Psalm 103
Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Himself. Complutensian Septuagint adds, "a psalm of the creation," (Haydock) as this is the subject; but there is no title in the original. (Berthier) The psalm contains "a divine and natural philosophy," (Eusebius) respecting the creation and providence. Plato has written something similar in his Timæus, (Calmet) though this comparison is indecent. (Berthier) --- The imitation is no disparagement, however, to this divine word, and we may surely notice the concord between the inspired and profane writers. (Haydock) --- This psalm seems to be a continuation of the preceding one. (Calmet) --- Great. Literally, "magnified," in the same sense as we say, hallowed be thy name, [Matthew vi. 9.] praying that God may be honoured by all his creatures; (Haydock) though He cannot increase in holiness, &c. (St. Augustine) --- We become acquainted with his greatness, by considering his works. (Calmet) --- Praise. Literally, "confession," (Haydock) Hebrew, "glory." (Calmet) --- Thou art entitled to all praise. (Worthington)

Light. In this manner he always appeared, 1 Timothy vi. 16., and Exodus iii. 2. (Calmet) --- Christ only once assumed such a glorious form at this transfiguration, because he came to instruct our mind and heart. (Berthier) --- Stretchest. Hebrew and Septuagint have the verbs in the third person, till ver. 6., as the Vulgate has here extendens. But St. Jerome and others agree with us, though St. Paul quotes according to the Hebrew, ver. 4. (Haydock) --- Pavilion. The idea of the heavens resting like a tent upon the earth was very prevalent, Job ix. 8., and Isaias xl. 22.

Water. The Fathers are not agreed about the nature or situation of these waters. Some take them to be angels. (St. Jerome; Genesis i. 7.) --- Others suppose that the waters in the clouds, (Calmet) or the crystalline substance in the region of the stars are designated. (Worthington) --- These waters are represented as the roof of God's palace. (Eusebius) --- Winds. With surprising velocity, his providence being every where. (Theodoret) --- The psalmist accommodates himself to our capacity, to shew that God does all with the utmost ease. (Worthington)

Fire. The elements execute his will, (Calmet) or rather, as the apostle, and Chaldean, &c., intimate, the angels do this (Berthier) with zeal and activity, (Hebrews i. 7.; Haydock) and ease. (Worthington) --- Some would attribute to the angels some sort of light bodies, and Grotius attempted to revive this opinion, which never could prevail over the contrary one, which is universally received. (Calmet)

Ever. The established order shall subsist, though the earth may move, Psalm ci. 27. (Berthier) --- It is fixed by its own gravity in the centre. (Worthington)

The deep. Hebrew, "thou hast covered it with the abyss." This proves that there was no pre-existent matter, otherwise God would not have begun with the plunging his work in the abyss, and in confusion. But he chose to bring this beautiful world out of a state of disorder in the space of six days, as Moses and the psalmist relate. (Berthier) --- At first, all was created, covered with the waters, Genesis i.

Fear. Hebrew, "retire precipitately" to their beds, at thy counsel, (Haydock) on the third day. (Calmet) --- Some think that a storm or the deluge are here described, (St. Chrysostom) which is less probable. (Berthier) (Calmet) --- The waters would naturally cover the earth; but are confined to their proper channels by God. (Worthington)

The....descend. This sho8uld be within a parenthesis, (Berthier) as the sequel speaks of the waters. (Haydock) --- Earth. This seemed miraculous to those who supposed that the earth was flat. (St. Ambrose; Hex. iii. 22.) (Job vii. 12., and Amos v. 8.) (Calmet) --- Providence points out the place for every thing. (Haydock) ---Jussit et extendi campos, &c. (Ovid, Met. i.)

--- God derogated from this law, which he had appointed for the waters, when he brought them again to overwhelm the guilty earth. (Haydock)

Pass, to supply the wants of all creatures. Springs and rain afford the necessary moisture.

Except, waiting for one another, as all cannot drink at the fountains at the same time. The Chaldean has the same idea, though the Hebrew is explained, "shall break" (Houbigant, "shall satisfy") their thirst. Berthier)

Rooms, with rain, ver. 3. (Calmet) --- Earth, or its inhabitants. (Tirinus)

Service. Cattle, or beasts of burden, are thus fed for man's service, though he may also eat legumes, &c. (Calmet) --- Bring. God gives the increase, 1 Corinthians iii. 7. (Haydock)

Oil. This was an article of food, (Berthier) and deeded almost as requisite for anointing the body, as bread and wine to support nature. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xiv. 22.) Hence it was prohibited in days of fasting. (Calmet) --- These three things are put for all sorts of food. (Worthington)

Field. Hebrew, "of Jehova." Houbigant would substitute ssodi, "field," (Haydock) as this name of God is never used to denote "high" trees, &c. (Berthier) --- God provides for the wants of all the creation, even of those things which seem less necessary to us. (Calmet)

Sparrows, or "birds" (Psalm ci. 8.; Haydock) in general. (Berthier) --- Highest; or, literally, "the tribe of the heron is their leader," (Haydock) first making their nests. Septuagint seem to have read better than the present Hebrew, "the stork, the fir-trees are its house." (Berthier)

Irchins. St. Augustine reads also, "hares." These desert places are not useless. (Calmet)

Seasons and festivals, which it points out: mohadim. (Haydock) --- During the night wild beasts seek their prey, as men and cattle may labour in the day-time. The sun, &c., were made for man's use, (Calmet) and not to be adored. (Eusebius) --- These bodies move with the same regularity as if they had intelligence. (Heracleot.)

God, like all other creatures, Psalm cxliv. 15., and cxlvi. 9. (Calmet)


God is to be praised for his mighty works, and wonderful providence.

Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary

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