Bible Commentaries
Psalms 102

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-28

It appears from Psalms 102:13-16, that this psalm was written in Babylon, and near the time of the Jewish emancipation. It is highly prophetic of the greater deliverance by the Messiah, whose law should be published out of Zion, and the gentiles be converted to the Lord. It was probably written by Daniel, or Nehemiah. The title seems to have been prefixed by the author of the psalm, for it is copied by the Versions as it stands in the Hebrew. “A prayer of the afflicted when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the Lord.”

Psalms 102:6 . I am like a pelican, wandering alone in the desert, or an owl that utters her notes in the night. The pelican belongs to the genus of anseres [geese.] The head is naked, the feet palmated, the bill straight, but crooked at the end. Thirty species of this genus have been counted, as the cormorant, the graculus, vulgarly called the shag, the sulla or booby, the aquilus, &c. This bird is provided with a bag to carry flesh to feed her young; and pulling the bloody prey from her bag gave rise to the vulgar error, that she feeds them with her own blood. A gross mistake in heraldry.

Psalms 102:14 . Thy servants take pleasure in her stones. This prayer refers to the promise, Leviticus 26:41, that when the Hebrews were led captive for their sins, and should be humbled and cry to the Lord he answers: “Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and remember the land.” To this may be associated all the promises of the Hebrew restoration, and their conversion to Christ.

Psalms 102:25 . Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth. The Elohim, Θειοτης or Godhead, created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1. Psalms 33:6. The rabbins admit that the Messiah, the Eternal Wisdom and Word, was in the bosom of the Father, when he laid the foundation of the heavens and the earth. Proverbs 8:22. Sirach 24. St. Paul therefore knew they could not rebut the application of this text to Christ. Hebrews 1:10.


The psalmist here, as in parallel passages of grief and anguish, solicits audience of a compassionate God; and when men are deaf, or unable to save, where can the oppressed go but to the throne of mercy and compassion. To move the Lord to pity his misery, he utters his anguish in all the eloquence peculiar to grief: and paints it in lively colours, because he felt the pungent smart. Fever, pining, and sickness preyed upon his body, occasioned solely by the anguish of his mind. His soul feasting on its grief, forgot to nourish the body. He mourned like birds of plaintive note, or as the sparrow which has lost its mate.

The chief cause of all his grief was the slander, rage, and sworn enmity of his foes. And God having permitted all this, he connected the rage of his enemies with the displeasure of God, who brought him down to such a condition. The best of men we see may be reduced to very great distress, but in all their troubles they have confidence and hope, while the wicked are driven to despair.

This good man’s affliction was very much occasioned by the affliction of Zion. She had lain in ruins for a long time; but the rubbish and the stones were regarded with veneration. Hence God is solicited to have compassion because of his servants. There is no truer mark of grace than to weep and mourn when religion is neglected, and lies like a temple in ruins. Such were the sentiments of good men during the Babylonian captivity; and the Lord had compassion on his people.

He prays for the restoration of Zion, that the heathen, hearing of God’s judgments, might glorify and fear his name. This therefore was written for the instruction of future generations, that the gentiles who were not yet a people, might share the privileges of the christian Israel, being created anew in Christ Jesus.

While the prophet was wasting with sickness in the midst of his days, and grieving for Zion, he comforted himself with the idea of the eternity of our JEHOVAH Jesus. Rejoice then, oh my soul, and again I say, rejoice in the Lord. The vicissitudes of life, the revolutions of empire, the shaking of heaven and earth, while they crush the wicked, safely roll the saints upon the firm rock of God’s eternal rest.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Psalms 102". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.