Understanding the Brevity of Life: Psalm Wednesday

To fully understand God takes personal experiences and a heart willing to be led. It is a lifelong pursuit, for each day a part of the picture of who God is to us and in us becomes less fuzzy and He becomes more real to us. The psalm for today is Psalm 90, the oldest psalm in the Bible. In it, Moses, the man of God, demonstrated his faith in God and his knowledge of God’s character. To know God intimately is what all believers seek, a knowledge of which David said, “Such  knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain” (Psalm 139:6).

Psalm 90: 1-2 Lord, through all the generations you have been our home! Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God.

Moses reminded us that nothing existed before God. God created a world for humankind to live in, a place that we could call home. Home evokes protection, safety, refuge, and unfailing love. Moses knew that God alone had been the hope and help for humankind since their creation. I am reminded that as a little girl, I was fascinated with the idea that when heaven and earth pass away, God and His Word will still be. That knowledge still fills me with confident hope in Him who will always be.

Psalm 90: 3-6 You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals!” For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours. You sweep people away like dreams that disappear. They are like grass that springs up in the morning. In the morning it blooms and flourishes, but by evening it is dry and withered.

Moses knew that as a human being, his days were numbered, and that we are temporary objects in this universe. We are here one moment in time and then, like the grass that blooms and flourishes in the morning but withers in the evening, we, too, are gone.

Psalm 90: 7-9 We wither beneath your anger;  we are overwhelmed by your fury. You spread out our sins before you—our secret sins—and you see them all. We live our lives beneath your wrath, ending our years with a groan.

Moses had spent a lot of time in God’s presence, both in prayer and face-to-face. Some of the most beautiful scriptures tell of radiance of Moses’ face after spending time with God. Yet, Moses had also seen God’s wrath poured out on a people who constantly tried God’s patience by their disobedience and discontent. Moses acknowledged that sin, even those we think we can hide from God, have consequences.

Today, as more churches seem to restrict the S-word, sin, from the pulpit, and instead discuss ways of feeling good or being prosperous, I fear that people are losing a sense that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). We are often like sheep without good shepherds, men and women of God willing remind us that sin separates us from God, and that the gift of a forgiving God to a repentant and contrite heart is eternal life.

Psalm 90: 10-12 Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty. But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble; soon they disappear, and we fly away. Who can comprehend the power of your anger? Your wrath is as awesome as the fear you deserve. Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.

Let me share a secret: Until recently, I had a feeling that I might be that one person who would not die. I could not comprehend not being alive. I thought I would just continue on while others passed away. It is a strange feeling, but I believe it hints at the meaning of Ecclesiastes 3:11 that God planted eternity in the human heart, even though He did not give us the ability to see the whole scope of His work.

Of course, as I am now in the early evening of my life, closer to 70 than to 60, I realize that I must shed this weak and sickly house through death of the body, and seek a new home, “an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands” (2 Corinthians 5:1).

Death is more real to me now, and is no longer an abstract term, especially as I watch the leaves wither on the trees in the yard and start to fall. Next spring, new leaves will come and the trees will be rejuvenated, having had a winter rest. So, I live each day aware that tomorrow is not promised to me,  but I am hoping for many more years to have adventures and to shower love on my family.

God’s wrath never lasts forever, but the reality is that life is short, and the wise person remembers that we are fragile beings. Life is filled with trials and suffering, and no one gets out of this life without experiencing some form pain. The person who has not had any troubles just needs to keep living.

Psalm 90: 13-17 O Lord, come back to us! How long will you delay? Take pity on your servants! Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives.Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory. And may the Lord our God show us his approval and make our efforts successful. Yes, make our efforts successful!

Moses ended this psalm on a hopeful note, reminding us that even in our sins, God is compassionate. With unfailing love, He seeks to reconcile with His people. Indeed, the life, death, and Resurrection of Christ Jesus our Lord occurred to reconcile us back to God. Moses prayed that God would show pity on His people and end their suffering, giving them equal time in gladness as they had in suffering..

My prayer today for each of us is that God will work in every life to bring about much-needed change. Let us seek to be near God and to understand Him and His ways, for that is the path to wise living and the healing of our hearts, minds, and spirits in this broken world. Don’t wait until tomorrow to seek His face, for it may be too late.

It is by faith that we have eternal life, and not by works. But, we should be striving to live a life acceptable to God, one in which on that day when life on earth is no more for us, when our spirit enter into His presence with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise, we may hear those most beautiful words: Well done, thy good and faithful servant!” Amen, amen, and amen.


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