We may here observe,
I. The imminent danger that the Jewish church was in of being quite extirpated and cut off by the captivity in Babylon (Ps. 102:23): He weakened my strength in the way. They were for many ages in the way to the performance of the great promise made to their fathers concerning the Messiah, longing as much for it as ever a traveller did to be at his journey’s end. The legal institutions l 241c ed them in the way; but when the ten tribes were lost in Assyria, and the two almost lost in Babylon, the strength of that nation was weakened, and, in all appearance, its day shortened; for they said, Our hope is lost; we are cut off for our parts, Ezek. 37:11. And then what becomes of the promise that Shiloh should arise out of Judah, the star out of Jacob, and the Messiah out of the family of David? If these fail, the promise fails. This the psalmist speaks of as in his own person, and it is very applicable to two of the common afflictions of this time:—1. To be sickly. Bodily distempers soon weaken our strength in the way, make the keepers of the house to tremble and the strong men to bow themselves. 2. To be short-lived. Where the former is felt, this is feared; when in the midst of our days, according to a course of nature, our strength is weakened, what can we expect but that the number of our months should be cut off in the midst? and what should we do but provide accordingly? We must own God’s hand in it (for in his hand our strength and time are), and must reconcile it to his love, for it has often been the lot of those that have used their strength well to have it weakened, and of those that could very ill be spared to have their days shortened.
II. A prayer for the continuance of it (Ps. 102:24): “O my God! take me not away in the midst of my days; let not this poor church be cut off in the midst of the days assigned it by the promise; let it not be cut off till the Messiah shall come. Destroy it not, for that blessing is in it,” Isa. 65:8. She is a criminal, but, for the sake of that blessing which is in her, she pleads for a reprieve. This is a prayer for the afflicted, and which, with submission to the will of God, we may in faith put up, that God would not take us away in the midst of our days, but that, if it be his will, he would spare us to do him further service and to be made riper for heaven.
III. A plea to enforce this prayer taken from the eternity of the Messiah promised, Ps. 102:25-27. The apostle quotes these verses (Heb. 1:10-12) and tells us, He saith this to the Son, and in that exposition we must acquiesce. It is very comfortable, in reference to all the changes that pass over the church, and all the dangers it is in, that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Thy years are throughout all generations, and cannot be shortened. It is likewise comfortable in reference to the decay and death of our own bodies, and the removal of our friends from us, that God is an everliving God, and that therefore, if he be ours, in him we may have everlasting consolation. In this plea observe how, to illustrate the eternity of the Creator, he compares it with the mutability of the creature; for it is God’s sole prerogative to be unchangeable. 1. God made the world, and therefore had a being before it from eternity. The Son of God, the eternal Word, made the world. It is expressly said, All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made; and therefore the same was in the beginning from eternity with God, and was God, John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Eph. 3:9; Heb. 1:2. Earth and heaven, and the hosts of both, include the universe and its fulness, and these derive their being from God by his Son (Ps. 102:25): “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth, which is founded on the seas and on the floods and yet it abides; much more shall the church, which is built upon a rock. The heavens are the work of thy hands, and by thee are all their motions and influences directed;” God is therefore the fountain, not only of all being, but of all power and dominion. See how fit the great Redeemer is to be entrusted with all power, both in heaven and in earth, since he himself, as Creator of both, perfectly knows both and is entitled to both. 2. God will unmake the world again, and therefore shall have a being to eternity (Ps. 102:26, 27): They shall perish, for thou shalt change them by the same almighty power that made them, and therefore, no doubt, thou shalt endure; thou art the same. God and the world, Christ and the creature, are rivals for the innermost and uppermost place in the soul of man, the immortal soul; now what is here said, one would think, were enough to decide the controversy immediately and to determine us for God and Christ. For, (1.) A portion in the creature is fading and dying: They shall perish; they will not last so long as we shall last. The day is coming when the earth and all the works that are therein shall be burnt up; and then what will become of those that have laid up their treasure in it? Heaven and earth shall wax old as a garment, not by a gradual decay, but, when the set time comes, they shall be laid aside like an old garment that we have no more occasion for: As a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed, not annihilated, but altered, it may be so that they shall not be at all the same, but new heavens and a new earth. See God’s sovereign dominion over heaven and earth. He can change them as he pleases and when he pleases; and the constant changes they are subject to, in the revolutions of day and night, summer and winter, are earnests of their last and final change, when the heavens and time (which is measured by them) shall be no more. (2.) A portion in God is perpetual and everlasting: Thou art the same, subject to no change; and thy years have no end, Ps. 102:27. Christ will be the same in the performance that he was in the promise, the same to his church in captivity that he was to his church at liberty. Let not the church fear the weakening of her strength, or the shortening of her days, while Christ himself is both her strength and her life; he is the same, and has said, Because I live you shall live also. Christ came in the fulness of time, and set up his kingdom in spite of the power of the Old-Testament Babylon, and he will keep it up in spite of the power of the New-Testament Babylon.
IV. A comfortable assurance of an answer to this prayer (Ps. 102:28): The children of thy servants shall continue; since Christ is the same, the church shall continue from one generation to another; from the eternity of the head we may infer the perpetuity of the body, though often weak and distempered, and even at death’s door. Those that hope to wear out the saints of the Most High will be mistaken. Christ’s servants shall have children; those children shall have a seed, a succession, of professing people; the church, as well as the world, is under the influence of that blessing, Be fruitful and multiply. These children shall continue, not in their own persons, by reason of death, but in their seed, which shall be established before God (that is, in his service, and by his grace); the entail of religion shall not be cut off while the world stands, but, as one generation of good people passes away, another shall come, and thus the throne of Christ shall endure.