The Faithful (Psalm 90)

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I heard a story of a man who approximated the number of years he would live and placed that many marbles in a jar. At his birthday he would take out a marble and each year the pile would shrink. His reasoning was that each year was important and to be mindful that how it was spent. Indeed, life is limited and time is ticking for all of us. This message is not meant to be gloomy, but when you look at life’s fragility it has the potential to not just to gloom but bloom. God gave us lessons to gain perspective for a life of purpose.

In studying Psalm 90 we will examine four characteristics/attributes of God and how they influence us toward spiritual faithfulness.

Summer Psalms 2018

EXAMINE                       Psalm 90        The Faithful

Introduction

  • Believe Moses is author of Ps 90, and only psalm he’s written apart from Ex 15; Deut 32.
    • A prayer of Moses, the man of God.
    • Few in Bible are called man of God: Moses (Deut 33:1), Samuel (1Sam 9:6-10); David (Neh 12:24), Elijah (1Ki 17:18); Elisha (2Ki 4:7), Shemaiah (2Chro 11:2), Igdaliah (Jer 35:4), Timothy (1Tim 6:11). Being a man/woman of God is uncommon, and often unbearable circumstances, but nothing is more fulfilling.
  • Ps 90 is very likely one (the) earliest psalm written.
    • Job is oldest book of Bible, and then Pentateuch / Ps 90 fits in this latter time frame.
  • Ps 90 context fits during Israel’s beginnings where fear overcomes faith leading to regret and sorrow instead of God’s blessing and abundance.
    • Moses writes to a generation who is older in age.
      • When they were younger they danced and determined to honor God’s commands.
      • When they were older they became complacent and wandered in desert for 40 years leaving the next generation stalled in their spiritual heritage.
      • Moses writes in this context reflecting on 4 character/attributes of God that influence how we use our time.

 

Psalm 90:1-2 God’s ETERNALITY inspires a forever purpose.   

Throughout this psalm is the author addressing God with direct statements, as prayers to God. Therefore, the psalm becomes model words for us to pray.

The Psalmist describes God as Lord (Adonai: master) to be Israel’s (note plural: “our”) dwelling place or den; or more as a home of refuge. This statement is interesting on multiple levels.

  • For Moses, born a Hebrew but raised in Pharaoh’s house. As a young man he fled Egypt to Midian, and then later would return to Egypt, only to escape toward Canaan, but never entering the country. He was a man without a true home, yet God was his dwelling place.
  • For Israel, a people who are nomads leaving Egypt and not knowing where God was guiding them. But Moses knew, wherever they went God was their home and refuge. Home was not a place but in the Person who was with His people.
    • God was with Israel in Exodus through cloud and fire (Ex 13:21-22).
    • God was with Moses in glory (Ex 33:14-23; 34:29).
    • God’s glory departed (Ichabod) His people (1Sam 4:21).
    • Jesus indicted Israel for a desolate house without the Lord (Mat 23:37-38).
    • In Christ, God’s full glory is present (John 1:14) and promises to dwell with us again (Rev 21:3).
  • The Psalmist is further trusting God’s refuge because God is Creator and Sustainer of the world. God existed before mountains and marine waters. Moses may be hinting at the pagan nations who worship gods dwelling among the mountains or waters while demonstrating God is superior as everlasting to everlasting. God’s Personhood and purposes are timeless.

– – –  There’s a sign in front of an townhouse complex in Crofton that has been there for at least 25 years, it says, “If you lived here you’d be home.” Well… of course the obvious, but the broader point is that living there would provide a stationary home to where you would need not to look elsewhere. God is such a home that is a faithful refuge.

– – – – – – Many military families experience of transition is not something always enjoyed but can learn contentment because they know the mission is important. Likewise, God’s people can experience trials and transitions, trusting God’s purposes for our life will be carried out and He will see us through as our refuge.

– – – – – – Changes in our churches can cause discomfort with members, especially traditional preferences. But, those knowing God’s purpose of reaching each generation are sustained because their faith relationship with God is not depended upon personal preferences but God’s character and purposes.

  • What wakes you up each day? If our life isn’t for God’s glory then our Monday weeks become monotonous and empty.

 

Psalm 90:3-6 God’s SOVEREIGNTY inspires finite planning.

The Psalmist contrasts God’s eternal nature with the temporality of humanity. It is very likely the author has Genesis 1-3 in mind writing this psalm. God is the Creator and the Reaper, returning man to dust (Ps 90:2; Gen 3:19). He gives and takes life (Job 1:21), and God determines our days on earth (Job 14:5; Ps 139:16) and we cannot predict but only prepare for our last day (parables of Jesus). God is sovereign in that His ways and purposes are beyond our human understanding (Ps 139:17; Isa 55:8-9; Rom 11:33).

Our days and watches in the night, about 3hr shift, are trivial and compared to a thousand years in God’s sight. 1K years in human history is quite significant and even more so ~5 thousand years ago. In fact, Moses wrote of the oldest human living 969 years with Methuselah (Gen 5:27), and probably had this reference in mind.

From our perspective we may say “they died too soon” or “their death was surprising” but to God there is nothing too soon or surprising. God has determined our days and we cannot expand on them one second apart from God’s determination. God can sweep away life as fast as a flood, a dream vanished, or fading sunlight (vv.5-6). Our days are often fewer than we think or want.

Psalm 39:4 “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am.”

  • Motto of day: Life is short, so satisfy self. But if we understand eternity, life is long so live for the Lord.
  • We have a date with death that we must prepare.
    • Practical: create a will / communicate a plan
    • Functional: Redeem time (Eph5:15-16; John 9:4; 17:4).
    • Spiritual: share faith testimony and give the invite.

 

Psalm 90:7-12 God’s SEVERITY inspires our faithful purity.

Moses reflects on God’s severe judgment for Israel.
cf. Numbers 14:21-23, 32-35
21  But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD,
22  none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice,
23  shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it.
32  But as for you, your dead bodies shall fall in this wilderness.
33  And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness.
34  According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, a year for each day, you shall bear your iniquity forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’

35  I, the LORD, have spoken. Surely this will I do to all this wicked congregation who are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall come to a full end, and there they shall die.”

 

Moses writes Israel was consumed with God’s anger because they mis-invested their lives, lived in immorality & idolatry. Their days end with a hollow sighs rather than joyous shouts (cf. 90:9, 14).

The attribute of God’s severity can deter our faith or draw us to increase faith. One aspect to note, God’s discipline on Israel – or NT Christians – is not destructive but constructive. A generation of Israel did not enter the Promised Land, but their children did and they feared the Lord for a generation.

  • Hebrews 12:6-11
    6  For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
    7  It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?
    8  If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.
    9  Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?
    10  For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
    11  For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

 

Making sense of God’s severity in light of the gospel and NT is to understand Jesus atones for God’s anger but that doesn’t mean our actions are irrelevant and we can presume upon grace. Jesus frees us from eternal condemnation but sin can still bring earthly consequences. Sin is painful to God and discipline is the means are purified from what harms the glory of God.

  • Joshua 4:23-24 “For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, SO THAT all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is might, THAT you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
  • We can never fear God too much.

Moses gives the key aim and application in the psalm in 90:12 Psalm 90_12a

So teach us

  • Yada – cause us to know / Instruct / disciple / guide
  • Humility to admit we don’t have the answers but God does.
  • Dependency upon God
  • Seek and savor those who teach Scripture.

to number our days

  • Not saying God will reveal the # of days we have but asking for us to value each day, feel the weight/significance of our time.

that we may develop wisdom in our heart

  • Wisdom is theology and knowledge applied; experience
  • Don’t be a fool! Psalm 90_12b
  • 70-80 years are but a blink for eternity. Eternity is like a raven picking up grain of sand to relocate from East to West, and upon completion of task is but the first breath in eternity.
  • Older age is the time to pickup your pace, widen your stride, and run with all your might for the finish line. None of us can afford to shuffle across the finish line.
  • Retirement season of Christianity is anathema. Too many are dying to retire but they are missing what it means to truly live.
  • There should be a sense of urgency in our Christian life, not being passive but pressing on; and we should not presume we have tomorrow.
  • Age is God’s gift to you; how you spend each day and year is your gift to God.
  • How we spend our days and years is a reflection of our view of our beliefs about God, eternity and people. The person who spends their time wisely is the person who sees God clearly.

 

Psalm 90:13-17 God’s MERCY inspires our focused perseverance.

In closing this psalm, Moses reflects on what we all need. We need this last attribute bc who among us has not misused time or fallen short of living for God’s purposes?

  • Return and answer O LORD.
  • “how long?” – a profound exclamation rather than a question. It’s a declaration of surrender not rebellion.
  • Have pity (mercy/compassion) on us.
  • Satisfy us in the morning
    • God, give us a new day… a new chapter/season/era
  • with steadfast love (hesed)… so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days
    • Moses knew the only thing that could satisfy was God’s love.
      • Not manna food, material possessions, or money… but the magnificence of God’s character and mercy of His love.
        à God’s grace should awaken and animate His church, not allure us to ease and affluence.
    • Make us rejoice
    • Let your work be shown to your servants and your glorious power to their children.
      • The only work that will outlive us is what is done for the Lord and spiritually investing in next generation.
    • Establish our hands
      • God put your hand on our hands…
      • God’s people doing God’s work done God’s way will never lack supply (Hudson Taylor, missionary to China).
        • Taylor was ultimately responsible for bringing more than 800 missionaries to China. They began 125 schools, directly resulted in some 18,000 Christian conversions, as well as more than 300 stations of work with more than 500 national helpers in all 18 provinces of China with today 70 millions Christians in China.

 

  • What are you asking God to establish? If it’s God’s work then it cannot fail, if it’s your work then it’s sinking sand.
  • Fall 2018 will host prayer experiences for our ministries.
    • School Prayerwalk (Sept)
    • Harvest Weekend Oct 19
    • OCC –

 

APPLY/THINK

Israel’s future generations would have continued to wander in circles if this Psalm isn’t prayed. And so will we.

  • Psalm 90 is a prayer to worship God and wisdom for life…
  • “stamp eternity on my eyelids (Jonathan Edwards) 

    Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.
    52. I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age.

 

  • Will you not revive us again? (Psalm 85)

 

 

 

 

 

Psalm 90_12b.png

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