This seems like a perfect verse to read at the beginning of worship: You, O LORD, are enthroned forever; your name endures to all generations (v. 12). The psalmist praises the God of ages past, and sings to the God of years to come.
The interjection But that begins verse 12 signals a change. When I read verse 1, I discover that this psalm is actually a lament. The psalmist is afflicted and faint, pleading before the Lord.
The writer cries, “Hear my prayer, O LORD; let my cry come to you” (102:1). This afflicted one describes days that “pass away like smoke;” bones that “burn like a furnace” (v. 3). The psalmist is “like a little owl of the waste places . . . like a lonely bird on the housetop” (vv. 6-7). Taunted by enemies, derided by those who use the psalmist’s name for a curse, the psalmist laments, “I eat ashes like bread,” saying his tears “mingle…with my drink because of [God’s] indignation and anger” (vv. 9-10). It seems God has thrown this woeful one aside to “wither away like grass” (v. 11).
What a backstory! How could anyone endure more derision and trauma than what the psalmist describes in the first eleven verses of Psalm 102? To read verse 12 without the preceding narrative is like going to the Easter service without participating in Good Friday.
Thankfully, these experiences of pain lead to a firm conviction: despite the things we grieve, God does not change. God is beyond our lament and deepest anguish. God’s name endures to all generations (v. 12).
With Easter only ten days away, what are you experiencing now that you pray the compassion of the Risen Lord will transform?
O God, my help in ages past whose presence has never left me to get through my struggles alone, I believe that you carry me through my suffering and give me reasons to claim strong faith in you. Amen.