Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me”.
Psalm 102 has a two-line title which describes it as:
The prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak
and pours out a lament before the Lord.
In this psalm, the poet is shaken to his core. He says,
My days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass; (vv. 3-4a).
I eat ashes for food
and mingle my drink with tears
because of your great wrath. . . (vv. 9-10a).
Sleepless nights. Tearful days. Starvation diet. Burning bones. Little wonder the poet feels his life is lost, vanishing like smoke in the wind. Shadows lengthen on his years. He withers in the heat of the day and passes into evening like sun-scorched grass.
Not only is the poet shaken: his city, Zion, is also shaken. He prays for restoration, saying:
You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
it is time to show favour to her. . .
For her stones are dear to your servants;
her very dust moves them to pity (vv. 13a, 14).
Returning to his personal troubles, the poet contrasts his brief, painful, and ephemeral life with God’s eternity:
In the course of my life, [the Lord] broke my strength;
he cut short my days.
So I said
Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days;
your years go on through all generations.
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and discard them.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end (vv. 23-27).
The poet frames the brevity and pain of his life against God’s eternity and creative activity. The poet’s life is wearing out. The world he lives in running down. The heavens above are aging and passing away. God made them all like a fashion show, where the costumes that dazzle the runway today will be discarded at the end of the season.
O Lord, our life is smoke, a vapor that disperses in the air, a grass that withers and dies. We live a few short days, never achieving the glory you made us for, leaving no permanent trace of our passing.
But you, O Lord, outlive the changes. The earth that to us is unshakeable will wear out like a garment, the heavens will collapse like clothes thrown in the laundry hamper. But your life and watchfulness outlast it all. You remain the same, your years will never end.
With the poet we pray,
Do not hide your face from me
when I am in distress (v. 2a).
Do not take me away in the midst of my days (v. 24a).
May the children of your servants live in your presence;
establish their descendants before you (v. 28).
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.