Tuesday, May 30, 2023

2023.05.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 90

Read Psalm 90

Questions from the Scripture text: Who wrote this Psalm? Where had the people “dwelt” by the time of Moses (Psalm 90:1)? For how long had this been their dwelling place? Who formed the earth and the world (Psalm 90:2)? For how long has Yahweh been God? Who turns man to destruction (Psalm 90:3)? What does He say when He does so? How many years are mentioned in Psalm 90:4? In whose sight are they like a day? What shorter period are they like (verse 4c)? How does Yahweh sweep away the sons of Adam (Psalm 90:5a)? What else are they like (verse 5b)? How quickly do they appear (Psalm 90:5-6a)? What else happens to them quickly (Psalm 90:6b)? What has consumed the people (Psalm 90:7a)? What has terrified them (verse 7b)? How did this come about—what has God set before Him (Psalm 90:8a)? Which sins in particular does verse 8b mention? With what light have they been exposed from the darkness (verse 8b)? What, then happens, to all men’s days (Psalm 90:9a)? To what does verse 9b compare the finishing of their years? What was an average life span in Psalm 90:10a? How long would someone live to have been thought strong (verse 10b)? But what would even the life of such a strong person seem to have amounted to (verse 10c)? Why—what soon happens to them (verse 10d)? What does Psalm 90:11a indicate is extremely powerful? How big does verse 11b say that God’s wrath is? What are we to learn to do in comparison to God’s eternity and wrath (Psalm 90:12a)? From whom can we learn to do this? What will it give us (verse 12b)? What is the second petition in this psalm (Psalm 90:13a)? What, specifically, is he asking Yahweh to return to do (verse 13c)? What is the third petition (Psalm 90:14a)? With what, specifically, does he pray that we would be satisfied? What effect would this have upon us (verse 4b, cp. Psalm 90:9)? What does he ask Yahweh to do in Psalm 90:15a? If they do receive this mercy, then what specifically would increase the measure of their new gladness (Psalm 90:15a-b)? What would Yahweh be showing them in such a case (Psalm 90:16a)? What else (verse 16b)? Of what would His people themselves become a display (Psalm 90:17a)? What will He do as a result of the given mercy and show of this display of beauty (verse 17b-c)?

How can God be the eternal dwelling place of people whose lives have justly been cut short by His rath against their sin? Psalm 90 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seventeen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that believers must be delivered from God’s divinely great wrath by God’s compassion and mercy in order to come into the divinely great joy of having God Himself as our blessedness. 

By answering the questions above, you will find that the Psalm itself walks us straightforwardly to its conclusion. We are the children of Adam (Psalm 90:3, literally translated), and therefore we die. The longest any of his children had ever lived was about a thousand years—compared in this psalm to a single night watch (Psalm 90:4). Your life is short, dear Christian! What fools we are, if we think of our nation, our community, our land or house, as our home. We will be evicted promptly from all of these at the end of our short life.

Why? Because we are sinners. We deserve wrath. Nothing can possibly be hidden from God. The infinitely brilliant light of His countenance exposes even our most secret sins (Psalm 90:8). Man already knows that he is miserable, and how much more miserable he would be, if he could see the greatness of the wrath that is behind our misery! Even for believers, if we understand why our lives are short, we will live in dread of our sin and how wicked it is.

Therefore, our only hope is His compassion (Psalm 90:13) and mercy (Psalm 90:14). When He gives us a joy that comes not by way of having our earthly desires satisfied for a handful of years, but a joy that comes by way of being delivered from the wrath that shortened our years to begin with—then, our joy is as great as the wrath and judgment that we originally deserved (Psalm 90:15)! We long for the mercy that will give God Himself to be our joy!! I wonder, dear reader, what your joy was yesterday? What has it been so far today? What will it be tomorrow. It is high time that you not settle for joys that will fail you. Yes, you may have sadness and sighing for a while, as you wait for Him to be your joy and look to Him to be your joy, but when mercy comes, you will find that He is an infinite and eternal joy.

But we don’t have to wait until eternity to begin receiving a joy that is as big as that eternity. As we begin to live in the light of God’s favor, and He becomes the firmness of our work (Psalm 90:17b–c), we begin to see that He is always the One working (Psalm 90:16a), that His aim is not to make us appear to be great but rather to have us behold His greatness (verse 16b), that when we are beautiful it will be with His beauty for all to see Him as glorious (Psalm 90:17a).

Why, ultimately, is your life going to be so short? What have you been thinking of as your home? What have you been looking to for joy in it? How long will this home and joy last? What (Who!) is the best home and joy?

Sample prayer:  Lord, as You gather us to Yourself in Christ week by week, we pray that You would display Yourself as our Home and Yourself as our Happiness. Help us, by Your Spirit, to worship You. We know that our lives are short because of our sin, and because of Your wrath against sin. But, we come to You looking for compassion and mercy that would give us infinite and eternal joy in You. Therefore, we come you through Him Whom You have given in compassion and mercy, even our Lord Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP90B “O, Teach Us How to Count Our Days” or TPH90A “Lord, You Have Been Our Dwelling Place” 

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