October 14 2023
Today, Saturday October 14
Responding to Change
A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the LORD.
1 Hear my prayer, O LORD, And let my cry come to You.
2 Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; Incline Your ear to me; In the day that I call, answer me speedily.
3 For my days are consumed like smoke, And my bones are burned like a hearth.
4 My heart is stricken and withered like grass, So that I forget to eat my bread.
5 Because of the sound of my groaning My bones cling to my skin.
6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert.
7 I lie awake, And am like a sparrow alone on the housetop.
8 My enemies reproach me all day long, Those who deride me swear an oath against me.
9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, And mingled my drink with weeping,
10 Because of Your indignation and Your wrath; For You have lifted me up and cast me away.
11 My days are like a shadow that lengthens, And I wither away like grass.
12 But You, O LORD, shall endure forever, And the remembrance of Your name to all generations.
I call Psalm 102 “The ‘Me’, ‘My’, ‘I’, Psalm”, or the “The ‘Oh Me’ Psalm”. The anonymous writer was someone who was suffering and felt overwhelmed with personal sorrow. This psalm has a title, which indicates that it was written as a prayer of someone who is “afflicted” and “overwhelmed” and simply wants to pour out his “troubles and complaints” to the LORD. As believers face and deal with the painful crises that come to us, we must keep several things in mind if we are to overcome and glorify God.
First, in verses 1-11, we must learn to accept and respond properly to the changing circumstances of life. The longer we live, the more evidence we see that things will change. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus wrote, "There is nothing permanent except change," a statement that John F. Kennedy paraphrased as, "Everything changes but change itself." There are the normal changes of life, from birth to maturity to death. We graduate from high school and college and leave home and things change. We get married and have children and things change, and life will never be like it used to be. Family, friends, and associates die, and things change. Many of these changes are difficult to deal with, yet others are good changes and welcomed.
There are also providential changes that God sends for our good and His glory. Many Jewish leaders in the days of Jeremiah the prophet thought that God would never allow Judah to be captured and Jerusalem and the temple destroyed (Jer. 7), but the Babylonian army did all three. Because of their rebellion against the law of God, Israel was left without a king, priesthood, temple, or sacrifice. Instead of the Lord's face shining upon them with blessing (Num. 6:25), His face was turned away from them in judgment (Psalms 27:9; 59:17).
Whether we are suffering because of our sins, or because we stand up for the Lord, or simply because we need to be better equipped for service, these changes are not always pleasant. The psalmist here recorded his personal plight in a series of vivid pictures. With his days as flimsy and temporary as drifting smoke, and his frame burning with fever (v. 3), he was like a man in a furnace. His heart was like the cut and withered grass, paining him so much that he forgot to eat (v. 4). When he did eat, the food tasted like ashes and his drink like tears (v. 9). Therefore, he became a living skeleton that could only groan because of his wretched situation (v. 5).
He compared himself to the unclean birds (Lev. 11:17-18) that lived solitary lives amid the ruins of the city. He was awake all night, a lonely man, like a sparrow bereft of his mate and chirping his lament on the roof. The enemy officers showed no sympathy but used his name in their curses (v. 8). It was as though God's hand picked him up and threw him on the trash heap, like a piece of discarded junk (v. 10). Like the evening shadows as the sun goes down, his life kept changing, but his days had no substance. Then the darkness fell, and the long hard night lay before him (v. 11).
One of the first steps toward personal peace and victory is to accept the fact that there will be changes in life, and how we respond will determine what these changes do to us and for us. In verse 12, the psalmist responded by turning to the Lord for help and so should we!