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’s copy of Psalm 65 bears a longer title than that found in most copies today, a title he considers indicative of prophecy, because it is here “a song of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, on account of the people of transmigration when they were beginning to go forther” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328232). In a Psalm of David, a prediction of the deportation to Babylon would certainly be prophetic. Augustine observes that the exile to Babylon and then its end some seventy years later is a picture of the Christian’s former captivity and present deliverance (Augustine Psalms, loc.328233). He also notes that Jeusalem was taken away from the Jews and eventually given to Christians, the people doing justice (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328242). Augustine continues by making the distinction, classic among Christians, of Babylon the place of bondage versus Jerusalem the place of deliverance and peace. He even ties the ancestral foundations to Cain and Abel, respectively (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328250).
Verse one then speaks of a song of praise awaiting God in Zion. Augustine reminds the reader that Zion, meaning “beholding,” is another name for Jerusalem, “vision of peace” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328268). The song comes out as a song of hope from people who have confidence that they are grounded in Zion. A vow will be paid to God, along with the hymn of praise. Augustine sees that vow paid in the lives of those who endure in Christ to the end (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328277). The Christian, he grants, dies, but without a sorrowful price because of Christ’s victory over death.
In verse two we find all flesh coming to Christ, the one who hears prayers. Augustine here sees all coming to death after God in Christ has gone as the first-fruits (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328286). Augustine then emphasizes all the different types of people who come to God - rich, poor, old, young, educated, uneducated - all sorts of people. This great multitude nees to come to God in Christ because they have endured false teaching and mistreatment through their lives, being steeped in their cultures rather than in Christ’s kingdom (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328303). The reconciliation, however, is not done by those coming to God, but by God’s provision of atonement. This substitutionary atonement of Christ, made on our behalf, is central to Augustine’s understanding of the Psalm (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328312).
Verse four presents the singular one chosen by God to approach HIm. Augustine takes this to be the one, unified, body of Christ, the Church. Unity of doctrine and practice are to be found in Christ, making of the Church a singular one who is brought into God’s presence (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328320). The Psalm goes on to speak of the beauty and holiness of God’s “holy temple.” Augustine reflects on God’s presence as the place where even the old, the infirm, and those who have endured a gory death receive healing and regeneration (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328347). The Lord of the temple, then, in verse five, is the God who hears the cries for help from all the world.
The greatness of the Lord is striking ot Augustine. In verses 6-7, he recognizes that it is God who gives strength to mountains and reaches the bottom of the sea (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328374). God is able to reach to the root of all things, including the bottom of the sea, where Augustine considers that all corruption lies. He compares this to our heart, the seat of corruption. God is able to deal with even that (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328383). This causes trouble for the nations, who fear as the sea is stirred against htem. However, the Christians do not fear. It is their presecutors who are being troubled (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328392).
Vesres 9 and following have a change of perspective, reflecting God’s gracious care for the world (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328409). Augustine immediately notes that God provides for the care of the world through His people, who serve as a blessing to all nations, through deeds, but especially by delivering God’s Word to the nations (Augustine Psalms, loc. 328445). For this reason, as the Psalm closes, the songs of joy are sung before God.