Every new year I find myself meditating on the 90th Psalm. It’s a Psalm about time – about the brevity of our lives as compared with God’s eternity.
The title, which is part of the original text, tells us that it is “A Prayer of Moses, the Man of God.” The Hebrew word translated prayer is “Tephilah” which has the idea of an intercessory prayer.
I have often wondered just when Moses wrote this prayer. After all, he lived to be 120 years old – 40 years as a prince in Egypt, 40 years as a fugitive murderer and a shepherd in the desert of Sinai and 40 years as the leader of the nation of Israel as they wandered in that same desert. He had plenty of time to write, and a number of sad circumstances which could have moved him to write this rather melancholy bit of poetry. However, the references to the brevity of life seem to fit best within the last period, perhaps in the last few years of his life.
At that time, Moses would have witnessed the deaths of all of his contemporaries. The Bible tells us that the whole generation that left Egypt died in the desert (except for 2 people). How depressing! Somewhere I read that Harry Truman complained that the worst thing about living long was that you have to attend all your friends’ funerals.
But it’s the 10th verse that especially grabbed my thinking this year:
“As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
Or if due to strength, eighty years.”
In Moses’ day, 70 years was a good life span and we haven’t hit that as an average until only recently. And in a few weeks, I’ll hit that number. It’s sobering. Those 10 year increments always seem to hit the hardest, but 70 years! It looks like I’ll make it to my allotted time, maybe even more. The last half of the verse, however, puts it in perspective:
“Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
For soon it is gone and we fly away.”
Life is fleeting. Moses saw that. I can see that. Life is short. Moses didn’t even get to enter the promised land, but died before his goal was reached. I haven’t reached all of my goals yet and I doubt if I ever will. As a matter of fact, I’ve learned to give up setting goals. As someone has said, I’ve reached the age where I don’t buy green bananas.
But Moses did pray for some goals and I believe I can honestly say that God has answered these requests in my life:
“Do return, O LORD; how long will it be? And be sorry for Your servants” (verse 13).
-- Let me experience God’s compassion. And I have.
“O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness” (verse 14).
-- Let me be satisfied with God’s love. I am.
“Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, and the years we have seen evil” (verse 15)
-- Let me have as much joy as trouble. I’ve had more.
“Let Your work appear to Your servants and Your majesty to their children” (verse 16).
-- Let me know what God is doing in my life. I’m still learning this.
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands” (verse 17).
-- Let me see a permanence in my work. I’ve seen examples of this.
I thank God that when I look at life from this perspective – nearing the end, I have seen the answers to all these requests.
Thank You, Lord.