Yahweh Endures Forever
(12) But you, Yahweh, endure forever, and your remembrance to all generations. (13) You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for the time to show her favor, the appointed time, has come, (14) for your servants are pleased with her stones and show favor to her dust. (15) The nations will fear the name of Yahweh, and all the kings of the earth (will fear) your glory, (16) for Yahweh builds up Zion. He appears in his glory. (17) He regards the prayer of the destitute and has not despised their prayer.
The first verse of this segment marks a major change in the tone of the psalm (vs. 12). In the first eleven verses, the author refers to himself and the distresses he is facing twenty-seven times (“my prayer...my cry...I...me...mine”). After these opening verses, the psalmist does not speak of himself again until the end of the psalm (vss. 23 & 24).
Three words are repeated for emphasis. “Yahweh” occurs three times (vss. 12, 15, & 16). The verb, “show favor,” appears twice, first with Yahweh as the subject (vs. 13) and then with “your servants” (vs. 14). Finally, the word for “prayer” occurs twice (vs. 17), underlining the comforting truth that God hears and responds to the cries of the destitute and despised.
I. The appointed time for Yahweh’s favor is nearing. (12 & 13)
II. Israel will rejoice while the nations tremble. (14 & 15)
III. Yahweh will restore Zion and respond to the needy. (16 & 17)
When the time comes for Yahweh to rebuild and restore Zion, Israel will rejoice while the nations tremble in fear.
One of the biblical concepts we struggle to understand is how time relates to eternity. We read that Yahweh dwells in eternity (vs. 12) while we, his creatures, must wait for the appointed time of his favor to arrive (vs. 13). How can we who are immersed in space, time, and history grasp the concept of something so alien to us as timeless eternity? C. S. Lewis suggests that we think of eternity as an immense sheet of paper stretching in every direction with no boundaries. On that sheet we then draw a line to represent time. Above and below that line on that paper we can draw pictures and dates to represent human history as it has progressed to this point. As the line begins and ends on that infinite expanse, so time and history have their beginning and ending in God.
Someone once asked a famous scientist to estimate how many atoms there are in the universe. After doing some complicated calculations, he came up with 10 to the 81st power, that is, 10 followed by 81 zeros. While that is an unimaginably large number, it is still a finite quantity that can be added to or subtracted from, multiplied or divided. God inhabits the realm of the infinite with no boundaries, no limits, no adding, no subtracting, no multiplying, no dividing. While God dwells in eternity, time and the created universe exist within our infinite, eternal God. We cannot reach eternity by extending time or expanding the universe to an ever greater size. Eternity for us finite human beings is an alien state of existence. There is no known bridge that connects time with eternity apart from God.
We can never hope to comprehend eternity until we are transformed into Christ’s likeness, are given our new resurrection bodies, and then are translated into the eternal realms. However, in a very limited way, we can anticipate what eternity will be like. We can begin by imagining how great, how awesome, and how far beyond us our eternal God truly is. We should be astonished and overwhelmed when we consider that such an infinite, limitless being would care to set his love on such limited, time-bound, sinful human creatures as we and desire for us to dwell with him forever.