Lifted up and cast down

Psalms 102:10 AV
Because of thine indignation and thy wrath:
for thou hast lifted me up,
and cast me down.‭

Study

Exposition

Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up and cast me down.
A sense of the divine wrath which had been manifested in the overthrow of the chosen nation and their sad captivity led the Psalmist into the greatest distress.
He felt like a sere leaf caught up by a hurricane and carried right away, or the spray of the sea which is dashed upwards that it may be scattered and dissolved.

Our translation gives the idea of a vessel uplifted in order that it may be dashed to the earth with all the greater violence and the more completely broken in pieces; or to change the figure, it reminds us of a wrestler whom his opponent catches up that he may give him a more desperate fall.
The first interpretation which we have given is, however, more fully in accordance with the original, and sets forth the utter helplessness which the writer felt, and the sense of overpowering terror which bore him along in a rush of tumultuous grief which he could not withstand.

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Explanatory notes and quaint sayings

For thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down.
Thou hast lifted me up of a great height, in that thou madest me like unto thine image, touching my reasonable soul, and hast given me power, by thy grace, to inherit the everlasting joys of heaven, both body and soul, if I did live here after thy commandments. What greater gift canst thou give me, Lord, than to have the fruition of thee that art all in all things? How canst thou lift me higher than to eternal beatitude?
But then, alas, thou hast letten me fall down again, for thou hast joined my noble soul with an earthly, heavy, and a frail body; the weight and burden thereof draweth down my mind and heart from the consideration of thy goodness, and from well doing, unto all kinds of vices, and to the regarding of temporal things according to his nature.

The earthly mansion keepeth down the understanding. Thus setting me up, as it were, above the wind, thou hast given me a very great fall ( Job 30:22 ).

I am in creation above all other kind of earthly creatures, and almost equal with angels; but being in this estate thou hast knit a knot thereto, that for breaking the least of thy commandments I shall suffer damnation. So that without thy continual mercy and help I am in worse case herein than any brute beast, whose life or soul dieth with the body.
— Sir Anthony Cope (1551).

For thou hast lifted me up and cast me down.
That is that I might fall with greater poise. Significatur gravissima collisio.
Here the prophet accuseth not God of cruelty, but bewaileth his own misery. Miserum est fusisse felicem, it is no small unhappiness to have been happy.
— John Trapp.

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Because of thine indignation and thy wrath
This was the burden of his complaint, what gave him the greatest uneasiness; not so much the reproach of his enemies, and his other outward afflictions, as the sense he had of God’s wrath and indignation.
The people of God are as deserving of His wrath as others; and when they are awakened to a sense of sin and danger, or the law enters into their consciences, it works wrath there, and leaves nothing but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, till comfort is given; and under afflictive providences they are very ready to conclude, that the wrath of God is upon them.

But this is only their apprehension of things; it is not in reality: for God has not appointed them to wrath, and has swore he will not be wroth with them; Christ has bore it for them, in their room and stead; and being justified by his blood and righteousness, they are saved from it; but then the sense they have of it is very terrible, and there is no rest, peace, and comfort in their souls, while under the apprehensions of it.

For thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down;
As a man that, in wrestling, has the advantage of his antagonist, lifts him up as high as he can, that he may throw him with the greater force upon the ground; in like manner the psalmist thought the Lord was dealing with him: or this may express his changeable state and condition, sometimes lifted up, and sometimes cast down, and which is the case of every believer, more or less; all have their liftings up, and their castings down: when God first calls them by his grace, he raises them from a low estate, lifts them up out of an horrible pit, takes them from the dunghill, sets them among princes to inherit the throne of glory: when he comforts them with the consolations of his Spirit, he is the lifter up of their heads; when he grants His presence, and lifts up the light of his countenance: when he discovers his love, and makes their mountain to stand strong; when he shows them their interest in himself, as their covenant God, in Christ, as their Redeemer and Saviour, and grants them the communion of the Holy Ghost; and when their graces are in lively exercise, then is it a time of lifting up: and they are cast down when corruptions prevail, when grace is weak, when God hides his face, and when afflictions lie heavy on them: this was now the case of the psalmist, and perhaps the remembrance of his liftings up in former times was an aggravation of it.

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Hints for pastors and laypersons

▪︎ The trial of trials — thine indignation and thy wrath.
▪︎ The aggravation of that trial — former favour, “thou hast lifted me up,” etc.
▪︎ The best behaviour under it: see Psalms 102:9 Psalms 102:12-13.

x O x

▪︎ The prosperity of a church or an individual often followed by declension;
▪︎ worldly aggrandisement frequently succeeded by affliction;
▪︎ great joy in the Lord very generally is succeeded by trial.

Twitter: @SchoemakerHarry
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