“My enemies reproach me all day long, Those who deride me swear an oath against me. For I have eaten ashes like bread, And mingled my drink with weeping, Because of Your indignation and Your wrath; For You have lifted me up and cast me away. My days are like a shadow that lengthens, And I wither away like grass.” (Psalm 102.8-11).

The 102Psalm from which today’s focus text is taken has an introductory statement at its beginning; it reads as follows: “A Prayer of the afflicted when he is overwhelmed and pours out his complaint before the LORD.” It doesn’t take much on the part of the reader to understand that this introductory note is correct. The psalmist really was overwhelmed with the problems that surrounded him and the result was a cry for help almost if not altogether out of despair! It was from this deep and dark place that the beleaguered Patriot of Zion uttered the title words to Today’s Little Lift. “I have eaten ashes like bread…” is a vivid picture of suffering and oppression of one type or another. At the time, ashes were recognized symbols of mourning and sorrow; the author had been so beset with sorrow that he said he had “…eaten ashes like bread.” This is indeed a cry for help out of the deepest of hurts and during one of the blackest of days!

In spite of the seeming despair in which this psalm is set, well known commentator Spurgeon correctly points out in his Hints to the Village Preacher that there is also a strong thread of faith that runs throughout the psalm. The psalm begins with a prayer that the Lord would hear the petitions of the author: “Hear my prayer, O LORD, And let my cry come to You. Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my trouble; Incline Your ear to me; In the day that I call, answer me speedily.” (Psalm 102.1-2). At its heart the psalm also contains a statement expressing confidence that God would be faithful to His promises in hearing the plaintive cries of His children: “He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, And shall not despise their prayer. (Psalm 102.17). Furthermore, it contains an expression of sure knowledge that God would hear the petitions contained in the psalm, even if for no other reason that some future generation could look back on these events and utter praises to God for His goodness (see Psalm 102.18-22)!

Now we come to the lesson to be taken from today’s message. It is impossible for us to know all that went into the feelings of the psalmist when he penned the words of this Psalm. However, it is not impossible to feel what he was feeling and to experience what he was experiencing. It is true that we all have blue days, days when everything we touch seems to go wrong; days when it seems that the whole universe sets out to defeat us! Those days are not a stranger to the saints of God; they came to Moses; they visited David; they befell the apostles; they live on in our generation! But like the psalmist, we can know for sure that God hears our prayers and will answer in His own good time and in His own good way. Even when it seems that despair is the only option and that righteousness is about to be eradicated, the believer can say, “You [LORD] are the same, And Your years will have no end. The children of Your servants will continue, And their descendants will be established before You.” (Psalm 102.27-28). God truly is in control!

Questions:

1. Think of the metaphor of eating ashes like bread? Can you identify with the depth of sorrow that these words depict? What times in your life have you known such sorrow?

2. In Psalm 102.17, what confidence is expressed in God’s faithfulness?

3. Even if God does not answer our prayers in the manner we want Him to, what assurance can we have that He has heard and will respond in the best way possible (see Psalm 102.18-22)?

4. Is God truly in control? Does this mean that He sanctions every deed of man, or just that He takes every deed of man and uses it to His ultimate glory? THINK! (Warning – Do not put God in the business of sanctioning the wicked, sinful, and sinister deeds of evil men!)