But you, Lord, sit enthroned for ever;
your renown endures through all generations.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to show favour to her;
the appointed time has come.
For her stones are dear to your servants;
her very dust moves them to pity.
The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
For the Lord will rebuild Zion
and appear in his glory.
He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
he will not despise their plea.
Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
‘The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.’
So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion
and his praise in Jerusalem
when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the Lord.
In the course of my life he broke my strength;(Ps. 102:12-28 NIV)
he cut short my days.
So I said:
‘Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days;
your years go on through all generations.
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.
The children of your servants will live in your presence;
their descendants will be established before you.’
Yesterday we looked at the first two sections of this Psalm.
- Introductory Prayer v1-2
- Lament v 3-11
- Promises v12-22
- Lament v23-27
- Future viewpoint v28
The Psalmist has prayed and brought his lament before the Lord. Though he expresses distress, and loneliness, and he is physically wasted away, he acknowledges that the covenant LORD sits enthroned forever. The frailty and fleeting existence that he experiences is seen in sharp contrast to the everlasting God. The Lord reigns forever. Whatever we may feel we are losing – our health, our mind or our existence – the Lord God does not change. The adversities of individuals do not change the Lord. The reputation of the Psalmist had suffered but the renown of the Lord endures throughout all generations. The Lord rules from the throne throughout each generation. We sometimes look back on a previous generation and lament their passing. But the work of the Kingdom of God does not stop with the passing of any individuals.
The Psalmist is confident that the favour of the Lord will be shown to the Lord’s people. How can he be so sure? Because the LORD is a covenant God and He has pledged His covenant love (hesed) to His people. It is likely that this is a Psalm written in exile and the Psalmist is aware that the Lord has ordained a period of seventy years of exile. The time is drawing near for the Lord to turn His face towards His people and do them good.
This new era is marked by forgiveness and the renewal of the covenant and the restoration of the people of God to the land.
The state of the Temple and the holy city is a great burden for the Lord’s people. The stones and the heaps of dust cause great sorrow. The scattered stones and the piles of dust are a stark reminder of the Lord’s judgement. As I travel around England, I see church buildings turned in to residential houses, craft shops, restaurants and other uses. These buildings once hosted the people of God for worship. Surely these have got to be seen as signs of the judgement of the Lord upon our nation. We ought not to be complacent that as a local church we will always exist. We ought to lament the state of the church, our own church first of all and then the churches across England. We ought to seek the Lord’s favour, that He might turn His face towards us and revive the work of the Lord in our midst. The fact that many of the church buildings have lain empty for months should give us pause for thought. We ought to pray that the merciful God will allow us circumstances that we might meet together again.
We know the history of the people of God returned from exile, the struggles of Ezra and Nehemiah to see the people of God restored. The nations did not fear the name of the Lord. Many of the surrounding nations opposed the rebuilding of the walls and the Temple. In fact soon after the Lord Jesus Christ ascended back to heaven the Temple building was destroyed. The Psalmist here is looking to a future time when all these promises would be fulfilled in the New Heavens and the New Earth.
The Lord did rebuild the Temple and respond to the prayers of His people. The Psalmist writes for a future generation – including our generation. We look back and see what the Lord can do, what the Lord can restore. The Lord can restore the church in England, where our particular interest is, and indeed across all the lands. Many of us come from other countries and we would also long to see the church restored in our homelands.
The Lord still looks down from heaven today and hears the prayers of His people. He knows the state of our churches, the state of our land. We pray that the praise of the Lord will soon ring out again from our church buildings. That we may be able to gather again with the Lord’s people and rejoice together in the God of our salvation.
The Psalmist acknowledges that in the course of his life his strength was broken and his days were cut short. It is the Lord’s right to do this because He is Sovereign over all our lives. The life we live is the Lord’s gift to us and the Lord can do with that life what He seems fit without explanation to us, or without seeking our permission. The Psalmist asks for restoration. He deserves to be taken away. He recognises that his day will come to a close, and that is true for us all. Not so the Lord, His years go on through all generations.
Right back at the beginning of time the Lord laid the foundations of the earth. Everything in heaven and earth is the work of the Lord’s hands. All this work will come to an end, but the Lord knows no end. There is a great fear today that a coming future pandemic could wipe out the whole of earth’s population. Discussions are already taking place to think of the survival of the human race in some outer space dwelling. But this earth is coming to a designed end, just as it had a designed beginning. Just like the Lord taking off an old jacket, discarding the old and putting on new clothing, so the old earth will be changed into the new earth. A redeemed humanity will survive, not because of humanity’s ingenuity but because the Lord endures and He will cause His people to endure in Jesus Christ. Then from out of every generation, the children of God will live in the presence of the Lord. The people of God will be established before the Lord in the New Heavens and the New Earth and so we shall forever be with the Lord.
Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your Name in all the earth. You have blessed us in Jesus Christ beyond what we deserve. You have made us a holy people, ordained to sing Your praise. Lord we are reduced to meeting using technology, which we are thankful for, but this is so far short of meeting together. Lord in mercy restore the gathering of Your people. We thank You that though we experience peculiar circumstances we have not been left without hope. One day this earth will be free from all disease. There will be no more separation or isolation, but we will be gathered together onto the Lord to sing the praises of the One who died to save us. Lord until that day sustain us in our walk with You. We ask all this giving our thanks and asking for the forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.