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Penitential Psalms: Psalm 102–Devotional

Photo by Christina Wilson

 

One person can never transfer to another their own conscious perception. Only the Holy Spirit of God can do that. Scripture calls this transfer having “the mind of Christ.”

But we have the mind of Christ. (1Co 2:16 ESV)

In this sense the Bible is an interactive book. The Holy Spirit can place directly into our conscious perception thoughts and feelings he wishes to convey. It’s very exciting when the Lord does this to us as we read his Word. My prayer is that you, the reader, after reading the words I write here, will at some point turn to Psalm 102 (101 in the Septuagint) and read through it out loud, slowly and carefully, listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit in your heart. Prayerfully, God will share with you the insights that he has shared with me. Additionally, intellect alone can appreciate what I write here. That’s the best we can ever give each other: intellect shaping into communication the insights of our heart.

Here is my devotional guideline for Psalm 102.

Outline of my understanding of this psalm:

  1. Speaker One (the Son): Verses 1-11 (12 LXX).
  2. Speaker Two (God the Father): Verses 12-22 (13-23 LXX).
  3. Speaker One (the Son): Verses 23-24a (24-25a LXX).
  4. Speaker Two (God the Father): Verses 24b-28 (25b-29 LXX).

[Link to the first of the Psalm 102 sequence]

Text I am using for Psalm 102 (101 LXX):

(102) A Prayer for the Poor; when he is deeply afflicted, and pours out his supplication before the Lord.
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and let my cry come to thee.
Turn not away thy face from me: in the day when I am afflicted, incline thine ear to me: in the day when I shall call upon thee, speedily hear me.
For my days have vanished like smoke, and my bones have been parched like a stick.
I am blighted like grass, and my heart is dried up; for I have forgotten to eat my bread.
By reason of the voice of my groaning, my bone has cleaved to my flesh.
I have become like a pelican of the wilderness;
I have become like an owl in a ruined house. I have watched, and am become as a sparrow dwelling alone on a roof.
All the day long mine enemies have reproached me; and they that praised me have sworn against me.
For I have eaten ashes as it were bread, and mingled my drink with weeping;
10 because of thine anger and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and dashed me down.
11 My days have declined like a shadow; and I am withered like grass.
12 But thou, Lord, endurest for ever, and thy memorial to generation and generation.
13 Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Sion: for it is time to have mercy upon her, for the set time is come.
14 For thy servants have taken pleasure in her stones, and they shall pity her dust.
15 So the nations shall fear thy name, O Lord, and all kings thy glory.
16 For the Lord shall build up Sion, * and shall appear in his glory.
17 He has had regard to the prayer of the lowly, and has not despised their petition.
18 Let this be written for another generation; and the people that shall be created shall praise the Lord.
19 For he has looked out from the height of his sanctuary; the Lord looked upon the earth from heaven;
20 to hear the groaning of the fettered ones, to loosen the sons of the slain;
21 to proclaim the name of the Lord in Sion, and his praise in Jerusalem;
22 when the people are gathered together, and the kings, to serve the Lord.
23 He answered him in the way of his strength: tell me the fewness of my days.
24 Take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are through all generations.
25 In the beginning thou, O Lord, didst lay the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.
26 They shall perish, but thou remainest: and they all shall wax old as a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them, and they shall be changed.
27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
28 The children of thy servants shall dwell securely, and their seed shall prosper for ever. (Psalm 101, Brenton Septuagint translation, available at https://ebible.org/eng-Brenton/PSA101.htm, accessed May 24, 2019)
First, we see a human being in great distress, one who suffers emotionally, spiritually, and physically. The reason for his stress he states in verse 10, “because of thine anger and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and dashed me down.” Read these verses out loud and hear the Son of God, Jesus Christ, speaking from various points throughout the course of his Passion–his arrest, trial, and crucifixion upon the cross. Even though he mentions his “enemies” in verse 8, he addresses God his Father and attributes his suffering directly to him. Please pause and let this sink in. How painful it is when our own parents reject and punish us, but this is God’s own Son. How tragic beyond imagination for the perfectly innocent Son of God to be so treated by his own Father. Christ as one of us suffered as one of us–
Hebrews 5:7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.
8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. (ESV)
When we see the Son of God suffering the rejection and wrath of his Father upon the cross, our empathy is sufficient to understand something of the great love God has for humankind: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were willing that God the Son should suffer this way.
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (ESV)
Second, we see the Father’s tenderness toward his Son in the reassuring responses he supplies in two passages: 1) verses 12-22 (13-23 LXX) and 2) verses 24b-28 (25b-29 LXX). Is it too difficult for us as readers to imagine the despair and might I say with no irreverence intended, the self-doubt as to the reality of his high role as Savior, as perceived by his human identity–as a man–that Christ might be feeling as he hung upon the cross? The agonies he experiences, as he finds his life being cut off in mid-stream, he experiences as a man–a male human being. How much more intense it would be for him as Son of God! In the replies of his Father we see such a great love for his Son, as he speaks into the eternal identity that transcends this moment of mortality upon the cross. Beyond the reassurance God gives his Son in these two speeches, God through Scripture speaks prophetically to us. Since these words were written centuries before they occurred, the Holy Spirit is indicating well in advance future events in the life of Messiah. Walking alongside the two Emmaus Road disciples (Luke 24:13-27), Psalm 102 would surely be part of the picture Christ painted for them of his life of sacrifice, as foretold in the Scriptures of the Old Testament.
Third, they talked! I find it utterly amazing that such an extended dialogue between two persons of the Trinity should be occurring right here before our very eyes, and in the Old Testament, no less. In addition to having been placed in Scripture for Christ, that he might have written assurance from his Father as he traveled the path through Calvary, these words have been written for us as believers. God wants us to know and understand who he is and what he has done for us. It is not for nothing that John the Apostle calls Christ “the Word” in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Indeed, God through Scripture is a great communicator.
Fourth, God is love. A gift beyond description that comes through our apprehension of Psalm 102, is the certain knowledge that only the Holy Spirit can convey to our hearts, that just as God the Father loves God the Son, so he loves each and every one of us in Christ. As regards the Father’s love, what is true for Christ is true for us in him.
1 John 3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. (ESV)
John 17:26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (ESV)
Fifth, a further gift beyond measure is the knowledge that God speaks to us through his Word. Often the timing of when the Holy Spirit chooses to interactively connect with our conscious awareness of his presence coincides with a difficult moment we may be passing through at that exact point in our lives. In those moments, as we experience God speaking directly to our hearts from within the passage of Scripture we are reading, each one of us realizes that God sees me and that God hears and understands the travails of my heart. We learn from Psalm 102 that God does indeed “know what it is like” for us, having been where we are to the maximum degree.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (ESV)
Sixth, our God is a God of power. Not only does he understand our hearts by means of his Son’s very own personal experience, not only does he love us as he loves his Son, but God also has the power to have placed these written words in the Bible in just such a way. First, he placed them centuries before Christ as part of his preparation for Christ’s arrival. Second, he maintained them in Scripture so that Christ in his incarnation would know them and be blessed by them. Third, he has preserved these words down to this present day. And fourth, God has power to speak this psalm specifically into our hearts on the occasion when we most need to hear it. Such is the power of God’s love.
Seventh, Psalm 102 adds greatly to the Old Testament prophetic testimony of the future coming of a Savior Messiah. Even if the national religious leaders and Jesus’ very own disciples did not, we know that some few, at least, understood the significance of its prophecy. We read:
1 Peter 1:10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully,
11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.
12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. (ESV)
Luke 1:68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us;
78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:68-79 ESV)
Read in its entirety, the previous passage sounds remarkably like a fulfillment of Psalm 102:12-22 (13-23 LXX), spoken by the Second Speaker:
12 But thou, Lord, endurest for ever, and thy memorial to generation and generation.
13 Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Sion: for it is time to have mercy upon her, for the set time is come.
14 For thy servants have taken pleasure in her stones, and they shall pity her dust.
15 So the nations shall fear thy name, O Lord, and all kings thy glory.
16 For the Lord shall build up Sion, * and shall appear in his glory.
17 He has had regard to the prayer of the lowly, and has not despised their petition.
18 Let this be written for another generation; and the people that shall be created shall praise the Lord.
19 For he has looked out from the height of his sanctuary; the Lord looked upon the earth from heaven;
20 to hear the groaning of the fettered ones, to loosen the sons of the slain;
21 to proclaim the name of the Lord in Sion, and his praise in Jerusalem;
22 when the people are gathered together, and the kings, to serve the Lord.
Eighth, Jesus Christ is Creator. Psalm 102 explicitly and more completely than almost anywhere else in Scripture reveals the identity of God’s suffering Messiah as none other than God the eternal second person of the Trinity, through whom the heavens and earth were created. He also shall be the one to bring about the new creation at the end.  It is this content of the psalm which Hebrews 1:10-12 expounds. Could this be a passage upon which the apostle John leaned when he wrote, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3 ESV)? A great deal of comfort and amazement over the great love of God for us is available for all who stop and ponder that our Creator is also our Savior, that he personally came to us and suffered as he did to reclaim us and to salvage our lives from the destruction of the enemy. Oh what a Creator we have! And what a powerful Savior he is. God’s unequaled power matched by his unequaled love.
Application: 
Hebrews 4:14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
(ESV)
Psalm 102 displays in tender, emotional, human fashion the infinite pains God has taken on our behalf. When we forget this, we should not berate ourselves, because even Jesus, as expressed in Psalm 102, needed and received special encouragement from his Father. Just as he turned to his Father God in his greatest hour of need, so should we.
As Karl Barth so ably said, “God is for us.” Barth received that from the Apostle Paul, who writes–
Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died– more than that, who was raised– who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(ESV)
Amen!
Some Closing Thoughts: Hopefully I don’t need to say that I did not get all this in one reading, nor in my first several readings. I have read Psalm 102 most likely dozens of times. What I received that wonderful morning when I first read it in the Septuagint was the simple but startling realization that there were two people talking in the psalm, one of them Christ and the other his Father. This realization came to me as I meditated in recollection upon the psalm, out for a walk shortly after having read it. This was when I was a young Christian, long before I had heard of its quotation in Hebrews. I mention this to demonstrate that God does work upon our spiritual understanding by two means: 1) the plain language of everyday speech, as it is recorded in Scripture, and 2) the presence of the Holy Spirit in our inner beings. When the Holy Spirit “quickens” the words of Scripture to our understanding and to our hearts, the effect within us is not something we soon forget. I pray that God will use Psalm 102 to bless you, the reader, as much as he has used it to bless me. 

Penitential Psalms: Psalm 102–Summary of Its Dialogic Structure

In the “theodramatic” (1) setting of Psalm 102, the Holy Author creates a divine conversation between Father and Son. Scripture supplies confirmation when the New Testament writer of the Letter to the Hebrews quotes in Hebrews 1:10-12 a portion of the entire dialogue, verses 25-27, writing as a matter of fact that in these verses God addresses the Son. Though not directly stated, God the Father is implied.

Where else can the reader find evidence of this dramatic, readers theater style interpretation? First, reading through the text of Psalm 102, the entire sense of the psalm inevitably reveals a conversation. Minimally, the main speaker addresses God directly in verses 1, 2, 10, and 24. Further direct addresses that carry a different content and tone are found in verses 12-22 and again in verses 25-28. The change in content and tone correspond to a change in speaker. Second, as stated above, the Letter to the Hebrews explicitly identifies a second speaker, God, for verses 25-27. Finally, the Septuagint text leads the way in the Hebrews’ interpretation by plainly labelling in common, everyday language the presence of two speakers, “He [speaker one] answered him [speaker two] in the way of his strength: tell me the fewness of my days” (Psalm 101:23 LXE, verse 24 in modern language versions).

With the presence of two speakers acknowledged, the reader can discern the boundaries of the several speech parts. A reasonable assignment is the following:

  1. Speaker One (the Son): Verses 1-11 (12 LXX).
  2. Speaker Two (God the Father): Verses 12-22 (13-23 LXX).
  3. Speaker One (the Son): Verses 23-24a (24-25a LXX).
  4. Speaker Two (God the Father): Verses 24b-28 (25b-29 LXX).

When perceived as a divine dialogue between Father and Son, the devotional aspects of this amazing psalm expand greatly.

__________

Bates, Matthew W. The Birth of the Trinity: Jesus, God, and Spirit in New Testament & Early Christian Interpretations of the Old Testament. Oxford University Press: Oxford, United Kingdom, 2015 and Paperback Edition 2016, p 170.

Penitential Psalms: Psalm 102–God’s Son Speaks: Technical Background

P 967 Rahlfs Daniel 1.1 (ca. 200 p. Chr. n., Papyrus-Sammlung Köln). 
Accessed at http://www.hsaugsburg.de/~harsch/graeca/Chronologia/S_ante03/VT/vte_pd00.html#p967

 

Tragically, not many commentators hear the voice of Christ in Psalm 102. Spurgeon (1) does not. Generally, those who don’t hear the voice of Christ fail to hear the divine dialogue within this amazing psalm. Because two or more witnesses biblically establish a valid testimony (Deuteronomy 17:6; Matthew 18:16; John 8:18), I’m going to take time at the outset to provide these additional witnesses to my own. First, here is a link to the text itself, where the reader can find the entirety of Septuagint Psalm 101(102), and below that is an excerpt that contains the portion quoted in Hebrews 1:10-12.

Reader Resource: Bilingual Text LXX (Septuagint in Greek) and LXE (Brenton’s English Translation). Notice that in the Greek Septuagint and in Brenton’s translation, Psalm 102 in our English Bibles is numbered as Psalm 101. Also, verse numbers may differ, depending upon which Septuagint edition is being used. The numbers to the left follow the Masoretic tradition while those in parenthesis follow the numbering used by the link given.

23(24) He answered him in the way of his strength: tell me the fewness of my days.

24a(25a) Take me not away in the midst of my days: 24b(25b) thy years [are] through all generations.

25(26) In the beginning thou, O Lord, didst lay the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.

26(27) They shall perish, but thou remainest: and [they all] shall wax old as a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them, and they shall be changed.

27(28) But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.

28(29) The children of thy servants shall dwell [securely], and their seed shall prosper for ever.

Here is the same text as presented in the ESV with the Septuagint English in brackets alongside: Psalm 102:23-28.

23  He has broken my strength in midcourse; [LXX: He answered him in the way of his strength:]

he has shortened my days. [LXX: tell me the fewness of my days.]

24  “O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days— [LXX: Take me not away in the midst of my days:]

you whose years endure throughout all generations!” [LXX: thy years [are] through all generations.]

25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth,

and the heavens are the work of your hands.

26 They will perish, but you will remain;

they will all wear out like a garment.

You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away,

27  but you are the same, and your years have no end.

28 The children of your servants shall dwell secure;

their offspring shall be established before you.

Finally, here is the portion (ESV) which the author of Hebrews quotes from the Septuagint:

10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,

and the heavens are the work of your hands;

11  they will perish, but you remain;

they will all wear out like a garment,

12  like a robe you will roll them up,

like a garment they will be changed.

But you are the same,

and your years will have no end.”

Second, as witness #1, here is how I perceive the dialogue in Psalm 101(102). Note that verse numbers differ and are dependent upon the edition being used. For reader convenience I am using the Masoretic numbers and referencing in brackets the numbers found in the “Bilingual Text” link in the “Reader Resource” paragraph at the top of this article.

  1. Verses 1 – 11 [1-12 in the bilingual link given above]. God’s Son speaks to his Father in the days of his incarnation and Passion.
  2. Verses 12 – 22 [13-23] God the Father replies through the Holy Spirit to his Son.
  3. Verses 23 – 24a [24-25a] God the Son answers God the Father. (23 “He answered him in the way of his strength: tell me the fewness of my days. 24a Take me not away in the midst of may days:)
  4. Verses 24b – 28 [25b-29] God the Father answers the Son. (24b “thy years are through all generations. 25 In the beginning thou, O Lord …]

Witness #2: John Barclay (2).

[Barclay uses the Masoretic numbering] In this Psalm we behold the sufferings of Christ, as expressed in his own person, by the Holy Ghost, from the beginning to verse 12, contrasted with the following glory, as declared by the same Spirit in the person of the Father, from verse 12 to 23. Then from the 23d to the middle of verse 24, the dialogue is again renewed, as at the beginning of the Psalm, in the person of the Son–to whom, from the middle of verse 24, to the end of the Psalm, the Father is again represented, as replying according to the former manner, mentioned from ver. 12 to 23: for so this Psalm, ver. 25, &c. is expressly applied and interpreted by the Holy Ghost, Heb. I. ‘Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever–And thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of think hands,’ &c.–‘And they shall be changed: but thou are the same, and thy years shall not fail.’

My Comment: Very few biblical commentators will ascribe verses 12-24a to God the Father or God the Holy Spirit, even among those who readily find the Father replying to Christ in the final speech, verses 24b-28. Most gladly I recognize the kindred spirit that exists between John Barclay and myself.

In contrast to Barclay, the third witness, below, Robert Hawker, is one who readily hears the voice of Christ in his Passion in verses 1-11, yet who does not recognize the words of comfort found in verses 12-22 as proceeding from God the Father. He does, however, hear Christ speaking in verses 23-24a and the Father directly answering him in verses 25 to the end.

Witness #3: Robert Hawker (3).

After verse 28: From the apostle Paul’s quotation of this glorious passage, Heb. I. 10, &c. and his illustration of it, as there explained, it should seem very evident that these verses contain God the Father’s answer to Christ’s prayer, and form a blessed summary of all redemption mercies ensured to the church in Him…Reader, I know not what soul exercises or afflictions your heart may be wounded with; but I venture to believe, that the truest relief under all, is to view Christ in his unequalled sorrows. Poring over ourselves, or over our own sorrows, and magnifying them, will never bring comfort. But if I see Jesus with the eye of faith, in the tribulated path; if I mark his footsteps, and he calls to me, and leads me by the way of the footsteps of his flock, where he feeds his kids, beside the shepherds’ tents; I shall feel comfort.

My Comment: Very often, those commentators who do not perceive the voice of Christ in Psalm 102, but that of an unnamed human suppliant–these authors tend to focus on Christ as Creator, and that portion of Hebrews as a Creation passage. The reasoning is that the author of Hebrews merely “applies” the words of Psalm 102:25-28 to Christ as object. They consider verses 25-28 to be spoken by the unnamed single human speaker who speaks throughout the entire psalm. They argue that though this human poet addresses God throughout the entirety of the psalm, this particular portion is applied by the author of Hebrews as making reference to Christ as Creator. In other words, they see a human speaking to God throughout the psalm, complaining to God for a longer life, reasoning that because God has such a long life and such power to create, why can’t he give some of that to the suffering poet? They fail to grasp the nearly sacrilegious arrogance of such a supplication. These commentators claim that the author of Hebrews by inexplicable “divine” inspiration, wrenched these words in particular from the whole psalm, and applied them in reference to Christ as object (Creator). Not only does this do disservice to the entire concept of the Bible’s having been written in “plain, ordinary speech,” but it completely destroys the comfort Hawker and others preeminently find in this psalm, as they consider the sufferings of Christ and the comfort afforded both him and us, who are in him, by God the Father.

Witness #4: Arthur Pink (4)

Arthur Pink lines up with Hawker as perceiving Christ as speaker up until the Father’s reply quoted in Hebrews (verses 25-28). Myself and Barclay, the reader might recall, saw two sections in which God the Father spoke directly to the Son (verses 12-22 and 24b-28.) Pink sees only the latter. He adds to the discussion, however, by combining the author of Hebrews’ rhetorical (logical, argumentative) use of Christ as Creator with the devotional comfort found in Psalm 102 of Christ as suffering Savior. Pink writes:

“And Thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth.” The Psalm from which this is quoted is a truly wondrous one … It lays bare before us the Saviour’s very soul. Few, if any, of us would have thought of applying it to Christ, or even dared to, had not the Spirit of God done so here in Heb. 1. This Psalm brings before us the true and perfect humanity of Christ, and depicts Him as the despised and rejected One (p 69, see note 4).

After the above, Pink quotes the entire psalm (an indication of how very impressed he is with it) up through verse 22. He labels verses 23-24a as the “strong crying,” quoted in Hebrews 5:7, “of Him who was ‘acquainted with grief.'” Then Pink writes:

And what was Heaven’s response to this anguished cry of the Saviour? The remainder of the Psalm records God’s answer: “Thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast Thou laid the foundation of the earth. And the heavens are the work of Thy hands. They 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: But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall have no end” (vv. 24-27).

Conclusion: In what I hope has not been a manner too arduous to read, I’ve presented four witnesses who agree that through the use of dialogue, Psalm 102 represents both the voice of the Son crying out to his Father in anguish during the days of his incarnation and Passion and the comforting voice of his Father in reply. I have been greatly encouraged recently to have discovered current academic writers who perceive divine dialogue between Father and Son in the book of Psalms (5). I’m sure up to date devotional material, such as this one seeks to be, will also follow.

I have presented these four witnesses so that the reader may have confidence to explore this pathway in a meditatively devotional session of his or her own. For those who follow this blog, I promise that a devotional interpretation of Psalm 102 will be written next.

For now, in consideration of Christian history’s regarding of Psalm 102 as one of the seven so-called penitential psalms, I just want the reader to notice how exactly the Holy Spirit wrote Scripture. We have seen that not all of the so-called “penitential” psalms are penitential in a sense that requires confession and repentance over sin. In this sense of the word, Psalm 51 is the most “penitential,” and Psalm 102 not at all. Note carefully that Psalm 51, which confesses and mourns over sin, does not represent Christ in any way as speaking from the divinity of his being. Rather, he speaks as mediator, a participant in humanity, a sacrificial lamb who took upon himself the sins of the world. Then, just as carefully, note that Psalm 102, which is highly “penitential” in the second meaning of the word, that of poverty and suffering of spirit, presents Christ both in his divinity and his human nature, but quite apart from sin. The reader can conclude that Christ God’s Son, as 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, “knew no sin,” as Psalm 102 demonstrates, and yet God “made him to be sin” “for our sake,” Psalm 51. Praise God.

__________

1 Spurgeon, Charles. The Treasury of David: Containing an Original Exposition of the Book of Psalms; A Collection of Illustrative Extracts from the Whole Range of Literature; A Series of Homiletical Hints upon Almost Every Verse; And Lists of Writers upon Each Psalm in Three Volumes. Peabody: Henrickson Publishers, No Date.

2 Barclay, John. The Psalms of David, and the Paraphrases and Hymns: With a Dissertation on the Book of Psalms, and Explanatory Introductions to Each. Edinburgh: James Gall, 1826. Reprinted Digitally by Forgotten Books, registered trademark of FB &c Ltd., London, 2017. Available at http://www.ForgottenBooks.com, 2017. A better quality copy is available at https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=nyp.33433068259260;view=1up;seq=205;size=75.

3 Hawker, Robert S. The Poor Man’s Old Testament Commentary: The Book of Psalms, public domain. Available at http://grace-ebooks.com/library/Robert%20Hawker/RH_Poor%20Man%27s%20Old%20Testament%20Commentary%20Vol%204.pdf, published by Grace Baptist Church of Danville, Kentucky. Accessed May 3, 2018.

4 Pink, Arthur. An Exposition of Hebrews. Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, 1954, pages 68-74.

5 See Bates, Matthew W. The Birth of the Trinity: Jesus, God, and Spirit in New Testament & Early Christian Interpretations of the Old Testament. Oxford University Press: Oxford, United Kingdom, 2015 and Paperback Edition 2016. See also Bates, Matthew W. The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation: The Center of Paul’s Method of Scriptural Interpretation.  Baylor University Press: Wayco, Texas, 2012.

 

Penitential Psalms: Psalm 102–Who Is Speaking?

 

The Old Testament was originally written mostly in Hebrew. About three centuries before Christ, translations of the Hebraic Scriptures into Greek became common. These translations collectively are called the Septuagint. The word “septuagint” means seventy, and unverified tradition holds that seventy scholars sequestered themselves while making the translation at the request of King Ptolemy II for the national library in Alexandria. Extant Greek manuscripts, translated from Hebrew, are older than the oldest extant Hebrew manuscripts by one to two centuries (1). The New Testament, on the other hand, was originally written in Greek, and its authors regularly read and quoted from the Old Testament Septuagint. Knowing this information helps to clarify why the author of the New Testament’s Letter to the Hebrews included Psalm 102:25-27 in his list of Old Testament texts that demonstrate God’s calling Jesus Christ his “Son” (2).

In the first chapter of Hebrews, the biblical author quotes several passages from the Old Testament in which God speaks directly to his Son. The three occurrences of God speaking directly to his Son are found in verse 5, quoting Psalm 2:7, verses 10-12, quoting Psalm 102:25-27, and verse 13, quoting Psalm 110:1. In the first and third of these quotations, the reader readily discerns the voice of God speaking to a second person. The text clearly states that this is so. However, when reading the quotation from Psalm 102, as it stands embedded within the context of the entire psalm in most English translations, the reader may wonder how it is that these particular verses refer to the Son. How did the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews arrive at this conclusion? Many commentators simply skip past the confusion by stating that the Hebrews’ author, divinely inspired, applied these verses to Christ. But this begs the question, for if so, then why so? Why these verses in particular?

Knowing that the author of Hebrews was quoting from a Greek text helps tremendously. In fact, it solves the puzzle. The complete context in the Septuagint clearly indicates a dialogue between two speakers. That is, the Septuagint text tags the verses immediately preceding the quotation found in Hebrews with clear transitional phrases of dialogue, “23 He answered him in the way of his strength: tell me the fewness of my days. 24a Take me not away in the midst of my days: 24b [the reply from the second speaker immediately follows here without an identifying tag, but it is clear from the context that a second speaker answers the requests of the first] thy years are through all generations. 25 In the beginning thou, O Lord, didst lay the foundation of the earth…” (3).  The Septuagint from which the author of Hebrews quotes (scholars overall agree that the writer is quoting from the Greek text) clearly distinguishes with speech labels the presence of two speakers in dialogue with each other. But the English translations of Psalm 102, which are based upon the Masoretic text (Hebrew), fail to include the tag words, “He answered him…”, found in verse 23a. And the author of the Letter to the Hebrews begins his quotation of Psalm 102 with verse 25, which occurs after the second speaker, God, has already begun speaking. The quotation in Hebrews does not contain the dialogue tags, or labels, but the author implicitly acknowledges their occurrence and assumes that his readers also know this fact. The assumption of dialogue is central to the logic and force of the author’s argument. He presents the Old Testament text as an example of God speaking directly to his Son.

Conclusion: While English versions translated from the Hebrew Masoretic text of Psalm 102:23 do not include the three words, “He answered him…”, the author of Hebrews implicitly acknowledges the prior occurrence of these three words as he begins his quotation in verse 25, which falls after their occurrence in the Septuagint from which he quotes. That the author implicitly acknowledges dialogue in the passage is clear from the entire context of Hebrews 1. The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews is demonstrating how Old Testament scripture accords Christ the status of Son. Among his proof texts are several verses that indicate direct speech by God to his Son. Among these is Psalm 102:25-27, quoted in Hebrews 1:10-12. It is clear that the Hebrews’ author is attributing the quotation as a speech statement by God to his Son. Again, the Son is the one to whom God is speaking, both in Hebrews 1:10-12 and in that passage’s source, Psalm 102:25-27. The Son is he to whom God replies. The Son is the “poor” man pouring out his supplication to the Lord, whose voice we hear so plaintively in the first eleven verses of this “penitential” psalm.

Significance: What is the answer to the big question, “So what?” The following blog in this series will, Lord willing, provide answers to that question.

 

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1 Reference works concerning the textual history of the Septuagint include 1) Karen H. Jobes & Moisés Silva. Invitation to the Septuagint. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2000. 2) H.B. Swete, An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, Cambridge: University Press, 1900. 3) Timothy Michael Law. When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.

2 Although Hebrews begins speaking of God’s Son in verse 2 of chapter 1, the author specifically names Christ as the Son in Hebrews 3:6, “But Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son…”

3 Brenton, Sir Lancelot C. L. The Septuagint Version: Greek and English. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970. Notice that the verse numbering differs from most English versions.

The NETS Bible (Pietersma, Albert, ed. A New English Translation of the Septuagint: The Psalms. Translated by Albert Pietersma. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. Available online at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/24-ps-nets.pdf. Accessed April 27, 2018) reads, “24(23) He answered him in the way of my strength, ‘Tell me the paucity of my days. 25(24) Do not take me away at the mid-point of my days,…”

In further confirmation of the Septuagint text, the Latin Vulgate, which translates the Greek, includes the words from Psalm 102:23, “He answered him…”

Penitential Psalms–Psalm 102: Why Penitential?

 

WE LEARNED what a truly penitential/repentant psalm looks like when we studied Psalm 51. This kind of psalm is rare in the Psalter. Psalm 102(101 LXX) immediately follows Psalm 51 in the list of seven traditional penitential psalms (6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, 143). It bears little resemblance to Psalm 51. Why does the list include Psalm 102?

First, a careful line by line search of Psalm 102 (ESV) (Greek and Brenton English) (English NETS) reveals not a single syllable concerning sin or repentance. Words and phrases present in Psalm 51, such as “blot out my transgressions” (v 1) and “wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me thoroughly from my sin!” (v 2) simply do not occur anywhere in Psalm 102.

Second, what Psalm 102 does contain is a poetic expression of great suffering on the part of the speaker. His suffering is summed up well in the superscription given the psalm before the first verse begins, “A Prayer for the Poor; when he is deeply afflicted, and pours out his supplication before the Lord,” (Psalm 102:1 LXE). While of course this title is not part of the biblical text itself but an ancient editorial addition, the Greek word for “Poor” (πτωχός, ptoe-koes) is a word often used by Jesus in the New Testament. We find one example in the first beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 5:3). Thayer describes the meaning of this word “poor” as, “destitute of wealth, influence, position, honors; lowly, afflicted,” (Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament). As explained in greater depth in a previous chapter (Penitential Psalms: A Big Mix-Up?) one possible explanation of the origin of both the word “penitential” and the list of seven psalms is the Greek “pen” word family. One of these “pen” stem words is πένητος (pen-ee-tohss). A “penitose” person is a poor person. Note the similarity to English “penitent.” “Penitose” is a synonym of “Ptoe-koes,” “poor,” which we just saw in the title above Psalm 102.

So, Psalm 102 is the speech of a poor, afflicted person who pours his heart out to the Lord. What else do we find in Psalm 102? Thirdly, we find the psalmist’s direct claim that he has enemies (v 8) who cause him pain, and further, that God himself (v 10) in “anger” and “wrath,” or “raging fury” (NET) has “lifted me up, and dashed me down,” (LXE, Septuagint in English). These last two features, both enemies causing pain and God’s wrath causing pain, are most strongly present in penitential Psalms 6, 38, and 102. Of these three, only Psalm 38 expresses sorrow for sin. Psalm 102, as mentioned in point one above, expresses neither confession nor remorse for anything.

Conclusion: Psalm 102 is “penitential” in the sense that it is the speech of a poor and needy person crying out to the Lord for help. The speaker’s suffering originates in persecution by both enemies and the Lord. There is neither acknowledgement of sin (confession) nor contrition (repentance) of any kind. The more we examine the seven so-called penitential psalms, the one item we find common to all of them is a deep humility of spirit as the psalmist addresses the Lord. To this author, it seems likely that, were we beginning fresh today, we would not begin to think of grouping these seven psalms in a cluster as our church forefathers did.

A Peek Ahead: There is much more to say about Psalm 102, such as, Who is speaking? This topic will form the content of a future post.

Sister of Psalm 22: Psalm 102

Dialogue functions as a prophetic tool for the Spirit’s announcement centuries ahead of time that the divine Christ would be incarnated as a human being who would suffer greatly.

Vladamir Rys/Staff/Bongarts/Bongarts/Getty Images

Psalm 102 is a sister to Psalm 22.

[Please feel free to jump down to the Summary and Conclusion at the end of this article.]

Speakers. Although it is true that Psalm 22 attributes David as its author, while Psalm 102 makes no attribution, I believe the in-character persona of the first person speaker is identical. The character is Christ, God’s Son, and the setting is his passion. I can say this because both psalms are quoted in the New Testament with the Son identified as the speaker.

Concerning this identification, Psalm 22 is the easier to ascertain. A portion of verse 1, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (ESV), is placed by gospel writers Matthew and Mark as proceeding from the lips of Christ, as he hung upon the cross (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). Psalm 102:25-26 is cited in Hebrews 1:10-12. The author of the letter attributes this quotation to God and states that in the quotation God addresses the Son (Hebrews 1:8). Going back to Psalm 102, we discover that since God addresses the Son in verses 25-26, then it must be in reply to the Son’s addressing God in verses 23-24, “He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days. ‘O my God,’ I say, ‘take me not away in the midst of my days…'” God then replies, as in Hebrews, “25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.” (ESV)

Pattern. Both Psalm 22 and Psalm 102 follow a pattern of 1) statement of suffering by a first person singular speaker, which, as demonstrated above, is the in-character persona of Christ. 2) Following the statement of suffering is an objection in a different voice, which might be paraphrased, “But your greatness, Lord, extends far beyond this suffering.” 3) Following the objection, the first person singular voice of Christ provides further evidence of suffering contra the objection. 4) The psalm resolves the conflict in final statements of the glory of Christ in a voice not the sufferer’s own.

1. Suffering. In both Psalm 22 and Psalm 102, the first person singular in-character persona expresses great suffering.

Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. (ESV) … 

11 Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help.
12 Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
15 my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet–
17 I can count all my bones– they stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots. (ESV)

Psalm 102:1 A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD. Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you!
2 Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!
3 For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace.
4 My heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread.
5 Because of my loud groaning my bones cling to my flesh.
6 I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places;
7 I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.
8 All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse.
9 For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink,
10 because of your indignation and anger; for you have taken me up and thrown me down.
11 My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass. (ESV)

2. Objection. Both psalms record objections to the initial statements of the speaker’s suffering.

Psalm 22 Recap of Suffering: 1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? 2 O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest.

Objection: 3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 

[See Dialogue in Psalm 22 for an explanation of how these verses might be considered an objection by a chorus of speakers.]

Psalm 102 Recap of Suffering: 1 A Prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD… 3 For my days pass away like smoke, and my bones burn like a furnace. 4 My heart is struck down like grass and has withered; I forget to eat my bread. 5 … my bones cling to my flesh. 6 I am like a desert owl of the wilderness, like an owl of the waste places; 7 I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop. 8 All the day my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse. 9 For I eat ashes like bread and mingle tears with my drink, 10 … for you have taken me up and thrown me down. 11 My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass. (ESV)

Objection: 12 But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations. 13 You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come. 14 For your servants hold her stones dear and have pity on her dust. 15 Nations will fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth will fear your glory. 16 For the LORD builds up Zion; he appears in his glory; 17 he regards the prayer of the destitute and does not despise their prayer. 18 Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD: 19 that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the LORD looked at the earth, 20 to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, 21 that they may declare in Zion the name of the LORD, and in Jerusalem his praise, 22 when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the LORD. (ESV)

John Barclay attributes verses 12-22 to speech by the Father through the Holy Spirit to the Son. [Barclay, John, The Psalms of David, 332. While most commentators do not share his attribution, I share most of it, independently. I cite Barclay here as confirmation of this assignment of multiple speakers. The topic of dialogue in Psalm 102 will receive an article of its own.]

3. Protest contra the objection: The speaker protests against the objection with further evidence of his suffering. The objection points to the essential being of the sufferer as far and beyond greater than the quality of the suffering would seem to suggest might be possible. That is, the first person speaker, because of his suffering, appears to limit his identity, while the objectors expand and elevate his identity. The first person singular speaker then replies with further evidence that indeed, his suffering has been extreme.

Psalm 22 Objection: 3 Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. 4 In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. 5 To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

Protestation Contra Objection:  6 But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. 7 All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; 8 “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!” (ESV)

Psalm 102 Objection: 12 But you, O LORD, are enthroned forever; you are remembered throughout all generations. 13 You will arise and have pity on Zion… [through verse 22]

Protestation Contra Objection: 23 He has broken my strength in midcourse; he has shortened my days.
24a “O my God,” I say, “take me not away in the midst of my days … (ESV)

4. Resolution by means of a final statement of the glory of Christ (the sufferer) in a voice not the sufferer’s own:

Psalm 22:27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. 28 For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. 29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. 30 Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; 31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.
(ESV) 
[See Dialogue in Psalm 22 for an explanation of how this portion might be considered as speech by a persona different than the sufferer. The article also discusses how this portion might apply to both God and his Christ.]

Psalm 102:25 In the beginning thou, O Lord, didst lay the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands. 26 They shall perish, but thou remainest: and they all shall wax old as a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them, and they shall be changed. 27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail. 28 The children of thy servants shall dwell securely, and their seed shall prosper for ever. (Septuagint English)

Summary and Conclusion. This article seeks to demonstrate how Psalm 22 and Psalm 102 follow a similar pattern of organization. The pattern has four steps: 1) Statement of suffering by a first person singular speaker, 2) Objection to the statement by a different speaker(s), 3) Contra the objection, response by the initial speaker with further evidence of suffering, and 4) Final statement of the glory of the sufferer above and beyond (outside the realm of) his suffering. The significance of observing this pattern is to realize that Psalms is a unified whole that speaks prophetically of the suffering of the Christ to come. The New Testament authors understood and utilized the prophetic role of Psalms, as witnessed by their quotations of them.

By means of dialogue, both psalms emphasize the human nature of Christ, while also emphasizing his divinity. It is as a human being that the Christ suffers, with the suffering expressed through the voice of a first person singular speaker. Part of the dramatic pathos of each psalm lies in the reader’s discovery that Christ the divine Son suffered so greatly as a human being that for encouragement he needed to be reminded of his divine identity. A chorus of God’s people remind him in Psalm 22, while in Psalm 102, God himself reminds his incarnated Son that he is divine. As mentioned, the dialogue functions as a prophetic tool for the Spirit’s announcement centuries ahead of time that the divine Christ would be incarnated as a human being who would suffer greatly.

14. Psalms 12, 42, 72, 102, 132: Reading Across Psalms for a Complete Messianic Portrait

Bibliography

Outline of Series

I. Introduction

A. General Comments

I recommend the tiny devotional Bible, 31 Days of Wisdom and Praise: Daily Readings from the Books of Psalms and Proverbs (See Bibliography). Although the publishers labeled the book “devotional,” it contains not a single word of commentary. It is, rather, a Bible. What makes it unique is the arrangement of the Psalms for the thirty-one days of consecutive reading. Day 1 contains Psalms 1, 31, 61, 91, and 121; Day 2 Psalms 2, 32, 62, 92, and 122; and so forth, each day following the same numerical pattern of adding thirty to arrive at the next psalm.

While there is nothing magical about this arrangement, it gives the reader opportunity to read across the Psalms in a way which, whether by chance or design, often provides a spiritually profitable mix. For those readers who are familiar with the author of this blog’s understanding that the Psalms are basically and wholly about Christ, reading across the Psalms in a single setting provides connections among them that otherwise might be missed in a sequential only reading. That is, if a person only reads the psalms in numerical order, portions of the back-and-forth dialogue among them might be missed.

For example, sometimes themes, or topics, become apparent when reading across. In my personal 31 Days Bible, I have written short thematic titles for some of the days, such as, “Yay, God!” for Day 3. This signifies for me that these psalms celebrate God’s victories. Again, I’ve written, “God Saves His Own,” for Day 11, and “War,” for Day 19. These examples are just my personal, devotional responses to what I read, as I discover what appear to be themes in a certain day’s grouping.

As another example, I find that some days contain sequences of the major events in Christ’s life, even though the numbers for the contiguous psalms are separated by thirty. These are the days I love the best. We see this in Day  28, where Psalm 88, which is often called the “darkest” psalm, is followed immediately by Psalm 118, a psalm filled with glory and light. Psalm 88 describes Christ’s crucifixion, his death, and his descent to the grave. Psalm 118, its sequel on Day 28, is a description of Christ’s resurrection and ascension to glory in tones of pure, joyful victory.

Psalm 88:15-18 From my youth I have been afflicted and close to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend.

Psalm 118:17-24 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

In these two quotations placed side by side, we see the complete gospel: the wrath of God on account of sin poured out upon Christ, Christ’s death, and immediately afterwards, his resurrection and ascension to be the head of the church, the gates of righteousness having been opened to life.

B. Day 12

It is not hard to find meaningful groupings of psalms when using 31 Days of Wisdom and Praise. For today’s study, I chose Day 12, which includes Psalms 12, 42, 72, 102, and 132. In this grouping, we see 1) in Psalm 12, the battle line drawn between good and evil as the lies of the wicked versus the truthful goodness of God’s word. In verses 5 and 7  we also see a promise of the Lord’s rising up to take action, which is what God did in Messiah in the New Testament. We also find 2) in Psalm 42,  a faithful man who suffers, 3) in Psalm 72, prayers for Messiah the King, 4) in Psalm 102, a poor, afflicted man pouring out his heart to the Lord and to whom the Lord replies in strong terms, attributing divinity to him, and 5) in Psalm 132, a celebration of God’s victories over hardship and enemies in the life of King David, who is a royal type of Christ. In this final psalm, both the suffering and glorious victory of the great King are clearly presented together. What this sequence of five psalms accomplishes, therefore, is to link the suffering man with the glorious, divine, and victorious Creator King Messiah, a link which apparently nearly everyone in Jesus’ time missed.

After his resurrection, Jesus said to his disciples with reference to the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer…” (Luke 24:44-46). But where in Psalms do we find that Messiah will suffer? Surely nowhere is such a direct statement made within the bounds of any single psalm. And yet, by reading across the psalms and by making reasonable literary connections among them, even as prompted by the Holy Spirit, we distinctly arrive at a portrait of Messiah that includes both suffering and glory, humanity and divinity. Such is “Day 12” in “31 Days of Wisdom and Praise.”

 

II. The Individual Psalms of Day 12

 

Psalm 12: God’s Word the Victor as the Battle Lines Are Drawn

1 Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone;
    for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man.
Everyone utters lies to his neighbor;
    with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.

May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
    the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongue we will prevail,
    our lips are with us; who is master over us?”

“Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan,
    I will now arise,” says the Lord;
    “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”
The words of the Lord are pure words,
    like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
    purified seven times.

You, O Lord, will keep them;
    you will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl,
    as vileness is exalted among the children of man.

A. Theme: God’s Truth Defeats the Enemy’s Lie as the Battle Lines  Are Drawn

1.  Characteristics of Liars and Their Lies

a. Verse 1: They are the norm everywhere

b. Verse 2: Everyone hides the truth and speaks falsely to the people around them, saying one thing out loud and saying something quite different to themselves. They pretend to be pleased by others, to agree, and to like these others, their neighbors, while at the same time their hearts stand poised against them.

c. Verse 3: The liars give meaningless compliments and agreements and speak proudly of themselves.

d. Verse 4: Those who deceive think they can get away with everything.

e. Verse 5: The purpose of much of the false words is to oppress the already poor and needy.

(Note on Verse 5: New Testament writers often quote from the Septuagint, which was the translation of the Old Testament in common circulation during their day. The English translation of Septuagint verse 5 proclaims God’s mind to clearly speak, that is, to prophesy, his intentions regardingsalvation.

LXE Psalm 12:5 {011:5} Because of the misery of the poor, and because of the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord, I will set them in safety; I will speak to them thereof openly. [Brenton, BibleWorks, Septuagint numbering Psalm 11:5])

2. Characteristics of the Lord’s Words, Verse 6: The Lord’s words are pure–not mixed, not hiding double meanings, exact and to the point, reliable, and of great value.

B. Outcome: The Lord Fights and Vanquishes the Wicked

1. Verse 7: The Lord has promised–he has spoken–and he will do as he spoke. He will keep the poor and needy safe forever from the oppressors of their own generation.

2. Verse 8: The wicked, in the meantime, will continue to walk about everywhere, honoring what is vile.

C. Sidebar: Internal Dialogue Present Within the Psalm

1. Verses 1-2 are a third person statement of the situation. The speaker is not identified; it may be a narrator or more likely either David speaking for the poor and needy or the congregation of the poor and needy themselves.

2. Verses 3-4 are a petition to the Lord by the unknown speaker.

3. Verse 5 is the Lord’s spoken response to the petition stated in verses 3 and 4. The Lord’s specific mention of the poor and needy in his reply adds weight to the view that these are the unknown, collective petitioners.

4. Verses 6 is a third person statement describing the Lord’s words.

5. In verse 7, first person plural speakers address the Lord in second person. This also adds weight to the view that the unknown speaker of the petition in verses 3 and 4 is the collective of the poor and needy.

6. Verse 8 is a third person narrative-like summary of the situation, a repetition in content of verses 1 and 2.

7. Even in this short psalm, therefore, at least two and possibly three speaking voices can be identified.

Takeaway: What do we learn from this psalm? What should our actions be?

I learn that I should not listen to the myriad of voices around me, voices that try to lead me away from the sure ground of faith in the Lord and in His Word. God’s Word is eternal, and in his Word I should trust, stand, and abide.

Can you put in your own words what this psalm means to you?

Summary: Psalm 12 sets the stage for the remaining psalms of Day 12. The battle is between the Lord and the wicked, and the weapons are the durable, true words of the Lord against the deceptive untruths of his enemies.  The Lord promises to arise and take salvation action to save the poor and needy.

Psalm 42: Faith Fights Depression

To the choirmaster. A Maskil of the Sons of Korah.

1As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food
    day and night,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”
These things I remember,
    as I pour out my soul:
how I would go with the throng
    and lead them in procession to the house of God
with glad shouts and songs of praise,
    a multitude keeping festival.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
    from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.
By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 As with a deadly wound in my bones,
    my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
    “Where is your God?”

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

A. Portrait of a Faithful Man Who Suffers

We’ve all been in this situation. We’ve placed all our hope in the Lord and have been careful to obey all the principles of his Word. We’ve gone regularly to church and have truly enjoyed worshiping with like minded believers. But then, God disappears. He no longer speaks to us, especially in the night watches of our souls. News from a godless culture assaults us day by day. Personal troubles come, and it seems as though we are drowning in a sea of difficulties. Worse still, it seems as though the attacks upon us are coming from God himself! (Vs 7: “all your breakers and waves have gone over me.”) And we have enemies, adversaries, those who oppose us with intent to harm. Then these, not only trying to hurt us, taunt us in our suffering, “Where’s your God now?” “Why doesn’t your God save you?” “What good is your faith?” “Why has God abandoned you?” “See, we don’t need God. God is not even relevant.”

B. Faith’s Response

1. The suffering believer in this psalm does what believers always do–he turns to the Lord, crying out to him from his pain and sorrow:

1 As a deer pants for flowing streams,
    so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God,
    for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God? …

6 My soul is cast down within me;
    therefore I remember you…

I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?” …

11 Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

2. The psalmist has a strong apprehension that it is God himself who afflicts him, even though there is an actual enemy oppressing him.

7 Deep calls to deep
    at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
    have gone over me.

I say to God, my rock:
    “Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?”

Does this make sense to our faith? If God is the one who afflicts us, then what hope do we possibly have?

Two things:

1) If it is God who afflicts, then it is also God who will save.

2) We know positively that our enemy does not love us, whereas we also know positively that God does love us. Eventually his love will pull us through.

3) No matter how strong the storm, if God is with us in the boat, then we are safe.

3. The fact that the psalmist ultimately places responsibility for his affliction at the feet of God causes us to think of Christ, because he knew that it was the Father’s will that he suffer and be sacrificed for our sins. It was exactly the Father’s will that sent Christ to the cross. Further, in this one specific instance of Christ, it was indeed God’s wrath against sin that poured out upon him in punishment and inflicted pain.

4. Nevertheless, this psalm itself does not specify that this suffering person is Christ. That will come later in Day 12.

5. [SIDEBAR] There is however an important theological understanding to be gained here. Once the connections among psalms have been made, once the disciples’ eyes had been opened to the reality that all the prophets and psalms speak of Christ and his suffering (Luke 24:25-27 and Luke 24:44-47), then it was possible for the New Testament writers to go back and learn of Messiah’s suffering as proceeding from his Father’s own will.

 ESV Hebrews 2:10 For it was fitting that he [God], for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

ESV 1Peter 10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully,
11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them
was indicating when he [the Holy Spirit present within the Old Testament prophets] predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.

Where then in the Old Testament do the prophets specifically speak of the sufferings of Christ? One place is in Psalms, and in this psalm in particular, if the reader can see Christ in it, as for example in verse 4, which reminds us of Christ leading the jubilant throng to the temple on what came later to be known as Palm Sunday.

C. Doubt and despair are two of the enemies afflicting the psalmist, and against these two he fights back mightily, knowing that God’s love will manifest and save him in the end.

… Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love,
    and at night his song is with me,
    a prayer to the God of my life.

Psalm 72: Prophetic Prayer for Messiah the King

(Link to Text of Psalm 72)

This is a prayer psalm that speaks blessing upon the King, the Son of the King of Kings. As the psalm closes with the transition from verse 17 to verses 18 and 19, it becomes difficult to decipher whom is being spoken of–God the Father or the Royal Son, so close are they in nature and glory. It can be seen that verse 17 supports the view that verses 18 and 19 are also about the Royal King, since the blessings desired for the Lord are eternal. The “Lord, the God of Israel,” in verse 18 is Yahweh Elohim in Hebrew, which the Septuagint version renders as, “the Lord, the God, the God of Israel.”

17 May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed!

18 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.

19 Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! 

A. Petitions for the King’s Endurance and Blessing

5 May they fear you while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations! 

8 May he have dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth!
9 May desert tribes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust!
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands render him tribute; may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts!
11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him! 

15 Long may he live; may gold of Sheba be given to him! May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all the day!

17 May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed! 

19 Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! 

B. Characteristics of and Petitions For His Nature

1 … Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to the royal son!
2 May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice!
3 Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness!
4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the children of the needy, and crush the oppressor!

6 May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!
7 In his days may the righteous flourish, and peace abound, till the moon be no more!

12 For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who has no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight.

C. Messiah as Glorious King

Notice that in Psalm 72, which has been considered Messianic, there is no mention of suffering or of hardship of any kind. The psalm deals only with the glory of the King, his righteousness, the peace that shall accompany him, and the eternity of his reign.

Recap:

  • Psalm 12–Messiah but no suffering
  • Psalm 42–Suffering but no Messiah
  • Psalm 72–Messiah but no suffering

Psalm 102: The Afflicted Man and Messiah God Joined

Psalm 102 is one of the more puzzling psalms in Scripture, predominantly as a consequence of the way it is quoted in the book of Hebrews.

(Link to Psalm 102 Bible Gateway)

Reading through Psalm 102 in most, if not all, of the English translations gives many people the sense that the voice of the poor, afflicted suppliant continues throughout the entire psalm. That is, many, if not most, commentators hear one person speaking throughout the psalm, that person being the poor, afflicted suppliant. In verse 24, most English versions add punctuation and some add grammatical changes which preclude any other interpretation. The ESV, for example, adds the grammatical interpretation, “you whose years” in place of the accurate  translation, “your years” (ESV Psalm 102:24). The King James Version is literal and conveys an accurate translation of the actual Greek words in Psalm 102:24 (KJV). Except for the punctuation marks, which of course are not present in the Greek, and the word “please,” the New English Translation, though not literal, is accurate as well (NET). (See these three versions in Parallel).

Contrary to the single speaker interpretation of Psalm 102, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews appears to hear additionally the voice of God speaking to the person pleading to him in this psalm. The writer of that letter hears two speaking voices, not one:

Hebrews 1:10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” (ESV) [This is a quotation of Psalm 102:24b-27.]

To perceive that the writer of the letter to the Hebrews hears God in Psalm 102 addressing the Son, it helps to read Hebrews 1:10-12 in the  context of the entire chapter, since verses 10-12 are part of a longer sentence that begins in verse 8 and part of a longer argument, which begins in verse 1.

ESV Hebrews 1:1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 

Hebrews 1:8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” [a quotation of Psalm 45:6,7]

Hebrews 1:10 And [this conjunction links verse 10 to the portion of verse 8 which reads, “But of the Son he says…”], “You, Lord [i.e., you Lord, the Son], laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.” [Psalm 102:24b-27]

[Link to the entire chapter: Hebrews 1]

Following the rules of plain, common sense English, an ordinary reader can perceive that the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews sees a reference to Christ in Psalm 102:24-27 and that in his mind it is God speaking to Christ from within that psalm:

 …God spoke (Hebrews 1:1)…But of the Son he [God] says (:8)…And (:10) [God continues to speak of the Son] You, Lord, (:10) laid the foundation of the earth…etc. [from a direct quotation of that portion of Psalm 102]

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews plainly perceives more than one speaker in Psalm 102:24-27. He hears the voice of the poor suppliant pleading with God that he might live. Secondly, he hears the voice of God replying to the poor suppliant’s request. The nature of that reply indicates that the first speaker, the poor suppliant, is Christ the Son, and the second speaker is God.

The alternative single speaker point of view claims that only one person, the poor suppliant, speaks throughout the entire psalm. That is, all the words of the entire psalm, including those in verses 24-27, belong to the voice of the poor suppliant. Those who cling to this point of view interpret that the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews, divinely inspired,  perceives the Holy Spirit as having taken the words of the poor suppliant addressed to God in verses 24-27 and applied them as having been addressed to Christ by the poor suppliant. In other words, the single speaker point of view claims that in the poor suppliant’s prayer to God is buried a prayer to Christ as Creator, recognizable apparently only to the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews because he was under the influence of the Holy Spirit. I have every confidence that the writer of Hebrews was indeed divinely inspired. Nevertheless, this interpretation contorts the contexts of both Psalm 102 and Hebrews 1 beyond the bounds of plain, literary credulity.  It is an interpretation to which most ordinary readers would never arrive. Thus, Hebrews 1:10-12 has remained a puzzle for ages: How did the writer of Hebrews arrive at his conclusion that Christ is present as divine Creator in Psalm 102:24-27?

Despite the difficulties just described, very few writers embrace the viewpoint of two speakers in dialogue within Psalm 102. A two speaker viewpoint inescapably implies that the poor, afflicted suppliant pleading for his life in Psalm 102 is also Christ the divine Creator. Is it because such a viewpoint would upset the hermeneutical rules of many that most commentators fall short of this mark? Is it difficulty in ascribing the mindset of the poor suppliant to Christ? Or is it something else? Why does it seem impossible that the poor suppliant in Psalm 102 prophetically speaks out the voice of Christ in his incarnation and passion? Doesn’t Christ himself just before his ascension teach his disciples that any of them who do not see the predictions of Messiah’s sufferings in the Old Testament, including the psalms, are both “foolish” and “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25 ESV and Luke 24:44-46)?

Perhaps reading Psalm 1o2 in the Septuagint, which the Hebrews’ author most likely did, will help a great deal, as the context clearly proclaims two speakers:

LXE Psalm 102:23 He [Speaker 1: the poor suppliant] answered him [Addressee: God] in the way of his strength: [Note that this narrative sentence must be spoken by a third party, neither the suppliant nor the addressee.]

[SUPPLIANT:] tell me the fewness of my days. 24 Take me not away in the midst of my days:

[ADDRESSEE, GOD, AND HERE, SPEAKER NUMBER TWO:] thy years are through all generations.
25 In the beginning thou, O Lord, didst lay the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.
26 They shall perish, but thou remainest: and they all shall wax old as a garment; and as a vesture shalt thou fold them, and they shall be changed.
27 But thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.
28 The children of thy servants shall dwell securely, and their seed shall <1> prosper for ever.

Written in paragraph style:

He answered him in the way of his strength, “Tell me the fewness of my days. Take me not away in the midst of my days.” 

“Thy years are through all generations…”

(Link to NETS translation of Septuagint Psalm 102 {101}) (Link to Brenton’s translation of Psalm 102)

The Septuagint’s use of the phrase, “He answered him…,” is a textual signpost indicating that two speakers are present and engaged in ongoing dialogue. If a reader becomes aware that the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews quoted from the Septuagint, then he can readily follow the logic of his divinely inspired understanding in Hebrews 1:10-12 that God is indeed speaking to Christ in Psalm 102:24-27, since Christ is identical to the poor suppliant.

Concerning the text the author of Hebrews may have used, the Septuagint reading quoted above is present in all versions of the Septuagint this author could find, and no content variants seem present that might challenge the two speaker viewpoint. Clearly, if, as is widely assumed, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews 1) had the Greek version of Psalm 102 in front of him, 2) had the Holy Spirit within him, and 3) was aware of Christ’s teaching on Old Testament prophecy in regard to the sufferings of Messiah, then today’s reader can more readily understand how he came to the conclusion he did regarding Christ as Creator within the context of Psalm 102. I want to add that any reader today, who reads Psalm 102 from the Septuagint or from an accurate English translation of the Septuagint, using a clear mind and following the rules of ordinary, plain, common sense language construction, should be able to see and agree that the concept of two speakers in dialogue within this psalm holds considerable merit, especially as confirmed by the book of Hebrews.

One can also notice that the author of Hebrews perceives many of the Old Testament passages he quotes in chapter 1, including those from Psalms, as having been spoken by God to the Son. Indeed, internal dialogue by various parties within single psalms is not uncommon. See, for example, the dialogue present in Psalm 12, discussed just above.

(For further direct speech from Father to Son see Psalm 110 and for a further example of speech/content blocks see Psalm 21 and Psalm 21: A Structural Analysis on this blog).

SUMMARY: If, as the writer of Hebrews indicates, God addresses his Son within the bounds of Psalm 102, then this psalm directly connects the suffering man with Messiah Lord God in a most powerful way.

Following are quotations from authors who subscribe to the single speaker interpretation of Psalm 102 in which the words of the poor suppliant to God are wrenched from their context and applied out of context in Hebrews 1, as though 1) God through the Holy Spirit were taking the poor suppliant’s words addressed to himself and using them as the poor suppliant’s words addressed to Christ, or 2) as if the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews through inspiration of the Holy Spirit were taking the poor suppliant’s words to God throughout the entire passage and applying them in these few sentences as God’s words to Christ. Neither of these two interpretations follows the rules of plain, ordinary grammatical and literary understanding. They seem rather to be contortions employed to avoid the conclusion that in Psalm 102 the poor suppliant is Christ in the suffering of his incarnation addressing God his Father. That is, there are two speakers in dialogue, not one.

Footnote 1.1

Albert Barnes sums up well the predicament of many commentators who attempt to explain in this portion of the Letter to the Hebrews what is for them the author’s surprising use of Psalm 102 as direct speech by God to the Son.

No one, on reading the Psalm, ever would doubt that it referred to God; and, if the apostle meant to apply it to the Lord Jesus, it proves most conclusively that he [Jesus] is divine. In regard to the difficult inquiry, why he applied this to the Messiah, or on what principle such an application can be vindicated, we may perhaps throw some light by the following remarks. It must be admitted, that probably few persons, if any, on reading the Psalm, would suppose that it referred to the Messiah; but (1.) the fact that the apostle thus employs it, proves that it was understood, in his time, to have such a reference, or, at least, that those to whom he wrote would admit that it had such a reference. On no other principle would he have used it in an argument. This is at least of some consequence, in showing what the prevailing interpretation was. (Barnes, Albert, “Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical: Hebrews,” Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Available at http://www.ccel.org/ccel/barnes/ntnotes.xxii.i.x.html?highlight=psalm,102#highlight, accessed July 30, 2017.)

Footnote 1.2

Charles Spurgeon sets the tone perhaps for many commentators who perceive a single speaker throughout, according to Spurgeon’s view, a patriot who mourns for the plight of his nation and yet who ultimately finds hope in God:

24. “I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days.” He betook himself to prayer…”Thy years are throughout all generations.” Thou livest, Lord; let me live also. A fullness of existence is with thee, let me partake therein. Note the contrast between himself pining and ready to expire, and his God living on in the fullness of strength for ever and ever…25 “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth.” Creation is no new work with God…[the quote continues in this same vein.] (Spurgeon, Charles, The Treasury of David: Containing an Original Exposition of the Book of Psalms; A Collection of Illustrative Extracts from the Whole Range of Literature; A Series of Homiletical Hints upon Almost Every Verse; And Lists of Writers upon Each Psalm in Three Volumes, Peabody: Henrickson Publishers, No Date, Vol. 2, 257.)

Footnote 1.3

Craig C. Broyles succinctly expresses the majority viewpoint that Psalm 102 is breathed by a single speaker throughout. Notice in the following text, however, that he focuses on the clear contrast between verses 23-24a and 24b-28, which in the dual speaker view is exactly where the dialogue occurs. He also accurately identifies the other major blocks of texts and their easily recognizable transitions.

102:23-24a / Although the praise of God’s permanence continues in verses 24b-28, a lament and a petition that resume the earlier theme of my days are interjected here. Their effect is to create a striking contrast. While the lament is brief, it focuses entirely on God’s role in the distress: he–that is, the praised Yahweh of verses 12-22–cut short my days. The petition then returns the psalm to direct address: Do not take me away…in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations. Thus, although verses 24b-28 are formally praise, there is also a note of complaint: “I am not permitted to live a full generation, but you continue through all generations.” [My comment here: in a devotional sense, I personally cannot help but feel that for someone to be jealous and even mildly to chastise God regarding his eternity in view of the plaintiff’s own short days would be somewhat blasphemous. Is that a viewpoint God would want to exult in Scripture?] (Broyles, Craig C., Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Psalms, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999, 392-393.)

Following are quotations from sources who subscribe to a dual speaker interpretation of Psalm 102. Christ is the poor suppliant addressing the Father in this psalm, and within the psalm the Father replies. His reply to Christ, the poor suppliant/Creator, is recorded in Hebrews 1:10-12.

Footnote 2.1:

101 [102. The Orthodox Study Bible uses the Septuagint numbering system, in which Psalm 101 Septuagint is Psalm 102 in most other English translations. The superscription is also numbered separately as verse 1.] Ps 101 is about a [present in the source] a poor man, when he was depressed and poured out his supplication before the Lord (v. 1). This Man is Jesus, who became poor for our sakes and interceded with the Father for our salvation (see also 2Co 8:9; Heb 5:7). The Lord to whom He prays is the Father (v.2) [vs 1 in most English translations], and vv. 3-12 [vv 2-11 in English translations not using the Septuagint numbering system] describe Jesus’ extreme anguish for us (see also Mt 26:38). He also rose again for our salvation, for He is the Lord over death (when You rise up, v. 14) [13]. He is the Creator of the world (vv. 26-28 [25-27]; see also Heb 1:10-12), and He also created the Church (vv. 19, 23, 29) [18, 22, 28], composed of Gentiles as well as Jews (v. 16) [15].

1:10-12 [Hebrews 1:10-12] In this quotation from Ps 101:26-28 [102:25-27], God the Father (v. 9) is addressing Another as “Lord,” that is, as God.

[Both quotations above are from: The Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, The Orthodox Study Bible, Thomas Nelson: Nashville, et al., 2008, copyright by St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Used by permission. All rights reserved, 748 and 1654.]

Footnote 2.2:

PSALM CII. In this Psalm we behold the sufferings of Christ, as expressed in his own person, by the Holy Ghost, from the beginning to verse 12, contrasted with the following glory, as declared by the same Spirit in the person of the Father, from verse 12 to 23. Then, from the 23d to the middle of verse 24, the dialogue is again renewed, as at the beginning of the Psalm, in the person of the Son–to whom, from the middle of verse 24, to the end of the Psalm, the Father is again represented, as replying according to the former manner, mentioned from ver. 12 to 23: for so this Psalm, ver. 25, &c. is expressly applied and interpreted by the Holy Ghost, Heb. I. ‘Unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever–And thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands,’ &c.–‘And they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail.’ (Barclay, John, The Psalms of David, and the Paraphrases and Hymns: With a Dissertation on the Book of Psalms, and Explanatory Introductions to Each, Edinburgh: James Gall, 1826, page 336. Digitally reproduced by Forgotten Books, London: FB&c Ltd., 2017, http://www.ForgottenBooks.com.)

Note that as presented in the above quotation, John Barclay views Psalm 102 as a two speaker dialogue throughout. He divides the Psalm in this manner:

Speaker 1, Christ: verses 1-11,

Speaker 2, God the Father: verses 12-22,

Speaker 1, Christ: verses 23-24a,

Speaker 2, God the Father: verses 24b-28.

Barclay credits the Holy Spirit for assigning these divisions. He appeals to Hebrews 1:10-12 to confirm these divisions, as by the same Holy Spirit .

Footnote 2.3

Psalm 102 is one of the most, perhaps the most, remarkable of all the psalms, and presents Christ in a way divinely admirable. Verse 10 gives the occasion of the cry with which the psalm begins. Christ is fully looked at as man chosen out of the people and exalted to be Messiah, and now, instead of taking the kingdom, He is rejected and cast off…He looks to Jehovah, who cast down Him whom He had called to the place of Messiah, but who now meets indignation and wrath...The whole scene, from Christ on earth to the remnant in the last days, is one...His strength had been weakened in His journey, His days shortened. He had cried to Him able to deliver, to save from death. Was Zion to be restored and no Messiah—He weakened and cut off? Then comes the wondrous and glorious answer: He was Himself the creator of the heavens and the earth. He was ever the same. His years would not fail when the created universe was rolled up like a garment. The children of His servants would continue and their seed be established before Him. The Christ, the despised and rejected Jesus, is Jehovah the Creator. The Jehovah we have heard of coming, is the Christ that came. The Ancient of days comes, and Christ is He, though Son of man. This contrast of the extreme humiliation and isolation of Christ, and His divine nature, is incomparably striking. (Darby, John, John Darby’s Synopsis, Whole Bible, Psalm 102, Available at Christianity.com, “Psalm 102 Bible Commentary: John Darby’s Synopsis,” https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=drby&b=19&c=102#%5B1%5D, Accessed on November 17, 2017.)

Footnote 2.4

The apostle refers to the 102nd Psalm–a psalm which, without apostolic teaching, I doubt if any of us would have had the boldness so to apply; for in many respects it s the most remarkable of all the psalms–the psalm of the afflicted One while His soul is overwhelmed within Him in great affliction, and sorrow, and anxious fear…Then it is that God the Father replies to Him, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands.”  (Saphir, Adolph and Cortesi, Lawrence. The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Exposition. Public Domain. Available at http://juchre.org/saphir/heb2.htm, accessed July 30, 2017.)

Psalm 132: Prayer for the People of the Victorious King Who Endured Hardships

(Link to the Text of Psalm 132)

 Psalm 132 unifies and completes both the psalm portion of Day 12 of 31 Days of Wisdom and Praise and the life and mission of Jesus Christ.

In Psalm 132 we see a prayer (vss  1 and 10) for God’s anointed one, David’s descendant, that the mission begun in David’s humiliation would find its eternal completion in God’s anointed one, whom God promised would be King in Zion. In Zion, with the anointed King and with his people, God would have his final resting place.

A. Prayer for God to Remember David’s Hardships and Desire: Verses 1-10

A Song of Ascents. Remember, O LORD, in David’s favor, all the hardships he endured, (Psa 132:1 ESV)

Commentators agree that “hardships” in the ESV refer to David’s meekness and humility in placing God before his own interests in his desire to find Him a dwelling place.

Psalm 132:4 I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, 5 until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” (ESV) (1 Chronicles 22:7 and Acts 7:46)

B. God’s Anointed One Fulfills David’s Desire

Psalm 132: 10 For the sake of your servant David, do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
11 The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne. (ESV)

13 For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place:
14 “This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. (ESV)

C. Petition and Promise

Verses 9-10 are a prayer that embodies what God has already promised (praying Scripture). Verses 9-10 state the prayer, and verses 11-18 state the promise/reply.

D. Plot Line

For Christians who believe that Christ is all in all, Psalm 132 sums up his life and mission very well.

  • As incarnated deity, Christ is typified by David. As David in the psalm placed concern for God’s dwelling place above the needs of his own life, so Christ always kept the Father’s will foremost in his thought, prayers, motives, speech, and actions.
  • David’s purpose in Psalm 132 is to find a permanent dwelling for God. Christ, whose name Emmanuel means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23), came to open the way back to God by means of the cross and to establish a permanent, eternal dwelling place for God among his people. Indeed, Christ’s mission and life throughout all ages fulfills the message of the entire Bible.
  • The place of God’s dwelling in both Psalm 132 and the unfolding of the New Testament is a people, Zion, God’s people, in whom Christ, the Anointed One, lives and reigns as eternal King.

E. A Fit Conclusion for the Five Psalm Series

Because Psalm 132 contains all the elements of humiliation, deity, promise, and eternal kingship, it captures and weaves into one all the various threads of the prior psalms.

III. Summary

Day 12 packs a great deal of vision and meaning into these five psalms.

Psalm 12 1) states the problem: sin, deception, and oppression, and 2) states the means of its solution: God’s word of truth and his salvation.

Psalm 42 paints an intimate portrait of an unnamed Christ in the days of his humiliation. It also presents faith as the effective weapon of choice.

Psalm 72 is a prayer for God’s royal son, the eternal King whose kingdom will last forever.

Psalm 102 for those who have eyes to see it and willingness to receive, reveals that the suffering one in this psalm, and by extension in all the psalms, is none other than the Lord himself, Creator (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:2, 10), and second person of the Trinity.

Psalm 132 brings it all together in a brief overview of 1) David’s life goal of finding a final dwelling place for God among his people, and 2) God’s promise to David that He would fulfill that goal in David’s descendant, God’s anointed, eternal King (vs 18), and that 3) Zion would be the eternal dwelling of God, his anointed King, and his people (Psalm 132:11-18).

Christ is that King. Believers in Christ from every age are God’s people.

 

 

 

This is the End of the current series. My prayer is that you will be greatly blessed in your own journey of discovering Christ in the Psalms.

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