The Oldest Psalm With the Latest News
Text: Psalm 90
Proposition: Life is filled with uncertainty so remember that today is where God meets with us and His estimation of us is timeless, accurate and merciful.
Introduction: Have you ever had someone show you their pictures from a recent trip to some distant place. They show you a castle built by some king, they show you massive walls built for some purpose or huge pools to memorialize some truth. The pictures are interesting but in just a few minutes you forget who built what. Their castles remain but who they are is like a fading mist in everybody’s memory. It seems that history is full of people who either lived in fear of their past or in anxiety for their future. All of their pursuits were either trying to erase some aspect of yesterday or were reaching with hope to tomorrow. This morning we are going to look at the oldest Psalm, a song written by Moses and preserved through the ages. It would be to us like an ancient hymn, one sung again and again not so much because of the tune but because of the truth it spoke. The song is not like the ones we usually sing, this one speaks about the brief uncertainty of life. In my mind I imagine it to begin with minor chords that speak of the melancholy that we have all felt at one time or another. Then it rises and the tone changes to major chords and majestic refrains. If I could summarize this Psalm it would sound like this: “Life is filled with uncertainty so remember that today is where God meets with us and His estimation of us is timeless, accurate and merciful.”
Turn with me to Psalm 90.
I. From Everlasting to Everlasting… God.
Moses begins this Psalm by contrasting the mortality of man with the Eternal existence and nature of God. It’s a humbling contrast, one that is meant to take our breath away, dispelling any foolish assumption that God is just a more powerful version of us. Like the way a natural disaster overwhelms us with the awe of the power behind it, like the Tsunami of 2012, the storm that was called Sandi or any of the headlines we will read in 2013 describing some magnitude of nature, we are overwhelmed by an un-contestable power that no nation let alone an individual could ever resist. That’s what Moses seeks to do as he writes this Psalm, He wants you to see the magnitude of God. Look at how he begins, “Lord You have been our dwelling place in all generations.” I’d like you to imagine for a minute that you are back home right now, in your favourite chair in your living room. What does your home provide for you as you sit in that chair? Comfort, safety, peace, rest, enjoyment…Moses says that God has been our dwelling place, our refuge, our safety, our castle, our rock for all generations. The truth is that no place is like the presence of God, He is the place of safety for all generations over all time. And before that… “Before the mountains were brought forth or ever You had formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” What does the phrase, “from everlasting to everlasting” really mean? It’s describing the timeless nature of Who God is. He is not only outside of time He is also outside of all that makes up the physical universe. This great magnitude of Who God is apart from space and time as we know it is now compared to mankind. The NIV puts it like this “You turn men back to dust, saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men." From the dust of the earth we were created, our stay here is brief, maybe 70 or 80 years. It is certainly incomparable to the magnitude of an eternal God. Look at how this simple man Moses describes the eternal nature of God, “For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past and like a watch in the night.” He says that a thousand years of man’s history are like yesterday. Then he amplifies it and says, they are like a watch in the night. The night watch was three hours long. A thousand years are like three hours to God! The point is that there is no comparison between how God experiences time and how we experience it. Time is like a fluid river to God, like the brevity of sleep is to us, like the way grass comes up in a day and is mowed down by nightfall. When it comes to standing before a God who has the magnitude of being from everlasting to everlasting we are humbled, we tremble before Him. Life is filled with uncertainty so remember that today is where God meets with us and His estimation of us is timeless, accurate and merciful.
II. Teach Us to Number Our Days…A Heart of Wisdom.
This last week I had some x-rays taken at Dr. Owen’s clinic. The thing about the x-ray is that sees right through you. It doesn’t give you it’s opinion of how your spine or neck are doing, it doesn’t guess at what you look like on the inside. It simply reveals what actually is. If an x-ray is like that then much more so is God as he examines our lives. Look at what Moses writes in this song, “You have placed our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your presence.” God who is from everlasting to everlasting has an estimation of us that is not only timeless but accurate. Would you agree that you have a human nature, that is, you do pretty much what most people do? Would you also agree that what most people do has both good and bad elements to it? Why is there evil in the world? Answer… because there are people in the world. There is within each of us in our human nature an inclination to do what we want to do, sometimes it results in good things and other times it results in what could only be called selfish thinking. My point is that we are often hesitant to acknowledge sin but we do know the selfish heart that is within each of us, our sin nature if you will. It’s that inner sin nature that God sees right into, it’s as clear to Him as the daylight is to us. The point that Moses is seeking to make, a point that God inspired him to make, is that sin is what has caused death, it causes mortal death and it causes relational death and it is what will one day cause us to eternally separated from God. Knowing that and knowing that God sees sin like a dentist sees cavities, Moses says, “For we have been consumed by Your anger and by Your wrath we are terrified.” Our sin is such a part of us that if God were to try to cut it out of us like surgeon how much of us would be left when He was finished? We wouldn’t make it, our sin is a terminal condition. So Moses writes, “Who understands the power of Your anger and Your fury, according to the fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” O God help us to live more and more in this very moment knowing that you see me as I am, you see my sin. I can see the shortness of my life, help me to live these days with wisdom knowing this life does not end here. Life is filled with uncertainty so remember that today is where God meets with us and His estimation of us is timeless, accurate and merciful.
III. Oh, Satisfy Us Early with Your Mercy.
Where grace has been defined as God giving us that which we do not deserve, mercy is defined as God not giving us what we do deserve. There are not many people who would agree that the judgment of God against sin is what we deserve and yet it’s true. If it weren’t true then Jesus Christ would never have come to take that which we deserve, ultimate death. His act of intervention on the cross was an act of mercy towards us from God the Father. Moses didn’t know what you now do, He hoped for a Savior, you hope in a Savior. Moses writes, “Satisfy us early with your mercy”, meaning let us learn early in life the wonder of Who you are, let us grasp hold of that truth with joy, let it change the way that I see life! That’s why Moses sings, “Let Your work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children.” Ephesians 2:10 declares, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” That’s the work that we want to see, the work of a life transformed by God. When that happens the children see the effects of that transformation, the effects that are really the result of God’s glory in our lives. So Moses concludes by saying, “And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us and establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.” Have you ever considered the possibility that when God changes your life from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive in Christ the effect that is so noticeable is really the beauty of the Lord resting upon you. What you now do He establishes or causes to be through you. The mercy of God holds back His condemnation upon your sin, that has been paid for by Christ on the cross. His mercy now invites you to live today, to make God your dwelling place, to know His great love for you. Life is filled with uncertainty so remember that today is where God meets with us and His estimation of us is timeless, accurate and merciful.