Psalm 102 Commentary
The psalmist contrasts two existences. Coming up first is the sphere of mortals. They are in distress; real suffering. The psalmist brings it home. He even forgets to eat his food. He is now only skin and bones. Lonely and abandoned, his name has become misfortune itself.
His days are like the evening shadow; he withers away like grass. Like smoke, his days vanish quickly.
Coming up second is the sphere of immortality, the world where God lives. He is enthroned forever. In the beginning, He laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of His hands. While we all perish, the Creator God remains. While we experience wear-and-tear and must be changed like clothing, the LORD God remains and His years never come to an end.
The writer to the Hebrews draws on this thought here to explain the supremacy of the LORD Jesus Christ. Hebrews 1 verse 10. But that vital subject will not be discussed here. What we may discuss is yet another reference to this psalm found in the letter to the Romans.
“Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days.” Or, “he cut short my days.” Or “Like clothing, you will change them and they will be discarded.” It is very clear: the LORD is behind all the troubles. It is the point that we find in the Book of Romans.
For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it. Romans 8 verse 20a. And there is an important reason for this. The next verse in Romans explains it.
“…in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.”
Suffering, called frustration in Romans, therefore, serves an important role by exposing the futility of ungodliness. Let the people see that there is absolutely nothing to it other than trouble. When the LORD pulls out, hell reigns. It should draw humanity to the Creator God. The psalmist is one such mortal looking at the Creator God for salvation.
For His part, the Creator God views the earth to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death. Very important!
Mortals can groan and they do. We are prisoners, caged by our own ungodliness and alienated from the Life-Giver. We are mortals by the design and the will of the Creator God. How can we forget the story of Genesis 3?
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The gospel is exactly what it is: the good news to the prisoners. Then frustration will have served a purpose for mortals. Instead of being changed and discarded, the children of the servants of the LORD will live in God’s presence. And unlike smoke that vanishes quickly, their days will be established before the Creator God. Then we can hear afresh the words: “it is finished.” Salvation is finally here.
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