How many people have you heard say, “I just want 2020 to be over?” I’m sure you, like me, have heard several people say this at some point this year. Perhaps you have even said it yourself. But is this what we should be saying? There’s an instructive verse in Psalm 90 that speaks to this very sentiment, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). If there’s one thing you and I need, it’s wisdom, so I want to look briefly at Psalm 90.
Our Dwelling Place
Psalm 90 begins with a confession of faith rooted in trust, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Ps. 90:1-2). If anyone could speak of God as his dwelling place it would be Moses, on behalf of the nation of Israel. Long before the days of the temple where God would dwell in the midst of His people, the Lord took up residence by way of the tabernacle and the fire by night and cloud by day. Moses, leading the people of Israel out of 400 years of slavery in Israel Egypt into 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, could speak of God as their dwelling place. He looked back through the corridors of time and recognized God had met with Abraham in a tent and Adam in the garden and proclaimed that from generation to generation the Lord had been faithful to His promise to dwell with His people. The same one who penned the account of creation in Genesis 1-2 penned the beginning of this psalm too, recognizing the first great act in the story of salvation. Indeed, Psalm 90 tells the big story of the Bible by taking us from creation, to the fall, to redemption, to consummation. If we are going to number our days wisely, we must live in light of this big story.
John tells us that Jesus came and tabernacled among us, revealing God’s grace and truth, which is the fulfillment of God’s promise to dwell among His people (John 1:14). Yet we still wait for the consummation of the promise when we will dwell with the everlasting God in the new heaven and new earth, praising Him for eternity. In the meantime, be encouraged. No matter what circumstances the Lord takes us through, He is our dwelling place.
The mood of Psalm 90 quickly changes at verse 3, “You return man to dust and say, ‘Return, O children of man!” Because of the fall, death threatens us all. Our sins stand before the holy God staining our souls and sentencing us to separation from Him. In the midst of such sobriety, Moses sounds a note of salvation. It’s implicit in the fact that he prays to the Lord, the only one who can save them from the effects of the fall.
Moses prays that the Lord will teach His people to make wise use of the time He has given them on earth (v. 12). You and I only have a certain number of days to live (Ps. 139:16). We must make wise use of each day. But how do we do this? The rest of Moses’s prayer answers this question.
Satisfied and Strengthened. Moses prays the Lord will satisfy and strengthen His people’s hearts with His steadfast love (v. 14). We live wisely when we are satisfied with Christ’s love alone and gain our strength from His steadfast love.
Suffering is a Gift. Moses also prays the Lord will help them see their suffering as a gift from Him (v. 15). We live wisely when we stop fighting our suffering, embrace it as a gift from God, and submit to its sanctifying work in our lives.
Seeing His Creation. In addition, Moses prays that God’s people (and their children) will recognize His wondrous works. We live wisely when we look around and acknowledge God as Creator (v. 16). This includes being able to look at ourselves, and our loved ones, and celebrate how He has made each one (even those parts of their hardwiring that drive us crazy!).
Sharing our Faith. Finally, Moses prays that the Lord will shine His favor upon them so their works are not done in futility, but with future generations in mind who will see their good work and glorify God (v. 17). We live wisely when we purpose to pass the faith to the next generation by doing the good works God has prepared for us (Eph. 2:10).
Christ endured the power of God’s anger so that God can be our dwelling place, and our days and the works of our hands may be established for eternal purposes. God has chosen us in Christ and prepared works beforehand for us to do for His glory. It should be our intense desire and prayer for the Lord to establish the work of our hands and sustain our days so that we might declare His words and works to the next generation. Instead of saying, “I just want 2020 to be over,” it would be wise for us to pray, “Lord, help us to live each day we have left of 2020 stewarding our service and suffering for Your glory.
About the Author:
Sarah Ivill (ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary) is a Reformed author, wife, mom, Bible study teacher, and conference speaker who lives in Matthews, North Carolina and is a member of Christ Covenant Church. She is the author ofHebrews: His Hope, An Anchor for Our Souls; Revelation: Let the One Who Is Thirsty Come; Judges & Ruth: There Is A Redeemer; 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude: Steadfast in the Faith; and The Covenantal Life: Appreciating the Beauty of Theology and Community . You can learn more about Sarah at www.sarahivill.com.