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 makes an allegorical interpretation of hte subscription to Psalm 8. He refers to the strength of Christ, with the figure of David referring to strength and Saul as the demand of the people for a king (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320236). Saul was the one selected according to the people’s will and David, or Chrsit, as the one selected by God, the one dedicated to the Lord (verse 1). The motif of verse two is of God as the strength and helper of Israel, the one who helps according to his own will (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320242). Verses 3-5 emphasize that the one who trusts in God cannot be harmed by any of the forces deployed against him, including the claims of death. In contrast, in verse six, the one who calls to God is heard (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320255). This results in a great response from God (verse 7). The movement of the earth’s foundations is compared by Augustine to the fear of those who hoped in their own strength (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320261). The concept of smoke, in verse 8, Augustine sees as a metaphor in Scripture for prayers, which rise up to God and, here, provoke a response. God breathes out fire when his people pray (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320261). He comes to meet the need of his people, seen here as very much in the presence of God. In verse ten, God moves, pictured in very earthly and corporeal images as the one who steps out of the heavens and flies to rescue his people. God is the one who is very present yet cannot truly be comprehended (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320267).
In verse 11 Augustine finds the darkness as the place where God has hidden the effect of the Sacraments. God is surrounded by all his signs, but he does not make himself clear except where he wishes. Yet all the Law and the prophets do point toward the clear truth (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320278). Augustine sees this truth revealed in the faithful teaching of the Law and the prophets. Yet when the Jews refuse the teaching, God passes it on as clouds, gooing to the Gentiles (verse 12). Augustine continues in his allegorical patterns when in verses 13 and 14 he describes the storm as God bringing the Gospel not only to Jews but also to Gentiles (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320286). The fountains of water brought eternal life to the nations, all who would hear. In verse 16 Augustine takes the rescue of “me” from the “many waters” to be a sign of the salvation of the Gentiles, taken from the multitude and rescued from enemies (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320293).
Through all the trials, God is the one who rescues his people because he delights in them. Augustine makes no claim to knowing a reason for God’s delight. However, in verses 20-21, God does receive His people because of their faithfulness to Him (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320305). God’s judgment, then, is righteous and generous to all who trust Him enough to persevere in God’s Word (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320312). God is, in effect, showing himself to be holy when working with other holy people (verse 25). God treats people according to their character (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320320). This all is to the end of lifting up the humble and rescuing His people (verses 27-29). The deliverance comes from God, not from ourselves. How is this possible? Because God is the perrfect, undefiled on (verse 30) who is uniquely the true God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320331).
Verses 31 and following show God as the one who is powerful and able to make his people fit for conflict in this world. He gives his people strength (verse 32), stability (verse 33), ability to wage war (verse 34), and all the equipment they need for their tasks (verse 35). These are all signs of God’s favor on His people (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320344). God has even enlarged all the attributes His people need to accomplishe their purpose. Augustine takes this to be very closely related to the successes in warfare pictured for God’s people in verses 36 and following (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320350).
In verses 41 and following, Augustine finds that the enemies are defeated specifically because they refuse to call on the Lord or submit to His Word. This brings their terrible destruction (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320363). Their ways are so corrupt that, even though they are of Israel, God’s chosen people, the Gentiles become the leaders of God’s people (verse 44). Augustine reflects on the kind of foolishness which can break down God’s provision despite His being near to His people (verse 46) (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320375). In contrast, the God of salvation is exalted (verse 46). He is the one who rescues his people. Augustine takes this, particularly verses 47-48, to refer to the rescue of Jesus, the true Son of Man, from those seeking His eternal death (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320381). Because of Jesus’ resurrection, his failure to remain dead eternally, he can show mercy to his people (Augustine Psalms, loc. 320388).