A sorrowful complaint of great afflictions. (1-11) Encouragement by expecting the performances of God's promises to his church. (12-22) The unchangeableness of God. (23-28)
Verses 1-11 The whole word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but here, is often elsewhere, the Holy Ghost has put words into our mouths. Here is a prayer put into the hands of the afflicted; let them present it to God. Even good men may be almost overwhelmed with afflictions. It is our duty and interest to pray; and it is comfort to an afflicted spirit to unburden itself, by a humble representation of its griefs. We must say, Blessed be the name of the Lord, who both gives and takes away. The psalmist looked upon himself as a dying man; My days are like a shadow.
Verses 12-22 We are dying creatures, but God is an everlasting God, the protector of his church; we may be confident that it will not be neglected. When we consider our own vileness, our darkness and deadness, and the manifold defects in our prayers, we have cause to fear that they will not be received in heaven; but we are here assured of the contrary, for we have an Advocate with the Father, and are under grace, not under the law. Redemption is the subject of praise in the Christian church; and that great work is described by the temporal deliverance and restoration of Israel. Look down upon us, Lord Jesus; and bring us into the glorious liberty of thy children, that we may bless and praise thy name.
Verses 23-28 Bodily distempers soon weaken our strength, then what can we expect but that our months should be cut off in the midst; and what should we do but provide accordingly? We must own God's hand in it; and must reconcile this to his love, for often those that have used their strength well, have it weakened; and those who, as we think, can very ill be spared, have their days shortened. It is very comfortable, in reference to all the changes and dangers of the church, to remember that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. And in reference to the death of our bodies, and the removal of friends, to remember that God is an everlasting God. Do not let us overlook the assurance this psalm contains of a happy end to all the believer's trials. Though all things are changing, dying, perishing, like a vesture folding up and hastening to decay, yet Jesus lives, and thus all is secure, for he hath said, Because I live ye shall live also.
Psalms 102:1-28 . A Prayer of the afflicted, &c.--The general terms seem to denote the propriety of regarding the Psalm as suitably expressive of the anxieties of any one of David's descendants, piously concerned for the welfare of the Church. It was probably David's composition, and, though specially suggested by some peculiar trials, descriptive of future times. overwhelmed--(compare Psalms 61:2 ). poureth out--pouring out the soul--( Psalms 62:8 ). complaint--( Psalms 55:2 ). The tone of complaint predominates, though in view of God's promises and abiding faithfulness, it is sometimes exchanged for that of confidence and hope.
1-3. The terms used occur in Psalms 4:1 , Psalms 17:1 Psalms 17:6 , 18:6 , Psalms 31:2 Psalms 31:10 , 37:20 .
4. (Compare Psalms 121:6 ).
so that I forget--or, "have forgotten," that is, in my distress ( Psalms 107:18 ), and hence strength fails.
5. voice . . . groaning--effect put for cause, my agony emaciates me.
6, 7. The figures express extreme loneliness.
8. sworn against me--or literally, "by me," wishing others as miserable as I am ( Numbers 5:21 ).
9. ashes--a figure of grief, my bread; weeping or tears, my drink ( Psalms 80:5 ).
10. lifted . . . cast me down--or, "cast me away" as stubble by a whirlwind ( Isaiah 64:6 ).
11. shadow . . . declineth--soon to vanish in the darkness of night.
12. Contrast with man's frailty (compare Psalms 90:1-7 ).
thy remembrance--that by which Thou art remembered, Thy promise.
13, 14. Hence it is here adduced.
the set time, &c.--the time promised, the indication of which is the interest felt for Zion by the people of God.
15-17. God's favor to the Church will affect her persecutors with fear.
16. When the Lord shall build--or better, "Because the Lord hath built," &c., as a reason for the effect on others; for in thus acting and hearing the humble, He is most glorious.
18. people . . . created--(compare Psalms 22:31 ), an organized body, as a Church.
19-22. For--or, "That," as introducing the statement of God's condescension. A summary of what shall be written.
to loose . . . appointed--or, "deliver" them ( Psalms 79:11 ).
21. To declare, &c.--or, that God's name may be celebrated in the assemblies of His Church, gathered from all nations ( Zechariah 8:20-23 ), and devoted to His service.
23-28. The writer, speaking for the Church, finds encouragement in the midst of all his distresses. God's eternal existence is a pledge of faithfulness to His promises.
in the way--of providence.
weakened--literally, "afflicted," and made fearful of a premature end, a figure of the apprehensions of the Church, lest God might not perform His promise, drawn from those of a person in view of the dangers of early death (compare Psalms 89:47 ). Paul ( Hebrews 1:10 ) quotes Psalms 102:26-28 as addressed to Christ in His divine nature. The scope of the Psalm, as already seen, so far from opposing, favors this view, especially by the sentiments of Psalms 102:12-15 (compare Isaiah 60:1 ). The association of the Messiah with a day of future glory to the Church was very intimate in the minds of Old Testament writers; and with correct views of His nature it is very consistent that He should be addressed as the Lord and Head of His Church, who would bring about that glorious future on which they ever dwelt with fond delightful anticipations.