Psalm 102: The Long String of History

Read Psalm 102.

These days, there’s a lot of talk about being on the right side of history. On any hotly debated issue, you hear this sort of chatter from both sides. The funny thing is, it can be hard to know how future generations will judge the way we’ve conducted ourselves. Values seem to shift like sand with the tide, and no one has promised us that history will bend toward justice and goodness in a more-or-less straight arc. There may be darker days to come before the light of the glory of God bursts through, and it may be that we are stumbling around in darkness right now without knowing it.

The psalmist appeals to us, his readers in the present, to praise the Lord. We are the “future generation” he writes about (Psalm 102:18). From where we sit in ripened history, we can look back and see God’s faithfulness to sinful people who cried out to God. And yes, it ought to give us a reason to lift up our voices to the Lord. If He was faithful to the faithless and broken back then, He will be merciful to those of us who cry out to Him in our struggles today.

When you remember that yours is but one life in a long string of humanity stretching from Eden to new Jerusalem, it can make you feel awfully small. But none of us live in isolation. We are all affected by those who came before us, and each of us can impact those who come after us. Our place in redemption history is a weight we’re born with and one we carry with us until the day we heave it to the ground at death. Looking through our own eyes, it can be difficult to see where we’re going, but there is one who is not bound by time, one who sees the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).

We all cry out to the same God, and He is unchanged from day to day, century to century, eon to eon. When the psalmist penned these verses, God knew your heart intimately, even though your heart’s first beat wouldn’t happen for thousands of years. So, even as we walk through strange days, hoping we’re on the right side of history, we have someone to guide us—someone who was here long before us, someone who graciously walks beside us, someone who will be here when future generations try to make sense of how we spent our time on this earth.

One day, when this life is over, we who know Jesus will wake up to find that we are alive again. We’ll get to stand at the end of all the future generations, able to look back on history as a closed canon. I imagine God will allow us to see how each of our lives touched everyone else’s, and I believe we’ll see how His sovereign hand gently nudged us this way and that way to bring more souls into the rushing waters of saving grace.

The psalmist closes out his song with these words, which are addressed to the Lord: “The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you” (Psalm 102:28). It seems to me that the “right side of history” is wherever the Lord is. For those who love Jesus and welcome His return, that’s precisely where we’re headed.


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