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June 25 Today’s Reading: Psalm 93-102
“The Set Time”
The title given by our translators to the 102nd Psalm is, “A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the Lord.” The cause of the affliction and trouble of which the psalmist complains was the low estate of God’s church and kingdom. The children of light were in a time of great darkness. The children of the free woman were in terrible bondage. Because of their sin and unbelief, the Lord had hidden his face from the people of his favor, causing them to “eat ashes like bread” and mingle their drink with weeping (v. 9). Israel was reproached by her enemies (v. 8). Yet, the psalmist watched, “as a sparrow alone upon the house top,” in expectant faith for mercy, anticipating a time of refreshing and revival (v. 7). He cried, “Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.”
Perhaps “the set time” has come for our God to again favor Zion. Oh, may God be pleased to pour out his Spirit upon us and send us “times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
A Confident Expectation
“Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion.” — This is an assured, confident expectation. The psalmist “speaketh with as much confidence,” John Trapp wrote, “as if he had been in God’s bosom.” He firmly believed and boldly prophesied that the Lord’s apparent inaction would cease, that he would “arise and have mercy upon Zion” again. God will surely stir himself and work effectually for and in Zion, the church of God’s elect, which he has chosen for himself. She is highly favored, gloriously inhabited, and wondrously preserved. The memory of her past mercies assures us of future mercy. Though he may have hidden his face from us for a season, to chasten us in love and sweetly force us to seek his face, our God has sworn, “With great mercies will I gather thee…With everlasting kindness will I have mercy upon thee, saith the Lord thy Redeemer…My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee” (Isaiah 54:7-10). Our God will not leave us in such a low condition. He may, for a while, hide himself from us to make us see our nakedness and poverty; but he will arise in his great love to our defense, and pour out his mercy upon us.
The Set Time
“For the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come.” — By his own decree, our heavenly Father has appointed a season for the blessing of his church. When “the set time, is come,” she shall be blessed. Just as there was an appointed time for the Jews in Babylon, so there is an appointed time for our adversity. But, when the time was fulfilled, no bolts and bars could hold the ransomed of the Lord in Babylonian bondage. When the time came for the walls of Zion to be built, Israel was delivered from her bondage. So it shall be again. When the Lord God rises to deliver, none can hinder him.
And we have every reason to expect him to arise if we can honestly say, “For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favor the dust thereof” (v. 14). If we pity God’s church, if we earnestly seek her good, how much more God must pity us and seek our good! If the dust of Zion’s spiritual ruins moves us to compassion, how much more must it move our God! He has let the powers of darkness have their hour, only that “the set time” of his hour may be sought by us, and that it may be more glorious when it comes.
Do not fail to see the joyful blessedness in these two words, “is come.” — “Yea, the set time, is come!” Can those words be understood by us as a word of promise? Perhaps they can. This much I know: God’s set time to favor Zion “is come” when Zion is humbled before him, acknowledging her great need of Christ, his cleansing, his righteousness, his grace, his power, and his presence. God’s set time to favor Zion “is come” when he inspires his people with faith and expectation, “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 21). God’s set time to favor Zion “is come” when our hearts are enflamed by his Spirit with love for Christ, our God and Savior, for his glory, and for his people. God’s set time to favor Zion “is come” when he strips from us all pretense and hypocrisy, making us honest and sincere before him.
Those times of extremity and adversity, by which we are overwhelmed, are designed and brought to pass by our God to strip us that he may clothe us, to wound us that he may heal us, to make us know our need of him that we might be compelled to seek him earnestly. — “Now therefore, O our God, hear the prayer of thy servant, and his supplications, and cause thy face to shine upon thy sanctuary that is desolate, for the Lord’s sake” (Daniel 9:17). — “Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved” (Psalm 80:19).