Psalm 102 and God’s Biblical Archaeology


This article was taken from Gerald Flurry’s February 25 address at the opening ceremony of the “Kingdom of David and Solomon Discovered” exhibit.

In 1967, I began attending Ambassador College, which was established by the late Herbert W. Armstrong. That was the year of Israel’s Six-Day War with its Arab neighbors, when the Jewish nation captured the Old City of Jerusalem. After the war, Prof. Benjamin Mazar from Hebrew University united with Mr. Armstrong and Ambassador College to begin the most significant excavation ever undertaken in Israel. It was explosive and huge; there had been nothing like it before.

They began what most of them called the “big dig.” Mr. Armstrong said it was a great honor to be part of the big dig. After Mr. Armstrong and Professor Mazar (who were great friends) died, Dr. Eilat Mazar took over the excavations. We began helping her in 2006.

We too look upon our archaeological activities in Jerusalem as a great honor and, really, a responsibility. And we are honored to work on great projects, like the “Kingdom of David and Solomon Discovered” exhibit.

Benjamin Mazar said, “Pour over the Bible again and again, for it contains within it descriptions of genuine, historical reality.” He passed this view on to his granddaughter, and she followed that example.

I want to refer to one psalm and a few verses in the Bible that I think are very important, about digging into the dirt and the stones. This is from the Jewish Publication Society of America Bible, according to the Masoretic Text. Psalm 102 is about biblical archaeology. And it’s also about the coming of the Messiah, which is connected. There are two subjects here. I was recently studying this, and I think there’s quite a lot here that we need to understand.

Psalm 102:13-15 read, “But Thou, O Lord, sittest enthroned for ever; And Thy name is unto all generations. Thou wilt arise, and have compassion upon Zion; For it is time to be gracious unto her, for the appointed time is come. For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, And love her dust.” This is about God’s servants getting into biblical archaeology. “So the nations will fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the Earth Thy glory. When the Lord hath built up Zion, When He hath appeared in His glory” (verses 16-17).

If it’s talking about the Messiah coming, then you know this is talking about the latter days. That is part of the “appointed time,” as we read there.

People have a lot of different reasons for why they’re into archaeology. And that’s certainly fine. But I have to say, I have always had a different reason for studying archaeology than most people.

If you look closely at Psalm 102, it’s not just about biblical archaeology, it’s about God’s archaeology. It’s not just “biblical archaeology,” but God’s biblical archaeology. And this is something that ends with the coming of the Messiah. That’s what it says in the Hebrew Bible. Quite a few people are aware of that coming.

Mr. Armstrong said that this coming of the Messiah will be the greatest event ever to occur in the universe! So we are talking about something huge in importance—something we really need to think about.

The deeper you get into this, the deeper the vision you can have. And the more you understand it, the more excited you are about it and the more you see that it’s not something insignificant. This is a super, monumental vision of hope. Regardless of how bad world conditions become—and there will be serious problems in this end time—this psalm makes it clear: This is a vision of hope! There really is a great hope if you follow through on this archaeology.

Eilat Mazar with her grandfather Benjamin Mazar
Estate of Dr. Eilat Mazar

When I look back on Dr. Eilat Mazar and all her discoveries, I just don’t see anybody who has found what she has in the city of Jerusalem. And I think that’s significant.

I believe this all fits into God’s plan. I think God had a part in helping Eilat Mazar do what she did. We worked with her for more than 15 years. She was a unique person; you couldn’t find anyone else quite like her doing archaeology. She was a marvelous teacher; we learned so much from her.

Look at the progression in these verses. Verse 14 says, “Thou wilt arise, and have compassion upon Zion,” and this leads on into us taking “pleasure in her stones … and dust,” and so on. Then verse 17 says, “When the Lord hath built up Zion,” and this is tied to “[w]hen He hath appeared in His glory,” which refers to the coming of the Messiah. As you look at this more, you see these two subjects are unusually tied together. You have to ask, why are biblical archaeology and the coming of the Messiah connected? Well, it’s really God’s biblical archaeology, and the coming of the Messiah is brought into all of this. In the Hebrew Bible you can certainly see these truths, and these two subjects are tied together.

In fact, in verse 17—“When the Lord hath built up Zion, When He hath appeared in His glory”—both subjects are in this one verse: God’s biblical archaeology and the coming of the Messiah. These two subjects are just really close. Why is that? There is a reason.

We are in the latter days, and God says this is the appointed time. God makes clear that this psalm is going to be understood in this appointed time, a time in the latter days. When the Messiah is coming, you know that’s in the last days. But there is a hope that just overwhelms everything if you look at what this is really talking about. It is inspiring and moving. It’s the greatest event that will ever occur in the universe. That certainly inspires me.

Notice what Dr. Mazar said about the ancient structures in Jerusalem: “I am interested in history, not just about stones. I am interested in stones that can speak. I don’t care about stones that have nothing to talk about, that are speechless. Who cares about speechless stones?” That’s an archaeologist talking there! You don’t hear too much talk like that today. She often said, “Let the stones speak!” These servants take pleasure in the stones. And the more you understand about the coming of the Messiah, the more you are going to be excited about those stones!

The servants take pleasure in them and love being in the dust because of that vision that we all need in this life—that hope that we all need in a hopeless world. And it is real. The reality becomes clearer and clearer, and motivating like nothing else could motivate you.

Let the stones speak! Does that sound odd? Well, if you look at this psalm, God Himself says the stones are speaking. These stones are speaking! So this is not just an archaeologist saying that. This is a big subject. And the more you get into it, the more you see it. And I’ve been in it a long time, starting way back in 1967 when I went to college.

There are still some rough times coming. The Hebrew Bible in several places tells us about what happens just before the coming of the Messiah. So the vision just continues to grow.

Verse 22 says, “That men may tell of the name of the Lord in Zion, And His praise in Jerusalem.” If you look at this in context, you can see that God is putting emphasis on what’s happening in Jerusalem. That is important because when the Messiah comes, He is going to sit on David’s throne in Jerusalem. So I think that makes sense, and it’s logical that it would be that way.

There are many biblical archaeologists who do outstanding work and have made outstanding discoveries all over Israel. Some of them are just truly outstanding. But it does seem to me in every way that God says to put the emphasis on Jerusalem. And that’s where Eilat Mazar really rises and shines! Nobody compares to what she achieved, as far as I’m concerned. They just simply have not. She dug almost solely in Jerusalem, a very rich place to dig.

The Prophet Isaiah even talked about God “planting the heavens,” and that’s the universe. This work from Jerusalem is going to be reaching out into the universe and to everything there is. It’s the most exciting and wonderful vision and work that you could ever understand. And I’ve been studying this for a long time.

Both of these come at the same time. You can find the truth about the coming of the Messiah in probably a hundred passages or more in the Hebrew Bible.

In a 2005 article, Rachel Ginsberg wrote about Dr. Mazar and her archaeology. She recognized the significance of Dr. Mazar’s palace of David discovery. She wrote, “Dr. Eilat Mazar, world authority on Jerusalem’s past, has taken King David out of the pages of the Bible, and put him back into living history. Mazar’s latest excavation in the City of David, in the southern shadow of the Temple Mount, has shaken up the archaeological world.” I think this lady sees that the stones are shouting aloud! They are really speaking! And what a message this all leads to. That is what Psalm 102 is all about. God really wants us to get into it by looking to David and learning from him. Let the stones speak!

We all need to come into this living history and bring everything alive in the Bible. Certainly, when it comes to history, Dr. Eilat Mazar and her grandfather were going around with a Bible in their hand and being guided by that history. And look at all that Dr. Mazar discovered. She taught us so much. She knew about digging for artifacts and discoveries. And did she ever find a large number of them! You can see that in our exhibit, and we hope you’ll really look at it closely.

Look into David’s life. He has the longest biography in all the Bible. When David came into Jerusalem, he conquered the Jebusites. That city had been associated with great men of God, back to Abraham and Melchizedek. So David fought for God. And he fought like nobody in Israel, it seems. He really did love God. He made his mistakes, but he turned his life around. And he has a great, great reward in the near future.

Dr. Mazar talked about David’s palace being attached to the Stepped Stone Structure. The fact that “the two structures were part of the same construction was an astonishing discovery for us,” she wrote. “Laid before our very eyes was a structure massive in proportions and innovative in complexity.” This was a royal palace!

She wrote: “It bears witness to the impressive architectural skill and considerable investment of its builders to the competency of a determined central ruling authority and, most notably, to the audacity and vision of that authority.” David was audacious! Bold! And what faith that man had even as a teenager. You know those stories.

The Stepped Stone Structure, which was built to support the palace, was as high as a 12-story building. If you have something like that, with the palace on top, the stones really do speak! They have a lot to say. And Dr. Mazar believed that only 20 percent of David’s palace had been excavated.

Here was a royal warrior king who fought battles time and time again to make everything ready so it could be peaceful for his son Solomon. One of the walls was 3 meters (10 feet) wide; another one was 6 meters (20 feet) wide. This is real engineering, and it occurred in the 10th century b.c.e. It was a palace fit for a royal warrior king! And how he led Israel, and is going to lead it in the future! What a future that will be. These palace stones are speaking, and it’s all about royalty.

Dr. Mazar said, “There may be times where it will take 10 years for people to readjust to support or even accept the idea. But I’m not going to wait for them.” I like that. She was a lady in a big hurry. She just kept moving ahead, in spite of the critics, and there were plenty of those. But she had that spirit of David in many ways. And she was not waiting for anybody. She knew she had to move fast to get this work done. And she really helped to bring David alive.

Our exhibit in Oklahoma features Dr. Mazar and her discoveries that relate to King David. If you get the facts on this topic, you are going to be moved. And it is something to behold. It’s something to be excited about, and something to be inspired about. And it’s breathtaking when you realize what God is talking about here in His biblical “big dig”—His wonderful work that He is going to give to all of this world.

We are thankful for the opportunity to host the “Kingdom of David and Solomon Discovered” exhibit. This is, in many ways, a unique project, but it’s something that is for everybody. God’s biblical archaeology is about the coming of the Messiah—so you’re not talking about just Jerusalem or Israel, you’re talking about the whole world! That is coming! And it’s something we need to have that will overflow everything in the picture we have in our minds. And we need to etch that vision into our minds. And I’ll tell you, it will motivate you as nothing else ever has.