Scripture Reading – Psalms 102-104
Our scripture reading today consists of three psalms: Psalm 102, Psalm 103, and Psalm 104. Each psalm is in its own right an incredibly beautiful song of praise and worship of the LORD as Sovereign, Creator, Sustainer, and universal Ruler. Knowing the trying and troubling times we are in, today’s devotional commentary will focus on Psalm 102.
Psalm 102 – The Prayer of the Afflicted
Psalm 102 is a song of lamentation not only on a personal scale, but also as a nation. The psalmist cried out to the LORD to hear his prayer, and receive it with sympathy and compassion (102:1). Though the author is anonymous, believers can readily identify with his cry, “I am in trouble,” and with urgency, “answer me speedily” (102:2).
In a series of vignettes (portraits), the psalmist painted for us the sorrows and afflictions of a man who had experienced the spiritual, physical, and emotional toll sin had taken on his life and nation. He observed, his days were like a puff of smoke and his body like cold ashes in a hearth (102:3). Like grass withering in the midday sun, his heart was dried up, and he had no appetite (102:4). His flesh was gaunt and wasted, and his appearance like a dead man walking (102:5).
A series of miniature portraits reveal his solemn anguish, as he compares his sorrows to that of birds in their habitat. “Like a pelican of the wilderness” (known for its solitude), an “owl of the desert” (a haunting picture of gloom), and a sparrow alone upon a house top, the psalmist felt alone and isolated (102:6-7).
Summing up his miserable state, the psalmist declared his life had become no more than “a shadow…[and] withered like grass” under the heat of the sun (102:11).
Psalm 102:12-28 – A Patriot’s Prayer
The psalmist’s despair turned to hope when his focus moved from his affliction to the LORD.
Psalm 102:12 – “But thou, O LORD [Jehovah; Eternal, Self-Existent God]], shalt endure [dwell; abide; sit enthroned] for ever [eternity]; and thy remembrance [memorial] unto all generations [evermore].”
The psalmist’s emphasis on “Zion” (the mount upon which Jerusalem is built) most likely places this psalm toward the end of the Babylonian captivity. Israel remembered the LORD’S promises to not forsake His people, and they lived in anticipation of the LORD’S restoring them to their land (102:13-21).
With eyes of faith, the psalmist takes comfort knowing the LORD reigned in heaven and had not forgotten His people (102:17-20). Longing to see Israel restored before his death, the psalmist prayed that his life would not be cut short (102:23-24).
Psalm 102 concludes with the focus upon the character of the LORD (102:25-28).
The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalm 102:25-28 and identifies Jesus Christ as the subject (Hebrews 1:10-12), revealing He is Creator (102:25), Enduring (102:26), Immutable (102:27a), Eternal(102:27b), and Faithful (102:28).
You do not know the challenges before you, but you can take solace in this: The LORD is “the same,” His years “shall have no end” (102:27), and His promises endure (102:28).
Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.”
Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith