Psalm 102

The greatest ease to an afflicted spirit is to unburden itself by a humble representation of its griefs before God,
who has invited His children to cast all their burdens upon Him, promising to sustain them.

1 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.

2 Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily.

3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.

4 My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread.

5 By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.

6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.

7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.

8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me.

9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping,

10 Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.

11 My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.

12 But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.

13 Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.

14 For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof.

15 So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.

16 When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.

17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

18 This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.

19 For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth;

20 To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;

21 To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem;

22 When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.

23 He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days.

24 I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations.

25 Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.

26 They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:

27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.

28 The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.

Psalm 102:1-11 – ​The Cry of the Afflicted

   This is the fifth of the Penitential Psalms. Some hold that it is one of the later psalms, asking for deliverance from captivity; others, emphasizing certain Davidic characteristics, ascribe it to the hand of the royal psalmist. Its actual authorship, however, is of comparatively small consequence; the main thing is to notice what adequate expression it gives to the sorrow of an almost broken heart.
   The psalmist bases his cry for a speedy answer on the swiftness with which his days are passing away, like smoke escaping, from a chimney. His bones are calcined; his heart withers like Jonah’s gourd; he is worn to a skeleton by his long and passionate lamentations. He finds his likeness in solitude-loving creatures, such as the pelican and the owl. Still another element in his suffering is the mockery of his foes. He cannot get away from it; it haunts him. Ashes, the token of his mourning, are his food, and tears fill his cup. But the bitterest element of all is the consciousness of God’s displeasure. It seems as if God’s hand is against him, and in the accumulated weight of grief, he deems that the day of his life must expire. However, in the concluding portion of the psalm his hope is renewed. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Psalm 102:12-28 – ​The Time to Have Mercy upon Zion

   We must remember that the Holy Spirit appropriates the closing words of this psalm as addressed to our Lord. See Hebrews 1:10-12. This gives new point to these petitions. The psalmist’s sorrows, described in the previous paragraph, had their source in the desolations of Zion rather than in personal afflictions; and when the soul feels such oppression, it is a sign that deliverance is near. Finney, the great evangelist, tells of a woman who came to her pastor under such concern for the perishing that she could neither eat nor sleep. She entreated him to appoint an inquirers’ meeting, and though there had been no signs of a revival, it suddenly broke out. When Christians take pity on the stones and dust of the Church, the time has come for God to arise to her help.
   Behold the unchanging Christ! Creation may wax old, the heavens and earth may be laid aside as an outworn garment, the old order may give place to new; but beneath all the changed Jesus Christ remains the same yesterday, today, and forever. How delightful are those immortal words, But thou, O LORD, shalt endure, and if He endures, His servants shall continue also, and their children after them. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Psalm 102:27—But Thou art the same.

​   This psalm is by an anonymous singer. All we know of him is that he was overwhelmed, and poured out his complaint before God. But that lonely, sorrowful heart caught glimpses of God, which it has transmitted to all the world, enriching it for ever more. Sometimes we are led to wander alone in desolate places to catch new visions of the Eternal, bidden from ordinary souls; thus ardent artists are indifferent to peril and privation if they can catch a mountain from some fresh point of vision, and transfer a passing glimpse to their immortal canvas.
   This psalm is despairful enough in its earlier passages. The smoke-wreath dissipated in the breeze, the withered grass of the desert, the declining shadow, the chirrup of a lonely sparrow—such are the images that occur naturally enough. But as he sings the man’s vision clears. He looks away from the earth-mists to the Eternal God. Here, at least, is the permanent and unchanging. Did He make all things? Then He can unmake them, and be Himself evermore the same. Let the earth vanish like a dream; let the time-sphere be ended; let the very heavens wear out like a moth-eaten garment; let the nearest and dearest pass from our embrace. Thou art the same; Thou art left; Thou remainest. “All that is transitory forsaketh us; but Christ’s seal of recognition forsaketh us not even in death, but bringeth us to the joyful heavenly host, unto our eternal fatherland.”
   The writer to the Hebrews attributes these words to Him who was the brightness of the Father’s glory (Hebrews 1). We should read the psalm again with this reference in our mind. Our Savior is God, and He is the unchanging Rock of Ages in whom we may shelter. —Our Daily Homily