This is a Psalm of extremes. We initially read the words of a person in deep distress, verses 1-11. Then there is a sudden change. We are confronted with the eternal, unchanging God and hope is stirred in the writer’s heart, verses 12-28. How can the same person be so different? It can only be the result of the Psalmist lifting his eyes from his problems and fixing them on God. God is greater than our problems and helps us put life into perspective.
The Psalm is called a prayer of the afflicted. The person described is in severe trouble, hungry, in physical agony and ultimately facing death. They describe their waning strength as ‘a shadow which is fading away’. What is the reason for this state of affairs? The writer says it is because of God’s ‘indignation’ and ‘wrath’. God is angry. We are not told who the individual is and why they are in these difficult circumstances.
In his book on the Psalms, A G Clarke suggests that the key to the understanding of the whole psalm lies in verses 24b to 27. I tend to agree. These verses are repeated in Hebrews 1 verses 10-12. The Father (God) speaking to the Son (The Lord Jesus Christ). The Father states that the Son made the heavens and the earth, they will pass away but the Son is eternal and His years ‘shall have no end’.
So, the question is. How does this help us understand the rest of Psalm 102? It would seem logical, considering our knowledge of the sufferings of Christ and His death, so see that the Psalm is all about the experience of the Lord Jesus Christ. The original writer may have had some similar experiences but the fulfilment would seem to be seen in the Lord Jesus. Let’s look at it again.
In verses 1-11 we hear the Son speaking to the Father. He is expressing the extremities of his sufferings, the loneliness of his soul. He looks for an answer to his crying and prayer. He reflects on the reproach of his enemies and records that he is suffering because of God’s fury.
There is a brief reply from the Father, verses 12-15, which hints at the future blessing that the Son will bring to the nation of Israel and the rest of the nations of the world.
The third section, verses 16-22, is a commentary by the Holy Spirit on those future days when the world will be blessed by God. Verse 18 states that these things are written ‘for the generation to come’ i.e. not for the people who read it initially. This strengthens the argument for a ‘future’ interpretation of the psalm.
The closing verse of the psalm gives a final glimmer of hope. As long as the eternal God exists, His servants will serve Him. Let us go out and do that today.