"Augustine’s discourse on Ps.7: “This bow, then, I would readily assume to be the Holy Scriptures, in which the strength of the NT, like a bowstring, has bent and overcome the rigidity of the Old. This bow has shot forth the apostles like arrows (Hinc tamquam sagittaie emittuntur apostoli’)’. Augustine notes that the ‘burning arrows per se are not found in the Greek text of the psalm but rather ‘arrows for those who will burn’ (‘Sed siue ipsae sagittae ardeant, siue ardere faciant’), and he goes on to connect these burning arrows with the Last Judgment... as does Ps. 59:6....
14. And in it He has prepared the instruments of death: He has wrought His arrows for the burning Psalm 7:13. That bow then I would readily take to be the Holy Scripture, in which by the strength of the New Testament, as by a sort of string, the hardness of the Old has been bent and subdued. From thence the Apostles are sent forth like arrows, or divine preachings are shot. Which arrows He has wrought for the burning, arrows, that is, whereby being stricken they might be inflamed with heavenly love. For by what other arrows was she stricken, who says, Bring me into the house of wine, place me among perfumes, crowd me among honey, for I have been wounded with love? By what other arrows is he kindled, who, desirous of returning to God, and coming back from wandering, asks for help against crafty tongues, and to whom it is said, What shall be given you, or what added to you against the crafty tongue? Sharp arrows of the mighty, with devastating coals: that is, coals, whereby, when you are stricken and set on fire, you may burn with so great love of the kingdom of heaven, as to despise the tongues of all that resist you, and would recall you from your purpose, and to deride their persecutions, saying, Who shall separate me from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded, he says, that neither death, nor life, nor angel, nor principality, nor things present, not things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor other creature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Thus for the burning has He wrought His arrows. For in the Greek copies it is found thus, He has wrought His arrows for the burning. But most of the Latin copies have burning arrows. But whether the arrows themselves burn, or make others burn, which of course they cannot do unless they burn themselves, the sense is complete.
Exposition on Ps. 7
Augustine further discusses the arrow in relation to the House of God:
“In his discourse on Ps. 59 Augustine cites 1 Peter. 4: 17-18: ‘Tempus est ut iudicium incipiat domo Dei’, and goes on to say that he farther the string of the bow is drawn back the more impetus is given to the arrow; thus the longer God withholds his Judgement, the more severe his punishment. For the faithful, however, the longer the time allowed for repentance the more deserving they will be.”
6. Wherefore this? You have given to men fearing You, a sign that they should flee from the face of the bow (Psalm 59:4). Through tribulations temporal, he says, You have signified to Your own to flee from the wrath of fire everlasting. For, says the Apostle Peter, Time it is that Judgment begin with the House of God. (1 Peter 4:17) And exhorting the Martyrs to endurance, when the world should rage, when slaughters should be made at the hands of persecutors, when far and wide blood of believers should be spilled, when in chains, in prisons, in tortures, many hard things Christians should suffer, in these hard things, I say, lest they should faint, Peter says to them, Time it is that Judgment begin with the House of God, etc. What therefore is to be in the Judgment? The bow is bended, still in menacing posture it is, not yet in aiming. And see what there is in the bow: is there not an arrow to be shot forward? The string however is stretched back in a contrary direction to that in which it is going to be shot; and the more the stretching thereof has gone backward, with the greater swiftness it starts forward. What is it that I have said? The more the Judgment is deferred, with so much the greater swiftness it is to come. Therefore even for temporal tribulations to God let us render thanks, because He has given to His people a sign, that they should flee from the face of the bow: in order that His faithful ones having been exercised in tribulations temporal, may be worthy to avoid the condemnation of fire everlasting, which is to find out all them that do not believe these things.
Exposition of Ps. 60
The arrow and the jugment on the house of God are the wounds of love, Caritas. It is also through Caritas, and Caritas alone, that the Sons of Perdition and the Sons of the Kingdom are divided at final Judgment, figuratively placed on the right hand (Kingdom) or left hand (perdition).
7. That Your beloved may be delivered: save me with Your right hand, and hearken unto me (Psalm 59:5). With Your right hand save me, Lord: so save me as that at the right hand I may stand. Not any safety temporal I require, in this matter Your Will be done. For a time what is good for us we are utterly ignorant: for what we should pray for as we ought we know not: Romans 8:26 but save me with Your right hand, so that even if in this time I suffer sundry tribulations, when the night of all tribulations has been spent, on the right hand I may be found among the sheep, not on the left hand among the goats. Matthew 25:33 And hearken unto me. Because now I am deserving that which You are willing to give; not with the words of my transgressions I am crying through the day, so that Thou hearken not, and in the night so that Thou hearken not, and that not for folly to me, but truly for my warning, by adding savour from the valley of salt-pits, so that in tribulation I may know what to ask: but I ask life everlasting; therefore hearken unto me, because Your right hand I ask....[/i]
Exposition of Ps. 60
Psalm 7 according to its opening is sung for the Cus, the son of Gemini, which according to Augustine means right handed:
1. Now the story which gave occasion to this prophecy may be easily recognised in the second book of Kings. (2 Samuel 15:34-37) For there Chusi, the friend of king David, went over to the side of Abessalon, his son, who was carrying on war against his father, for the purpose of discovering and reporting the designs which he was taking against his father, at the instigation of Achitophel, who had revolted from David's friendship, and was instructing by his counsel, to the best of his power, the son against the father. But since it is not the story itself which is to be the subject of consideration in this Psalm, from which the prophet has taken a veil of mysteries, if we have passed over to Christ, let the veil be taken away. (2 Corinthians 3:16) And first let us inquire into the signification of the very names, what it means. For there have not been wanting interpreters, who investigating these same words, not carnally according to the letter, but spiritually, declare to us that Chusi should be interpreted silence; and Gemini, right-handed; Achitophel, brother's ruin. Among which interpretations, Judas, that traitor, again meets us, that Abessalon should bear his image, according to that interpretation of it as a father's peace; in that his father was full of thoughts of peace toward him: although he in his guile had war in his heart, as was treated of in the third Psalm. Now as we find in the Gospels that the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ are called sons, (Matthew 9:15) so in the same Gospels we find they are called brethren also. For the Lord on the resurrection says, Go and say to My brethren. (John 20:17) And the Apostle calls Him the first begotten among many brethren. The ruin then of that disciple, who betrayed Him, is rightly understood to be a brother's ruin, which we said is the interpretation of Achitophel. Now as to Chusi, from the interpretation of silence, it is rightly understood that our Lord contended against that guile in silence, that is, in that most deep secret, whereby blindness happened in part to Israel, (Romans 11:25) when they were persecuting the Lord, that the fullness of the Gentiles might enter in, and so all Israel might be saved. When the Apostle came to this profound secret and deep silence, he exclaimed, as if struck with a kind of awe of its very depth, O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who has known the wind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor? (Romans 11:33-34) Thus that great silence he does not so much discover by explanation, as he sets forth its greatness in admiration. In this silence the Lord, hiding the sacrament of His adorable passion, turns the brother's voluntary ruin, that is, His betrayer's impious wickedness, into the order of His mercy and providence: that what he with perverse mind wrought for one Man's destruction, He might by providential overruling dispose for all men's salvation. The perfect soul then, which is already worthy to know the secret of God, sings a Psalm unto the Lord, she sings for the words of Chusi, because she has attained to know the words of that silence: for among unbelievers and persecutors there is that silence and secret. But among His own, to whom it is said, Now I call you no more servants; for the servant knows not what his lord does; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you: (John 15:15) among His friends, I say, there is not the silence, but the words of the silence, that is, the meaning of that silence set forth and manifested. Which silence, that is, Chusi, is called the son of Gemini, that is, righthanded. For what was done for the Saints was not to be hidden from them. And yet He says, Let not the left hand know what the right hand does. (Matthew 6:3) The perfect soul then, to which that secret has been made known, sings in prophecy for the words of Chusi, that is, for the knowledge of that same secret. Which secret God at her right hand, that is, favourable and propitious unto her, has wrought. Wherefore this silence is called the Son of the right hand, which is, Chusi, the son of Gemini.
Exposition on Ps.7
Note: Augustine's expositions on the psalms are available online here: