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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.

1 O Jehovah! hear my prayer This earnestness shows, again, that these words were not dictated to be pronounced by the careless and light-hearted, which could not have been done without grossly insulting God. In speaking thus, the captive Jews bear testimony to the severe and excruciating distress which they endured, and to the ardent desire to obtain some alleviation with which they were inflamed. No person could utter these words with the mouth without profaning the name of God, unless he were, at the same time, actuated by a sincere and earnest affection of heart. We ought particularly to attend to the circumstance already adverted to, that we are thus stirred up by the Holy Spirit to the duty of prayer in behalf of the common welfare of the Church. Whilst each man takes sufficient care of his own individual interests, there is scarcely one in a hundred affected as he ought to be with the calamities of the Church. We have, therefore, the more need of incitements, even as we see the prophet here endeavoring, by an accumulation of words, to correct our coldness and sloth. I admit that the heart ought to move and direct the tongue to prayer; but, as it often flags or performs its duty in a slow and sluggish manner, it requires to be aided by the tongue. There is here a reciprocal influence. As the heart, on the one hand, ought to go before the words, and frame them, so the tongue, on the other, aids and remedies the coldness and torpor of the heart. True believers may indeed often pray not only earnestly but also fervently, while yet not a single word proceeds from the mouth. There is, however, no doubt that by crying the prophet means the vehemence into which grief constrains us to break forth.

2 Hide not thy face from me in the day of my affliction The prayer, that God would not hide his face, is far from being superfluous. As the people had been languishing in captivity for the space of nearly seventy years, it might seem that God had for ever turned away his favor from them. But they are, notwithstanding, commanded, in their extreme affliction, to have recourse to prayer as their only remedy. They affirm that they cry in the day of their affliction, not as hypocrites are accustomed to do, who utter their complaints in a tumultuous manner, but because they feel that they are then called upon by God to cry to him.

Make haste, answer me Having elsewhere spoken more fully of these forms of expression, it may suffice, at present, briefly to observe, that when God permits us to lay open before him our infirmities without reserve, and patiently bears with our foolishness, he deals in a way of great tenderness towards us. To pour out our complaints before him after the manner of little children would certainly be to treat his Majesty with very little reverence, were it not that he has been pleased to allow us such freedom. I purposely make use of this illustration, that the weak, who are afraid to draw near to God, may understand that they are invited to him with such gentleness as that nothing may hinder them from familiarly and confidently approaching him.


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