Of God and Human Beings (a)

Psalm 90:1-12

Good News Translation (GNT)


  A prayer by Moses, the man of God."


  1  O Lord, you have always been our home.
  2  Before you created the hills or brought the
   world into being, you were eternally God,
   and will be God forever.
  3  You tell us to return to what we were; you
   change us back to dust.
  4  A thousand years to you are like one day;
   they are like yesterday, already gone, like a
   short hour in the night.
  5  You carry us away like a flood; we last no
   longer than a dream. We are like weeds
   that sprout in the morning,
  6  that grow and burst into bloom, then dry up
   and die in the evening.
  7  We are destroyed by your anger; we are
   terrified by your fury.
  8  You place our sins before you, our secret sins
   where you can see them.
  9  Our life is cut short by your anger; it fades
   away like a whisper.
10  Seventy years is all we have - eighty years, if
   we are strong; yet all they bring us is trouble
   and sorrow; life is soon over, and we are gone.
11  Who has felt the full power of your anger?
   Who knows what fear your fury can bring?
12  Teach us how short our life is, so that we may
   become wise.


Commentary taken from 'word-on-the-web'
supplied by Scripture Union

'Our dwelling place'

Our Bibles attribute this psalm to Moses, and I can almost picture Moses composing it. Just think of all that he had been through and seen.

This psalm, directs a piercing spotlight on the human problem. God is described as an eternal 'dwelling place' (v 1).

This conjures images of safety from the elements, but also a home, a place to belong. That God is eternal and permanent (vs 1,2) is in stark contrast to how Moses feels about his own existence.

We long for eternity, we yearn for joy. But we experience a fleeting life shot through with trouble and sorrow, and then death.

Each day in the desert, each death from the generation of those who had lived in Egypt, reminded Moses of God's judgement on his people.

Sin is the barrier between humans and God, and it casts a long shadow on our lives. We are dust, and our life is like a speck of nothing in the cosmic wonder of all that God is and has made (vs 4-6).

It seems to Moses that life is more struggle than joy, as if God is somehow angry.

In current Western culture it is considered politically incorrect, even unloving, to mention God's wrath and judgement.

Yet if we don't understand our sorry state before God and realise that he is justified in condemning us, as Moses obviously did, then we will not appreciate how remarkable, how incredibly liberating, his undeserved love and mercy is.

This comparison between the awesomeness of God and our own frail state ought to bring us perspective. We have nothing and are nothing without God.

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