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Sunday, July 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 102

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.

Psalms 102:1-28 -Hear my cry for my trouble needs immediate relief (Psalms 102:1-5); I am like a lonely bird, my being cast down after having been lifted up, aggravates my pain (Psalms 102:6-10); consolation found in God's abiding character: He will arise and have mercy on Zion, whose representative David is (Psalms 102:11-14); the coming generation shall praise Him for loosing the prisoners, and the people shall be gathered at Jerusalem to serve Yahweh (Psalms 102:18-22); powerless, and with shortened days, David takes refuge in the eternal God (Psalms 102:23-27); Yahweh's seed shall be established at last, whatever trials they now endure (Psalms 102:28). On the sense of the whole trilogy, compare the notes on the title of Psalms 101:1-8. A prescient misgiving as to his children's misconduct (cf. 2 Samuel 23:5) led David to anticipate the coming distress of Zion. The Holy Spirit has made the words to apply exactly to Israel's present dispersion, her coming prayerful return to God, her restoration, and the consequent conversion of the Gentiles; both connected with Yahweh's coming in glory. The Babylonian captivity (resulting from the apostasy of David's line) and the restoration are the type. The suffering righteousness pictured applies to David's Antitype, Messiah, for whose sake, as Abraham's seed, the promises to Israel shall be fulfilled by God's mercy upon Zion at last.

Title. - A prayer - (cf. note on title of Psalms 90:1-17.) The Hebrew, Tephillah, means here a supplicatory prayer of the afflicted for help cf. the corresponding Psalms 102:17; Psalms 102:20).

When he is overwhelmed - (Psalms 70:2.)

And poureth out his complaint (Psalms 62:8) - unbosoming all one's cares, sorrows, and fears (Psalms 55:2).

Before the Lord - corresponding to "before thee" in the conclusion.

Hear my prayer - explained by "my cry," which follows (cf. Psalms 4:1; Psalms 17:1).

Let my cry come unto thee - answering to Psalms 101:2, "O when wilt thou come unto me?" (cf. Psalms 18:6.) So 'Israel's cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage' in Egypt (Exodus 2:23). So it shall be in the last days (Psalms 102:17; Psalms 102:20).

Verse 2

Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.

Hide not thy face from me - (Psalms 27:9; Psalms 13:1.) So the Father on Calvary hid His face from the Son of David.

In the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me. So the punctuation ought to be; to answer to in the day when I call answer me speedily-literally, 'hasten, answer me' (Psalms 31:2). David puts into the mouth of his suffering seed language already employed by himself in his own trouble. God's having already answered this cry (as he hints by using the same words) is an encouragement to all whom David instructs, to cherish hope if they cast themselves on God in the same way.

Verse 3

For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.

For my days are consumed like smoke - or, as Hebrew-literally, 'in (into) smoke.' The very same expression which David in Psalms 37:20 had used of "the enemies of the Lord:" "they shall consume into smoke" (cf. Psalms 68:2). Hereby the ideal sufferer virtually complains that the lot of the wicked befalls him, though being righteous, (Psalms 101:1-8.) The low state of depression of the throne and the people is herein shadowed forth. And my bone are burned as an hearth - rather, 'as a firebrand;' 'as a thing burning.' So the Hebrew, Leviticus 6:9, margin; Isaiah 33:14. Pain rages like a burning in the innermost parts of my frame (Jeremiah 20:9).

Verse 4

My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread.

My heart - the seat of vital power.

Is smitten, and withered like grass - when smitten by the sun (Psalms 121:6), or else when broken by any injury to the stem.

So that I forget to eat my bread - rather, as Hebrew [ kiy (H3588)], 'FOR I forget to eat my bread:' assigning the cause of the heart or vital power becoming withered-namely, because my deep distress makes me, to loath my food, the usual strengthener of man's heart (Psalms 104:15; Psalms 107:18; 1 Samuel 1:7; 1 Samuel 20:34).

Verse 5

By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.

By reason of the voice of my groaning. What is here said of the complaining sufferer is in Psalms 102:20 said of Zion, whom he represents, as being her king (cf. Psalms 31:10; Psalms 32:3).

My bones cleave to my skin - (cf. Job 19:20, note.) Translate, 'my bones cleave to my flesh:' as all the old versions have it. I am so weak and relaxed that my bones hang on the flesh void of all their agility and power: contrast Isaiah 58:11; Isaiah 66:14. Compare as to the tongue cleaving to the jaws, Job 29:10; Psalms 22:15; Psalms 137:6 (Gejer). In Lamentations 4:8, "their skin cleaveth to their bones:" the Hebrew for "skin" is different. Muis takes it as meaning, I am so emaciated that the flesh is consumed away, and I am but skin and bone (Psalms 22:17). But if this were the sense, why is 'flesh' mentioned as still on him, and not rather "skin?"

Verse 6

I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.

I am like a pelican of the wilderness - (Isaiah 34:11, margin) Expressive of his misery. I am like an owl of the desert - or, as the Syriac and Arabic, 'in a ruin:' among the ruins of a house. This expresses his loneliness, surrounded by enemies, and without any to befriend and save him.

Verse 7

I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.

I watch - (Psalms 77:4.) and am a sparrow alone upon the house-top - like the little bird sitting all alone, having lost its mate and its young, and uttering its plaintive note on the house-top (Psalms 38:11).

Verse 8

Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me.

Mine enemies reproach me - (Psalms 42:10.) they that are mad against me - (Acts 26:11; Luke 6:11.) Thus David was a type of Messiah, and his haters a type of those who, "were filled with madness" against Jesus. Literally, 'my mad ones;' my enemies who are mad against me. The same Hebrew [ mªhowlaalay (H1984)] is translated 'foolish,' Psalms 5:5; Psalms 75:4; - i:e., the madly vain-glorious: so here, those boasting themselves madly against me. The root primarily means to praise. Hence, the Septuagint, Vulgate, Ethiopic, Syriac, and Arabic versions translate, 'those who praised me (in my prosperity),' But the Chaldaic favours the English version.

Are sworn against me. So the Ethiopic, Septuagint, Vulgate, and Arabic. But the Syriac and Chaldaic favour rather 'swear by me.' The Hebrews do not use 'swear by me,' as the Hebrew is here [ biy (H871a)], for 'swear against me.' The sense is my mad enemies make me the formula of a curse (Numbers 5:21). If they wish to curse any one, or to imprecate a curse on themselves in attestation of a statement, they say, May such a one, or may I, be such a wretched being as David! (Jeremiah 29:22; Jeremiah 42:18; Isaiah 65:15; Psalms 44:14).

Verse 9

For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping,

For I have eaten ashes like bread. The "For" introduces the ground upon which his enemies reproach him (Psalms 102:8) - namely, his great misery, notwithstanding his piety. The enemies sneer at religion itself in the person of its suffering representative. "Ashes" represent mourning; they were cast upon the head in sorrow, while the mourner lay upon them: not that he literally ate them (2 Samuel 13:19; Job 2:8). Jerusalem is thus represented sitting upon the ground (Isaiah 3:26; Psalms 44:25; Jeremiah 6:26; Lamentations 3:16). The phrase is poetical, like Psalms 42:3 (cf. Psalms 80:5). So the parallel clause.

And mingled my drink with weeping - I do not intermit shedding tears even while I eat. As drinkers mingle water with their wine, so my tears fall into the cup out of which I drink.

Verse 10

Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.

Because of thine indignation and thy wrath - (Psalms 37:1-3 .) for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down - as a storm lifts up an object only to dash it down and break it (Job 27:21; Isaiah 22:17-18). So thou hast elevated me only to make my fall the more grievous (Psalms 30:7).

Verses 11-14

My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.

-In contrast to his own frailty, the Psalmist finds that consolation in God's abiding character which assures him that God will arise and have mercy on Zion, whose representative he is.

Verse 11. My days are like a shadow that declineth - i:e., which is on the point of vanishing, as the shadows at evening (Psalms 109:23; Psalms 144:4.) Or else 'like a shadow inclined and lengthened out from the sun.' The decline of day is marked by the lengthening shadows (Jeremiah 6:4; Judges 19:8, margin; Psalms 62:4). (Muis and Gejer.)

And I am withered like grass - resuming Psalms 102:4, "my heart is withered like grass:" which proves that this verse belongs to the second or following strophe, not to the former one. Moreover, the "and I," in the Hebrew, stands in designed contrast to "But thou," Psalms 102:12. The destruction which threatens is not that general one which affects man's transitory being, but that affecting David's line, and Zion, whose cause is identified with his.

Verse 12. But thou, O Lord, shalt endure forever - Hebrew, 'shalt SIT forever' (cf. Psalms 102:26, "thou shalt stand;" Hebrew not a mere enduring, but a SITTING AS A KING: cf. Psalms 29:10; Psalms 9:7; Lamentations 5:19 is drawn from this. However near to destruction the house of David my seem, yet as Yahweh has promised its permanence, the abiding permanence of God's own throne ensures the permanence of David's seed. This confidence received its first realization in the seed of David, Messiah's first advent, notwithstanding the seeming ruin of David's line at the Babylonian captivity; but the full realization shall be at His second advent to reign in glory over Zion.

And thy remembrance - thy memorial, (Psalms 30:4, margin) Thy recorded manifestation of thyself in mighty deeds in behalf of thy people. Thou canst never disown thy character as it has always been.

Unto all generations - (Psalms 135:13.)

Verse 13. Thou shalt arise - when Zion and David's line are brought to their lowest depression (Psalms 12:5; Psalms 68:1).

And have mercy upon Zion - at the intercession of the angel of the covenant (Zechariah 1:12). Compare David's prayer at the close of another psalm of depression (Psalms 51:18).

For the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come - (Isaiah 40:2, margin) "Her appointed time is accomplished." The "set time" is when "the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled" (Luke 21:24; Romans 11:25); when "that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" (Daniel 9:27); when the "time, times, and an half" shall be complete, and when "He shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people" (Daniel 12:7). Against the reference to the Babylonian captivity, when its seventy years were closed, the objection lies that it is when Zion has reached the deepest point of her misery, Yahweh interposes for her, which is not true of her deliverance from Babylon; because her greatest misery was at the beginning, rather than at the close of the 70 years. However, as a typical fulfillment it may be referred to: but the ulterior fulfillment is plainly future.

Verse 14. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof - (Psalms 79:1.) So Syriac, 'love the dust,' etc. Or else 'pity (mourn over) the dust,' etc. So the Septuagint, Vulgate, Ethiopic, Chaldaic, and Arabic versions. The stones and the dust of Zion are referred to as the materials for restoring the city of God (Psalms 69:35). Compare in the restoration after the return from Babylon, Nehemiah 4:2. The "For" gives another reason why God will arise and have mercy upon Zion, besides the one in Psalms 102:13 (the appointed time having come) - namely, the love and yearning sorrow which His servants have for her even when in ruins (cf. Isaiah 66:10).

Verse 15

So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.

So - as the blessed result of the Lord's having mercy upon Zion.

The heathen shall fear the name of the Lord - the strongest plea to urge an appeal to the Lord's own glory, as involved in the restoration of Zion (Psalms 68:29-32; Isaiah 59:19-20). All the tenses in Psalms 102:16-17 are preterites-faith and prophecy regarding the event as sure no if it were actually come to pass.

Verse 16

When the LORD shall build up Zion he shall appear in his glory When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.

When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. The restoration of Zion in more than her ancient glory is inseparably joined to the appearing of the Lord in His glory. The Hebrew for "appear" expresses His visible and personal manifestation (Genesis 48:3; Exodus 3:16; Leviticus 9:4) [ Compare Titus 2:13, epifaneia (G2015) tees (G3588) doxees (G1391) tou (G5120) megalou (G3173) Theou (G2316)].

Verse 17

He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

He will regard the prayer of the destitute - the confident anticipation of the answer to Psalms 102:1. The restoration of Zion shall be the result of the earnest prayers of Yahweh's people in their distress (cf. Psalms 102:25; Isaiah 62:6-7). So the restoration from Babylon was the fruit of the prayers of Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:4-11), Daniel (Daniel 9:1-27), and other servants of God. "Destitute" [ haa`ar`aar (H6199), probably a form coined by the Psalmist: akin to `aarar (H6209), bare: cf. Psalms 137:7, margin] - one utterly naked of all human help.

And not despise their prayer - (Psalms 22:5; Psalms 69:33.)

Verses 18-27

This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.

-The generation to come shall praise the Lord for having loosed the groaning prisoners: the peoples shall be gathered together to serve the Lord at Jerusalem (Psalms 102:18-22). Being without strength I take refuge in the eternal God (Psalms 102:23-27).

Verse 18. This shall be written for the generation to come - (Romans 15:4.) "This" - namely, the restoration of Zion-shall be consigned to writing, for the record of the fact (Exodus 17:14; Deuteronomy 31:10; Deuteronomy 31:21: especially Psalms 22:30; Psalms 48:13; Psalms 68:4).

And the people which shall be created - in the time of the future generation (Psalms 22:31) spiritually born by regeneration, (Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 43:7; Isaiah 43:15; Isaiah 65:18; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:10; Ezekiel 37:1.)

Verse 19. For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary - the prophetic preterite. In the appointed time he will look down so as to have respect to the groans and cries of His people (Psalms 102:20; Psalms 14:2; Deuteronomy 26:15; Isaiah 63:15; Zechariah 2:13; Psalms 18:16). by God is here introduced as the ground on which he rests the statement (Psalms 102:26), that "They shall perish

... and be changed." What God has made, that He can destroy: heaven and earth, as being things created, shall pass away; but the Lord who created them shall remain. Compare Hebrews 1:10-12, which applies to Messiah what is here said of Yahweh (Hebrews 12:26-28).

Verse 26. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure - literally, 'thou shalt stand:' in Psalms 102:12 it was literally, 'thou shalt sit' (enthroned forever). Every attitude that expresses abiding permanence is used.

Yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment - easily laid aside. Isaiah 51:6 is drawn from this. "All of them:" heaven and earth, and all that they contain.

As a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. The parallel term, "perish," implies that the "change" is to he a radical one. God, who hath created all things out of nothing, shall change them when they no longer fulfill their destination. The Hebrew [ chaalap (H2498)], means literally, 'glide by' 'pass away.' New heavens and a new earth shall finally succeed (Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; Matthew 19:28). This is not the thought prominent here but the prior destruction of both (Job 14:12); the ulterior event being for the time secondary (Matthew 5:18; Matthew 24:35; Luke 21:33; Isaiah 54:10: and above all, 2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:10-11; Revelation 21:5). The comparison to a change of vesture hints at the coming new earth and heavens substituted for the old.

Verse 27. But thou art the same. So the Septuagint and Chaldaic and Hebrews 1:12 quoting it. The Hebrew is strictly, 'but thou art HE.' Deuteronomy 32:39 is referred to. The Syriac translates, 'thou art as thou art.' Arabic, 'thou art thyself' [ huw' (H1931)], the imperishable One, as contrasted with the heavens and earth, which perish, notwithstanding their seeming stability: answering to the parallel.

Thy years shall have no end: and Psalms 102:24 end: cf. Isaiah 43:10. Still God's immutability of character to His people (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8) is involved in imperishableness.

Verse 28

The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.

The children of thy servants shall continue - literally, 'shall dwell' or 'inhabit' their own land, the land of Yahweh. Psalms 37:27; Psalms 37:29; Psalms 69:35-36, are strikingly parallel. Dwell is the opposite of wandering about without home (Psalms 68:6). Thy servants are the Israelite nation (called "Jacob" and "Judah" in Isaiah 65:9), which from its forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with whom God made the covenant, was the servant of God.

And their seed. The children and the seed are the genuine children for Israel, the seed that shall be spiritually born (Psalms 22:30-31; Isaiah 66:8-9).

Shall be established before thee - (Genesis 17:1; Psalms 89:37: especially Psalms 101:7, margin.) Liars shall not be established before the coming Son of David; the seed of His servants shall be established before Him (cf. Zephaniah 3:13).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Psalms 102". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/psalms-102.html. 1871-8.
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