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Messianic Psalms – Psalm 102


Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; yes, they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will change them, and they will be changed. But You are the same, and Your years have no end (vv. 25–27).

The Afflicted One Will Appear in His Glory

The inscription of this Psalm describes its contents as “A Prayer of the Afflicted.” It is the prayer of one who is “overwhelmed” with affliction. The prayer of verses 1–11 will come from the lips of the future Jewish remnant during the Tribulation; this is its primary interpretation. However, Messiah anticipated this in spirit and entered into it as we see in the overwhelming sorrow of Gethsemane and the eventual forsaking on the cross.

The overwhelming affliction and desolation of Messiah is graphically described. The sparrow is a social creature, but Messiah is like “a sparrow alone upon the housetop” (v. 7). The Lord Jesus was deserted by His disciples and rejected by His people, slandered and plotted against by the rulers of the nation, but these things pale compared to the “indignation” and “wrath” of the cross (v. 10). Although a specific messianic reference is not found until verses 25–27,1 there can be little doubt that much of the psalm describes Messiah as well. We see Messiah’s suffering for Israel—He would die for “that nation” (Jn. 11:51 KJV). He entered into their sorrows (Isa. 53) as He does ours, indeed He was the “Man of Sorrows” and “acquainted with grief.”

The result of Christ’s sufferings is seen in verses 12–22 where we get the future restoration of the kingdom in Israel—“He will build up Zion.” This will happen when “He shall appear in His glory” (v. 16). Thus we get both the “sufferings and the glory” (1 Pet. 1:11) brought before us in this psalm. The blessing flowing from Christ’s work will go beyond Israel and extend to the Gentiles in the Millennium. 2 Those who were “appointed to death” (v. 20) will “declare the name of the Lord in Zion and His praise in Jerusalem, when the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the Lord.” (vv. 21–22). Jerusalem will be the center and capital of administration in the kingdom but also the center of worship. Many of the prophets speak of the time when the Gentiles will come up to Jerusalem (Isa. 2; Zech. 14:16–21),[3] and Psalm 102 does as well. It is marvelous to see the prophetic power of the Psalms and it is hoped that this aspect would be more generally appreciated by Christians.

Before looking at the second section of Psalm 102 let us remind  ourselves that whether it is our personal salvation, or the future restoration of Israel in the kingdom age of the millennium, it is all due to the One who endured such untold depths of suffering. Messiah says in His prayer that He was “weeping” because of “Your indignation and wrath; for You have lifted me up and cast Me away.” God poured out the judgment upon Him on our behalf.

You Are The Same

Following these prophetic words of Messiah’s sufferings and the kingdom glories, a remarkable thing comes before us. Messiah says “He weakened my strength … He shortened my days” (v. 23); Messiah was to be “cut off” (Dan. 9:26; Isa. 53:8). How could there be a kingdom if there was no king? Then the mystery is solved when we read that His “years are throughout all generations.” He is none other than Jehovah the Creator (vv. 24–25)!  This is a dramatic change from the afflictions and sorrows of Christ to the fact that He is a divine Person, “Of old You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands” (v. 25).

The divine commentary on these verses is to be found in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 1:10–12). This Epistle gives us direct authority to apply these verses to the Lord Jesus. It is a clear statement of the deity of Christ. Creation itself will grow old and perish, “it will grow old like a garment” but Christ remains the “Same” and His years have no end (vv. 26–27). The “Same,” is a divine title, meaning: “the existing one who does not change” (see DBY translation Hebrews 1:12, footnote N. Cf. Malachi 3:6). We can put our trust in Him in the midst of a world which is ever changing. Hebrews opens with this divine name drawn from Psalm 102 and closes with “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8)!

What an amazing statement, the works of creation will “perish” and “all grow old” and that they “will be changed.” This was predicted in Revelation 21:1, but of Messiah it is said, “Your years will have no end” (v. 27). It is interesting that the apostle uses this Psalm to prove the glory of the Eternal Son (he also used Psalm 45 for this as we saw earlier in the study).[4] The truth of Messiah as a Divine Person is not just a New Testament revelation. Hebrews in particular makes use of the Old Scriptures like the Psalms to show the Supremacy of Christ over the Old Testament worthies and rituals.

The psalm closes with a millennial blessing pronounced of His servants (v. 28). This is true for us (the Church) who have tasted the redeeming grace of Christ. But it is especially the nation of Israel that seems to be the focus here. Hamilton Smith’s words are a fitting way to close this brief study of Psalm 102:

Thus it is that the Messiah secures the blessing of His people. The One who is Jehovah having become Man and identified Himself with His suffering people, at last brings His suffering people to be identified with Himself in His glory. If He endures they will endure; if He is the Same, they will be “established before Him” (Psalms by Hamilton Smith, p. 61, Believer’s Bookshelf).


Endnotes

1.  See quotation at the heading.

2.  During the present period both Jews and Gentiles are being saved and being made members of the “one body.” Largely comprised though, of those called out of the nations, we are a kind of forerunner or firstfruits of what will be seen universally in the Millennium.  

3.  The visit of the Magi to the newborn “King of the Jews” is a prophetic forerunner of this very thing.  

4.  There are three chapters in the New Testament which present the glory of the Eternal Son: John 1; Colossians 1; and Hebrews 1.  

By Brian Reynolds

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