It is supposed that this psalm refers to the sentence passed on Israel in the wilderness, Numbers 14. The favour and protection of God are the only sure rest and comfort of the soul in this evil world. Christ Jesus is the refuge and dwelling-place to which we may repair. We are dying creatures, all our comforts in the world are dying comforts, but God is an ever-living God, and believers find him so. When God, by sickness, or other afflictions, turns men to destruction, he thereby calls men to return unto him to repent of their sins, and live a new life. Romans 3:23 tells us about our condition and our remedy. God created us to live in His glory not the enemy’s sin. Time is God’s – eternal time - the body and soul shall both return and be united again.
Before the mountains were born, before you birthed the earth and the inhabited world—from forever in the past to forever in the future, you are God.
We want to live in such a way that at the end of our days we can say confidently, “My life was worthwhile.” What help is available to make the most of our days regardless of their number? Psalm 90 reminds us that though life is fleeting, we can live wisely with God’s eternal presence.
To examine Psalm 90 to contrast humanity’s frailty and sinfulness with God’s enduring power and goodness. To cultivate thankfulness that God cares about how they can get the most out of the gift of life. To declare how their relationship with God gives lasting meaning and significance to their lives.
The central subject of Psalm 90 is time.
It deals with the shortness of human life—there is too little time. But most importantly, the psalm asks how to live life in light of the certainty of death and the fleeting nature of human existence. Part of the answer is to focus first on the eternality of God, the one who gives life (90:1) and makes life purposeful (90:17).
Note# Psalm 90 has an important location in the Book of Psalms. It is the first psalm in Book Four (the Psalms are divided into five “books” or divisions: Book I: Psalms 1–41; Book II: Psalms 42–72; Book III: Psalms 73–89; Book IV: Psalms 90–106; Book V: Psalms 107–150). Book III was dominated by psalms that complained to God about Israel’s suffering. This ended with Psalm 89, a psalm that complained about the failure of the Davidic monarchy. Psalm 90 now begins a book of psalms that seems to answer that complaint with the assurance that “the LORD reigns” Psalm 90 speaks about the shortness of human life in order to address a particular trauma Israel suffered, namely the Babylonian exile (587–539 B.C.). The short time of life, the wrath of God (90:7, 9, 11), and humanity’s “toil and trouble” (90:10) are steps God uses to fix Israel’s suffering. Isaiah 40 uses similar language and images to speak about this event.
Psalm 90 is the only psalm in the book of Psalms attributed to Moses (see the title of Psalm 90, “A Prayer of Moses, and the man of God”).
The titles of psalms were added later in order to provide context for reading them, either by associating them with a person (mostly with David) or with an event. The scribes who preserved the psalm understood it as a prayer for Israel when it was in distress and they imagined the prayer as the words of Moses. Who better to voice a prayer for God’s people in such a situation than Moses? Moses had prayed for Israel when God became angry with them in the wilderness (Exodus 32). Now in Psalm 90 Moses prays across the ages for Israel in exile.
Psalm 90:1-2 the first verse expresses confidence in God as the source of protection and care. “Dwelling place” is closely related to the term “refuge” which appears frequently in the Psalms (2:12; 34:8; 71:3). The claim about God here is very personal— the Lord is “our dwelling place” The concern for time is also apparent from the start. The Lord has been our dwelling place “in all generations.” Verse 2, however, declares God’s greatness by pointing to God’s time. Before the world was put in order God was God.
Psalm 90:3-6 the second section of the psalm contrasts God’s eternality with humanity’s weakness. While God is eternal, we are made from dust and to dust we return. In fact, verses 5-6 compare human life to the plant that sprouts with the morning dew and then fades away as soon as the sun strikes it. Ref. Psalm 103:15-16 and Isaiah 40:6-8.
Psalm 90:7-12 speak of humanity’s fleeting existence. But here the psalmist links this life with God’s wrath. Death is a sign of God’s wrath in that it is God’s ultimate “no” to human sinfulness. This is a way of saying that eternity belongs to God alone. Verse 12 asks for help to respond properly to the knowledge that life is brief - teach us to count our days - to cherish each day as a gift from God.
Psalm 90:13-17 reflects on the human condition to ask for God to act concerning our condition. Verse 13 recalls the prayer of Moses in Exodus 32 when he interceded for them when God was about to destroy them because they had made the golden calf. Moses asked God to change His mind Only Moses and Amos (Amos 7:2, 5) make such a request of God.
Moses refers to Israel as your servants in verses 13 and 16. This identifies Israel as subjects of God who identify with God as their king or “lord. The previous psalm 89 gave this title to David (89:3, 20, 39, and 50). This is another message.
God, Our Dwelling Place
Although Psalm 90 may seem to be mainly about time, notably the lack of time humans have, the first two verses emphasize space as well and they focus on God rather than humans. Psalm 90:1 declares God has been “our dwelling place” (an emphasis on space) “in all generations” (an emphasis on time). Verse 2 begins with space (mountains, earth, and world) and ends with time (“from everlasting to everlasting”) as they relate to God.
These two verses therefore seem to have a structure that says something very important about God. Namely, the way verse 1 begins and verse 2 ends, with references to God’s identity, communicates the idea that God is all-encompassing. Both time and space are in God’s control. Hence, the limits of humans portrayed in verses 3-10 must be understood in relation to God’s unlimited power.
The Reality of Death
One of the most important and pervasive messages of Psalm 90:1-12 is that life is short. Death is near at hand. The psalm goes to great lengths to express that truth: our lives are like grass that “fades and withers” (90:6); “our years come to an end like a sigh” (90:9); our days “are soon gone, and we fly away” (90:10). That message may at first seem negative. It may seem even more depressing that our human limits are a sign of God’s wrath. This Psalm may seem to run counter to the New Testament’s hopeful word that in Christ death has lost its sting (1Cor 15:55). But in fact this psalm is entirely consistent with the message of resurrection. What it really says is that life and eternity belong to God, not to us. The emphasis on death is also closely tied to the awareness that we are sinful creatures. As verse 8 says, our sins are set before God. They are a sure sign of our limitations. Our lives—and our resurrection—come from the Creator and giver of life. We live because of God’s authority in life.
The Psalms testify that people who refuse to admit their human limits - refuse to confess their sins in the end act violently towards others. They take advantage of others because they believe they are entitled to more of the world than they really are. But those who acknowledge that they live within the sovereignty of God are more willing to promote Life. The more we submit to God’s sovereignty the more we live in His image. When we know God our life is seen as worthwhile – we have purpose.
God has made a way to bring us back to the Glory of God. To live in God’s reality of time (eternity) with God’s purpose for His life for us (salvation).