Bible: What Does Psalms 90-95 Teach Us About the Eternal Perspective and Trust?
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Psalms 90-95: Righteous Attitudes: Eternal Perspective, Trust, Praise, Hope, and Thankful Joy
Ascribed to Moses, the man of God, this psalm addresses the truth of the LORD's eternality (vv. 1-4; cf. 2 Pet. 3:8), and compares it with man’s frailty and the brevity of his earthly existence (vv. 3, 5-6).
[Note the similes Moses uses to describe God’s perspective on a millennium (“like yesterday,” “like a watch in the night”).
Verse 4 seems parenthetical.
The patriarch then expresses how the LORD, acting like a flood, destroys mankind, whose life resembles two ephemeral quantities: sleep and grass (“like a sleep,” “like grass”; cf. James 1:10-11; Is. 40:6].
Because of their sinfulness, human beings live under the dark cloud of divine “wrath” for seventy or eighty years, and then pass away (vv. 7-10).
[“Wrath” here seems to refer to the judgment of physical death, which, of course, happens to righteous and unrighteous alike].
For this sobering reason, the psalmist prays that he might learn the right perspective toward life, living wisely and becoming wiser with each passing day (vv. 7-12).
He asks his merciful and compassionate God to make His people glad by showing them evidence of His work among them (vv. 13-16) and by giving permanence to their labors (v. 17).
[Man must exercise “the wisdom from above” (James 3:17) if his work is to last forever].
The psalmist exemplifies the attitude of one who lives intimately (“dwells in the secret place”) with the LORD.
He trusts in God's constant protection, preservation, and provision (the shadow of the Almighty, v. 1; refuge, fortress, v. 2; cover, v. 4; habitation, v. 9; angelic ministrations, vv. 11-12; cf. Matt. 4:6; Lk. 4:10) amid all the attacks of enemies (snare of the fowler, v. 3; pestilence, vv. 3, 6; night terror, v. 5; arrow, v. 5; destruction, v. 6; evil, v. 10; plague, v. 10; lion, cobra, young lion, serpent, v. 13), and reminds the believers to maintain their faith (“made the LORD . . . your dwelling place”).
Verses 14-16 present the divine response, which seems to be contingent upon the worshiper's love for God: promises of deliverance, honor, long life, and salvation.
[Of course, the worshiper cannot love God except by the strength and grace that the LORD supplies].
According to the superscription, the psalmist composed this song for the Sabbath.
The offering of instrumental praise and thanks for the loving-kindness and faithfulness that God manifested in His works comprises the psalm's theme (vv. 1-4).
His works (v. 5) appear to involve the divine judgment of the 'workers of iniquity' (vv. 7, 9) and the prosperity of the righteous (“flourish like a palm tree,” “grow like a cedar in Lebanon,” “flourish in the courts of our God”) who will “still bear fruit in old age.”
This fruit will consist of testimony that extols the righteousness and steadfastness of the LORD (vv. 10-15).
[This “work” is very similar to Psalm 1 with respect to the destinies of the righteous and the wicked].
Potter and the Clay
The psalmist announces triumphantly that the LORD has always been King of the universe, because He eternally displays omnipotence in both the world's and His throne's establishment (vv. 1-2).
Not only is this statement the absolute truth, but Yahweh will remain King forever despite the "floods"—earthly powers attempting to overthrow Him (vv. 3-4). His word and character will forever preserve His reign (v. 5).
[Omnipotence and wisdom combined produce wholeness, a complete perfection in God which can never experience defeat].
As a fervent call for the righteous Yahweh God to avenge Himself on His enemies (vv. 1-2), this psalm asks, "How long will the wicked triumph?" (v. 3)
Experiencing the LORD's seeming blindness and heedlessness—in the face of their pride and blasphemy (vv. 2, 4, 7) as well as the affliction of the most defenseless and needy among His people (vv. 5, 6)—surely tried Israel’s faith.
In his answer to the ignorance and unbelief of the senseless fools, the writer assures them that their Creator will certainly judge them, for He surely has seen their evil ways and knows exactly what they have done (vv. 8-11).
On the other hand, He will reward the Torah-instructed righteous man with peace and rest in righteousness, and will not reject His inheritance (vv. 12-15).
The psalmist recognizes that without God's help he would have remained as passive as the rest (vv. 16-17).
Yahweh's mercy sustains him in his struggles against evil, and His comfort strengthens him in the midst of anxious moments (vv. 18-19).
Although unrighteous rulers produce evil laws, their schemes shall not prevail in the end, for the LORD will see to their failure and demise (vv. 20-23).
[This psalm surfaces the age-long desire of the righteous: to see the righting of all wrong, and the coming of the reign of righteousness].
New Testament Borrows from the Old
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Do Not Harden Your Heart
The psalmist encourages his people to render service acceptable before the LORD, listing a multitude of ways—singing, shouting, being thankful and joyful, worshiping, bowing down, and kneeling.
He describes Yahweh as the Rock, the great God, the great King, and the awesome Creator and Owner of the earth, of the sea and of sheep-like humanity (vv. 1-7).
However, he also leaves Israel with a warning from God— "Do not harden your hearts" (v. 8; cf. Heb. 3:7-4:7)—, hearkening back to an earlier generation (specifically, the Exodus congregation) which Yahweh had also admonished and later punished, because it did not heed this counsel (vv. 8b-11).
[The writer of the NT book of Hebrews borrows from this passage to instruct his audience not to reject Christ and His sacrifice for sin.
If they did so, they would not experience God's rest either].