Psalm 90:2, 4 (NIV)
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
I always love reading the Psalms! So many provide comfort and a time of wonderful meditation. Others, Like Psalm 90, challenge our perspective and perception of God. This particular Psalm is titled: A Prayer of Moses, the man of God. I think it is important to have this in mind to provide more context for the theology presented and the language used.
A Prayer of Moses, the man of God.
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return, O children of men.”
4 A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death— they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered.
7 We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due Your Name.
12 Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.
17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.
So we see in the Psalm, in this Prayer of Moses, the holiness, majesty, and sovereignty of God contrasted with the sinfulness, weakness, and mortality of man. Yet, within this contrast we find the anticipation of compassion … the assurance of unfailing love … and the restoration of personal relationship with the Lord God. I see this prayer as a call to understand that Father God is the Creator … and we are the created … His children. And how we enter relationship with God is predicated upon a humble spirit that respects, honors, and reverences Him. That we can even have an intimate relationship with God has been ordained by Him in the first place. Why? Because He created us in His image … so that we might have the capacity to know Him.
A focus on Verses 8-12 afford us a great opportunity to gain perspective. Our days here on earth are limited; and this knowledge in itself should lead us to wisdom. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His precepts have good understanding. To Him belongs eternal praise.” (Cf. Psalm 111:10) It has been the rebellion of His children that has evoked His anger … His wrath. Both of these terms convey the emotions that we would feel under the same circumstances. Indeed, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” (Cf. Proverbs 9:10) And this Prayer of Moses leads us to these conclusions that King David and King Solomon share in their inspired writings.
Well, a different Psalm … with a solemn message for us to consider … is what we might need to hear. I will finish with this thought:
Deuteronomy 31:14-30 (NIV)
14 The Lord said to Moses, “Now the day of your death is near. Call Joshua and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, where I will commission him.” So Moses and Joshua came and presented themselves at the tent of meeting. 15 Then the Lord appeared at the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the cloud stood over the entrance to the tent. 16 And the Lord said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. 17 And in that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and calamities will come on them, and in that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come on us because our God is not with us?’ 18 And I will certainly hide my face in that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods.
19 “Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them. 20 When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their ancestors, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant. 21 And when many disasters and calamities come on them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath.” 22 So Moses wrote down this song that day and taught it to the Israelites.
23 The Lord gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.” 24 After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, 25 he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord: 26 “Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God. There it will remain as a witness against you. 27 For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the Lord while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die! 28 Assemble before me all the elders of your tribes and all your officials, so that I can speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to testify against them. 29 For I know that after my death you are sure to become utterly corrupt and to turn from the way I have commanded you. In the latter days, disaster will fall on you because you will do evil in the sight of the Lord and arouse His anger by what your hands have made.”
The Song of Moses
30 And Moses recited the words of this song from beginning to end in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel: (You will have to turn to Deuteronomy 32 to read The Song of Moses).