Augustine. Exposition on the Book of Psalms. Schaff, Philip (editor). New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co, 1886. Nicene and Post-Nicene Church Fathers: Series 1: Volume VIII. Re-published 2014, Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle electronic edition, ISBN-13: 978-1-78379-372-3.
Augustine opens his reflections on Psalm 102 with a consideration of whether the poor man who prays might be Christ, who became poor for our sake, that we could be rich (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336530, par. 1). Augustine's allegorical interpretation extends from that point to describe Christ not only taking on humanity but having as His body the whole Chruh. Therefore, Christians, strong and weak alike, are His body, His limbs (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336540, par. 2). The afflicted one, identified in the title of the Psalm, is the Christ, who pours out prayers. Augustine reflects briefly on the paradox that Christ, the ruler of all, is also the afflicted one (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336548, par. 2).
In Psalm 102:1, then, the Psalmist cries out to God with his prayers. The plea is that God would not turn away from him (v. 2). This is the cry of someone who is facing trouble day after day (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336556, par. 3). Augustine sees this as the same prayer which is prayed day by day throughout the ages by the faithful. Even in times of light (v. 3, "day"), the faithful must call out to God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336561, par. 4).
In verse four, the Psalmist's "heart is smitten down" (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336571, par. 5. Augustine sees this as the pattern, from Adam to Christ. The smitten heart doesn't eat the bread that is good for him, the living bread. After Christ, however, the blessing of God is upon those who hunger for righteousness. In the meantime, however, in verse five, the groaning is severe (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336581, par. 6). Augustine sees this groaning as a sign that though we may gain earthly wealth we are stil groaning for righteousness.
Verse six describes three types of birds in different places. All are in their own habitats, all call out to be heard (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336597, par. 7). Augustine sees these as an illustration of the Christian who calls out that others should believe. Augustine does continue to tell a myth about pelicans, that they kill their young then pour their blood over the young, bringing them back to life (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336607, par. 8). This reminds Augustine of Christ, who poured out his blood to give us life. Augustine continues by comparing Christ and his work to that of other birds.
Verse eight reveals a reason fro the groaning. Enemies have spoken against th Psalmist (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336627, par. 9). Augustine again observes that this is easily applied to Christ. The attacks of the unrighteous lend a foul taste to life, as exemplified in verse nine, where we eat ash and drink tears (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336633, par. 10). The attacks of the pagans in Augustine's time were very similar. Augustine creates a brief sample dialog between the Christian ad=nd the pagan at this point. It is clear that the pagan neiither understands a Christian view nor intends to try.
The topic of the Psalm shifts slightly in verse 10, which observes God can lift up or cast down (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336653, par. 11). We are born under the curse of sin, not being in God's image but in that of our sinful father Adam. Augustine notes that our freedom of choice leads not to our being lifted up by God but to our condemnation. It is by God's grace we are lifted up (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336658, par. 11). Verse 11 goes on to speak of our days declining. The earlier theme of a decline has come back. However, in Christ, Augustine says we will be refreshed (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336668, par. 12). Despite our weakness or even our fall, God has not grown old or weak. Verse 12 shows that God remembers his people forever (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336668, par. 13). God's mercy, in verse 13, is present.
In the time of God's presence and deliverance, verse 14 says God's people are pleased in the stones of Zion. Augustine takes these to be the prophets of God, those who preach the truth of the Gospel (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336679, par. 15). The kingdom of God then grows, through Christ. This brings even the unbelieving nations to fear God (v. 15). Augustine here again draws the image of Jesus as the corner stone, connecting Jew and Gentile walls in God's temple (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336694, par. 16). In this way, in verse 16, God builds up Zion. He hears the cry of the poor, caring for the humble who belong to him (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336699, par. 18).
In verse 18 the message becomes intergenerational (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336704, par. 19). The message of the Old Testament is also for the people of the New Testament. God looks down (vv. 19-20) to see the rich and poor and to rescue "the children of such as are put to death" (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336714, par. 20). God's care extends to all generations. To do this, Augustine sees God taking his people as prisoners to wisdom and mercy. This would not be our natural desire but it fulfills God's good will (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336720, par. 20). It is the means by which God raises His people up. Sorrow for sin leads to repentance, which calls forth God's action to forgive and release His people (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336729, par. 20). This brings forth a declaration of God's Word (v. 21). Augustine sees God's Church serving as a watch tower where God's Word is declared. This is done not only by our words but as the nations gather to serve God (v. 22) (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336740, par. 22).
In verse 23, Augustine notes, it is either "God's praise" or "Jerusalem" which answers God (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336745, par. 23). Because Augustine finds the antecedent to be indistinct, he comments on the verse using each interpretation. If "his praise" answers him, God's elect respond to His voice, by faith, not by works (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336750, par. 23). If Jerusalem answers, the same conclusion holds. The response is a fithful assent of God's people to His call. The answer comes from "the path of His strength" (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336755, par. 24). Augustine takes this as a reference to Christ's people responding in faith of His resurrection, not His death. The resurrection is the sign of strength. This answer requires unity. It is not on of individual, fragmented Christians (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336761, par. 25). The Church, with one voice, speaks the truth. Augustine sees this also as a declaration that the Gospel must be taken to all nations (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336771, par. 26).
Augustine therefore says that heresy and the heretics pass away, having a short life. On the contrary, God's truth lasts forever (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336776, par. 27). Verse 24 speaks of enduring to the end of our days, not being interrupted in the middle of them. Yet in contrast to God's people, God's days will never come to an end (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336787, par. 27). When God gathers people, then, He gathers them from all generations, but they are eternally in the present time. They share in God's eternity (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336797, par. 28).
Verse 25 reflects on the eternity of God. He was able to create all things (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336802, par. 29). The works of God pass away (v. 26) but He lasts forever. Augustine notes many things in the created order that have passed away (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336813, par. 30). Even our earthly bodies wear out. Augustine takes verse 27 to speak of our wearing out, but reminds us that we change and God does not. The emphasis lies on God's eternity (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336828, par. 31).
The eternity of God is the safe dwelling of God's people, from age to age (v. 28). The promises of God are for every generation (Augustine Psalms, loc. 336833, par. 32). This is evidence of God's goodness.