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102. Psalm 102

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

2Hide 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.

3For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.

4My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread.

5By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.

6I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert.

7I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top.

8Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me.

9For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping,

10Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.

11My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.

12But thou, O Lord, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.

13Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.

14For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof.

15So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.

16When the Lord shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.

17He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.

18This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the Lord.

19For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the Lord behold the earth;

20To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;

21To declare the name of the Lord in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem;

22When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord.

23He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days.

24I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations.

25Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.

26They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:

27But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.

28The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.

10. On account of thy anger and thy wrath He now declares that the greatness of his grief proceeded not only from outward troubles and calamities, but from a sense that these were a punishment inflicted upon him by God. And surely there is nothing which ought to wound our hearts more deeply, than when we feel that God is angry with us. The meaning then amounts to this — O Lord! I do not confine my attention to those things which would engage the mind of worldly men; but I rather turn my thoughts to thy wrath; for were it not that thou art angry with us, we would have been still enjoying the inheritance given us by thee, from which we have justly been expelled by thy displeasure. When God then strikes us with his hand, we should not merely groan under the strokes inflicted upon us, as foolish men usually do, but should chiefly look to the cause that we may be truly humbled. This is a lesson which it would be of great advantage to us to learn.

The last clause of the verse, Thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down, may be understood in two ways. As we lift up what we intend to throw down with greater violence against the ground, the sentence may denote a violent method of casting down, as if it had been said, Thou hast crushed me more severely by throwing me down headlong from on high, than if I had merely fallen from the station which I occupied. 145145     “What is meant by נשאתני, ‘thou hast lifted me up,’ etc., is to be judged by the immediate antecedents, indignation and wrath; by these is meant vehement displeasure and anger, and in God, in whom anger is not found, effects that bear analogy with those which proceed from angry men. To such it is ordinary to cast to the ground any thing that they are displeased with, and where the displeasure is vehement, to lift it up first as high as they can, that they may cast it down with more violence, and dash it in pieces by the fall. And this is the meaning of the phrase here, and so is a pathetical expression of his present affliction, heightened by the dignity of the public office wherein Nehemiah was at the time of writing this mournful psalm, (Nehemiah 1:1 and 2:1.) The greater his place was at Shushan, the deeper his sorrow for his countrymen and for Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:3) pierced him, whereupon he complains that God, by way of indignation, hath dealt with him, as those that take an earthen vessel and throw it against the pavement, and that they may beat it to pieces the more certainly, lift it up first as high as they can, to throw it down with more violence. This the LXX. have fitly rendered, ἐπάρας κατέρ᾿ῥαξάς με, and the Latin, elevans illisisti me, ‘having lifted me up, thou hast dashed me to pieces.’” — Hammond But this seems to be another amplification of his grief, nothing being more bitter to an individual than to be reduced from a happy condition to extreme misery, the prophet mournfully complains that the chosen people were deprived of the distinguished advantages which God had conferred upon them in time past, so that the very remembrance of his former goodness, which should have afforded consolation to them, embittered their sorrow. Nor was it the effect of ingratitude to turn the consideration of the divine benefits, which they had formerly received, into matter of sadness; since they acknowledged that their being reduced to such a state of wretchedness and degradation was through their own sins. God has no delight in changing, as if, after having given us some taste of his goodness, he intended forthwith to deprive us of it. As his goodness is inexhaustible, so his blessing would flow upon us without intermission, were it not for our sins which break off the course of it. Although, then, the remembrance of God’s benefits ought to assuage our sorrows, yet still it is a great aggravation of our calamity to have fallen from an elevated position, and to find that we have so provoked his anger, as to make him withdraw from us his benignant and bountiful hand. Thus when we consider that the image of God, which distinguished Adam, was the brightness of the celestial glory; and when, on the contrary, we now see the ignominy and degradation to which God has subjected us in token of his wrath, this contrast cannot surely fail of making us feel more deeply the wretchedness of our condition. Whenever, therefore, God, after having stripped us of the blessings which he had conferred upon us, gives us up to reproach, let us learn that we have so much the greater cause to lament, because, through our own fault, we have turned light into darkness.


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