Augustine. Exposition on the Book of Psalms. Schaff, Philip (editor). New York: Christian Literature Publishing Col, 1886. Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers: Series 1: Volume VIII. Re-published 2014, Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle electronic edition, ISBN-13: 978-1-78379-372-3.
Augustine boldly comments on the process of waiting on the Lord’s promises. We do not wait on these promises as we wait on consolation from others, because God never revokes His promises (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322819). This gives us the confidence to wait patiently. Augustine notes the seeming contradiction in God’s action. He takes notice of us to grant his blessing. He takes no notice of our sins. But in the end he takes no notice of the ungodly as they fall to eternal punishment. God’s notice lifts people (v. 2) from the pit of sin and shame to set them on solid ground (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322834). Augustine notes, with the New Testament, that the solid ground is a Rock, which was Christ, who establishes our paths. Referring to Paul’s words, Augustine sees that in Christ we have both received a promise and still await the promise (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322850).
In verse 3, the work of rescue puts a song in the Psalmist’s mouth. This is a true humn to the true God. It is a new song due to the nature of our relationship with God. “He becomes ‘new’ to thee, when thou returnest to Him; because it was by departing from Him, that thou hadst become old” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322865). The presence and force of our enemies can wear us down, while God makes us new. The same way, as we fail to notice God at work, we consider Him old and even irrelevant. As we observe God at work we find He is always new. Augustine sees this as centered in our recognition that we can have faith in Christ. “The just shall see, and shall fear” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322831). The just are those who live in faith. For this reason we live by faith and are recognized before God as just. Augustine further speaks to the just being those who follow God, not their culture. They “fix their eyes on those who go before them, and follow and imitate them” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322884). Their trust is in the Lord. The converse, not to trust the Lord, is called madness in verse four. The vaine and foolish way, which Augustine compares to the wide road leading to the amphithatre, is open to all and crowded. But the Christian is not to pursue that way, hoping rather in the Lord (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322901).
Augustine recognizes here that the Christian, turning his eyes from vain and foolish things, needs something to look upon (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322932). According to verse 5, we look upon the works of God. Augustine lists many works of God, mostly pertaining to making people righteous, asking if those works are as good as the human works we praise. He also observes that God’s works “beyond number” effectively draw countless Christians together (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322962).
In verse six the Psalmist reflects that God did not want tsacrifice. He repeats the idea in verse seven. Augustine notes that our right response to God is to come to Him in trust (Augustine Psalms, loc. 323001). He makes a strong connection between this passage and the reference to Christ as the Passover in 1 Corinthians 5. The feast is not old (leavened) but new (unleavened). This, in verse 8, is the will of the Father (Augustine Psalms, loc. 323009).
Although Augustine, with the Psalmist, has rejected God’s desire for sacrifice, in verse nine there is an appropriate work. The people are to make declarations in the congregation. Augustine finds that as a “great congregation” the Psalmist speaks of the whole world receiving the message of God’s praise (Augustine Psalms, loc. 323017). The declaration is made easier, according to verse 10, when we do not try to conceal God’s righteousness in our heart. We let the message emerge. Augustine compares this to the revelation of Christ to Simeon in the temple. He held the baby and saw salvation from God for the whole world (Augustine Psalms, loc. 323040). Meanwhile, each of us can ask the Lord not to remove His mercy from us (v. 11) no matter what evils surround us (v. 12). We fear the consequences of the sins all around us, ours and those of others. Augustine reminds us the Scripture expresses a great confidence that the Lord can and will forgive and cleans us (Augustine Psalms, loc. 323056).
Sin continues to trouble the Psalmist. He is blinded by his sin, his sins are more than his hairs, and he cannot find them all. Augustine observes that, like hairs, sins may be small but innumerable so as to cover us (Augustine Psalms, loc. 323079). We are always finding more sin. This is why, in verse 13, we ask for the Lord’s deliverance.
Verse 14 continues to ask for God’s penalty on those who wish evil upon the Psalmist. Augustine is quick to say this penalty should turn the opponents to repentance (Augustine Psalms, loc. 323102). Likewise, in verse 15, the Psalmist asks God to change the confusion of those who think the Psalmist is worthy of great praise. They should rather seek God and rejoice in Him (v. 16). Agustine sees verse 17, where the Psalmist asks again for God’s mercy, as a sign of the humility of hte penitent Christian. We recognize our poverty and depend on God to show mercy (Augustine Psalms, loc. 323126).