Psalm 90 The Eternality of God: Lesson Three
3 You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”
4 For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
In our last lesson we got a big view of God. Starting with a big God will always end in right thinking and victorious living. Faith is built on being as Robert Dick Wilson says, a “big God-er”. Today, we will begin our descent from the glorious to the infamous, the divine to the human, by lowering our gaze to man.
We pick up in verse three, where Moses begins to write on his view of man. He states, “You return man to dust.” He comes off of His glorious doxology about the divine nature of God and immediately plunges us into despair by pointing out the contrast between the everlasting God and the frailty of man. God is everlasting and man returns to dust. Previously, we established that God is eternal and here, we learn that God is also sovereign. The “You” he is talking about is God, “You return man to dust.” This statement acknowledges the sovereignty of God over man’s life and death.
Acts 17:24-28 states: “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In Him we live and move and have our being.
Not only is God everlasting but He also ordains all of man’s days. Our time, the dash, is in His hands and by ordaining our days, He controls the DOB and the DOD as well. All of it, beginning, end and everything in between belongs to Him.
Then, in v. 4-6, Moses fleshes out his comparison between God and man. Beginning in v. 4 God’s view of time is long-sighted, rooted in the eternal present. There is no time with God. Moses attempts to illustrate this by a large number, a thousand years. He states that a thousand years is as yesterday. Or a watch in the night. Typically, a night watch, in biblical times consisted of three hours in the middle of the night. Nights were divided into four watches starting at 6pm, sundown and running until dawn at 6am. How quickly does three hours pass? How much faster do those three hours pass while you are asleep? These illustrations represent the eons of time with our God.
But in v. 5-6, Moses uses quick bursts of events and time to illustrate man: floods, dreams, morning to evening. A meteorologist might talk about flash flooding as a result of heavy rains. However, in the South, we call flash floods “gullie-washers” because the water comes on with intensity, floods the gullies and then recedes almost as quickly as it came. The rate at which the large amount of water hits the earth overwhelms the ground and the process of saturation isn’t fast enough to keep up and water overflows into the lower lying areas or gullies.
Or think about dreams. How many of you remember now what you dreamed last night or even the night before? I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast much less what I dreamed about last night! And think about how fast his day has come and gone. How rapidly did morning turn to evening? Scripture is filled with talk about the brevity of man’s life, calling it a mist, a vapor, grass or a fading flower. Here today and gone tomorrow.
Man is transient and everything man does or chases after, is the same. There is no security in the transient. As humans we search for security because we crave it. We crave a firm foundation because we look around us and realize that everything is sinking sand. We attempt to find it in our finances. We attempt to find it in our health. We attempt to find it in our relationships or our jobs or our future. But until we place our security, our hope, in the One who is an Eternal, Solid Rock, we will always be chasing the security of sinking sand.
Ecclesiastes calls this “vanity” or “foolishness”. The entire second chapter of Ecclesiastes documents Solomon’s attempt to find his security in all life has to offer from self-indulgence, living wisely and hard work. Listed below are his conclusions at the end of each attempt at temporal security:
Self-indulgence: 2:9-11, “So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me. And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.”
Living Wisely: 2:16-17, “For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind.”
Hard Work: 2:22-23, “What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.”
In the end, Solomon comes to a very astute conclusion, “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God” (Eccl. 2:24-26).
Man’s life and death is depressing, empty and fleeting without the Lord. Our only hope is to place our security in the eternal and see ourselves through the lens of God. We must find our purpose for now and for then in Him. A life that is built of the solidarity of Christ alone finds peace. In the parable of the wise man versus the foolish man in Matthew 7:24-26, the same circumstances plagued both men “the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house”. The difference in the outcome was based on the foundation. The foolish man’s house fell because it had been built on the sand. The wise man’s house, “did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”
As we close today, pause and think about the brevity of life. I just received word that my dear friend’s Dad, the one mentioned in my introduction, has just passed away. Just like that. The dash is over. Brief, very brief. Where is your faith? Where do you place your security? Is it in the hands of a God who lives outside of time or in the hands of man who is here today and gone tomorrow? The hymn writer Edward Mote wrote so eloquently, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ the Solid Rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”