(s) "in matutinis", Montanus, Vatablus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius; so Ainsworth.
INTRODUCTION TO Psalm 102
A prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the Lord; 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 Hebrews 1:10 as to be understood of Christ: see Psalm 102:25. 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, James 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 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.
and let my cry come unto thee; he calls his prayer cry, because it was uttered in distress, and with great vehemency and importunity; and he prays that it might come unto God, even into his ears, and be regarded by him, and not shut out: prayer comes aright to God, when it comes through Christ, and out of his hands, perfumed with the incense of his mediation.
(e) "pauperis", V. L. Pagninus, Vatablus, Amama; "inopis", Cocceius. (f) "convolveretur", Munster; "obtegitur", Gejerus, so Michaelis. (g) "meditationem suam", Junius & Tremellius, Gejerus, so Ainsworth.
my bones are burnt as an hearth; on which fire is continually made for the preparation of food, and other uses: or as a "trivet", or "gridiron": so the Targum: or as a frying pan; so the Arabic version: the meaning is, that, through trouble and grief, his bones, the strongest parts of his body, the props and supports of it, were so weakened and enfeebled, the strength of them so exhausted, that they were as if they had been parched and burnt up, as the hearth by fire; see Proverbs 17:22.
(c) "in fumo", Montanus.
so that I forget to eat my bread; sometimes, through grief and trouble, persons refuse to eat bread, as Jonathan and Ahab, which is a voluntary act, and purposely done; but here, in the psalmist, there was such a loss of appetite, through sorrow, that he forgot his stated meals, having no manner of inclination to food: some understand this of spiritual food, the bread of life, refusing to be comforted with it; so the Targum,
"for I forgot the law of my doctrine.''
(d) "Quasi solstitialis herba paulisper fui", Plauti Pseudolus, Acts 1. Sc. 1. v. 36.
my bones cleave to my skin; was quite emaciated, reduced to a skeleton, became nothing but skin and bone (e); which sometimes is occasioned, as by outward afflictions, so by soul troubles: or "to my flesh" (f); flesh is put for skin; see Job 19:20.
(e) "Ossa atque pellis sum", Plauti Capteivei, Acts 1. Sc. 2. v. 26. Asinaria 3. 6. v. 28. (f) "carni meae", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, &c.
I am like an owl of the desert; or "of desert places"; so the Tigurine version; it is translated "the little owl" in Leviticus 11:17. It delights to be on old walls, and in ruined houses, and cares not to consort with other birds, and it makes a hideous sorrowful noise (h). Jarchi renders it the hawk, but that, as Kimchi (i) observes, is found in habitable places. Bochart (k) thinks the "onocrotalos" is meant, a bird so much of the same kind with the pelican, that they are promiscuously used by learned men; and which is a creature, as Jerom (l) says, that is used to dwell in desert places; and Isidore (m) observes, that there are two sorts of them, one that lives in the water, and another in the desert; it has its name from its braying like an ass; and Aelianus (n) speaks of a bird of this sort in India, which has a large crop like a sack; and the Hebrew word "cos" here used signifies a cup or vessel, from whence it may have its name; and which he says makes a very disagreeable noise, to which the psalmist may compare the voice of his groaning, Psalm 102:5.
(g) Origin. l. 12. c. 7. (h) "Solaque culminibus ferali carmine Bubo, saepe queri----", Virgil. Aeneid. 4. (i) Sepher Shorash. rad. (k) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 20. col. 275, 276. (l) Comment. in Esaiam, c. 34. fol. 64. A. (m) Ut supra. (Origin. l. 12. c. 7.) (n) De Animal. l. 16. c. 4.
and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop; or, "as a bird" (o); for there is no necessity of limiting it to a sparrow, to which the account does not seem so well to agree; for sparrows will not only perch on housetops and solitary places, but will make their nests in dwelling houses, and in places of public resort, as temples; hence David speaks of the sparrow finding an house near the altars of God, Psalm 84:3 and Herodotus (p) makes mention of sparrows and other birds making their nests in the temple at Branchides; which may serve to illustrate the text last mentioned: wherefore this may be understood of any solitary bird, and especially of the owl (q); the Jews had flat roofs upon their houses, and here birds of solitude would come and sit alone in the night season, to which the psalmist likens himself; being either forsaken by his friends and acquaintance; or, being in melancholy circumstances, he chose to be alone, mourning over his sorrowful state and condition.
(o) "sicut avis", Gejerus, Schmidt. (p) Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 159. (q) "--------tectoque prophanus Incubuit bubo" Ovid. Metamorph. l. 6. Fab. 8. "E tectis strix", &c. Tibullus, l. 1. Eleg. 5. v. 52.
and they that are mad against me; as the Jews were against Christ, because of his miracles, doctrine, and success, and therefore sought to take away his life; and as the Apostle Paul before conversion was, even exceeding mad against the saints, and persecuted them to strange cities, Luke 6:11, so were the psalmist's enemies quite outrageous and implacable, being his sworn enemies, as follows:
are sworn against me: laid themselves under a curse, to do him all the mischief they could, and it may be to take away his life; as those who sware they would neither eat nor drink till they had killed Paul, Acts 23:12 or they sware to lies, false charges and accusations brought against him, like those that Jezebel suborned against Naboth: or "they sware by me" (r); as the words may be rendered; they sware by his calamities and distresses, and wished they might be as he was, if they did not do so and so; and took his name for a curse.
(r) "per me jurant", Tigurine version, Musculus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius, Gejerus, Michaelis.
and mingled my drink with weeping; that is, with tears; as he drank, the tears ran down his cheeks, and mixed with the liquor in his cup; he was fed with the bread of tears, and had them to drink in great measure; these were his meat and his drink, day and night, while enemies reproached him, swore at him, against him, and by him; see Psalm 80:5.
for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down; as a man that, in wrestling, has the advantage of his antagonist, lifts him up as high as he can, that he may throw him with the greater force upon the ground; in like manner the psalmist thought the Lord was dealing with him: or this may express his changeable state and condition, sometimes lifted up, and sometimes cast down, and which is the case of every believer, more or less; all have their liftings up, and their castings down: when God first calls them by his grace, he raises them from a low estate, lifts them up out of an horrible pit, takes them from the dunghill, sets them among princes to inherit the throne of glory: when he comforts them with the consolations of his Spirit, he is the lifter up of their heads; when he grants his presence, and lifts up the light of his countenance: when he discovers his love, and makes their mountain to stand strong; when he shows them their interest in himself, as their covenant God, in Christ, as their Redeemer and Saviour, and grants them the communion of the Holy Ghost; and when their graces are in lively exercise, then is it a time of lifting up: and they are cast down when corruptions prevail, when grace is weak, when God hides his face, and when afflictions lie heavy on them: this was now the case of the psalmist, and perhaps the remembrance of his liftings up in former times was an aggravation of it.
and I am withered like grass; which in the morning is flourishing, is cut down at noon, and withered at evening: this is the case of all flesh, however beautiful and goodly it may look; it is weak, frail, and mortal; cannot stand before the force of afflictions, which quickly consume strength and beauty, and much less before the scythe of death; see Psalm 90:5.
(s) "inclinata", Pagninus, Montanus, Piscator, Musculus, Cocceius; "extensa", Michaelis. (t) "Et sol crescentes decedens duplicat umbras", Virgil. Bacol. Eclog. 2.((u) Pyth. Ode 8.
"but thou, O Lord, thy habitation continues for ever in heaven:''
and thy remembrance to all generations; the remembrance of his name Jehovah, or Jesus, or Immanuel, or any other, is sweet and precious to his saints in all ages; and so the remembrance of his works, of what he has done and suffered, especially the great work of redemption; for the remembrance of which the ordinance of the Lord's supper is appointed to be continued till his second coming; and his Gospel is an everlasting one, which will transmit the memory of him to men in every age, to the end of the world; and though all flesh is as grass, and every man dies, even the ministers of the word, yet that itself lives for ever. Aben Ezra reads "thy throne", as agreeing with Lamentations 5:19, but Kimchi observes that this reading is owing to a bad copy.
for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come; not the seventy years of the captivity made known to the prophet Jeremiah; rather the seventy weeks of Daniel fixed for the Messiah's coming; or the fulness of time agreed upon, between Christ and his Father, for him to come and redeem his people; but it may best of all design the end of the forty two months, or the 1260 days, or years, fixed for the treading under foot the holy city, for the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, and for the reign of antichrist; which when come will usher in glorious times in favour of Zion, the church of God, Revelation 11:2.
and favour the dust thereof; which sometimes designs multitudes, Numbers 23:10, perhaps here it may denote the meanest of the Lord's people, who will be regarded, and not despised by his servants; but they will show favour to them, do them all the good they can, and wish well to them, and pray for their prosperity, and for the peace of Zion; that God would make it the joy of the whole earth; and when there shall be such a delight in the stones and dust of Zion, and a spirit of grace and supplication poured forth upon the servants of the Lord, to pray for the promised glory and happiness of it, it will be a token for good, and an intimation that the set time to favour her is at hand; which seems to be the sense of the psalmist: such great reverence and respect have the greatest of the wise men among the Jews for the land of Israel, literally understood, that they kiss the borders, the stones of it, and roll themselves in its dust (a), having perhaps in mind this passage of Scripture.
(a) Maimon. Hilchot Melachim, c. 5. s. 10.
and all the kings of the earth thy glory; which may be supplied thus, either "all the kings of the earth shall see thy glory", or shall fear thee because of "thy glory"; the glory of Christ's person, as the Son of God; the glory of his offices, as Prophet, Priest, and King; especially the glory of his kingly office, to which that of the kings of the earth is not to be compared; the glory of his works of creation, providence, and redemption; and as it will be held forth in the Gospel, with which the earth will now be full, and so be filled with the glory of the Lord, Psalm 72:19, and will be so remarkable and conspicuous as to be taken notice of by the kings of the earth, even by all of them, who, when the glory of the Lord shall be risen in Zion, will come to the brightness of it, and look upon it, and admire it, and fear because of it, Isaiah 60:1.
"for the city of Zion is built by the Word of the Lord:''
he shall appear in his glory; or "shall be seen in his glory" (b), which will be upon his church and people, and on which there will be a defence, so that it shall continue; and this will lie chiefly in the purity of Gospel truths, ordinances, and worship; in the number of converts; in the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God upon them; in their peace, prosperity, unity, and spirituality; and in the presence of Christ with them, who will be seen in all the glory and majesty of his kingly office; he will now reign before his ancients gloriously.
(b) "videbitur", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus.
and not despise their prayer; not reject it with contempt and abhorrence; more is intended than is expressed: the meaning is, that he will receive it with pleasure, and return an answer to it; the prayer of these poor destitute ones is delightful to him, Proverbs 15:8.
(c) "eorum, qui sunt veluti myricae", Pagninus, Vatablus, Cocceius.
and the people which shall be created: born at the time when all this shall be done; or who shall become new creatures; be created in Christ Jesus, and made new men;
these shall praise the Lord, when he shall arise and have mercy on Zion; when he shall favour and rebuild her, in answer to the prayers of his people; then their prayers will be turned into praise; then will those voices be heard among them, hallelujah, salvation, glory, honour, and power unto the Lord our God, Revelation 19:1.
from heaven did the Lord behold the earth; the inhabitants of it, good and bad: it designs the general notice he takes of men and things in a providential way; he beholds the world, that lies in wickedness, and all the wickedness committed in it; and will one day call to an account, and punish for it; he beholds good men, not only with an eye of providence, to take care of them, protect and defend, but with an eye of love, grace, and mercy; he has a special and distinct knowledge of them, and it may here particularly regard the notice he takes of his people, under antichristian tyranny; he sees all the barbarity and cruelty exercised upon them, and will requite it, ere long, to their adversaries, and free them from it, as follows.
to loose those that are appointed to death; delivered to death, as the Targum; delivered over to the secular power, in order to be put to death; who are arraigned and condemned as malefactors, and put into the condemned hole, in order for execution; these the Lord will loose, and save them from the death they are appointed to by men; for this is not to be understood of persons appointed by the Lord to death, either corporeal or eternal, from which none can be loosed, so appointed: in the original text the phrase is "children of death" (d); the same as "children of wrath", Ephesians 2:3, that is, deserving of death, and under the sentence of it; as all men are in Adam, even the Lord's own people; and who are, in their own apprehension, as dead men, when awakened and convinced of their state by the Spirit of God; these Christ looses from the shackles and fetters of sin, from the bondage of the law, from the tyranny of Satan, and from fears of death, and puts them into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
(d) "filios mortis", Montanus, Vatablus, Musculus, Gejerus, Michaelis.
and his praise in Jerusalem; the Gospel church state, the same with Zion; when it shall be the praise of the whole earth; then and there will those, that are delivered from the antichristian yoke, praise the Lord, sing the song of Moses and the Lamb, and glorify God for all that he has done for them.
and the kingdoms to serve the Lord; even the kingdoms of this world, which will become his, and will serve him in righteousness and holiness, freely and cheerfully, with one shoulder and one content; their kings will fall down before the Lord, and all nations shall serve him, Psalm 72:11, and then will be the time when the prisoners shall be loosed, and the Lord shall be praised in Zion.
he shortened my days; which he thought he should live, and expected he would; and which, according to the course of nature, and the common term of man's life, he might, in all human appearance, have lived; otherwise, with respect to the decree of God, which has fixed the bounds of man's days, they cannot be shorter or longer than they are, Job 14:5.
(e) "afflixit", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Musculus, Piscator, Gejerus, Schmidt; so Ainsworth.
"do not take me out of the world in the midst of my days, bring me to the world to come:''
some, who think that Daniel was the penman of this psalm, or some other, about the time of the Babylonish captivity, curiously observe, that that period was much about the middle between the building of Solomon's temple and the coming of Christ, the antitype of it; which was about a thousand years, of which four hundred and ninety were to come, according to Daniel's weeks; so, representing the church, prays they might not be destroyed, as such; but be continued till the Messiah came:
thy years are throughout all generations; which are not as men's years, of the same measure or number; but are boundless and infinite: the phrase is expressive of the eternity of God, or Christ; which the psalmist opposes to his own frailty, and which he illustrates in the following verses, by setting it in contrast with the discontinuance and changeableness of the heavens and the earth; see Job 10:5.
(f) "ne ascendere facias me", Montanus, Gejerus.
and the heavens are the work of thy hands; these are the airy and starry heavens, and the heaven of heavens; which are creatures, and not to be worshipped, made by Christ himself, and are expressive of his power, wisdom, and glory.
(g) "antea", Pagninus, Montanus, Gejerus.
but thou shalt endure; as the eternal God, from everlasting to everlasting; and, even as man, he will die no more; and, as Mediator, will ever remain; he will be King for ever; his throne is for ever and ever; his kingdom is an everlasting one; he is a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek; his sacrifice is of an eternal efficacy, and he ever lives to make intercession for his people; he will always continue, as the Prophet, in his church, to teach by his Spirit, word, and ordinances, in the present state; and hereafter will be the light of the New Jerusalem, and of his saints, for ever:
yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment: not only the heavens, which are as a curtain and garment about the earth, but the earth itself, Isaiah 51:6, will lose their beauty and glory, and become useless, as to the present form of them:
as a vesture shall thou change them, and they shall be changed; as to their form, as a garment that is turned or folded up, and laid aside, as to present use: this seems to favour the above sense given, that the earth and heavens will not perish, as to the substance of them; but as to their form, figure, fashion, and scheme; and as to the qualities of them, all noxious ones being purged away by fire, the curse removed, and new heavens and new earth arise out of them.
and thy years shall have no end; See Gill on Psalm 102:24, now he, that made the heavens and the earth, and will be when they will not be, especially in the present form they are, must be able to rebuild his Zion, and bring on the glory he has promised; and from his eternity and immutability may be concluded the continuance of his church and interest in the world, until all the glorious things spoken of it shall be fulfilled, as follows.
(h) "tu ipse", Pagninus, Montanus.