From Short Meditations On The Psalms
A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed,
and poureth out his complaint before Jehovah
Jehovah, hear my prayer, and let my cry come unto thee.
Hide not thy face from me: in the day of my trouble,
incline thine ear unto me; in the day I call, answer me speedily.
For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as a firebrand.
My heart is smitten and withered like grass; yea, I have forgotten to eat my bread.
By reason of the voice of my groaning, my bones cleave to my flesh.
I am become like the pelican of the wilderness, I am as an owl in desolate places;
I watch, and am like a sparrow alone upon the housetop.
Mine enemies reproach me all the day; they that are mad against me swear by me.
For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping,
Because of thine indignation and thy wrath; for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.
My days are like a lengthened-out shadow, and I, I am withered like grass.
But thou, Jehovah, abidest forever, and thy memorial from generation to generation.
Thou wilt rise up, thou wilt have mercy upon Zion:
For it is the time to be gracious to her, for the set time is come.
For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor her dust.
And the nations shall fear the name of Jehovah, and all the kings of the Earth thy glory.
When Jehovah shall build up Zion, he will appear in his glory.
He will regard the prayer of the destitute one, and not despise their prayer.
This shall be written for the generation to come;
And a people that shall be created shall praise Jah:
For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary;
from the heavens hath Jehovah beheld the Earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoner, to loose those that are appointed to die;
That the name of Jehovah may be declared in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem,
When the peoples shall be gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve Jehovah.
He weakened my strength in the way, he shortened my days.
I said, My God, take me not away in the midst of my days!
Thy years are from generation to generation.
Of old hast thou founded the Earth, and the heavens are the work of thy hands:
They shall perish, but thou continuest; and all of them shall grow old as 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.
The children of thy servants shall abide, and their seed shall be established before thee.
Something very different is now heard. This psalm opens with the complaint of “the man of sorrows.” He sees himself deserted by his followers, reproached by the foe, and sustaining the righteous anger of God, — the indignation and wrath due to others falling on him. We then listen to God’s answer to this; and that answer pledges him life and a kingdom, and display in his glory, rehearsing also the theme of praise with which Israel and the nations will then celebrate him. Then Messiah is heard a second time solitarily musing on his griefs; and God, in like manner, again answering him — reminding him, so to speak, of his ancient glories at creation, and pledging him, as before, life, a kingdom, and a seed.
The quotation in Hebrews 1 from this psalm seems to give it this structure and character; for it tells us that v. 25-27 is the language of God to the Son, and this leads us to conclude that v. 12-22 is the same. And thus the above structure of the psalm is determined.
But, in connection with it, we may notice one thing. The Lord Jesus Christ is the builder. This entitles us to see the Christ as the head of every dispensation — the great active power in all — whether in creation, among the patriarchs, on Mount Sinai, or as the God of Israel through all their history. He made the worlds, or ordered the ages. (Hebrews 1:2) He built Moses and every house of God. (Hebrews 3:3) And it is the Christ whom God addresses in this psalm as having laid Earth’s foundations, and outliving, in his glory, all things that are made — the Christ who was once the bruised and smitten one. Wondrous mystery!
It is a psalm of very touching beauty and grandeur.
It is like Jesus in Gethsemane, exceeding sorrowful even unto death, going away and praying again, saying the same words, and yet again and again heard — the angel from Heaven strengthening him there, the answer of Jehovah assuring him here.
I might further observe that this psalm also lets us read, in these utterances of Jesus and the divine answers to them, what we learn from other simple doctrinal scriptures — that the glories of Jesus come from his suffering. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” It shows us the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow. For the Lamb on the throne is the Lamb that had been before on the altar. It is the bow of him who had been once shot by the archers that abides in strength. All scripture shows us this; and we have it in these cries of Jesus, and the answers so blessedly made to them.
And so as to our blessing. It all depends on the same sufferings of Christ. No thoughts of God’s love are to be allowed which would interfere with the demands of his righteousness. The love is without measure. That is true. But it is not a mere emotion. It is that which, at an unutterable cost, provided redemption for the guilty. And if we think of love without believing the provision that it made for the claims and exactions of righteousness, we are dealing with a mere sentiment of our own mind, and not with the revelation of God. And poor are the best conceptions of man’s religion — something different indeed from the moral grandeur and perfections of the Gospel of Christ, where God is just while he justifies the sinner, where we learn that he has brought back his banished ones, and received his prodigals, all the while upholding the full glories of his throne of righteousness, and providing in and from himself an answer to all its demands. The cross of Christ is the secret and center of all this.