Mt terrible life (Ps 102:3-102:11)

“My days pass away like smoke.

My bones burn like a furnace.

My heart is stricken.

My heart is withered like grass.

I am too wasted to eat my bread.

Because of my loud groaning

My bones cling to my flesh.

I am like an owl of the wilderness.

I am like a little owl of the waste places.

I lie awake.

I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.

All day long my enemies taunt me.

Those who deride me

Use my name for a curse.

I eat ashes like bread.

I mingle tears with my drink.

Because of your indignation and anger,

You have lifted me up,

You have thrown me aside.

My days are like an evening shadow.

I wither away like grass.”

This psalmist is in a terrible situation. His days are passing away like smoke. His bones are burning. His heart is broken and withering like grass. He cannot even eat. His bones are clinging to his skin since he is all skin and bones. He is like an owl or a lonely bird since he cannot sleep. His enemies taunt him every day as they use his name as a curse word. He eats ashes instead of bread. He drinks his own tears. Yahweh seems to be angry and indignant as he has been thrown aside. His days are like evening shadows and withering grass. He is in over all bad shape.

How long will Yahweh be angry? (Ps 80:4-80:6)

“Yahweh!

God of hosts!

How long will you be angry

With your people’s prayers?

You have fed them with the bread of tears.

You have given them tears to drink in full measure.

You make us the scorn of our neighbors.

Our enemies laugh among themselves.”

The psalmist wanted to know how long Yahweh would be angry with them. Why did he not like the prayer of his people? He had sent them tears instead of bread. They ate and drank tears. They were the scorn of their neighbors as their enemies were laughing at them.

Longing for God (Ps 42:1-42:3)

To the choirmaster leader, a Maskil of the Korahites

“As a deer longs

For flowing streams,

So my soul longs

For you,

O God!

My soul thirsts for God,

For the living God!

When shall I come,

When shall I behold,

The face of God?

My tears have been my food,

Day and night,

While people say to me continually,

‘Where is your God?’”

There is a problem is this one psalm or 2 psalms of 42 and 43. There is no heading for Psalm 43, so that it probably was together with Psalm 42. For clarity purposes, I have decided to use the Oxford Bible division of 2 psalms rather than one. The title no longer has David, but this is a Maskil of the sons of Korah, who were first mentioned in 1 Chronicles, chapter 9. There name appears on 11 psalms. This is a maskil or psalm that has the plea of someone longing for God. He was like a deer looking for flowing water. His soul longed for God. His soul thirsted for the living God. Notice that is not the Lord or Yahweh, but the more generic God. However, like many others, he wanted to see the face of God. His tears had become his sustenance day and night. People kept asking him where his God was.

The crying eyes of David (Ps 6:6-6:7)

“I am weary with my moaning.

Every night I flood my bed with tears.

I drench my couch with my weeping.

My eyes waste away because of grief.

They grow weak because of all my foes.”

David is weary with all his moaning. Every night his bed is full of tears. He drenches his couch in the day with tears. His eyes are wasting away because of grief. He was growing weak because of his enemies.

Job cries out to earth (Job 16:18-16:22)

“O earth!

Do not cover my blood!

Let my outcry find no resting place.

Even now,

In fact,

My witness is in heaven.

He that vouches for me is on high.

My friends scorn me.

My eye pours out tears to God.

That he would maintain the right of a mortal with God,

As one does for a neighbor.

When a few years have come,

I shall go the way

From which I shall not return.”

Job wanted the earth not to cover his blood. He wanted the cry of his innocent blood to reach heaven. He wanted his outcries not to be buried and lost. He still believed that he had a witness in heaven that would vouch for him. His friends still scorned him as he cried with tears to God. He still wanted to be treated like a mortal in the sight of God, the way that mortals treat their neighbors. Within a few years, he would have his final exit. He seems to be pleading with God to still listen to him despite his condition.

The divine intervention at Beth-zur (2 Macc 11:5-11:12)

“Invading Judea, Lysias approached Beth-zur, which was a fortified place about five stadia from Jerusalem. He pressed it hard. When Judas Maccabeus and his men got word that Lysias was besieging the strongholds, they and all the people, with lamentations and tears, prayed the Lord to send a good angel to save Israel. Judas Maccabeus himself was the first to take up arms. He urged the others to risk their lives with him to aid their kindred. Then they eagerly rushed off together. There, while they were still near Jerusalem, a horseman appeared at their head, clothed in white and brandishing weapons of gold. Together they all praised the merciful God. They were strengthened in heart, ready to assail not only humans, but the wildest animals or walls of iron. They advanced in battle order, having their heavenly ally, for the Lord had mercy on them. They hurled themselves like lions against the enemy. They laid low eleven thousand of them and sixteen hundred cavalry. They forced all the rest to flee. Most of them got away stripped and wounded. Lysias himself escaped by disgraceful flight.”

Beth-zur was about 20 miles south of Jerusalem, on the way to Hebron. Here, like 1 Maccabees, chapter 4, Judas Maccabeus prayed for a heavenly angel to help him. Although he had prayed in 1 Maccabees, there was no divine intervention. Here a heavenly horseman with a gold weapon led them to victory as they were lions in battle. Here they killed 11,000 infantry instead of 5,000 as in 1 Maccabees. In both versions of the story, Lysias escaped, either as here in “disgraceful flight” or simply withdrawing to Antioch as in 1 Maccabees.