|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
102:1-11 The whole word of God is of use to direct us in prayer; but here, is often elsewhere, the Holy Ghost has put words into our mouths. Here is a prayer put into the hands of the afflicted; let them present it to God. Even good men may be almost overwhelmed with afflictions. It is our duty and interest to pray; and it is comfort to an afflicted spirit to unburden itself, by a humble representation of its griefs. We must say, Blessed be the name of the Lord, who both gives and takes away. The psalmist looked upon himself as a dying man; My days are like a shadow.
Verse 6. - I am like a pelican in the wilderness. The Hebrew word here rendered "pelican" is elsewhere in our version translated by "cormorant" (Leviticus 11:7; Deuteronomy 14:17; Isaiah 34:11; Zephaniah 2:14); but it is now generally believed that the pelican is intended (compare the Septuagint πελεκᾶνι, and see Mr. Houghton's letter in the Academy, April 5, 1884, and the versions of Hengstenberg, Kay, Cheyne, and our Revisers). The pelican is a bird which haunts marshy and desolate places. It abounds in the Lake Huleh in Northern Galilee (Thomson, 'The Land and the Book,' p. 260). I am like an owl of the desert; or, "of the ruins." The owl haunts ruins in the East no less than in our own country (Layard, 'Nineveh and Babylon,' p. 484, note).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I am like a pelican of the wilderness,.... It may be so called, to distinguish it from another of the same name that lives upon the waters; which has the name of "pelican" in the Greek tongue, as is said, from its smiting and piercing its breast, and letting out blood for the reviving of its young; and in the Hebrew language, from its vomiting shell fish it has swallowed down; See Gill on Leviticus 11:18 where the word is rendered a "pelican" as here, and in Deuteronomy 14:17, the same we call the "shovelard"; but a "cormorant" in Isaiah 34:11, however, it seems to be a bird of solitude, and therefore the psalmist compares himself to it. According to Isidore (g), it is an Egyptian bird, that inhabits the desert of the river Nile, from whence it has the name of Canopus Aegyptus:
I am like an owl of the desert; or "of desert places"; so the Tigurine version; it is translated "the little owl" in Leviticus 11:17. It delights to be on old walls, and in ruined houses, and cares not to consort with other birds, and it makes a hideous sorrowful noise (h). Jarchi renders it the hawk, but that, as Kimchi (i) observes, is found in habitable places. Bochart (k) thinks the "onocrotalos" is meant, a bird so much of the same kind with the pelican, that they are promiscuously used by learned men; and which is a creature, as Jerom (l) says, that is used to dwell in desert places; and Isidore (m) observes, that there are two sorts of them, one that lives in the water, and another in the desert; it has its name from its braying like an ass; and Aelianus (n) speaks of a bird of this sort in India, which has a large crop like a sack; and the Hebrew word "cos" here used signifies a cup or vessel, from whence it may have its name; and which he says makes a very disagreeable noise, to which the psalmist may compare the voice of his groaning, Psalm 102:5.
(g) Origin. l. 12. c. 7. (h) "Solaque culminibus ferali carmine Bubo, saepe queri----", Virgil. Aeneid. 4. (i) Sepher Shorash. rad. (k) Hierozoic. par. 2. l. 2. c. 20. col. 275, 276. (l) Comment. in Esaiam, c. 34. fol. 64. A. (m) Ut supra. (Origin. l. 12. c. 7.) (n) De Animal. l. 16. c. 4.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6, 7. The figures express extreme loneliness.
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