Psalm 102#sn Psalm 102. The psalmist laments his oppressed state, but longs for a day when the Lord will restore Jerusalem and vindicate his suffering people.
The prayer of an oppressed man, as he grows faint and pours out his lament before the Lord.
1 O Lord, hear my prayer!
Pay attention to my cry for help!#tn Heb “and may my cry for help come to you.”
2 Do not ignore me in my time of trouble!#tn Heb “do not hide your face from me in the day of my trouble.” The idiom “to hide the face” can mean “to ignore” (see Pss 10:11; 13:1; 51:9) or carry the stronger idea of “to reject” (see Pss 29:7; 30:7; 88:14).
Listen to me!#tn Heb “turn toward me your ear.”
When I call out to you, quickly answer me!
3 For my days go up in smoke,#tn Heb “for my days come to an end in smoke.”
and my bones are charred like a fireplace.#tn The Hebrew noun מוֹ־קֵד (mo-qed, “fireplace”) occurs only here, in Isa 33:14 (where it refers to the fire itself), and perhaps in Lev 6:2.
4 My heart is parched#tn Heb “struck, attacked.” and withered like grass,
for I am unable#tn Heb “I forget.” to eat food.#sn I am unable to eat food. During his time of mourning, the psalmist refrained from eating. In the following verse he describes metaphorically the physical effects of fasting.
5 Because of the anxiety that makes me groan,
my bones protrude from my skin.#tn Heb “from the sound of my groaning my bone[s] stick to my flesh.” The preposition at the beginning of the verse is causal; the phrase “sound of my groaning” is metonymic for the anxiety that causes the groaning. The point seems to be this: Anxiety (which causes the psalmist to groan) keeps him from eating (v. 4). This physical deprivation in turn makes him emaciated – he is turned to “skin and bones,” so to speak.
6 I am like an owl#tn The Hebrew term קָאַת (qa’at) refers to some type of bird (see Lev 11:18; Deut 14:17) that was typically found near ruins (see Zeph 2:14). Modern translations have frequently rendered this as some type of owl (NIV, REB “desert owl”; NRSV “owl”). in the wilderness;
I am like a screech owl#tn The Hebrew term כוֹס (khos) refers to a bird (see Lev 11:17; Deut 14:16), probably a type of owl (cf. NIV, REB “owl”; NRSV “little owl”). among the ruins.#sn By comparing himself to a screech owl among the ruins, the psalmist may be highlighting his loneliness (see v. 7), though he may also be comparing his cries for help to the owl’s screech.
7 I stay awake;#tn This probably refers to the psalmist’s inability to sleep. Another option is to translate, “I keep watch,” in which case it might refer to watching for a response from the Lord (see vv. 1-2).
I am like a solitary bird on a roof.
8 All day long my enemies taunt me;
those who mock me use my name in their curses.#tn Heb “by me they swear.” When the psalmist’s enemies call judgment down on others, they hold the psalmist up as a prime example of what they desire their enemies to become.
9 For I eat ashes as if they were bread,#sn Mourners would sometimes put ashes on their head or roll in ashes as a sign of mourning (see 2 Sam 13:19; Job 2:8; Isa 58:5).
and mix my drink with my tears,#tn Heb “weeping.”
10 because of your anger and raging fury.
Indeed,#tn Or “for.” you pick me up and throw me away.
11 My days are coming to an end,#tn Heb “my days [are] like an extended [or “lengthening”] shadow,” that is, like a late afternoon shadow made by the descending sun that will soon be swallowed up by complete darkness.
and I am withered like grass.
12 But you, O Lord, rule forever,#tn Heb “sit” (i.e., sit enthroned, see Ps 9:7). The imperfect verbal form highlights the generalization.
and your reputation endures.#tn Heb “and your remembrance [is] for a generation and a generation.”
13 You will rise up and have compassion on Zion.#tn The imperfect verbal forms are understood as expressing the psalmist’s confidence in God’s intervention. Another option is to take them as expressing the psalmist’s request or wish, “You, rise up and have compassion!”
For it is time to have mercy on her,
for the appointed time has come.
14 Indeed,#tn Or “for.” your servants take delight in her stones,
and feel compassion for#tn The Poel of חָנַן (khanan) occurs only here and in Prov 14:21, where it refers to having compassion on the poor. the dust of her ruins.#tn Heb “her dust,” probably referring to the dust of the city’s rubble.
15 The nations will respect the reputation of the Lord,#tn Heb “will fear the name of the Lord.” To “fear” God’s name means to have a healthy respect for his revealed reputation which in turn motivates one to obey God’s commands (see Ps 86:11).
and all the kings of the earth will respect#tn The verb “will fear” is understood by ellipsis in the second line (see the preceding line). his splendor,
16 when the Lord rebuilds Zion,
and reveals his splendor,
17 when he responds to the prayer of the destitute,#tn The Hebrew adjective עַרְעָר (’arar, “destitute”) occurs only here in the OT. It is derived from the verbal root ערר (“to strip oneself”).
and does not reject#tn Heb “despise.” their request.#tn The perfect verbal forms in vv. 16-17 are functioning as future perfects, indicating future actions that will precede the future developments described in v. 15.
18 The account of his intervention#tn The Hebrew text has simply “this,” referring to the anticipated divine intervention on behalf of Zion (vv. 13, 16-17). The referent has been specified in the translation for clarity. will be recorded for future generations;
people yet to be born will praise the Lord.
19 For he will look down from his sanctuary above;#tn Heb “from the height of his sanctuary.”
from heaven the Lord will look toward earth,#tn The perfect verbal forms in v. 19 are functioning as future perfects, indicating future actions that will precede the future developments described in v. 18.
20 in order to hear the painful cries of the prisoners,
and to set free those condemned to die,#tn Heb “the sons of death.” The phrase “sons of death” (see also Ps 79:11) is idiomatic for those condemned to die.
21 so they may proclaim the name of the Lord in Zion,
and praise him#tn Heb “his praise.” in Jerusalem,#map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4.
22 when the nations gather together,
and the kingdoms pay tribute to the Lord.#tn “and the kingdoms to serve the Lord.”
23 He has taken away my strength in the middle of life;#tn Heb “he has afflicted my strength in the way.” The term “way” refers here to the course of the psalmist’s life, which appears to be ending prematurely (vv. 23b-24).
he has cut short my days.
24 I say, “O my God, please do not take me away in the middle of my life!#tn Heb “do not lift me up in the middle of my days.”
You endure through all generations.#tn Heb “in a generation of generations [are] your years.”
25 In earlier times you established the earth;
the skies are your handiwork.
26 They will perish,
but you will endure.#tn Heb “stand.”
They will wear out like a garment;
like clothes you will remove them and they will disappear.#tn The Hebrew verb חָלַף (khalaf) occurs twice in this line, once in the Hiphil (“you will remove them”) and once in the Qal (“they will disappear”). The repetition draws attention to the statement.
27 But you remain;#tn Heb “you [are] he,” or “you [are] the one.” The statement may echo the Lord’s affirmation “I am he” in Isa 41:4; 43:10, 13; 46:10; 48:12. In each of these passages the affirmation emphasizes the fact that the Lord transcends time limitations, the very point being made in Ps 102:27.
your years do not come to an end.
28 The children of your servants will settle down here,
and their descendants#tn Or “offspring”; Heb “seed.” will live securely in your presence.”#tn Heb “before you will be established.”