Monday, April 13, 2015

Glory in the Lament of the Believer

“But of the Son He says [in Psalm 102:25-27], ‘...You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands; they will perish, but you remain; and they all will become old like a garment, and like a mantle You will roll them up; like a garment they will also be changed. But You are the same, and Your years will not come to an end’” (Hebrews 1:8,10-12).

Who is this “He” Who speaks of the Son as the unchanging Creator and Consummator of all material existence? He is “God” in Hebrews 1:1, a “God” Who “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, Whom He appointed heir of all things, through Whom also He made the world” (1:2). God the Father speaks of His Son in this quote from Psalm 102.

Yesterday I was reading through the Psalms for the day (12,42,72,102,132 – one of our men called us to worship with Psalm 42) and noticed something interesting in Psalm 102. This Psalm is the one which is quoted in Hebrews 1 to prove the absolute and eternal uniqueness of the Son, relying on the Father’s witness from the Scriptures. How does the Father testify? Through God the Holy Spirit. Twice in the letter to the Hebrews the Holy Spirit is said to be speaking through ancient inspired Scripture (3:7-11//Psalm 95:7-11; 10:15-17//Jeremiah 31:33,34).

The Father speaks of His Son through the Spirit-breathed Scripture. Trinitarian scripture-based theology. Today. And it shines through in far more than pulpits or theology classes. Consider the Psalm from which we drew this precious truth.

The title: “A Prayer of the Afflicted when he is faint and pours out his complaint before the LORD.” After the title, verses 1-11 live up to the title.

Verse 12 is the hinge of the Psalm. Like so many Psalms, the inspired singer is never reluctant to vent his heartbreak and complaint. Just lamenting is not enough, though. The Psalms almost always follow this by speaking truth (about God) to pain. The Psalm doesn't deny the pain, but it doesn't let it dictate worldview or reality. It speaks truth in the midst of the pain. Verse 12 begins with that great scriptural word “but” (in the Hebrew it’s a single prefixed letter, ו). After this verses 12-28 speak truth about the eternal God (102:12), the compassionate and gracious God (102:13), the building and revealing God (102:16), the hearing God (102:17), and the condescending God (102:19,20).

Then we come to our text from Hebrews 1:10-12. I want to quote it again, but not in its New Testament context (the Father testifying about the Son through the Holy Spirit). When the Holy Spirit originally inspired this text, it was in the midst of pain, loneliness, weakness, and mocking. Not of God, of course, but of the Psalmist. A human being having a very human day:
“I say, ‘O my God, do not take me away in the midst of my days,
Your years are throughout all generations.
Of old You founded the earth,
And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
Even they will perish, but You endure;
And all of them will wear out like a garment;
Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed.
But You are the same,
And Your years will not come to an end.
The children of Your servants will continue,
And their descendants will be established before You” (Psalm 102:24-28).

In the midst of a prayer of pain and sorrow, the Holy Spirit inspired words that testified to the Father’s exalting of the Son. This is the treasure of the Psalter, and why it needs to be the regular spiritual diet of the believer. We need the balm of its truth applied to our struggles, doubts, fears, and pains every day. The Holy Spirit speaks great transcendent truth that raises us up out of today (into God’s faithfulness into future generations and eternity) and out of ourselves (into the glorious eternal Son of God). The text of Hebrews 1:10-12 doesn’t arise out of a theology textbook. It arises out of Psalm 102:25-27 in the plea of a hurting believer.

Even in our grieving prayer, the Holy Spirit does the will of the Father by glorifying the Son (this is the beautiful truth of Romans 8:26-39). Pray the words of truth in the Psalter and be part of this glory, beloved.

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