Psalm 90 The Eternality of God: Lesson Five, Part 1
11 Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!
We ended our last lesson in the valley of the shadow of death. Indeed we have scaled a deep descent from the beginning of Psalm 90 through verse ten. We are left with a very honest and very discouraging view of ourselves. And we have but one hope...the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s it. We talked plainly in lesson four about placing our hope in the firm and unchanging foundation of the Lord. He is our ONLY hope. That is why I HOPE you read and took inventory of your soul in light of the last part of lesson four.
In this, our last lesson, we will begin to climb the mountain once again but this time we will summit in victory. Thankfully, the Spirit did not prompt Moses to put down his quill when verse ten was complete. I have said at least three times in this series and it begs saying again, “God wounds us in order to heal us.” And here, beginning in verse eleven through the end of the chapter, He begins to pour His balm of truth into that open wound. He tells us the truth about our sin that leads to DEATH and then He instructs us on what to do with this knowledge. He tells us how we ought to LIVE in light of v. 1-10 through eight specific requests. We will study the first three in part one and the last five in part two.
1. Help us to consider the fear of God. In v. 11 Moses, in wisdom, argues, in light of all that has been said, we should consider the power of God’s wrath, and learn to evaluate our fears based on a fear of the Lord. In other words, we should fear God rather than death. Matthew 10:28 rightly states, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” This is the root of where we begin.
Scripture states at least three times in Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7; 9:10 that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Now, I don’t know about you, but when scripture states anything I listen up BUT when scripture repeats something more than once, I’m certainly going to take notes and underline them! Because as parents, teachers or instructors of any kind, we repeat the important things right? Things like, “look both ways when you cross the road, don’t talk to strangers and stop picking your nose!” Case in point, Moses emphasizes what the rest of scripture confirms: having the right fear places all other fears in proper perspective.
2. Teach us to number our days. Verse twelve should be a verse that is in your mental memory bank. This is the heart of our lesson right here. We have spent the first 10 verses talking about the stark contrast between the everlasting nature of God and the very brief nature of our lives and the end of the matter is this: “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Beloved, contemplating the brevity of our days and the brevity of life is WISE. It gives us a heart of wisdom. This means we aren’t rushing through our days pushing things off until next week, we aren’t waiting for the diagnosis, we are contemplating it now! Because none of us is promised tomorrow.
Yes, we know many with cancer diagnoses and other very serious illnesses but we are all terminal! We all have a terminal condition. We will all die and each of these people we are praying for could very well outlive us. I have an aunt with brain and lung cancer who could very well outlive me. It isn’t up to me or up to her or to the doctors. God ordains life and He ordains death. My prayer is that we contemplate the brevity of our lives, number our days and thereby gain a heart of wisdom and not wait. We aren’t promised time to contemplate our eternity. Death can be sudden and unexpected. Let’s do it while we are young, while we are healthy. Let’s do it now.
3. Return and have pity on us. In verse thirteen, Moses is talking about the Lord turning back to His people and having pity on them. After 38 years, Moses had seen the tremendous suffering that took place in the wilderness and He prayed for pity. I imagine Moses realized this was an undeserving request but he prayed it anyway. He prayed it because He knew the God we serve is a merciful God. In fact, the Psalms say, “His mercy endures forever” (Ps. 118; 136)
We aren’t wandering in the wilderness but the sentence outlined in these preceding verses are just as relevant to us. Our sentence is still the same. Yet, we have the reality of the Lord’s turning and His pity on us in Jesus. The very nature of God is one of pity. The word “pity” means: sympathetic sorrow for one suffering or distressed; compassion. Jesus, as the God-man is described often in the gospels as being “moved with pity” or “having pity” on people. However, God’s greatest act of pity comes to us in the cross. The cross is the Lord’s return and pity on us.
If the heart of the message is that we learn to number our days, the hope of the message is that the Lord has turned and has had pity on us. He has given the sentence and also made the provision for our freedom. He has been Just and the Justifier. As bleak as the first 10 verses are, the last are just as beautiful because of Jesus. We don’t have to fear death if we have made preparation for our souls in the work of Christ on the cross and the STING of death is removed.
Don’t ever think for one minute that we can live without the pity of God. We cannot. His compassion for us as sinners not only provides a Savior but it is what allows us to lift our heads, approach His throne and live under the weight of His holiness. Praise Him for His pity in Jesus Christ!
As we close today, be sure to follow up tomorrow for the victorious ending of Moses’ prayer. In the meantime, I challenge you to make these requests your own. These are simple, yet profound prayer requests that we can incorporate into our prayers each day. Ask the Lord to help you rightly fear Him, to teach you to number your days and to have pity on you as long as you live.