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.
“Psalm 59 part 1”
Augustine’s comments on Psalm 59:1-12 jump immediately to an allegorical understanding of Christ as the one who sees no corruption, who is head and body together, signifying the entire Church, and who was guarded in the tomb, as David’s house was watched by Saul’s soldiers (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327094). Verse one, then, calls out for deliverance and redemption. Augustine considers the redemption which David called for to be accomplished in Christ, as well as in us (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327103). Those who would attack Christ, just like those who attacked David, were violent men, intent on killing (v. 2). Augustine sees this as a continuing pattern, as he lists numerous persecutions against the early Christians, after Christ’s death and resurrection (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327113). This is the way Augustine sees the Church growing, particularly noting that “there was shed largely and frequently the blood of Martyrs: wherewith when it had been shed, being as it were sown, the field of the Church more productively put forth, and filled the whole world as we now behold” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327122).
Augustine asks, based on verse three, what kind of strong men would be hunting David, as if he were weak or powerless (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327122). His conclusion is that all humans are subject to weakness. There is nobody who is able to overcome all people, and certainly nobody greater than God. For this reason, Augustine in verse four concludes that David, like Christ, was assailed by sinful humans who would not stop in their rush to obtain power. In humanity, none could resist such a mob (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327150).
Verses 4-5 make a contrast with the first three verses. David asks for God’s deliverance, that God may meet him and see how he is walking (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327160). Augustine observes that Jesus’ self-humiliation was his way of preparing, as it were, a nest in which to gather his people (baby birds) to himself and provide them shelter. He comments that nesting birds become weaker and less well groomed during the nesting process (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327169). Augustine then seems to tie the humiliation and weakness of this state of servitude to the disorder which enters the world temporarily when God comes in judgment. David asks that God would show no pity on those who work iniquity (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327188). At the same time, though, Augustine recognizes that God showed mercy on Paul, who had persecuted the Church. The call to repentance goes out to all in the time of Christ. This is the good news of verse 6 (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327216).
In verse nine, David confesses his safety because he receives strength by holding fast to Christ. Auygustine portrays Christ as the one who gives all virtue and wisdom. In his work of reconciliation Christ has made all people along the lines of sin and redemption. Those who are under God’s judgment are one. Those receiving God’s favor are one (Augustine Psalms, loc. 327263).