Theme: Anchored in the Lord Jesus Christ
In this week’s lessons, we learn how great suffering should turn us toward God, and then cause our prayers to also include God’s work in the lives of others.
Scripture: Psalm 102:1-28
Today we continue our look at four separate things for which the psalmist prays.
3. The church of the future. One of the most fascinating things about the transformed, global outlook of the psalmist is that it extends not only outward geographically but also forward into time. Indeed, he sees his own time relating to future time, for he is sure that what God is about to do to save and deliver his people will be recorded in writing to be a source of blessing for the future church: “Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the LORD” (v. 18). Do we think about the future? Do we think that what we do now and what God will do for us and through us will be a blessing to future generations?
4. The deliverance of the prisoners. The final condition the writer anticipates is deliverance for prisoners, the “release” of “those condemned to death” (v. 20). It is hard to know what he is thinking of, writing this way, perhaps the release of Jews who were retained in Babylon and who were thus unable to return to Zion to participate in the rebuilding of the city. Whatever he was thinking of, it is hard for us not to think of Jesus who announced his mission as the proclamation of spiritual freedom for prisoners when he spoke in the synagogue in Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:18, 19).
It is good that we have come to this point, too, because this is how the psalm itself ends, according to the Messianic interpretation given to it by the author of Hebrews. In some ways these last verses (vv. 23-28) are a reprise in which the psalmist repeats his complaint and also once again turns to anchor himself in God. What is new about them is the force with which the psalmist affirms God’s eternity. He talks about God being present from the beginning to lay “the foundations of the earth” and “heavens” (v. 25), and of being present still at the end even though the created order will pass away like a worn-out garment (v. 26). We perish, “But you remain the same, and your years will never end” (v. 27).
When the psalmist wrote these words he was thinking of God the Father, as he has been throughout the psalm. There is very little intimation of the Trinity or the person of the Son of God in the Old Testament. Still, the author of Hebrews is right when he views these words as spoken by the Father to Jesus Christ. For he, too, is God, “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).1 Jesus is also the one through whom Zion is restored, the Gentile nations converted, future generations of the church raised up and preserved, and those who have been enslaved by sin delivered from their spiritual bondage. Anchored in eternity means anchored in Jesus Christ. As the hymn says,
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.
1The author of Hebrews draws these words from the Septuagint text where slight variations encourage their application to the Son rather than to the Father. For a good discussion of the textual differences between the Hebrew Masoretic text and the LXX see Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150: A Commentary on Books III-V of the Psalms (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1975), pp. 362, 363.
What are two additional things for which the psalmist prays?
How does the psalmist’s fourth prayer reflect Christ’s mission?
What is new about the psalmist’s complaint in verses 23-28?
What does it mean to be “anchored in eternity”? Can this be said of you?
Reflection: Do you think about the impact your life has on future generations? How does knowing that God is eternal help you?
For Further Study: James Boice’s clear and practical teaching on the Psalms is available in paperback. Order the three-volume set and receive 25% off the regular price.