A devotion of Psalm 102.
1 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto Thee.
2 Hide not Thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline Thine ear unto me. In the day when I call, answer me speedily.
3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as a hearth.
4 My heart is smitten and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread.
5 By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.
Have you ever been so distressed that you forgot to eat? That means all life lost meaning or pleasure. After many years of caring for the elderly, I realized that so many losses have transpired in their lives that food and mealtimes are a few of life’s joys left for them. On quiet days that aren’t packed with activities or tasks, well before meal time, they start to gather around the table or the kitchen. When one is not driven to eat, that would be an indicator to me that all is not well.
This passage paints a sorry state of mind and body due to distress. Sure enough it dries up the heart, the groaning throat, and the bones.
6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I am like an owl of the desert.
7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the housetop.
Distress directly affects the body negatively and slowly but surely isolates one. It leaves us vulnerable, unprotected by the power of the herd. Not only are we alone in a wilderness, a barren desert, an exposed housetop – we are alone! Not to be confused with being alone, loneliness is a brutal state that leaves many in despair.
8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day, and them that are mad against me are sworn against me.
9 For I have eaten ashes like bread and mingled my drink with weeping,
10 because of Thine indignation and Thy wrath; for Thou hast lifted me up and cast me down.
11 My days are like a shadow that declineth, and I am withered like grass.
It is hard enough to be lonely, but to have sworn enemies would leave you truly forlorn. The psalmist identifies God as he who allows this to happen. King David was under the rabid attack of a man named Shimei. Shimei, “came out, cursing continuously as he came. And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David. And all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left.
Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!”
And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the Lord has ordered him. It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day. And as David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, threw stones at him and kicked up dust. Now the king and all the people who were with him became weary; so they refreshed themselves there,” 2 Sam. 6:5, 6, 9-14.
This is the ultimate in hate and harassment. The law clearly stated, “You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people.” Exodus 22:28. Yet David chose to view this assault as from the hand of God and though he could have silenced him and put an end to the harassment, he actually protected it. Such was his fear of God. He declared that nothing would happen to him that God not only allows, but actually orders. Imagine the ire of his servants who were all trained famous men of war!
Shimei later came and apologized to David for this horrific transgression. Again, David spared his life and even gave him refuge. However, David, while blessing his son Solomon did not forget Shimei’s offense and admonished Solomon, “And see, you have with you Shimei the son of Gera, a Benjamite from Bahurim, who cursed me with a malicious (vehement) curse in the day when I went to Mahanaim. But he came down to meet me at the Jordan, and I swore to him by the Lord, saying, ‘I will not put you to death with the sword.’ Now therefore, do not hold him guiltless, for you are a wise man and know what you ought to do to him; but bring his gray hair down to the grave with blood,” 1 Kings 2:1, 8-9.
How are we to respond to abuse? Don’t engage it. David refused to be baited by Shimei. We would do well to learn how to do that. Don’t sit around for it. David did not stand around and take the abuse. He continued on his way. To tolerate abuse is to reinforce and condone it. Trust God to heal the abuser, even (sometimes, especially) in your absence.
If you are a Shimei, God tells you to stop your abusive behavior now! “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.” Colossians 3:8. This is not how you treat his children of any age or status. Stop!
12 But Thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever, and Thy remembrance unto all generations.
13 Thou shalt arise and have mercy upon Zion; for the time to favor her, yea, the set time has come.
14 For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof.
15 So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth Thy glory.
16 When the LORD shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory.
17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.
18 This shall be written for the generation to come, and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.
19 For He hath looked down from the height of His sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth,
20 to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to loose those that are appointed to death,
21 to declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem,
22 when people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.
23 He weakened my strength on the way; He shortened my days.
24 I said, “O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days; Thy years are throughout all generations.
25 Of old hast Thou laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands.
26 They shall perish, but Thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou change them, and they shall be changed.
27 But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall have no end.
28 The children of Thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before Thee.”
What a fabulous passage of hope. Our times are truly secure in God’s hands. He is our Ethan and endures forever in might. He hears our prayers and does not take us away in the midst of our days. We get to live out all our days. There is no such thing a life cut too short. Each person gets to live out their full life. Even little babies. Because God is our stability and our eternal power our seed will be established before him.