Thou Art The Same
And, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thy hands; They will perish, but Thou remainest; and they all will become old as a garment, and as a mantle Thou wilt roll them up; as a garment they will also be changed. but Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end.” Hebrews 1:10-12
The inspired writer of the Hebrew letter, continuing to build his case of the superiority of Christ Jesus to the angels, quotes from the Septuagint translation of Psalm 102, verses 25-27. The NASB translation of these verses reads: “Of old Thou didst found the earth; And the heavens are the work of Thy hands. Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing Thou wilt change them, and they will be changed. But Thou art the same, And Thy years will not come to an end.”
The Eternal Lord moves men from faint to faith
Psalm 102 begins with complaint to the LORD from a servant reproached by men and God, moves to consolation in the contemplation of the permanence of the Eternal LORD and ends with confidence that He will execute the deliverance of the prisoner and restore Zion. Because of the general tenor of this Psalm, many believe it was written during the time of the Babylonian exile.
Psalm 102 is a great teaching tool for the church. One thing we know about this life, things change, and often quickly. When things are difficult in our lives or perhaps we’re undergoing a little discipline and feel the reproach of our enemies, we can tend to pour out our complaints before the Lord, like the early verses of the Psalm present (Vss 1-11).
Imagine seventy years in exile like a Jew in Babylon. Well, as part of Christ’s church, that’s not such a far-fetched proposition, right? Aren’t the faithful pictured as “strangers and exiles on the earth”? (Heb. 11:13) Peter reminds us that we are “aliens and strangers” (1 Peter 2:11). Don’t those in Christ live the rest of their life as an exile in this world? Sure! Won’t the world throw a few curses your way as they did to the Psalmist (Ps. 102:8)? So, what do we do? Should we present a litany of our complaints about being treated as a stranger and exile by the world while moaning about our circumstances? Our physical circumstances may or may not change. How we move out of the complaint stage and experience victory over circumstances is to begin to understand what the Psalmist moved his focus toward, his consolation in the LORD.
The psalmist was consoled by the fact that the LORD would “abide forever” (vs 12) and because of the permanence and power of the LORD, His purpose would be executed. Whether the psalmist was aware of Daniel’s predictions or Jeremiah’s utterance that seventy years Israel would spend in captivity, he knew the “appointed time has come” for the Lord “to arise and have compassion on Zion” (Vss 13 & 14), so he raised His voice knowing the LORD would not despise, but have regard for the prayer offered by the servant looking to the fulfillment of His promises to restore and rebuild Zion (Vss 12-14), akin to Daniel’s prayer.
Once before the LORD had delivered His people out of captivity to the strongest nation on earth in the Exodus from Egypt. The knowledge of those events in that time had caused the nations to cower and fear the LORD and His people.
In the utterances of the prophets He had promised to bring them out of exile once more from within the mightiest nation that existed on earth at that time, Babylon. The display of His power offering proof of His sovereignty over all the nations, causing the nations to “fear the name of the LORD and all the kings of the earth your glory.” (Ps. 102:15). These two deliverances were but foreshadows of the ultimate deliverance yet to come. Oh, and by the way, the psalmist lets us know when the Lord “has built up Zion”. It’s when “He appeared in His glory.” (Ps. 102:16)
The psalmist, looking ahead, asserts that “for the generation to come… a people yet to be created” (Vs 18), these things will be written. The record of the Lord’s compassion and concern for the captive is a wellspring of hope and confidence for future generations that His gaze is upon the prisoner, He hears their groaning, and intends to free those doomed to death. Why? “That men may tell of the name of the LORD in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem; when the peoples are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.” (Ps. 102:21-22) Now what does that sound like? A lot like the church age, the New Covenant, executed through Christ where Jew and Gentile both are converted, saved from eternal death, praise the work of His hands, and now tell of His name throughout the world. The psalm closes with the promise that the seed of His servants will be “established before You.” In other words, planted, placed and fixed in His presence. Sounds like Heb. 12:22-24 again. Brethren, we are beneficiaries of what the psalmist was moved to speak. How great should our confidence be that the Father worked through the Son to bring all these promises to fruition?
Indeed, it’s as the writer of Hebrews states concerning the son who has sat down at the right hand of the majesty in glory, “he has inherited a more excellent name than they” (the angels). Lift your praise to the Father and the Son saying, “Thou art the same.”