Augustin on Psalms 11924


11924 (Ps 119,113-120)

112. "I have hated the unrighteous; and Thy law have I loved" (verse 113). He saith not, I hate the wicked, and love the righteous; or, I hate iniquity, and love Thy law; but, after saying, "I have hated the unrighteous," he explains why, by adding, "and Thy law have I loved;" to show, that he did not hate human nature in unrighteous men, but their unrighteousness whereby they are foes to the law, which he loveth.

113. He next addeth: "Thou art my helper and my taker up" (verse 114): "my helper," to do good works: "my taker up," to escape evil ones. In the next words, "I have hoped more on Thy word," he speaketh as a son of promise.

114. But what is the meaning of the following verse: "Away from me, ye wicked, and I will search the commandments of my God"? (verse 115). For he saith not, I will perform; but, "I will search." In order, therefore, that he may diligently and perfectly learn that law, he bids the wicked depart from him, and even forcibly driveth them away from his company. For the wicked exercise us in the fulfilment of the commandments, but lead us away from searching into them; not only when they persecute, or wish to litigate with us; but even when they court us, and honour us, and yet expect us to occupy ourselves in aiding their own vicious and busy desire, and to bestow our time upon them; or at least harass the weak, and compel them to bring their causes before us: to whom we dare not say, "Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?"(2) For the Apostle instituted ecclesiastical judges of such causes, forbidding Christians to contend in the forum.(3) ... Certainly, on account of those who carry on law suits pertinaciously with one another, and, when they harass the good, scorn our judgments, and cause us to lose the time that should be employed upon things divine; surely, I say, on account of these men we also may exclaim in these words of the Body of Christ, "Away from me, ye wicked! and I will search the commandments of my God."

115. "O stablish me according to Thy word and I shall live: and let me not be disappointed of my hope" (verse 116). He who had before said, "Thou art my taker up," prayeth that he may be more and more borne up, and be led unto that, for the sake of which he endureth so many troubles; trusting that he may there live in a truer sense, than in these dreams of human affairs. For it is said of the future, "and I shall live," as if we did not live in this dead body. While "we await the redemption of our body, we are saved by hope, and hoping for that we see not, we await with patience."(4) But hope disappointeth not, if the love of God be spread abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.(5) And, as though it were answered him in silence, Thou dost not wish to be disappointed of thy hope? Cease not to meditate upon My righteousnesses: and, feeling that this meditation is usually hindered by the weaknesses of the soul, "Help me," he saith, "and I shall be safe; yea, I will meditate in Thy righteousnesses always" (verse 117).

116. "Thou hast scorned all," or, as it seems more closely translated from the Greek, "Thou hast brought to nought all them that depart from Thy righteousnesses: for their thought is unrighteous" (verse 118). For this reason he exclaimed, "Help Thou me, and I shall be safe; yea, I will meditate in Thy righteousnesses always:" because God bringeth to nought all those who depart from His righteousnesses. But why do they depart? Because "their thought is," he saith, "unrighteous." They advance in that direction, while they depart from God. All deeds, good or bad, proceed from the thoughts: in his thoughts every man is innocent, in his thoughts every man is guilty. ...

117. The next words in the Psalm are," I have counted," or "thought," or "esteemed, all the ungodly of the earth as transgressors" (verse 119). In the Latin version many different renderings are given of the Greek eloUisamhn but this passage hath a deep meaning. For the following words, "Therefore have I ever loved Thy testimonies:" make it far more profound. For the Apostle saith, "The law worketh wrath;" and, explaining these words, he addeth, "For where no law is, there is no transgression:"(6) thereby showing that not all are transgressors. For all have not the law. That all have not the law, he declareth more explicitly in another passage, "as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law."(7) What then meaneth, "I have held all the ungodly of the earth as transgressors"? "As transgressors;" or rather "transgressing,for the Greek saith, p<a201>rabanontas not parabaatas. ... "The law entered that sin might abound." But since all sins are remitted through grace, not only those which are committed without the law, but those also which are committed in the law; he addeth, "But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."(1) ... But, indeed, when the Apostle said, "As many as have sinned without law, shall perish without law," he was speaking of that law which God gave to His people Israel through Moses His servant. ... For some even Catholic expositors, from a want of sufficient heedfulness, have pronounced contrary to the truth, that those who have sinned without the law perish; and that those who have sinned in the law, are only judged, and do not perish, as if they should be considered destined to be cleansed by means of transitory punishments, as he of whom it is said, "he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire."(2) ... The Psalmist also hath subjoined: "Therefore I loved Thy testimonies."(3) As if he should say: Since the law, whether given in paradise, or implanted by nature, or promulgated in writing, hath made all the sinners of the earth transgressors; "Therefore I loved Thy testimonies," which are in Thy laws of Thy grace; so that not my but Thy righteousness is in me. For the law profiteth unto this end, that it send us forward unto grace. For not only because it testifieth towards the manifestation of the righteousness of God, which is without the law; but also in this very point that it rendereth men transgressors, so that the letter even slayeth, it driveth us to fly unto the quickening Spirit, through whom the whole of our sins may be blotted out, and the love of righteous deeds be inspired.(4) ...

118. The grace of God, then, being known, which alone freeth from transgression, which is committed through knowledge of the law, he saith, in prayer, "Fix with nails my flesh in Thy fear" (verse 120). For this some Latin interpreters have literally rendered the Greek kaqhlpson, which that language has expressed in one word. Some have preferred to render by the word confige, without adding davis; and while they thus desire to construe one Latin by one Greek word, have failed to express the full meaning of the Greek kaqhpson, because in confige nails are not mentioned, but kaqhlpson cannot be taken but of nails, nor can "fix with nails" be expressed without using two words in Latin. ... Hath he added, "For I have feared Thy judgments"? What meaneth, "Fix me in Thy fear: for I have feared"? If he had already feared, or if he was now fearing, why did he still pray God to crucify his flesh in His fear? Did he wish so much additional fear imparted to him as would suffice for crucifying his flesh, that is, his carnal lusts and affections; as though he should say, Perfect in me the fear of Thee; for I have feared Thy judgments? But there is here even a higher sense, which must, as far as God alloweth, be derived from searching the recesses of this Scripture: that is, in the chaste fear of Thee, which abideth from age to age, let my carnal desires be quenched;(5) "For I have feared Thy judgments," when the law, which could not give me righteousness, threatened me punishment. ... For the inclination to sin liveth, and it then appeareth in deed, when impunity may be hoped for. But when punishment is considered sure to follow, it liveth latently: nevertheless it liveth. For it would rather it were lawful to sin, and it grieveth that what the law forbiddeth, is not lawful; because it is not spiritually delighted with the blessing of the law, but carnally feareth the evil which it threateneth.(6) But that love, which casteth out this fear, feareth with a chaste fear to sin, although no punishment follow; because it doth not even judge that impunity will follow, since from love of righteousness it considereth the very sin itself a punishment. With such a fear the flesh is crucified; since carnal delights, which are forbidden rather than avoided by the letter of the law, are overcome by the delight in spiritual blessings, and also when the victory is perfected are destroyed.


11926 (Ps 119,121-128)

119. "I have dealt judgment and righteousness; O give me not over unto mine oppressors"(7) (verse 121). It is not wonderful that he should have dealt judgment and righteousness, since he had above prayed for a chaste fear from God, whereby to fix with nails his flesh, that is, his carnal lusts, which are wont to hinder our judgment from being right. But although in our customary speech judgment is either right or wrong, whence it is said unto men in the Gospel, "Judge not according to the persons, but judge righteous judgment:"(8) nevertheless in this passage judgment is used as though, if it were not righteous, it ought not to be called judgment; otherwise it would not be enough to say, "I have dealt judgment," but it would be said, I have dealt righteous judgment. ...

120. Whoso therefore in the chaste fear of God hath his flesh crucified, and corrupted by no carnal allurement, dealeth judgment and the work of righteousness, ought to pray that he may not be given up to his adversaries; that is, that he may not, through his dread of suffering evils, yield unto his adversaries to do evil. For he receiveth power of endurance, which guardeth him from being overcome with pain, from Him from whom he receiveth the victory over lust, which preventeth his being seduced by pleasure.(1)

121. He next saith, "Take off Thy servant to that which is good, that the proud calumniate me not" (verse 122). They drive me on, that I may fall into evil; do Thou take me off to that which is good. They who rendered these words by the Latin, calumnientur, have followed a Greek expression, not commonly used in Latin. Have the words, Let not the proud calumniate me, the same force, as, Let them "not succeed in calumniating me"?

122. ... To prefigure His Cross, Moses by the merciful command of God raised aloft on a pole the image of a serpent in the desert, that the likeness of sinful flesh which must be crucified in Christ might be prefigured? By gazing upon this healing Cross, we cast out all the poison of the scandals of the proud: the Cross, which the Psalmist intently looking upon, saith, "My eyes have failed for Thy salvation, and for the words of Thy righteousness" (verse 123). For God made Christ Himself "to be sin for us, on account of the likeness of sinful flesh, that we may be made the righteousness of God in Him."(3) For His utterance(4) of the righteousness of God he therefore saith that his eyes have failed, from gazing ardently and eagerly, while, remembering human infirmity, he longeth for divine grace in Christ.

123. In connection with this he goes on to say, "O deal with Thy servant according to Thy loving mercy" (verse 124); not according to my righteousness. "And teach me," he saith, "Thy righteousnesses;" those beyond doubt, whereby God rendereth men righteous, not they themselves.

124. "I am Thy servant. O grant me understanding, that I may know Thy testimonies" (verse 125). This petition must never be intermitted. For it sufficeth not to have received understanding, and to have learnt the testimonies of God, unless it be evermore received, and evermore in a manner quaffed from the fountain of eternal light. For the testimonies of God are the better and the better known, the more understanding a man attaineth to.

125. "It is time," he saith, "for the Lord to lay to His hand" (verse 126). For this is the reading of most copies: not as some have, "O Lord." Now what is this, save the grace which was revealed in Christ at its own time? Of which season the Apostle saith, "But when the fulness of time was come, God sent His Son."(5) ... But wherefore is it that, seemingly anxious to show the Lord that it was time to lay to His hand, he hath subjoined, "They have scattered Thy law;" as if it were the season for the Lord to act, because the proud scattered His law. For what meaneth this? In the wickedness of transgression, they have not guarded its integrity. It was needful therefore that the Law should be given to the proud and those presuming in the freedom of their own will, after a transgression of which whosoever were contrite and humbled, might run no longer by the Law, but by faith, to aiding grace. When the Law therefore was scattered, it was time that mercy should be sent through the only-begotten Son of God.

126. "Therefore," he saith, "I love Thy commandments above gold and topaz" (verse 127). Grace hath this object, that the commandments, which could not be fulfilled by fear, may be fulfilled by love. ...Therefore, they are above gold and topaz stones. For this is read in another Psalm also, "Above gold and exceeding precious stones."(6) For topaz is a stone considered very precious. But they not understanding the hidden grace which was in the Old Testament, screened as it were by the veil(7) (this was signified when they were unable to gaze upon the face of Moses), endeavoured to obey the commandments of God for the sake of an earthly and carnal reward, but could not obey them; because they did not love them, but something else. Whence these were not the works of the willing, but rather the burdens of the unwilling. But when the commandments are loved for their own sake "above gold and exceeding precious stones," all earthly reward compared with the commandments themselves is vile; nor are any other goods of man comparable in any respect with those goods whereby man himself is made good.

127. "Therefore," he saith, "was I made straight unto all Thy commandments" (verse 128). I was made straight, doubtless, because I loved them; and I clung by love to them, which were straight, that I might also myself become straight. Then what he addeth, naturally follows: "and every unrighteous way I utterly abhor." For how could it be that he who loved the straight could do aught save abhor an unrighteous way? For as, if he loved gold and precious stones, he would abhor all that might bring loss of such property: thus, since he loved the commandments of God, he abhorred the path of iniquity, as one of the most savage rocks in the sailor's track, whereon he must needs suffer shipwreck of things so precious. That this may not be his lot, he who saileth on the wood of the Cross with the divine commandments as his freight, steereth far from thence.


Ps 118,129-136)

128. "Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore hath my soul searched them" (verse 129). Who counteth, even by their kinds, the testimonies of God? Heaven and earth, His visible and invisible works, declare in some manner the testimony of His goodness and greatness; and the very ordinary and accustomed course of nature, whereby the seasons are rapidly revolved, in all things after their kinds, however temporal and perishable, however held cheap through our constant experience of them, give, if a pious thinker give heed to them, a testimony to the Creator. But which of these is not wonderful, if we measure each not by its habitual presence, but by reason? But if we venture to bring all nature within the comprehensive view of one act of contemplation, doth not that take place in us which the prophet describeth, "I considered Thy works, and trembled"?(1) Yet the Psalmist was not terrified in his wonder at creation, but rather said that this was the reason that he ought to search it, because it was wonderful. For after saying, "Thy testimonies are wonderful," he addeth, "therefore hath my soul searched them;" as if he had become more curious from the difficulty of thoroughly searching them. For the more abstruse are the causes of anything, the more wonderful it is. ...

129. "When thy word goeth forth," he saith, "it giveth light, and maketh His little ones to understand" (verse 130). What is the little one save the humble and weak? Be not proud therefore, presume not in thine own strength, which is nought; and thou wilt understand why a good law was given by a good God, though it cannot give life. For it was given for this end, that it might make thee a little one instead of great, that it might show that thou hadst not strength to do the law of thine own power: and that thus, wanting aid and destitute, thou mightest fly unto grace, saying, "Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak."(2) ... Let all be little ones, and let all the world be guilty before Thee: because "by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified" in Thy sight; "for by the Law is the knowledge of sin," etc.(3) These are Thy wonderful testimonies, which the soul of this little one hath searched; and hath therefore found, because he became humbled and a little one. For who doth Thy commandments as they ought to be done, that is, by "faith which worketh through love,"(4) save love itself be shed abroad in his heart through the Holy Spirit?(5)

130. This is confessed by this little one; "I opened my mouth," he saith, "and drew in the spirit: for I longed for Thy commandments" (verse 131). What did he long for, save to obey the divine commandments? But there was no possibility of the weak doing hard things, the little one great things: he opened his mouth, confessing that he could not do them of himself: and drew in power to do them: he opened his mouth, by seeking, asking, knocking:(6) and athirst drank in the good Spirit, which enabled him to do what he could not do by himself, "the commandment holy and just and good."(7) Not that they themselves who "are led by the Spirit of God,"(8) do nothing; but that they may not do nothing good, they are moved to act by the good Spirit. For so much the more is every man made a good son, in proportion as the good Spirit is given unto Him by the Father in a greater measure.

131. He still prayeth. He hath opened his mouth, and drawn in the Spirit; but he still knocketh in prayer unto the Father, and seeketh: he drinketh, but the more sweet he findeth it, the more eagerly doth he thirst. Hear the words of him in his thirst. "O look Thou upon me," he saith, "and be merciful unto me: according to the judgment of those that love Thy Name" (verse 132): that is, according to the judgment Thou has dealt unto all who love Thy Name; since Thou hast first loved them, to cause them to love Thee. For thus saith the Apostle John, "We love God, because He first loved us."(9)

132. See what the Psalmist next most openly saith: "Order my steps after Thy word: and so shall no wickedness have dominion over me" (verse 133). Where what else doth he say than this, Make me upright and free according to Thy promise. But so much the more as the love of God reigneth in every man, so much the less hath wickedness dominion over him. What else then doth he seek than that by the gift of God he may love God? For by loving God he loveth himself, so that he may healthily love his neighbour also as himself: on which commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.(10) What then doth he pray, save that God may cause the fulfilment by His help of those commandments which He imposeth by His bidding?

133. But what meaneth this that he saith, "O deliver me from the calumnies of men: so shall I keep Thy commandments"? (verse 134). ... Did not the holy people of God much the more gloriously keep the commandments among these very calumnies, when they were at their hottest in the midst of tribulations, when they yielded not to their persecutors to commit impieties? But, in truth, the meaning of these words is this: Do Thou, by pouring upon me Thy Spirit, guard me from being overcome by the terrors of human calumny, and from being drawn over to their evil deeds away from Thy commandments. For if Thou hast thus dealt with me, that is, if Thou hast in this manner delivered me by the gift of patience from their calumnies, so that I fear not the false charges they prefer against me; among those very calumnies I will keep Thy commandments.

134. "Show the light of Thy countenance on Thy servant, and teach me thy statutes" (verse 135): that is, manifest Thy presence, by succouring and aiding me. "And teach me Thy righteousnesses." Teach me to work them: as it is more plainly expressed elsewhere, "Teach me to do Thy will."(1) For they who hear, although they retain in their memories what they hear, are by no means to be considered to have learnt, unless they do. For it is the word of Truth: "Every man that hath heard and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto Me."(2) He therefore who obeyeth not in deed, that is, who cometh not, hath not learnt.

135. "My eyes have descended streams of waters, because they have not kept Thy law" (verse 136): that is, my eyes. For in some copies there is this reading, "Because I have not kept Thy law, streams of waters" therefore" descended," that is, floods of tears.(3) ...


11928 (Ps 119,137-144)

136. Thus, then, as if giving a reason why he had cause to weep much, and to mourn deeply for his sin, he saith, "Righteous art Thou, O Lord, and true is Thy judgment" (verse 137). "Thou hast commanded Thy testimonies, righteousness, and Thy truth exceedingly" (verse 138). This righteousness of God and righteous judgment and truth, is to be feared by every sinner: for thereby all who are condemned are condemned of God; nor is there one who can righteously complain against the righteous God of his own damnation. Therefore the tears of the penitent are needful; since if his impenitent heart were condemned, he would be most justly condemned. He indeed calleth the testimonies of God righteousness: for He proveth himself righteous by giving righteous commandments.And this is truth also, that God may become known by such testimonies.

137. But what is it that followeth: "My zeal hath caused me to pine" (verse 139); or, as other copies read, Thy zeal? Others have also, "The zeal of Thy house:" and, "hath eaten me up," instead of, "hath caused me to pine." This, as it seems to me, has been considered as an emendation to be introduced from another Psalm, where it is written, "The zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up:"(4) a text quoted also, as we know, in the Gospel. The two words, however, "hath caused me to pine," and "hath eaten me up," are somewhat like. But the words, "my zeal," which most of the copies read, occasion no dispute: for what wonder is it if every man pineth away from his own zeal? The words read in other copies, "Thy zeal," signify a man zealous for God, not for himself: but there is no difficulty in using "my" in the same sense. ... The Psalmist's jealousy is therefore also to be understood in a good sense: for he addeth the cause, and saith, "Because mine enemies have forgotten Thy words." ...

138. Then considering with himself with what a flame of love he burned for the commandments of God: "Fiery," saith he, "is Thy word exceedingly, and Thy servant hath loved it" (verse 140). Justly jealous was he of the impenitent heart in His enemies, who had forgotten God's word; for he endeavoured to bring them unto hat which he himself most ardently loved.

139. "I am young, and of no reputation; yet do I not forget Thy righteousnesses:" not as my enemies, who "have forgotten Thy words" (verse 141). The younger seems to grieve for those older than himself who had forgotten the righteousnesses of God, while he himself had not forgotten. For what meaneth, "I am young, yet do I not forget"? save this, Those older than me have forgotten. For the Greek word is newteros, the same as that used in the words above, "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?"(5) This is a comparative, and is therefore well understood in its relation to some one older. Let us therefore here recognise the two nations, who were striving even in Rebecca's womb; when it was said to her, not from works, but of Him that calleth, "The elder shall serve the younger."(6) But the younger saith here that he is of no reputation: for this reason he hath become greater: since "behold, they that were first are last, and they that were last first."(7)

140. It is no wonder that they have forgotten the words of God, who have chosen to set up their own righteousness, ignorant of the righteousness of God;(8) but he, the younger, hath not forgotten, for he hath not wished to have a righteousness of his own, but that of God, of which he now also saith, "Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Thy law is the truth" (verse 142). For how is not the law truth, through which came the knowledge of sin, and that which giveth testimony of the righteousness of God? For thus the Apostle saith: "The righteousness of God is manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets."(1)

141. On account of this law the younger suffered persecution from the elder, so that the younger saith what followeth: "Trouble and hardship have taken hold upon me: yet is my meditation in Thy commandments" (verse 143). Let them rage, let them persecute; as long as the commandments of God be not abandoned, and, after those commandments, let even those who rage be loved.

142. "Thy testimonies are righteousness unto everlasting: O grant me understanding, and I shall live" (verse 144). This younger one prayeth for understanding; which if he had not, he would not be "wiser than the aged;"(2) but he prayeth for it in trouble and hardships, that he may thereby understand how contemptible is all that his persecuting enemies can take from him, by whom he saith he hath been despised. Therefore he hath said, "and I shall live:" because if trouble and heaviness reached such a pitch, that his life should be terminated by the hands of his persecuting enemies, he will live for ever, who preferreth to temporal things, righteousness which remaineth for evermore. This righteousness in trouble and hardship are the Martyria Dei, that is, the testimonies of God, for which Martyrs have been crowned.


11829 (Ps 119,145-152)

143. ... He who singeth this Psalm, mentioneth such a prayer of his own: "I have called with my whole heart; hear me, O Lord!" (verse 145). For to what end his cry profiteth, he addeth "I will search out Thy righteousnesses." For this purpose then he hath called with his whole heart, and hath longed that this might be given him by the Lord listening unto him, that he may search out His righteousnesses. ...

144. "I have called, save me" (verse 146) or as some copies, both Greek and Latin, have it "I have called to Thee." But what is, "I have called to Thee," save that by calling I have invoked Thee? But when he had said," save me;" what did he add? "And I will keep Thy testimonies:" that is, that I may not, through infirmity, deny Thee. For the health of the soul canseth that to be done which it is known to be our duty to do, and thus in striving even to the death of the body, if the extremity of temptation demand this in defence of the truth of the divine testimonies: but where there is not health of the soul, weakness yieldeth, and truth is deserted. ...

145. "I have prevented in midnight," he saith, "and have cried: In Thy words have I trusted" (verse 147). If we refer this to each of the faithful, and to the literal character of the act; it oft happeneth that the love of God is awake in that hour of the night, and, the love of prayer strongly urging us, the time of prayer, which is wont to be after the crowing of the cock, is not awaited, but prevented. But if we understand night of the whole of this world's duration; we indeed cry unto God at midnight, and prevent the fulness of time in which He will restore us what He hath promised, as is elsewhere read, "Let us prevent His presence with confession."(3) Although if we choose to understand the unripe season of this night, before the fulness of time had come,(4) that is, the ripe season when Christ should be manifested in the flesh; neither was the Church then silent, but preventing this fulness of time, in prophecy cried out, and trusted in the words of God, who was able to do what He promised, that in the seed of Abraham all nations should be blessed.(5)

146. The Church saith also what followeth, "Mine eyes have prevented the morning watch, that I might meditate on Thy words" (verse 148). Let us suppose the morning to mean the season when "a light arose for them that sat in the shadow of death;"(6) did not the eyes of the Church prevent this morning watch, in those Saints who before were on earth, because they foresaw beforehand that this would come to pass, so that they meditated on the words of God, which then were, and announced these things to be destined in the Law and the Prophets?

147. "Hear my voice, O Lord, according to Thy loving-mercy; and quicken Thou me according to Thy judgment" (vet. 149). For first God according to His loving-mercy taketh away punishment from sinners, and will give them life afterwards, when righteous, according to His judgment; for it is not without a meaning that it is said unto Him, "My song shall be of mercy and judgment: unto Thee, O Lord;"(7) in this order of the terms: although the season of mercy itself be not without judgment, whereof the Apostle saith, "If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged of the Lord."(8) ... And the final season of judgment shall not be without mercy, since as the Psalm saith, "He crowneth thee with mercy and loving-kindness." But "judgment shall be without mercy," but "unto those" on the left, "who have not dealt mercy."(9)

148. "They draw nigh, that of malice persecute me:" or, as some copies read, "maliciously" (verse 150). Then they that persecute draw nigh, when they go the length of torturing and destroying the flesh: whence the twenty-first Psalm, wherein the Lord's Passion is prophesied, saith, "O go not from me, for trouble is hard at hand;"(1) where those things are spoken of which He suffered when His Passion was not imminent upon Him, but actually realized. "And are far from Thy law." The nearer they drew to the persecuting the righteous, so much the farther were they from righteousness. But what harm did they do unto those, to whom they drew near by persecution; since the approach of their Lord is nearer unto their souls, by whom they no wise are forsaken?

149. Lastly, it followeth, "Thou art nigh at hand, O Lord, and all Thy ways are truth" (verse 151). Even in their troubles, it hath been a wonted confession of the saints, to ascribe truth unto God, because they suffer them not undeservedly. So did Queen Esther,(2) so did holy Daniel,(3) so did the three men in the furnace,(4) so do other associates in their sanctity confess. But it may be asked, in what sense it is here said, "All Thy ways are truth;" since in another Psalm it is read, "All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth."(5) But towards the saints, All the ways of the Lord are at once mercy and truth: since He aideth them even in judgment, and thus mercy is not wanting; and in having mercy upon them, He performeth that which He hath promised, so that truth is not wanting. But towards all, both those whom He freeth, and those whom He condemneth, all the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth; because where He doth not show mercy, the truth of His vengeance is displayed. For He freeth many who have not deserved, but He condemneth none who hath not deserved it.

150. "From the beginning I have known," he saith, "as concerning Thy testimonies, that Thou hast grounded them for ever"(6) (verse 152). ... What are these testimonies, save those wherein God hath declared that He will give an everlasting kingdom unto His sons? And since He hath declared that He will give this in His only-begotten Son, he said that the testimonies themselves were grounded for everse For that which God hath promised through them, was everlasting. And for this reason the words, "Thou hast grounded them," are rightly thus understood, because they are shown to be true in Christ.(7) Whence then did the Psalmist know this in the beginning, save because the Church speaketh, which was not wanting to the earth from the commencement of the human race, the first-fruits whereof was the holy Abel, himself sacrificed in testimony of the future blood of the Mediator that should be shed by a wicked brother?(8) For this also was at the beginning, "They two shall be one flesh:"(9) which great mystery the Apostle Paul expounding, saith, "I speak concerning Christ and the Church."(10)


Augustin on Psalms 11924