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Commentary On Psalms Volume 4 by Jean Calvin

Psalm 102:15-18

15. And the nations shall fear the name of Jehovah, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.16. For Jehovah hath built up Zion, and hath appeared in his glory.17. He hath regarded the prayer of the solitary, and hath not despised their prayers. 18. This shall be registered for the generation that is to come: and the people to be created shall praise him.

15. And the nations shall fear the name of Jehovah The prophet here describes the fruit which would result from the deliverance of the ancient tribes; which is, that thereby God's glory would be rendered illustrious among nations and kings. He tacitly intimates, that when the Church is oppressed, the Divine glory is at the same time debased; even as the God of Israel was, no doubt, at the period referred to, derided by the ungodly, as if he had been destitute of the power to succor his people. It is therefore declared, that if he redeem them, it will afford such a remarkable proof of his power as to constrain the Gentiles to reverence him whom they contemned.

The concluding part of the 16th verse, He hath appeared in his glory, refers to the manifestation which God made of himself when he brought forth his Church from the darkness of death; even as it is said in another place concerning her first deliverance, |Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominions| (Psalm 114:2) In like manner in the present passage, by again gathering to himself his people who were dispersed, and by raising his Church, as it were, from death to life, he appeared in his glory. It is surely no ordinary consolation to know that the love of God towards us is so great, that he will have his glory to shine forth in our salvation. It is true, that when the pious Jews were in the midst of their afflictions, the working of divine power was hidden from them; but they nevertheless always beheld it by the eye of faith, and in the mirror of the divine promises.

17 He hath regarded the prayer of the solitary It is worthy of notice, that the deliverance of the chosen tribes is ascribed to the prayers of the faithful. God's mercy was indeed the sole cause which led him to deliver his Church, according as he had graciously promised this blessing to her; but to stir up true believers to greater earnestness in prayer, he promises that what he has purposed to do of his own good pleasure, he will grant in answer to their requests. Nor is there any inconsistency between these two truths, that God preserves the Church in the exercise of his free mercy, and that he preserves her in answer to the prayers of his people; for as their prayers are connected with the free promises, the effect of the former depends entirely upon the latter. When it is said, that the prayers of the solitary were heard, it is not to be understood of one man only, (for in the clause immediately following, the plural number is used;) but all the Jews, so long as they remained ejected from their own country, and lived as exiles in a strange land, are called solitary, because, although the countries of Assyria and Chaldea were remarkably fertile and delightful, yet these wretched captives, as I have previously observed, wandered there as in a wilderness. And as at that time this solitary people obtained favor by sighing, so now when the faithful are scattered, and are without their regular assemblies, the Lord will hear their groanings in this desolate dispersion, provided they all with one consent, and with unfeigned faith, earnestly breathe after the restoration of the Church.

18. This shall be registered for the generation that is to come The Psalmist magnifies still more the fruit of the deliverance of his people, for the purpose of encouraging himself and others in the hope of obtaining the object of their prayers. He intimates, that this will be a memorable work of God, the praise of which shall be handed down to succeeding ages. Many things are worthy of praise, which are soon forgotten; but the prophet distinguishes between the salvation of the Church, for which he makes supplication, and common benefits. By the word register, he means that the history of this would be worthy of having a place in the public records, that the remembrance of it might be transmitted to future generations. There is in the words a beautiful contrast between the new creation of the people and the present destruction; of which interpreters improperly omit to take any notice. When the people were expelled from their country, the Church was in a manner extinguished. Her very name might seem to be dead, when the Jews were mingled among the heathen nations, and no longer constituted a distinct and united body. Their return was accordingly as it were a second birth. Accordingly, the prophet with propriety expects a new creation. Although the Church had perished, he was persuaded that God, by his wonderful power, would make her rise again from death to renovated life. This is a remarkable passage, showing that the Church is not always so preserved, as to continue to outward appearance to survive, but that when she seems to be dead, she is suddenly created anew, whenever it so pleases God. Let no desolation, therefore, which befalls the Church, deprive us of the hope, that as God once created the world out of nothing, so it is his proper work to bring forth the Church from the darkness of death.

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