Eternity and brevity
1 A prayer of Moses the man of God.
Lord, you have been our dwelling-place throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. 3 You turn men back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men.” 4 For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. 5 You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning— 6 though in the morning it springs up new, 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 The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. 11 Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due to you.
12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 13 Relent, O 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 splendour to their children. 17 May the favour of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.
Psalm 90 – Eternity and brevity
(Verses 1-11) The much-used Bible phrase ‘man of God’ often describes His prophets, including Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15). God revealed His messages to prophets either to foretell God’s future plans, or to ‘forth-tell’ by proclaiming and applying His messages to the prophet’s hearers. ‘Man of God’ now describes someone who has turned from his sins, trusted that on the cross Jesus died in his place to be judged and punished for those sins, and then fully committed his life to Jesus as his Lord and Saviour. Such people grow into men and women of God by daily walking with God.
Moses contrasts God’s everlasting nature, before and after creation, with the short and passing life of man. A thousand years are like a passing day to our eternal Lord. Our bodies die and ‘return to dust’. We are like grass that withers in a day, or like a four-hour ‘watch in the night’, which has gone by dawn. Seventy years seems a fair lifespan, if you consider the whole of humanity, but it does vary up or down in many different places. If we do ‘gain’ ten years to reach eighty years, those extra years often bring ‘trouble and sorrow’ and pass quickly. Bird-like, our soul one day flies off into eternity. But which eternity? There are only two options. Saved or lost? Blessed or punished? In Heaven or in Hell? Our all-seeing God knows us and is angry with us for our open ‘iniquities’ and for our ‘secret sins’. His eternal ‘wrath’ awaits us unless we repent and trust in Jesus.
(Verses 12-17) It is vitally urgent to apply these sombre, eternal truths, if you are a ‘born-again’ Christian, or not. Whether or not you know Christ personally as your Lord and Saviour, whoever you are, ask God to ‘Teach [you] to number [your] days aright, that [you] may gain a heart of wisdom’. The Bible says we all need all the wisdom that God will freely give if we ask Him for it. (James 1:5). Only then can we make wise choices. Half-hearted Christians lose their satisfaction and joy in Christ. To ‘be glad all [your] days’, ask for God to reveal His deeds and ‘splendour’ to you and your children. Are you a half-hearted Christian? Submit afresh to Christ. (Romans 12:1-2). Pray and study your Bible humbly every day. But if you have not yet turned from your sins to ask Christ to save you and take charge of your heart, ask God now to open your eyes to His great love, endless mercy and amazing grace. If you really mean it, He will lead you to put your trust in Jesus. You will never be sorry!