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 moves directly to the text of Psalm 11, which, he says, appears to be sung against the heretics, who, by rehearsing and exaggerating the sins of many in the Church, as if either all or the majority among themselves were righteous, strive to turn and snatch us away from the breasts of the one True Mother Church…” (Augustine Psalms, loc.
319876). Here Christ is identified as the haven of the bird, the mountain (v. 1). This is where the believer finds safety and rest. Augustine is clear that the Christian should resist being troubled by the claims of the heretics. In verse two, the sinners are trying to shoot “the upright in heart” as a hunter would shoot a bird (Augustine Psalms, loc.
Augustine finds a reference, presumably in verse two, to the moon, and considers whether it symbolizes the Church. He describes the contemporary debate, whether the moon has its own light or not (Augustine Psalms, loc.
319891). From this, and the idea that the light side of the moon gradually becomes dark, Augustine suggests it symbolizes the Church, in which good and bad, light and darkness can be found. Alternatively, if the moon “has no light of her own” the parallel to the Church, which receives light from Christ, is apt (Augustine Psalms, loc.
319899). Regardless, Augustine concludes that the moon makes an excellent symbol of the Church. He goes on to question a shooting at “the obscure moon,” again presumably in his version of verse two. He views this likely as an attempt to destroy the work of the Church in its infancy, as shooting the new moon so it could not flourish (Augustine Psalms, loc.
319915). In reaction to this, Christians trust in the Lord and do not fear those who would persecute them. Augustine does provide a quotation of his text of verse two, which clarifies the “moon” issue. “For, lo, sinners have bent the bow, that they may in the obscure moon shoot at the upright in heart” (Augustine Psalms, loc.
319922). He then reiterates that the proper response is to trust in the Lord. This runs counter to the various heretical sects which Augustine finds running to and fro, confusing and undermining catholicity (Augustine Psalms, loc.
319930). The claims and proven trustworthiness of Christ exceed all those of the heretical sects, who would try to destroy the Christian faith (Augustine Psalms, loc.
In verse 4 the Psalmist declares that the Lord is in His temple (Augustine Psalms, loc.
319946). This is a place of protection for the Christian, but one which Augustine maintains is violated only at grave peril. The temple, made of all Christians, serves as the locus of God’s authority, from which He looks with mercy on the poor (v. 4) (Augustine Psalms, loc.
319954). Augustine is clear that all the poor in spirit who trust Christ are the poor cared about by God.
From God’s temple, in verse five, the Lord questions people, both the righteous and unrighteous. Augustine maintains that this should not be a matter of fear to the Christian, but that the ungodly will be entangled and overcome (v. 6) (Augustine Psalms, loc.
319962). The same questioning frees the godly and ruins the ungodly. Augustine asserts this to be the typical work of the Scripture (Augustine Psalms, loc.
As he closes his comments on Psalm 11, Augustine suggests the interpreter could consider the context of Israel rather than the Church, and find that the Jews sought to crucify Christ, a form of shooting “at the upright in heart” (Augustine Psalms, loc. 319993). Here we can also find Jesus looking to the Father for protection.