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Home > Fathers of the Church > Expositions on the Psalms (Augustine) > Psalm 16

Exposition on Psalm 16

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The inscription of the title, of David himself.

1. Our King in this Psalm speaks in the character of the human nature He assumed, of whom the royal title at the time of His passion was eminently set forth.

2. Now He says as follows; Preserve me, O Lord, for in You have I hoped Psalm 15:1: I have said to the Lord, You are my God, for You require not my goods Psalm 15:2: for with my goods Thou dost not look to be made blessed.

3. To the saints who are on His earth Psalm 15:3: to the saints who have placed their hope in the land of the living, the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem, whose spiritual conversation is, by the anchor of hope, fixed in that country, which is rightly called God's earth; although as yet in this earth too they be conversant in the flesh. He has wonderfully fulfilled all My wishes in them. To those saints then He has wonderfully fulfilled all My wishes in their advancement, whereby they have perceived, how both the humanity of My divinity has profited them that I might die, and the divinity of the humanity that I might rise again.

4. Their infirmities have been multiplied Psalm 15:4: their infirmities have been multiplied not for their destruction, but that they might long for the Physician. Afterwards they made haste. Accordingly after infirmities multiplied they made haste, that they might be healed. I will not gather together their assemblies by blood. For their assemblies shall not be carnal, nor will I gather them together as one propitiated by the blood of cattle. Isaiah 1:11-12 Nor will I be mindful of their names within My lips. But by a spiritual change what they have been shall be forgotten; nor by Me shall they be any more called either sinners, or enemies, or men; but righteous, and My brethren, and sons of God through My peace.

5. The Lord is the portion of Mine inheritance, and of My cup Psalm 15:5. For together with Me they shall possess the inheritance, the Lord Himself. Let others choose for themselves portions, earthly and temporal, to enjoy: the portion of the Saints is the Lord eternal. Let others drink of deadly pleasures, the portion of My cup is the Lord. In that I say, Mine, I include the Church: for where the Head is, there is the body also. For into the inheritance will I gather together their assemblies, and by the inebriation of the cup I will forget their old names. You are He who will restore to Me My inheritance: that to these too, whom I free, may be known the glory wherein I was with You before the world was made. John 17:5 For You will not restore to Me that which I never lost, but You will restore to these, who have lost it, the knowledge of that glory: in whom because I am, You will restore to Me.

6. The lines have fallen to me in glorious places Psalm 15:6. The boundaries of my possession have fallen in Your glory as it were by lot, like as God is the possession of the Priests and Levites. Numbers 18:20 For Mine inheritance is glorious to Me. For Mine inheritance is glorious, not to all, but to them that see; in whom because I am, it is to Me.

7. I will bless the Lord, who has given Me understanding Psalm 15:7: whereby this inheritance may be seen and possessed. Yea moreover too even unto night my reins have chastened Me. Yea besides understanding, even unto death, My inferior part, the assumption of flesh, has instructed Me, that I might experience the darkness of mortality, which that understanding has not.

8. I foresaw the Lord in My sight always Psalm 15:8. But coming into things that pass away, I removed not My eye from Him who abides ever, foreseeing this, that to Him I should return after passing through the things temporal. For He is on My right hand, that I should not be moved. For He favours Me, that I should abide fixedly in Him.

9. Wherefore My heart was glad, and My tongue exulted Psalm 15:9. Wherefore both in My thoughts is gladness, and in my words exultation. Moreover too My flesh shall rest in hope. Moreover too My flesh shall not fail unto destruction, but shall sleep in hope of the resurrection.

10. For You will not leave My soul in hell Psalm 15:10. For You will neither give My soul for a possession to those parts below. Neither will You grant Your Holy One to see corruption. Neither will You suffer that sanctified body, whereby others are to be also sanctified, to see corruption. You have made known to Me the paths of life Psalm 15:11. You have made known through Me the paths of humiliation, that men might return to life, from whence they fell through pride; in whom because I am, You have made known to Me. You will fill Me with joy with Your countenance. You will fill them with joy, that they should seek nothing further, when they shall see You face to face; in whom because I am, You will fill Me. Pleasure is at Your right hand even to the end. Pleasure is in Your favour and mercy in this life's journey, leading on even to the end of the glory of Your countenance.

About this page

Source. Translated by an anonymous scholar. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series, Vol. 8. Edited by Philip Schaff. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1888.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <>.

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