Tom Lowe

Psalm 102
(A psalm of Daniel, one of the penitential (repentant) psalms—also Psalms 6; 32; 38; 51; 130; 143.)

Title: A Prayer Of The Afflicted, When He Is Overwhelmed, And Poureth Out His Complaint Before The Lord.”
Theme: God the Redeemer

• Numbers in brackets, {TL.1] correspond to “Special Notes” following each verse, if applicable.
• KJV Bible is used throughout unless noted otherwise.


This is one of the penitential (repentant) psalms (also Psalms 6; 32; 38; 51; 130; 143), but it is unlike the others. The psalmist does not seem to have any personal guilt to confess. If there is penitence in the psalm, it has more of a national than a personal character. The psalmist is primarily lamenting the condition of the nation of Israel.

The psalm is recognized as messianic because the closing verses (102:25-26) are directly related to Christ in Hebrews 1:10-12{TLI.1). Moreover, the entire psalm can be viewed in the light of the great tribulation and the millennial age to follow.

The psalm has a title: “A Prayer of the Afflicted, When He Is Overwhelmed, And Poureth Out His Complaint Before The Lord.” The title relates more to the purpose of the psalm than the period of the psalm, which shows that it is intended for devotional use by those suffering affliction.

There is considerable difference of opinion as to who wrote the psalm. Most are agreed that it belongs to the closing days of the Babylonian exile; and some are of the opinion that four people had a hand in composing it. They ascribe the first stanza to Hezekiah, pointing out its close parallel with Hezekiah’s prayer in Isaiah 38. Time passes and, during the closing days of the Babylonian exile, another composer adds another stanza (102:12-17). Seeing the close parallel between the afflicted Hezekiah and the afflicted nations, he adopts the psalm and adapts it to the new situation. Still more time passes and the return itself is accomplished. The glowing hoax of the second stanza were fulfilled in only the barest and feeblest way, so another stanza is added applying the hopes to a future generation (102:18-22). Finally, Ezra picks up the composition and writes a closing stanza (102: 23-28) before adding the completed poem to the Hebrew hymnbook.

That seems a somewhat complicated history for the psalm. The whole psalm could have been composed toward the end of the Babylonian captivity. The hand that composed it could have been the Prophet Daniel’s (but we cannot say so for sure), and he could have composed it in stages. Since it will be helpful to connect the psalm to the life of an individual, we are going to stay with our suggestion that Daniel wrote it.

[TLI.1} “And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; And as a vesture shalt thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail” (Hebrews 1:10-12).


(102:1-11) These verses show the psalmist to be in trouble. It would seem he is sick and may even die.

1 Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come unto thee.
2 Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.

This psalm is full of echoes. In the first two verses we have either quotations from, or allusions to, Psalm 39:12; 18:6, 27:9; 59:16; 31:2; 56:9; and 69:17. The psalmist, whomever he was (and who better than Daniel?), was a man who had soaked his soul in the psalms. When he turns to prayer (it was not a silent, or a mental prayer; it was a loud and earnest cry in an hour of personal need), he goes for help to the book of Psalms.

This was a prayer by one that is afflicted, or, for the afflicted, made by Daniel, or some other prophet, not long before the return from Babylon, where Israel suffered much but prayed little, as Daniel asserts―“Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth” (Daniel 9:13; NIV). Here, therefore, they are taught to say, "Hear my prayer, O Lord," etc. In times of the greatest afflictions there is place left for prayer―“A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. From the depths of despair, O LORD, I call for your help.”(Psalms 130:1; NLT). It was like this with our Lord in those dark hours that terminated His life. We find His thoughts roaming through the Book of Psalms. Even in that dread hour of darkness, that mysterious midday-midnight, we find Him voicing his cries in the language of the psalms: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

That is to say, my prayer, accompanied with an outward expression of my sincerity. It was not a silent, or a mental prayer; it was a loud and earnest cry―“Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.” (Psalm 5:2). He calls his prayer a cry, because it was uttered in distress, and with great intensity and persistence; and he prays that it might come unto God, even into His ears, and be taken under consideration by Him, and not shut out; prayer goes straight to God, when it comes through Christ, where it is perfumed with the incense of His mediation.

“In” some versions this is rendered, “Do not turn away thy face from me . . . when I am in trouble.” The sense is essentially the same. The prayer is that God would not refuse to look graciously upon him; that He would turn his attention to him; that He would regard his supplications. Compare Psalm 13:1; Psalm 27:9; Job 13:24; Job 34:29; Deuteronomy 31:17.

Anytime God hides His face from His people, it is a sure thing that trouble will come to them that is very severe and terrible; but especially when they are in some other trouble besides. It is very afflicting, indeed, when this is added to their other troubles, which was what happened in Job's case. But in this case, the reason for the psalmist’s concern is that the people had been languishing in captivity for the space of nearly seventy years, therefore it might seem that God had turned away His favor from them forever. But they are, in spite of that, commanded, in their extreme affliction, to resort to prayer as their only remedy.

When sorrows come upon me; when I need thy gracious help, listen to my prayer, and come to my aid. Literally, “when I am in distress, hear my prayer.”

Men always want speedy answers to prayer; they want their answers the day, the hour, the moment they are calling upon God: sometimes answers are returned as soon as that (Isaiah 65:24). The case of the psalmist was very distressing, and since he thought it at least required haste, he requests a speedy answer.

Grant my requests at once; give me immediate evidence that my prayer is heard. The psalmist believed in an immediate answer to prayer. He often had evidence that his prayer was answered at once; his mind became calm; he had comfort and peace; he obtained the blessing which he earnestly sought. No one can doubt that prayer may be answered at once; no one who prays can fail to find such answers in his own case, in his peace, his calmness, his joy. In multitudes of cases blessings are granted in such a way that there can be no doubt that they have come in answer to prayer (Compare Daniel 9:20-23).

God permits us to lay our infirmities before Him without holding anything back, and He patiently puts up with our foolishness, and when He deals with us it is with great tenderness towards us. To pour out our complaints before Him as if we were little children would certainly be like treating His Majesty with very little reverence, however, He has been pleased to allow us just such freedom. I purposely make use of this illustration, so that those with a weak faith, who are afraid to draw near to God, may understand that they are invited to come to Him with such gentleness that nothing may prevent them from approaching Him with familiarity and confidence.

(102:3-11) The psalmist tells the Lord his troubles. He tells the Lord three things:
1) His Endurance is Gone (102:3-5).
2) His Environment is Gone (102:6-7).
3) His Enemy is Strong (102:8-11).

3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth{TL3.1).
4 My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread.
5 By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.

(3a) FOR MY DAYS ARE CONSUMED LIKE SMOKE (Literally, “in smoke.”)
First of all, his days are consumed by fire: He represents himself (for the psalmist speaks in the name of the people) as being under a pile of combustible material, placed upon a fire, which soon consumes it; part flying away in smoke, and the residue lying on the hearth (3b) in the form of charred coal and ashes. This must have been on James’ mind when he wrote, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 4:14). The Chaldeans were the fire, and the captive Jews the fuel, thus converted into smoke and ashes. He compares himself to a piece of charred wood. If he was ill when he wrote this part of the psalm, then it is a fitting description of a man consumed by a high fever.

Another way to say this is “My days vanish like smoke, they pass away and become nothing, and they are consumed in affliction, and seem to accomplish nothing.” The idea is that in his affliction he seemed to accomplish none of the aims of life. His life seemed to be wasted. This is often the feeling when one is going through a trial: and yet during a trial a man may be more useful, he may do more to accomplish the real aspirations of life, he may do more to illustrate the power and excellence of religion, than he ever did in the days of prosperity. James described this situation in James 4:14: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

Or rather, as faggots or fuel. The idea is that in his troubles, his very bones, the most solid and substantial part of him, seemed to be consumed and to waste away. The psalmist said as much: “For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed” (Psalm 31:10). Here he says, My bones are burned as if they were laid on a hearth on which fire is continually flaming for the preparation of food, and other uses. The proverb says, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones” (Proverbs 17:22)

We cannot identify the sickness mentioned in this psalm; but apparently the psalmist feels that God is cutting his days short. However, when he had the visions of chapters 7 and 8, Daniel was getting on in years. In any case, we have evidence from the book of Daniel that the great man of God was subject to spells of sickness brought on by spiritual sorrow and sensitivity. He says, “My heart is smitten (broken, crushed with grief), and withered like grass.” We now speak of “a broken heart.” Even death is often caused by such excessive sorrow which is able to crush and break the heart.
The metaphor here is taken from grass cut down in the meadow. It is first smitten with the scythe, and then withered by the sun. Thus the Jews were smitten with the judgments of God; and they are now withered under the fire of the Chaldeans. They are dried up as grass is by drought, or like it is when it is cut down. It loses its support; and having no strength of its own, it dies. Like grass which is being smitten with the heat of the sun, or by some blast of thunder and lightning, is dried up, and withers away; so his heart was smitten with a sense of sin, and of God's wrath and displeasure at him, that it failed him.
I am so absorbed by my trials; they so entirely engross my attention that I think of nothing else, not even of those things which are necessary to maintain life. Grief has the effect of taking away the appetite, but this does not seem to be the idea here. It is that he is so completely absorbed in trouble that everything else is forgotten.

Sometimes, through grief and trouble, persons refuse to eat, which is a voluntary act that is done on purpose; but here, the psalmist has lost his appetite through sorrow, and he has forgot to take time for meals, since he has no desire for food. Some understand this to concern spiritual food, the bread of life, and his refusing to be comforted with it. He has lost his appetite for food and is wasting away to nothing.

His suffering and trouble under the burden of sin, and the pressure of afflictions is so great that it has made him groan. What is said here of the complaining sufferer is in Psalms 102:20 said of Zion (Jerusalem), whom he represents, as being his king (Psalms 31:10; Psalms 32:3).

Job, who was made miserable by illness, described his wasted condition this way: “My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth” (Job 19:20). All the old versions read, “My bones cleave to my flesh” (5b). The effect described is a wasting away or a loss of flesh caused by deep distress, so that the bones became visible through the flesh, for there is little to hide them from view; so that they seemed to adhere firmly to the flesh itself. This poor man (Daniel, for our purposes) was quite thin, even reduced to a skeleton, so that you might say he was nothing but skin and bone. “I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.” (Psalms 22:17).

[TL3.1} In historic and modern usage, a hearth is a brick or stone lined fireplace, with or without an oven, used for heating and originally also used for cooking food.

6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.
7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.

The pelican is not a bird of the wilderness at all; it is a specialized water bird and its natural habitats are located in the Danube Delta where it breeds and in the great lakes of Uganda where it winters. It migrates across the land of Israel.

The psalmist may have used “Pelican” to distinguish it from another water-bird with the same name. It has an unusual trait; it smites and pierces its breast to let out blood for the purpose of reviving its young. But, that is not all that is odd; for it is said to vomit shell fish it has swallowed down; see Leviticus 11:18 where the word is rendered a "pelican,” and in Deuteronomy 14:17, it is called "shovelard"; but in Isaiah 34:11 it is called a "cormorant.” However, it seems to be a bird of solitude, and therefore the psalmist compares it to himself. According to some Bible commentators, it is an Egyptian bird, that inhabits the desert of the river Nile, from which it has the name of Canopus Aegyptus.

The owl of the desert is not so easy to identify. The word used has always been a problem for the translator. The King James Version uses the word “owl” sixteen times to render five different Hebrew words. The Hebrew word here is kekos, “like an owl,” from the word kos. This word is also rendered “tawny owl”; the Revised Version has “little owl.” The little owl, naturalists tell us, is about 8½” inches long and breeds in most regions except the desert. If it is the tawny owl, then its natural habitat is the forest. To find an owl of this species in the desert would be to find it in the wrong natural environment. The owl is a well-known bird which dwells in solitude and in old ruins, and which becomes the very emblem of desolation by its seeking such places for its home, by its appearance, and by its doleful cry.

The sparrow, likewise, is mentioned in an unusual setting—“a sparrow alone upon the house top.” This is something of a contradiction because the house sparrow, like nearly all sparrows, is a communal bird seldom found alone. However, when one has lost its mate it will set on a house top alone and lament its loss. And so, the reference here may be to any of those birds which used to sit alone, watching and mourning upon house-tops.

Each of these three birds is in the wrong environment. The psalmist is thus lamenting to the Lord that his environment is wrong. If the author was Daniel, we know that he was snatched away from his homeland in his youth and transported to Babylon. There he was selected as one of the young Hebrews most likely to succeed and was deliberately placed by Nebuchadnezzar in an environment where he would forget his nationality as soon as possible and become a young Babylonian. Even his name was changed to Belteshazzar in honor of one of the local gods. All his life Daniel resisted these efforts to have him assimilated into the Babylonian culture. Even though he rose to a high position in Babylon, he never forgot that he did not belong there. It was not his native environment.

What a lesson for us! This world is not our home; we too, must resist all its efforts to swallow us up. We must constantly remind ourselves, in the presence of God, that our environment is wrong. We are born and bred for another land. We are citizens of Heaven, not earth.

8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me.
9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping.
10 Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.
11 My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.

He mentions the greatness of their scorn: “Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me” (102:8). We can think of instances in the recorded history of Daniel where this was so. Early in the Persian reign, the leaders of Babylonian society conspired to trap Daniel in the matter of his faith and to have him thrown into the den of lions.

Daniel’s enemies made false accusations against him, continually. “They hate me,” he says, “because I am one of thy people”; or, “Their dislike of me is something I have in common with others, and it has become a personal matter to me, so that my feelings and interests are identified with those of thy people. Perhaps there were also, mingled with this, personal reprimand and slander.

The Chaldeans have conspired together and are determined to destroy us; and they have bound themselves by oath to do it. They are so mad at me that they have become like madmen. It is not the wrath of an individual that I am to meet, but the combined wrath of those who act under the intensity of an oath. There’s a similar case related in Acts 23:12-14, where a number of Jews had bound themselves by an oath neither to eat nor drink till they had slain Paul.

(9a) For I have eaten ashes like bread,
He is sitting in ashes, as Job did, and rolling himself in them in the manner of mourners; and, having no other table than the ground to eat his food upon; he might eat ashes along with it. The sense may be, that he ate bread-like ashes, and he no more relished it, or was nourished by it, than if he had eaten ashes; the meaning is, that he was fed with the bread of adversity, and water of affliction.

He saw his countrymen adapting themselves to life in Babylon, adopting the land of their exile as though it were the land of promise, and it made him weep.

Daniel’s great vision of the future, his grasp of the coming rise and fall of empires, his certain knowledge that his beloved people Israel would be tossed between one world power and another for centuries to come, and his deep sense of shame at Israel’s past failures and present growing contentment with exile must have saddened Daniel.

The spiritual burdens he carried must have made him a misfit in Babylonian social circles, just as his high position made him the object of envy and hate. People could not stand to have a man like Daniel in their midst. They would see him as a “wet blanket,” for he seemed to always be occupied with the need for separation and with his mystical visions. Saints do not fit well in worldly settings, and Daniel was one of God’s rarest saints.

My heart is crushed by grief, and withered like grass. We now speak of “a broken heart.” Even death is often caused by such excessive sorrow which is able to crush and break the heart (see 4a).

12 But thou, O Lord, shall endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.
13 Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.
14 For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof.

In this section, the psalmist turns from his personal preoccupation with the conditions of his exile in a pagan, idolatrous culture to the plans and purposes of God for the chosen people. He weighs three great factors; A TRUTH FACTOR, A TIME FACTOR, and A TESTIMONY FACTOR in a glorious equation of hope.

“BUT THOU, O LORD, SHALL ENDURE FOR EVER; AND THY REMEMBRANCE UNTO ALL GENERATIONS. That is worth recalling. God is eternal, and God is enthroned! Nobody can overthrow a throne which has its pillars established in eternity. That is the great truth factor. No short-lived empire can overthrow the eternal purposes of God. In His person and in His purposes God is sovereign.

These words are meant for Christ, which is clear when Psalm 102:25 is compared with Hebrews 1:10. The Lord Jesus Christ is a divine Person; He endures forever, from everlasting to everlasting; He does not change, He is always the same in His love, power, wisdom, and faithfulness; and though he died as a man, he will never die again. He is alive, and will live forever, and because He lives, His people shall also live; and He will come again to take them to himself: and, as Mediator, He is King forever. He continues, as such, to rule over, protect, and defend His people; and as a Priest He ever lives to make intercession for them; and His blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, have a constant virtue in them, to take away sin, and put it away forever. The consideration of the perpetuity of Christ, in His person and offices, was a comfort to the psalmist when he was weighed-down by his troubles, and aware of his own declining state.

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 is the remembrance of His works, of what he has done and suffered, especially the great work of redemption. 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 His Gospel lives forever.

“THOU SHALT ARISE, AND HAVE MERCY UPON ZION: FOR THE TIME TO FAVOUR HER, YEA, THE SET TIME, IS COME” (102:13). Daniel, of all men, could sing a song like that. He who gave himself to passionate prayer, confessing the sins of Israel as though they were his very own. He it was who believed the prophecy of the seventy years, and received the prophecy of the seventy weeks. Of all men who ever lived, Daniel knew how to weigh the time factor. Other godly men in exile may have done the same; we know Daniel did.

(13a) THOU SHALT ARISE (Did he think God had been inattentive or inactive?), AND HAVE MERCY UPON ZION:
He speaks with as much confidence as if he had been in God’s bosom; for he knew the promise of deliverance after 70 years’ captivity (Habakkuk 1:12).
The Lord is asked to exert His power, and display the riches of His grace and mercy; not by delivering the Jews from the Babylonian captivity; but by redeeming his church and people by power and riches; or rather by rising up and restoring them to great glory and prosperity in the latter day.

What time is it? It is not the seventy years of the captivity which was made known to the prophet Jeremiah; but the seventy weeks of Daniel fixed for the Messiah's coming; or the fullness of time agreed upon, between Christ and His Father, for Him to come and redeem His people. But it most likely means the end of the forty-two months, or the 1260 days, or years, fixed for treading the holy city underfoot, for the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, and for the reign of antichrist; which when it comes will usher in glorious times for Zion, the church of God (Revelation 11:2{TL13b.1]). He understood this (Daniel 9:2{TL13b.2]), and therefore pressed God for a speedy fulfillment. While he is humbled at the footstool of mercy, and earnestly praying for mercy, an answer of peace is given; he is assured, not only that they shall be delivered, but that the time of deliverance is at hand. God loves to be burdened with His own word, but besides the promise, the psalmist had another reason for his confidence, and that is in the next passage.

This implies that there was an appointed time to favor her, or to bring her troubles to an end; a time established by God and revealed to the Son. The Hebrew word used here means properly an appointed season―a designated moment. Here it means that there was some period fixed in the Divine Mind when this was to occur, or a definite time when it had been predicted or promised that it would occur. The language used would be applicable to the captivity in Babylon, concerning which there was a promise that it should continue just seventy years. If the psalm refers to that, then the meaning is that there were indications in the course of events that that period was about to arrive (Daniel 9:2{TL13b.2]). What those indications were in this case, the psalmist immediately states (102:14). It may be remarked here, that there are usually some previous indications of what God is about to do. “Coming events cast their shadows before.” Even the divine purposes are accomplished usually in connection with human activity of some sort, and in the regular course of events; and it is frequently possible to predict that God is about to appear for the fulfillment of his promises. So, that is how it was with the coming of the Savior, and with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. So, when God is about to revive religion in a church there are plenty of indications.

“FOR THY SERVANTS TAKE PLEASURE IN HER STONES, AND FAVOUR THE DUST THEREOF.” Even the rubble and ruins of Jerusalem were a delight to Daniel. The existence of such devastation meant that no other nation had tried to take possession of a land and cities deeded by God to Israel. Even in their desolation and neglect the ruins were a testimony to the faithfulness of God. They would rise again in God’s good time—in a time that was fast approaching.

Though Jerusalem was at this time in a heap of ruins, yet even her rubbish was sacred in the eyes of the pious; for this had been the city of the great King. This was the “evidence” to the mind of the psalmist that God was about to visit His people, and to rebuild Jerusalem. It was an “awakened interest” among the professed people of God, leading them to manifest their love for Zion, and for all that pertained to her―a love for the very stones that lay in unremarkable heaps where the city once stood―the piles of rubbish where the walls and dwellings had once been. The people of God in their captivity began to look with strong interest on these very ruins, and with an earnest wish that from these ruins the city may again arise, and the walls be rebuilt.

“Favor” means literally, pity―or, show compassion for. They no longer look with indifference on these ruins of Zion (Jerusalem). They look with a tender heart on the very dust of those ruins. They feel that a wrong has been done to Zion; they ardently desire its restoration to its former splendor and glory. They long to again make it their home. They are weary with their captivity, and they are anxiously waiting for the time when they may revisit their native land. This would seem to refer to an awakened interest on the subject, caused perhaps in part by the fact that it could be ascertained (see Daniel 9:2{TL13b.2]) that the period of the captivity was about to end, and partly by an influence on their hearts from on high, awakening in them a deeper love for Zion―a revival of pure religion. The practical truth taught here is, that an indication of a coming revival of religion is often manifested by the increased attention to the subject among its professed friends; by the desire in their hearts that it may be so; by tenderness, pity, compassion among them in view of abounding desolations, the coldness of the church, and the prevalence of iniquity; by their looking with interest on that which had before been neglected, like shapeless ruins―the prayer-meeting, the communion, the sanctuary; by a conscious returning love in their hearts for all that pertains to religion, however unimportant it may be in the eyes of the world, or however it may be despised. A surrounding world would look with unconcern on the ruins of Jerusalem; a friend of God, in whose heart religion was revived, would look with the tenderest concern even on that rubbish, and those ruins. So it is in a revival of religion, when God is about to visit his church in mercy. Everything in regard to the church becomes an object of deep interest.

[TL13b.1} “But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months.” (Revelation 11:2; NIV).
[TL13b.2} “in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.” (Daniel 9:2; NIV)

15 So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.
16 When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.
17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

(102:15-17) God will rebuild Zion (16a)! The psalmist states his conviction concerning this in two ways. He knows that God will rebuild Zion because both His name and fame are at stake: “So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth Thy Glory (15) . . . He will regard the prayer of the destitute (17a), and not despise their prayer (17b).” The return from Babylon would be a thing of such triumph, such an evident token of God’s faithfulness to His word, such a glorious event, that even the heathen would acknowledge it. The prayers of the people of God would be answered. They had to be answered.

“So the heathen” refers to the nations; that is, the surrounding people, who hear what Thou has done for Thy people, will see the evidence that thou art God, and learn to love and worship Thee.
“Shall fear the name of the Lord”―Shall reverence and honor the Lord.
History discloses that after the edict of Cyrus to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, which was about four hundred and ninety years before Christ, the name of the true God was more generally known among the heathen; and translating the Sacred Writings into Greek, by the command of Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, about two hundred and eighty-five years before the Christian era spread a measure of the light of God in the Gentile world which they had not seen before. Add to this the dispersion of the Jews into different parts of the Roman Empire, after Judea became a Roman province, which took place about sixty years before the advent of our Lord; and we may consider these to be preparatory steps to the conversion of the heathen by the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. And to this last general illumination of the Gentile world, which the psalmist must allude to here, when he speaks of "the heathen fearing God's name, and all the kings of the earth His glory."
“The name of the Lord” is to be reverend, and to be feared; especially the glorious and fearful name "Jehovah,” which expresses the Divine existence, His eternity and immutability; though the name of the Lord frequently signifies Himself, and here particularly the Messiah, the Son of God, and the King of saints, whom all men will fear in the latter day, when the set time to favor Zion (Jerusalem) has arrived. People will stand in awe of Him, be careful not to offend Him, and will serve and worship Him; even the very Heathen, who knew not God, and had no fear of Him before their eyes, or in their hearts; that is, the Pagan nations, whose kingdoms will become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15, NIV).
The sovereigns of the earth will be especially affected and impressed with thy majesty. If this refers to the return from the captivity at Babylon, then it means that that event would be particularly suited to impress the minds of the rulers of the world, since it shows that God had all nations under his control; that he could deliver a captive people from the grasp of the mighty; that he was the friend of those who worshipped Him, and that He would deal harshly with all oppression and wrong-doing.

“AND ALL THE KINGS OF THE EARTH THY GLORY” means 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 the glory of the Gospel, with which the earth will now be full, and so be filled with the glory of the Lord, Psalm 72:19{TL15b.1], and will be so remarkable and conspicuous that the kings of the earth will take notice of it. They will be drawn to it by the brightness of it, and look upon it, and admire it, and become fearful because of it―“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1).

It is such a difficult thing, so totally improbable, so far out of the reach of human power, that when God does it, He must show His power and glory in a most extraordinary manner.

The church of God, fallen down, and in a ruinous condition, as it may be said to be when the doctrines of the Gospel are gone from it; the ordinances of it are corrupted and altered, or not taken notice of; the worship and discipline of the Lord's house are neglected; there is a great decline in faith, love, and zeal, among the professors of religion, and only a few instances of conversion. But it may be said to be built up again, as it will be in the latter day, when the doctrines of grace will be revived; its ordinances will be administered in their primitive purity; there’s great spirituality, holiness, and brotherly love, among the saints, and large numbers are converted and brought into it. All this will be the work of Christ, the great Master Builder. The materials of this building are the saints, those lively stones which will now be laid with impartiality. The ministers of the word will be the instruments that Christ will make use of in rebuilding His church; and it is His Spirit, power, and grace, which will make everything else effective.

(16b) HE SHALL APPEAR IN HIS GLORY. (or, "shall be seen in His glory")
The idea is that the building up of Zion (Jerusalem) would be an occasion in which God would manifest His glory. In reference to the restoration of his people from bondage; in rebuilding Zion, then in ruins; in restoring the splendor of the place where He had been worshipped for so long, he would display His true character as a God of glory, truth, power, and goodness. When applied to the church in general, this would mean that when God comes to revive religion, to visit His people, to recoup them from their backslidings, to convert and save sinners, He appears in His appropriate character as the God of His people―as a glorious God. Then the perfections of His nature are most illustriously displayed; then He appears in His true character, as a God of mercy, grace, and salvation. There is no scene on earth where the character of God is more gloriously exhibited than in a revival of true religion.

Literally, “He looks upon,” or “He focuses Himself upon their prayer.” He does not any longer seem to turn away from them and disregard them. He shows by building up Zion that He does regard prayer; that He hears the supplications of His people. There is no higher proof that prayer is heard than that which is often furnished in a revival of pure religion. All such revivals, like that on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1 ff), are usually preceded, as that was (Acts 1:13-14), by special prayer; in those revivals there are often the most obvious and clear answers to prayer for the conversion of individuals; to prayer for a blessing on a preached gospel; to prayer for particular relatives and friends.

“OF THE DESTITUTE” means literally, “of the poor.” The word - ערער ‛ar‛âr - occurs only here and in Jeremiah 17:6, where it is rendered “heath:” “He shall be like the ‘heath‘ in the desert.” The word, according to its etymology, means “naked;” then, poor, stripped of everything, impoverished, wholly destitute. It would thus be extremely applicable to the poor exiles in Babylon; it is as applicable to sinners pleading with God, and to the people of God themselves, destitute of everything like self-righteousness, and feeling that they have nothing in themselves, but that they are wholly dependent on the mercy of Go―“You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
Note: all the glorious things which shall be done for the church of God will be as a consequence of their prayers.
The idea here is that God should not treat their prayers with contempt, not reject it with contempt and loathing, and not let it pass by without hearing it. 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). This is stated as one of the reasons why the nations would be struck with awe―that God, the infinite God, would hear the prayers of those who were so poor, so powerless, so friendless. There is, in fact, nothing more suited to excite wonder than that God does hear the prayer of poor, lost, sinful man.

[TL15b.1} “Praise be to his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory. Amen and Amen.” (Psalm 72:19; NIV).

18 This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.
19 For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth;
20 To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;

(102:18-20) Daniel had learned from God about the coming great tribulation in the end times. The psalmist now transfers all his hopes for the ultimate fulfillment of prophecy to the end of the age. He sees the Lord delivering an unborn generation from worse perils than any yet experienced by His people. The Assyrian and Babylonian invasions and captivity would be like nothing when compared to this future crisis from which the Lord Himself would deliver Israel. The prophet-poet sees this future people.

This prayer― that the Lord will regard, and not despise the prayer of the destitute―shall be recorded for the instruction and encouragement of all future generations. The fact that God has heard the prayer of His people in a time of trial shall be recorded and remembered so that it may be referred to in similar circumstances that may occur in the future, for He is an unchanging God. What he has done before, he will always be willing to do again.

“The people which shall be created” are the future generations or those who shall become new creatures created in Christ Jesus, and made new men. Each successive generation is in fact a new “creation;” each individual is also; for the essential idea in creation is that of bringing something into existence where there was nothing before. There is a “beginning” of existence in every human being. Man is not in any proper sense a “development” from former beings, nor is his life merely a “continuance” of something which existed before.

These “shall praise the Lord,” when He shall arise and have mercy on Zion; when He shall improve 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, honor, and power unto the Lord our God (Revelation 19:1).

For He hath looked down from heaven, as it is explained in the next clause. Heaven is the Lord's sanctuary, or high and holy place (Isaiah 57:15), where He dwells. It is both high and holy, as He is; yet he condescends to look down from there on sinful mortals. He looks down on us, not like an idle spectator, but with an eye of pity and relief, as the next verse declares.

The Lord looked down on the earth from heaven, on the inhabitants of it, good and bad. He beholds the world that lies in wickedness and all the wickedness committed on it; and will one day call it to an accounting, and punish it. He beholds good men, not only with an eye of divine intervention, to care for, protect and defend them, but with an eye of love, grace, and mercy. He has a special and distinct knowledge of them, but here particularly He takes notice of His people who are under antichristian tyranny; he sees all the barbarity and cruelty inflicted upon them, and will punish their adversaries, and free them.

“The prisoner” probably refers to the captives in Babylon; those who were held as prisoners there, and who were subjected to many hardships in their long captivity. He doesn’t mean a single prisoner only, but many who lie in prisons and groan in darkness and misery under dreadful tortures. The Lord hears their cries and groans, and His heart yearns to free them. He looks with pity on them; and, because of the sighing of these poor and needy inmates, He will arise someday to bring them to safety, away from those that threaten and harm them. It is true, also, of all those who are prisoners of sin, Satan, and the law; and, when aware of it, groan under their bondage, and cry to the Lord for help, Who hears them, and directs them, as prisoners of hope, to turn to Christ, their stronghold (Zechariah 9:11)

The Hebrew reads, “To loose those that are “the children of death.” This may mean either those who were sentenced to death; those who were sick and ready to die; or those who, in their captivity, were in such a state of privation and suffering that death appeared inevitable. The word rendered “loose” means, properly, to “open,” applied to the mouth, for eating (Ezekiel 3:2); or in song (Psalm 78:2); or for speaking (Job 3:1); or the ear (Isaiah 50:5); or the hand (Deuteronomy 15:8); or the gates of a city, a door, etc., (Deuteronomy 20:11). Then it means to set free, such as by opening the doors of a prison (Isaiah 14:17; Job 12:14). Here it means to “set free,” to deliver (Compare Isaiah 61:1). These the Lord will loose, and save them from the death they are appointed to by men; for this is not to be understood as applying to persons appointed to death by the Lord, from which none can be loosed. In the original text the phrase is "children of death"; which is 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 understanding, like dead men. When they are awakened and convinced of their state by the Spirit of God, Christ looses them from the shackles and chains 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.

21 To declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem;
22 When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord.

(102:21-22) The prophesy within verses 21 and 22 did not happen at the return from Babylon. The prophet therefore anticipates the distant end of the age when, during the millennium, the nations will join with Israel in making an annual trek to Jerusalem to share in the great festivities and to unite in worshipping the Lord.

That is, to publish, declare and make known “the name of the Lord” to the citizens of Jerusalem, for it is the name that is above every name, the name of the Son of God; that Messenger of the Covenant, that Messiah in whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelt. They must begin at Jerusalem, so that the first offers of mercy might be made to the Jews, from whom the word of reconciliation was to go out to all the ends of the earth. But first, His people must return there, and His praise be celebrated again in the holy city.

When the Gentiles get together “in Jerusalem” with the Jews, and join with them in the praise and worship of the one true God, and of the Messiah, the Gospel church state will begin. When Zion (Jerusalem) 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.

This verse seems to be added to suggest, that although the psalmist, in this Psalm, referred to the deliverance of the Jews out of Babylon, yet he had an additional aim―that great and more general deliverance of His Church and people by Christ.

(22a) When the people are gathered together,
When the people of God shall be brought from their dispersion in distant lands, when all the Gentiles are enlightened, and the kings of the earth come to pay homage to the King of kings; when they shall assemble again in the city of their fathers (Jerusalem), and when public worship shall be celebrated there as it was in the past―they will gather there to worship and serve God.

(22b) and the kingdoms,
The Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate render this, “kings.” The reference must be to the time when those of other lands―kings and their people―would be converted to the true religion; when the Gentiles as well as the Jews, then one undistinguished people, would be brought to the knowledge of the true God, and would become His and unite in His worship. All lands will yet praise the Lord and serve Him “as if” they were one great congregation, assembled in one place. Thus, though separate, they will with united feeling recount the mercy and goodness of God to His people in past times.

Their kings will fall down before the Lord and will serve Him (Psalm 72:11{TL22c.1) in righteousness and holiness, freely and cheerfully and then it will be the time when the prisoners shall be loosed, and the Lord shall be praised in Zion (Jerusalem).

[TL22c.1} “May all kings bow down to him and all nations serve him” (Psalm 72:11; NIV)

23 He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days.
24a I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days:
The Septuagint Version reads quite differently: “He answered him in the way of his strength: tell me the shortness of my days. Do not take me away.” If Daniel did write this psalm and if this alternate reading is acceptable, the prophet is now comparing the brevity of his own life (even though he was probably in his eighties) with the eternity of days which belong to God. Also, one can well imagine that the aged prophet, though troubled by the worldliness of so many of his countrymen, was keenly interested in all that was happening. He himself was quite willing to stay on in high office so that he could lend his support. The times were so fascinating, so full of soul-stirring events; he dreaded that he could die before seeing how everything would work out.

23 He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days.
24a I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days:

(23a) HE WEAKENED (Hebrew, “afflicted”) MY STRENGTH IN THE WAY;
At this point, the psalmist turns from the triumphant view which he had of the future (21-22), and resumes his complaint―the recollection of his troubles and sorrows (102:3-11). He speaks, no doubt, in the name of his people, and describes troubles which were common to all of them. Perhaps the recital of his troubles here may be designed; as such a recollection should be, to heighten his sense of the goodness and mercy of God in the anticipated blessings of the future.

Our psalmist’s complaint is that we are brought so low in our captivity by oppression, by every type of torment and cruelty, and even by death, that there is now no hope of our restoration by any efforts of our own. The idea is that God had taken his strength away; He had weakened him―humbled him―brought him low by sorrow.

The word “way” refers to the course (way of life) which he was pursuing. In his journey of life God had afflicted, humbled, and prostrated him.

(Compare Job 21:21; Psalm 89:45.) He continues telling of his personal anguish, that God seemed to be about to cut him off from life, and to bring him to the grave. The psalmist felt so confident that he would die that he could no longer endure these troubles, but was sinking under them, and he spoke as if his life was over (Psalm 6:4-5).

This clause was always deemed a judgment, as a sign of God's stinging displeasure, and as what only happened to wicked men (Psalm 55:23). In the Hebrew it is, "cause me not to ascend"; either as smoke, which ascends, and soon vanishes away; or instead it refers to the separation of the soul from the body at death, when it ascends upwards to God that gave it (compare Eccl. 12:7). The Targum is, "Do not take me out of the world in the midst of my days, bring me to the world to come.” “The midst (middle) of my days,” means literally “at the halfway point of life.”

So, even if he cannot live on as king, helping to steer the ship of state through the historic years of the return, the future of Israel is in more capable hands than his. It is in the hands of a God who watches human generations come and go, a God that time can never touch, a God well able to oversee the fortunes of Israel, a God never frustrated by morality and a sense of the shortness of life.
"THY YEARS” are not like men's years, of the same eminence or number; but are boundless and infinite. The phrase is expressive of the eternity of God, or Christ. The psalmist attributes his own frailty to his old age (He is probably in his eighties.), which he illustrates in the following verses, by setting it in contrast with the discontinuation and changeableness of the heavens and the earth (see Job 10:5).
25 Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
26 They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:
27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.

(25-27) Eternal God created the heavens and earth, which will one day pass away. Hebrews 1:10-12, applies this passage to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is superior to the angels because He is eternal, while they had a beginning; and He created, but they were created.

This passage clearly affirms the eternal nature and deity of Christ. The unchangeable God will outlast His creation, even into the new creation (compare Mal. 3:6; James 1:17; 2 Peter chapter 3; Rev. Chapters 21 and 22).

“OF OLD HAST THOU LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH: AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORK OF THY HANDS” (25). God is a tremendous God—immeasurable in His power, well able to shepherd little Israel struggling for national survival and seeming to exist only at the vacillating whim of capricious Gentile kings.

“THEY SHALL PERISH, BUT THOU SHALT ENDURE: YEA, ALL OF THEM SHALL WAX OLD LIKE A GARMENT; AS A VESTURE SHALT THOU CHANGE THEM, AND THEY SHALL BE CHANGED: BUT THOU ART THE SAME, AND THY YEARS SHALL HAVE NO END” (26-27). Astronomers now know how accurate those words are. The vast reaches of space are littered with the debris of worn-out stars, stars which have waxed old, expanded, burned themselves out and collapsed or torn themselves apart. They suspect, too, that when their present impetus is spent, the galaxies will come crashing back together again—only to explode once more into a new heaven. But above and beyond them all, impassive, impervious to change, imperial in His sovereignty, is the eternal, uncreated, self-existing God—the God who has bound Himself in covenant relationship with His people. This classic passage is picked up by the Holy Spirit in Hebrews 1:10-12 and applied directly to Christ.

(26) Both the heavens and the earth, though so well founded, and so firmly made shall be dissolved, melt, and pass away.

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 forever; His throne is for ever and ever; His kingdom is an everlasting one. He is a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek. His sacrifice is of an eternal effectiveness, 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, He will be the light of the New Jerusalem, and of His saints, forever.

Not only the heavens, which are like a curtain and garment about the earth, but the earth itself (Isa. 51:6) will lose its beauty and glory, and become useless in its present form.

in their form, like a garment that is folded up, and laid aside, compared to its present use. This seems to favor the above sense given, that the earth and heavens will not perish, in their substance; but in their form, figure, fashion, and scheme. And as to the character of them, all harmful ones have been purged away by fire, the curse removed, and new heavens and new earth arise out of them.

"The coming destruction of the world, as it now stands, is very frequently declared in Holy Scripture (see Isa. 51:6; 65:17; Matt. 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33; 2 Peter 3:7, 10, 12). If heaven and earth perish, how much more must man perish. But the Church by reason of God's promise endures forever.

You are Creator or "thou art He", the everlasting I AM, the unchangeable Jehovah. He is immutable in His nature and excellence, in His love and affection for His people, and in His power to protect and keep them, in His wisdom to guide and direct them; in His righteousness to clothe them, and render them acceptable to God; in His blood to cleanse them, and bring peace and pardon to them; in His fullness to supply them, and in His intercession for them.

(See note on Psalm 102:24). Now He that made the heavens and the earth, and will still be living when they are not. And from His eternity and immutability, it may be concluded that His church and interest in the world will continue, until all the glorious things spoken of it shall be fulfilled, as follows. "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:34-35).

28 The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.

After all, the future of Israel did not depend on the influence at court of a saintly sage by the name of Daniel. It did not depend on the good graces of a heathen king. It did not depend on the skill and wisdom of a Zerubbabel, a Joshua, or an Ezra or on the power, personality, and persuasiveness of a cup-bearer named Nehemiah. It did not depend on the vigor and vision of a Haggai or a Zechariah, or on the advice of a Malachi. The future of Israel is in the hands of a God who is powerful enough to create the universe, ageless enough to be eternal, faithful enough to keep His Word to His chosen people. The poet realizes that he will never live to see the fulfillment of all that the prophets had spoken. But eventually they will be fulfilled because they are in the keeping of a God who can never break His Word. Such was Daniel’s God! And such is our God.

The "SERVANTS" of the Lord are the apostles of Christ, and ministers of the word, in all successive generations. Christ will be with them all the way to the end of the world. Their "CHILDREN" are those whom they have brought to Christ through the testimony of the Gospel, and to whom they are spiritual fathers. There will be a succession of regenerated souls in all ages, until Christ’s day of glory takes place. These are the church's seed, and her seed's seed, from which the word of the Lord, the Gospel, will never depart (Isa. 59:21). These "shall inhabit”; that is, the new heavens, and the new earth, when the old ones have passed away. Here they shall dwell with the Lord, who is the same today, yesterday, and forever.

The “SEED” refers here to the spiritual seed of the church and of faithful ministers. These, along with the church in which they are born and brought up, shall be established in Christ. The church will be no more in an unstable and fluctuating state, but will be like a tabernacle that shall not be taken down, but shall be established upon the top of the mountains, and exalted above the hills (see Isa. 2:2).This is the realistic hope of one who perceives that though he is about to die, God’s purposes on earth will be accomplished in future generations in thy gracious presence, either here in thy church, or hereafter in heaven. Seeing that you have chosen your Church from out of the world, and joined it to you, it cannot but help continue forever: for you are everlasting.