“Let this be recorded for future generations,
so that a people not yet born will praise the Lord.
Tell them the Lord looked down
from his heavenly sanctuary.
He looked down to earth from heaven
to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to release those condemned to die.
And so the Lord’s fame will be celebrated in Zion,
his praises in Jerusalem,
when multitudes gather together
and kingdoms come to worship the Lord.”
Psalm 102:18-22 NLT
Psalm 102 details the troubles the poor Psalmist is enduring. But through it all he never lost his faith in God. And he appeals to his readers to make sure they record the Lord’s goodness for future generations. He highlights information about where God lives, and how He interacts with human beings, looking down, hearing and releasing. He looks down to see what is going on and straight away the injustice of those being imprisoned gets His attention. He hears their “groans” and he “releases those condemned to die“. And as a consequence the Psalmist points out that one day, at the end of the age, Jerusalem will see the congregation of all the world’s nations coming “to worship the Lord“.
But who are these prisoners? Those condemned to die? In the UK we have prisons bursting at the seams, full of people incarcerated for doing wrong. And I know in some countries, there are people languishing in death rows. Waiting for their end. But why would God single these people out for “hearing” and “releasing”? God is interested in all people. He loves them all. No, more likely, the Psalmist is referring to people who are prisoners because of their sins, and who are condemned to die as a consequence. God looks down from Heaven with a breaking heart, yearning for His people to understand that the prison doors are open. That their choices are keeping them there and, worse, keeping them on death row as well. The Apostle Paul wrote in his epistle to the Galatians that, “But the Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of sin, so we receive God’s promise of freedom only by believing in Jesus Christ.” That’s the open door, folks.
Those of us who have embraced God’s gift of freedom, who are no longer locked in a prison of sin, need to write down our stories. Write down our testimonies of how God’s grace and mercy opened our prison doors. Because the generations coming behind us need to know too about our wonderful Creator God. About His love and compassion. About what He has done for us.
If there is anyone reading this blog today, and feel as though they are locked in a prison cell, unable to escape. Oppressed by the enemy. Blighted by negative thoughts of how bad they are. Their self image plumbing depths of despair. Then reach out to the only One who can set us free. The only key to our prison cells is soaked in the blood of Jesus, our wonderful Saviour, our wonderful Releaser, our wonderful Lord.