Psalm Chapter 102:Oh God, I am so distress! Part 1.

Title: “A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD.”

Context

Psalm 102 is an individual lament. Just look at the title. However, the speaker of this psalm is not just lamenting for himself. He is also praying this lament on behalf of the community [see verses 13 and 16]. Theologians traditionally categorize Psalm 102 as a penitential psalm because the speaker connects his challenges to his sins, and confesses those sins while he is praying; for example see Pss 6, 32, 38, 51, 130, 143. On the other hand, the speaker in this psalms does not acknowledge any particular sin on this prayer.

Lord hear my prayer

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

The psalm begins wit a plea for the writer to have their prayers heard. They also want to experience God’s presence while they are praying ,(see verse 2).

I’m suffering

For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.My heart is smitten and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin. I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. I watch and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop. Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me. 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.

The psalmist neither identifies the reason nor the cause of his suffering. Look at how he evokes figurative to connotate the degree of his suffering. This section of the psalm reads like the laments of Jeremiah and Job. See Job 4:4; 30:17;33:19, 21. Jeremiah talks about fire being shut up in his bones Jer. 20:9. The phrase “withered like grass” denotes the fate of grass under the hot desert sun of the area. His distress is so severe that he groans like Job in Job 19:20. “Sparrow alone” the writer feels like a solitary bird perched in a tree. The psalmist expresses his feelings of abandonment by both humans and God. His nights are sleepless “I am like an owl.” Verse 8 sounds just like Job 30 He knows that God is angry with him

Rebuild Zion

12 But thou, O Lord, shall endure forever; 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.

Even though the psalmist is concerned about his situation he knows that God is his hope. He knows that he will “rebuild” zion. He is not just talking about physically restoring Zion, he is also talking about restoring her previous “untouchableness.” Her previous glory when the heathen “feared” God because His presence was there “he shall appear in his glory.” Not only will His presence be there, but he will also hear the prayers of His people. God would hear the prayers of the poor, the powerless, and the friendless.  What will happen when that occurs. The psalmist will “declare YHWH’s praises in Zion.

To Be continued..

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