hell; and Hosea 9:1, Rejoice not, O Israel: rejoice not as the nations do, but in thy salvation, that is, in Christ who came in order to save us; Matt 1:21, For he shall save etc. And so this joy arms man against the devil; Prov 17:22, A joyful mind maketh age flourishing: a sorrowful spirit drieth up the bones. Second, there is prayer or praise of God. Whereupon, he adds, I will sing to the Lord. That is to say, I will praise him; Ps 21:24, Ye that fear the Lord, praise him. Praising God is very effective in the fight against the devil; Matt 17:20, This kind of demon is not cast out but by prayer and fasting; and Hab 3:18, But I will rejoice in the Lord: and I will joy in my God Jesus. This is for the favors he has bestowed. Thus it follows, for he giveth me good things. That is to say, he is the one who bestows good things; Jas 1:17, Every perfect gift etc. And he says, good things because there are some temporal goods which the Lord does bestow; Matt 25:14-15, He delivered to them his goods. And to one he gave five talents etc. Likewise, he bestows spiritual goods, which are the goods of grace as well as the virtues; 1 Cor 12:4-11, Now there are diversities of graces etc. All these things are the work of one and the same Spirit, who allots to everyone according as he will; and Job 2:10, If we have received good things at the hand of the Lord etc. This also applies to the goods of glory; Ps 26:13, I believe to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living. The Lord bestows all these good things and therefore is rightly praised; Sir 51:23, To him that giveth me wisdom will I give glory. The third is good work, concerning which he adds, I will chant the Psalm. That is to say, I will be active. For chanting the Psalm means undertaking the Psalter in one's deeds. Jerome says, "Always be engaged in doing something good, so that the devil finds you occupied." Matt 12:43, When an unclean Spirit is gone out of a man etc. until he enters in and they dwell there etc. and they become etc. The name of the Lord. That is to say, with respect to praising the name of the Lord most high; Lk 2:14, Glory to God in the highest; and Matt 5:16, So let your light shine before men, that they may see etc.

© Ian Levy

The Aquinas Translation Project