Psalm 102 is often referred to as the “Prayer of an Overwhelmed Heart”. In it, King David compares himself to an owl in a desert … lonely as a solitary bird on a roof.  An avid fan of owls, I’m aware that deserts and owls don’t mix nicely. No mice and no trees, a desert-stranded owl has to make a drastic adjustment and learn to live on moths and to burrow in holes in the ground.

No, an owl in a desert would be a forlorn, desperate sight. Pitiful.  King David felt dried up; desperately far from God, with depression wrapping a thick hand around him. He was like that owl – vulnerable, exposed, alone.  Enemies taunted. He was a man without comfort.
Owl in the desert

I’ve wondered if Psalm 101 and 102 were meant to go together as one.  If so, we are given an intriguing insight into this king, known as a friend of God and a person after God’s heart.

My Bible titles 101 as “Commitments of a Holy Life”. It is a long list of things David pledges to do to apparently please God. But in the shadows of Psalm 102, that becomes the problem.  It’s like he’s trying to please the Creator of the universe with a scheme of his own. A lot like me.

He talks of  a “perfect way” – twice.  He vows to put away wickedness and wicked people.  He vows to avoid those who have a perverse heart, those who slander, those are deceitful. He grows so bold as to say he will destroy all evil doers and choose to live righteously.

Living right before God is a good and desirable position to take, but was David really so arrogant as to think he could take out evildoers? How was he in such a position of being able to judge them, given his own track record? I think his true motives are found in Verse 2 of Psalm 101: “I will behave wisely in a perfect way, Oh, when will You come to me?”

Q: What do you call an owl with a
sore throat?
A. A bird that doesn’t give a hoot! 🙂

David is desperate for God’s presence and used his list to tell God how he’s going to get Him to show up.  It’s as if he is saying, “This is what I think You want, God … I will do everything the way I anticipate You would want it … then, will You show up?”

Could it be that we find David so overwhelmed in Psalm 102 because of the brash sentiments in Psalm 101, and his mad dash to force God to come to him?

From bravado to despair … suddenly his focus again takes a sharp turn in the middle of 102. This time he looks up and away from himself …

12 But You, O Lord, will sit on Your throne forever.
    Your fame will endure to every generation.
13 You will arise and have mercy on Jerusalem —
    and now is the time to pity her,
    now is the time You promised to help.
14 For Your people love every stone in her walls
    and cherish even the dust in her streets.
15 Then the nations will tremble before the Lord.
    The kings of the earth will tremble before His glory.
16 For the Lord will rebuild Jerusalem.
    He will appear in His glory.
17 He will listen to the prayers of the destitute.
    He will not reject their pleas.

But. You. O. Lord.

The tone changes significantly when the Lord is the subject of the sentence:
The Lord will rebuild …
He will appear …
He will listen …
He will not reject …

Oh, to interrupt myself often and start more sentences with, “But … You, Lord  … You will … You can … You promised … “.

Please stop me short, Lord, when I presume to know what You want and how You want it.


I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1,2


And just for fun …

Q: What type of books do owls like to read?
A: Hooo-dunnits

Q: What does an owl with attitude have?
A: A sc-owl

Q: What do you call a Owl with a carrot in each ear?
A: Anything you want. He can’t hear you!