January 1, 2018
The 90th Psalm is “A prayer of Moses,” which in itself is somewhat unique, considering that the vast majority of the Psalms were written by David or one of David’s musicians. But in this Psalm, Moses prays, or at least is quoted, in a prayer over the Hebrew nation. This Psalm is often read at funeral services because of the reference to “number our days,” and “that our days quickly pass away.” But I believe that the simple but powerful points of this Psalm are appropriate for us as we contemplate a New Year, because it places into perspective how we relate to God, to time, and to the future, both as an individual and as the people of a nation.
In this Psalm Moses says, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God,” Psalm 90:1-2. In these verses we are reminded that there is a great difference between us and God regarding time, God is everlasting. Acknowledging our Creator, who is infinite, as opposed to our finite existence which is fully dependent on Him, is a great way to begin a new year.
One of my favorite sports movies is “Rudi,” which is about an undersized young man whose goal of attending the University of Notre Dame and playing football for them seemed ridiculous to everyone except to him. In the movie, Father Cavanaugh advised Rudi about God, as Rudi wondered about why God would not help him be accepted into Notre Dame so he could fulfill his goal of playing football for the Irish. The explanation that the priest gave Rudi was simple but profound. He said, “Son, in 35 years of theological training I’ve come to two conclusions. There is a God, and I’m not him.”
Moses understood this profound truth and in this Psalm simply says to God, “from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” The fact is, as we anticipate the New Year, God’s plans for us are from His perspective, not ours. He is not limited by time like we are, “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night,” Psalms 90:4. Man’s time is short, especially in comparison to that of God. God is eternal. God lives forever. He is from everlasting to everlasting. He had no beginning. He will have no end. The reality is that, since we are not God, our days on earth are limited and are subject to “trouble and sorrow.” As we begin this new year, it is good to remember who we are and who God is.
In this Psalm Moses acknowledges the sin of the Jewish people and the brevity of their existence and opportunity to follow His plan for their lives. “For we have been consumed by your anger, And by your wrath we are terrified. You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of your countenance. For all our days have passed away in your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away,” Psalms 90:7-10. As we anticipate what 2018 in America, might bring, we should be reminded, not unlike what Moses reminded the children of Israel, that we are responsible to an awesome God who holds each of us accountable. “Who knows the power of your anger? For as the fear of you, so is your wrath.” Psalms 90:11. If ever America needed to acknowledge that its blessings in the past have been from the God of Moses, and He is a God to be feared if we don’t bend our national knees to Him, it is right now in the year 2018.
This prayer of Moses concludes, as does all of God’s communication with man, with words of encouragement and hope. “So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Relent Oh Lord, And have compassion on your servants. Oh, satisfy us early with your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days! Make us glad according to the days in which you have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil. Let your work appear to your servants, and your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us. Yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalms 90:12-17.
An important Biblical term is repentance. People usually equate repentance with the idea that we are sorry for the wrong things that we have done. While this is true, it means much more than this. The idea of repentance is that we actually see things the way God sees them. Psalms 90:12 says that “we will get a heart of wisdom” or more precisely a heart that thinks as God thinks. Moses knew that seeing things as God sees them was the hope for God’s people then, and we know it should be for us now. It makes us want to obey God’s Word and not sin against Him. It means that we acknowledge that even though we are not God, we can think as God thinks. May we begin this New Year with a heart that thinks like God thinks in all that we do.
May you have a Happy and Blessed New Year,