Meditations on the Psalms #203

Psalm 102 Part 1

We are about to enter my favourite jaw-dropping zone of psalms – psalms102 -107. The beauty of a building is in its architecture, and these psalms are exquisite examples of the best of Hebrew poetry. Spurgeon compared this psalm to a day which opens with wind and rain and clears up at mid-day, continues warm with sun and remains mostly fine with intervening showers, and finally closes with a brilliant sunset.

V13-14 show that the psalm was written when Jerusalem was in ruins at the time of the exile and when the time of her restoration was at hand. The singer’s mood is sadness shafted with hope, as a cloud with sunlight. This is most likely the time of Nehemiah, mainly because the references to the “stones” and “dust” recall Nehemiah’s lonely ride round the burned walls, (Nehemiah 2:11-15) and Sanballat’s mocking at the Jews for attempting to revive the stones out of heaps of rubbish (C.F. Nehemiah 4:1-8 with Ps102:8ff).  Like many of the later psalms, this is largely coloured by earlier ones, as well as by Deuteronomy, Job, and the second half of Isaiah, while it has also reminiscences from Jeremiah. 

The psalm contains a prelude asking for God’s attention (similar to many other psalms), followed by a long section of complaint where everything is wrong (V3-11). Then comes a triumphant rising above his sorrows and rejoicing in the promise of a restored Jerusalem (12-22.) Another quick look at his sorrows and brief life (22) and finally he is spurred to joyously lay hold of Yahweh’s eternity and the fulfilment of his hope (23-28).

Our sorrow and pain is often silent, but here it is eloquent. Here he recounts its pangs with self-lamentation, crying for an answer because his life is melting like smoke as it escapes up a chimney. Like the psalmist, everything may be wrong; we have our own captivities, but hope can anticipate and run ahead of the facts. We have the ultimate hope; restoration of all things in the earth made new without its curse. 

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