A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD. Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee.
The text is an earnest, impassioned prayer, a prayer against death; and the fact which gives it its earnestness and impassioned energy is that he who offers it is in "the midst of his days." Men in middle life are very apt to look upon death as an improbable event so far as they are concerned, and to make their calculations and shape their course accordingly.
I. The reasons for this fact. (1) The man in middle life has reasons taken from his circumstances and relations which render life to him very important. The ties which bind him to the world are now the strongest. He has taken his place in society, and is now sustaining his most important earthly responsibilities. (2) The spirit of enterprise is now most active. Man is forming plans which will require years to develop; and those plans constitute the objects of his existence, the centre of his heart's warmest feelings. (3) It is a fact that fewer men die at the meridian than at any other point in human life. This fact forms the ground of men's calculations in reference to life.
II. The effects of this state of mind. (1) Of all men, those who are in the "midst of their days" are least prepared to die. (2) The legitimate effects of the Gospel are very rarely seen for the first time in persons who are passing through the meridian of life. This seems to be a period in human existence when the Spirit of God seldom achieves any signal victories. Such thoughts should arouse to feeling, awaken to anxiety, and prompt to inquiry all to whom they have reference.
E. Mason, A Pastor's Legacy, p. 1.
References: Psalm 102:24.—Expositor, 3rd series, vol. iv., p. 377; J. Ker, Old Testament Outlines, p. 135. Psalm 102:26.—H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Waterside Mission Sermons, 1st series, p. 44. Psalm 102:27.—W. Baird, The Hallowing of our Common Life, p. 1. Psalm 102:28.—J. Irons, Thursday Penny Pulpit, vol. x., p. 137. Psalm 103:1.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xviii., No. 1078. Psalm 103:1-5.—G. W. McCree, Christian World Pulpit, vol. ix., p. 8.
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.
For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth.
My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread.
By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin.
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.
Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me.
For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping,
Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.
My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass.
But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations.
Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.
For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof.
So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory.
When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory.
He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer.
This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD.
For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth;
To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death;
To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem;
When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.
He weakened my strength in the way; he shortened my days.
I said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days: thy years are throughout all generations.
Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.
They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:
But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.
The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee.