Augustine. Exposition on the Book of Psalms. Schaff, Philip (editor). New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co, 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.
In his comments, Augustine jumps almost immediately into the body of Psalm 77, by considering the reasons people cry out to the Lord. Many of those reasons are self-centered (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331606). Augustine clarifies the right attitude for our petitions to God. “He doth indeed hearken to thee at the time when thou dost seek Himself, not when through Himself thou dost seek any other thing” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331611). For this reason, it is possible to cry to God but not call on the Lord in any real way. Verse two speaks of a time of tribulation. Augustine points out that there are many kinds of tribulation and that they bring forth different calls to God. But our call must still be a move to seek God rather than our own pleasure (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331626).
In a time of tribulation we may find that our soul doesn’t receive comfort. Verse two discusses this, which is recognized by Augustine as weariness (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331651). The cure, as earlier, is to wait on God. This is the Psalmist’s delight, as expressed in verse three (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331657). Yet Augustine sees that our delight in God will be attacked, as some try to wear us out with our pattern of continuous calling on the Lord. This becomes babbling which only exhausts us (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331676).
Verse five turns our attention to history, as the Psalmist thinks “on ancient days” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331676). Augustine sees this as a sort of quiet contemplation which can drive away the fears and pressures of the current time. Yet the quiet contemplation can yield to the sort of anxiety of which Augustine spoke earlier, a “babbling.” This is what he identifies in verse 6 (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331697). Despite the weariness which can come even from our quiet meditation, in verse seven we are given hope. God does not repel us forever. God is the trustworthy one (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331707). Augustine sees that all mercy comes from God. It is not our plan, but God’s plan which brings comfort.
Verse ten depicts our beginning, the meaningful part of life, as rooted in God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331718). In verse 11 the Psalmist is ready to be mindful of the Lord. Augustine notes that mindfulness is a recurring theme in this Psalm, but that the object of mindfulness matters immensely (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331728). Verse 12 brings us back to meditation and babbling about God’s works and affections.
Verse 13 reflects directly on God as the source of all holy things (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331738). This knowledge should naturally call out our praises. Verse 14 speaks to God’s workers and how they, like his own self, reflect his praise.
Augustine additionally finds God’s power reflected in His redemption of Israel in verse 15. The mention of Joseph separately from Israel in verse 15 could be seen as distinction between Jews and Gentiles. Augustine finds Joseph to represent the Gentiles because Joseph was sold into Egypt (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331768).
In the end, we look to God in hope that we will hear His voice in the sound of our confession, song, and prayer (Augustine Psalms, loc. 331778). He is the one who sends out His voice. He is the one who gathers His people as one (v. 20).