I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked are before me.
Read Chapter 39
Augustine of Hippo
3. "I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue" (ver. 1). ...For it is not without reason that the tongue is set in a moist place, but because it is so prone to slip. Perceiving therefore how hard it was for a man to be under the necessity of speaking, and not to say something that he will wish unsaid, and filled with disgust at these sins, he seeks to avoid the like. To this difficulty is he exposed who is seeking to "leap beyond."... Although I have "leaped beyond" the pleasures of earth, although the fleeting passions for things temporal ensnare me not, though now I despise these things below, and am rising up to better things than these, yet in these very better things the satisfaction of knowledge in the sight of God is enough for me. Of what use is it for me to speak what is to be laid hold of, and to give a handle to cavillers? Therefore, "I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue. I keep my mouth with a bridle." Wherefore is this...
2. You know that some of the Psalms are entitled, "Songs of Degrees;" and in the Greek it is obvious enough what the word anabaqmwn means. For anabaqmoi are degrees (or steps) of them that ascend, not of them that descend. The Latin, not being able to express it strictly, expresses it by the general term; and in that it called them "steps," left it undetermined, whether they were "steps" of persons ascending or descending. But because there is no "speech or language where their voices are not heard among them," the earlier language explains the one which comes after it: and what was ambiguous in one is made certain in another. Just then as there the singer is some one who is "ascending," so here is it some one who is "over-leaping."... Let this Idithun come still to us, let him "over-leap" those whose delight is in things below, and take delight in these things, and let him rejoice in the Word of the Lord; in the delight of the law of the Most High. ...
1. The title of this Psalm, which we have just chanted and proposed to discuss, is, "On the end, for Idithun, a Psalm for David himself" Here then we must look for, and must attend to, the words of a certain person who is called Idithun; and if each one of ourselves may be Idithun, in that which he sings he recognises himself, and hears himself speak. For thou mayest see who was called Idithun, according to the ancient descent of man; let us, however, understand what this name is translated, and seek to comprehend the Truth in the translation of the word. According therefore to what we have been able to discover by enquiry in those names which have been translated from the Hebrew tongue into the Latin, by those who study the sacred writings, Idithun being translated is "over-leaping them." Who then is this person "over-leaping them"? or who those whom he hath "over-leaped"?... For there are some persons, yet clinging to the earth, yet bowed down to the ground, yet setting their hearts ...
Tongue. The matter is very delicate and important, James iii. 2., Proverbs xviii. 21., Isaias xxxii. 17., and Ecclesiasticus xxii. 33., and xxviii. 28.
Me, and was treating me with injustice and calumny. (Haydock)
Chilo, the sage, said: "I know how to bear ill treatment "(Laert. 1.) and this is a proof of "the greatest wisdom and virtue. "(Haydock)
Outos kratistos. (Menander) (Calmet)
Weak men seek revenge; but the wise resolve to govern their tongues, and do not stand up in their own just defence, though they be, therefore, more persecuted. (Worthington)
Idithun was one of the four chief masters of music, called Ethan, 1 Paralipomenon vi. 44., and Idithun, 1 Paralipomenon xvi. 41. Some think that he was the author of this psalm; but it was rather given to him by David to sing. (Calmet)
The title shows that the psalms were designed for the public service of the Church, and not for David alone. (Berthier)
This refers to the Christian Church, though some explain it of the Jews in captivity, (Worthington) with R. Salomon, while others think that it was composed during some of David's persecutions. It is connected with the preceding, and with the two next psalms. (Calmet)