Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
David. This psalm most beautifully describes the consolation which the just find in God's protection. (Haydock) --- It may be applied to the Israelites in the desert, (Chaldean) to David persecuted by Saul, or rather (Calmet) settled quietly upon the throne, (Muis) or to the Jews returned from Babylon. (St. Athanasius) (Calmet) --- The Fathers explain it mystically of Jesus Christ, the Shepherd of our souls. (Didymus, St. Augustine, &c.) The allegories of a shepherd and of a person giving a feast to his guests, are well supported. (Calmet) --- Ruleth, in Hebrew. Is my shepherd; viz., to feed, guide, and govern me. (Challoner) --- Septuagint Greek: poimainei, pascit, as St. Augustine and St. Jerome read. St. Gregory Thaumaturgus understands this of the angel guardian. (Paneg. in Orig.) --- Jesus Christ conducts us into the pastures of his Church, and feeds us (Worthington) with his own body, &c. (Calmet) --- The saints never complain of want. (Berthier)
Place. Montanus, "in the huts of grass, (or of young trees, germinis) he will make me lie down." See Canticle of Canticles i. 6., and Ezechiel xxxiv. 15. (Haydock) --- Shepherds were accustomed to conduct their flocks to shady places, during the heat of the day. --- Refreshment. Hebrew, "still waters," like the pond of Siloe, (Isaias viii. 6.) in opposition to the great streams of the Euphrates, &c. The fathers understand it of baptism; (St. Chrysostom, &c.) or of the truths of salvation. (Eusebius) (Calmet) --- Baptism is the first justification. (Worthington)
Converted. Protestants, "restoreth my soul" (Haydock) to her former tranquility, or bringeth me back from my wanderings. (Berthier) --- Justice. Those who have received baptism, must observe the law of Christ, (Worthington) as all indeed are bound to do. (Haydock) --- Sake. Not on account of man's deserving (Calmet) by the force of nature. God must begin and carry on the work of our conversion, by his grace; with which we must co-operate. (Haydock) --- The captives had been in the greatest distress among idolaters. They rejoice at the sight of the promised land, where they will fear no dangers. (Calmet)
Walk. In the greatest temptations, we may resist by God's grace. (Worthington) --- Midst. Hebrew, "in the valley." The greatest darkness, and the most horrible precipices, give no alarm to those who are under God's protection. --- Comforted me, as they have kept all enemies at a distance. The shepherd's staff or crook is designed for that purpose; and though it may be used to bring back the wandering sheep by beating them, yet it is not under that idea an object of consolation, but rather of terror. (Calmet) --- The effects of timely correction are, however, comfortable; and it is a great mercy of God to chastise the sinner, lest he should run astray to his eternal ruin. (Haydock) --- Some distinguish the rod from the staff, and say that the former is to punish, and the latter to support. (St. Jerome; Muis) --- We are generally too backward in having recourse to God in our distresses, though he invites us so pressingly, Isaias xli. 10, &c.
Thou. Here the allegory of a shepherd seems less discernible, though it may allude to the provisions for winter; (Berthier) or rather it ceases, as feasts are made for men; (Menochius) and the second allegory of a guest here commences. (Haydock) --- The enemy had reduced me to the greatest misery. (Calmet) --- But God has admitted me to his table. (Menochius) --- This may be explained of the sacred mysteries received in the Church, (St. Ambrose) or of the Scriptures, which nourish our souls. (St. Jerome) --- No mention is made of the ancient sacrifices; and as this psalm must be understood in the spiritual sense, the prophet speaks of the blessed Eucharist, which imparts the unction of grace, &c. The enemy strives to make us keep at a distance from it. (Berthier) --- Christ has himself prepared this table (St. Cyprian, ep. 63.; Euthymius) against all spiritual adversaries. --- Oil. Christians are also strengthened by the sacraments of confirmation, penance, holy orders, matrimony, and extreme unction. (Worthington) --- Three of these are administered with oil. (Haydock) --- It was customary to anoint the head of guests with perfumes, (Matthew xxvi. 6., and Luke vii. 46.) both among the Jews and Gentiles. But the Fathers explain this text of chrism, used in confirmation. (St. Athanasius; Theodoret) (Calmet) --- Chalice. The blessed sacrament and sacrifice of Christ's body and blood. (Worthington) --- Inebriateth. Hebrew, "overflowing;" being constantly replenished (Canticle of Canticles vii. 2.; Homer, Iliad iv.) with wine; as people are not inebriated with water. This term, however, only means to take as much as is requisite, Genesis xliii. 34. "Thy chalice inebriating me," occurs in most copies of the Septuagint, in Sixtus V., &c. But the more correct editions of the Septuagint and all the Greek interpreters, (St. Jerome, ep. ad Sun.) agree with the Hebrew and Vulgate. --- How, &c., is added by way of explanation; or rather, the Septuagint have taken two words from the following verse, ac tob, verumtamen bonum. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "surely goodness and mercy," &c. (Haydock) --- Theodotion and Symmachus were not acquainted with this division, which seems less accurate, though the sense be much the same. (Berthier)
Follow me, like provisions from the king's table, 2 Kings xi. 8. (Calmet) --- "The grace of God prevents the unwilling to make him willing; and it follows the person who is in good dispositions, that they may not be in vain." (St. Augustine, Ench. 32.) --- Prævenit per fidem, subsequitur in custodiendo mandata Dei. (St. Jerome) Continual and final perseverance is a special grace of God. (Worthington) --- And that. Hebrew, "and I shall." The Vulgate expresses the effect of worthy participation of God's table, which leads to a happy eternity. (Berthier) --- This is particularly applicable to priests, both of the old and of the new law. (Calmet) --- Only those who remain in the house of God, in his church on earth, can expect felicity. (Haydock) --- Days, in eternal life. (Worthington) --- David always desired to be near the ark, (Psalm xxvi., and lxxxiii.; Menochius) as the figure of heaven. (Haydock)