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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Psalms 102

Verses 1-2

1. Request for a quick answer 102:1-2

The writer felt a desperate need for the Lord’s immediate intervention in his painful situation. His words reveal the intensity of his pain.

Verses 1-28

Psalms 102

Another anonymous writer poured out his personal lament to Yahweh (cf. Psalms 22, 69, 79). He felt overwhelmed due to an enemy’s reproach. He called out for help from the God he knew would not forsake him. This is another penitential psalm as well as a personal lament (cf. Psalms 6; Psalms 32; Psalms 38; Psalms 51; Psalms 103; Psalms 143).

Verses 3-7

Several statements illustrate how the psalmist felt. He had lost many good days to suffering. His sorrow had made his bones ache; his emotional state was affecting his physical condition. He felt withered under the heat of his affliction. He had become so preoccupied that he would forget to eat. Consequently his stomach was growling and he was losing weight. He evidently felt very much alone, like a lonely pelican in the wilderness. He felt as isolated as an owl, and he could not sleep.

Verses 3-11

2. Description of the affliction 102:3-11

Verses 8-9

His enemies had also ridiculed him continually, even using him as an example of someone God had cursed. The ashes he had put on his head as a sign of his mourning had evidently fallen down on his food. He had eaten so many of them he could say he had consumed them like bread. Likewise his many tears had dropped into the cup from which he drank. Perhaps these are figurative ways of describing his grief.

Verses 10-11

He felt his condition was the result of divine discipline. He believed his life was ending, as the lengthening shadows signal the approaching end of a day.

Verses 12-13

In contrast to his own brief life, the suffering psalmist voiced his belief that God would continue forever. The "thou" ("you," NIV) is emphatic in the Hebrew text, stressing the contrast. He believed God would shortly execute justice for His own.

Verses 12-22

3. Confidence in Yahweh’s restoration 102:12-22

Verses 14-17

The godly in Israel loved Zion and sorrowed over its destitute condition. The description of the city in Psalms 102:14 sounds as if it had suffered destruction. The writer was confident that God would restore the city as He had promised. This assurance gave him a more positive attitude.

Verses 18-20

Confident of eventual restoration, the psalmist spoke of future generations praising God for His faithfulness. He pictured God attentively looking down from heaven and observing His enslaved people. The writer may have been describing conditions as they existed during the Babylonian exile.

Verses 21-22

The psalmist looked forward to a gathering again in Zion. This took place to a limited extent after the exile, but it will occur on a worldwide scale in the Millennium.

Verses 23-28

4. Hope in God’s ceaseless existence 102:23-28

It seemed as though God was killing the psalmist prematurely. He prayed for a continuation of his life. This request led him to reflect further on the duration of God’s existence. To picture God’s ceaseless continuance, he referred to the creation (Genesis 1) and then the consummation of the present heavens and earth (Revelation 21:1; cf. 2 Peter 3:10). His point was that God will outlast His creation. Really God is eternal, having no beginning or ending (Psalms 102:27). Therefore He will preserve the children of His servants who were then in danger of dying or had already died.

The writer to the Hebrews applied Psalms 102:25-27 to Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:10-12; Hebrews 13:8). He is the Person of the Trinity who created and sustains all things (Colossians 1:16-17). These verses are some of the clearest and most majestic revelations of God’s eternal nature in Scripture. This revelation gave the psalmist hope in his personal distress. In the same way, knowledge of God’s changeless character can be a great comfort to all of God’s people when they suffer. It helps to view personal suffering in the context of eternity.

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Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Psalms 102". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/psalms-102.html. 2012.