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Psalms 45:1

My heart is overflowing with a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made concerning the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready scribe.
All Commentaries on Psalms 45:1 Go To Psalms 45

Augustine of Hippo

AD 430
4. "Mine heart hath uttered a good word" (ver. 1). Who is the speaker? The Father, or the Prophet? For some understand it to be the Person of the Father, which says, "Mine heart hath uttered a good word," intimating to us a certain unspeakable generation. Lest you should haply think something to have been taken unto Him, out of which God should beget the Son (just as man takes something to himself out of which he begets children, that is to say, an union of marriage, without which man cannot beget offspring), lest then you should think that God stood in need of any nuptial union, to beget "the Son," be says, "Mine heart hath uttered a good word." This very day thine heart, O man, begets a counsel, and requires no wife: by the counsel, so born of thine heart, thou buildest something or other, and before that building subsists, the design subsists; and that which thou art about to produce, exists already in that by which thou art going to produce it; and thou praisest the fabric that as yet is not existing, not yet in the visible form of a building, but on the projecting of a design: nor does any one else praise thy design, unless either thou showest it to him, or he sees what thou hast done. If then by the Word "all things were made," and the Word is of God, consider the fabric reared by the Word, and learn from that building to admire His counsels! What manner of Word is that by which heaven and earth were made; and all the splendour of the heavens; all the fertility of the earth; the expanse of the sea; the wide diffusion of air; the brightness of the constellations; the light of sun and moon? These are visible things: rise above these also; think of the Angels, "Principalities, Thrones, Dominions, and Powers." All were made by Him. How then were these good things made? Because there was "uttered forth `a good Word,'" by which they were to be made. ... 5. It proceeds: "I speak of the things which I have made unto the King." Is the Father still speaking? If the Father is still speaking, let us enquire how this also can be understood by us, consistently with the true Catholic Faith, "I speak of the things that I have made unto the King." For if it is the Father speaking of His own works to His Son, our "King," what works is the Father to speak of to the Son, seeing that all the Father's works were made by the Son's agency? Or, in the words, "I speak of My works unto the King," does the word, "I speak," itself signify the generation of the Son? I fear whether this can ever be made intelligible to those slow of comprehension: I will nevertheless say it. Let those who can follow me, do so: lest if it were left unsaid, even those who can follow should not be able. We have read where it is said in another Psalm, "God hath spoken once." So often has He spoken by the Prophets, so often by the Apostles, and in these days by His Saints, and does He say, "God has spoken once"? How can He have spoken but "once," except with reference to His "Word"? But as the "Mine heart hath uttered a good Word," was understood by us in the other clause of the generation of the Son, it seems that a kind of repetition is made in the following sentence, so that the "Mine heart hath uttered a good Word," which had been already said, is repeated in what He is now saying, "I speak." For what does "I speak" mean? "I utter a Word." And whence but from His heart, from His very inmost, does God utter the Word? You yourself do not speak anything but what you bring forth from your "heart," this word of yours which sounds once and passes away, is brought forth from no other place: and do you wonder that God "speaks" in this manner? But God's "speaking" is eternal. You are speaking something at the present moment, because you were silent before: or, look you, you have not yet brought forth your word; but when you have begun to bring it forth, you as it were "break silence;" and bring into being a word, that did not exist before. It was not so God begat the "Word." God's "speaking" is without beginning, and without end: and yet the "Word" He utters is but "One." Let Him utter another, if what He has spoken shall have passed away. But since He by whom it is uttered abideth, and That which is uttered abideth; and is uttered but once, and has no end, that very "once" too is said without beginning, and there is no second speaking, because that which is said once, does not pass away. The words "Mine heart hath uttered a good Word," then, are the same thing with, "I speak of the things which I have made unto the King." Why then, "I speak of the things which I have made"? Because in the Word Itself are all the works of God. For whatever God designed to make in the creation already existed in "the Word;" and would not exist in the reality, had it not existed in the Word, just as with you the thing would not exist in the building, had it not existed in your design: even as it is said in the Gospel: "That which was made in Him was life." That which was made then was in existence; but it had its existence in the Word: and all the works of God existed there, and yet were not as yet "works." "The Word" however already was, as this "Word was God, and was with God:" and was the Son of God, and One God with the Father. "I speak of the things I have made unto the King." Let him hear Him "speaking," who apprehends "the Word:" and let him see together with the Father the Everlasting Word; in whom exist even those things that are yet to come: in whom even those things that are past have not passed away. These "works" of God are in "the Word," as in the Word, as in the Only-Begotten, as in the "Word of God." 6. What follows then? "My tongue is the pen of a writer writing rapidly." What likeness, my brethren, what likeness, I ask, has the "tongue" of God with a transcriber's pen? What resemblance has "the rock" to Christ? What likeness does the "lamb" bear to our Saviour, or what "the lion" to the strength of the Only-Begotten? Yet such comparisons have been made; and were they not made, we should not be formed to a certain extent by these visible things to the knowledge of the "Invisible One:" So then with this mean simile of the pen; let us not compare it to His excellent greatness, so let us not reject it with contempt. For I ask, why He compares His "tongue" to "the pen of a writer writing rapidly"? But how swiftly soever the transcriber writes, still it is not comparable to that swiftness of which another Psalm says, "His word runneth very swiftly." But it appears to me (if human understanding may presume so far) that this too may be understood as spoken in the Person of the Father: "My tongue is the pen of a writer." Inasmuch as what is spoken by the "tongue," sounds once and passes away, what is written, remains; seeing then that God uttereth "a Word," and the Word which is uttered does not sound once and pass away, but is uttered and yet continues, God chose rather to compare this to words written than to sounds. But what He added, saying, "of one writing swiftly," stimulates the mind unto "understanding." Let it however not slothfully rest here, thinking of transcribers, or thinking of some kind of quick shorthand writers: if it be this it sees in the passage, it will be resting there. Let it think swiftly what is the meaning of that word "swiftly." The "swiftly" of God is such that nothing exceeds in swiftness. For in writings letter is written after letter; syllable after syllable; word after word: nor do we pass to the second except when the first is written out. But there nothing can exceed the swiftness, where there are not several words; and yet there is not anything omitted: since in the One are contained all things.
7 mins

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. - 2 Peter 1:20

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