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 37 Part 2”
Augustine begins commentary on Psalm 24:12 as a second part of the Psalm. On the surface it is not clear whether he sees a textual or thematic division or simply chose to break the text into more convenient size pieces. The second part continues throuh verse 24.
In verses 12-13 God laughs at the sinners who would plot against the just, because God sees the day of judgment to come, even though those involved in the conflict do not know (Augustine Psalms, loc. 321897). God is the one who knows all his plans, including the necessary vengeance to come. This coming vengeance is not at all undeserved. In verse 14, the wicked have targeted the righteous. Again, God’s vengeance happens using relatively natural consequences. The wicked are finally pierced with their own weapons (Augustine Psalms, loc. 321903). The plots of the wicked are frustrated, so that the righteous are left safe from ultimate harm. In verse 16 the righteous still finds his little to be much. Verse 17 speaks to another failing of the wicked, when “their arms” are broken. Augustine takes this as a reference to the power they would have (Augustine Psalms, loc. 321917). From this idea, Augustine speaks of the fact that in Christ’s humiliation the powers of evil were actually ineffective against him. In the same way, citing the apostle Paul, the powers of evil have been neutralized for the Christian (Augustine Psalms, loc. 321932). In Christ, the believer has an eternal inheritance (v. 18). The protective hand of God is upon His people (Augustine Psalms, loc. 321955). Augustine concedes that we cannot know the glory of the inheritance we have in Christ. He refers to numerous passages comparing this time to God’s future kingdom. Verse 19 goes on to say that God’s people will not be “ashamed,” meaning they will not e disappointed. All they have hoped for in Christ will be theirs. The wicked, like smoke, will pass away (v. 20). Augustine observes that smoke billows and seems to swell before dissipating. So the evil appear more threatening before passing away (Augustine Psalms, loc. 321965). In the case of the sinners of verse 20, they have refused to return thanks to God, despite all the gifts given them by God. For this reason, Augustine sees the contrast in verse 21 between the wicked, who end up with nothing, and the righteous, who are able to lend (Augustine Psalms, loc. 321983). These will inherit the land (v. 23), as they have been enriched by God. Augustine acknowledges that our earthly life is difficult, comparing it to the suffering of military life. However, it is only a few days compared to eternity (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322010). The eternal promise is sure. The Christian has no cause for fear.