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The Prayer of a Troubled Youth[a]

102 Listen to my prayer, O Lord,
    and hear my cry for help!
When I am in trouble,
    don't turn away from me!
Listen to me,
    and answer me quickly when I call!

My life is disappearing like smoke;
    my body is burning like fire.
I am beaten down like dry grass;
    I have lost my desire for food.
I groan aloud;
    I am nothing but skin and bones.
I am like a wild bird in the desert,
    like an owl in abandoned ruins.
I lie awake;
    I am like a lonely bird on a housetop.
All day long my enemies insult me;
    those who mock me use my name in cursing.

9-10 Because of your anger and fury,
    ashes are my food,
    and my tears are mixed with my drink.
You picked me up and threw me away.
11 My life is like the evening shadows;
    I am like dry grass.

12 But you, O Lord, are king forever;
    all generations will remember you.
13 You will rise and take pity on Zion;
    the time has come to have mercy on her;
    this is the right time.
14 Your servants love her,
    even though she is destroyed;
they have pity on her,
    even though she is in ruins.

15 The nations will fear the Lord;
    all the kings of the earth will fear his power.
16 When the Lord rebuilds Zion,
    he will reveal his greatness.
17 He will hear his forsaken people
    and listen to their prayer.

18 Write down for the coming generation what the Lord has done,
    so that people not yet born will praise him.
19 The Lord looked down from his holy place on high,
    he looked down from heaven to earth.
20 He heard the groans of prisoners
    and set free those who were condemned to die.
21 And so his name will be proclaimed in Zion,
    and he will be praised in Jerusalem
22     when nations and kingdoms come together
    and worship the Lord.

23 The Lord has made me weak while I am still young;
    he has shortened my life.
24 O God, do not take me away now
    before I grow old.

O Lord, you live forever;
25 (A)long ago you created the earth,
    and with your own hands you made the heavens.
26 They will disappear, but you will remain;
    they will all wear out like clothes.
You will discard them like clothes,
    and they will vanish.
27 But you are always the same,
    and your life never ends.
28 Our children will live in safety,
    and under your protection
    their descendants will be secure.


  1. Psalm 102:1 HEBREW TITLE: A prayer by a weary sufferer who pours out his complaints to the Lord.

Psalm 102

Prayer to the Eternal King for Help

A prayer of one afflicted, when faint and pleading before the Lord.

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
    let my cry come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
    in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
    answer me speedily in the day when I call.

For my days pass away like smoke,
    and my bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is stricken and withered like grass;
    I am too wasted to eat my bread.
Because of my loud groaning
    my bones cling to my skin.
I am like an owl of the wilderness,
    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.
For I eat ashes like bread,
    and mingle tears with my drink,
10 because of your indignation and anger;
    for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside.
11 My days are like an evening shadow;
    I wither away like grass.

12 But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
    your name endures to all generations.
13 You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,
    for it is time to favor it;
    the appointed time has come.
14 For your servants hold its stones dear,
    and have pity on its dust.
15 The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
    and all the kings of the earth your glory.
16 For the Lord will build up Zion;
    he will appear in his glory.
17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
    and will not despise their prayer.

18 Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
    so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord:
19 that he looked down from his holy height,
    from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners,
    to set free those who were doomed to die;
21 so that the name of the Lord may be declared in Zion,
    and his praise in Jerusalem,
22 when peoples gather together,
    and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.

23 He has broken my strength in midcourse;
    he has shortened my days.
24 “O my God,” I say, “do not take me away
    at the midpoint of my life,
you whose years endure
    throughout all generations.”

25 Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you endure;
    they will all wear out like a garment.
You change them like clothing, and they pass away;
27     but you are the same, and your years have no end.
28 The children of your servants shall live secure;
    their offspring shall be established in your presence.

102 (0) Prayer of a sufferer overcome by weakness and pouring out his complaint before Adonai:

(1) Adonai, hear my prayer!
Let my cry for help reach you!
(2) Don’t hide your face from me
when I am in such distress!
Turn your ear toward me;
when I call, be quick to reply!

(3) For my days are vanishing like smoke,
my bones are burning like a furnace.
(4) I am stricken and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food.
(5) Because of my loud groaning,
I am just skin and bones.
(6) I am like a great owl in the desert,
I’ve become like an owl in the ruins.
(7) I lie awake and become
like a bird alone on the roof.

(8) My enemies taunt me all day long;
mad with rage, they make my name a curse.
10 (9) For I have been eating ashes like bread
and mingling tears with my drink
11 (10) because of your furious anger,
since you picked me up just to toss me aside.
12 (11) My days decline like an evening shadow;
I am drying up like grass.

13 (12) But you, Adonai, are enthroned forever;
your renown will endure through all generations.
14 (13) You will arise and take pity on Tziyon,
for the time has come to have mercy on her;
the time determined has come.
15 (14) For your servants love her very stones;
they take pity even on her dust.

16 (15) The nations will fear the name of Adonai
and all the kings on earth your glory,
17 (16) when Adonai has rebuilt Tziyon,
and shows himself in his glory,
18 (17) when he has heeded the plea of the poor
and not despised their prayer.
19 (18) May this be put on record for a future generation;
may a people yet to be created praise Adonai.

20 (19) For he has looked down from the height of his sanctuary;
from heaven Adonai surveys the earth
21 (20) to listen to the sighing of the prisoner,
to set free those who are sentenced to death,
22 (21) to proclaim the name of Adonai in Tziyon
and his praise in Yerushalayim
23 (22) when peoples and kingdoms have been gathered together
to serve Adonai.

24 (23) He has broken my strength in midcourse,
he has cut short my days.
25 (24) I plead, “God, your years last through all generations;
so don’t take me away when my life is half over!

26 (25) In the beginning, you laid the foundations of the earth;
heaven is the work of your hands.
27 (26) They will vanish, but you will remain;
like clothing, they will all grow old;
yes, you will change them like clothing,
and they will pass away.
28 (27) But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.
29 (28) The children of your servants will live securely
and their descendants be established in your presence.”

A Prayer of One Whose Life Is Falling to Pieces, and Who Lets God Know Just How Bad It Is

102 1-2 God, listen! Listen to my prayer,
    listen to the pain in my cries.
Don’t turn your back on me
    just when I need you so desperately.
Pay attention! This is a cry for help!
    And hurry—this can’t wait!

3-11 I’m wasting away to nothing,
    I’m burning up with fever.
I’m a ghost of my former self,
    half-consumed already by terminal illness.
My jaws ache from gritting my teeth;
    I’m nothing but skin and bones.
I’m like a buzzard in the desert,
    a crow perched on the rubble.
Insomniac, I twitter away,
    mournful as a sparrow in the gutter.
All day long my enemies taunt me,
    while others just curse.
They bring in meals—casseroles of ashes!
    I draw drink from a barrel of my tears.
And all because of your furious anger;
    you swept me up and threw me out.
There’s nothing left of me—
    a withered weed, swept clean from the path.

12-17 Yet you, God, are sovereign still,
    always and ever sovereign.
You’ll get up from your throne and help Zion—
    it’s time for compassionate help.
Oh, how your servants love this city’s rubble
    and weep with compassion over its dust!
The godless nations will sit up and take notice
    —see your glory, worship your name—
When God rebuilds Zion,
    when he shows up in all his glory,
When he attends to the prayer of the wretched.
    He won’t dismiss their prayer.

18-22 Write this down for the next generation
    so people not yet born will praise God:
God looked out from his high holy place;
    from heaven he surveyed the earth.
He listened to the groans of the doomed,
    he opened the doors of their death cells.”
Write it so the story can be told in Zion,
    so God’s praise will be sung in Jerusalem’s streets
And wherever people gather together
    along with their rulers to worship him.

23-28 God sovereignly brought me to my knees,
    he cut me down in my prime.
“Oh, don’t,” I prayed, “please don’t let me die.
    You have more years than you know what to do with!
You laid earth’s foundations a long time ago,
    and handcrafted the very heavens;
You’ll still be around when they’re long gone,
    threadbare and discarded like an old suit of clothes.
You’ll throw them away like a worn-out coat,
    but year after year you’re as good as new.
Your servants’ children will have a good place to live
    and their children will be at home with you.”

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