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Psalm 90: The Prayer of Moses

Updated on July 16, 2011
Israelites crossing the Red Sea, from
Israelites crossing the Red Sea, from
Baby Moses in the Bulrushes, from
Baby Moses in the Bulrushes, from
Moses, from
Moses, from
The Life of Moses: The Servant of God (Christian Living Classics)
The Life of Moses: The Servant of God (Christian Living Classics)

Review: "This is one of the best biographies I have read, period! While the book is small(only around 190 pages), it's a great read and encourages the reader to see how Moses got to know and experience God."


Psalm 90: The Prayer of Moses, the Man of God

This is a beautiful psalm and well worth learning by heart.

i. The psalm may be divided into 2 parts. The first, from 1-12; and the second, from 13-17. The second part shows us clearly the prayer of Moses, the man of God, and also the servant of God.

ii. God is our dwelling-place. 90:1. God is our home. Man's home is found only in the presence of God. So long as we keep God out of our lives, we are restless. Hence Cain who 'went out from the presence of the Lord', Gen 4:16, became a wanderer and a vagabond on the earth. Our souls find rest only in God. Augustine said, 'Our hearts are restless, until they find their rest in Thee, O Lord.' God is our refuge, our shelter, our comfort, our protection. We are safe only in His arms. Are we learning to 'abide in Him'?

iii. From everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. 90:2. Can we grasp that? From eternity to eternity, Thou art God. He is the Eternal God, the Everlasting God. Everything else will fade away; only God remains.

iv. The brevity of human life, 90:3. God turns man to destruction. Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. How brief and insubstantial is mortal human life.

v. God's eternity. A thousand years (which appear a great period of time to us) are in His sight like yesterday, like a few hours that pass away swiftly during the night. We are unable to grasp the concept of eternity. We live as if life will go on forever, oblivious to the fact that one day Death will suddenly call. We need to wake up to the reality of judgment and death.

vi. You carry them away like a flood. Men are like grass that flourishes in the morning and withers by evening. Forty years in the wilderness, and Moses saw thousands die year after year, buried in sandy graves month after month, perishing under the wrath of God because of the sins of unbelief and rebellion. Cut down by the scythe of Death, the Grim Reaper.

vii. God's wrath. 90:7, 9, 11. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Israel provoked God time and again in the wilderness, and had to suffer a terrible judgment. Moses mourns: 'We are consumed by Thine anger.' 'All our days are passed away in Thy wrath.' 'Who knows the power of Thine anger?' The wrath of God is a fearful thing. How lightly we take God's displeasure. How inadequate are all our conceptions of hell.

viii. Moses laments: 'Even if we live to be 80, our added years only bring labour and sorrow.' There is no blessing in old age, when we are under divine chastening. Any chastening ought to have been undergone in our youth, and not in old age.

viii. God sees everything, 90:8. No sin escapes His notice. 'Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance.' God was looking into the hearts of the Israelites who had been delivered from Egypt. There was no change in them; in their hearts, they still clung to Egypt. Do you think carnal and worldly Christians will escape God's judgment?

This explains the line in 90:11 translated in the NASB: 'according to the fear that is due to You'. We must have a holy fear of God. Never take sin lightly. God may not seem to notice. You may carry that sin with you for years. But the day of judgment comes, and it will be too late to repent. Live a clean life; for without holiness, you will not see God, Heb 12:14.

David cries, 'Cleanse Thou me from secret faults. Keep back Thy servant from presumptuous sins.' Ps 19:12, 13. We have to search our lives, and anything of the flesh and the world (anything termed 'doubtful' by our cleansed conscience) must be removed, just as the Israelites diligently removed all leaven (=sin) from their homes during the days of Unleavened Bread.

ix. Moses contemplates the eternity of God and the brevity of human life, and realizes how important it is to live each day wisely and for God. 90:12. 'Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.' Give us this day our daily bread. Lord, give me grace & wisdom to live each day wisely and fully for You. Redeem the time, for the days are evil.

x. Part II. Psalm 90:13-17. Here the prayer of Moses is seen very clearly. Lord, how long should we suffer this terrible punishment in the wilderness. Forty years of going round and round, and unable to enter into the Promised Land. What should have taken a couple of years to achieve (getting into Canaan) has - because of the revolt at Kadesh Barnea - resulted in a terrible judgment. Let each Christian examine his life. Are we wasting our time on earthly amusements? Are we just drifting along with the currents of the world and the flesh? Oh, how important it is to walk in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ - walking as He walked! Determined to live for God's glory.

xi. Lord, have compassion on us. 90:13. This sounds so like the lament in Lam 3:22-23. Lord, satisfy us early with Your mercy. We have had too long a night of affliction; may the morning of new mercies, joy and gladness, come to us early.

xii. The principle of compensation. God is not unjust. For all the years of suffering, there are years of glory. Moses prays: May the years of affliction and sorrow be compensated by equal years of fruitfulness and joy. 'Make us glad according to the days You have afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.' 90:15. This applies especially to the children of God who are walking in the Spirit. Yes, we too are chastened; we too have to go through bitter experiences; but if we repent and cry out to God, He is gracious and will surely restore to us the years that we the locusts have eaten, Joel 2:25, 26. For all our sorrow and shame, there will be double honour. Isa 61.7.

xiii. The first part of the psalm is very doleful and distressing. But the second part ends on a note of hope. Moses knows His God. The long night of mourning will pass away, and the morning will bring joy and satisfaction. If we repent and turn from our wicked (worldly) ways, the drought will end and there will be showers of blessing. God longs to bless His children; but He chastens us so that we might bear more fruit for His glory. (John 15).

xiv. Let Thy work appear to Thy servants. 90:16. Moses saw the mighty hand of God working wonders in Egypt. He was witness to the awesome work of redemption in Egypt. He knew God as Redeemer, as Rock (Deut 32), as Shepherd, as Champion (Jer 20:11). He prays that God will reveal Himself and His glory to the next generation of the children of Israel. We have seen the great work of God in our lives; we pray that our children too may have their eyes opened to the greatness of the Saviour and the marvels that He will do in their lives (if only they will fully submit to Him in every way!).

xv. Finally, Moses ends with the prayer that the work of God's children should be established. Our work should not be wood, hay and stubble that will be easily consumed; but it should be permanent and enduring. What we do for God in our lives (or rather, what God does through our surrendered & obedient lives) should be a blessing for successive generations. Alas, too often we have seen the good work of one God-fearing generation being squandered away by a succeeding Godless generation.

But the reverse is also true. One man of God standing in the gap, standing firmly against the tide of apostasy - one man living totally for God and His glory - can do marvels: be it Hezekiah, or Nehemiah, or Paul the Apostle, or Martin Luther, or John Wesley, or DL Moody, or Watchman Nee of China, or Bakht Singh of India, or Austin Sparks of England, or a few 'hidden ones' praying earnestly upon their knees for the return of God's beauty and glory upon God's church and God's children.

© Roland N Oliver/Pratonix


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    • fred allen profile image

      fred allen 

      8 years ago from Myrtle Beach SC

      Love it! It is clear you have a passion for holiness. You understand that while grace is the free gift of God, it cost Him everything to provide it. If we wish to receive it, it only becomes ours as we become His.

    • Captain Jimmy profile image

      Captain Jimmy 

      8 years ago from WV


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