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 3”
Augustine, commenting on Psalm 37:25, says it is not particularly important that one person in his lifetime has seen God being faithful to the righteous (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322029). He points out that Abraham was driven from one place to another by hunger, in times of famine. For this reason, Augustine takes the verse in a slightly symbolic way (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322037). We are called in Scripture to emulate numerous people who suffer from hunger and other hardships. A wrong interpretation of the idea could well paralyze our good works (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322051). Augustine then takes the “bread” mentioned in verse 25 to be God’s Word, the bread of life (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322062). Again, to be sensitive to the biblical commands against usury, Augustine takes the lending and receiving to be giving the resources provided by God to those in need, knowing they cannot repay (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322077). As God has given richly to His people, they respond by giving to similarly unworthy people. Likewise, the offspring, our seed, is that which remains after the sowing. As we give to those in need, we bear fruit in the future (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322100).
The giving to which the Psalm calls us is to be an active pursuit of good (v. 27). We are to both depart from evil and to do good regardless of the consequences, because God honors those who obey in this (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322110). All the treasure of God’s people is to be laid before God and used according to His priorities. We are the stewards who learn to judge rightly (v. 28). Augustine emphasizes that our commitment to right judgment distinguishes the righteous from the unrighteous (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322125). The righteous inherit the land (v. 29). This is their portion, and it is good. However, Augustine is clear that we are not to covet the inheritance for our own sake 322139).
Again, in verses 30-31, the Word of God is the bread of life, the wisdom we speak to feed our world. God’s Word is the very stability of His people. Those who rest in God’s Word will not be put to shame (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322151). The greatly exalted Lord of all is able to confer all rewards on the righteous. For this reason, in verse 34, we “wait on the Lord.” Augustine again points out that those who wait on the Lord receive a great reward to be used for the good of others (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322175). So, in verse 37, we remain innocent. This guards us from having the riches of God seized by the devil. Our inheritance is protected by our innocence before God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322186). Verses 38-40 continue to contrast the safety of the righteous and the endangerment of the wicked. God is the final and righteous judge. “At present therefore let the righteous bear with the sinners. . . for the time of separation will come . . . “ (Augustine Psalms, loc. 322201).