Humility And Hope
By Rich Carmicheal
The prayer of Moses in Psalm 90 should both humble us and give us great hope. The first portion is humbling as it focuses on how great the Lord is and how small we are. The latter portion instills hope as it reminds us of the Lord’s character and ability to bring us out of despair and affliction into His joy and blessing.
The prayer begins where prayer should begin, with the focus upon the Lord. From everlasting to everlasting, He is God. He is not limited to time as we are, and He is the dwelling place for His people throughout all generations. He is the Creator of the world and the Creator of man, the One who formed man from the dust and the One who turns man back into dust. He is a Holy God who is fully justified in His great anger toward sin. He is an omniscient God who knows us intimately and thoroughly. In Him there is no darkness, and even our secret sins are laid bare in the light of His presence. In light of the greatness of His Person and His power, including the power of His anger, He is deserving of the utmost awe and reverence.
Moses acknowledges in the prayer how small man is in comparison. We are the created, and therefore ultimately dependent on the Lord for life itself. Our time on earth is so brief that our lives are like grass that in the morning flourishes and sprouts anew, and toward evening fades and withers away. We live only about 70 or 80 years, and the older we get, the more we understand the truth that "soon [life] is gone and we fly away" (v. 10). And even this brief time is filled with its share of affliction, trouble and evil.
Such truths should be sobering to us, and this may be what Moses has in mind when he asks the Lord, "So teach us to number our days…" (v. 12). Though as believers we have all of eternity to look forward to, our days in this life are rapidly passing by. Certainly there is every reason for us to wake up, to be careful to walk as those who are wise, and to make the most of whatever time the Lord grants to us, for the days are evil (Eph. 5:14-16).
A Heart of Wisdom
In the beautiful words of Moses’ prayer, the reason for asking the Lord to help us number our days is so that "we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom" (v. 12). Such a heart is pleasing to the Lord because at the foundation of wisdom is knowing and revering Him: "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (Prov. 9:10). People who have a heart of wisdom believe that the Lord is indeed the everlasting God, and they seek to live life in fellowship with Him and in full accord with His will. They take to heart His Word and obey all that He commands (Deut. 4:6; Psa. 111:10; Matt. 7:24; 2 Tim. 3:15). They understand that the ways of the Lord are right, and they walk in those ways (Hos. 14:9). They "discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course" (Prov. 2:9). They embrace what is good in the Lord’s sight, and they avoid what He considers evil (Job 28:28; Rom. 16:19). They know that the Lord is the Creator, and they live as those fully accountable to Him.
Those who have wisdom in their hearts do not think too little of the Lord, nor too much of themselves. They are not arrogant and careless, but cautious and humble before the Lord and before others (Prov. 11:2; 14:16; 15:33; Rom. 12:16). They listen in order to learn, and they listen to reproof and accept it (Prov. 1:5; 9:8; 15:31-32). They choose their words carefully, and speak with knowledge, truthfulness, restraint and grace (Prov. 10:19; 15:7; Eccl. 12:9-10; Col. 4:6). They are careful in their conduct toward others, making the most of opportunities (Col. 4:5).
James provides a description that shows how glorious divine wisdom is: "…The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy" (Jas. 3:17). And even beyond this, we know that in Christ Himself "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:2-3). What a beautiful request it is to desire to present to the Lord a heart of wisdom!
Stubborn and Unrepentant Hearts
And how tragic that many people today, including people in the church, have lost the wisdom that comes from the fear of the Lord and the knowledge of the Lord, and have become "wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight" (Isa. 5:21). In biblical terms, such people are foolish, rejecting the Lord and His ways, and turning toward evil. Rather than worshiping the true God and heeding His enduring Word, they say in their own heart, "There is no God" (Psa. 14:1) or they attempt to refashion Him into their own image. They regard truth as relative, and their way seems right in their own eyes (Prov. 12:15). They delight in revealing their own thoughts and opinions, and they spout folly (Prov. 18:2; 15:2). Though they may claim to know God’s mind on a matter, they do not know Him (Jer. 4:22); and though they may make reference to His Word, they twist it to their own ends and are not true to its whole counsel.
All around us we can see man’s rebellion against God and exaltation of himself. The time of which the Apostle Paul warned seems to be upon us: "…In the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (2 Tim. 3:1-4).
Sin is becoming more prevalent not only in the world, but, grievously, in the church as well. There are all forms of immorality, impurity, greed, exploitation, pride, selfishness and so forth. Since we have been desensitized to some extent (perhaps by large extent) by living and participating in this culture, the moral and spiritual breakdown is probably far worse than we know. The fact that many believers do not consider moral issues in our nation and in the church as crucial matters indicates how far we have fallen.
Of course, God is not mocked, and His "wrath...is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness" (Rom. 1:18). A measure of His judgment is already upon us, and should serve as a wake-up call. However, many remain stubborn and unrepentant in their hearts (Rom. 2:5), or simply apathetic and complacent. Because of this, greater judgment looms. Is there any hope, or have we reached a point of no return?
There Is Hope!
The moral and spiritual conditions are certainly bleak in our day, but they were when Moses prayed this prayer as well. He knew that no matter how far the nation had wandered from the Lord, there was hope of restoration because the Lord is compassionate and gracious, abounding in lovingkindness and faithfulness, and a God who forgives sin (Ex. 34:6-7). Moses knew that all that was needed was for the Lord to return: "Do return, O Lord…" (Psa. 90:13). He had stated at another time that the Lord’s presence makes all the difference (Ex. 33:15-16).
His prayer here in Psalm 90 reveals the dramatic transformation the Lord can make: "O satisfy us in the morning with Thy lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad…Make us glad…Let Thy work appear to Thy servants and Thy majesty to their children…let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us..." (vv. 14-17). No matter how dire the situation, there is always hope for those who turn to the Lord and cry out in prayer to Him! From everlasting to everlasting, He is God, and there is nothing too difficult for Him!
Turn Your Heart Toward Him
Are you in need of the Lord’s intervention in your own life or family in overcoming sin, trouble, affliction or evil? Do you believe He has the love and power to provide the help needed as you turn your heart and your prayers more fully to Him? Of course, He may or may not work out the situation as you believe is best, but He will be faithful to satisfy you with His presence, to bring joy into your heart, and to reveal His good work and His majesty. He is indeed a dwelling place to all generations!
And what about corporate revival? Do you believe the Lord can bring revival to the church or to a nation that has fallen as far from Him as the U.S. has? Even now there are calls to prayer for the U.S., including a call to fervent prayer during the 40 days preceding the U.S. election – a call to pray for revival in the church, for a standard of righteousness to be raised up over the nation, and for the Lord’s intervention in the election. Praise the Lord that He is not only able, but that He is eager to answer such prayer! After all, Psalm 90 is ultimately His revelation of Himself and His heart. He is just looking for men of God and women of God who will turn their hearts toward Him and seek Him to draw near in all of His glory.