Augustin on Psalms 46
1. It is called, "A Psalm, to the end, for the sons of Korah, for things secret." Secret is it then; but He Himself, who in the place of Calvary was crucified, ye know, hath rent the veil,(9) that the secrets of the temple might he discovered. Furthermore since the Cross of our Lord was a key, whereby things closed might be opened; let us trust that He will be with us, that these secrets may be revealed. What is said, "To the end," always ought to be understood of Christ. For "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."(10) But The End He is called, not because He consumeth, but because He perfecteth. For ended call we the food which is eaten, and ended the coat which is woven, the former to consumption, the latter to perfection. Because then we have not where to go farther when we have come to Christ, Himself is called the end of our course. Nor ought we to think, that when we have come to Him, we ought to strive any further to come also to the Father. For this thought Philip also, when he said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us." When he said, "It sufficeth us," he sought the end of satisfaction and perfection. Then said He, "Have I been so long time with you, and hast thou not known Me, Philip: be that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father."(1) In Him then have we the Father, because He is in the Father, and the Father in Him, and He and His Father are One.(1)
2. "Our God is a refuge and strength" (verse 1). There are some refuges wherein is no strength, whereto when any fleeth, he is more weakened than strengthened. Thou fleest, for example, to some one greater in the world, that thou mayest make' thyself a powerful friend; this seemeth to thee a refuge. Yet so great are this world's uncertainties, and so frequent grow the ruins of the powerful day by day, that when to such refuge thou art come, thou beginnest to fear more than ever therein. ... Our refuge is not such, but our refuge is strength. When thither we have fled, we shall be firm.
3. "A helper in tribulations, which find us out too much." Tribulations are many, and in every tribulation unto God must we flee; whether it be a tribulation in our estate, or in our body's health, or about the peril of those dearest to us, or any other thing necessary to the sustaining of this life, refuge ought there to be none at all to a Christian man, other than his Saviour, other than his God, to whom when he has fled, he is strong. For he will not in himself be strong, nor will he to himself be strength, but He will be his strength, who has become his refuge. But, dearly beloved, among all tribulations of the human soul is no greater tribulation than the consciousness of sin. For if there be no wound herein, and that be sound within man which is called conscience, wherever else he may suffer tribulation, thither will he flee, and there find God. ... Ye see, dearly beloved, when trees are cut down and proved by the carpenters, sometimes in the surface they seem as though injured and rotten; but the carpenter looks into the inner marrow as it were of the tree, and if within he find the wood sound, he promises that it will last in a building; nor will he be very anxious about the injured surface, when that which is within he declares sound. Furthermore, to man anything more inward than conscience is not found; what then profits it, if what is without is sound, and the marrow of conscience has become rotton? These are close and vehement overmuch, and as this Psalm saith, too great tribulations; yet even in these the Lord hath become a helper by forgiving sin. For the consciences of the ungodly hateth nothing save indulgence; for if one saith he hath great tribulations, being a confessed debtor to the treasury, when he beholdeth the narrowness of his estate, and seeth that he cannot be solvent; if on account of the distrainers every year hanging over him, he saith that he suffereth great tribulations, and doth not breathe freely except in hope of indulgence, and that in things earthly;(2) how much more the debtor of penalties out of the abundance of sins: when shall he pay what he owes out of his evil conscience, when if he pay, he perisheth? For to pay this debt, is to undergo the penalties. Remaineth then that of His indulgence, we may be secure, get so that, indulgence received, we return not again to contract debts. ...
4. Now then, such security received, what say they? "Therefore will not we fear, when the earth shall be confounded" (verse 2). Just before anxious, suddenly secure; out of too great tribulations set in great tranquillity. For in them Christ was sleeping, therefore were they tossed: Christ awoke (as but now we heard out of the Gospel), He commanded the winds, and they were still.(3) Since Christ is in each man's heart by faith, it is signified to us, that his heart as a ship in this world's tempest is tossed, who forgetteth his faith: as though Christ sleeping it is tossed, but Christ awaking cometh tranquillity. Nay, the Lord Himself, what said He? "Where is your faith?"(4) Christ aroused, aroused up faith, that what had been done in the ship, might be done in their hearts. "A helper in tribulations, which found us s out too much." He caused that therein should be great tranquillity.
5. See what tranquillity: "Therefore will not we fear when the earth shall be confounded, and the mountains shall be carried into the heart of the sea." Then we shall find not fear. Let us seek mountains carried, and if we can find, it is manifest that this is our security. The Lord truly said to His disciples, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say to this mountain, Be Thou removed, and be Thou cast into the sea, and it shall be done."(6) Haply "to this mountain," He said of Himself; for He is called a Mountain: "It shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord shall be manifest."(7) But this Mountain is placed above other mountains; because the Apostles also are mountains, supporting this Mountain. Therefore followeth, "In the last days the Mountain of the Lord shall be manifest, established in the top of the mountains." Therefore passeth It the tops of all mountains, and on the top of all mountains is It placed; because the mountains are preaching The Mountain. But the sea signifieth this world, in comparison of which sea, like earth seemed the nation of the Jews. For it was not covered over with the bitterness of idolatry, but, like dry land, was surrounded with the bitterness of the Gentiles as with sea. It was to be, that the earth be confounded, that is, that nation of the Jews; and that the mountains be carried into the heart of the sea, that is, first that great Mountain established in the top of the mountains. For He deserted the nation of the Jews, and came among the Gentiles. He was carried from the earth into the sea. Who carrying Him? The Apostles, to whom He had said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say to this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea, and it shall be done:" that is, through your most faithful preaching it shall come to pass, that this mountain, that is, I Myself, be preached among the Gentiles, be glorified among the Gentiles, be acknowledged among the Gentiles, and that be fulfilled which was predicted of Me, "A people whom I have not known shall serve Me."(1) ...
6. "The waters thereof roared, and were troubled" (verse 3): when the Gospel was preached, "What is this? He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods:"(2) this the Athenians; but the Ephesians, with what tumult would they have slain the Apostles, when in the theatre, for their goddess Diana, they made such an uproar, as to be shouting, "Great is Diana of the Ephesians! "(3) Amidst which waves and roaring of the sea, feared not they who to that refuge had fled. Nay, the Apostle Paul would enter in to the theatre, and was kept back by the disciples, because it was necessary that he should still abide in the flesh for their sakes. But yet, "the waters thereof roared, and were troubled: the mountains shook at the mightiness thereof." Whose might? The sea's? or rather God's, of whom was said, "refuge and strength, a helper in tribulations, which have found us out too much?" For shaken were the mountains, that is, the powers of this world. For one thing are the mountains of God, another the mountains of the world: the mountains of the world, they whose head is the devil, the mountains of God, they whose Head is Christ. But by these mountains were shaken those mountains. Then gave they their voices against Christians, when the mountains were shaken, the waters roaring; for the mountains were shaken, and there was made a great earthquake, with quaking of the sea. But against whom this? Against the City founded upon a rock. The waters roar, the mountains shake, the Gospel being preached. What then, the City of God? Hear what followeth.
7. "The streams of the river make glad the City of God" (verse 4). When the mountains shake, when the sea rages, God deserteth not His City, by the streams of the riverse What are these streams of the river? That overflowing of the Holy Spirit, of which the Lord said, "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, out of his bosom(4) shall flow rivers of living water."(5) These rivers then flowed out of the bosom(4) of Paul, Peter, John, the other Apostles, the other faithful Evangelists. Since these rivers flowed from one river, many "streams of the river make glad the City of God." For that ye might know this to be said of the Holy Spirit, in the same Gospel next said the Evangelist, "But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that were to believe on Him should receive. For the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified."(6) Jesus being glorified after His Resurrection, glorified after His Ascension, on the day of Pentecost came the Holy Spirit, and filled the believers,(7) who spake with tongues, and began to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Hence was the City of God made glad, while the sea was troubled by the roaring of its waters, while the mountains were confounded, asking what they should do, how drive out the new doctrine, how root out the race of Christians from the earth. Against whom? Against the streams of the river making glad the City of God. For thereby showed He of what river He spake; that He signified the Holy Spirit, by "the streams of the river make glad the City of God." And what follows? "The Most High hath sanctified His tabernacle:" since then there followeth the mention of Sanctification, it is manifest that these streams of the river are to be understood of the Holy Spirit, by whom is sanctified every godly soul believing in Christ, that it may be made a citizen of the City of God.
8. "God is in the midst of her: she shall not be moved "(verse 5). Let the sea rage, the mountains shake; "God is in the midst of her: she shall not be moved." What is, "in the midst of her"? That God stands in any one place, and they surround Him who believe in Him? Then is God circumscribed by place; and broad that which surroundeth, narrow that which is surrounded? God forbid. No such thing imagine of God, who is contained in no place, whose seat is the conscience of the godly: and so is God's seat in the hearts of men, that if man fall from God, God in Himself abideth, not falleth like one not finding where to be. For rather doth He lift up thee, that thou mayest be in Him, than so lean upon thee, as if thou withdraw thyself, to fall. Himself if He withdraw, fall wilt thou: thyself if thou withdraw, fall will not He. What then is, "God is in the midst of her"? It signifieth that God is equal to all, and accepteth not persons. For as that which is in the middle has equal distances to all the boundaries, so God is said to be in the middle, because He consulteth equally for all. "God is in the midst of her: she shall not be moved." Wherefore shall she not be moved? Because God is in the midst of her. He is "the Helper in tribulations that have found us out too much. God shall help her with His Countenance." What is, "with His Countenance"? With manifestation of Himself. How manifests God Himself, so as that we see His Countenance? I have already told you; ye have learned God's Presence; we have learned it through His works. When from Him we receive any help so that we cannot at all doubt that it was granted to us by the Lord, then God's Countenance is with us.
9. "The heathen are troubled" (verse 6). And how troubled? why troubled? To cast down the City of God, in the midst whereof is God? To overthrow the tabernacle sanctified, which God helpeth with His Countenance? No: with a wholesome trouble are the heathen now troubled. For what followeth? "And the kingdoms are bowed." Bowed, saith He, are the kingdoms; not now erected that they may rage, but bowed that they may adore. When were the kingdoms bowed? When that came to pass which was predicted in another Psalm, "All kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall serve Him."(1) What cause made the kingdoms to bow? Hear the cause. "The Most High gave His Voice, and the earth was moved." The fanatics(2) of idolatry, like frogs in the marshes, clamoured, the more tumultuously, the more sordidly, in filth and mire. And what is the brawling of frogs to the thunder of the clouds? For out of them "the Most High gave His Voice, and the earth was moved:" He thundered out of His clouds. And what are His clouds? His Apostles, His preachers, by whom He thundered in precepts, lightened in miracles. The same are clouds who are also mountains: mountains for their height and firmness, clouds for their rain and fruitfulness. For these clouds watered the earth, of which it was said, "The Most High gave His Voice, and the earth was moved." For it is of those clouds that He threateneth a certain barren vineyard, whence the mountains were carried into the heart of the sea; "I will command," saith He, "the clouds that they rain no rain upon it."(3) This was fulfilled in that which I have mentioned, when the mountains were carried into the heart of the sea; when it was said, "It was necessary that the word of God should have been spoken first to you; but seeing ye put it from you, we turn to the Gentiles;"(4) then was fulfilled, "I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it." The nation of the Jews hath just so remained as a fleece dry upon the ground. For this, ye know, happened in a certain miracle, the ground was dry, the fleece only was wet, yet rain in the fleece appeared not.(5) So also the mystery of the New TeStament appeared not in the nation of the Jews. What there was the fleece, is here the veil. For in the fleece was veiled the mystery. But on the ground, in all the nations open lieth Christ's Gospel; the rain is manifest, the Grace of Christ is bare, for it is not covered with a veil. But that the rain might come out of it, the fleece was pressed. For by pressure they from themselves excluded Christ, and the Lord now from His clouds raineth on the ground, the fleece hath remained dry. But of them then "the Most High gave His Voice," out of those clouds; by which Voice the kingdoms were bowed and worshipped.
10. "The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our taker up" (verse 7). Not any man, not any power, not, in short, Angel, or any creature either earthly or heavenly, but "the Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our taker up." He who sent Angels, came after Angels, came that Angels might serve Him, came that men He might make equal to Angels. Mighty Grace! If God be for us, who can be against us? "The Lord of Hosts is with us." What Lord of Hosts is with us? "If" (I say) "God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all; how hath He not with Him also freely given(6) us all things."(7) Therefore be we secure, in tranquillity of heart nourish we a good conscience with the Bread of the Lord. "The Lord of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our taker up." However great be thy infirmity, see who taketh thee up. One is sick, a physician is called to him. His own taken-up, the Physician calleth the sick man. Who hath taken him up? Even He. A great hope of salvation; a great Physician hath taken him up. What Physician?(8) Every Physician save He is man: every Physician who cometh to a sick man, another day can be made sick, beside Him. "The God of Jacob is our taker up." Make thyself altogether as a little child, such as are taken up by their parents. For those not taken up, are exposed; those taken up are nursed. Thinkest thou God hath so taken thee up, as when an infant thy mother took thee up? Not so, but to eternity. For thy voice is in that Psalm, "My father and my mother forsake me, but the Lord hath taken me up."(9)
11. "Come and see the works of the Lord" (verse 8). Now of this taking up, what hath the Lord done? Consider the whole world, come and see. For if thou comest not, thou seest not; if thou seest not, thou believest not; if thou believest not, thou standest afar off: if thou believest thou comest, if thou believest thou seest. For how came we to that mountain? Not on foot? Is it by ship? Is it on the wing? Is it on horses? For all that pertain to space and place, be not concerned, trouble not thyself, He cometh to thee. For out of a small stone He hath grown, and become a great mountain, so that He hath filled all the face of the earth. Why then wouldest thou by land come to Him, who filleth all lands? Lo, He hath already come: watch thou. By growing He waketh even sleepers; if yet there is not in them so deep sleep, as that they be hardened even against the mountain coming; but they hear, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."(1) For it was a great thing for the Jews to see the stone. For the stone was yet small: and small they deservedly despised it, and despising they stumbled, and stumbling they were broken; remains that they be ground to powder. For so was it said of the stone, "Whosoever shall fall upon that stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."(2) It is one thing to be broken, another to be ground to powder. To be broken is less than to be ground to powder: but none grindeth He coming exalted, save whom He brake lying low. For now before His coming He lay low before the Jews, and they stumbled at Him, and were broken; hereafter shall He come in His Judgment, glorious and exalted, great and powerful, not weak to be judged, but strong to judge, and grind to powder those who were broken stumbling at Him. For" A stone of stumbling and a rock of offence,"(3) is He to them that believe not. Therefore, brethren, no wonder if the Jews acknowledged not Him, whom as a small stone lying before their feet they despised. They are to be wondered at, who even now so great a mountain will not acknowledge. The Jews at a small stone by not seeing stumbled; the heretics stumble at a mountain. For now that stone hath grown, now say we unto them, Lo, now is fulfilled the prophecy of Daniel, "The stone that was small became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth."(4) Wherefore stumble ye at Him, and go not rather up to Him? Who is so blind as to stumble at a mountain? Came He to thee that thou shouldest have whereat to stumble, and not have whereto to go up? "Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord."(5) Isaiah saith this: "Come ye, and let us go up." What is, "Come ye, and let us go up"? "Come ye," is, Believe ye. "Let us go up," is, Let us profit.(6) But they will neither come, nor go up, nor believe, nor profit. They bark against the mountain. Even now by so often stumbling on Him they are broken, and will not go up, choosing always to stumble. Say we to them, "Come ye, and see the works of the Lord:" what "prodigies He hath set forth through the earth." Prodigies are called, because they portend something, those signs of miracles which were done when the world believed. And what thereafter came to pass, and what did they portend?
12. "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth" (verse 9). This not yet see we fulfilled: yet are there wars, wars among nations for sovereignty; among sects, among Jews, Pagans, Christians, heretics, are wars, frequent wars, some for the truth, some for falsehood contending. Not yet then is this fulfilled, "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth;" but haply it shall be fulfilled. Or is it now also fulfilled? In some it is fulfilled; in the wheat it is fulfilled, in the tares it is not yet fulfilled. What is this then, "He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth"? Wars He calleth whereby it is warred against God. But who warreth against God? Ungodliness. And what to God can ungodliness do? Nothing. What doth an earthen vessel dashed against the rock, however vehemently dashed? With so much greater harm to itself it cometh, with how much the greater force it cometh. These wars were great, frequent were they. Against God fought ungodliness, and earthen vessels were dashed in pieces, even men by presuming on themselves, by too much prevailing by their own strength. This is that, the shield whereof Job also named concerning one ungodly. "He runneth against God, upon the stiff neck of his shield."(7) What is, "upon the stiff neck of his shield"? Presuming too much upon his own protection. Were they such who said, "God is our refuge and strength, a Helper in tribulations which have found us out too much"? or in another Psalm, "For I will not trust in my bow, neither shall my sword save me."(8) When one learneth that in himself he is nothing, and help in himself has none, arms in him are broken in pieces, wars are made to cease. Such wars then destroyed that Voice of the Most High out of His holy clouds, whereby the earth was moved, and the kingdoms were bowed. These wars hath He made to cease unto the end of the earth. "He shall break the bow, and dash in pieces the arms, and burn the shield with fire." Bow, arms, shield, fire.(1) The bow is plots; arms, public warfare; shields, vain presuming of self-protection: the fire wherewith they are burned, is that whereof the Lord said, "I am come to send fire on the earth; "(2) of which fire saith the Psalm, "There is nothing hid from the heat thereof."(3) This fire burning, no arms of ungodliness shall remain in us, needs must all be broken, dashed in pieces, burned. Remain thou unharmed, not having any help of thine own; and the more weak thou art, having no arms thine own, the more He taketh thee up, of whom it is said, "The God of Jacob is our taker up." ... But when God taketh us up, doth He send us away unarmed? He armeth us, but with other arms, arms Evangelical, arms of truth, continence, salvation, faith, hope, charity. These arms shall we have, but not of ourselves: but the arms which of ourselves we had, are burnt up: yet if by that fire of the Holy Spirit we are kindled, whereof it is said, "He shall burn the shields with fire;" thee, who didst wish to be powerful in thyself, hath God made weak, that He may make thee strong in Him, because in thyself thou wast made weak.
13. What then followeth? "Be still." To what purpose? "And see that I am God" (verse 10). That is, Not ye, but I am God. I created, I create anew; I formed, I form anew; I made, I make anew. If thou couldest not make thyself, how canst thou make thyself anew? This seeth not the contentious tumult of man's soul; to which contentious tumult is it said, "Be still." That is, restrain your souls from contradiction. Do not argue, and, as it were, arm against God. Else yet live thy arms, not yet burned up with fire. But if they are burned, "Be still;" because ye have not wherewith to fight. But if ye be still in yourselves, and from Me seek all, who before presumed on yourselves, then shall ye "see that I am God." "I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth." Just before I said, by the name of earth is signified the nation of the Jews, by the name of sea the other nations. The mountains were carried into the heart of the sea; the nations are troubled, the kingdoms are bowed; the Most High gave His Voice, and the earth was moved. "The Lord of Hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our taker up" (verse 11). Miracles are done among the heathen, full filled is the faith of the heathen; burned are the arms of human presumption. Still are they, in tranquillity of heart, to acknowledge God the Author of all their gifts. And after this glorifying, doth He yet desert the people of the Jews? of which saith the Apostle, "I say unto you, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened unto Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."(4) That is, until the mountains be carried hither, the clouds rain here, the Lord here bows the kingdoms with His thunder, "until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." And what thereafter? "And so all Israel shall be saved." Therefore, here too observing the same order, "I will be exalted" (saith He) "among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth;" that is, both in the sea, and in the earth, that now might all say what followeth: "the God of Jacob is our taker up."
1. The title of the Psalm goeth thus. "To the end: for the sons of Korah: a Psalm of David himself." These sons of Korah have the title also of some other Psalms, and indicate a sweet mystery, insinuate a great Sacrament: wherein let us willingly understand ourselves, and let us acknowledge in the title us who hear, and read, and as in a glass set before us behold who we are. The sons of Korah, who are they?(6) ... Haply the sons of the Bridegroom. For the Bridegroom was crucified in the place of Calvary. Recollect the Gospel,(7) where they crucified the Lord, and ye will find Him crucified in the place of Calvary. Furthermore, they who deride His Cross, by devils, as by beasts, are devoured. For this also a certain Scripture signified. When God's Prophet Elisha was going up, children called after him mocking, "Go up thou bald head, Go up thou bald head:" but he, not so much in cruelty as in mystery, made those children to be devoured by bears out of the wood.(8) If those children had not been devoured, would they have lived even till now? Or could they not, being born mortal, have been taken off by a fever? But so in them had no mystery been shown, whereby posterity might be put in fear. Let none then mock the Cross of Christ. The Jews were possessed by devils, and devoured; for in the place of Calvary, crucifying Christ, and lifting on the Cross, they said as it were with childish sense, not understanding what they said, "Go up, thou bald head." For what is, "Go up"? "Crucify Him, Crucify Him."(9) For childhood is set before us to imitate humility, and childhood is set before us to beware of foolishness. To imitate humility, childhood was set before us by the Lord, when He called children to Him,(10) and because they were kept from Him, He said, "Suffer them to come unto Me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."(11) The example of childhood is set before us to beware of foolishness by the Apostle, "Brethren, be not children in understanding:" and again he proposeth it to imitate, "Howbeit in malice be ye children, that in understanding ye may be men."(1) "For the sons of Korah" the Psalm is sung; for Christians then is it sung. Let us hear it as sons of the Bridegroom, whom senseless children crucified in the place of Calvary. For they earned to be devoured by beasts; we to be crowned by Angels. For we acknowledge the humility of our Lord, and of it are not ashamed. We are not ashamed of Him called in mystery "the bald" (Calvus), from the place of Calvary. For on the very Cross whereon He was insulted, He permitted not our forehead to be bald; for with His own Cross He marked it. Finally, that ye may know that these things are said to us, see what is said.
2. "O clap your hands, all ye nations" (verse 1 ). Were the people of the Jews all the nations? No, but blindness in part is happened to Israel, that senseless children might cry, "Calve,""Calve;" and so the Lord might be crucified in the place of Calvary, that by His Blood shed He might redeem the Gentiles, and that might be fulfilled which saith the Apostle, "Blindness in part is happened unto Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."(2) Let them insult, then, the vain, and foolish, and senseless, and say, "Calve," "Calve;" but ye redeemed by His Blood which was shed in the place of Calvary, say, "O clap your hands, all ye nations;" because to you hath come down the Grace of God. "O clap your hands." What is "O clap"? Rejoice. But wherefore with the hands? Because with good works. Do not rejoice with the mouth while idle with the hands. If ye rejoice, "clap your hands." The hands of the nations let Him see, who joys hath deigned to give them. What is, the hands of the nations? The acts of them doing good works. "O clap your hands, all ye nations shout unto God with the voice of triumph." Both with voice and with hands. If with the voice only it is not well, because the hands are slow; if only with the hands it is not well, because the tongue is mute. Agree together must the hands and tongue. Let this confess, these work. "Shout unto God with the voice of triumph."
3. "For the Lord Most High is terrible" (verse 2). The Most High in descending made like one ludicrous, by ascending into Heaven is made terrible. "A great King over all the earth." Not only over the Jews; for over them also He is King. For of them also the Apostles believed and of them many thousands of men sold their goods, and laid the price at the Apostles' feet,(3) and in them was fulfilled what in the title of the Cross was written, "The King of the Jews."(4) For He is King also of the Jews. But "of the Jews" is little.(5) "O clap your hands, all ye nations: for God is the King of all the earth." For it sufficeth not Him to have under Him one nation: therefore such great price gave He out of His side, as to buy the whole world.
4. "He hath subdued the people under us, and the nations under our feet" (verse 3). Which subdued, and to whom? Who are they that speak? Haply Jews? Surely, if Apostles; surely, if Saints. For under these God hath subdued the people and the nations, that to-day are they honoured among the nations, who by their own citizens earned to be slain: as their Lord was slain by His citizens, arid is honoured among the nations; was crucified by His own, is adored by aliens, but those by a price made His own. For therefore bought He us, that aliens from Him we might not be. Thinkest thou then these are the words of Apostles, "He hath subdued the people under us, and the nations under our feet"? I know not. Strange that Apostles should speak so proudly, as to rejoice that the nations were put under their feet, that is, Christians under the feet of Apostles. For they rejoice that we are with them under the feet of Him who died for us. For under Paul's feet ran they, who would be of Paul, to whom He said, "Was Paul crucified for you?"(6) What then here, what are we to understand? "He hath subdued the people under us, and the nations under our feet." All pertaining to Christ's inheritance are among "all the nations," and all not pertaining to Christ's inheritance are among "all the nations:" and ye see so exalted in Christ's Name is Christ's Church, that all not yet believing in Christ lie under the feet of Christians. For what numbers now run to the Church; not yet being Christians, they ask aid of the Church;(7) to be succoured by us temporally they are willing, though eternally to reign with us as yet they are unwilling. When all seek aid of the Church, even they who are not yet in the Church, hath He not "subdued the people under us, and the nations under our feet"?
5. "He hath chosen an inheritance for us, the excellency(8) of Jacob, whom He loved" (verse 4). A certain beauty of Jacob He hath chosen for our inheritance. Esau and Jacob were two brothers; in their mother's womb both struggled, and by this struggle their mother's bowels were shaken; and while they two were yet therein, the younger was elected and preferred to the elder, and it was said, "Two peoples are in thy womb, and the eider shall serve the younger."(1) Among all nations is the elder, among all nations the younger; but the younger is in good Christians, elect, godly, faithful; the elder in the proud, unworthy, sinful, stubborn, defending rather than confessing their sins: as was also the very people of the Jews, "being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness."(2) But for that it is said, "The elder shall serve the younger;" it is manifest that under the godly are subdued the ungodly, under the humble are subdued the proud. Esau was born first, and Jacob was born last; but he who was last born, was preferred to the first-born, who through gluttony lost his birthright. So thou hast it written,(3) He longed for the pottage, and his brother said to him, If thou wilt that I give it thee, give me thy birthright. He loved more that which carnally he desired, than that which spiritually by being born first he had earned:(4) and he laid aside his birthright, that he might eat lentils. But lentils we find to be the food of the Egyptians, for there it abounds in Egypt. Whence is so magnified the lentil of Alexandria, that it comes even to our country, as if here grew no lentil. Therefore by desiring Egyptian food he lost his birthright. So also the people of the Jews, of whom it is said, "in their hearts they turned back again into Egypt."(5) They desired in a manner the lentil, and lost their birthright.
6. "God is gone up with jubilation" (verse 5). Even He our God, the Lord Christ, is gone up with jubilation; "the Lord with the sound of a trumpet." "Is gone up:" whither, save where we know? Whither the Jews followed Him not, even with their eyes. For exalted on the Cross they mocked Him, ascending into Heaven they did not ,see Him. "God hath gone up with jubilation. What is jubilation, but admiration of joy which cannot be expressed in words? As the disciples in joy admired, seeing Him go into Heaven, whom they had mourned dead; truly for the joy, words sufficed not: remained to jubilate what none could express. There was also the voice of the trumpet, the voice of Angels. For it is said, "Lift up thy voice like a trumpet." Angels preached the ascension of the Lord: they saw the Disciples, their Lord ascending, tarrying admiring, confounded, nothing speaking, but in heart jubilant: and now was the sound of the trumpet in the clear voice of the Angels, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into Heaven? this is Jesus."(6) As if they knew not that it was the same Jesus. Had they not just before seen Him before them? Had they not heard Him speaking with them? Nay, they not only saw the figure of Him present, but handled also His limbs. Of themselves then knew they not, that it was the same Jesus? But they being by very admiration, from joy of jubilation, as it were transported in mind, the Angels said, "that same is Jesus." As though they said, If ye believe Him, this is that same Jesus, whom crucified, your feet stumbled, whom dead and buried, ye thought your hope lost. Lo, this is the same Jesus. He hath gone up before you, "He shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven." His Body is removed indeed from your eyes, but God is not separated from your hearts: see Him going up, believe on Him absent, hope for Him coming; but yet through His secret Mercy, feel Him present. For He who ascended into Heaven that He might be removed from your eyes, promised unto you, saying, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world."(7) Justly then the Apostle so addressed us, "The Lord is at hand; be careful for nothing."(8) Christ sitteth above the Heavens; the Heavens are far off, He who there sitteth is near. ...
7. "Sing praises to our God, sing praises" (verse 6). Whom as Man mocked they, who from God were alienated. "Sing praises to our God." For He is not Man only, but God. Man of the seed of David,(9) God the Lord of David, of the Jews having flesh. "Whose" (saith the Apostle) "are the fathers, of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came."(10) Of the Jews then is Christ, but according to the flesh. But who is this Christ who is of the Jews according to the flesh? "Who is over all, God blessed for everse" God before the flesh, God in the flesh, God with the flesh. Nor only God before the flesh, but God before the earth whence flesh was made; nor only God before the earth whereof flesh was made, but even God before the Heaven which was first made; God before the day which was first made; God before Angels; the same Christ is God: for "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."(11)
8. "For God is the King of all the earth" (verse 7). What? And before was He not God of all the earth? Is He not God of both heaven and earth, since by Him surely were all things made? Who can say that He is not his God? But not all men acknowledged Him their God; and where He was acknowledged, there only, so to say, He was God. "In Judah is God known."(12) Not yet was it said to the sons of Korah, "O clap your hands, all ye nations." For that God known in Judah, is King of all the earth: now by all He is acknowledged, for that is fulfilled which Isaiah saith, "He is thy God who hath delivered thee, the God of the whole earth shall He be called."(1) "Sing ye praises with understanding." He teacheth us and warneth us to sing praises with understanding, not to seek the sound of the ear, but the light of the heart. The Gentiles, whence ye were called that ye might be Christians, adored gods made with hands, and sang praises to them, but not with understanding. If they had sung with understanding, they had not adored stones. When a man sensible sang to a stone insensible, did he sing with understanding? But now, brethren, we see not with our eyes Whom we adore, and yet correctly(2) we adore.(3) Much more is God commended to us, that with our eyes we see Him not. If with our eyes we saw Him, haply we might despise. For even Christ seen, the Jews despised; unseen, the Gentiles adored.
9. "God shall reign over all nations" (verse 8). Who reigned over one nation, "shall reign" (saith He) "over all nations." When this was said, God reigned over one nation. It was a prophecy, the thing was not yet shown. Thanks be to God, we now see fulfilled what before was prophesied. A written promise God sent unto us before the time, the time fulfilled He hath repaid us. "God shall reign over all nations," is a promise. "God sitteth upon His Holy Seat." What then was promised to come, now being fulfilled, is acknowledged and held. "God sitteth upon His Holy Seat." What is His Holy Seat? Haply saith one, The Heavens, and he understandeth well. For Christ hath gone up,(4) as we know, with the Body, wherein He was crucified, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father; thence we expect Him to come to judge the quick and the dead.(5) "God sitteth upon His Holy Seat." The Heavens are His Holy Seat. Wilt thou also be His Seat? think not that thou canst not be; prepare for Him a place in thy heart. He cometh, and willingly sitteth. The same Christ is surely "the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God:"(6) and what saith the Scripture of Wisdom Herself? The soul of the righteous is the seat of Wisdom.(7) If then the soul of the righteous is the seat of Wisdom, be thy soul righteous, and thou shalt be a royal seat of Wisdom. And truly, brethren, all men who live well, who act well, converse in godly charity, doth not God sit in them, and Himself command? Thy soul obeyeth God sitting in it, and itself commandeth the members. For thy soul commandeth thy members, that so may move the foot, the hand, the eye, the ear, and itself commandeth the members as its servants, but yet itself serveth its Lord sitting within. It cannot well rule its inferior, unless its superior it have not disdained to serve.
10. "The princes of the peoples are gathered together unto the God of Abraham" (verse 9). The God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.(8) True it is, God said this, and thereupon the Jews prided themselves, and said, "We are Abraham's children; "(9) priding themselves in their father's name, carrying his flesh, not holding his faith; by seed cleaving to Him, in manners degenerating. But the Lord, what said He to them so priding themselves? "If ye are Abraham's children, do the works of Abraham."(10) Again ... "The princes of the peoples:" the princes of the nations: not the princes of one people, but the princes of all people have "gathered together unto the God of Abraham." Of these princes was that Centurion too, of whom but now when the Gospel was read ye heard. For he was a Centurion having honour and power among men, he was a prince among the princes of the peoples. Christ coming to him, he sent his friends to meet Him, nay unto Christ truly passing over to him he sent his friends, and asked that He would heal his servant who was dangerously sick. And when the Lord would come, he sent to Him this message: "I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof, but say in a word only, and my servant shall be healed." "For I also am a man set under authority, having under me soldiers."(11) See how he kept his rank! first he mentioned that he was under another, and afterwards that another was under him. I am under authority, and I am in authority; both under some I am, and over some I am. ... As though he said, If I being set under authority command those who are under me, Thou who art set under no man's authority, canst not Thou command Thy creature, since all things were made by Thee, and without Thee was nothing made. "Say," then, said he, "in a word, and my servant shall be healed. For I am not worthy that Thou shouldest enter under my roof." ... Admiring at his faith, Jesus reprobates the Jews' misbelief. For sound to themselves they seemed, whereas they were dangerously sick, when their Physician not knowing they slew. Therefore when He reprobated, and repudiated their pride what said he? "I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west," not belonging to the kindred of Israel: many shall come to whom He said, "0 clap your hands, all ye nations;" "and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven." Abraham begat them not of his own flesh; yet shall they come and sit down with him in the kingdom of heaven, and be his sons. Whereby his sons? Not as born of his flesh, but by following his faith. "But the children of the kingdom," that is, the Jews, "shall be cast into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."(1) They shall be condemned to outer darkness who are born of the flesh of Abraham, and they shall sit down with him in the kingdom of heaven, who have imitated Abraham's faith.
11. And what they who belonged to the God of Abraham? "For the mighty gods of the earth are greatly lifted up." They who were gods, the people of God, the vineyard of God, whereof it is said, "Judge betwixt Me and My vineyard,"(2) shall go into outer darkness, shall not sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, are not gathered unto the God of Abraham. Wherefore? "For the mighty gods of the earth;" they who were mighty gods of the earth, presuming upon earth. What earth? Themselves; for every man is earth. For to man was it said, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."(3) But man ought to presume upon God, and thence to hope for help, not from himself. For the earth raineth not upon itself, nor shineth for itself; but as the earth from heaven expecteth rain and light, so man from God ought to expect mercy and truth. They then, "the mighty gods of the earth, were greatly lifted up," that is, greatly prided themselves: they thought no physician necessary for themselves, and therefore remained in their sickness, and by their sickness were brought down even to death. The natural branches were broken off that the humble wild olive tree might be grafted in.(4) Hold we fast then, brethren, humility, charity, godliness: since we are called, on their proving reprobate, even by their example let us fear to pride ourselves.
Augustin on Psalms 46