Reading: Psalm 90
A Prayer of Moses, the man of God
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”
4 For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
5 You sweep them away as with a flood;
they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
7 For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!
Psalm 90 begins the fourth book of the Psalter, the fourth volume of songs for Israel. While book three (Psalms 73-89) was for a nation being taken away into exile, book four is for a nation in exile longing to return. We find in this book sadness and longing, but even more we see faith and joy and thankfulness. God’s people are learning to trust Him in hard places.
We begin with a prayer of Moses. You can instantly see its application to a situation where people feel like they do not have a home.
This prayer is deeply theological. It begins with an amazing statement of the sovereignty of Yahweh, first from a personal perspective (vs. 1) and then from the transcendent point of view. (vs. 2) There are two categories of existence. There is God and there is everything else.
Then we move on to a lament over the transient nature of all people, you and me. We just do not last that long. Compared to God we last but a moment. (vss. 3-6)
Why is this so? It is because of our sin. The result of sin is death. (Genesis 3, Romans 6:23) It is because of the curse of sin that we do not last. And God is right in His anger against sin. (vss. 7-11) Moses’ first request in this prayer is an application of the fact of our transience. “Teach us to number our days…” (vs. 12) What does this mean? It means that the wise person will live, speak, work, invest, love, and obey the Lord like he would if he were to die soon. The fact is that he will die soon. We all will die sooner than we think.
And so the psalm closes with five verses containing six requests, all related to our transience and the Lord’s eternal sovereignty.
- Return, O Lord.
- Satisfy us with your love.
- Make us glad in this difficult life.
- Show us Your work and Your majesty.
- Bless us with Your favor.
- Make the work of our hands matter.
Which of these requests would you like to ask God for today?