Psalm 90: Teach Us to Number Our Days
April 21, 2022
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
This, surely one of the greatest psalms, if not one of the greatest chapters in the whole Bible, resonates with the God-given wisdom of that man of God, Moses. And the essence of its wisdom? “You return man to dust,” and therefore “teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
It is part of the common parlance of folk wisdom, and the legacy of the Stoics, that we should realize that we are to die and therefore make the most of this life. Ancient Egyptians would hold parties with a skull’s head to ensure that people partied with sufficient vim given the reality of death soon coming. And the Stoic phrase “seize the day” (carpe diem) has a rather more sophisticated sounding, but basically similar, import. Yes, it is wise to make the most of each day. We do not even know whether we will have another one tomorrow. Seize the day, indeed.
But Moses here is saying more than simply that. Note the oft-repeated, and surprising, word “wrath” or “anger” (90:7, 9, 11). Moses is not simply saying seize the day; he is reflecting on the reality of the brevity of this life and what that means for God’s relationship to his rebellious creation. We are, unless we are in Christ by faith in God, under the wrath of God. And the shortness of this time, with all its unexpected brevity, is an indicator of that basic reality. God is eternal—“a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday”—and we are not, and we are also, unless we are in Christ by faith in God, under his wrath. Therefore, doubly, trebly, infinitely so, seize the day!
To do what? To bask in his love, and to work fruitfully for him.
“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (90:14)
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands; yes, establish the work of our hands!” (90:17)
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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