By James Boice
Theme: The Brevity of Life
This week’s psalm shows us how to look at our earthly life from the Bible’s point of view, with God as the center and focus of it.
Scripture: Psalm 90:1-17
In contrast with the stability and eternity of God, Moses directs our attention next to the weakness of man and to the brevity of his earthly life (vv. 3-6). In the dry, arid climate of the near east a night rain will often cause a carpet of green grass to spring up in the morning on the otherwise brown hills. But the blazing daytime sun will frequently also scorch it out by nightfall. Moses is saying that our lives are like that.
The Apostle Peter picks up on verse 4 in 2 Peter 3:8, writing, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” His point is that God is not slow in bringing about the return of Jesus Christ and the final judgment, but delays his judgment to give people time to repent of sin and come to faith. Moses’ point is not that time passes quickly for God, but rather that it passes quickly for us. Even if we should live a thousand years, as Methuselah almost did (see Gen. 5:27), it is still only as “a day that has gone by” or “a watch in the night.”
Later in the psalm Moses will speak of “the length of our days” being “seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength” (v. 10). I have noticed when I have been visiting very elderly people on their birthday that there are usually two things of which they seem proud: first, that they have lived as long as they have, and second, that so many people have remembered their birthdays by sending them cards. That is all very fine, of course. I am proud for them, and pleased too. But we must remember that however long we live, death comes in the end and that what we accomplish will eventually be forgotten by everyone. Only God does not forget. Only what we do for him will remain as an everlasting accomplishment.
- What does Moses contrast with the stability and eternity of God?
- How do Peter and Moses view time? How does the Lord measure time?
Application: In light of verses 3-6, what in your life needs to change? What do you need to do more of, or better?
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