A Cry for Help

2 Oct

As we move to psalm 102, we move from praise of the last several psalms to a cry for help. The psalmist cry is wrapped up in a plead for a place of safe dwelling with God.

One reason I like the psalms is that the people who wrote them took their relationship with God seriously. There is a desire to share everything with God; good times and bad times. Even when the writer doesn’t feel as though God is paying attention, they continue to write.

1-2 God, listen! Listen to my prayer,
listen to the pain in my cries.
Don’t turn your back on me
just when I need you so desperately.
Pay attention! This is a cry for help!
And hurry—this can’t wait!

I always love the images in the psalms, especially when they are paraphrased by Eugene Peterson. I can feel the psalmist pain with lines like, “mournful as a sparrow in the gutter”, or They bring in meals – casseroles of ashes!” I think we should always try to enter the dialogue of the scriptures and the palms make them so accessible. Who had not felt this desolate and alone at some point in their lives?

3-11 I’m wasting away to nothing,
I’m burning up with fever.
I’m a ghost of my former self,
half-consumed already by terminal illness.
My jaws ache from gritting my teeth;
I’m nothing but skin and bones.
I’m like a buzzard in the desert,
a crow perched on the rubble.
Insomniac, I twitter away,
mournful as a sparrow in the gutter.
All day long my enemies taunt me,
while others just curse.
They bring in meals—casseroles of ashes!
I draw drink from a barrel of my tears.
And all because of your furious anger;
you swept me up and threw me out.
There’s nothing left of me—
a withered weed, swept clean from the path.

In the psalm is always an affirmation of who God is – one who rules and loves.

12-17 Yet you, God, are sovereign still,
always and ever sovereign.
You’ll get up from your throne and help Zion—
it’s time for compassionate help.
Oh, how your servants love this city’s rubble
and weep with compassion over its dust!
The godless nations will sit up and take notice
—see your glory, worship your name—
When God rebuilds Zion,
when he shows up in all his glory,
When he attends to the prayer of the wretched.
He won’t dismiss their prayer.

18-22 Write this down for the next generation
so people not yet born will praise God:
“God looked out from his high holy place;
from heaven he surveyed the earth.
He listened to the groans of the doomed,
he opened the doors of their death cells.”
Write it so the story can be told in Zion,
so God’s praise will be sung in Jerusalem’s streets
And wherever people gather together
along with their rulers to worship him.

23-28 God sovereignly brought me to my knees,
he cut me down in my prime.
“Oh, don’t,” I prayed, “please don’t let me die.
You have more years than you know what to do with!
You laid earth’s foundations a long time ago,
and handcrafted the very heavens;
You’ll still be around when they’re long gone,
threadbare and discarded like an old suit of clothes.
You’ll throw them away like a worn-out coat,
but year after year you’re as good as new.
Your servants’ children will have a good place to live
and their children will be at home with you.”

By the end of the psalm the cry turns to a plea and the hope continues; that your servant’s children will have a good place to live and their children will be at home with God. I know it is my hope as well.

Peace

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