DYING IS GAIN!
Lord Jesus, You know my heart and what I need to hear. Bend my life to hear You speak directly to me in the psalm.
Read PSALM 90:1-17
A prayer of Moses the man of God.
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn people back to dust,
saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.”
4 A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
5 Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—
they are like the new grass of the morning:
6 In the morning it springs up new,
but by evening it is dry and withered.
7 We are consumed by your anger
and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath;
we finish our years with a moan.
10 Our days may come to seventy years,
or eighty, if our strength endures;
yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow,
for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 If only we knew the power of your anger!
Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due.
12 Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
17 May the favor[a] of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.
a Psalm 90:17 Or beauty
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
A sign in front of a country church: “What if too late comes too soon?” We need wakefulness to our true dwelling place in this present moment.
When I hear the majestic words of this psalm spoken at a funeral, I collapse a little inside. I recognize their stateliness; but there is something somber here. We’re hit with a raw truth. Life does not stay still. There will be a heart-stop day for each of us. Our years are briefer than we want to admit, and hollow too. This psalm wounds in order to heal. Here we are with all our denials and evasions, full calendars, distracted by distraction. It all flickers for a moment and then our life on this planet is over.
Is this pessimistic? No. It’s a path to grace. Psalm 90 wants to wake us to eternity, rock our world out of third-rate adventures and the humanly crafted lives we see in pictures on Facebook – so that we might never miss the present touch of God. “Time is a main road; Eternity the turning we don’t take” (R.S. Thomas).
We need to get this. God is our only real resting place and refuge (1,2), “from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Back behind our faces we spend a lot of time somewhere. Where have we been dwelling (problems, irritating people, lack of forgiveness)? The judgment we feel in the middle of this psalm is from living so easily on the main road and never turning homeward (7).
Here is the amazing way forward (12): It is waking up! “Teach us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” This is not the same thing as the carpe diem of Dead Poet’s Society, where the goal is to ransack the transitory day for fleeting pleasure; it is the call to meet with Christ in every passing breath.
“Satisfy us in the morning…” (14). What could be a better prayer? His steadfast love at opening light is all we need, all the satisfaction we were ever designed to know.
Isn’t our great temptation to allow the silent visitation of our days to pass like a train in the night? To become successful in things which have no eternal signiﬁcance? What one thing will you do about numbering today?
Eternal God, bring to death the thought that life happens in some other place, some other time, and some other way. Meet me in glad satisfaction each morning.