Psalms 102

Affliction in Light of Eternity

1

A prayer of an afflicted person who is weak and pours out his lament before the Lord.

1 Lord, hear my prayer; let my cry for help come before You.
2 Do not hide Your face from me in my day of trouble. Listen closely to me; answer me quickly when I call.
3 For my days vanish like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.
4 My heart is afflicted, withered like grass; I even forget to eat my food.
5 Because of the sound of my groaning, my flesh sticks to my bones.
6 I am like a desert owl,[a] like an owl among the ruins.
7 I stay awake; I am like a solitary bird on a roof.
8 My enemies taunt me all day long; they ridicule and curse me.
9 I eat ashes like bread and mingle my drinks with tears
10 because of Your indignation and wrath; for You have picked me up and thrown me aside.
11 My days are like a lengthening shadow, and I wither away like grass.
12 But You, Lord, are enthroned forever; Your fame [endures] to all generations.
13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her- the appointed time has come.
14 For Your servants take delight in its stones and favor its dust.
15 Then the nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth Your glory,
16 for the Lord will rebuild Zion; He will appear in His glory.
17 He will pay attention to the prayer of the destitute and will not despise their prayer.
18 This will be written for a later generation, and a newly created people will praise the Lord:
19 He looked down from His holy heights- the Lord gazed out from heaven to earth-
20 to hear a prisoner's groaning, to set free those condemned to die,[b]
21 so that they might declare the name of the Lord in Zion and His praise in Jerusalem,
22 when peoples and kingdoms are assembled to serve the Lord.
23 He has broken my[c] strength in midcourse; He has shortened my days.
24 I say: "My God, do not take me in the middle of my life![d] Your years continue through all generations.
25 Long ago You established the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands.
26 They will perish, but You will endure; all of them will wear out like clothing. You will change them like a garment, and they will pass away.
27 But You are the same, and Your years will never end.[e]
28 Your servants' children will dwell [securely], and their offspring will be established before You."

Psalms 102 Commentary

Chapter 102

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.

Footnotes 5

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO PSALM 102

\\<>\\; Whether this psalm was written by David, under a prophetic spirit, concerning future times; or whether by one of the Babylonish captivity, as Daniel, Nehemiah, Ezra, or any other; either just at the close of it, or upon their return from it; since it is said that "the set time to favour Zion was come", is not certain: however, since Zion was a type of the Gospel church, it may be very well applied to Gospel times; and the rather, since some passages in it are cited by the apostle in Heb 1:10-12 as to be understood of Christ: see Ps 102:25-27. The Syriac version calls it, ``a prophecy concerning the new people, namely, the Gentiles in the faith:'' it is entitled, "a prayer of the afflicted", or "poor" {e}; which Austin understood of Christ, who became poor for our sakes, and was afflicted of God and men. Aben Ezra, Jarchi, and Kimchi, interpret it of the Jews suffering affliction in the Babylonish captivity; the former observes, that it was the opinion of some of their interpreters that this prayer was composed by some wise and understanding man that fell into the hand of his enemies. It may very well be applied to any afflicted person; all the people of God are more or less a poor and afflicted people; outwardly afflicted in body, in estate, and in their good name and character; inwardly with the corruptions of their own hearts, the temptations of Satan, and divine desertions; when it is a very proper time for prayer, Jas 5:13, and it is their privilege that they have a God of grace and mercy to pray unto, a throne of grace to come to at all times, a spirit of grace and supplication to assist them, and Christ their Advocate and High Priest, to present their petitions for them: and this everyone may do, "when he is overwhelmed"; pressed with the burden of sin, without a view of pardon, covered, as the word {f} signifies, with shame and sorrow for it; almost overset with, and ready to faint and sink under, afflictions, which like waves and billows roll over him; and at the same time is attended with much darkness and unbelieving frames of soul: "and poureth out his complaint before the Lord"; concerning his trials and afflictions, especially concerning the badness and haughtiness of his heart, the hardness of it, being so unaffected with providences, and under the word, and at the ordinances; concerning his leanness, barrenness, and unfruitfulness under the means of grace; his lukewarmness and indifference, his deadness and dulness in duty; his unbelief, distrust, and dejection of mind; as well as of the low estate of Zion, the little success of the Gospel, the few instances of conversion, and the unbecoming walk of many professors. Such a "complaint" as this, or "meditation" {g}, which he has thought of and digested in his mind; or all that is in his heart, as Aben Ezra observes, "he pours out" which denotes enlargement in prayer, the abundance of his heart, out of which his mouth speaketh; the fulness of his petition, as also freedom of expression it signifies a parrhsia, a telling all one's mind, speaking out with great liberty; laying it in an humble manner before the Lord, before whom all things are naked and open, and leaving it with him, in entire submission and resignation to his will, to do as seems good in his sight.

Psalms 102 Commentaries