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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 102

Coke's Commentary on the Holy BibleCoke's Commentary

Verse 1

Psalms 102:0.

The Prophet in his prayer maketh a grievous complaint: he taketh comfort in the eternity and mercy of God. The mercies of God are to be recorded: he sustaineth his weakness by the unchangeableness of God.

A prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD.

Title. לעני תפלה tehillah leaani.] This prayer of the afflicted was probably written by Nehemiah in the time of the captivity (see Nehemiah 1:3; Nehemiah 1:11.) for the use of himself and other pious persons, who lamented the desolation of Jerusalem, and the ruin of the temple: though at the same time they had comfortable hopes that the nations round about should shortly see their wonderful restoration, and thereby be invited to embrace their religion, which was a lively emblem of the coming of the Gentiles into the church of Christ, the eternity of whose kingdom is foretold in the conclusion of this psalm. Mudge is of opinion, from the 13th verse, that it was composed about the time that God had promised a restoration to his people; i.e. after a term of 70 years; and that this was a form of prayer directed to be used by every particular person in the captivity.

Verse 3

Psalms 102:3. For my days are consumed like smoke Or, according to the original בעשׁן beashan, in smoke. "My afflictions have had the same effect upon me, as smoke has on things which are hung up in it; i.e. have dried me up, and deformed me." As an hearth, is rendered by some as dry wood; which is most applicable to the subject here spoken of. The bones being burned up as dry wood, denotes the speedy exhausting of the radical moisture, which soon ends in the consumption of the whole body.

Verse 4

Psalms 102:4. So that I forget Because I forget. Green. Mudge joins the end of this to the next verse, I forget to eat my bread for the voice of my groaning.

Verse 6

Psalms 102:6. I am like a pelican of the wilderness There are two species of pelicans, one of which lives in the water, upon fish; the other in the wilderness, upon serpents and reptiles. By the owl of the desert, many understand the bittern; and by the bird which sits solitary on the house-top, the owl. Houbigant, instead of sparrow alone, reads, the solitary bird; and for pelican, onocrotalus. See Dr. Shaw's Travels, p. 427. Bochart's works, vol. 3: p. 272 and Watson's Animal World displayed, p. 242.

Verse 8

Psalms 102:8. And they that are mad against me, &c.— And my slanderers, &c. Mudge renders, And in their madness swear against me; and Green, The insolent boasters use my name in their oaths: Psalms 102:9. Because I eat ashes, &c.: Psalms 102:10. On account of thy indignation and wrath, &c. According to him, the phrase, Use my name in their oaths, means, "Their form of swearing is this; if we break our oaths, may the gods pour down their vengeance upon us, and make us as miserable as this captive Jew!"

Verse 9

Psalms 102:9. For I have eaten ashes The serpent in Genesis is condemned to go on his belly, and to eat dust, to which his prone posture inevitably subjects him. Casting ashes upon themselves, or rolling themselves in ashes, was a ceremony to express deep distress and sorrow among the Orientals; and if we may suppose that the Psalmist lay prostrate upon the ground in his sorrow, he might be said literally to eat ashes, as well as the serpent is said to eat dust; and his affliction must be highly aggravated in our ideas by such an image as this. See Boch. Hieroz. Psalms 50:4 : Psalms 100:2.

Verse 11

Psalms 102:11. My days are like a shadow that declineth My days are as a shadow which is gone down. The shadow which is gone down, seems not so much to describe a common shadow, as the shadow of a dial; which in that of Ahaz is said to go down, (the same original word) as the hour goes on. Mudge.

Verse 13

Psalms 102:13. Yea, the set time is come The time fixed for the continuance of the Babylonish captivity was 70 years. The set, or fixed time, here seems to mean, the time appointed for the restoration of the people, and the rebuilding of the temple. See Jeremiah 39:10-11, and the first note on this psalm.

Verse 14

Psalms 102:14. For thy servants take pleasure, &c.— Thy servants also bear an affection to her ruins, and commiserate her dust: Green; in conformity to the version of the Liturgy of the church of England, as well as to many of the ancient versions.

Verses 15-17

Psalms 102:15-17. So the heathen shall fear the name, &c.— Then shall the nations fear thy name, O Lord;—ver. 16. When the Lord shall have built up Sion, and his glory shall again be seen in Jerusalem;—ver. 17. When he shall have regarded the prayer of the destitute, and not have rejected their petition. See Bishop Hare, and Green.

Verse 18

Psalms 102:18. And the people which shall be created, &c.— And the people to be born shall praise the Lord. Mudge; who reads the two next verses in a parenthesis.—Ver. 19. (When the Lord looketh out from the height of his holiness; from the heaven he beholdeth the earth.—Ver. 20. To hear, &c.)—Ver. 21. In order to record in Zion the name, &c. The words, this shall be written, seem to intend the particular case of this prayer of the prisoner; that it should be written for times to come, in order to publish the glory of the Lord at Jerusalem; when the whole Gentile world should be assembled there to do him homage.

Verse 23

Psalms 102:23. He weakened my strength The connection is this, "Notwithstanding these glorious hopes of being speedily restored to my native country, I find that through continual afflictions God hath weakened my strength, even whilst I thought that I was in the way to that happiness; and that on account of the short remainder of my life I shall not be able to attain it." But he goes on, "Though I do not live to have any share in the public joy for that restoration; yet thou, who art an everlasting and immutable God, whose years are throughout all generations, wilt not fail to make those who survive me happy therein."

Verse 25

Psalms 102:25. Of old hast thou laid the foundation, &c.— See Isa 51:6 where the prophet tells us, that the heaven and earth shall wax old like a garment; but the Psalmist here goes one step further than the prophet; and not only acquaints us that the heavens and the earth shall wax old as a garment, but, like a worn-out garment, shall be changed for new—What, but the new heavens and the new earth, mentioned by St. Peter in the New Testament, and said to be the expectation of believers, according to God's promise?—See 2Pe 3:13 and Peters on Job, p. 413.

Verse 26

Psalms 102:26. As a vesture shalt thou change them This refers to changes of raiment. God should invest himself with new heavens, as a man would change his garment. This passage is quoted by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb 1:12 who has followed the LXX in reading, Thou shalt fold them up.

Verse 28

Psalms 102:28. The children of thy servants Let the sins of thy servants be settled, and their seed be established before thee. This is a concluding prayer that their posterity might be settled in Jerusalem for ever: Before thee, or in thy presence, belongs in common to both clauses.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, This psalm is a prayer of the afflicted, and such are many of the people of God at times; when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the Lord, as he is invited freely to do, assured that the compassionate bosom of his God can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; he will hear his cry, and will help him; and this inestimable privilege the child of God fails not to improve, and therefore lodges all his complaints with the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation. This the afflicted Psalmist did, and in his own case directs us how to act when under the like pressure.

He directs his prayer to God, intreating kind regard and a speedy answer, because his necessities were urgent. Note; (1.) Outward troubles are made light, when God comforts the soul with internal consolations. (2.) If God suffers his people to be reduced very low, it is with a design to exercise their faith, and excite their more importunate prayers.

2nd, Many and great are the troubles of the righteous, but out of all the Lord delivereth them: and herein the Psalmist expresses his own confidence, and that of all the faithful in Zion.

1. The Lord Jesus is an everlasting Saviour; for to him are the words addressed (Hebrews 1:10-12.). Thou, O Lord, shalt endure for ever. However long continued the afflictions of his faithful ones may be, they shall outlive and overcome them, because he endureth for ever. The stability of his mediatorial kingdom, and his fidelity in the constant discharge of his trust, as our ceaseless Advocate and almighty King, ensure to faithful souls the victory at last: and thy remembrance unto all generations; seeing he shall be exalted to eternity in the praises of his faithful people, for all the great salvation begun, continued, and completed by him, for them, and in them.

2. There is an appointed time for the continuance and removal of the afflictions of Zion; and faith, which knows it certain, brings it near: and it may be hastened by prayer. The set time is come, because the deliverance is as sure as if it were already accomplished: and this may have respect to the seventy years of the Babylonish captivity, or to the period of the church's calamity under the persecutions of Antichrist; or more generally to the case of every suffering saint of God, who is called to trust and wait in patient hope for the salvation of God.

3. This will issue to the glory of God, and the great comfort of his people. For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. Though the temple lay in ruins, the pious Jews loved the place, and respected the very dust: how great must their delight then be, to see these stones revived from the rubbish, and growing into a holy temple? And thus the ministers of the gospel, in all the desolations of the church, long for the glorious day of restitution; and whenever the Lord puts it into the hearts of his people to pray for, and labour to serve the interests of his Zion, it is a gracious sign that the promised mercy is at hand. Herein also God will be abundantly glorified; his saints will admire and adore him for the grace manifested in that great day; and the heathen, struck with reverence at the sight of God's interposition in behalf of his people, shall be converted unto him, and the kings of the earth behold his glory, and yield themselves up to his service.

4. The prayers of the righteous shall be answered. They are frequently destitute of human help and comfort, but not the less dear to the Lord: he will not despise those whom man despiseth; but, as the contrite heart is his delight, they shall be accepted by him, and receive from him a rich supply of every want.

5. The record of this mercy shewn to Zion at the humble prayer of God's people, will encourage the faith, and excite the praises of succeeding generations of the righteous, created anew in Christ Jesus. Note; The past experience of God's care of his people should ever encourage our confidence of the like protection.

6. Even the groans of the poor prisoners doomed to death he hears, rescues them from ruin, and magnifies thereby his mercy. He hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary: from heaven did the Lord behold the earth, and all that was done under the sun, with an eye of especial regard to his believing people, particularly when suffering for his name's sake, under the power of oppressors: To hear the groaning of the prisoner, bound for the testimony of God, and the faith of Jesus, as multitudes have been, and some still continue to be, under the power of the anti-christian tyranny: To loose those that are appointed to death; either to rescue them from the death of the body, or to save the souls of those who were tied and bound with the chain of their sins, and in their own fears apprehended themselves exposed to the eternal death of body and soul in hell; but who under deep conviction of their lost estate, groaning in bitterness, cry and are heard, pardoned through the blood of Jesus, and saved by almighty grace: To declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem; as the captives released from Babylon did, and as the church of God, delivered from the yoke of Antichrist, will do; and which is now daily done by every poor sinner rescued from the bondage of corruption, and the jaws of hell; whose heart, big with thankfulness, adores the wonders of redeeming love, and ascribes the praise of all to Jesus his Lord; when the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord, which will be most eminently the case, when the Lord Jesus in the latter day shall take to himself his great power, and reign; and those who are the subjects of his happy government shall with exultation rejoice in his kingdom and glory.

Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Psalms 102". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/psalms-102.html. 1801-1803.
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