PPP: Psalm 102


(reflection after the jump!)
1The prayer of one afflicted and wasting away whose anguish is poured out before the Lord.
I
2Lord, hear my prayer;
let my cry come to you.
3Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Turn your ear to me;
when I call, answer me quickly.
4For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn away as in a furnace.
5My heart is withered, dried up like grass,
too wasted to eat my food.
6From my loud groaning
I become just skin and bones.
7I am like a desert owl,
like an owl among the ruins.
8I lie awake and moan,
like a lone sparrow on the roof.
9All day long my enemies taunt me;
in their rage, they make my name a curse.
10I eat ashes like bread,
mingle my drink with tears.
11Because of your furious wrath,
you lifted me up just to cast me down.
12My days are like a lengthening shadow;
I wither like the grass.
II
13But you, Lord, are enthroned forever;
your renown is for all generations.
14You will again show mercy to Zion;
now is the time for pity;
the appointed time has come.
15Its stones are dear to your servants;
its dust moves them to pity.
16The nations shall fear your name, Lord,
all the kings of the earth, your glory,
17Once the Lord has rebuilt Zion
and appeared in glory,
18Heeding the plea of the lowly,
not scorning their prayer.
19Let this be written for the next generation,
for a people not yet born,
that they may praise the Lord:
20“The Lord looked down from the holy heights,
viewed the earth from heaven,
21To attend to the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”
22Then the Lord’s name will be declared on Zion,
his praise in Jerusalem,
23When peoples and kingdoms gather
to serve the Lord.
III
24He has shattered my strength in mid-course,
has cut short my days.
25I plead, O my God,
do not take me in the midst of my days.
Your years last through all generations.
26Of old you laid the earth’s foundations;
the heavens are the work of your hands.
27They perish, but you remain;
they all wear out like a garment;
Like clothing you change them and they are changed,
28but you are the same, your years have no end.
29May the children of your servants live on;
may their descendants live in your presence.

Psalm 102 has many features we have already seen with past Penitential Psalms, the lament due to sin and its consequences, the mindfulness of God and appeal to His mercy. Today, as you pray this Psalm, brothers and sisters, notice the structure. The Psalmist begins with a litany of lamentations which is then followed by praises to God, praises offered up despite the circumstances of the speaker. Even in the midst of sin, the speaker realizes God's glory and goodness. Even in the depths of pain, the speaker knows who the Lord is. What then follows is an interesting portion of text that holds the earlier two themes in tension. The Psalmist sees the hand of God moving through the punishments he suffers, guiding him to repentance. He pleads for God's mercy and confesses in God's complete transcendence.
Brothers and sisters, as you pray this Psalm, be mindful of the Lord's mercy and of His power. He is sovereign and even when times are bleak, you can be sure that God is in control and your hope in Him will never be in vain.