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Psalm 90 - A Prayer of Moses

INTRODUCTION: This first Psalm of book IV, is attributed to Moses, which may qualify it as the oldest writing within the Psalms. The paraphrase below should be compared with a reliable translation of the bible for your own study. I developed the paraphrase as a means of attempting a better understanding of the Psalm within my frame of reference. After the paraphrase, I have listed a prayer of response to my meditation on this Psalm.

Moses begins with a praise statement, embodying the thought, which will also close the Psalm, after he gives glory to God. We should be reminded that Moses also wrote Genesis under the direction of the Holy Spirit, as we listen to the attributes of omnipotence and eternality of our creator God, recounted in this Psalm. Moses goes on to proclaim that no one can stand blameless against God, throughout all generations of mankind. Several lines of the Psalm make clear to us that our lifetime is almost insignificant in time, as viewed by an eternal God. His light of knowledge reveals all deeds, even those we thought were hidden, and his power to punish the offender, is complete. Our knowledge of this should command from us absolute respect, tempered by fear, for our God. But out of such awesome and incomparable strength comes a love, which provides joy, peace, and security to those who will trust in his loving kindness. This secure dwelling place in God (not our mortal body) is available in our present life, and is a surety for our eternal existence with God. His grace can establish the works of our hands, which would have no worth, except for that established by our God. Hallelujah!

Psalms 90 in paraphrase

A prayer of Moses, the man of God. Lord, you are our dwelling place and refuge in all generations, from generation to generation. Before you brought forth the mountains and formed the firm earth, from eternity to eternity, you are God. You return man to dust, and say return, to the children of men. A thousand years in your sight is gone like yesterday, passed away like a watch in the night. You carry them away as with a flood; like sleep in the morning, like grass growing in the morning which flourishes and grows up; in the evening it is cut and withers.

Brought to an end at your face of furious anger, we are terrified. You have set our hidden guilt in the illumination of your countenance. For all our days are passed away in your wrath: we finish our years as a sigh. The time of our years is seventy years; if by strength eighty, they are with pride, trouble, and sorrow; soon cut off, and we are quickly gone. Who knows the power of your anger? We fear the overflow of your wrath.

Bring us to number our days, come into our hearts with your wisdom. Return Jehovah. Comfort your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your loving kindness that we may rejoice with shouts of joy all day. Make us rejoice in reward for the years we have seen adversity. Make your work clear to your servants and your majestic beauty to your children. Through your graciousness Jehovah God firmly establish deeds by our hands, establish them.

--- Reflections in prayer ---

I offer my prayer to you, my God, with the desire to be a man of God like Moses. I praise you that we have an eternal dwelling place in you, through Christ, in all generations from age to age. You existed before all things and will never cease to exist, and you created everything, which is seen, from that which was not seen. You formed man from the dust, and at your command, man returns to dust. Because you are eternal, a thousand years passes for you, as quickly as a day passes for me. Man's life before you is carried away as by a flood, or as a dream soon forgotten upon awakening, or like the grass of the field, which springs up fresh in the morning, but is cut and withered by evening.

The thought of my frailty in the presence of your awesome power is terrifying to me. There is absolutely nothing in my lifetime, which is not revealed by the light of your piercing knowledge, and all of my days are utterly consumed in the wrath of your righteous judgment, concluding my whole lifetime as with just a sigh. Whether I live more or less than the span of seventy years, every event and thought of my life will come before you in an instant. It is impossible for me to comprehend your righteous anger, so I tremble at the thought of being defenseless before you.

Lord, make me aware of each day, and fill my heart with your wisdom. Return Lord Jesus to the fellowship you provide when I am your servant. Satisfy me with the joy of my salvation through your loving kindness each morning, so I will remember to heartily praise you throughout the day. Make my praise to be my reward for any adversity endured through the years. Reveal your works to all your children; and through your grace; firmly establish those works of mine that honor Christ. Amen.

Published 4 June 2004, first issued 3 October 1999