Psalms 102:1-28. Title. " A prayer for the afflicted, when " he shall be overwhelmed, and shall pour out his meditation before the face of JEHOVAH." This psalm seems to have been written towards the conclusion of the Babylonish captivity; or, as some think, just after the return of the remnant under Zerubbabel ; for the use of the pious Jews who were overwhelmed with affliction, on account of the desolations of their holy city and temple : yet they poured out their complaint with hopes of redress, as God had promised to restore them again to their own land.
(Notes,Psalms 137:1-9: Ezra 3:8-13; Ezra 9:5-15. Nehemiah 1:4-11; Nehemiah 9:5-38. Jeremiah 29:11-14. Daniel 9:1-27:) The termination of the reign of antichrist, and the glorious consequences of that event, seem also to be clearly predicted. (Notes, Is. 63. 15-19; 64.)
V. 1, 2. ’Albeit we be in never so great miseries; yet ’ there is ever place left for prayer.’ (Marg. Rcf. Notes,Psalms 50:7-15. Psalms 91:14-16. Philippians 4:5-7.)
V. 3- 11. ’ These excessive kinds of speech shew how ’ much the affliction of the church ought to wound the ’ hearts of the godly.’ Perhaps the Psalmist grievously afflicted in his own person, as well as on account of publick calamities : but he seems to personate Jerusalem and the church, during the desolations of the captivity. He complains that his life and health vanished like the smoke, which is scattered by the wind ; his strength decayed as wood is consumed by the fire ; and his spirits dried up as the grass is withered by the scorching sun. He had lost his appetite, was reduced to a skeleton, courted solitude as the pelican, or bittern, and the owl ; was deprived of sleep, and spent his time in mourning and complaints. The unjust reproaches and formidable combinations of his enraged enemies, united with the just indignation of God, to fill him with deep distress. It seemed as if the Lord had only raised him to prosperity, in order to cast him down : and he was constrained to feed upon sorrow as his bread, and, as it were, mingle his drink with tears. In short he was like a man about to expire of some wasting sickness. ’ Whilst I wait for better times, ’ my life declines apace ; like a shadow, which being come ’ near to its utmost length, is ready to vanish.’ Bp. Patrick.
(Notes, Psalms 6:1-7 - Psalms 32:3-5; Psalms 38:1-22 Psalms 42:1-3; Psalms 55:4-8; Psalms 69:1-4; Psalms 69:16-20; Psalms 80:5-6; Psalms 88:3-9. Job 6:1-4; Job 7:1-6; Job 19:1-29; Job 30:15-24. Isaiah 38:9-15.) All this well applies to the state of the church, during the Babylonish captivity ; and corresponds to the language of Jeremiah in the book of Lamentations. (Marg..)
V. 12. It is very beautiful and instructive to view the Psalmist consoling himself, under all his afflictions and the prospect of a speedy dissolution, while his people and the church were in deep distress ; by the thoughts that God would still be glorious, would still favour the church, and restore her from her desolations. (Notes, 13- 28.) His sufferings and death, therefore, might be regarded as comparatively of little consequence. " Thy remembrance " may mean either the church’s remembrance of JEHOVAH’S wonderful works for Israel, and engagements to her ; or rather his remembrance of his holy covenant, and of her desolate and afflicted state, from which he had promised to deliver her. (Psalms 135:13. Note, Exodus 3:15.) < All generations have transmitted down unto us the memorial of ’ thy faithfulness, and the glorious things thou hast done ’ for thy people.’ Bp. Patrick.
V. 13 -22. God had, by his prophet Jeremiah, fixed a time for liberating the captive Jews, and for rebuilding the city and the temple : that time was come; and this excited the prayers of believers, who favoured the very dust and stones of Zion, for the sake of the temple which had stood upon it.(Notes, Psalms 137:1-6. 2 Chronicles 36:21. Jeremiah 25:8-12; Jeremiah 27:4-9; Jeremiah 29:10-14. Daniel 9:2-3.) In their destitute and forlorn condition, they not only " groaned " being burdened," with the oppression and persecution of those who detained them prisoners ; but they were instant in prayers, which doubtless they accompanied with humiliation for their sins. These prayers the Lord would not despise ; but in answer to them, as one " who looked " down from his holy heaven," he would surely appear for their release ; and when he had conducted them to Jerusalem, they would there declare his name and his praise. Under his protection and by his assistance, the temple would be rebuilt upon mount Zion : when he would appear so glorious in his power, truth, and love, that the heathen would fear his wrath, and all kings around him would stand in awe of his glory ; many people would gather together out of the adjacent kingdoms to serve the Lord ; and these events would be recorded for the edification of future ages, and of other nations, which should at length be brought into the church by the new creating power of God, (Marg. Ref. Notes, Psalms 22:30-31. Is. 53: 9, 10. 1 Peter 2:9-10.) But this prophecy will have a more full accomplishment, when the Jews shall be converted to Christianity, and gathered from their dispersions ; when the tedious captivity of the church, under the new-testament Babylon, shall finally be terminated ; and when the fulness of the Gentiles, with all their kings and kingdoms,
shall be brought into the church. (Notes, Revelation 18:19:) The old version of the fifteenth and two following verses, is quite literal, and very expressive : " Then the heathen " shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of " the earth thy glory, when the LORD shall build up Zion, " and shall appear in his glory, and shall turn unto the " prayer of the desolate, and not despise their prayer."
V. 23, 24. Perhaps the Psalmist personally, from his time of life and state of health, had expected to see the re-establishment of Jerusalem, the prosperity of his people, and multitudes thronging to the temple to sacrifice, and to worship God. But he was unexpectedly seized with a debilitating disease, and concluded that he was about to be taken away in the midst of his days ; as Job, Hezekiah, and others had done : and he prayed, as Moses also did, that he might live to witness the prosperity of his people, which he by faith clearly foresaw. Some, however, apply this to the church of Israel. She was, as it were, on her way to meet her expected King ; but at the captivity her strength was weakened, and her days seemed to be shortened : but she prayed to be spared, that she might receive the promised blessing. T’he midst of my days. (24) Note, Iv. 23. Thy years, &c.]
Notes, 12. Psalms 90:1-2. John 14:18-20. Romans 5:7-10; Romans 8:32-34. Colossians 3:-14. Revelation 1:12-20,v. 18.
V. 25- 28. The eternity and immutability of God, the Creator of the world, and the Saviour of the church, encouraged the pious Jews under their distresses. The visible creation indeed waxes old, and is wearing out, and will at length be changed as an old garment for a new one. (Notes, Is. Ii. 4- 8. Matthew 24:32-35; Matthew 5:35. 2 Peter 3:10-13.) But the Creator is " the same, yesterday,
today, and for ever." (Note, Hebrews 13:7-8; Hebrews 5:8.) And because he lives and reigns, his church must be preserved ; a succession of believers, as the children of Abraham, shall serve him whilst the world endures ; and all the redeemed shall live with him in heaven for ever. We cannot but know, from the scriptures above referred to, what views the inspired writers of the Old Testament had of the expected Messiah, whom they spake of as the eternal and unchangeable Creator, as well as the Redeemer and King of Israel. (Marg. Ref. Notes, Is. 9: 5, 6. John 1:1-3. Colossians 1:15-20. Hebrews 1:14.) The apostle, writing to the Hebrews, no doubt quoted this Psalm, in the sense in which it was generally understood. (Note, Hebrews 1:10-12.) ’ It cannot be too hard for thee to raise Zion out of ’ her ruins, who hast many ages ago created this goodly ’ fabrick of heaven and earth by thy eternal Word.’ Bp. Patrick. Thou art the same. (27) "Thou art He." (Notes, Exodus 3:14. Is. 41: 2- 4. John 8:54-59.)
the more overwhelming our afflictions are, the greater cause have we to " pour out our complaint before God ; " and lie has invited and commanded us to " call upon him " in the time of trouble," and has assured us, that he will not hide his face from us, or " leave us comfortless." In this world we must expect tribulation, and we know not how deep and durable our sorrows may be ; but should they be so various and grievous, as to warrant the use of the strong language of this psalm, they would not be equal to our deservings ; and it would still be " of the LORD’S " mercies that we are not consumed : " still there would be hope for us to humble ourselves before him, and patiently to wait and pray for his forgiving love. (Notes, Lamentations 3:21-30; Lamentations 3:39-41.) Then, should we even lose our relish for every earthly comfort, and be kept by pain and anguish from taking any rest ; should we be treated with general contempt and hatred, and struggle with sore temptations and anguish of spirit, and have death continually before our eyes ; we should still have inward supports, and hope would brighten our otherwise gloomy prospect The believer, who has attained to a good measure of ripeness in judgment and experience, will feel himself deeply interested in the concerns of the church. Her deohitions, divisions, and corruptions, pain his heart, in his most prosperous days ; and double the poignancy of his personal afflictions. The triumphs of infidels and profligates, and the sorrows of true believers, cause him to partake of the bread and water of affliction, and to humble himself before God in lamentations and prayers. On the other hand he rejoices in the promises of God, relating to the security and prosperity of his church : and the revival or increase of the power and purity of religion, and the enlargement and peace of the church, revive his heart, even under grievous pains, and at the approach of death. This might afford us never-failing comfort, if we duly attended to the word of God. The success of the gospel has indeed hitherto been small, compared with the hundreds of millions of the human species. The low estate of vital godliness, within the visible church, has often made her appear like one dying of a consumption: but " the LORD will" certainly " arise, and have mercy on Zion." Though, like Jerusalem of old, the Christian church seems laid in ruins, by the assaults of open enemies, and the treachery of professed friends, and through the prevalence of idolatry, superstition, infidelity, and impiety; yet the servants of God " take pleasure " even in her ruins, and their prayers incessantly ascend to heaven in her behalf. They are indeed often poor and destitute in the world, and despised by proud, ungodly men ; and sometimes they are laid to groan in prisons, as men appointed to death : but the Lord regards them, and will honour them ; he will look down from heaven to hear and deliver them ; he will build up Zion, that his glory may appear : and indeed " the set " time " to favour lier is near at hand, and many revolutions, within the former kingdom of the papal Antichrist, seem evident presages of its approaching ruin. Shortly the Lord will deliver and purify his church, and Jews and Gentiles shall unite in worshipping God our Saviour, and in declaring his name and glory : and all the kingdoms of the earth shall become his worshippers and servants. Were not these things written for the use of " the generations " to come," that nations then unborn might praise the Lord, when they beheld the performance of these ancient prophecies ? It is true, the Christian church was so soon debilitated and corrupted, her days of prosperity were so shortened, and her enfeebled estate has been so prolonged, that many despair of happier days. Yet such are most evidently predicted, and the predictions are multiplied and varied, throughout the sacred volume : and he, who laid the foundation of the earth, is the unchangeable and eternal Support of his church : and as he has foretold the dissolution of the frame of nature, he has also assured us that his cause shall triumph on earth before that grand consummation. Let us then rejoice in God our Saviour, and give ourselves unto prayer ; assured that the children of his servants shall continue, and be multiplied exceedingly, to the end of time ; and that their seed shall be established for ever in heaven.