“For a thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.”
~Psalm 90:4 (NIV).
One of my favourite worship songs is Be Unto Your Name. It takes us back the most ancient of truths—we are vapour, God is eternal. For this we depict our praises for the Giver of life.
But it would be fair to ascribe a less praiseworthy mood to Psalm 90—which is attributed to Moses, making it possibly the oldest psalm in the corpus of Psalms. There is humanistic realty to this psalm that begs further attention.
We need God—especially the mercy of God—if we’re to succeed in this life.
God of Eternity (Verses 1-6)
If only we would focus more on the nature of God’s eternal Presence, how much better and right-aligned our lives might be. For one, we would not worry so much about the scantness of today; a reality that seems so real, but like everything is but a flicker. Today’s news wraps up tomorrow’s fish and chips, they say...
If we focused more on this everlasting capacity of God we’d start to understand the sheer size of this living reality we find ourselves in. We’d soon start to truly see things we can miss all our lives if our eyes aren’t opened wide enough.
Recalling God’s Anger (Verses 7-11)
It is a functional portent of theology—the wrath of God. We are not so apt at looking at it, but it is there. And so many people, who’ve been chastened to come, reluctantly venture on a path to look at it—scared, understandably, for what it might reveal.
And, yet, there’s nothing for the God-follower truly to be afraid of so far as the nature of God is concerned.
Still, the psalm views life as test upon groaning test (verse 9) and surely we’re able to see the truth in that. If we can see the praiseworthy life, surely too we can see the groanworthy life. Not that we’re set on becoming depressed. We simply see that in the midst of our ‘three-score-and-ten’ we do endure... but then at the end is the tunnel to Eternity. That’s what we’ve been living for!
The Lord may have consigned us to this very short life for a twofold reason—to come to know the Being we’ll spend the rest of our lives in Eternity with, and within that, to come to know how to please God; right here, right now.
God’s indignation is just the very firmest of boundaries around the reality we call life. God’s anger comes out of God’s interminable love for us.
Beseeching God’s Favour (Verses 12-17)
If we’re honest, this is what we’re about. If we’re living right (and often even if we aren’t) we’re always clamouring for God’s favour.
“Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
~Psalm 90:12 (NIV).
If we enjoin the concept of beseeching God’s favour within the realm of accounting correctly for all our days we’re well on the way to making the very most of our lives—to live effectively and productively.
And this is wisdom: to know our place, our time, our circumstances, and to use those to the best of our abilities, every day of our lives. Sometimes this will mean we’ll plan; other times we’ll execute... some on which we rest; others on which we act... but the general theme is forward-moving and transformational.
“... yes, establish the work of our hands.”
~Psalm 90:17c (NIV).
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: Be Unto Your Name (Lynn DeShazo and Gary Sadler, 1998, Integrity’s Hosanna! Music/ASCAP).