Psalms 90:0 ¶ A Prayer of Moses the man of God.
It seems that many of the psalms are prayers, and this one is identified as a prayer of Moses. Isn’t it interesting that these prayers were considered as good lyrics for worship songs?
I also think it is significant to note that Moses isn’t identified as the man that parted the Red Sea or the man that drew water from a rock or the man that gave Israel the Ten Commandments. He is identified as “the man of God.” Oh to be known as “the woman of God” like Moses, “the friend of God” like Abraham, “a woman after God’s own heart” like David, and “a woman greatly beloved by God” like Daniel.
Psalms 90:1 ¶ Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
I believe the generations being referenced by Moses include all the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob until the time of this prayer. He is acknowledging the Lord as the One that has provided for them every step along the way. The Hebrew makes reference to a retreat or place of asylum. Through the good times and the bad, the Lord has been their ever-present refuge and protector. This is a true statement of God’s provision for His people of all times—then and now.
Psalms 90:2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
Moses acknowledges the eternal nature of God our Creator. He knows that before creating even one thing that constitutes our reality, God existed as the eternal God. He acknowledges that it was God that “formed the earth and the world.”
The Complete Jewish Bible translates “everlasting to everlasting” as “eternity past to eternity future.” In other words, God had no beginning and will have no ending—He just IS.
Psalms 90:3 Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.
The Hebrew for the word “destruction” makes reference to being crushed into powder. It is a reference to the curse brought upon man by sin—he will die and return to dust.
Genesis 3:19 “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.”
From the very beginning, however, God had in place a plan that would provide for man’s salvation if he would but “return” or repent and turn back to God in faith and obedience.
Psalms 90:4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
Moses recognized that God’s perspective of time was quite different from man’s perspective. From God’s perspective the passing of a thousand years seem like the passing of a day in human terms. In fact, He considers it no more than a watch in the night, a period of a few hours. The Apostle Peter affirmed this concept.
2 Peter 3:8 “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
Psalms 90:5 Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.
Psalms 90:6 In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.
Moses realized that the life of a man is comparable to the grass of the field. It flourishes with growth in the morning only to be cut down or wither in the evening. The Prophet Isaiah made the same comparison.
Isaiah 40:7 “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.”
As did the Apostle Peter.
1Peter 1:24 ¶ For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away….
Psalms 90:7 ¶ For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.
Psalms 90:8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
Moses goes on to acknowledge that not only is God eternal in nature, He is also righteous in judgment and omniscient. I am reminded that Moses is writing from a perspective of watching a whole generation of his people die in the wilderness during a period of forty years because of their lack of belief in God in spite of the many miracles He had performed to bring about their deliverance from Egypt.
Numbers 14:22–23 & 33 “Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it…. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.”
Hebrews 3:17–19 “But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”
Moses was aware that God sees not only our overt sins, but also our secret sins.
Psalms 44:21 “Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.”
Proverbs 15:3 “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.”
Hebrews 4:12–13 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.”
Psalms 90:9 For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.
I think the idea of our days passing in God’s wrath is alluding to the curse of sin and all its resultant consequences. The way we choose to live our lives unfolds as a story being written.
Psalms 90:10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
By the time of Moses it was understood that a normal lifespan was seventy years, maybe up to eighty years if one was of a strong constitution. This is an interesting observation from a man who lived to be 120 years old still enjoying strong eyesight and good health.
Deuteronomy 34:7 “And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.”
Whatever the length of one’s life, Moses acknowledged that it is filled with toil, worry, trouble (all from the Hebrew) and sorrow because of the curse of sin. In the scheme of eternity, however, that lifespan is “soon cut off” and we exit this life. Frankly, for the child of God that is a blessing in light of the infirmities that come with old age.
Psalms 90:11 Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.
I really liked the CJB translation of this verse: Who grasps the power of your anger and wrath to the degree that the fear due you should inspire?
It’s important to note that Moses had a close relationship with God. Still, he knew the importance of having a healthy fear or reverence for God. Almighty God, our Creator, should command our greatest respect and obedience; yet we live as if He is a far away relative that we will get to see one day in the future. I am just as guilty as anyone else of often “forgetting” (so to speak) that He is with me each and every moment of each and every day and that He knows my thoughts as well as my actions. If we are honest, we know that living with that constant awareness will make a difference in many of the choices we make and things we say and do.
Psalms 90:12 ¶ So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
“number” = weigh out, appoint, prepare
“apply” = abide, attain, employ
I believe Moses is asking God to help him and his people live before God according to the reverence He deserves. He wants to attain wisdom, and scripture declares that wisdom comes from fearing (reverencing) God and obeying Him.
Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom….”
Psalms 111:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments….”
Psalms 90:13 Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.
I think in context that Moses is yearning for complete restoration of fellowship between YHWH and His people. He is yearning for the time they will get to enter the Promised Land.
Those of us in the body of believers today should mirror the heart of Moses as we yearn for His return to take us home to live in fellowship with the Father in His presence.
Psalms 90:14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Psalms 90:15 Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.
I think Moses is looking forward to the time when the wilderness wanderings are over and His people get to enter the Promised Land. He is praying that their days of happiness in the land will at least be proportionate to those they have suffered. I couldn’t help but think of another verse in scripture in connection with verse 15. It’s an expression from the heart of God that He desires to do for His people just as Moses is asking.
Joel 2:25 “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten….”
Psalms 90:16 Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.
Psalms 90:17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.
Moses was wise not to end his prayer with the previous verse. He closes with asking the LORD to establish His people in a place of continual blessing resulting from their faithfulness and obedience to Him. He is asking that the testimonies of the parents serve to glorify God before their children.
That certainly mirrors my heart as I pray for my family and especially my children and grandchildren. It reminds me of some of the prayers of Paul that I have “borrowed” on behalf of my children.
Ephesians 1:16–21 “Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come….”
Philippians 1:9–11 “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.”
Colossians 1:9–11 “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness….”