Augustin on Psalms 110
1. ... This Psalm is one of those promises, surely and openly prophesying our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; so that we are utterly unable to doubt that Christ is announced in this Psalm, since we are now Christians, and believe the Gospel. For when our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ asked of the Jews, whose Son they alleged Christ to be, and they had replied, "the Son of David;" He at once replied to their answer, "How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto My Lord?" etc. "If then," He asked, "David in the spirit call Him Lord, how is He his son?"(5) With this verse this Psalm beginneth.
2. "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool" (verse 1). We ought, therefore, thoroughly to consider this question proposed to the Jews by the Lord, in the very commencement of the Psalm. For if what the .Jews answered be asked of us, whether we confess or deny it; God forbid that we should deny it. it be said to us, Is Christ the Son of David, or not? if we reply, No, we contradict the Gospel for the Gospel of St. Matthew thus beginneth, "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David."(6) The Evangelist declareth, that he is writing the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David. The Jews, then, when questioned by Christ, whose Son they believed Christ to be, rightly answered, the Son of David. The Gospel agreeth with their answer. Not only the suspicion of the Jews, but the faith of Christians, doth declare this. ... "If then David in the spirit called Him Lord, how is He his son?" The Jews were silent at this question: they found no further reply: yet they did not seek Him as the Lord, for they did not acknowledge Him to be Himself that Son of David. But let us, brethren, both believe and declare: for, "with the heart we believe unto righteousness: but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation; "(7) let us believe, I say, and let us declare both the Son of David, and the Lord of David. Let us not be ashamed of the Son of David, lest we find the Lord of David angry with us.
3. ... We know that Christ sitteth at the right hand of the Father, since His resurrection from the dead, and ascent into heaven. It is already done: we saw not it, but we have believed it: we have read it in the Scripture, have heard it preached, and hold it by faith. So that by the very circumstance that Christ was David's Son, He became His Lord also. For That which was born of the seed of David was so honoured, that It was also the Lord of David. Thou wonderest at this, as if the same did not happen in human affairs. For if it should happen, that the son of any private person be made a king, will he not be his father's lord? What is yet more wonderful may happen, not only that the son of a private person, by being made a king, may become his father's lord; but that the son of a layman, by being made a Bishop, may become his father's father. So that in this very circumstance, that Christ took upon Him the flesh, that He died in the flesh, that He rose again in the same flesh, that in the same He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of His Father, in this same flesh so honoured, so brightened, so changed into a heavenly garb, He is both David's Son, and David's Lord. ...
4. Christ, therefore, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Son is on the right hand of the Father, hidden from us. Let us believe. Two things are here said: that God said, "Sit Thou on My right hand;" and added, "until I make Thy enemies Thy footstool;" that is, beneath Thy feet. Thou dost not see Christ sitting at the right hand of the Father: yet thou canst see this, how His enemies are made His footstool. While the latter is fulfilled openly, believe the former to be fulfilled secretly. What enemies are made His footstool? Those to whom imagining vain things it is said, "Why do the heathen so furiously rage together: and why do the people imagine a vain thing?" etc.(1) ... He therefore sitteth at the right hand of God, till His enemies be placed beneath His feet. This is going on, this is taking place: although it is accomplished by degrees, it is going on without end. For though the heathen rage, will they, taking counsel together against Christ, prevent the fulfilment of these words: "I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for thy possession"? ... "Their memorial is perished with a cry;" but, "The Lord shall endure for ever:"(2) as another Psalm, but not another Spirit, saith.
5. And what followeth? "The Lord shall send the rod of Thy power out of Sion" (verse 2). It appeareth, brethren, it most clearly appeareth, that the Prophet is not speaking of that kingdom of Christ, in which He reigneth for ever with His Father, Ruler of the things which are made through Him: for when doth not God the Word reign, who is in the beginning with God?(3) For it is said," Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever."(4) To what eternal King? To one invisible, incorruptible. For in this, that Christ is with the Father, invisible and incorruptible, because He is His Word, and His Power, and His Wisdom, and God with God, through whom all things were made; He is "King eternal;" but, nevertheless, that reign of temporal government, by which, through the mediation of His flesh, He called us into eternity, beginneth with Christians; but of His reign there shall be no end. His enemies therefore are made His footstool, while He is sitting on the right hand of His Father, as it is written; this is now going on, this will go on unto the end. ...
6. When therefore He hath sent the rod of His power out of Sion: what shall happen? "Be Thou ruler, even in the midst among Thine enemies." First, "Be Thou ruler in the midst of Thine enemies:" in the midst of the raging heathen. For shall He rule "in the midst of His enemies" at a later season, when the Saints have received their reward, and the ungodly their condemnation? And what wonder if He shall then rule, when the righteous reign with Him for ever, and the ungodly burn with eternal punishments? What wonder, if He shall then? Now "in the midst of Thine enemies," now in this transition of ages, in this propagation and succession of human mortality, now while the torrent of time is gliding by, unto this is the rod of Thy power sent out of Sion, "that Thou mayest be Ruler in the midst of Thine enemies." Rule Thou, rule among Pagans, Jews, heretics, false brethren. Rule Thou, rule, O Son of David, Lord of David, rule in the midst of Pagans, Jews, heretics, false brethren. "Be Thou Ruler in the midst of Thine enemies." We understand not this verse aright, if we do not see that it is already going on. ...
7. "With Thee the beginning on the day of Thy power" (verse 3). What is this day of His power, when is there beginning with Him, or what beginning, or in what sense is there beginning with Him, since He is the Beginning? ...
8. What meaneth, "With Thee is the beginning"? Suppose anything you please as the beginning. Of Christ Himself, it would rather have been said, Thou art the Beginning, than, With Thee is the beginning. For He answered to those who asked Him, "Who art Thou?" and said, "Even the same that I said unto you, the Beginning;"(5) since His Father also is the Beginning, of whom is the only-begotten Son, in which Beginning was the Word, for the Word was with God. What then, if both the Father and the Son are the beginning, are there two beginnings? God forbid! For as the Father is God, and the Son is God, but the Father and the Son are not two Gods, but one God: so is the Father Beginning and the Son Beginning, but the Father and the Son are not two, but one Beginning. "With Thee is the beginning." Then it shall appear in what sense the beginning is with Thee. Not that the beginning is not with Thee here also. For hast Thou not also said, "Behold, ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone; but I am not alone, because the Father is with Me"?(1) Here therefore also, the beginning is with Thee. For Thou hast said elsewhere also, "But the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth His works."(2) "With Thee is the beginning:" nor was the Father ever separated from Thee. But when the Beginning shall appear to be with Thee, then shall it be manifest unto all who are made like Thee; since they shall see Thee as Thou art;(3) for Philip saw Thee here, and sought the Father.(4) Then therefore shall be seen what now is believed: then shall "the beginning be with Thee" in the sight of the righteous, in the sight of saints; the ungodly being removed, that they may not see the brightness of the Lord. ...
9. Explain of what power thou speakest. Because here also, as is said, His power is mentioned, when the rod of His power is sent forth out of Sion, that He may be Ruler in the midst of His enemies. Of what power speakest thou, "In the splendour of the saints"? "In the splendour," he saith, "of the saints." He speaketh of that power when the saints shall be in splendour; not when still carrying about their earthly flesh, and groaning in a mortal and corruptible body. ...
10. But this is put off, this will be granted afterwards: what is there now? "From the womb I have begotten Thee, before the morning star." What is here? If God hath a Son, hath He also a womb? Like fleshly bodies, He hath not; for He hath not a bosom either; yet it is said, "He who is in the bosom of the Father, hath declared Him."(5) But that which is the womb, is the bosom also: both bosom and womb are put for a secret place. What meaneth, "from the womb"? From what is secret, from what is hidden; from Myself, from My substance; this is the meaning of "from the womb;" for, "Who shall declare His generation?" (6) Let us then understand the Father saying unto the Son, "From My womb before the morning star have I brought Thee forth." What then meaneth, "before the morning star"? The morning star is put for the stars, as if the Scripture signified the whole from a part, and from one conspicuous star all the stars. But how were those stars created? "That they may be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years."(7) ... This expression also, "before the morning star," is used both figuratively and literally, and was thus fulfilled. For the Lord was born at night from the womb of the Virgin Mary; the testimony of the shepherds doth assert this, who were "keeping watch over their flock."(8) So David: O Thou, my Lord, who sittest at the right hand of my Lord, whence art Thou my Son, except because, "From the womb before the morning star I have begotten Thee"?
11. And unto what art Thou born? "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec" (verse 4). For unto this wast Thou born from the womb before the morning star, that Thou mightest be a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec. For in that character in which He was born of the Father, God with God, coeternal with Him who begot Him, He is not a Priest; but He is a Priest on account of the flesh which He assumed, on account of the victim which He was to offer for us received from us. "The Lord," then, "hath sworn." What then meaneth, the Lord hath sworn? Doth the Lord, who forbiddeth men to swear? Himself swear? Or doth He possibly forbid man to swear chiefly on this account, that he may not fall into perjury, and for this reason the Lord may swear, since He cannot be forsworn. For man, who, through a habit of swearing, may slip into perjury, is rightly forbidden to swear: for he will be farther from perjury in proportion as he is far from swearing. For the man who sweareth, may swear truly or falsely: but he who sweareth not, cannot swear falsely; for he sweareth not at all. Why then should not the Lord swear, since the Lord's oath is the seal of the promise? Let Him swear by all means. What then dost thou, when thou swearest? Thou callest God to witness: this is to swear, to call God to witness; and for this reason there must be anxiety, that thou mayest not call God to witness anything false. If therefore thou by an oath dost call God to witness, why then should not God also call Himself to witness with an oath? "I live, saith the Lord," this is the Lord's oath. ... "The Lord sware," then, that is, confirmed: "He will not repent," He will not change. What? "Thou art a Priest for everse "For ever," for He will not repent. But Priest, in what sense? Will there be those victims, victims offered by the Patriarchs, altars of blood, and tabernacle, and those sacred emblems of the Old Covenant? God forbid! These things are already abolished; the temple being destroyed, that priesthood taken away, their victim and their sacrifice having alike disappeared, not even the Jews have these things. They see that the priesthood after the order of Aaron hath already perished, and they do not recognise the Priesthood after the order of Melchizedec. I speak unto believers. If catechumens understand not something, let them lay aside sloth, and hasten unto knowledge. It is not therefore needful for me to disclose mysteries here:(1) let the Scriptures intimate to you what is the Priesthood after the order of Melchizedec.
12. "The Lord on Thy right hand" (verse 5). The Lord had said, "Sit Thou on My right hand;" now the Lord is on His right hand, as if they changed seats. ... That very Christ, the "Lord on Thy right hand," unto whom Thou hast sworn, and it will not repent Thee: what doth He, Priest for evermore? What doth He, who is at the right hand of God, and intercedeth for us,(2) like a priest entering into the inner places, and into the holy of holies, into the mysteries of heaven, He alone being without sin, and therefore easily purifying from sins.(3) He therefore "on Thy right hand shall wound even kings in the day of His wrath." What kings, dost thou ask? Hast thou forgotten? "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers took counsel together against the Lord, and against His Anointed."(4) These kings He wounded by His glory, and by the weight of His Name made kings weak, so that they had not power to effect what they wished. For they strove amain to blot out the Christian name from the earth, and could not; for "Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken."(5) Kings therefore fall on this "stone of offence," and are therefore wounded, when they say, Who is Christ? I know not what Jew or what Galilean He may have been, who died, who was slain in such a manner! The stone is before thy feet, lying, so to speak, mean and humble: therefore by scorning thou dost stumble, by stumbling thou fallest, by falling thou art wounded. ... "But on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."(6) When therefore any one falleth upon it, it lieth as it were low; it then woundeth: but when it shall grind him to powder, then it will come from above. See how in these two words, it shall wound him and grind him to powder: he striketh upon it, and it shall come down upon him: are distinguished the two seasons, of the humiliation and the majesty of Christ, of hidden punishment and future judgment. He will not crush, when He cometh, that man whom He doth not wound when He lieth in a contemptible appearance. ...
13. "He shall judge among the heathen: He shall fill up what hath fallen" (verse 6). Whoever thou art who art obstinate against Christ, thou hast raised on high a tower that must fall. It is good that thou shouldest cast thyself down, become humble, throw thyself at the feet of Him who sitteth on the right hand of the Father, that in thee a ruin may be made to be built up. For if thou abidest in thy evil height, thou shalt be cast down when thou canst not be built up. For of such the Scripture saith in another passage: "Therefore shall He break down, and not build them up."(7) Beyond doubt he would not say this of some, unless there were some whom He broke down so as to build them up again. And this is going on at this time, while Christ is judging among the heathen in such a manner as to fill up what hath fallen. "He shall smite many heads over the earth." Here upon the earth in this life He shall smite many heads. He maketh them humble instead of proud; and I dare to say, my brethren, that it is more profitable to walk here humbly with the head wounded, than with the head erect to fall into the judgment of eternal death. He will smite many heads when he causeth them to fall, but He will fill them up and build them up again.
14. "He shall drink of the brook(8) in the way, therefore shall he lift up his head" (verse 7). Let us consider Him drinking of the brook in the way: first of all, what is the brook? the onward flow of human mortality: for as a brook is gathered together by the rain, overflows, roars, runs, and by running runs down, that is, finishes its course; so is all this course of mortality. Men are born, they live, they die, and when some die others are born, and when they die others are born, they succeed, they flock together, they depart and will not remain. What is held fast here? what doth not run? what is not on its way to the abyss as if it was gathered together from rain? For as a river suddenly drawn together from rain from the drops of showers runneth into the sea, and is seen no more, nor was it seen before it was collected from the rain; so this hidden rain is collected together from hidden sources, and floweth on; at death again it travelleth where it is hidden: this intermediate state soundeth and passeth away. Of this brook He drinketh, He hath not disdained to drink of this brook; for to drink of this brook was to Him to be born and to die. What this brook hath, is birth and death; Christ assumed this, He was born, He died. "Therefore hath He lifted up His head;" that is, because He was humble, and "became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross: therefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name; that at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in Heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ the Lord is in the glory of God the Father."(9)
1. The days have come for us to sing Allelujah.(2) ... Now these days come only to pass away, and pass away to come, again, and typify the clay which does not come and pass away, because it is neither preceded by yesterday to cause it to come, nor pressed upon by the morrow to cause it to pass. ... For as these days succeed in regular season, with a joyful cheerfulness, the past days of Lent, whereby the misery of this life before the Resurrection of the Lord's body is signified; so that day which after the Resurrection shall be given to the full body of the Lord, that is, to the holy Church, when all the troubles and sorrows of this life have been shut out, shall succeed with perpetual bliss. But this life demandeth from us self-restraint, that although groaning and weighed down with our toil and struggles, and desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven,(3) we may refrain from secular pleasures: and this is signified by the number of forty, which was the period of the fasts of Moses, and Elias,(4) and our Lord Himself. ... But by the number fifty after our Lord's resurrection, during which season we sing Allelujah, not the term and passing away of a certain season is signified, but that blessed eternity; because the denary(5) added to forty signifieth the reward paid to the faithful who toil in this life, which our Father hath prepared an equal share of for the first and for the last. Let us therefore hear the heart of the people of God full of divine praises. He representeth in this Psalm some one exulting in happy joyfulness, he prefigureth the people whose hearts are overflowing with the love of God, that is, the body of Christ, freed from all evil.
2. "I will make confession unto Thee, O Lord," he saith, "with my whole heart" (verse 1). Confession is not always confession of sins, but the praise of God is poured forth in the devotion of confession. The former mourneth, the latter rejoiceth: the former showeth the wound to the physician, the latter giveth thanks for health. The latter confession signifieth some one, not merely freed from every evil, but even separate from all the ill-disposed. And for this reason let us consider the place where he confesseth unto the Lord with all his heart. "In the counsel," he saith, "of the upright, and in the congregation:" I suppose, of those who shall "sit upon the twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."(6) For there will be no longer an unjust man among them, the thefts of no Judas are allowed, no Simon Magus is baptized, wishing to buy the Spirit, whilst he designeth to sell it;(7) no coppersmith like Alexander doth many evil deeds? no man covered with sheep's clothing creepeth in with feigned fraternity; such as those among whom the Church must now groan, and such as she must then shut out, when all the righteous shall be gathered together. "These are the great works of the Lord, sought out unto all His wills" (verse 2): through which mercy forsaketh none who confesseth, no man's wickedness is unpunished.(9) ... Let man choose for himself what he listeth: the works of the Lord are not so constituted, that the creature, having free discretion allowed him, should transcend the will of the Creator, even though he act contrary to His will. God willeth not that thou shouldest sin; for He forbiddeth it: yet if thou hast sinned, imagine not that the man hath done what he willed, and that hath happened to God which He willed not. For as He would that man would not sin, so would He spare the sinner, that he may return and live; He so willeth finally to punish him who persisteth in his sin, that the rebellious cannot escape the power of justice. Thus whatever choice thou hast made, the Almighty will not be at a loss to fulfil His will concerning thee.
3. "Confession and glorious deeds are His work" (verse 3). What is a more glorious deed than to justify the ungodly? But perhaps the work of man preventeth that glorious work of God, so that when he hath confessed his sins, he deserveth to be justified. ... This is the glorious work of the Lord: for he loveth most, to whom most is forgiven.(10) This is the glorious work of the Lord: for "where sin abounded, there did grace much more abound."(11) But perhaps a man would deserve justification from works. "Not," saith he, "of works, lest any man boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works"(12) For a man worketh not righteousness save he be justified: but by "believing on Him that justifieth the ungodly,"(13) he beginneth with faith; that good may not by preceding show what he hath deserved, but by following what he hath received. ...
4. "He hath made His wonderful works to be remembered" (verse 4): by abasing this man, exalting that. Reserving unusual miracles for a fit season, that thus human weakness, intent upon novelty, may remember them, although His daily miracles be greater. He created so many trees throughout the whole earth, and no one wondereth: He dried up one with a word, and the hearts of mortals were thunderstruck.(14) For that miracle, which hath not through its frequency become common, will cling most firmly to the heart. But of what use were the miracles, save that He might be feared? What too would fear profit, unless "the gracious and merciful Lord" gave" meat unto them that fear Him"? (verse 5). meat that doth not spoil, "bread that cometh down from heaven,"(1) which He gave to no deservings of ours. For "Christ died for the ungodly."(2) No one then would give such food, save a gracious and merciful Lord. But if He gave so much to this life, if the sinner who was to be justified received the Word made flesh; what shall he receive when glorified in a future world? For, "He shall ever be mindful of His covenant." Nor hath He who hath given a pledge, given the whole.
5. "He shall show His people the power of His works" (verse 6). Let not the holy Israelites, who have left all their possessions and have followed Him, be saddened; let them not be sorrowful and say, "Who then can be saved?" For "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." For "with men these things are impossible, but with God all things are possible."(3) "That He may give them the heritage of the heathen." For they went to the heathen, and enjoined the rich of this world "not to be highminded, nor to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God,"(4) to whom that is easy which is difficult for men. For thus many were called, thus the heritage of the heathen has been occupied, thus it hath happened, that even many who have not abandoned all their possessions in this life in order to follow Him, have despised even life itself for the sake of confessing His Name; and like camels humbling themselves to bear the burden of troubles, have entered as it were through a needle's eye, through the piercing straits of suffering. He hath wrought these effects, unto whom all things are possible.
6. "The works of His hands are verity and judgment" (verse 7). Let verity be held by those who are judged here. Martyrs are here sentenced, and brought to the judgment-seat, that they may judge not only those by whom they have been judged, but even give judgment on angels,(5) against whom was their struggle here, even when they seemed to be judged by men. Let not tribulation, distress, famine, nakedness, the sword, separate from Christ. For "all His commandments are true;"(6) He deceiveth not, He giveth us what He promised. Yet we should not expect here what He promised; we should not hope for it: but "they stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and equity" (verse 8). It is equitable and just that we should labour here and repose there; since "He sent redemption unto His people" (verse 9). But from what are they redeemed, save from the captivity of this pilgrimage? Let not therefore rest be sought, save in the heavenly country. God indeed gave the carnal Israelites an earthly Jerusalem, "which is in bondage with her children:" but this is the Old Covenant, pertaining unto the old man. But they who there understood the figure, even then were heirs of the New Covenant; for "Jerusalem which is above is free, which is our everlasting mother in heaven."(7) But that transitory promises were given in that Old Testament is proved by the fact itself: however, "He hath commended His covenant for ever." But what, but the New? Whosoever dost wish to be heir of this, deceive not thyself, and think not of a land flowing with milk and honey, nor of pleasant farms, nor of gardens abounding in fruits and shade: desire not how to gain anything of this sort, such as the eye of covetousness is wont to lust for. For since "covetousness is the root of all evils,"(8) it must be cut off, that it may be consumed here; not be put off, that it may be satisfied there. First escape punishments, avoid hell; before thou longest for a God who promiseth, beware of one who threateneth. For "holy and reverend is His Name."
7. ... "The fear of the Lord," therefore, "is the beginning of wisdom." "Understanding is good" (verse 10). Who gainsayeth? But to understand, and not to do, is dangerous. It is "good," therefore, "to those that do there after." Nor let it lift up the mind unto pride; for, "the praise of Him," the fear of whom is the beginning of wisdom, "endureth for ever:" and this will be the reward, this the end, this the everlasting station and abode. There are found the true commandments, made fast for ever and ever; here is the very heritage of the New Covenant commanded for everse "One thing," he saith, "I have desired of the Lord, which I will require: even that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life."(9) For, "blessed are they that dwell in the house" of the Lord: "they will be alway praising. ...Him; for" His praise endureth for ever."
1. I believe, brethren, that ye remarked and committed to memory the title of this Psalm. "The conversion," he saith, "of Haggai and Zechariah." These prophets were not as yet in existence, when these verses were sung.(12) ... But both, the one within a year after the other, began to prophesy that which seemeth to pertain to the restoration of the temple, as was foretold so long before.(1) ... "For the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."(2) Whoever therefore converteth himself to the work of this building together, and to the hope of a firm and holy edifice, like a living stone from the miserable ruin of this world, understandeth the title of the Psalm, understandeth "the conversion of Haggai and Zechariah." Let him therefore chant the following verses, not so much with the voice of his tongue as of his life. For the completion of the building will be that ineffable peace of wisdom, the "beginning" of which is the "fear of the Lord:" let him therefore, whom this conversion buildeth together, begin thence.
2. "Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord: he will have great delight in His commandments" (verse 1). God, who alone judgeth both truthfully and mercifully, will see how far he obeyeth His commandments: since "the life of man on earth is a temptation,"(3) as holy Job saith. But "He who judgeth us is the Lord."(4) ... He therefore will see how far each man profiteth in His commandments; yet he who loveth the peace of this building together, shall have great delight in them; nor ought he to despair, since there is "peace on earth for men of good will."(5)
3. Next follows, "His seed shall be mighty upon earth" (verse 2). The Apostle witnesseth, that the works of mercy are the seed of the future harvest, when he saith, "Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap;"(6) and again, "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly."(7) But what, brethren, is more mighty than that not only Zacchæus should buy the kingdom of Heaven by the half of his goods,(8) but even the widow for two mites,(9) and that each should possess an equal share there? What is more mighty, than that the same kingdom should be worth treasures to the rich man, and a cup of cold water to the poor? ... "Glory and riches shall be in his house" (verse 3). For his house is his heart; where, with the praise of God, he liveth in greater riches with the hope of eternal life, than with men flattering, in palaces of marble, with splendidly adorned ceilings, with the fear of everlasting death. "For his righteousness endureth for ever:" this is his glory, there are his riches. While the other's purple, and fine linen, and grand banquets, even when present, are passing away; and when they have come to an end, the burning tongue shall cry out, longing for a drop of water from the finger's end.(10)
4. "Unto the right-hearted there ariseth up light in the darkness" (verse 4). Justly do the godly direct their heart unto their God, justly do they walk with their God, preferring His will to themselves; and having no proud presumption in their own. For they remember that they were some time in darkness, but are now light in the Lord.(11) "Merciful, pitying, and just is the Lord God." It delighteth us that He is "merciful and pitying," but it perhaps terrifieth us that the Lord God is "just." Fear not, despair not at all, happy man, who fearest the Lord, and hast great delight in His commandments; be thou sweet, be merciful and lend. For the Lord is just in this manner, that He judgeth without mercy him who hath not shown mercy;(12) but, "Sweet is the man who is merciful and lendeth" (verse 5): God will not spew him out of His mouth as if he were not sweet. "Forgive," He saith, "and ye shall be forgiven; give, and it shall be given unto you."(13) Whilst thou forgivest that thou mayest be forgiven, thou art merciful; whilst thou givest that it may be given unto thee, thou lendest. For though all be called generally mercy where another is assisted in his distress, yet there is a difference where thou spendest neither money, nor the toil of bodily labour, but by forgiving what each man hath sinned against thee, thou gainest free pardon for thine own sins also. ... He who is unwilling to give to the poor, seeketh riches; listen to what is written, "Thou shalt have treasure in heaven."(14) Thou wilt not then lose honour by forgiving: for it is a very laudable triumph to conquer anger: wilt not grow poor by giving; for a heavenly treasure is a more safe possession. The former verse, "Riches and plenteousness shall be in his house," was pregnant with this verse.
5. He therefore who doth these things, "shall guide his words with discretion." His deeds themselves are the words whereby he shall be defended at the Judgment; which shall not be without mercy unto him, since he hath himself shown mercy. "For he shall never be moved" (verse 6): he who, called to the right hand, shall hear these words, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." For no works of theirs, save works of mercy, are there mentioned. He therefore shall hear, "Come, ye blessed of My Father;" for, "the generation of the right ones shall be blessed." Thus, "the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance." "He will not be afraid of any evil hearing; for his heart standeth fast and believeth in the Lord" (verse 7). Such as the words which he will hear addressed to those on the left hand, "Depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."(1) He therefore who seeketh here not his own things, but those of Jesus Christ,(2) most patiently endureth sufferings, waiteth for the promises with faith. Nor is he broken down by any temptations: "His heart is established, and will not shrink, until he see beyond his enemies" (verse 8). His enemies wished to see good things here, and when invisible blessings were promised them, used to say, "Who will show us any good?"(3) Let our heart therefore be established, and shrink not, until we see beyond our enemies. For they wish to see good things of men in the land of the dying; we trust to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living.(4)
6. But it is a great thing to have the heart established, and not to be moved, while they rejoice who love what they see, and mock at him who hopeth for what he seeth not; "what the Lord hath prepared for them that love Him." great is the value of this which is not seen, and it is bought for so much as each man is able to give for it. On this account he also "dispersed abroad, and gave to the poor" (verse 9): he saw not, yet he kept buying; but He was storing up the treasure in heaven, who deigned to hunger and thirst in the poor on earth. It is no wonder then if "his righteousness remaineth for ever:" He who created the ages being his guardian. "His horn," whose humility was scorned by the proud, "shall be exalted with honour."
7. "The ungodly shall see it, and he shall be angered" (verse 10): this is that late and fruitless repentance. For with whom rather than himself is he "angered," when he shall say, "Our pride, what hath it profiled us? the boast-fulnes of our riches, what hath it given us?"(6) seeing the horn of him exalted with honour, who "dispersed abroad, and gave to the poor." "He shall gnash with his teeth, and consume away:" for "there shall be weeping an d gnashing of teeth." For he will no more bring forth leaves and bloom, as would happen if he had repented in season but he will then repent, when "the desire of the ungodly shall perish," no consolation succeeding. "The desire of the ungodly shall perish," when "all things shall pass away like a shadow,"(7) when the flower shall fall down on the withering of the grass. "But the word of the Lord that endureth for ever,"(8) as it is mocked by the vanity of the falsely happy, so will laugh at the perdition of the same when truly miserable.
Augustin on Psalms 110