Psalm 102 Do Not Hide Your Face From Me A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD. (1) Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you! (2) Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call! (3) For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace. (4) My heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread. (5) Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh. (6) I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places; (7) I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop. (8) All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse. (9) For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink, (10) because of your indignation and anger; for you have taken me up and thrown me down. (11) My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass. (12) But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations. (13) You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come. (14) For your servants hold her stones dear and have pity on her dust. (15) Nations will fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory. (16) For the LORD builds up Zion; he appears in his glory; (17) he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer. (18) Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD: (19) that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, (20) to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, (21) that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise, (22) when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD. (23) He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. (24) "O my God," I say, "take me not away in the midst of my days- you whose years endure throughout all generations!" (25) Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. (26) They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, (27) but you are the same, and your years have no end. (28) The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their off spring shall be established before you. ESV
Psalm 102 is one of seven Penitential Psalms set apart by the ancient church (Psalm 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143). Traditionally, they were recited for the confession of sin and repentance, often during Holy Week. Although some commentators point out this may be a longstanding mistake as the psalmist of Psalm 102 makes no reference to sin or repentance. But because the possible “mistaken identity” of Psalm 102 exists back into ancient times, then maybe we just don’t understand something.
The New King James version of the Bible titles Psalm 102, The LORD’s Eternal Love. A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the LORD. The New American Standard Bible titles it, Prayer of an Afflicted Man for Mercy on Himself and on Zion. A Prayer of the afflicted when he is weak and pours out his complaint before the LORD. And the International Children’s Bible simply titles it, A Cry for Help. A prayer of a person who is suffering when he is discouraged and tells the Lord his complaints.
The writer of Psalm 102 is suffering. He is suffering and God’s people are suffering. Because of the mention of Jerusalem in ruins, some suppose it to be written during the Babylonian exile, maybe by Daniel. Others see David’s hand and a prophecy of the destruction to come. Others have suggested Nehemiah or Jeremiah even. The pain of Psalm 102 echoes Job even. Whoever wrote it knew suffering, but also knew God’s saving power and the need to wait on the Lord, for the promised salvation, the Messiah.
LORD, hear my prayer! Listen to my plea! Don't turn away from me in my time of distress. Bend down to listen and answer me quickly when I call to you. For my days disappear like smoke, and my bones burn like red-hot coals. My heart is sick, withered like grass, and I have lost my appetite. Because of my groaning, I am reduced to skin and bones. I am like an owl in the desert, like a little owl in a far-off wilderness. I lie awake, lonely as a solitary bird on the roof. My enemies taunt me day after day. They mock and curse me. I eat ashes for food. My tears run down into my drink because of your anger and wrath. For you have picked me up and thrown me out. My life passes as swiftly as the evening shadows. I am withering away like grass. Psalm 102:1-11 NLT
Such suffering. The author of this psalm seems to be in physical and emotional pain. He feels lost and far from home, like a little owl far from home. He’s alone and afraid, like a lonely bird on a rooftop. His enemies have easy access to him and cause him regular pain. Not only is he in pain, but he is alone in his pain.
And what hurts the most is God has “thrown him out.” The author feels abandoned by God, like God has turned His back and no longer hears the cry of His people. He has “picked me up and thrown me out.”
And all because of your furious anger; you swept me up and threw me out. There's nothing left of me- a withered weed, swept clean from the path. Psalm 102:10-11 The Message
Can you just feel the pain of abandonment? Have you ever felt that God has turned His back on you? Have you ever felt abandoned by God? Even the Son knew this feeling, but because of His sacrifice, we will never truly be abandoned. It may feel like God has turned His back, but He has not; He will not, and He cannot. His face is upon us even when we sin. Because of Jesus.
From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" (which means "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"). When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah." Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him." And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs after Jesus' resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" Matthew 27:45-54 NIV
Psalm 102 is clearly a prophesy of the Messiah.
But You, O LORD, shall endure forever, and the remembrance of Your name to all generations. Psalm 102:12 NKJV
No matter the suffering, no matter the pain in this life, no matter what goes on around us . . . “But you, O LORD, will sit on your throne forever.” Our comfort is in the fact that God was and is and will always be on His throne. He is the same yesterday as He is today and will be tomorrow. That knowledge of God’s eternal reign brings comfort during evil times.
The remembrance of Your name to all generations: Not only would the Lord Himself endure, but His influence and greatness would be declared to all generations, never passing away.Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
What God is now he always will be, that which our forefathers told us of the Lord we find to be true at this present time, and what our experience enables us to record will be confirmed by our children and their children’s children.Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1934-1892
But you, O LORD, will sit on your throne forever. Your fame will endure to every generation. You will arise and have mercy on Jerusalem- and now is the time to pity her, now is the time you promised to help. For your people love every stone in her walls and cherish even the dust in her streets. Then the nations will tremble before the LORD. The kings of the earth will tremble before his glory. For the LORD will rebuild Jerusalem. He will appear in his glory. He will listen to the prayers of the destitute. He will not reject their pleas. Psalm 102:11-17 NLT
Here the Psalmist speaks of the city of Jerusalem. God’s holy city. Someday the Lord will reign from Zion, the city of Jerusalem.
In that day Jerusalem will be known as 'The Throne of the LORD.' All nations will come there to honor the LORD. They will no longer stubbornly follow their own evil desires. Jeremiah 3:17 NLT Then I saw the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him were 144,000 who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads. Revelation 14:1 NLT The LORD's voice will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth will shake. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a strong fortress for the people of Israel. "Then you will know that I, the LORD your God, live in Zion, my holy mountain. Jerusalem will be holy forever, and foreign armies will never conquer her again. Joel 3:16-17 NLT
And because of God’s great love and mercy for the people of Israel in Jerusalem, “the nations will fear the name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory (verse 15 NIV).” God loves the nation of Israel, and through their story, all the nations of the earth will come to know Him. He reveals His character and His love through the Jewish people and their story. But His love exists for all. His mercy and compassion are for all the nations, all the peoples of the earth.
An interesting piece of history, in 1948 Israel reclaimed Jerusalem with the support of the United Nations. After suffering for generations without a home, lost and oppressed, with Satan constantly trying to destroy them and wipe them from the face of the earth, they finally went home. They reclaimed their homeland, kind of. They went to Jerusalem to find shelter in the Promised Land, to find peace, kind of. But the truth is, despite being in God’s chosen city, they are threatened on all sides, and even within. There is no peace. The Israelites have Jerusalem, but there will not be peace. Until Jesus returns.
Here is the prophecy: the Lord will rebuild Jerusalem and appear in His glory.
Write these things for the future. Then people who are not yet born will praise the Lord. The Lord looked down from his holy place above. From heaven he looked down at the earth. He heard the moans of the prisoners. And he freed those sentenced to die. The name of the Lord will be heard in Jerusalem. His praise will be heard in Jerusalem. People will come together. Kingdoms will serve the Lord. Psalm 102:18-22 ICB
God wanted His people to write this down. Write this down so that you do not forget. These things have happened in the past, God is faithful. And God will return and restore Himself to the city of Zion. Write it down! Write it down so that all will remember and watch carefully for the day to come when He will do what He says He will do.
Registers of divine kindness ought to be made and preserved; we write down in history the calamities of nations- wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes are recorded; how much rather then should we set up memorials of the Lord’s lovingkindness!Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
Write it down and praise Him! Even during times of trial. Why? So that people will come together. So that kingdoms will come to see the Lord. Write it down and remember it.
God has made me tired of living. He has cut short my life. So I said, "My God, do not take me in the middle of my life. Your years go on and on. In the beginning you made the earth. And your hands made the skies. They will be destroyed, but you will remain. They will wear out like clothes. And, like clothes, you will change them. And they will be thrown away. But you never change. And your life will never end. Our children will live in your presence. And their children will remain with you." Psalm 102:23-28 ICB
The psalmist began this psalm by recognizing his own weakness (Psalm 102:1-11). Then he praised God for His deliverance and ultimate victory (Psalm 102:12-22). Now in the last section of this psalm, he confessed once again his weakness and frailty (shortened my days).Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
Pastor Guzik goes on to point similarities between this author and the Apostle Paul.
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 NIV
God is shown through our weakness. Through our struggles and suffering, God’s plan is glorified. Through the destruction of Jerusalem and the scattering of the people, God’s redeeming power was, is, and will be shown to the nations, to all the peoples of the earth.
Because God is eternal. He was there in the beginning; everything was made by His hand.
The author of the New Testament book of Hebrews explains the ways that Father God has spoken of His Son throughout scripture. He quotes this Psalm. The Hebrew translation of Psalm 102 has the psalmist speaking to God the Father in these verses. But Bible scholars point out a difference, that the author of Hebrews also explains, in the earliest Greek translation called the Septuagint.
In the Septuagint, the psalmist shares God’s Words to His Son.
But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore, God, Your God, has appointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions." And: "You, LORD, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not fail." Hebrews 1:8-12 NKJV
“The writer of the Epistle is not asserting that the psalmist consciously spoke of the Messiah, but he is declaring that his words, read in the light of history, point to Jesus in the crowning manifestation of the redeeming, and therefore necessarily of the creating, God.”Maclaren, as cited by David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
But you remain the same, and your years will never end. (NIV) But you never change. And your life will never end. (ICB) But you are always the same; you will live forever. (NLT)
Father in heaven, thank you for this beautiful song. Thank you that you are the same and that you will never end. You have no beginning and no end; you are the alpha and omega. Thank you for the comfort this brings, that you will continue to be the same for our children and our grandchildren. Make us bold and confident to share your Good News and your love to all we come across today. Amen.