I have found that spending time reflecting on Psalm 90 is always a good place to be as a New Year begins bringing with it changes, challenges and opportunities. Psalm 90 is about standing at an intersection of time - God's time and our time and it helps us to live with some of the unsettling realities of the days in which we live. Psalm 90 is a psalm in which, by showing us who God is, we are brought to see what really matters in life.
Psalm 90 is the oldest Psalm in the Book of Psalms and we are told it is a prayer of Moses. In this psalm, Moses asks us to consider two things and then to take two actions.
Here are the two things he asks us to consider:
Firstly, God is Eternal. Verses 1 and 2. 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, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. There is only one place of belonging, of refuge, of safety, of centering for human beings and that is a relationship with the eternal God. Nowhere else and in no one else can this refuge and safety and authenticity be found.
Secondly, life is short and difficult (vs 3-11). A human life, even the longest of human lives is insignificantly short. In verse 3 we read, you return man to dust. Life is like a watch in the night. It is like a flood, or a dream, or grass which comes up in the early dew of the morning, and by the evening is gone.
As a result of these two insights Psalm 90 invites us to respond with two actions.
The first action is a prayer! Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Numbering our days means thinking about how few there may be left and how they will end. It means reflecting on how short this life is compared with the eternal duration of the next life.
The second action is an invitation to seek God’s Mercy. Verse 13-14, Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. This is one of the best prayers any of us can ever pray because we live in a world where so many of us are dissatisfied by so much. While searching for fulfillment amidst the excessive pleasures, false religions, philosophy, and distractions of the 4th and early 5th century, Augustine of Hippo writes, You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee. C.S. Lewis wrote, "God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself because it is not there. There is no such thing."
I encourage you to pray that you will find your heart's deepest satisfaction in God because He only in Him will we be truly satisfied.
The psalm concludes verse 17 with a final prayer Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands! Life is not a dress rehearsal. This is the real thing and the psalmist directs our focus towards God, to his favor which us fully revealed to us in his Son Jesus Christ.
May the favor and blessing of God be upon you.