The Messianic Psalms: The Unchangeable One—Psalm 102

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Hebrews 1:10-12 is our authority for regarding Psalm 102 as Messianic:

  • “And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”” (Hebrews 1:10–12, ESV)

These words, addressed to God's beloved Son, are a quotation from the 102nd Psalm (vv. 25-27).

The title of the psalm, however, "A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD," and the first twenty-four verses are in complete contrast to the last stanza. In the title and the first part of the psalm we see the Lonely Man of Sorrows, but in the latter part the Immutable, Unchanging, Eternal God!

These, then , are the two parts of the psalm:

  • The prayer of the rejected and lonely Man (vv. 1-24).
  • Almighty God's answer to the Eternal Son (vv. 25-28).


            1. there are three main subjects in His prayer:


            1. it is a dialogue between the Father and the Son
                1. while we cannot be dogmatic about it, I think that vv. 1-24 are the essence of the dialogue that Jesus has with the Heavenly Father in the garden of Gethsemane
                2. I make this assumption based on Hebrews 5:7-8
                  • “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” (Hebrews 5:7–8, ESV)
            2. it’s hard for to imagine the depths of that agony in which He sweat as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground
                1. but it was a personal, intimate transaction between Him and His Father
                2. in the words of the Psalmist, you can hear the agony in the voice of Jesus in the Garden—“Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you! Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!” (Psalm 102:1–2, ESV)


            1. in this passage, The Anointed One uses three illustrations to describe the loneliness of his life
              • "I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top." (Psalm 102:6–7, KJV)
              • ILLUS. T Ernest Wilson, a Missionary who spent forty years in Angola, Africa, in his commentary on this psalm, writes: “The pelican is a perfect picture of doleful misery. It sits on the edge of a swamp with its head upon its breast. It is the most sombre, austere bird I ever saw. This doleful sight is followed by the owl. Its melancholy hoot is heard among ruined buildings. Moping in the ruins and sitting among fallen buildings and graveyards, it is a picture of the mourner. The sparrow is a social bird, but when it loses its mate, it is a mute picture of desolation.”
            2. all three are emblems of utter abandonment and loneliness
                1. the loneliness of Jesus in His life here on earth is emphasized in the Gospels in at least three contexts:
                    1. His home life—He had at least four brothers and two sisters (Mk. 6:3)
                      • “I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children.” (Psalm 69:8, KJV)
                      • “For neither did his brethren believe in him.” (John 7:5, KJV)
                        1. apparently it was only after His resurrection that they came to have saving faith (Acts 1:14)
                    2. in Gethsemane—In the garden, despite taking Peter and James and John with Him, He was alone in His agony
                    3. on the cross—In the upper room, He had told the disciples: "Ye shall be scattered…and shall leave Me alone, and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me"
                        1. we know from Gospels that Judas had betrayed Him, Peter had denied Him, and, indeed, the others had forsaken Him and fled
                        2. only His mother, and handful of female followers, and that Apostle John stand by Him at the cross
                        3. but the cross was the ultimate abandonment—amid the darkness, He cried: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
                        4. in the mystery of God’s redemptive work, for a time, Jesus was alone in His vicarious atoning suffering on the tree


            1. again, The Anointed One uses three similes to describe the shortness of his life
                1. he uses the simile of smoke (v. 3)
                2. he uses the simile of grass (vv. 4, 11)
                3. he uses the simile of a shadow that declines (v. 11)
                4. then (v. 24) He prays: "O My God, take Me not away in the midst of My days."
                    1. the answer to this is: "Thy years shall have no end" (v. 27)
            2. the prayer and its answer remind me of two passages in the Old Testament
              • “And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed.” (Daniel 9:26, ESV)
              • “By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?” (Isaiah 53:8, ESV)
            3. but here again, in Isaiah 53:10, we have the promise: "He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand" (v. 10)
                1. His life, instead of being extended to the normal seventy years (Ps. 90:10), was cut short in the midst at thirty-three
                2. the reply of His Father, however, emphasizes His eternity in comparison with the world's vanishing dream, which to us seems so solid and enduring


    • “Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you.” (Psalm 102:25–28, ESV)
            1. theses are the words of promise from God the Father given to God the Son and quoted and applied to our Lord in Hebrews 1:10-12
            2. they are in complete contrast to the lonely and forsaken Man, cut off in the midst of His days in the first part of the psalm


            1. the theological word for the changelessness of God is immutability
                1. as we look at God's marvelous creation in the heavens and the earth, everything from our perspective seems so permanent and enduring
                    1. the stars and the galaxies of the Milky Way look the same to us as they did to Abraham as he wandered from Mesopotamia to Palestine
                    2. the mountains and the oceans go on and on, and it would seem that they will be here forever
            2. but not so!
                1. the Word of God declares that they too are getting old, like a tattered garment, and one day will be discarded and changed
                2. the heavens and the earth, according to the Psalmist, are becoming more and more ragged and threadbare
            3. but the Bible declares that one day there will be a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness and order will dwell (Isa. 65:17; Rev. 21:1)
                1. the power which made them shall dissolve them
                2. in a remarkable passage, the Apostle Peter describes how this will happen
                  • “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:10–13, ESV)
            4. in contrast to an expiring world, the Eternal God addresses the Eternal Son: "But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall have no end."
                1. one of the titles of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6 is: "The Father of Eternity"
                    1. in eternity past, He was the Eternal Son, subsisting in the form of God (Phil. 2:6)
                    2. in eternity future, as the Kinsman-Redeemer, and He will still be the Eternal Son of the Father



    • “Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you! Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress! Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!” (Psalm 102:1–2, ESV)
            1. the single most noticeable feature of Hebrew poetry is repetition, especially what is called parallelism
                1. this means that an idea stated in one line is followed by a second line in which that idea is repeated, though in slightly different words
                2. in verses one and two, repetition is carried to the extreme
                3. there are five requests in six lines of poetry and they are virtually identical
                    1. “hear my prayer”
                    2. “let my cry for help come to you”
                    3. “do not hide your face”
                    4. “turn your ear to me”
                    5. “answer me quickly”
            2. the impression is that this is no passive or halfhearted petition
                1. it is an impassioned prayer because the situation out of which it grows is desperate
                2. desperate conditions make for strong petitions
            3. the Psalmist passionately prayed for four things
                1. the rebuilding of Jerusalem (vv. 13 – 14)
                2. the conversion of the Gentile nations (vv. 15, 21-22)
                3. the church of the future (v. 18)
                4. the deliverance of the prisoners (v. 20)
            4. let me suggest that we passionately pray for
                1. the rebuilding of our nation
                    1. vv. 13-14 are the only verses in the Psalm that suggests the dating of the song
                    2. it indicates the years after the Babylonian captivity when Jerusalem has been destroyed
                    3. Jerusalem, as representative of the entire nation, lies in desolation and ruin because of the sin and disbelief of the people
                    4. 1,000 years before His rejection by Israel, The Anointed One is praying that Jerusalem might be restored from her spiritual desolation
                      • “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Matthew 23:37, ESV)
                    5. America has not been taken captive by a foreign enemy, but has been taken captive by secularism, and materialism and hedonism and we need to pray that God would rebuild the nation
                2. the conversion of the lost
                    1. there are 6,000 people groups around the world who have no access to the gospel of Jesus Christ
                    2. there are 1.6 billion unevangelized persons (26.9% of world) found primarily in 38 countries that are mostly Muslim and Hindu (this is often referred to by missiologists as World A
                    3. despite the fact that there are 2.5 billion professing Christians in the world, missiologists estimate that 90% of the world’s population is lost and perishing
                    4. there are 340 million people living in North America, and 258,000,000 of them are estimated to be lost and perishing
                    5. in the nine northeastern states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont, there is a population of 54,924,000 and it is estimated that 83%, are lost and perishing
                3. the church around the world
                  • ILLUS. An estimated 100 million Christians face sever persecution, particularly in the Muslim world, North Korea and the hands of Hindu extremism in India. A further 350 million Christians are oppressed and discriminated against.
                4. the deliverance of those who find themselves in bondage to anything
                    1. over 22 million individuals have a substance dependence or abuse problem in the US
                    2. it is also estimated that 6%-8% of Americans are sex addicts, which is 18 million - 24 million people


            1. the world in which we live is in a constant state of flux
                1. society is changing
                2. mores are changing
                3. technology is changing
                  • ILLUS. My great grandfather, who was born about 1900 and who was a wagon-maker, would have had more in common with the Patriarch Abraham who lived 4,000 years ago, than he would have with his great grandson just 110 years later. That’s how radical the changes of the 20th century.
            2. the problem with change is that it is the chief producer of anxiety and insecurity in our lives
                1. many in our culture feel as though they have been cut loose from their moorings, and that they are drifting along, pulled by the currents of change


            1. the immutability of God means that He cannot change for the better, nor can He change for the worse
              • “For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6, ESV)
                1. God never has a bad day
                2. God never wakes up ‘on the wrong side of the bed’
                3. God never needs an attitude adjustment
            2. because God is immutable, His love for us never changes, His mercy toward us never changes, His grace given to us never changes
                1. when we prove ourselves faithless, God always proves Himself faithful “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, ESV)
            3. when life is unsettled, I find great comfort from the Bible’s affirmation that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb 13:8)
                1. The Anointed One is still seeking His lost sheep
                2. The Anointed One is still interceding for His Saints before the Father’s throne
                3. The Anointed One is still inviting “whosoever will” to the great banquet

Aren’t you glad that God is not like men, who change from day to day, if not from moment to moment?

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