Psalm 102:20
To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;
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(20, 21) Comp. Isaiah 61:1-2, and generally the whole magnificent cycle of prophetic songs at the close of Isaiah.

Appointed to death.—See margin. LXX. and Vulg., “the sons of the slain.”

102:12-22 We are dying creatures, but God is an everlasting God, the protector of his church; we may be confident that it will not be neglected. When we consider our own vileness, our darkness and deadness, and the manifold defects in our prayers, we have cause to fear that they will not be received in heaven; but we are here assured of the contrary, for we have an Advocate with the Father, and are under grace, not under the law. Redemption is the subject of praise in the Christian church; and that great work is described by the temporal deliverance and restoration of Israel. Look down upon us, Lord Jesus; and bring us into the glorious liberty of thy children, that we may bless and praise thy name.To hear the groaning of the prisoner - Meaning here, probably, the captives in Babylon; those who were held as prisoners there, and who were subjected to such hardships in their long captivity. See the notes at Psalm 79:11.

To loose those that are appointed to death - Margin, as in Hebrew, "the children of death." Compare the notes at Matthew 1:1. 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. Them it means to set free, 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.

19-22. For—or, "That," as introducing the statement of God's condescension. A summary of what shall be written.

to loose … appointed—or, "deliver" them (Ps 79:11).

To release his poor captives out of Babylon, and, which is more, from the chains and fetters of sin and Satan, and from eternal destruction. To hear the groanings of the prisoner,.... Not of a single person only, but of many, who lie in prisons in Popish countries, especially in the Inquisition; where they lie and groan, in darkness and misery, under dreadful tortures; their cries and groans the Lord hears; his heart yearns towards them; he looks with pity on them; and, because of the sighing of these poor and needy ones, he will arise in due time, and set them in safety from him that puffs at them: it is true also of such who are prisoners of sin, Satan, and the law; and, when sensible 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 strong hold, Zechariah 9:11,

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.

To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are {o} appointed to death;

(o) Who now in their banishment could look for nothing but death.

20. An echo of the prayer in Psalm 79:11. Cp. Isaiah 42:7; Isaiah 61:1. Israel in exile is compared to a condemned captive languishing in prison, and doomed to perish if Jehovah does not speedily interpose.

the groaning of the prisoner] R.V. the sighing of the prisoner, as in Psalm 79:11.

those that are appointed to death] Lit. the sons of death. Cp. 1 Samuel 20:31 (marg.). The word for death is a form found only here and in Psalm 79:11.Verse 20. - To hear the groaning of the prisoner (see Exodus 2:24, "God heard their groaning;" and comp. Exodus 3:7; Exodus 6:5). To loose those that are appointed to death; literally, the sons of death (comp. Psalm 79:11). Captive Israel regarded its life in Babylon as little better than death (see Ezekiel 37:11). When the church in its individual members dies off on a foreign soil, still its God, the unchangeable One, remains, and therein the promise has the guarantee of its fulfilment. Faith lays hold upon this guarantee as in Psalm 90. It becomes clear from Psalm 9:8 and Lamentations 5:19 how תּשׁב is to be understood. The Name which Jahve makes Himself by self-attestation never falls a prey to the dead past, it is His ever-living memorial (זכר, Exodus 3:15). Thus, too, will He restore Jerusalem; the limit, or appointed time, to which the promise points is, as his longing tells the poet, now come. מועד, according to Psalm 75:3; Habakkuk 2:3, is the juncture, when the redemption by means of the judgment on the enemies of Israel shall dawn. לחננהּ, from the infinitive חנן, has ĕ, flattened from ă, in an entirely closed syllable. רצה seq. acc. signifies to have pleasure in anything, to cling to it with delight; and חנן, according to Proverbs 14:21, affirms a compassionate, tender love of the object. The servants of God do not feel at home in Babylon, but their loving yearning lingers over the ruins, the stones and the heaps of the rubbish (Nehemiah 4:2), of Jerusalem.
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