Ps 102 "you are he"

David Stabnow dstabno at
Wed Jul 31 11:00:18 EDT 2002

Bill Ross wrote:

> In this passage, the psalmist is anxious that he might disappear. He
> prays an affirmation of G-d's eternity. Is it possible that he receives
> the comfort "you are the same, and your years shall have no end?"


> 27  But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end.
> 28  The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be
> established before thee.

I guess the question is, Who is speaking to whom in vv. 27-28 (28-29 in
Heb)?  Is God speaking to the psalmist, promising that the psalmist and his
offspring will endure? Or is the psalmist speaking and taking comfort from
the fact that God will endure and will take care of His servants'

)TH-HW) occurs 12 times.  Here in Ps 102:28 it has no complement.  In 9
cases it is followed by a noun or noun phrase: 5 times (ha)elohim, 3 times
YHWH, once malki "my king" (Ps 44:4).  The other two have verb phrases:
"Are you the one who will be completely acquitted" (interrogative is
implied; Jer 49:12); "Are you the one of whom I spoke" (Ezek 38:17).  Only
these last two are from the Lord's mouth.  So statistics, for what it's
worth, favor having these words in the psalmist's mouth.

One might also speculate whether the phrase, even when truncated, is some
sort of confession or praise.  In support of this see )NY HW) "I am He" in
Isaiah (41:4; 43:10,13; 46:4; 48:12), which is God's claim to the
uniqueness of His existence -- possibly related to the all-important phrase
"I am."  Here in Ps 102 the psalmist may be confessing, "You, indeed, are
He; You are the Great I AM."

In the New Testament, in Heb 1:12, the writer attributes the words to the
psalmist (and interprets them to mean "You are the same").  It is important
to his argument that those words refer to the deity -- in this case, the
Son.  The question remains whether the writer of Hebrews is following
tradition when he attributes the words to the psalmist (and translates them
with "the same"), or whether he is breaking with tradition.  Our experts in
Rabbinics might help with that question.

Dave Stabnow
Bible Translation Editor
Broadman & Holman Publishers
Nashville, Tennessee
david.stabnow at

    Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do,
do everything for God's glory.  (1 Cor 10:31, HCSB)

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