O God, be attentive unto helping me; O Lord, make haste to help me.
Let them be shamed and confounded that seek after my soul.
Let them be turned back and brought to shame that desire evils against me.
Let them be turned back straightway in shame that say unto me: Well done! Well done!
Let them be glad and rejoice in Thee all that seek after Thee, O God,
and let them that love Thy salvation say continually: The Lord be magnified.
But as for me, I am poor and needy; O God, come unto mine aid.
My helper and my deliverer art Thou, O Lord; make no long tarrying.
(Psalm 69, The Psalter according to the Seventy, Psalm 70:3 in Western Bibles)

What is meant by "Well done. Well done."?

I am interested in answers from authorised Eastern Orthodox sources.

  • Why Eastern Orthodox interpretations in particular?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 23:55
  • Because I'm Eastern Orthodox and that's the Tradition I trust. Also, This psalm in particular is important to me because it's said every single evening during Compline, which is part of my daily prayer rule. I'm trying to become more intimate with the psalm and with what I should be meaning to say when I say it.
    – Josiah
    Commented Feb 10, 2016 at 15:34
  • 1
    I don't know of any commentary on that particular verse, but personally I always felt that the verse was a reminder not to trust in oneself. (I am also Orthodox)
    – user22553
    Commented Jun 25, 2016 at 6:45
  • 1
    Also, because this is translation from LXX which holds a special position in Eastern Orthodoxy. Translations from Masoretic text have "aha! aha!" or "ha! ha!" there, which can be interpreted as mocking.
    – zefciu
    Commented Jun 27, 2016 at 12:08

2 Answers 2


In writing about this particular verse in his Exposition on the Psalms, Augustine understands that those who tell us "Well done, Well done" are flatterers, whom he classifies as a different sort of persecutor:

Two are the kinds of persecutors, revilers and flatterers. The tongue of the flatterer doth more persecute than the hand of the slayer: for this also the Scripture hath called a furnace. Truly when the Scripture was speaking of persecution, it said, Like gold in a furnace it hath proved them (speaking of Martyrs being slain), and as the holocaust’s victim it hath received them [Wisdom 3:6]. Hear how even the tongue of flatterers is of such sort: The proving, he saith, of silver and of gold is fire; but a man is proved by the tongue of men praising him [Proverbs 27:21]. That is fire, this also is fire: out of both thou oughtest to go forth safe. The censurer hath broken thee, thou hast been broken in the furnace like an earthen vessel. The Word hath moulded thee, and there hath come the trial of tribulation: that which hath been formed, must needs be seasoned; if it hath been well moulded, there hath come the fire to strengthen. Whence He said in the Passion, Dried up like a potsherd hath been My virtue [Psalm 21:15]. For Passion and the furnace of tribulation had made Him stronger.…


Step 22.35 from the Ladder of Divine Ascent offers an interpretation:

  1. One who had the gift of sight told me what he had seen. ‘Once,’ he said, ‘when I was sitting in assembly, the demon of vainglory and the demon of pride came and sat beside me, one on either side. The one poked me in the side with the finger of vain-glory and urged me to relate some vision or labour which I had done in the desert. But as soon as I had shaken him off, saying: Let them be turned back and put to shame who plot evil against me,3 then the demon on my left at once said in my ear: Well done, well done, you have become great by conquering my shameless mother. Turning to him, I made apt use of the rest of the verse and said: Let them be turned back and put to shame who said to me: Well done, well done.4 And to my question: How is vainglory the mother of pride? he replied: Praises exalt and puff one up; and when the soul is exalted, then pride seizes it, lifts it up to heaven and casts it down to the abyss.’



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