Aquinas on Tongues: Psalm 54:9

A lecture on Psalm 54:9 by Thomas Aquinas which historically connected tongues with the division of languages at Babel.

This translation was done to see if Aquinas adds any parallels to the Pentecostal or Corinthian speaking in tongues. He does not but this translation is included to convince the readers of such a truth.

Lecture on Psalm 54:9

Translated from the Latin text: S. Thomae Opera. Robert Busa, S.I. ed. Fromman-Holzboog. 1980. Vol. 6. 084 RPS ps54 n.9 Pg. 129

“Cast down O Lord”1 in the following part the psalmist set the reason some have suffered in evil, here he spends time about their wickedness and first of all, describing the wickedness of sins he implores it to be stopped, next he entreats it to be retributed with a punishment, thereupon death should draw near accomplishing the first two, first he desires to be hampering their wickedness, secondly he describes it, seeing in this place I saw inequality, they doubly had the skill and strength of wickedness of whose destiny is to do harm. Certainly on account of the loftiness of stature and because of the agreement2 of the many as one and this is a dangerous hazard3 he has to employ a twofold remedy against this. One way is that they are to be driven out from the place. Another way is that a division is to be placed between them. As to his first request, “Cast Down O Lord”, their status was in fact about to be removed, as it would be said: drive them out in a way to cause them to be humbled. As for the second it says, and divide their tongues, because in their wickedness initially is in a language which they boastfully speak [I Kings 2]. Let us be unwilling to multiply that which is to be spoken loftily because the language with which they are about to speak they conspire for the purpose of evil. And of this sort, the fashion of division was made in the old testament when the languages of the nations were divided.■

For more information:

  1. Praecipita – this passage is the same as used by Gregorii but different than Augustine
  2. consensum: I could use unity here but that is too important a word in the ancient Church Father vernacular to use so flippantly.
  3. periculosum est. Periculosum is considered an adjective but I am wondering if this is to be taken verbally instead as a perfect passive.

Leave a Comment